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 12 of 12)

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

[Page 419]

Q. Donitz, right. I beg your pardon. That is what you were saying, is it not?

A. No. The whole thing, as I have said, is a notice of Admiral Wagner on a conference from which one can gather only that Grand Admiral Donitz disapproved and that he is supposed to have made this remark at the end. I can hardly account for that remark today, because the only reason given to us by the Fuehrer at that time was that the tremendous number of German soldiers in the West must be prevented from deserting as a consequence of enemy propaganda about good treatment. I cannot explain this remark, and in my written draft which I submitted to the Fuehrer and which contains the attitude of the Navy, that sentence was not included, but only advantages and disadvantages were compared. The disadvantages were overwhelming, the whole thing was completely impracticable and impossible, and so it was not carried out. More I cannot say. Witnesses will confirm my statement.

MR. ROBERTS: I am now going to put to you your own Document 606-D. My Lord, that has not yet been exhibited. I offer it as Exhibit GB 492.

Q. Now that is signed by you, is it not? It deals with the subject of the breach of the Geneva Convention. If you would say first whether it is signed by you? Is it signed by you? Please answer my question: is it signed by you?

A. Yes; my signature is at the end.

Well, that is where one usually finds the signature. Now, it is dated 21st February, 1945, and it is written on your headed notepaper. And then, "Telegraphic report submitted to the Fuehrer on the 23-2 through the Chief of the Ops Staff. The following questions were to be examined." My Lord, I do not propose to read it all, or anything like all. If the witness would follow me, I will read anything he wants. But it is a discussion as to the various advantages and disadvantages of repudiating the various international agreements, and I think I am not doing the witness an injustice if I say from a utilitarian rather than a moral point of view.

A. Yes, quite correct. For my only aim was to succeed with the Fuehrer and this document was worded accordingly.

Q. Well, now, I want to read the last paragraph.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, it is the last page but one of your Lordship's document, right at the bottom: "C, Proposal of the OKW":

"At the present moment the disadvantage of repudiating international obligations which have been kept to up to now will in any case outweigh the advantages by far.

Just as it was wrong in 1914 that we ourselves solemnly declared war on all the States which had for a long time wanted to wage war on us, and through this took the whole guilt of the war on our shoulders before the outside world, and just as it was wrong to admit that the necessary" - note the word "necessary" - "passage through Belgium in 1914 was our own fault, so it would be wrong now to repudiate openly the obligations of International Law which we accepted and thereby to stand again as the guilty party before the outside world.

Adherence to the accepted obligations does not demand in any way that we should have to impose on ourselves any limitations which will interfere

[Page 420]

with the conduct of the war. For instance, if the British sink a hospital ship, this must be used for propaganda purposes as has been done to date. That, of course, in no way prevents us from sinking an English hospital ship at once as a reprisal and then expressing our regret that it was a mistake, in the same manner as the British do."
That is not very honourable, is it?

A. I can only say in reply that this was the sole method which achieved success with the Fuehrer, and by using it, success was, in fact, brought about. If I had come to him with moral or purely legal arguments, he would have said, "Leave me alone with this foolish talk," and he would have proceeded with the renunciation of the Convention; but these things compelled him to reconsider the step, and, in consequence, he did not carry it through.

You must, after all, grant me that at the end of five and a half years I knew best how to achieve good results with him and avoid bad ones. My aim was to achieve success, and I achieved it.

Q. But, you see, you were deploring it there, the fact that you told the world the truth in 1914: In 1914 you said that you only regarded treaties as a scrap of paper. You are saying now, "What a pity we told the world the truth in 1914. We ought to have told them something untrue, and then we should have, possibly, had a better world reputation."

A. That was an argument which the Fuehrer used frequently. If one repeated his arguments in that form again and again, he was more inclined to read and accept one's suggestions. One had to prevent his flinging our proposals to the floor in a fit of rage, and decreeing the immediate renunciation. That was the approach one had to follow. If one cannot do good openly, it is better to do it in a roundabout way than not at all.

Q. I am now coming to quite another point. Were you an admirer of the principles of the Nazi Party?

A. No.

Q. Were you of the opinion that there was a successful fusion between the Nazi Party and the Wehrmacht which brought about the rejuvenation, the resurrection of Germany, after 1933?

A. It could have happened and I hoped for a long time that it would happen; indeed, on the whole, the relationship improved somewhat in the course of the years, and especially during the war. At first, it was poor, very poor.

Q. You wrote - Please, I am reading now from your speech. Document 172-L. It is Page 290 of Document Book 7, and it is Page 6 of your lecture notes, Page 290 of Document Book 7 and 203 of the German:

"The fact that the National Socialist movement in its struggle for internal power was the preparatory stage to the outer liberation from the dictate of Versailles is one I need not enlarge upon in this circle. I should like, however, to mention how clearly all thoughtful regular soldiers realize what an important part has been played by the Nazi movement in re-awakening the will to fight, in nurturing fighting strength, and in re-arming the German people. Despite all the virtues inherent in it, a numerically small Reichswehr could never have been able to cope with this task, if only because of its restricted radius of action. Indeed, what the Fuehrer aimed at and has so happily been successful in bringing about was a fusion of these two forces."
Did that represent your honest opinion or not?

A. Yes, that is historical truth, indisputable historical truth. The movement did bring that about, that is certain.

Q. Very good. Then, I now want to put to you the last document but one that I put in.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, it has not been exhibited. It is 1808-PS. I offer it as Exhibit GB 493.

[Page 421]


Q. You made a speech, did you not, after the attempt on Hitler's life, to your staff? And are these the notes of your speech on 24th July?

A. I have never seen this document before. I am seeing it for the first time now. I did not know that any notes were made about the speech.

Q. Well, let us go by stages. Did you make a speech to your staff shortly after the attempt on Hitler's life on 24th July, 1944?

A. Yes, even while my head was still bandaged.

Q. Secondly, is that document which you have in front of you, is that a document which comes from your files? Look at the cover, if necessary.

A. I assume so. It is headed: "Wehrmacht Operational Staff - War Diary." Most likely these are notes of Major Schramm.

Q. Let me begin at the beginning of those notes. Just see if you can remember what you said. Did you begin by saying: "The 20th July was the blackest day which German history has seen as yet, and will probably remain so for all time?"

A. Yes, that is quite possible.

Q. Why was it such a black day for Germany? Because somebody tried to assassinate a man whom you now admit was a murderer?

A. Should I - at a moment when I was attacked in a cowardly, insidious manner by one of my own comrades, together with many opponents of the regime - should I perhaps have approved of it all? That, to me, was the worst thing that happened. If the man with a pistol in his hand had shot the Fuehrer and had then given himself up, it would have been entirely different. But these tactics I considered the most repulsive for any officer. I spoke under the impression of those events, which are actually among the worst I know, and I maintain today what I said then.

Q. I do not want to argue with you, but do you think it is any more dastardly than shooting those fifty American soldiers who landed in the North of Italy to destroy a military target, shooting them like dogs?

A. That also was murder, undoubtedly. But it is not the task of a soldier to be the judge of his commander-in-chief. Let history or the Almighty do that.

Q. Very good. I have only about three more questions to ask you.

MR. ROBERTS. My Lord, I am going to read from Page 2 of that document, about ten lines from the top. It begins: "The Fuehrer ... "


Q. As I read this slowly, see if you can recognize it.

"The Fuehrer ignored this and other things, and now the attempted assassins wished to eliminate him as a 'despot.'" Do you remember saying that or something like that? Can you find the place? "The Fuehrer ignored this and other things, and now the attempted assassins wished to eliminate him as a 'despot.'" Do you remember that? "And yet, they themselves experienced how the Fuehrer did not come to power by force, but was raised up by the love of the German people." Do you remember saying that?
A. Yes, and that is true. He came to power raised up by the love of the German people. I had tremendous experiences in that respect. He was almost overwhelmed by this love of the people and of the soldiers.

Q. Raised up by ... I beg your pardon, have you finished? I did not mean to interrupt you.

A. Yes, I have dealt with that point.

Q. Raised up by the love of the German people. You have forgotten the SS, the Gestapo, and the concentration camps for political opponents, have you not?

A. I have told you how unfortunately little I knew of all these things, almost nothing. Of course, with a knowledge of these things, all this takes a different aspect.

Q. I take your answer, and I put my last document to you.

[Page 422]

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, this is a new document, 1776-PS. I offer it as Exhibit GB 494.


Q. Just have a look; see if it is signed by you, will you.

A. Yes.

Q. So it is signed by you. Now, you have told the Tribunal that you were opposed to terror attacks. Just see what this document says. Now, note the date first, the 30th of June, 1940. That is just after the temporary fall of France:

"Chief W FA.

The continuation of the war against England.

If political means will be without results, England's will to resist will have to be broken by force

(a) by making war against the English mother country,

(b) by extending the war to the periphery.

Regarding point (a), there are three possibilities (1) Siege.

(2) Terror attacks against English centres of population.

(3) A landing of troops."

And now I read this as an example of historical prophecy:
"Germany's final victory over England is only a question of time."
Then I go down several paragraphs:
"Together with propaganda and temporary terror attacks - said to be reprisal actions - this increasing weakening of English food supply will paralyse the will of her people to resist and finally break it, and thus force the government to capitulate.

Signed Jodl."

"Terror attacks against English centres of population" - would you like to say anything to justify that sentence?

A. Yes, a few remarks. This proposal - this document, actually, is only a compilation of notes - proves three things:

First of all, that on 30th June, 1940, I did not know of any intention or of the possibility of entering into a war with Russia, otherwise I would not have written:

"Germany's final victory over England is only a question of time."
Secondly, I admit having voiced an idea which was later carried into practice with such perfection by the Anglo-American Air Force.

Thirdly, this idea came to me only after the attack on the civilian population had been started and continued by the British Air Force, despite months of efforts and repeated warnings on the part of the Fuehrer.

It is a historical fact, confirmed by many documents, that the Fuehrer tried to the utmost to avoid this form of air war against the population. But it was already clear at that time that he would not be able to succeed.

Q. Well, now, I have finished, witness. You will notice that of all the documents I have put, except for that one American report, they were all German documents originating at the time of these events about which I have been cross- examining.

In the face of those documents, do you still say that you are an honourable soldier and a truthful man?

A. Not only do I still affirm that, but I also think that the submission of these documents has actually and quite specifically proved it.

MR. ROBERTS: It is not coming through - his answer did not come through.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 7th June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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