The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/03/18

THE PRESIDENT: Never mind about his answer, the
question is what question you are to put to him; and he
can answer, whether lie ever saw the document.

DR . SIEMERS: Yes, I shall put that question.


Q. Admiral, did you see this document at that time?

A. No, I see it here in Nuremberg for the first time.

Q. How did you hear about the contents of the speech of
23rd May?

A. Raeder informed me fully, as a matter of principle,
after every speech or conference, confidential or
otherwise. Immediately after the speech, Raeder gave me
his impressions; they are in conflict with these
so-called minutes. Raeder did not have the - so to
speak - exaggerated bellicose impression which appears
in this document. But, on the other hand -

THE PRESIDENT: The witness must tell us what Raeder
said to him. That is what I told you before. He may
tell us what Raeder said to him.


Q. Admiral, I should like you to tell us just what
Raeder told you.

A. Raeder told me that Hitler in his speech held out
the prospect of a future conflict with Poland, and that
this was in contradiction to those matters which he had
discussed with him alone. That the speech in itself was
contradictory, that was his impression which he
expressed to me at that time. He also told me that
after the speech he had a conversation alone with
Hitler during which he called his attention to the
contradictions contained in the speech. At the same
time he reminded Hitler of what he had told him
previously: to settle the Polish case by all means in a
peaceful way rather than resort to the warlike solution
he was now considering possible. Hitler, he said, had
reassured him, and had told him that politically he had
things firmly in hand. At that time, when Raeder asked
him, or rather called his attention to this
contradiction, and asked him just what he really
intended to do, Hitler had answered, as related to me
by Raeder, the following:

  "I, Hitler, have three ways of keeping matters
  secret. The first is for the two of us to discuss
  them together alone. The second is for me to keep
  them to myself. In the third case - the problems of
  the future - I think them over, but my thoughts are
  not translated into words."
  Raeder called his attention to the impossibility of
  To that, according to Raeder, Hitler replied: "Take
  an imaginary case, in which I had agreed to a
  settlement by the payment of one mark, and I have
  already paid 99 pfennig. Now, do you think that,
  because of this last pfennig, you would take me to
  And Raeder said "No." "You see," Hitler said to
  Raeder, "I obtained what I wanted by political
  actions, and I do not believe that because of this
  last political question - as we called it - the
  solution of the Polish Corridor - we will have to
  anticipate a war with England."

Q. And that was in a conversation between Hitler and
Raeder after this speech had been made?

A. That took place after this speech.

THE PRESIDENT: We will break off now.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. Admiral, with regard to the minutes which I have
shown you, I have one final question.

                                             [Page 289]

Did you personally, as Chief of Staff, also receive and
read all minutes which were sent to Raeder?

A. Yes, I saw all minutes and reports before they were
presented to Raeder.

Q. Was Admiral Raeder of the opinion - excuse me, I
should like to put the question differently.

What was the position of Raeder concerning the Navy and

A. Raeder's position was that we, the Navy, had nothing
to do with politics. He took that point of view over as
a directive and a testament from the old Reich
President, von Hindenburg, who, when appointing Raeder
to be head of the Navy, imposed this duty upon him.

Q. I now come to Norway. What were the reasons that
induced Raeder, in September and October, 1939, to
consider a possible occupation of Norway?

A. The reasons were the reports which came from various
sources about alleged intentions of an occupation of
Norway by the Allies. These reports came from the
following sources: first, from Admiral Canaris, who was
the chief of our Counter-Intelligence Service, and
reported to Raeder in my presence once a week the
information that had come in: Secondly, from the naval
attache in Oslo, Korvettenkapit„n Schreiber; these
reports indicated that the rumours were increasing that
the Allies intended to drag Scandinavia into the war in
order to prevent, if possible, the iron ore imports
from Sweden to Germany. We did not consider these
reports altogether impossible because, as documentary
evidence from the last World War proves, Churchill had
seriously considered the occupation of Norway.

Q. Was there another source for reports of that kind?

A. General Admiral Karls, the Commander-in-Chief of
Group North had received similar reports which he
passed on verbally and in writing.

Q. Do you remember any details from these reports which
you could give us, briefly?

A. Yes. There were reports concerning the presence of
British air crews allegedly posing as civilians in
Oslo. There were reports about Allied officers making
surveys on Norwegian bridges, viaducts and tunnels all
the way to the Swedish border, which were taken as an
indication that the transportation of heavy material
and equipment was planned. And last, but not least,
there was news about secret mobilization of Swedish
troops because of the alleged danger to the ore areas.

O. What danger arose for Germany on account of that?

A. With Norway occupied, operations in the North Sea
would have become almost impossible, and would have
been very difficult in the Baltic. Most probably the
ore imports would have been stopped. The danger from
the air would have become terrible for north Germany
and the Eastern territories. In the long run, the North
Sea and the Baltic would have been blocked completely,
and this would eventually have led to the total loss of
the war.

Q. What was Admiral Raeder's reaction to these

A. He reported to Hitler about his misgivings and
called his attention to the dangers.

Q. When was that report made?

A. If I remember correctly, in the autumn of 1939.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, until the adjournment, will
you go very slowly because, owing to the power of the
electrical recording being off, it is impossible to
record what is happening here in Court, and therefore
we have to rely solely upon the shorthand notes which
cannot be checked back against the electrical
recording. Do you understand? Therefore I want you to
go rather more slowly than usual.


When was the conference between Hitler and Raeder in
which Raeder for the first time pointed out these

                                             [Page 290]

A. In October, 1939.

Q. According to the War Diary, that conference, which,
of course, you cannot remember offhand, took place on
l0th October. At any rate, you probably mean that

A. Yes.

Q. Did that conference lead to a final decision on the
part of Hitler?

A. No, in no way at all.

Q. Did discussions about that subject then take place
continually between Hitler and Raeder?

A. No. No further discussions along that line took
place until perhaps the end of the year. Only when the
reports, which I mentioned before, were received in
increasing numbers, was that subject taken up again.

Q. Is it known to you that in December, 1939, Quisling
came to Berlin and also talked with Raeder?

A. Yes, that is known to me, and I took part in that

Q. What did Quisling tell Raeder?

A. Quisling came on a recommendation from Rosenberg,
and said he had important news of a military and
political nature. He confirmed, more or less, the
things which we knew already.

Q. Were only the military dangers discussed in this

A. Only these things were discussed; the conference was
very short.

Q. No political questions were discussed?

A. No, not at all.

Q. Do you know when Raeder met Quisling for the first

A. On the occasion of that visit.

Q. Had Raeder at that time any close connections with

A. No, he knew him quite casually, having seen him only
a few times.

Q. Had Rosenberg informed Raeder before about the
relations between him and Quisling?

A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. What did Raeder do when Quisling confirmed the
reports received from Canaris and other sources?

A. As the things we suspected were confirmed from
Norway, Raeder considered this so serious that he went
immediately to Hitler.

Q. Do you know what he suggested to Hitler?

A. Hitler wanted to talk to Quisling himself.

Q. And that happened?

A. Yes, it did.

Q. Was a final decision made then concerning Norway, in
December, 1939?

A. No, Hitler directed that, as a counter-measure,
theoretical preparations should be made for a German
landing in Norway. The order, the final order, as far
as I know, was only given in March.

Q. Was the landing in Norway an undertaking which you
and Raeder considered a risky one, or was it considered
absolutely safe to do so?

A. Both Raeder, the Naval War Staff and also the front
commanders saw a tremendous risk in that undertaking.
May I remind you of Churchill's speech in Parliament,
where he said, after he had been questioned about that
fact, that he did not believe that the German Navy
would undertake that risk in face of the British Navy.

Q. Do you know when Churchill made that statement,

A. I believe it was on 7th or 8th April.

Q. 1940?

A. Yes, 1940.

Q. What was your estimation at the Naval War Staff of
the risks of losses?

A. Raeder had told Hitler that he would have to reckon
on the possible complete loss of the fleet, and that if
the operations were carried out successfully, he would
have to be prepared for the loss of about 30 per cent.
of the forces used.

                                             [Page 291]

Q. And how much was lost?

A. About 30 per cent.

Q. In view of the risk of losing the entire fleet, was
Raeder at first in favour of that operation?

A. No. He considered a neutral attitude on the part of
Norway as much better than having to take this risk.

Q. The prosecution has asserted that Raeder and the
Naval War Staff recommended the occupation of Norway
out of the desire for fame and conquest. What do you
say about that?

A. The desire for fame was not in Raeder's character.
The plans for operations which came from his desk, bore
the mark of bold daring, but also of thorough planning.
One does not work out plans to the minutest detail
covering the distance from German ports up to Narvik,
which is about that from Nuremberg to Madrid, and one
does not use the Navy against a superior British fleet
- for the sake of fame.

Raeder had told the Naval War Staff and the front
commanders, that he had to carry out that operation
against all the rules of warfare, because there was a
compelling necessity to do so.

Q. When did the actual drafting of the military
operation take place at the Naval H.Q.?

A. February, 1940.

Q. During the period from December, 1939 until March,
1940, did reports continue to be received from the
sources you have mentioned?

A. Yes.

Q. Did these later reports contain a clearer indication
as to the place of the landings, or did you not see the
details about that?

A. Yes, they covered the areas between Narvik via
Bergen to Trondheim, from Bergen to Oslo.

Q. Did Raeder - excuse me; I want to put the question
differently: What was the basis which Raeder suggested
to Hitler for the relations between Germany and Norway?

A. To that I would like to -

Q. Excuse me, I mean in the period after the operation
was carried out and Germany had occupied Norway.

A. Raeder, in speaking to Hitler, advocated a policy of

He suggested repeatedly that attempts should be made
for peace with Norway. He was in agreement in that
respect with the German Commander-in-Chief in Norway,
General Admiral B”hm, while Terboven, who was steering
political matters, was, however, of a different

Q. Did serious conflicts arise in that respect between
Terboven and his civil administration on the one side,
and Raeder and Bohm and his colleague Korvettenkapitan
Schreiber, on the other?

A. Yes, there were serious differences and quarrels all
the way up the scale to Hitler. Hitler at that time
told Raeder that he could not make peace with Norway
out of consideration for France.

Q. Admiral, you said, "out of consideration for
France." Wasn't it possible to make peace with France
also, and what was Raeder's attitude in that regard?

A. Raeder advocated the same thing concerning France.

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