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cause they only helped to make combat against the enemy unnecessarily more difficult.
"(Signed) Heusinger "Generalleutnant." (3717-PS) (At this point, Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski was called upon for oral testimony. His testimony on direct examination was substantially to the same effect as his affidavit 3712-PS.)
(c) Responsibility of the Group for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Counts 3 and 4 of the Indictment. The foregoing evidence against the General Staff and High Command Group is such that no German soldier can view it with anything but shame. The German High Command developed and applied a policy of terror against commandos and paratroopers, in violation of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, on the Western Front. On the Eastern Front it descended to savagery. In advance of the attack against the Soviet Union, the High Command ordered the troops to take "ruthless action", left it to the discretion of any officer to decide whether suspected civilians should be immediately shot, and empowered any officer with the powers of a Battalion Commander to take "collective despotic measures" against localities. Offenses committed against civilians by German soldiers, however, were not required to be prosecuted, and prosecution was suggested only where desirable in order to maintain discipline and security from a military standpoint.
Soon after the invasion of the Soviet Union, German troops were told by the OKW that "a human life in unsettled countries frequently counts for nothing" and were encouraged to observe a punitive ratio of 50 to 100 Communists for one German soldier. German troops were told that they were to take "revenge on subhuman Jewry" and that they were not merely soldiers but "bearers of ruthless national ideology and avengers of bestialities". The High Command and the chief lieutenants of Himmler jointly planned the establishment of the Einsatzgruppen, the behavior of which has been shown in detail. These groups when in operational areas were under the command of the German Army, and German soldiers joined in their savagery. The Einsatzgruppen were completely dependent upon the Armed Forces for supplies with which to carry out their atrocities. The practices employed against the civilian population and against partisans were well known to all high ranking German officers on the Eastern Front. No doubt some of them disapproved of what was going on. Nonetheless, the full support of the military leaders continued to be given to these activities.
The record is clear that the General Staff and High Command
Group, including the defendants, who were members of the Group and numerous other members ordered, directed, and participated in war crimes and crimes against humanity as specified in counts 3 and 4 of the Indictment.
The world must bear in mind that the German High Command is not an evanescent thing, the creature of a decade of unrest, or a school of thought or tradition which is shattered or utterly discredited. The German High Command and military tradition have in the past achieved victory and survived defeat. They have met with triumph and disaster, and have survived through a singular durability not unmixed with stupidity. An eminent American statesman and diplomat, Mr. Sumner Welles, has written ("The Time for Decision", 1944, pp. 261–262) that:
* * the authority to which the German people have so often and so disastrously responded was not in reality the German Emperor of yesterday, or the Hitler of to-day, but the German General Staff.
"It will be said that this insistence that the German General Staff has been the driving force in German policy is a dangerous oversimplification. I am not disposed to minimize the importance of other factors in German history. They all have their place. But I am convinced that each of them has played its part only in so far as it was permitted to do so by the real master of the German race, namely, German militarism, personified in, and channelled through, the German General Staff."
"Whether their ostensible ruler is the Kaiser, or Hindenburg, or Adolf Hitler, the continuing loyalty of the bulk of the population is given to that military force controlled and guided by the German General Staff. To the German people, the army to-day, as in the past, is the instrument by which German domination will be brought about. Generations of Germans may pass. The nation may undergo defeat after defeat. But if the rest of the world permits it, the German General Staff will continue making its plans for the future."
The German General Staff and High Command is indicted not now at the bar of history, but on specific charges of crimes against International Law and the dictates of the conscience of mankind as embodied in the Charter. The picture that emerges from the evidence is that of a group of men with great powers for good
or ill who chose the latter; who deliberately set out to arm Germany to the point where the German will could be imposed on the rest of the world; and who gladly joined with the most evil forces at work in Germany. "Hitler produced the results which all of us warmly desired", Blomberg and Blaskowitz say, and that is obviously the truth. The converse is no less clear; the military leaders furnished Hitler with the means and might which were necessary to his mere survival, to say nothing of the accomplishment of those purposes which seem to the world so ludicrously impossible in 1932 and so fearfully imminent in 1942.
It was said above that the German militarists were inept as well as persistent. Helpless as Hitler would have been without them, he succeeded in mastering them. The generals and the Nazis
ere allies in 1933. But it was not enough for the Nazis that the generals should be voluntary allies; Hitler wanted them permanently and completely under his control. Devoid of political skill or principle, the generals lacked the mentality or morality to resist. On the day of the death of President Hindenburg in August 1934, the German officers swore a new oath. Their previous oath had been to the Fatherland; now it was to a man, Adolf Hitler. 'It was not until 18 days later that the law requiring this change was passed. A year later the Nazi emblem became part of their uniform and the Nazi flag their standard. By a clever process of infiltration into key positions, Hitler seized control of the entire military machine.
No doubt these generals will ask what they could have done about it. It will be said that they were helpless, and that to protect their jobs and families and their own lives they had to follow Hitler's decisions. No doubt this became true. But the generals were a key factor in Hitler's rise to complete power and a partner in his criminal aggressive designs. It is always difficult and dangerous to withdraw from a criminal conspiracy. Never has it been suggested that a conspirator may claim mercy on the ground that his fellow-conspirators threatened him with harm should he withdraw from the plot.
In many respects the spectacle which the German General Staff and High Command group presents today is the most degrading of all the groups and organizations charged in the Indictment. The bearers of a tradition not devoid of valour and honour, they emerge from this war stained both by criminality and ineptitude. Attracted by the militaristic and aggressive Nazi policies, the German generals found themselves drawn into adventures of a scope they had not foreseen. From crimes in which almost all of them participated willingly and approvingly were born others in which
they participated because they were too ineffective to alter the governing Nazi policies, and because they had to continue collaboration to save their own skins.
Having joined the partnership, the General Staff and High Command group planned and carried through manifold acts of aggression which turned Europe into a charnel-house, and caused the Armed Forces to be used for foul practices foully executed of terror, pillage, murder and wholesale slaughter. Let no one be heard to say that the military uniform shall be their cloak, or that they may find sanctuary by pleading membership in the profession to which they are an eternal disgrace.
LEGAL REFERENCES AND LIST OF DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE GENERAL STAFF AND HIGH COMMAND OF THE ARMED FORCES