The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/03/13

Q. Excuse me, that is at the beginning of this speech of 5th

A. Yes, at the beginning of the speech. He told me he had
spoken with the Fuehrer beforehand. The Fuehrer wanted to
spur on the Army to carry out its rearmament somewhat
faster. It was going too slowly. The subject of the

                                                  [Page 111]

speech was Austria and Czechoslovakia, which he said in one
place he wanted Raeder to overthrow. He said that the latest
date would be 1943-1945, because after that our situation
would become worse. But the case could come up earlier under
two conditions: In the first place, if internal unrest
occurred in France; in the second place, in the event of a
Mediterranean war - which in my opinion was fantastic - in
which England, France, Italy - and I believe he added Spain
- would participate.

The assertion that the arming of Army, Navy and Air Force
was as good as completed in November 1937, I could not
understand. The Navy had not a single battleship yet in
service. The situation was similar in the Air Force and
Army. In no way were we armed for war, and a war against
England, for example, would have been sheer madness. As for
me, the decisive sentences in his speech were that first,
England and France, I believe, had already written off
Czechoslovakia; and, second, that he was convinced that
France and England would not interfere. In the third place
was the fact that just a few months before, in July 1937,
the second Naval Agreement had been signed. These three
facts seemed to me to make it certain that Hitler would not
seek a warlike solution, of these questions, Austria and
Czechoslovakia - Sudetenland was the question of the day -
under any circumstances; but that he would strive for a
peaceful solution. For that reason the speech did not give
me the impression that Hitler at the time wanted to change
his policy, that he wanted to turn from a policy of peace to
one of war. I can imagine that Herr von Neurath, not knowing
the purpose of this speech, received a different impression.
But, as I now think back over the matter, I can imagine that
the exaggerated character of the speech was specifically
intended to force von Neurath out of the cabinet, because I
have learned that at that time the Fuehrer was inclined to
replace von Neurath by von Ribbentrop. That was only an
assumption which I made afterwards.

For me the conclusions to be drawn from the speech were none
other than these: The construction of the fleet in the ratio
of one to three, relative to England, was to be continued,
and a friendly relationship with England was still to be
striven for. The ratio agreement which had just been reached
was to be observed.

Q. And, Grand Admiral, it appears, at the end of the
document, namely in the fourth paragraph from the end, that
Field Marshal von Blomberg and Colonel General von Fritsch,
in giving their estimate of the situation, repeatedly
pointed out the necessity that England and France must not
appear as enemies. This is commented on further, and one
sees that Blomberg and Fritsch were disturbed and for once
they opposed Hitler.

After the speech you talked to von Blomberg. Is it true that
he, who can unfortunately not be examined, and Fritsch, who
is also dead, saw through this exaggeration of Hitler and
therefore pointed out their misgivings and wanted to exert
some influence on him? About what did you talk to Blomberg
after this speech?

A. In the first place, Blomberg and Fritsch -

THE PRESIDENT: You must try not to put leading questions,
Dr. Siemers. You are putting into the witness' mouth what
you want him to answer. If you want to -

DR. SIEMERS: I am sorry I did so. It is a little difficult
when the two men who were there, Blomberg and Fritsch, are
dead. I can only point out that they are not alive any
longer. My final question is -

THE PRESIDENT: That cannot be helped, the fact that they are
dead. But, if you want to get anything in about that, you
must get it from the witness, not from yourself.


Q. What impression did Blomberg have after this speech? What
did he say to you afterwards?

                                                  [Page 112]

A. Blomberg himself, in a statement in a questionnaire,
confirmed to Field Marshal Keitel that, when we left the
room, Blomberg, who was with the Fuehrer most often, said
that Hitler's statements were not meant and should not be
taken too seriously. He believed that the Fuehrer would
settle these questions peacefully, too. And as Dr. Siemers
said, Blomberg and Fritsch had both already called the
attention of the Fuehrer to the fact that in no
circumstances should England and France be provoked to
intervene, since the German Wehrmacht would not be able to
deal with them.

I may add that in this case I intentionally did not make any
such objections because it was, after all, a daily
occurrence that, whenever I met the Fuehrer, I told him that
we must steer such a course as to avoid becoming involved
with England. And the Fuehrer repeatedly confirmed his
intention to do this. It is typical that when the Chief of
Army Operations, General von Fritsch, said that after these
remarks he would not be able to take the vacation in Egypt
in the winter of 1937-1938 which he had planned for his
health, Hitler at once agreed and said that the affair was
not so urgent he could go ahead on his vacation undisturbed,
which he then did.

This shows that it was again a question of exerting
pressure. That was the speech of 5th November, 1937. For in
fact he did not then crush either Austria or Czechoslovakia,
but in 1938 the question was settled peacefully, without
bloodshed, and with the agreement of the other Powers.

Q. In this connection may I submit a document relating to
the following year, Exhibit Raeder 23, Document Book 2, Page
127. On 30th September, 1938 - I need not say anything
further about Munich because the defendant did not directly
participate - Hitler and Chamberlain jointly declared that
the agreement signed the previous night and the Anglo-German
Naval Agreement were considered symbols of the desires of
both nations never again to wage war against each other. The
rest of the contents is well known.

Then I come to the second key document which the prosecution
submitted, namely L-79, the so-called " Little Schmundt." It
is Exhibit USA 27, No. 10 in the Document Book of the
British Delegation, on Page 24. The document, in spite of
its astonishing length, was also presented in full by the
prosecution, so I will not read from it. May I remind the
Tribunal that it states that further successes could not be
achieved without bloodshed, and on 23rd May, 1939, with
reference to Poland, that not Danzig but the attainment of
Lebensraum was the issue at stake.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you give us the reference? The reference
we got was Document Book 10, Page 24.


THE PRESIDENT: 74, was it?

DR. SIEMERS: 74, please accept my apology.


Q. It speaks of the final attainment of Lebensraum, and of
the fact that the Polish problem could not be separated from
the conflict with the West. Thereupon Hitler said that he
was still resolved to attack Poland at the first suitable
opportunity. Unfortunately, this is again a document which
is undated.

Do you know when Lieutenant-Colonel Schmundt prepared this

A. No, unfortunately I cannot say that.

THE PRESIDENT: Why do you say it is undated?

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, there is no date stating when
the document was prepared. There is only the date referring
to the minutes of the Conference of 23rd May. In the case of
the Hoszbach Document the conference was on 5th November,
but it was written down by Hoszbach five days later from

                                                  [Page 113]

on 10th November. In the case of Schmundt, we do not know
whether it was written down after one day, five days or four

THE PRESIDENT: Is it in evidence that the document of 5th
November was written down five days later?

DR. SIFMERS: No, the document of 5th November shows that it
was prepared five days later. The document is dated at the
top "Berlin, 10th November, 1937; Notes on the Conference in
the Reich Chancellery on 5th November, 1937."

THE PRESIDENT Well, that is right, then there is evidence.


Q. In the case of Schmundt, there is no indication?

A. No.

Q. You do not know when it was written down?

A. No, I never heard when.

Q. Did you ever see this document before this trial?

A. No.

Q. Does this document contain a correct reproduction, in all
points, of Hitler's speech, or does what you said about the
Hoszbach Document apply here also?

A. It applies even more here. In my opinion it is the most
confusing document concerning a Hitler speech which exists,
for a large part of the statements in my opinion makes no
sense whatsoever, as I have tried to show. The adjutant
wrote that only the sense of the statements was reproduced.

DR. SIEMERS: That is on the first page, where is written:
"Reproduced in substance."


Q. Please explain to the Tribunal what impression this
speech made on you at the time and why you believed, in
spite of this speech, that Hitler was not planning any war
of aggression.

A. I should like to point out again here that the trial
brief makes the comment that consultation took place as to
the scale on which the plan should be executed. Particularly
in this case that comment does not at all represent the
character of the speech correctly. The meaning of the whole
first part of the speech, as I said, is extremely vague.
Whereas, in the 1937 speech, 1943 to 1945 was given as the
latest deadline, and the possibility of an earlier date was
given under certain improbable circumstances, here Hitler
speaks of a solution as being possible in fifteen to twenty
years. He says that Poland is always on the side of the
enemy, in spite of the treaties of friendship, that her
secret intention is to take advantage of any opportunity to
act against us, and that he therefore wants to attack Poland
at the first suitable opportunity. He says that the Polish
problem is inseparable from a conflict in the West, but a
conflict in the West must not be permitted to arise
simultaneously. Unless it is certain that a war with the
West will not take place in the course of the German-Polish
conflict, then the first line of battle must be against
England and France. Then again, he says that we cannot allow
ourselves to be drawn into a war on two fronts such as the
incapable men of 1914 had brought about.

He says England - and that is comparatively new here - is
the driving force against Germany. We must prepare for a
long war, aside from a surprise attack - obviously against
England. It is astonishing that we were to endeavour, at the
beginning of such a war, to strike a destructive blow
against England. The goal is to beat England to her knees.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, the defendant appears to be
reading from a document an argument about this document.
That is not giving evidence. If be can tell us anything
about what happened at this meeting, it is open to him to do

                                                  [Page 114]

DR. SIEMERS: He is repeating, with the aid of this document,
the involved thoughts which Hitler expressed at that time,
and he is pointing out the contradictions contained in that

THE PRESIDENT: That is a matter of argument, to point out
that there are conflicts between one part of the document
and another. That is not the subject of evidence.

He has already told us that Hitler's speeches - that one
speech generally contradicted another, but we can see for
ourselves from the document if one part o it conflicts with

DR. SIEMERS: Is it not of importance, Mr. President, that
the unclear statements of Hitler at that time had such an
effect on the witness that he says that there are so many
contradictory statements that the conclusions which we
derive from them are likely to be untrue. As I understand
the witness, Hitler must have had a mental reservation in
the back of his mind to say such unclear things to
commanders; but I believe we can shorten it.


Q. Grand Admiral, according to the wish of the Tribunal,
just explain what the effect was on you and what in your
opinion were the special designs connected with this

A. I only wanted, by contrasting these sentences, to show
how unclear the speech was. At the end there is a second
part in which a number of doctrinaire, academic opinions on
warfare are expressed, and a conclusion to the effect that
it was also a wish of Hitler to have formed in the OKW a
research staff to work out all these plans for war
preparation, evaluation of individual weapons, etc., without
the participation of the General Staffs, with whom he did
not wish to collaborate. He wanted these things to be in his
own hands. Thus it was the formation of a research staff
which motivated this speech.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, I have already told you that the
Tribunal thinks that argument is not evidence. This seems to
be purely argument upon this document. If there is anything
in the shape of recollection as to what passed at this
meeting, that would be evidence, but merely to argue upon
the document is not in evidence.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, may the witness not say what
effect Hitler's processes of thought had on him? The
prosecution says that Hitler and Raeder entered into
conspiracy together.

THE PRESIDENT: He can say he did not understand it or did
not think it was sincere.

DR. SIEMERS: In this connection I should like to point out
that the witness referred to this point because this is the
only passage from this document which the prosecution has
not read. In this document, the sentences about the research
as I noticed immediately, were not read. This research staff
was what Hitler wanted to obtain.


Q. Grand Admiral, after this speech, was anything changed in
your department?

A. No. The conclusion which was drawn was, first, that the
ship construction programme was to be continued as in the
past - so Hitler himself said. In the second place he said
that the armament programmes were to be adapted to the year
1943-1944. That was the positive thing which I could
conclude for myself.

At that time, moreover, I was strongly impressed by the
speech which Hitler himself made at the launching of the
battleship Bismarck in Hamburg. There he said that the
Wehrmacht, as the keenest instrument of war, had to protect
and help to preserve the peace of true justice. That made
the greatest impression on me at that time in regard to
Hitler's intentions.

                                                  [Page 115]

Q. Was the fleet at that time in a position to do this?

A. No. It was completely incapable.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, if there are any passages in
this document which have not been read and to which you
attach importance, you may read them now and for the rest,
all that the Tribunal thinks you ought to do is to ask the
defendant what his recollection was or what happened at that
meeting and if he can supplement the document as to what
happened at the meeting, he is entitled to do so. The
Tribunal does not intend to prevent your reading anything
from the document which has not yet been read nor from
getting from the witness anything which he says happened at
the meeting.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, I understood the defendant to
mean that he recalled passages concerning the research
staff, which the prosecution did not mention, and therefore
referred to them. I believe that can explain the
misunderstanding. The situation is clear to me, and perhaps
I may read this sentence in that connection.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

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