nuremberg military tribunal




Adolf Ott

SS-Lieutenant Adolf Ott began his career in an administrative office of the German Workers Front in Lindau. He joined the NSDAP in 1922 and became a member of the SS in 1931. In 1935 he entered the Security Service.

There are no complications about the case of Adolf Ott, except perhaps the meaning he intended to give to the word "execution". In his pre-trial affidavit he said that his kommando carried out 80 to 100 executions. At the trial he stated that, by the word execution, he meant the death of but one person. The context of the affidavit would logically convey a contrary view because, immediately after speaking of the "80 to 100 executions", he says:

"I remember one execution which took place in the vicinity of Bryansk", and he then proceeds to describe this execution which involved "corpses". The affidavit also says that the valuables collected from "these people" were sent to Einsatzgruppe B.

The whole purport and tenor of this affidavit are to the effect that the word "execution" is used in the sense of a multiple killing. However, for the purposes of the ascertainment of guilt or innocence it matters little whether, by "80 to 100 executions", Ott meant the killing of only 80 to 100 people or a multiple of 80 to 100, which multiple, in view of the evidence in this case, would increase the number of the slain to many hundreds at the very least.

According to his affidavit, Ott was assigned to Sonderkommando 7b on February 15, 1942, and, according to his testimony in court, he arrived at the headquarters of the kommando in Bryansk on February


19. He asserted, however, at the trial, that he did not actually take over the leadership of the unit until about the middle of March. It is the contention of the prosecution that Ott testifyingly delayed his chiefship of the kommando until March 15, in order to avoid responsibility for the executions enumerated in Report No. 194:

"In the area of the Einsatzgruppe, during the period from 6 until 30 March 1942, the following were specially treated:
through SK 7b:
82 persons, 19 among them for collaborating with partisans, 22 for engaging in Communist propaganda and for proved membership of the Communist Party, 14 for making incendiary remarks, 27 Jews."

In view of the fact that Ott arrived in Bryansk on February 19 for the specific purpose of taking over control of Sonderkommando 7b it is not clear why he should have waited until March 15 to assume leadership of the unit. But even if this unexplained delay in the technical assumption of command were a fact, this would not of itself exculpate Ott from responsibility for the operation involved. Under Control Council Law No.10 one may be convicted for taking a "consenting part in the perpetration of crimes" and it would be difficult to maintain that Ott, while actually with the kommando, did not (even though technically not its commanding officer) consent to these executions.

In addition, it is to be observed that the report declared, that the 82 persons enumerated therein were killed between March 6 and March 30. Thus, if arguendo Ott's authority over the kommando was delayed until March l5, there is still the responsibility on his part for the executions which occurred between March 15 and March 30.

However, so far as guilt is concerned, this speculation as to the number killed before March 15 and the number executed after


March 15 is academic, because the evidence is conclusive that, during the at least ten-month period that Ott commanded Sonderkommando 7b, great numbers of people were killed in violation of International Law.

The Tribunal has pointed out that it is not necessary, in the individual judgments, to enumerate and discuss all the executions charged against the defendants by the Prosecution if it is once established that the defendant is guilty under Counts I and II of the Indictment. In this respect, Ott himself removed every possible scintilla of doubt when he said:

"I told my sub-kommando leaders that Jews, after they are seized and do not belong to a partisan movement or sabotage organization, must be shot on the basis of the Fuehrer-Order."

After this statement in court, he was asked:

"Did I understand you, witness, to say that you instructed your sub-kommando leaders that, if they found Jews, they were to seize them and shoot them in accordance with the Fuehrer-Order? Is that what you said?

And his answer was:

"Yes, that is correct."

He was questioned again as to whether a Jew would be shot, even if he did not belong to a partisan or sabotage organization. And he replied:

"Yes. He would have been shot, even ....if he had not been a member of one of these organizations."

Since the defendant by his answers was admitting incontrovertible guilt, more questions were put to him on this subject, so that there could be no possible misunderstanding. The further interrogation follows:

"Q. If he had not belonged to an organization he would have been shot anyway?

A. He would have been shot if he had not been one of the perpetrators, but if, for some reason, he had merely been hiding with the group because he had to be seized, in accordance with the Fuehrer-Order.
Q. ......So that whether he belonged to an illegal organization, this, partisan or saboteurs,


or not, he was bound to be shot because, if he wasn't shot as a saboteur, as an active partisan, he would be shot under the Fuehrer-Order? That's correct, isn't it?

A. He was shot in, accordance with the Fuehrer-Order -- yes. I would like to add.....that, of course, an interrogation was carried out in this particular case to see "is he a member of an organization or is he not".

Q. And in each case you found out he was a member of an organization, an illegal organization?

A. One of these three groups.

Q. Yes, now if you had found out that he was not a member of one of these illegal organizations, saboteur or partisan or a resistance movement, you would have shot him anyway because he was a Jew and fell under the Fuehrer-Order, that's right, isn't it?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. What was the necessity of the investigation if the result was that he always would be shot? What was the reason for wasting all this time on a man you were going to shoot anyway?

A. Interrogations were carried out to find out whether he was a member of an organization. If such was the case he was carefully questioned concerning all liaison members, number of members of this particular organization, and their activities. That was the purpose of the interrogation."

The defendant explained that some of the interrogatees refused to speak:

"Q. Some of them refused to talk?

A. That is so.

Q. And they were shot just the same?

A. They had to be shot if they were Jews."

Still determined to exclude every single possibility of equivocation and error, the defendant was questioned further, and he answered as follows:

"Q. Well, then you did shoot some Jews because they were Jews?

A. I have already said,.....every Jew who was apprehended had to be shot. Never mind whether he was a perpetrator or not.

Q. How many Jews did you shoot just because they were Jews?

A. I estimate there must have been about 20, at least."


This specific out-and-out admission by Ott in court that he shot 20 Jews just because they were Jews conclusively establishes his guilt, and it is unnecessary to consider the other items of accusation advanced by the Prosecution.

There is but one further observation to be made on this subject, and that is the undeviating fidelity of the defendant to the virtue of Consistency. Consistency, which has always been regarded as a jewel, did not lose any of its sparkle or gleam in the hands of Adolf Ott. When asked why he did not release some of the Jews when he had the opportunity to do so, he replied:

"I believe in such matters there is only one thing, namely consistency. Either I must shoot them all whom I capture or I have to release them all."

One more item in Ott's case is worthy of comment. In his pre-trial affidavit he said:

"In June 1942, without having received an order to do so, I opened an internment camp in Orel. In my opinion people ought not to be shot right away for comparatively small misdeeds. For this reason I put them in this internment camp, in which the people had to work. I determined the length of time that these people should remain in the camp on the basis of examination and investigations of the individual cases which were made by my kommando. It happened too that people were released. The highest number of inmates that I had in this camp was 120 persons."

The magnanimity of the affiant in this statement is not in the declaration that it was his opinion that "people ought not to be shot right away for comparatively small misdeeds", but his assertion that it "happened too" that is, it even happened, that people were released.

From all the evidence in the case 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 and SD 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. 193 - 197 original mimeographed copy)

Profile of Adolf Ott

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Ken Lewis
May 11, 1998
Rev. 1.1