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-Eighth Day: Monday, 13th May, 1946
(Part 1 of 9)

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DR. KRAZNBUHLER: With the permission of the Tribunal I would like to submit my remaining documents, and then call Admiral Wagner as my first witness.

The next document I come to is Donitz 37. It is an extract from the documents on the German policy in the Altmark case. I do not propose to read it. It concerns a report of the Captain of the Altmark, which shows how the sailors of the Altmark were shot at while trying to escape by water and across the ice. There were seven dead. It can be found, Mr. President, on Page 78 of Volume No. 2. From Page 79, it can be seen that this action on the whole found full recognition in spite of the bloody incidents which no doubt were regretted by the Admiralty.

The next document, Donitz 39, has partly been read by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe during cross-examination. It can be found on Page 81 and the following pages. It deals with the question of reprisals following a report received regarding the shooting of survivors of the German minelayer Ulm.

On Page 83 there is a summary regarding the incidents which had been reported to the Naval War Staff at that time, and which contained examples dealing with cases where survivors were shot at by Allied Naval Forces. I am not so much interested in these twelve actual cases as in the attitude adopted by the Naval War Staff, while transmitting this information to the OKW.

It is so important that I would like to read the three sentences. They are on Page 83, at the top.

"The following accounts deal with incidents which have already been reported, and in making use of them it must also be considered, that:

"(a) Some of these incidents occurred while fighting still was going on.

"(b) Shipwrecked persons swimming about in the water easily think that shots which missed their real target are directed against them.

"(c) So far, no evidence has been found whatsoever that a written or oral order for the shooting of shipwrecked persons has been issued."

The idea of reprisals did not only occur to the Command, but it also occurred to the personnel serving on the ships at sea.

Now, we come to Document Donitz 41, which is on Page 87, and it deals with a conversation between Admiral Donitz and a Commander. The conversation took place in June, 1943, and it is dealt with in an affidavit made by Lt.-Commander Witt. After following descriptions of attacks made by British airmen on shipwrecked German submarines the opinion was expressed by the crews that, in reprisal, the survivors of enemy ships should also be shot at.

The affidavit also says in the third paragraph:

"The Admiral sharply turned down the idea of attacking an enemy rendered defenceless in combat; it was incompatible with our way of waging war."
In connection with the prosecution's Exhibit GB 205, I shall submit a document of my own, which deals with the question of terroristic actions. It is an extract from Exhibit GB 194 of the prosecution, and it can be found on Page 91. It deals with the question of whether the crews of scuttled German ships should be rescued or not. The French Press tends to the opinion that they should not in view of the pressing need of the Allies for freight space. The same entry contains

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a report according to which British warships have also had special instructions to prevent further scuttling of German ships.

I now shall try to prove that the principle according to which no Commander undertakes rescue actions if he thereby endangers a valuable ship, is justified. For that purpose I refer to Document Donitz 90, which is in the fourth volume of the Document Book, Page 258. It is an affidavit of the retired Vice Admiral Rogge.

He is reporting that in November, 1941, his auxiliary cruiser was sunk at long range by a British cruiser and that the survivors had taken to the boats. They were towed away by a German submarine to a German supply ship and this supply ship, too, a few days later, was sunk at long range by a British cruiser. Once again the survivors took to the boats and to floats. The affidavit closes with the words:

"At both sinkings no attempt was made, possibly due to danger involved to the British cruiser, to save even individual members of the crew."
The principle that a valuable ship must not be risked to save even members of its own crew is expressed with classical clarity and severity in the British Admiralty Orders, which I have already submitted as Donitz 67. The extract is printed on Page 96. There it says:
"Aid to ships attacked by submarines:

" No British ocean-going merchant ship should aid a ship attacked by U-boats."

THE PRESIDENT: Where are you reading now?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Document Book, Volume 2, Page 96, Mr. President.


DR. KRANZBUHLER: "No British ocean-going merchant ship should aid a ship attacked by U-boats. Small coastal ships, fishing steamers and other small ships with little draught should give all possible aid."

The next document I am submitting is Donitz 44, which is on Page 97. It is a questionnaire for Vice-Admiral Kreisch, who according to a decision by the Tribunal was interrogated in a British camp for prisoners of war. From January, 1942 to January, 1944 he was the officer in charge of submarines in Italy, which means that he was responsible for the submarine warfare in the Mediterranean. According to his statements he knows of no order or no suggestions regarding the killing of survivors. He advised his commanders that rescue measures must not endanger the work or safety of their own ships.

In connection with the question whether Admiral Donitz was a member of the Reich Government I should like to ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the German Armed Forces Laws of 1935 which can be found on Page 105 of Volume 2 of my document books. Paragraph 3 will show that there was only one minister for the German Armed Forces and that was the Reich Minister for War.

On the following page, in Paragraph 37, it is shown that this one minister was assigned the right to issue legislative orders.

On Page 107 I have again the decree which has been submitted to the Tribunal as Document 1915-PS and in which decree, dated 4th February, the post of the Reich Minister for War is abolished and the tasks of his ministry are transferred to the supreme commander of the OKW. No new ministry for the army or the navy was established.

The prosecution has described Admiral Donitz as a fanatical follower of the Nazi Party. The first document to prove this statement is dated 17th December, 1943; it is Exhibit GB 185. To save time, I shall refrain from reading a few sentences from it to show that anything that Admiral Donitz may have said about political questions was said from the point of view of the unity and strength of his sailors. May I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document, which again appears on Pages 103 and 104.

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DR. KRANZBUHLER: Volume 2, Pages 103 and 104. I only want to draw your attention to the last paragraph on Page 104. It deals with the handing over of Navy shipyards to the Ministry of Armament in the autumn of 1943. It is an important question, important for the responsibility regarding the use of labour in the shipyards, and has been touched upon repeatedly in this Courtroom. This sole tendency towards unity becomes clear from yet another document of the prosecution from which I propose to read one sentence. It is Exhibit GB 186. In the British trial brief it is on Page 7. I shall only read the second and third sentences.

"As officers we have the duty to be guardians of this unity of our people. Any disunity would also affect our troops."
The following sentence deals with the same thought at greater length.

THE PRESIDENT: British trial brief Page 7? Mine has only five pages. You mean the document book?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: It is the British Document Book, not the trial brief, the second and third sentences on Page 7, which I have read, Mr. President.

The fact that Admiral Donitz was not a fanatical follower of the Party but that on the contrary he fought against a political influence exercised upon the armed forces by the Party is shown in my following document Donitz 91. It is on Page 260 of the Document Book 4. It is an affidavit from the chief of the legal department in the Supreme Command of the Navy, Dr. Joachim Rudolphi. The Soviet Prosecution has already used this document during its cross-examination. I should like to give a brief summary of the contents:

In the summer of 1943 Reichsleiter Bormann made an attempt through the Reich Minister of Justice to deprive the Armed Forces courts of their jurisdiction in so-called political cases. They were to be transferred to the People's Court and other courts. The attempt, however, failed. It failed because of a report which Admiral Donitz made verbally to the Fuehrer on this subject, and during which he violently opposed the intentions of the Party. After the assassination attempt of 20th July, Bormann renewed his attempt. Again Admiral Donitz opposed it, but this time without success. A decree was issued on 20th September, 1944 which deprived the Armed Forces courts of their jurisdiction regarding so- called political perpetrations. This decree, which was signed by Adolf Hitler, was by explicit order of the Supreme Commander of the Navy not carried out in the Navy.

I shall read the last but one paragraph of the affidavit, which says:

"In consequence of his attitude the Navy was the only branch of the Armed Forces which, until the end of the war, did not have to transfer to the People's Court or to a special court any criminal procedures of a political nature."
On Page 113 in Volume 2 of my document book I have included a lengthy extract from Exhibit GB 211, a document of the prosecution, and this is an application of the Commander-in- Chief of the Navy, addressed to the Fuehrer, asking for supplies for the construction and repair of naval and merchant ships. During the interrogation and cross- examination of Admiral Donitz this document has already been referred to. I should merely like to point out that this is a memorandum containing more than twenty pages; the prosecution took up two points contained therein.

The origin of the document is dealt with in Document 46, Page 117 and the following pages. This is an affidavit from the officer who had drafted this memorandum. I can summarize the contents. The memorandum is concerned with measures which did not actually come within the sphere of the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. It arose on the basis of a discussion which took place between all departments taking part in the construction and repair of war and merchant vessels. All these measures are summarised in this memorandum.

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The point objected to in particular by the prosecution, as to a suggestion regarding punitive measures against sabotage in shipyards, is dealt with in detail on Page 119. I should like to point out particularly that at that time seven out of eight ships under construction were destroyed by sabotage.

It was not a question of terror measures but of punitive measures entailing the deprivation of certain advantages and, if necessary, concentration of workers in camps adjoining the shipyards, so as to cut them off from any sabotage agents.

Following the Exhibit GB 209 of the prosecution, which deals with the alleged renunciation of the Geneva Convention, I submit Donitz 48, which is on Page 122 and the following pages. It will show the model treatment afforded Allied prisoners of war in the only prisoner of war camp which was under the jurisdiction of Admiral Donitz as the Supreme Commander of the Navy.

To begin with, the document contains an affidavit from two officers who dealt with prisoner of war affairs in the Supreme Command of the Navy. This statement is to the effect that all the suggestions of the International Red Cross regarding these camps were followed.

The next extract is the report from the last Commandant of that camp, Lieutenant Commander Rogge, and I should like to read the second paragraph from that report.

"In the camp Westertinke there were housed at my time about 5,500-7,000, at the end 8,000 prisoners of war and internees of different nations, mainly members of the British Navy. The camp had a good reputation as was generally known. It was the best in Germany. This was expressly stated at a congress of British and other prisoner-of-war physicians of all German camps, which took place in Schwanenwerder near Berlin at the Villa of Goebbels about December, 1944. This statement was confirmed by the British Chief Camp-Physician in Westertinke, Major Harvey, Royal Army Medical Corps," whom I am naming as a witness.
I shall also read the last paragraph on Page 126:
"As I was Deputy Commandant I stayed at the camp up to the capitulation and handed it over in the regular way to British troops, who were very satisfied with the transfer. Squadron-Leader A. J. Evans gave me a letter confirming this. I enclose a photostat of this letter."
This photostat copy appears on the following page and it says:
"Lieutenant Commander W. Rogge was for ten months Chief Lager Officer at the Marlag Camp at Westertinke. Without exception all the prisoners of war in that camp have reported that he treated them with fairness and consideration."
Then follows another affidavit from the Intelligence Officer in that camp. I should like to point out that this officer was born in February, 1865 and that his age alone would, I think, bar the use of any terror measures. I shall read from Page 129, the third from the last paragraph:
"No pressure of any type was applied. If a man lied, then he was sent back to his bunk and he wasn't questioned again until one or two days later. I believe I can say that during the entire time no blow was struck in Dulag Nord."
I should now like to briefly refer to the accusation raised against the defendant according to which he, as "a fanatical Nazi," prolonged a hopeless war. I submit Donitz 50, which contains statements made by Admiral Darlan, Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Churchill in 1940. They will be found on Pages 132 and 133 of the document book and they will show that the aforementioned persons also considered it expedient that in a critical situation the people of a nation should be called upon to resist to the utmost, sometimes successfully and sometimes, unsuccessfully.

During his examination Admiral Donitz gave as reason for his views that he wanted to save German nationals in the East. As evidence for this I draw your attention to Exhibit GB 212, which can be found on Page 73 of the British Docu-

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ment Book. It is a decree of 11th April, 1945, and I shall read two sentences under (1):
"Capitulation certainly means the occupation of the whole of Germany by the Allies along the lines of partition discussed by them at Yalta. It also means, therefore, the ceding to Russia of further considerable parts of Germany west of the River Oder. Does anyone think that at that stage the Anglo-Saxons will not keep to their agreements and will oppose a further advance of the Russian hordes into Germany with armed forces and will begin a war with Russia for our sake? The reasoning: 'Let the Anglo-Saxons into the country; then at least the Russians will not come,' is faulty, too."
I shall also quote from the Exhibit GB 188, which is on Page 10 of the prosecution's document book. No 1 on Page 11. It is an order to the German Armed Forces, dated 1st May, 1945. I shall quote the second paragraph:
"The Fuehrer has designated me to be his successor as Head of State and as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. I am taking over the Supreme Command of all branches of the German Armed Forces with the will to carry on the struggle against the Bolshevists until the fighting forces and hundreds of thousands of families of the German Eastern areas have been saved from slavery and destruction."
This, Mr. President, is the end of my documentary evidence.

Two interrogatories are still outstanding. One is that of Captain Rosig and the other of Commander Suhren. Furthermore - and this is something I particularly regret - the interrogatory from the Commander-in-Chief of the American Navy, Admiral Nimitz, has still not yet been received. I will submit these documents as soon as I have received them.

And now, with the permission of the Tribunal, I should like to call my witness, Admiral Wagner.

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