The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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THE PRESIDENT: Would you remind me of the date of it?


                                                  [Page 147]

Your Lordship will remember that Goering, Raeder and Keitel,
amongst many others, were present. It has three particular
lines that I want to remind the Tribunal of, where he said:

   "If there were an alliance of France, England and Russia
   against Germany, Italy and Japan, I would be constrained
   to attack England and France with a few annihilating
   blows. The Fuehrer doubts the possibility of a peaceful
   settlement with England."

So that, not only has the decision been taken definitely to
attack Poland, but almost equally definitely to attack
England and France too.

I pass to the next period, which I have described as the
final preparations taken from June up to the beginning of
the war, at the beginning of September, Part V of the
Tribunal Document Book. If the Tribunal will glance at the
index to the document book, they will find I have, for
convenience, divided the evidence into four subheadings:
Final Preparations of the Armed Forces; Economic
Preparation; the Famous Obersalzburg Speeches, and the
Political or Diplomatic Preparations urging on the Crisis,
and the justification for the Invasion of Poland.

I refer the Tribunal to the first document in that book,
dealing with the Final Preparations of the Armed Forces. It
again is an exhibit containing various documents, and I
refer particularly to the second document, dated 22nd June,
1939. This is Document C-126, which will become Exhibit GB

It will be remembered that a precise timetable had been
called for. Now, here it is.

   "The Supreme Command of the Armed Forces has submitted
   to the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander, a 'preliminary
   timetable' for 'Fall Weiss,' based on the particulars so
   far available from the Navy, Army and Air Force. Details
   concerning the days preceding the attack and the start
   of the attack were not included in this timetable.
   The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander is, in the main, in
   agreement with the intentions of the Navy, Army and Air
   Force and made the following comments on individual
   I. In order not to disquiet the population by calling up
   reserves on a larger scale than usual, for the
   manoeuvres scheduled for 1939, as is intended; civilian
   establishments, employers or other private persons who
   make inquiries should be told that men are being called
   up for the autumn manoeuvres and for the exercise units
   it is intended to form for these manoeuvres.
   It is requested that directions to this effect be issued
   to subordinate establishments."

All this became relevant, particularly relevant, later, when
we find the German Government making allegations of
mobilisation on the part of the Poles. Here we have it in
May, or rather June, it is the Germans who are mobilising,
only doing so secretly.

"For reasons of security, the clearing of hospitals, which
the Supreme Command of the Army proposed should take place
from the middle of July in the frontier area, must not be
carried out."

If the Tribunal will turn to the top of the following page,
it will be seen that that order is signed by the defendant
Keitel. I think it is unnecessary to read any further from
that document. There is - and this, perhaps, will save
turning back, if I might take it rather out of date now -
the first document

                                                  [Page 148]

on that front page of that exhibit, a short letter dated 2nd
August. It is only an extract, I am afraid, as it appears in
the translation.

   "Attached are Operational Directions for the employment
   of U-Boats which are to be sent out to the Atlantic, by
   way of precaution, in the event of the intention to
   carry out 'Fall Weiss' remaining unchanged. F.O. U-Boats
   is handing in his Operation Orders by 12th August."

One must assume that the defendant Donitz knew that his U-
Boats were to go out into the Atlantic "by way of precaution
in the event of the intention to carry out 'Fall Weiss'
remaining unchanged."

I turn to the next document in the Tribunal's book, C-30,
which becomes Exhibit GB 46. That is a letter dated the 27th
July. It contains orders for the Air and Sea Forces for the
occupation of the German Free City of Danzig.

   "The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces
   has ordered the reunion of the German Free State of
   Danzig with the Greater German Reich. The Armed Forces
   must occupy Danzig Free State immediately, in order to
   protect the German population. There will be no hostile
   intention on the part of Poland so long as the
   occupation takes place without the force of arms."

It then sets out how the occupation is to be effected. All
this again becomes more relevant when we discuss the
diplomatic action of the last few days before the war, when
Germany was purporting to make specious offers for the
settlement of the question by peaceful means. I would like
to offer this as evidence that the decision had been taken
and nothing was going to move him from that decision. That
document, as set out, says that "There will be no hostile
intention on the part of Poland so long as the occupation
takes place without the force of arms." Nevertheless, that
was not the only condition upon which the occupation was to
take place, and we find that during July, right up to the
time of the war, steps were being taken to arm the
population of Danzig and to prepare them to take part in the
coming occupation.

I refer the Tribunal to the next Document, TC-71, which
becomes Exhibit GB 47, where there are set out a few only of
the reports which were coming back almost daily during this
period from Mr. Shepherd, the Consul-General in Danzig, to
the British Foreign Minister. The sum total of those reports
can be found in the British Blue Book. I now would refer to
only two of them, as examples of the kind of thing that was

I refer to the first that appears on that exhibit, date 1st
July, 1939.

   "Yesterday morning four German army officers in mufti
   arrived here by night express from Berlin to organise
   Danzig Heimwehr.
   All approaches to hills and dismantled forts, which
   constitute a popular public promenade on the western
   fringe of the city, have been closed with barbed wire
   and 'verboten' notices.
   The walls surrounding the shipyards bear placards:
   'Comrades keep your mouths shut lest you regret
   Master of British steamer 'High Commissioner Wood',
   whilst he was roving Konigsberg from 28th June to 3oth
   June, observed considerable military activity, including
   extensive shipment of camouflaged covered lorries and
   similar material, by small coasting vessels. On 28th
   June, four medium-sized steamers, loaded with troops,
   lorries, field kitchens, etc., left Konigsberg,
   ostensibly returning to Hamburg after manoeuvres, but
   actually proceeding to Stettin. Names of Steamers", and
   so forth.

                                                  [Page 149]

And again, as another example, the report numbered 11, on
the next page of the exhibit, dated 10th July, states:-

   "The same informant, whom I believe to be reliable,
   advises me that on 8th July, he personally saw about
   thirty military lorries with East Prussian licence
   numbers on the Bischofsberg, where numerous field
   kitchens had been placed along the hedges. There were
   also eight large anti-aircraft guns in position, which
   he estimated as being of over 3-in. calibre, and three
   six-barrelled light anti-aircraft machine guns. There
   were about 500 men, drilling with rifles, and the whole
   place was extensively fortified with barbed wire'."

I do not think it is necessary to occupy the Tribunal's time
in reading more.

Those, as I say, are two reports only, of a number of others
that can be found in the British Blue Book, which sets out
the arming and preparation of the free city of Danzig.

On 12th August and 13th August, when preparations were
practically complete - and it will be remembered that they
had to be complete for an invasion of Poland on 1st
September - we find Hitler and the defendant Ribbentrop at
last disclosing their intentions to their allies, the

In one of the passages in Hitler's speech of the 23rd May,
it will be remembered - I will not quote it now because the
document has been read before - however, in a passage in
that speech Hitler, in regard to his proposed attack on
Poland, had said, "Our object must be kept secret even from
the Italians and the Japanese."

Now, when his preparations are complete, he discloses his
intentions to his Italian comrades, and does so in hope that
they will join him.

The minutes of that meeting are long, and it is not proposed
to read more than a few passages. The meeting can be
summarised generally by saying, as I have, that Hitler is
trying to persuade the Italians to come into the war with
him. The Italians, or Ciano, rather, is most surprised. He
had no idea, as he says, of the urgency of the matter, and
they are not prepared. He, therefore, is trying to dissuade
Hitler from starting off until the Duce can have had a
little more time to prepare himself.

The value - perhaps the greatest value - of the minutes of
that meeting is that they show quite clearly the German
intention to attack England and France ultimately, anyway,
if not at the same time as Poland.

I refer the Tribunal to the second page of the exhibit.
Hitler is trying to show the strength of Germany, the
certainty of winning the war, and, therefore, he hopes to
persuade the Italians to come in.

   "At sea, England had for the moment no immediate
   reinforcements in prospect."

I quote from the top of the second page.

   "Some time would elapse before any of the ships now
   under construction could be taken into service. As far
   as the land army was concerned, after the introduction
   of conscription 60,000 men had been called to the

I quote this passage particularly to show the intention to
attack England. We have been concentrating rather on Poland,
but here his thoughts are turned entirely towards England.

   "If England kept the necessary troops in her own country
   she could send to France, at the most, two infantry
   divisions and one armoured division. For the rest, she
   could supply a few bomber squadrons, but,
                                                  [Page 150]
   hardly any fighters since, at the outbreak of war, the
   German Air Force would at once attack England and the
   English fighters would be urgently needed for the
   defence of their own country.
   With regard to the position of France, the Fuehrer said
   that in the event of a general war, after the
   destruction of Poland - which would not take long -
   Germany would be in a position to assemble hundreds of
   divisions along the West Wall, and France would then be
   compelled to concentrate all her available forces from
   the Colonies, from the Italian frontier and elsewhere,
   on her own Maginot Line, for the life and death struggle
   which would then ensue. The Fuehrer also thought that
   the French would find it no easier to overrun the
   Italian fortifications than to overrun the West Wall.
   Here Count Ciano showed signs of extreme doubt"
- doubt which, perhaps, in view of the subsequent
performances, was well justified.

   "The Polish Army was most uneven in quality. Together
   with a few parade divisions, there were large numbers of
   troops of less value. Poland was very weak in anti-tank
   and anti-aircraft defences and at the moment neither
   France nor England could help her in this respect."

What this Tribunal will appreciate, of course, is that
Poland formed a threat to Germany on Germany's Eastern

   "If, however, Poland were given assistance by the
   Western Powers, over a longer period, she could obtain
   these weapons and German superiority would thereby be
   diminished. In contrast to the fanatics of Warsaw and
   Cracow, the population of their areas is different.
   Furthermore, it was necessary to consider the position
   of the Polish State. Out Of 34 million inhabitants, one
   and one-half million were German, about four million
   were Jews, and nine million Ukrainians, so that genuine
   Poles were much less in number than the total
   population, and as already said, their striking power
   was not to be valued highly. In these circumstances
   Poland could be struck to the ground by Germany in the
   shortest time.
   Since the Poles, through their whole attitude, had made
   it clear that in any case, in the event of a conflict,
   they would stand on the side of the enemies of Germany
   and Italy, a quick liquidation at the present moment
   could only be of advantage for the unavoidable conflict
   with the Western Democracies. If a hostile Poland
   remained on Germany's Eastern frontier, not only would
   the eleven East Prussian divisions be tied down, but
   also further contingents would have to be kept in
   Pomerania and Silesia. This would not be necessary in
   the event of a previous liquidation."

The argument continues on those lines.

I pass on to the next page, at the top of the page:-

   "Coming back to the Danzig question, the Fuehrer said
   that it was impossible for him now to go back. He had
   made an agreement with Italy for the withdrawal of the
   Germans from South Tyrol, but for this reason he must
   take the greatest care to avoid giving the impression
   that this Tyrolese withdrawal could be taken as a
   precedent for other areas. Furthermore, he had justified
   the withdrawal by pointing to a general Easterly and
   North-easterly direction of a German policy. The East
   and North-east, that is to say the Baltic countries, had
   been Germany's undisputed sphere of influence since time
   immemorial, as
                                                  [Page 151]
   the Mediterranean had been the appropriate sphere for
   Italy. For economic reasons also, Germany needed the
   foodstuffs and timber from these Eastern regions."

Now we get the truth of this matter. It is not the
persecution of German minorities on the Polish frontiers,
but the economic reasons, the need for foodstuffs and timber
from Poland.

   "In the case of Danzig, German interests were not only
   material, although the city had the greatest harbour in
   the Baltic. Danzig was a Nuremberg of the North, an
   ancient German city awaking sentimental feelings for
   every German, and the Fuehrer was bound to take account
   of this psychological element in public opinion. To make
   a comparison with Italy, Count Ciano should imagine that
   Trieste was in Yugoslav hands and that a large Italian
   minority was being treated brutally on Yugoslav soil. It
   would be difficult to assume that Italy would long
   remain quiet over anything of this kind.
   Count Ciano, in replying to the Fuehrer's statement,
   first expressed the great surprise on the Italian side
   over the completely unexpected seriousness of the
   position. Neither in the conversations in Milan nor in
   those which took place during his Berlin visit had there
   been any sign, from the German side, that the position
   with regard to Poland was so serious. On the contrary,
   Ribbentrop had said that in his opinion the Danzig
   question would be settled in the course of time. On
   these grounds, the Duce, in view of his conviction that
   a conflict with the Western Powers was unavoidable, had
   assumed that he should make his preparations for this
   event; he had made plans for a period of two or three
   years. If immediate conflict was unavoidable, the Duce,
   as he had told Ciano, would certainly stand on the
   German side, but for various reasons he would welcome
   the postponement of a general conflict until a later

No question of welcoming the cancellation of a general
conflict; the only concern of anybody is as to time.

   "Ciano then showed, with the aid of a map, the position
   of Italy in the event of a general war. Italy believed
   that a conflict with Poland would not be limited to that
   country but would develop into a general European war."

Thereafter, during the meeting, Ciano goes on to try to
dissuade Hitter from any immediate action. I quote two lines
from the argument at the top of Page 5 of the exhibit:

   "For these reasons the Duce insisted that the Axis
   Powers should make a gesture which would reassure people
   of the peaceful intentions of Italy and Germany."

Then we get the Fuehrer's answer to those arguments, half-
way down Page 5:-

   "The Fuehrer answered that for a solution of the Polish
   problem no time should be lost; the nearer to the autumn
   one waited, the more difficult would military operations
   in Eastern Europe become. From the middle of September,
   weather conditions made air operations hardly possible
   in these areas, while the conditions of the roads, which
   were quickly turned into a morass by the autumn rains,
   would be such as to make them impossible for motorised
   forces. From September to May, Poland was a great marsh
   and entirely unsuited for any kind of military

                                                  [Page 152]

   operations. Poland could, however, occupy Danzig in
   September, and Germany would not be able to do anything
   about it since they obviously could not bombard or
   destroy the place."

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