7 Jan. 46

attached to Army Group Center at the end of 1941 or the beginning of 1942. This battalion was gradually strengthened by the addition of reserve units until it reached the proportions, first, of a regiment and, later, of a brigade. This "Dirlewanger Brigade" consisted for the most part of previously convicted criminals; officially it consisted of so-called poachers, but it did include real criminals convicted of burglary, murder, et cetera.

COL. POKROVSKY: How do you explain the fact that the German Army Command so willingly strengthened and increased its forces by adding criminals to them and then using these criminals against the partisans?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I am of the opinion that this step was closely connected with a speech made by Heinrich Himmler at Weselsburg at the beginning of 1941, prior to the campaign against Russia, when he spoke of the purpose of the Russian campaign, which was, he said, to decimate the Slav population by 30 million, and that it was in order to achieve this purpose that troops of such inferior caliber were introduced.

COL. POKROVSKY: Is it correct then to say that the character of the troops used by the commanders to fight the partisans had been given careful consideration? Did they receive precise instructions how to treat the population and how to fight against the partisans? I am now referring to the proposed and officially sanctioned extermination of the population.

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, I think this purpose was a decisive factor in the selection of certain commanders and formations.

COL. POKROVSKY: By what means and by what measures were Wehrmacht units brought in to fight the partisans? Were they specially recruited or were they used from time to time according to some set plan?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I think that on the whole there was no definite set plan. So-called large-scale operations were initiated, planned, and executed by headquarters. Anti-partisan fighting, however, was mostly of a spontaneous nature, since every lower commander was obliged to keep his own area free of partisans and thus had to act on his own initiative.

COL. POKROVSKY: You said that in very many cases generals and officers of the Wehrmacht personally headed the operations against the partisans. Can you give us some concrete facts and the names of some of the generals and officers?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I didn't fully understand the meaning of the question. The names of commanders?