nuremberg military tribunal




Walter Blume

SS-Colonel Blume obtained his Doctor's Degree in Law at the University of Erlangen. He later served with the Prussian Secret State Police. In May of 1941 he was called to Dueben where he was given command of Sonderkommando 7a and instructions on the task of exterminating Jews. This unit formed part of Einsatzgruppe B which in the execution of the Fuehrer-Order killed Jews, Communists and alleged asocials in no inconsiderable numbers. Blume states that he left his kommando on August 15 or 17, 1941. The defendant Steimle stated that Blume remained with the kommando until September 1941.

Report No. 73, dated September 4, 1941, credited Vorkommando 7a with 996 killings as of August 20. Even if Blume's assertion as to the date of his leaving the assignment were correct, that would only mean that he cannot be charged with that proportion of the 996 murders which occurred during the last 3 or 5 days of this period; and even this only under the additional assumption that prior to his departure he had not given orders which were executed within those 3 or 5 days.

Report No. 11, dated July 3, 1941 states that Blume's kommando liquidated "officials of the Konsomol (Communistic Organization) and Jewish officials of the Communist Party".

Report No. 34, dated July 26, 1941 speaks of the incident already described in the General Opinion--the killing of the 27


Jews who, not having reported for work, were shot down in the streets. This happened in the territory under Blume's jurisdiction.

Blume admits having witnessed and conducted executions. He states that he was opposed to the Fuehrer-Order and that he made every effort to avoid putting it into effect. But the facts do not support this assertion. From time to time during this trial various defendants have stated that certain reports were incorrect, that the figures were exaggerated, even falsified. Yet, when Blume was asked why, since he was so morally opposed to the Fuehrer-Order, he did not avoid compliance with the order by reporting that he had killed Jews, even though he had not, he replied that he did not consider it worthy of himself to lie.

Thus, his sense of honor as to statistical correctness surpassed his revulsion about cold bloodedly shooting down innocent people. In spite of this reasoning on the witness stand he submitted an affidavit in which it appears he did not have scruples against lying when stationed in Athens, Greece. In this affidavit he states that the Kriminal-Kommissar ordered him to shoot English commando troops engaged in Greek partisan activity. Since Blume was inwardly opposed to the kommissar decree as he pointed out, he suggested to his superior that the order to kill these Englishmen could be circumvented by omitting from the report the fact that the Englishmen were carrying civilian clothes with them.

Although Blume insisted at the trial that the Fuehrer-Order filled him with revulsion, yet he announced to the firing squad after each shooting of ten victims:

"As such, it is no job for German men and soldiers to shoot defenseless people but the Fuehrer has ordered these shootings because he is convinced that these men otherwise would shoot at us as partisans or would shoot at our comrades, and our women and children were also to be protected if we undertake these executions. This we would have to remember when we carried out this order."

It is to be noted here that Blume does not say that the victims had committed any crime or had shot at anybody, but that

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the F'uehrer had said that he, the Fuehrer, was convinced that these people "would shoot" at them, their women and children, 2,000 miles away. In other words, the victims were to be killed because of the possibility that they might at some time be of some danger to the F'uehrer and the executioners. Blume says that he made this speech. to ease the feelings of the men, but in effect he was convincing them that it was entirely proper to kill innocent and defenseless human beings. If he was not in accord with the order, he at least could have refrained from propagandizing his men on its justness and reasonableness, an exhortation which could well have persuaded them into a zestful performance of other executions which might otherwise have been avoided or less completely fulfilled.

Blume's claims about revulsion to the Fuehrer-Order are not borne out by his statement:

"I was also fully convinced and am so even now, that Jewry in Soviet Russia played an important part, and still does play an important part, and it has the especial support of Bolshevistic dictatorship, and still is."

While tarrying in the town of Wilna with his kommando, Blume instructed the local commander to arrest all Jews and confine them to a ghetto. Since the local commander of Wilna was not Blume's subordinate, Blume was not called upon to issue the order for the incarceration of the Jews which only brought them one step closer to execution under the Fuehrer-Order. Blume's explanation that he hoped the Fuehrer-Order might be recalled is scarcely adequate. He could have done nothing. Duty did not require him to incarcerate these Jews.

When the defendant stated that he had ordered the execution of three men charged with having asked the farmers not to bring in the harvest he was asked whether such an execution was not contrary to the rules of war:

"Q. Are you familiar with the rules of war?

A. In this case I acted by carrying out the Fuehrer-Order which decreed that saboteurs and functionaries were to be shot.


Q. Did you regard a person who told a farmer not to assist the Nazi invaders as a saboteur, because he refused to help the Nazis and that was worthy of the death sentence which you invoked?

A. Yes.

Q. Are you familiar with the rules of war?

A. I already stated that for me the directive was the Feuhrer-Order. That was my war law."

The defendant stated several times that he was aware of the fact that he was shooting innocent people and admitted the shooting of 200 people by his kommando.

Blume is a man of education. He is a graduate lawyer. He joined the NSDAP voluntarily, swore allegiance to Hitler voluntarily and became director of a section of the Gestapo voluntarily. He states that he admired, adored and worshipped Hitler because Hitler was successful not only in the domestic rehabilitation of Germany, as Blume interpreted it, but successful in defeating Poland, France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Yugoslavia, Greece, Luxembourg and other countries. To Blume these successes were evidence of great virtue in Hitler. Blume is of the notion that Adolf Hitler "had a great mission for the German people".

In spite of his declared reluctance to approve the Fuehrer-Order he would not go so far as to say that this order which brought about the indiscriminate killing of men, women and children, constituted murder and the reason for the explanation was that Hitler had issued the order and Hitler, of course, could not commit a crime. In fact Blume's great sense of guilt today is not that he brought about the death of innocent people but that he could not execute the Fuehrer-Order to its limit:

"Q. We understood you to say that you had a bad conscience for only executing part of the order. Does that mean that you regretted that you had not obeyed entirely the Fuehrer-Order?

A. Yes. This feeling of guilt was within me. The feeling of guilt about the fact that I, as an individual, was not able, and considered it impossible, to follow a Fuebrer-Order."


Dr. Lummert, Blume's lawyer, made a very able study of the law involved in this case. His arguments on Necessity and Superior Orders have been treated in the General Opinion. Dr. Lummert, in addition, has collected a formidable list of affidavits on Blume's character. They tell of Blume's honesty, good nature, kindness, tolerance and sense of justness, and the Tribunal does not doubt that he possessed all these excellent attributes at one time. One could regret that a person of such excellent moral qualities should have fallen under the influence of Adolf Hitler. But on the other hand one can regret even more that Hitler found such a resolute person to put into execution his murderous program. For let it be said once for all that Hitler with all his cunning and unmitigated evil would have remained as innocuous as a rambling crank if he did not have the Blumes, the Blobels, the Braunes and the Bibersteins to do his bidding, -- to mention only the B's.

The Tribunal finds the defendant guilty under Counts I and II of the Indictment.

The Tribunal also finds that the defendant was a member of the criminal organizations SS, SD and Gestapo under the conditions defined by the Judgment of the International Military Tribunal and is, therefore, guilty under Count III of the Indictment.


Musmanno, Michael A., U.S.N.R, Military Tribunal II, Case 9: Opinion and Judgment of the Tribunal. Nuremberg: Palace of Justice. 8 April 1948. pp. 155 - 159 (original mimeographed copy)

Profile of Walter Blume

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Ken Lewis
April 13, 1998
Rev. 1.1