The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. The prosecution accuses Grand Admiral Raeder of not
having gone to Freiherr von Weizsacker to tell him that
it actually was a German U-boat and of not having said
to the American Naval Attache, "I'm sorry; it was a
German U-boat after all."

A. Such an idea occurred to us as well, but we thought
that any, so to speak, "discrepancies" which might
arise and lead to political ill-feeling in America,
were to be avoided as much as possible. Stirring up
this case once more would have greatly aroused public
feeling. I remember, for instance, the Lusitania case
during the First World War. To have stirred up this
case again after a few weeks and to arouse public
opinion, would have been senseless.

Q. And that was the train of thought which caused
Hitler to issue this decree?

A. It was the train of thought which, actually, we also

Q. You said it was not to be stirred up again, but
regrettably, as you know, this case was stirred up
again. On 23rd October, 1939, in the Volkischer
Beobachter, a very unfortunate article appeared with
the heading: "Churchill Sinks the Athenia." Do you
remember that article?

A. Yes, of course. That article was published without
Raeder's knowledge, and without the knowledge or
complicity of the Navy. I still do not know who the
author of the article was. It originated in the
Propaganda Ministry, and Raeder and the rest of us in
the High Command of the Navy were most indignant, not
so much because this topic was being stirred up again,
but rather because of the tenor of the article, for,
whether deliberately or unintentionally - we did not
know which it was - there was a misrepresentation.

We were obliged to keep silence. To what extent the
Propaganda Ministry had been informed about this matter
by Hitler, we did not know. We also had no opportunity
to speak with the Propaganda Ministry about it, and we
were completely surprised when this article appeared
several weeks later in the Volkischer

                                             [Page 300]

Beobachter. We were therefore deeply indignant,
especially Raeder, because it was fundamentally against
his principles that leading foreign statesmen be
attacked in an abusive manner; and, in addition, the
facts were completely distorted. And besides - this may
also be important - this involved Raeder's opponent,
one whom Raeder did not in the least wish to disparage
before the German public, for Raeder took him only too
seriously; and this was, I believe, no other than

Q. Now, one last question: Did the Propaganda Ministry
call you or Raeder up before this article appeared?

A. No, no.

Q. Then I should like to turn to the last question of
my examination. This is the last point.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, that is about the sixth
final question you have asked.

DR. SIEMERS: I beg your pardon, Mr. President, the
translation must have been wrong. The previous question
was the final question on the Athenia problem. Now,
this is actually the final question which I wish to


Q. The prosecution accuses Grand Admiral Raeder of not
supporting General Freiherr von Fritsch after the
latter had been exonerated and acquitted in court and
accuses Raeder of not having used his influence to
reinstate Fritsch in office and restore his dignity. Is
that correct?

A. No, that is not correct. Raeder gave me all the
files of the legal proceedings against General von
Fritsch sometime in the beginning of 1939, to be kept
in the safe. At that time he told me that the course of
the proceedings had impressed him very deeply, and that
he had made General von Fritsch the offer of a complete
reinstatement in his previous office. Von Fritsch
thanked him for that and told him personally that he
would never assume his former office again, that he
would not even consider returning after what had
happened, and for that reason, he asked Raeder not to
make any efforts in this direction.

For the rest, Fritsch and Raeder were on good personal
terms with each other - to say that they were friends
is going perhaps too far. But I have often seen Fritsch
at Raeder's house, even after his dismissal.

DR. SIEMERS: Thank you, Admiral.

Mr. President, I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other member of the defendant's
counsel want to ask any questions?

BY DR. KRANZBUHLER (Counsel for the defendant Donitz):

Q. Admiral Schulte-Monting, you just spoke about the
correct treatment of prisoners in connection with a
U-boat attack on the Tirpitz. Do you mean by that the
attack in November 7943, in the Alta Fjord?

A. Yes, that is the one I mean.

Q. Was it a two-man U-boat?

A. Whether it was a two-man or three-man U-boat, I
don't know, but it was a midget U-boat. Several U-boats
attacked simultaneously. Some of them were sunk, and
the commandant who successfully, I believe, used his
magnetic mine was taken prisoner.

Q. And this commandant was treated according to the
Geneva Convention?

A. Absolutely.


THE PRESIDENT: Does the prosecution-wish to

                                             [Page 301]



Q. Witness, I want to ask you first about the Athenia
episode. I take it you agree that the article in the
Volkischer Beobachter was thoroughly dishonourable,
lying, and discreditable.

A. I heard nothing at all in German.

Q. I will repeat my question. With regard to the
Athenia - do you hear me now?

A. Yes.

Q. With regard to the Volkischer Beobachter article on
the Athenia, do you agree that it was a thoroughly
dishonourable publication?

A. Yes, I agree that it was a dishonourable
publication, untrue and dishonourable.

Q. And you say that the defendant Raeder thought the

A. Yes, he did.

Q. What action did he take to manifest his displeasure?

A. In this case he valued the interests of the State
more than a newspaper article. The interests of the
State required that in any event, all complications
with the United States were to be avoided.

Q. That appears to be a characteristic on the part of
Raeder that runs throughout his life story from 1928 to
1943, that throughout he put what he thought were the
interests of the Nazi State before conditions of
morality, honour, and public decency, is that not so?

A. That I do not believe. I believe that in this case
he acted consistently as a good patriot would act.

Q. You see, with regard to the invasion of Russia, for
example, you said to the Tribunal that on both moral
and strategic grounds, Raeder was against the invasion
of Russia. Why did he not resign?

A. By way of reply I must mention first Hitler's answer
to Raeder's protests against a war with Russia. This
answer was to the effect that he saw no possibility of
avoiding a conflict for the following reasons:

First, because of the personal impression which he,
Hitler, had received from Molotov's visit, which had
taken place in the meantime. By "in the meantime," I
mean between the directive and the carrying through of
the directive.

Secondly, the fact that allegedly the economic
negotiations had not only been dragged out by the
Russians, but, as Hitler expressed it, had been
conducted in an extortionate manner.

Thirdly, as he had been informed by the German General
Staff, Russian troop deployment had taken on such
threatening proportions that he, Hitler, could not wait
for the first blow from the other side, because of the
air threat to Brandenburg and its capital, and to the
Silesian industry. Raeder then, of course, had to
realize that he could not refute these arguments or
prove the opposite.

Q. You are not suggesting that you thought that the war
between Germany and Russia was a defensive war so far
as Germany was concerned, are you?

A. No, we were of the opinion that the deployment of
troops on both sides had reached such an extreme point
that it would not take long for the storm to break, and
that from the military point of view, anyone who sees
that a conflict is inevitable, will, of course, want
the advantages which result from grasping the

Q. The invasion of Russia was a brutal aggression. on
the part of Nazi Germany, you admit that now, do you

A. Yes, I do admit that.

Q. I want you to turn your mind for a moment, if you
will, to Document L-79, which is in the British
Document Book 10, Page 74. Those are the minutes of the
Hitler conference on 23rd May, 1939, which you
discussed in your evidence in chief this morning. I
take it that you have read those minutes, witness?

                                             [Page 302]

A. May I look at them now? I have never seen these
minutes before. If I were to be asked about them, I
would first have to read them in toto.

Q. Well, you need not trouble to do that, witness. You
gave evidence this morning as to Raeder's discussion
with you about this conference. Did Raeder tell you
that Hitler had said on 23rd May, 1939, for instance:

  "There is no question of sparing Poland, and we are
  left with the decision to attack Poland at the first
  suitable opportunity. We cannot expect a repetition
  of the Czechoslovakian affair. There will be war."

Then further, Page 76 of the report:

  "The Fuehrer doubts the possibility of a peaceful
  settlement with England. We must prepare ourselves
  for the conflict. England is therefore our enemy,
  and the conflict with England will be a life and
  death struggle."

And then the next paragraph but one:

  "The Dutch and Belgian air bases must be occupied by
  armed force. Declarations of neutrality must be

Now, I am suggesting to you that those statements of
Hitler, represented Hitler's considered policy, and
that that policy was in fact carried out in the field
of action. Is that not so?

A. First of all, I must correct a mistake. I thought
that you had shown me a minute on Russia and not on
Poland. I saw it in a different version, and I thought
it was a different minute. If it is the same one which
I mentioned this morning then I must state again that
Raeder did not agree with the belligerent wording of
these minutes as written down by Schmundt.

Q. Just one moment, witness, if you please. I have read
out certain extracts from that document, which I take
it that you heard interpreted. Do you agree with me
that those extracts represented Hitler's considered
policy at the time and that that policy was in fact
carried out in the field of action?

A. I should like to remark in this connection that
Hitler in his speeches, pursued a certain purpose. In
preparations for war he saw a means of political
pressure, and in the phrase "war of nerves" (a phrase
which was used not only in Germany, but broadcast
everywhere, even far beyond Europe's boundaries) he
tried to find a means of preventing war as well as a
means of exerting pressure. This document itself
contains contradictions which lead to the conclusion
that he himself could not seriously have thought that a
war would develop. I can prove this by saying, for
example, that he states that the General Staff or the
General Staffs, are not to concern themselves with this
question; but toward the end, he says that all the
branches of the Wehrmacht must get together to study
the problem. He says that a war with Poland must in no
event result in war with England; politics must see to
that ... but in the next paragraph one reads: "But if a
war actually does break out, I shall deal short sharp
blows in order to reach a quick decision." In the next
paragraph it says again, "But I need ten to fifteen
years to prepare," and in the concluding paragraph it
says: "The construction programme of the Navy will in
no wise be changed."

If, therefore, Hitler at that time had really been
serious in his speech, that is, that an armed conflict
with Poland would result shortly, then he would not
have exclaimed, firstly, that we would have time until
1943, and, secondly, that there were to be no
modifications as far as the Navy was concerned. Rather
he would have said to Raeder privately at least: "In
all haste prepare a strong U-boat programme, because I
do not know what course events will take."

Q. But it is a fact that at about this time, the Fall
Weiss Operation was being prepared to the very last
detail, was it not? That is the operation against

A. The operation had reached such a stage of
preparation that when it was cancelled so late, we
thought that we would not be able to reach our forces
at sea by wireless. We considered this an extreme
policy of exerting pressure in the form of a war of
nerves. Since at the last minute everything was
cancelled, we believed without doubt that it was only a
means of pressure and not an entry into

                                             [Page 303]

war. Not until we heard the guns were we convinced that
the war was no longer to be prevented. I personally
believe -

Q. If you would shorten your answers as best you can,
it would be very convenient.

I want to go from Poland to Norway. The first
conference of the defendant Raeder with regard to
Norway took place on 10th October, you have told us. I
want you to hear the record of that conference, which
is found in Admiral Assmann's headline diary. It is
dated l0th October, 1939:

  "The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy states,
  conquering the Belgian coast no advantage for U-boat
  warfare; refers to value of Norwegian bases

I suggest to you that the interests of the German Navy
in Norway from the point of view of requiring submarine
bases was manifesting itself at that time; is that not

A. May I look at this document first? It is unknown to

Q. You shall see the original diary, if you want to
re-assure yourself that I am reading it correctly.

(A document was handed to the witness.)

A. In this sentence, I do not see any belligerent
intentions. It says expressly that he attaches
importance to the winning of Norwegian bases.

Q. That is all I am putting to you at the moment. Do
you know that on 3rd October, the defendant Raeder was
sending out a questionnaire upon the possibility of
extending the operational base to the north, because it
would be desirable for German power to acquire this?

MAJOR ELWYN JONES: I am referring to Document C-122, my
Lord. The Document C-122 is in Document Book 10A at
Page 91.

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