"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

Testimony of Otto Ohlendorf Continued

Earlier Testimony of Otto Ohlendorf

Q. Then the registration list of the Jewish population handed to the Kommando leader by the Jewish Council of Elders was sufficient to denominate those named as Jews?

A. In order to complete it, the Jewish elders themselves took the Jews to the registration place or the collection place.

Q. Now, was the denouncement of a gypsy by a civilian suf-ficient identification that could cause his execution by Einsatzgruppe D?

A. No. I remember cases in Simferopol where to identify gypsies the certification of two witnesses, at least, was required by the Kommando there.

Q. These witnesses came, of course, from the civilian population of the area in which this man was arrested?

A. Yes.

Q. And these witnesses claimed to have known it?

A. Yes. That was the difficulty, because some of the gypsies-if not all of them-were Moslems, and for that reason we attached a great amount of importance to not getting into difficulties with the Tartars and, therefore, people were employed in this task who knew the places and the people.

Q. Then there was more investigation in the case of gypsies than there was in the case of a Jew, is that right?

A. There were fewer gypsies than there were Jews and, as I said yesterday already, I only remember one great action in Simferopol.

Q. You stated in your testimony last Wednesday, did you not, that you personally never issued execution orders. Am I correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Who issued orders for these executions?

A. The procedure cannot be explained in one sentence because the order for execution as such had been given from the start in Pretzsch, and also later by the Reich Leader SS. But the Kom-mandos took it for granted that when they came to a larger city the solution of the Jewish question would be the first problem to be solved, and therefore, the executions developed, not from an order, but as a consequence of a number of occurrences-such as the consultation of a Council of Elders, registration, etc., until the final operation resulted. The same happened in the case of the executions themselves, where a number of organizational occurrences took place one after the other; a definite order was only given, really, at the moment when an officer stood before a


military unit and gave the order to shoot. Everything else develops, one occurrence following another.

Q. In your direct testimony, and yesterday in some of your cross-examination, reference was made quite frequently to "the army". To what army, or army group, were you referring?

A. In my case, to group 11,11th Army.

Q. Now, who commanded the 11th Army when you were in command of Einsatzgruppe D?

A. First, General Ritter von Schobert. He was killed. After that, there was a temporary assignment; and then later, Field Marshal von Manstein.

Q. Did you ever have any contact-that is, official contact-with Army Group South during your career as commander of Einsatzgruppe D ?

A. With the army Group South itself? No. Only with the army. The reason was that the 11th Army was independent, relatively. It had been intended as a nucleus for a new army group which was to operate in the Caucasus Mountains. The army units, at that time, were still in the Baltics in readiness.

Q. How often were you in contact with General von Schobert, and later Field Marshal von Manstein?

A. I reported to General von Schobert, as shown in the docu-ments, on 12 June. Then I saw him again in the army casino once or twice. And von Manstein, I mostly saw in the Crimea on duty, as well as privately; for example, he put me in charge of recruiting Tartars. I also had personal discussions with him about the question of military commitments of my unit. Contact with the army became closer in time because the difficulties of the first months proved some officers so wrong that they had to apologize to me and now the other officers tried to eliminate these former differences. It took longest with Manstein. Not before the spring 1942 was I invited by him personally, for the first time, to his castle on the south coast, which he had set up for recuperation. There I was, together with my successor von Alvensleben, and three or four officers of the army, invited to his place one evening and I stayed there the night. The next morning I had breakfast with him, and then I travelled on. The second time I was privately invited was for the celebration when Sevastopol had fallen. Apart from that, there was constant contact with the army, owing to the fact that there was a liaison officer with the army who shared his billet with the counterintelligence officer; and beyond that, Herr Seibert, at least once a week, visited the Chief of Staff, the intelligence officers, or the chief of partisan warfare with whom arrangements were made. Naturally, I had more to do with the Chief of Staff than with the commander in chief. And for that

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reason I visited him officially, repeatedly. Finally, after the winter of 1941, a very lively personal relation with the staff officer of the army took place in my casino. For example, during the Christ-mas celebration the staff of the army was completely represented, and also during my farewell party.

Q. General, I think the translation came through incorrectly. The way I heard it when you were mentioning the commanders of the 11th Army, the name von Alvensleben came through as your successor.

A. I want to complete this. Einsatzgruppe D was given to Colonel [Oberfuehrer] Bierkamp, but he was with Einsatzgruppe D only for a short time in the Crimea. The Crimea was given over to the civil administration and Alvensleben became SS and Police Leader for the Crimea, and in this he became my successor for that area and not in my position as chief of the Einsatzgruppe.

Q. Then, from what you have just said in answer to the ques-tion, your personal and official contacts with the army under Field Marshal von Manstein were more frequent and more friendly than with his predecessor, General von Schobert?

A. Yes. I believe he was only with the army for four weeks before he died in battle.

Q. Can you remember now when Field Marshal von Manstein succeeded General von Schobert, that is, the approximate date?

A. I cannot remember the exact date, but I think that von Man-stein became successor of von Schobert in September 1941 at the latest.

Q. Did General von Schobert or Field Marshal Manstein ever issue orders to your Gruppe concerning executions?

A. That question is too definite, Mr. Prosecutor. Such orders existed in various forms. For example, he told the defendant Seibert, who is present here, that retaliation measures which he had ordered were not sufficient, and for that reason he would have to take a hand himself, or, as I described concerning Simferopol, where the army requested that the liquidation of Jews be carried out immediately. Apart from that, there was the idea of killing certain persons like, for example, the insane people but I cannot always say, of course, that this was of the army itself. But the Einsatzkommandos were assigned to units or divisions, so that contact with the Kommandos, and, therefore, the issuing of in-dividual orders were settled in the individual areas to smaller units rather than in the central offices.

Q. Then Field Marshal von Manstein did personally issue in-structions or orders concerning the executions in Simferopol about which we have spoken?

A. No, I cannot say that, but an instruction came-so far as I

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remember after discussing it with Braune-from the Quarter-master General, then Colonel Hanck, but in the organization of the army, it is natural that the Quartermaster General on his own authority cannot do such things without the approval of his com-mander in chief. I, therefore, cannot say that von Manstein knew about it, or that he ordered it. I am merely considering it to be so owing to the military situations.

Q. It is highly probable that Field Marshal von Manstein did know and did instruct his staff officer to issue orders, is that correct?

A. In any case, I cannot imagine that a staff officer can make such demands on his own authority.

Q. General, who were the army officers with whom you usually had conferences about the activity of the Einsatzgruppen D?

A. That was the intelligence officer.

Q. Can you give me his name?

A. First, Major Ranck, later his successor, Major Eisler, or Lieu-tenant Colonel Eisler; the counterintelligence officer, Major Riesen, and the chief of partisan warfare was Major Stephanus. The other staff officers I think are not of such great interest in this connection, that is, the operations officers, Colonel Busse, and an-other one, von Werner. They are the most important names I know of.

Q. You say all of these were on the staff of General von Schobert, or Field Marshal Manstein.

A. Yes.

Q. Did these same officers whom you you orders for the execution of Jews?

A. No. I cannot say that.

Q. For the execution of gypsies?

A. No. I cannot say that, either.

Q. For the execution of the insane? have named hand down to

A. As I said before, I do not definitely know whether this order was given by the central office, or from the medical offices, or from the regional offices.

Q. Who issued the orders for the killing of active Communists and Soviet officials?

A. For these groups the order was contained in the general Fuehrer Order.

Q. I believe you testified a few moments ago that the liaison officer of Einsatzgruppe D with the 11th Army was the present defendant Seibert?

A. No, the liaison officer was another man. Seibert belonged to my staff, and was in my billets, while the liaison officer was another

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officer, who was in the staff of the army, and also shared his billets with the army.

Q. Now, General, you have admitted here that during the time you commanded Einsatzgruppe D, an unidentified number of per-sons were executed by the units under your command, and I believe you testified further that the responsibility for the actual executions generally was with the Kommando leader, am I correct?

A. Responsibility is a word which can be interpreted in different ways-those who gave the order were responsible. They were responsible for the carrying out.

Q. Just as a matter of information, will you state in detail what normal channel the order went through from the authority issuing it to the man who actually pulled the trigger?

A. I believe my entire examinations show that this order was given once, namely, in Pretzsch ; there the initiative was given, and, therefore, no new initial order was given in my time. I never received an initial order unless one would consider the order to segregate prisoners of war such an additional order. The original order, as I have said, was sent to the chiefs of the Einsatzgruppen, and to the Kommando leaders who were assembled.

Q. This in effect is true. Because of the difficulty of communica-tions in the area in which you found yourself, your Kommando leaders were largely, because of poor communications, independent units, were they not?

A. The Kommando leaders were independent, there is no doubt about that. They had to be able to act independently for reasons as you gave just now.

Q. And they made a great many decisions without having to consult either you or higher authorities, did they not?

A. These decisions, Mr. Prosecutor, have to be stated more definitely. In this general form I cannot answer, yes or no.

Q. I apologize. They created tactical situations without consult-ing higher headquarters, did they not?

A. Of course.

Q. Now to select these commanders, great care had to be exer-cised as to their ability. Their initiative and their general ability to do the job?

A. Of course.

Q. And they were entrusted with the command of a subunit of yours?

A. It is rather difficult to answer this.

Q. I will repeat, General. I shall rephrase the question. Because of their careful selection, you relied on their judgment in given situations, did you not?

A. The Kommando leaders had certain tasks. These tasks they

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had to carry out. I did not choose the Kommando leaders, or else they would have been quite different ones, but they were appointed by the Reich Security Main Office and they bad to carry out the tasks which they had been assigned to do ; I had to rely on it, that according to their best ability they would fulfill these tasks. But since I did not rely on it completely, I tried, by inspections, to find out whether the Kommandos were in order, and whether the tasks were carried out. Unfortunately, it was not possible to inspect them all ; some I could not visit even once within six months, because it was very difficult to get there. Unfortunately, I had no in-fluence on the choice of Kommando leaders.

Q. In your direct examination you have explained your position and relationship with the chief of the 11th Army. My question in connection with this topic may be, therefore, in a sense a little repetitious, but nevertheless, I would like you to answer this for the information of the Tribunal. Which were the special tasks which were assigned to you by the army on the b a s i s of the so-called Barbarossa Decree?

A. The basic task surely was to supply information and to look after the police tasks and the security of the army. Beyond that, the army gave definite detailed tasks, and these changed according to the situation. For example, in July and August, the harvest had to be brought in, and the rear had to be guarded; in November and December and January, to make inquiries about the partisans, and to fight them; immediate military commitments, and then again the information service. These changed according to the situation.

MR. WALTON : At this time, may it please the Tribunal, I should like to submit to the witness for his examination the Document NOKW-266, Prosecution Exhibit 174. There are copies in the German language ready for distribution just as there are in the English now.

MR. WALTON: Have you ever received this or a similar document containing this decree?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I should think that this is one of the drafts for the so-called Barbarossa Decree. I do not think that this draft actually constitutes the Barbarossa Decree, but considerable parts are contained in it. I believe that there are not a great num-ber- of differences in the contents.

Q. Was there anything said in the Barbarossa Decree outlining the collaboration of the Sonderkommandos, and the army in the rear areas?

A. I just forgot one thing. This text shows in this draft the Einsatzgruppen in the operational areas and also Einsatzgruppen

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in the rear areas. There were no such double assignments. Only one Einsatzgruppe was assigned to the army, to each group, and the army group decided how they were to be used.

Q. Whether they were to be used in the rear areas, or in the forward areas, the army decided that?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, isn’t it true, that this Barbarossa Decree, that Himmler’s orders based on it made it plain that the Sonderkommandos should carry out their missions under their own responsibility?

A. That is not clear here, either, because the expression "own responsibility" I presume, means that the chief of the Security Police and the SD could give instructions to these Kommandos, which then were carried out on their responsibility; but it never meant that this happened beyond the authority of the army, or rather of the army group; and this limitation is shown in this draft. Because every time it says that the instructions are to be passed to the army and the army can make restrictions. The army can exclude areas ; it can make restrictions if the operational situation requires it. Later in the Barbarossa Decree, it says that operational necessity can cause the army to give instructions or to change them. This sense is revealed clearly in this draft, "own responsibility" never means beyond the actual authority of the Commander in Chief of the army, as contained in his task. This is shown in the assignment of the Einsatzgruppen and in the in-structions of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces for the . competence of the Commander in Chief.

Q. Then, General, in short, within the broad framework of the order, the Fuehrer Order, subject to the tactical situation at any time, which was the responsibility of the army, it was entirely up to the decision of the Einsatzgruppe as to how to carry out these missions, was it not?

A. Yes.

Q. Now then, did the responsibility mentioned in this draft of the Barbarossa Decree include executions?

A. The Einsatzkommandos had the order, and the tasks to carry out certain executions, of course.

Q. By the Barbarossa Decree?

A. No. I did not say that. At least, I did not intend to say that. I do not know that in the Barbarossa Decree this order for exter-mination is contained. To repeat it: I do not know that in the Barbarossa-Fuehrer Order-anything was contained about the killing of certain groups of the population.

Q. General, I won’t quarrel with you, but the testimony is very clear on your orders for execution. I leave that point at this time. Now, General, did it ever happen that the order of the commander

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of the 11th Army, or his staff, was given directly to the Kommandos- these units which were subordinate to you?

A. Which orders? 

Q. Any orders?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. How did you obtain knowledge of such orders, since they did not pass through your headquarters?

A. For example, in a written order I was mentioned on distribu-tion lists, therefore a written order to a Kommando was passed on to me. This of course, was only the case if they were orders by the army. Orders by a corps, or by the division I did not see, of course.

Q. But you.were informed of it through other distribution lists, after the order was actually given?

A. Yes, so far as it was given by the army.

Q. Were.you ever informed if an army group, or an army corps gave an order to a subunit of yours?

A. Whether I was informed ?

Q. For instance, If the chief of Einsatzkommando 11b was detached from your headquarters, and attached to the army corps? Do you follow me?

A. Yes.

Q. And the tactical situation was such that the Einsatzkom-mando 11b should be committed for a certain specific task, the army group commander issued an order directly to the commander of the Einsatzkommando 11b?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, were you later, through official correspondence or through reports of your Kommando, informed that that actual order was given?

A. Of course, in writing or orally if the Kommando leader considered it necessary that I should know about this event.

Q. Then your information did not come from a copy of that order sent to you through official channels, but through the report of your Kommando leader?

A. In that case, if the army had not given a written order, only that way, of course. If they had given a written order, on the whole, they would have given me a copy.

Q. Then you obtained your knowledge of this type of orders from a report submitted to you by your Kommando leader?

A. Yes.

Q. General, was it the task of the liaison officer of the different units of the Einsatzgruppen to transmit such orders?

A. I believe I must ask a preliminary question. By liaison officer you mean the officer who was in the staff of the army?

Q. Yes.

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A. In the document book such an occurrence is mentioned, the case of Romanenko. There, the document shows that the liaison officer got an order from the commander in chief and gave it to the Kommando itself immediately. This shows that the Kommando was in the place where the commander in chief was, while I was with the staff of the Einsatzgruppe about two hundred kilometers to the west. Therefore, if the commander in chief wanted to hand something to a Kommando, he could easily give such instructions to the liaison officer.

MR. WALTON: Now I shall have to avail myself of the privilege of forgetting one or two questions. Your Honor, I should like to draw the witness’ attention back to some moments ago when I was asking him about who had the authority to make selections for executions. It is entirely out of the context now, but my attention has been called to it. I ask permission to go back and ask him.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I recall that you did go over that subject, but there is no reason why you can’t go back to it.

MR. WALTON : There is one class which I forgot to ask who made the selection. General, who made the selection of Communist and Soviet officials for execution?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The procedure was that certain persons were arrested and these persons were taken to be examined, as is usual, by the police. The interrogating officer, mostly together with the Kommando leader, determined the result of the examination, and with that they determined whether the man en-dangered the security, or whether he did not, and they passed a judgment on this person.

Q. It usually turned out, did it not, that a member of the Com-munist Party and a Soviet official of the Communist Party or of the civil administration were considered a definite threat to the security of the German Armed Forces?

A. Yes.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO : Witness, in carrying out the procedure which you have just indicated, I assume that in many, if not all of the towns, that you would find yourself liquidating the governing authorities, the mayors, the councils, etc., because naturally they would be members of the Communist Party, is that true?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF : So far as I know the conditions in the cities or districts where the Einsatzkommandos entered, there was no administration any more, but the leading personalities had escaped or were hidden.

MR. WALTON: General, how were the condemned people assembled for an execution ?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: In detail I cannot describe that.

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Q. I believe you stated in the matter of the Jews that the registration through the Council of Elders stated who was a Jew. Now, if it was determined that so many would be executed, were the Council of Elders instructed to assemble so many people? A. To assemble the people, yes.

Q. Now, was there any pretext given, either by the Kommando leader or by the Jewish Council of Elders, to get these people to assemble?

A. Yes. For example, on the resettlement question.

Q. They were told that they had to move or they would be moved to a place for resettlement, is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Now then, what disposition was made of these people after they had assembled in the market square or at the place designated?

A. It was tried, for example, to compare whether registration lists were the same as the persons present. The persons were then assembled and then were taken to be executed.

Q. Were they sometimes marched to the place of execution?

A. No. They were taken there by trucks. I just described how in Simferopol the army gave trucks for this purpose.

PRESIDINC JUDGE MUSMANNO: Did the council of Jewish elders know what was the real purpose of the demanding of this list of the Jews?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Certainly not in my Einsatsgruppe.

Q. Well, after the first contingent had been marched away or transported away, was it not then very obvious what the purpose of the obtaining of this list was?

A. In a city the Jews were then assembled all at once, at one time, for example in barracks or in a large school or in a factory site.

Q. Do I understand then that no executions took place until the council of Jewish elders had completed their work of making up the lists?

A. Yes.

MR. WALTON: Now, did you have any army directives or any orders stating the minimum distances from army headquarters where these people could be executed?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: In the case of Simferopol the army decreed that shootings should take place at a certain distance from the city. The same occurred at Nikolaev.

Q. By certain distance do you mean a certain distance from the headquarters, or from the army installation, or from the city itself?

Concluding Part of the Testimony of Otto Ohlendorf

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 26/03/02 11:54:16
S D Stein

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