7 Jan. 46


COL. POKROVSKY: Do you know of any order prescribing the seizure of hostages and the burning of villages as a reprisal for abetting the partisans?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No. I do not think that written orders to that effect were ever issued, and it is precisely this lack of any orders which I considered a mistake. It should, for instance, have been definitely stated how many people could be executed as a reprisal for the killing of one, or of 10 German soldiers.

COL. POKROVSKY: Am I to understand that if certain commanders burned villages as a punitive measure against the local population, they, the commanders, would be acting on their own initiative?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes. These steps would be taken by a commander on his own initiative. Nor could his superior officers do anything against it, since orders emanating from the highest authorities definitely stated that if excesses were committed against the civilian population in the partisan areas, no disciplinary or juridical measures could be taken.

COL. POKROVSKY: And can we assume that the same applied to the seizure of hostages?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Well, I think that the question of hostages did not arise at all in the anti-partisan struggle. The hostage system was more common in the West. At any )rate the term "hostage" was not used in anti-partisan warfare.

COL. POKROVSKY: Do you know anything about the forcible abduction and deportation to Germany of minors between 14 and 18 years of age?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Naturally, I do not remember details such as the age groups, but when I was appointed Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units, I welcomed an order, issued at my suggestion, forbidding indiscriminate reprisals of the troops and decreeing that in future captured partisans and partisan suspects would no longer be shot but would be brought to the Reich by the Sauckel. organization.

COL. POKROVSKY: If I understood you correctly, you replied to a question of my colleague, the American Prosecutor, by saying that the struggle against the partisan movement was a pretext for destroying the Slav and Jewish population?


COL. POKROVSKY: Was the Wehrmacht Command aware of the methods adopted for fighting the partisan movement and for destroying the Jewish population?