The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. I shall now show you Exhibit GB 91. This appears on Page
18 of the prosecution's Document Book. It is an operational
order issued by C.-in-C. U-boats on 3oth March, 1940, and
dealing with the Norwegian enterprise. Is it true that this
is your operational order?

A. Yes.

Q. How many days before the beginning of the Norwegian
enterprise was that order released?

A. Approximately ten days.

Q. Paragraph 1, Section 5, contains the following sentence:
"While entering the harbour, and until the troops have been
landed, the naval forces will probably fly the British naval
ensign, except in Narvik." I beg your pardon: Section 2. Is
that an order given by C.-in-C. U-boats to the submarines
under his command?

A. No. That passage appears under the heading: "Information
on our own combat forces."

Q. And what is the meaning of this allusion?

A. It means that U-boats were informed that in certain
circumstances our own Naval units could fly other flags.

Q. Why was that necessary?

A. It was necessary so as to camouflage our identity.

Q. Are there any other references to this point in this

                                                   [Page 21]

A. Yes.

Q. Where?

A. In paragraph 4 (5).

Q. Will you please read it?

A. There it says: "Beware of confusing our own units with
enemy forces."

Q. Only that sentence? Did this order instruct U-boats to
attack Norwegian forces?

A. No.

Q. Will you please indicate what the order says about that?

A. 4 (A2) states: "Only enemy naval forces and troop
transports are to be attacked."

Q. What was meant by "enemy" forces?

A. "Enemy" forces were British, French and Russian - no, not
Russians. It goes on: "No action is to be taken against
Norwegian and Danish forces unless they attack our own

Q. Will you please read Paragraph 6 C.

A. Paragraph 6 C says: "Steamers may only be attacked when
they have been identified beyond the possibility of doubt as
enemy steamers and as troop transports."

Q. Was C.-in-C. U-boats informed of the political action
taken with regard to incidents caused by submarines?

A. Yes.

Q. In what way?

A. U-boats had orders to report immediately by wireless in
the case of incidents and to supplement the report later.

Q. I don't think you quite understood my question. I asked
you, was C.-in-C. U-boats informed as to how an incident
caused by a submarine would later on be settled with a
neutral government?

A. No, not as a rule.

Q. Can you remember any individual case where he was

A. I remember the case of the Spanish steamer Monte Corbea.
Later on I learned that Spain had been promised reparations.
I cannot remember now whether I received the information
through official channels or whether I just heard it

Q. I should now like to establish the dates of certain
orders which I have already presented to the Tribunal. I
shall show you Standing Order No. 171, which is on Page 159
of Vol. 3 of the document book. What is the date on which
that order was issued?

A. I shall have to look at it first.

Q. Please do.

A. That order must have originated in the winter of 1939-
1940. Probably 1939.

Q. On what do you base that conclusion?

A. I base it on the reference made in 4A to equipment for
depth charges. This was taken for granted at a later stage.
I also gather it from the reference made in 5B to the moving
of masks and coloured lights, something which was formulated
then for the first time.

Q. Can you tell us the exact month in 1939?

A. I assume that it was November.

Q. I am now going to show you another order, Standing War
Order No. 122. It appears on Page 226 in the fourth volume
of my document book. Up to now all we know is that this
order was issued before May, 1940. Can you give us a more
exact date?

A. This order must have been issued about the same time as
the first, that is to say, about November, 1939.

Q. Thank you. How was the conduct of U-boat warfare by C.-in-
C. U-boats organized in practice? Will you explain that to

                                                   [Page 22]

A. All orders based on questions of International Law, etc.,
originated with the Naval War Staff. The Naval War Staff
also reserved for itself the right to determine the locality
of the centre of operations - for instance, the distribution
of U-boats in the Atlantic Theatre, the Mediterranean
Theatre, and the North Sea Theatre. Within these various
areas, U-boats operations were, generally speaking, entirely
at the discretion of C.-in-C. Submarines.

Q. Were the standing orders for U-boats given verbally or in

A. In writing.

Q. Were there not verbal orders as well?

A. Verbal instructions personally issued by C.-in-C. U-boats
had a special part to play and included personal influence
brought to bear on Commanders, as well as explanations of
the contents of written orders.

Q. On what occasions was that personal influence exerted?

A. Particularly when reports were being made by the
Commanders after each action. There must have been very few
Commanders who did not make a personal and detailed report
to C.-in-C. U-boats after an action.

Q. Was it possible for written orders to be changed in the
course of verbal transmission, or even twisted round to mean
the opposite?

A. Such a possibility might have existed; but it never
actually happened.

Q. When they made these verbal reports, could the Commanders
risk expressing opinions which were not those of C.-in-C. U-

A . Absolutely. C.-in-C. U-boats even asked his Commanders
in so many words to give him their personal opinions in
every case, so that he could maintain direct personal
contact with them and thus remain in close touch with events
on the front so that he could put matters right where

Q. Was this personal contact used for the verbal
transmission of distasteful orders?

A. No.

Q. The prosecution holds that an order - apparently a verbal
order - existed, prohibiting the entry in the log of
measures considered dubious or unjustifiable from the point
of view of International Law. Did such a general order

A. No; there was no general order. In certain individual
cases - I can remember two - an order was given to omit
certain matters from the log.

Q. Which cases do you remember?

A. The first was the Athenia case, and the second was the
sinking of a German boat which was coming from Japan through
the blockade, by a German submarine.

Q. Before I ask you to give me details of that, I should
like to know the reason for omitting such matters from the

A. It was done for reasons of secrecy. U-boat logs were seen
by a great many people, firstly, in the training stations of
the U-boat arm itself; and, secondly, in numerous offices of
the Supreme Command. Special attention had therefore to be
paid to secrecy.

Q. How many copies of each U-boat War Diary were made?

A. I should say six to eight copies.

Q. Did the omission of such an item from the log mean that
all documentary evidence was destroyed in every office; or
did certain offices keep these documents?

A. These records were retained. by C.-in-C. Submarines, and
probably by the Naval War Staff as well.

Q. Was there a "Standing War Order" prescribing the
treatment of incidents?

A. Yes.

Q. What were the contents?

A. It stated that incidents must be reported immediately by
wireless and that a supplementary report must be made later,
either in writing or by word of mouth.

Q. Does this "Standing Order" contain any allusion to the
omission of such incidents from the log?

A. No.

                                                   [Page 23]

Q. Will you please tell me now how this alteration was made
in the log in the case of the Athenia?

A. In the case of the Athenia, Naval Lieutenant Lemm
reported on returning that he had torpedoed this ship,
assuming it to be an auxiliary cruiser. I cannot now tell
you exactly whether this was the first time I realised that
such a possibility existed, or whether the idea that this
ship might possibly have been torpedoed by a German
submarine had already been taken into consideration. Lemm
was sent to Berlin to make a report and absolute secrecy was
ordered with regard to the case.

Q. By whom?

A. The Naval War Staff, after a temporary order had been
issued in our department. I ordered the fact to be erased
from the U-boat's War Diary.

A. And that, of course, was on the orders of Admiral Donitz?

A. Yes, or I ordered it on his instructions.

Q. Did you participate in the further handling of this

A. Only with regard to the question of whether Lemm should
be punished. As far as I remember, C.-in-C. U-boats only
took disciplinary action against him because it was in his
favour that the incident occurred during the first few hours
of the war and it was held that in his excitement he had not
investigated the character of the ship as carefully as he
might have done.

Q. Did I understand you correctly as saying that the
detailed documentary evidence in connection with the sinking
of the Athenia was retained by both C.-in-C. U-boats and,
you believe, the Naval War Staff?

A. I can say that with certainty only as far as C.-in-C. U-
boats is concerned. That is what happened in this case.

Q. You mentioned a second case some time ago, where a log
book had been altered. Which case was that?

A. That incident was as follows: A German blockade breaker,
that is to say, a merchant vessel on its way back from
Japan, was accidentally torpedoed by a German submarine and
sunk in the North Atlantic. This fact was omitted from the

Q. So it was only a question of keeping matters secret from
German offices?

A. Yes. The British learned the facts from lifeboats as far
as I know; and these facts were to be concealed from the
crews of other blockade breaking vessels.

Q. Documents submitted to the Tribunal by the defence show
that until the autumn of 1942, German U-boats took steps to
rescue crews, as far as was possible without prejudicing the
U-boat's safety and without interfering with their own
assignment. Does this agree with your own experiences?

A. Yes.

Q. I should now like to put a few questions to you regarding
the so-called Laconia order, which still require
clarification. I refer to Exhibit GB 199. As you know, the
prosecution call this order an order to kill survivors. Who
formulated this order?

THE PRESIDENT: Where is it?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: It is in the Document Book of the
prosecution, on Page 36, Mr. President.

A. I cannot now tell you that for certain. Generally
speaking, such an order was discussed by C.-in-C. U-boats,
the stand-by officer, and myself. C.-in-C. U-boats decided
on the general terms of the order and then it was formulated
by one of us. It is quite possible that I myself worded the

Q. But, at any rate, Admiral Donitz signed it, did he not?

A. He must have done - yes.

Q. Admiral Donitz; thought that he remembered that you and
Captain Kessler were opposed to this order. Can you remember
this, too, and if so, why were you against it?

A. I do not remember that.

                                                   [Page 24]

Q. What was the meaning of the order?

A. The meaning of the order is plain. It prohibited attempts
at rescue.

Q. Why was that not forbidden by means of a reference to
Standing War Order No. 154, which was issued in the winter
of 1939-40?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, surely a written order must
speak for itself. Unless there is some colloquial meaning in
a particular word used in the order, the order must be
interpreted according to the ordinary meaning of the words.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I was not proposing to go into the question
any further, Mr. President.


Q. I should like to repeat my last question. Why, instead of
issuing a new order, did they not simply refer Commanders to
Standing War Order No. 154, which was issued in the winter
of 1939-40?

I refer, Mr. President, to Exhibit GB 196, on Page 33 of the
prosecution's Document Book.

You remember that order, do you not, I have shown it to you.

A. Yes, I do. That order had already been cancelled when the
so-called Laconia order was issued. Apart from that, a mere
reference to an order already issued would have lacked the
character of authority which orders should have.

Q. Do you mean by that that your staff, as a matter of
principle, did not issue orders by means of references to
earlier orders?

A. That was avoided whenever possible; that is to say,
generally speaking - always.

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