The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/02/28

Q. On the 8th of May, 1946, at sixteen hours thirty-five
minutes, in this room you mentioned: "As an officer I had
not the slightest influence on how the political leadership
thought fit to treat this or that neutral." On the 10th of
May, at twelve hours thirty-five minutes, here, you said,
when the question of submarine warfare was taken up: "All
this concerns political aims, but I, as an officer was
engaged in military problems." Is that not so?

A. Yes, it is quite correct. I said that, before the 1st of
May, 1945, I was purely a fighting man. As soon as I became
the head of the State I relinquished the supreme command of
the Navy because I became the Chief of State and therefore a
political personality.

Q. Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, about fifteen minutes ago,
addressed you also and referred to two documents, and in
particular to Exhibit GB 186, Document 640-D, and he cited
one sentence from this, one sentence which grossly
contradicts what you said just now. You remember this
sentence, "idle chatter"?

A. Yes, I know exactly what you mean.

Q. I want to ask you: How can you reconcile these two
extremely contradictory statements, the statement about idle
chatter, about the fact that the officer is not a
politician. This statement took place on the 15th of
February, 1944, at the time when you were not the supreme
head of the State. Is that not so?

A. If a soldier during the war stands firmly behind his
nation and his government, that doesn't make him a
politician; that is said in that sentence and that was meant
by that sentence.

Q. All right. We will be more exact about it, whether this
is really the fact. Several times, in a very definite
manner, you testified here before the Tribunal that for many
years before the war, and during the war, you were
indoctrinating the Navy in the spirit of pure idealism and
firm respect for the customs and laws of war. Is that so?

A. Right, yes.

Q. In particular, on the 9th of May, yesterday, at twelve
hours fifty-four minutes, you said, "I indoctrinated the
submarine fleet in the pure idealism and I continued such
indoctrination during the war. It was necessary for me in
order

                                                  [Page 306]

to achieve high fighting morale." Five minutes after, on the
same day, you said, when speaking about the Navy: "I never
could tolerate giving orders to these people which would be
contradictory to such morale and, of course, it is beyond
all question that I myself could give such an order." You
acknowledge that those were your words, or approximately
your words, allowing for the possible inexactness of
translation; is that not so?

A. Of course, that is what I said.

Q. I would like you to take a look at the document which is
in your possession now, the document presented by your
defence Counsel, Document Donitz 91. In this document, your
defence Counsel presents an excerpt from the testimony,
sworn testimony - an affidavit made by Dr. Joachim Rudolphi.
In order not to waste time, I would like you to tell us
briefly in one word, "yes" or "no." whether Rudolphi is
correct in his testimony; that you always strongly opposed
the introduction into the German armed forces of the so-
called "People's Military Courts." Did you understand me?

A. I was against handing over legal cases from the Navy to
other courts. I said that if one bears the responsibility
for a branch of the armed forces, one also must have the
court martial jurisdiction. That is what it says.

Q. And you are familiar with Rudolphi's affidavit?

A. Yes, I know it.

Q. You remember, on the first page of that excerpt, which
has been presented to the Tribunal, it says:-

  "Early in the summer of 1943, the first threatening
  attempt to undermine the non-political jurisdiction of
  the armed forces was made."

Is Rudolphi correct in explaining this question and is it
true that you were against this attempt to introduce special
political courts into the Navy and armed forces? Is that
correct?

A. According to my recollection, my resistance began in the
summer, 1943. It may be that already in the spring the
jurisdiction of the armed forces was threatened. That may
be, but I did not learn of it.

Q. Do you acknowledge, Donitz, or not, that the introduction
of this so-called People's Court meant, as Rudolphi puts it,
a threatening attempt against the non-political jurisdiction
of the armed forces? That is his sentence which you can find
on the first page of Document 91-D.

A. As I have already stated, my point of view was the
following: I wanted to keep my sailors under my own
jurisdiction. I could not judge proceedings outside of the
Navy, because I did not know the legal procedure. My point
was that my sailors should remain with me and be sentenced
by me.

Q. For all kinds of crimes, including political crimes; is
that not so? Did I understand you correctly?

A. Yes, of course, I meant that; I have stated that I was of
the opinion that they should remain under naval
jurisdiction.

Q. Will you deny, Donitz, that you were always preaching
about, and always encouraging in every way, the murder of
defenceless people by members of the German armed forces for
purely political reasons; and you always looked upon such
murders as acts of military valour and heroism?

A. I do not understand you. I do not know what you mean.

Q. You did not understand my question?

A. No, I have not understood the meaning of your question at
all.

Q. I can repeat it. Perhaps it will be clearer to you. I am
asking you: Will you deny the fact that you preached in
favour of the murder of members of the German armed forces
by other members of the German armed forces and purely for
political reasons? Now, is the question clear to you?

A. How do you come to ask this question?

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal doesn't find your question quite
clear.

                                                  [Page 307]

COLONEL POKROVSKY: What I have in mind, my Lord, is the
Order No. 19, for the Baltic Fleet, which in part was dealt
with by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe. There is one point of this
order which elucidates with absolute precision the motives
for publishing and promulgating this order. One idea is
expressed there in a very clear manner - and with your
permission, I shall read one paragraph from this document.
For instance it says in Order Number 19, last paragraph but
one -

THE PRESIDENT: Which paragraph?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The last paragraph but one of the
Document 650-D, Page 4 of the English text. I beg your
pardon, Page 4 of the German text, and the last paragraph on
the third page of the English copy.

THE PRESIDENT: It has been read already in cross-
examination.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: This particular part was not read in the
cross-examination, and it is really very important for the
case.

THE PRESIDENT: We have just heard this very question, this
very example, read by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, not half an
hour ago.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: But Sir David Maxwell Fyfe in reading
this example did not read one particular sentence which is
of great importance to me, and which clarifies the whole
matter, and that is the reason why I permitted myself to
come back to this particular passage. It is only one
sentence which interests me.

THE PRESIDENT: What sentence are you referring to?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The first sentence in the second
paragraph from the end. It is the paragraph which begins,
"for example, in the prisoner-of-war camp - "

THE PRESIDENT: You are entirely wrong. He read the whole of
the paragraph. Sir David Maxwell Fyfe read the whole of the
paragraph.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: When, with your permission, I shall read
these few words, then you will convince yourself, my Lord,
that these particular words were not read.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, I have a note in my
notebook made at the time, which shows that the whole of
this was read; that the defendant was cross-examined about
the meaning of the word "Communist"; and that he explained
it by saying that he was referring to a spy among the crew
who might give away submarine secrets. The whole matter was
gone into fully by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, and the Tribunal
does not wish to hear any more about it.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: It is absolutely necessary for me to read
two expressions from this sentence which were not read into
the record here, and I ask your permission to read these two
words.

THE PRESIDENT: Which two words do you say were not read?
State the two words.

COLONEL POKROVSKY:  "according to plan," or
"systematically." That is, according to a certain plan, and
also "surreptitiously," or "without being noticed."
They are not talking about one particular instance, but they
are talking about the whole definite plan, about the system.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but that was all read, Colonel
Pokrovsky. You must have missed it.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: It was not read. Of course, Sir David may
have omitted that.

                                                  [Page 308]

THE PRESIDENT: That was read by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe and
put to the witness, to the defendant.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Perhaps Sir David Maxwell Fyfe might have
accidentally omitted this, but it is really very important
for me, because Donitz testified here, to the conversation
about killing only one spy, but really what is meant here is
that there was a plan to exterminate all Communists or,
rather, men who were supposed to be Communists, according to
the idea of a certain petty officer.

THE PRESIDENT: It is exactly what Sir David Maxwell Fyfe put
to the witness. He said, "How can you say that this refers
to a case of spies or one spy, when it is referring to all
Communists?" It is exactly the question he put to him.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Perhaps I didn't understand quite
correctly what our interpreter translated, but in our
translation this was not mentioned. Then with your
permission I will go to the next question.

BY COLONEL POKROVSKY:

Q. Will you deny, Donitz, that in this order, as only one
example of high military valour, that military valour which
serves as the basis or the reason for extraordinary
promotion of non-commissioned officers, you incited the
treacherous and systematic murder of people for political
reasons? Do you deny that this order was correctly
understood?

A. No, that is quite wrong. This order refers to one
incident in a prisoner-of-war camp, and it should be
considered in what serious dilemma. the senior member of the
camp found himself, and that in the interests of the conduct
of the war he acted in a responsible and correct manner by
removing as a traitor that Communist who was at the same
time an informer. It would have been easier for him if he
had just let things take their course, which would have
harmed the U-boats and caused losses. He knew that after his
return home he would have to account for it. That is the
reason why I gave this order.

Q. Perhaps you will agree that the incidents, as you explain
them now, are absolutely different from what are written in
your order.

THE PRESIDENT: I have already told you that the Tribunal
does not wish to hear further cross-examination upon this
subject. You are now continuing to do that, and I must draw
your attention again clearly to the ruling of the Tribunal,
that the Tribunal will not hear further cross-examination
upon this subject.

BY COLONEL POKROVSKY:

Q. In the light of this document, I ask you how do you
explain your statement about your alleged objections in
principle to special political courts being introduced into
the Navy, that is, the special political considerations
which were sworn to in the affidavit by Dr. Rudolphi? How do
you explain this contradiction?

A. I did not understand what you said.

Q. You say here that the document does not deal with
political acts, whereas the order deals with political
questions, and Dr. Rudolphi testified to the fact that you
were against introducing political courts into the Army and
the Navy. Obviously there is a contradiction in terms here,
and I would like to have this contradiction explained.

A. I do not see any contradiction because Dr. Rudolphi says
that I was against handing over legal cases to courts
outside of the Navy, and because the case of the Comerau
deals with an action by the senior camp member, far away in
a prisoner-of-war camp in a foreign land. He decided on this
action only after grave deliberation, knowing that at home
he would have to answer for it before a military

                                                  [Page 309]

court. He did this, because he considered it necessary, in
the interests of the conduct of the war, to stop the loss of
submarines by treason. Those are two entirely different
things. Here we deal with an individual case in the
"Comorau" camp.

Q. What you are testifying to now is a repetition of what
you said before, and, as you heard, the Tribunal does not
want to listen to it any more. This is really not an answer
to my question.

A. Yes. In answering your question I cannot say anything
else but the truth, and this is what I have done.

Q. Of course our ideas of truth may be altogether different.
I, for instance, look upon this question in an altogether
different manner.

A. Excuse me, please. I am under oath here, and you do not
want to accuse me of telling an untruth, do you?

Q. We are not talking about false testimony, but we are
talking about a different approach to the idea of truth. I,
for instance, consider that by this order you revealed
yourself as a real -

A. No, I cannot agree with that.

Q. - that you revealed yourself -

THE PRESIDENT: (Interposing). Will you kindly put the
question if you want to put a question?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I want to ask him one question, my Lord,
and I must explain to him why I am asking this question.

BY COLONEL POKROVSKY:

Q. I consider this order as a direct revelation of your
loyalty, fanatical loyalty to Fascism, and in this
connection I want to ask you whether you consider that it
was because of the fact that you showed yourself to be a
fanatical follower of Fascism and Fascist ideas that Hitler
chose you to be his successor, because you were known to
Hitler as a fanatical follower who was capable of inciting
the Army to any crime in the spirit of Hitlerite
conspirators, and that you would still call these crimes
pure idealism. Do you understand my question?

A. Well, I can only answer to that, that I do not know. I
have already explained to you that the legitimate successor
would have been the Reichmarschal, but, through a
regrettable misunderstanding, a few days before his
appointment, he was no longer considered and I was the next
senior officer in command of an independent branch of the
armed forces. I believe that was the determining factor. The
fact that the Fuehrer had confidence in me may also have had
something to do with it.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The Soviet prosecution, my Lord, has no
more questions to ask of this defendant.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, do you want to re-examine?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I should like to put a few more questions,
Mr. President.

RE-DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY DR. KRANZBUHLER:

Q. Grand Admiral, during the cross-examination by Sir David
you were asked about your knowledge of conditions in
concentration camps; and you wanted to make an additional
statement, which you could not do at the time.

What personal connections did you have with any inmates of
concentration camps, or did you have any connections at all?

A. I had no connections with anybody, not with anybody who
had come into a concentration camp, with the exception of
Pastor Niemoller. Pastor Niemoller was a former comrade of
mine from the navy. When my last son was killed he expressed
his sympathy, and on that occasion I asked him how he was.

                                                  [Page 310]


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