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Archive/File: imt/ tgmwc/judgment/j-invasion-denmark-norway
Last-Modified: 1997/09/11

                           of the
               International Military Tribunal
                           For The
             Trial of German Major War Criminals

               His Majesty's Stationery Office

                                                   [Page 27]

The aggressive war against Poland was but the beginning. The
aggression of Nazi Germany quickly spread from country to
country. In point of time the first two countries to suffer
were Denmark and Norway.

On the 31st May, 1939, a Treaty of Non-Aggression was made
between Germany and Denmark, and signed by the Defendant
Ribbentrop. It was there solemnly stated that the parties to
the Treaty were "firmly resolved to maintain peace between
Denmark and Germany under all circumstances." Nevertheless,
Germany invaded Denmark on the 9th April, 1940.

On the 2nd September, 1939, after the outbreak of war with
Poland, Germany sent a solemn assurance to Norway in these
terms: "The German Reich Government is determined in view of
the friendly relations which exist between Norway and
Germany under no circumstance to prejudice the inviolability
and integrity of Norway, and to respect the territory of the
Norwegian State. In making this declaration the Reich
Government naturally expects, on its side, that Norway will
observe an unimpeachable neutrality towards the Reich and
will not tolerate any breaches of Norwegian neutrality by
any third party which might occur. Should the attitude of
the Royal Norwegian Government differ from this so that any
such breach of neutrality by a third party occurs, the Reich
Government would then obviously be compelled to safeguard
the interests of the Reich in such a way as the resulting
situation might dictate."

On the 9th April, 1940, in pursuance of her plan of
campaign, Norway was invaded by Germany.

The idea of attacking Norway originated, it appears, with
the Defendants Raeder and Rosenberg. On the 3rd October,
1939 Raeder prepared a memorandum on the subject of "gaining
bases in Norway", and amongst the questions discussed was
the question: "Can bases be gained by military force against
Norway's will, if it is impossible to carry this out without
fighting?" Despite this fact, three days later, further
assurances were given to Norway by Germany, which stated:
"Germany has never had any conflicts of interest or even
points of controversy with the Northern States and neither
has she any today."

Three days later again, the Defendant Doenitz prepared a
memorandum on the same subject of bases in Norway, and
suggested the establishment of a base in Trondheim with an
alternative of supplying fuel in Narvik. At the same time
the Defendant Raeder was in correspondence with Admiral
Karls, who pointed out to him the importance of an
occupation of the Norwegian coast by Germany. On the 10th
October, Raeder reported to Hitler the disadvantages to
Germany which an occupation by the British would have. In
the months of October and November Raeder continued to work
on the possible occupation of Norway, in conjunction with
the "Rosenberg Organisation." The "Rosenberg Organisation"
was the Foreign Affairs Bureau of the NSDAP, and Rosenberg
as Reichsleiter was in charge of it. Early in December,
Quisling, the notorious Norwegian traitor, visited Berlin
and was seen by the Defendants Rosenberg and Raeder. He put
forward a plan for a coup d'etat in Norway. On the 12th
December, the Defendant Raeder and the naval staff, together
with the Defendants Keitel and Jodl, had a conference with
Hitler, when Raeder reported on his interview with Quisling,
and set out Quisling's views. On the 16th December, Hitler
himself interviewed Quisling on all these matters. In the
report of the activities of the Foreign Affairs Bureau of
the NSDAP for the years 1933 to 1943, under the heading of
"Political Preparations for the Military Occupation of
Norway", it is stated that at the interview with Quisling
Hitler said that he would prefer a neutral attitude on the
part of Norway as well as the whole of Scandinavia, as he
did not desire to extend the theater of war, or to draw
other nations into the conflict. If the enemy attempted to
extend the war he would be compelled to guard himself
against that undertaking. He promised Quisling financial
support, and assigned to a special military staff the
examination of the military questions involved.

On The 27th January, 1940, a memorandum was prepared by the
Defendant Keitel regarding the plans for the invasion of
Norway. On 28th February, 1940 the Defendant Jodl entered in
his diary:

     "I proposed first to the Chief of OKW and then to
     the Fuehrer that Case Yellow (that is the
     operation against the Netherlands) and Weser
     Exercise (that is the operation against Norway and
     Denmark) must be prepared in such a way that they
     will be independent of one another as regards both
     time and forces employed."

On the 1st March Hitler issued a directive regarding the
Weser Exercise which contained the words:

     "The development of the situation in Scandinavia
     requires the making of all preparations for the
     occupation of Denmark and Norway by a part of the
     German Armed Forces. This operation should prevent
     British encroachment on Scandinavia and the
     Baltic; further, it should guarantee our ore base
     in Sweden and give our Navy and Air Force a wider
     start line against Britain .. The crossing of the
     Danish border and the landings in Norway must take
     place simultaneously .. It is most important that
     the Scandinavian States as well as the Western
     opponents should be taken by surprise by our

On the 24th March, the naval operation orders for the Weser
Exercise were issued, and on 30 March the Defendant Doenitz
as Commander-in-Chief of U-boats issued his operational
order for the occupation of Denmark and Norway. On the 9th
April, 1940, the German forces invaded Norway and Denmark.

From this narrative it is clear that as early as October,
1939, the question of invading Norway was under
consideration. The defense that has been made here is that
Germany was compelled to attack Norway to forestall an
Allied invasion, and her action was therefore preventive.

It must be remembered that preventive action in foreign
territory is justified only in case of "an instant and
overwhelming necessity for self-defense, leaving no choice
of means, and no moment of deliberation" (The Caroline

                                                   [Page 29]

Case, 1808.6.C.Rob.461). How widely the view was held in
influential German circles that the Allies intended to
occupy Norway cannot be determined with exactitude. Quisling
asserted that the Allies would intervene in Norway with the
tacit consent of the Norwegian Government. The German
Legation at Oslo disagreed with this view although the Naval
Attache at that Legation shared it.

The War Diary of the German Naval Operations Staff for 13th
January, 1940, stated that the Chief of the Naval Operations
Staff thought that the most favorable solution would be the
maintenance of the neutrality of Norway, but he harbored the
firm conviction that England intended to occupy Norway in
the near future relying on the tacit agreement of the
Norwegian Government.

The directive of Hitler issued on 1st March, 1940, for the
attack on Denmark and Norway stated that the operation
"should prevent British encroachment on Scandinavia and the

It is, however, to be remembered that the Defendant Raeder's
memorandum of  the 3rd October, 1939, makes no reference to
forestalling the Allies, but is based upon "the aim of
improving our strategical and operational position."

The memorandum itself is headed "Gaining of Bases in
Norway". The same observation applies mutatis mutandis to
the memorandum of the Defendant Doenitz of 9th October,

Furthermore, on the 13th March, the Defendant Jodl recorded
in his diary:

     "Fuehrer does not give order yet for 'W' (Weser
     Exercise). He is still looking for an excuse."

On 14th March, 1940 he again wrote:

     "Fuehrer has not yet decided what reason to give
     for 'Weser Exercise'".

On the 21st March, 1940, he recorded the misgivings of Task
Force XXI about the long interval between taking up
readiness positions and the close of the diplomatic
negotiations, and added:

     "Fuehrer rejects any earlier negotiations, as
     otherwise calls for help go out to England and
     America. If resistance is put up it must be
     ruthlessly broken."

On 2nd April he records that all the preparations are
completed; on 4th April, the Naval Operational Order was
issued; and on the 9th April, the invasion was begun.

From all this it is clear that when the plans for an attack
on Norway were being made, they were not made for the
purpose of forestalling an imminent Allied landing, but, at
the most, that they might prevent an Allied occupation at
some future date.

When the final orders for the German invasion of Norway were
given, the diary of the Naval Operations Staff for 23rd
March, 1940, records:

     "A mass encroachment by the English into Norwegian
     territorial waters ... is not to be expected at
     the present time."

And Admiral Assmann's entry for 26 March says:

     "British landing in Norway not considered serious."

Documents which were subsequently captured by the Germans
are relied on to show that the Allied plan to occupy harbors
and airports in Western Norway was a definite plan, although
in all points considerably behind the German

                                                   [Page 30]

plans under which the invasion was actually carried out.
These documents indicate that an altered plan had been
finally agreed upon on 20th March, 1940, that a convoy
should leave England on 5th April, and that mining in
Norwegian waters would begin the same day; and that on 5th
April the sailing time had been postponed until 8th April.
But these plans were not the cause of the German invasion of
Norway. Norway was occupied by Germany to afford her bases
from which a more effective attack on England and France
might be made, pursuant to plans prepared long in advance of
the Allied plans which are now relied on to support the
argument of self-defense.

It was further argued that Germany alone could decide, in
accordance with the reservations made by many of the
Signatory Powers at the time of the conclusion of the
Kellogg-Briand Pact, whether preventive action was a
necessity, and that in making her decision her judgment was
conclusive. But whether action taken under the claim of self-
defense was in fact aggressive or defensive must ultimately
be subject to investigation and adjudication if
international law is ever to be enforced.

No suggestion is made by the defendants that there was any
plan by any belligerent, other than Germany, to occupy
Denmark. No excuse for that aggression has ever been

As the German Armies entered Norway and Denmark, German
memoranda were handed to the Norwegian and Danish
Governments which gave the assurance that the German troops
did not come as enemies, that they did not intend to make
use of the points occupied by German troops as bases for
operations against England, as long as they were not forced
to do so by measures taken by England and France, and that
they had come to protect the North against the proposed
occupation of Norwegian strong points by English-French

The memoranda added that Germany had no intention of
infringing upon the territorial integrity and political
independence of the Kingdom of Norway then or in the future.
Nevertheless, on 6/3/1940, a German naval memorandum
discussed the use to be made of Norway and Denmark, and put
forward one solution for consideration, that the territories
of Denmark and Norway acquired during the course of the war
should continue to be occupied and organized so that they
could in the future be considered as German possessions.

In the light of all the available evidence it is impossible
to accept the contention that the invasions of Denmark and
Norway were defensive, and in the opinion of the Tribunal
they were acts of aggressive war.

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