The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. The prosecution has furthermore asserted that, after the
seizure of power by Hitler, the high military leaders had
the choice either of co-operating or of accepting the
consequence that the new regime would establish new armed

                                                  [Page 178]

that is, armed forces of their own, and that, on the basis
of this situation, the generals decided to co-operate. Is
that assertion by the prosecution correct?

A. No. It is not true that thereupon any joining of forces
took place, though, as I know, such tendencies existed. For
instance, once in 1934 I reported to the Fuehrer that I had
been informed that SA Gruppenfuehrer Killinger, who had
formerly been in the Navy, and had risen to a high rank in
the SA, had the intention of becoming the Chief of Naval
Operations. But I was not aware of any great effort in that
direction on his part. But above all, there was no coalition
of the generals for defensive action against such an

Q. So the assertion made by the prosecution is not correct?

A. No, not correct. The idea of such a coalition would not
in any way have been in accordance with the sentiments of
the soldier.

Q. The prosecution furthermore asserts that the group, above
all the generals, let themselves be won over by the regime
because of the chance of conquest. Is that assertion

A. That is an absolutely incorrect and far-fetched

Q. Was the effort of the Party to acquire for itself supreme
authority ever supported or promoted by military circles?

A. I do not know that that ever happened. Do you mean the
seizure of power?

Q. After the seizure of power was the Party supported by
military leaders, as far as you know, in its efforts to
attain sole domination in Germany?

A. No.

Q. Yesterday, in reply to the question of your counsel, you
described how you came to swear your oath to Hitler. If the
intention had existed in the mind of one of the Commanders-
in-Chief, would it have been possible for him to refuse the

A. That I cannot say, but I believe that not one of us saw
any necessity for refusing that oath.

Q. The prosecution has further asserted that the high
military chiefs agreed completely with the principles and
aims of National Socialism. Is that correct?

A. I explained here yesterday how far one could agree with
the principles of National Socialism and to what extent one
trained one's soldiers according to these principles.
Anything that went beyond that was rejected and, speaking
for the Navy, found no acceptance.

Q. Did the officers who were subordinate to you and fall
into the group ever have an insight into the political
situation and Hitler's intentions to the extent that one
could speak about their participation in his plans?

A. No. There was an absolute prohibition on speaking to
anyone about speeches in which Hitler mentioned intentions
and possible developments. The officers below the rank of
Armed Forces commander were informed only when it had gone
so far that the directive had been issued.

Q. The prosecution further asserts -

A. I have to qualify that. That directive was first worked
out by the High Command of the Army and the Navy. Thus they
received information as soon as the directive of the
individual branches of the Armed Forces was issued and that
always happened some time later.

Q. The prosecution also asserts that the high military
leaders were not military experts but that they knew
Hitler's intentions of aggression and willingly co-operated.
Can you name any military leaders who, before they had
received orders, took a positive attitude toward any
aggressive action?

A. I cannot answer that. I explained yesterday how Admiral
Karls pointed out to me the danger which was threatening in
Norway; but he did not do anything more than give me the
information, point out the danger and explain the situation

Q. The attitude of the former Commander-in-Chief of the
Armed Forces, von Fritsch, and of the Chief of the General
Staff Beck to the question of a war is known. I just wanted
to ask you, did the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Field
Marshal von Brauchitsch, have the same attitude concerning
the war?

                                                  [Page 179]

A. I believe so, yes.

Q. Concerning the conference on 5th November, 1937, you made
detailed statements yesterday.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, you have been putting this
class of question to every naval and military witness who
has been called, and what the Tribunal desires me to point
out to you is that there has been no cross-examination by
any member of the prosecution challenging any of these
points, so this evidence is entirely repetitive and
cumulative and is not bound to be put by you to every
military and naval witness who comes into the witness box;
it is simply a waste of time to the Tribunal. When questions
are answered by a witness and are not cross-examined to by
the other side, it is the practice to assume that the
answers are accepted.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, for me this is an extremely
important question which has just been touched upon, namely,
the question of whether a question is inadmissible because,
in the opinion of the Tribunal it is cumulative. I should
like to make a few statements concerning whether or not a
question is cumulative.

THE PRESIDENT: Surely, Dr. Laternser, you can understand
what the Tribunal has said to you, that it is now desired,
In view of the directives of the Charter, that this trial
should be as expeditious as it can reasonably be, and it
does not desire to have the same evidence adduced to it over
and over again. Is that not clear?

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, if I can assume that the
Tribunal, accepts as true these proofs which I want to bring
by means of my questions, then I can, of course, forgo them.
But I cannot determine whether that is the case unless I
know for sure that I have succeeded in bringing definite
proof -

THE PRESIDENT: What I wanted to point out to you was that
you asked the same question of a great number of witnesses
and that those questions have not been cross-examined to,
and in such circumstances von can assume that the answers
given by the witnesses are accepted.

DR. LATERNSER: If I am justified in drawing this conclusion,
then, of course, I shall dispense with such questions in the
future. I have only a few more questions, Mr. President.


Q. In support of the indictment of the group of the General
Staff and the OKW two affidavits have been presented by the
prosecution, one by Field Marshal von Blomberg and one by
General Blaskowitz. In these two affidavits both these
officers state that as a whole, within the circle of
generals before the war, the opinion existed that the
question of the Corridor would have to be decided
unconditionally and, if necessary, with force. Is that
correct?  Was that the general attitude at that time?

A. I never heard of such an opinion. In my presence General
von Blomberg never made any statement of that kind. The
Polish question was discussed by us in the Navy only to the
extent already mentioned here during the last few days,
namely that an attack on Poland by Germany would have to be
prevented under all circumstances. The political treatment
of this question -

THE PRESIDENT The defendant says he has never heard of this

DR. LATERNSER That was the reason why I put the question to
the witness.

THE WITNESS: After 1933, political questions were handled
and decided by Hitler exclusively, and he said that he made
all policies.


Q. It is therefore correct that this opinion which Blomberg
and Blaskowitz have mentioned does not apply for the circle
of generals?

                                                  [Page 180]

A. Well, at any rate, I have never heard it expressed by the
generals. It certainly did not exist in the Navy.

Q. You were present at the conferences of 23rd November,

A. Yes.

I should like to put one supplementary question concerning
those conferences. Admiral, do you remember that in the
course of these conferences Hitler reproached the generals
because they still had old-fashioned ideas of chivalry and
that these ideas had to be rejected?

A. That I cannot say with certainty. I believe that I can
recall having once heard it said that Hitler was of that

Now, I have one last question concerning the document which
your counsel put to you in the course of your examination.
It is Document C-66, submitted by the British prosecution as
Exhibit GB 81. It is in Document Book 10, on Page 13, or
10A, Page 35. On Page 5 of the document, last paragraph, you
said the following:

  "It can be seen from my statements and plans that the
  Fuehrer counted on a definite conclusion of the Eastern
  campaign in the autumn of 1941, whereas the High Command
  of the Army (General Staff) was very sceptical."

Admiral, I wanted to ask you of what this scepticism
amounted to.

A. As far as I know, the High Command of the Army was of the
opinion that it was impossible to conclude such a tremendous
campaign in so short a time, and many others shared that
opinion, whereas the Fuehrer, because of the new weapons and
his strategy, believed the opposite.

Q. Do you know anything about whether the High Command of
the Army had any fundamental objections to the Russian
campaign before it was begun?

A. As far as I know, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army was
very much against it; but that too, I cannot say definitely,

DR. LATERNSER: Thank you. I have no more questions.

DR. KRAUS: (representing Dr. von Luedinghausen, counsel for
the defendant von Neurath).


Q. Admiral, in the course of the proceedings it has been
testified, I believe by Goering, that Field Marshal von
Hindenburg had expressly desired that Herr von Neurath
should become Foreign Minister. Do you know anything about

A. I learned at the time that Hindenburg had expressed that
wish, and it attracted my attention because Field Marshal
von Hindenburg until that time had always considered it his
right to appoint the Minister of Defence and the Chiefs of
Staff of the Army and Navy. This was the first time that he
expressed such a wish in the case of a foreign minister.

Q. So it was not the practice of the Field Marshal to make
any suggestions regarding the appointments of ministers?

A. No. Up to that time he had exercised his privilege of
making appointments only as regards the Minister of Defence
and Chiefs of Staff, even in the former Cabinets.

Q. What may have been the reason for Field Marshal von
Hindenburg making that exception in the case of Neurath?

A. He probably wanted to make sure under all circumstances
that the
peaceful policies which
had prevailed in Germany up to that time, would be
continued. He was sure that Herr von Neurath would carry on
these policies.

Q. So he had particular confidence in Herr von Neurath's
attitude up to that time?

A. Yes, beyond a doubt.

Q. You knew von Neurath very well, and you were informed
about his political principles, were you not? What were the
main lines of his policies?

                                                  [Page 181]

A. Herr von Neurath wanted to see the gradual return of the
German people to normal conditions, and he wanted to strive
with peaceful means for equal rights for the German Reich.
Above all, he wanted to have good relations with England,
which was also in conformity with Hindenburg's intentions,
and on this very point both of us agreed completely.

Q. So one can say that you considered von Neurath an
exponent of a policy of understanding with England?

A. Yes,

Q. Then I have a second question for you, Admiral. A Fritz
Wiedemann, who was Hitler's adjutant from 193S to 1939, has
deposited an affidavit. The prosecution has submitted that
affidavit as Document PS 3073. In this affidavit Herr
Wiedemann states that on 28th May, 1938, a conference took
place in the Winter Garden of the Reich Chancellery with all
important people of the Foreign Office, the Army, and the
operational Staffs present, a conference so large that one
almost doubted whether all these people would have room in
the Winter Garden.

And here, he says, in addition to Goering, General Beck,
General Keitel, and von Brauchitsch, there were also present
von Neurath, von Ribbentrop and yourself.

In this meeting Hitler spoke among other things about
Czechoslovakia and stated that it was his unshakeable
intention that Czechoslovakia must disappear from the map.
Do you know anything about that meeting?

A. Although I can recall every such large or important
meeting, I have not the slightest recollection of this
meeting at that time. The list of those present also seems
very unlikely to be correct. I have never seen Herr von
Neurath and Herr von Ribbentrop together at the same
meeting. I even doubt whether Herr von Neurath at that time
was in Berlin at all. He was quite definitely not present at
that meeting. But I also do not remember any meeting at
which von Ribbentrop was present as foreign minister when
military matters were discussed. I believe this Herr
Wiedemann is mistaken, because I believe also that I have
never seen him at a meeting in which such matters are
supposed to have been discussed. The Fuehrer always sent
this personal adjutant of his out of the room beforehand. I
believe there is some mistake.

Q. You could undoubtedly remember such an important
statement by the Fuehrer.

A. Yes. During that summer the Fuehrer's opinions fluctuated
greatly. I believe that at the end of May a mobilization
took place in Czechoslovakia, but I do not remember exactly.
But I attended no meeting, as far as I know, at which such a
statement was made.

DR. KRAUS: Thank you. I have no more questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other defendant's counsel wish to
ask any questions?

(No response.)

Sir David, it seems scarcely worth-while starting the cross-

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your lordship pleases, I entirely

(The Tribunal adjourned until 20th May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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