The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt//tgmwc/tgmwc-14/tgmwc-14-134.10

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-14/tgmwc-14-134.10
Last-Modified: 2000/03/16

Q. I do not see how that arises out of the last document at
all. Unless the Tribunal wants to go into it, I think we
might pass on.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Does not your Lordship think so?

THE WITNESS: Out of both documents. Not out of one only -


Q. You have put that point, I should think, at least seven
times this afternoon. I am going to suggest to you that your
real object of the submarine war was set out in the first
paragraph of the memorandum. Would you just look at it? You
see, " Berlin, 15th October - "

                                                  [Page 219]

A. No, I must still say that there was not any such
unrestricted U-boat warfare but merely an intensification of
measures, step by step, as I have repeatedly said, and these
were always taken only after the British took some measure.

Q. I suggest that that is entirely untrue, and that I will
show you out of this document. Look at your own document,
this memorandum. In the first paragraph:-

  "The Fuehrer's proposal for the restoration - "

A. I am not telling untruths, I would not think of doing it.
I do not do that sort of thing.

Q. Well, that is what I am suggesting to you, and I will
show it out of this document.

  "The Fuehrer's proposal for the restoration of a just,
  honourable peace and the new adjustment of the political
  order in Central Europe has been turned down. The enemy
  powers want the war, with the aim of destroying Germany.
  In this fight, in which Germany is now forced to defend
  her existence and her rights, she must use her weapons
  with the utmost ruthlessness, at the same time fully
  respecting the laws of military ethics."

Now, let us see what you were suggesting.

  "Germany's principal enemy in this war is Britain. Her
  most vulnerable spot is her maritime trade. The war at
  sea against Britain must therefore be conducted as an
  economic war, with the aim of destroying Britain's
  fighting spirit within the shortest possible time and
  forcing her to accept peace."

Now, miss one paragraph and look at the next:-

  "The principal target of our naval strategy is the
  merchant ship" -  now let us look - "not only the
  enemy's, but in general every merchant ship which sails
  the seas - in order to supply the enemy's war industry,
  both by way of imports and exports. Side by side with
  this the enemy warship also remains an objective."

Now, was not that the object which you in the Naval Command
were putting up to Hitler and to the Foreign Office, to use
the utmost ruthlessness to destroy Britain's fighting
spirit, and to attack every merchant ship coming into or
going out of Britain? Was not that your object?

A. Of course, but attacks on neutrals only in so far as they
were warned and advised not to enter certain zones.
Throughout the centuries in economic warfare the neutral
merchant ship as well as the enemy merchant ship has been
the object of attack.

Q. You are not telling the Tribunal that you were suggesting
use of warnings. Are you seriously suggesting to the
Tribunal that what you meant by that paragraph was that
neutral ships were only to be attacked with warning?

A. Of course, and that happened. Afterwards we issued the
warning to neutral ships, after our blockade zone was
established in accordance with the American blockade area.
We warned them that they should not enter this area because
they would run into considerable danger. That I am saying,
and I can prove it.

Q. I suggest to you that that is untrue, and I will show it
out of the document. Now, just turn to page -

A. On 24th November that warning was issued.

Q. If you will turn to Section C of the document, "Military
requirements for the decisive struggle against Great

  "Our naval strategy will have to employ to the utmost
  advantage every weapon at our disposal. Military success
  can be most confidently expected if we attack British sea
  communications wherever they are accessible to us with
  the greatest ruthlessness; the final aim of such attacks
  is to cut off all imports into and exports from Britain.
  We should try to consider the interest of neutrals, in so
  far as this is possible without detriment to military
  requirements. It is desirable to base all military
  measures taken on existing

                                                  [Page 220]

  International Law; however, measures which are considered
  necessary from a military point of view, provided a
  decisive success can be expected from them, will have to
  be carried out, even if they are not covered by existing
  International Law."

Was not that the view that you were putting up to the
Foreign Office and the Fuehrer - use International Law as
long as you can, but if International Law conflicts with
what is necessary for military success, throw International
Law overboard? Was not that your view?

A. No, that is quite incorrectly expressed.

Q. Well, then, explain these words. Explain these words

  "We should try to consider the interest of neutrals in so
  far as this is possible without detriment to military
  requirements. However, measures which are considered
  necessary from a military point of view, provided a
  decisive success can be expected from them, will have to
  be carried out even if they are not covered by
  International Law."

What did you mean by that if you did not mean to throw
International Law overboard?

A. It says, "If the existing International Law cannot be
applied." It is generally known that International Law had
not yet been co-ordinated with submarine warfare, just as
the use of aircraft at that time. It says:-

  "In principle, therefore, any means of warfare which i s
  effective in breaking enemy resistance should be based on
  some legal conception, even if that entails the creation
  of a new code of naval warfare, that is, a new code of
  naval warfare on the basis of actual developments."

Throughout the war a new code of naval warfare was
developing, starting with the neutrals themselves. For
instance, the Pan-American Security Conference defined a
safety zone 300 miles around the American coast, which was a
tremendous sea area for traffic.

Likewise, the U.S.A. fixed a fighting zone around the
British Isles which was not at all to our liking, and, on
4th November, 1939, the U.S.A. itself maintained that it
would be extremely dangerous for neutral ships to enter it,
and it prohibited its own ships and its own citizens from
entering this area.

We followed that up by asking the neutrals that they too
should proceed in the same way as the U.S.A., and then they
would not be harmed. Then only those neutrals sailed to
Great Britain which had contraband on board and made a lot
of money out of it, or which were forced by the British
through their ports of control to enter that area and lay
themselves open to those dangers. Of course, they were quite
free to discontinue doing that.

Q. Now, tell me, what changes had taken place in the
development of either aeroplanes or submarines from the time
that Germany signed the Submarine Protocol of 1936 to the
beginning of the war? You say that International Law had to
adapt itself to changes in weapons of war. What changes had
taken place between 1936 and 1939?

A. The following change took place: The Submarine Protocol
Of 1936 was signed by us because we assumed that it
concerned peaceful negotiations -

Q. That is not an answer to my question. My question is
quite clear. It is: at changes in weapons of war, either in
the air or in the submarines, had taken place between 1936
and 1939? Now, there is a question. You are a naval officer
of fifty years' experience. Tell me, what were the changes?

A. It turned out that because of the aeroplane the submarine
was no longer in a position to surface to investigate enemy
ships or any other merchant ships, particularly near the
enemy coast where the U-boats carried on their activities.
here was no regulation at all issued about aeroplanes.

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, that is not an answer to the
question. The question you were asked was, what changes had
taken place in the weapons of war, either aeroplanes or

                                                  [Page 221]

THE WITNESS: But, Mr. President, the changes took place in
the aeroplane. The ever-increasing efficiency 'of the
aeroplane and its many uses above the water led to the
situation where it became impossible to examine any merchant
vessel without aircraft being called to threaten the
submarine. That got worse and worse, so that later on even
rescuing had to be restricted because of enemy aircraft, and
the entire submarine warfare was completely turned upside
down in that manner.


Q. Is that the only change that you can mention in order to
justify your statement that International Law was to be
thrown overboard where it did not fit in with military
necessities? Is that the only change, the increase in the
power of aircraft between 1936 and 1939?

A. I have already said once it was not thrown overboard. It
was to be limited and changed and that was done by others,

Q. Well, now would you just look at the next paragraph. You
talked about your consideration for neutrals. At the top of
Page 5 in the English text; it is the paragraph that follows
the one that I have just read. You say:-

  "In principle, therefore, any means of warfare which is
  effective in breaking enemy resistance should be based on
  some legal conception, even if that entails the creation
  of a new code of naval warfare.
  The Supreme War Council, after considering the political,
  military and economic consequences within the framework
  of the general conduct of the war, will have to decide
  what measures of a military nature are to be taken, and
  what our attitude to the usage of war is to be. Once it
  has been decided to conduct economic warfare in its most
  ruthless form, in fulfilment of  military requirements,
  this decision is to be adhered to under all
  circumstances. On no account may such a decision for the
  most ruthless form of economic warfare, once it has been
  made, be dropped or subsequently relaxed under political
  pressure from neutral powers, as took place in the World
  War, to our own detriment. Every protest by neutral
  powers must be turned down. Even threats from other
  countries, especially the United States, to come into the
  war, which can be expected with certainty, should the war
  last a long time, must not lead to a relaxation in the
  form of economic warfare once embarked upon. The more
  ruthlessly economic warfare is waged, the earlier will it
  show results and the sooner will the war come to an end."

A. Yes.

Q. Do you now agree with that suggestion and that point of
view expressed in the paragraph which I have just read to

A. It has to be understood quite differently from the way
you are trying to present it.

Q. Quite differently from what it says -

A. No, not what it says. This is the point. We had had the
experience during the First World War that, as soon as the
order for intensification had been given and as soon as the
first neutral had raised a finger to object, these measures
were immediately repeated, particularly when the United
States had a hand. And here I am saying that under all
circumstances it must be avoided that we withdraw our
measures at once; and I give a warning to the effect that we
should consider our measures as carefully as possible. That
is the reason for the discussion with the Foreign Office and
others, namely, to avoid the situation where later on they
might be withdrawn, which would mean a considerable loss of
prestige and nothing achieved.

That is the reason. Numerous protests were received by
Britain, too, and in most cases they were unanswered. I can
quote from the Document C-170, Exhibit USA 136, where there
are a lot of figures, Number 14, where it  says:-

                                                  [Page 222]

  "Sharp Russian note against the British blockade warfare
  on 20th October, 1939 ";

and Number 17, on 31st October, where it states:-

  "Political Speech of Molotov."

Q. (Interposing) All that I ask is, was that a proper

A. I must give an explanation on that matter, and I was just
about to do that. Sharp attacks on the British blockade, in
violation of International Law - these attacks were made by
Mr. Molotov. Here, too, protests were made which were turned
down But I wanted to prevent protests and the entire
document shows that our deliberations always aimed at taking
measures in such a way that they could not be objected to,
but were always legally justified.

Q. Now, will you tell me, defendant, how it was going to
prevent protests if you suggest in this paragraph to use the
most ruthless measures and disregard every protest that
neutrals made? How is that going to prevent protests?

A. These measures were to be taken in such a way that no
objection was possible. If I tell the neutrals: "This is a
dangerous area in every way," and nevertheless they go there
because they want to make money or because they are being
forced by the British, then I need not accept any protest.
They are acting for personal reasons, and they must pay the
bill if they die. I must also add -

Q. That is true. They must pay the bill if they die. That
was what it came to, was it not?

A. They received large premiums for exposing themselves to
that risk, and it was their business to decide about it.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, we might break off now for ten

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Are you going to be much longer, Sir David?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I thought about half an hour, my


Q. Defendant, in this document the Naval Command suggests
that it calls for a siege of England, that is, the sinking
without warning of all ships that come into a big area
around England.

Did you not hear? Sorry. In this document the Naval Command
suggests what is called the siege of England, on Pages 10 to
13. And that is, the sinking of all merchant ships,
including neutrals and tankers, which come into an area
around England. Is not that so?

A. No, that is not true. The Navy Command does not suggest
that, but discusses the idea of a siege after the blockade
bad been discussed and rejected. It likewise comes to a
conclusion why the siege, which until that time had not been
accepted as a recognized idea by International Law, should
not be undertaken; and it shows the result of all these
discussions by setting out on the last page, the last page
but one, what was to be considered the final conclusion: to
take only those measures which can be justified by the
actions already taken by the British. And during the entire
discussion about blockading, the consideration was always in
the foreground as to whether the neutrals would not suffer
too much damage by that. And the whole idea of a siege is
based on the fact that Prime Minister Chamberlain had
already said - on 26th September - that there would not be
any difference between a blockade on the seas and a siege on
land, and the commander of a land siege would try to prevent
with all means the entry of anything into the fortress.
Also, the French Press had mentioned that Germany was in the
same situation as a fortress under siege.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.