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Donovan Nuremberg Trials Collection

Nuremberg trial transcripts and documents from the Collection of General William J. Donovan

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Volume 005
Subdivision Subdivision 10 / High Command and General Staff
Part 1
Section 10.04 (Generals' statement)
Title Introduction [The German Army]
Pages 65
Pages Supplemental With the following breakdown: "Introduction" (lp), unnumbered; signatory page (lp.), 2; text of the statement proper (63pp.) 1-63.
Date 1945-11-19
Language English
Author Walther von Brauchitsch; Erich von Manstein; Franz Haider; Walter Warlimont; Siegfried Westphal
Witness Walther von Brauchitsch; Erich von Manstein; Franz Halder; Walter Warlimont; Siegfried Westphal
Other Names von Seeckt; Moltke; Hindenburg; Ludendorff; Hitler; Beck; von Schleicher; von Hammerstein; von Fritsch; von Blomberg; von Reichenau; von Rundstedt; Wirth, Stresemann; Luther; Bruenning; Goebbels; Goering; Roehm; von Witzleben; von Mackensen; Streicher; Himmler; Ley; Kube; Keitel; Todt; Speer; Zeitzier; Jodl; Schmundt; Rosenberg; Mussolini; Rommel
Other Dates November 1923; April 1, 1930; January 31, 1933; June 30, 1934; February 4, 1938; March 31, 1938; September 1, 1939; August 9, 1940; December 18, 1940; April 6, 1941; June 14, 1941; June 22, 1941; December 7,1941; 19 December 1941; 24 September 1942; 31 March 1944; 6 September 1944; 7 May 1945
Abstract This statement is the one to which documents 10.03 and 10.03 cont'd refer. In it, the five German Generals named above as its authors provide a summary description of the German Army prior to the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 (pp. 1-10) and an account of the significant military events that occurred thereafter. The gist of the statement is that the German Army was, according to von Seeckt's design and Count von Moltke's example, an a-political organization before the First World War and increasingly politicized thereafter. The Nazis in effect raised the stakes by overtly attempting to enlist the support of German officers - an effort that was, between 1933 and 1938, somewhat successful due to Hitler's foreign policy triumphs in Austria (the Anschluss) and the Rhineland, as well as his friendly posture toward England and France, and despite his unilateral withdrawal from the League of Nations, his rabid anti-Semitism, his conciliatory gestures toward Poland, and his animus toward Soviet Russia (pp. 10-15). On all counts, the statement is at pains to assert that Hitler undertook these actions independently - that is, without the advice and consent of the Army. Aside from Hitler's success in combating monetary inflation and unemployment, the Army did not approve of his domestic politics. The growth, activities and military aspirations of the SA and SS constituted an insult and a threat to aristocratic German officers' corps, and the Nazi's anti-Semitism was, both in theory and practice, "unworthy of the German nation" (p. 17). So, too, did the army oppose the Nazi's anti-Church bias. The glorification of Hitler and the crass party propaganda were, moreover, "not at all in keeping with the traditional views of the army" (p. 18). The central portion of the statement addresses the commencement of hostilities, beginning with the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 and moving quickly to the campaigns against England, France, and Russia. The exposition is both rambling and sketchy with intermittent passages of lucid detail. The general tenor of this part of the account is Hitler's increasing disdain for the regular German Army, specifically its generals, and his concomitant interference in military decisions. The statement depicts Hitler as a reckless opportunist in matters of military strategy whose quick, short-term successes were more the result of daring and surprise - and the relative weakness of his opponents - than of brilliant or particularly insightful analyses of the international situation. The Army Command, by its own account, found itself on matters of military tactics and the governance of occupied territories increasingly at odds with Hitler and his various henchmen, including the SS and SD but more particularly the OKW, all of which were, in effect, ordered by Hitler to usurp some aspect or other of the Army's traditional role, At the same time, Army Generals were denied ready access to Hitler, who began to aggregate more and more power to himself; this tendency culminated with the resignation of von Brauchitsch, effective December 19, 1941, and Hitler's assuming the role of the Army's Commander-in-Chief on that date. One comes away from this portion of the statement with the impression that Hitler was intoxicated by his early victories and, giddy in a way only a rapacious megalomaniac can be, presently came to consider himself infallible and his war machine unconquerable. The irresponsible aggressiveness and military foolishness of his subsequent decisions seem to support this impression, especially when one reads that the Army Command repeatedly advised the Fuehrer against undertaking increasingly risky and arduous operations (such as the invasion of Russia; see pp. 43-45 and 47-48). The last part of the statement recounts the ruinous defeats suffered by Germany during the last 2-3 years of the war. The eventual destruction of the Army was the result of Hitler's insistence that each German soldier fight to the death and never voluntarily surrender a single square inch of soil. Hitler's incompetent meddling in military operations eventually obliged tens of thousands of soldiers to implement this suicidal policy. The inevitable question about a rebellion in the ranks, which one might well expect under such circumstances, seems never to have been seriously considered - excepting, of course, the assassination attempt carried out by a relatively small group of insurgents, among whom the authors of this statement did not count themselves for reasons of training and honor, as well as practical considerations (pp.62-63). On similar grounds, the Army Generals disavow any knowledge of or participation in the most egregious atrocities committed by the SS and Gestapo, including the exploitation of foreign labor, the plundering of art, and, most significantly, the destruction of European Jewry. This document is a typewritten original made on at least two different typewriters. The quality of the text is excellent and the paper quite stable. A carbon copy of the text follows, also sectioned as 10.04. A note card taped to page 2 of the carbon copy indicates that the first three pages of the statement are missing; in fact, just the first two pages, indicating the signatures of the five Generals, is missing. Page 1 of the text proper, which carries the title, "The Army from 1920-1933," is bound between pages 62 and 63 of the carbon copy text. In all other respects the carbon copy appears to be identical to the original.
Keywords Versailles Treaty; Weimar Constitution; Munich Putsch; NSDAP; Hinhaltender Widerstand (drawn-out resistance); Black Reichswehr; League of Nations; SA; SS; OKW; Sudeten question; Polish Campaign; Sea-lion; Reconstruction East; Occupied Territories; Partisan warfare; Hostages; Russian Campaign; Balkan Campaign; French Campaign; Norwegian Campaign; Frontier defense; Hague Convention