24 Apr 45
THIS REPORT IS SECRET
Report on information obtained from PW KP/229533 Fw Sonderführer GOETTSCH-GYX Fallschirm AOK (Prop Kp) captured at LINGEN 6 Apr 45
EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE TRIAL
OF THE TWENTIETH OF JULY CONSPIRATORS
1. PW's family is of Norwegian origin. His father, a former regular Naval officer, came under suspicion as a close collaborator of SELDTE in the Stahlhelm. PW is intelligent and has worked as a journalist since 1933. He claims to have taken a leading part in anti-Nazi youth organisations in BERLIN.
2. On 25 Jul 44 PW was ordered by "PK 1/16 Hauptamt Luft" to attend the trial of the conspirators of 20 Jul before the People's Court.
COMPOSITION OF THE COURT
3 The trial took place on 28 and 29 Jul [handwritten comment: No. 7 & 8 August] in the Amtsgericht MOABIT used since 1938 for the People's Court. The presiding judge was the well-known solicitor, Dr FREISSLER [sic: Freisler] of KASSEL. There were eight other judges, none well known.
4. Besides the judges, there was also present a Court of Honour.
of 15 under the presidency of GUDERIAN. It included Sepp DIETRICH, JODL, KEITEL, MILCH, MODEL RUNDSTEDT and Genlt TROTT.
5. The defendants were Gen Feldm von WITZLEBEN, Gen HAASE, Rittm Graf von der SCHULENBURG, Hptm HASSE; Oblt Dr GOERDELER, Graf HELLDORF, Gen Obst BECK, Gen LINDEMANN and the deceased Obst Graf STAUFFENBERG were tried in their absence. The defendants present were all in civilian clothes, without chains. SCHULENBURG alone appeared self-possessed and spoke up frankly and clearly. WITZLEBEN and the others had no military bearing, appeared cowed and beaten up and spoke falteringly.
6. The three prosecuting counsel, Gen HIMMELREICH, a Party representative and a civilian from the Party Court took but a small part in the proceedings
7. The six defending counsel (one for each defendant and one for the absentees) who had been appointed, were unknown, and were not called on, except for the final appeal.
8. Between 900 and 1100 persons were present in Court. There were no photographers, but there were about 360 Press representatives, of whom three-quarters were in the Services.. Amongst the audience were nearly two hundred generals, including FROMM, and about a hundred other officers. All of these gave the impression of having been forced to attend. There was no opportunity for the general public to attend.
9. In a special enclosure for distinguished visitors were GOEBBELS, HIMMLER, Reichsjugendführer AXMANN, the Ministers DORPMÜLLER, OHNESORGE, FUNK, LEY and SPEER, KESSELRING, SPERRLE and RICHTHOFEN, DÖNITZ and Gen Adm ALBRECHT, Reichspressechef DIETRICH, SS Brigadeführer SCHORF of BERLIN, Frau SCHOLZ-KLINK, and nearly all the Gauleiters, including Baldur von SCHIRACH, and a number of other leading Party figures.
10. The proceedings were opened at 1000 hrs on 28 Jul by the presiding judge, and the prosecuting counsel read the charges in the name of the German Nation and its Leader. Thereupon GUDERIAN, as President of the Court of Honour, gave a brief resume of the events and their motives. The defendants were called upon to answer a few questions, which had no logical thread of continuity. This was obviously done for dramatic effect. The defendants were addressed throughout without any rank, simply by their surname. On entering the Court WITZLEBEN used the German greeting and was reprimanded by FREISSLER on the grounds that, as a traitor, he had no right to use this form. This impression of theatricality was increased when the witnesses were called for identification and to confirm, under oath on the Bible, statements previously made, but not disclosed in Court.
11. The witnesses included the new Stadtkommandant of BERLIN, the Comd of the Wachregiment, the Comd of the POTSDAM Panzer Garrison, Gen FELLGIEBEL, the second wife of Prof SAUERBRUCH,
a number of officials of the BERLIN Gestapo, and officers and a civilian - not a Party member - from the Führer Hauptquartier.
12. The session was adjourned at midday and resumed in camera from 1400 to 1800 hrs. The journalists and all officers, except the Court of Honour, were excluded. Only the distinguished visitors, including all the Gauleiters and a few party and SS functionaries were allowed, to remain
THE SECOND DAY
13. The session was opened at 1130 hrs and the defendants were questioned by FREISSLER.
14. Asked to justify his treasonable action, WITZLEBEN said he had long foreseen that under the National Socialist Regime, his military career would end. similarly to that of FRITSCH and BRAUCHITSCH. Thereupon FREISSLER asked. him why, in the event of the Putsch succeeding, he as the senior, would have been willing to serve as Minister of War under BECK. To this WITZLEBEN replied that his interests were purely military and. that the ministerial posts were to be allotted, not according to National Socialist orthodoxy, but according to expert
15. Asked what his first action on taking office would have been, WITZLEBEN answered that he would have given orders for all military and civil prisons and concentration camps to be opened. At this FREISSLER exclaimed, "That is dreadful! You as a Field Marshal would have let loose the dregs of humanity on the civilized cultured world of our Fatherland." WITZLEBEN made no further reply.
16. The questions to HAASE and HASSE were unimportant. HAASE stated that he had acted under WITZLEBEN's orders and had foreseen his fate for two years previously, as being similar to that of BRAUCHITSCH and FRITSCH.
17. SCHULENBURG was asked whether he was informed about the attack on the Führer, planned for 12 Dec 43 and why it was not carried out. "Because somebody failed" was his ringing reply. When FREISSLER asked him to name the defaulter, he replied, "Someone failed, whom that plot had destined for high office". When the judge asked for the name of this man, SCHULENBURG, after a moment of ominous silence, drew himself up and with a deliberate movement of his hand indicated HIMMLER. The Minister and the defendant exchanged steady glances, and then SCHULENBURG said that Reich minister HIMMLER, the Chief of Police, was the one who failed. Thereupon the judge, sensing HIMMLER's discomfiture, broke off the exchange.
18. The prosecuting counsel then rose to make his statement and demanded the death penalty, by hanging, for the defendants, together with the confiscation of their property and the protective arrest of their nearest relatives.
19. The Court was cleared and the bench and the Court of Honour withdrew to consider their verdict. The defendants were conducted back to their cells by SS guards and passed through the audience waiting outside the Court. The faces of the generals waiting, evinced embittered disillusionment and there was little conversation.
20. After 30 minutes the Court reassembled to hear the verdict, which was relayed by radio. Although the accused had been deprived of their military rank, they were ordered to hold themselves like soldiers. SCHULENBURG remained impassive. All were condemned to be hanged and to have their property confiscated.
21. After FREISSLER had given the reasons for the verdict, the defendants were invited, to make statements. With the exception of SCHULENBURG, they all requested through counsel to be shot rather than hanged. This plea was brusquely . refused, so SCHULENBURG, when called on, answered "I have nothing further to say. A request like that of my colleagues would only meet with the same reply and I do not wish to hear that again".
22. Finally the presiding judge requested all present to rise in honour of those who had lost their life in the Putsch, and the proceedings closed with a "Sieg Heil" in honour of the Führer and the German Nation.
23 The sentence was carried out four hours later.
REPORTS OF THE TRIAL
24. PW considers that the entire trial was staged in order to impress the generals, who had been forced to attend. All Press representatives had to submit their reports for censorship to the Propaganda Ministry. To their surprise they received back a brief and tendentious report from the pen of GOEBBELS, which had to be printed intact and unaltered in all newspapers.
24 Apr 45
M.I.19.a War Office (85 copies)
N.I.D. Admiralty ( 4 copies)
A.D.I.(K) Air Ministry ( 6 copies)