The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Witness, you also testified yesterday that after the
daily military situation conference was ended Hitler was
surrounded by his confidants and by his political men. I ask
you now: Was Kaltenbrunner in this circle of confidants?

A. I never heard of Kaltenbrunner being in this private
circle of the Fuehrer and I never saw him there. What I saw
was a purely official attitude.

                                                  [Page 371]

DR. KAUFFMANN: Thank you, I have no more questions.

DR. KRANZBUHLER (Counsel for Grand Admiral Donitz).


Q. Colonel-General, Admiral Donitz is accused of calling on
the Navy to continue to fight in the spring of 1945. Did you
yourself, as a responsible military adviser, advise the
Fuehrer at that time to capitulate?

A. I did not. That was completely out of the question. No
soldier would have done that. It would have been useless.

Q. Not even after the failure of the Ardennes offensive in
February 1945?

A. Not even after the failure of the Ardennes offensive. The
Fuehrer realised the situation as a whole as well as we did,
and probably much sooner than we did. We did not need to say
anything to him in this connection.

Q. What were the reasons for not doing this?

A. In the winter of 1944 there were many reasons for not
doing this, apart from the fact that the question of
capitulation or discontinuing resistance concerns only the
Supreme Commander. The reasons against it were, primarily,
that we had no doubt there could only be unconditional
surrender, for the other countries left us in no doubt on
that score; and even if we had had any doubt as to what
faced us, it was completely removed by the fact that we
captured the English "Eclipse" - the gentlemen of the
British Delegation will know what that is. It was exact
instructions about what the occupying power was to do in
Germany after the capitulation. Now, unconditional surrender
meant that the troops would cease to fight where they stood
on all the fronts, and be captured by the enemy facing them.
The same thing would happen as happened in the winter of
1941 at Viasma. Millions of prisoners would suddenly have to
camp in the middle of winter in the open. Death would have
taken an enormous toll. Above all, the men still on the
Eastern front, numbering about three and a half million,
would have fallen into the hands of the enemy in the East.
It was our task to save as many people as possible in, the
Western area. That could only be done by drawing the two
fronts closer together. Those were the purely military
considerations which we had in the last stages of the war. I
believe that in years to come there will be more to say
about this than I can say today-more than I want to say

DR. NELTE (Counsel for Keitel)


Q. Colonel-General, how long have you known Field Marshal

A. I believe I met him in 1932 when he was Chief of the
Organisational Department of the Army.

Q. And from that time, except for the time you were in
Vienna, you always worked with him?

A. There was a time when Field Marshal Keitel was not in the
War Ministry but at the front. I believe that was in
1934-1935. I then lost sight of him. Otherwise I was with
him all the time.

Q. Was your work with him only official, or did you have
personal relations with him?

A. In the course of the years, as a result of all we went
through together, these relations became very personal.

Q. The prosecution has characterised Field Marshal Keitel as
one of the most powerful men of the Wehrmacht. It charges
him for using this position to influence Hitler. Other
circles represented here called Keitel weak, and accused him
of not being able to achieve his purpose in his position.

I do not want to ask any questions which have previously
been asked and answered, but there are questions which have
been previously answered in various ways, as you have heard,
and only a person like yourself can answer them, a person
who worked with the Field Marshal for more than a decade.
Therefore, please

                                                  [Page 372]

tell me briefly - making your sentences short - what the
official relations were between Keitel and Hitler.

A. The official relations between the Fuehrer and Field
Marshal Keitel were exactly the same as between the Fuehrer
and myself but on a somewhat different level. They were
purely official, especially in the beginning; they were
interspersed, just as in the case of all other higher
officers, by constant clashes between a revolutionary and a
Prussian officer bound by tradition.

Q. Then, these clashes, the result of differing opinions,
were the order of the day?

A. They were the order of the day, and in effect led to
extremely unpleasant scenes, such scenes as made one
ashamed, as an older officer, to have to listen to such
things in the presence of young adjutants. The entry in my
diary proves that on 19th April, 1940, Field Marshal Keitel,
for instance, threw his portfolio on the table and left the
room. That was a fact.

Q. May I ask what the reason was?

THE PRESIDENT: No, Dr. Nelte, if you want him to confirm the
evidence which the defendant Keitel has given, why do you
not ask him whether he confirms it?

DR. NELTE: These are questions, Mr. President, which I have
not submitted to Field Marshal Keitel. My line of
questioning became necessary because between the questioning
of the defendant -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): The question you put to him
was, what was his relation with the Fuehrer. You could not
have put it any wider than that, and you certainly covered
that with the defendant Keitel.

DR. NELTE: I discussed it with Keitel.

THE PRESIDENT: You have put the question to Keitel, and
Keitel answered
it at great length.

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, after Keitel was questioned, a
witness appeared here who wants to discredit the statement
of Field Marshal Keitel. If what he says is true -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): That is the very reason why I
asked you whether you wanted this witness to confirm what
the defendant Keitel said and, if you did, why did you not
ask him whether he did confirm the evidence of Keitel.


Q. Colonel-General, you have heard that we can simplify the
questioning on this matter. I submit to you that what the
witness Gisevius said here in this room about Field Marshal
Keitel was essentially in contradiction to what Field
Marshal Keitel himself, and the other witnesses questioned
about him said. I point out that Gisevius did not speak from
his own knowledge, but that he was given information from
the OKW. If you want to consider that, please answer the
question now:

According to your knowledge of these things, is what Field
Marshal Keitel said under oath, and which was confirmed by
others, true, or is what Gisevius said true?

A. Only what Field Marshal Keitel said. I experienced it on
countless occasions. What the witness Gisevius said in this
connection are general figures of speech. Apart from Hitler,
there was no powerful man; there was no influential man next
to him and could not be one.

Q. The witness Gisevius mentioned an example to prove that
Keitel prevented certain reports from being presented to
Hitler. Since you had a part in this document, I should like
to have it presented to you, and I ask you to comment on it.
It is Document 790-PS. This document is not an actual set of
minutes, but a note for the files, as you see. It is about
the White Book which was prepared on the alleged violations
of neutrality by Belgium and Holland. And in this
connection, the witness Gisevius said:

                                                  [Page 373]

  "I believe that I should mention two more examples which
  to my mind are of special significance. In the first
  place all means were used to induce Field Marshal Keitel
  to warn Hitler against invading Holland and Belgium, and
  to tell him - that is, Hitler - that the information
  submitted by Keitel about the alleged violations of
  neutrality by the Dutch and Belgians was false. The
  counter-intelligence - that is, Canaris - was to produce
  these reports which would incriminate the Dutch and the
  Belgians. Admiral Canaris refused to sign these reports.
  He repeatedly told Keitel that these reports that had
  been prepared ostensibly by the OKW, were false."

That is one example of Keitel failing to transmit to Hitler
what he should have transmitted."

Colonel-General, I ask you to confirm, after you have looked
over this document, that these notes show that Field Marshal
Keitel and you were expected to cover false reports, and
that on the basis of the Canaris report, contained in Part
A, the OKW refused to cover this White Book. Is that true?

A. (No response.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, if you understand the question, will
you answer it?

THE WITNESS: I understand the question, and I should like to
establish the facts here briefly and tell how it really was,
as far as I can without being choked with disgust. I was
present when Canaris came to the Reich Chancellery with this
report to Field Marshal Keitel and submitted to him the
draft of the White Book of the Foreign Office. Field Marshal
Keitel then looked through this book and listened carefully
to the essential remarks which Canaris made at the wish of
the Foreign Office, which were to the effect that the
intelligence needed some improvement; that he was to confirm
that military action against Holland and Belgium was
absolutely necessary, and that, as it says here, a final
really flagrant violation of neutrality was lacking.

Before Canaris had said a word, Field Marshal Keitel threw
the book on the table and said, "I will not stand for that.
How could I take over the responsibility for a political
decision? In this White Book are, word for word, the reports
which you yourself (Canaris) gave me." Thereupon Canaris
said, "I am of exactly the same opinion. In my opinion, it
is completely superfluous to have this document signed by
the Wehrmacht, and the reports which we have here, as a
whole, are quite sufficient to substantiate the breaches of
neutrality which have taken place in Holland and in
Belgium." And he advised Field Marshal Keitel against
signing it. That is what took place. The Field Marshal took
the book with him, and I do not know what happened after

But one thing is certain, that the imaginary reports of this
Gisevius turn everything upside down. All these reports
about the violations of neutrality came from these people
who now assert that we had signed them falsely. This is one
of the most despicable things in the world's history.

Q. Colonel-General, Admiral Canaris played a role in this
case. Gisevius said:

  "It was not possible for Admiral Canaris to submit an
  urgent report to Hitler on his own initiative."

He asserts that Canaris gave reports to Field Marshal
Keitel, who did not submit them. I ask you, is that true?

A. Of course, I did not follow up every document that came
to Field Marshal Keitel, but Field Marshal Keitel submitted
everything which it was considered necessary the Fuehrer
should know about. I have already said that if Canaris had
not been satisfied in this connection, he could have given
it to the Fuehrer directly. He had only to go into the next
office and give it to the Fuehrer's Chief Adjutant or he had
only to give it to me.

THE PRESIDENT: If you do not know, why do you not say so. If
you do not know whether he gave it to the Fuehrer or not,
say so.

                                                  [Page 374]

Q. I only asked whether the testimony is true, that Admiral
Canaris could not go to Hitler. I wanted you to answer that

A. In fact, he went to the Fuehrer dozens of times.

Q. If he wanted to, he had access at any time?

A. Absolutely, at any time.

THE PRESIDENT: Now will you tell me on what pages in the
shorthand notes this evidence is of Gisevius?

DR. NELTE: The evidence about Keitel is on Pages 271-274,
Part 12, the session of 26th April, 1946.



Q. I now want to show you two affidavits which you signed
together with Field Marshal Keitel, which have also been
submitted to the Tribunal. These are the affidavits Keitel
No. 9, High Command of the Wehrmacht and General Staff; and
the affidavit Keitel No. 13, Development of the Conditions
in France, 1940 to 1945 and the military competencies.

You remember that you signed these affidavits?

A. I did so, yes.

Q. And you remember the contents?

A. Yes.

Q. You confirm the accuracy of your affidavit?

A. I confirm this statement.

Q. I will not read these affidavits or parts of them. On the
subject of rearmament, that is regarding General Thomas, who
was also given here as a source of information, I should
like to ask you a few questions.

You know that the prosecution submitted a voluminous book
here, Document PS-2353, which is a written description of
the rearmament by General Thomas. As General Thomas was also
given by the witness Gisevius here as a source of
information, I must question you about Thomas. In his
affidavit, which is attached to Document 2353, he said that
on the 1st of February, 1943, he was released from the OKW.
Do you know whether that is true or not?

A. As far as I can recall, he was assigned for special
employment by the High Command of the Wehrmacht.

He was at the disposal of Field Marshal Keitel.

Q. Did he not have a special assignment when he was made
available for "special employment"?

A. He took over several assignments after that, I believe.

Q. I really want to ascertain that also after 1st February,
1943, General Thomas was still given assignments by the OKW,
especially that of writing this book which has been
submitted here. Is that true?

A. That is true, that he was engaged on writing what might
be called the History of Rearmament.

Q. What was his relation to Field Marshal Keitel?

A. I know that from the time - what the two men experienced
together - I know that before the war and at the very
beginning of the war the relations were good.

Q. Do you know the reports of General Thomas concerning

A. I have no exact recollection of any reports about our own
rearmament. I can only recall reports about the war
potential of our enemies. I remember those.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, are you going to be much longer,
because it is ten minutes past five and if you are not going
to conclude tonight we had better adjourn.

DR. NELTE: I will need a quarter of an hour yet.

THE PRESIDENT: Then we will adjourn at this time.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 6th June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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