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-Eighth Day: Thursday, 6th June, 1946
(Part 6 of 12)

[MR. ROBERTS continues his cross examination of ALFRED JODL]

[Page 394]

Q. Yes. And I point out to you that it was Germany on every occasion who violated the neutrality. The other countries, the Allies, did not.

A. In the case of Norway, the English did that for the first time in the case of the Altmark by laying mines and by firing upon German ships in Norwegian territorial waters. That has been proved indisputably. There is no doubt about that.

Q. The Altmark case, as you very well know, witness, was not an occupation at all; it was merely the act of the British Navy in taking British prisoners from a German prison ship, and I imagine your navy would have done the same if it had had the chance. What is the good of talking about the Altmark. It was not an occupation at all.

[Page 395]

A. But it was a violation of International Law as far as Norwegian sovereignty was concerned. You could only request that Norway do that, but you yourselves could not carry out a combative action in Norwegian waters. I know the regulations in this connection exactly.

Q. Why should you break your word to Norway and cause untold suffering and misery to the inhabitants of that country because the British went into the territorial waters and took out a few hundred prisoners? What is the logic of it? Why should the Norwegians suffer for it?

A. You have just quoted one small example of England's violations of neutrality; there are hundreds of them.

Q. It is the example you quoted, witness, not I. I did not quote it.

A. I can only say that up to the last moment, we were under the definite subjective impression that we were carrying through an enterprise for which British troops were already embarked. If you can prove to me that that is not true, I shall be extremely grateful to you.

Q. Well now, I am going to call your attention to the only outside evidence that you have produced about that, because it was read rather hurriedly - quite rightly, yesterday.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, it is in Jodl's Document Book 2, and it is Page 176. Well, my Lord, it begins at Page 174. My Lord, that is on the left hand top corner. Page 174. says that Albrecht Soltmann was an expert specialist, that he read the files from the British landing brigade, and that he examined diaries. I read from the bottom of Page 175:

"The documents and statements by prisoners showed that a short time before our landing in Norway, the British invasion troops had been embarked on destroyers. On the following day they were again disembarked and remained in the vicinity of the port of embarkation. They were then re-embarked after the German invasion of Norway and transported to Norway. What intention the English had in the embarkation of their troops before our landings could not be determined from the documents and from the statements of prisoners. Whether they intended to occupy Norway before our invasion could at that time only be conjectured, because the prisoners did not make any exact statements in this respect. The conjectures are based on the special equipment of these British troops. Insofar as I could evaluate the documents and statements furnished by prisoners, they did not contain proof of English plans with regard to Norway."
And this is the next question:
"Have not the results of all documents and statements furnished by prisoners been to the effect that in the invasion of Norway we arrived only just ahead of the English?

Answer: Yes, the information in the documents and the statements furnished by prisoners could be interpreted to mean that in our invasion we were just ahead of the English. However, whether this was considered unmistakable evidence I cannot judge."

And then they deal with French documents captured in a railway train. The witness does not know anything about them.


Q. That is pretty poor evidence, is it not, on which Norway was to be invaded, contrary to all the treaties and all the assurances?

A. I quite agree with you on that; you are quite correct. But that is only because Soltmann was unfortunately, not the expert in this field. He was not even an officer of the General Staff. I had forgotten that. We had further and quite different evidence which lay before me on my desk; namely, all the orders carried by the English landing brigade. They confirmed our assumptions absolutely and definitely.

Q. An invasion without any warning or any declaration of war?

[Page 396]

A. That is a political question.

Q. You told the Tribunal yesterday what a stickler you were about International Law, how keen you were to see that International Law was observed. You knew that was against International Law, did you not?

A. These matters were not in our regulations, but only the agreements which applied to the Wehrmacht. The concept of an aggressive war, or not, was not found in any regulation. Only the Geneva Convention and the Hague Land, Warfare Regulations were the things that we went by.

Q. I mean if an honourable German gives his word, he keeps it, does he not? He does not break his word without saying that he is going to depart from it, does he, an honourable German?

A. That seems to be a practice which is generally observed all over the world when human beings work together, but not in the sphere of politics.

Q. If that is your code of honour, why is it not grossly dishonourable for Germany to break her word over and over and over again? Or would you rather not answer that question?

A. No, you would do better to put that question to the people who were responsible for German politics.

Q. Very well, I will leave that. Now I want to come to the invasion of Holland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. I beg your pardon, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

You have no doubt at all, have you, as shown by documents, that, in the event of war in the West, it was always Hitler's intention to violate the neutrality of those three small countries?

A. From the beginning, in his orders for the attack in the West, he had the intention to go through Belgium, but he had reservations with regard to Holland for a long time, which were only abandoned later, I believe in the middle of November. Regarding Holland, his intentions were not determined. Regarding Belgium, his intentions in that direction were known comparatively early, that is, about the middle or the early part of October.

Q. You could not, of course - I mean Germany naturally wanted to wage an offensive war and an offensive war in somebody else's country. That was the ambition, naturally, is it not?

A. The German objective in this war was to win.

Q. Yes. You could not attack in the West unless you attacked through Belgium, could you?

A. In any event, any other attack was tremendously difficult and was highly questionable. I have already said that.

Q. Yes. That is why, of course, France built the Maginot Line, so that you could not attack her frontally.

Well, now, if you secured the coast of Belgium and Holland, you secured air bases from which you could annihilate England or Great Britain. That is what you hoped, was it not?

A. No doubt the strategic position of Germany in the battle against England would have been much improved through our having the coast; that is true.

Q. Yes. May I just remind you of a few documents with which the Tribunal are already familiar. I do not intend to read them, but the first document in order of date is 375-PS, Exhibit USA 84, dated 25th August, 1938. It is during the "Fall Gruen" time. That was the Air Force opinion in which, in the last paragraph of the document, Page 9, I think, it says:

"Belgium and the Netherlands in German hands would represent an extraordinary advantage in the air war against Great Britain."
And the Army is asked to say how long the operation would take. That was at the time of the Czechoslovakian crisis, was it not?

A. Yes, but this document, I believe, has already been characterised as a ridiculous piece of paper, being the work of an insignificant captain.

[Page 397]

Q. He seems to have been a very good judge, at any rate, judging from what happened afterwards.

Well now, the next document - I know you were in Austria, but no doubt you heard about it from Keitel - was the Chancellery meeting on 23rd May, 1939. That is Document L-79, it is Book No. 7, Page 275. Do you remember that the Fuehrer said:

"The Dutch and Belgian air bases must be occupied by armed forces. Declarations of neutrality must be ignored .... The Army will have to hold positions essential to the Navy and the Air Force. If Holland and Belgium are successfully occupied and held, and if France is also defeated, then fundamental conditions for a successful war against England will have been secured .... Daily attacks by the German Air Force will cut her life lines."
There was not any doubt as to the policy of the Fuehrer in May, 1939, was there?

A. It was in Court here that I first heard about this conference and about the things which were purported to have been discussed at that time, and I am not able to judge whether it is correct, for I did not hear it, not even from Keitel, nor even later.

Q. Very good. Did you hear about the speech made by the Fuehrer on the 22nd of August, 1939?

MR. ROBERTS: I do not know if the Tribunal has got this. It is not in the document book, Document 798-PS, in Document Book No. 4. There are some loose copies, my Lord.


Q. " .... Holland, Belgium .... and Scandinavia will defend their neutrality with all available means. England and France will not violate their neutrality."
You always thought Hitler was a good prophet, did you not? You thought Hitler was a good judge.

A. Very often, yes, very often.

Q. And he was a good judge that England and France would keep their word, whereas Germany would break hers.

That is August. Now then I want to -

A. But that I do not know.

Q. Very good. Now, I want to come to the document which you put in yesterday.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, wait a minute. Defendant, what do you mean saying you do not know that? Do you mean that you did not know the document? You said, "I do not know that."

THE WITNESS: I do not know what the Fuehrer actually said in his conference on the 22nd of August. I did not even know that a discussion had taken place, for I was in Vienna. I only know what is in documents which have been submitted here.


Q. Now I want to go through the whole of Document L-52. Dr. Exner, quite properly, of course, read some extracts, but I want to read some more. Have you got copies for the Tribunal?

Now, L-52 was Hitler's memorandum of 9th October, 1939. May I point out that the 9th of October, 1939, was three days after his renewed assurances to the Western neutrals.

Certain passages you have read; I want to refer to others.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, what I am now reading from, starting with the outside page, is the 5th page. It is Page 27 of the original.


Q. I read the paragraph on Page 25 of your original, witness:

"Germany's military means of waging a lengthy war are, as far as our main enemy is concerned, the Air Force and the U-boat arm.

[Page 398]

The U-boat can even today, if ruthlessly employed, be an extraordinary threat to England. The weaknesses of German U-boat warfare lie in the great distance of approach to the scene of their activity, in the extraordinary danger attached to these approaches and in the continuous threat to their home bases. That England has not, for the moment, laid the great minefields as in World War I, between Norway and the Shetland Islands, is possibly connected - provided the will to wage war exists at all - with a shortage of necessary barrage materials. But, if the war lasts long, an increasing difficulty to our U-boats must be reckoned with in the use of these only remaining inward and outward routes. Every creation of U-boat bases outside these constricted home bases would lead to an enormous increase in the striking power of this arm."
Is that a covert reference to the Norwegian bases, do you think, giving access to the Atlantic?

A. I do not believe so. I believe it is a general correct naval strategic consideration, and can apply just as well to a base at Murmansk which, for instance, we already had at that time, or in Spain, or in some other State that was neutral at that time, but it is not a reference to Norway, for I have declared under oath that at the time the Fuehrer never gave a thought to Norway, not the slightest thought, before he received the report from Quisling.

Q. I have heard your answer. Now, may I go on reading?

"The German Air Force can only then succeed in effective operations against the industrial centre of England and her south and south-west ports which are gaining in importance during the war, when it is no longer compelled to operate offensively from our present small North Sea coast by tremendously devious routes involving long flights. If the Dutch-Belgian areas were to fall into the hands of the English and French, then the enemy air forces, in order to strike at the industrial heart of Germany, would need to cover barely a sixth of the distance required by the German bomber to reach really important targets. If we were in possession of Holland, Belgium, or even the Straits of Dover as jumping-off bases for German air attacks, then, without a doubt, Great Britain could be struck a mortal blow, even if the strongest reprisals were attempted.

Such a shortening of the air approaches would be all the more important to Germany, because of our greater difficulties in fuel supply. Every 1000 kilograms of fuel saved is not only an asset to our national economy, but means that 1,000 kilograms more of explosive can be carried in the aircraft; that is, 1,000 kilograms of fuel would become 1,000 kilograms of bombs. This also leads to economy in aircraft, in mechanical wear and tear, and above all, in valuable airmen's lives."

Then I ask you to turn to your Page 41.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, it is two pages on, and your Lordship will see "41" nearly at the top of the page, with an asterisk, and the heading "The German Attack." Has your Lordship got it?



Q. "The German Attack. The German attack is to be launched with the fundamental object of destroying the French Army, but in any case it must create a favourable initial situation which is a prerequisite for a successful continuation of the war. Under these circumstances, the only possible area of attack is the section between Luxembourg in the South, and Nijmegen in the North, excluding the fortress of Liege. The object is to attempt to penetrate the area Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland in the shortest possible time, and to engage and defeat the opposing Belgian-French-English forces."
I suppose I cannot ask you to say what is your opinion of the honesty of giving those western neutrals a guarantee on the 6th of October and saying that is the only

[Page 399]

possible means of attack in that memorandum of the 9th. I suppose that is a question of politics, is it?

A. That is a political question, but the declarations were always made only on the condition of the strictest neutrality of these countries. But this neutrality was not kept, for British flyers flew over this area by day and by night.

Why should the wretched people of the Netherlands and Belgium be destroyed and mutilated because British airmen fly over their territory - destroyed and mutilated by the German Army? What is the logic of your remark at all?

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