The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/judgment/j-defendants-raeder

Archive/File: imt/ tgmwc/judgment/j-defendants-raeder
Last-Modified: 1997/09/10

                           of the
               International Military Tribunal
                           For The
             Trial of German Major War Criminals

               His Majesty's Stationery Office
                                                  [Page 110]

Raeder is indicted on Counts One, Two, and Three. In 1928 he
became Chief of Naval Command and in 1935 Oberbefehlshaber
der Kriegsmarine (OKM); in 1939 Hitler made him Gross-
Admiral. He was a member of the Reich Defense Council. On
30th January, 1943 Doenitz replaced him at his own request,
and he became Admiral Inspector of the Navy, a nominal

                                                  [Page 111]
Crimes against Peace

In the 15 years he commanded it, Raeder built and directed
the German Navy; he accepts full responsibility until
retirement in 1943. He admits the Navy violated the
Versailles Treaty, insisting it was "a matter of honor for
every man" to do so, and alleges that the violations were
for the most part minor, and Germany built less than her
allowable strength. These violations, as well as those of
the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935, have already been
discussed elsewhere in this Judgment.

Raeder received the directive of 24th June, 1937, from Von
Blomberg requiring special preparations for war against
Austria. He was one of the five leaders present at the
Hoszbach Conference of 5th November, 1937. He claims Hitler
merely wished by this conference to spur the Army to faster
rearmament, insists he believed the questions of Austria and
Czechoslovakia would be settled peacefully, as they were,
and points to the new naval treaty with England which had
just been signed. He received no orders to speed
construction of U-boats, indicating that Hitler was not
planning war.

Raeder received directives on "Fall Gruen" and the
directives on "Fall Weiss" beginning with that of 3rd April,
1939; the latter directed the Navy to support the Army by
intervention from the sea. He was also one of the few chief
leaders present at the meeting of 23rd May, 1939. He
attended the Obersalzberg briefing of 22nd August, 1939.

The conception of the invasion of Norway first arose in the
mind of Raeder and not that of Hitler. Despite Hitler's
desire, as shown by his directive of October, 1939, to keep
Scandinavia neutral, the Navy examined the advantages of
naval bases there as early as October. Admiral Karls
originally suggested to Raeder the desirable aspects of
bases in Norway. A questionnaire, dated 3rd October, 1939,
which sought comments on the desirability of such bases, was
circulated within SKL. On 10th October Raeder discussed the
matter with Hitler; his War Diary entry for that day says
Hitler intended to give the matter consideration. A few
months later Hitler talked to Raeder, Quisling, Keitel, and
Jodl; OKW began its planning and the Naval War Staff worked
with OKW staff officers. Raeder received Keitel's directive
for Norway on 27th January,1940, and the subsequent
directive of 1st March, signed by Hitler.

Raeder defends his actions on the ground it was a move to
forestall the British. It is not necessary again to discuss
this defense, which has heretofore been treated in some
detail, concluding that Germany's invasion of Norway and
Denmark was aggressive war. In a letter to the Navy, Raeder
said: "The operations of the Navy in the occupation of
Norway will for all time remain the great contribution of
the Navy to this war."

Raeder received the directives, including the innumerable
postponements, for the attack in the West. In a meeting of
18th March, 1941, with Hitler he urged the occupation of all
Greece. He claims this was only after the British had landed
and Hitler had ordered the attack, and points out the Navy
had no interest in Greece. He received Hitler's directive on

Raeder endeavored to dissuade Hitler from embarking upon the
invasion of the U.S.S.R. In September, 1940, he urged on
Hitler an aggressive Mediterranean policy as an alternative
to an attack on Russia. On 14th November, 1940, he urged the
war against England "as our main enemy" and that submarine
and naval air force construction be continued. He voiced
"serious objections against the Russian campaign before the
defeat of England", according to notes of the German Naval
War Staff. He claims his objections were based on the
violation of the Non-Aggression Pact as well as

                                                  [Page 112]
strategy. But once the decision had been made, he gave
permission 6 days before the invasion of the Soviet Union to
attack Russian submarines in the Baltic Sea within a
specified warning area and defends this action because these
submarines were "snooping" on German activities.

It is clear from this evidence that Raeder participated in
the planning and waging of aggressive war.

Raeder is charged with War crimes on the High Seas. The
Athenia, an
unarmed British passenger liner, was sunk on 3rd September,
1939, while outward bound to America. The Germans 2 months
later charged that Mr. Churchill deliberately sank the
Athenia to encourage American hostility to Germany. In fact,
it was sunk by the German U-boat 30. Raeder claims that an
inexperienced U-boat commander sank it in mistake for an
armed merchant cruiser, that this was not known until the U-
30 returned several weeks after the German denial and that
Hitler then directed the Navy and Foreign Office to continue
denying it. Raeder denied knowledge of the propaganda
campaign attacking Mr. Churchill.

The most serious charge against Raeder is that he carried
out unrestricted submarine warfare, including sinking of
unarmed merchant ships, of neutrals, non-rescue and machine-
gunning of survivors, contrary to the London Protocol of
1936. The Tribunal makes the same finding on Raeder on this
charge as it did as to Doenitz, which has already been
announced, up until 30th January, 1943, when Raeder retired.

The Commando Order of 18th October, 1942, which expressly
did not apply to naval warfare, was transmitted by the Naval
War Staff to the lower naval commanders with the direction
it should be distributed orally by flotilla leaders and
section commanders to their subordinates. Two commandos were
put to death by the Navy, and not the SD, at Bordeaux on
10th December, 1942. The comment of the Naval War Staff was
that this was "in accordance with the Fuehrer's special
order, but is nevertheless something new in international
law, since the soldiers were in uniform." Raeder admits he
passed the order down through the chain of command, and he
did not object to Hitler.

Conclusion: The Tribunal finds that Raeder is guilty on
Counts One, Two, and Three.

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.