Section 30: Anti-Partisan Warfare—The Real Purpose of the Einsatzgruppen (“Task Forces”)
From September 1947 to April 1948, a series of trials took place in Nuremberg known as the “Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals.”
Better known as the “Einsatzgruppen Trials,” these proceedings laid the basis for the allegations that German “Special Action Groups” operating behind German lines in occupied Russia, murdered millions of people, mostly Jews, by mass shootings. The defendants in the trials were the surviving commanding officers of the Einsatzgruppen, and as many senior officers as could be found—twenty-four in total. All were charged with three offenses:
1. Crimes against humanity through persecutions on political, racial, and religious grounds; murder; extermination; imprisonment; and other inhumane acts committed against civilian populations, including German nationals and nationals of other countries, as part of an organized scheme of genocide.
2. War crimes for the same reasons, and for wanton destruction and devastation not justified by military necessity.
3. Membership of criminal organizations, the SS, the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), or the Gestapo, which had been declared criminal organizations previously in the international Nuremberg Military Tribunals.
The astute observer will see immediately that the third charge was bogus: The men were put on trial for the “crime” of belonging to an organization which was perfectly legal at the time when they joined, and only declared a “criminal organization” after the war ended.
All the defendants were convicted of this third charge—of course—and so it can be safely said that one-third of all the convictions at the Einsatzgruppen Trial were legally fraudulent.
The evidence prepared on the other two charges was obtained mainly from “confessions” extracted from the accused under torture, as detailed below.
The Einsatzgruppen were set up with two purposes, all of which was openly stated in the authentic and surviving German documentation.
These purposes were, firstly, to physically eliminate the entire Soviet Communist Party Commissar structure in areas occupied by the German army as it advanced eastward; and secondly to coordinate anti-partisan fighting behind the front line so as to ensure that there was as little disruption as possible to German supply lines.
The Einsatzgruppen were therefore active military units mostly engaged in active combat with Communist partisans, and not simply, as the allegation goes, “mobile killing units.” In fact, Franz Stahlecker, commander of Einsatzgruppen A in the Baltic region and White Russia, was himself killed by partisans in 1942.
Soviet records claimed that in three years of warfare, from July 1941 to July 1944, Soviet partisans in Byelorussia “eliminated approximately 500,000 German soldiers and officers, 47 Generals, blew up 17,000 enemy military transports and 32 armored trains, destroyed 300,000 railway tracks, 16,804 vehicles and a great number of other material supplies of all kinds” (.S. Telpuchowski, Die Geschichte des Grossen Vaterländischen Krieges 1941–1945, Bernard & Graefe Verlag für Wehrwesen, Frankfurt/Main 1961, p. 284.).
These losses, it bears remembering, were in one sector of the Eastern front alone, and therefore give the reader an idea of the scale and intensity of the war behind the German front line. Given these figures, it comes as no surprise to understand the real nature of the Einsatzgruppen—as anti-partisan units. In fact, the only surprise is how small they were. Each Einsatzgruppen consisted at maximum strength of 900 men, which meant that the total force deployed by all four units in Russia never exceeded 2,700 men—and that at full strength, which was never the actual case.
In spite of their relatively tiny numbers, it is claimed by the Holocaust storytellers that these 2,700 men killed anywhere between one and three million people by shooting them in mass execution style.
The sheer logistics of this undertaking—bearing in mind the Einsatzgruppen only worked from July 1941 to late 1943—should by itself make the mass murder allegations out to be preposterous—but, as the reader will see, all the “evidence” submitted at the trial was compiled under duress—as was later openly admitted by the Chief Prosecutor.
Nonetheless, the order to physically eliminate the Soviet Commissar structure is in fact the closest to the truth that the entire “Holocaust” story ever comes.
There were tens of thousands of Commissars—and, because of the close affiliation between Soviet Jews and the Communist Party, large numbers of these Commissars were Jews. It was therefore to be expected that the Einsatzgruppen would, as part of their activities, execute large numbers of Jews.
Section 31: Benjamin Ferencz, Jewish Chief Prosecutor at the Einsatzgruppen Trials, Admits to Using Forced Confessions and Death Threats
The American Army’s Chief Prosecutor at the Einsatzgruppen Trials was not even an American, but a Hungarian Jew by the name of Benjamin Ferencz, who in 1945 had somehow been “assigned” to the job of setting up a war crimes branch and “collecting evidence” for the trials.
In this capacity, he was sent to concentration camps in western Germany which had been seized by the American Army. Ferencz was therefore primarily responsible for the “evidence” presented to the Einsatzgruppen Trial, and it is his “work” which is still today presented as “proof” that the German Task Forces killed vast numbers of people in the East.
In a much later—and rare—candid moment, Ferencz openly admitted that he had used threats of summary execution against civilians to “obtain confessions.” In an interview with The Washington Post in 2005, Ferencz explained it this way:
“You know how I got witness statements? I’d go into a village where, say, an American pilot had parachuted and been beaten to death and line everyone one up against the wall. Then I’d say, ‘Anyone who lies will be shot on the spot.’ It never occurred to me that statements taken under duress would be invalid” (“Giving Hitler Hell,” The Washington Post, July 24, 2005.).
In the same interview, Ferencz also confessed to being at least a passive participant, or observer, in the torturing of captured Nazis at a concentration camp:
“I once saw DPs [Displaced Persons] beat an SS man and then strap him to the steel gurney of a crematorium. They slid him in the oven, turned on the heat and took him back out. Beat him again, and put him back in until he was burnt alive. I did nothing to stop it. I suppose I could have brandished my weapon or shot in the air, but I was not inclined to do so. Does that make me an accomplice to murder?” (“Giving Hitler Hell,” the Washington Post, July 24, 2005).
Below: Jewish Chief Prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz addresses the court at the Einsatzgruppen Trial. He later openly admitted to obtaining his evidence by threatening to kill innocent civilians, and by participating in the torture death of an SS man at a concentration camp.
These admissions by the Chief Prosecutor in the Einsatzgruppen Trials casts an immediate shadow over the entire proceedings. Is this the sort of “objective” legal person who can be relied upon to produce evidence at a major trial?
The dreadful irony of a Jewish Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg threatening to kill German civilians in order to gain “confessions” about Germans allegedly killing Jews, will not be lost upon the reader.
Section 32: The Einsatzgruppen Ereignismeldungen (“Event Reports”)
The Einsatzgruppen sent irregular reports by radio, known as the Ereignismeldungen (EM), back to Berlin on their activities.
Once received in Berlin, they were transcribed and edited by civil servants, and distributed in summary format, called the Tätigkeits- und Lageberichte (TuLBs) der Einsatzgruppen, to non-SS offices such as the German Foreign Office. In total, there are 194 Ereignismeldungen, 7 TuLBs der Einsatzgruppen and 12 TuLBs of Einsatzgruppen B in existence today—all of them copies, and none in the original.
The accuracy and authenticity of these reports has long been open to question, primarily because the originals have never been produced, and secondly because even though the officers charged with transcribing the reports attested to the general report-capturing nature of their work, the actual copies which have been produced show clear signs of postwar additions.
One such typical example, “Einsatzgruppen Report No. 111,” contains not only completely garbled wording, but also a clear addition to the end of a paragraph (highlighted in italics below):
“These were the motives for the executions carried out by the Kommandos: Political officials, looters and saboteurs, active Communists and political representatives, Jews who gained their release from prison camps by false statements, agents and informers of the NKVD [National Commissariat for Internal Affairs], persons who, by false depositions and influencing witnesses, were instrumental in the deportation of ethnic Germans, Jewish sadism and revengefulness, undesirable elements, partisans, Politruks, dangers of plague and epidemics, members of Russian bands, armed insurgents—provisioning of Russian bands, rebels and agitators, drifting juveniles, Jews in general.”
The authenticity question surrounding the Ereignismeldungen and TuLBs has been further questioned by researchers because, once again, like so much other “evidence” of Nazi atrocities, the documents emerged from the Soviet occupation zone.
It is a common tactic of Holocaust storytellers to claim that the Ereignismeldungen were “captured” or “seized” by the US Army when they “took the Gestapo Headquarters”—but this is another blatant lie, because the Gestapo headquarters were located at 8 Prinz Albert Street in Berlin, and were captured by the Soviets in April 1945.
Even the chief prosecutor at the Einsatzgruppen Trials, the self-admitted forced confession expert, Benjamin Ferencz, admitted in his memoirs that the “copies” of the Ereignismeldungen which the Americans had, and which were used in the trial, originated with the copies held by the German Foreign Office—in Berlin, which makes them also originally Soviet-origin papers.
Finally, the trial of German Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, in August 1949, cast further doubt over the accuracy of the Ereignismeldungen. Charged with overseeing the Einsatzgruppen activities in his command sector on the Eastern Front, Von Manstein denied all the allegations, and his British lawyer R. T. Paget demonstrated that whole areas which the Ereignismeldungen claimed had been “cleared of Jews” (Judenfrei) contained many flourishing Jewish communities that were actually fully functional and untouched throughout the entire war.
The trial court accepted this argument—that the Ereignismeldungen were unreliable—and Von Manstein was acquitted on that charge.
Nonetheless, the Ereignismeldungen are widely regarded as authentic by Holocaust storytellers—even though this claim, if true, raises more problems with the Holocaust narrative then it does to “prove” it.
Firstly, to address the numbers claimed killed by the Einsatzgruppen in the Ereignismeldungen. If the reports are genuine, then the total number of killings—due to the intense combat and subsequent executions—is unreliable by virtue of the fact that the surviving reports are incomplete.
Secondly, in accordance with the stated purpose of the Einsatzgruppen, the Ereignismeldungen list deaths which were due to both the ferocious anti-partisan warfare as well as executions.
For example, by the autumn of 1941, Einsatzgruppen B reported having executed 1500 partisans.
Thirdly, the surviving Ereignismeldungen also reveal that by late 1942, there were no more “Jewish Actions” (Judenaktionen) taking place—meaning that after that time, no formal anti-Jewish operations took place, and the rest of the Task Forces’ existence was taken up with anti-partisan operations.
Section 33: The Babi Yar Massacre in Kiev: Wartime Aerial Photography Exposes the Lie
One of the most infamous atrocities attributed to the Einsatzgruppen (in this case, Einsatzgruppen C) is an alleged mass-murder outside Kiev in the Ukraine, known as the Babi Yar massacre.
The allegation is that after the Germans occupied Kiev, a series of bombs, set off by Communist insurgents, struck the city, killing many civilians and German occupying troops. Much of the city was set on fire as a result of the bombings, and as German troops helped with putting out the blaze, a Jewish insurgent was caught cutting one of the water hoses.
According to the Holocaust storytellers, the arrest of this Jew persuaded the Nazis that all the Jews in Kiev had to be killed, and Einsatzgruppen C rounded them all up over the period of September 29–30, 1941, marched them to a ravine outside the city, and shot them all—some 33,771 individuals.
The “evidence” for this atrocity is contained in one of the disputed Ereignismeldungen, where the report specifically gives the figure of 33,771 Jews having been shot in Kiev on that date.
Once again, the Ereignismeldungen report is open to question—because the physical facts surrounding the Babi Yar ravine do not support the report’s claim. There are today no remains of tens of thousands of bodies to be found at the Babi Yar site, even though a monument now stands on the spot.
The Holocaust storytellers claim that the reason why there are no bodies to be found at the site—even though the story claims 33,771 people were shot there—is because the Nazis sent a special team back to the site in 1943 to exhume, burn, and crush the bones—using, of all things, tombstones from a nearby Jewish cemetery to smash the last of the bones.
Of course, the time, effort and fuel it would take to exhume, stack on iron rails, burn and then crush 33,000 bodies makes the allegation absurd—but nonetheless, this is the given reason why there are no bodies present. The Soviets even produced a compliant German officer, SS-Standartenfuhrer Paul Blobel, to “confess” to having destroyed all the 33,771 bodies within a period of thirty days, from August 18 to September 19, 1943.
The “confessions” remind the reader of those “obtained” by the Soviets to cover up the Katyn massacre, which was also blamed on the Germans. In fact, the parallels with Katyn offer a further valuable insight into the Babi Yar claims.
The mass graves created for the Soviet massacre and burial of Polish officers and intellectuals at Katyn (a crime that for fifty years was blamed on the Germans), as well as the graves used to accommodate the bodies of some 100,000 innocent residents, including children, of Hamburg, Germany, that were slaughtered by Allied bombing, have proven that it takes about a one acre area of excavation material to bury roughly 10,000 bodies.
Babi Yar would have needed a minimum of three and one half acres for 33,000 bodies. There is, therefore, no possibility that the precision aerial photos available from the period in question would not show such a disturbance in the soil.
Even if the mass grave’s depth is increased to sixteen feet, 50,000 bodies would take up about one and a half acres. Approximately 1,600,000 cubic feet of soil would need to be excavated. This would be a major excavation project even for today’s modern heavy equipment.
Any claim that it was done in 1941, and once again in 1943 under battle conditions, is pure fantasy. This does not even address the question of where was this equipment obtained on a battle-weary front? There are a host of other physical problems associated with the Babi Yar massacre story. For example:
– In order to “machine gun” people, it is worth emphasizing that twice as many bullets as the given number of people would be needed. If 33,771 people were shot, then the Germans would have needed at least 67,000 rounds—and probably more—to complete the task.
Such a large amount of ammunition would weigh about 1,876 pounds, or 850 kilograms. Lead is essentially an inert substance which survives practically forever in the soil.
That amount of lead should be easily recoverable on the site—if it had been shot out there, but not a trace of it has ever been found.
– Next there is the matter of the fuel needed for cremation of the bodies, which the Holocaust storytellers say took place two years after these “murders” and while the German army was in full retreat in that sector.
The Holocaust storytellers claim that the bodies were burned in the open, with wood, after being piled onto iron rails. Present-day open air cremations, as carried out in India amongst Hindus, require at least 10 hours per body, and 330 pounds (150 kilograms) of wood.
This would mean that the cremation of 33,771 bodies would require at least 11 million pounds (5 million) kilograms of wood. To believe that anyone could cut down and provide that amount of firewood in the face of a rapidly advancing Soviet Army is about as nonsensical as believing that the removal of so many trees in the nearby area could go unnoticed.
– Furthermore, the “mass murder” of Jews at Babi Yar allegedly took place almost four months prior to the Wannsee Conference, where, the Holocaust storytellers claim, the idea to kill all the Jews was first planned. The Babi Yar allegations therefore, fairly typically, raise more questions than answers.
Finally, aerial photography, held in the US National Archives in Washington DC, contains 600 wartime aerial photographs of Kiev, including Babi Yar, taken on over 20 flights over the area.
The first photos, taken at 12:23 pm on May 17, 1939, reveal such details as cars and even the shadows of the lamp posts on the streets of Kiev.
More importantly, every large bush and small tree is visible on the slopes and at the bottom of the Babi Yar ravine.
The last aerial photo coverage of Kiev (and Babi Yar) took place on June 18, 1944, about nine months after the city was re-occupied by the Soviets.
These reconnaissance photos show clearly that the foliage and ground cover of the ravine remained completely undisturbed throughout the two years of German occupation, and that there is absolutely no evidence of human activity in the ravine.
Below: Wartime aerial photograph of the Babi Yar Ravine, taken at the exact time that the SS was allegedly exhuming, cremating, and crushing tens of thousands of bodies. If the Babi Yar massacre had occurred as claimed, the whole area would have seen massive earth displacements, burning stacks of bodies, and frenetic human activity. Instead, the entire area is completely undisturbed. The photo is available from the US National Archives and is listed as: GX 3938 SG, exposure 105.
The aerial photographs do, however, reveal the existence of ten mass graves in the Ahovtnevyi borough of Kiev and in the general area of Babi Yar, situated closed to a labor camp set up by the German occupiers called Syretz.
Going by their size, these graves likely contain several hundred bodies—but the dead would most likely be those who perished during the two years of German occupation.
In addition, at the nearby Orthodox Lukianivsky cemetery, another, larger mass grave can be seen.
This one would appear to contain several hundred victims of the very public German executions of partisan fighters by the Einsatzgruppen.
The already problematic story was further complicated in 2007 when E. Musiyenko, the editor of the Kiev Evening News (Vechirnyi Kyiv), published a four page story on March 19 of that year which claimed that there was a mass grave at Babi Yar—but that it did not date from the Nazi occupation. Rather, he said, evidence showed that it was a burial field used between 1922 and 1935 for the victims of the Communist secret police, the Cheka/NKVD.
The claims of a “massacre” at Babi Yar Ravine do not, therefore, match up with the physical evidence, and also cast a serious shadow over the reliability of the Ereignismeldungen.
Below: The Babi Yar ravine as it can be seen today. Despite claims that 33,771 Jews were shot here, there are today no human remains at all to be found in the ravine. Incredibly, the Holocaust Storytellers say that there are no remains because the Germans, while retreating from approaching Soviet Army forces, dug up, burned (by using wood from the surrounding forest), and then crushed—with tombstones (!)—the bones of all 33,771 victims to “avoid detection.” Such an undertaking is, of course, physically impossible.
Section 34: The “Confession”—and Retraction—of Einsatzgruppen Commander Otto Ohlendorf
SS-Gruppenführer Otto Ohlendorf was the commanding officer of Einsatzgruppen D, which was deployed in Moldova, south Ukraine, the Crimea, and the north Caucasus. Arrested after the war, he was initially not charged with any crimes and instead called as witness for the prosecution in front of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg in January 1946.
Below: Einsatzgruppen SS-Gruppenführer Otto Ohlendorf giving testimony in court.
There, under cross examination, Ohlendorf claimed that his Task Force had killed 90,000 people, Jews and non-combatants, that from the Spring of 1942, women and children had been executed in “gas vans,” that the victims were all buried in trenches, and that he had personally been present at two mass shootings.
Despite this “confession,” Ohlendorf was not charged with any crime until 1948, when he was arraigned as a defendant in the Einsatzgruppen Trial mentioned above.
At the 1948 trial, he completely recanted his 1946 confession, claiming that it had been extracted from him by force. In his recantation, Ohlendorf never mentioned killing children; declared that the Einsatzgruppen were merely engaged in fighting an anti-partisan war; that he knew nothing about gas vans; and reduced the number of executions under his command to 40,000.
Furthermore, Ohlendorf continued, he denied any knowledge of, or participation in, any grand genocide plans, testifying as follows:
[Ohlendorf Direct Examination Testimony. Questions posed by his defense lawyer, Dr Aschenauer.]
Q. Did you know about plans or directives which had as their goal the extermination on racial and religious grounds?
A. I expressly assure you that I neither knew of such plans nor was I called on to cooperate in any such plans. Lieutenant General [Obergruppenführer] Bach-Zelewski testified during the big trial [before the International Military Tribunal] that the Reich Leader SS in a secret conference of all lieutenant generals made known that the goal was to exterminate thirty million Slavs. I repeat that I was neither given such an order nor was there even the slightest hint, given to me that such plans or goals existed for the Russian campaign. This is not only true for the Slavs but this is also true for the Jews. I know that in the years of 1938, 1939 and 1940, no extermination plans existed, but on the contrary, with the aid of Heydrich and by cooperation with Jewish organizations, emigration programs from Germany and Austria were arranged; financial funds even were raised in order to help aid the poorer Jews to make this emigration possible.
The presiding judge at the 1948 trial rejected Ohlendorf’s recantation, and refused to consider it as evidence—effectively convicting Ohlendorf and the others on the basis of the earlier “confession” which had been extracted under duress.
Ohlendorf expressed his bitterness at the refusal to acknowledge that his earlier “confession” had been forced from him, and in his closing statement to the 1948 trial, said the following:
“I have been now in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg for two and a half years. What I have seen here of life as a spiritual force, in these two and half years, has increased my fear. Human beings who under normal conditions were decent citizens of their country were deprived of their basic conception of law, custom, and morals by the power of the victors.”
After he was sentenced to death—on the basis of his forced confession and no other physical evidence—Ohlendorf went into attack mode, telling the Jewish chief prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz that “the Jews in America would suffer for what he [Ferencz] had done” (Nuremberg Trials and Tribulations, 1946–1949, Chapter 4, Benjamin Ferencz).
Ohlendorf also publicly attacked the Jewish attorney-general of the “Bavarian State Office for Restitution,” Philip Auerbach, who had announced that he was “seeking compensation for eleven million Jews who had suffered in concentration camps.”
He said that “not the minutest part” of the people for whom Auerbach was seeking compensation had even seen a concentration camp.
Ohlendorf lived to see Auerbach convicted of embezzlement and fraud before his own execution finally took place in 1951. (See Section 131 of this book for details of the Auerbach fraud.)
Section 35: The Wildly Varying Numbers of Einsatzgruppen “Victims”—1 to 3 million
The wildly varying numbers of victims claimed for the Einsatzgruppen also reveal much about the “accuracy” of this story.
- In the book Jews in the Soviet Union, by Solomon M. Schwarz (Syracuse Univ. Press., Syracuse 1951, p. 220), it is claimed that 3 million people were shot by the Einsatzgruppen.
- In the book Die Truppe des Weltanschauungskrieges. Die Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD 1938–1942, by H. Krausnick, H.-H. Wilhelm (Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1981, p. 333), it is claimed that 2.2 million people were shot by the Einsatzgruppen.
- In the book The Destruction of European Jewry by “Holocaust expert” Raul Hilberg (Quadrangle Books, Chicago 1961; pb: Harper & Row, New York 1983; 2nd ed., Holmes & Meyer, New York 1985), it is claimed that 1.3 million people were shot by the Einsatzgruppen.
In the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, issued by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, it is claimed that “over 1 million” people were shot by the Einsatzgruppen. All of these sources claim to quote “eyewitnesses” and “official records.”
The fact that the number of victims claimed can vary so wildly from 1 to 3 million, shows an obvious flaw in the “proof” available.
Below: A picture issued by the US Holocaust Museum titled “Members of an Einsatzkommando (mobile killing squad) before shooting a Jewish youth. The boy’s murdered family lies in front of him; the men to the left are ethnic Germans aiding the squad. Slarow, Soviet Union, July 4, 1941.” This is supposed to be “evidence” of the mass murders committed by the anti-partisan Special Action Groups. However, a cursory examination of the picture proves the caption to be a lie. Firstly, the corpses are all wearing army boots, showing that they were soldiers of some sort, and certainly not a “Jewish family.” Secondly, the figure on the left of the picture, supposedly part of the “Jews about to be shot” is actually smiling. This picture is obviously of some war dead, surrounded by curious observers. It is a typical tactic of the Holocaust storytellers to take images and add the most outrageous captions, confident that no one would dare question the “truth.”
Section 36: The Oswald Pohl “Confessions”— Example of the Nuremberg Miscarriage of Justice
The trial, conviction, and execution of Oswald Pohl, the head of the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt (the Economic and Administrative Main Office of the SS, abbreviated to SS-WVHA), which ran the administration of the concentration camps during the war, serves as a textbook example of the miscarriage of justice which took place at the Nuremberg Trials.
Pohl went into hiding at the end of the war, and was only captured in 1946. He was taken to Nenndorf where British soldiers tied him to a chair and beat him unconscious. He lost two teeth in repeated beatings (Legal brief for Oswald Pohl, Grundzüge des Systems der Deutschen Konzentrationslager und Bemerkungen zum Urteil des Militärtribunals II gegen Oswald Pohl, pp. 23–27.)
During this time, Pohl was forced to sign false and self-incriminating affidavits written by prosecution officials that were later used against him in his own trial, including a bogus admission that he had seen a gas chamber at Auschwitz in the summer of 1944. As he recalled:
“Whenever genuine documents did not correspond to what the prosecution authorities wanted or were insufficient for the guilty sentences they sought, ‘affidavits’ were put together.
The most striking feature of these remarkable trial documents is that the accused often condemned themselves in them. That is understandable only to those who have themselves experienced the technique by which such ‘affidavits’ are obtained” (Written statement by Pohl, June 1, 1948. Deutsche Hochschullehrerzeitung (Tübingen), Nr. 1/2, 1963, pp. 21-26.).
American officials also made use of false witnesses at Nuremberg, Pohl wrote:
“Whenever these productions [affidavits] were not enough to produce the result sought by the prosecuting authorities, they marched out their so-called ‘star witnesses,’ or rather, paid witnesses … A whole string of these shady, wretched characters played their contemptible game at Nuremberg. They included high government officials, generals, and intellectuals as well as prisoners, mental defectives, and real hardened criminals” (ibid.).
Pohl also protested that defense attorneys were not allowed free access to the German wartime documents, which the prosecution were able to find and use without hindrance:
“For almost two years the prosecution authorities could make whatever use they wanted of the many crates of confiscated documentary and archival material they had at their disposal. But the same access right was refused to the German defendants despite their repeated efforts … This meant a tremendous or even complete paralysis and hindrance of the defense cases for the accused, for those crates also contained the exonerating material that the prosecution authorities were able to keep from being presented to the court. And that is called ‘proper’ procedure” (ibid.).
During his own trial, Pohl freely admitted to being in charge of the entire concentration camp administration system, but denied ever having anything to do with gas chambers.
This tactic—of not denying the prosecution’s main claim that there was an “extermination program,” and merely denying personal participation, was, as will be detailed below, a logical and, under the lynch-mob circumstances, only reasonable defense which any individual could offer.
The forced confessions extracted earlier from Pohl were however used to convict him, and he was hanged in 1951.
Below: Oswald Pohl, bound and photographed before his execution. Tortured into making “confessions,” the Allied judges refused to accept his retractions in court, and despite there being no other evidence against him, issued the death sentence.
Section 37: The Perjured Testimony of Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski
Reference has already been made above to the SOP Order No. 4 at Nuremberg, where witnesses were offered amnesty if they provided evidence against other parties. One extreme case of this was SS General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski.
A senior officer in the SS, Bach-Zelewski held a number of positions which would have made him a prime candidate for prosecution. These positions included a series of appointments as Higher SS and Police Leader (Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer HSSPF) in Silesia in Poland (where Auschwitz was located); Belarus (where he oversaw the activities of Einsatzgruppen B); head of the anti-partisan operations in Belgium, Belarus, France, the (Polish) General Government, the Netherlands, Norway, Ukraine and Yugoslavia; and head of the German forces which suppressed the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.
Below: SS General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, whose easily-disproved lies before the Nuremberg Court were made in exchange for amnesty. He later retracted all of his evidence, claiming that he had only heard about the Einsatzgruppen’s “extermination” activities after the war.
Arrested by the Americans when he was in hiding in August 1945, Bach-Zelewski was offered the choice of “confessing” to a multitude of sins and not being prosecuted, or being handed over to the Communist regime in Poland, which was baying for his blood after his suppression of the Warsaw Uprising.
Not surprisingly, Bach-Zelewski took up the “SOP No. 4” offer, and agreed to give evidence for the prosecution in exchange for complete amnesty.
His evidence was—and still is—used to “prove” the alleged activities of the Einsatzgruppen and of many other claims concerning what SS Chief Heinrich Himmler is alleged to have said.
A case in point was his account of Himmler’s speech at the SS Castle at Wewelsburg, in March 1941, where his evidence was as follows:
“I am of the opinion that this step was closely connected with a speech made by Heinrich Himmler at Wewelsburg at the beginning of 1941, prior to the campaign against Russia, when he spoke of the purpose of the Russian campaign, which was, he said, to decimate the Slav population by 30 million, and that it was in order to achieve this purpose that troops of such inferior caliber were introduced.” (Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 4, Twenty-Eighth Day, Monday, January 7, 1946, afternoon session).
In fact, what Himmler had actually said was that the coming war in Russia could result in millions of dead, Slavs and Germans, as other accounts of that meeting confirmed. Bach-Zelewski had simply made up the plot to “exterminate Slavs,” a charge that was too blatantly false to be taken further even by the Nuremberg court.
Despite this, Bach-Zelewski went on to claim that the anti-partisan operations of the Einsatzgruppen were a “cover” for the plot to murder both Jews and Slavs.
Hermann Göring denounced Bach-Zelewski to his face for the falsity of this testimony, calling him a “bastard” for lying to avoid prosecution.
Section 38: Bach-Zelewski Repudiates his “Confession”
Bach-Zelewski remained free until 1958, when he was arrested for the 1930s murder of two Communists. During this trial—which began in 1961, he was called as defense witness in the then ongoing Adolf Eichmann trial.
During that testimony, Bach-Zelewski repudiated all of his Nuremberg testimony, telling the court that with regard to the alleged activities of the Einsatzgruppen that he had only come to hear of them “after the war”:
“At that time I also heard of illegal activity on the part of these Special Operations Units. I believe that all generals in the East knew about this.
“By illegal activity, I mean shootings by the Operations Units, which took place without any basis in law. I was not informed as to the complete extent of this activity. Only after the end of the War did I become aware of that.” (Record taken at a Closed Session of the Court of First Instance, Nuremberg, May 25, 1961. Testimony of Erich Von Dem Bach Zelewski, Competent Court of Justice, Nuremberg-Fuerth, given before Dr. Knorr, Judge of First Instance.)