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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
4th April to 15th April, 1946

One Hundred and Second Day: Monday, 8th April, 1946
(Part 5 of 11)

[Page 109]

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, I have reached the end of my examination. I should only like to ask you, if I may, that the documents which have been offered to the Tribunal in the course of this examination, bearing the numbers one and two in Document Book Two, named Documents K-8 and K-9, be admitted in evidence without the necessity of my reading any parts thereof. The prosecution knows the documents and they are agreeable.


Q. Defendant, there is one question I should like to ask you. Are you suggesting that you ever put your protest or objections to the orders of Hitler in writing?

[Wilhelm Bodewin Johann Gustav Keitel] A. Once I handed him a protest in writing, yes: that I know for certain. In the other cases, and as far as I can recollect, the matters were discussed verbally.

Q. Did you keep a copy of that protest?

A. I have nothing left, Mr. President, not a single piece of paper.

Q. Did you keep a copy of the protest? I did not ask you whether you had a copy; I asked you whether you kept a copy. Did you make a copy?

A. I had a draft as well as the hand-written document, which I also had given to him through the chief adjutant. I think I had the draft in my personal files,

[Page 110]

but now I no longer have it and I don't know where these files have gone. They could possibly have been in the hands of the Chief of the Central Armed Forces Department, who dealt with personal matters in my office, or later on they may have got into hands of the chief adjutant of the Fuehrer, General Schmundt, I do not know. There, I think, the original of that document I sent at that time ought to be available.

Q. And what was the occasion of the protest?

A. It was made in connection with another crisis in our relationship during which he had expressed his distrust, and in connection with the current controversies on basic matters of the conduct of the war.

Q. But when?

A. I believe it was in 1940 - 1939-40, in the winter of 1939- 40.

Q. And you can't say more about it than that it was made on basic matters?

A. I clearly asked for permission to resign an account of the accusations made against me and for the reasons which I was quoting.

THE PRESIDENT: That is all. The defendant can return to his seat.

DR. NELTE: May I ask permission to submit the two documents to the Tribunal? I mentioned them before.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

Are you going to call in any more witnesses?

DR. NELTE: I had asked the Tribunal to call to the stand a witness, Dr. Lammers.


DR. NELTE: Witness Dr. Lammers, please.

DR. LAMMERS, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your name in full?

A. Hans Heinrich Lammers.

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 repeats the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.


Q. Witness, I principally wished to question you on the High Command, its jurisdiction, and the position held by the defendant Field Marshal Keitel as Chief of the O.K.W. We have talked about the matter during our discussions, but since this will have been sufficiently clarified after the statements made by Goering and the defendant and statements yet to be made by other witnesses, I do not propose to question you in detail on the subject. But I would like you, as the chief of the Reich Chancellery, to answer questions which others may not know as well as you do, you, who had participated in some way or other when certain decrees, and particularly that of 4th February, 1938, were drafted. May I ask you, therefore, to tell me, first of all, what brought about the big reshuffle of 4th February, 1938?

A. The Fuehrer informed me that the Minister of War von Blomberg was going to leave his position, and that on that occasion he wanted to make certain other changes of personnel in the German Government, and that in particular the Foreign Minister von Neurath was going to retire, and that here too a change would take place, and that furthermore, certain changes were about to be made in the Supreme Command of the Army. Subsequently, the Fuehrer gave me the order to draft a decree regarding the leadership of the Army. I was to participate in collaboration with the Armed Forces Department of the War Ministry. As a guiding principle the Fuehrer gave me the following instructions:

"In the future I no longer want to have a Reich Minister for War; and in

[Page 111]

the future I no longer want a Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces who stands between me, the Supreme Commander, and the Commanders-in-Chief of the branches of the Armed Forces."
Accordingly, the decree was drafted, in which, to start with, the High Command of the Armed Forces became a military staff which was to be under the direct orders of the Fuehrer. The Fuehrer desired that there should be no independent authority here which would stand between him and the Commanders-in-Chief of the branches of the Armed Forces. Consequently, the then appointed Chief of the O.K.W., General of Artillery Keitel, had no direct power of command over the branches of the Armed Forces. Such power of command was out of the question if only for reasons of authority.

THE PRESIDENT: Has this not been really covered by the defendant Keitel himself? No question in cross-examination has been put to him to challenge any of his statements upon the Organisation of the O.K.W.; therefore it seems to the Tribunal it is not necessary at all.

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, I already told that to the witness in my introductory words, I only asked the witness to tell me what brought about the reshuffle of 4th February, 1938, and therefore he had to talk a little about the decree of 4th February, 1938. I shall try and make Dr. Lammers's examination as short as possible. I believe also that the circumstances surrounding the Chief of the O.K.W. have been fully clarified, but it is, after all, a fundamental question. If a man of the standing of Dr. Lammers can confirm it, it would probably increase the value of the evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: If the prosecution had put any questions in cross-examination suggesting that there was any inaccuracy in the evidence which the defendant Keitel had given upon the subject, then, of course, it would be open to you and it would be necessary for you to call other evidence upon it; but, when the subject is not challenged in any shape or form, it is not necessary to confirm it.

DR. NELTE: In that case, Mr. President, I need not ask the witness any questions at all since the subject on which I was going to examine him was the position of the defendant Keitel as Chief of the O.K.W.; his position as a Minister, his functions as a so-called chairman of the Council for the Reich's Defence and his functions as a member of the Three Man Board. In all these cases, no questions have been raised by the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, the prosecution did raise the question as to whether the defendant Keitel took part in any political action and upon that you may question him.

DR. NELTE: Thank you very much.

Dr. Lammers, what can you say from your personal knowledge, about the question as to whether the defendant Field Marshal Keitel had to occupy himself with political matters on the strength of his position as Chief of the O.K.W., or did occupy himself with them?

A. As Chief of the O.K.W., he had, in reality, nothing to do with political matters. The way I understand your question is that you want me to say whether Field Marshal Keitel, in his capacity as Minister of War, did concern himself with political matters. I don't quite understand your question.

Q. This has nothing to do with his position as the Chief of the O.K.W. or Chief of Staff, nor has it anything to do with his functions in the Ministry of War.

What I want you to testify to is - do you know whether the defendant Keitel, during the time when he held the position of Chief of the O.K.W., occupied himself with political questions, that is to say, primarily with foreign political questions?

A. I cannot make any statement regarding the great political issues, particularly foreign political affairs, as far as Keitel is concerned, since I myself had nothing to do with these questions.

Q. All right, then. In that case I want to ask you a concrete question.

[Page 112]

You know that Keitel was present at receptions - when President Hacha came, when there were meetings with other statesmen. In some cases you were probably also present. Can you say whether, during such receptions, it was the function of Field Marshal Keitel to take part in the political discussions or not?

A. As far as I know, Keitel often took part in discussions with foreign statesmen. I myself, as a rule, did not take part. You have mentioned President Hacha. It was an exception that I was there, for matters regarding the Protectorate were not regarded as foreign political matters by us. I was not present at discussions with prominent men from abroad, at discussions of a foreign political nature, and I cannot say, therefore, to what extent Keitel did participate in such conferences. I assume, though, that he was frequently present during such conferences.

Q. In other words, you cannot answer that question on the strength of your knowledge. In that case, I am asking you: in accordance with the wishes of the author of the decree of 4th February, 1938, Hitler, with whom you discussed its purposes, was the man who was to take over the position of Chief of the O.K.W. to have any political functions?

A. In my opinion he was not to have any political functions as Chief of O.K.W., for he was immediately subordinate to the Fuehrer.

Q. Did it ever, at any time, become known to you, or did you ever get the impression that Field Marshal Keitel was a political general, in the sense that it was customary to call him a political general?

A. I never had that impression.

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, I have no further questions to ask the witness since everything else he was to make statements on has already been clarified.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, the Tribunal thinks that you may have misunderstood what I said to you about whether you should ask any questions about the defendant Keitel as a member of the Reich Defence Council. If this witness can give any evidence upon that point, you may question him upon it.


Q. Witness, in the Reich Defence Law Of 1938, you, as Chief of the Reich Chancellery, were appointed a permanent member of the Council for the Reich's Defence. Do you know if this Reich Defence Law, including the Reich Defence Council, ever became effective?

A. The Reich Defence Law was made but was never promulgated as such. Therefore in my opinion, it has never become a law. The contents of the Reich Defence Law were partially applied as, so to speak, secret instructions of the Fuehrer. The Reich Defence Law provided for a Reich Defence Council. That Reich Defence Council, as such, as far as I know, was never convened. I, at any rate, never received an invitation to attend a meeting, and, in my recollection, I never took part in any meeting of the Reich Defence Council.

Two meetings, however, were supposed to have taken place, as I have heard, which have been called meetings of the Reich Defence Council. But I believe that these meetings, because of the large number of people attending them - I think there were 60 or 80 - were meetings called by the Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan. I do remember having partaken in such meetings. Apart from that, after the Reich Defence Law had been formulated, I heard so little of it during the subsequent years that I myself did not remember that I had been appointed a permanent member of this Reich Defence Council. At any rate, at such meetings, if they were meetings of the Reich Defence Council, in which I had partaken, no matters directly concerned with the defence of the Reich were discussed.

Q. Do you know anything about the tasks which the Reich Defence Council was supposed to have?

A. I know no more about its tasks than were contained in the law which was not published, and, as far as I can recall, these were only general descriptions, very general, of the tasks to be performed, all pertaining to the Defence of the Reich.

[Page 113]

Q. It has been stated by the prosecution here that the Council for the Reich Defence was an instrument for the planning of aggressive war. At any rate, an instrument for aggressions and for rearmament.

Is there anything you know as to whether the Reich Defence Council was directly or indirectly involved in undertaking or carrying out such tasks?

A. Nothing at all is known to me about that.

Q. I should now like to put a few questions to you regarding the Secret Cabinet Council of which you were supposed to be a member. Defendant Keitel was to have been a member of the Secret Cabinet Council, and it does, in fact, say so in that law. What can you tell us about that law?

A. When von Neurath resigned as Foreign Minister, the Fuehrer wanted to give him as much prominence as possible in the eyes of the world, and he ordered me to draw up a decree regarding a Secret Cabinet Council of which von Neurath was to be President, with the title President of the Secret Cabinet Council. Other members were, as far as I can recall, the Foreign Minister; the deputy of the Fuehrer, Reichsminister Hess; Field Marshal Keitel; and myself. I think that's all.

But I gathered from statements made by the Fuehrer that the creation of this Council was purely a formal matter which was to procure a special position for von Neurath in the eyes of the public. I was convinced that the Fuehrer would never call a meeting of the Secret Cabinet Council. In fact, the Secret Cabinet Council never actually met, not even for a constitutional meeting. It never received any tasks from the Fuehrer through me; it merely existed on paper.

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, if it was a secret, how could it affect the public?

A. It was to be shown to the public through the elevation of von Neurath that there were no fundamental differences of opinion between the Fuehrer and the Foreign Minister von Neurath justifying his resignation. It was to be demonstrated that all was well between the Fuehrer and von Neurath, that, in fact, because of his valuable knowledge of foreign political matters, von Neurath had been given, so to speak, a higher position in the foreign political field by being appointed President of the Secret Cabinet Council.


Q. This, in other words, was a sort of camouflage for his resignation?

A. Yes.

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