From PRO file WO.208/5017.
C. S. D. I. C. (U.K.)
Report on information obtained from Senior Officer PW on 2-4 Aug 44
The following are the names and secret numbers of the PW referred to in this report:-
M 178 - Generalleutnant Von Sponeck (GOC 90th Lt
M 199 - Oberst Reiman (OC Pz. Gr. Regt 86)
A 1200 - Generalleutant Neuffer (GOC 20th Flak
CS/ 24(M) - Generalmajor Sattler (Second in command
[Website note: only those officers quoted in the extracts below are included in the list above]
BY C.S.D.I.C. (U.K.)
M.I.19.a War Office
II. THE FÜHRER [not copied here]
III. COURSE OF THE WAR [not copied here]
IV. SECRET WEAPONS [not copied here]
V. THE GERMAN ARMY [not copied here]
VI. ATROCITIES IN POLAND AND RUSSIA
1. The following conversation about atrocities committed by the SS in Poland, the protection afforded by Himmler to SS-men accused by German generals and the removal of the SS generally from the jurisdiction of Army courts-martial, took place between Generalleutnante von Sponeck and von Schlieben (?) and General Major Sattler in the presence of other Senior Officer PW: (German text: Appendix (a))
Sattler: Yes, we have shot people. That began in Poland back in 1939. The SS is said to have wreaked terrible havoc.
Schlieben: That was probably the reason why Blaskowitz was dismissed.
Sattler: Yes, of course, and Küchler, too, because he severely punished a few SS-men who had murdered people. Thereupon there was the hell of a row and after that the SS got their special court, that is, SS-men could be had up only before SS courts-martial, not ordinary service ones, whereas up to then the SS was supposed to come under the armed forces. That followed on the disgraceful behaviour of the SS in Poland, because the military authorities said: "This dirty scoundrel goes around shooting women and children; it's the death sentence for him." Then Himmler came along: "That's out of the question." I had actual experience of that myself.
Sponeck: But even before that business we were not allowed to take proceedings against them. I know the case of the Director of Music of the 'Leibstandarte', whom we dragged off his band-wagon, because he had shot so many Jews in a mad lust for blood. We had him brought before Hoth's court-martial. The man was immediately taken out of Hoth's jurisdiction, sent to Berlin and came back again, still as Director of Music.
Sattler: Was that in peace-time?
Sponek: It wasn't in peace-time; it was during the war before Warsaw.
Sattler: Yes, that's just what I mean. The SS intervened and said: "No." Küchler had stopped in, too. In 1939 those fellows were shooting like mad and the higher authorities, like Küchler, for example - he had a row, too - stepped in and wanted to condemn the fellows to death, but the SS cam along and said: "No, we have our own courts; that's out of the question." Thereupon, in spite of the fact that the SS came under the armed forces, and in war-time was actually a part of the armed forces, the SS suddenly got its special courts. Instead of getting shot, those fellows got promotion and that was the end of the matter.
2. The following descriptions of maltreatment of captured Russians, alleged to have taken place in consequence of an order from the Führer, were given by General Neuffer and Oberst Reimann in conversation with other Senior Officer PW: (German text: Appendix (b)).
Neuffer: In 1941 the Führer issued an order to the effect that as few Russian prisoners as possible were to be left alive and as many as possible killed.
Reimann: What barbarism!
Neuffer: That transporting of the Russians to the rear from Vyasma was a ghastly business!
Reimann: It was really gruesome. I was present when they were being transported from Korosten to just outside Lwow. They were driven like cattle from the trucks to the drinking troughs and bludgeoned to keep their ranks. There were troughs at the stations; they rushed to them and drank like beasts; after that they were given just a bit of something to eat. Then they were again driven into the wagons; there were sixty or seventy men in one cattle truck! Each time the train halted ten of them were taken out dead: they had suffocated for lack of oxygen. I was in the train with the camp guard and I heard it from the 'Feldwebel', a student, a man with spectacles, an intellectual, whom I asked: "How long has this been going on?" - "Well, I have been doing this for four weeks; I'll not be able to stand it much longer, I must get away; I can't stick it any more!" At the stations the prisoners peered out of the narrow openings and shouted in Russian to the Russians standing there: "Bread! And God will bless you," etc. They threw out their old shirts, their last pair of stockings and shoes from the trucks and children came up and brought them pumpkins to eat. They threw the pumpkins in, and then all you heard was a terrible din like the roaring of wild animals in the trucks. They were probably killing each other. That finished me. I sat back in a corner and pulled my coat up over my ears. I asked the 'Feldwebel': "Haven't you any food at all?" He answered: "Sir, how could we have anything, nothing has been prepared!"
Neuffer: No, really, all that was incredibly gruesome. Just to see that column of PW after the twin battle of Vyasma - Briansk, when the PW were taken to the rear on foot, far beyond Smolensk. I often travelled along that route - the ditches by the side of the roads were full of shot Russians. Cars had driven in to them; it was really ghastly!
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