The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. And what did he say?

A. He tried to arrange a conference with Admiral Darlan
in an effort to advance these matters. He had pointed
out to Hitler when the Atlantic coast was fortified,
that it would be better and more practical to make
peace with France than to make great and yet inadequate
sacrifices for defence. Hitler replied that he fully
agreed, but out of consideration for Italy, could not
conclude a peace treaty with France.

Q. Did the conversations between Raeder and Darlan take

A. Yes, near Paris.

Q. Were you present?

                                             [Page 292]

A. No, but Admiral Schultze, the commanding admiral in
France, was there.

Q. Did Raeder tell you whether the results of the
conversation were favourable.

A. Yes, he told me the results were very favourable.

Q. Did Raeder report on that to Hitler?

A. Yes.

Q. And in spite of that, Hitler refused?

A. Out of consideration for Mussolini.

Q. According to your knowledge, did the Party or the
Leadership of the SS, through Heydrich, attempt to
fight Raeder?

A. Heydrich repeatedly attempted to bring Raeder and
the Navy into discredit with Hitler through defamatory
remarks and by spying, either by posting spies in the
officers' corps or the casino, or by misrepresenting or
distorting news. Against these attacks, Raeder defended
himself tenaciously and successfully.

Q. Why was the Party against Raeder?

A. That is a question which is very difficult to
answer. I believe mainly because, first of all, there
were differences in the religious field. Many
commanders before they put to sea for combat, turned to
Raeder for help so that, during their absence, their
relatives would not have their religious freedom

Q. When did the first differences occur between Raeder
and Hitler, and during what period did Raeder ask for
his dismissal?

THE PRESIDENT: We have had that from the defendant
himself, have we not. Raeder told us when we asked for
it. There was no cross-examination about it.


Q. Then may I ask you for what reasons Raeder remained?

A. First, because Hitler himself had asked him to stay,
and gave him assurances for the integrity of the Navy -

THE PRESIDENT: The electric power is on again now; so
you can go at your ordinary speed.

DR. SIEMERS: Thank you, Sir.


Q. The power is on again; we can go a little faster

A. Furthermore, at that time, there were discussions
about combining the Navy and the Mercantile Marine into
one ministry, and putting Party people into that
ministry. In this we saw not a strengthening, but a
weakening of our fighting force. Besides, during that
period there occurred a gap in the line of successors,
due to illness and losses.

And last, but not least, Raeder remained in the war out
of a sense of responsibility and patriotism.

Q. Did you yourself ask Raeder to remain in office?

A. Yes. I did this frequently, and urged him very
seriously to do so. I myself was once ordered by Hitler
to come to the Reich Chancellery.

Q. When was that?

A. In the beginning of 1939, when he explained his
standpoint to me in a long conversation, and asked me
to convince Raeder that he had to stay. Moreover,
Raeder enjoyed the confidence of the Navy. The senior
officers and officials of the Navy had asked me
verbally and in writing, to try to persuade Raeder not
to leave his office prematurely. Since 1928 he had led
the Navy with a firm hand through all political

Q. Admiral, may I return again to your conversation
with Hitler in the beginning of 1939? Did you speak
with Hitler alone?

A. Yes; It was a private conversation of about an hour
and a half.

Q. Did Hitler tell you anything about his political
plans on that occasion?

A. No; not about political plans in the sense of what
is called politics, but he tried once more to bridge
the political gulf between himself and Raeder. He told
me one should not weigh each individual word of his.
Every one who left

                                             [Page 293]

him, always felt that he - Hitler - had been right; all
he wanted was to appeal to the emotions of his
listeners and to stir them up to do their utmost, but
not to commit himself with words. In the future, he
promised, he would try on those occasions to uphold all
the technical questions of the Navy.

Q. You just said "not to weigh each individual word."
Admiral, were the speeches of Hitler ever taken down
accurately, that is, by stenographers?

A. Yes, but as far as I know, only in the later part of
the war. Hitler was against having his words put on
record, because everyone who listened to him returned
home feeling that he - Hitler - had been correct. He
himself did not keep to his text; he thought out loud
and wanted to carry his listeners away, but he did not
want his individual words to be taken literally. I
spoke about that to Raeder very frequently. We always
knew what was expected of us, but we never knew what
Hitler himself thought or wanted.

Q. If Hitler did not want to be taken at his word, how
did it come about that he agreed in the war to have his
speeches taken down by stenographers?

A. I told you already that too many misunderstandings
had occurred, and that Hitler, as well as those who
reported to him, believed that each had convinced the
other of his opinion. Thereupon they started keeping
minutes. The minutes kept up to then were personal
impressions of those who were not instructed to keep
them, but did so on their own initiative.

THE PRESIDENT: What time is the witness speaking of? He
said up to then the minutes had been kept on the
personal initiative of the person who took them. What
time is he speaking of?


Q. Since when, according to your recollection, were
these minutes taken by the stenographers?

A. Since 1942, I believe.

Q. Since 1942?

A. It may also be 1941. During the war, at any rate.

Q. But your conversation with Hitler was in January,

A. Yes, January, 1939.

Q. Admiral, what did the stenographic minutes look like
later on? Did you ever see them?

A. We repeatedly asked for excerpts from the minutes,
and tried to compare them with the prepared text, and
they too contained contradictions.

Q. Now, I come to the period when Hitler prepared for
war against Russia, and I am going to show you the
Directive 21 of 18th December 1940, concerning the
"Case Barbarossa."

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, that is Document 446-PS,
Exhibit USA 31, in the Document Book of the British
Prosecution 10A Page 247.


Q. The prosecution has asserted that Raeder or the
Naval War Staff had taken part in the drafting of that
directive; is that correct?

A. No, that is not correct. The Navy had nothing to do
with its drafting.

Q. Did Raeder have any previous knowledge of Hitler's
plan to attack Russia, before he received that

A. Yes, by a verbal communication from Hitler to
Raeder, about the middle of October, 1940.

Q. October, 1940. Did Raeder inform you about his
conferences with Hitler concerning Russia, and what
attitude did he adopt in these conferences?

A. Raeder informed me fully because the prospect of war
with Russia was much too serious to be taken lightly.
Raeder opposed most energetically any plan for a war
against Russia, and, I should like to say, for moral
reasons, because Raeder was of the opinion that the
pact with Russia should not be broken as long as the
other side gave no cause for it. That, as far as Raeder
knew, was not the case in

                                             [Page 294]

October. That economic treaty-as we called          it
at that time - to our knowledge was about 90 per cent.
of it at the expense of the Navy. We gave Russia one
heavy cruiser, heavy artillery for battleships,
artillery installations, submarine engines, submarine
installations, and valuable optical instruments for use
on submarines. Besides, Raeder was of the opinion that
the theatre of operations should not be allowed to be
carried into the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea was our
parade ground, so to speak. All our recruits were
trained there; all our submarine training took place in
the Baltic Sea.

We had already partly stripped the Baltic coast of
batteries and personnel for the purpose of protecting
the Norwegian and the French coasts. We had very small
oil reserves at our disposal; the synthetic oil
production was not yet in full swing. The Navy had to
turn over some of its reserves to industry and
agriculture. Consequently, Raeder was strongly opposed
to waging war against Russia.

Q. Admiral, the prosecution believes that Raeder was
opposed only to the date set for the war against Russia
and concludes this from the War Diary in which actually
the entries refer to the date. Is that correct?

A. No, that is not correct. After the receipt of
Directive 21, called " Barbarossa," Raeder approached
Hitler again with reference to the war against Russia,
and had also put down his thoughts in a memorandum. He
tried to convince Hitler of the following: as Poland
had been crushed, France been occupied, and, for
military reasons, an invasion of England was not in
question, clearly the time had now arrived when the
further conduct of the war could bring no decision on
the Continent, but only in the Atlantic. Therefore, he
told him that he had to concentrate all forces at his
disposal on one target: to hit the strategic points of
the Empire, especially the supply lines to the British
Isles, in order to compel England, under all
circumstances to sue for negotiations, or, if possible,
to make peace. He suggested, as has been mentioned
before, that the policy of peace with Norway should be
pursued, peace with France, and closer co-operation
with the Russian Navy, such as was provided for in the
economic treaty, and the repurchase of submarine
equipment or submarines. He said that the decision or
the date for a decision no longer rested with us
because we did not have the necessary sea power, and
that, in case of a long duration of the war, the danger
of the participation of the United States had also to
be considered; that, therefore, the war could not be
decided on the European continent, and least of all, in
the vastnesses of the Russian steppes. That point of
view he continued to present to Hitler as long as he
was in office.

Q. Admiral, you said at first, that Raeder had
protested, in principle, as you have expressed it, for
moral reasons, that is, for reasons of International

A. Yes.

Q. Why was not that entered into the War Diary when the
other reasons that you have mentioned can be found in
the War Diary, or were at least alluded to?

A. That I can answer, or at least give you an
explanation. Raeder, as a matter of principle, never
criticized the political leadership in the presence of
the Naval War Staff or the front commanders. Therefore,
he did not speak to me and the others about the private
conversations which he had with Hitler, except when it
was necessary for military reasons.

Q. When were the preparations made by the Navy on the
basis of Directive 21 that you have in front of you? Do
you remember that?

A. I believe about three months later.

Q. At any rate, certainly after the directive?

A. Yes, after the directive.

Q. Were they made on the basis of that directive?

A. On the basis of that, yes.

Q. Was that directive already a final order, or was it
just a precautionary strategic measure?

A. In my estimation it should not be considered as an
order, and that can be seen from Points 4 and 5.

                                             [Page 295]

In what way?

A. Point 5 says that Hitler was still waiting for
reports from Commanders-in-Chief; and Raeder was still
reporting to Hitler, after he had received the

Q. Is Point 4, if you will look at it once more, also
in accordance with your opinion?

A. Yes, absolutely. The words "precautionary measures"
are underlined.

Q. Precautionary measures for what?

A. In case of war against Russia.

Q. Well, I think Admiral, since you have mentioned it
yourself, you should read the sentence which follows
the words "precautionary measures."

A. "In case Russia should change her attitude, she is -

THE PRESIDENT: You cannot argue with your own witness
about the meaning of the words. He has given his

DR. SIEMERS: Very well.


Q. Was Raeder of the opinion, at any time, that he had
succeeded in dissuading Hitler from the unfortunate
plans against Russia?

A. Yes. After he had made his report at that time, he
returned and said: "I believe I have talked him out of
his plan"; and at first we did have that impression,
because in the following months there were no more
conferences about it, to my knowledge, not even with
the General Staff.

Q. May I ask you quite briefly then about Greece.
According to Document C-152, which I will have shown to
you, Raeder made a report to Hitler on 18th March,
1941, in which he asked that the whole of Greece should
be occupied. What were the reasons that caused the High
Command, that is Raeder and you, to make that

A. When Raeder asked for confirmation, as it says here
in the War Diary, that the whole of Greece should be
occupied, even in the event of a peaceful settlement,
we, according to my recollection, had already been for
three months in possession of the directive which was
concerned with the occupation of Greece, and when -

Q. Excuse me. Was that Directive No. 20? I will have it
shown to you. Is that the one you mean?

A. Yes, "Marita," that is the one.

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