Source: Law-Reports of Trials of War Criminals, The United Nations War Crimes Commission, Volume XII, London, HMSO, 1949

[Some sections have been highlighted provisionally until hyperlinks can be added to appropriate files. Page numbers precede text]

CASE NO. 72

THE GERMAN HIGH COMMAND TRIAL

TRIAL OF WILHELM VON LEEB AND THIRTEEN OTHERS

UNITED STATES MILITARY TRIBUNAL, NUREMBERG,
30TH DECEMBER. 1947 - 28TH OCTOBER, 1948

Part I

Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V Part VI Part VII Part VIII 

Foreword
The German High Command Trial
Outline of the Proceedings

The Court
The Indictment

Count I - Crimes against Peace
Count II - War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity - Crimes against Enemy Belligerents and Prisoners of War
Count III - War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity - Crimes against Civilians
Count IV - Common Plan or Conspiracy

Progress of the Trial
The Evidence before the Tribunal

The Positions of the Accused
The German Military System

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FOREWORD

These Reports have in the present production arrived at Volume XII. This volume will contain a Report of only one trial, which has been described as the High Command Trial, because it deals with the responsibility of high-ranking officers of the German army for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. The proceedings and evidence are very voluminous, as may be inferred from the fact that the length of the Judgment was 330 pages. The work of digesting the evidence has been performed by Mr. Aars Rynning, the Norwegian member of the Commission’s staff. I am satisfied that the work has been admirably done. The Notes on the Case, which, together with the arrangement of those parts of the Judgment in which legal matters are discussed, are Mr. Brand’s contribution to the present report, examine various questions on which the Judgment is of particular value. As Editor of these Reports he has also supplied the necessary cross-references and comparisons with earlier judgments of the same series, that is the series of the Subsequent Proceedings at Nuremberg, conducted under General Telford Taylor. In the Foreword to Volume VI, I included some general remarks on these proceedings which I do not desire to repeat. The judgment in the present case is of great interest and importance. Though all these proceedings were held under Control Council Law No. 10 and Military Ordinance No. 7, and thus are under a separate jurisdiction from that of the International Military Tribunal, which is conveniently referred to as I.M.T., there is a substantial uniformity in the Basic Laws and Procedure,  and the judgment in the present case is in substance based on the principles enumerated by the I.M.T. But it does illustrate the development which has necessarily arisen by reason of the various complications of fact and of issues which were not present in the I.M.T. trial. The Tribunal which decided the present case has been compelled to do much work of analysis and differentiation and has performed the task in such a way as to add greatly to the development of this branch of law. The same may indeed be said of all the other judgments in the Subsequent Proceedings. No student of this branch of the International Law of war can dispense with a careful study of these Subsequent Proceedings, which have carried the ideas of the I.M.T. forward into problems of fact and law which were not present, and indeed could not have been present, to the minds of the earlier Tribunal. Perhaps I may here be permitted to express a humble tribute to the Judges who have left their homes in the United States and sojourned for many months in Nuremberg for the purpose of conducting these trials and performing the arduous task of preparing the judgments. Their efforts will be now and hereafter unanimously applauded.

In studying this Report I have again been overwhelmed by a sense of the extraordinary mass of human suffering, and of widespread misery over a large part of Europe inflicted on mankind by the accused which form the subject of this volume. Before I make a few desultory observations on the. nature of the main issues I cannot help noting one instance which illustrates the extent to which human dignity has been degraded. When, in October and November, 1943, the Germans decided to retreat and evacuate the

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Eastern Zone, orders were issued to the General to institute a trek of the inhabitants on foot to the new areas, a notorious trek involving, as was admitted, atrocious hardships and a large percentage of deaths on the victims. In particular the order required that able-bodied labourers should be used for work for the army. Hundreds of thousands of helpless people were thus evacuated. They had to feed themselves. Only bread was distributed on the way. Note this incidental point-the order prescribed that " Children over 10 are considered as labourers."

I do not intend to do more than itemise the different Orders which occasioned a large part of the charges in this indictment. Their general nature is well known by this time. They included, among others, the Commissar Order, the Barbarossa Jurisdiction Order, the Commando Order, the " Night and Fog " decree. There were also charges in respect of the slaughter of hostages and of partisans ; of slave labour and deportees; of every species of crime against prisoners of war ; of looting, pillage, plunder and spoliation. How many millions were slaughtered in the course of these illegal proceedings can never be computed. I can only here refer to the analysis and summary contained in the pages of this Report. Full and accurate as it is, so far as its scope permits, it is not intended to do more than give a clear general picture. Other publications may in the future give a verbatim reproduction of the evidence and the judgment.

The legality of the killing of hostages came up for consideration in the judgment. The Tribunal were content to avoid approving or disapproving the conclusions reached on this important topic in the Hostages Trial. The Tribunal referred to the scheme of safeguards and conditions proposed in that judgment as necessary to be fulfilled before hostages can be lawfully killed. I have elsewhere ventured to submit that under International Law hostages cannot as such be killed. The Tribunal in this case did not feel it necessary to decide between the different conflicting views. Their conclusion was as follows : " If so inhuman a measure as the killing of innocent persons for the offences of others is ever permissible under any theory of International Law, killing without full compliance with all requirements would be murder. If killing is not permissible under any circumstances, then a killing with full compliance with all mentioned prerequisites still would be murder." But the Tribunal held that the prerequisites were not even contemplated or attempted, so that the precise question of principle did not arise.

The charge against the accused of crimes against peace was rejected in toto on the ground that the various commanding officers, however high their rank, were not on the policy-making level. The same principle was applied to the count of conspiracy.

As to Counts Three and Four, in respect of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the criminality of the various orders and decrees in their particular aspects and the various degrees of culpability attributable to the individual accused were determined after a careful investigation of their respective status and functions in the German army organization and their

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personal responsibility for such crimes. All these issues, which form the, outstanding feature of this judgment, were meticulously examined by the Tribunal before they arrived at their findings and sentences. I can only here refer to the careful and exact analysis of the whole complex position contained in the elaborate judgment which it is sought to digest in the ensuing pages of this Volume.

WRIGHT

London, January, 1949.

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Wilhelm von Leeb and the other thirteen accused in this case were former high-ranking officers in the German Army and Navy, and officers holding high positions in the German High Command (OKW). All of them were charged with Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and with Conspiracy to commit such crimes. The War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity charged against them included criminal responsibility in connection with the implementation and execution of the so-called Commissar Order, the Barbarossa Jurisdiction Order, the Commando Order, the Night and Fog Decree, the Hostages and Reprisals Orders, murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war and of the civilian population in the occupied territories and their use in prohibited work ; discrimination against and persecution and execution of Jews and other sections of the population by the Wehrmacht in co-operation with the Einsatzgruppen and Sonderkommandos of the SD, SIPO and the Secret Field Police ; plunder and spoliation and the enforcement of the slave labour programme of the Reich.

One of the accused, Johannes Blaskowitz, committed suicide in prison on 5th February, 1948, during the trial.

All of the remaining thirteen were acquitted on the Count charging Crimes against Peace whereas the Conspiracy Count was dismissed by the Tribunal " as tendering no issue not contained in the preceding Counts."

As to Counts Two and Three, charging War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, two of the accused were acquitted, whereas the eleven others were found guilty and sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from two years up to life imprisonment.

In its Judgment the Tribunal dealt with a number of legal issues, including the prerequisites for responsibility of commanders for offences committed by their subordinate

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and associated units, the plea of superior orders and military necessity, and the interpretation and implementation of the Hague and Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war and the population of occupied territories.

A. OUTLINE OF THE PROCEEDINGS

1. THE COURT

The Court before which this trial was held was a United States Military Tribunal set up under the authority of Law No. 10 of the Allied Control Council for Germany, and Ordinance No. 7 of the Military Government of the United States Zone of Germany. (Footnote 1: For a general account of the United States Law and practice regarding war crime trials held before Military Commissions and Tribunals and Military Government Courts, see Vol. III of this series, pp. 103-120) [For a general outline, see the document]

2. THE INDICTMENT

The accused whose names appeared in the Indictment were the following : Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm von Leeb, Generalfeldmarschall Hugo Sperrle, Generalfeldmarschall Georg Karl Friedrich-Wilhelm von Kuechler, Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz, (Footnote 2: The accused Johannes Blaskowitz committed suicide in prison on 5th February, 1948, and thereby the case against him was terminated.) Generaloberst Hermann Hoth, Generaloberst Hans Reinhardt, Generaloberst Hans von Salmuth, Generaloberst Karl Hollidt, Generaladmiral Otto Schniewind General der Infanterie Karl von Roques, General der Infanterie Hermann Reinecke, General der Artillerie Walter Warlimont, General der Infanterie Otto Woehler and Generaloberstabsrichter Rudolf Lehmann.

The Indictment filed against the accused made detailed delegations which were arranged in four Counts charging Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and a common plan or conspiracy to commit such crimes. The individual Counts may be summarized in the following way :

Count I-Crimes against Peace

The First Count of the Indictment, in paragraphs 1 and 2, reads as follows :

" 1. All of the defendants, with divers other persons, including the co-participants listed in Appendix A, during a period of years preceding 8th May, 1945, committed Crimes against Peace as defined in Article II of Control Council Law No. 10, in that they participated in the initiation of invasions of other countries and wars of aggression in violation of international laws and treaties, including but not limited to the planning, preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression, and wars in violation of international treaties, agreements and assurances.

" 2. The defendants held high military positions in Germany and committed Crimes against Peace in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, were connected with plans and enterprises involving, and were members of

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organizations and groups connected with, the commission of Crimes against Peace."

Then follow paragraphs 3 to 44, both inclusive, covering plans of aggressions, and wars and invasions against Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, Greece, the U.S.S.R. and the United States of America, and claiming to show the unfolding of these plans of aggression and to particularize the participation of the defendants in the formulation, distribution, and execution thereof.

Count II-War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity : Crimes against Enemy Belligerents and Prisoners of War

Count II of the Indictment, paragraph 45, reads as follows :
" 45. Between September, 1939, and May, 1945, all of the defendants herein, with divers other persons including the co-participants listed in Appendix A, committed War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, as defined in Article II of Control Council Law No. 10, in that they participated in the commission of atrocities and offences against prisoners of war and members of armed forces of nations then at war with the Third Reich or under the belligerent control of or military occupation by Germany, including but not limited to murder, ill-treatment, denial of status and rights, refusal of quarter, employment under inhumane conditions and at prohibited labour of prisoners of war and members of military forces, and other inhumane acts and violations of the laws and customs of war. The defendants committed War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, were connected with plans and enterprises involving, and were members of organizations and groups connected with, the commission of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity."

Then follows paragraph 46, which in general terms sets out the unlawful acts as follows :
" 46. Unlawful orders initiated, drafted, distributed and executed by the defendants directed that certain enemy troops be refused quarter and be denied the status and rights of prisoners of war, and that certain captured members of the military forces of nations at war with Germany be summarily executed. Such orders further directed that certain members of enemy armed forces be designated and treated by troops of the German armed forces, subordinate to the defendants, either as ‘ partisans, communists, bandits, terrorists ’ or by other terms denying them the status and rights of prisoners of war. Prisoners of war were compelled to work in war operations and in work having a direct relation to war operations, including the manufacture, transport and loading of arms and munitions, and the building of fortifications. This work was ordered within the combat zone as well as in rear areas. Pursuant to a ‘ total war ’ theory and as part of a programme to exploit all non-German peoples, prisoners of war were denied rights to which they were entitled under conventions and the laws and customs of war. Soldiers were branded, denied adequate food, shelter, clothing

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and care, subjected to all types of cruelties and unlawful reprisals, tortured and murdered. Special screening and extermination units, such as Einsatz Groups of the Security Police and Sicherheitsdienst (commonly known as the ‘ SD ‘), operating with the support and under the jurisdiction of the Wehrmacht, selected and killed prisoners of war for religious, political and racial reasons. Many recaptured prisoners were ordered executed. The crimes described in paragraphs 45 and 46 included, but were not limited to, those set forth hereafter in this Count."

This is followed by paragraphs 47 to 58, both inclusive, which particularize certain unlawful acts, such as the issuance and execution of the " Commissar Order," the " Commando Order," etc., and the participation of the accused in the formulation, distribution and execution of these unlawful plans.

Count III-War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity : Crimes against Civilians

Count III of the Indictment, paragraph 59, reads as follows :
" 59. Between September, 1939. and May, 1945, all of the defendants herein, with divers other persons including the co-participants listed in Appendix A, committed War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity as defined in Article II of Control Council Law No. 10, in that they participated in atrocities and offences, including murder, extermination, ill-treatment, torture, conscription to forced labour, deportation to slave labour or for other purposes, imprisonment without cause, killing of hostages, persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds, plunder of public and private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, devastation not justified by military necessity, and other inhumane and criminal acts against German nationals and members of the civilian populations of countries and territories under the belligerent occupation of, or otherwise controlled by Germany. The defendants committed War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, were connected with plans and enterprises involving, and were members of organizations and groups which were connected with, the commission of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity."

The following paragraphs 60 to 82 set forth generally and particularly the alleged unlawful acts, such as enslavement of the population, plunder of public and private property, murder, etc., and the alleged participation of the accused in the formulation, distribution and execution of these unlawful plans.

Count IV-Common Plan or Conspiracy

The Fourth Count, paragraphs 83 to 84, reads as follows :
" 83. All the defendants, with divers other persons, during a period of years preceding 8th May, 1945, participated as leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices in the formulation and execution of a common plan and conspiracy to commit, and which involved the commission of, Crimes against Peace (including the acts constituting War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, which were committed as an

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integral part of such Crimes against Peace) as defined in Control Council Law No. 10, and are individually responsible for their own acts and for all acts committed by any persons in the execution of such common plan or conspiracy.

" 84. The acts and conduct of the defendants set forth in Counts I, II and III of this Indictment formed a part of said common plan or conspiracy and all the allegations made in said Counts are incorporate in this Count."

3. PROGRESS OF THE TRIAL

A copy of the Indictment in the German language was served upon each of the accused at least thirty days prior to the arraignment on 30th December, 1947, at which time each of them, in the presence of counsel of his own choice, entered a plea of " Not guilty."

Arraignment took place on 30th December, 1947, and judgment was delivered and sentences passed on 27th and 28th October, 1948. Each of the accused was represented by German lawyers of his own choice.

The trial was conducted in two languages-English and German-and all documents submitted were translated and given to counsel. The defence was also furnished with photostat copies of the original captured documents.

The case was not closed for the taking of evidence until 6th August, 1948. The defence introduced a total of 2,130 documents and affidavits as exhibits in the presentation of their defence. The prosecution introduced 1,778 documents in evidence.

One hundred and sixty-five witnesses were ordered to be summoned for the defence. It was possible to procure one hundred and five of those summoned, and of these only eighty were in fact called by the defence.

4. THE EVIDENCE BEFORE THE TRIBUNAL

(i) The Positions of the Accused

WILHELM VON LEEB-Generalfeldmarschall (General of the Army) ; October, 1935, to February, 1938, Commander-in-Chief Army Group Command (Heeresgruppenkommando) 2 ; October, 1938, to November, 1938, Commander-in-Chief 12th Army ; September, 1939, to May, 1941, Commander-in-Chief Army Group C ; June, 1941, to January, 1942, Commander-in-Chief Army Group North.

HUGO SPERRLE-Generalfeldmarschall (General of the Army) ; November, 1936, to October, 1937, Commander of the " Condor Legion " in Spain ; February, 1938, to January, 1939, Commanding General of Air Group (Luftgruppe) 3 ; February, 1939, to August, 1944, Commander-in-Chief Air Fieet (Luftflotte) 3.

GEORG KARL FRIEDRICH-WILHELM VON KUECHLER-Generalfeldmarschall (General of the Army) ; September, 1939, Commander-in-Chief 3rd Army ; October and November, 1939, Commander of East Prussian Defence Zone ; November, 1939, to January, 1942, Commander-in-Chief 18th Army ; January, 1942, to January, 1944, Commander-in-Chief Army Group North.

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JOHANNES BLASKOWITZ-Generaloberst (General) ; November, 1939, to August, 1939, Commander-in-Chief Army Group Command (Heeresgruppenkommando) 3 ; September, 1939, to October, 1939, Commander-in-Chief 8th Army ; October, 1939, Commander-in-Chief 2nd Army ; October, 1939, to May, 1940, Commander-in-Chief East (Oberbefehlshaber Ost) ; May, 1940, Commander-in-Chief 9th Army ; June, 1940, Military Commander (Militarbefehlshaber) Northern France ; October, 1940, to May, 1944, Commander-in-Chief 1st Army ; May, 1944, to September, 1944, Acting Commander-in-Chief Army Group G ; December, 1944, to January, 1945, Commander-in-Chief Army Group G ; January, 1945, to April, 1945, Commander-in-Chief Army Group H ; April, 1945, Commander-in-chief Netherlands and 25th Army.

HERMANN HOTH-Generaloberst (General) ; November, 1938, to November, 1940, Commanding General XV Corps ; November, 1940, to October, 1941, Commander Panzer Group 3 ; October, 1941, to April, 1942, Commander-in-chief 17th Army ; May, 1942, to December, 1943, Commander-in-Chief 4th Panzer Army.

HANS REINHARDT-Generaloberst (General) ; October, 1938, to February, 1940, Commander 4th Panzer Division ; February, 1940, to October, 1941, Commanding General XLI Corps ; October, 1941, to August, 1944, Commander of Panzer Group 3 (later 3rd Panzer Army) ; August, 1944, to January, 1945, Acting Commander-in-Chief Army Group Centre.

HANS VON SALMUTH-Generaloberst (General) ; 1937 to August, 1939, Chief of Staff Army Group Command (Heeresgruppenkommando) 1 ; September and October, 1939, Chief of Staff Army Group North ; October, 1939, to May, 1941, Chief of Staff Army Group B ; May, 1941, to February, 1942, Commanding General XXX Corps ; April and May, 1942, Acting Commander-in-Chief 17th Army ; June and July, 1942, Acting Commander-in-Chief 4th Army ; July, 1942, to February, 1943, Commander-in-Chief 2nd Army ; August, 1943, to August, 1944, Commander-in-Chief 15th Army.

KARL HOLLIDT-Generaloberst (General) ; November, 1938, to August, 1939, Commander of Infantry (Infanteriefuehrer) in District 9 ; September, 1939, Commander 52nd Infantry Division ; September, 1939, to October, 1939, Chief of Staff 5th Army ; October, 1939, to May, 1940, Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief East ; May, 1940, to October, 1940, Chief of Staff 9th Army ; October, 1940, to January, 1942, Commander 50th Infantry Division ; January, 1942, to December, 1942, Commanding General XVII Corps ; December, 1942, to March, 1943, Commander Army (Armeeabteilung) Hollidt ; March, 1943, to April, 1944, Commander-in-Chief 6th Army.

OTTO SCHNIEWIND-Generaladmiral (Admiral) ; November, 1937, to November, 1938, Chief of Navy Armament Office (Marine-Wehr-Amt) ; November, 1938, to May, 1941, Chief of the Navy Command Office (Marine-Kommando-Amt), and Chief of Staff of the Naval War Staff (Seekriegsleitung) ; June, 1941, to July, 1944, Commander of the Fleet (Flottenchef) ; March, 1942, to August, 1942, Commander of Naval Battle Forces (Flottenstreitkraefte) in Norway ; March, 1943, to May, 1944, Commander of Naval Group North (Marinegruppe Nord)

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KARL VON ROQUES-General der Infanterie (Lieutenant-General, Infantry); April, 1940, to March, 1941, Commander of a Division in the Zone of the Interior ; March, 1941, to June, 1942, Commander Rear Area, Army Group (Rueckwaertiges Heeresgebiet) South ; September and October, 1941, Commanding General of Group (Armeegruppe) von Roques ; July, 1942, to December, 1942, Commander Rear Area, Army Group A.

HERMANN REINECKE-General der Infanterie (Lieutenant-General, Infantry) ; January, 1939, to December, 1939, Chief of the Department " Armed Forces General Affairs " (Amtsgruppe Allgemeine Wehrmachts Angelegenheiten) in the High Command of the Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht " OKW ") ; 1939-1945, Chief of the General Office of the OKW (Allgemeines Wehrmachts Amt) ; 1943 to 1945, Chief of the National Socialist Guidance Staff of the OKW (N.S. Fuehrungsstab im OKW).

WALTER WARLIMONT-General der ArtiIlerie (Lieutenant-General, Artillery) ; August to November, 1936, Military Envoy to General Franco in Spain and Leader of the German Volunteer Corps ; November, 1938, to September, 1944, Chief of Department National Defence (Landsverteidigung (L)) in the Armed Forces Operation Staff (Wehrmachtfuehrungstab "WFST ") of the OKW ; January, 1942, to September, 1944, Deputy Chief " WFST."

OTTO WOEHLER-General der Infanterie (Lieutenant-General, Infantry) ; April, 1938, Ia (Operations Officer) Army Group 5 (later changed to AOK 14) ; October, 1939, to October, 1940, Chief of Staff XVII Corps ; October, 1940, to May, 1942, Chief of Staff 11th Army ; May, 1942, to February,’ 1943, Chief of Staff Army Group Centre ; February, 1943, to July, 1943, Commanding General I Corps ; July and August, 1943, Acting Commander XXVI Corps ; August, 1943, to December, 1944, Commander-in-Chief 8th Army ; December, 1944, to April, 1945, Commander-in-Chief Army Group South.

RUDOLF LEHMANN-Generaloberstabsrichter (Lieutenant-General, Judge Advocate) ; July, 1938, to May, 1944, Ministerial Director of the OKW and Chief of the Legal Division (Wehrmachtrechtswesen " WR ") ; May, 1944, to May, 1945, Judge Advocate-General of the OKW (Generaloberstabsrichter).

(ii) The German Military System

The evidence showed that in February, 1938, a crisis in the relations between Hitler and the Army led to a drastic reorganization of the German High Command. In place of the Ministry of War, overall control and coordination of the three services was achieved through the newly created Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, known as " OKW "). Hitler himself assumed the title " Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces," .and the OKW was, in essence, Hitler’s working staff for Armed Forces matters. Keitel was given the title " Chief " of the OKW..

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and the rank of Minister. Von Brauchitsch replaced von Fritsch as Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

(a) The OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht-Supreme Command of the Armed Forces

The OKW controlled all matters of inter-service policy. It was responsible for preparations for national defence in time of peace, and for the overall conduct of operations during war. Directly under Hitler, Keitel served as Hitler’s highest executive officer in the administration of the Armed Forces and in the application of Hitler’s policies and plans.

It appeared that Hitler, through exercise of his functions as the Supreme Commander of the OKW, could and in many instances did exercise through the OKW the overall command of the three branches of the armed services.

The most important section of the OKW, directly concerned with operations in the field, etc., was called the Armed Forces Operations Staff (Wehrmachtsfuehrungsstab or WFST). This was headed during the war by General Alfred Jodl. Jodl’s immediate subordinate was the accused Warlimont, as chief of Department National Defence (Landesverteidigung (L)) in the Armed Forces Operations Staff. In addition, in January, 1942, Warlimont was appointed Jodl’s deputy with the title of Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff.

Besides the WFST, there were numerous additional branches and sections within the OKW, all headed by senior officers, experts in their own fields, who were directly responsible to Keitel.

The General Armed Forces Office (Allgemeines Wehrmachtamt-AWA) was one of the principal administrative agencies within the OKW. The chief of this office was the accused Reinecke, who held this position continuously from December, 1939, until May, 1945. The primary responsibilities of this office were administrative and executive rather than operational.

One of the most important sections of AWA was the Office of the Chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs (Chef des Kriegsgefangenenwesens-Chef Kriegs-Gef) which was in administrative charge of all matters relating both to German and Allied prisoners of war. The Office of the Chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs remained a part of the General Armed Forces Office (AWA) until October, 1944, at which time many functions of this office were transferred to SS supervision. Another section of AWA was the National Socialist Guidance Staff of the OKW (Nationalsozialistischer Fuehrungsstab des OKW-NSF/OKW), established in December, 1943. This agency was to ensure uniform political indoctrination in the Armed Forces in cooperation with the Nazi Party Chancellery. This office was placed under the direct control of the accused Reinecke.

Another important branch of the OKW was the Armed Forces Legal Department (Wehrmachtrechtsabteilung-WR). From 1938 until 1945 it was headed by the accused Lehmann. The Legal Department was charged with certain legal matters in the preparation of legal opinions of interest to

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all three branches of the Armed Forces, but the legal staffs of the three forces were not subordinate to him.

(b) The OKL (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe)-Supreme Command of the Air Force

The Air Force was the youngest of the three branches comprising the German Armed Forces. The creation of the German Air Force occurred officially in March, 1935, and Goering was appointed as its Commander-in-Chief with the rank of Air Force General.

(c) The OKM (Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine)-Supreme Command of the Navy

The Navy was the smallest of the services, and its personnel and units were numerically the smallest within the German Armed Forces. From 1928 until 1943 the OKM was headed by Fleet Admiral Erich Raeder. From 1943 to the end of the war in May, 1945, Fleet Admiral Doenitz, succeeding Raeder, was Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy, having previously been in charge of its most important weapon, the submarine.

Within OKM, performing functions somewhat analogous to the General Staff of OKH, was the Naval War Staff (Seekriegsleitung (SKL)) directly subordinate to the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. It concerned itself mostly with operational and intelligence questions. Between the years 1938 and 1941 the accused Schniewind was the Chief of Staff of the SKL, directly responsible to Raeder.

Under the OKM, the Naval Group Commands (Marinegruppen Befehlshaber) controlled all naval operations in a given sector, with the exception of the operations of the High Sea Fleet and the submarines, which by their very nature were too mobile to be restricted to a given area command. Between 1941 and 1944 the accused Schniewind was Commander of the High Sea Fleet.

(d) The OKH (Oberkommando des Heeres)-Supreme Command of the Army

The Army was by far the largest and most important of the three branches of the Wehrmacht. From 1938 until December, 1941, Field-Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch was Commander-in-Chief of the German Army with General Franz Halder as his Chief of Staff. In December, 1941, Hitler relieved von Brauchitsch of his assignment and himself took over command of the German Army. Hitler retained his position as Commander-in-Chief of the German Army until his presumed death at the end of the war. The result of unification of command, whereby Hitler was Supreme Commander-in-chief of the German Armed Forces and Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, was a partial merger and overlapping of the functions of the OKW and OKH. In September, 1942, Halder was relieved as Chief of Staff by General Kurt Zeitzler. Colonel-General Heinz Guderian replaced Zeitzler in July, 1944, and himself gave way to General Hans Krebs in February, 1945.

After Hitler himself took command of the German Army the highest Field and Occupational Headquarters of the German Army were directly under Hitler, either in his capacity as Supreme Commander of the

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Wehrmacht, or in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Army.  Because of the partial merger arising from Hitler’s dual capacity and command functions, it became difficult at times to delineate clearly between the responsibilities of the OKW and those of the OKH.

(e) Army Field Headquarters 

Army Groups and Armies. The largest field formation in the German Army was known as an Army Group, which was a headquarters controlling two or more Armies. An Army Group was customarily commanded by a Feldmarschall (five-star general), or more rarely by a Generaloberst (four-star general). An Army might be commanded by a Feldmarschall, a Generaloberst, or a General (three-star general).

At the beginning of the war, an Army Group Headquarters was usually formed for a particular campaign or occupational theatre. During actual operations, the principal purpose of an Army Group was to exercise operational command over the Armies subordinated to it. It had at first a relatively small staff devoted purely to operational matters. As the war progressed, administrative functions were added and its staff increased. An Army Headquarters was a more permanent command framework. In addition to its operational and tactical control of subordinate units, the Army was the top field headquarters for matters of administration, supply, and other functions.

Corps and Lower Headquarters. An Army controlled one or more (usually between two and seven) Corps. The Corps was a permanent headquarters which controlled as a rule from two to seven divisions. The division was the basic " self-contained " unit of the German Army and its structure varied according to its type.

Headquarters Staff Organization. The size and structure of an Army Headquarters varied to a considerable extent. All headquarters were, however, organized according to a uniform system and consisted basically of a commanding officer assisted by a staff. The staffs of corps and higher headquarters were headed by a chief of staff. At all German headquarters, the staff officer in charge of operations was known as " Ia," the chief supply officer as " Ib," and the chief intelligence officer as " Ic."

SS Field Formations (Waffen SS). When war broke out in 1939, Himmler ; commenced the formation into divisions of units of the SS, armed and trained for employment with the Army. Only two or three such divisions were formed prior to the Russian campaign, but by the end of the war there were many SS divisions.

For certain administrative purposes, the Waffen SS units remained part of the SS and under the control and command of Himmler as Reichsfuehrer SS. However, for operational purposes in combat and in occupied areas, the SS divisions were under the command of the Army, and their employment differed little from that of the regular divisions of the Army.

(f) Occupational Headquarters and Units. Armed Forces Commander

In a territory occupied by German forces, the Germans sometimes found.

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it desirable to appoint a senior overall commander to whom the heads of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in the territory were all tactically responsible. Such commanders had strategic as well as administrative responsibility, and were directly responsible to OKW.

Military Commander. In German-occupied territory, the administration of the area in conformity with rules and policies laid down by the German authorities was entrusted to an Army officer, usually a General, who was designated as Military Commander (Militaerbefehlshaber). The Military Commanders had the primary mission of ensuring security and order within the region or country that they were responsible for, including the protection of roads, railroads, supply lines, and communications.

Rear Area Commanders. During war time the operational area of the Army (Heeres) was divided into various segments. The operational area of an army (Armee) consisted of the combat zone and an army rear area. The operational area of an army group consisted of the operational areas of the armies under it and an army group rear area. The boundaries of the army group rear area coincided with the boundaries of the army rear areas and extended to the territory under civil administration of the Reich, such as the Commissariat Ostland in the east.

The army group and army rear areas were commanded by general officers who were directly responsible to the commander-in-chief of the army group, or army, respectively. The missions with which these commanders were charged can be summarized as follows :

1. Administration of the occupied area ;

2. The maintenance of peace and order in these areas ; and

3. Responsibility for the security of the railroads and main supply routes leading to the front line, as well as for all supply agencies engaged on behalf of the front-line troops.

In order to accomplish these missions, these commanders often had one or several of the following units at their disposal :

1. Security divisions (Sicherungsdivisionen) ;

2. Units of the German police ;

3. Indigenous police and constabulary forces recruited from the native population ;

4. Special security battalions (Landes-Schuetzenbataillone).

For the administration of the civilian population, the following subordinate headquarters were usually organized in an army or army group rear area :

1. District Main Headquarters (Oberfeldkommandanturen) ;

2. Sub-district Headquarters (Feldkommandanturen) ; and

3. Sub-district Detachments (Ortskommandanturen).

In addition to these, numerous special staffs were at the disposal of the commanders of the rear areas, which were charged with such tasks as supervison of agricultural output, forestry service, mining, and industrial utilization.

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The commanders of army rear areas were generally called " Koruecks " (Kommandier des rueckwaertigen Armeegebietes). The commanders of army group rear areas were known as " Befehlshaber des rueckwaertigen Heeresgebietes," and they often carried after their titles the numerical designation identifying the army group rear area for administrative purposes. Thus, the accused von Roques was known as the Commander of Army Group Rear Area 103 (South).

Higher SS and Police Leaders. During the course of the Nazi regime, Heinrich Himmler succeeded in bringing about an almost complete merger of the regular German police forces with the police and intelligence components of the SS. This merger was reflected in Himmler’s own title-Leader of the SS and Chief of the German Police (Reichsfuehrer SS and Chef der Deutschen Polizei). Thereafter, Himmler designated various of his subordinates to head the SS and police activities in specified areas of Germany and in German-occupied territory. An individual thus designated was called a " Higher SS and Police Leader " (Hoeherer SS and Polizei ‘Fuehrer, usually abbreviated HSSPF). In the occupied territories, the HSSPFs continued to be personally responsible to Himmler and had constant instructions from him, but they were, for operational purposes, responsible to the senior military commander stationed in that territory. The principal functions of the HSSPFs were to control the local police authorities, handle special police and intelligence matters, and carry out other special missions of a security nature for Himmler and for the military authorities. An HSSPF usually held the rank of Gruppenfuehrer or Obergruppenfuehrer in the SS, these ranks being respectively the equivalent of a two-star and a three-star general in the United States Army.

Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V Part VI Part VII Part VIII


Stuart.Stein@uwe.ac.uk
Last Updated 29/01/07 18:35:50
©S D Stein
 
Faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Science