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haber in the Army, Navy, or Air Force. The term Oberbefehlshaber defies literal translation into English: literally the components of the word mean "over-command-holder,” and it is perhaps best translated as Commander-in-Chief. In the case of the Army, commanders of army groups and armies always had the status and title of Oberbefehlshaber. In the Air Force, the Commander-inChief of air fleets always had the status of Oberbefehlshaber, although they were not formally so designated until 1944. In the Navy, officers holding the senior regional commands, and therefore in control of all naval operations (other than of the high seas fleet itself) in a given sector, had the status of Oberbefehlshaber. Roughly 110 individual officers had the status of Oberbefehlshaber in the Army, Navy, or Air Force during the period in question, and all but approximately a dozen of them are still alive.
The entire General Staff and High Command group as defined in the Indictment comprises about 130 officers, of whom 114 are believed still to be living. These figures are the cumulative total of all officers who at any time belonged to the group during the seven years and three months from February 1938 to May 1945. The number of active members of the group at any one time is, of course, much smaller; it rose from about 20 at the outbreak of the war to 50 in 1944 and 1945.
The structure and functioning of the German General Staff and High Command group have been described in a series of affidavits by some of the principal German field marshalls and generals. A brief description of how these statements were obtained may be helpful. In the first place two American officers, selected for ability and experience in interrogating high-ranking German prisoners of war, were briefed by an Intelligence officer and a trial counsel on the particular problems presented by this part of the case. These interrogators were already well versed in military intelligence and were able to converse fluently in German. The officer who briefed these interrogators emphasized that their function was objectively to inquire into and to establish facts on which the prosecution wishes to be accurately and surely informed; the interrogators were not to regard themselves as cross-examiners. The German officers to be interrogated were selected on the basis of the special knowledge which they could be presumed to possess by reason of positions held by them during the past generation. After each interview the interrogator prepared a report. From this report such facts as appeared relevant to the issues now before the Tribunal were extracted and a statement embodying these facts was prepared. This statement was then presented to the officer at a later interview. It was presented in the form of a draft and
the officer was asked whether it truly reproduced what he said at the previous interview. He was also invited to alter it in any way he thought fit. This careful and laborious, but necessary, process had as its object the procuring of the best possible testimony in the form of carefully considered statements.
These affidavits fully support the prosecution's description of the group, and conclusively establish that this group of officers was in fact the group which had the major responsibility for planning and directing the operations of the German Armed Forces
The first of these affidavits is that of Franz Halder (3702-PS), who held the rank of Generaloberst (Colonel General), the equivalent of a four-star general in the American Army. Halder was chief of the General Staff of OKH from September 1938 to September 1942 and is, accordingly, a member of the group. His statement reads:
"Ultimate authority and responsibility for military affairs in
position of this group and the relationship of its members to each other were as shown in the attached chart. This was in effect the General Staff and High Command of the German Armed Forces.”
“(S) Halder" (3702-PS) A substantially identical statement (3703-PS) was made by von Brauchitsch, who held the rank of Field Marshall, and who was Commander-in-Chief of the Army from 1938 to 1941. Von Brauchitsch was also, therefore, a member of the group. The only difference between the two statements is worth noting occurs in the last sentence of each. Halder states that the group described in the Indictment "was in effect the General Staff and High Command of the German Armed Formes," (3702-PS), whereas von Brauchitsch puts it a little differently, saying "in the hands of those who filled the positions shown in the chart lay the actual direction of the Armed Forces." (3703-PS)
Both von Brauchitsch and Halder have stated under oath that the General Staff chart (Chart Number 7) accurately portrays the top organization of the German Armed Forces. The statements by von Brauchitsch and Halder also fully support the prosecution's statement that the holders of the positions shown on this chart constitute the group in whom lay the major responsibility for the planning and execution of all Armed Forces matters.
Another affidavit by Halder (3707-PS) sets forth certain less important matters of detail:
“The most important department in the OKW was the Op-
worked out by the group of high-ranking officers described in my Statement of 7 November (in the Army: 'General Staff of the Army'; in the Air Force 'General Staff of the Air Force'). “Operational matters in the Navy were even in World War I not worked out by the “Great General Staff' but by the Naval Staff.”
"(Signed) Franz Halder" (3707-PS) This affidavit is primarily concerned with the functions of the General Staffs of the four Commanders of OKW, OKL, OKM, and OKH and fully supports the inclusion of the Chiefs of Staff of the four services in the indicted group, as well as the inclusion of Warlimont as Deputy Chief of the OKW Operations Staff, with his strategic planning responsibilities.
An affidavit (3708-PS) by the son of Field Marshal von Brauchitsch, who had the rank of Oberst (Colonel) in the German Air Force, and who was personal aide to Goering as Commander-inChief of the German Air Force, furnishes a few details on the Luftwaffe:
“Luftflottenchefs have the same status as the Oberbefehls-
(Signed) Brauchitsch" (3708-PS)
(3) Functioning of the General Staff and High Command Group. In many respects, the German military leaders functioned in the same general manner as obtains in the military establishments of other large nations. General plans were made by the top staff officers and their assistants at OKW, OKH, OKL, and OKM, in collaboration with the field generals or admirals who were entrusted with the execution of the plans. A decision to wage a particular campaign would be made, needless to say, at the highest level, and the making of such a decision would involve political and diplomatic questions as well as purely military considerations. When the decision was made, to attack Poland, for example, the top staff officers in Berlin and their assistants would
work out general military plans for the campaign. These general plans would be transmitted to the Commanders of the Army groups and Armies who were to be in charge of the campaign. Consultation would follow between the top field commanders and the top staff officers at OKW and OKH, and the plans would be revised, perfected, and refined in detail.
The manner in which the group worked, involving as it did the interchange of ideas and recommendations between the top staff officers at OKW and OKH and the principal field commanders, is graphically described in two affidavits by Field Marshall von Brauchitsch (3705-PS):
“STATEMENT OF 7 NOVEMBER 1945 “In April 1939 I was instructed by Hitler to start military preparations for a possible campaign against Poland. Work was immediately begun to prepare an operational and deployment plan. This was then presented to Hitler and approved by him as amended by a change which he desired. “After the operational and deployment orders had been given to the two Commanders of the army groups and the five Commanders of the armies, conferences took place with them about details in order to ear their desires and recommendations. “After the outbreak of the war I continued this policy of keeping in close and constant touch with the Commandersin-Chief of army groups and of armies by personal visits to their headquarters as well as by telephone, teletype or wireless. In this way I was able to obtain their advice and their recommendations during the conduct of military operations. In fact it was the accepted policy and common practice for the Commander-in-Chief of the Army to consult his subordinate Commanders-in-Chief and to maintain a constant exchange of ideas with them. The Commander-in-Chief of the Army and his Chief of Staff communicated with army groups and, thru them as well as directly, with armies; thru army groups on strategical and tactical matters; directly on questions affecting supply and the administration of conquered territory occupied by these armies. An army group had no territorial jurisdiction. It had a relatively small staff which was concerned only with military operations. In all territorial matters it was the Commander-in-Chief of the army and not of the army group who exercised jurisdiction.
“ (Signed) von Brauchitsch" (3705-PS)