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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th July to 27th July 1946

One Hundred and Eightieth Day: Wednesday, 17th July, 1946
(Part 3 of 6)

[Page 60]

DR. SIEMERS: Continued:

In addition, in December, 1939, Quisling and Hagelin sent to Rosenberg and not directly to Raeder, only because Raeder did not know either Quisling or Hagelin at that time - entirely independently of the sources of information which had existed up to that time - similar information concerning the landing intentions of the Allies. As the question involved was a purely military-strategic one, Rosenberg asked Raeder to discuss things with Quisling so that Raeder could examine the military technical possibilities in consideration of the fact that aggression by the Allies in Scandinavia must be expected according to the information received. This is evident from the letter of Rosenberg to Raeder of 13th December, 1939, which I submitted as Exhibit Raeder 67. Raeder considered it his duty from the purely military point of view to inform Hitler, with whom he had not discussed this question in the meantime, that corroborative information had meanwhile been received from Canaris, the Naval Attache in Oslo, and Quisling. Hitler wished to speak personally with Quisling, which he did, and decided then, in order to meet the threat, to make the necessary preparations for an eventual preventive measure, namely the occupation of Norway. The final decision was still deferred and again further information was awaited, particularly as to whether the danger increased.

This caution and delay seems particularly understandable in the case of Raeder. As I have already remarked, Raeder would have preferred that the neutrality of Norway be maintained, especially as he was against every conquest just for the sake of conquest. He knew, on the other hand, that an occupation required the commitment of the whole Navy, thus involving the fate of the entire Navy, and that the loss of at least a third of the whole fleet had to be reckoned with. It should be clear how hard, from such political and strategic viewpoints, such a decision was for a conscientious man in his position.

[Page 61]

Unfortunately, during the first months of the year 1940, the reports multiplied and steadily became more definite. In March, 1940, surprisingly many English-speaking persons could be seen in Oslo, and Raeder received very serious, credible information about shortly impending measures by the Allies against Norway and also Sweden. As far as landing intentions were concerned, Narvik, Trondhjem and Stavanger were mentioned. Thus it came about that the military planning only took place in February and March, 1940, and that the final instructions were issued to the Wehrmacht in March, 1940.

There were, in addition, numerous violations of neutrality in March, 1940, which have been entered in the war diary, and also the mine-laying in Norwegian territorial waters at the beginning of April.

The prosecution has submitted against this comprehensive informative material only a few documents, according to which the German Ambassador in Oslo, Brauer, did not regard the danger as being so great, but believed that the English attitude mentioned by him pointed merely to provocation of Germany, in order that Germany might give cause for war operations in Norwegian waters.

Baron Weizsaecker's point of view in cross-examination was that at first he did not consider the danger so great, but he admitted that later on the facts proved that he and Brauer were wrong, but that Raeder, on the contrary, was right in his apprehension. This objective accuracy of the conception of Grand Admiral Raeder, and of the information which was the basis of his conception, is shown by several documents submitted by me and accepted by the Tribunal.

Since 16th January, 1940, the French High Command had been working on a plan for, amongst other things, the occupation of harbours and airfields on the west coast of Norway. The plan contemplated, in addition, that the operations should possibly be extended to Sweden and the mines of Gallivare be occupied. Efforts have been made to justify this plan by stating that it was elaborated solely to help Finland against the Soviet Union.

To begin with, it could be argued in contradiction to this that an action in support of Finland did not justify any occupation of Norwegian territory. Moreover, the documents show that it was not a question of only altruistic measures in favour of Finland. During the inter-Allied military conferences on 31st January and 1st February, which preceded the meeting of the Supreme Council on 5th February, the question of direct help for Finland was relegated by the English to second place. They showed themselves to be determined adherents of an enterprise against the mines of Northern Sweden. This is confirmed by General Gamelin in a note of 10th March 1940, and he adds that this opinion obtained the majority vote in the Supreme Council, and that the preparation of the Scandinavian expedition should be started immediately.

And so it came about that the Franco-British fighting forces had been ready for transportation since the first days of March, whereby, according to Gamelin, the leadership of the proposed operations in Scandinavia was transferred to the British High Command. Gamelin adds finally that the Scandinavian plans must be resolutely pursued further, in order to save Finland - I quote: "or at least to lay hands on the Swedish ores and the Northern harbours".

Lord Halifax informed the Norwegian Ambassador on. 7th February that England wished to obtain certain bases on the Norwegian coast in order to stop the German transport of ore from Narvik. In mid-February, English and French General Staff officers inspected landing-places in agreement with the Norwegian authorities. According to a report of the Embassy in Stockholm, dated 16th February, 1940, the English intention in this respect was to land troops simultaneously in Bergen, Trondhjem and Narvik.

On 21st February, 1940, Daladier communicated to the French Ambassador in London, Corbin that the occupation of the most important Norwegian ports and the landing of the first contingent of the Allied fighting forces in Norway would give Sweden a feeling of security; and he goes on to say that this operation must

[Page 62]

be planned and executed at shortest notice, "independently of Finland's call for assistance". In the event of this demarche in Norway meeting with refusal, which was likely, the British Government was to confirm the Norwegian refusal and immediately seize control of the bases it needed for the safeguarding of its interests, and was to do so in the form of a "surprise operation". Whether Sweden would refuse the passage through to Finland does not appear important; what is emphasized is rather the - and I quote:
"advantage of having secured a dominating position against Germany in the North, interrupted the sea transport of Swedish ore, and brought the Swedish ore districts within the radius of action of our aviation".
On 27th February, 1940, Churchill declared in the British House of Commons that he was "tired of considering the rights of neutrals".

It is interesting to note that unanimity is achieved in the sixth session of the Supreme Council on 28th March, 1940 - and I quote:

"Every attempt of the Soviet Government to obtain from Norway a position on the Atlantic coast runs counter to the vital interests of the Allies and would elicit due counter-measures."
The conception thus held by the Supreme Council, with reference to the vital interests of the Allies, coincides exactly with the legitimate notions of the "right of self- preservation" presented by me, and is in complete contradiction to the interpretation of International Law propounded in this respect by the prosecution.

The ultimate execution of the operation in Norway, that is, the landing and the establishment of bases, was decided on 28th March, 1940, between the authoritative British and French offices. This date was indicated at a session of the French War Council by the French Prime Minister; and General Gamelin added that he had, on 29th March, impressed upon General Ironside the necessity of having everything ready for a swift occupation of the Norwegian ports. He said he had also informed Mr. Churchill to the same effect on the occasion of a visit to Paris.

One day later, on 30th March, Churchill declared on the radio, and I quote:

"It would not be fair if, in the fight for life or death, the Western Powers adhered to legal agreements."
On 2nd April, 1940, at 1912 hours, London notified Paris by telegram that the first transport was "to sail on J.I. day," and that J.I day was in principle 5th April.

On 5th April, Earl De La Warr established that neither Germany nor the neutrals could be certain that "England would allow her hands to be tied behind her back by following the letter of the law".

The English Minister of Labour, Ernest Brown, declared on 6th April, 1940, that neither Germany nor the neutrals could be certain that "the Western Powers would adhere to the letter of International Law".

On the same day - this was one day after the laying of mines by British combat forces in Norwegian territorial waters - a secret English operational order was given "concerning preparations for the occupation of the northern Swedish ore fields outside Narvik".

In this order it was decided that the mission of the task force consisted first of all in "securing the port of Narvik and the railway to the Swedish border". It was added that it was the intention of the Commander-in-Chief "to advance into Sweden and to occupy the Gallivare ore fields and important points of that territory as soon as an opportunity arises", a formulation which almost reminds one of the words in the prosecution Document L-79: "to attack Poland at the first appropriate opportunity".

The original plan to send the first transport to Norway on 5th April was altered; for on the evening of 5th April the British High Command informed the Commander-in-Chief of the French Navy that - I quote - "the first English convoy could not set out before 8th April which, within the framework of the

[Page 63]

established time schedule, means that the first French contingent is to leave the embarkation port on 16th April".

To complete the story, it should be pointed out that the Norwegian operation was designated by the Allies by the code name of "Stratford Plan", while the German Norwegian operation was referred to by the code name "Weser Exercise" (Weser Ubung).

The preceding facts show that:

Since autumn, 1939, preparations for eventual action in Norway were made by studying of landing possibilities, etc. Since January-February, 1940, the danger of an occupation of bases in Norway by the Allies was threatening. In March, 1940, the execution of the scheme was ultimately decided upon and the departure of the first convoy was scheduled for 5th April. Simultaneously; mine-laying was carried out in the Norwegian territorial waters and troops were at the same time concentrated in British and French ports for the Norwegian operation. Thus, factual evidence of imminent neutrality violations existed from the point of view of International Law, and neutrality violation had indeed been already committed to a certain extent (mine-laying). This was the point where Germany, in accordance with the international concept of the rights of self-preservation, was entitled to resort to equivalent counter-measures, that is, to occupy Norway in order to prevent the threatened occupation by other belligerent States. It was, in fact, as was shown later, the last moment; for Germany forestalled the Allies only because the British High Command had postponed the departure of the first convoy, originally scheduled for 5th April. The German operation in Norway must therefore be considered as legitimate according to the principles of International Law.

I have the firm conviction that the High Tribunal, in view of the circumstances just exposed in connection with existing International Law, will conclude that Grand Admiral Raeder, with regard to the occupation of Norway, acted from purely strategic points of view, in due consideration of international legal standards, and accordingly will acquit him of the charge made by the prosecution.

With reference to Norway, the prosecution has moreover charged against Raeder, and incidentally, against Donitz, that a violation of International Law is entailed by the fact that according to an order dated 30th March, 1940, the naval forces were, until the landing of troops, to fly the British flag. This too is an error of the prosecution as regards International Law in sea warfare. The Hague regulation on land warfare does expressly forbid the misuse of flags. In sea warfare, on the other hand, the answer to this question according to prevailing International Law is definitely that, until hostilities begin, ships may sail with their own, or with enemy or neutral flags, or with no flags at all. I take the liberty, in this respect, of availing myself of Dr. Mosler's juridical treatment of the question in his opinion appearing under Item 7, and in particular of his references to authoritative writings on the subject, according to which the use of a foreign flag is universally considered as a legitimate war deception and is allowed and especially condoned by British practice, this in accordance with the historical precedent when Nelson, in the Napoleonic wars flew the French flag off Barcelona to lure the Spanish ships.

This dispute is, however, superfluous in the present case because actually the order just mentioned, instructing the flying of the British flag, was, according to documentary evidence cancelled on 8th April, that is to say, prior to the execution of the Norway operation.

In conclusion I only wish to emphasize, with reference to the subject of Norway, that after the occupation of Norway Raeder and the German Navy did everything they could to establish friendly relations with Norway, to treat the country and the people honourably and well during the occupation, and to spare them every unnecessary burden. Raeder and the Admiral commanding in Norway, Admiral Boehm, moreover, endeavoured to conclude a peace with Norway guaranteeing Norwegian national interests. Their efforts were frustrated by the creation, by

[Page 64]

Hitler and Himmler, of a so-called civil administration by Reich Commissioner Terboven which, unlike the Wehrmacht, was connected with the Party, the SS, SD and Gestapo. As confirmed by Boehm in his affidavit, Raeder repeatedly intervened with Hitler in favour of the ideas they shared for good treatment of the Norwegian people and an early conclusion of peace and, together with Boehm, set himself with the utmost vigour against Terboven. Here again, the tragic fact is that the Wehrmacht despite its utmost efforts was neither able to oppose Hitler's dictatorial methods nor the dictatorial methods employed, with Hitler's knowledge, by such a mediocre Reich Commissioner as Terboven. The Norwegian people who had to suffer under the occupation know - and this is the only gratification for Raeder - that the Navy was not the cause of these sufferings. On the other hand, it is interesting to know that the differences which cropped up between Hitler and Raeder with reference to Norway are precisely one of the chief motives which ultimately caused Raeder to insist upon his resignation in September, 1942. Other motives were that Raeder also had differences with Hitler over France, because here again Raeder urged the conclusion of peace while Hitler, with his usual ruthlessness, was opposed to conciliatory steps of this kind in occupied territories. Raeder also had differences with Hitler regarding Russia, because he was in favour of observance of the German-Russian treaty and expressed opposition to the breach of the Treaty and to war with Russia.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. SIEMERS: I now come to the charge of the prosecution with regard to a war of aggression against Russia. The charge of the prosecution on this subject cannot be very well understood. It dealt with land warfare, so that the Navy did not have to make any preparations, with the exception of the few preparations in the Baltic Sea. The prosecution itself has furthermore stated that Raeder had been opposed to the war against Russia. The only thing which could remain from the charge of the prosecution is its claim that Raeder had fundamentally been in favour of the war against Russia also, and had only been opposed to Hitler with regard to the time factor. With reference to Document C- 170 the prosecution states that Raeder had only recommended the postponement of the war against Russia until victory over England had been achieved. According to Document C-170 this actually could appear to be so. In reality, however, the case is different, and the true state of affairs has been cleared up by the detailed presentation of evidence. The witness Admiral Schulte-Monting has clearly stated, without, being challenged in the cross-examination, that Raeder not only raised objections with regard to time limits, but that he fundamentally argued with Hitler against a campaign against Russia, and did so on grounds of moral reasons and reasons of International Law, because he was of the opinion that the non-aggression pact with Russia as well as the trade agreement should be observed under all circumstances. The Navy was especially interested in the delivery agreements with Russia, and had always tried to observe the treaties strictly. Besides this basic principle of observing treaties, i.e., besides this general reason, Raeder was of the opinion that a war against Russia would also be wrong from the strategic standpoint. His own testimony and that of Schulte-Monting show that in September, November and December of 1940, Raeder tried again and again to dissuade Hitler from the idea of a war against Russia. It is correct that in Document C-170 only the strategic justification for his opposition has been recorded. However, this is not at all surprising because in the papers connected with the Naval War Staff naturally only justifications were recorded which were of naval, technical, and strategic importance, but not political reasons.

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