The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/nca/nca-02/nca-02-15-criminality-07-04

Archive/File: imt/nca/nca-02/nca-02-15-criminality-07-04
Last-Modified: 1997/09/06

   Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, Volume II, Chapter XV

In the period from the fall of Poland in October 1939 to the

                                                  [Page 349]

tack against the Soviet Union in June 1941, occurred the
aggressive wars, in violation of treaties, against Norway,
Denmark, Holland Belgium, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, and
Greece. But one thing is certain: neither the Nazis nor the
generals thought during this period in terms of a series of
violations of neutrality and treaties. They thought in terms
of a war, a war for the conquest of Europe.

Six weeks after the outbreak of war, and upon the successful
termination of the Polish campaign, on 9 October 1939, there
was issued a "Memorandum and Directive for the Conduct of
the War in the West" (L-52). It is unsigned, was distributed
only to the four service chiefs (Keitel, Brauchitsch,
Goering, and Raeder) and gives every indication of having
been issued by Hitler. The following are pertinent extracts:

     "The aim of the Anglo-French conduct of war is to
     dissolve or disintegrate the 80 million state again so
     that in this manner the European equilibrium, in other
     words the balance of power, which serves their ends,
     may be restored. This battle therefore will have to be
     fought out by the German people one way or another.
     Nevertheless, the very great successes of the first
     month of war could serve, in the event of an immediate
     signing of peace to strengthen the Reich
     psychologically and materially to such an extent that
     from the German viewpoint there would be no objection
     to ending the war immediately, insofar as the present
     achievement with arms is not jeopardized by the peace-
     "It is not the object of this memorandum to study the
     possibilities in this direction or even to take them
     into consideration. In this paper I shall confine
     myself exclusively to the other case; the necessity to
     continue the fight, the object of which, as already
     stressed, consists so far as the enemy is concerned in
     the dissolution or destruction of the German Reich. In
     opposition to this, the German war aim is the final
     military dispatch of the West, i.e. destruction of the
     power and ability of the Western Powers ever again to
     be able to oppose the state consolidation and further
     development of the German people in Europe.
     "As far as the outside world is concerned, however,
     this internal aim will have to undergo various
     propaganda adjustments, necessary from a psychological
     point of view. This does not alter the war aim. It is
     and remains the destruction of our Western enemies."
     "The successes of the Polish campaign have made
     possible first of all a war on a single front, awaited
     for past decades
                                                  [Page 350]
     without any hope of realization, that is to say,
     Germany is able to enter the fight in the West with all
     her might, leaving only a few covering troops.
     "The remaining European states are neutral either
     because they fear for their own fates, or lack interest
     in the conflict as such, or are interested in a certain
     outcome of the war, which prevents them from taking
     part at all or at any rate too soon.
     "The following is to be firmly borne in mind ***"
     "Belgium and Holland. Both countries are interested in
     preserving their neutrality but incapable of
     withstanding prolonged pressure from England and
     France. The preservation of their colonies, the
     maintenance of their trade, and thus the securing of
     their interior economy, even of their very life, depend
     wholly upon the will of England and France. Therefore,
     in their decisions, in their attitude, and in their
     actions, both countries are dependent upon the West, in
     the highest degree. If England and France promise
     themselves a successful result at the price of Belgian
     neutrality, they are at any time in a position to apply
     the necessary pressure. That is to say, without
     covering themselves with the odium of a breach of
     neutrality, they can compel Belgium and Holland to give
     up their neutrality. Therefore, in the matter of the
     preservation of Belgo-Dutch neutrality time is not a
     factor which might promise a favorable development for
     "The Nordic States -- Provided no completely unforeseen
     factors appear, their neutrality in the future is also
     to be assumed. The continuation of German trade with
     these countries appears possible even in a war of long
     duration." (L-52)

Six weeks later, on 23 November 1939, the group of
Oberbefehlshaber again assembled and heard from Hitler much
of what he had said previously to the four service chiefs

     "For the first time in history we have to fight on only
     one front, the other front is at present free. But no
     one can know how long that will remain so. I have
     doubted for a long time whether I should strike in the
     east and then in the west. Basically I did not organize
     the armed forces in order not to strike. The decision
     to strike was always in me. Earlier or later I wanted
     to solve the problem. Under pressure it was decided
     that the east was to be attacked first. If the Polish
     war was won so quickly, it was due to the superiority
     of our armed forces. The most glorious appearance in
     history. Unexpectedly small expenditures of men and
     material. Now the eastern front is held by only a few
     divisions. It is a situation which we viewed previously
     as unachievable. Now the situation is as follows: The
     opponent in the west lies behind his fortifications.
     There is no possibility of coming to grips with him.
     The decisive question is: how long can we endure this
     "Everything is determined by the fact that the moment
     is favorable now; in 6 months it might not be so
     "England cannot live without its imports. We can feed
     ourselves. The permanent sowing of mines on the English
     coasts will bring England to her knees. However, this
     can only occur if we have occupied Belgium and Holland.
     It is a difficult decision for me. None has ever
     achieved what I have achieved. My life is of no
     importance in all this. I have led the German people to
     a great height, even if the world does hate us now. I
     am setting this work on a gamble. I have to choose
     between victory or destruction. I choose victory.
     Greatest historical choice, to be compared with the
     decision of Friedrich the Great before the first
     Silesian war. Prussia owes its rise to the heroism of
     one man. Even there the closest advisers were disposed
     to capitulation. Everything depended on Friedrich the
     Great. Even the decisions of Bismarck in 1866 and 1870
     were no less great. My decision is unchangeable. I
     shall attack France and England at the most favorable
     and quickest moment. Breach of the neutrality of
     Belgium and Holland is meaningless. No one will
     question that when we have won. We shall not bring
     about the breach of neutrality as idiotically as it was
     in 1914. If we do not break the neutrality, then
     England and France will. Without attack the war is not
     to be ended victoriously. I consider it as possible to
     end the war only by means of an attack. The question as
     to whether the attack will be successful no one can
     answer. Everything depends upon the favorable instant".

Thereafter the winter of 1939-40 passed quietly -- the
winter of "phony war". The General Staff and High Command
Group all knew what the plan was; they had all been told. It
was to attack ruthlessly at the first opportunity, to smash
the French and English forces, to pay no heed to treaties
with, or the neutrality of the Low Countries.

     "Breaking of the neutrality of Belgium and Holland is
                                                  [Page 352]
     ingless. No one will question that when we have won."

That is what Hitler told the Oberbefehlshaber. The generals
and admirals agreed and went forward with their plans.

The military leaders may contend that all the steps in this
march of conquest were conceived by Hitler, and that the
military leaders embarked on them with reluctance and
misgivings. Or they may be restrained by pride from taking
so undignified and degrading a position as to suggest that
German military leadership, the bearers of the tradition of
Schlieffen, Moltke, Spee and Hindenburg, was cowed and
coerced into war and plans of which they did not approve by
a gang of political adventurers. But whether they make the
argument or not, it is utterly without foundation.

Hitler's utterances in October (L-79) and November (789-PS)
1939 are full of plans against France, England, and the Low
Countries but contain no suggestion of an attack on
Scandinavia. Indeed, Hitler's memorandum of 9 October 1939
(L-52) to the four service chiefs affirmatively indicates
that he saw no reason to disturb the situation to the North:

     "The Northern States -- Providing no completely unforeseen
     factors appear, their neutrality in the future is also to be
     assumed. The continuance of trade with these countries
     appears possible even in a war of long duration."(L-52)

But a week previous, on 3 October 1939, Raeder had caused a
questionnaire to be circulated within the Naval War Staff,
seeking comments on the advantages which might be gained
from a naval standpoint by securing bases in Norway and
Denmark (C-122). Raeder was stimulated to circulate this
questionnaire by a letter from another Admiral named Carls,
who pointed out the importance of an occupation of the
Norwegian coast by Germany (C-66). (Rolf Carls later
attained the rank of Admiral of the Fleet, and commanded
Naval Group North from January 1940 to February 1943. In
that capacity he is a member of the General Staff and High
Command Group as defined in the Indictment.)

Doenitz, at that time Flag Officer Submarines, on 9 October
1939, replied to the questionnaire that from his standpoint
Trondheim and Narvik met his requirements, that Trondheim
was preferable, and proposed the establishment of a U-boat
base there (C-5). Raeder's visit to Hitler the next day and
certain subsequent events are described as follows (L-323):

     "Entry in the War Diary of the C-in-C of the Navy
     (Naval War Staff) on 'Weseruebung'. 1. 10 October 1939.
     First reference of the C-in-C of the Navy (Naval War
     Staff), when visiting the Fuehrer, to the significance
     of Norway for sea
                                                  [Page 353]
     and air warfare. The Fuehrer intends to give the matter
     "12 December 1939. Fuehrer received Q & H.
     "Subsequent instructions to the Supreme Command of the
     Armed Forces to make mental preparations. The C-in-C of
     the Navy is having an essay prepared, which will be
     ready in January. With reference to this essay, Kapitan
     zur see Krancke is working on 'Weseruebung', and OKW.
     "During the time which followed, H maintained contact
     with the chief of Staff of the C-in-C of the Navy. His
     aim was to develop the Party Q with a view to making it
     capable of making a coup, and to give the Supreme
     Command of the Navy information on political
     developments in Norway and military questions. In
     general he pressed for a speeding-up of preparations,
     but considered that it was first necessary to expand
     the organization. The support which had been promised
     him in the form of money and coal was set in motion
     only very slowly and came in small quantities, and he
     repeatedly complained about this. It was not until the
     end of March that Q considered the coup [Aktion] so
     urgent that the expansion of his organization could not
     wait. The military advice of H was passed on to the
     OKW." (L-323)

On 12 December the Naval War Staff discussed the Norwegian
project with Hitler at a meeting which Keitel and Jodl also
attended (C-64). In the meantime, illustrating the close
link between the service chiefs and the Nazi politicians,
Raeder was in touch with Rosenberg on the possibilities of
using Quisling (C-65). As result of all this, on Hitler's
instructions Keitel issued an OKW directive on 27 January
1940. The directive related that Hitler had commissioned
Keitel to take charge of preparation for the Norway
operation, to which he then gave the code name
"Weseruebung." On 1 March 1940 Hitler issued the directive
setting forth the general plan for the invasion of Norway
and Denmark (C-174). The invasion itself took place on 9
April 1940. The .directive was initialled by Admiral Kurt
Fricke who at that time was head of the Operations Division
of the Naval War Staff, and who at the end of 1941 became
Chief of the Naval War Staff. In that capacity he too is a
member of the Group as defined in the Indictment.

So, as these documents make clear, the plan to invade Norway
and Denmark was not conceived in Nazi Party circles or
forced on the military leaders. On the contrary it was
conceived in the naval part of the General Staff and High
Command Group, and Hitler was persuaded to take up the idea.
Treaties and neutrality

                                                  [Page 354]

meant just as little to the General Staff and High Command
Group as to the Nazis. Launching aggressive war against
inoffensive neighboring states gave the generals and
admirals no qualms.

As for the Low Countries, neither Hitler nor the military
leaders were disturbed about Treaty considerations. At the
conferences between Hitler and the principal military
leaders in May 1939 (79), when the intention to attack
Poland was announced, Hitler in discussing the possibility
of war with England said:

     "The Dutch and Belgian air bases must be occupied by
     armed force. Declarations of neutrality will be
     ignored". (L-79)

And in the speech to the Oberbefehlshaber in November 1939
(789-PS), after the Polish victory, Hitler made clear his
intention to attack France and England by first invading the
Low Countries. "No one will question that when we have won",
he said.

Accordingly, the winter of 1939-40 and the early spring of
1940 was a period of intensive planning in German military
circles. The major attack in the West through the Low
Countries, and the attack on Norway and Denmark had to be
planned. Jodl's diary for the period 1 February 1940 to 26
May 1940 (1809-PS) contains many entries reflecting. the
course of this planning. These entries show that during
February and early March there was considerable doubt in
German military circles as to whether the attack on Norway
and Denmark should precede or follow the attack on the Low
Countries; and that at some points there even was doubt as
to whether all these attacks were necessary from a military
standpoint. But there is not a single entry which reflects
any hesitancy, from a moral angle, on the part of Jodl or
any of the people he mentions to overrun these neutral

On 1 February 1940, General Jeschonnek (Chief of the Air
Staff and a member of the Group as defined in the
Indictment) visited Jodl and suggested that it might be wise
to attack only Holland, on the ground that Holland alone
would "be a tremendous improvement in conducting aerial
warfare". On 6 February, Jodl conferred with Jeschonnek,
Warlimont, and Col. von Waldau, and what Jodl calls a "new
idea" was proposed at this meeting: that the Germans should
"carry out actions H (Holland) and Weser exercise (Norway
and Denmark) only and guarantee Belgium's neutrality for the
duration of the war" (1809-PS). The German Air Force may
have felt that occupation of Holland alone would give them
sufficient scope for air bases for attacks on England, and
that if Belgium's neutrality were preserved the bases in
Holland would be immune from attack by the French and the
British armies in France. If, to meet this situation, the

                                                  [Page 355]

and British attacked through Belgium, the violation of
neutrality would be on the other foot. But whether or not
the "new idea" made sense from a military angle, it appears
to be a most extraordinary notion from a diplomatic angle.
It was a proposal to violate, without any substantial
excuse, the neutrality of three neighboring small countries,
and simultaneously to guarantee the neutrality of a fourth.
What value the Belgians might have attributed to a guarantee
of neutrality offered under such circumstance it is
difficult to imagine and in fact the "new idea" projected at
this meeting of military leaders is an extraordinary
combination of cynicism and naivete.

In the meantime, as Jodl's diary shows, on 5 February 1940,
the "special staff" for the Norway invasion met for the
first time and got its instructions from Keitel (1809-PS).
On 21 February Hitler put General von Falkenhorst (who
subsequently became an Oberbefehlshaber and a member of the
Group) in command of the Norway undertaking; and Jodl's
diary records that "Falkenhorst accepts gladly" (1809-PS).
On 26 February Hitler was still in doubt whether to go first
into Norway or the Low Countries, but on 3 March, he decided
to do Norway first and the Low Countries a short time
thereafter. This decision proved final. Norway and Denmark
were invaded on 9 April and the success of the venture was
certain by the first of May; the invasion of the Low
Countries took place 10 days thereafter.

France and the Low Countries fell, Italy joined the war on
the side of Germany, and the African campaign began. In the
meantime, Goering's Air Force hammered at England
unsuccessfully, and the planned invasion of Britain
("Operation Seeloewe") never came to pass. In October 1940
Italy attacked Greece and was fought to better than a
standstill. The Italo-Greek stalemate and uncertain attitude
of Yugoslavia were embarrassing to Germany, particularly
because the attack on the Soviet Union was being planned in
the winter of 1940-41, and Germany felt she could not risk
an uncertain situation at her rear in the Balkans.

Accordingly, it was decided to end the Greek situation by
coming to Italy's aid, and the Yugoslavian coup d'etat of 26
March 1940 brought about the final German decision to crush
Yugoslavia also. The aggressive nature of the German attacks
on Greece and Yugoslavia are demonstrated in 444-PS; 1541-
PS; C-167; 1746-PS. The decisions were made, and the Armed
Forces drew the plans and executed the attacks. The
onslaught was particularly ruthless against Yugoslavia for
the special purpose of frightening Turkey and Greece. The
final deployment instructions were issued by Brauchitsch (R-

                                                  [Page 356]
     "1. The political situation in the Balkans having
     changed by reason of the Yugoslav military revolt,
     Yugoslavia has to be considered as an enemy even should
     it make declarations of loyalty at first.
     "The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander has decided
     therefore to destroy Yugoslavia as quickly as possible
     "5. Timetable for the operations. a. On 5th April as
     soon as sufficient forces of the Air Forces are
     available and weather permitting, the Air Forces shall
     attack continuously by day and night the Yugoslav
     ground organization and Belgrade." (R-95)

(e) The Soviet Union. It is quite possible that some members
of the General Staff and High Command Group opposed
"Barbarossa," the German attack on the Soviet Union, as
unnecessary and unwise from a military standpoint. Raeder so
indicated in a memorandum he wrote on 10 January  1944 (C-

     "1. At this time the Fuehrer had made known his
     'unalterable decision' to conduct the Eastern campaign
     in spite of all remonstrances. After that, further
     warnings, if no new situation had arisen, were found to
     be completely useless. As Chief of Naval War Staff, I
     was never convinced of the 'compelling necessity' for
     "The Fuehrer very early had the idea of one day
     settling accounts with Russia, doubtless his general
     ideological attitude played an essential part in this.
     In 1937-38 he once stated that he intended to eliminate
     the Russians as a Baltic power; they would then have to
     be diverted in the direction of the Persian Gulf. The
     advance of the Russians against Finland and the Baltic
     States in 1939-40 probably further strengthened him in
     this idea.
     "The fear that control of the air over the Channel in
     the autumn of 1940 could no longer be attained -- a
     realization which the Fuehrer, no doubt, gained earlier
     than the Naval War Staff, who were not so fully
     informed of the true results of air raids on England
     (our own losses)surely caused the Fuehrer, as far back
     as August and September, to consider whether -- even
     prior to victory in the West -- an Eastern campaign
     would be feasible with the object of first eliminating
     our last serious opponent on the Continent. The Fuehrer
     did not openly express this fear, however, until well
     into September."
     "7. As no other course is possible, I have submitted to
     compulsion. If, in doing so, a difference of opinion
     arises between SKL and myself, it is perhaps because
     the arguments the Fuehrer used on such occasion (dinner
     speech in the middle of July to the Officers in
     Command) to justify a step he had planned, usually had
     a greater effect on people not belonging to the 'inner
     circle,' than on those who often heard this type of
     "Many remarks and plans indicate that the Fuehrer
     calculated on the final ending of the Eastern campaign
     in the autumn of 1941, whereas the Supreme Command of
     the Army (General Staff) was very skeptical."

But the passage last quoted indicates that the other members
of the General Staff favored "Barbarossa". Raeder's
memorandum actually says substantially that Blomberg's
affidavit (3704-PS) says; that some of the generals lost
confidence in the power of Hitler's judgment, but that the
generals failed as a group to take any definite stand
against him although a few tried and suffered thereby.
Certainly the High Command Group took no stand against
Hitler on "Barbarossa" and the events of 1941 and 1942 do
not suggest that the High Command embarked on the Soviet war
tentatively or with reservations, but rather with ruthless
determination backed by careful planning. The plans
themselves have already been cited. (446-PS; C-35; 872-PS; C-
78; 447-PS)

(f) Nature of the General Staff and High Command Group
Responsibility for Aggression. The nature of the accusation
against this Group for plotting and launching wars of
aggression must be clearly understood. They are not accused
on the ground that they are soldiers. They are not accused
because they did the usual things a soldier is expected to
do, such as make military plans and command troops.

It is among the normal duties of a diplomat to engage in
negotiations and conferences; to write notes and side
memoirs to the government to which he is accredited; and to
cultivate good will toward the country he represents.
Ribbentrop is not indicted for doing these things. It is the
usual function of a politician to weigh and determine
matters of national policy and to draft regulations and
decrees and make speeches. Hess, Frick, and the other
politician-defendants are not indicted for doing these
things. It is an innocent and respectable business to be a
locksmith but it is none the less a crime if the locksmith
turns his talents to picking the locks of neighbors and
looting their homes. And that is the nature of the charge
against all the defendants, and against the General Staff
and High Command Group as well. The charge

                                                  [Page 358]

is that in performing the functions of diplomats,
politicians, soldiers, sailors, or whatever they happened to
be, they conspired to and did plan, prepare, initiate, and
wage wars of aggression and in violation of Treaties.

The Charter (Article 6(a)) declares that wars of aggression
and wars in violation of international treaties, agreements,
and assurances are crimes against peace. It is no defense
for those who commit such crimes to plead that they practice
a particular profession, whether it is arms or the law. It
is perfectly legal for military men to prepare military
plans to meet national contingencies, to carry out such
plans and engage in war if in so doing they do not knowingly
plan and wage illegal wars.

There might well be individual cases where drawing the line
between legal and illegal conduct would involve some
difficulties. That is not an uncommon situation in the legal
field. But there can be no doubt as to the criminality of
the General Staff and High Command Group, nor as to the
guilt of the five defendants who are members of the Group.
The evidence is clear that these defendants, and the leaders
of the Group, and most of the members of the Group, were
fully advised in advance of the aggressive and illegal war
plans, and carried them out with full knowledge that the
wars were aggressive and in violation of treaties.

In the case of defendants Goering, Keitel, and Jodl, the
evidence is voluminous and their participation in aggressive
plans and wars is constant. The same is true of the
defendant Raeder, and his individual responsibility for the
aggressive and savage attack on Norway and Denmark is
especially clear. The evidence so far offered against
Doenitz is less voluminous, for the reason that he was
younger and not one of the top group until later in the war,
but his knowing participation in and advocacy of the
Norwegian venture is clear.

Numerous other members of the General Staff and High Command
Group, including its other leaders, participated knowingly
and willfully in these illegal plans and wars. Brauchitsch,
the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, and his Chief of Staff,
Halder; Warlimont the deputy to Jodl and chief repository of
plans -- in the nature of things these men knew all that was
going on, and participated fully, as the evidence has shown.
Reichenau and Sperrle helped to bully Schuschnigg; Reichenau
and von Schobert, together with Goering, were immediately
sent for by Hitler when Schuschnigg ordered the plebiscite.
At later date, Blaskowitz as an Oberbefehlshaber in the
field knowingly prepared for the attack on Poland; Field
Marshal List educated the Bulgarians for their role during
the attacks on Yugoslavia and Greece; von Falk-

                                                  [Page 359]

enhorst "gladly" accepted the assignment to command the
invasion of Norway and Denmark. On the air side, Jeschonnek
had proposed that Germany attack Norway, Denmark, and
Holland, and simultaneously assured Belgium that there was
nothing to fear. On the naval side, Admiral Carls foresaw at
an early date that German policy was leading to a general
European war, and at a later date the attack on Norway and
Denmark was his brainchild; Krancke was one of the chief
planners of this attack; Schniewindt was in the inner circle
for the attack on Poland; Fricke certified the final orders
for "Weseruebung" and a few months later proposed that
Germany annex Belgium and northern France and reduce the
Netherlands and Scandinavia to vassalage. Most of these 19
officers were at the time members of the Group, and the few
who were not subsequently became members. At the final
planning and reporting conference for "Barbarossa," 17
additional members were present. At the two meetings with
Hitler, at which the aggressive plans and the contempt for
treaties were fully disclosed, the entire group was present.

The military defendants may perhaps argue that military men
are pure technicians, bound to do whatever the political
leaders order them to do. Such a suggestion must fail, on
any test of reason or logic. It amounts to saying that
military men are a race apart from and different from the
ordinary run of human beings-men above and beyond the moral
and legal requirements that apply to others; men incapable
of exercising moral judgment on their own behalf.

It stands to reason that the crime of planning and waging
aggressive warfare is committed most consciously,
deliberately, and culpably by a nation's leaders -- the
leaders in all the major fields of activity necessary to and
closely involved in the waging of war. It is committed by
the principal propagandists and publicists who whip up the
necessary beliefs and enthusiasms among the people as a
whole, so that the people will acquiesce and join in
attacking and slaughtering the peoples of other nations. It
is committed by the political leaders who purport to
represent and execute the national will. It is committed by
the diplomats who handle the nation's foreign policy and
endeavor to create a favorable diplomatic setting for
successful warfare, and by the chief ministers who adapt the
machinery of government to the needs of a nation at war. It
is committed by the principal industrial and financial
leaders who shape the national economy and marshall the
productive resources for the needs of an aggressive war
program. It is no less committed by the military leaders who
knowingly plan aggressive war, mobilize the men and
equipment of the attacking forces, and execute the actual

                                                   [Page 30]
In the nature of things, planning and executing aggressive
war is accomplished by agreement and consultation among all
these types of leaders. If the leaders in any notably
important field of activity stand aside, resist, or fail to
cooperate in launching and executing an aggressive war
program, the program will at the very least be seriously
obstructed, and probably its successful accomplishment will
be impossible. That is why the principal leaders in all
these fields of activity share responsibility for the crime,
and the military leaders no less than the others. Leadership
in the military field, as in any other field, calls for
moral wisdom as well as technical astuteness.

The responsible military leaders of any nation can hardly be
heard to say that their role is that of a mere janitor,
custodian, or pilot of the war machine which is under their
command, and that they bear no responsibility whatsoever for
the use to which that machine is put. Such a view would
degrade and render ignoble the profession of arms. The
prevalence of such a view would be particularly unfortunate
today, when the military leaders control forces infinitely
more powerful and destructive than ever before. Should the
military leaders be declared exempt from the declaration in
the Charter that planning and waging aggressive war is a
crime, it would be a crippling if not fatal blow to the
efficacy of that declaration.

The American prosecution here representing the United
Nations believes that the profession of arms is a
distinguished and noble profession. It believes that the
practice of that profession by its leaders calls for the
highest degree of integrity and moral wisdom no less than
for technical skill. It believes that in consulting and
planning with leaders in other national fields of activity,
the military leaders will act and counsel in accordance with
International Law and the dictates of the public conscience.
Otherwise, the military resources of the nation will be
used, not in accordance with the laws of modern
civilization, but with the law of the jungle. The military
leaders share responsibility with other leaders of a nation.

Obviously the military leaders are not the-final and
exclusive arbiters, and the German military leaders do not
bear exclusive responsibility for the aggressive wars which
were waged. If the leading German diplomats and
industrialists and other leaders had not been infected with
similar criminal purposes, the German military leaders might
not have had their way. But the German military leaders
conspired with others to undermine and destroy the
conscience of the German nation. The German military leaders
wanted to aggrandize Germany and if necessary to resort to

                                                  [Page 361]
for that purpose. As the Chief Prosecutor for the United
States said in his opening statement, "the German military
leaders are here before you because they, along with others,
mastered Germany and drove it to war."

(2) War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. It is proposed
to show that members of the General Staff and High Command
Group including the five defendants who are members of the
Group, ordered and directed the commission of War Crimes and
Grimes against Humanity, as defined in the Indictment. It is
also proposed to show, in certain instances, the actual
commission of war crimes by members of the German Armed
Forces, as a result of these orders, or as a result of other
orders or arrangements made by members of the General Staff
and High Command Group, which controlled the German Armed
Forces and bears responsibility for war crimes committed by

It is not proposed, however, to make a full showing of war
crimes committed by the German Armed Forces. The full
presentation of this evidence is to be made, pursuant to
agreement among the Chief Prosecutors, by the French and
Soviet delegations.

It will be shown that the General Staff and High Command
became wedded to a policy of terror. In some cases, where
the evidence of this policy is in documentary form, the
activating papers which were signed by, initialed by, and
circulated among the members of the Group will be presented.
In other instances, where the actual crimes were committed
by others than members of the German Armed Forces (where,
for example prisoners of war or civilians were handed over
to and mistreated or murdered by the SS or SD), it will be
shown that members of the Group were well aware that they
were assisting in the commission of war crimes. It will be
shown that many crimes committed by the SS or SD were
committed with the knowledge and necessary support of the
General Staff and High Command, and that frequently members
of the German Armed Forces acted in conjunction with the SS
and SD in carrying out tasks then known by such respectable
sounding terms as "pacification," "cleansing," and
"elimination of insecure elements."

(a) Murder of Commandos, Paratroopers, and Members of
Military Missions. This story starts with an order issued by
Hitler on 18 October 1942 (498-PS). The order began with a
recital that allied commandos were using methods of warfare
alleged to be outside the scope of the Geneva Conventions,
and thereafter proceeded to specify the methods of warfare
which German troops should use against allied commandos, and
the disposition which

                                                  [Page 362]
should be made of captured commandos. This order reads as

     "1. For some time our enemies have been using in their
     warfare methods which are outside the international
     Geneva Conventions. Especially brutal and treacherous
     is the behavior of the so-called commandos, who, as is
     established, are partially recruited even from freed
     criminals in enemy countries. From captured orders it
     is divulged that they are directed not only to shackle
     prisoners, but also to kill defenseless prisoners on
     the spot at the moment in which they believe that the
     latter as prisoners represent a burden in the further
     pursuit of their purposes or could otherwise be a
     hindrance. Finally, orders have been found in which the
     killing of prisoners has been demanded in
     "2. For this reason it was already announced in an
     addendum to the Armed Forces report of 7 October 1942,
     that in the future, Germany, in the face of these
     sabotage troops of the British and their accomplices,
     will resort to the same procedure, i.e., that they will
     be ruthlessly mowed down by the German troops in
     combat, wherever they may appear.
     "3. I therefore order:
     From now on all enemies on so-called Commando missions
     in Europe or Africa challenged by German troops, even
     if they are to all appearances soldiers in uniform or
     demolition troops, whether armed or unarmed, in battle
     -- or in flight, are to be slaughtered to the last man.
     It does not make any difference whether they are landed
     from ships and aeroplanes for their actions, or whether
     they are dropped by parachute. Even if these
     individuals, when found, should apparently be prepared
     to give themselves up, no pardon is to be granted them
     on principle. In each individual case full information
     is to be sent to the OKW. for publication in the Report
     of the Military Forces.
     "4. If individual members of such commandos, such as
     agents, saboteurs, etc. fall into the hands of the
     military forces by some other means, through the police
     in occupied territories for instance, they are to be
     handed over immediately to the SD. Any imprisonment
     under military guard, in-PW Stockades for instance,
     etc., is strictly prohibited, even if this is only
     intended for a short time.
                                                  [Page 363]
     "5. This order does not apply to the treatment of any
     enemy soldiers who in the course of normal hostilities
     (large scale offensive actions, landing operations and
     airborne operations), are captured in open battle or
     give themselves up. Nor does this order apply to enemy
     soldiers falling into our hands after battles at sea,
     or enemy soldiers trying to save their lives by
     parachute after battles.
     "6. I will hold responsible under Military Law, for
     failing to carry out this order, all commanders and
     officers who either have neglected their duty of
     instructing the troops about this order, or acted
     against this order where it was to be executed.
                                "(S) Adolf Hitler" (498-PS).

This order was issued by the OKW in twelve copies, and the
distribution included the three supreme commands and the
principal field commands. (498-PS)

On the same day Hitler issued a supplementary order (503-PS)
for the purpose of explaining the reasons for the issuance
of the basic order. in this explanation, Hitler pointed out
that allied commando operations had been extraordinarily
successful in the destruction of rear communications,
intimidation of laborers, and destruction of important war
plants in occupied areas. Among other things Hitler stated
in this explanation:

     "Added to the decree concerning the destruction of
     terror and sabotage troops (OKW/WFst No. 003830/42 Top
     Secret of 18 October 1942) a supplementary order of the
     Fuehrer enclosed.
     "This order is intended for commanders only and must
     not under any circumstances fall into enemy hands.
     "The further distribution is to be limited accordingly
     by the receiving bureaus.
     "The bureaus named in the distribution list are held
     responsible, for the return and destruction of all
     distributed pieces of the order and copies made
     "The Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces
                                                "By order of
     "I have been compelled to issue strict orders for the
     destruction of enemy sabotage troops and to declare
     noncompliance with these orders severely punishable. I
     deem it necessary to announce to the competent
     commanding officers and commanders the reasons for this
                                                  [Page 364]
     "As in no previous war, a method of destruction of
     communications behind the front, intimidation of the
     populace working for Germany, as well as the
     destruction of war-important industrial plants in
     territories occupied by us has been developed in this
     "The consequences of these activities are of
     extraordinary weight. I do not know whether each
     commander and officer is cognizant of the fact that the
     destruction of one single electric power plant, for
     instance, can deprive the Luftwaffe of many thousand
     tons of aluminum, thereby eliminating the construction
     of countless aircraft that will be missed in the fight
     at the front and so contribute to serious damage of the
     Homeland as well as bloody losses of the fighting
     "Yet this form of war is completely without danger for
     the adversary. Since he lands his sabotage troops in
     uniform but at the same time supplies them with
     civilian clothes, they can, according to need, appear
     as soldiers or civilians. While they themselves have
     orders to ruthlessly remove any German soldiers or even
     natives who get in their way, they run no danger of
     suffering really serious losses in their operations,
     since at the worst, if they are caught, they can
     immediately surrender and thus believe that they will
     theoretically fall under the provisions of the Geneva
     Convention. There is no doubt, however, that this is a
     misuse in the worst form of the Geneva agreements,
     especially since part of these elements are even
     criminals, liberated from prisons, who can rehabilitate
     themselves through these activities.
     "England and America will therefore always be able to
     find volunteers for this kind of warfare as long as
     they can truthfully assure them that there is no danger
     of loss of life for them. At worse, all they have to do
     is to successfully commit their attack on people,
     traffic installations, or other installations, and upon
     being encountered by the enemy, to capitulate.
     "If the German conduct of war is not to suffer grievous
     damage through these incidents, it must be made clear
     to the adversary that all sabotage troops will be
     exterminated, without exception, to the last man.
     "This means that their chance of escaping with their
     lives is nil. Under no circumstances can it be
     permitted, therefore, that a dynamite, sabotage, or
     terrorist unit simply allows itself to be captured,
     expecting to be treated according
                                                  [Page 365]
     to rules of the Geneva Convention. It must under all
     circumstances be ruthlessly exterminated.
     "The report on this subject appearing in the Armed
     Forces communique will briefly and laconically state
     that a sabotage, terror, or destruction unit has been
     encountered and ex-terminated to the last
     "I therefore expect the commanding officers of armies
     subordinated to them as well as individual commanders
     not only to realize the necessity of taking such
     measures, but to carry out this order with all energy.
     Officers and noncommissioned officers who fail through
     some weakness are to be reported without fail, or under
     circumstances when there is danger in delay to be at
     once made strictly accountable. The Homeland as well as
     the fighting soldier at the front has the right to
     expect that behind their back the essentials of
     nourishment as well as the supply of war-important
     weapons and ammunition remains secure.
     "These are the reasons for the issuance of this decree.
     "If it should become necessary, for reasons of
     interrogation, to initially spare one man or two, then
     they are to be shot immediately after interrogation.
     "(signed) A. Hitler" (503-PS).

Ten days later, on 28 October 1942, while Raeder was
Commander-in-Chief of the Germany Navy, the Naval War Staff
in Berlin transmitted its copy of the basic order of 18
October to the lower Naval commands. The copy distributed by
the Navy and the covering memorandum from the Naval War
Staff (C-179) shows clearly the secrecy which surrounded the
dissemination of this order:

     "Enclosed pleased find a Fuehrer Order regarding
     annihilation of terror and sabotage units.
     "This order must not be distributed in writing by
     Flotilla leaders, Section Commanders or officers of
     this rank.
     "After verbal distribution to subordinate sections the
     above authorities must hand this order over to the next
     highest section which is responsible for its
     confiscation and destruction.
                                       "(s) Wagner" (C-179).
     "Note for Distribution:
     "These instructions are not to be distributed over and
     above the battalions and corresponding staffs of the
     other services. After notification, those copies
     distributed over and above
                                                  [Page 366]
     the Regimental and corresponding staffs of the other
     services must be withdrawn and destroyed." (C-179)

On 11 February 1943, just twelve days after Doenitz had
become Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy, the Naval War
Staff promulgated a further memorandum on this subject in
order to clear up certain misunderstandings as to the scope
of the basic order of 18 October 1942 (C-178). It was stated
in this subsequent memorandum that all commanders and
officers who neglected their duty in failing to instruct
their units concerning the order would run the risk of
serious court martial penalties:

     "From the notice given by 3/SKL [Naval War Staff] on 1
     February 1943, it has been discovered that the
     competent departments of the General Staff of the Army,
     as well as those of the Air Force Operations Staff have
     a wrong conception regarding the treatment of
     saboteurs. A telephone inquiry at 3/SKL proved that
     this Naval authority was not correctly informed either.
     In view of this situation, reference is made to figure
     6) of the Fuehrer order of October 18, 42 (Appendix to
     Volume No. 1 SKL I Ops 26 367/42 Top Secret of 28
     October 1942) according to which all commanders and
     officers, who have neglected their duty in instructing
     their units about the order referring to treatment of
     saboteurs, are threatened with punishment by court
     "The first Fuehrer order concerning this matter of 18
     October 1942 (Appendix to Volume No. 1 SKL 1 Ops
     2108/42 Top Secret of 27 October 1942) was given the
     protection of Top Secret merely because it is stated
     "1. That, according to the Fuehrer's views the
     spreading of military sabotage organizations in the
     East and West may have portentous consequences for our
     whole conduct of the war and
     "2. That the shooting of uniformed prisoners acting on
     military orders must be carried out even after they
     have surrendered voluntarily and asked for pardon.
     "On the other hand, the annihilation of sabotage units
     in battle is not at all to be kept secret but on the
     contrary to be currently published in the OKW (Supreme
     Command of the Armed Forces) reports. The purpose of
     these measures to act as a deterrent, will not be
     achieved, if those taking part in enemy 'Commando
     Operations' would not learn that certain death and not
     safe imprisonment awaits them. As the saboteurs are to
     be annihilated immediately, unless their statements are
     first needed for military reasons, it is necessary that
     not only all members of the Armed Forces must receive
                                                  [Page 367]
     instructions that these types of saboteurs, even if
     they are in uniform, are to be annihilated, but also
     all departments of the home staff, dealing with this
     kind of question, must be informed of the course of
     action which has been ordered." (c-178)

The Hitler order of October 1942 was actually carried out in
a number of instances. During the night of the 19-20
November 1942, a British freight glider crashed near
Egersund in Norway. The glider carried a British commando
unit of 17 men, of whom 3 were apparently killed in the
crash. All were in English uniform. The 14 survivors were
executed in accordance with the Hitler order in the evening
of 20 November 1942. The proof is contained in the following
document (508-PS):

     "1. Following supplementary report is made about
     landing of a British freight glider at Hegers and in
     the night of November 20:
     "a. No firing on the part of German defense.
     "b. The towing plane (Wellington) has crashed the
     ground, 7 man crew dead. The attached freight glider
     also crashed, of the 17-man crew 14 alive. Indisputably
     a sabotage force. Fuehrer order has been carried out."
     "On 20 November 1942 at 5:50 an enemy plane was found
     15 Km NE of Egersund. It is a British aircraft (towed
     glider) made of wood without engine. Of the 17 member
     crew 3 are dead, 6 are severely, the others slightly
     "All wore English khaki uniforms without sleeve-
     insignia. Furthermore following items were found: 8
     knapsacks, tents, skis and radio sender, exact number
     is unknown. The glider carried rifles, light machine
     guns and machine pistols, number unknown. At present
     the prisoners are with the Bn. in Egersund."
     "Beside the 17 member crew extensive sabotage material
     and work equipment were found. Therefore the sabotage
     purpose was absolutely proved. The 280th Inf. Div.
     (J.D.) ordered the execution of the action according to
     the Fuehrer's order. The execution was carried out
     toward the evening of Nov. 20. Some of the prisoners
     wore blue ski-suits under their khaki uniforms which
     had no insignia on the sleeves. During a short
     interrogation the survivors have revealed nothing but
     their names, ranks and serial numbers."
                                                  [Page 368]
     "In connection with the shooting of the 17 members of
     the crew, the Armed Forces Commander of Norway (WBN)
     has issued an order to the district commanders,
     according to which the interrogation by G-2 (Ic) and by
     BDS are important before the execution of the Fuehrer
     order; in case of No. 4 of the Fuehrer order the
     prisoners are to be handed over to the BDS." (508-PS)
In three specific instances the Hitler order was carried out
in Norway (512-PS). The procedure was to take individual
commandos prisoner and interrogate them to extract military
intelligence before executing them. This procedure was in
accordance with the last sentence of Hitler's supplementary
order (503-PS), and is obviously in flat contradiction of
the requirements of the Hague and Geneva Conventions. The
reason for this procedure is explained as follows:
     "TOP SECRET -- According to the last sentence of the
     Fuehrer order of 18th October (CHEFS), individual
     saboteurs can be spared for the time being in order to
     keep them for interrogation. The importance of this
     measure was proven in the cases of Glomfjord, Two-man
     torpedo Drontheim, and glider plane Stavanger, where
     interrogations resulted in valuable knowledge of enemy
     intentions. Since in the case of Egersund the saboteur
     was liquidated immediately and no clues were won;
     therefore, Armed Forces Commander (WB) referred to
     above mentioned (OA) last sentence of the Fuehrer order
     (Liquidation only after short interrogation)." (512-PS)

Another instance from the Norwegian theater of war (526-PS):
On 30 March 1943, 10 Norwegian navy personnel were taken
prisoner from a Norwegian cutter at Toftefjord. The 10
prisoners were executed by the SD in accordance with the
Hitler order, but the published report announced only that
the unit was destroyed:

     "On the 30 March 1943 in Toftefjord (70 Lat.) an enemy
     cutter was sighted, cutter was blown up by the enemy.
     Crew: 2 dead men, 10 prisoners.
     "Cutter was sent from Scalloway (Shetland Is.) by the
     Norwegian Navy."
     "Purpose: Construction of an organization for
     sabotaging of strong-points, battery positions, staff
     and troop billets and bridges.
     "Assigner of Mission in London: Norwegian, Maj. Munthe.
     "Fuehrer order executed by S.D. (security service).

                                                  [Page 369]

     "Wehrmacht Report of 6.4 announces the following about
     it: "In Northern Norway an enemy sabotage unit was
     engaged and destroyed on approaching the coast." (526-

Similar action took place in the Italian theater. A telegram
(509-PS) from the Supreme Commander in Italy to OKW, dated 7
November 1943, shows that on 2 November 1943 three British
commandos captured at Pascara, Italy, were given "special
treatment" (Sonderbehandelt), which, as previous evidence
has shown, (3040-PS) means death. What happened to the
remaining nine prisoners of war who were wounded and in the
hospital is not known. (509-PS)

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.