The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Thirty-Third Day: Monday, January 14th, 1946
(Part 2 of 5)


[Page 228]

I turn to the next document in the document book, D-443, which I put in to become Exhibit GB 185. It is an extract from a speech made by the defendant at a meeting of commanders of the Navy in Weimar on the 17th December, 1943. It was subsequently circulated by the defendant as a top- secret document for senior officers only, and by the hand of officers only. My Lord, if I might read:
"I am a firm adherent of the idea of ideological education. For what is it in the main? Doing his duty is a matter of course for the soldier. But the full value, the whole weight of duty done, is only complete if the heart and spiritual conviction lend themselves to the idea. The result of duty done is then quite different from what it would be if I only carried out my task literally, obediently and faithfully. It is therefore necessary for the soldier to support the execution of his duty with all his mental, all his spiritual energy; and for this his conviction, his ideology are indispensable. It is therefore, necessary for us to train the soldier uniformly, comprehensively, that he may be adjusted ideologically to our Germany. Every dualism, every dissension in this connection, or every divergence or unpreparedness imply a weakness in all circumstances. He in whom this grows and thrives in unison is superior to the other. Then, indeed, the whole importance, the whole weight of his conviction comes into play. It, is also nonsense to say that the soldier or the officer must have no politics. The soldier embodies the State in which he lives, he is the representative, the articulate exponent of his State. He must, therefore, stand with his whole weight behind this State.

We must travel this road from our deepest conviction. The Russian travels along it. We can only maintain ourselves in this war if we take part in it, with holy zeal, with all our fanaticism.

[Page 229]

Not I alone can do this; it can only be done with the aid of the man who holds the production of Europe in his hand, with Minister Speer. My ambition is to have as many warships for the Navy as possible so as, to be able to fight and to strike. It does not matter to me who builds them."
My Lord, that last sentence is of importance in connection with a later document. The Tribunal will see, when I come to this, that the defendant was not above employing concentration camp labour for this purpose.

I put in the next document in the document book, D.-640, which becomes Exhibit GB 186. It is an extract from a speech on the same subject by the defendant, as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, to the Commanders-in-Chief on the 15th February, 1944. My Lord, it is cumulative except that I think the last two sentences add something if I might read them:

"From the very start the whole of the officer corps must be so indoctrinated that it feels itself co-responsible for the National Socialist State in its entirety. The officer is the exponent of the State, the idle chatter that the officer is non-political is sheer nonsense."
Now, the next document is 2879-PS, which I put in to become Exhibit GB 187. It consists of three extracts from speeches. The first is from a speech made by the defendant to the German Navy and the German people on Heroes' Day, the 12th March, 1944.
"German men and women!

... What would have become of our country to-day, if the Fuehrer had not united us under National Socialism! Split into parties, beset with the spreading poison of Jewry and vulnerable to it, and lacking, as a defence, our present uncompromising world outlook, we would long since have succumbed to the burdens of this war and been subject to the merciless destruction of our adversaries...."

My Lord, the next extract is from a speech to the Navy on the 21st July, 1944. It again shows the defendant's fanaticism. It is perhaps worth reading the first sentence:
"Men of the Navy! Holy wrath and unlimited anger fill our hearts because of the criminal attempt which was to have cost the life of our beloved Fuehrer. Providence wished it otherwise, watched over and protected our Fuehrer, and did not abandon our German Fatherland in the fight for its destiny."
And then he goes on to deal with the fate which should be meted out to these traitors.

The third extract deals with the introduction of the German salute into the Armed Forces. I do not think I need read it, but as the members of the Tribunal will see, it was the defendant Keitel, and this defendant, who were responsible for the alteration of the salute in the German Forces and the adoption of the Nazi salute - together with Goering - Pardon me, I should have said, the defendants Goering, Keitel and Donitz.

The next document is a monitored report of the speech made on the German wireless by this defendant, announcing the death of Hitler and his own succession. It is D-444. I put it in to become Exhibit GB 188, and I read a portion of it. The time is 22.26 hours marked on the document. I read therefrom:

"It has been reported from the Fuehrer's headquarters that our Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, has died this afternoon in his battle headquarters at the: Reich Chancellery, fallen for Germany, fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism.

On the 30th April the Fuehrer nominated Grand Admiral Donitz to be his successor. The Grand Admiral and Fuehrer's successor will speak to the German nation."

[Page 230]

And then, the first paragraph of the speech:
"German men and women, soldiers of the German Armed Forces. Our Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, is dead. The German people bow in deepest sorrow and respect. Early he had recognised the terrible danger of Bolshevism and had dedicated his life to the fight against it. His fight having ended, he died a hero's death in the capital of the German Reich, after having led an unmistakably straight and steady life."
Then, that document also contains an order of the day issued by the defendant, which is very much to the same effect.

Apart from his services in building up the U-boat arm, there is ample evidence that the defendant as Commander-in-Chief of U-boats, took part in the planning and execution of aggressive war against Poland, Norway and Denmark. The next document in the document book, C-126/C, has already been put in as Exhibit GB 45. It is a memorandum by the defendant Raeder, dated the 16th May, 1939, and I will call the attention of the Tribunal to the distribution. The sixth copy went to the Fuehrer der Unterseeboote, that is to say, to the defendant Donitz. It is a directive for the invasion of Poland, "Fall Weiss," and I will not read it. It has already been read.

The next document, C-126/E, on the second page of that same document, has also been put in as Exhibit GB 45. It again is a memorandum from the defendant Raeder's headquarters, dated the 2nd August, 1939. It is addressed to the Fleet, and then Flag Officer U-boats - that is, of course, the defendant - and it is merely a covering letter for operational directions for the employment of U-boats which are to be sent into the Atlantic as a precaution in case the intention of carrying out "Fall Weiss" should remain unchanged. The second sentence is important:

"Flag Officer U-boats is handing in his operational orders to SKL" - that is, the Seekriegsleitung, the German Admiralty - "by 12th August. A decision on the sailings of U-boats for the Atlantic will probably be made in the middle of August."
The next document, C-172, I put in as Exhibit GB 189. It consists of the defendant's own operational instructions to his U-boats for the operation "Fall Weiss." It is signed by him. It is not dated, but it is clear from the subject- matter that its date must be before the 16th July, 1939. I do not think the substance of the document adds anything. It is purely an operational instruction, giving effect to the document already put in, C-126/6, the directive by Raeder.

My Lord, the next document, C-122, has already been put in as Exhibit GB 82. It is an extract from the War Diary of the Naval War Staff of the German Admiralty, dated the 3rd October, 1939, and records the fact that the Chief of the Naval War Staff has called for views on the possibility of taking operational bases in Norway. It has already been read, and I would merely call the Tribunal's attention to the passage in brackets, in the paragraph marked (d).

"Flag Officer U-boats already considers such harbours extremely useful as equipment and supply bases for Atlantic U-boats to call at temporarily."
The next document, C-5, has already been put in as Exhibit GB 83. This in from the defendant, as Flag Officer U-boats, addressed to the Supreme Command of the Navy, the Naval War Staff. It is dated the 9th October, 1939, and it sets out the defendant's view on the advantages of Trondheim and Narvik as bases. The document proposes the establishment of a base at Trondheim with Narvik as an alternative.

Now the next document, C-151, has already been put in as Exhibit GB 91. It is the defendant's operation order to his U-boats for the occupation of Denmark and Norway, and the operation order, which is top secret, dated

[Page 231]

the 30th March, is termed "Hartmut." The members of the Tribunal will remember that the document, in the last paragraph, said:
"The naval force will, as they enter the harbour, fly the British flag until the troops have landed, except presumably at Narvik."
The preparations for war against England are perhaps best shown by the disposition of the U-boats under his command on the 3rd September, 1939, when war broke out between Germany and the Western Allies. The locations, of the sinkings in the following week, including that of the Athenia which will be dealt with by my learned friend, Major Elwyn Jones, provide corroboration. On that, I would put in two charts; I put them in as D-652, and they become Exhibit GB 190.

My Lord, I have copies here for the members of the Tribunal. They have been prepared by the Admiralty. There are two charts. The first sets out the disposition of the submarines on the 3rd September, 1939. There is a certification attached to the chart, in the top left-hand corner, which I should read:

"This chart has been constructed from a study of the orders issued by Donitz between 21st August, 1939, and 3rd September, 1939, and subsequently captured. The chart shows the approximate disposition of submarines ordered for 3rd September, 1939, and cannot be guaranteed accurate in every detail, as the file of captured orders are clearly not complete, and some of the submarines shown apparently had received orders at sea on or about 3rd September to move to new operational areas. The documents from which this chart was constructed are held by the British Admiralty in London."
My Lord, there are two points I would make on that first chart. First, it will be apparent to members of the Tribunal that U-boats which were in those positions on the 3rd September, 1939, had left Kiel some considerable time before. The other point which I would make is important in connection with my learned friend Major Elwyn Jones' case against the defendant Raeder, and that is the location of the U-boat U-30. The members of the Tribunal may care to bear it in mind while looking at the charts now.

The second chart sets out the sinkings during the first week of the war, and the location of the sinking of the Athenia will be noted. There is a short certification in the left- hand corner of the Tribunal's copies:

"This chart has been constructed from the official records of the British Admiralty in London. It shows the position and sinkings of the British merchant vessels lost by enemy in the seven days subsequent to 3rd September, 1939."
My Lord, I turn to the defendant's participation in War Crimes and Crimes, against Humanity.

The course of the war waged against neutral and Allied merchant shipping by the U-boats followed, under the defendant's directions, a course of consistently increasing ruthlessness. The defendant displayed his masterly understanding in adjusting himself to the changing fortunes of war. From the very early days, merchant ships, both Allied and neutral, were sunk without warning; and when operational danger zones had been announced by the German Admiralty, these sinkings continued to take place both within and without those zones. With some exceptions in the early days of the war, no regard was taken for the safety of the crews or passengers of sunk merchant ships, and the announcement claiming a total blockade of the British Isles merely served to confirm the established situation, under which U-boat warfare was being conducted without regard to the established rules of international warfare or the requirements of humanity.

The course of the war at sea during the first eighteen months is summarised, by two official British reports made at a time when those who compiled them

[Page 232]

were ignorant of some of the actual orders issued, orders which have since come to hand.

My Lord, I turn to the next document in the document book. It is D-641 (a), which I put in to become Exhibit GB 191. It is an extract from an official report of the British Foreign Office concerning German attacks on merchant shipping during the period 3rd September, 1939, to September, 1940, that is to say, the first year of the war, and it was made shortly after September, 1940.

My Lord, if I might quote from the second paragraph on the first page:

"During the first twelve months of the war, 2,081,062 tons of Allied shipping comprising 508 ships have been lost by enemy action. In addition, 769,213 tons of neutral shipping, comprising 253 ships, have also been lost. Nearly all these merchant ships have been sunk by submarine, mine, aircraft or surface craft, and the great majority of them were sunk while engaged on their lawful trading voyages. 2,836 Allied merchant seamen have lost their lives in these ships.

In the last war the practice of the Central Powers was so remote from the recognised procedure that it was thought necessary to set forth once again the Rules of Warfare, in particular as applied to submarines. This was done in the Treaty of London, 1930, and in 1936 Germany acceded to the rules. The rules laid down:

(1) In action with regard to merchant ships, submarines must conform to the rules of International Law to which surface vessels are subjected.

(2) In particular, except in the case of persistent refusal to stop on being summoned, or of active resistance to visit and search, a war ship, whether surface vessel or submarine, may not sink or render incapable of navigation a merchant vessel without having first placed passengers, crew and ships' papers in a place of safety. For this purpose, the ship's boats are not regarded as a place of safety unless the safety of the passengers and crew is assured in the existing sea and weather conditions, by the proximity of land, or the presence of another vessel which is in a position to take them on board."

Then, the next paragraph:
"At the beginning of the present war, Germany issued a Prize Ordinance for the regulation of sea warfare and the guidance of her naval officers. Article 74 of this ordinance embodies the submarine rules of the London Treaty. Article 72, however, provides that captured enemy vessels may be destroyed if it seems inexpedient or unsafe to bring them into port, and Article 73/(1) and (2) makes the same provision with regard to neutral vessels which are captured for sailing under enemy convoy, for forcible resistance, or for giving assistance to the enemy. These provisions are certainly not in accordance with the traditional British view, but the important point is that, even in these cases, the Prize Ordinance envisages the capture of the merchantman before its destruction. In other words, if the Germans adhered to the rules set out in their own Prize Ordinance, we might have argued the rather fine legal point with them, but we should have no quarrel with them, either on the broader legal issue or on the humanitarian one. In the event, however, it is only too clear that almost from the beginning of the war the Germans abandoned their own principle, and waged war with steady disregard for International Law, and for what is, after all, the ultimate sanction of all law, the protection of human life and property from arbitrary and ruthless attacks."
I pass to the third paragraph on the next page which sets out two instances:
"On the 30th September, 1939, came the first sinking of a neutral ship by a submarine without warning and with loss of Life. This was the Danish ship Vendia bound for the Clyde in ballast. The submarine fired two shots and shortly after torpedoed the ship. The torpedo was

[Page 233]

fired when the master had already signalled that he would submit to the submarine orders, and before there had been an opportunity to abandon ship. By November, submarines were beginning to sink neutral vessels without warning as a regular thing. On the 12th November the Norwegian Arne Kjode was torpedoed in the North Sea without any warning at all. This was a tanker bound from one neutral port to another. The master and four of the crew lost their lives and the remainder were picked up after many hours in open boats. Henceforward, in addition to the failure to establish the nature of the cargo, another element is noticeable, namely an increasing recklessness as to the fate of the crew."
And then dealing with attacks on Allied merchant vessels, certain figures are given.

Ships sunk.................241
Recorded attacks......221
Illegal attacks.............112
At least 79 of these 112 ships were torpedoed without warning.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): Then they were not illegally sunk, however?


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