The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/03/09

Q. How did you help the life-boats?

A. First of all I gave the survivors their exact position
and told them what course to take in order to reach land in
their life-boats. In the second place, I gave them water,
which is of vital importance for survivors in tropical
regions. In one case I also furnished medical aid for
several wounded men.

Q. Did your personal experiences with torpedoed ships
dispose you to caution with regard to rescue measures?
                                                   [Page 37]

A. Yes. The experienced U-boat Commander was justifiably
suspicious of every merchantman and its crew, no matter how
innocent they might appear. In two cases this attitude of
suspicion saved me from destruction.

This happened in the case of the steamer Kalchas, a ten-
thousand ton British ship, which I torpedoed north of Cape
Verde. The ship had stopped after being hit by the torpedo.
The crew had left the ship and were in the life-boats, and
the boat seemed to be sinking. I was wondering whether to
surface in order, at least, to give the crew their position
and ask if they needed water. A feeling which I could not
explain kept me from doing so. I raised my periscope to the
fullest extent and just as the periscope rose almost
entirely out of the water, sailors who had been hiding under
the guns and behind the rails, jumped up, manned the guns of
the vessel - which so far had appeared to be entirely
abandoned - and opened fire on my periscope at very close
range, compelling me to submerge at full speed. The shells
fell close to the periscope but were not dangerous to me.

In the second case, the steamer Alfred Jones, which I
torpedoed off Friedhaven, also seemed to be sinking. I
wondered whether to surface, when I saw in one of the life-
boats two sailors of the English Navy in full uniform. That
aroused my suspicions. I inspected the ship at close range -
I would say from a distance of 50 to 100 metres - and
established the fact that it had not been abandoned, but
that marines were still concealed aboard her in every
possible hiding-place and behind wooden boarding. When I
torpedoed the ship this boarding was smashed. I saw that the
ship had at least four to six guns of ten and fifteen
centimetre calibre, a large number of depth-charge throwers
and anti-aircraft guns behind the rails. Only a pure
accident-the fact that the depth charges had been rendered
blank, saved me from destruction.

It was clear to me, naturally, after such an experience,
that I could no longer concern myself with crews or
survivors without endangering my own ship.

Q. When did you enter the Staff of C.-in-C. U-boats?

A. In November 1941-

Q. You were the first Naval Staff Officer?

A. Yes.

Q. Was it your task to instruct the Commanders on orders
issued before they left port?

A. Yes, I did that.

Q. And what was the connection between the instructions
given by you and those to be given by the Flotilla chiefs -
Mohle, for instance?

A. The Commanders whom I had to instruct received a complete
summary of all questions concerning procedure at sea. The
Flotilla Chief was charged with ascertaining that all
Commanders should receive a copy of the most recent orders
issued by C.-in-C. U-boats. I might say that these were
limited instructions, compared with the full instructions
they received from me.

Q. Did these full instructions include the instructions to
the Commanders regarding the treatment of survivors?

A. Yes, in much the same style as the instructions I
received during my training in the U-boat school.

Q. Was any change made in the manner of instruction after
the Laconia order of September 1942?

A. Yes. I related the incident briefly to the Commanders and
said to them: "Now the decision as to whether the situation
at sea permits of rescue attempts no longer rests with you.
Rescue measures are prohibited from now on."

Q. Do you mean to say that during the whole of the rest of
the war - that is, for two and a half years - the Commanders
continued to be told about the Laconia incident, or was that
only done immediately after this incident in the autumn of

A. I would say up to January 1943 at the latest. After that,
no further mention was made of it. You mean, no further
mention of the incident

                                                   [Page 38]

A. No further mention of the Laconia incident.

Q. But the orders issued as a result of it were mentioned?

A. Yes, that specific order not to take any more rescue
measures had been issued.

Q. Did the Commanders at any time receive orders or
suggestions from you or from one of your crews to shoot at

A. Never.

Q. Were the Commanders told by you about the order to take
captains and chief engineers on board, if possible?

A. Yes.

Q. Was it emphasized in those instructions that this was
only to take place when it could be done without endangering
the U-boat?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know of the incident of U-boat 386, which passed
some airmen shot down in the Bay of Biscay?

A. I remember this incident very distinctly.

Q. Then you also remember that this incident took place in
the autumn of 1943?

A. Yes.

Q. Did C.-in-C. U-boats think, with regard to this incident,
that the U-boat Commander should have shot at the airmen in
the rubber dinghy?

A. No, on the contrary he was annoyed because the crew of
the aircraft had not been brought along by the U-boat.

Q. Did any other person or persons on the staff put forward
the view I have just expressed?

A. No, we knew everyone on the staff, and it is out of the
question that any member of the staff held a different

Q. Commander Mohle testified that he asked Commander Kupich,
who was a member of your staff, for an explanation of the
Laconia order; and that Commander Kupich told him about the
incident of the U-386; and told it in such a way as to make
it appear that C.-in-C. U-boats ordered the shooting of

A. That is impossible.

Q. Why?

A. Because Kupich took his U-boat out to sea in July 1943
and never returned from that cruise. The incident of U-386
happened in the autumn of 1943, which was later.

Q. Commander Mohle in his first statement left the
possibility open that this story about U-386 might have come
from you. Did you discuss this matter with him?

A. No.

Q. Are you certain of that?

A. Absolutely certain.

Q. Did you hear of the interpretation given by Commander
Mohle to this Laconia order?

A. After the capitulation-that is, after the end of the war
and then through a British officer.

Q. How do you explain the fact that of the very few officers
who received these instructions from Mohle, none raised the
question of the interpretation of this order with C.-in-C. U-

A. I have only one explanation of this; and that is that
these officers thought Commander Mohle's interpretation
completely impossible, and not in agreement with the
interpretation of C.-in-C. U-boats.

Q. Therefore they did not think that clarification was

A. They did not think that clarification was necessary.

Q. The prosecution's charges against Admiral Donitz are
based to a great extent on extracts from the War Diaries of
SKL and C.-in-C. U-boats, documents

                                                   [Page 39]

which are in the possession of the British Admiralty. How is
it possible that all these fell into the hands of the
British Admiralty and in toto?

A. It was the Admiral's desire that the War Diaries of the U-
boats and of C.-in-C. U-boats which formed part of the Navy
archives, should be preserved and should not be destroyed.

Q. Did he say anything to you about this?

A. Yes; and in this form-when I told him that our own staff
data had been completely destroyed.

Q. Did he give any reason as to why he did not want the navy
archives destroyed?

A. He wanted to keep these data until after the war, as the
Naval War Staff had nothing to conceal.

Q. Is that your opinion or is that the opinion which Admiral
Donitz expressed to you?

A. He told me, "We have a clear conscience."

Q. Immediately after the capitulation you were repeatedly
interrogated on questions of U-boat warfare and on those
occasions you asked the senior officers present whether the
German U-boat command would be accused by the British Navy
of criminal acts. Is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. And what answer did you receive?

A. An unhesitating "no".

DR. KRANZBUHLER I have no further questions, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any defendant's Counsel wish to ask any
questions? The prosecution?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: With the Tribunal's permission I do not
propose to cross-examine, and ask leave to adopt the
examination of the last witness because it is the same
ground substantially.


Does any other Prosecutor wish to cross-examine?

Yes, Dr. Kranzbuhler?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I have no further questions to ask the
witness, Mr. President.


Q. During his interrogation the defendant Donitz said that
Goth and Hessler - that is you, is it not?

A. Yes.

Q.  - told him

  "Don't send that signal. You see, one day it might appear
  ambiguous; it might be misinterpreted."

Did you say that?

A. I do not remember. As administrative officers, we often
had to oppose orders which were being drafted, and we were
entitled to do so but I do not remember whether Admiral Goth
and I did so in this case.

Q. Then later in this interrogation the defendant Donitz

  "I am completely and personally responsible for it (that
  is that order) because Captain Goth and Hessler both
  expressly stated that they considered the telegram as
  ambiguous or liable to be misinterpreted."

Did you say that this telegram was ambiguous or liable to be

A. I do not remember that point. I do not think I thought
the telegram was ambiguous.

                                                   [Page 40]

Q. And lastly the defendant Donitz said this

  "I would like to emphasize once more that both Captain
  Goth and Captain Hessler were violently opposed to the
  sending of the telegram."

Do you say that you were not violently opposed to the
sending of the telegram?

A. It is possible that we opposed the despatch of the
telegram because we did not consider it necessary to refer
to the matter again.

Q. Did you say anything to the defendant Donitz about this
telegram at all?

A. When the telegram was drafted we discussed it, just as we
discussed every wireless message drafted by us. As time went
on, we drafted many hundreds of wireless messages so that it
is impossible to remember just what was said in each case.

Q. You began your answer to that question:-

"When the telegram was ... "

Do you remember what happened at the drafting of this

A. I can only remember that in the course of the so-called
Laconia incident, a great many wireless messages were sent
and received; that many wireless messages were drafted; and
that, in addition, U-boat operations were going on in the
Atlantic, so that I cannot recall details of what happened
when the message was drafted.

Q. You said now that it was possible that you and Admiral
Goth were opposed to the sending of this telegram. Is that
your answer?

A. It is possible but I cannot say.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well Dr. Kranzbuhler, the witness can

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, this morning I had already
advised the prosecution that I should not call the fourth
witness scheduled and that is Admiral Eckhardt. Therefore,
my examination of witnesses is concluded.

THE PRESIDENT: And that concludes your case for the present?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: That concludes my case but with the
permission of the Tribunal I would like to clarify one more
question which deals with documents.

The Tribunal has refused all documents which refer to
contraband, control ports and "Navicert system." These
questions are of some importance if I am to present a
correct case later on.

May I interpret the Tribunal's decision as saying that these
documents are not to be used now as evidence but that I may
have permission to use them later on in my legal argument?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, the Tribunal thinks that is
a question which may be reserved until the time comes for
you to make your speech.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Thank you, Mr. President. Then I have
concluded my case.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 15th May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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