7 Jan. 46

THE PRESIDENT: The question had not come through then on the interpreter's voice before you began to answer. You must give greater pauses between the question and answer.

DR. THOMA: How did you reconcile it with your conscience to remain inspector of the anti-partisan forces in the East?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Not only could I reconcile that with my conscience, but I actually strove to obtain this position because in the years 1941 and 1942 1 saw, together with Schenkendorff, that things could not continue as they were. General Schenkendorff, my immediate superior, recommended me for the position.

DR. THOMA: But you knew that you could not achieve anything with these suggestions?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, I couldn't know that. What I realize and acknowledge today, I could not possibly have known then.

DR. THOMA: At any rate, you achieved nothing?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I don't think that; my opinion is rather that if someone else had been in my position, the disaster would have been greater.

DR. THOMA: Do you believe that Himmler's speech, in which he demanded the extermination of 30 million Slavs, expressed only his personal opinion; or do you consider that it corresponded to the National Socialist ideology?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Today I believe that it was the logical consequence of our ideology.

DR. THOMA: Today?


DR. THOMA: What was your own opinion at that time?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: It is difficult for a German to fight through to this conviction. It took me a long time.

DR. THOMA: Then how is it that a few days ago a witness, namely, the Witness Ohlendorf, appeared here and admitted that through the Einsatzgruppen he had killed 90,000 people, but told the Tribunal that this did not harmonize with the National Socialist ideology?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I am of a different opinion. If for years, for decades, a doctrine is preached to the effect that the Slav race is an inferior race, that the Jews are not even human beings, then an explosion of this sort is inevitable.

DR. THOMA: Nevertheless the fact remains that, together with whatever attitude towards life you had at that time, you also had a conscience?