The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-19/tgmwc-19-182.02

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-19/tgmwc-19-182.02
Last-Modified: 2000/10/11

It is here a question of plans which were not carried out
because the peaceful occupation of the Sudetenland based on
international agreement was not an aggressive war, and the
occupation of the rest of the country, which incidentally
was  also accomplished without resistance and without war,
no longer had any connection with Jodl's plans.

This occupation of the rest of the Czechoslovak territory in
March, 1939, need not be discussed in greater detail here;
for Jodl was at the time in Vienna and did not take part in
this action. Neither did he have anything to do with its
planning, for it has no connection whatsoever with Jodl's
work in the General Staff at that time. Since then the
military situation had changed completely; the Sudetenland
with its frontier fortifications was now in German hands.
The unopposed entry which then took place therefore followed
totally different plans, if such plans existed at all. Jodl
did not take part in this occupation.

Point 7 of the Trial Brief regarding war plans against
Poland: the essential things have already been said on this
subject: At the moment when Jodl left Berlin, no deployment
plan against Poland existed. When he returned on 23rd
August, 1939, the intention existed to enter Poland on the
25th. The plan for this was naturally ready; Jodl did not
have a share in it.

The prosecution stresses further that Jodl was present in
Poland in the Fuehrer's train on 3rd September and that this
was a proof that he took part in the war. Is this, too, a
reproach against a soldier?

Point 8 of the Trial Brief concerns attacks on the seven
countries from Norway to Greece. The Trial Brief gathers
these seven wars together into one point and quite rightly
too. They form one unit, because all of them resulted from
military necessity and with logical consequences from the
Polish war and from England's

                                                  [Page 130]

intervention. It is for this very reason that the fact that
Jodl had nothing to do with the unleashing of the war
against Poland is so important when judging him.

The historians will have to do a lot more research work
before it is known how everything really came about. The
only criterion for the judgement of Jodl's behaviour is how
he saw the situation at its various stages, whether,
according to what he saw and knew, he considered Hitler's
various decisions to wage war justified and to what extent
he influenced developments. That is all that we are
concerned with here.

(a) Norway and Denmark.

In this connection, may, it please the Tribunal, I should
like to refer to the statements made by Dr. Siemers the day
before yesterday, and therefore I shall omit what comes
next, but I should like to insert a statement at this point,
namely, a statement regarding International Law which is not
contained in my manuscript.

With reference to the statements made by Dr. Siemers in this
regard the day before yesterday, in order to avoid any
misunderstanding I should like to add the following:

1. There is not the slightest doubt that the merchant ships
of a State at war may cross the neutral coastal waters. If
its enemy, in order to prevent any traffic of that sort,
mines the coastal waters, this fact is a clear breach of
neutrality. Even warships have the right of passing through,
providing they adhere to the rules which have been
stipulated and do not participate in any combat action in
the coastal waters. And if this applies even to warships, it
applies all the more to ships which are transporting
prisoners of war.

2. The fact that a war is a war of aggression does not in
any way influence the validity and application of the normal
war and neutrality rights. A contrary opinion would lead to
absurd results and would serve only to become a gravedigger
for all the laws of war. There would be no neutral States,
and the relations between the belligerents would be
dominated by the principle of brute force and its
application. This war, in any event, was not conducted along
such principles by either side, and even the prosecution
does not uphold the point of view.

THE PRESIDENT: One moment, Dr. Exner. (The Tribunal

Go on.

DR. EXNER: Nor does the prosecution maintain this point of
view, otherwise they would not have charged the defendant
with certain deeds as being crimes against the laws of war
and the rights of neutrals. The entire charge under Point
three would not be understandable. And apart from that,
Prof. Jahrreiss dealt with this question on Pages 32 to 35
of his final argument.

Now I shall continue on Page 30, the last paragraph of my

Jodl heard for the first time in November, 1939 - and this
from Hitler himself - about the fears of the Navy that
England intended to go to Norway. He then received
information which left no doubt that these fears were
basically right. Furthermore, he had regular reports
according to which the Norwegian coastal waters were coming
more and more into the English sphere of domination, so that
Norway was no longer actually neutral.

Jodl was firmly convinced - and still is today - that the
German troops prevented the English landing at the last
minute. No matter how Hitler's decision may be judged
legally, Jodl did not influence it; he considered the
decision justified and was bound to consider it as such. So,
even if one wished to regard Hitler's decision as a breach
of neutrality, Jodl did not give criminal help by his work
on the General Staff.

(b) Belgium-Holland-Luxemburg.

                                                  [Page 131]

Like every military expert, Jodl knew that if Germany was to
fight the war in the West to its conclusion, there was no
other course but a military offensive. In view of the
inadequacy of the German equipment at the time and the
strength of the Maginot Line, there was, however, from a
military point of view, no other possibility for an
offensive than through Belgium.

So Hitler was, for purely military reasons, faced by the
necessity of operating through Belgium. But Jodl also fully
knew, as did every German who experienced August, 1914, how
difficult a political decision was faced thereby, as long as
Belgium was neutral, and was prepared and in a position to
keep out of the war.

The reports which Jodl received, and against the accuracy of
which no justified doubts could arise now, showed that the
Belgian Government was already co-operating, in breach of
its neutrality, with the General Staffs of Germany's
enemies. This, however, can be dropped here in the defence
of Jodl. It suffices to know - and this is indisputable -
that part of Belgium's territory, i.e., the air over it, was
being continuously used by Germany's Western enemies for
their military purposes.

And this applies perhaps even more strongly to the
Netherlands. Since the very first days of the war, British
planes flew over Dutch and Belgian territory as and when
they pleased. Only in some of the numerous cases did the
Reich Government protest, and there were 127 such cases.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Exner, will you refer the Tribunal to the
evidence which you have for that statement?

DR. EXNER: Please?

THE PRESIDENT: Will you refer me to the evidence that you
have for that statement?

DR. EXNER: What statement, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: That protests were made in 127 cases.

DR. EXNER: I am referring to the statements made by the
witness von Ribbentrop. He was the one who said that 127
protests were made.


DR. EXNER: The prosecution does not put the legal question
correctly. Before air warfare gained its present important
position, conditions were such that a State which wished to
remain neutral could withhold its territory from continual
military use at will by one of the belligerents, or else its
neutrality was clearly terminated. Since air warfare became
possible, a State can hand over or may have to hand over to
one of the belligerents the air rights over its territory
and yet remain outwardly and diplomatically neutral. But, by
the very nature of the idea, the defence of its neutrality
can be claimed only by a State whose whole territory lies,
de facto, outside of the theatre of war.

The Netherlands and Belgium were, long before 10th May,
1940, no longer de facto neutral, for the air over them was,
in practice, with or against their will, freely at the
disposal of Germany's enemies. What contribution they thus
made towards England's military strength, i.e., towards the
strength of one of the belligerents, is known to everybody.
It is necessary only to think of Germany's Achilles' heel:
the Ruhr.

Our adversaries clearly maintained the point of view that,
when the barrier constituted by Holland and Belgium
protected our industrial areas against air attacks, their
neutrality was to be violated; but when it protected France
and England, its violation was a crime.

Jodl naturally realised the situation. His opinion on the
legal question was, of course, a matter of complete
indifference to Hitler. Here, too, his activity remained the
normal activity of a General Staff officer.

                                                  [Page 132]

THE PRESIDENT: One moment, please.

Dr. Exner, is it your contention that it is in accordance
with International Law that if the air over a particular
neutral State is made use of by one of the warring nations,
the other warring nation can invade that neutral State
without giving any warning to that State?

DR. EXNER: In this connection I should like to say that this
continuous use of the air space of a neutral State - that
is, for the purpose of attacking (these planes flew over
this territory in order to attack Germany) - was a breach of
neutrality. This breach of neutrality justified Germany no
longer regarding Belgium as a neutral country. Therefore,
from the standpoint of the Kellogg Pact, or any previous
assurance given with regard to neutrality, there cannot be
any charge made against Germany in this respect. Whether one
can reproach Germany for the fact that she did not declare
war in advance, that is something I leave open to

Besides, it may be presumed that the flights made by the
British planes were not announced in advance either.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, you are not prepared to answer
the question I put to you?

DR. EXNER: Yes. The question was to this effect, Mr.
President, whether a prior declaration was necessary. That
was the question, Mr. President, was it not?

THE PRESIDENT: Whether you can attack a neutral State
without giving any prior warning; that is, whether, in
accordance with International Law, you can attack a neutral
State in such circumstances without giving any prior
warning. That is the question.

DR. EXNER: The assertion is to the effect that it was no
longer a neutral State, Mr. President. When it was attacked
it was no longer a neutral State.

THE PRESIDENT: Then your answer is in the affirmative; you
say that you can attack without giving any warnings, is that

DR. EXNER: There is an agreement in International Law that
war is always to be declared in advance. In that respect,
Germany would have been bound to declare war beforehand.
However, above and beyond that, because of the fact that
this was not a neutral State, I do not believe that there is
an obligation. I cannot see just why there should have been
an obligation to this State because it had been neutral at
one time.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, you say that there is a general
obligation to declare war before you actually invade. You do
not say, do you, that the fact that Holland was a neutral
State prevented that obligation attaching?

DR. EXNER: That I do not wish to assume. A general
obligation, yes; but I do not believe there was a special
obligation because of the former neutrality of Holland and
Belgium. I would not know what justification could be given
for that.


DR. EXNER: Now I shall turn to point (c), Greece.

Hitler wanted to keep the Balkans out of the war, but Italy
had attacked Greece against his will at the beginning of
October, 1940. When the Italians got into trouble, a request
was made for German help. Jodl advised against it, since
English intervention in the Balkans would then have to be
reckoned with and every hope of localising the Italo-Greek
conflict would thus be lost. Hitler then ordered everything
to be prepared for the necessity which might perhaps
nevertheless arise, if the need for German help to Italy
against Greece became unavoidable (orders of 12th November
and 13th December, 1940).

                                                  [Page 133]

If the attempt to localise the Greek-Italian conflict did
not succeed, it was clear that Greece would be involved in
the great German-English struggle. The question was now
whether Greece would lie within the war zone controlled by
the British or the Germans. And as in the case of Norway,
Belgium, and Holland, part of the territory of these
countries was already at England's disposal before the
beginning of open hostilities, and they were, therefore,
objectively at least, no longer neutral - and perhaps could
no longer be neutral - so it was also with Greece now. The
Indictment referring to Greece established that British
troops were landed on the Greek mainland on 3rd March, 1941,
after Crete had, already some time before that, come within
the area controlled by the British. Hitler did not give
permission for aerial warfare at Crete until 24th March,
1941, and began the land attacks only on 6th April.

Here, too, Jodl had no influence on Hitler's decisions. He
could have no doubt that Hitler's decision was inevitable in
view of the way in which the war between the world powers
was now developing. There was no choice; ever-increasing
parts of Greek territory would have been drawn into the
sphere of English power and would have become the jumping-
off points for bombing squadrons against the Roumanian oil-
fields had Germany not stopped this process. Moreover, the
experiences of the First World War were disquieting; the
coup de grace was then made from Salonica.

(d) Yugoslavia.

Hitler wanted to keep Yugoslavia out of the war too. The
German troops in the Balkans had the strictest orders to
respect her neutrality rigorously. Hitler even rejected the
proposal by the Chief of the Army General Staff to ask the
Yugoslav Government for permission to let sealed trains with
German supplies through their territory.

The Simovic putsch in Belgrade on the night after Yugoslavia
Joined the Tripartite Pact was considered by Hitler as a
malicious betrayal. He was of the opinion that the change of
government at Belgrade, which considerably altered the
course of its foreign policy, was only possible if England
or the Soviet Union or both had provided cover from the
rear. He was now certain that the Balkans would be fully
drawn into the war tangle. He was certain that the German
troops in Bulgaria were severely threatened and also the
German lines of communication which ran close to the
Yugoslav frontiers.

Under these conditions, Hitler took the decision for war on
the morning following the Belgrade putsch, any preparation
for which was absolutely lacking. Jodl's suggestions, and
later Ribbentrop's, too, to make things unambiguous by means
of an ultimatum, were not considered at all. He wanted to
make sure that Yugoslavia and Greece should not come into
the sphere of influence of England but into that of Germany.
The next day's news concerning Moscow's telegram of
friendship to the Belgrade Putsch Government and about the
Yugoslav deployment then already in progress, as confirmed
by the statement of the witness Greiffenberg (Doc. Book III
A.J. I2), and lastly the Russo-Yugoslav Friendship Pact,
were for Jodl irrefutable signs that Hitler had seen the
connection of events correctly.

The decision to fight was taken by Hitler, and by Hitler

Point 9 concerns the war against the Soviet Union.

What each of the two Governments, that of Berlin and that of
Moscow, wished to achieve by the agreement of 23rd August,
1939, is today not certain. One thing, however, is certain,
and that is that these partners, who were till then enemies,
had not entered into an agreement because of their love for
each other. And the Soviet Union was for the German partner
a completely unknown quantity. And it remained so. Anyone
who does not consider this fact can in no way judge Hitler's
decision to make a military attack on the Soviet Union, and
above all the question of guilt.

If anywhere, it was in the Russian question that Hitler came
to a decision without listening to the slightest advice from
anyone, to say nothing of taking it.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.