The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Then I come to Document C-41, Exhibit USA 47. This is in
the Raeder Document Book 10, on Page 22 in the compilation
of the British Delegation. This is your letter of 10th
February 1932 in regard to torpedo armament of the S-boats,
the speed boats.

THE PRESIDENT: Is this in Document Book 10-A or 10?

DR. SIEMERS: Document Book 10. The first document book.

                                                   [Page 84]

THE PRESIDENT: I have got my pages wrongly marked somehow.
It is all right.

DR. SIEMERS: Please, excuse me. That is how the page numbers
were given to me.

THE PRESIDENT: It is correct in the other members' books.


Q. The torpedo armament of speed boats was not expressly
permitted in the Versailles Treaty and for that reason you
are accused in this connection. Did this involve only the 5
speed boats mentioned in this document?

A. Yes. There were 5 boats which we had ordered for use as
patrol boats in the ship-building replacement programme and
which in themselves had no armament.

How big were these boats?

A. Certainly not more than 40 tons, probably considerably

Q. Were more boats of this type built during the Versailles

A. I cannot say with certainty. In any case, we had no other
armed boats.

Q. Yes, excuse me, that is what I mean. More armed boats.

A. No no. We could build 12 Plus 4, which makes 16 torpedo
boats of 200 tons. A torpedo boat of 200 tons could not be
produced in a practical manner at that time because of the
question of the motors and of navigability. For that reason,
we did not build these torpedo boats for the time being, but
kept in service a number of quite old torpedo boats from the
beginning of the century in order to be able to train crews
with them. We could no longer use these boats for fighting.
But so that, during this time when we could not replace
them, we might have a few boats capable of action, even if
small, which could be of use if the Baltic were blocked. I
ordered that these patrol boats should be equipped to take
torpedo tubes on board. However, so that in 1932, when we
hoped that at the disarmament Conference we might make some
progress, we should not make our situation worse by open
breaches of the Treaty, I had only one boat at a time armed
in order to fit and test the armament and I then had the
armament dismounted again, so that there was always only one
boat available with armament at any one time.

We planned to put the torpedo tubes on board the speed boats
only if the political situation, that is, the situation
after the Disarmament Conference would permit it. That is
what I state in Number 3 in the concluding sentence.

Q. I can take it then that you were allowed to build 16
torpedo boats, making 3,200 tons in all?

A. Yes.

Q. Concerning the accusation made by the prosecution that
you did not include the speed boats in your numbers, you
actually did not intend to keep anything secret, but you
wanted to discuss it with the Control Commission when the
time came?

A. Yes.

Q. Now I come to the most extensive document submitted by
the prosecution in regard to breaches, Document C-32,
Exhibit USA 50. This is in Document Book 10-A, Page 8; in
the new Document Book of the British Delegation.

In this list all breaches are included under the date 9th
September 1933. The prosecution justly points out that this
compilation is very thorough and it is presented just as
thoroughly. Although, as I believe I can prove, they are, in
the last analysis, small matters. I am compelled to ask the
witness to answer these points in detail since they were
brought up in detail. Breach Number 1 concerns the exceeding
of the permitted number of mines. In Column 2 it states that
according to the Versailles Treaty, the Control Commission
allowed 1,665 mines, but we owned 3,675 mines, that is to
say, 2,000 too many. Will you please tell the Tribunal the
significance of this breach, it doubtlessly was a breach.

                                                   [Page 85]

A. I should like to say in advance that this list was
prepared for our Navy representative at the Disarmament
Conference, so that if these things should be mentioned, he
could give an explanation. That is why it was so explicit,
even though most of the things it contains are of minor
importance. I should like to add to what I said previously
as regards the danger of attacks by Poland. In view of the
political situation at that time we always feared that the
Poles, if they should undertake an invasion of our country,
might receive certain naval support from France, inasmuch as
French ships, which at that time often visited the Polish
port of Gdynia, could attack our coast through the Baltic
entrance, the Belt and the Sund. For this reason the defence
of the Baltic entrances by mines played an important role,
and that was why we undertook this breach of the Treaty, in
order to be able to close at least the Baltic entrances at
the narrow points; which was of course possible only for a
certain time. With these mines only a stretch of 27 sea
miles could have been closed. Thus, we would have been able
to close a part of Danzig Bay on which Gydnia was situated,
or a part of the Belt, by laying several rows of mines. This
was the only method which could be effective for any length
of time. This was purely a question of defence, but still
they exceeded the number of mines permitted.

Q. Just now in the calculation of the 27 sea miles you
included the total number which Germany
had at that time.

A. Yes.

Q. Not just the number which exceeded that which was

A. No, the total.

Q. So that the number in excess is only half this number?

A. Yes.

Q. And then I should like to have an approximate comparison.
I was told by way of comparison, that the British in the
First World War laid about 400,000 to 500,000 mines in the
North Sea. Do you recall if this number is approximately

A. Approximately it may be right. I cannot say exactly from

Q. I believe the approximation suffices to show a picture of
the size.

A second small question now. Is it true that for mining
English ports Reichsmarschall Goering's Luftwaffe in one
action alone used thirty to fifty thousand mines? Do you
know of that?

A. I have heard so.

Q. Then there is a second point:

  "Continuous storing of guns from the North Sea area for
  Baltic artillery batteries."

This involves 96 guns, only 6 of which are of large calibre,
the others of smaller calibre. May I ask you to explain this
breach of the Treaty?

A. This is quite a small breach. We were allowed a
comparatively large number of guns on the North Sea coast.
On the other hand, according to plans the Baltic coast was
comparatively bare of guns, since they wanted to retain free
entry to the Baltic, whereas we had the greatest interest in
closing the Baltic against attacks. For this reason we
stored the gun barrels which belonged to the North Sea coast
defences, but which had been brought to the Baltic for
repairs, in sheds in the Baltic area for a long time in
order to be able to mount these guns on the Baltic coast in
case of attack. The North Sea coast had many guns, and
because of the shallowness it was much easier to defend than
the Baltic coast. That was the breach.

Q. In practice it only meant moving them from the North Sea
to the Baltic, coast. That is, not mounting them, but merely
storing them.

A. Yes.

Q. Then under (3), another charge, "non-scrapping of guns".
A total of 99 guns are mentioned of which the ten largest of
28 centimetres were actually scrapped. Please comment on

A. When we acquired new guns, for example for the battleship
Deutschland, six 28 centimetres guns were constructed, or
for the Deutschland and the cruisers,

                                                   [Page 86]

forty-eight 15 centimetre guns were constructed, we then had
to scrap a corresponding number of old guns. Ten of this
number were actually scrapped. All the guns were turned over
to the army for scrapping and we received a receipt for
them, saying that the guns had been scrapped. We learned,
however, that the army in fact had not scrapped them, but,
with the exception of the ten 28 centimetre guns, intended
to use them for the fortifications to be built in case of
attack, since they had no such guns at all.

Q. I should like to make the time clear. This must have been
a breach of the Treaty which occurred long before the time
you took office as Chief of the Navy Command.

A. This happened between 1919 and 1925 for the most part. In
any case I had nothing to do with these matters.

Q. (4), is very simple.

  "Deviation from the places settled by the Entente for the
  disposition of coastal batteries."

A. Previously, up to the time of the World War, the heavy
and the middle-sized batteries in particular were placed
very close to each other, or rather in the batteries the
guns were placed very close to each other. Because of our
experience in the World War however, the heavy and medium
sized guns within the batteries were afterwards placed
further apart, so that a single hit would not destroy
several guns at 8nce. That is why they were no longer
exactly in the places where they had been at the time of the
Treaty. Otherwise nothing was changed.

Q. Were these movements of batteries disapproved by the
Control Commission merely on technical grounds?

A. I cannot say, I never took part in these negotiations.

Q. (5) concerns the laying of gun-platforms for artillery
batteries and the string of A.A. ammunition. In column two
there is again the question of changing to a different place
than that allowed by the Entente. Does the same reason
operate in the case of (4)?

A. No, not completely. We wanted to put the A.A. batteries
in positions where they were particularly useful and could
be fully utilised, whereas the Commission did not want to
have them there. As a result we left the A.A. batteries
where they were, but at other points we prepared so-called
gun-platforms which were improvised wooden platforms, so
that in case of attack from any enemy we could set up the
A.A. guns in order to use them most effectively. In the same
way -

Q. This is only a question then of platforms for an A.A.
battery, only the foundations for a defence?

A. Yes, only foundations.

Q. Then comes (6):

"Laying gun-platforms in the Kiel area".

A. The Kiel area was especially bare of guns, because the
entrance through the Belt to Kiel was to be as little armed
and as open as possible. For this reason the setting up of
guns in the Kiel area was especially forbidden, and in order
to be able to set up some guns in a hurry in case of
necessity, gun platforms were prepared there also.

Q. The next point the prosecution mentions comes under (7):

  "Exceeding the calibre permitted for coastal batteries."
  "Coastal batteries" obviously means defence, but
  nevertheless it was brought up as an accusation.

A. Yes. It says here, that instead of three 17 centimetre or
rather, instead of six 15 centimetre guns, three 17
centimetre guns were built. Of course, it is a breach, in so
far as the guns were to remain there, but it is open to
doubt whether these six 15 centimetre guns might not have
been better along the coast than the three 17 centimetre

Q. I see, you mean that they are actually less than the
number permitted?

A. Yes.

Then comes (8), the arming of M-boats. M-boats are mine

                                                   [Page 87]

A. We had the old mine-sweepers which, in case of attack in
the Baltic, were to serve the double purpose of finding the
mines and of guarding the mine barrage which we wanted to
lay in the exits of the Belt, etc., in order to close the
Baltic and defend it against light enemy forces. For this
reason we gave each M-boat a 10.5 centimetre gun and one
machine gun C-30.

Q. Actually the minimum armament?

A. Yes.

Q. (9) can be quickly settled, I believe:-

  "Arming of six S-boats and eight R-boats."

The six S-boats are those which were discussed in Document C-

A. Yes, It says here boats armed with torpedoes.

Q. (10):-

  "Setting up practice AA batteries."

Is that a breach of the Treaty?

A. Yes, it was after all an A.A. battery. It was only
because near the garrisons where there were barracks with
our men we wanted an opportunity to practice A.A. firing
exercise. That is why we set up these batteries near the
barracks. There was no intention of using them in this place
for defence. It was only a matter of training.

Q. Then comes (11).

A. The individual cases are gradually becoming more
ridiculous. I consider it a waste of time.

Q. I am sorry, Grand Admiral, I must put you to this trouble
but I believe it is necessary, since the prosecution read
almost all these items into the record, and wanted to put a
construction on them which puts you at a disadvantage.

A. Then there is "Salute. Battery Friedrichsort".

Friedrichsort is the entrance to Kiel where foreign ships
salute when they enter, and the salute must be returned. Two
7.7 centimetre field guns which had been rendered
unserviceable had been approved for this purpose. With these
guns, one could shoot only with blank cartridge. We
considered it expedient, since there was a battery
foundation already available there, that instead of these
two 7.7 centimetre guns we should set up four 8.8 centimetre
A.A. guns which were ready for use. But this too was long
before the time when I was Commander-in-Chief of the Navy.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 16th May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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