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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th May to 6th June, 1946

One Hundred and Forty-Sixth Day: Tuesday, 4th June, 1946
(Part 7 of 9)

[DR. EXNER continues his direct examination of ALFRED JODL]

[Page 319]

Q. In this connection I should like to refer to a document which has already been submitted - the two-year report of General George Marshall. This has already been submitted as Raeder No. 79. I have a part of it here before me, a part which I submitted under AJ-3, Page 768. Regarding the problem of rearmament, some sentences seem to hit the nail right on the head.

In the second paragraph on Page 5, or rather the last sentence there, we see:-

"The world does not seriously consider the wishes of the weak. Weakness presents too great a temptation to the strong, particularly to the bully who schemes for wealth and power."

[Page 320]

Then on the next page there is another sentence:
"We must start, I think, with a correction of the tragic misunderstanding that a security policy is a war policy."
Can you tell us, please, what the ratio of our military strength to that of foreign countries was at that time?

A. In 1935, when we set up 36 divisions, France, Poland and Czechoslovakia had 90 divisions for peacetime, and 190 divisions for wartime. We had almost no heavy artillery, and tank construction was in its earliest stages. The concept of defensive and offensive armament had been discussed on various occasions. It would lead us too far afield to go into that in detail. But I should like to say only that as far as Germany was concerned, with her geographical position, this concept did not apply. The disarmament conference, too, after months of discussion, failed because of being unable to come to a proper definition.

Q. I should like to quote from an expert, namely George Marshall again, Page 168 of my Document Book, from which I have just quoted, and again just one sentence in the first paragraph:

"The only effective defence a nation can now maintain is the power of attack."
Now, however, the prosecution asserts that you should have known that such a tremendous rearmament as the German rearmament could serve only for an aggressive war. Will you comment on this please?

A. I believe this can be explained only as an expression of military ignorance. Until the year 1939, we were, of course, in a position to destroy Poland alone. But we were never, either in 1938 or 1939, actually in a position to withstand a concentrated attack by these States together. And if we did not collapse in the year 1939, that was due only to the fact that during the Polish campaign, roughly 110 French and British divisions in the West were completely inactive as against the 23 German divisions.

Q. But tell us, when did a massive rearmament actually begin?

A. Real armament was only begun after the war had already started. We entered into this world war with perhaps 75 divisions. Sixty per cent. of our total population had not been trained. The peace-time army amounted to perhaps 400,000 men, as against 800,000 men in 1914. Our supplies of ammunition and bombs, as the witness Milch has already testified, were ridiculously low.

Q. Relating hereto, I should like to read a war diary entry of yours, Page 16 of Volume I of my Document Book, which is PS-1780, Exhibit USA 72. On 13th December you said:

"Following a report on the set-up of the L (Landesverteidigung, National Defence) the Field Marshal reports on the status of the war potential of the Wehrmacht, whose greatest difficulty lies in the insufficient supply of ammunition for the army - ten to fifteen days of combat."
A. That is right - ammunition for ten to fifteen days of combat.

Q. Now I shall turn to the question of the occupation of the Rhineland.

THE PRESIDENT: Let us break off now.

(A recess was taken.)

Q. General, when did you first hear of the plans to occupy the Rhineland?

A. On 1st or 2nd March, 1936; that is to say about six days before the actual occupation. I could not have heard of them any earlier because before that the Fuehrer had not yet made the decision.

Q. Did you and the Generals have military objections against that occupation?

A. I have to confess that we had the strange feeling of a gambler whose entire fortune is at stake.

Q. Did you have legal objections?

A. No; I was neither an International Law expert nor a politician. Politically speaking it had been stated that that agreement between Czechoslovakia, Russia

[Page 321]

and France had voided the Locarno Pact at was something which I accepted as a fact at the time.

Q. How strong were our forces in the Rhineland after the occupation?

A. We occupied the Rhineland with approximately one division, but only three battalions of that went into the territory west of the Rhine; one battalion went to Aachen, one to Trier, and one to Saarbrucken.

Q. Three battalions. That is really only a symbolic occupation is it not?

A. Yes, and they only acted symbolically.

Q. Did you do anything to avoid a military conflict because of that occupation?

A. There were serious reports which reached our military attaches in Paris and London at the time. I could not fail to be impressed by them. We suggested to Field Marshal von Blomberg at that time that perhaps he ought to discuss the withdrawing of these three battalions west of the Rhine if the French would withdraw four to five times as many men from their borders.

Q. Was that suggestion ever made?

A. Yes, it was made to the Fuehrer, but he turned it down. What he refused quite bluntly was General Beck's suggestion that we should declare that we would not fortify west of the Rhine.

Q. Did you think at the time that that action contained any aggressive intentions?

A. No, there could not be any mention of aggressive intentions, because the French Army alone could have blown us off the earth, considering the situation we were in.

Q. Do you now think that the leading men had aggressive intentions then?

A. No, nobody had aggressive intentions, but it is of course possible that in the mind of the Fuehrer there was the idea of a connection between that occupation and its being a prerequisite for actions later to be taken in the East. That is possible, but I do not know, because I could not read the Fuehrer's thoughts.

Q. But you did not see any outward signs of it?

A. No, none whatsoever.

Q. Did you know of the so-called "testament" of Hitler, dated 5th November, 1937, which has been read out in this courtroom?

A. The first time I heard of it was here in Court.

Q. What did you learn at that time about it?

A. Field Marshal von Blomberg informed Keitel and Keitel informed me that there had been a discussion with the Fuehrer. When I asked for the minutes I was told that no minutes had been taken. I refer to my diary, Page 1780, as a proof. What I was told was not in any way sensational and hardly different in any way from anything contained in general directives for the preparation of a war. I can only assume that Field Marshal von Blomberg at that time kept these confidences to himself because he may not have believed that they would ever be carried out.

Q. Was there a strategic plan regarding Austria?

A. There was no plan for a campaign against Austria. Let me be emphatic about that.

Q. Now we come to Document C-175, a directive which is Exhibit USA 69. It is in Volume I, Page 18 and the following pages. It is a directive for the unified preparation for war of the armed forces of the year 1937. The prosecution had only quoted the operation order "Otto" from these instructions, which could only create the impression that this was a plan for a campaign against Austria. What is the meaning of this directive?

A. It was one of those typical preparations for war, unified preparations for any and every eventuality. Such directives came out every year in Germany ever since there was a General Staff and compulsory military service. These theoretical military studies distinguished between two cases, namely, such cases of war, which, because of their nature, were politically probable, or might be probable, and such cases which were improbable. As far as the first were

[Page 322]

concerned, a strategic order was to be drafted by the Army and the Air Force, while for the latter only appropriate considerations were required. If the Tribunal would turn to Page 21 of the document, there appears, at the end of the page under Part 3, a sentence as follows:
"The following special cases are to be considered inside the High Command, generally without participation by outside authorities," and the operation "Otto" appears among such cases on Page 22.
Q. On Page 18 of this document is a directive which is valid from the 1st July, 1937, until, presumably, the 30th September, 1938, that is, a little more than a year; and that, in turn, replaces another similar instruction which is referred to in the first paragraph, which had been drafted for the same problems previously. Did you participate in discussions on the Austrian case?

A. No, I did not participate in any conferences.

Q. It is said in the Trial Brief that on 12th February, 1938, you had been to Obersalzburg. Keitel has already rectified that. Your entry in the diary under 12th March, 1938, is, therefore, based only on an account which you received through Keitel; is that right?

A. Yes. It is merely a note on a brief account given to me by General Keitel about that day, probably related a bit colourfully.

Q. But then it says, evening of 11th February: "General von Keitel with General von Reichenau and Sperle at Obersalzberg. Schuschnigg and G. Schmidt are being subjected to heaviest political and military pressure." In the English and French translations it says that Schuschnigg and Schmidt are "again" subjected to the most serious political and military pressure. This word "again" does not appear in my German original.

Now, did you suggest manoeuvres of deception against Austria? That is being held against you.

A. I did not suggest any manoeuvres of deception. The Fuehrer ordered them, and I do not think that they are illegal, because I believe that in the historic gambling of the world, both in peace and in war, false cards have always been used; but the Fuehrer ordered it and that is stated in the entry in my diary. I supplied military information and documents to Canaris, telling where our garrisons were situated, what manoeuvres were taking place, and Canaris elaborated them and then released them in Munich.

Q. What did you think was the purpose of ...?

A. I had been told that the purpose was to exert a certain amount of pressure so that Schuschnigg, when back at home, would adhere to the agreement made at Obersalzberg.

Q. How long before the actual entry into Austria did you know of such intentions?

A. On 10th March, in the morning just before 11.00, I heard of it for the first time.

Q. And the entry took place when?

A. On the 12th. It was when General Keitel and General Viebahn, who was then temporarily the chief of the Armed Forces Operation Staff, were suddenly ordered to the Reich Chancellery that I heard of the intention for the first time.

Q. Then did you have an expose made or what?

A. Then the Fuehrer surprised them by stating that the Austrian question was on the agenda; and then they remembered that there was a General Staff expose called "Otto". They sent for me and found out from me that such a directive actually did exist, but that in practice nothing at all had been prepared.

Since it had only been a theoretical plan and drafted solely in the event of an Austrian invasion, and since such an invasion was not expected at the time, the High Command of the Army had virtually done nothing about it.

Q. How did you yourself understand the entire Austrian action?

[Page 323]

A. It appeared to me to be a family row and I thought that Austria itself would solve the problem, politically, in the shortest possible time.

And what made you think that?

A. Due to my own extensive knowledge of Austria, with which-through relatives and acquaintances, through the German-Austrian Alpine Club, to which I belonged - I had been in closer contact than with northern Germany. I knew that in that country there had been a government against the will of the people for a long time. The peasant uprising in Styria was a characteristic example.

Q. But was now the march into Austria the carrying out of the suggestion, Document C-175?

A. No, it was improvised and executed within a few hours, and the result was accordingly. Seventy per cent. of all the armoured vehicles and cars were stranded on the road from Salzburg and Passau to Vienna, because the drivers had been hurriedly taken from their training course to be given this task.


Q. Defendant, you said just now, did you not, that the Fuehrer told them it was the problem of Austria? You said that, did you not?

A. I said that the Fuehrer had informed General Keitel and General Viebahn on 10th March, in the morning. He did not talk to me and up to that day I had not talked to the Fuehrer either.

Q. I only wanted to know the date. You said it was 10th March.

A. Yes, on 10th March, in the morning.


Q. Is it correct that only peace-time formations marched into the frontier districts, into the Austrian territory?

A. Yes; it is a fact that only peace-time units were used, which were meant to take part in the parade in Vienna. All units which might have been necessary for a military conflict, say, with Czechoslovakia or Italy, were stopped at the last moment, and did not cross the border.

Q. That means ammunition columns, for instance?

A. No, everything remained behind.

Q. Was there any hesitation among the political leaders at the last moment?

A. On 11th March, in the afternoon, I had news from the Reich Chancellery that the armed forces were not to move in, but that the police would pass through the lines of the armed forces and move in alone. In the evening, however, on 11th March - at 2030 hours - the final decision reached me, which was that the armed forces were to move in after all. I was unable to find out the reason for that hesitation.

Q. So that altogether there was not really an invasion by force?

A. No, it was a purely peaceful occupation. It was characterised by the fact that I suggested to the Chief of the Operations Staff of the Army that he should have the bands marching at the head of the column and that all drivers should definitely wear spectacles - otherwise they would have too many flowers thrown into their eyes.

Q. What was the significance of the order you signed regarding the march into Austria? It has been put before you under the Document C-182, Exhibit USA 77. You can remember it, can you not?

A. Yes, I can remember. That is nothing other than the written recording of something which had previously been ordered orally and which was already being carried out. That written order, you see, would have come much too late.

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