7 Jan. 46

DR. STAHMER: But you were appointed, as you said, to fight the partisans and you must have had combat units for the purpose?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, I had no such units.

DR. STAHMER: Then how did you conduct your fight against the partisans?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: In each case, I went to the respective commander, discussed the operation with him and asked for the necessary troops, unless they were put at my disposal, as it often happened, by the OKW or the OKH directly.

DR. STAHMER: You asked for troops, unless they were put at your disposal. But then these troops assigned to you were under your command, were they not?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, only if I personally commanded the operation. Otherwise, as I said, either the competent general of the Wehrmacht or, in the area of the civil government, the higher SS and police Leader commanded the operation. It was expressly noted in the directive containing my appointment as Chief of the Anti-Partisan Combat Units, that I could request authority to command an operation only if the authority of two higher SS and police leaders or of two Wehrmacht commanders overlapped, thus calling for a higher authority to handle the conflicting responsibilities.

DR. STAHMER: Did you never personally command an operation?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, I conducted one operation in 1943.

DR. STAHMER: In what way?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: This undertaking took place in the fall of 1943, in the region of Idrizza Polotsk. I first flew to the Army Group Center and talked the matter over with the then chief, General Krebs. Then I went on to Army Group North and discussed the same matter with Field Marshal Küchler. Küchler. organized all the troops of the SS and Police and also the Wehrmacht formations in the rear areas into a so-called corps under the command of Jaeckel. The Army Group Center did the same with its own forces, and also formed a corps under the command of the Higher SS and Police Leader in the area. I myself, with my staff, was in command of both, and Colonel Von Mellenthin of the OKH was assigned to me as liaison officer. Then I conducted the enterprise personally. In the meantime the front had been broken through in foggy weather, and I made the independent decision of turning against the Red Army forces which had broken through; thus my units became the front line.

DR. STAHMER: You said a little while ago that you had been decorated with the Knight's Cross. Did you receive this decoration for this undertaking alone?