The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                     The Military Group

Several of the defendants in the dock at this Trial of the Major War
Criminals may be said to form a military group. Excluding Goering -- who
is quite a peculiar figure, uniting in his person the politician,
administrator and soldier -- there remain Keitel, Jodl, Doenitz and
Raeder. In the course of these proceedings not only have all the counts
of the Indictment against them been sustained, but even more
incriminating evidence has been brought to light.

                                                               [Page 42]

The documentary evidence, the testimony of witnesses, including those
called by the defence, could not but tip the scales in favour of the

Counsel for the defence tried to convince the Tribunal that their
clients, by a whim of destiny, became involved in this sinister tragedy
in spite of themselves.

The defendants Keitel, Jodl, Doenitz and Raeder endeavoured to appear in
the role of noble-minded simpletons. To do the defence justice, it did
the best it could to help them in this attempt.

We have heard a great deal about the honour of the soldier, of military
discipline, fidelity to duty, oaths of allegiance -- and the consequent
obligation to fulfil Hitler's orders, even those which in their hearts
aroused both doubt and direct protest. Such a presentation of their
position completely distorts the actual state of affairs. Before passing
to the question of the guilt of Keitel, jodl, Doernitz and Raeder, I
consider it necessary to ask the following three questions:

1. Did these defendants know that Hitlerite Germany, in violation of its
international obligations, had prepared a series of aggressive and
predatory wars?

2. Did they take an active part in the planning, preparing, launching
and waging of these wars?

3. Are they guilty of cynically trampling on the laws and customs of
warfare? Are they responsible for the atrocities and for the
extermination of the peaceful population, for the sinking of passenger
and hospital ships, for the towns and villages destroyed by the military
machine of the Hitlerite Reich?

It seems to me that after this investigation which has so carefully gone
into all the details of this case it would be impossible, unless we
remain blind to the facts, to give any but an affirmative answer to
these questions.

The evidence submitted to the Tribunal has fully proved that the
military group of criminals is guilty of the most appalling crimes and
that they have actively participated in the planning and execution of
the common criminal conspiracy.

The very fact that these crimes were committed by men in uniform not
only does not mitigate their responsibility, but, on the contrary,
merely serves to heighten it.

How can they attempt to whitewash themselves by referring to the "duty
of a soldier," "the honour of an officer," and the "obligation of
fulfilling orders"? Since when has "the duty of a soldier" and "the
honour of an officer " been compatible with the shooting, without trial,
and the branding of prisoners, as well as with the extermination of
women, children and old people?

The only true and correct explanation of the amazing fact that these
generals and admirals did not commit what, in effect, were capital
crimes lies in the fact that they were actually generals and admirals of
Hitler's making. These are men of a special brand. They are Fascists in
uniform, bound body and soul to the Nazi r‚gime.

This is the only reason why Hitler gathered these men around him and
collaborated with them for so long a period of time. This is the only
way to explain why they collaborated with Hitler in perpetrating crimes
unprecedented in historv. They fitted and understood one another to


It is only natural that, when speaking of the military group, I begin
with defendant Keitel. Keitel held the leading post in Hitler's military
machine from the very first years of its conception. Keitel's counsel
admits that the decree (Of 4th February, 1938) gave Keitel the
marvellous title "Chief of the OKW." Further he goes on to say:

     " . . . the factual significance of Keitel's activities was immense.
     It was a monstrous, extremely ungrateful job and its miserly
     remuneration was a brilliant position in the immediate proximity to
     the head of the State."

                                                               [Page 43]

In the light of subsequent events it may be taken for granted that the
primary stage of all the future wars of aggression included everything
connected with the secret rearmament of Germany after the Versailles

It is difficult to minimize the significance of all that was done at the
time by Colonel Keitel in the Committee of Experts which painstakingly
and consecutively sought and found means of circumventing or violating
the treaty.

it was none other than Colonel Keitel in particular who gave
instructions to the effect that in Geneva it was possible to say what
one pleased, but care must be taken not to leave anything behind on

This cynical statement fully tallies with the role played by Keitel in
the subsequent preparation and execution of aggressive wars.

During the negotiations between Hitler and Schuschnigg, Keitel in person
was the living reminder of Germany's preparedness to resort to arms.

Keitel issued orders for troops to cross into Czechoslovakia at the time
when President Hacha was so treacherously called to Berlin "for
continuing negotiations."

It was the OKW and none other which was fully prepared through the
Department of the "Abwehr" to provoke an incident with Czechoslovakia in
order to justify the invasion by the German hordes, ready to fall upon

In his strictly confidential memorandum, Keitel demanded that Hess and
Himmler advise the OKW in advance of all measures taken by Party
organizations or police which were not included in "Case Green."

The declarations alleging that after the seizure of Czechoslovakia
Germany had no more territorial aspirations in Europe were downright
lies. This seizure was but a link in the chain of aggressive wars.

I wish to emphasize the leading role of the OKW in the preparation and
carrying out of aggression. The directive regarding the waging of war
and the invasion of Poland is known to us as Keitel's and Hitler's
directive of May, 1939. It was forwarded to the command of the air, navy
and land forces. How is it possible, after this, to maintain that the
OKW was not the driving power behind the armed forces of the Fascist

If we once more peruse the documents pertaining to German aggression
against Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia and
Greece, we again come across the name of Keitel. He appears as a
participant in the most important events, or as the author of secret
orders addressed to Raeder, Goering and the General Staff. We find the
initials of Keitel and Jodl entered in their own hand on the secret
directive signed by Hitler regarding "Operation Maritza."

Much has been said here of "Plan Barbarossa" and its authors. At present
it is important to stress that this document took shape in the innermost
depths of the OKW, and on its. initiative, and that the methods planned
a priori of a treacherous attack on the USSR were likewise the work of
the OKW. The significance of a military specialist's visa on a document
is clear to everybody.

Some of the defendants attempted to portray the attack on the USSR as a
preventive war. This contention is to such a degree unconvincing and
contradictory to the irrefutable evidence presented in Court (German
documents) that I see no need for wasting the Tribunal's time.

Keitel's defence counsel stated that his defence is based on the point
of view that Keitel "is fighting not for his head but to save his face."

I should like to help the Tribunal to see Keitel's true face. For this I
should have to remind you of a number of Keitel's directives which may
well lay claim to being among the foremost of all the infamous documents
pointing to the barbarity of the German military clique, to its baseness
and foul and unlimited contempt for every concept of the rules and
customs of warfare.

Let us consider the documents dealing with the shooting of political
officers. Keitel, the soldier, as he likes to call himself, ignoring his
oath, shamelessly lied to the representatives of theAmerican prosecution
at his preliminary investigation

                                                               [Page 44]

by avowing that, to begin with, this order was in the nature of a
counter-reprisal and that the political officers were separated from the
other prisoners of war at the request of the prisoners themselves. At
the trial he was unmasked. Exhibit RF (v) 351, 884-PS proved that this
directive had been issued before the war had broken out. We also
submitted a document under Exhibit USSR 62 (the text of a letter from
German prisoners of war). This document makes it clear that even before
the attack on the USSR, the armies in the field had been instructed
absolutely to exterminate Soviet women in military service as well as
political officers.

And what can be said of the following statement, appalling in its
boundless cynicism:

     "Human life in the countries concerned is absolutely of no account
     ... a terrifying influence can only be achieved by unheard-of

And what can we say of the directive of 13th May, 1941, introducing
courts martial in the "Barbarossa" region? And of the order of 16th
September, 1941, calling for the execution of eighty to one hundred
Communists for each German killed? What could Keitel say about the
document known as "Nacht und Nebel"?

These are documents stained in blood. No one can compute how many
thousands of prisoners of war-soldiers and officers of the Red Army --
had been killed and tortured in the camps of Fascist Germany. You
remember how, on 21St January, 1946, at the afternoon session, the
witness Lampe testified that for Himmler's amusement the shooting of
fifty Soviet officers was organized in Mauthausen camp. You remember the
witness Blaha testifying that in the spring of 1944, ninety-four Soviet
senior military officers were tortured and then killed for refusing to
impart military information.

I should like to mention the testimony of the SS man Paul Waldman,
regarding the slaughter of 840 Russian prisoners of war. You remember
the testimony of the witness Kivelsh regarding the endless chain of
torture and suffering to which Russians, captured by the Germans, were

It is impossible to overlook Keitel's directive calling for the branding
of Soviet prisoners of war.

One cannot forget the Keitel directive of the i 6th December, 1942. It
is entitled "Measure to be adopted against Bands." Under the word
"bands" defendant Keitel understood any resistance movement and demanded
that his troops revert to harsh methods, stopping at nothing, even in
regard to women and children.

The Soviet prosecution submitted Lecourt's testimony as Exhibit USSR
162. Lecourt states that he shot and burnt Soviet citizens and razed
their houses. He alone had shot over 1,200 persons, and for this
achievement was promoted to the rank of Obergefreiter and awarded the
medal for service in the East. He acted in accordance with Keitel's

A directive of Keitel's, instituting courts martial in the "Barbarossa"
region, freed such persons of all responsibility for their crimes.
Keitel's hands are stained with the blood of the victims of Lecourt and
his like.

It was in carrying out Keitel's directive, to the effect that life in
the Eastern regions was of no value, that the soldiers and officers of
Hitlerite Germany committed their atrocities.

Exhibit USSR 51, submitted by the prosecution, shows how, on the 28th
August, 1941, attacking German troops drove a group of women, children
and old men in front of their combat units. In the village of Kolpino
the Fascists forced the peasants to dig trenches and build bridges for
them. Then they shot all the peasants.

In Yugoslavia the mass shooting of hostages was a daily practice of the
military command and military administration.
In a secret report of the 15th February, 1940, addressed to Goering, the
OKW ustifies the practice of seizing hostages.

                                                               [Page 45]

I wish to conclude with Exhibit USSR 336 (ETs-338), which your Honours
will, of course, remember.

In this document, Admiral Canaris informs Keitel of the club-law
prevalent in the prisoner-of-war camps, of the hunger, and of the mass
shootings of Soviet prisoners of war. Even that hardened Fascist spy
Canaris, fearing eventual responsibility, could not ignore a cruelty
which cried to high heaven, and a flagrant violation of the accepted
laws and customs of warfare.

You will remember Keitel's note on this report:

     "I approve and support these measures."

On 7th April, 1946, in the course of the cross-examination, I put the
following question to Keitel:

     "You, defendant Keitel, called a field-marshal, repeatedly referred
     to yourself as a soldier before this Tribunal, and you, by your
     bloodthirsty resolution, approved and sanctioned the murder, in
     cold blood, of thousands of captured soldiers. Do you confirm this?

Keitel was forced to admit this fact.

This resolution alone unveils the true, the authentic face of Field-
Marshal Keitel. The highly involved arguments of the defence cannot
absolve him of his responsibility for the bloodshed and for the
innumerable human lives cut short by the Fascist military clique acting
on orders and directives signed by Keitel's hand.

The defendant Alfred Jodl shares equal responsibility with defendant
Keitel as his assistant and as Hitler's closest military adviser.

Everything connected with the preparation and execution of the
aggressive plans of Hitlerite Germany is inseparably linked to the name
of Jodl, as well as to Keitel's.

There is no need to repeat all the aggressive acts of Hitler's Germany.
They are already facts of common knowledge, and had been individually
planned and executed with the direct connivance of defendant Jodl.

As the representative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, I
should like to emphasize once again that the criminal plan for the
perfidious attack on the Soviet Union, coded by the Hitler clique under
the name of the ill-fated conqueror, Friedrich Barbarossa, is signed not
only by Hitler and Keitel, but by Jodl as well. But this is more than a
mere signature.

As far back as the summer of 1940, in Reichenhalle, Jodl held the first
conference of his staff officers, at which the question of a possible
attack by Hitler Germany on Soviet Russia was discussed.

It was the defendant Jodl alone who, even before the attack against the
USSR, issued his well-known "Instructions on the use of propaganda in
the 'Barbarossa' region." In these instructions it is definitely stated
that "propaganda directed at the partition of the Soviet Union should
not, as yet, be carried out."

Thus, defendant Jodl knew beforehand of the actual aims of Germany's
attack on the USSR, and knew of the predatory practical nature of a war
which called for the dismemberment of the Soviet Union.

It was Jodl who participated in the preparation and organization of an
incident staged on the Czechoslovak border intended to justify the
aggressive act of Hitler's Germany against this peace-loving nation.

It was Jodl who signed the directive of the 28th September, 1938,
regarding the order in which the so-called Henlein Corps was to be used
should "Case Green" be realized.

How worthy of derision are the words of the defendant jodl about the
"honour of the soldier" when we read his order for the destruction of
Leningrad, Moscow, and other cities of the Soviet Union.

                                                               [Page 46]

It was this self-same Jodl who, with inimitable cynicism, declared at a
conference with Hitler on the ist December, 1941, that German troops
could with impunity "hang by the feet and quarter" the Soviet patriots.

As Hitler's closest military adviser who had personally participated in
the preparation and execution of all the bloodthirsty and aggressive
plans of Hitlerite Germany, defendant Jodl has been justly included in
the ranks of the major German war criminals.

                     Doenitz and Raeder

My British colleague has proved the guilt of defendants Carl Doenitz and
Erich Raeder so convincingly and thoroughly that I see no need to dwell
particularly on these "Grossadmirals" of Hitlerite Germany, who have
stained their admirals' uniforms by such infamous crimes.

In the course of his cross-examination, Doenitz told the Soviet
Prosecutor that he was unaware of the reasons for which Hitler had
appointed him as his successor. I do not believe that Doenitz was quite
sincere in making this statement. One has only to refer to the
transcripts of the session, as from the 8th May, in order to understand,
without any confession on his part, why he became Hitler's successor,
when the Hitlerite Reich crashed to the ground. The important point is
not the fact that an admiral was needed at a moment like this, but the
fact that in the opinion of Hitler, so soon to fade from the picture,
only the Nazi " Grossadmiral Doenitz could do anything to save the
sinking ship.

Under Hitler, Doenitz commanded the submarine arm of the German Reich.
We know the role which the German U-boats played in this war. In twis
connection it is worthy of emphasis that Doenitz prided himself on being
the author of the so-called "wolf-pack tactics." The people of the
Soviet have not forgotten how Doenitz's submarines, in the Baltic and
Black Seas, sank both hospital ships and steamers evacuating peaceful
citizens -- women and children.

The last head of the Hitlerite Government should also be one of the
first to pay the penalty for all those crimes which have led to the
trial of the major war criminals before the International Military

The name of Raeder is linked to the impious directive for the
destruction of Leningrad.

At the trial, Raeder tried to act the part of an "honest soldier" But
the mere fact that it was he, together with Hitler and Keitel, who
conspired to "wipe Leningrad off the face of the earth" and to
exterminate more than three millions of the population of that great
city, whose very name is indissolubly connected with the development of
the culture and history of mankind, makes Raeder one of the major war

Raeder participated in drafting all the most important plans of
aggression of German Fascism. This participant in the criminal Fascist
conspiracy must, therefore, bear the punishment meted out to his

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