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   Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume Two, Chapter XIV
                      15. ERICH RAEDER
                                                  [Page 849]


Erich Raeder was born in 1876 and joined the German Navy in
1896. By 1915 he had become commander of the Cruiser Koeln.
In 1928 he became an admiral, Chief of Naval Command, and
head of the German Navy. In 1935 he became Commander-in-
Chief of the Navy. In 1936 he became General Admiral, a
creation of Hitler's, on his forty-seventh birthday. In 1937
he received the golden badge of honor of the Nazi Party. In
1938 he became a member of the Secret Cabinet Council. In
1939 he was made Grand Admiral, a rank created by Hitler,
who presented Raeder with a marshal's baton. In 1943 he
became Admiral Inspector of the German Navy, which was a
kind of retirement into oblivion, since after January 1943
Doenitz was the effective commander of the German Navy.


During the years of Raeder's command of the German Navy,
from 1928 to 1943, he played a vital role in building up the
Navy as an instrument of war, to implement the Nazis'
general plan of aggression.

(1) Concealed rearmament in violation of the Treaty of
Versailles. In successive and secret steps, the small Navy
permitted to Germany under the Treaty of Versailles was
enormously expanded under the guidance of Raeder.

The story of Germany's secret rearmament in violation of the
Treaty of Versailles is told in a history of the fight of
the German Navy against Versailles, 1919 to 1935, which was
published secretly by the German Admiralty in 1937 (C-156).
This history shows that before the Nazis came to power the
German Admiralty was deceiving not only the governments of
other countries, but its own legislature and at one stage
its own government, regarding the secret measures of
rearmament ranging from experimental U-Boat an E-Boat
building to the creation of secret intelligence and finance
organizations. Raeder's role in these developments are
described as follows:

     "The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Admiral Raeder,
     had received hereby a far-reaching independence in the
     building and development of the Navy. This was only
     hampered insofar as the previous concealment of
     rearmament had to
                                                  [Page 850]
     be continued in consideration of the Versailles
     Treaty." (C-156)

An illustration of Raeder's concealment of rearmament is
contained in his statement that:

     "In view of Germany's treaty obligations and the
     disarmament conference, steps must be taken to prevent
     the first E-boat Half-Flotilla from appearing openly as
     a formation of torpedo-carrying boats, as it was not
     intended to count these E-boats against the number of
     torpedo-carrying boats allowed them." (C-141)

It appears that even in 1930 the intention ultimately to
attack Poland was already current in German military
circles. An extract from the History of War Organization and
of the Scheme for Mobilization (C-135) which is headed "All
850/38", suggesting that the document was written in 1938,

     "Since under the Treaty of Versailles all preparations
     for mobilization were forbidden, these were at first
     confined to a very small body of collaborators and were
     at first only of a theoretical nature. Nevertheless,
     there existed at that time an 'Establishment Order' and
     'Instructions for Establishment,' the forerunners of
     the present-day scheme for Mobilization.
     "An 'establishment organization' and 'adaptable
     instructions for establishment' were drawn up for each
     A-year, the cover name for a mobilization year.
     "As stated, the 'Establishment Organizations' of that
     time were to be judged purely theoretically, for they
     had no positive basis in the form of men and materials.
     They provided, nevertheless, a valuable foundation for
     the establishment of a War Organization as our ultimate

     "The crises between Germany and Poland, which were
     becoming increasingly acute, compelled us, instead of
     making theoretical preparations for war, to prepare in
     a practical manner for a purely German-Polish conflict.
     "The strategic idea of a rapid forcing of the Polish
     base of Gdynia was made a basis, and the fleet on
     active service was to be reinforced by the auxiliary
     forces which would be indispensable to attain this
     strategic end, and the essential coastal and flak
     batteries, especially those in Pillau and Swinemuende
     were to be taken over. Thus in 1930 the Reinforcement
     Plan was evolved." (C-135)

The extract further shows that Hitler had made a clear
political request to build up for him in five years, that
is, by April 1938,

                                                  [Page 851]
armed forces which he could place in the balance as an
instrument of political power. (C-135)

The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 was a signal to Raeder to
go full speed ahead on rearmament. In June 1934 Raeder told
Hitler that the German fleet must be developed to oppose
England, and that therefore from 1936 on, the big ships must
be armed with big guns to match the British "King George"
class of battleship. Raeder also went along with Hitler's
demand that the construction of U-Boats should be kept
completely secret, especially in view of the Saar plebiscite
(C-189). In November 1934 Raeder had a further talk with
Hitler on the financing naval rearmament, and on that
occasion Hitler told him that in case of need he would get
Doctor Ley to put 120,000,000 to 160,000,000 RM. from the
Labor Front at the disposal of the Navy. (C-190)

Another example of the deceit used by Raeder in building up
the German Navy is the fact that the true displacement of
certain German battleships exceeded by twenty percent the
displacement which the Nazis had reported to the British (C-
23). In similar vein, it was ordered that auxiliary
cruisers, which were being secretly constructed, should be
referred to as "transport ships O." (C-166)

The support given by the German Navy to the German Armament
Industry illustrates Raeder's concern with the broader
aspects of Nazi policy and of the close link between Nazi
politicians, German Service Chiefs, and German armament
manufacturers. (C-29)

A commentary on post-1939 naval rearmament is contained in a
letter from Raeder to the German Navy, dated 11 June 1940.
This letter was given extensive distribution; in fact there
is provision in the distribution list for 467 copies. This
letter of Raeder which is marked with both self-
justification and apology, reads:

     "The most outstanding of the numerous subjects of
     discussion in the Officer Corps are the Torpedo
     position and the problem whether the naval building
     program, up to Autumn 1939, envisaged the possibility
     of the outbreak of war as early as 1939, or whether the
     emphasis ought not to have been laid, from the first,
     on the construction of U-boats.
     "If the opinion is voiced in the Officer Corps that the
     entire naval building program has been wrongly
     directed, and that, from the first, the emphasis should
     have been on the U-boat weapon and, after its
     consolidation, on the large ships, I must emphasize the
     following matters:
                                                  [Page 852]
     "The building up of the Fleet was directed according to
     the political demands, which were decided by the
     Fuehrer. The Fuehrer hoped, until the last moment, to
     be able to put off the threatening conflict with
     England until 1944-45. 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 development of events forced the Navy, contrary to
     the expectation even of the Fuehrer, into a war, which
     it had to accept while still in the initial stage of
     its rearmament. The result is that those who represent
     the opinion that the emphasis should have been laid,
     from the start, on the building of the U-boat arm,
     appear to be right. I leave undiscussed, how far this
     development, quite apart from difficulties of
     personnel, training and dockyards, could have been
     appreciably improved in any way in view of the
     political limits of the Anglo-German Naval Treaty. I
     leave also undiscussed, how the early and necessary
     creation of an effective Air Force slowed down the
     desirable development of the other branches of the
     forces. I indicate, however, with pride the admirable
     and, in spite of the political restraints in the years
     of the Weimar Republic, far-reaching preparation for U-
     boat construction, which made the immensely rapid
     construction of the U-boat arm, both as regards
     equipment and personnel, possible immediately after the
     assumption of power." (C-155)

This letter shows no trace of reluctance in cooperating with
the Nazi program. On the contrary, it is evident that Raeder
welcomed and became one of the pillars of the Nazi power.

(2) Conversion of the Navy into a tool of the Nazi
conspiracy. Raeder, more than anyone else, was responsible
for securing the unquestioned allegiance of the German Navy
to the Nazi movement -- an allegiance which Doenitz was to
make even more firm and fanatical.

Raeder's approval of Hitler was shown particularly clearly
on 2 August 1934, the day of Hindenburg's death, when Raeder
and all the men under him swore a new oath of loyalty with
considerable ceremony, this time to Adolf Hitler and no
longer to the Fatherland (D-481). The new oath ran as

     "I swear this holy oath by God that I will implicitly
     obey the Leader of the German Reich and people, Adolf
     Hitler the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and
     that, as a
                                                  [Page 853]
     brave soldier, I will be willing to stake my life at
     any time for this oath." (D-481)

For his fatherland, Raeder substituted the Fuehrer.

There is no need to elaborate upon the step by which the
German Navy was progressively drawn into the closest
alliance with the Nazi Party. The facts of history -- such
as the incorporation of the swastika into the ensign under
which the German Fleet sailed, and the wearing of the
swastika on the uniform of naval officers and men -- these
facts speak for themselves.

The Nazis, for their part, were not ungrateful for Raeder's
obeisance and collaboration. His services in rebuilding the
German Navy were widely recognized by Nazi propagandists and
by the Nazi press. On his 66th birthday, the Chief Party
Organ, the "Voelkischer Beobachter," published a special
article about him, which summed up Raeder's contribution to
Nazi development:

     "It was to Raeder's credit to have already built up by
     that time a powerful striking force from the
     numerically small fleet, despite the fetters of
     "With the assumption of power through National
     Socialism began, too, the most fruitful period in the
     reconstruction of the German Fleet.
     "The Fuehrer openly expressed his recognition of
     Raeder's faithful services and unstinted cooperation,
     by appointing him General Admiral on 20 April 1936".

     "As a soldier and a seaman, the General-Admiral has
     proved himself to be the Fuehrer's first and foremost
     naval collaborator." (D-448)

(3) Raeder's political activities and responsibilities.
Raeder's personal part in the Nazi conspiracy arises from
the fact that, from the time of the Nazi seizure of power,
he became increasingly involved in responsibility for the
general policies of the Nazi State.

Long before he was promoted to General-Admiral in 1936, he
had become a member of the secret Reich Defense Council,
joining it when it was founded, on 4 April 1933. Thus, at an
early date, he was involved, both militarily and
politically, in the Nazi conspiracy. These facts are
contained in a document which contains the classic Nazi

     "Matters communicated orally cannot be proven; they can
     be denied by us in Geneva." (EC-177)

On 4 February 1938, Raeder was appointed to be a member of a
newly formed Secret Advisory Council for Foreign Affairs

                                                  [Page 854]
(2031-PS). Three weeks later, a decree of Hitler's stated
that as well as being equal in rank with a Cabinet Minister,
Raeder was also to take part in the sessions of the Cabinet
(2098-PS). It is thus clear that Raeder's responsibility for
the political decisions of the Nazi State was steadily
developed from 1933 to 1938, and that in the course of time
he had become a member of all the main political advisory
bodies. He was a member of the inner councils of the

As an illustration, Raeder was present at two of the key
meetings at which Hitler openly declared his intention of
attacking neighboring countries. The first of these was
Hitler's conference at the Reichs Chancellory on 5 November
1937, concerning matters which were said to be too important
to discuss in the larger circle of the Reich Cabinet. The
minutes of this meeting establish conclusively that the
Nazis premeditated their crimes against peace (386-PS). The
second meeting which Raeder attended was Hitler's conference
on 23 May 1939 (L-79). This was the conference at which
Hitler confirmed his intention to make a deliberate attack
upon Poland at the first opportunity, well knowing that this
must cause widespread war in Europe.

In addition to those two key conferences, Raeder was also
present at many others, where he placed his knowledge and
professional skill at the service of the Nazi war machine.
Raeder's promotion of the military planning and preparation
for the Polish campaign is discussed in Section 8 of Chapter IX.

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