The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-14/tgmwc-14-132.03

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-14/tgmwc-14-132.03
Last-Modified: 2000/03/14

Q. I believe that is sufficient.

DR. SIEMERS: May I point out to the High Tribunal that in
the English translation one sentence was underlined. That
is: "The Wehrmacht and Party are one indivisible entity."
The prosecution has submitted that. Apart from that, nothing
is underlined.

I wish to say in passing that in reality, in the original,
many other passages are underlined, particularly those
sentences which Admiral Raeder has just read which deal with

                                                  [Page 139]


Q. Admiral, the prosecution has accused you with relation to
all the political activities of National Socialism.
Therefore I am compelled to ask you briefly concerning your
participation in actions in those countries in which
participation by the navy is certainly surprising.

In what way were you connected with the measures concerning
the annexation of Austria?

A. The Navy had nothing to do with the Anschluss of Austria
at all and did not take part in any way.

Q. Did you make any preparations?

A. No. In the case of Austria, no preparations were needed.
The case of Austria was mentioned in Document C-75, but that
dealt only with the directive of the 1st July, 1937, for the
unified preparation of the Armed Forces for war.

DR. SIEMERS: May I point out that C-175 is Exhibit USA 69,
in the Document Book of the British Delegation, 10-A, Page
117. The prosecution considers this document important and
therefore I should like you to say a few words about it.

A. It deals with a statement, which, as far as I know, is
made annually in every State, and in which, according to the
political situation, such cases are mentioned which may
arise in the course of the year and for which, of course,
certain preparations have to be made. For the Navy, however,
that document had no sequel as far as Austria was concerned.

THE PRESIDENT: I am not sure that we have the reference to
that right. It came through, I thought, as Document C-157,
Exhibit USA 69, 10-A, and then I did not get the page.

DR. SIEMERS: Page 117.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that C-157 or 175?



Q. Does this concern strategic preparations for various

A. Yes; various cases are mentioned here, for instance, the
case "Rot" (Red) and the special case, "Erweiterung Rot-
Grun" (Extension Red/Green). All these had to be dealt with,
but they did not necessarily lead to any consequences.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, in that connection I wanted to
submit various documents, Raeder exhibits, from which it can
be seen that the same type of preparations, since they are
necessary for military and strategic reasons, were also
undertaken by the Allies. At this moment I should like to
forgo that because I cannot determine so quickly which of
these documents are admitted and which have been rejected.
Perhaps I may therefore submit the connected documents at
the end in order that no misunderstanding may occur now by
my quoting the wrong figures?


Q. In what way did you and the Navy participate in measures
concerning the Sudetenland?

A. In what way -

Q. I beg your pardon. May I ask you to look at the
prosecution's Document 388-PS. It is Exhibit USA 126 - no,
excuse me - 26. It is in the British Delegation's Document
Book 10-A, Page 147.

It is a draft for the new directive "Grun" of 20th May,

A. Yes, I have the directive here. It is of 20th May, 1938,
and says with regard to the Navy:

                                                  [Page 140]

  "The Navy participates in the operations of the Army by
  employing the Danube flotilla. That flotilla is put under
  the command of the Supreme Commander of the Army. In
  regard to the conduct of naval warfare, at first only
  those measures are to be taken which appear to be
  necessary for the careful protection of the North Sea and
  the Baltic against a sudden intervention in the conflict
  by other States. These measures must be confined to what
  is absolutely necessary and must be carried out

The entire course of action at the end of September and
beginning of October made the special measures unnecessary,
so the Danube flotilla, which we had taken over from
Austria, was put under the command of the Army.

Q. What was the size of the Danube flotilla?

A. It consisted of some small river craft, one small gunboat
and minesweepers.

Q. That is the total extent to which the Navy participated?

A. Yes.

Q. In what way did you and the Navy participate in the
preparations for the occupation of what the document calls
the "remainder of Czechoslovakia"?

This concerns Document C-136, Exhibit USA 104, in the
British Delegation's Document Book 10-A, Page 101. It is of
21st October, 1938. The prosecution points out that,
according to that, you had already been informed in October
that Czechoslovakia was to be occupied after some time;
actually this took place in March. Will you please tell us
something about that?

A. That directive looks suspicious at first but the way in
which it is drafted shows that this again refers to possible
cases. (1) deals with the securing of the borders of the
German Reich and protection against surprise air attacks.

(2) and (3) are "Liquidation of the Remainder of
Czechoslovakia," "Occupation of the Memel Country."

(2). "Liquidation of the Remainder of Czechoslovakia." The
first sentence reads:-

  "It must be possible to break the remainder of
  Czechoslovakia at any time if her policy should become
  hostile toward Germany."

That is the pre-requisite in case of any action against
Czechoslovakia; but did not mean that it was certain that
any action would be taken.

In the same manner, under (3), mention is made of the
occupation of the Memel country, where it says:-

  "The political situation, particularly warlike
  complications between Poland and Lithuania, may make it
  necessary for the German armed forces to occupy the Memel

DR. SIEMERS: Excuse me. May I point out that, according to
my document, the part which the witness has just read is
missing in the English translation - so, that you will not
look for it unnecessarily.


Q. So here again this is merely an eventuality?

A. Yes.

Q. On 3rd September, 1939, at the beginning of the war, the
Athenia was sunk. From the military point of view that case
has already been clarified by Dr. Kranzbuhler, but I should
like you, as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, to state your
position and give any explanation of the incident, with
special consideration for the fact that the prosecution,
especially in this case, has made a very severe and damning
accusation. They have made the accusation that you,
purposely and in violation of the truth, held England and
Churchill responsible for the sinking of the Athenia,
although you knew perfectly well that the Athenia had been
sunk by a German U-boat. As proof, the prosecution has
submitted the article of 23rd October, 1939, from the
Volkischer Beobachter.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, that is Document 3260-PS,
Exhibit GB 218, British Delegation's Document Book 10, on
Page 97.

                                                  [Page 141]


Q. I should like you to explain that point.

A. The fact is that on 3rd September, at dusk, the young
submarine commander of the submarine U-30 met an English
passenger ship which had its lights dimmed, and torpedoed it
because he assumed, by mistake, that it was an auxiliary
cruiser. In order to avoid misunderstanding I should like to
state here that the deliberations which have been mentioned
here concerning the torpedoing of dimmed ships in the
Channel, did not yet play any part in the Naval War Command,
and that this commanding officer could not have known
anything about them. He knew only that auxiliary cruisers
had their lights blacked out, and be assumed that this was
an auxiliary cruiser at the entrance of the North West
channel, England-Scotland.

He did not make a report since it was not necessary. The
information that a German U-boat had torpedoed the Athenia
was broadcast by the British radio, and we probably received
the news during the night of the third to the fourth, and
transmitted it to the various news services.

In the morning of 4th September, we received that news at
the offices of the Naval War Command, and I requested
information as to how far our nearest submarine was from the
place of the torpedoing. I was told, 75 nautical miles. At
about the same time, State Secretary von Weizsaker in the
Foreign Office, who had been a naval officer in the first
world war, learned of this situation and made a telephone
call to the Naval War Command, asking whether it was true.
He did not call me personally.

He received the answer that, according to our information,
it could not be right. Thereupon he sent for the American
charge d'affaires - I believe Mr. Kirk - in order to speak
to him about the matter because the radio broadcast had also
mentioned that several Americans had been killed in that
accident. From his experiences in the first world war it was
clear to him how important it was that there should be no
incident involving America. Therefore he told him what he
had heard from the Naval War Command. I personally told the
same thing to the American Naval Attache, Mr. Schrader, in
good faith. I believed that I could tell him that in good
faith because we had no other information. State Secretary
von Weiszacker then came to see me personally, if I remember
correctly. We were very close friends, and he told me what
he had told the American Charge d'Affaires. He apologised, I
believe, for not having spoken to me personally and that
concluded the case for the time being.

The matter was such that if it had been reported in a normal
way, we would not have hesitated to admit and to explain the
reason. We would not have hesitated to apologise to the
nations concerned. Disciplinary measures would have been
taken against the officer. I also reported the incident to
the Fuehrer himself in his headquarters and told him that we
were convinced such was not the case, and the Fuehrer
ordered that it should be denied. This was done by the
Propaganda Ministry, which had been informed of the order by
my Press department. The submarine returned on 27th
September -

DR. SIEMIERS: Excuse me if I interrupt. That date, Mr.
President, is identified by Document D-659, which was
submitted by the prosecution, it is Exhibit GB 221 in
Document Book 10, on Page 110.

A. The submarine commander returned on the 27th of September
to Wilhelmshaven. Admiral Donitz has already described how
he received him and how he immediately sent him to me in
Berlin by air.

The U-boat commander reported the entire incident to me and
confirmed that it was a sheer mistake, that it was only
through all these messages he had heard that he himself
discovered that it was not an auxiliary cruiser that was
concerned but a passenger steamer.

                                                  [Page 142]

I reported this to the Fuehrer because it could have severe
political consequences. He decided that, as it had been
denied once, we had to keep it utterly secret, not only
abroad, but also within official and governmental circles.
Consequently I was not in a position to tell State Secretary
von Weiszacker or the Propaganda Ministry that the facts
were different. My order to the Commanding Officers of the U-
boats read"

  (1) "The affair is to be kept strictly secret upon orders
  of the Fuehrer.
  (2) " On my part, no court martial would be ordered
  because the commanding officer acted in good faith, and
  it was an accident.
  (3) "The further political handling of the matter would
  be attended to by the High Command of the Navy, as far as
  anything had to be done."

With that the commanding officer returned to Wilhelmshaven
and Admiral Donitz has already reported that he was
punished. To our complete surprise, about one month later
that article appeared in the Volkischer Beobachter, in which
Churchill was accused of being the author of that incident.
I knew absolutely nothing about that article beforehand. I
would certainly have prevented its appearance because,
knowing that our submarine had torpedoed that ship, it was
out of the question to lay the blame on our enemy, the First
Lord of the Admiralty.

I found out later that the order to publish such an article
was issued by Hitler and reached the Propaganda Ministry
through the Reich Press Chief. As far as I remember I was
told that the Propaganda Minister had himself drafted that
article. Later I could not prevent it. I did not see the
article nor did any of my officers of the High Command of
the Navy see it. They would certainly have come to me at
once so that I could have prevented its publication. We had
no reason to expect such an article four weeks after the
torpedoing of the Athenia. That is the case of the Athenia.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.