The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/10

The Court will note on this map that Austria,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Baltic coast
up to the Gulf of Finland are all included within
the borders of the Reich. The Court will also note,
at Page 2 of the document itself-that is L-43 --
that the author envisaged the future peacetime
organisation of the German Air Force as comprising
seven group commands, four of which lie within the
borders of Germany proper at Berlin,
Braunsclischweig, Munich and Koenigsberg, but the
three others are proposed to be at Vienna, Budapest
and Warsaw.

Before turning to particular acts of aggression by
the German Armed Forces, I want to stress once more
the basic agreement and harmony between the Nazis
and the German military leaders. Without this
agreement on objectives there might never have been
a war. In this connection I want to direct the
Tribunal's attention to an affidavit -- No. 3, which
will be Exhibit USA 536 -- by von Blomberg, formerly
Field Marshal, Reich War Minister, and
Commander-in-Chief of the German Armed Forces until
February, 1938. I will read the affidavit into the

     "From 1919, and particularly from 1924, three
     critical territorial questions occupied
     attention in Germany. These were the questions
     of the Polish Corridor, the Ruhr and Memel.
     I myself, as well as the whole group of German
     staff officers, believed that these three
     questions, outstanding among which was the

                                          [Page 320]

     by force of arms. About go per cent. of the
     German people were of the same mind as the
     officers, on the Polish question. A war to
     wipe. out the desecration involved in the
     creation of the Polish Corridor and to lessen
     the threat to separated East Prussia,
     surrounded by Poland and Lithuania, was
     regarded as a sacred duty, though a sad
     necessity. This was one of the chief reasons
     behind the partially secret rearmament which
     began about ten years before Hitler came to
     power and was accentuated under Nazi Rule.
     Before 1938-1939 the German generals were not
     opposed to Hitler. There was no reason to
     oppose Hitler, since he produced the results
     which they desired. After this time some
     generals began to condemn his methods, and lost
     confidence in the power of his judgment.
     However, they failed as a group to take any
     definite stand against him, although a few of
     them tried to do so and as a result had to pay
     for this with their lives or their positions.
     Shortly before my removal from the post of
     Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, in
     January, 1938, Hitler asked me to recommend a
     successor. I suggested Goering, who was the
     senior ranking officer, but Hitler objected
     because of his lack of patience and diligence.
     I was replaced as Commander-in-Chief of the
     Armed Forces by no officer, but Hitler
     personally took over my function as Commander.
     Keitel was recommended by me as a Chef de
     Bureau. As far as I know, he was never named
     Commander of the Armed Forces but was always
     merely a 'Chief of Staff' under Hitler and, in
     effect, conducted the administrative functions
     of the Ministry of War.
     At my time Keitel was not opposed to Hitler and
     therefore was qualified to bring about a good
     understanding between Hitler and the Armed
     Forces, a thing which I myself desired and had
     furthered as Reichswehrminister and
     Reichskriegsminister. To do the opposite would
     have led to a civil war, for at that time the
     mass of the German people supported Hitler.
     Many are no longer willing to admit this. But
     it is the truth.
     As I heard, Keitel did not oppose any of
     Hitler's measures. He became a willing tool in
     Hitler's hands for every one of his decisions.
     He did not measure up to what might have been
     expected of him."

The statement by von Blomberg which I have just read
is paralleled closely in some respects by an
affidavit by Colonel General Blaskowitz. That is
Affidavit No. 5 in Document Book i and will be
Exhibit USA 537. Blaskowitz commanded an army in the
campaign against Poland and the campaign against
France. He subsequently took command of Army Group G
in Southern France and held command of Army Group H,
which retreated beyond the Rhine at the end of the
war. The first three paragraphs of his affidavit are
substantially identical with the first three
paragraphs of von Blomberg's, and since they are
available in all languages, for expedition I will
start reading with paragraph 4, where the
affidavitjs on a different subject:

     "After the annexation of Czechoslovakia we
     hoped that the Polish question would be settled
     in a Peaceful fashion through diplomatic means,
     since we believed that this time France and
     England would come to the assistance of their
     ally. As a matter of fact, we felt that if

                                          [Page 321]

     political negotiations came to nothing the
     Polish question would unavoidably lead to war,
     that is, not only with Poland herself but also
     with the Western Powers.
     When in the middle of June I received an order
     from the O.K.H. to prepare myself for an attack
     on Poland, I knew that this war came even
     closer to the realm of possibility. This
     conclusion was only strengthened by the
     Fuehrer's speech on 22nd August, 1939, at the
     Obersalzberg when it clearly seemed to be an
     actuality. Between the middle of June, 1939,
     and 1st September, 1939, the members of my
     staff who were engaged in preparations,
     participated in various dis cussions which went
     on between the O.K.H. and the army group.
     During these discussions such matters of a
     tactical, strategical and general nature were
     discussed as had to do with my future position
     as Commander-in-Chief of the Eighth Army during
     the planned Polish campaign.
     During the Polish campaign, particularly during
     the Kutno operations, I was repeatedly in
     communication with the Commander-in-Chief of
     the Army, and he, as well as the Fuehrer,
     visited my headquarters. In fact, it was common
     practice for commanders-in-chief of army groups
     and of armies to be asked from time to time for
     estimates of the situation, and for their
     recommendations by telephone, teletype or
     wireless, as well as by personal calls. These
     front line commanders-in-chief thus actually
     became advisers to the O.K.H. in their own
     field, so that the positions shown in the
     attached chart embrace that group which was the
     actual advisory council of the High Command of
     the German Armed Forces."

The Tribunal will note that the latter part of this
affidavit, like those of Halder and Brauchitsch,
vouches for the accuracy of the structure and
organisation of the General Staff and High Command
group as described by the prosecution. The Tribunal
will also note that the von Blomberg affidavit and
the first part of the Blaskowitz affidavit make it
clear beyond question that the military leaders of
Germany knew of, approved, supported, and executed
plans for the expansion of the Armed Forces beyond
the limits set by treaties. The objectives they had
in mind are obvious from the affidavits and
documents to which reference has been made. In these
documents and affidavits we see the Nazis and the
Generals in agreement upon the basic objective of
aggrandising Germany by force or threat of force and
collaborating to build up the armed might of
Germany, in order to make possible the subsequent
acts of aggression. We turn to an examination of
those particular acts of aggression which have
already been described to the Tribunal in general,
with the particular purpose of noting participation
in these criminal acts by the General Staff and High
Command group.

I may say, your Lordship, that in going over this
matter, I propose, in order to save time, to read
from very few of the large numbers of documents.
Accordingly, when I cite them I think there is
probably no need for the Tribunal to try to find
them in the documents before it. Most of them are in
evidence and I propose to cite them for purposes of
recapitulation, without reading very much.

The Tribunal will recall that Mr. Alderman read into
the'transcript portions of a document, 386-PS,
Exhibit USA 25, consisting of notes by

                                          [Page 322]

Colonel Hoszbach on a conference which was held in
the German Chancellery in Berlin on 5th November,
1937. Hitler presided at this conference, which was
a small and highly secret one, and the only other
participants were the four principal military
leaders and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the
defendant Neurath. The four chief leaders of the
Armed Forces --Blomberg, who was then Reich Minister
of war, and the Commander-in-Chief of the three
branches of the Armed Forces, von Fritsch for the
Army, Raeder for the Navy, and Goering for the Air
Force -- were present. Hitler embarked on a general
discussion of Germany's diplomatic and military
policy and stated that the conquest of Austria and
Czechoslovakia was an essential preliminary "for the
improvement of our military position" and "in order
to remove any threat from the flanks."

The military and political advantages envisaged
included the acquisition of a new source of food,
shorter and better frontiers, the release of troops
for other tasks, and the possibility of forming new
divisions from the population of the conquered
territories. Blomberg and von Fritsch joined in the
discussion and von Fritsch stated "that he was
making a study to investigate the possibilities of
carrying out operations against Czechoslovakia with
special consideration of the conquest of the
Czechoslovakian system of fortifications."

The following spring, in March, 1938, the German
plans with respect to Austria came to fruition. Mr.
Alderman has already read into the record portions
of the diary kept by the defendant jodl. The portion
here in question, Document 1780-PS, Exhibit USA 72,
of this diary shows the participation of the German
military leaders in the absorption of Austria. As is
shown by Jodl's diary entry for 11th February, 1938,
the defendant Keitel and other generals were present
at the Obersalzberg meeting between von Schuschnigg
and Hitler, and the purpose is shown clearly by the
entry which recites that "in the evening and on 12th
February General Keitel with General von Reichenau
and Sperrle at the Obersalzberg. Schuschnigg
together with G. Schmidt are again being put under
heaviest political and military pressure. At 2300,
hours Schuschnigg signs protocol." The General von
Reichenau referred to was at that time the head
commander of Wehrkreis 7, one of the military
districts into which Germany was divided. He
subsequently commanded the Tenth Army in Poland and
the Sixth Army in France and was a member of the
group as defined in the Indictment. Sperrle who was
in Spain during the Civil War and then commanded
Luftflotte 3, the Third German Air Fleet,
practically throughout the war, was also a member of
the group. Two days later Keitel and other military
leaders were preparing proposals to be submitted to
Hitler which would give the Austrian Government the
impression that Germany would resort to force unless
the Schuschnigg agreement was ratified in Vienna.

These proposals are embodied in Document 1775-PS,
dated 14th February, 1938, Exhibit USA 73, and
signed by Keitel. Portions of Keitel's proposals to
the Fijhrer are as follows:

     "To take no real preparatory measures in the
     Army or Luftwaffe. No troop movements or
     redeployments. Spread false but quite credible
     news which may lead to the conclusion of
     military preparations against Austria, (a)
     through V-men " -- that means agents -- " in
     Austria; (b) through our customs personnel at
     the frontier; (c) through travelling agents."

                                          [Page 323]

     Order a very active make-believe wireless
     exchange in Wehrkreis VII and between Berlin
     and Munich; (5) real manceuvres, training
     flights and winter manceuvres of the Mountain
     Troops near the frontier; (6) Admiral Canaris
     has to be ready, beginning on 14th February in
     the Service Command Headquarters, in order to
     carry out measures given by order of the Chief
     of the O.K.W."

As Jodl's diary shows under the entry for 14th
February, these deceptive manceuvres were very
effective and created in Austria the impression that
these threats of force might be expected to create.
About a month later armed intervention was
precipitated by von Schuschnigg's decision to hold a
plebiscite in Austria. Hitler ordered mobilisation
in accordance with the pre-existing plans for the
invasion of Austria, these plans being known as
"Case Otto," in order to absorb Austria and stop the
plebiscite. Jodl's diary under the entry for ioth
March, 1938, tells us as follows on Page 2:

     "By surprise and without consulting his
     ministers Schuschnigg ordered a plebiscite for
     Sunday, 13th March, which should bring a strong
     majority for the Legitimists in the absence of
     plan or preparation.
     Fuehrer is determined not to tolerate it. The
     same night, 9th to 10th March, he calls for
     Goering. General von Reichenau is called back
     from Cairo Olympic Committee, General von
     Schobert is ordered to come as well as Minister
     Glaise-Horstenau, who is with Gauleiter
     Biirckel in the Palatinate."

The General von Schobert referred to succeeded
General von Reichenau as Commander of Welirkrcis 7
and later was Commander of the Eleventh Army in
Russia and was a member of the group as defined in
the Indictment.

The invasion of Austria differs from the other
German acts of aggression in that the invasion was
not closely scheduled and timed in advance. This is
the case simply because the invasion was
precipitated by an outside event -- von
Schuschnigg's order for the plebiscite. But,
although for this reason the element of deliberately
timed planning was lacking, the foregoing documents
make clear the participation of the military leaders
at all stages.

At the small policy meeting of November, 1937, when
Hitler's general programme for Austria and
Czechoslovakia was outlined, the only others present
were the four principal military leaders and the
Foreign Secretary. In February, Keitel, Reichenau
and Sperrle were present to help subject von
Schuschnigg to the heaviest military pressure.
Keitel and others immediately thereafter worked out
and executed a programme of military threat and
deception to frighten the Austrian Government into
acceptance of the Schuschnigg protocol. When the
actual invasion took place, it was, of course,
directed by the military leaders and executed by the
Armed Forces, and we are indebted to the defendant
Jodl for a clear statement of why the German
military leaders were only too delighted to join
with the Nazis in bringing about the end of Austrian

In his lecture in November, 1943, to the Gauleiters,
which appears in Document L-172, which is Exhibit
USA 34, Jodl explained:

     "The Austrian Anschluss in its turn, not only
     brought with it fulfilment of an old national
     aim, but also had the effect both of
     reinforcing our fighting strength and of
     materially improving our strategic position.
     Whereas up till then the territory of
     Czechoslovakia had projected in a most menacing
     way right into Germany (a wasp waist in
                                          [Page 324]
     Russia), Czechoslovakia herself was now
     enclosed by pincers. Her own strategic position
     had now become so unfavourable that she was
     bound to fall a victim to any attack pressed
     home with vigour before effective aid from the
     West could be expected to arrive."

The foregoing extract from Jodl's speech makes a
good transition to the case of Czechoslovakia --
"Case Green," or "Fall Gruen," which I propose to
treat very briefly, as Mr. Alderman has covered the
general story of German aggression against
Czechoslovakia very fully, and the documents he read
from are full of evidence showing the knowing
participation in this venture by Keitel, Jodl, and
other members of the group.

Once again the Hoszbach minutes of the conference
between Hitler and the four principal military
leaders, Document 386-PS, Exhibit USA 25 may be
called to mind. Austria and Czechoslovakia were
listed as the nearest victims of German aggression.
After the absorption of Austria, Hitler, as head of
the State, and Keitel, as Chief of all the Armed
Forces, lost no time in turning their attention to
Czechoslovakia. From this point on nearly the whole
story is contained in the Schmundt file (Document
388-PS, Exhibit USA 26) and Jodl's diary, both of
which have been read from extensively. These two
sources of information go far, I think, to demolish
what is urged in defence of the military defendants
and the General Staff and High Command Group. They
seek to create the impression that the German
generals were pure military technicians, that they
were not interested in, or not informed about
political and diplomatic considerations, that they
prepared plans for military attack or defence on a
purely hypothetical basis. They say all this in
order to suggest that they did not share and could
not estimate Hitler's aggressive intentions, that
they carried out politically-conceived orders like
military automatons, with no idea whether the wars
they launched were aggressive or not.

When these arguments are made, your Honour, may I
respectfully suggest that you read the Schumndt file
and General Jodl's diary. They make it abundantly
clear that aggressive designs were conceived jointly
between the Nazis and the generals, that the
military leaders were fully posted on the aggressive
intentions, and informed on the political and
diplomatic developments. Indeed, German generals had
a strange habit of turning up at diplomatic
foregatherings, and, surely, if the documents did
not show these things, a moment's thought must show
them to be true.

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