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Last-Modified: 2000/03/16

Q. And did you say this with regard to the von Fritsch

  "I was convinced that Goering had a hand in this well-
  prepared situation, since in order to attain his goal it
  was necessary to eliminate every possible successor to
  von Blomberg"?

Do you remember saying that?

A. I do not remember that now; but I believe that I held
that opinion. To be quite just, however, I must say that
Baron von Fritsch's acquittal was due principally to the way
in which Goering conducted the proceedings. The witness who
was brought up told so many lies and made so many
contradictory statements every ten minutes, that only
Goering could cope with him. After seeing that, I was
thankful that I had not been appointed President, as
suggested by the Minister of Justice. I could not have coped
with those people. It was entirely due to Goering's
intervention that he was cleared without friction.

Q. But of course, I think you have said, witness, that
whether he was acquitted or not, the authority of von
Fritsch in the German Army was in his own view destroyed by
the fact that this charge had been brought against him. That
was the result of it, was it not?

A. Baron von Fritsch thought so. I would have insisted on
being reinstated after I had been acquitted in that manner.

Q. Did it not strike you as curious that the two people who
on the 5th of November had tried to head Hitler off from a
course that might have meant war, were both disgraced in two
months? Did it not strike you as curious?

A. That did not strike me as curious at all; and there is
certainly no connection. If Hitler had thought it necessary
to remove the men in high positions who opposed him in such
matters, he would have had to remove me long ago. But he
never said anything about it to me, and I have never felt
that he held it against me because I contradicted him, and
frequently pointed out that on no account should we enter
into a war with England and France.

Q. Now, just let us take it very shortly. Within six weeks
of the disgrace of Blomberg and the removal of von Fritsch,
the Anschluss with Austria took place.

Are you telling the Tribunal that you did not know that
there were military preparations for the Anschluss with
Austria, the ones described by General Jodl in his diary and
also described by Field-Marshal Keitel? Did you know that
these threats of military action would have been carried

                                                  [Page 203]

A. I do not believe that I ever took part in a military
meeting concerning the Austrian Anschluss, because actually
I had nothing to do with it. But I should like to emphasize
here, once and for all, that I learned of such enterprises
as the annexation of Austria through a directive issued by
the Fuehrer, and not before, because one copy of these
directives, regardless of whether they concerned the Navy,
was sent to me as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. So, of
course, I must have received a directive in this case, too.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the date of it; but I
confirm that a directive came to my knowledge.

Q. You see, the point that I am putting - and I do not want
to waste time on it - is this: that on 5th November Hitler
said that he was going to get Austria, in 1943 to 1945 at
the latest, and earlier if an opportunity arose. Four months
later, in March 1938, he took Austria, after having got rid
of the people who threw cold water on his plans. But if you
did not know about it, we shall not waste time, but shall
look at Czechoslovakia, because there you did get the

You will find that on Page 163 of Document Book 10-A, Page
276 of the German Document Book. That is the distribution of
the directive for operations against Czechoslovakia. It is
bringing up to date the one of 24th June, and you will see
that it said its execution must be assured as from 1st
October, 1938, at the latest, and Copy No. 2 goes to you as
C.-in-C. of the Navy.

Now, if you will turn over the page to the actual directive,
you will see the first sentence of Paragraph 1, "Political

  "It is my unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia by
  military action in the near future. It is the job of the
  political leaders to await or bring about the politically
  or militarily suitable moment."

A. May I ask where it is? I do not seem able to find it.

Q. The first sentence in the directive, paragraph 1,
political pre-requisites - sentence 1: " It is my
unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia by military
action in the near future."

A. The numbering is confused here.

Q. I am very sorry. Pages 277, 278.

A. Yes. Now I have found it. What was the date?

Q. 28th May, 1938, that is approximately six months after
the meeting which you had attended at which Hitler had said
he would attack Czechoslovakia at the earliest  opportunity
that he could. Did not that make you think that Hitler's
speech in November was not merely froth, but an actual
statement of his plans?

A. No, because he kept on changing his decisions all summer.
He made a fresh decision every month. That can be seen from
Document 388-PS. And it was like this, I believe: on 10th
September troops began to assemble and on the same day
negotiations were started. On 1st October the peaceful
occupation of the Sudetenland took place, after the other
powers had agreed to that at Munich. After the Munich
negotiations -

Q. We all know that. The point is perfectly clear.

A. I should like to finish.

Q. In May, there were the plans, and the Fuehrer had
mentioned in his speeches that it was his determination at
the end of May to smash Czechoslovakia by military action.
Are you telling the Tribunal that you read that directive
and still took the view that Hitler had not got aggressive
intentions? That is the question.

A. Yes.

Q. Why, what more proof could you want than his own
determination to smash it? What clearer proof could you

A. He frequently said that he intended to smash something
and then did not do it. The question was peacefully solved
later, after 30th May - I believe that that was the date,
for mobilization had just been carried out in
Czechoslovakia, and that had led him to use such stern
words, and from this ... I think he was justified in doing
so, for this mobilization could only be directed against
Germany, and as I said, he changed his opinion at least
three or four times in the course

                                                  [Page 204]

of the summer, saying that he would reserve his decision or
that he did not wish to use military force.

Q. Well, the Tribunal has got the whole of Document 388-PS
in mind. I will not argue it. You say that did not convince

When Hitler went into Prague on 15th March, 1939, did it
then occur to you that there might have been something in
what he said in the meeting of 5th November, 1937, when he
occupied the Slav part of Bohemia and Moravia and broke his
own rule about keeping Germany for the Germans? Did it then
occur to you that he might not then have been joking or
merely talking purposelessly? Did it?

A. He had issued a directive saying that the aims for that
year were:-

(1) The defence of Germany against outside attack.
(2) The settlement of the rest of Czechoslovakia in case she
adopted a line of policy hostile to Germany.

I heard nothing about his negotiations with Hacha and his
decision following them, to occupy Czechoslovakia. I only
knew that he wanted to take action against Czechoslovakia
according to his directive, in case Czechoslovakia should
adopt a line of policy hostile to Germany; and according to
the propaganda at that period, that actually did occur. I
had nothing to do with the occupation of Czechoslovakia; nor
with the occupation of the Sudeten area, because the only
service which we could have rendered in these operations was
our small Danube Flotilla which was subordinated to the Army
for this purpose. I had nothing at all to do with it. There
were no other military orders.

Q. It is your answer that even when Hitler went into Prague
on 15th March, 1939, you still thought he had no aggressive
intentions? Is that what you want the Tribunal to believe
from you? Is that right?

A. Yes, I ask the Tribunal to do so, because I believe that
he did not want to fight a war, to conduct a campaign
against Czechoslovakia. By means of his political measures
with Hacha he succeeded in getting so far that war did not
break out.

Q. Oh yes, you heard the defendant Goering give his evidence
that he told President Hacha that his armed forces would
bomb Prague if he did not agree. If that is not war, it is
next door to it, is it not?

A. It is very close to it. Yes, a threat.

Q. Well, let us go further on for another two months, if you
did not see it in March. On 23rd May, when you came to the
Reich Chancellery, there were six high-ranking officers, of
whom you were one. Hitler said that he would give you an
indoctrination on the political situation. And his
indoctrination was: "We are left with a decision to attack
Poland at the first opportunity." When you heard him say
that on 25th May, did you still think that he had no
aggressive intentions?

A. I thought so for a long time after that. Just as General
Jodl said - since he had solved the Czech problem by purely
political means, it was to be hoped that he would be able to
solve the Polish question also without bloodshed; and I
believed that up to the last moment, up to 22nd August.

Q. Just take one glance - I shall not keep you long - at
Document L-79, which you will find on Page 74, I think it
is, in Document Book 10. I am sorry. Page 298 of the German
Document Book. I beg your pardon. I am not going to ask you
about the document, because the Tribunal has had that. I
want you to look at the people who were there - Page 298 in
the German Document Book.

A. I know the people who were there.

Q. Let us look: Lieutenant-Colonel Schmundt; he was
afterwards General Hitler's principal adjutant, killed on
20th July, 1944, is not that right? Then the defendant
Goering, Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force; yourself as
Commander-in-Chief of the Navy; Colonel-General von
Brauchitsch, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Army; General
Keitel, who was head of the OKW; General Milch, who was
Goering's Deputy; Halder, who was Chief of Staff;

                                                  [Page 205]

Schniewind, who was your Chief of Staff, and Jeschonick, who
was, I think, a Chief of Staff or -

A. Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

Q. Yes; and Colonel Warlimont, who was General Jodl's

Now, why do you think Hitler got these high-ranking generals
together and told them, "We are left with a decision to
attack Poland at the first opportunity," if he had not any
aggressive intentions? What were these people there for if
it was not to develop a war?

A. I have already explained that the main purpose of that
speech, as may be seen from the last part of it, was to give
a purely academic lecture on the conduct of war, and on the
basis of that lecture to create a special study staff, a
project which the Chief of the Armed Forces had so far
strongly opposed. I also explained at the start that his
explanations were at first the most confused that I have
ever heard regarding the matter, and that he issued no
directives in regard to them, but that the last lines read:
"The service branches determine what will be built. There
will be no alteration in the shipbuilding programme. The
armament programme is to be delayed to 1943 or 1944 as the
case may be." When he said that, he could certainly not have
intended to solve the Polish question by a war in the near

Q. Are you telling the Tribunal that when he said, "We
cannot expect a repetition of the Czech affair; further
successes cannot be obtained without the shedding of blood,"
you paid no attention to it at all? You are seriously
telling the Tribunal that you paid no attention to that?

A. No, I certainly did not, because by this time I was
getting to know Hitler and was familiar with the
exaggerations contained in his speeches.

Q. At this time you had already had the directives for a
surprise attack on Danzig, in November 1938. You had had the
directive on 3rd April for the Fall Weiss, and you knew this
whole matter was en train. Are you seriously, defendant,
telling the Tribunal that you had any doubt after 23rd May
that Hitler intended war against Poland and was quite
prepared to fight England and France, if they carried out
their guarantee? I mean, seriously, I give you this chance
before we adjourn: Do you say that you had any doubt at all?

A. Of course; I have surely explained that even in August I
was still doubtful. For instance, in estimating this speech,
I must compare it, as has already been done here, with the
speech which Hitler had made a few weeks earlier at the
launching of the Bismarck, where he spoke only of the peace
of true justice. That speech was decisive for me. I did not
base my conclusions on this particular speech, which is
reproduced in such an extremely confused manner. That is
proved by the fact that during the whole of the summer I
never said a word to the Navy to suggest that war might
break out in the autumn. Confirmation of that was given
here; and many others can give confirmation. I thought very
highly of his political ability, and even on 22nd August,
when we were informed of the Pact with Russia, I was still
convinced that we should again be able to find a peaceful
solution of the problem. That was my definite conviction. I
may be accused of faulty judgement, but I thought I had
formed a correct estimate of Hitler.

Q. Now, I understand you to say that even on 22nd August you
did not think that Hitler had any aggressive intentions. Do
you really mean that?

A. Yes, and there is a perfectly good reason for it, because
there was every prospect of our forming an alliance with
Russia. He had given all sorts of reasons why England and
France would not intervene; and all those who were assembled
there, drew from his words the sincere hope that he would
again be successful in getting out of the affair without

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Will this be a convenient time to
adjourn, my Lord?

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1400 hours.)


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I am most anxious not to
take up unnecessary time. With regard to the meeting of 22nd
of August, Your Lordship may remember that Dr. Siemers
raised a point as to the two accounts of the meeting, one in
Documents 1014-PS and 789-PS, and the other in the account
by Admiral Bohm. I have had a comparison made out in English
and German showing the points which are similar to both, and
I thought it would be more convenient just to put that in.
Let Dr. Siemers see the German copy and make any suggestion
at the appropriate time rather than spend any time in cross-
examining the witness as to any discrepancies. My Lord, with
the permission of the Tribunal, I will put that in now and
hand Dr. Siemers a copy so that he can draw the Tribunal's
attention to any points at a convenient stage.

THE PRESIDENT: Did not Admiral Bohm make the accounts?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, the prosecution's account
is in Documents 789-PS and 1014-PS.


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: There was another document which was
mentioned by my friend, Mr. Alderman, but not put in. It was
an account by a journalist which was the first account the
prosecution had had, but when they got the two accounts from
the OKW files, they did not use that first one; so I had
only taken the two accounts from the OKW files and Admiral
Bohm's account.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. But does not that make three documents
in all, apart from the one which has been left out?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord, and I have taken each
of the two and compared it with Admiral Bohm's.


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: So, on that I shall not pursue this
interview. I thought that it would save time.


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