The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, this is to be found on Page 16
of the document book. It is Raeder's letter to Minister
Severing, dated 8th October, 1928. Severing gave me this
speech when he came to Nuremberg to appear as a witness.

A. I shall quote from Page 17, the fifth line from the
bottom to shorten the sentence somewhat for the

  "The Armed Forces - I am speaking of course primarily for
  the Navy, but I know that today it is the same with the
  Army, because since 1919, its inner solidarity and
  training has been perfected with the greatest devotion
  and loyalty to duty - in their present structure, whether
  officer or soldier, in their

                                                   [Page 79]

  present form of development and their inner attitude, are
  a firm and reliable support, I might even say, because of
  their inherent military might and in view of conditions
  within the Reich, that they are the firmest and most
  reliable support of our German Fatherland, the German
  Reich, the German Republic and its constitution, and the
  Armed Forces are proud to be that."

I then turn to Page 3, and it is the sixth line:-

  "If, however, the State is to endure, this power must be
  available only to the constitutional authorities. No one
  else may have it; not even the political parties. The
  Wehrmacht must be completely non-political and be
  composed only of servicemen who, in full realization of
  this necessity, refuse to take part in any activity of
  domestic politics. To have realised this from the outset
  and organized the Wehrmacht accordingly is the great and
  enduring achievement of Noske, the former
  Reichswehrminister, whom the worthy Minister Dr. Gessler
  followed on this road with the deepest conviction."

Then I talked about the composition of the Navy, and on Page
4 I continue, line 7. Perhaps this is the most important

  "In my opinion, one thing is of course a prerequisite for
  the inner attitude of the service man, namely that he is
  willing to put his profession into practice when the
  Fatherland calls upon him. People who never again want
  war cannot possibly wish to become soldiers. One cannot
  take it amiss if the Wehrmacht infuses into its
  servicemen a manly and warlike spirit; not the desire for
  war or even a war of revenge or a war of aggression, for
  to strive after that would certainly in the general
  opinion of all Germans be a crime, but the will to take
  up arms in the defence of the Fatherland in its hour of

Then I pass on to the last paragraph on Page 4.

  "It must be understood, for it is the very essence of the
  Wehrmacht, - that it strives to be as far as possible in
  a position to fulfil its tasks, even under the present
  conditions, dictated as they are by the limitation of the
  Versailles Treaty."

I then refer to the tasks of the Navy, and that is on Page
5, second paragraph, line six.

  "Consider the extent of the German coastline in the
  Baltic and North Sea, chiefly the Prussian coastline,
  which would be open to invasion and to the ravages of
  even the smallest maritime nation, had we not at our
  disposal modern mobile naval forces at least up to the
  strength permitted by the provisions of the Versailles
  Treaty. Above all, think of the position of East-Prussia,
  which in the event of the closing of the Corridor would
  be wholly dependent on overseas imports, imports which
  would have to be brought past the bases of foreign
  nations and in the event of war would be endangered to
  the utmost, or even be made impossible, If we were not in
  possession of fighting ships. I ask you to remember the
  reports about the effect of the visits of our training
  ships and of our fleet to foreign countries, when, as
  early as 1922, the model conduct of our sailors testified
  to an improvement in the internal conditions of the
  Reich, and the worlds esteem for it was considerable."

So much for this speech.

THE PRESIDENT: Since you are passing from that now, we might
perhaps adjourn.

(A recess was taken).


Q. Grand Admiral, hanging over this trial are the words:
"Wars of Aggression are Crimes".

We have just seen from your speech that, as early as January
1928, you used these words before the Kellogg Pact. In
conclusion, I should like to ask you, did this principle of
January, 1928 remain your principle during the whole time of
your command of the Navy?

                                                   [Page 80]

A. Of course.

DR.SIEMERS: In connection with the Versailles Treaty, I
should now like to submit an affidavit, because some figures
are necessary here, which are easier to present in writing
than by interrogation. I shall submit Affidavit 2 by Vice-
Admiral Lohmann, Exhibit Raeder 8, Document Book I, Page 39.

For the guidance of the Tribunal, so that there may be no
misunderstanding I should like to point out that Vice-
Admiral Lohmann has nothing to do with the Captain Lohmann,
who was well known, almost famous, in the twenties.

The Tribunal may remember that the Lohmann affair was
mentioned in connection with the breaches of the Versailles
Treaty. Captain Lohmann died in 1930, and has nothing to do
with the present author of this affidavit, Vice-Admiral
Lohmann. I also remind the Tribunal that the Lohmann affair
took place before Admiral Raeder was in charge of the Navy,
therefore, before 1928.

I quote from the Lohmann affidavit the statement under Roman
numeral I.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you wanting to call this Admiral Lohmann
as a witness?

DR. SIEMERS: No, I did not name him as a witness, I was
satisfied with an affidavit, because of the many figures.
The British Prosecution has already agreed to the affidavit
being submitted but asked that Admiral Lohmann might be
cross-examined. It was arranged between Sir David and

THE PRESIDENT: I see, yes. You do not need to go into all
these figures of tonnages, do you? You do not need to read
all these, do you?

DR. SIEMERS: No. I did not want to read the individual
figures. I would point out that this affidavit does not deal
with tonnage; it concerns Raeder 8, Page 39.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I have got the one. There are a good
many tons in it, though.

DR. SIEMERS: I should like to read under Roman numeral "I":

  "Under the Versailles Treaty, Germany was permitted to
  build 8 armoured ships. Germany, however, built only
  three armoured ships, the Deutschland, the Admiral Scheer
  and the Graf Spee.
  II. Under the Versailles Treaty, Germany was permitted to
  build 8 cruisers. Germany, however, built only 6

I shall omit the details according to the wish of the

  "III. Under the Versailles Treaty, Germany was permitted
  to build 32 destroyers or torpedo boats. Germany,
  however, built only 12 destroyers and no torpedo boats."


Q. According to this, in building up her navy, Germany in no
way took advantage of the Versailles Treaty and if I
understand correctly, she specifically kept at a low figure
the construction of the larger ships.

May I ask you to make a statement about this.

A. That is entirely correct. It is astonishing that at this
period of time so little advantage was taken of the
Versailles Treaty. I was reproached for this later when the
National Socialist Government came to power. They did not
bear in mind, however, that the Government at that time, and
the Reichstag, were not inclined to let us have these ships.
We had to fight hard for permission. But this failure to
build up the Navy to the strength permitted has no
relationship to the small breaches of the Versailles Treaty,
which we started primarily in order to build up, one could
say, a pitiable defence of the coast in the event of extreme

Q. I shall come back to Document C-32. It is established
that during the time of the Versailles Treaty, Germany did
not take advantage of the provisions of the Treaty,
particularly in regard to offensive weapons. On the other
hand, on the basis of the documents submitted by the
prosecution, it has been established and

                                                   [Page 81]

it is also historically known that the Navy in building
itself up committed breaches of the Versailles Treaty in
other directions. I should like to discuss with you the
individual breaches which were presented with great
precision by the prosecution. But first I should like to
discuss the general accusation which I have already
mentioned that these breaches were committed behind the back
of the Reichstag and the Government.

Is this accusation justified?

A. Not at all. I must repeat that I was connected with these
breaches only when on the 1st of October, 1928, I became
Chief of the Navy Command in Berlin. I had nothing to do
with the things which had been done previously.

When I came to Berlin, the Lohmann case, which you mentioned
previously, had already been concluded. It was in the
process of being liquidated, and the Reich Defence Minister
Groner, when the affair was first discovered, ordered the.
army as well as the Navy to report to him all breaches which
were in process, and from then on he was to deal with these
things together with Colonel von Schleicher, his political
adviser. He liquidated the Lohmann affair, and this
liquidation was still in progress when I came there.

On 1st October, 1928, he had already come to the decision to
transfer the responsibility for all these evasions and
breaches of the Versailles Treaty to the Reich Government as
a whole, then the Muller-Severing-Stresemann Government,
since he believed that he could no longer bear this
responsibility alone.

As a result, on 18th October, when I had just become
acquainted with these matters, he called a cabinet meeting
to which the Chief of the Army Command, General Heyl, and I,
as well as some office chiefs in both administrations, were
called. At this cabinet meeting, General Heyl and I had to
report openly and fully before all the ministers as to what
breaches there were on the part of the Army and the Navy.
The Muller-Severing-Stresemann Government took full
responsibility and exonerated the Reich Defence Minister,
who, however, continued to be responsible for carrying
things through. In the future we had to report to the Reich
Defence Minister everything which happened and were not
allowed to undertake any steps alone. The Reich Defence
Minister, as a rule, handled matters with the Reichsminister
of the Interior, Severing, who showed great understanding
for the various requirements.

Q. At this cabinet meeting you, and General Heyl as Chief of
the Army Command, submitted a list of the individual small

A. Yes, yes.

Q. And thereupon the Government told you, "We will take the

A. Yes.

Q. Accordingly, in the following years did you always act in
agreement with the Reich Government?

A. Yes, the Reich Defence Minister, Groner was extremely
sensitive on this point. He had dissolved all the so-called
"block armed formations" which existed and insisted
absolutely that he should know about everything and that
everything should need his sanction. He thought that only in
this way could he take the responsibility vis-a-vis the

I had nothing whatever to do with the Reichstag. The
Military chiefs were not allowed to have any contact with
the members of the Reichstag in such matters. All
negotiations with the Reichstag were carried out through the
Reich Defence Minister or by Colonel von Schleicher on his
behalf. I was therefore in no position to go behind the back
of the Reichstag in any way. I could discuss budget matters
with the Reichstag members only in the so-called Budget
Committee, where I sat next to the Reich Defence Minister
and provided technical explanations to his statements.

Q. From 1928 on, then, there were no longer any secret
budgets within the construction programme of the Navy
without the approval of the Reich Government?

                                                   [Page 82]

A. None without the approval of the Reich Government, and,
above all, of the Reich Defence Minister who allotted the
money to us exactly as the other budgets were allotted.

DR. SIEMERS: May I ask the Tribunal in this connection to
look at Exhibit Raeder 3, which has already been submitted,
"Constitution of the German Reich," Document Book 1, Page
10, Article 50, is brief, and reads:-

  "In order to be valid, all decrees and orders issued by
  the Reich President, including those pertaining to the
  Armed Forces, must be countersigned by the Reich
  Chancellor or the competent Reich Minister. By the act of
  countersigning, responsibility is accepted by the Reich

That is the constitutional principle which the Reich
Government at that time, October, 1928 insisted upon.

An important part of the building up of the Navy consisted
in replacing the old capital ships and cruisers of the last
war. In this connection, I take the liberty of submitting to
the Tribunal Exhibit Raeder 7, Document Book 1, Page 23.
This document deals with the so-called ship replacement
construction plan. This ship replacement construction plan
was, as Page 24 of the document book shows, paragraph 2,
figure 1, submitted by a resolution of the Reichstag. I
should like to refer you to Page 24, No. 3 of the document
which shows that this ship replacement construction plan
covered three armoured ships, and it adds that the
construction could last until 1938.

May it please the Tribunal, this figure is important. The
prosecution wanted to construe the fortuitous fact that in
1933 a construction plan was drawn up to extend until 1938,
to mean that there were aggressive intentions.

This ship replacement construction plan of the year 1930 had
the same goal in 1938 and, as the prosecution will admit,
can have nothing to do with a war of aggression.

Q. The plan was submitted then, witness, through the Reich
Government and you did only the preparatory work?

A. Yes.

Q. Is this only true of the ship replacement plan for 1930,
or was it always handled in the same way in subsequent

A. The plan as submitted, was approved in principle by the
Reichstag. Each individual ship, however, had to be approved
again in the budget plan of the year in which the
construction was to begin. The whole construction programme
was thus always in close agreement with the Reich Government
and the Reichstag.

DR. SIEMERS: In connection with this ship replacement
programme within the framework of the documentary evidence,
I should like to refer to two points which will greatly
shorten the questioning of the witness.

For the time being I do not want to quote from Page 26. I
ask you to take judicial notice of the rest of the contents,
and wish merely to point out that this refers to the
obsoleteness of all capital ships, and their replacement
which this necessitated.

On page 27 of the document book, it expressly mentions that
the Reichstag, in its 89th session of 18th June, 1929, asked
the Reich Government for an extension of the period for the
construction programme. The general opinion at that time
was, as the ship replacement programme shows, set out in the
Frankfurter Zeitung of 15th August, 1928, where it is shown
that an armoured cruiser gains its full value only when it
forms part of a squadron. The Frankfurter Zeitung was, as is
well known, the best German newspaper, and it was banned
only in 1943, by the National Socialist Dictatorship which
was growing ever stronger.

I should like to refer to Page 29 and quote one sentence:-

  "The building of battleships will be extended as far as
  possible, so as to keep the naval yards at Wilhelmshaven
  occupied continuously. The ideal time of construction is
  about three years, but, working on the principle of
  giving as long employment as possible, the building time
  is prolonged as much as possible."

                                                   [Page 83]

I believe this shows there was no aggressive intention,
since then the building programme would have been speeded

Then I ask you to take judicial notice of Page 30, the
construction cost of a 10,000 ton armoured ship, where it
mentions that it was about 75 million marks. This figure is
important to me as evidence in view of the further course of
the testimony, where the cost of the breaches of the
Versailles Treaty will be shown.

Finally may I quote from Page 30 a few lines which give the
principle for the employment of the Wehrmacht.

  "The German Republic, alone among all the Great Powers
  has, so far, carried out the disarmament programme, and
  the Wehrmacht, which serves to protect the frontier and
  ensure peace, may now take up arms for the purpose of:
    (a) defence against the stealing of territories.
    (b) defence of neutrality in indirect conflict."

I should like to refer to the individual breaches of the
Treaty of which the prosecution has accused you.

In this connection, I submit Exhibit Raeder I, in Document
Book 1, and I refer to Page 3, Article 191. It concerns the
accusation that Germany, contrary to the Versailles Treaty,
constructed submarines. It reads as follows:

  "The construction and acquisition of all submersible
  craft, even for commercial purposes, is forbidden to

I will soon put a question to you in regard to the
established fact that the Navy was interested in a firm
which dealt with submarine design in Holland, and in a
general construction programme for ships and submarines
which was being carried out in that country, but in order to
save time, it will be simpler if I read from the Lohmann
affidavit which I submit as Exhibit Raeder 2, in Document
Book 1, page 4.

I quote a short paragraph:

  "According to the Treaty of Versailles, the German Reich
  was neither to build nor to acquire U-boats. When in
  July, 1922, the firm N. V. Ingenieurs Kantoor Voor
  Scheepsbouw was established in the Hague, the Navy
  acquired an interest in it in order to keep informed on
  modern U-boat construction. The intention was to use the
  experience gained thereby for the German Navy, when later
  on the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles would be
  annulled by negotiations, and Germany would again be
  permitted to build U-boats. Moreover, the navy wanted,
  for the same purpose, to train a small nucleus of skilled
  personnel. The Dutch firm were strictly designers."

May it please the Tribunal, I should like to point out in
this passage that there is a translation mistake in the
English copy. The word "Konstruktion" has been translated
"construction", but the German for "construction" is

As far as I know "Konstruktion" must be translated "design".
Since in view of Article 19 I this point is important, I
want to correct this.

I quote further:

  "The first German U-boat was commissioned 29th June,
  1935. The procuring of parts to build U-boats had started
  correspondingly earlier."

I wish to remind you that when the first submarine was
commissioned, the German-English Naval Agreement, according
to which submarine construction was permitted, was already
in existence. I will ask if this statement of Admiral
Lohmann is correct.

A. Yes. It entirely corresponds with the facts.

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