The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                  [Page 134]

He wavered for many months in his opinion about the
intentions of the Soviet Union.

The relations of the armies of both sides on the demarcation
line were from the very beginning full of incidents. The
Soviets at once occupied the territories of the Baltic
States and of Poland with disproportionately strong forces.

In May and June, 1940, when there were only 5 to 6 German
covering divisions in the East, the Russian deployment
against Bessarabia with at least 30 divisions, reported by
Canaris, and the deployment into the Baltic territory caused
great anxiety. On 30th June, 1940, apprehensions were again
allayed, so that Jodl - as Document 1776-PS has shown - even
thought that Russia could be counted on for assistance in
the fight against the British Empire. But in July there were
renewed worries. Russian influence was advancing
energetically in the Balkans and the Baltic territories.
Hitler began to fear Russian aggressive intentions, as he
told Jodl on 29th July.

The sending off of several divisions from the West, where
they were no longer required, actually had nothing to do
with this. It occurred at the request of the Commander-in-
Chief in the East who could not fulfil his security task
with his weak forces.

Hitler's worry concerned above all the Roumanian oil-fields.
He would have liked most to have eliminated this threat in
1940 by a surprise action. Jodl replied that, owing to the
bad deployment possibilities in the German Eastern
territories, this could not be considered before winter.
Hitler demanded verification of this opinion and Jodl
arranged for the necessary investigations in a conference
with his staff in Reichenhall, which was obviously
misunderstood by the Russian prosecution. On 2nd August,
Hitler ordered improvements to be made in the deployment
possibilities in the East - a measure which was no less
indispensable for defence than for an offensive.

Towards the end of August - this is the order of 27th August
- 10 infantry divisions and 2 Panzer divisions were brought
into the Government General in case a Blitz action should
become necessary for the defence of the Roumanian oilfields.
The German troops, now totalling 25 divisions, were
certainly intended to appear stronger than they really were,
so that an action should actually be unnecessary. This is
the sense of Jodl's order for counter-espionage (PS-1229).
Had there been offensive intentions then, there would rather
have been an attempt to make one's own forces appear smaller
than they were.

At the same time Hitler appears to have given the Army
General Staff orders - without Jodl knowing anything about
it - to prepare an operational plan against Russia for any
eventuality. In any case, the Army General Staff worked on
operational plans of this kind from the autumn of 1940
onward (General Paulus).

Unfavourable information then accumulated after the Vienna
award on 30th August, 1940. If Jodl was to believe his
utterances, Hitler was becoming convinced that the Soviet
Union had firmly resolved to annihilate Germany in a
surprise attack while she was engaged against England. The
leaders of the Red Army had, according to a report of 18th
September, declared a German-Russian war to be inevitable
(Doc. C-170). In addition, reports came in of feverish
Russian preparations along the demarcation line. Hitler
counted on a Russian attack in the summer of 1941 or winter
of 1941-42. He thus decided, should the discussions with
Molotov not clear up the situation favourably, to take
preventive steps. For then the only chance for Germany lay
in offensive defence. For this eventuality, preparatory
measures were ordered by Hitler on 12th November, 1940 (444-

The failure of the discussions with Molotov decided the
question. On 18th December, 1940, Hitler ordered the
military preparations. Should the coming months clear up the
situation, all the better. But it was necessary to be
prepared in order to deliver the blow in the spring of 1941
at the latest. This was presumably the latest possible
moment, but also the earliest, since more than four months
were required for the deployment.

                                                  [Page 135]

Jodl, as an expert, emphatically pointed out to Hitler the
enormous military risk, the undertaking of which could be
decided upon only if all political possibilities of averting
the Russian attack were really exhausted. Jodl became
convinced at that time that Hitler actually had exploited
every possibility.

The situation grew worse. According to the reports which
were received by the Army General Staff, at the beginning of
February, 1941, 150 Russian divisions, i.e., two-thirds of
the total Russian strength known to us, had deployed
opposite Germany. But only the first stage of the German
deployment had begun.

The Soviet Government's telegram of friendship to the
participants in the Belgrade Putsch on 27th March, 1941,
destroyed Hitler's last hope. He decided upon an attack,
which, however, had to be postponed for more than a month
owing to the Balkan war.

The deployment was undertaken in such a manner that the fast
German units, without which the attack could not be
conducted at all, were brought to the front only in the last
two weeks, i.e., after 10th June.

Real preventive war is one of the indispensable means of
self-preservation, and was indisputably permitted according
to the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The "Right of Self-Defence" was
understood thus by all the signatory States.

If the situation was wrongly conceived, the German military
leaders are not to be blamed for their error. They had
reliable reports on Russian preparations which could only
make sense if they were preparations for war.

The reports were later confirmed. For when the German attack
met the Russian forces, the leadership of the German front
got the impression of running into a gigantic deployment
against Germany. General Winter developed this here in
detail in addition to Jodl's statements, particularly with
regard to the enormous number of new airports near the line
of demarcation, and he drew particular attention to the fact
that the Russian staffs were provided with maps of German
territories. Field-Marshal von Rundstedt also confirmed this
as witness before the Commission. This will come before the
Tribunal during the further course of the trial.

Jodl firmly believes that Hitler would never have waged war
against Russia unless he had been absolutely convinced that
no other way lay open for him at all. Jodl was aware that
Hitler knew the danger of a two-front war fully and would
risk the victory over England - which he thought was no
longer in doubt - only in an inescapable emergency.

Jodl only did his job as an officer of the General Staff. He
was convinced, and still is today, that we were waging a
genuine preventive war.

I come now to Point 10 of the Trial Brief concerning the war
against the United States. That Jodl had no desire to
increase the number of our enemies by a world Power is
obvious, and is also shown by documents. Now what is the
position with regard to the responsibility for these
campaigns? A declaration of war is a decision in the field
of foreign politics, the most important one in the whole of
this field.

It depends on the constitutional structure of the concrete
State as to who is responsible for this decision -
politically, criminally and morally; it depends on the way
the formation of a decision in the field of foreign politics
takes place in this State according to its constitution.
Prof. Dr. Jahrreiss has spoken about this in the Fuehrer
State it is exclusively the Fuehrer who has to make this
decision. Anyone who advises him about this cannot be
responsible, for if what the Fuehrer orders is legally
right, he who influences this order cannot be acting

The Charter obviously represents the opinion that those who
in any way participate in the Fuehrer's decision or
influence it are also co-responsible. If we take this legal
conception as authoritative the question of responsibility
crystallises into a problem of competence.

In every community the tasks of its organs must be limited,
there must be rulings on competence laying down what each
official is called upon to do and not to do.

                                                  [Page 136]

Thus in all States the relations between the military and
the civil administration are naturally regulated, as also
within the military and within the civil administration the
tasks and the relations between their thousands of offices
are regulated. If things were otherwise chaos would reign.

Particularly in war time the problem of competence in the
relations between the political and, military leadership is
important. For the military, being the most important
instrument of policy, as such may easily try to become
master and endeavour to interfere in politics. It was German
tradition to avoid this; the Bismarck Reich took great pains
to keep the officers away from politics; they had no right
to vote, were not allowed to go to political meetings and in
fact any statements on politics made by an officer were
looked upon askance. For it could in some way be looked upon
as taking sides, which was strictly prohibited. The military
were to be politically blind, completely neutral and knowing
only one point of view, which was that of legitimacy, i.e.
subordination to the legitimate ruler.

Thus in the years 1866 and 1870, when there was danger of
war, it was not Moltke but Bismarck who advised the king as
to the political decision. This changed during the last
years of the First World War. General Ludendorff became the
strongest man in the Reich owing to the force of his
personality and the weakness of his political opponents.
People often talk of Prussian militarism. For the time when
the soldier seized political power this was justified. The
Weimar State got rid of this completely. The non-political
character of the armed forces was stressed very emphatically
and the military was again limited to its particular field.
This went so far that a civilian was made Minister for War,
who had to represent the armed forces politically in the
Reichstag. For a considerable period it was a Liberal-
Democratic minister, who was meticulously careful to avoid
all political influence by the generals.

When creating the Wehrmacht, Adolf Hitler maintained this
sharp distinction between politics and the military, indeed
he even stressed it in a certain sense. He, who wished to
make the whole people politically minded, wanted a non-
political Wehrmacht. The soldier was deprived of political
rights; he was not allowed to vote or to belong to any
party, not even the NSDAP, as long as the old law on
military service was in force. In keeping with that, he also
kept his generals and highest military advisers away from
any part in political affairs. He also remained consistent
towards his own Party. When, after Fritsch had gone, a new
Commander-in-Chief of the Army was to be appointed, it would
have been easy enough to have chosen Reichenau, who had
National Socialist leanings, but he appointed von
Brauchitsch. He did not want any political generals, not
even National Socialist ones. His point of view was that he
was the Fuehrer and he the politician; the generals had to
mind their own affairs; they knew nothing about politics. He
did not even tolerate advice when it concerned politics. The
generals did, in fact, repeatedly venture to express doubts
as to his political plans, but were obliged here to limit
themselves strictly to purely military points of view. This
sharp division of political and military spheres of
competence is, for that matter, not characteristically
German. It applies also, if I see rightly, to the Anglo-
Saxon democracies, and indeed to a particularly strong

At any rate it was so under Hitler: he made political
decisions, and it was only on their military execution that
the generals had any influence. It was their task to make
the military preparations necessary for all political
eventualities. But it was Hitler who pressed the button to
set the machine in motion. The "whether" and "when" were
decided by the Fuehrer. It was not for them to weigh the
opportuneness, the political possibility or the legal

Psychologically this attitude of the Fuehrer became still
more pronounced owing to the hardly comprehensible mistrust
he felt towards his generals. A remarkable phenomenon -
anyone who disregards it can never come to understand the
atmosphere which reigned in the Fuehrer's headquarters. It
was a mistrust - as he

                                                  [Page 137]

thought - of the reactionary attitude of the officer corps.
He never forgot that the Reichswehr had fired at National
Socialists in 1923. It was, moreover, the natural mistrust
by the military dilettante of the military expert, and also
probably the mistrust by the political expert of the
political dilettantes in officers' uniform. This mistrust of
the political outlook of his military entourage was moreover
by no means entirely unfounded. For the generals had wanted
to put a brake on his rearmament plans, to hold him back
from the occupation of the Rhineland, and had expressed
objections to his march into Austria, and to his occupation
of the Sudetenland. And yet all these actions had succeeded
smoothly and without bloodshed. The generals felt like
gamblers when carrying out the plans, but Hitler was sure of
his game. Is it to be wondered at that their political
judgement did not carry too much weight with him, and is it
to be wondered at that, on the other hand, the apparent
infallibility of his political judgement met with more and
more recognition?

Thus Hitler tolerated no interference with his political
plans and the result of it, as has been drastically
represented to us here, was that, had a general raised
objections to Hitler's political decisions, he would not
actually have been shot, but his sanity would have been

To receive advice was not the concern of this dominant man.
Thus, at the beginning of a military undertaking the chances
of the plan were hardly ever considered in general
discussions. None of the important decisions since 1938 came
as the result of advice. On the contrary, the decision often
came as a total surprise to the military command. Thus it
was, for instance, with the march into Austria, of which
Jodl learned two days before it happened, or in the case of
the attack on Yugoslavia, which was suddenly decided upon by
Hitler and carried out without any preparations within a few
days. The alleged "discussions" at the Fuehrer's
headquarters, the course of which the witness Field-Marshal
Milch described so clearly, were nothing else but the
"issuing of orders".

Within the Wehrmacht too, of course, the spheres of
competence of the individual departments were sharply
divided, and the method which Hitler used in order to make
these divisions as insurmountable as possible is of
interest. This was achieved by the method of secrecy. Enough
has been said about this, particularly about the so-called
"Blinkers Order", which forbade anybody to get an insight
into anybody else's work. It thus happened that each
department was isolated and strictly limited to its own
tasks. Obviously what Hitler desired to achieve by this
system was that he should retain the reins in his hands as
the only informed person.

Indeed, even more: he strengthened this system still more by
only too often playing off one against the other, individual
personalities, groups and departments, to prevent any
conspiracy amongst them.

Mr. President, I have concluded my paragraph.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(A short recess was taken.)

DR. EXNER: These methods of isolationism which I mentioned
before are interesting because they often inevitably came
into conflict with one of the basic ideas of National
Socialism - the Fuehrer principle - but they were carried
through in spite of this, for instance, when the competence
of two departments covered the same territory, such as
perhaps the competence of a military commander and of
Himmler in the same occupied territory. What was ordered by
one did not concern the other, even though the carrying out
of the order might encroach upon the arrangement for which
the other was responsible. Thus the military commander was
in no way the master in his territory. Things were the same
in the civil administration too: there was the duplication
of the Landrat (prefect) as a State functionary and the
Kreisleiter (district leader) as a Party functionary, of the
Reich Governor (Statthalter) and the Gauleiter.

                                                  [Page 138]

Everywhere there was a dualism of powers and therefore a
dissipation of power. There was a method in this; it
prevented lower organs becoming too strong and secured the
power of the supreme leadership. It may be said
epigrammatically that the Fuehrer principle was realised
only in the Fuehrer.

What then was the position of Jodl's sphere of competence
within all this machinery?

He was the Chief of the Operational Staff of the Armed
Forces, which was a department of the OKW coming under
Keitel. Jodl's main task was, as the name of the department
implies, to assist the Supreme Commander in the operational
leadership of the armed forces. He was the Fuehrer's adviser
on all operational questions - in a certain sense the Chief
of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. The task of this
Chief of the General Staff in all countries in which this
arrangement is known is not that of giving orders but of
advising, assisting and carrying out. From this alone it has
come about that Jodl's position has frequently been
misunderstood during the course of this trial.

1. He was not Keitel's Chief of Staff, but the chief of the
most important department of the OKW, though he had nothing
to do with the other departments and sections of the OKW.

Here I have to make an interpolation which deviates from my

He was also not Keitel's representative. Keitel in Berlin
was represented by the senior departmental chief, and that
was Admiral Canaris. At the Fuehrer's headquarters there was
only the Operational Staff of the Armed Forces for which
Jodl reported directly to the Fuehrer. He had nothing to do
with the other sections of the OKW.

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