The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. You told us all that before and my question is a
perfectly simple one that this document in the original
German, when you say "gegen England" is exactly the same as
in your song, "Wir fahren gegen England." It means against,
in antagonism and directed against, and not in comparison.
That is what I am putting to you and it is a perfectly short

Are you telling this Tribunal that "gegen England" means in
comparison with England?

A. I am telling you that, because it says, "develop gegen
England", and at that time we had not even signed the naval
agreement. ft is hardly likely that I would consider
following an anti-British policy.

Q. Look at the next page, Document C-190, Page 67 of the
English Document Book, Page 284 of the German Document Book.
That is your conversation with Hitler on 2nd November, 1934,
when you are discussing bigger naval estimates and the
availability of more money. I want you to look at the end of
the first paragraph, which gives Hitler's reasons.

  "He considered it vital that the Navy should be increased
  as planned," - now look - "as no war could be carried on
  if the Navy was not able to safeguard the ore imports
  from Scandinavia."

Are you still telling the Tribunal that you were not, from
1934 onwards, contemplating war? Well, if so, why does
Hitler say that? That is one of the most vital points of
German naval strategy.

  "No war could be carried on if the Navy was not able to
  safeguard the ore imports from Sweden."

Were you not contemplating war in November? Were you not?

A. Hitler said that a navy was built so that, if war became
necessary, it could use its weapons to defend the country. A
navy is established for no other purpose and that was
definitely one of the general reasons for the existence of a
German Navy. There were many people who thought the Navy was

Q. You see, what I am putting to you is this. You have told
the Tribunal that the Navy was purely defensive, all your
preparations were purely defensive. I am suggesting to you,
that Hitler there is contemplating a war and contemplating
the task of a navy during a war, a few months before be
intended to denounce the military clauses of Versailles.

You were all set for a war if it should become necessary,
and you know that. Was that not the position?

A. That is a complete misrepresentation of the facts, Mr.
Prosecutor. Of course it is necessary during peacetime to
contemplate the circumstances which might arise to make it
necessary to call on the armed forces for defence. At that
time nobody thought of a war of aggression, and the
individual tasks must be understood. One of the Navy's tasks
was undoubtedly to secure the Swedish and Norwegian ore
exports in case of war.

                                                  [Page 199]

Q. Would you just look at the next sentence, in paragraph 2:-

  "Then I pointed out that, owing to the critical political
  situation in the first quarter of 1935, it would be
  desirable to have six U-boats already assembled."

You were preparing for possible consequences of the critical
political situation.

A. Yes.

Q. Let us look at what you were doing in 1936. (Would you
give the defendant and Dr. Siemers, Document D-80.)

That is a report of yours dated 11th November, 1936, dealing
with the U-boat construction programme, and you say this in
the second paragraph:-

  "The military and political situation urgently demands
  that the extension  of our U-boat fleet should be taken
  in hand immediately and completed with the greatest
  energy and despatch, as it is a particularly valuable
  part of our armament at sea and possesses special
  striking powers."

Are you saying that what you were urging there was purely
defensive and you had no idea of the special striking powers
that would be needed in a war?

A. The entire political situation, or so I seem to remember,
made me consider it necessary to put the construction of
submarines in the foreground. But I never expected that we
would start a war on our own account. Hitler himself had
told me that again and again, but he had also made political
moves, which might undoubtedly lead us into war if the other
powers were antagonistic to them. The charge made against me
was that I did not push the construction of U-boats
sufficiently far ahead.

Q. You are stressing it sufficiently there, are you not? "On
the military and political situation" - you were kept fully
informed of the political situation and were adjusting your
naval armament accordingly; is that not so?

A. At that time I knew nothing about what was going to
happen, but I did know that we had occupied the Rhineland
during that year, and that in consequence of the clouds
which appeared on the horizon as a result of that
occupation, Hitler maintained an attitude of great caution
and said that we must be prepared for further complications.
For that reason a special directive was issued in 1936, and
I took the necessary and obvious precautions. My main duty
was to watch; and on the basis of my observations and the
conclusions which I drew from them, I had to strengthen the
naval forces as much as possible. The previous document,
about which you did not question me, had the same
connotation. I asked whether - should political tension
develop at the beginning of 1935, before the signing of the
Naval Treaty - which could not be until June - we should
perhaps assemble six U-boats. That was also in the case of
tension arising; and I knew at that time that the
declaration of freedom of territorial defence was to be made
in 1935.

Q. Well, now you have told us what you knew in 1936. Now,
just let us pass on to 1937, I want to know exactly what you
say. That, of course, as you remember, turns on the Hoszbach
Notes, Document 386-PS, which is at Page 81 of Document Book
10, Page 314 of the German Document Book.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, did you give a number to that last

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I am very grateful, my Lord. It is
Exhibit GB 462.


Q. Now, I want you just - have you got that, Page 314 of the
German Document Book?

A. Can you tell me the paragraph? I have -

                                                  [Page 200]

Q. Yes, the first thing I want to ask you about is the third
paragraph, the last sentence, where Hitler is reported as

  "The German future is therefore dependent exclusively on
  the solution of the need for living space."

And then I wanted you, if you would be so good, to turn over
two pages to 316. My Lord, it is Page 83 of the English
Document Book. That is repeated. My Lord, it is about seven
lines down. Where Hitler says:-

  "The only way out, and one which may appear imaginary, is
  the securing of greater living space."

And then he says that:-

  "The history of all times has proved that every space
  expansion can only be effected by breaking resistance."

And then in a separate paragraph he says:-

  "The question for Germany is where the greatest possible
  conquest could be made at the lowest cost."

Do you see that, on Page 316?

A. May I begin with the last one? It is wrongly translated.

Q. Yes, that is what I am really going to ask you. I want
you to just tell us, did you hear Hitler say that that was
the general problem, "the greatest possible conquest to be
made at the lowest cost "?

A. No. The English document has the word "conquest"
but that is not in the German document. The German text
reads "the highest possible gain (Gewinn) with the smallest
risk." That is a phrase borrowed from sport. There is no
mention of conquest.

Q. I am quite prepared to accept that. It comes after the
passage which I have referred to you in considerable detail,
because I do not want to select anything out of the context.
Did you appreciate that Hitler there was saying "The only
possibility for Germany is to get extra living space", and
that had to be got at the expense of other nations? He said
that, did he not?

A. He did say that; and I explained recently how that is to
be understood. He was speaking of Austria and
Czechoslovakia, of the Sudetenland. We were of the opinion
that no change was intended in that policy; nor did one take
place later. War was not waged against Austria or

We were all convinced that he would solve that question
peacefully, like all other political questions. I explained
that in detail.

Q. Well, now that is what I was going to ask you about. You
have taken my second point yourself. The rest of the
document deals with action against Austria and
Czechoslovakia. Would you look at Page 86?

I think you will agree with me that Field-Marshal von
Blomberg and General von Fritsch rather poured cold water on
Hitler's ideas. Is not that a fair way of putting it?

A. Yes.

Q. They showed a certain antipathy?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, that was in November 1937.

A. All of us told him constantly that in no circumstances
was he in a position to start a war with England and France,
and he always agreed. But I explained that this entire
speech had a definite purpose; and that he therefore
exaggerated a great deal, but stopped that exaggeration
immediately when a hint was given to him about the danger of
a war with France and England.

Q. That was what I was going to ask you. That was in
November. By January, Field-Marshal von Blomberg had made
his unfortunate marriage, had he not?

A. I believe it was in January. I do not know exactly.

Q. And you took the view, did you not, that he had been
encouraged to do that by the defendant Goering?

A. I never said that.

                                                  [Page 201]

Q. Oh, didn't you?

A. No, not that I know of. I never thought that at all.

Q. You remember making a statement in Moscow on this point?
Let me read it to you.

A. To whom, please?

Q. In Moscow to the Russians.

  "At the beginning of the year 1938 I had experiences of a
  personal nature, which, although they did not concern the
  Navy directly, caused me to lose confidence, not only in
  Goering but also in the sincerity of the Fuehrer. The
  situation in which Field-Marshal von Blomberg found
  himself as a result of his unfortunate marriage, made his
  position as a commander-in-chief of the armed forces
  impossible. I came to the belated conclusion that Goering
  was making every effort to obtain the post of Commander-
  in-Chief of the Wehrmacht in place of Blomberg.
  He favoured the marriage because it made Blomberg
  ineligible for this post, while Blomberg believed - and
  even stated repeatedly - that such a marriage was
  possible under the present system. Goering had already
  had him shadowed in the past, as I learned from later

Did you not say that?

A. In Moscow, immediately after the collapse, I wrote about
the causes of the collapse as seen in the light of my own
experience. I was treated very chivalrously there, and I had
no hesitation in informing the General Commissariat of the
Interior of my opinions when I was asked to do so.

Q. All I want to know is, is that true, what you said?

A. Yes, and it is also true that it occurred to me
afterwards that Goering might have favoured the marriage. I
believe that he himself told me that here. He helped
Blomberg, who, I think, did not know what the true state of
affairs was or how serious the matter was.

Q. But you see, your view at that time was that Goering was
encouraging the marriage because he knew that it would put
Blomberg off the map as commander-in-chief, because he,
Goering, wanted the position. Was that the view that you
held last summer?

A. I believed that last summer, yes. And it is also true
that Goering certainly wanted to be commander-in-chief of
the armed forces, but the Fuehrer himself thwarted him in

Q. Now, that was von Blomberg. We know what happened to him.
Your second choice, after von Blomberg, was von Fritsch, was
it not? You thought that von Fritsch would have been the
best commander-in-chief if von Blomberg went, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. You mentioned that to Hitler? And -

A. He asked me, and I said that if I were consulted, I would
suggest Baron von Fritsch. But the Fuehrer said that that
was out of the question.

Q. Yes, but some people were bringing a charge of
homosexuality against von Fritsch; is not that right? That
was why it was out of the question?

A. Yes. He said in general terms, that some kind of moral
crime existed.

Q. You were one of the court who inquired into that charge,
were you not? Goering as president, you and General von

A. Yes.

Q. And you came to the conclusion that the charge of
homosexuality against von Fritsch was a frame-up by the
Gestapo, did you not? Do you know what I mean? I am afraid
"frame-up" is rather difficult to translate.

A. Yes. The whole thing gave me that impression. Yes.

                                                  [Page 202]

Q. That is because the denunciation had been by some shady
character who you thought was a hanger-on of the Gestapo;
and -at the trial, the co-operation of the Gestapo with the
accuser was brought to light; that is right, is is not?

You were satisfied on that point by the evidence at the

A. Yes.

Q. And you agreed that there had been - not a confusion -
but that the guilty party was a cavalry captain, Rittmeister
von Fritsch, and not this general at all; is not that right?

A. I agree absolutely. We acquitted Baron von Fritsch
because his innocence was proved. There was no suspicion of
any kind remaining against him.

Q. You acquitted him, but his reinstatement did not follow?
His reinstatement in command did not follow?

A. No. I went to him, as I knew him very well, and asked him
if he would agree to my going to Hitler and suggesting that
he, Baron von Fritsch, be reinstated. But von Fritsch
replied that he considered that quite impossible. He thought
that his authority was so much impaired that he would no
longer care to resume his position as Commander-in-Chief of
the Army.

After that, unfortunately, I could do no more about it. I
reported this to the Fuehrer, but there were no further
developments. All that happened was that the Fuehrer
confirmed the absolute innocence of Baron von Fritsch in a
large assembly of generals and admirals.

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