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   Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume II, Chapter XVI

                                                  [Page 528]

                      4. WILHELM KEITEL


Chief of the Armed Forces Department in the Reichs Ministry
of War (Wehrmachtsamt in Reichskriegsministerum), 1 October
1935 to 4 February 1938. 3019-PS)

Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (Chief of
OKW), equal in rank to a Reichs Minister. (1915-PS)

Member of the Secret Cabinet Council, 4 February 1938 to 194

Member of Ministerial Council for the defense of the Reich,
30 August 1939 to 194. (2018-PS)

Member of Reichs Defense Council, 4 September 1938 to 1945.

Field Marshal, July 1940 to 1945. (3020-PS)


As Chief of the Wehrmachtamt in the Ministry of War, Keitel
was Chief of Staff for von Blomberg, who was both Minister
of War and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

On 4 February 1938 Hitler abolished the Ministry of War,
assumed direct command of the Armed Forces himself, and
created the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht). The OKW
advised Hitler on the most important military questions, and
prepared and transmitted directives to the Armed Forces.
Thus it exercised great influence on the formation of the
German military policy and the conduct of military affairs.

Keitel was made Chief of the OKW, with rank equal to that of
Reichsminister. He was also given authorities of the former
Minister of War, and continued to perform the administrative
duties of that position. (1915-PS; 1954-PS; 3704-PS)

                                                  [Page 529]
In addition to its ministerial functions, the OKW was
Hitler's military staff. Its most important duty was the
development of strategic and operational plans. Such plans
were worked out by the OKW Operation Staff in broad outline,
and then in more detail by the commanders and chiefs of
staff of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. After Hitler had
approved the plans they were transmitted by the OKW to the
respective military authorities. (3705-PS; 3702-PS; 3707-


Keitel's conspiratorial activities started immediately after
the Nazis came to power. As early as in May 1933, when
Germany was still a member of the League of Nations, Keitel
gave directives for deceiving "Geneva" in rearmament

At the second meeting of the Working Committee of the
Councillors for Reich Defense on 22 May 1933, Colonel Keitel
emphasized that the supreme-consideration guiding the work
of the committee was to be secrecy. "No document", he said,
"ought to be lost, since otherwise it may fall into the
hands of the enemy's intelligence service. Orally
transmitted matters are not provable; they can be denied by
us in Geneva." He requested that written documents not be
sent through the mails, or, if it was absolutely necessary
to do so, that they be addressed, not to a government agency
or office (where they might be opened by the mail clerks)
but to the recipient personally.

The fact that Keitel was a member of the Nazi conspiracy in
good standing is apparent from his statement that he held
the Golden Party Badge, and that consequently the Party
considered him a member as from the autumn of 1944, when the
law against military personnel being members of the Party
was changed (1944 RGBl. I, 317). His political convictions
were those of National Socialism, and he was a loyal
follower of Hitler. (1954-PS)

At the second meeting of the Working Committee of the
Councillors for Reich Defense held on 26 April 1933, the
chairman Colonel Keitel, pointed out the necessity and
desirability for the creation of the Reich Defense Council
which had been determined on by a cabinet decision of 4
April 1933. He said that a general program for the creation
of a war economy had already been completed, but that it
would take a long time to carry out the Program He explained
that it was the purpose and objective of the Working
Committee of the new Defense Council to overcome these
difficulties. (EC-177)

                                                  [Page 530]
On 6 December 1935 General Major Keitel, chairman of the
eleventh meeting of the Reich Defense Council, pointed out
that the mobilization year was to begin on 1 April and to
end on 31 March of the following year. For the first time, a
"Mobilization Book for Civilian Agencies" was to be issued
on 1 April 1936. Keitel said that this day, to the extent
possible, should find the nation ready and prepared. He
declared that, according to the will of the Fuehrer, the
economic management of the country should put the
enhancement of military capacity above all other national
tasks. Keitel emphasized that it was the function of all
members of the Reich Defense Council to use all available
resources economically and to ask for only such funds and
raw materials as were absolutely and exclusively needed for
the defense of the Reich.

In the presence of Keitel, Colonel Jodl said that the
"Mobilization Book for the Civilian Agencies" constituted
the unified basis for the carrying out of mobilization
outside of the Army. (EC-406)

The twelfth meeting of the Working Committee of the Reich
Defense Council, held on 14 May 1936, was opened by Field
Marshal von Blomberg, War Minister and Supreme Army
Commander. He stressed the necessity for a total
mobilization, including the drafting of the necessary laws,
preparations in the re-militarized Rhineland zone, financing
and rearmament. Lt. General Keitel, in his capacity as
chairman of the Working Committee of the Reich Defense
Council, again stressed the necessity for secrecy.
Ministerial Director Wohlthat pointed out that, in order to
guarantee rearmament and an adequate food supply, an
increase in production and utmost economy were necessary, a
postulate that had led to the special mandate given by the
Fuehrer to Minister President Goering. (EC-407)

Keitel participated also in the activities of the
conspirators to re-militarize the Rhineland. At that time he
was Chief of the Wehrmachtsamt under von Blomberg and
signed, on the latter's behalf, the order for naval
participation in the operation. (C-194)

Keitel also took part in the war-planning activities of the
Reich Cabinet, of which he was a member. The cabinet
consulted by meetings, and by the circulation of decrees
among its members for their approval or disapproval. (See
generally Section 3 of Chapter XV on the Reich Cabinet.)
Keitel was a member of the Secret Cabinet Council, which has
been described as "a select committee" of the cabinet for
deliberation on foreign affairs. (1774-PS)

                                                  [Page 531]
A Reich Defense Council was established by the ordinary
cabinet in 1933. It was a war-planning group, and Keitel
took part in the meetings of its working committee. (EC-177;
EC-406; EC-407)

On 4 December 1938 a Secret Defense Law was passed, which
defined the duties of the Reich Defense Council. As Chief of
OKW, Keitel was a member of the council, and he also
presided over the Council's Working Committee
(Reichsverteidigungsausschuss). (2194-PS)

The Secret Defense Law of 1938 provided for a
Plenipotentiary for Economy, whose task was to "put all
economic forces into the service of the Reich defense, and
to safeguard economically the life of the German nation",
and for a Plenipotentiary for Administration, whose duties
were to take over "the uniform leadership of the non-
military administration with exception of the economic
administration" upon the declaration of a "state of
defense". Certain ministries were, in peace-time, bound by
the directives of the plenipotentiaries. The latter were
bound, in turn, under certain conditions, together with the
ministries subordinate to them, to take directions from the
Chief of OKW. Keitel could also, in a state of defense,
issue orders to the Minister of Transport and the Minister
of Posts. In addition, he presided over the Council's
Working Committee, which prepared the Council's decisions,
saw that they were executed, and obtained collaboration
between the armed forces, the chief Reich offices, and the
Party. Keitel regulated the activities of this committee and
issued directions to the plenipotentiaries and certain Reich
ministries to assure uniform execution of the council's
decisions. (2194-PS)

The two plenipotentiaries and the OKW formed what was known
as a "Three Man College" (2608-PS). This system of three man
college functioned as follows, from a legislative point of
view: The Plenipotentiary for Economy was empowered by
paragraph 4 of the Secret Defense Law of 4 September 1938 to
issue laws within his sphere, with the consent of the OKW
and the Plenipotentiary for Administration, which differed
from existing laws. Similarly, the Plenipotentiary for
Administration was empowered by paragraph 3 of the same law
to issue laws within his sphere, with the concept of the OKW
and the Plenipotentiary for Economy, which differed from
existing laws.

In the spheres of the Reich Minister of Posts, the Reich
Minister of Transport and of the General Inspector for
German roads (Generalinspektor fuer die Strassenwesen), the
Chief of the OKW had the right, under paragraph 5 of the
same law, to issue laws,

                                                  [Page 532]
in agreement with the Plenipotentiaries for Administration
and Economy, which differed from existing laws. (2194-PS)

The legislative function of the three man college, prior to
9 September 1939 was one of drafting decrees to be used in
time of war.

The Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich was
established by a decree of Hitler on 30 August 1939. It was
formed out of the Reich Defense Council, and included among
its members the two plenipotentiaries of the council and the
Chief of OKW.

The Council-had the power to pass decrees with the force of
law, and to legislate for the occupied Eastern Territories
1939 RGBI, I, 2077). Decrees of the council were circulated,
before enactment, among all the members by written
communication from Dr. Lammers, who was also on the Council.

Frick has referred to the Council of Ministers as "the
highest permanent organ of the Reich with comprehensive
jurisdiction, responsible only to the Fuehrer". "The
composition of the Ministerial Council for the Defense of
the Reich", he added, "shows the real concentration of power
in it". He said also that Keitel was liaison between the
council and the armed forces, it being primarily his duty to
coordinate the measures for civilian defense in the area of
administration and economy with the genuine military
measures for the defense of the Reich. (2608-PS)

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