Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
NEURNBERG, Oct. 17 (A.P.)—S.S. Gen. Erich Naumann, whose commandos killed thousands of Jewish men, women and children on the eastern front, told a war crimes court today he saw nothing wrong with that.
He was one of the leading defendants in the case against the Einsatz command groups which Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler formed to eradicate whole races.
Naumann’s statement was in answer to a question by Judge Michael A Musmanno, president of the tribunal, about whether he felt any misgivings in carrying out the orders for mass killings.
Naumann said he believed any order from Adolf Hitler was superior to his own conscience.
“Then you saw nothing wrong with shooting down defenseless people?” the court asked.
“No, it was necessary to win the war,” said Naumann.
Counsel for other defendants tried to draw from Naumann a declaration that he was more responsible than his men. He contended that only Hitler was responsible for the mass killing order and that he had no reason to doubt that his men carried it out “completely.”
Naumann was unable to estimate how many victims fell before his firing squads. Another defendant, Otto Ohlendorf, asserted his group alone killed 90,000.
Musmanno asked Ohlendorf if he would have killed his own flesh and blood on Hitler’s orders. Ohlendorf replied yes.
In April 1948, Gen. Naumann and Maj. Gen. Ohlendorf were among 14 S.S. officers sentenced to be hanged, but court battles delayed their execution for several years.
Executed June 7, 1951, were:
S.S. Gen. Oswald Pohl; chief concentration camp administrator, destroyed the Warsaw Ghetto.
S.S. [Maj.] Gen. Otto Ohlendorf; supervised units that killed 90,000 civilians in the Soviet Union.
S.S. Gen. Erich Naumann; led forces that killed 3,530 Jews and Gypies in central Russia in less than a month.
S.S. Col. Werner Braune; led a massacre of “racial undesirables” in the Crimea.
S.S. Col. Paul Blobel; led the slaughter of 60,000 people, including 33,000 Jews, in two days in Kiev.
S.S. Lt. Hans Schmidt; adjutant at Buchenwald.
S.S. Sgt. Georg Schallermair; official beat inmates to death at Muehlendorf concentration camp.
Each was given 90 seconds to speak and sources said all of them emphasized that “Germany must beware of people who call themselves Germany’s friends.”
Michael A. Mussmano was elected to Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court in 1951 and died in 1968. His papers are in special collections at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University and include detailed personal interviews with many former top Nazis.
Quote of the day: “Capt. Charles R. Sisto, sitting in the jump seat, decided to engage the gustlock while in flight to determine what action if any it would have on the control and attitude of the plane while in level flight.”
Civil Aeronautics Board investigation into what caused an American Airlines plane carrying 53 people from Dallas to Los Angeles to turn upside-down in flight.