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-Seventh Day: Wednesday, 5th June, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

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

[Page 350]

Q. It is stated, in Paragraph 3, sub-paragraph (a), of the directive:
"The common aim in the conduct of this war is to crush England as soon as possible, and thereby keep the United States out of the war."
A. Such a directive was necessary in order that careless talk on the part of German officers should not encourage officers of the Japanese Army and Navy to use our policy for their own purposes, and for this reason the Ministry for Foreign Affairs also received a copy, as is shown in the distribution list on the bottom of Page 96. This would never have happened in the case of an operational order. Therefore, the Fuehrer did not sign it.

Q. The objectives of the German Navy are also stated on the top of Page 96. They read as follows:

"Moreover, attacks on other groups of Anglo-American naval bases, if the entry of the United States into the war cannot be prevented, are only advisable for shattering organized enemy strong points in those places."
And so we again find the attempt to prevent the entry of the United States into the war and to attack only if nothing else should prove possible.

A. I should like to add that the purpose of this document was not to exert influence on Japan, since that would have been a political action. It was merely a directive addressed to all officers, telling them how to express themselves in such a case.

Q. Grand Admiral Raeder has already told us by what naval orders he had endeavoured to keep the United States out of the war. Have you anything to add to this?

A. Only one point, which the Grand Admiral did not mention. It is obvious from Documents C-119 and AJ-37. It can be read on Page 98 of Document Book 1.

Q. Page 98 of Volume I, which we submit. It states:

"Special order on behaviour during the occupation of Denmark and Norway."
And then.

A. Only the last sentence need be read.

Q. Please read it.

A. "All warships and merchant vessels sailing under the USA flag are excepted from the prohibition of departure, or putting to sea."
Q. And so that is the last sentence at the bottom of Page 98. The paragraph speaks of prohibiting warships, merchant vessels, airplanes, etc., to leave port with the exception of the Americans.

A. And so in all the war measures of the Naval Staff, America was granted an exceptional position for a long time.

Q. Before Japan's attack on America, did you have any official dealings with Japanese officers?

A. No, not before.

Q. None at all?

A. No.

Q. Did you expect the attack on Pearl Harbour?

A. The attack came as a complete surprise, a complete surprise to me, and I had the feeling it was also a surprise to the Fuehrer, for he came in the middle of the night to my chart-room in order to transmit this news to Field Marshal Keitel and myself. He was completely surprised.

Q. Now, I should like you to clear up an erroneous interpretation of this letter of Falkenstein's. It is Page 81, Volume I of our Document Book. There is a letter, Document PS-376, Exhibit USA 161. There is a letter from Falkenstein to you, I believe?

A. No, no.

Q. No?

[Page 351]

A. No, to General von Waldau, of the Operations Staff of the Luftwaffe.

Q. It states:

"With a view to a future war against America, the Fuehrer is engaged with the question of occupying the Atlantic Islands."
That can be interpreted to mean that he intended to attack America: "With a view to a future war against America, the Fuehrer is engaged ..." What is meant by that and how did you interpret it?

A. That is perfectly obvious. At that time consideration was actually being given to the occupation of the Atlantic Islands, something the Fuehrer had always wanted to do.

For what purpose?

A. As a certain security base, and so an outpost, in case of American intervention. And we had to take this idea into consideration, although the Navy, the Armed Forces Operations Staff and the Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht definitely rejected it, we had to occupy ourselves with these matters theoretically at least, and this is what he tells General von Waldau in this letter.

Furthermore, the same thing is said in an order, Document PS-444, exactly as written here.

Q. Did we have any interest at all in extending the war?

A. I personally, none. I can only say that the extension of the front from the North Cape to Tobruk, and from Brest to Rostov-on-the-Don was too great for my liking.

Q. And were we interested in having Japan declare war on America?

A. No, we would have much preferred a new and powerful ally without a new and powerful enemy.

Q. Did we drag Italy into the war?

A. I do not know what was done politically, but after the collapse of France, when Italy also wished to participate in the war in a practical way, we tried to prevent this, we soldiers in the OKW. But we only succeeded in delaying intervention by four to six days. The Fuehrer could not refuse intervention altogether. But during the whole of the war Italy was of no help but only a burden to us, and this will be confirmed by subsequent histories of the war.

Q. To all the accusations concerning crimes against peace, I should like to refer to the relevant documents which have been submitted by Goering, Ribbentrop, Raeder and Donitz. I do not know whether such a reference is at all necessary according to the rules of procedure.

Now one final question: the prosecution has represented this whole series of campaigns as a long-prepared and concerted plan of conquest which you, as a conspirator, both instigated and carried out. What have you to say to this representation?

A. I believe I have already corrected this completely distorted picture by my testimony. The war against Poland broke out without my having had any part in its preparation. It developed into a World War, against all the hopes of the soldiers. Everything had to be improvised for this war. Nothing was ready except the plan of attack against Poland; there were neither enough bombs nor enough ammunition. At that time not a single soldier thought about Norway, Belgium, Holland, Yugoslavia, Greece or Russia. No military agreements had been reached with Italy or with Japan.

I acknowledge the statement of the American Chief of Staff, General Marshall, to be absolutely correct in almost every point.

DR. EXNER: Mr. President, I have no further questions to ask.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel want to ask any questions?

BY DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff and High Command).

Q. General, as Chief of the Operations Staff of the Wehrmacht, you were for many years the leading General Staff officer of the German Armed Forces?

[Page 352]

A. Yes.

Q. In the course of your military activity you were also for a fairly long time a teacher at the War Academy?

A. Not exactly at the War Academy, but at the General Staff courses which preceded the War Academy and which at that time were held at the seat of the individual Defence Area headquarters.

Q. Since all our higher ranking military leaders came from the professional class of the General Staff officers, I ask you to tell us briefly how these officers were trained at the War Academy. Please confine yourself exclusively to the following points: how, or rather how much, space was devoted to instructions on attack, to propaganda for wars of aggression, to the attitude towards International Law and to politics?

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks this question is completely irrelevant.

DR. LATERNSER: If the Tribunal believes that these questions are likely to be irrelevant, I shall dispense with the answers to these questions.

Q. General, you know the standpoint of the prosecution that the military leaders are supposed to have formed a group with the aim of unleashing wars of aggression and committing crimes, during the course of this war, against military law and the laws of humanity. Please explain your attitude toward this point to the Tribunal particularly as to whether the higher ranking military leaders ever actually formed such a group.

A. I never understood the concept of this group and I never will understand it. This so-called group of high-ranking officers possibly existed to some extent, in the Kaiser's time as an absolute entity, but even then not entirely. But after the National Socialist revolution, these groups were completely split up, politically, philosophically and ideologically. The goal that united them was the military profession and the necessary obedience.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better adjourn at this time.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1400 hours.)

BY DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff and the OKW):

Q. Colonel-General, before the occupation of Czechoslovakia, there was a meeting on 10th August, 1938, at the Berghof, between Hitler and the military leaders at which you were also present. Up to now that conference has not yet been discussed here, and I want to ask you what was its subject.

A. During that conference, the Fuehrer spoke to General Staff officers only and gave them a talk, that lasted for about two and a half hours, on the whole military and political situation. In particular, he dealt with the Sudeten-German problem and said that it would have to be solved whatever happened. He described the various possibilities, and, in particular, he made it clear that he intended to solve the question without France and England hindering him and was confident he would succeed.

Q. That was the subject of that conference?

A. Yes, that in the main was the subject.

Q. Do you know for what reason the Commanders-in-Chief of the three branches of the armed forces and their chiefs were not there?

A. I know the reason because the Chief Adjutant, Major Schmundt, informed me of it before the conference. He told me that it was the Fuehrer's intention to speak directly to the General Staff officers, when they would not be under the influence of their Commanders-in-Chief, whose possibly critical attitude might cause them - the General Staff - to hesitate in carrying out his instructions.

Q. There was, nevertheless, at that conference considerable criticism on the part of those officers, was there not?

A. I would not say that there was criticism, but one of the generals believed that he could or should draw the Fuehrer's attention to the possibility that France

[Page 353]

and England might interfere, after all, if he did something against Slovakia. That was General von Riedersheim.

Q. Did Hitler continue to follow the principle of excluding the highest military leaders from such conferences?

A. He did that quite often. I would say that he did it on principle. For instance, after our unsuccessful attack on the bridgehead at Nettuno, south-east of Rome, he summoned the junior officers who took part in these battles, from the regimental commanders down to the company commanders, to his headquarters. For days, and without their superiors being present, he personally interrogated each one of them alone. He did the same thing very, very often with Air Force officers, whom he interrogated without the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force being present.

Q. Colonel-General, you were present during most of the Hitler conferences about the situation. Could the Army Group Commanders present at the Fuehrer's Headquarters at the time take part in such conferences without difficulties?

A. As long as during these situation conferences only things which had already happened were discussed, the Fuehrer was very generous about who took part in them, but as soon as something was discussed which dealt with future operations, for instance, the attack on Russia in 1942, an Army Group Commander from the Western Front could not take part, nor was it possible the other way round, so that so far as his intentions were concerned, he would only invite such officers as had to be informed for official reasons.

Q. In such cases then, the so-called "Smallest Circle" was summoned to a situation conference?

A. That is right. In that case the Chief Adjutant announced on behalf of the Fuehrer that a discussion among the "Smallest Circle" would now take place, in which only such and such officers could take part.

Q. During such situation discussions, did you often hear energetic remonstrances on the part of the Army Group Commanders? Who made these remonstrances, and on what occasion? Please limit yourself to the most important instances.

A. I can only give you a very short answer to that question; otherwise, I would have to speak about it for an hour. I can say that not a single conference took place without, if I may call them so, the old, traditional conceptions regarding operations coming into conflict with the revolutionary conceptions of the Fuehrer. Therefore, apart perhaps from single operations during the first part of the war, I can state that whenever such a report was made by an Army Group Commander, there was a clash of opinions. I could mention the names of all the Army Group Commanders who ever held the post. I know of no one to whom this would not apply.

Q. Of course, you knew all the Army Group Commanders, did you not?

A. During the first half of the war I knew all the Army Group Commanders up to and including the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army. During the second half of the war, there were Army Group Commanders in the East whom I did not know. For the most part they did not come from the General Staff, but were career officers and some of them I did not know.

Q. Colonel-General, could, for instance, an Army Group Commander report for a discussion with Hitler without difficulties?

A. The Army Group Commander could not do that. The Army Group Commander would, first of all, have to ask the Commander-in-Chief of the Army as long as there was one. When the Commander-in-Chief of the Army no longer existed, the Army Group Commanders then applied to the Military Adjutant's office, or they applied to the Chief of the General Staff of the Army for permission to make a report, but Army Commanders could not do that.

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