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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd May to 13th May, 1946

One Hundred and Twenty-Fourth Day: Wednesday, 8th May, 1946
(Part 1 of 5)

[Page 199]

THE MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, the report is made that defendant Schirach is absent.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, with the permission of the Tribunal, I shall now state my opinion on the documents to which the prosecution has objected.

Before I refer to the individual documents, I should like to say two things concerning the groups.

(1) I ask the Tribunal to recall that in general questions on naval warfare I also defend Admiral Raeder. I already mentioned, when I first applied for documents, that all the charges in relation to naval warfare, against Donitz or Raeder cannot be separated; therefore Dr. Siemers and I agreed that I should deal with these charges together.

I ask the Tribunal in evaluating the question to take into consideration whether the charges are relevant.

(2) A large number of the objections which the prosecution has made are directed against the fact that the war methods of the Allies are mentioned in the documents. I believe that I have been completely misunderstood in this matter. I am not entrusted, and it is not my intention to disparage any war methods, and I shall demonstrate later in detail that the documents do not lend themselves to that purpose. But I should like to state from the beginning that I want to show with these documents what naval warfare was really like. I could not demonstrate this by showing only the German methods, but I also have to submit to this Tribunal the methods of the Allies in order to prove that the German methods, which were similar to the Allies' methods, were legal. The Tribunal has even recognized this to be correct by approving the use of British Admiralty orders and an interrogatory of Admiral Nimitz.

I am very grateful that these documents were approved; and my own documents in this field follow the same lines.

I shall now refer to the individual documents against which objections have been raised; first to the Document Donitz-5, which is in Document Book 1, Page 7.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, the Tribunal has examined all these documents; so I think you can deal with them as far as possible in groups.


THE PRESIDENT: If possible, follow the order of Sir David Maxwell Fyfe.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, it will not be possible for me to follow Sir David's order because then I should have to keep on referring to things which I had already mentioned. I believe it will facilitate and speed up the proceedings if I form groups according to the order in which I intended to present them; and I should like to remind the Tribunal that that was expressly approved for me yesterday.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, it would be very much more convenient to the Tribunal, if you followed Sir David's order. But if you find that impossible, the Tribunal would not make it a matter of an order.

[Page 200]

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I should be very grateful, Mr. President, if I could keep the order which I had prepared. It is very much the same as the order of Sir David.


DR. KRANZBUHLER: Concerning the question of the aggressive war, I have another document to submit, Document Donitz-5. It is an excerpt from the document of German policies, and concerns the question of bases in Norway. I consider this document relevant because it shows that on the part of the British Admiralty an interrogatory was prepared on the question of the necessity of such a base, which corresponds exactly to the one with which the prosecution has charged Admiral Donitz in Exhibit GB 83 as proof for aggressive war.

Thereby I wish to say that the answers on such interrogatories have nothing to do with any considerations concerning an aggressive war, which a subordinate office could not even make. The document is in Group 2 of Sir David's classification.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you saying that the footnote stands on the same footing as the other part of the documents?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: The footnote is the essential part for me Mr. President. I had the other part copied only to keep the connection with the footnote.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, who wrote the footnote? Doesn't the footnote represent information which was not before the German Admiralty at the time?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, does the footnote state that it was before the German Admiralty at the time?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: No, Mr. President. The footnote was not known to the German Admiralty at the time.

THF PRESIDENT: That is what I said; the footnote was not known to the German Admiralty. Who wrote it?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: The footnote is part of this document which can be found in the collection of documents of German policies -

THE PRESIDENT: Is the defendant Ribbentrop the author of it?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: No, Mr. President. The documents of German policies are in an official collection, and the footnotes have been written by the editor of that collection on the basis of official material.


DR. KRANZBUHLER: Now I come to the documents concerning naval warfare in general. A large part of those are in Sir David's Group 3. The first document is Donitz-60, on Page 152. It concerns an American note of the 6th October, 1939, and is in connection with the Document Donitz-61, to which the prosecution has not objected. It is in Volume 3 of the document book, Mr. President.

Volume 3, Page 152. This document is an American reply to the document which you will find two pages before this, on Page 150. Both documents deal with the warning of neutral nations against suspicious actions of their merchant vessels. The question is relevant in respect to Exhibit GB- 193 of the prosecution.

In this document a charge is made against an order that ships which act suspiciously - that, proceed without lights - should be sunk.

The next document is from Sir David's Group 1, Donitz-69, on Page 170, in Book 3. It is an excerpt from several copies of the Volkischer Beobachter of November and December, 1939. In these copies are published lists of armed British and French passenger ships. This document is connected with the one preceding and the one following. All these documents deal with the question of treatment of passenger ships by the Naval Warfare Command.

[Page 201]

THE PRESIDENT: I think you had better give the numbers of the documents. You said the next document and the one before it. I think you had better give the numbers of the documents.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes. That is Document Donitz-69, Mr. President, Donitz-69, and it is on Page 170, in Book 3.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know it is, but you said something about documents that were akin, or some words to that effect, to the documents next to it.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: It is in relation to Donitz-68, on Page 169 of the document book.

THE PRESIDENT: Was that objected to?


THE PRESIDENT: Very well, then, you needn't bother with it.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I only wanted to show, Mr. President, that this document is only part of the proof about the treatment of passenger ships, and should prove that the German Press had published warnings against the using of armed passenger ships. The next document objected to by the prosecution concerns Group 3, "The Contraband and Control System." This is Document Donitz-60, from Page 173 to Page 197 of the document book, and I should like to divide it into three groups.

The first group, from Page 173 to Page 181, concerns the question of contraband. I consider this question relevant because Exhibit GB 191 has stated that the German U-boats sunk a large number of allied ships while these ships were on a legal merchant trip. The development of rules against contraband will show the Tribunal that from 12th December, 1939 on, a legal import to England no longer existed, but actually only contraband. These documents concerning contraband are important, furthermore, for the German point of view, which became known under the slogan of "Hunger Blockade," and which played an important part in all German deliberations about the conduct and the intensification of naval warfare. The documents contain in detail the German contraband regulations, the British regulations, and two German statements concerning these regulations.

The next group in Donitz-60, is from Page 183 to Page 191. That concerns the regulations about putting into control ports; that is to say, the British Admiralty removed the control over neutral merchant shipping from the high seas into certain British ports. This group is also relevant in connection with Exhibit GB 191, because here the German Naval War Staff is accused of carrying out war measures against England without consideration of the danger to neutrals. This group shows that it was not any more possible for the British Admiralty to take war measures without endangering the neutrals, because, by the establishment of control ports, the neutrals were forced into German zones of operations and thereby, of course, endangered. This danger was confirmed by the neutrals themselves, and the documents, on Page 186 to 189, will prove this.

An excerpt from the Exhibit GB 194, Page 198, belongs to that same group. It contains a further American protest against the control ports.

The third group goes from Page 192 to Page 197, and is concerned with the question of an export embargo.

This export blockade was declared against Germany in an Order in Council of 27th November, 1939. This measure is important in the question of legal trade because thereby legal export was no longer possible either. The export blockade therefore is a basis for the total blockade which was later declared by Germany against England. Since Exhibit GB 191 disputes the legality of a total blockade I must prove it and also the legality of the export blockade.

The next document objected to is Donitz 72 on Page 185. It deals with a note by Great Britain to Belgium of 22nd September. In this note the British Government states that it will not tolerate any increase of trade between Belgium and

[Page 202]

Germany. I use it as evidence for the fact that the economic pressure which can be seen from this note was a natural and accepted means of warfare. This question is relevant concerning Exhibit GB 224. There on Page 6 (under letter C) it is stated that Germany would necessarily have to exert economic pressure on the neutrals, and these statements were submitted by the prosecution as measures contrary to International Law.

The next group contains the following documents: Donitz-60, Pages 204, 207, 208, and 209; and Donitz-75, Page 218.

All of these documents concern the development of German zones of operation, and the zones of operation which were declared by the opponents. These documents are relevant for the question of the treatment of neutrals. In Exhibit GB 191 the charge was made against the Naval War Staff that without any consideration it had given the order to torpedo neutral ships. My evidence will prove that that happened only in those areas which the neutrals had been warned against using, and that this is a permissible measure of warfare, as shown also by the practices of the enemy.

I should like to refer individually to two documents which concern the practices of the opposing side. Donitz-60, Page 208, concerns the statement by Mr. Churchill of 8th May, 1940, regarding the torpedoing of ships in the Skagerrak. This document and the next one, Donitz-60, Page 209, I wanted to put to a witness. The latter concerns a French statement about a danger zone near Italy. I am using both documents as evidence for the practical state of Naval warfare and should like to discuss them with a witness.

It goes without saying that the methods of the enemy also had some influence on German practices.

The next group contains Documents Donitz-60, Pages 219, 222 and 224. They deal with the British system of Navicerts. The navicerts, as can be seen from these documents, were certificates which all neutral ships had to get from the British Consulate before they could put to sea. Ships which refused to use navicerts were confiscated. The navicert system is relevant in two respects.

First, it is mentioned in the German statement concerning the total blockade against England on 17th August, 1940, as one reason for that blockade. Secondly, from the German point of view it was a non-neutral act on the part of the neutrals if they submitted to that system. This question plays a considerable part in determining to what extent Germany herself from that time on took consideration of neutrals in the zones of operation.

Finally, the navicert system shows the development of an entirely new naval warfare law, and that is a very important subject for me.

The next document is Donitz-60, Page 256. It is a French decree of 11th November, 1939, concerning the creation of distinguishing marks for the crews of merchant ships who could be mobilised. This document is relevant for the question of whether the crews of merchant ships at that stage of the war should be considered combatants or non- combatants. The details of the decree seem to me to show that they would have to be considered combatants.

By means of the two following documents, I should like to object to the probative value of the prosecution's Exhibit GB 191. I refer to Donitz-81, Page 233, and Donitz-82, Page 234. I had said that these two documents would dispute the probative value of the GB 191. That is the report of the British Foreign Office about German naval warfare. On Page 1 this report attacked Article 72 of the German Prize Regulations, which states that ships can be sunk if they cannot be brought into port. Exhibit GB 191 says that this is contrary to the traditional British conception.

My document, Donitz-81, shows the sinking of the German freighter Olinda by the British cruiser Ajax on the first day of the war.

It is only one example showing that the statement made in the report of the British Foreign Office according to which the British fleet had not sunk ships

[Page 203]

if they could not or would not bring them to port, is incorrect. In the same report of the British Foreign Office, German U-boats are accused of never differentiating between armed and unarmed merchant ships. Later I shall submit to the Tribunal the orders in this connection.

In my next document, Donitz-82, I shall try to show that every mistake made by the U-boats was interpreted as a deliberate intention, despite the fact that the British Foreign Office, confirmed that it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, in some cases to distinguish between armed and unarmed merchant ships.

The next document, Donitz-85, Page 242, contains a statement by the American Secretary of the Navy, Knox, concerning the question of keeping secret the sinking of German U-boats by American naval forces. In this connection the document of the prosecution Exhibit GB 194, is of great importance, for in this document the measures which the Naval War Staff took to keep secret the sinkings by U-boats, that is using as a pretence the fiction of sinking through mines, are presented as fraudulent. I should like to give this as an example that during a war military measures can naturally be kept secret, but that such secrecy is no proof for or against their legality.

The next document is Donitz-89, on Page 246. It is a list drawn up by the Naval War Staff of violations of neutrality committed by the United States from September, 1939 to 29th September, 1941. The document is essential, because of the document of the prosecution, Exhibit GB 195, which contains an order from Adolf Hitler of July, 1941 in which it is stated that now, also the merchant ships of the United States must be treated within the German zone of blockade in the same manner as all other neutral ships, that is to say, they should be sunk. The prosecution has interpreted this order as proof of a cynical and opportunistic conduct of U- boat warfare by Grand Admiral Donitz. I wish to show, by submitting these documents, that, from the German point of view, it was completely understandable and justifiable, that in the summer of 1941 one did not grant the United States a better position than any other neutral.

Now I come to the subject of the treatment of shipwrecked survivors.

These documents are in Volume one of the document book. The first document, Donitz-9, on Page 11, describes the over- scrupulous measures taken by German U-boats to save survivors, from September-October, 1939. This is essential for Admiral Donitz -

THE PRESIDENT: There must surely be a group of these, is there not? Haven't you got a number of documents which deal with shipwrecks?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I did not understand the question.

THE FRESIDENT: Are there not a number of these documents which fall into a group concerned with the subject of the treatment of shipwrecks?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes, there are a number of documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Can you not deal with them all together?

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