The United States of America
Otto Ohlendorf, Heinz Jost, Erich Naumann, Otto Rasch
A. In Simferopol, from the city; in Nikolaev, from the head-quarters.
Q. Now, what was the general method used in execution?
A. Only one method was used by me. That was the military manner.
Q. Am I to infer from that: execution by shooting?
Q. In what position were these victims shot?
A. Standing up or kneeling.
Q. What disposition was made of the corpses of the executed victims?
A. They were buried in that same place. The Kommando who carried out the executions had to prepare the burying so that no signs of the executions could be seen afterwards.
Q. What was done with the personal property of the persons executed, General?
A. The personal property was confiscated. The valuables, according to orders, were given to the Reich Ministry of Finance or rather to the Reich Bank. The personal property was at the dis-posal of the local Kommando and the city, except for exceptions in Simferopol where a group of the National Socialist Peoples Wel-fare Organization was assigned to the army who took care of the textile items.
Q. Were all the victims, including the men, the women, and the children, executed in the same way?
A. Until the spring of 1942, when by Himmlers order it was determined that women and children be killed by gassing in gas vans. Your Honor, I ask to make a remark about a question in yesterdays examination. I think a mistake arose to the effect that your Honor asked me whether from the reports from the Kommandos the fact that children were shot could be seen. If I have answered to the effect that this opinion was confirmed, that would be wrong. My confirmation in the IMT that men, women, and chil-dren are contained in the figures is merely a conclusion from the fact that Jewish men, women, and children were to be shot. In the reports which came from the Kommandos no such difference was made. Actually I do not remember any report where children-or figures of children-are mentioned. I repeat, the statement which I confirm: It was a conclusion I came to, based on the order.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I understand then that a report indicating that 5,000 Jews had been killed would not specify so many children, so many women, but just 5,000 persons?
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Yes, yes.
MR. WALTON: Let me refresh your memory, General, please. I believe you stated in answer to the last question that executions
were entirely in the form of shootings until the spring of 1942 when you received an order to have women and children executed by gas van. I am sorry I missed your statement as to where this order originated, or from whence this order came.
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The order of the gas vans came from Himmler immediately and was given to special units who had these gas vans.
Q. These units who had charge of the operation and the maintenance of the gas vans stayed with the vans all the time?
A. Yes. I only saw it myself for a short time because it occurred shortly before I resigned, but the drivers remained there while the officer who had come along originally left later on ; but the reason for this was mainly that the vans were refused by the Kommando leaders, and I was not prepared to force the Kommando leaders to use these vans. The vans were practically not used.
Q. General, have you yourself ever seen a gas van?
Q. Will you give a short description of the physical appearance of a gas van to the Tribunal?
A. It is an ordinary truck just like a box car. It looks like that, like a closed truck.
Q. No windows in the gas van?
A. I beg your pardon?
Q. There were no windows?
A. That is possible.
Q. The back of the gas van, did it have a thick door which led into the interior of the gas van?
A. Of course.
Q. And this door was narrow where only one person could enter at a time?
A. No. I believe it was an ordinary door as any other truck has.
Q. Now were the people selected for execution induced to enter these vans?
A. One could not see from the van what purpose it had, and the people were told that they were being moved, and, therefore, they entered without hesitation.
Q. The same information was given them that they would be moved for purposes of resettlement?
Q. General, could you estimate how many persons could be accommodated at one time in these vans?
A. There were large vans and small vans. The small one might have taken 16 persons and the large one 30.
Q. Did you even learn how long it would take to execute persons by the use of these lethal gas vans after they were subjected to gas?
A. As far as I remember about 10 minutes.
Q. Did all of your Kommandos use these vans?
A. No, because there were more Kommandos than vans. Apart from that one van was no good. They had come from Berlin. One van was sent to Taganrog immediately without my seeing it and never came back, and the other two vans remained in Simferopol.
Q. Did Sonderkommando 10a ever use one of these vans?
A. I already said that one van was sent to Kom ando 10a immediately.
Q. I apologize, I missed it. Did l0b ever use one of these vans?
A. No. I am not sure whether they did use it. I cannot swear to it, but I dont think so.
Q. I accept your answers as the best of your recollection and belief. Did Sonderkommando lla use one?
A. No. As I said, the two vans were in Simferopol.
Q. 11b, did it ever use one?
A. 11b would have used it I think.
Q. And Einsatzkommando 12, do you recollect that it ever had one?
A. No. They certainly did not have one.
Q. How many people do you estimate-I am sure that you do not remember the exact number, but how many people do you estimate were executed by these vans by Einsatzgruppe D?
A. Please save my mentioning these figures because I dont know anything about 10a and concerning 11b the van may have been used two or three times, I am not sure. I myself hardly saw the van, but only the first time, together with the physician, I had a look that the people went to sleep without any difficulties, and then I must have left. I dont know whether it was used again.
Q. Then some people were executed by means of the gas vans by your subunits?
MR. HEATH : Mr. Ohlendorf, you have just said that you felt that you must respect this order unto your own death.
Q. You have asked the Court to accept that coercion. Will you now tell the Court what your present judgment is of the order? Do you think it was a moral order or do you think it was a wrong order which you received from the head of the German State?
DR. ASCHENAUER: I object to this question, your Honor. Only facts can be asked about and not opinions.
MR. HEATH: May I answer, if your Honor please. A man who claims mitigation because of superior orders is putting himself in the position of saying, morally, I had no choice. If, in fact, he
A morally approved of a superior order and, therefore, would have acted without the coercion of it, if, in fact, he did not object to the coercion but merely lent himself to the course of action which he would have to follow without coercion, then a plea of mitigation fails entirely, and so here, if the defendant did these killings be-cause of the coercive effect of an order, with which he disagreed, that is one thing, but if Ohlendorf was himself in full agreement or in partial agreement with the purpose which Hitler had, then the mitigating effect of the coercion order is fully or almost fully lost.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Dr. Aschenauer, do you follow that argument?
MR. HEATH : The plea is bad, if it is done willingly.
DR. ASCHENAUER: I wish to point out that these are merely argumentations which have nothing to do with the testimony by the witness.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: The Tribunal has indicated that this is not the time for argument, but it would appear that the purpose behind the question is not in the nature of argumentation, but for the purpose of determining whether there can be any miti-gation in the offense as charged by the prosecution in the indict+ ment and for that purpose the question will be permitted. The objection is overruled.
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF : Mr. Prosecutor, I have already replied to that question during my direct examination by stating that I considered the order wrong, but I was under military coercion and carried it out under military coercion knowing that it was given in a state of emergency and the measures were ordered as emergency measures in self-defense. The order, as such, even now, I consider to have been wrong, but there is no question for me whether it was moral or immoral, because a leader who has to deal with such serious questions decides from his own responsi-bility and this is his responsibility and I cannot examine and not judge. I am not entitled to do so.
MR. HEATH : If your Honor please, that is exactly the state of the record and I respectfully submit that we yet have no answer. For this reason the witness has said he thought it was an un-justified order, because it was difficult or impossible of execution, when he was told-
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I didnt say that.
MR. HEATH: When he was told about it at Pretzsch, he thought it was impossible of execution. I think the very issue which he seeks to avoid is the crux of this question, namely, not whether it was a difficult order, or a wise order, from the standpoint of his, but whether it was right or wrong. The issue is a moral one. The
coercion of superior orders goes to the moral coercio,l and not to the wisdom of the order.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: But, Mr. Heath, hasnt he answered your question ?
MR. HEATH : He has said-he said it was a wrong order.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Now, what more do you want? Put another specific question and we will see if he hasnt answered. It appeared to the Tribunal that he has answered, but put the question to him.
MR. HEATH: You have said it was a wrong order. I want you only to tell me whether it was morally wrong or morally right.
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: May I correct beforehand that in my reply I never said whether it was a difficult or not a difficult order. That is an assumption which I dont want to have in the record.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Then it must have been an error in transmission, because the Tribunal is under the impression that yesterday you stated in your original protest against the order that it was impossible of fulfillment or very difficult of fulfillment. Are we in error in that impression?
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I said "inhuman", your Honor.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I see, very well. The record indicates just what was said. Now, do you want to put another question?
MR. HEATH: I put the same question-Was the order a moral one; was it morally right, or was it morally wrong?
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I have just said that I do not think that I am in a position to decide on the moral issue, but I considered it to be wrong because such factors are able to bring such results which may have and, in my opinion, are bound to have immoral effects. But I do not think I am in a position to judge the responsi-bility of a statesman who, as is shown in history, rightly saw his people before the question of existence or nonexistence, or to judge whether a measure in such a fight against fate, for which this leader is responsible, is moral or immoral.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Do we extract from all that you have said, this thought that you are not prepared to pass upon whether the order was morally right or morally wrong, but you do say that the order could only lead to very bad circumstances which would be injurious to Germany itself.
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Not only to Germany itself, your Honor. I consider this to be much more serious even. I see the order which Hitler gave, not as a first cause for this order, but I already consider it as a result of logical developments which may have started-or at least became very obvious-when in 1936, in our opinion, Germany was encircled. Such measures must further
such developments, for example, to the effect that instead of an understanding, hatred, revenge, and an exaggerated effort to gain security will become very strong and, therefore, the general in-security of the world will be increased. For example, causing ef-fects, as can be described with the name "Morgenthau Plan" or requests, such as that Germany is being weakened in its greatness and strength so that this people will no longer endanger the secur-ity of anyone. That is what I meant by "effect" which might result from such factors, because they are intended for this, while I be-lieve that throughout historical development at some time a chain of hatred or mistrust has to be broken in order to start anew some-where, and that, for example, I hoped would be achieved through National Socialism which owing to its national basis, must be respected by each individual people, but here the chain is continued, a sequence is continued, which instead of reconciliation breeds more hatred, and increases the craving for security. That is my opinion on this.
MR. HEATH: May I put the question once more, if your Honor please?
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Yes, you may put the question and then the witness may answer itdirectly, or, if he feels he has already answered it, he may so indicate, or he may refuse to answer it. We will see what happens.
MR. HEATH : I do not ask you for a judgment of Hitlers morals ; I ask you for an expression of your own moral conception. The question is not whether Hitler was moral ; but what, in your moral judgment, was the character of this order-was it a moral order, or an immoral order?
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The question concludes itself, because you are not asking abstractly for a moral estimate of nothing-but a moral estimate and judgment about a deed of Hitler. And for that reason the judgment which I may make is a judgment on the deed of Hitler.
Q. Then I may ask one more question, and this is the last one, your Honor. You surrendered your moral conscience to Adolf Hitler, did you not?
A. No. But I surrendered my moral conscience to the fact that I was a soldier, and, therefore, a wheel in a low position, relatively, of a great machinery ; and what I did there is the same as is done in any other army, and I am convinced that in spite of facts and comparisons which I do not want to mention again, the persons receiving the orders-and all armies are in the same position-until today, until this very day.
Q. It was not the coercion of the Hitler Order which overcame
your moral scruple. It was the fact that you had surrendered to Hitler the power to decide moral questions for you-is that right?
A. That is an argumentation on your part which I never said. No, it is not correct. But as a soldier I got an order, and I obeyed this order as a soldier.
Q. Well, as a soldier you still had a moral conscience-I suppose you did-which required, if you had a moral conscience, you had to judge the orders that came to you. You got an order from Adolf Hitler, and you tell us you accepted his moral judgment absolutely, whether right or wrong-is that right?
A. That I accepted a moral judgment I certainly did not say. I think my answer will not be changed by the fact that you want me to make a certain reply.
Q. Let us put it in the negative, then. You refused to make any moral judgment then, and you refuse now to make any moral judgment?
A. The reason is-.
Q. I am not asking you the reason. I am asking whether you refuse to express a moral judgment as to that time, or as of today.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Yesterday Mr. Heath put a question to you which perhaps we did not allow to be answered-but in view of what has now been stated perhaps we might go back just a moment. He asked you whether, when you received this order, any question arose in your mind as to its authenticity, namely, was the order of such a nature that it caused you to hesitate as to whether there could have been an error in it and would cause you to go higher than the officer who had given you this mission, in order to determine, positively, whether it was authentic or not. You remember that discussion?
Q. Now, when you received this order-it did not come from Hitler, that is, it was Hitlers, but he did not give it to you, it came from Streckenbach.
A, It was handed on, yes.
Q. Yes, very well. And his rank was not so high that an incredible statement by him could be questioned?
Q. When this order was first presented to you, did it shock you to such extent that you wanted to inquire whether it truly was an order given by Hitler or not; or were you so satisfied that Hitler
knew what to do, and the circumstances were such that even that order could be a logical one, that you accepted it without mis-givings, without questioning, without doubts, and without investigations?
A. It was a shock and was dispersed, as I explained yesterday, through reaction towards Streckenbach, and Streckenbach argued on all those questions which your Honor just mentioned. So that during this discussion all the questions have been worked on al-ready, and finally. No other solution was left to us than to accept Streckenbachs experience who knew through his discussion with Hitler that it was quite obvious that there was a Fuehrer Order here which under no circumstances could be cancelled.
Q. You indicated a lack of desire to answer Mr. Heaths question on the moral issue. You indicated that it wasnt for you to decide the moral question at all. But with every order, with every demand, or request, there instinctively goes a moral appraisement you may agree with it or not-so when this order was given to you to go out to kill, you had to appraise it, instinctively. The soldier who goes into battle knows that he must kill. But he understands that it is a question of a battle with an equally armed enemy. But you were going out to shoot down defenseless people. Now, didnt the question of the morality of that enter your mind? Let us sup pose that the order had been-and I dont mean any offense in this question-suppose the order had been that you should kill your sister. Would you not have instinctively morally appraised that order as to whether it was right or wrong-morally, not politically, or militarily, but as a matter of humanity, conscience, and justice between man and man?
A. I am not in a position, your Honor, to isolate this occurrence from the others. I believe during my direct examination plenty of questions of this kind have been dealt with. Probably with the occurrences of 1943, 1944, and 1945 where with my own hands I took children and women out of the burning asphalt myself, with my own hands, and with my own hands I took big blocks of stone from the stomachs of pregnant women ; and with my own eyes I saw 60,000 people die within 24 hours-that I am not prepared, or in a position to give today a moral judgment about that order, because in the course of this connection these factors seem to me to be above a moral standard. These years are for me a unit separate from the rest. Full of ruthlessness to destroy and to be inhuman-until today, your Honor, and I am not in a position to take one occurrence or rather a small event of what I experienced and to isolate it, and to value it morally in this connection. I ask you to understand that from a human point of view.
Q. Your answer gave a certain date. You mention the years
1943,1944,1945. Naturally, these were years following 1941, when you were confronted with that issue.
* * * * * * *
MR. HEATH : The Court made inquiry on which it got no response from the witness, which was, I think, the ultimate question which your Honor was putting to him, namely, if you get an order from Hitler to kill your sister, would you have acted on the order, or would you have had any conflicting moral judgment about the nature of the order? There was no response, and I dont know whether the Court thinks we have gone far enough with the questioning, or, whether we may ask for a response to that question?
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO : The Court would not insist on the question being answered because of its very nature, but it seems to me that it is a relevant question, but the witness may or may not answer, as he sees fit.
MR. HEATH : May we then put the question to him, if your Honor please? Witness, if you received an order from Adolf Hitler to kill your own flesh and blood, would you have executed that order, or not?
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I consider this question frivolous. The question is being put to me here by the prosecution, it deals with people-with life and death of people, and of millions of people who are near starvation even today, therefore, I can only state that the question is frivolous.
Q. Then I understand you to say that if one person be involved in a killing order, a moral question arises, but if thousands of human beings are involved in it, you can see no moral questions ; it is a matter of numbers?
A. Mr. Prosecutor, I think you are the only one to understand my answer in this way, that it is not a matter of one single person, but from the point of departure events have happened in history which among other things have led to deeds committed in Russia, and such an historical process you want me to analyze in a moral way. I do, however, refuse moral evaluation with good reasons as outlined so far as my own conscience is concerned. I am not refusing to answer this last question because it is just one person, in order to bring morality on the basis of numbers, but because the prosecutor now addresses me personally-
Q. I shall not address you personally. Suppose you found your sister in Soviet Russia, and your sister were included in that cate-i gory of gypsies, and she was brought before you for slaughter be-cause of her presence in the gypsy band ; what would have been your action? She is there in the process of history, which you have described?
DR. ASCHENAUER: I object to this question and I ask that this
question not be admitted. I think the subject has been dealt with sufficiently so that no other questions are necessary. This is no question for cross-examination.
MR. HEATH: Your Honor, I believe we have met tests which we applied by putting one of his own flesh and blood in exactly the alleged historical stream in which he can form no judgment. I asked him now whether if he found his own flesh and blood within the Hitler Order in Russia, what would have been his judgment, would it have been moral to kill his own flesh and blood, or immoral.
DR. ASCHENAUER: I ask for a ruling of the Tribunal upon my objection.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: The question indubitably is an extraordinary one, and ordinarily would not be tolerated in any trial, outside of a trial like this, which is certainly an extraordinary and a phenomenal one. We are dealing here with a charge, which to the knowledge of this Tribunal has never been presented in the history of the human race of a man who is here charged with the responsibility for the snuffing out of lives by the hundreds of thousands-not hundreds of thousands, but ninety thousand. If he were not charged with anything so monstrous as that, it would not seem to me necessary for him to answer the question on a moral issue, but if he is presented with an order by Hitler to dispose of his own flesh and blood, whether he would regard that as a moral issue, or not, I believe that is a question that is entirely relevant and is not frivolous, and the witness will be called upon to answer it.
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: May I please answer this question in the way it was put by the prosecutor, and the way it was originally put. I had not finished my statement why I considered this question frivolous, when the prosecutor interrupted me.
MR. HEATH : The Court has ruled that the question is not frivolous, and it calls for an answer. I urge the Court or respectfully request the Court to ask the witness to answer the question.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: The ruling disposes of this, and the witness will answer the question, so that you do not need to urge or demand.
MR. HEATH: I should have added your Honor, "or refuse to answer it, one way or the other."
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I am disposed to believe that he will answer it. Lets see whether he will answer it, or not.
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I consider this question frivolous, because it brings a completely private matter into a military one; that is, it deals with two events which have nothing to do with each other
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO : Witness-
MR. HEATH: Your Honor-
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Lets just keep in mind this situation. You are a defendant in a trial, and very serious charges have been brought against you. Your whole life and career are before this Court for scrutiny and examination. A question arises regard-ing an order which you received, and that order calls for the execution of defenseless people. You will admit that in normal times such a proposition would be incredible, and intolerable, but you claim that the circumstances were not normal, and, therefore, what might be accepted only with terrified judgment was accepted at that time as a normal discharge of duties. It is the contention of the prosecution, that regardless of the circumstances, the killing of defenseless people involved a moral issue, and that under all the circumstances you were to refrain from doing what was done. Now by way of illustration he advances, suppose that you had in the discharge of this duty been confronted with the necessity of deciding whether to kill, among hundreds of unknown people, one whom you knew very well. It seems to me that that is a relevant comparison. Now, lets direct our attention to that very question, if you will, please.
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: If this demand would have been made to me under the same prerequisites that is within the framework of an order, which is absolutely necessary militarily, then I would have executed that order
. MR. HEATH: That is all, sir.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Witness, I would like to ask one question. Were the men in your command entitled to any increase in pay because of the nature of the operation, or were they paid the regular salary which went to all soldiers?
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: At no time was there any advantage connected with that operation. Not at any time.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Now you were travelling in a territory which must have been very strange to you, and you had indicated that you had interpreters, but you must have been confronted with many language difficulties, because of dialects, and so on. Do you suppose that because of these language barriers that any errors might have occurred, so that even individuals under the broadest interpretation of that order were killed who should not have been killed?
A. I dont think so. The interpreter whom I had, for instance, my own interpreter was from Russia himself, and he knew the language and the conditions.
Q. Very well. You stated yesterday the only reason why you did not wish your command was that of a fear your successor might
not he so considerate of your men as you were. In what way did you regard that considerate ; in what respect?
A. Because I had experience from other Einsatzgruppen.
Q. Well, you were considerate of them, but the Tribunal does not understand in what respect. Was it with regard to accommoda-tions, with regard to food, with regard to the manner in which they had discharged this unpleasant duty?
A. It was part of the complaints which I personally presented to Himmler in Nikolaev ; that, for example, the Higher SS and Police Leader Jeckeln had organized special detachments which had to carry out nothing but executions, and it is understandable that this would ruin these people spiritually, or make them completely brutal. This is an example of what I meant.
Q. Very well. How much time did you spend, generally, in each community. I presume you were travelling all the time? A. I personally, or with my staff?
Q. With your staff. With your unit, the Einsatzgruppe?
A. I changed my headquarters when the headquarters of the army moved. I always joined the headquarters command of the army.
Q. Now you said that you tried to avoid excesses. Just what do you mean by that?
A. That, for example, an individual would carry out an execu-tion on his own.
Q. You mentioned this morning apropos something else, that there was a Christmas celebration in your organization. Did you have a Christmas celebration regularly every year?
Q. Yesterday, you stated that you had attended three executions, and in each one of these executions the subjects were singing the International and that they were shouting their allegiance to Stalin, and you took from that their solidarity to the Bolshevist cause, and, as I understood your answer, you drew from that a justification for the order, namely, that these individuals had in effect declared their hostility to Germany, and, that, therefore, as a matter of security and self-defense, or as a war measure in it-self, it was justifiable to dispose of them in the way they were dis-posed of?
A. No, your Honor, I did not mean it that way.
Q. I see. A. I was asked whether I saw any signs that the Fuehrer Order really was based on objective facts, and I meant these facts as one example to show that in these cases the victims actually expressed this attitude. This was not a basis for my action, only an example of what I saw myself.
312Q. Did you take from their singing and from their shouts at that moment, that this reflected an attitude on the part of all that race, which called for aggressive measures on the part of the Reich?
A. No. I was merely impressed by the fact that my three incidental visits always were attended by the same demonstrations on on the part of the victims. It was not a cause for me to act in any way. It was merely an illustration of the actual situation.
Q. Now just one more question on this incident. When you observed this demonstration, did you feel any sense of relief that here indeed were enemies of your country, and, therefore, the order which you were executing did have some justification in fact?
A. I have already expressed it a little more carefully yesterday, your Honor, because in any situation it is difficult to comment on this. I said that I watched this demonstration with respect, for I respected even this attitude, and I never hated an opponent, or an enemy, and I still do not do so today.
PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Any further questions, Dr. Aschenauer?
DR. ASCHENAUER: Your Honor, I only have two more questions. They concern the document which was submitted by the protsecution. I believe it is Document NOKW256, Prosecution Exhibit 174. There are two sentences "we received your directives from the Chief of the Security Police and the SD, and we are informed that we are under your command as far as restricting our mission on the part of the army is concerned." I want to ask one question. Did you ever have any responsibility of your own about these missions, including the executions, which went higher in responsibility than that of the Supreme Army Commander, as the executor of supreme command and which would have excluded the responsibility of the army commander in chief over life and death?
A. No. This activity was carried out under the responsibility of the Supreme Commander. He alone had the executive power of command, and therefore he disposed over life and death. This responsibility was never limited.
Q. Then do I understand you correctly if you say that your responsibility refers to the manner and type of the execution of the order?
A. Yes, that is right.
DR. ASCHENAUER: I have no further questions.
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