The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/10

Finally, a week before the actual attack on Poland,
and when all the military plans have been laid ' we
find the Group as defined in the Indictment all in
one place, in fact, all in one room. On 23rd August
the Oberbefehlshaber assembled at the Obersalzberg
to hear Hitler's explanation of the timing of the
attack, and for political and diplomatic orientation
from the head of the State. This speech has already
been read from at length. It is found in Document
798-PS, Exhibit USA 29, and I pass over it, except
to note and emphasise that it is addressed to the
very group defined in the Indictment as the General
Staff and High Command group. It is, incidentally,
the second of the two examples referred to in the
affidavits by Halder and Brauchitsch, numbers 1 and
2, which I read previously.

We have now come to the point where Germany actually
launched the war. Within a few weeks, and before any
important action on the Western Front, Poland was
overrun and conquered; German losses were

The three principal territorial questions mentioned
in the Blomberg and Blaskowitz affidavits were all
solved. The Rhineland had been reoccupied and
fortified; Memel was annexed; the Polish Corridor

                                          [Page 330]

been annexed. There was a good deal more, too:
Austria a part of the Reich; Czechoslovakia
occupied; and all of Western Poland in German hands.
Germany was superior in arms and in experience to
her Western enemies, France and England.

Then came the three black years of the war -- 1939,
1940 and 1941 -- when German armed might swung like
a great scythe from North to South to East: Norway
and Denmark; the Low Countries; France; Italy became
an ally of Germany; Tripoli and Egypt; Yugoslavia
and Greece; Roumania, Hungary and Bulgaria became
allies; the Western part of the Soviet Union was

I would like to deal as a whole with the period from
the fall of Poland in October, 1939, to the attack
against the Soviet Union in June Of 1941. In this
period occurred the aggressive wars in violation of
treaties, as charged in the Indictment, against
Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg,
Jugoslavia, and Greece.

I cannot improve on or add much to the presentation
of these matters by the British Delegation. From the
standpoint of proving Crimes Against Peace, our case
is complete. But I would like to review this period
briefly from the military standpoint and view it as
the German military leaders viewed it. Of one thing
we may be sure: Neither the Nazis nor the Generals
thought during this period in terms of a series of
violations of neutrality and treaties. They thought
in terms of a war, a war of conquest, a war for the
conquest of Europe. Neutrality, treaties, non-
aggression pacts -- these were not the major
consideration. They were annoying obstacles, and
devices had to be formed and excuses manufactured to
fit the circumstances.

Von Blomberg has told us in his affidavit, which I
have read, that after 1939 some generals began to
condemn Hitler's methods and lost confidence in his
judgment. Which particular Hitler method some of the
generals condemned is not stated, but I think the
Tribunal will not hear any substantial evidence that
many of the generals condemned the march of conquest
during the years 1939 to 1941.

In fact the evidence is, rather, that most of the
generals were having the time of their lives during
those years. Six weeks after the outbreak of the war
and upon the successful termination of the Polish
campaign, on 9th October, 1939, there was issued a
memorandum and directive for the conduct of the war
in the West. That is Document L-52, and becomes
Exhibit USA 540. It is not signed. It was
distributed only to the four service chiefs, Keitel,
Brauchitsch, Goering and Raeder. From the wording
there is every indication that it was issued by
Hitler. I will read an extract starting with Page 2
of the document, about two-thirds of the way down in
the first paragraph, beginning from the words "The
aim of the Anglo-French conduct of war":

     "The aim of the Anglo-French conduct of war is
     to dissolve or disintegrate the 80-million-
     State again so that in this manner the European
     equilibrium, in other words, the balance of
     power, which serves their ends, may be
     restored. This battle, therefore, will have to
     be fought out by the German people one way or
     another. Nevertheless the very great successes
     of the first month of war could serve, in the
     event of an immediate signing of peace, to
     strengthen the Reich psychologically and
     materially to such an extent that from the
                                          [Page 331]
     viewpoint there would be no objection to ending
     the war immediately, in so far as the present
     achievement with arms is not jeopardised by the
     It is not the object of this memorandum to
     study the possibilities in this direction, or
     even to take them into consideration. In this
     paper I shall confine myself exclusively to the
     other case: the necessity to continue the
     fight, the object of which, as already
     stressed, consists, in so far as the enemy is
     concerned, in the dissolution or destruction of
     the German Reich. In opposition to this the
     German war aim is the final military dispatch
     of the West, i.e., destruction of the power and
     ability of the Western Powers ever again to be
     able to oppose the State consolidation and
     further development of the German people in
     Europe. As far as the outside world is
     concerned, however, this internal aim will have
     to undergo various propaganda adjustments,
     necessary from a psychological point of view.
     This does not alter the war aim. It is and
     remains the destruction of our Western
I now pass to Page 3 of the translation, paragraph
2, and the sub-heading "Reasons":

     The successes of the Polish campaign have made
     possible first of all a war on a single front,
     awaited for past decades without any hope of
     realisation ...
     That is to say, Germany is able to enter the
     fight in the West with all her might, leaving
     only a few covering troops. The remaining
     European States are neutral, either because
     they fear for their own fates, or lack interest
     in the conflict as such, or are interested in a
     certain outcome of the war which prevents them
     from taking part at all, or at any rate too
     The following is to be firmly borne in mind . .
     . "

And at this point I interpolate a succession of
references to countries, and then pass to Belgium
and Holland at the foot of page 3:

     "Belgium and Holland. Both countries are
     interested in preserving their neutrality but
     incapable of withstanding prolonged pressure
     from England and France. The preservation of
     their colonies, the maintenance of their trade,
     and thus the securing of their interior
     economy, even of their very life, depend wholly
     upon the will of England and France. Therefore
     in their decisions, in their attitude, and in
     their actions both countries are dependent in
     the highest degree upon the West. If England
     and France promise themselves a successful
     result at the price of Belgian neutrality, they
     are at any time in a position to apply the
     necessary pressure. That is to say, without
     covering themselves with the odium of a breach
     of neutrality, they can compel Belgium and
     Holland to cease to be neutral. Therefore, in
     the matter of the preservation of Belgo-Dutch
     neutrality, time is not a factor which might
     promise a favourable development for Germany."

The final paragraph to be read is as follows:

     "The Nordic States: Provided no completely
     unforeseen factors appear, their neutrality in
     the future is also to be assumed. The con
     tinuation of German trade with these countries
     appears possible even in a war of long

Six weeks later, on 23rd November, 1939, our group
as defined in the Indictment -- The Oberbefehlshaber
-- again assembled, as found in Document

                                          [Page 332]

789-PS, already in the record as Exhibit USA 23, and
heard from Hitler much of what he had said
previously to the four service chiefs. This speech,
part of which is already in the record, contains
other portions not previously read from and now of
interest, and the first extract which I would like
to read is on Page 2 of the translation, about half-
way down in paragraph 1, starting with the words
"For the first time in history we have to fight on
only one front." Iquote:

     "For the first time in history we have to fight
     on only one front, the other front is at
     present free. But no one can know how long that
     will remain so. I have doubted for a long time
     whether I should strike in the East and then in
     the West. Basically I did not organise the
     Armed Forces in order not to strike. The
     decision to strike was always in me. Earlier or
     later, I wanted to solve the problem. Under
     pressure it was decided that the East was to be
     attacked first. If the Polish war was won so
     quickly, it was due to the superiority of our
     Armed Forces. The most glorious appearance in
     history. Unexpectedly small expenditures of men
     and material. Now the Eastern front is held by
     only a few divisions. It is a situation which
     we viewed previously as unachievable. Now the
     situation is as follows: The opponent in the
     West liesbehind his fortification. There is no
     possibility of coming to grips With him. The
     decisive question is: How long can we endure
     this situation? "

Passing to Page 3 of that document, line 3:

     "Everything is determined by the fact that the
     moment is favourable now; in six months it
     might not be so any more."

The final passage on Page 4 of the translation, in
the long paragraph about half-way down, beginning
"England cannot live without her imports. We can
feed . . . ":

     "England cannot live without her imports. We
     can feed ourselves. The permanent sowing of
     mines on the English coasts will bring England
     to her knees. However, this can occur only if
     we have occupied Belgium and Holland. It is a
     difficult decision for me. None has ever
     achieved what I have achieved. My life is of no
     importance in all this. I have led the German
     people to a great height, even if the world
     does hate us now. I risk the loss of this
     achievement. I have to choose between victory
     or destruction. I choose victory. Greatest
     historical choice, to be compared with the
     decision of Frederick the Great before the
     first Silesian war. Prussia owes its rise to
     the heroism of one man. Even there the closest
     advisers were disposed to capitulation.
     Everything depended on Frederick the Great.
     Even the decisions of Bismarck in 1866 and 1870
     were no less great. My decision is
     unchangeable. I shall attack France and England
     at the most favourable and earliest moment.
     Breach of the neutrality of Belgium and Holland
     is meaningless. No one will question that when
     we have won. We shall not bring about the
     breach of neutrality as idiotically as it was
     done in 1914. If we do not break the
     neutrality, then England and France will.
     Without attack the war cannot be ended
     victoriously. I consider it possible to end the
     war only by means of an attack. The question as
     to whether the attack will be successful, no
     one can answer. Everything depends upon the
     favourable instant."

                                          [Page 333]

Thereafter the winter of 1939 and 1940 passed
quietly, the winter of so-called " phony war."

The General Staff and High Command Group all knew
what the plan was -- they had all been told. To
attack ruthlessly at the first opportunity; to smash
the French and English forces; to pay no heed to
treaties with or neutrality of the Low Countries.
"Breach of the neutrality of Holland and Belgium is
meaningless. No one will question that when we have

That is what Hitler told the Oberbefehishaber. The
generals and admirals agreed and went forward with
their plan.

Now it is not true that all the steps in this march
of conquest were conceived by Hitler, and that the
military leaders embarked on them with reluctance
and misgivings. To show this we need only hark back
for a moment to what Major Elwyn Jones told the
Tribunal about the plans for the invasion of Denmark
and Norway.

The Tribunal will recall that Hitler's utterances in
October and November, which I have just read,
although they are full of threatening comments about
France and England and the Low Countries, contain no
suggestion of an attack on Scandinavia. Indeed,
Hitler's memorandum of 9th October, from which I
read, Document L-52, affirmatively indicates that
Hitler saw no reason to disturb the situation in the
North, because he said that, unless unforeseen
factors appeared, the neutrality of the Northern
states could be assumed. Trade could be continued
with those countries, even in a long war. But a week
previously, on 3rd October, 1939, the defendant
Raeder had caused a questionnaire to be circulated
within the Naval War Staff, seeking comments on the
advantages which might be gained from a naval
standpoint, by securing bases in Norway and Denmark.
That document is C-122, Exhibit GB-82. And another
document introduced by Major Elwyn Jones, C-66,
which is Exhibit GB-81, shows that Raeder was
prompted to circulate this questionnaire by a letter
from another admiral named Karls, who pointed out
the importance of an occupation of the Norwegian
coast by Germany. Admiral Karls, Rolf Karls, later
attained the rank of Admiral of the Fleet and
commanded Naval Group "North" and in that capacity
is a member of the group as defined in the
Indictment, just as Raeder is.

The Tribunal will also recall that the defendant
Doernitz, who at that time was Flag Officer
Submarines, replied to this questionnaire from
Raeder on 9th October, 1939. The document in
question is C-5, Exhibit GB-83. Doernitz replied
that from his standpoint Trondheim. and Narvik met
the requirements of a submarine base, that
Trondheirn was better, and that he proposed the
establishment of a U-boat base there. The next day
Raeder visited Hitler, and this visit and certain
subsequent events are described in a document which
has not previously been introduced.

Now, your Honour, owing to a confusion in numbering,
the German document is C-71, but the translation
appears in your book in Document L-323.and that will
be Exhibit USA 541. The translation will be found in
L-323, the middle of the page, entitled "Entry in
the War Diary of the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy,
Naval War Staff, on Weseruebung," that being the
code name for the operation against Norway and

     "10th October, 1939. First reference of the
     Commander-in-Chief of the Navy (Naval War
     Staff) when visiting the Fuehrer, to the
     significance of Norway for sea and air warfare.
     The Fuehrer intends to give the matter

                                          [Page 334]

     12th December 1939. Fuehrer receivied "Q" and
     "H" -- those being presumably Quisling and
     Subsequent instructions to the Supreme Command
     of the Armed Forces to make mental
     preparations. The Commander-in-Chief of the
     Navy is having an essay prepared which will be
     ready in January."

With reference to this essay Kapitaen zur See Kranke
is working on "Weseruebung " at O.K.W.

During the time which followed, H -- Hagelin --
maintained contact with the Chief of Staff of the
Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. His aim was to
develop the Party Q -- Quisling -- with a view to
making it capable of making a coup and to give the
Supreme Command of the Navy information on the
political developments in Norway and military
questions. In general he pressed the speeding up of
preparations, but considered that it was first
necessary to expand the organisation.

I think that is all I need read of that.

Another document, which is C-64, Exhibit GB-86 --
already in the record  -- shows that on 12th
December, the Naval War Staff discussed the
Norwegian project with Hitler -- I am not going to
read from that document, your Honour -- at a meeting
which the defendants Keitel and Jodl also attended.
In the meantime Raeder was in touch with the
defendant Rosenberg on the possibilities of using
Quisling; and Major Elwyn Jones very properly
pointed out to the Tribunal the close link between
the Service Chiefs and the Nazi politicians. As a
result of all this, on Hitler's instructions, Keitel
issued an O.K.W. directive on 27th January, 1940,
stating that Hitler had commissioned him to
undertake charge of preparations for the Norway
operation, to which he then gave the code name

On 1st March, 1940, Hitler issued the directive
setting forth the general plan for the invasion of
Norway and Denmark. That is Document C-174, Exhibit
GB-89, which Major Elwyn Jones put in the record.
The directive was initialled by Admiral Kurt Fricke,
who at that time was head of the Operations Division
of the Naval War Staff and who at the end Of 1941
became Chief of the Naval War Staff and in that
capacity is a member of the group as defined in the
Indictment. So, as these documents make clear, the
plan to invade Norway and Denmark was not conceived
in Nazi Party circles or forced on the military
leaders; on the contrary, it was conceived in the
Naval part of the General Staff and High Command
Group, and Hitler was persuaded to take the idea up.
Treaties and neutrality meant just as little to the
General Staff and High Command Group as to the

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