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Gottlob Berger testifies in 1947 about boastful "body-counts" by frontline SS generals.

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At the Nuremberg military tribunal, the "Doctor's Trial," who SS General Gottlob Berger testified about Exaggerated Body Counts. Punch-line.

Title: "IX: 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.

Author: Department of the Army (USA)

Accession 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 Publication: USA

Q. Witness, may I interrupt you. You just spoke about White Ruthenia. Is that the Ukraine territory?

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 13, 1943.

Mr. Petersen: That is page 38 of the English document book.

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 organization.

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 incorrect?

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 this:

"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 agency.

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.square

In the Vietnam War too it was "body counts" that measured the prowess of the generals.
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