The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Measures Of Rearmament
(Part 2 of 2)

[THE PRESIDENT (LORD JUSTICE LAWRENCE, Member for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) continues]

[Page 11]

In October, 1933, Germany withdrew from the International Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations. In 1935 the Nazi Government decided to take the first open steps to free itself from its obligations under the Treaty of Versailles. On 10th March, 1935 the Defendant Goering announced that Germany was building a military air force. Six days later, on 16th March, 1935, a law was passed bearing the signatures, among others, of the Defendants Goering, Hess, Frank, Frick, Schacht, and von Neurath, instituting compulsory military service and fixing the establishment of the German Army at a peace time strength of 500,000 men. In an endeavor to reassure public opinion in other countries, the Government announced on 21st May, 1935 that Germany would, though renouncing the disarmament clauses, still respect the territorial limitations of the Versailles Treaty, and would comply with the Locarno Pacts. Nevertheless, on the very day of this announcement, the secret Reich Defense Law was passed and its publication forbidden by Hitler. In this law, the powers and duties of the Chancellor and other Ministers were defined, should Germany become involved in war. It is clear from this law that by May, 1935 Hitler and his Government had arrived at the stage in the carrying out of their policies when it was necessary for them to have in existence the requisite machinery for the administration and government of Germany in the event of their policy leading to war.

At the same time that this preparation of the German economy for war was being carried out, the German armed forces themselves were preparing for a rebuilding of Germany's armed strength.

The German Navy was particularly active in this regard. The official German Naval historians, Assmann and Gladisch, admit that the Treaty of Versailles had only been in force for a few months before it was violated, particularly in the construction of a new submarine arm.

The publications of Captain Schuessler and Colonel Scherff, both of which were sponsored by the Defendant Raeder, were designed to show the German People the nature of the Navy's effort to rearm in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles.

The full details of these publications have been given in evidence.

On 12th May, 1934 the Defendant Raeder issued the Top Secret armament plan for what was called the "Third Armament Phase " This contained the sentence:

"All theoretical and practical A-preparations are to be drawn up with a primary view to readiness for a war without any alert period. "

[Page 12]

One month later, in June, 1934, the Defendant Raeder had a conversation with Hitler in which Hitler instructed him to keep secret the construction of U-boats and of warships over the limit of 10,000 tons which was then being undertaken.

And on 2nd November, 1934, the Defendant Raeder had another conversation with Hitler and the Defendant Goering, in which Hitler said that he considered it vital that the German Navy "should be increased as planned, as no war could be carried on if the Navy was not able to safeguard the ore imports from Scandinavia "

The large orders for building given in 1933 to 1934 are sought to be excused by the Defendant Raeder on the ground that negotiations were in progress for an agreement between Germany and Great Britain permitting Germany to build ships in excess of the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. This agreement [ "Treaty Series No. 22 (1935) " Cmd. 4953.], which was signed in 1935, restricted the German Navy to a tonnage equal to one-third of that of the British, except in respect of U-boats where 45% was agreed, subject always to the right to exceed this proportion after first informing the British Government and giving them an opportunity of discussion.

The Anglo-German Treaty followed in 1937 [ "Treaty Series No. 2 (1938) " Cmd. 5637.], under which both Powers bound themselves to notify full details of their building program at least four months before any action was taken.

It is admitted that these clauses were not adhered to by Germany.

In capital vessels, for example, the displacement details were falsified by 20%, whilst in the case of U-boats, the German historians Assmann and Gladisch say:

"It is probably just in the sphere of submarine construction that Germany adhered the least to the restrictions of the German-British Treaty. "

The importance of these breaches of the Treaty is seen when the motive for this rearmament is considered. In the year 1940 the Defendant Raeder himself wrote:

"The Fuehrer hoped until the last moment to be able to put off the threatening conflict with England until 1944-1945. At that time, the Navy would have had available a fleet with a powerful U- boat superiority, and a much more favorable ratio as regards strength in all other types of ships, particularly those designed for warfare on the High Seas. "

The Nazi Government as already stated, announced on 21st May, 1935 their intention to respect the territorial limitations of the Treaty of Versailles. On 7th March, 1936, in defiance of that Treaty, the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland was entered by German troops. In announcing this action to the German Reichstag, Hitler endeavored to justify the re-entry by references to the recently concluded alliances between France and the Soviet Union, and between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. He also tried to meet the hostile reaction which he no doubt expected to follow this violation of the Treaty by saying:

"We have no territorial claims to make in Europe.

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