The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
23rd March to 3rd April, 1946

Ninety-Eighth Day: Wednesday, 3rd April, 1946
(Part 1 of 6)

[Page 306]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has read and considered every one of the documents produced by Dr. Horn on behalf of the defendant Ribbentrop and the Tribunal rules as follows.

I will only refer to the documents to which no objection was taken, where the Tribunal rejects them; that is to say, documents to which no objection is taken are allowed with the particular exceptions which I make.

With reference to the documents to which objection was taken, the Tribunal rejects numbers 12, 45, 48 to 61 inclusive. It allows document 62. It rejects documents 66, 67 and 69. It allows document 70. It rejects documents 72, 73, 74. It rejects documents 76 to 81 inclusive. It grants document 82. It rejects document 83. It grants documents 84 to 87 inclusive. It rejects documents 88 to 116 inclusive. It rejects documents 118 to 126 inclusive. It allows document 127. It rejects documents 128 to 134 inclusive. It rejects documents 135 to 148 inclusive. It rejects documents 151 and 152. It allows documents 155 and 156. It rejects documents 157 and 158. It rejects document 161. It allows document 162. It allows document 164. It allows documents 165 to 183 inclusive. It rejects document 184. It allows documents 185 and 186. It rejects document 191. It allows documents 193 and 194. It rejects document 195, paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 4. It grants document 195, paragraphs 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. It rejects documents 196 and 197 and 198. It rejects document 204. It rejects document 207. It grants the whole of document 208. It grants document 210. It rejects document 211 (a) and (b) and document 212. It grants document 213. It rejects 214. It rejects 215-A and B. It grants document 217 and 220. It grants documents 221 to 245, except document 238, and it also excludes all comments contained in these documents. It rejects documents 246 to 269 It rejects 270 and 271. It rejects 275. It rejects 276. It grants 277 and 278. As to 279, the Tribunal would like Dr. Horn to inform them what that document is, because in the copy that they have got it is unidentified. That is 279, Dr. Horn, in book 8, I think.

DR. HORN: The document contains the Non-Aggression Treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union, of 23rd August, 1939. It contains the text of that treaty.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, well, then that will be allowed.

280 and 281 are granted. 282, 283 and 284 are granted. 285 is rejected. 286 to 289 were withdrawn. 290 was withdrawn. 291 is granted. 292 is rejected, 293 is rejected, 294 is rejected. 295 is rejected. 296 is granted. 298 to 305, inclusive, are rejected. 306 is granted. 307 is rejected. 308 is granted. 309 and 309-A are both rejected. 310 is rejected. 311 had already been ruled out. 313 is granted. 314 is rejected. 317 is granted. 318 is rejected. Well, 312 is granted; it had not been objected to. I do not have a note of 315 and 316; are they asked for?

DR. HORN: 315, Mr. President, is the reproduction of a PS number, that is PS-1834, and has already been submitted and therefore need not be submitted again.

THE PRESIDENT: Does that apply also to 316, Dr. Horn?

DR. HORN: 316 also has a PS number and therefore need not be re-submitted.

[Page 307]

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, that deals with all the numbers, I think.

DR. HORN: Mr. President, I will dispense with No. 312, and ask instead for No. 317. This contains a notarised statement under oath ...

THE PRESIDENT: 317 is granted.

DR. HORN: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, Dr. Horn, will you deal with the ones which we have left in, as far as you wish to deal with them. If you wish to comment upon any of the ones that we have allowed, you may do so now. We do not desire you to do so, but if you wish to do so, you may.

DR. HORN: May I ask your Lordship for permission to present my arguments - I will present only very brief arguments - at a time to be determined by the High Tribunal, so that I can sort the documents and need not take up your time unnecessarily? All the documents are fastened together at present and it would take longer if I were to present my case now than if I could present the sorted documents. I therefore ask the Tribunal to set a time when I may present these documents.

THE PRESIDENT: The application is granted.

DR. HORN: Yes. I will then have concluded my case and will need only a relatively short time to comment briefly on some but not all of the documents.

THE PRESIDENT: If Dr. Nelte is ready to go on with the case of the defendant Keitel, the Tribunal suggested possibly you might be able to deal shortly with your documents at two o'clock.

DR. HORN: Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be agreeable to Dr. Nelte?

DR. HORN: I will consult my colleague Dr. Nelte.

Dr. Nelte has just advised me that he will fetch his documents and then he can proceed with the presentation of his case immediately.


(Dr. Nelte returned to the court room.)

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, the Tribunal is much obliged to you for presenting your argument now.

DR. NELTE (counsel for the defendant Keitel): Mr. President, I will begin the presentation of the case for Keitel by asking you to summon the defendant to the witness-stand and I shall question him. The documents which I will use in this interrogation were submitted with a list yesterday. I hope that those documents are at your disposal so that you will be able to follow my questions in a manner which is desirable in the interest of a smoothly conducted interrogation.

THE PRESIDENT: Then you will call the defendant Keitel.


(The defendant Keitel took his position in the witness-box.)

WILHELM KEITEL, one of the defendants, took the stand and testified as follows


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Wilhelm Keitel.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth, and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)



Q. Please describe your military career briefly?

A. In the year 1901, in the beginning of March, I became an officer candidate in an artillery regiment of the Prussian army. At the beginning of the First World War, in 1914, I was the regimental adjutant of my regiment. I was wounded in

[Page 308]

September 1914, and in the beginning of November I became chief of a battery of my Regiment. After Spring of 1915 I served in various general staff capacities, first in higher command positions of the field army, later as a general staff officer of a division. Towards the end I was the first general staff officer of the Naval Corps in Flanders. Then I joined the Reichswehr as a volunteer. Beginning with the year 1929 I was Abteilungsleiter (Division Head) of the Army Organisational Division in the Reichswehrministerium (Ministry of War). After an interruption from 1933 to 1935 I became, on the 1st of October, 1935, chief of the Wehrmacht Department (Wehrmacht Amt) of the Reichskriegsminsters, that is Chief of Staff for the Minister of War. During my service at the front I became Generalmajor. At that time I led an infantry brigade. On 4th February, 1938, to my surprise, I was appointed Chief of Staff of the Fuehrer, or Chief of the O.K.W. - Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. In October, 1939, I became General of the Infantry and after the campaign in the West in 1940 I became Field Marshal.

Q. Were you a member of the National Socialist German Labour Party?

A. No, I was not a member. According to military law I could not be or become a member.

Q. But you received the Golden Party Badge. For what reason?

A. That is correct. Hitler presented this Golden Badge of the Party to me in April, 1939, at the same time that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General von Brauchitsch received it. The Fuehrer said it was to be a commemoration of the march into Czechoslovakia. The Golden Badge had the 16th and 17th of March engraved on it.

Q. In the year 1944 the military law was changed so that active soldiers could also become members of the Party. What did you do at that time?

A. That is correct. In the late summer of autumn of 1944 the Wehrgesetz (military regulation) was changed to the extent that active soldiers could also be Party members. At that time I was invited to submit personal data for the Party in order to be listed as a member of the Party. At the same time I was asked to send in a donation of money to the Party. I submitted personal data to the Party Leadership and also sent in a donation, but to my knowledge I did not become a member. I never received a membership card.

Q. To what extent did you participate at Party functions?

A. Due to my position and the fact that I accompanied the Fuehrer constantly I participated at public functions of the Party several times. For example, the Party rallies in Nuremberg, also each year when the Winter Help Campaign was launched. Finally, according to orders, each year on the 9th of November, together with a representative of the Party I had to be present at the graves of those who had died on that day in 1923 in order to attend a service in their honour. It took place symbolically in memory of the conflict on 9th November, between the Party and the Wehrmacht (Army Forces).

Q. Did you ...

A. I never participated in internal conferences or meetings of the leadership of the Party. The Fuehrer had told me that he did not want this. Thus, for example, every year on the 9th of November I was in Munich, but never participated in the gatherings of the so-called Hoheitstraeger (bearers of supreme power).

Q. What decorations did you receive during the war?

A. During the war, it must have been in the winter of 1939- 1940, I received the Knight's Order of the Iron Cross. I did not receive any other German war decorations.

Q. Do you have any sons?

A. I had three sons, all of whom served at the front as officers during this war. The youngest one died in battle in Russia in 1941. The second was a major in Russia and has been missing in action, and the eldest son, who was a major, is a prisoner of war.

[Page 309]

Q. Field Marshal Keitel, to begin with essential matters, I would like to put the following basic questions to you:

What basic attitude did you as a soldier, an officer and a general have toward the problems with which you came into contact in your profession?

A. I can say that I was a soldier by inclination and conviction. For more than 44 years without interruption I served my country and my people as a soldier, and I tried to do my best in the service of my profession. I believed that I should do this as a matter of duty, labouring ceaselessly and giving myself completely to those tasks which fell to me in my many and diverse positions. I did this with the same devotion under the Kaiser, under President Ebert, under Fieldmarshal von Hindenburg, and under the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler.

Q. What is your attitude today?

A. As a German officer, I naturally consider it my duty to admit what I have done, even if it should have been wrong. I am grateful that I am being given the opportunity to give an account here and before the German people of what I was and my participation in the events which have taken place. It will not always be possible to differentiate clearly whether it was guilt or circumstances. But I do consider one thing impossible, that the men in the highest positions and the leaders and the sub-leaders at the front should be charged with the same guilt, and the highest leadership reject responsibility. That, in my opinion, is untrue, and I consider it unworthy. I am convinced that the large mass of our brave soldiers were basically decent, and that where even they overstepped the bounds of acceptable behaviour, our soldiers acted in good faith, believing in the military necessity, and the orders which they received.

Q. The prosecution, in presenting evidence regarding violations of martial law, Crimes against Humanity, repeatedly points to documents, orders which bear your name. Many so-called Keitel orders and Keitel decrees have been submitted here. Now we have to examine if, and to what degree, you and your activity are guilty of and responsible for the results of these orders. What do you wish to say to this general accusation?

A. It is correct that there are a large number of orders, instructions and directives with which my name is connected, and it must also be admitted that such orders often contain deviations from the existing International Law. On the other hand, there are a group of directives and orders based not on military insensitiveness but on a "weltanschaulich" (ideological) foundation and point of view. In this connection I am thinking of the group of directives which were issued before the campaign in Russia and which were also issued subsequently.

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.

Q. What can you say in your defence in regard to those orders?

A. I can only say that basically I bear the responsibility which arises from my position for all those things which resulted from these orders and which are connected with my name and my signature. Further, I bear the responsibility, insofar as it is based on legal and moral principles, for those offices and divisions of the O.K.W. which were subordinate to me.

Q. Upon what is your official position and the scope of your legal responsibility based?

A. That is contained in the Fuehrer's decree Of 4th February, 1938, which has been frequently cited.

Q. I am submitting this decree to you so that you can have the text before you. In this decree, paragraph One, you will find "From now on I will directly and personally take over the Supreme Command of the entire Wehrmacht."

What did that mean in connection with the conditions that had existed until then?

A. Until that time we had a Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Fieldmarshal von Blomberg; in addition there was the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht who was constitutionally the Head of the State, in this case, Hitler. With the resignation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, von Blomberg,

[Page 310]

there was only one Supreme Commander and that was Hitler himself. And from that time on, he exercised the authority to issue orders to all three arms of the Wehrmacht: the Army, Navy and Air Force. It also says "from now on directly." That should establish unequivocally that any intermediary position with authority to issue orders was no longer to exist but that Hitler's orders as Supreme Commander were to be issued directly to the divisions of the Wehrmacht and their Commanders.

It also says here "directly and personally." That, too, had its meaning, for the word "personally" was to express the fact there was and would be no - I would say - "deputising" of this authority.

Q. I assume therefore that you never signed your orders "acting"?

A. No, I do not remember a single instance in which I signed "acting." According to military principles, if the question had arisen a deputy could only have been one person, and that would have been the highest ranking commander of the Wehrmacht.

Q. In paragraph 2 of the decree of 4th February, 1938, it says:

" ... the former Wehrmacht office in the Ministry of War, comes directly under my command upon reassignment as O.K.W. and as my military staff."
What does this signify in regard to the staff which was thereby formed?

A. The Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht had his military staff in the Wehrmacht Amt, that is to say, the Wehrmacht Office in the Ministry of War. Hitler, as Supreme Commander, took over the Wehrmacht Office. Thus, this staff was to be his personal working staff. At the same time the post of Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht was eliminated, that of Reich Minister of War was also removed. There was no War Ministry and no Minister of War in the ... as heretofore. Thus one could clearly see what Hitler wanted, namely that between myself and the Wehrmacht divisions there was to be no one holding office with any authority either in command channels or ministerial functions.

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