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-Sixth Day: Friday, 10th May, 1946
(Part 2 of 12)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of Karl Donitz]

[Page 266]

Q. Page 100, I have told you. If you will look for it, I think you will find it. It is Page 67 of the English, if you prefer to follow it in that language.

Now I will explain to you; I think you have read it before because you have referred to it. That is a summary by the Judge Advocate, at the trial of the SS men, of the evidence that was given, and I just want to see that you have it in mind.

[Page 267]

If you will look at Paragraph 4, you will see that they set out from Lerwick, in the Shetlands, on the naval operation for the purpose of making torpedo attacks on German shipping off the Norwegian coasts, and for the purpose of laying mines.
Paragraph 5: - "The defence did not challenge that each member of the crew was wearing uniform at the time of capture, and there was abundant evidence from many persons, several of whom were German, that they were wearing uniforms at all times after their capture."
Now, you mentioned this yesterday. You see that in Paragraph 6:-
"Deponent states that the whole of the crew was captured and taken on board a German naval vessel which was under the command of Admiral von Schroder, the Admiral of the West Coast. The crew were taken to the Bergenhus, and there they were interrogated by Lieutenant H. P. K. W. Fanger, a naval lieutenant of the Reserve, on the orders of Korvettenkapitan Egon Drescher, both of the German Naval Intelligence Service, and this interrogation was carried out upon the orders of the staff of the Admiral of the West Coast. Lieutenant Fanger reported to the officer in charge of the Intelligence Branch at Bergen that, in his opinion, all members of the crew were entitled to be treated as prisoners of war, and that officer in turn reported both orally and in writing to the Sea Commander, Bergen, and in writing to Admiral of the West Coast," and that is Admiral von Schroder.
Now I want just to read you the one sentence which, in view of that, I do not think you will think is taken out of context of the evidence given by Lieutenant Fanger at this trial.

He was asked:

"Have you any idea at all why these people were handed over to the SD? In answering that question I want you to tell me who was responsible for their being handed over. These were your officers, your outfit; that was the General in Command of the Norwegian Coast, Admiral von Schroder, in command of this section, whose people captured the crew. That is, by your own officers. Is it true what you told the Court yesterday that the crew were captured by the SD? Have you any reason to believe Lt. Fanger is not telling the truth?"
THE PRESIDENT: What is that you were quoting from then?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: It is the shorthand notes taken on the trial of the SS.

THE PRESIDENT: Has it been admitted?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFF: No, my Lord, it has not been, but it was within Article 19.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I don't know the document which has been used. May I have it please? Shorthand notes which I have not seen are being used; and, according to the Tribunal's ruling on cross-examinations, they must be given to me when the witness is heard.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is with great respect, but this point arose yesterday when the defendant made certain statements with regard to Admiral von Schroder. I am questioning these statements, and the only way I can do it is to use documents which I did not otherwise intend to use. I shall, of course, let Dr. Kranzbuhler see them in due course.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you a copy of the German? That must have been given in German, that evidence.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I have only the English transcript and I am willing to let Dr. Kranzbuhler see it, but it is all I have.

[Page 268]

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got any other copy you can hand him?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: No, I was only sent one copy.

THE PRESIDENT: After you are through with it, will you please hand that copy to Dr. Kranzbuhler?




Q. Now, have you any reason to suppose, defendant, that your officer, Lieutenant Fanger, is not telling the truth when he says that these men were captured by Admiral von Schroder.

A. I have no reason to question that statement because the whole affair is completely unknown to me. I have already stated that the incident was not reported to me or - as I can prove - to the Supreme Command of the Navy; and I told you yesterday that I could only assume, in consequence, that these men - here it is, in paragraph 6 - were captured on an island, not by the Navy, but by a Section of the Police. That Police Section - if you will let me finish - and, consequently, Admiral von Schroder said that they were not Navy prisoners, but police prisoners, and must be handed back to the police; and for this reason he did not make a report. I assume that that is what happened. I myself cannot furnish the full details of this story or explain how it came about, because it was not reported to me at the time.

Q. That is the point I will get to in a moment. It nowhere states in this document that they were captured by the police, but, in fact, that they were captured by the forces under Admiral von Schroder, who attacked this island to which this boat was moored.

A. I don't know about that. The document says that the men reached the island - the reason is not clear. That the men were brought back from the island afterwards in some sort of boat is quite clear; but naturally they might remain police prisoners if they were captured there by the police or the coastguards. That is the only explanation I can think of, in view of Admiral von Schroder's connection with it.

Q. I just asked you, your own officer, Lieutenant Fanger, says they were captured by Admiral von Schroder's troops, and you say if Lieutenant Fanger says that you have no reason to believe the is not telling the truth, is that right?

A. My estimate of von Schroder's personality caused me to assume yesterday that it happened like that. When I am informed today of Lieutenant Fanger's statement, then something different may have happened, for I may be wrong.

Q. Will you look at the end of paragraph 8, the last sentence:

"There was an interview between Blomberg of the SS and Admiral von Schroder," and then the last sentence:

"Admiral von Schrader told Blomberg that the crew of this torpedo boat were to be handed over in accordance with the Fuehrer's orders to the SD," and that they were handed over, and the official of the SD, who carried out this interrogation, stated at the trial" that, after the interrogation, he was of the opinion that the members of the crew were entitled to be treated as prisoners of war, and that he so informed his Superior Officer."
Despite this report and the representations of a superior officer, the crew were dealt with under the Fuehrer order and executed, and it describes how they were shot and their bodies secretly disposed of. Do you say you never heard about that?

A. No. I do say that, and I have witnesses to prove it. If the SD official thought that these men did not come under that head, he would have been obliged to report that to his superiors, and his superiors would have been obliged to take the appropriate steps.

[Page 269]

You see you already take the position that the Navy Intelligence had interrogated them; the Navy Intelligence said they should be treated as prisoners of war, and Admiral von Schroder said they should be handed over to the SS; and that the SS examined them and said they should be treated as prisoners of war, and despite that, these men are murdered. And you say you knew nothing about it? Did your Kapitan zur See Wildemann say anything to you concerning this? (Spelling) W-i-l-d-e-m-a-n-n.

A. I do not know him.

Q. Let me try to bring him to your recollection. At this time he was an officer on the staff of Admiral von Schroder and dealt with this matter. Now, Kapitan Wildemann, and I suppose we should assume, unless you know anything to the contrary, he is a trustworthy officer, he says: "I know that von Schroder made a written report on this action, and I know of no reason why the handing over of the prisoners to the SD should not have been reported on."

Do you still say you never got any report from von Schroder?

A. Yes, I still say that I did not receive any report, and I am equally convinced that the Supreme Command of the Navy did not receive it either. I have a witness to prove that. I do not know where the report went. Admiral von Schroder was not directly responsible to the Supreme Command of the Navy; and the report may have been sent to the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht, if this report was made at all. At any rate, the Supreme Command of the Navy did not receive a report on this particular matter, hence my assumption that these men were captured on the island in the first place by the police. Otherwise, I think Admiral von Schroder would have reported it.

Q. Before you make any further statement, I would like you to have in mind something further that Kapitan Wildemann said, which you know probably quite well: "After the capitulation, Admiral von Schroder many times said that the English would hold him responsible for handing over the prisoners to the SD," and Admiral von Schroder was under orders to proceed to England as a prisoner when he shot himself. Did you know Admiral von Schroder shot himself?

A. I heard it here.

Q. Did you know he was worried about being held responsible for this order?

A. No, I had not the slightest idea of that. I only heard of his suicide here.

Q. Are you still telling the Tribunal that Admiral von Schroder made no report to you?

Do you remember a few days after the capture of this MTB, Admiral von Schroder received the Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross)?

A. Yes, but that has no connection with this matter. He did not make a report on this matter, and he did not go to Berlin for his Ritterkreuz either, as far as I remember.

Q. Two other officers, Oberleutnant Nelle and Seeoberfaehnrich Bohm were decorated, and in the recommendations and citations, the capture of this MTB was given as the reason for this decoration. You say you knew nothing about it?

A. I knew nothing about it, and I cannot know anything about it, because the competent superior officers would have dealt with these decorations and not myself. The Supreme Command of the Navy did not receive a report on this matter; otherwise it would have been passed on to me. I have that much confidence in my Supreme Command, and my witness will testify that he did not receive it either, and that he must have done so if it had gone to the Navy.

Q. My final question, and I leave this subject: Admiral von Schroder was your junior officer, and according to you, a very gallant officer. Do you want the Tribunal to understand that the responsibility which broke and made Admiral von Schroder commit suicide was his responsibility, that he never consulted you, and you were taking no responsibility for his acts? Is that what you want the Tribunal to understand?

[Page 270]

A. Yes. I will swear to that; because if Admiral von Schroder really committed suicide on account of this incident, then he did make a mistake, because he treated naval personnel, engaged in a naval operation, in a wrong manner. If that is correct, he acted against orders. In any case, not even the slightest hint of the affair reached me.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, will you ask the witness what he meant when he said that von Schroder was not directly under the Navy? He was under Admiral Celiax, wasn't he, who was on leave at this time?

THE WITNESS: I said that he was not directly under the Supreme Command of the Navy in Berlin. So if Admiral von Schroder made any report on the affair, the report did not come to me directly, but went to his immediate superior, who was in Norway.

Q. And that immediate superior was Admiral Celiax who was on leave - but omit the leave for the moment: His immediate superior was Admiral Celiax?

A. Yes.

Q. I want to put it perfectly fairly: Do you mean that for operations in Norway, Admiral Celiax was acting under the Commander - correct me if I am wrong - was it General von Falkenhorst. I cannot remember, perhaps you can help me. Do you remember that this Admiral was acting under the Commander-in-Chief in Norway - so that you will tell the Tribunal -

A. Yes, as far as territory was concerned, Admiral Celiax was not under the Supreme Command of the Navy, but under the area Commander for Norway, General von Falkenhorst. I can only say that, if Schroder's suicide is connected with this affair, then the commando order was not properly carried out when these men, who were naval personnel, and had been sent into a naval action, were not treated as prisoners of war. If that is what happened - I don't know - then a mistake was made locally.

Q. But at any rate, you say that despite these decorations for this action, you, as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, knew nothing about it at all. That is what you say?

A. I awarded the Knight's Cross to Schroder for entirely different reasons. I awarded it. I know nothing about decorations awarded to the other people you mentioned. It has nothing to do with me, because their immediate superiors would attend to that. Nor do I know whether these awards are really connected with the story or if they were given for other reasons. I still cannot imagine - and I do not believe - that a man like Admiral von Schroder would treat naval personnel in this way. The document does not say that they were killed in a naval action, but that they were captured on an island. It seems to be peculiar that the Supreme Command of the Navy should have received no report on it, since orders to that effect bad been given; and that the Wehrmacht report should make no reference to it, in accordance with the Commando order. All these factors are against your version. I personally am unable to form an opinion as to the affair.

Q. Defendant, I am not going into details. You may take it from me that the evidence at the trial has been that this cutter was attacked by two naval task forces. If Dr. Kranzbuhler finds I am wrong, I will be happy to admit it. But we will pass on to another subject. Time is going. Would you turn to Page 105 of the Document Book?

A. Then I can only say that it is a clear violation of orders and that the Supreme Command of the Navy was not informed.

Q. I want you to come to this next point. Page 105 in the German, 71 in the English Document Book. Now we needn't have any trouble about this document, because it is signed by you. It is a memorandum about the question of more labour for shipbuilding; and you are probably very familiar with it. But will you look at the first sentence?

A. I beg your pardon, but what page is it?

[Page 271]

Q. Page 105, Exhibit GB 211, English page, No. 71.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, if you would look at the first sentence: "Furthermore, I propose reinforcing the shipyard working party by prisoners from the concentration camps." I don't think we need trouble with coppersmiths, but if you will look at the end of the document, you will see Item 2 of the summing up reads: "Twelve thousand concentration camp prisoners will be employed in the shipyards as additional labour. Security service agrees to this."

Now, that is your document, so -

A. Yes.

Q. So we may take it that you were familiar with the fact of the existence of concentration camps?

A. I have never denied it.

Q. And I think you went further, didn't you, when asked about this on the 28th of September? At that time you said I generally knew that we had concentration camps. That is clear.

"Question: From whom did you learn that?

"Answer: The whole German people knew that."

Don't you remember saying that?

A. Yes. The German people knew that concentration camps existed; but they did not know anything about their conditions and treatment of inmates.

Q. It must have been rather a surprise for you when the defendant von Ribbentrop said he only heard of two - Oranienburg and Dachau? It was rather a surprise to you, was it?

A. No, it was not at all surprising, because I myself only knew of Dachau and Oranienburg.

Q. But you say here you knew there were concentration camps. Where did you think you were going to get your labour from? What camps?

A. From these camps.

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