nuremberg military tribunal




Gustav Nosske

SS-Lieutenant Colonel Nosske studied banking, economics and law, passed his examinations as assessor in 1934 and entered the Administration of Justice at Halle. In June l935 he became employed in the National Ministry of the Interior at Aachen and then transferred to the Gestapo. From June 19, l94l, until March l942, he served as commander of Einsatzkommando 12.

He testified that he morally opposed the Fuehrer-Order but did not put it into effect because it was his good fortune never to have been in a position where he had to execute the order. When he was asked if he had been called upon to shoot 500 Jews under the Fuehrer-Order whether he would have done so, he replied:

"If I had been in a situation where the Einsatzgruppe chief would have been in a position to reprimand me for disobeying the Hitler order, and had stressed it, then probably I would have done it."

Later, he said that if he were confronted with such a situation he would take the matter up with his conscience:

"Q. are before 500 innocent people, men, women, and children --Jews -- and you are presented with this order to kill them. Now, are you going to confer with your conscience and, if so, what is going to be your conclusion?

A. I would have taken it upon my conscience.

Q. And you would have killed them?

A. I would have probably done it ."

But he did face situations which were not hypothetical. Report No.61, referring to Einsatzkommando 12, says:

".....Only in Babtschinzy resistance was partially shown toward an orderly harvesting caused at the instigation of Jewish inhabitants and such Jews, who had only come to this territory a few months ago. By spying on the population, those Jews had already created a basis for numerous deportations to Siberia. As a counter-measure, 94 Jews were executed."


The defendant on the witness stand admitted that this execution was carried out by one of his detachments, but declared that the execution was legal because the executees had sabotaged farm machinery and crops. The defendant's explanation is in flat contradiction to the report which specifically states that the 94 Jews were killed as a counter-measure. The phrase "counter-measure" carries no implication of guilt on the part of the victims and killing such victims can only be a crime.

The defendant said he did not learn of the execution until after it had taken place, but admits that it was done by members of his kommando. He admitted further the possibility that the Fuehrer-Order figured in the decision of the sub-kommando leader to perform the execution. He asserts that his sub-kommando leader conducted investigations before shooting the Jews, but he made no independent inquiries to determine whether the executions were warranted. Taking him at his word, his acceptance without inquiry of the killing of 94 persons was a demonstration of criminal and wanton indifference which might well have induced his men to further illegal and unjustified executions.

The defendant spoke of a period when he was absent from the kommando, but admitted that there were shootings under his authority even though he did not know the number.

"Then comes the period of time from the end of August until October where the command of the koinmando was taken over by somebody else, and I am not at all certain about the figure of those shot, and I am not sure how many were shot on my responsibility during that time."

The defendant explained that in January and February of 1942 the severe weather prevented any activities on the part of his kommando. It is a fact that Report No.178 said:

"Kommando 12 had to limit its activities to the villages and closer vicinity of the branched-off sub-kommando posts, because of extreme cold and snowstorms and unpassable streets."

But it also said:

"From the 16 to 28 February 1942, 1,515 persons were shot, 729 of these were


Jews. 271 Communists, 74 partisans, 421 Gypsies, as asocials and saboteurs."

While all these killings are not to be charged to Sonderkommando 12, it does refute the statement that Sonderkommando 12 was entirely immobilized during the period in question. Nor was it immobilized, according to Report No. l65, which, covering events in January 1942, said:

"Besides, 2 further Teilkommandos were established with the assistance of men of the Einsatzkommando 12 for the purpose of combing out the northern Crimea"

Then there was the episode of the Roumanian Jews. The prosecution contended that the defendant was involved in a forced migration of Jews from German-controlled territory into Roumania, and that in the operation some of the Jews were shot. The defendant admitted that he had led some 6,000 to 7,000 Jews across the Dnjestr River, but denied that in this movement any of the Jews were shot. In fact he endeavored to convey the impression that in this particular affair a great favor had been done the Jews in repatriating them. A witness, Harsch, called to testify on the subject stated that he witnessed the arrival of the Jews on the Roumanian side of the river, and that once they had gained that point they evinced their gratitude to the German escort by crying "Heil Hitler". Although this contingent of Jews escaped the German firing squad by leaving German territory, it is not so certain what fate awaited them in Roumania. The defendant Nosske, in this regard, testified, as stated before in the General Opinion:

"I assume that the Roumanians wanted to get rid of them and sent them into the German territory so that we would have to shoot them and we would have the trouble of shooting them. We didn't want to do the work for the Roumanians."

The witness Harsch said that later he saw these same Jews within barbed wire enclosures on Roumanian territory.

The defendant made frequent references in his testimony to shootings by his kommando:

"From 21 June until 15 September certainly, because during the time from 10 to 25 or 23 of August, the shooting


in Babtschinzy took place and then later on several shootings took place."

"This territory where the Kommando XII moved was declared Roumanian sovereign territory; certain shootings occurred but we didn't quite know. Our own and other people's reports mentioned this. I already said, after looking at the final records of the Kommando I read it. Of course, shootings were carried out, in particular in this whole territory, and shootings were reported about on the principle that not only our own shootings but also shootings by others were reported later on including events which had been in other territories."

"In this connection many reports were made out by me about many executions, that is our own executions, as well as foreign executions." (Emphasis supplied)

In addition, he affirmed that Kommando 12 contributed to the total killings of the parent organizations, Einsatzgruppe D, but refused to name any figure or even an estimate of the number of persons his kommando had executed. He said that in his entire period of service in Russia he had only seen two people killed and then, after vividly narrating the details of an incident which resulted in numerous executions, he could not or would not state the number of people who had been killed. It is extraordinary that he should recall the alleged investigation of this incident but not recall what happened as a result of the investigation.

Despite his constant refusal to estimate the number of people executed by his kommando, he did finally say that he knew it had killed at least 244. Taking his testimony as a whole, the Tribunal is convinced that the kommando executed a number considerably larger than 244, Nor is it convinced that the Rules of War and International Law were observed in all these cases.

Report No. 95, dated September 25, 1941, covering the period from August 19 to September 15, l94l, speaks of various executions conducted by Einsatzgruppe D of which Sonderkommando 12 formed a part. In his summation, defense counsel says:

"Even if the report contains reports on shootings which were forwarded to the Group by Einsatzkommando 12, nevertheless this report does not provide any


reason for believing that shootings reported in this way were carried out by virtue of the Fuehrer-Order."

But the report itself says:

"From 19 August until 15 September, 8,890 Jews and Communists were executed. Total number: 13,315. The Jewish question is at present being solved in Nikolajew and Cherson. About 5,000 Jews were rounded up in each town."

While Nosske cannot be charged with any particular number of killings enumerated here, it is obvious that the shooting of the Jews, since no qualifying phrase limits the reference to the Jews, was done on the basis of the Fuehrer-Order.

His statement heretofore quoted about refusing to kill Jews for the Roumanians shows a familiarity with the Fuehrer-Order which belies his general assertion that he was opposed to it. In that statement he practically asserted that he was against killing Jews for the Roumanians; but that there was no objection to the same kind of a performance if it took place in the territory of his own organization.

In September l944, the defendant having in the meantime returned to Germany, the Higher SS and Police Leader in the Duesseldorf area instructed him to round up all Jews and half-Jews in that area and shoot them. The defendant stated that he protested this order and that, eventually, it was revoked or at any rate not enforced. Nosske's protest against this order was undoubtedly due mostly to the fact that many of the intended victims, because of the conjugal relationship of the half-Jews, were considered Germans. Nonetheless, his action in refusing categorically to obey the order, demonstrated, contrary to the argument advanced throughout the trial in behalf of the various defendants, that a member of the German Armed Forces could protest a superior order and not be shot in consequence. Though it is true the defendant suffered some inconveniences because of his unwillingness to shoot the people of Duesseldorf, he was not shot or even degraded.

From all the evidence in the case the Tribunal finds that


the defendant is guilty under counts I and II of the Indictment.

The Tribunal also finds 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. 188 - 193 original mimeographed copy)

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Ken Lewis
May 11, 1998
Rev. 1.1