Goering: The SS

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 84 of the proceedings, Hermann Goering is cross-examined by defense counsel.

Herr Ludwig Babel (Counsel for SS): Witness, did the same conditions apply for the appointment of honorary leaders in the SS as in the SA?

Goering: Yes, I believe so.

Herr Babel: Are you familiar with the directives or other regulations regarding the appointment of honorary leaders?

Goering: No.

Herr Babel: Was it possible to refuse the appointment?

Goering: Yes, I believe so.

Herr Babel: Do you know what the reasons were for the expansion of the Waffen-SS into the large permanent organization existing after 1939?

Goering: The first divisions of the Waffen-SS, which consisted of the best specially selected human material, fought with outstanding bravery in combat. Consequently the Fuehrer gladly agreed to Himmler's suggestion that still more divisions be set up. The Army and also the Air Force did make some protest, and quite rightly, because this creaming off of the best voluntary material meant that men of that type, who would have made equally good officers, were partly lost to the Army and the Air Force, and therefore they opposed this expansion.

Also, in the beginning, the Fuehrer was not very keen to have armed formations of any appreciable size outside the ranks of the Armed Forces, but he gave way more and more. When replacement difficulties became even more acute as the war went on, Himmler more or less deceived the Fuehrer with the statement that he was in a position to provide a large number of SS divisions, that this would create a greater attraction for recruiting, and so on. This, of course, was welcome news to the Fuehrer since he needed troops badly.

But in point of fact already at that time Himmler was using altogether different methods which had not much in common with purely voluntary recruiting, and he created first of all on paper a number of new SS divisions and cadres. At that time he had not the men for this. He then told the Fuehrer, "I have transferred my best Unterführer from the other SS divisions to these new ones." For this and other reasons replacements in men did not flow in and the Army and the Air Force, especially the Air Force, were those who bore the brunt of this. I now had to help fill these SS divisions with men from the ground staffs and from the antiaircraft batteries. This aroused much dissatisfaction among the men in the Air Force, because none of them wanted to volunteer for these formations.

But in the end the Fuehrer ordered that men be taken from the reserve units of the Army and, as far as I remember, from naval reserves also. I can speak only for that contingent which was taken from the Air Force by coercion and by command. I should estimate, without reference to official records that there were at least about 50,000 men and officers. Then because this aroused such strong feeling, I arranged that all men from the Air Force who were to be used for land fighting in the future should no longer go to the SS, but to the new parachute divisions which were to be formed. The Fuehrer agreed, because the last phase of the war the parachute divisions proved to be the most trusty and the most distinguished in the whole Armed Forces, and superior to the SS in fighting spirit and power of resistance. From then on no further contingents of the Air Force were incorporate into the SS, and, as far as I know, no more SS divisions were created.

Herr Babel: I have no more questions.

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 87, Hermann Goering's cross-examination by the prosecution continues.

Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: Well, now, I am going to pass from that matter to one or two points on which you gave evidence--I think at the instance of counsel for the organizations. You remember you gave evidence in answer to Dr. Babel about the Waffen-SS? Do you remember that--a few days ago?

Goering: Yes.

Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: I would just like you to look at a document which has not got a number, but it is the Fuehrer's ideas about the Waffen-SS, and to see if you agree. It is Document Number D-665, and it will be Exhibit Number GB-280. It is a document from the High Command of the Army, General Staff of the Army--statements of the Fuehrer regarding the future state military police--and the covering letter of the document says:

After the Fuehrer's proposals for the Waffen-SS had been passed on, doubts arose as to whether it was intended that they should be given wider distribution.

If you will pass to the documents, perhaps you will follow it while I read it. I do not think it has been introduced before: On 6 August 1940 when the order for the organization of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler--Adolf Hitler Bodyguard--was issued, the Fuehrer stated the principles regarding the necessity for the Waffen-SS as summed up below:

The Greater German Reich in its final form will not include within its frontiers only those national groups which from the very beginning will be well disposed towards the Reich. It is therefore necessary to maintain outside the Reich proper a state military police capable in any situation of representing and imposing the authority of the Reich. This task can be carried out only by a state police composed of men of best German blood and wholeheartedly pledged to the ideology on which the Greater German Reich is founded. Only such a formation will resist subversive influences, even in critical times. Such a formation, proud of its purity, will never fraternize with the Proletariat and with the underworld which undermines the fundamental idea.

In our future Greater German Reich, a police corps will have the necessary authority over the other members of the community only if it is trained along military lines. Our people are so military-minded as a result of glorious achievements in war and training by the National Socialist Party that a 'sock-knitting' police, as in 1848, or a bureaucratic police, as in 1918, would no longer have any authority. It is therefore necessary that this state police proves its worth and sacrifices its blood at the front, in close formations, in the same way as every unit of the armed forces. Having returned home, after having proved themselves in the field in the ranks of the Army, the units of the Waffen-SS will possess the authority to execute their tasks as state police.

This employment of the Waffen-SS for internal purposes is just as much in the interests of the Wehrmacht itself. We must never again allow the conscripted German Wehrmacht to be used against its fellow countrymen, weapon in hand, in critical situations at home. Such action is the beginning of the end. A state that has to resort to such methods is no longer in a position to use its armed forces against an enemy from without, and thereby gives itself up. There are deplorable examples of this in our history. In future the Wehrmacht is to be used solely against the foreign enemies of the Reich. In order to ensure that the men in the units of the Waffen-SS are always of high quality, the recruitment into the units must be limited. The Fuehrer's idea of this limitation is that the units of the Waffen-SS should generally not exceed 5 to 10 percent of the peacetime strength of the Army.

Do you agree with that? Is that a correct description of the purpose of the Waffen-SS?

Goering: I am absolutely convinced that he did say that, but that does not contradict my statement.

Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: Now, I just want you, while we are on the SS, to look at a note that is Document D-729 and will be Exhibit Number GB-281. It is on the conversation between you and the Duce in the Palazzo Venezia on 23 October 1942. At that time you were still in good odor with the Fuehrer and still retained your power; is that right? I will read it: It is Page 35, Paragraph 1.

The Reich Marshal then described Germany's method in fighting the partisans. To begin with, all livestock and foodstuffs were taken away from the areas concerned, so as to deny the partisans all sources of supply.

Goering: Just a second please. Where is this?

Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: It is Page 35, Paragraph 1, but I will find it for you if you have any difficulty. I think it is marked, and it begins "The Reich Marshal..." Can you find it?

Goering: Yes.

Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: I will start again if I may.

The Reich Marshal then described Germany's method in fighting the partisans. To begin with, all livestock and foodstuffs were taken away from the areas concerned, so as to deny the partisans all sources of supply. Men and women were taken away to labor camps, the children to children's camps, and the villages burned down. It was by the use of these methods that the railways in the vast wooded areas of Bialowiza had been safeguarded.

Whenever attacks occurred, the entire male population of the villages was lined up on one side and the women on the other. The women were told that all the men would be shot, unless they--the women--pointed out which men did not belong to the village. In order to save their men, the women always pointed out the nonresidents. Germany had found that, generally speaking, it was not easy to get soldiers to carry out such measures. Members of the Party discharged this task much more harshly and efficiently. For the same reason armies trained ideologically, such as the German--or the Russian--fought better than others. The SS, the nucleus of the old Party fighters, who have personal ties with the Fuehrer and who form a special elite, confirm this principle.

Now, is that a correct description?

Goering: Yes, certainly.

Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: And this expresses correctly your views on how war against partisans should be carried out?

Goering: I have transmitted this.
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