The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/02/28

MR. DODD: Mr. President, while the witness is being called
in, I would like to raise one matter with the Tribunal. On
Saturday I understand that the question of when the witness
Hewel would be called was raised before the Tribunal. As I
understand it from the record, it was left for Counsel to
settle the matter as to whether he should be called before
or after the Raeder case comes on.

I should like to say that we have some reasons for asking
that he be called before the Raeder case, and here are two:
First, he is here in the prison under a kind of confinement
different from that under which he has been held by the
French in the French territory; and second, the officer,
Lieutenant Meltzer, who has been assisting in the Funk case
is very anxious - for urgent personal reasons - to return to
the United States, and of course he will not be able to do
so until we have concluded the Funk case. Also, Mr.
President, it will not take very long, in my judgement, to
hear this witness. He is only here for cross-examination on
his affidavit and we would appreciate it if he could be
called at the conclusion of the Donitz case.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, Mr. Dodd, he can be brought for
cross-examination after the Donitz case.

(The witness, Gerhard Wagner, came to the witness-stand.)

BY THE PRESIDENT:

Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Gerhard Wagner.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me: I swear by God, the
Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth,
and will withhold and add nothing?

(The witness repeated the oath.)

Will you sit down?

                                                  [Page 339]

DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY DR. KRANZBUHLER:

Q. Admiral, when did you join the Navy?

A. On the 4th June, 1916.

Q. Which positions did you hold in the Supreme Command of
the Navy, and at what time?

A. From summer, 1933, until the summer of 1935, I was
adviser in the operations department of the Supreme Command.
I was Lieutenant Senior Grade and then a Lieutenant
Commander.

In 1937, from January until September, I had the same
position. From April, 1939, until June, 1941, I was head of
the operations group, and I was also the head of Department
called 1A, in the operational department of the Naval War
Staff. From June, 1941 -

THE PRESIDENT: Not quite so fast.

A. (Continuing): From June, 1941, until June, 1944, I was
the chief of the operations department of the Naval War
Staff. From June, 1944, until May, 1945, I was Admiral for
special tasks attached to the Supreme Commander of the Navy.

Q. Therefore, during the entire war you were a member of the
Naval War Staff?

A. Yes, that is so.

Q. What were the general tasks of the Naval War Staff?

A. All tasks of the Naval War Staff, both at sea, and those
regarding coastal defence, and also protection of our own
merchant ships -

THE PRESIDENT: One moment. Witness, will you make a slight
pause after the question has been asked, between the
question and the answer?

WITNESS: Very well.

The tasks of the Naval War Staff included all those involved
in naval warfare both at sea and in the defence of the
coasts, and also in the protection of our own merchant
shipping. As far as territorial tasks were concerned, the
Naval War Staff did not have any, neither at home nor in the
occupied territories.

Q. Was the Naval War Staff part of the Supreme Command of
the Navy, OKM?

A. The Naval War Staff

Q. Please, will you make a pause between my question and
your answer?

A. The Naval War Staff was part of the Supreme Command of
the Navy.

Q. What was the relationship between the Naval War Staff and
the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (OKW)?

A. The OKW passed on the instructions and orders of Hitler,
as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces regarding the
conduct of the war; and as far as naval warfare was
particularly concerned, usually after having been examined
and reviewed by the Naval War Staff. General questions of
the conduct of the war were decided without previous
consultations with members of the Naval War Staff.

Q. In which manner were the preparations of the Supreme
Command of the Navy for a possible war carried out?

A. Generally speaking, there were mobilization preparations,
tactical training, strategic considerations for the event of
a possible conflict.

Q. Did the Naval War Staff during your time receive an order
to prepare for a definite possibility of war?

A. The first instance was the order for "Case White," the
war against Poland. Before that, only tasks regarding
security measures were given us.

Q. Were plans elaborated for the naval war against England?

                                                  [Page 340]

A. A plan for the war against England did not exist at all
before the beginning of the war. Such a war seemed to us
outside the realm of possibility. Considering the
overwhelming superiority of the British fleet, which can
hardly be expressed in proportionate figures, and
considering England's strategical domination of the seas,
such a war appeared to us to be absolutely hopeless. The
only means by which Britain, in spite of our inferiority in
all other naval departments, could have been damaged
effectively, was by submarine warfare; but even the
submarine weapon was by no means being given preferential
treatment, nor was its production accelerated. It was merely
given its corresponding place in the creation of a well-
balanced homogenous fleet.

At the beginning of the war, all we had were 40 submarines
ready for action, of which - as far as I can remember -
barely half could have been used in the Atlantic. That, in
comparison with the sea supremacy at the disposal of the
first-ranking world-power, England, was negligible. As a
comparison, I should like to cite the fact that the British
and the French Navy at that time had more than 100
submarines each.

Q. Did the then Captain Donitz, as the head of the
submarines, have anything to do with the planning of the
war?

A. Captain Donitz at that time was a subordinate front
commander, under the command of the Chief of the Fleet, and
he, because of his warfare experiences, had the task of
training and tactically guiding the inexperienced submarine
personnel.

Q. Did he, in turn, make any suggestions or instigate any
plans for the war?

A. No, these preparations and this war planning in
particular for the "Case White" were exclusively the task of
the Naval War Staff.

Q. Did Donitz at any previous time hear about the military
intentions of the Naval War Staff?

A. No.

Q. Did he have the order to carry out his orders - ?

A. I am afraid I didn't understand the last part of your
question.

Q. Did Admiral Donitz hear of the military intentions of the
Naval War Staff before he had to carry out the orders given
him?

A. No, he heard of them by means of the orders reaching him
from the Naval War Staff.

Q. Admiral Wagner, you know of the London Agreement of 1935,
regarding submarine warfare. Did the Naval War Staff draw
any conclusions from that agreement for their preparation
for a war, in particular, for carrying on a possible
economic war?

A. The prize regulations still existing from the last war
were revised and made to conform with the protocol of
London. For that purpose a committee was formed which
included representatives from the Supreme Command of the
Navy, the Foreign Office, the Reich Ministry of justice, and
scientific experts.

Q. Were these revised prize regulations made known to the
commanders some time before the war, or were they
communicated to them just when they were published, shortly
before the outbreak of the war.

A. These revised prize regulations were published in 1938 as
an internal ordinance of the Navy, and were available for
the purpose of training officers. During the autumn
manoeuvres of the fleet in 1938, a number of exercises were
arranged for the purpose of acquainting the officer corps
with these regulations. I myself, at that time -

THE PRESIDENT: Where are the revised prize regulations you
are referring to?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I am talking about the regulations
published on 26th August, 1939, and which are contained in
my document book. They are on Page 137, in the third volume
of my document book.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

                                                  [Page 341]

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I beg your pardon, Mr. President; the date
is not the 26th, but the 28th of August.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness was saying that exercises were
carried out?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes, in the year 1938.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

BY DR. KRANZBUHLER:

Q. What conceptions did the Naval War Staff have after the
beginning of the war, regarding the development of the naval
war against Britain?

A. The Naval War Staff thought that Great Britain would
probably start where she had stopped at the end of the first
World War. That meant that there would be a hunger blockade
against Germany, a control of the merchandise of neutral
countries, introduction of a system of control, the arming
of merchant ships, and the delimitation of operational
waters.

Q. I am now going to have the battle order of 3rd September,
1939, shown to you. It is Document Donitz 55. It can be
found on Page 139, in Volume 3 of the document book. You
will see from this that submarines, like all naval forces,
had orders to adhere to this prize ordinance in the economic
warfare.

Then, at the end, you will find an order which I propose to
read to you. This is on Page 140.

  "Order prepared for intensifying the economic war because
  of the arming of enemy merchant ships.
  
  1. Arming of and resistance on the part of the majority
  of English and French merchant ships is to be expected.
  
  2. Submarines and merchant ships shall only be stopped if
  own vessels are not endangered. Attack without warning by
  submarines is allowed against easily recognized enemy
  merchant ships.
  
  3. When stopping battleships and armed merchant ships,
  watch for possibility of use of arms by merchant ships."

I should like to ask you whether this order was prepared
long ago or whether it was improvised at the last moment?

A. At the beginning of the war we were forced to improvise a
great many orders being issued.

Q. Did this order become operative at all?

A. No.

Q. Why not?

A. After consultation with the Foreign Office, we had
decided that we would strictly adhere to the London
Agreement until we had clear-cut evidence of the British
Merchant Navy being used for military purposes. We
remembered from the last war the power which the enemy
propaganda had, and we did not under any circumstances want
to give anyone cause once more to decry us as sea pirates.

When, at what stage, did the military use of enemy merchant
ships become clear to the Naval War Staff?

A. The fact that enemy merchant navy vessels were armed
became clear after a few weeks of the war. We had a large
number of reports about gun duels which had occurred between
U-boats and armed enemy merchant ships. At least one or
probably several boats were lost by us. One British steamer,
I think it was called Storm, was praised publicly by the
British Admiralty for its success in fighting submarines.

Q. The Tribunal already has knowledge of the order of 4th
October, allowing attacks against all armed merchant ships
of the enemy, and also the order of 17th October, allowing
attacks on all enemy merchant ships with certain exceptions.

Were these orders the result of experiences which the Naval
War Staff had regarding the naval use of enemy merchant
ships?

A. Yes, exclusively.

                                                  [Page 342]

Q. Both orders contain exceptions favouring passenger ships.
They were not to be attacked, even when they were members of
an enemy convoy. To what were these exceptions due?

A. They were due to an order from the Fuehrer. At the
beginning of the war, he had stated that Germany had no
intention of waging war against women and children. He
wished, for that reason, that in naval war, too, any
incidents in which women and children might lose their lives
should be avoided. Consequently, even the stopping of any
passenger ships was  prohibited. The military necessities of
naval warfare made it very difficult to adhere to this
order, particularly where passenger ships were travelling in
enemy convoys. Later on, and step by step, this order was
altered, as it became evident that there was no longer any
peaceful passenger traffic at all, and that enemy passenger
ships were particularly strongly armed, and used more and
more as auxiliary cruisers and troop transport ships.

Q. Were the orders of the German Naval War Staff regarding
attacks on armed enemy ships, and later enemy ships as a
whole, made known to the British Admiralty?

A. Neither side made its war measures known during the war,
and that held true in this case, also. But, in October, the
German Press left no doubt whatsoever, that every armed
enemy merchant ship would be sunk by us without warning, and
later on, it was equally well known that we were forced to
consider the entire enemy merchant marine as being under
naval direction and
in naval use.

These statements by our Press must no doubt have been known
to the British Admiralty and the neutral governments. Apart
from that, and I think this was in October, Grand Admiral
Raeder gave an interview to the Press on the same theme.

Q. A memorandum of the Naval War Staff was issued in the
middle of October: "On the possibilities of intensifying the
war against merchant shipping," I am going to have this
memorandum shown to you. It is Exhibit GB 224.

Please, after looking at this memorandum, will you tell me
what its purpose was and what the memorandum contains?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, some extracts can be found
on Page 199, in Volume 4 of the document book.


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