"The Einsatzgruppen Case"
Military Tribunal II

Case No.9

The United States of America


Otto Ohlendorf, Heinz Jost, Erich Naumann, Otto Rasch
Erwin Schulz, Franz Six, Paul Blobel, Walter Blume,
Martin Sandberger, Willy Seibert, Eugen Steimle, Ernst
Biberstein, Werner Braune, Walter Haensch, Gustav
Mosske, Adolf Ott, Eduard Strauch, Emil Hausmann,
Waldemar Klingelhoefer, Lothar Fendler, Waldemar von
Radetzky, Felix Ruehl, Heinz Schubert, and Mathias Graf,

Einsatzgruppen Index Page

Part VI
Testimony of Otto Ohlendorf

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[Ohlendorf Direct Examination Testimony.  Questions posed by his defense lawyer, Dr Aschenauer]

A. The Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos were neither agencies nor parts of the organization of the Reich Security Main Office. They were mobile units set up for one single purpose which were set up ad hoc for certain assignments. The members of the Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos were either conscripted or were taken from the members of the security police and SD. Or they were drafted to a large extent, for example, as drivers or interpreters, whereas a large membership of the Einsatzgruppen, by order of Himmler, was made available by companies of the Waffen SS or the regular police. These Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos were no agencies or authorities, but they were military units.

Q. Were the purposes and the orders of the Einsatzgruppen made known to the men and the leaders when they were drafted?

A. No. This was not done. The leaders and men were given an order to report to Dueben or Pretzsch in Saxony. They did not get any information where they were to be committed, or what tasks they were supposed to do. Even after the units had been activated, the commanders and men did not know about it.

Q. When was the area of operation made public?

A. It was made known shortly before the units left for Russia, about three days before.

Q. When was the order given for the liquidation of certain elements of the population in the U. S. S. R. and by whom was it handed over ? .

A. As far as I recollect, this order was given at the same time when the area of operations was made known. In Pretzseh, the chiefs of offices I and IV, the then Lieutenant Colonels [Obersturmbannfuehrer] Streckenbach and Mueller gave the order which had been issued by Himmler and Heydrich.

Q. What was the wording of this order?

A. This special order, for such it is, read as follows: That in addition to our general task the Security Police and SD, the Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos had the mission to protect the rear of the troops by killing the Jews, gypsies, Communist functionaries, active Communists, and all persons who would endanger the security.

Q. What were your thoughts when you received this order of killings ?

A. The immediate feeling with me and with the other men was one of general protest. Lieutenant Colonel Streckenbach listened to this protest, and, even gave us a few different points which we could not know, but at the same time he told us that even he himself had protested most strenuously against a similar order in the Polish campaign, but that Himmler had rebuked him just

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as severely by stating that this was a Fuehrer order, which must be carried out, in order to achieve the war aim of destroying communism for all times, therefore, this order was to be accepted without hesitation.

Q. Did you consider this order as justified?

A. No; I did not. I did not consider it justified because quite independently from the necessity of taking such measures, these measures would have moral and ethical consequences which would deteriorate the mind.

Q. Did you know about plans or directives which had as their goal the extermination on racial and religious grounds?

A. I expressly assure you that I neither knew of such plans nor was I called on to cooperate in any such plans. Lieutenant General [Obergruppenfuehrer] Bach-Zelewski testified during the big trial [before the International Military Tribunal] that the Reich Leader SS in a secret conference of all lieutenant generals made known that the goal was to exterminate thirty million Slavs. I repeat that I was neither given such an order nor was there even the slightest hint, given to me that such plans or goals existed for the Russian campaign. This is not only true for the Slavs but this is also true for the Jews. I know that in the years of 1938, 1939 and 1940, no extermination plans existed, but on the contrary, with the aid of Heydrich and by cooperation with Jewish organizations, emigration programs from Germany and Austria were arranged; financial funds even were raised in order to help aid the poorer Jews to make this emigration possible. In 1941, I personally helped in individual cases, where, for example, a representative of I. G. Farben called on me in order to overcome difficulties with the state police, when it was their intention also to let so-called bearers of secrets emigrate. Up to the very end I succeeded in giving such aid. Thus, at the beginning of the Russian campaign, I had no cause to assume that the execution order which we were given meant that any such extermination was planned or was to be carried out. During my time in Russia, I sent a great number of reports to the Chief of Security Police and SD in which I reported about the fine cooperation with the Russian population. They were never objected to. When Himmler was in Nikolaev in 1941, he neither made any reproaches about this, nor did he give me any other directives. I am rather convinced that where such an extermination policy was later carried out, it was not carried out by the order of the central agencies, but it was the work of individual people.

Q. Did you give any thought to the legality of such a Fuehrer order?

A. Of course I did. I knew the history of communism. From

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the theory of Lenin and Stalin and from the strategy and tactics of the Bolshevist world revolution, I knew that bolshevism was to let no rules prevail other than those which would further and promote its aim. The practice of bolshevism in the Russian Civil War, in the war with Finland, in the war with Poland, in the occupation of the Baltic countries and Bessarabia, gave us the assurance and certainty that this was not only theory, but that this was carried out in practice, and in the same manner it therefore was to be expected that in this war no other laws would have any validity. This was true for the international conventions which Russia officially denounced to the German Government, as well as the international customs and usages of war, and it was true because according to this same communist ideology the customs and usages could only develop between partners who were on the same ideological basis. Just as the other class is the opponent internally who must be destroyed at all costs, according to the same ideology the other state which does not represent a Bolshevist system is the external opponent who is to be destroyed, just as the class is to be destroyed internally. The rules in this are adjusted according to the state of emergency of the moment. In this respect it was clear to me that in this war against bolshevism the German Reich found itself in a state of war emergency and of selfdefense. What measures are to be taken in such a war in order to fight such an opponent on his own ground-to determine this could be only a matter to be decided by the supreme leadership which waged this war for the life or death of its people; and which, in my opinion, they certainly believed they waged also for Europe and even more for there was no doubt for us that the Four Year Plan, as well as the events of 1938 and 1939, were nothing else for Hitler but the securing of the point of departure for this war against bolshevism which was considered by him to be inevitable.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Witness, when you refer to the Russian practice in the war against Poland, were you referring to the war of 1939 when Russia was your ally?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Yes. This has nothing to do with it, or does not change the subject, the fact that Russia was our ally at the time.

Q. No. I am just asking if that is the war you are referring to?

A. Yes, this is the war.

Q. Yes. Well, did Germany at that time also have the same practices ?

A. I do not know that this happened to the same extent. That violations took place cannot be doubted.

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Q. You believe that it was not as  widespread as it later developed in our war against Russia?  Is that what I am led to believe?

A. Yes

DR. ASCHENAUER: Is, in your opinion, the man who receives these orders obliged to examine them when they are given to him?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: This is not possible, legally or actually. According to the general legal interpretation in Germany, not even a judge had the possibility of examining the legality of a law or an order, as little as an administrative official could examine the administrative edict of a supreme authority. But even actually it would have been presumptuous because in the position in which every one of the defendants found themselves, we did not have the possibility of actually judging the situation. It also corresponds to the moral concept which I have learned as a European tradition, that no subordinate can take it upon himself to examine the authority of the supreme commander and chief of state. He only faces his God and history.

Q. Didn't Article 47 of the Military Penal Code give you an occasion to interpret this execution order differently?

A. It is impossible for me to imagine that an article which was created to prevent excesses by individual officers or men leaves open the possibility to consider the supreme order of the supreme commander a crime. Apart from this, again according to continental concept, the chief of state cannot commit a crime. 

DR. ASCHENAUER: What is your conviction about the actual background of the Fuehrer order which was given to you?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I have had no cause, and I still have no cause today to think that any other goal was aimed at than the goal of any war, namely, an immediate and permanent security of our own realm against that realm with which the belligerent conflict is taking place.

Q. The prosecution states that the contents of the order and its execution was part of a systematic program of genocide which had as its aim the destruction of foreign peoples and ethnic groups. Will you please comment on this?

A. I did not have any occasion to assume any such plan. I assure you that I neither participated in plans, nor did I see any preparation for such plans which would have let me assume that such a plan existed. What was told to us was our security and those persons who were assumed to be endangering the security were designated as such.

Q. What observations did you yourself make in Russia about

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the objective prerequisite that the executions of populations, according to the Fuehrer order, were necessary?

A. The experiences in Russia showed me once and for all that here the propaganda of Goebbels had not stated the truth clearly enough. I was convinced that this state, which in order to gain its ends internally, had torn many millions from their families; in the process of separating the-Kulaks [well-to-do farmers] they took the adult population away three times from rural districts. This state would have even less consideration for a foreign population. It was obvious that the number of Jews in the general population in Russia, in relation to their number in the higher administration, was very, very small. The prosecution has submitted a report from my Einsatzgruppe to the army. In this report in enclosure No.2 it explained the situation of Jewry in the Crimea. Unfortunately, this enclosure was not available. It would have shown that in the Crimea, for example, up to 90 percent of the administrative and leading authoritative positions were occupied by Jews. The information service in the same field, conversations with innumerable Ukrainians and Russians and Tartars, and the documents which the prosecution submitted show that this was not only the case in the Crimea. For us it was obvious that Jewry in Bolshevist Russia actually played a disproportionately important role. Three times I was present during executions. Every time I found the same facts which I considered with great respect, that the Jews who were executed went to their death singing the "International" and hailing Stalin. That the Communist functionaries and the active leaders of the Communists in the occupied area of Russia posed an actual continuous danger for the German occupation the documents of the prosecution have shown. It was absolutely certain that by these persons the call of Stalin for ruthless partisan warfare would be followed without any reservation. Orally and in written form, the Bolshevists have attested enthusiastically to the fact that this partisan warfare was not only waged by the Communist Party and not only by the Communist functionaries: but as Stalin requested, it was waged by the population, by peasants, by workers, men, women, and children. This same literature is proud of the fact that it was waged with great treachery and cunning which the call of Stalin evoked in order to wage this war successfully. Thus our experiences in Russia were a definite confirmation of the Bolshevist theory and of the practice as we had learned about it before.

Q. What orders did you give to the Einsatzgruppen and Ein-

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-satzkommandos for the security of the rear area concerning the killing certain elements of the civilian population?

A. Before I testify to the various facts, I would like to say the following: The men of my group who are under indictment here were under my military command. If they had not executed the orders which they were given, they would have been ordered by me to execute them. If they had refused to execute the orders they would have had to be called to account for it by me. There could be no doubt about it. Whoever refused anything in the front lines would have met immediate death. If the refusal would have come about in any other way, a court martial of the Higher SS and Police Leader would have brought about the same consequences. The jurisdiction of courts martial was great, but the sentences of the SS were gruesome. The orders for the execution in the past given in Pretzsch went to all Einsatzgruppen commanders or Einsatzkommando leaders who went along during the beginning of the Russian campaign. They were never revoked. Thus they were valid for the entire Russian campaign as long as there were Einsatzgruppen. Thus it was, therefore, unnecessary at any time to give another order of initiative and I did not give any individual order to kill people. I emphasize this, even though I was told in England two and a half years ago that the Russians had found a written order. My mission was to see to it that this general order for executions would be carried out as humanly as conditions would permit. Therefore, I merely gave orders for the manner of carrying out these executions.

Q. What were these orders?

A. These orders had as their purpose to make it as easy as possible for the unfortunate victim and to prevent the brutality of the men from leading to inevitable excesses. Thus I first ordered that only so many victims should be brought to the place of execution as the execution commandos could handle. Any individual action by any individual man was forbidden. The Einsatzkommandos shot in a military manner only upon orders. It was strictly ordered to avoid any maltreatment, undressing was not permitted. The taking of any personal possessions was not permitted. Publicity was not permitted, and at the very moment when it was noted that a man had experienced joy in carrying out these executions, it was ordered that this man should never participate in any more executions. The men could not report voluntarily, they were ordered.

Q. What did you do to prevent a wide interpretation of these execution orders ?

A. It was forbidden that the commandos undertake any executions outside of the territory occupied by the German army.

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This  became necessary in Chernovitsy. This was especially necessary after 10,000 Rumanians had been driven into the German area of occupation, and it became acute for Odessa, when the Rumanians tried to carry out executions beyond our orders. The commandos had the order during the execution of Communists to execute only those persons who by their proved deeds and conduct definitely represented a danger to security. Families were never seized, neither those of high functionaries nor of commissars nor of any other person. If, on the other hand, it was said that children were executed at Kerch, this was done without any connection with the Einsatzkommando there.

Q. Why did you not prevent the liquidations?

A. Even if I use the most severe standard in judging this, I had as little possibility as any of the codefendants here to prevent this order. There was only one thing, a senseless martyrdom through suicide, senseless because this would not have changed anything in the execution of this order, for this order was not an order of the SS, it was an order of the Supreme Commander in Chief and the Chief of State; it was not only carried out by Himmler or Heydrich. The army had to carry it out too, the High Command of the Army as well as the commanders in the east and southeast who were the superior commanders for the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos. If I could imagine a theoretical possibility, then there was only the refusal on the part of those persons who were in the uppermost hierarchy and could appeal to the Supreme Commander and Chief of State, because they had the only possibility of getting access to him. They were, after all, the highest bearers of responsibility in the theater of operations.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: May I ask a question, Dr. Aschenauer? Do I understand you to say, Witness, that the Supreme Commander in the East, that is of the Wehrmacht, also had orders to carry out this program of execution?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I know that the Supreme Command gave the commanders for the eastern campaign who had assembled on 30 March, not only information about the measures planned, but also directives to support the execution of these measures. The fact that SS and police units were used for these executions had only one reason; namely, that there was no guarantee for a systematic execution of these orders by the army troops but that one expected demoralization if army troops would be used. As the war progressed in the Southeast this principle was abandoned.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Would you say that the army

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commander not only countenanced this program of executions but lent their active support to it?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Yes. That is what I want to say. If I may give you two examples for that, the executions in Simferopol by the Einsatzkommando 11b were carried out on the order of the army, and the army supplied the trucks and the gasoline and the drivers in order to bring the Jews to the places of execution. The arrests of hostages were expressly carried out by order of the supreme commander of my army. He did not agree with the executions of these hostages, because the number of executions did not seem high enough to him and afterwards he told Seibert, the defendant here, to tell me that he himself would henceforth carry out the appropriate number of executions.

Q. Did you not try in Nikolaev to dissuade the Reich Leader SS from this order?

A. The situation in Nikolaev was especially depressing in a moral sense, because in agreement with the army, we had excluded a large number of Jews, the farmers, from the executions. When the Reich Leader SS was in Nikolaev on 4 or 5 October, I was reproached for this measure and he ordered that henceforth, even against the will of the army, the executions should take place as planned. When the Reich Leader SS arrived at my headquarters, I had assembled all available commanders of my Einsatzgruppe. The Reich Leader addressed these men and repeated the strict order to kill all those groups which I have designated. He added that he alone would carry the responsibility, as far as accounting to the Fuehrer was concerned. None of the men would bear any responsibility, but he demanded the execution of this order, even though he knew how harsh these measures were. Nevertheless, after supper, I spoke to the Reich Leader and I pointed out the inhuman burden which was being imposed on the men in killing all these civilians. I didn't even get an answer.

Q. Could you not have refused to support the execution of this order ?

A. For that I would have had to have the feeling of the illegality and the possibility of appealing to a higher authority, but I had neither of them.

Q. Could you not have, after a certain period of time, tried to evade this order by sickness?

A. As long as I thought in political terms, I no longer considered myself as an individual person who only could think and act responsibly for himself. After I had once become Chief of the Einsatzgruppe, I felt responsible for the 500 men of this group. By simulating illness, I could have evaded the mission,

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but I would have betrayed my men if I had left this command. I could not leave this task and I would not have been convinced that my successor would care for his men in the same manner as I did. Despite everything, I considered this my duty and I shall consider it today as much more valuable than the cheap applause which I could have won if I .had at that time betrayed my men by simulating illness.

Q. Did you issue orders of execution?

A. No.

Q. Wherein lies your participation in the carrying out of these executions ?

A. It is in three points. As far as the transportation conditions permitted, I convinced myself before the large executions whether measures had been taken at the place of execution, which would make possible the conditions I set down for these executions. The second, in order to take some burden from the Kommandos, I ordered that other distant Kommandos be detailed to support that Kommando which had to carry out an execution, and third, that, as far as possible, I tried either personally or through my men to carry out unexpected inspections during these executions. I wanted to make sure in that way that my orders about the manner of execution were being carried out.

DR. ASCHENAUER: In the indictment it says that the task of the Einsatzgruppen was, first, to follow the German army into the eastern territories, and to eliminate Soviet functionaries, gypsies, Jews, and other elements of the civilian population which were considered racially inferior, or politically unwanted. Would you say something about that, Witness?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: First, the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos never had the task to eliminate groups of the population because they were racially inferior, and even so that was not the main task. It was an additional assignment which, in itself, was foreign to the actual task of the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos, because never was such a task of the security police or of the SD for that matter-and never by any means, as it is mentioned in another place in the indictment-were they trained for such exterminations and executions. Rather, the general task of the Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos was that the security of the army territory in the operational theaters should be guaranteed by them, and within the framework of this security task the execution order was, of course, one of the basic orders. But, in reality, the Einsatzgruppen's task was a positive one, if I leave out this basic order for exterminations and executions. It must be realized, of course, that a group of about 500 people who, on the average,

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had charge of an area of 300 to 400 square kilometers, could not terrorize such an area, even if they had wanted to do so. Therefore, if we regard it intelligently these tasks could only be called positive ones, and as such they were developed by myself. The first experiences I collected was when the task was transferred to us by the army to harvest the overdue crop in the Transistria. The larger number of Kommandos for weeks dealt only with this one task of harvesting in Transistria; I had given orders for this measure which was the basis of my policy altogether. First, the institution of a self-administration, as it were, in the communities and the communal settlements, and also in the municipalities; secondly, a recognition of private property; thirdly, the payment of wages: the population received for each fifth sheaf of the entire harvest. I guaranteed this wage, even to the Rumanian authorities: Fourth, cultural places were restored-- that is, the population was supported in restoring the cultural centers and they were inspired to take up a new cultural life. It is not for me now to describe or discuss the success which this had with the populations of such places. I can only state that because of these measures the population was on our side, and they themselves reported any disturbances which might happen in these territories. Therefore, by this positive winning over of the population, the security of the territory internally could be guaranteed, and actually, in our territory a partisan resistance movement did not come into existence, but it was formed by external elements and was artificially  extended.

Concerning the security tasks, there were also tasks of reporting to the army about the atmosphere within the population, the reaction of the population to German measures and what disturbances and damages happened in the area on the part of the Germans. In this manner plebiscites could be arranged which were useful to the population and which saved us police measures. The situation in the Crimes was much more difficult, although I was there a longer time than anywhere else at a stretch, and I had the possibility to prepare political measures. Even here the
institution of friendly measures succeeded in establishing a sort of confidence relationship between the population and the SD agencies. When, in January 1942, the danger arose that we would lose the Crimea, the Tartars, also the Ukrainians, voluntarily put themselves at our disposal for military service. The army left it up to me to deal with the political situation in the Crimea. At that time I could not accept the Ukrainians into the army, but the Tartars put 10 percent of their male population at my disposal within three weeks, absolutely- voluntarily. Here, self-government and self-administration was granted to all parts

[Pages 254-268, and part of 269 omitted]

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MR. HEATH: Mr. Ohlendorf, to speed this examination I'd like to attempt to agree with you upon one or two points. First, we. shall not quarrel about numbers. You have indicated that Einsatzgruppe D under your command slaughtered something less than 90,000 human beings. I understood you to suggest to the Court that this figure is exaggerated although it appears in an affidavit which you have given. I ask you now to give the Court the best estimate you possibly can of the minimum number of human

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beings who were killed under your command by Einsatzgruppe D.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: In my direct examination I have already said that I cannot give any definite figure, and that even the testimony in my affidavit shows that in reality I could not name any figure. Therefore, I have named a figure which has been reported "approximately". The knowledge which I have gained by this day through the documents and which I have gained through conversations with my men, make me reserve the right to name any figure and strengthen this reservation. Therefore, I am not in a position to give you a minimum figure, either. In my direct examination I have said that the numbers which appear in the documents are at least exaggerated by one-half, but I must repeat that I never knew any definite figure and, therefore, cannot give you any such figure.

Q. You cannot give us a minimum figure?

A. If the prosecution wishes I am, of course, prepared to give my reasons why I cannot give any figure.

Q. Well, let me ask you-perhaps I can help you * * *. In any event, I can indicate to the Court one reason why you might have doubts about the numbers. In 1943 the Reich Leader SS, Himmler addressed the SS major generals at Poznan. You are aware of that speech, are you not?

A. Yes. I have heard it myself.

Q. Perhaps you recall his complaint; I will read it to you-" I come now to a fourth virtue, which is very rare in Germany-truthfulness. One of the greatest evils which has spread during the war is the lack of truthfulness in messages, reports, and statements, which subordinate departments in civil life, in the State, the Party and the services sent in to the departments over them." Of course, that was in 1943. Did you exaggerate the reports which you sent to the Reich Security Main Office?

A. I certainly did not on my own initiative, but I had to rely on those things which were reported to me, and I know that double countings could not be avoided, and I also know that wrong numbers were reported to me. I have tied to avoid passing on such double countings or wrong statements, because the individual Kommandos did not know the figures of the neighbor units; nevertheless the reporting of wrong figures was not prevented-and especially the reporting of strange figures as for instance, the report from Chernovitsy. Here those figures are named for which the Rumanians in Chernovitsy were responsible.

Q. Will you tell the Court what bookkeeping and record-making system was maintained in Einsatzgruppe D to keep track of the people slaughtered

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A. In Einsatzgruppe D the various reports were received which were sent from the Kommandos to the Einsatzgruppe, and these reports were gone over and the figures contained in them were sent to the Reich Security Main Office.

Q. Well, it is quite obvious that that is what happened. But tell us now who reported for Einsatzkommando 12, say, during the first six months of its operations, the killings by Einsatzkommando 12, to you?

A. Einsatzkommando 12 itself.

Q. And who was the man who reported to you?

A. They were usually signed by the Einsatzkommando chief himself, in this case by the then SS Major [Sturmbannfuehrer] Nosske.

Q. Very well, you relied on Nosske for truthful reporting of the numbers killed by his unit?

A. I had no possibility to examine these executions because Nosske, was sometimes 200 or 250 kilometers away from me.

Q. Witness, I don't mean to cut you off, but I think if I ask you now to attempt to make your answers as responsive as possible, I shall attempt to make my questions as explicit as possible-and I believe we both shall benefit. So, I ask you again-not why you did not check up on Nosske, but simply the question- Did you rely on Nosske for truthful reports of the slaughters committed by Einsatzkommando 12 ?

A. I didn't understand the last part of the question.

Q. Did you rely on Nosske for truthful reports of the numbers of persons slaughtered by Einsatzkommando 12 while it was under his command ?

A. I was of the opinion that these reports were truthful. In the case of Nosske, however, in one case it was brought to my attention that the report was not truthful. But that was at a relatively early stage of Nikolaev. We found out that in this case Nosske reported figures which were not killed by his Kommando but by a strange unit.

Q. Then in one instance at least, you did find your subordinate exaggerating the number killed by his unit?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you recall any other exaggerations by any other men in the unit under you?

A. Yes, for example, in the case of 10a.

Q. Yes. Do you recall an exaggeration in the case of lOa?

A. Yes. In the case of 10a.

Q. Any other Einsatzkommando do you recall exaggerating figures ?

A. Not from my part, no.

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Q. So within the limits of memory and the situation you find yourself in today, it should be possible for you to give us a minimum figure based on the reports of. the men who were under you, should it not?

A. I can only repeat what I already have been saying for two and one-half years that to the best of my knowledge, about ninety thousand people were reported by my Einsatzkommandos. How many of those were actually killed I do not know and I cannot really say.

Q. Very well, we will leave this after one more question. This figure ninety thousand is the best estimate you can give at this moment. I take it we must continue to read that with the qualification that you gave in direct testimony, that you think there is a great deal of exaggeration in it?

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Mr. Heath, I do not understand the witness to say that he regarded the figure ninety thousand to be an exaggeration. He states, and he stated not only here but before the International Military Tribunal, that his estimate of the number killed by the Einsatzgruppe D during the time he was in charge was ninety thousand, and he comes to that conclusion from the reports and that is what I understand he says today.

MR. HEATH: I agree with your Honor. I had understood him to say that in the transcript his testimony was-go ahead.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I am not quite in agreement with this answer, your Honor, insofar as I said that the number ninety thousand was reported as having been killed. But I cannot really say whether that number had been actually killed and certainly not that they were killed by the Einsatzgruppen, because, apart from exaggerations, I also knew definitely that the Einsatzkommando reported the killings which were carried out by other units. Therefore, I could only repeat that ninety thousand were reported.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Witness, you may perhaps not agree to what I have stated, but you will have to agree to what you stated yourself on 3 January 1946; you were asked : "Do you know how many persons were liquidated by the Einsatzgruppe D under your direction?" And you answered: "In the year between June 1941 and June 1942 the Einsatzkommandos reported ninety thousand people liquidated."


PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Question : "That included men, women, and children?" Answer: "Yes." Question: "On what do you base these figures?" Answer: "On reports sent by the Einsatzkommandos to the Einsatzgruppen." Question: "Were those reports submitted to you?" Answer: "Yes."

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A MR. HEATH : Your Honor, please, if I may interrupt? I think I can clear up the difficulty. I have the advantage of having the transcript of his testimony before me.


MR. HEATH: I don't know that your Honor has had the opportunity to see it.


MR. HEATH: He did make this statement with respect to the affidavit which you just read.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: It is not the affidavit. This is testimony put to him in Court.

Mr HEATH: We can follow this up in the witness' testimony in direct examination. Witness, this is from your testimony of last week. You said: "If, of course, the figure of ninety thousand was named by me, I always added that in this fifteen to twenty percent are double countings, that is, on the basis of my own experience. I do not know any longer how I could have remembered the number of just ninety thousand, because I did not keep a register of these figures. The 'approximately' must have meant that I was not certain. It is evident that I mentioned this number of ninety thousand by adding a number of other figures. I do not mention this in order to excuse myself, as I am perfectly convinced that it does not matter from the actual fact whether it was forty thousand or ninety thousand. I mention this for the reason that in the situation in which we are today, politically speaking, figures are being dealt with in an irresponsible manner." That is the qualification that I had referred to.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: But that still does not in any way take away from what he said on 3 January 1946.

MR. HEATH : I agree, sir, with you.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: That is the testimony of that day, and it still stands now as he gives this explanation and the Tribunal sees no difference between what he said then and what he said today, namely, that this estimate of ninety thousand is based upon the report which he personally saw.

MR. HEATH: Alright, sir.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: With what was just read by the presiding judge of my affidavit of 3 January 1946 I agree completely.


DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Anything else which I have said on direct examination is merely a commentary to the testimony of 3 January 1946. P


MR. HEATH: Very well, sir. Mr. Ohlendorf, I had begun to ask

Page 274

you about the Karaims [Karaites]* and the Krimchaks**, ' I think you called them. I understood that you were confronted in the south of Russia with the question further to slaughter Krimchaks. Krimchaks I understood were human beings who had come by way of Italy to Russia, and they had Jewish blood. The directive which you got from Berlin was to kill the Krimchaks, is that correct?


Q. Now, I cannot pronounce it correctly, the Karaims were another sect whom you encountered in the south of Russia, and this sect had no Jewish blood, but it did share the religious confessions of the Jews. Is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. You submitted to Berlin the question whether the Karaims should be killed, and I understood you to say that the order you got from Berlin was you shall not kill them for they have nothing in common with the Jews except the confession?

A. Yes.

Q. Now during your direct examination you told this Court t.hat you had no idea, and that you have no cause today to think that there was any plan to exterminate the Jewish race in existence, nor that you had any information of putting it into effect. Is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you explain to the Court, please, what difference there was between the Karaims and the Krimchaks, except Jewish blood ?

A. I understand your question completely in reference to the eastern Jews, in the case of the Jews who were found in the eastern campaign. These Jews were to be killed-according to the order-for the reason that they were considered carriers of bolshevism, and, therefore, considered as endangering the security of the German Reich. This concerned the Jews who were found in Russia, and it was not known to me that the Jews in all of Europe were being killed, but on the contrary I knew that down to my dismissal these Jews were not killed, but it was attempted at all costs to get them to emigrate. The fact that the Karaims were not killed showed that the charge of the prosecution that persons were persecuted for their religion is not correct, for the Karaims had that Jewish religion, but they could not be killed because they did not belong to the Jewish race.

Q. I think, Witness, you answered exactly what I had antici-

*Sect which refused the Talmud and adopted the Old Testament as sole source of faith.
**Turkish Jews of mixed Semitic and Tartaric blood.

Page 275

pated in the last sentence, "They did not belong to the JewishRace," is that right?

A. Yes, That is right.

Q. They were found in Russia?

A. Yes.

Q. But they participated in the Jewish confession in Russia?

A. The Karaims had the Jewish faith, yes.

Q. But your race authorities in Berlin could find no trace of Jewish blood in them?

A. Yes.

Q. So they came absolutely under the Fuehrer Decree or the Streckenbach Order to kill all Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. Because of blood?

A. Because they were of Jewish origin. For you must understand the Nazi ideology, as you call it. It was the opinion of the Fuehrer that in Russia and in bolshevism, the representatives of this blood showed themselves especially suitable for this idea, therefore, the carriers of this blood became especially suitable representatives of the bolshevism. That is not on account of their faith, or their religion, but because of their human make-up and character.

Q. And because of their blood, right?

A. I cannot express it any more definitely than I stated, from their nature and their characteristics. Their blood, of course, has something to do with it, according to National Socialist ideology.

Q. Let's see, if I can understand it; we've got a lot of time, I hope. What was the distinction except blood?

A. Between whom?

B. Between the Karaims and the Krimchaks?

A. The difference of the blood, yes.

Q. Only the difference in blood, is that so?

A. Yes.

Q. So the criterion and the test which you applied in your slaughter was blood?

A. The criteria which I used were the orders whih I got, and it has not been doubted during the entire trial, that in this
Fuehrer Order the Jews were designated as the ones who belonged to that circle in Russia and who were to be killed.

Q. Very well, Witness, let's not quibble. Let's come back again. What you followed was the Fuehrer Order. Now, I leave you out of it for a moment, your own idea of what should be killed and what should not be killed.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I disagree with you, Mr. Heath, that the witness has quibbled. I think he has stated very clearly

Page 276

that his orders were to kill all Jews, that was the criterion which he followed. If he was a Jew he was killed, if he was not a Jew then they might figure some other reason to kill him but he wouldn't be killed because he was a Jew.

MR. HEATH : Yes, your Honor, I am attempting to get him to say the word blood and not the word Jews. That is the reason I was saying he is quibbling, but I am perfectly happy to leave it where it is.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I think he has been rather forthright.

MR. HEATH: Very well. Let's see, Mr. Ohlendorf, let's go for a moment to this order which you got at Pretzsch in the spring of 1941. Did you have any knowledge whatever of the purposes of the Einsatzgruppen before you went to Pretzsch?

A. We merely knew that the Einsatzgruppen were to be set up.

Q. But you did not know what they were to do?

A. No. Apart from the fact that one has a definite idea about missions in which people of the Security Police and the SD were assigned. That is, of course, true.

Q. Did you, at that time, have any idea that the mission of the security police would be to slaughter Jews and gypsies?

A. I could no longer say today that I had such an idea, but I don't believe so. In my opinion the order about the killing of the Jews was made known to me for the first time in Pretzsch, that is, for the Russian campaign.

Q. If you had known that that was going to be the purpose of the Einsatzgruppen to kill all Jews and gypsies and certain other categories, you would remember it today-would you not, Mr. Ohlendorf ?

A. I can no longer say.

Q. You were ordered three times to join the Einsatzgruppen, were you not?

A. Yes. Q. And twice you refused?

A. Yes.

Q. The order in the first instance came from Heydrich?

A. Yes.

Q. The second order for you to become a member of the Einsatzgruppe came from Heydrich?

A. Yes.

Later Testimony of Otto Ohlendorf

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 26/03/02 11:53:35
S D Stein

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