The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/22

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, although the Tribunal did say that
they would hear Dr. Horn at 2 o'clock, they would not wish
to interrupt the examination of the defendant Keitel if you
prefer to go on with that now. It is a matter for you to
consider, which ever you like.

DR. NELTE: Dr. Horn agrees that I continue the interrogation
of Keitel now.


MR. DODD: If it pleases the Tribunal, for the assistance of
the Tribunal I have ascertained that the first Halder
affidavit, referred to this morning by Dr. Nelte, was
introduced as Exhibit U.S.A. 531, On 4th January, by Colonel
Taylor; and the second Halder affidavit referred to by Dr.
Nelte was introduced as Exhibit U.S.A. 533, on 5th January,
by Colonel Taylor.


DR. NELTE: Mr. President, Mr. Dodd was kind enough to put a
number of copies of the thesis of "Principles of
Organisation of the German Armed Forces" at my disposal, so
that I can submit them to the Tribunal. I do so now.

                                                  [Page 315]




Q. You last explained that on the 4th February, 1938, part
of the authority of the War Ministry was transferred to
branches of the Armed Forces, and part to the High Command
of the Armed Forces. In the decree which has been mentioned
it says, concerning this matter:

  "The O.K.W. at the same time is taking care of the
  affairs of the Reich War Ministry. The Chief of the
  O.K.W., on my orders, will exercise the authority which
  the Reich Minister of War had heretofore."

Tell me briefly to which fields this applied.

I myself will submit to the Tribunal a diagram which has
already been sent to the Translating Division for
translation. I do not know, however, if the Tribunal already
has the translation.

A. The ministerial functions actually transferred to the
O.K.W. were executed through a number of offices. I shall
name the most important now, indicating their functions.

First of all, a few words about the Wehrmacht Fuhrungs Stab
(Armed Forces Operations Staff) which, being an office of
the O.K.W., was subordinated to it in the same way that the
other offices were; but which was on a higher level than the
other offices. As the name implies, the Armed Forces
Operations Staff was an organ of the High Command with which
the Fuehrer frequently - I might say, mostly - had personal
contact. It had no ministerial powers.

Then there was the General Armed Forces Office (Allgemeines
Wehrmachtsamt) which took care mainly of ministerial and
administrative questions. One could almost call it a war
ministry on a small scale.

Then the office of "Foreign Counter-Intelligence" (Amt
Ausland-Abwehr), which was, to a large extent, ministerial,
but to some degree an aid in operational questions.

Then the Armament and Economy Office (Rustungs-und
Wirtschaftsamt), in regard to which I must point out that in
the year 1940 this office was dissolved and only a small
Defence Economy Office (Wehrwirtschaftsamt) remained, which
was mainly concerned with questions of supply of all
consumer goods needed by the Armed Forces - such as fuel,
coal, gasoline, etc., and which I need not mention further.

Then an important field of activity: replacement
administration for the entire Armed Forces - to put it
briefly, recruiting a central office - which was designed
mostly to take care of personnel questions within the O.K.W.

Then the legal administration, the budget department and a
number of other offices which it is not necessary to

In these offices the ministerial functions of the O.K.W.
were carried out. I would like ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, I think the Tribunal has followed
the distinction which the defendant has made between the
General Staff for the High Commands and the position of the
O.K.W.; but is it necessary for the Tribunal to go into all
these details?

DR. NELTE: I had finished dealing with this section.


DR. NELTE: I want to put just one more -

THE PRESIDENT: Before you pass from this document that you
have just put before the Tribunal - this diagram - are you
desiring to make an exhibit of that?

DR. NELTE: I would like to submit it in evidence. You will
also be given a translation.

THE PRESIDENT: If so, what number will you give it? You must
number all your exhibits.

                                                  [Page 316]

DR. NELTE: Please number it K-1a, Keitel 1a.

THE PRESIDENT: Who prepared it?

DR. NELTE: We prepared it, and the technical division of the
prosecution has reproduced it. The prosecution also is in
possession of the diagram.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you asked the defendant to confirm that
it is correct?


Q. Fieldmarshal, would you please look at this diagram and
confirm whether it is correct?

A. Yes, I recognise the diagram.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, the prosecution has not
received this diagram. Therefore, the prosecution would
like, before drawing conclusions, to acquaint itself with
this diagram.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got any more copies of it, Dr.

DR. NELTE: They can be obtained and distributed right away.
Then I would like the Tribunal to reserve its decision until
the diagram has been submitted in sufficient numbers.

A. (continuing): I accept this diagram as correct. It does
not contain the minor changes which occurred from the time
of the creation of the O.K.W., up to the time which I have
mentioned - changes brought about by the reorganisation of
the Armament Ministries, etc - but it shows the manner in
which it actually worked during the last years.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Nelte:


Q. In order to terminate this group of questions I would
like to say the following: Is it correct that according to
this all the Keitel orders, Keitel decrees, which have been
submitted by the prosecution, should be considered as
Fuehrer-orders - that is to say, orders which were the
expression of Hitler's will, based on his instructions and

A. Yes, that is the correct definition of the summary of the
testimony I have given. I would like to state again in
summarising that, as I have stated from the beginning, I
assume and have assumed responsibility for these orders, in
so far as they are connected with my name, for the position
was this: I, of course, knew, the contents of these orders
which I executed. I recognise my signature, of course, in
the documents which have been submitted to me and therefore
I accept the documents as authentic. I may add that insofar
as I had military or other objections to the orders, I
naturally expressed them very forcibly and that I
endeavoured to prevent orders being given which I considered
controversial. But I must state in all truth that if the
decision had been finally made by Hitler, I then issued
these orders and transmitted them, I might almost say,
without checking them in any way.

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, before I enter upon the next phase
of my questions I should like to state the following:

The prosecution has deduced that Keitel participated in the
many crimes which have been described here from various
facts, facts which cannot always be connected with each
other and made to agree. The prosecution has stated that he
was a powerful and important staff officer. That is set out
in the Indictment. Then the prosecution stated that he was a
tool without a will of his own and that the relation between
himself and Hitler was an intimate one.

You will understand that if the defendant wants to clarify
or to protest against these things he must explain the
relation between himself and Hitler.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, that is what the defendant has
been doing. He has been explaining his relationship to
Hitler, and if you want to elucidate it further you must ask
him further questions.

Q. I only wanted to let him speak about the private
relationship to Hitler. So far we have only been concerned
with the official relationship.

Would you please tell us something about the co-operation
between you and

                                                  [Page 317]

Hitler? I ask you to be as brief as possible and tell us
only the most necessary facts, but at the same time give us
a clear picture.

A. The co-operation can only be characterised as one between
a high military superior and his subordinate. In other
words, the same relations as I have always had in my
military career with the senior officers of whose staff I
was a member. The relation between Hitler and myself never
departed from this strictly military and soldierly
relationship. Of course, it was my right and my duty to
express my opinions. How difficult that was can only be
judged by someone who knows that Hitler, after a few words,
was wont to take over the entire conversation and to exhaust
the subject entirely from his point of view. It was then
very difficult, of course, to introduce the subject again. I
may say that due to my various positions in high staff
offices I was quite used to "getting round" the superior
commanders, if I may use that expression. However, I was
quite unaccustomed to the conditions which I encountered
here. They surprised me, and not infrequently they reduced
me to a state of real uncertainty. That can be understood if
one knows that Hitler, in soldiering or military questions -
if I wish to express myself very carefully - was a man with
extensive plans for reform and with whom I, with my thirty-
seven years of service as a soldier of the old school, was

Q. Was it the same during the war or do you refer to the
time before the war?

A. During the war these oppositions were moderated by the
fact that dealings were overshadowed by the urgency of the
situation. To that extent these things did appear in that
form. On the other hand, the position then was that Hitler,
in his discussions about the situation, had a comparatively
large circle of about twenty people assembled around him
and, speaking in military terms, unsparingly made his
accusations - objections and criticisms directed, as a rule,
at people who were not present. I took the part of the
absent person as a matter of principle, because he could not
defend himself. The result was that the accusations and
criticisms were then aimed at me, and my training as a
soldier finally forced me to control myself, because it is
unseemly to oppose or to attempt to contradict a superior
before very young subordinates, such as those who were
present. Opposition to a superior or to personalities, no
matter what rank, was unbearable to the Fuehrer. One could
then only attempt to speak to him about these things in

Q. Had you the feeling that you had Hitler's confidence?

A. I could not say yes. I must frankly admit that Hitler's
confidence in me was not without reservations, and today I
know only too well that there were many things concerning
which he had never spoken frankly to me and about which he
never took me into his confidence. It was a fact that Hitler
was very suspicious of the old or elderly generals. For him
they were products of an old and antiquated school and in
this sense he was to us old soldiers a man who brought new
revolutionary ideas into the Wehrmacht, and wished to
incorporate them into Wehrmacht training. This frequently
led to serious crises. I believe I do not have to elaborate
on that. The real evil, however, was that this lack of
confidence led him to believe that I was in conspiracy with
the Army generals behind his back and that I supported them
against him. Perhaps that was a result of my habit of
defending them because they could not defend themselves. In
various circumstances that led to extremely acute and
serious crises.

Q. Much will depend upon discovering in what manner your
work with Hitler can be estimated, particularly to what
extent you could be considered his collaborator or adviser.
Will you tell me whether Hitler discussed his plans with you
in the manner which is customary in close collaboration?

A. In general I must answer no. It was not in any way in
keeping with Hitler's peculiar disposition and personality
to have advisers of that kind. That is, if you call an
adviser someone who gives advice. I was an adviser, of
course, in the sense of presenting, let us say, a great
number of military elements from long experience as an
officer, but not in the sense of an adviser to help
formulate a

                                                  [Page 318]

decision, such far-reaching decisions which are doubtlessly
meant here. In the main, the formulation of a decision was
preceded by weeks or months of careful consideration. During
that time one had to assist by procuring documents, but
concerning the main point, the decision itself, he did not
brook any influence. Therefore, strange as it may sound, the
final answer always was: "This is my decision and it is
unalterable." That was the announcement of his decision.

Q. But if various departments were competent for these
decisions, were there no general conferences?

A. No. I cannot recall that any one of the really important
decisions after the year 1938 had ever been formulated as
the result of joint counsel - for instance, between the
politicians, the soldiers or other ministers, because it was
Adolf Hitler's peculiarity that, as a rule, he spoke
privately to each department and each department chief, to
learn from him what he wanted to know, and then to find out
some element that could be used in the elaboration of his
plans. Things were not at all as would appear from the
documents here of minutes of conference of generals, of
meetings and similar things with a list of those present.
Never did such a meeting have the character of a
deliberation. There could be no question of that. Rather,
the Fuehrer had a certain idea, and if for various reasons
he thought that we opposed that idea even inwardly, he used
that as a reason to clarify his thoughts before a large
circle without any discussion. In other words, in these
assemblies, which the document here speaks of as
conferences, there was never any deliberation. I must add
that even the external form which these things took was such
that, following the military example, the senior commander
convened a certain number of generals, everyone was seated,
the Fuehrer arrived, spoke and went out. No one in such a
situation could have found an opening to say anything. To
use just one word for it, and I certainly do not exaggerate,
it was the issuing of an order but not a conference.

Q. To come to a different subject. The prosecution has
asserted that you had been a member of the Reich Government.
What do you have to say about that?

A. I never belonged to the Reich Government and I was also
never a member of the cabinet. I must also state that I
never became a minister, but as is stated in the decree of
1938 - "he had the rank of Reichsminister," not he is
Reichsminister. The expression "Minister" is, of course,
simply intended to indicate the rank of Minister and there
was a good reason for that. I need only point out what I
said this morning: It was not intended that there should be
anyone holding an office with the authority of a minister
between Hitler and the Wehrmacht, and the branches of the

I must clarify the question which has been frequently raised
by the prosecution that "He had the rank of a Minister," by
saying that, before the decree was issued, I asked whether I
was to deal with the State secretaries or with the Ministers
and Hitler said: "If on my orders you deal with other
ministers of the Reich then, of course, you can only do so
with the rank of a Minister, not that of a state secretary."

That is the explanation for the expression in the decree,
"He has the rank of a Reichsminister."

Q. Did you, in the headquarters, have any conferences with
other important and competent personalities, such as
Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, Speer, Sauckel, etc.?

A. Ministers or special plenipotentiaries visited
headquarters according to a plan which very seldom required,
the simultaneous presence of several of them. Generally, it
was carefully arranged so that a special time was set aside
for each one. As a rule, I was of course informed that "the
Foreign Minister is here" or "Minister Speer is here" or the
"General Plenipotentiary for Employment of Labour Sauckel is
here." However, I was called in only in regard to purely
military questions which the Fuehrer discussed with these
gentlemen in private and I could give instances of this.
However, as has already been mentioned

                                                  [Page 319]

recently, during the interrogation of State Secretary
Steengracht, it would be incorrect to believe that these
gentlemen who came to headquarters formed a small or select
cabinet. Hitler dealt with each of these officials and
functionaries separately, gave him his orders, and dismissed
him. It sometimes happened that on the way home, these
gentlemen visited me, in passing, mostly to ask me about
small questions and small favours which I could do for them,
or to inform me about a decision or with the order to
forward a decision to those military offices which had to be

Q. In concluding, I would like to know whether the
expression "intimate" which is contained in the Indictment,
is correct in order to describe the relations between you
and Hitler, privately or officially?

A. I found the word "intimate" in the Indictment and I asked
myself the question "Where did this conception originate"?
To be quite frank, I can only answer that no one ever heard
a single word from me about the actual and constant
difficulties that I had. I kept quiet about them. Intimate
relations are, according to my definition of "intimate" - I
do not know if in the English translation "intimate"
expresses the same thing which we call "intim" - mean
relations where there is confidence and frank discussions
and these did not exist. I have already characterised it.
Intimacy was not Hitler's attitude towards the older
generals to whose circle I also belonged. Apart from the
very formal association which sometimes lasted for weeks and
in which merely the external forms were observed, the
relationship never reached a point where it could be
classified as that of a close adviser or a close co-worker
as I conceived it in my many staff positions. I must say
that for my part I have been faithful and loyal and I always
fulfilled my duties in that manner. However, I must also say
that a sincere relationship based upon personal
understanding and confidence never existed. I always
maintained a correct attitude, but it was military and
official, and never went beyond that.

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