Documents on Real History
From PRO file WO.208/4139
[Click for original German text]


C. S. D. I. C. (U.K.)



S.R.M. 1062

The following conversation took place between:

KP/186458 -- Oberst Lex (HAR 170) Captured Middelburg 7 Nov 44 --

CS/687 -- Major Zorn (CO 3 Bn, 37 Ss Regt, 17 Ss Div.) Captured Near Metz 10 Nov 44

Information Received: 24 Nov 44


ZORN: (Re: Rommel): He was as much hated by the troops as he was popular with the people.

LEX: Yes.

ZORN: I have spoken to officers, who were with him -- it was frightful, he was everywhere, and nowhere, whenever the name of Rommel came up and he was supposed to be anywhere near, everyone disappeared.

LEX: Yes, he gave me a dressing-down, too; I had something to do with him, once this Spring and he gave me a dressing-down although I was only wanting to stick up for a subordinate. He took it the wrong way and gave me a dressing-down. It didn't do him any good, he died just the same.

ZORN: It's the same with all the people who get things done. I shouldn't like to work with the Führer, either.

LEX: Certainly not!

ZORN: I can well imagine the people at the top getting a heart attack now and then. For instance Brauchitsch, he has his hunting lodge in the Prague district, the Kammwald training area. I was there with my courses and he happened to be down there resting. In the course of three weeks he was there, all the doctors in the neighbourhood had to go thee four o five times in order to save him, he is really seriously ill with heart disease. You must realise the Führer is a devil for work, the way he chases him around. I have been told by Staff Officers and so on how frightful it is, he is impulsive to a degree! It is just the same with Heinrich Himmler, he inspected me twice and each time I was glad when he had gone. I don't like seeing him, I prefer it when he makes speech on the wireless.

He's a glutton for work himself and expects the same from others, they don't have any private life. A very good friend of mine was his second or third adjutant.

LEX: Where does he actually live?

ZORN: In Berlin, only he's always rushing around. He was an absolutely rabid fellow, he works almost more than the Führer.

LEX: But he is supposed to be quite good to work with, so I have heard.

ZORN: (Laughing) But I have heard something quite different about him. As a man he is all right, a marvellous fellow, but the demands he makes are tremendous, all his people collapse very soon. A very good friend of mine, who has been killed too now, once visited us on a visit from the Reichsführer. He was there, too, and this is what he told us. He had a marvellous flat in Berlin at the house of the Obersturmführer, with all sorts of gadgets, everything was officially placed at his disposal for his relaxation, gramophones and all that sort of thing. He had been living there for nine months and hadn't had time yet to play a single record. As Staff Officer, he wrote there until about four o'clock in the morning, and at six o'clock he had to go out again, because old Heinrich was working and was overloaded with affairs and was sitting about there. His nerves were completely to pieces.

The Old Man demanded everything.

If an SS-Führer did more than 80 kph on the road, -- he had ordered that 80 kph was to be the speed limit -- he was sent to a concentration camp immediately. It actually happened on the arterial road, where you may only do 80 kph too, that he overtook a service car and saw some ordinary Hauptsturmführer -- actually Sturmbannführer Dornegger (?) -- and threw him into the concentration camp immediately.

LEX: Now I remember the nickname for Zeitzler, he was called 'Ball of fire'. He was mad, you couldn't get the man down with work. He was an artisan and not an artist. He was not anointed with Moltke's oil as Brauchitsch and Halder were. Halder was an outstandingly clever and capable man, but he was quite refined, too, he used to smoke twelve Virginia cigars a day. Manstein was extremely capable. The Führer once said of him: "An exceedingly capable, but personally revolting individual."

ZORN: Have you, by chance, heard what became of Zeitzler?

LEX: No.

ZORN: He's not at all a well known person really, is he?

LEX: He was Chief of Staff of the 1st 'Panzerarmee' and then he was Rundstedt's Chief of Staff in the West. He was an old bachelor, I knew him personally, we were 'Oberste' together -- that is, I was a very junior 'Oberst' and he was a senior 'Oberst'. He became 'General' a month later. He was a devil for work and a truculent fellow. In the West he stirred things up rather; it was quite a good thing that a few sparks should fly here for once. He came to Rundstedt in the West in January 1942. He signed a good many things which he would gladly have cancelled afterwards; for instance, in October 1942 an order appeared which began: "The Russians are incapable of any large-scale operation this Winter." Three weeks later Stalingrad was encircled. We could only clutch our heads when we read that.

BY C.S.D.I.C. (U.K.)

M.I.19.a      War Office   (56 copies)
N.I.D.        Admiralty    ( 9 copies)
A.D.I.(K)     Air Ministry (15 copies)

(29111) Wtr51755/3515 37,000 2/45
   A. & E.W.Ltd GP.692 J.7303


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