The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                  [Page 375]


THURSDAY, 6th JUNE, 1946




Q. General, yesterday in answer to my last question about
General Thomas, you said that he constantly made reports on
the war potential of enemy powers to you and Field Marshal
Keitel. Were these important reports always submitted to

A. These reports, with detailed graphic descriptions,
sketches and drawings, were regularly submitted to the
Fuehrer and often occasioned violent disputes, because the
Fuehrer considered this representation of the enemy
potential as greatly exaggerated.

Q. Did you and Field Marshal Keitel hold the point of view
that the representations of General Thomas were

A. Field Marshal Keitel and I were both of the opinion that,
after a very careful study of enemy armament achievements,
these statements of Thomas were, on the whole, accurate.

Q. You heard the witness Gisevius say that Thomas was
supposed to have been an opponent of Hitler's war
leadership. In the course of years and in the reports made,
did you ever realize this fact?

A. I did not observe this. The only thing that I observed
was that he objected to this exaggerated optimism in which
the Fuehrer habitually indulged, and that perhaps in his
basic attitude he was pessimistic rather than optimistic.

Q. Was General Thomas dismissed from his position in the
office of War Economy through Keitel's efforts?

A. No, at the time he retired from active service, General
Thomas was under Minister Speer, but Minister Speer no
longer cared to work with him and requested the Fuehrer that
he should be dismissed from the armament office which
Minister Speer had taken over. And that was done by the
Field Marshal on the order of the Fuehrer.

DR. NELTE: I can therefore establish . . .

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, how is the evidence about General
Thomas relevant to the case of Keitel - how is the question
of whether General Thomas was acting against the supposed
interests of Germany or not relevant to the cases of either
Keitel or Jodl. The evidence of Gisevius was relevant to the
case of the defendant Schacht. It seems to me - and I think,
to the Tribunal - to be entirely irrelevant to the case of
either the defendant whom you represent or the case of the
defendant Jodl. What does it matter to us whether General
Thomas was trying to overthrow Hitler or not?

DR. NELTE: The question which concerns the defendant Keitel
is whether Field Marshal Keitel submitted and supported the
reports handed in by Thomas. The witness Gisevius said here,
referring to Thomas as a source of information, that these
reports of Thomas were kept from Hitler. Therefore this
evidence ....

THE PRESIDENT: We went into that yesterday, and now the
defendant Jodl has said that the reports of Thomas were
submitted to the Fuehrer. But what I was pointing out to you
was that the question whether Thomas was making his reports
honestly or not is a matter which is entirely irrelevant.

                                                  [Page 376]

DR. NELTE: Not as to the credibility of Gisevius' sources of
information, in my opinion; but I will withdraw this
question. However, in this connection I must ask one more
question with regard to the other source of information,

Q. Canaris was a regular and frequent guest in the Fuehrer's
Headquarters and a guest of yours. What was the relationship
of Field Marshal Keitel to his oldest office chief?

A. The relationship of Field Marshal Keitel with Canaris
from the first day to the last was outstandingly friendly
and good, and unfortunately, one of too much blind

Q. May I ask what the relationship was after the 20th of

A. I know that even after the 20th of July, Field Marshal
Keitel did not believe the charges against Canaris, and that
after the arrest of Canaris, he supported his family with

Q. What was the relationship of Canaris to Heydrich?

A. I mentioned that once before. Canaris always tried to
maintain an especially good relationship with Himmler and
Heydrich so that they would not distrust him.

Q. What can you say about the attitude of Field Marshal
Keitel to Hitler's plan in October, 1939, the plan to attack
in the West?

A. I know that Field Marshal Keitel was apparently strongly
impressed by the attitude of the Commander-in-Chief of the
Army and the General Staff of the Army, and also raised a
warning voice against this attack in the West. I know,
although I did not experience it personally, but Schmundt
told me about it later, that during this time he also had a
controversy with the Fuehrer which led to his first request
to resign. This is what I can report according to what
Schmundt told me; I did not witness it myself. Nor did Field
Marshal Keitel tell me about it personally then.

Q. In Document 447-PS, which the prosecution submitted-these
are the guiding principles for special tasks issued with
Directive No. 21 - is the now famous Paragraph 1-b,
according to which, in the operational area of the Army, the
Reichsfuehrer SS is given a special task, on behalf of the
Fuehrer, in connection with the preparation of a political
administration, resulting from the mortal struggle of two
conflicting political systems. So much for the abridged
quotation. I will not hand the document to you, since you
are certainly well acquainted with it, and to make the
matter brief, I will only ask you to tell the Tribunal how
Field Marshal Keitel reacted to this order.

A. The demand of the Fuehrer to encroach with Himmler and
the police upon the sovereignty of the Army in its
operational area, led to days of bitter discussion with the
Fuehrer. The same arguments had already taken place when
Terboven was appointed in Norway. One need only read my
entries in my Diary, Document 1780-PS. Of course I know
today why the Fuehrer insisted on this point of view under
all circumstances and why he forced the police, under
Himmler, into the operational area. It was against all our
rules. It was against all previous agreements with the
police and with Himmler, but in the end, the Fuehrer put
this measure through in spite of the strong resistance.

Q. The prosecution asserted here that in 1940, Field Marshal
Keitel gave the order to kill General Weygand, at that time
Chief of the General Staff' of the French Army. This
statement is based principally on the testimony of the
witness, General Lahousen. I have a few brief questions to
put to you on this matter. Was Field Marshal Keitel
competent to order the killing of a general?

A. No. Any death sentence at all had to be confirmed by the

Q. Well, I naturally do not mean a death sentence ... in
this connection.

A. Well. No one at all had the authority to order murder to
be committed.

Q. I ask this because Lahousen's testimony made it appear as
if this order had been given by Field Marshal Keitel to
Admiral Canaris. If we assume that such an order was issued
by Hitler, this would have been a highly political act
considering the importance of Weygand.

A. Undoubtedly.

                                                  [Page 377]

Q. Would it not also have been a foolish act in terms of

A. It would first of all have been a crime ....

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, this is all argument, and you are
putting your questions in an entirely leading form. The real
objection to it is that it is argumentative. Go on.


If such an order had been given, could it have remained
unknown to you?

A. I cannot imagine that Field Marshal Keitel, charged with
the ordering of the murder, would not have spoken about it
to me.

Q. What exactly did you hear about the Weygand case?

A. I never heard a single word about the Weygand case. The
only thing I heard about Weygand was when Himmler reported
to the Fuehrer in my presence: "I have given Weygand a very
nice villa in Baden. He is completely provided for there in
such a way that he can be satisfied." That is the only thing
I ever heard in which the name of Weygand figured.

Q. The witness Lahousen was also heard in the case of
General Giraud. Did you also know anything of this case of
Giraud which attracted much attention?

A. I heard a little more about the Giraud case. Shortly
after the successful flight of Giraud, Field Marshal Keitel
told me once in a conversation that he was having him
watched by Canaris to prevent Giraud, as the Fuehrer always
feared, going to North Africa and there directing the
formation of the Colonial Army against us, so that he could
be arrested if he should rejoin his family in the territory
actually occupied. That is what he told me. Several months
later he said to me again: "I have now withdrawn this
assignment from Canaris because the Fuehrer has given it to
Himmler. If two agencies are concerned with it, there will
only be difficulties and differences." The third time I
heard about the Giraud case was when Field Marshal Keitel
told me that a deputy of Giraud - I believe it was about the
end of 1943, or in the spring of 1944 - approached the
counterintelligence and said that Giraud, who could not
agree with De Gaulle in North Africa, requested to be told
whether he might not return to France. I told Marshal Keitel
then that we absolutely must agree to that immediately,
because that was extremely favourable for us politically.
That is the only thing I ever heard about the Giraud case.
Nothing else.

Q. The day before yesterday you spoke about the talks in the
Fuehrer's train in September, 1939, at which General
Lahousen was also present. In this connection you said: "I
have no objections to Lahousen's statement." But to avoid
misunderstandings, I should like you to say whether you mean
... meant by that that all the testimony of Lahousen, which
also referred to Giraud and Weygand, is credible and
correct, or only the part regarding your presence in the
Fuehrer's train?

A. Of course, I meant only those statements of Lahousen
which he made about me. As for the other statements which
were made here, I have my own opinion, but perhaps that is
not appropriate here.

Q. Yesterday, in answer to a question of Dr. Stahmer, you
spoke about the dispute on the occasion of the 80 RAF
officers who escaped. In order to clarify this question,
which weighs particularly heavily against Field Marshal
Keitel, I should like to know the following: Did you hear
that Keitel objected violently because the recaptured RAF
officers were turned over to Himmler, that is, to the

A. When I stood at the curtain for those one or two minutes,
I heard the Fuehrer say first of all: "That is unheard of.
That is the tenth time that dozens of officer prisoners have
escaped. These officers are an enormous danger. You don't
realize" - meaning Keitel - "that in view of the six million
foreign people who are prisoners and workers in Germany,
they are the leaders who could organize an uprising. That is
the result of this careless attitude of the commandants.
These escaped Air Force officers are to be turned over to
Himmler immediately."

                                                  [Page 378]

And then I heard Field Marshal Keitel answer: "My Fuehrer,
some of them have already been put back into the camp. They
are prisoners of war again. I cannot turn them over." And
the Fuehrer said: "Very well, then they can stay there."
That is what I heard with my own ears just before I was
called to the telephone.

Q. Afterwards did you speak again with Field Marshal Keitel
about this incident?

A. We drove back to Berchtesgaden together from the Berghof.
Field Marshal Keitel was beside himself, for on the way up
he had told me that he would not report the escape of these
flyers to the Fuehrer. He hoped that on the next day he
would have them all back. He was furious with Himmler, who
had immediately reported the escape to the Fuehrer. I told
him that if the Fuehrer, in view of the total situation in
Germany, saw such a great danger in the escape of foreign
officers, then England should be notified so that the order
might be rescinded that all officers who were prisoners had
to make an attempt to escape.

I must say openly that at this moment, neither of us had any
thought that these recaptured flyers might be shot. For they
had done nothing except escape from a camp, which German
officers had also done dozens of tines. I imagined that he
wanted to remove them from the disciplinary jurisdiction of
the army, which certainly, in his opinion, would be far too
lenient, and wanted to have them work in a concentration
camp for Himmler for a time as punishment. That is what I

Q. In any case, in your presence, and in your hearing,
Hitler's orders to Himmler to shoot these officers were not

A. I know that with absolute certainty, for I know how I
felt when I suddenly received the news that they had been

Q. Now I should like to ask you a few brief concluding

The Tribunal asked the defendant Keitel on the witness stand
whether he had submitted written applications asking for his
resignation. You were present. What can you tell the
Tribunal about Keitel's efforts to resign from his position?

A. The first effort I mentioned a while ago must have been
in the spring of 1940, because of the Western campaign.
Schmundt told me about it. The second, about which I know
personally, was in 1947, in November, when there was a
heated controversy between the Fuehrer and Field Marshal
Keitel, and the Fuehrer chose to use the expression "I am
only dealing with blockheads."

THE PRESIDENT: We do not want the details. I mean, if he can
tell us when Keitel attempted to resign ....

THE WITNESS: This second attempt was in the autumn of 1947.
After the controversy, Field Marshal Keitel wrote out his
request for his resignation. When I entered the room, his
pistol lay before him on his desk, and I took it away from

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, I have told you that the Tribunal
does not want the details, and now we are being told details
about the resignation, about the way in which it was made.

DR. NELTE: Can it be of no importance to the Tribunal to
know how serious the matter was to the defendant Keitel that
he even wanted to use his pistol?

THE PRESIDENT: He is going into details about the particular
desk on which the document was put, or something of that
sort. He made his efforts to resign in writing. That is of


Q. . You can testify about this case that Field Marshal
Keitel handed in his resignation in writing?

A. I myself saw him writing it, and I read the introduction.

Q. If things like this occurred frequently, as you have
stated in the course of your testimony, and went as far as
the pistol incident indicates, how did it happen that Keitel
always remained?

                                                  [Page 379]

A. Because the Fuehrer would not part from him under any
circumstances. He absolutely refused to let him go. I
believe that also various attempts were made through other
sources to get him away, but the Fuehrer did not let him go.
In addition, of course, there was the attitude of both of
us, that we were engaged in a war for existence, in which an
officer, after all, could not stay at home and knit
stockings. Over and over again it was the sense of duty that
won the upper hand and caused us to bear all the hardships.

Q. You will understand that one is forced to accuse the
Generals of loyalty for loyalty's sake, as duty can only go
to the point where it does not injure human dignity. Have
you ever thought of that?

A. I have thought a lot about it.

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