Atrocities and Offenses Committed Against Civilian
Populations: Count Five: (C) Special Commando
(Sonderkommando) Dirlewanger and Related Matters:
(2) Testimony of Defendant Berger: Extracts From
the Testimony of Defendant Berger: Direct
Examination: Part 06", in Trials of War Criminals
Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under
Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 13: United States
of America v. Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al. (Case
11: 'Ministries Case'). District of Columbia: GPO,
1952. pp. 548-551.
Department of the Army (USA)
Number: AC 94X 17346 Publication Date: PD 19520101.
Document Type: Government Document. Source Document
Language(s): English See Also Related Document
Supersets: Ministeries-Case; 13NMT; NMT; Country of
Q. Witness, may I interrupt you. You just spoke
about White Ruthenia. Is that the Ukraine
A. White Ruthenia is the northern Ukraine.
Q. May I submit this map to the Tribunal with
the prosecution's permission? It's a map submitted
by the prosecution.
A. The capital of this region was Minsk.
Q. White Ruthenia is a part of the Ukraine. That
is on the right hand side of the map.
A. In contrast to the very productive region of
the Ukraine, this is an area sparsely settled,
wooded, and with much morass.
Q. Please continue.
A. In the letter that I sent to
[Otto] Bräutigam, to whom I
turned back the file, Document NO-3028--
Q. That is Prosecution Exhibit 2392.
A. I still maintain what I said in this letter.
This expresses my point of view to be effected. I
would have considered it to be my duty as
Commissioner General to investigate this affair on
the spot myself.
Judge Maguire: Witness, are you referring to
your letter of June 3, 1943?
A. No. I am speaking of the letter which is
contained on page 50 of the German. It's dated July
Mr. Petersen: That is page 38 of the English
A. It's directed to Ministerial Dirigent Dr.
Bräutigam. "Dear Herr Doctor." I was of the
opinion that if the District Commissioner and
Commissioner Generals had shown a little more
judgment and courage to go to the spot and
investigate the affair, that everything would have
been found out quickly. But I ask that I be
permitted to comment on this letter at a later time
in connection with something else. I want to
indicate today merely that there was considerable
tension in existence at the time between
Himmler and Lohse, the Reich
Commissioner in Riga on the one hand, in regard to
the Baltic Corps. There were tensions between the
Chief of the Anti-Partisan Units and Kube,
the Commissioner General in Minsk on the other
hand, and they were concerned with intentions that
were apparently intended to finish off Kube, so to
speak, so that he had to turn over his Commissioner
General post. Kube himself indicates in his report
that the police, the OT, and the Wehrmacht, would
fight brutally. In another letter he said that the
Schuma, the Ukrainian police guard, would
perpetrate such acts, but it is true that at the
bottom of his letter he says the regiment
Dirlewanger excels in a similar manner. May I now
comment on my letter of July 13, 1943 -- after the
poachers were no longer there because the majority
of them had fallen in battle. Without my having
anything to do with it, all those Party Members of
the NSDAP that were in prison, and who had
volunteered for this organization by way of the
Party Chancellery were sent to this
Q. Witness, I now turn to the letter of Lohse
which is to be found in Prosecution Exhibit 2393.
That's a report to the Reich Minister for the
Eastern Occupied Territories. I now ask you this,
did you know that letter at the time?
A. No. I wasn't given that report.
Q. Were the contents of this document later
investigated and found to be correct or
A. As a result of that document a big
investigation was initiated. This was the
Undertaking [Operation] Cottbus. In order
not to facilitate matters for the foreign
intelligence those operations were camouflaged by
giving them some names. They were given names of
towns or they were given some other fictitious
names, beginning of spring, or any other names so
that he could refer to these things over the phone
without giving any information to foreign
intelligence so that they wouldn't know what we
were speaking about. In this Operation Cottbus,
which, by the way, belongs to these operations
which didn't turn out, if I may be permitted to say
so, they didn't have any success.
They didn't disperse the
partisans in any way. One can't say that they did.
At the end of the operation the Chief of the
Anti-Partisan Units sent a teletype to
Himmler. This man was [SS
Obergruppenführer Erich] von dem Bach.
I don't remember the figures mentioned in this
teletype. There may be one or two more or less, and
that's not important but it said something like
"The operation Cottbus has been
successfully completed. Our own losses, 28 men.
Enemy losses, 4,000" -- not as it says here,
5,000 -- there were only 4,000 enemy dead.
"Weapons captured, 290 rifles, some mortars,"
but I don't know the number any more.
This teletype, by an error made by the
teletypist, was sent directly to Reich Minister
Rosenberg before it even reached Himmler and
caused, of course, a considerable excitement
because Lohse and Kube had sent teletypes on the
same day about this very thing to the same
A big investigation was
started. It was conducted by General
Schenkendorf. An investigation commission was
appointed by Hitler himself and first it was
found out that our own losses were not 28 dead but
more than 50 killed. Second, that we had suffered
more than 140 seriously wounded of our own. Third,
that in the case of enemy dead, the number wasn't
4,000 but 400 and that it was a mistake of the
teletypist as it was later called, that 4,000 was
given over instead of 400.
It is unbelievable but it is really true. The
figures that were all made up by these Higher SS
and Police Leaders you cannot imagine, that's
intolerable; and now the decent people have to
stand up and take it upon themselves, and at that
time these people couldn't think up exaggerated
reports enough to write out.