The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-13/tgmwc-13-128.05


Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-13/tgmwc-13-128.05
Last-Modified: 2000/02/28

Q. If you carefully examine this list of people, can you
tell me Whether Admiral Donitz was always with these people
on the dates mentioned, or does this mean only that these
persons were at the Fuehrer's headquarters at the same time
that he was? Can you still recall these points?

A. Yes. If these people participated in the military
briefings, then Grand Admiral Donitz at least saw them. Of
course, people in high positions were frequently at the
Fuehrer's headquarters who did not participate in the
military briefing sessions, and whom the Grand Admiral did
not see, unless he had special conversations with them.

Q. For what reason did Admiral Donitz -

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, upon this point, if the
witness is saying that any one of these minutes is
incomplete, I should be very grateful if he would specify
it, because we can get the original German minutes here and
confirm the affidavit.

My Lord, if it pleases, the witness has said that he thinks
these are incomplete. They are summaries of the minutes, and
if he wants to say that any one is wrong, I shall be very
glad to get the minutes and compare it.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I believe the witness said only that
additional people participated in these discussions and
that, at the end, some of the conferences are lacking.
However, I do not know just what details I should question
him about. Perhaps the prosecution will deal with that
matter later in cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: But Sir David wants him to specify which are
the ones, if he can. He wanted him to specify, if he could.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Very well.

BY DR. KRANZBUHLER:

Can you tell me more specifically, as to any one of these
dates, whether those present are correctly named, or whether
there were other people present, or whether Grand Admiral
Donitz was not even present?

A. I can tell you definitely that this list is incorrect
because it never happened that neither Field-Marshal Keitel
nor General (Generaloberst) Jodl was present at the
headquarters. For example, on 4th March, 1945, neither of
these men is mentioned, nor on 6th March or 8th March.
Therefore, I conclude that this list cannot be complete. In
other places, however, the name of Jodl appears for example,
on 18th March, 1945.

Q. The decisive point seems to be whether Admiral Donitz was
present in the Fuehrer's headquarters on all of these days.
Can you confirm that point?

A. Of course, from memory I cannot confirm that with
reference to every single day. However, I am under the
impression that the list is correct in that connection, for
the frequency of the visits of the Grand Admiral corresponds
with the notes in this list, and spot checks show me that
the dates are correct.

Q. Why did Grand Admiral Donitz come to the Fuehrer's
headquarters? What were the reasons?

A. The chief reason of the frequent visits, which became
even more frequent toward the end of the war, was the
intention to keep closely abreast of the development of the
general war situation so that he, Donitz, could lead the
Navy and carry on the naval war accordingly. Beyond that,
questions usually came up which the Grand Admiral could not
decide for himself on his own authority and which, because
of their importance, he wanted to bring up personally or to
discuss himself with the representatives of the OKW and of
the General Staff.

                                                  [Page 352]

Q. In each of these cases was there a personal report of the
Grand Admiral to the Fuehrer?

A. This is what happened: Most of the problems and reports
for the Fuehrer were taken care, of during the briefing
session in connection with the Grand Admiral's report on the
naval warfare situation.

Q. One moment. Was the Grand Admiral always present at the
military briefing sessions when he was at the headquarters?

A. The Grand Admiral took part at least in the discussion of
the main session every day.

Q. And what is the main session?

A. At noon every day there was a military briefing session
which lasted several hours. This was the main briefing
session. In addition, for months, sessions including special
sessions were held in the evening or at night at which the
Grand Admiral participated only when very important matters
were to be discussed - matters of special importance for the
conduct of the war. Then, as I said, he participated.

Q. Now you say that most of the questions which the Grand
Admiral had to put to the Fuehrer were taken care of at the
military briefing. Were there any personal reports, besides
this?

A. Personal reports on the part of the Grand Admiral to
Hitler took place very seldom; on the other hand, personal
discussions with the OKW and the other military offices at
the headquarters took place daily.

Q. Now, I would like to know something more in detail about
this so-called Lagebesprechung (briefing session).

The prosecution seem to consider this briefing session as a
sort of War Cabinet at which, for instance, Ribbentrop would
report about foreign policies, Speer about questions of
production, Himmler about security questions. Is this a
correct picture? Who took part in these sessions, what
people participated regularly and who attended only once in
a while?

A. The participants at the briefing sessions were generally
the following:-

Regular participants: from the OKW, Field-Marshal Keitel,
General Jodl, General Buhle, Commodore Assmann, Major Buchs,
and a few more Chiefs of Staff. Then the Chief of the
General Staff of the Army with one or two aides, and as a
rule also the Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force
with one aide.

Further regular participants were: the Chief of the Army
Personnel Office, who was Chief Adjutant to the Fuehrer;
General Bodenschatz, until 20th July, 1944; Vice Admiral
Voss, who was the permanent Deputy of the Grand Admiral;
Gruppenfuehrer Fegelein, as Himmler's permanent deputy;
Ambassador Hewel; Envoy Sonnleitner, permanent deputy of the
Foreign Minister; Reich Press Chief, Dr. Dietrich.
Frequently the following participated: the Commander-in-
Chief of the Luftwaffe; less frequently, Himmler. In
addition to these there was a varying participation on the
part of special officers, mainly from the General Staff of
the Army and on the part of former Commanders-in-Chief of
the Army and of the Air Force who happened to be in
headquarters. Beyond. that, toward the end of the war, Reich
Minister Speer in his capacity as Armament Minister also
participated in an increasing measure and in rare cases the
Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop, both as listeners at
the briefing sessions. I believe that is the complete list.

Q. Who reported at these briefing sessions and what was
reported on?

A. These briefings had the sole purpose to inform Hitler
about the war situation - about the Eastern situation,
through the General Staff of the Army, and through the OKW
about the situation in all other theatres of war and
concerning all three branches of the Wehrmacht. The report
took place as follows:-

First of all, the Chief of General Staff of the Army
reported about the Eastern situation; then Colonel General
Jodl reported on the situation in all other theatres of war
on land. Next, Commodore Assmann of the OKW reported on the
air situation. In between, frequent, often hour-long
conversations took place which

                                                  [Page 353]

dealt with special military problems, panzer problems,
aerial problems and such. And after the aerial problems were
dealt with, the discussion was at an end. We left the room.
And, I saw frequently that Ambassador Hewel went in to
Hitler with a batch of reports, apparently from the Foreign
Office, and reported on them without the rest of us knowing
what they contained.

Q. In these briefing sessions was there voting or was there
consultation, or who gave the orders?

A. In these briefing sessions, all military questions were
discussed and frequently decisions were reached by the
Fuehrer, that is, if no further preparations were necessary
for a decision.

Q. What for example did the Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop
do there when he was present?

A. I only saw Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop perhaps five
or six times at these briefing sessions, and I cannot
remember that he ever said anything during the entire
session. He was only present at the briefing session for his
own information.

Q. How about Minister Speer, what did he do?

A. Minister Speer also very seldom brought in armament
problems during the discussion. I know that questions of
armament were always discussed between Hitler and Speer in
special discussions. However, some exceptions may have
occurred.

Q. What was Himmler doing there, or his permanent Deputy
Fegelein? Did they discuss questions of security, or what
was his mission?

A. No. During the military briefing session security
problems were never discussed. Himmler and his deputy
appeared very frequently in connection with the Waffen SS,
and Fegelein had always to give reports about the
organization, arming, transportation and engagement of the
SS divisions. At this time the SS divisions, according to my
impressions, still played a very important part, for,
ostensibly, they represented a strategic reserve and were
much discussed.

Q. I have a record of the meeting which was written by you.
It is Exhibit GB 209. It is not found in the document book.
It says in the third paragraph and I am just reading one
sentence:-

  "The Deputy of the Reichsfuehrer SS at the Fuehrer's
  headquarters SS-Gruppenfuehrer Fegelein, transmits the
  request of the Reichsfuehrer as to when he can count on
  the arrival of the 'Panther' " - those are tanks -
  "coming from Libau."

Is this typical of SS Gruppenfuehrer Fegelein's work?

A. Yes. That was the kind of questions which were dealt with
at every one of these sessions.

Q. At the end of the war Kaltenbrunner appeared several
times also. Did he speak or report?

A. I cannot remember one single utterance on Kaltenbrunner's
part during one of these military briefing sessions.

Q. What role did Admiral Donitz play at the session
discussions?

A. Even when Grand Admiral Donitz was present the naval
situation was reported by the deputy from the OKW, Commodore
Assmann. However, the Grand Admiral used this occasion to
present, in connection with the individual theatres of war,
or in summary at the end, those questions which he had in
mind. The Grand Admiral was neither asked nor did he give
any opinion on questions dealing with air or land warfare,
which had no connection with the conduct of the naval war.
In his statements he strictly confined himself to the sphere
of the Navy, and very energetically objected if someone else
during the session tried to interfere in questions of naval
warfare.

                                                  [Page 354]

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, I have concluded this series
of  questions. If the Tribunal wishes to adjourn

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. We will adjourn.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn this afternoon at
4.30 in order to sit in closed session.

BY DR. KRANZBUHLER:

Q. Admiral Wagner, as time went by, a close relationship
developed between Admiral Donitz and Adolf Hitler. Was this
due to the fact that the Admiral was particularly ready to
comply with the Fuehrer's wishes?

A. No, not at all. Admiral Donitz's activity as Supreme
Commander of the Navy began with a very strong opposition to
Hitler. It was Hitler's intention to scrap the large ships
of the Navy, that is to say, the remaining battleships and
cruisers. Admiral Raeder had already rejected that plan.

Q. That story is already known, Admiral. You need not go
into it in detail.

A. Very well. Apart from that, Hitler's respect for Donitz
was due to the fact that every statement which the Admiral
made was absolutely reliable and absolutely honest. The
Admiral attached particular importance to the fact that,
particularly, unfavourable developments, failures and
mistakes, were to be reported at Headquarters without
digression, objectively and simply. As an example, I should
like to mention that the Admiral had given me the order -

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think we need examples of that sort
of thing. Surely, the general statement is quite sufficient.

Q. Did the Admiral in any way show himself particularly
willing to comply with the Fuehrer's political wishes or
those of the Party?

A. No, Such wishes of the Party were, in my opinion, only
put to the Navy in three cases. One was the question of the
Churches, which for the most part came up during the time of
Admiral Raeder. I think it is generally known that the Navy
retained its original religious organization and, in fact,
extended it as the Navy grew.

The second request made by the Party was that, according to
the Russian example, political commissars should be set up
within the armed forces. On that occasion Admiral Donitz
went to Hitler and prevented the carrying out of that
intention. When after 20th July, 1944, Bormann,
nevertheless, succeeded in getting the so-called N.S.F.O. -
the National Socialist Leader Officers - introduced into the
armed forces, this did not happen in the way the Party
wished by appointing political commissars. It was merely
done by using officers who were under the jurisdiction of
the commander, and who could not in any way interfere with
the leadership of the troops. The third case was the
intention on the part of the Party to take away from the
armed forces the political penal cases.

Q. This case is also already known, Admiral. You kept the
records of the visits at the Fuehrer's headquarters, is that
correct?

A. Yes.

Q. A number of these records have been introduced as
evidence in this Courtroom. Will you please explain to the
Tribunal what was the purpose of keeping these records of
visits to the Fuehrer's headquarters?

A. The Chief of the Naval War Command, the Chief of Naval
Armaments and the Chief of the General Navy Department -
that is to say, the three leading men in the Supreme Command
of the Navy - were to be informed by means of these records
of all happenings which took place in the presence of the
Admiral, as far as they were of any interest to the Navy.
That was one of my tasks.

                                                  [Page 355]

Q. You have just said "informed about happenings which took
place in the presence of the Admiral." Does that mean that
he must have heard himself everything that has been put down
in these records?

A. Not necessarily. It happened quite frequently that during
situation reports, when they took place in a large room, and
when subjects were discussed which did not interest him so
much, the Admiral would retire to another part of the room
and deal with some business of his own or discuss Navy
questions with other participants in the meeting. It was
possible that on such occasions I heard things and put them
down in the record which the Admiral himself did not hear.
But, of course, he would know about them later when he saw
my record.

Q. I am going to have shown to you one of your own records
of discussions on 20th February, 1945. It is Exhibit GB 209,
and it is contained on Page 68 of the document book of the
prosecution. This deals with considerations regarding the
renouncing of the Geneva Convention. Will you please
describe exactly what happened as you remember it?

A. Approximately two or three days before the date in this
record - in other words, on or about 17th or 18th February,
1945 - Admiral Foss telephoned me from headquarters, which
at that time was situated in Berlin, and informed me that in
connection with Anglo-Saxon propaganda to induce our troops
to desert in the West, Hitler had stated his intention to
renounce the Geneva Convention.


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