The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/02/28

Q. What did he hope to achieve?

A. According to my first impression at the time, the
intention was evidently to express to the troops and the
German people that captivity would no longer bring any
advantage. Thereupon I immediately telephoned to Naval War
Command, since I considered the intention to be completely
wrong, and I asked them for a military opinion and an
opinion from the point of view of international law.

On the 19th, when taking part in the situation discussion,
Hitler once more referred to this question, but this time
not in connection with happenings on the Western front, but
in connection with the air attacks by the Western enemies on
open German towns - attacks had just been made on Dresden
and Weimar.

He ordered the Admiral to examine the effects of leaving the
Geneva Convention from the point of view of the Naval War
Command. An immediate answer was not expected, and it was
not given. General Jodl was also quite strongly opposed to
these intentions and he sought the Admiral's support.

Thereupon it was agreed to have a conference, and that is
the conference which is mentioned in the record under Figure
2.

Q. That is the conference of 20th February, Admiral?

A. Yes.

Q. Who participated in that conference?

A. Admiral Donitz, Colonel General Jodl, Ambassador Hewel
and myself.

Q. What was the subject?

A. The subject was the Fuehrer's intention of renouncing the
Geneva Convention. The result was the unanimous opinion that
such a step would be a mistake. Apart from military
considerations, we especially held the conviction that by
renouncing the Geneva Convention, both the Armed Forces and
the German people would lose confidence in the leadership,
since the Geneva Convention was generally considered to be
the conception of international law.

Q. In your notes there is a sentence: "One would have to
carry out the measures considered necessary without warning
and at all costs 'to save face' with the outer world." What
is the significance of that sentence?

A. That sentence means that on no account should there be
any irresponsible actions. If the leaders considered it
necessary to introduce counter-measures against air attacks
on open German towns, or against the propaganda for
desertion in the West, then one should confine oneself to
such counter-measures which appear necessary and
justifiable. One should not put oneself in the wrong before
the world, and one's own people by globally repudiating all
the Geneva Conventions

                                                  [Page 356]

and announce measures which went far beyond that which
appeared to be necessary and justifiable.

Q. Were any concrete measures discussed in this connection,
or were any such measures even
thought of?

A. No. I can remember very well that no specific measures
were discussed at all during the various conferences. We
were mainly concerned with the question of whether to
repudiate the Geneva Convention or not.

Q. Did you ever learn anything about a so-called intention
on Adolf Hitler's part to shoot 10,000 prisoners of war as a
reprisal for the air-attack on Dresden?

A. No, I have never heard anything about that.

Q. The expression "to save face," doesn't that mean secrecy,
hiding the true facts?

A. In my opinion it was certain that there was no question
of secrecy for neither the counter-measures against air
attacks, nor the measures of intimidation against desertion,
could be effective if they were concealed.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, the transmission came
through to me, Prosecution's Document Book, Page 68. Is that
right or not?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes, Mr. President. It should be Page 69. I
beg your pardon. It is probably entered incorrectly.

BY DR. KRANZBUHLER:

Q. How long did this whole conversation which you recorded
last?

A. Will you please tell me which conversation you mean?

Q. The discussion of 20th February, which contains the
sentences which I have just read to you.

A. It took perhaps ten minutes or a quarter of an hour.

Q. So that your record is a very brief condensed summary of
the conversation?

A. Yes, it only contains the important points.

Q. Did Admiral Donitz also submit his objections to the
Fuehrer?

A. As far as I recollect, it never reached that point. One
became convinced that Hitler, as soon as he put his
questions to the Admiral, could gather from the Admiral's
expression and the attitude of the others that they rejected
his intentions. We passed our views on to the Supreme
Command of the Armed Forces in writing and heard no more
about the whole matter.

Q. I am now going to show you another record which is
submitted under Exhibit GB 210. It is on the next page of
the document book of the prosecution, and it refers to
conferences at the Fuehrer's headquarters from 29th June to
1st July, 1944.

You will find an entry under the date of 1st July, which
reads: "In connection with the general strike in Copenhagen,
the Fuehrer says that terror can be subdued only with
terror." Was this statement made during a conversation
between Hitler and Admiral Donitz, or in which connection?

A. This is a statement made by Hitler during a situation
discussion which was addressed neither to Admiral Donitz nor
to the Navy.

Q. Well, if it was not addressed to the Navy, then why did
you include it in your record?

A. I included in my record all statements which could be of
any interest to the Navy. The Supreme Command of the Navy
was, of course, interested in the general strike in
Copenhagen, because our ships were repaired in Copenhagen,
and apart from that, Copenhagen was a naval base.

Q. And to whom did you pass this record? Who received it?

A. According to the distribution list on Page 4, the paper
went only to the Supreme Commander and Department I of the
Naval War Command.

Q. Did the Naval War Command have anything to do with the
treatment of shipyard workers in Denmark?

A. No, nothing at all. From 1943 on, the shipyards were
entirely under the Ministry of Armaments.

                                                  [Page 357]

Q. The prosecution sees in this statement and its
transmission to a department of the OKW, an invitation to
deal ruthlessly with the inhabitants. Does that in any way
tally with the meaning of this record?

A. There can be no question of that. The only purpose of
this record was to inform the departments of the Supreme
Command.

Q. I am now going to have another document shown to you. It
is Exhibit USA 544. It is contained in the document book of
the prosecution on Pages 64 and 65. It is a note by the
International Law Expert in the Naval War Command regarding
the treatment of saboteurs. Do you know this note?

A. Yes. I have initialled it on the first page.

Q. At the end of that note you will find the sentence: "It
is for the Navy to investigate whether the occurrence cannot
be used, after reporting to the Commander-in-Chief of the
Navy, to make sure that the treatment of members of commando
troops is absolutely clear to all the departments
concerned." Was this report made to Admiral Donitz, who at
that time had been Supreme Commander of the Navy for ten
days?

A. No, that report was not made, as the various remarks at
the head of it will show.

Q. Please, will you explain that?

A. The international law expert in the Naval War Command la
made this suggestion through the Operations Officer 1a to me
as Chief of the Operations Direction. This went to me and
then to the chief of the Operations Staff. The head of the
1a, in a hand-written notice at the side of his initials,
wrote: "The subordinate commanders have been informed." That
means that he had objected to the proposal of the
international law expert, and he considered that an
explanation of the orders within the Navy was superfluous. I
investigated these matters and I decided that the operations
officer was right. I sent for international law expert Dr.
Eckhardt, informed him orally of my decision, and returned
this document to him. Thus the suggestion to report to the
OBM (Supreme Command of the Navy) made in connection with
the explanation of this order was not actually carried out.

Q. Can you remember whether Admiral Donitz on some later
occasion gave his views on this commando order?

A. No, I have no recollection of that.

Q. I have submitted to you Exhibit GB 208, which is a record
regarding the case of a motor torpedo-boat at Bergen. It is
the case which is contained in the British Document Book on
Pages 66 and 67. Have you ever heard about this incident
before this trial?

A. No. I heard about it for the first time on the occasion
of interrogations in connection with these proceedings.

Q. I gather from the files of the British Court Martial
proceedings, which have been submitted by the prosecution
during cross-examination, that before the shooting of the
crew of that motor torpedo-boat, there had been two
telephone conversations between the chief of the Security
Service in Bergen and the SD at Oslo and between the SD at
Oslo and Berlin. Can you recollect whether such a
conversation took place between the SD at Oslo and yourself
or one of the representatives in the OBM?

A. I certainly had no such conversation, and as far as I
know, neither did any other officer in my department, or in
the Supreme Command.

Q. Do you consider it at all possible that the SD at Oslo
might get in touch with the Supreme Command of the Navy?

A. No, I consider that quite out of the question. If the SD
in Oslo wanted to get in touch with a central department in
Berlin, then they could only do so through their own
superior authority, and that is the RSHA.

Q. I now put to you another document; it is Exhibit GB 212,
which appears on Page 75 of the document book of the
prosecution. It mentions an example of a commander of a
German prisoner-of-war camp, and it says he had communists,

                                                  [Page 358]

who had attracted attention among the inmates, suddenly and
quietly removed by the guards. Do you know of this incident?

A. Yes, such an episode is known to me. I think we received
the report from a prisoner-of-war-a man who had been
severely injured, and who had been exchanged - that the
German commander of a prisoner-of-war camp in Australia, in
which the crew of the auxiliary cruiser Cormorau were
detained, had secretly had a man of his crew killed because
he had been active as a spy and traitor.

Q. But this order does not mention the word "spy." It says
"communist." What is the explanation?

THE PRESIDENT: It does not say "communist." It says
"communists" in the plural.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: "Communists," plural.

A. (continued). In my opinion the only explanation is that
the true state of affairs was to be concealed so as to
prevent the enemy intelligence from tracing the incident and
making difficulties for the senior sergeant in question.
Thus a different version was chosen.

Q. It was the opinion of the Soviet Prosecution that this
showed there was a plan for the silent removal of
communists. Can you tell us anything about the origin of
this order, whether such a plan existed, and whether it had
ever come under discussion.

A. First of all, the order was addressed to those personnel
offices which were responsible for choosing young potential
officers and non-commissioned officers in the Navy. There
were about six or seven personnel offices. Beyond that, I
can only say that of course -

Q. just a moment, Admiral, please.


THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, is it necessary to go into
all this detail? The question is, was there an order with
reference to making away with people of this sort or was
there not - not all the details about how the order came to
be made.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: In that case I shall put the question this
way.

BY DR. KRANZBUHLER:

Q. Was there any order or any desire in the Navy to kill
communists inconspicuously and systematically?

A. No, such an order or such a plan did not exist. Of
course, there were a considerable number of communists in
the Navy. That was known to every superior officer. The
overwhelming majority of those communists did their duty as
Germans just as any other German in the war.

Q. Admiral Donitz has been accused by the prosecution
because as late as the spring of 1945, he urged his people
to hold out obstinately to the end. The prosecution
considers that evidence of the fact that he was a fanatical
Nazi. Did you and the majority of the Navy consider this to
he so?

A. No, the Admiral's attitude was not considered to be
political fanaticism. To them it meant that he was carrying
out his ordinary duty as a soldier to the last. I am
convinced that this was the view of the great majority of
the entire Navy, the men and the non-commissioned officers
as well as the officers.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, I have no further questions
to put to this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other defendant's counsel want to
ask any questions?

DR. SIEMERS: Defence Counsel for Admiral Raeder.

                                                  [Page 359]

BY DR. SIEMERS:

Q. Admiral Wagner, you have already briefly sketched the
positions you have held. In supplementing I should like to
make quite sure who held a leading position in the Naval War
Command under Grand Admiral Raeder, in the decisive years
before and after the outbreak of the war. Who was the Chief
of Staff during the two years before the war, and at the
beginning of the war?

A. The Chief of Staff of the Naval War Command from 1938
until 1941 was Admiral Schniewind. From 1941 until the
retirement ... until after Raeder's retirement ... it was
Admiral Fricke.

Q. Those, therefore, were the two officers who worked in the
highest posts under Admiral Raeder in the Naval War Command.

A. They were the immediate advisers of the Admiral.

Q. And the Naval War Command had several departments?

A. Yes, it consisted of several departments, which were
given consecutive numbers.

Q. And which was the most important department?

A. The most important department of the SKL was the
Operations Department, which was known as No. 1.

Q. And the other departments, 2, 3, what did they do?

A. That was the Signals and Communications Department and
the Information Department.

Q. Who was the chief of the Operations Department?

A. From 1937 until 1941 it was Admiral Fricke. From 1941
until after Raeder's retirement I was the chief of that
department.

Q. In other words, for many years you worked under Admiral
Raeder. First of all, I should like to ask you to speak
briefly about Raeder's basic attitude during the time you
were working in the SKL.

A. Under Admiral Raeder the Navy was working for a peaceful
development in agreement with Britain. The foremost
questions were those regarding the type of ships, training
and tactical schooling. Admiral Raeder never referred to
aggressive wars during any conference which I attended. Nor
did he at any time ask us to make any preparations in that
direction.


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