Archive/File: imt/ tgmwc/judgment/j-regime-measures Last-Modified: 1997/09/11 Judgment of the International Military Tribunal For The Trial of German Major War Criminals London His Majesty's Stationery Office 1951 [Page 10] MEASURES OF REARMAMENT During the years immediately following Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, the Nazi Government set about re-organizing the economic life of Germany, and in particular the armament industry. This was done on a vast scale and with extreme thoroughness. It was necessary to lay a secure financial foundation for the building of armaments, and in April, 1936, the Defendant Goering was appointed coordinator for raw materials and foreign exchange, and empowered to supervise all State and Party activities in these fields. In this capacity he brought together the War Minister, the Minister of Economics, the Reich Finance Minister, the President of the Reichsbank and the Prussian Finance Minister to discuss problems connected with war mobilization, and on 27th May, 1936, in addressing these men, Goering opposed any financial limitation of war production and added that "all measures are to be considered from the standpoint of an assured waging of war." At the Party Rally in Nuremberg in 1936, Hitler announced the establishment of the Four Year Plan and the appointment of Goering as the Plenipotentiary in charge. Goering was already engaged in building a strong air force and on 8th July, 1938 he announced to a number of leading German aircraft manufacturers that the German Air Force was already superior in quality and quantity to the English. On 14th October, 1938, at another conference, Goering announced that Hitler had instructed him to organize a gigantic armament program, which would make insignificant all previous achievements. He said that he had been ordered to build as rapidly as possible an air force five times as large as originally planned, to increase the speed of the rearmament of the navy and army, and to concentrate on offensive weapons, principally heavy artillery and heavy tanks. He then laid down a specific program designed to accomplish these ends. The extent to which rearmament had been accomplished was stated by Hitler in his memorandum of 9th October, 1939, after the campaign in Poland. He said: "The military application of our people's strength has been carried through to such an extent that within a short time at any rate it cannot be markedly improved upon by any manner of effort .. "The warlike equipment of the German people is at present larger in quantity and better in quality for a greater number of German divisions than in the year 1914. The weapons themselves, taking a substantial cross-section, are more modern than is the case of any other country in the world at this time. They have just proved their supreme war worthiness in their victorious campaign .. There is no evidence available to show that any country in the world disposes of a better total ammunition stock than the Reich .. The A. A. artillery is not equalled by any country in the world." In this reorganisation of the economic life of Germany for military purposes, the Nazi Government found the German armament industry quite willing to cooperate, and to play its part in the rearmament program. In April, 1933, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen submitted to Hitler on behalf of the [Page 11] Reich Association of German Industry a plan for the reorganisation of German industry, which he stated was characterized by the desire to coordinate economic measures and political necessity. In the plan itself Krupp stated that "the turn of political events is in line with the wishes which I myself and the board of directors have cherished for a long time." What Krupp meant by this statement is fully shown by the draft text of a speech which he planned to deliver in the University of Berlin in January, 1944, though the speech was in fact never delivered. Referring to the years 1919 to1933, Krupp wrote: "It is the one great merit of the entire German war economy that it did not remain idle during those bad years, even though its activity could not be brought to light, for obvious reasons. Through years of secret work, scientific and basic groundwork was laid in order to be ready again to work for the German armed forces at the appointed hour, without loss of time or experience .. Only through the secret activity of German enterprise together with the experience gained meanwhile through the production of peace time goods was it possible after 1933, to fall into step with the new tasks arrived at, restoring Germany's military power." In October, 1933, Germany withdrew from the International Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations. In 1935 the Nazi Government decided to take the first open steps to free itself from its obligations under the Treaty of Versailles. On 10th March, 1935 the Defendant Goering announced that Germany was building a military air force. Six days later, on 16th March, 1935, a law was passed bearing the signatures, among others, of the Defendants Goering, Hess, Frank, Frick, Schacht, and von Neurath, instituting compulsory military service and fixing the establishment of the German Army at a peace time strength of 500,000 men. In an endeavor to reassure public opinion in other countries, the Government announced on 21st May, 1935 that Germany would, though renouncing the disarmament clauses, still respect the territorial limitations of the Versailles Treaty, and would comply with the Locarno Pacts. Nevertheless, on the very day of this announcement, the secret Reich Defense Law was passed and its publication forbidden by Hitler. In this law, the powers and duties of the Chancellor and other Ministers were defined, should Germany become involved in war. It is clear from this law that by May, 1935 Hitler and his Government had arrived at the stage in the carrying out of their policies when it was necessary for them to have in existence the requisite machinery for the administration and government of Germany in the event of their policy leading to war. At the same time that this preparation of the German economy for war was being carried out, the German armed forces themselves were preparing for a rebuilding of Germany's armed strength. The German Navy was particularly active in this regard. The official German Naval historians, Assmann and Gladisch, admit that the Treaty of Versailles had only been in force for a few months before it was violated, particularly in the construction of a new submarine arm. The publications of Captain Schuessler and Colonel Scherff, both of which were sponsored by the Defendant Raeder, were designed to show the German People the nature of the Navy's effort to rearm in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. The full details of these publications have been given in evidence. On 12th May, 1934 the Defendant Raeder issued the Top Secret armament plan for what was called the "Third Armament Phase". This contained the sentence: "All theoretical and practical A-preparations are to be drawn up with a primary view to readiness for a war without any alert period." [Page 12] One month later, in June, 1934, the Defendant Raeder had a conversation with Hitler in which Hitler instructed him to keep secret the construction of U-boats and of warships over the limit of 10,000 tons which was then being undertaken. And on 2nd November, 1934, the Defendant Raeder had another conversation with Hitler and the Defendant Goering, in which Hitler said that he considered it vital that the German Navy "should be increased as planned, as no war could be carried on if the Navy was not able to safeguard the ore imports from Scandinavia". The large orders for building given in 1933 to 1934 are sought to be excused by the Defendant Raeder on the ground that negotiations were in progress for an agreement between Germany and Great Britain permitting Germany to build ships in excess of the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. This agreement ["Treaty Series No. 22 (1935)" Cmd. 4953.], which was signed in 1935, restricted the German Navy to a tonnage equal to one-third of that of the British, except in respect of U-boats where 45% was agreed, subject always to the right to exceed this proportion after first informing the British Government and giving them an opportunity of discussion. The Anglo-German Treaty followed in 1937 ["Treaty Series No. 2 (1938)" Cmd. 5637.], under which both Powers bound themselves to notify full details of their building program at least four months before any action was taken. It is admitted that these clauses were not adhered to by Germany. In capital vessels, for example, the displacement details were falsified by 20%, whilst in the case of U-boats, the German historians Assmann and Gladisch say: "It is probably just in the sphere of submarine construction that Germany adhered the least to the restrictions of the German-British Treaty." The importance of these breaches of the Treaty is seen when the motive for this rearmament is considered. In the year 1940 the Defendant Raeder himself wrote: "The Fuehrer hoped until the last moment to be able to put off the threatening conflict with England until 1944-1945. At that time, the Navy would have had available a fleet with a powerful U- boat superiority, and a much more favorable ratio as regards strength in all other types of ships, particularly those designed for warfare on the High Seas." The Nazi Government as already stated, announced on 21st May, 1935 their intention to respect the territorial limitations of the Treaty of Versailles. On 7th March, 1936, in defiance of that Treaty, the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland was entered by German troops. In announcing this action to the German Reichstag, Hitler endeavored to justify the re-entry by references to the recently concluded alliances between France and the Soviet Union, and between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. He also tried to meet the hostile reaction which he no doubt expected to follow this violation of the Treaty by saying: "We have no territorial claims to make in Europe."
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