The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. We have heard details of that during previous
proceedings, and I do not think we need go into it now. In
this connection we come to the last document that is C-126,
which you also have in front of you, Exhibit GB 45- It is in
Document Book 10-A on Page 92.

With regard to the preparation of the war against Poland,
the prosecution has submitted this document of the High
Command of the Armed Forces, dated 22nd June, 1939, and
signed by Keitel, because it contains a time-table for "Fall
Weiss"; that is, the operation against Poland. Did that
document or that directive indicate to you a definite
aggressive intention?

A. No. Not a definite intention of aggression at all. In all
cases certain long range questions had to be cleared up,
such as, for instance, whether our training ships which used
to put to sea in summer should leave, or whether they should
wait. This decision, however, was only to be made in the
beginning of August. In connection with that order I issued
the order of 2nd August, also

                                                  [Page 134]

pertaining to that document, to the individual higher Naval
offices, an operational directive for the use of Atlantic
submarines in the "Fall Weiss"; I may be permitted to read
the first lines, because the wording is important:

  "Attached is an operational directive for the employment
  of U-boats which are to be sent out into the Atlantic, by
  the way of precaution, should the intention to carry out
  "Fall Weiss" remain unchanged. Flag Officer of U-boats is
  to hand in his Operation Orders to SKL, by 12th August.
  The decision regarding the sailing of U-boats for the
  Atlantic will probably be made in the middle of August.
  If the operations are not carried out, this directive
  must be destroyed by 1st October, 1939, at the latest."

Thus it was not definite that such operations would take
place. It was rather a precautionary measure which had to be
taken under all circumstances in connection with the "Fall

Q. Admiral, you have said that Hitler assured you
repeatedly, particularly when you spoke to him personally,
that there would be no war?

A. Yes.

Q. Particularly there would be no war against England?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, then, on the 3rd September, 1939, war did start with
England. In connection with this did you speak to Hitler
about that question - and if so, when?

A. On 3rd September, in the morning, I believe between 10
and 11 - I cannot remember the exact hour - I was called
into the Reich Chancellery. The SKL had already informed me
that the ultimatum had been received from England and
France. I came into the Fuehrer's study, where a number of
persons were assembled. The only one I remember to have been
there was Hess, the Fuehrer's deputy. I could not say who
else was there. I noticed that Hitler was particularly
embarrassed when he told me that despite all his hopes, war
with England was imminent, and that the ultimatum had been
received. It was an expression of embarrassment such as I
had never noticed in Hitler before.

Q. I come now to the charge made by the prosecution, that
you, Admiral, agreed with National Socialism and strongly
supported it.

DR. SIEMERS: May I be permitted to ask the Tribunal to look
at Document D-481, which is Exhibit GB 215 in Document Book
10, Page 101. This deals with the oath of civil servants and
the oath of soldiers. The prosecution, with reference to
this document, has stated that on 2nd August, 1934, in a
special ceremony, you took an oath to Adolf Hitler, and not
to the Fatherland. In Part 4, Page 265 we read:

  "The Tribunal will see that for his Fatherland, Raeder
  substituted the Fuehrer."

I do not understand this and I will ask you to explain. Had
you any part in changing the oath from Fatherland to Hitler.

A. No. I cannot understand that accusation at all. The
entire matter was not particularly a ceremony. I do not know
who is supposed to have observed it so that he could make
such a statement. The Commander-in-Chief, von Blomberg, and
the three commanders of the Wehrmacht were called to Hitler
on the morning of the 2nd of August. We were in his study
and Hitler asked us to come to his desk without ceremony or
staging. There we took the oath which he, as Chief of State
and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, read to us. We
repeated that oath. None of us participated in the writing
of that oath and no one had asked us to do so. That would
have been quite unusual. The oath referred to the person of
Hitler. No previous oath had ever been rendered to, the
Fatherland as far as the words were concerned. Once I took
an oath to the, Kaiser as Supreme War Lord, once to the
Weimar Constitution, and the third oath to the person of the
Chief of State and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces -
Hitler. In all three cases I took the oath to my people, my
Fatherland. That is a matter of course.

                                                  [Page 135]

Q. Admiral, you were ordered to that meeting on 2nd August,
did you know what it was to deal with?

A. Well, I would assume that Hitler's adjutant informed my
adjutant that I was to come, in connection with the taking
of the oath. I could not speak with certainty now, but I
assume so.

Q. It was the morning after the death of Hindenburg?

A. Yes.

Q. On the day after the death of Hindenburg?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you know about the wording of the oath?

A. No, but the oath was written on a piece of paper and I
assume that we were informed of the wording when we went to
the desk.

DR. SIEMIERS: May I say at this time, Mr. President, that
the wording is contained in the document that I have
mentioned and represents a Reich Law.

Q. The prosecution asserts that on 30th January, 1937, you
became a Party member by virtue of the fact that you
received the Golden Party Emblem. Will you answer briefly on
this point, which has been discussed previously in other

A. When the Fuehrer gave me the Golden Party Emblem he said,
specifically, that this was the highest decoration which he
could give at the time. I could not become a Party member at
all because it had been stated that soldiers could not be
members of the Party. That was generally known, and for this
reason that assertion likewise is incomprehensible.

Q. The membership of soldiers was prohibited by the

A. Yes, prohibited. May I say one more thing to prevent any
misunderstanding? It was prohibited both by the Weimar
Constitution and the decrees which Hitler had issued.

Q. Were you in opposition to the Party because of your
Christian and church attitude, which was generally known?
Briefly, how did it work out? Did you have any difficulties
with the Party because of it?

A. In general I had no great difficulties with the Party,
which I think is best explained by the fact that the Navy
had considerable prestige in the Party, as it did in all
Germany. I always arranged for the higher officers, at least
the Chiefs of bases and Fleet Commanders, to settle any
friction which occurred in the lower ranks, through the
proper authorities. If they were more important they were
brought to my attention and I dealt with them; if they dealt
with matters of principle I passed them on to the OKW. Since
I never let anything slip through, in case of incitement by
the Party, relations soon improved and I could prevent all
sorts of friction, so that before long it rarely occurred.
In that respect we had the advantage in the Navy because
there were no territorial matters to administer. We were
concerned with the sea and only worked in the coastal cities
where actually everything concerned the Navy. I had some
trouble with Heydrich, whom I had removed from the Navy in
1929 after an Honour Court had sentenced him for
unscrupulous treatment of a young girl. He held that against
me for a long time and he tried on various occasions to
denounce me to the leadership of the Party, or to Bormann
and even to the Fuehrer. However, I was always able to
counteract these attacks so that they had no effect on my
situation in general.

This attitude of Heydrich communicated itself in some way to
Himmler, so that I had on occasion to write him strongly-
worded letters; but it was precisely the strong wording of
those letters which was of help in most cases.

I should not like to waste any time by mentioning various
instances, such as the one with the SD; however, there were
no direct attacks because of my position in regard to the
Church. There was only the statement made by Goebbels, which
I learned of through my co-defendant, Hans Fritzsche, that I
was in disfavour with the Party on account of my attitude
toward the church; but, as I have said, I was not made to
feel it in a disagreeable way.

                                                  [Page 136]

Q. I believe I do not need to ask you to waste any time in
explaining the emphasis which you place on religious matters
in the Navy. I will submit an affidavit to this effect
without reading it. It was made by Navy Chaplain Ronnberger,
whom you have known for many years and who described the
situation and thus clarified everything. In that connection,
however, may I put one question: Did you emphasize
repeatedly to Hitler that a religious attitude was necessary
for the soldiers and the Navy?

A. Yes, frequently, and I kept unhesitatingly to this course
in the Navy until the end.

DR. SIEMERS: In this connection, Mr. President, I might
submit Exhibit Raeder 121. It is in my Document Book Raeder
6, Page 523. I should not like to take the time of the
Tribunal by asking questions about the contrasting views
between the Party and the Navy in matters of the church. I
believe that this document makes it sufficiently clear that
a relation between church and National Socialism was not
possible. In this field Bormann is the most outstanding
figure and I should like to read only the first paragraph of
the expose which I have submitted:

  "National Socialistic and Christian concepts are
  incompatible. Christian churches are built on the
  ignorance of man and are at pains to sustain the
  ignorance of as large a part of the population as
  possible, for only in this way can the Christian churches
  maintain their power. In contrast to this, National
  Socialism rests on scientific foundations."

In the second paragraph, the last sentence

  "If therefore in the future our young people do not learn
  anything more about Christianity, the teachings of which
  are far inferior to our own, then Christianity will
  disappear of itself."

And, on the second page at the end:

  "Just as the harmful influence of astrologers,
  soothsayers and other swindlers are eliminated and
  suppressed by the State, so the possibilities for the
  Church to exert its influence must also be entirely
  removed. Only when this has happened, will the State
  Leadership have full influence over the individual
  citizen. Only then will the people and the Reich be
  guaranteed stability for all time."

Since the religious and Christian attitude of the defendant
is generally known, I believe this is enough to show the
contrast between the Party and the defendant in these


Q. Concerning the conspiracy, the prosecution has also
accused you of belonging to the Secret Cabinet Council and
the Defence Council. Will you please answer quite briefly,
because these questions have been discussed so often that I
assume that no one in this court wishes to hear anything
further about these things. Were you a member of the Reich

A. No.

Q. According to Document 2098-PS, which is Exhibit GB 206,
Document Book 10, Page 39, a decree of the Fuehrer of 25th
February, 1938, you and the Commander-in-Chief of the Army
were made equal in rank to the Reich Ministers?

THE PRESIDENT: What page did you say?

DR. SIEMERS: Document Book 10, Page 39.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it 10 or 10-A?


THE PRESIDENT: I do not think this is right. 39 is a
translation of Document C-170.

                                                  [Page 137]

DR. SIEMERS I beg your pardon. I just heard from Sir David
that it is 89.

Q. According to this, you and the Commander-in-Chief of the
Army were equal in rank to the Reich Ministers. The
prosecution asserts that therefore you were a member of the
Cabinet and were permitted to and did participate in the
meetings. Is that correct?

A. No. I was not a Reich Minister, but only equivalent in
rank. The reason for that was, I believe, that General
Keitel was made equal in rank with the Reich Ministers
because, in administering the affairs of the War Ministry,
he was frequently in contact with them, and had to be on the
same level in order to negotiate with them. And since
Brauchitsch and myself had seniority over General Keitel we
also received the same rank. I was not a member of the
Cabinet at all, but the decree states that on the order of
the Fuehrer I could participate in a Cabinet meeting. It was
probably intended that I was to come to the Cabinet when
technical matters had to be explained. However, that never
occurred, since after that time there were no Cabinet

Q. May I point out that in Paragraph 2 of that decree by
Hitler it states:-

  "Upon my orders he shall participate in the meetings of
  the Reich Cabinet."

A. Yes. And as far as the Secret Cabinet Council is
concerned, I need only confirm that, as Hitler told me
himself, the Secret Cabinet Council had only been formed in
order to honour the retiring Foreign Minister von Neurath,
in order to retain the impression abroad and at home that
von Neurath would still be consulted in foreign policy in
the future. However, that Secret Cabinet Council never met.

Q. The prosecution has made the charge that on the 12th of
March, 1939 on the day commemorating the heroes, you made a
speech and that in that speech you came forth with a
ruthless announcement of a fight against Bolshevism and
International Jewry.

(Addressing the Tribunal): May I state, if it please the
Tribunal that unfortunately the speech was quoted by the
prosecution only to the extent of an excerpt, which was
selected from a certain point of view, and I believe that it
would be well to know the continuity of the entire speech.
Of course, I shall not read it, but I should like to submit
it as Exhibit Raeder 46. The sentence is in my Document
Book, No. 3, Page 235, the page from which the prosecution
took the quotation. Will you please briefly express your
opinion of that.

THE WITNESS: May I in doing so read a few short sentences
which will characterise the entire speech?

Q. I have no doubt that the Tribunal will permit that. I
only ask you to use only a few significant sentences, just
as the prosecution has done,.

A. On Page 7, line 6, it says -

Q. Excuse me. That is on Page 235, the same page which
contains the quotation of the prosecution.

A. Shortly before the sentences quoted by the prosecution we
read, on line 6:

  "He has given back self-confidence and confidence in
  their own ability to the German people, and thereby
  enabled them to retake, by their own strength, their
  sacred right refused to them during the time of their
  weakness and, beyond that, to grasp the tremendous
  problems of the times with courage and to solve them.
  Thus the German people and the Fuehrer have done more for
  the peace of Europe and the world than some of our
  neighbours, are able to realize to-day."

Then we come to the sentence where I speak about the
announcement of the fight against Bolshevism and
International Jewry, the sentence which has been quoted by
the prosecution. I should like to state briefly in
connection with it that after the experiences of the years
1917 to 1919, Communism and International Jewry had
destroyed the resistance of the German people to a
considerable degree, and had gained an excessively large and
oppressive influence in German affairs, in affairs of State
as well as in economic and legal matters. As a result, one

                                                  [Page 138]

not, in my opinion, be surprised that the National Socialist
Government tried to loosen and as far as possible remove
this large and oppressive influence. Although in pursuing
this course the National Socialist Government took rather
severe steps, which led to the Nuremberg Laws - the
aggravations of which I regretted, of course - nevertheless,
in the course of the speech which I made in public at the
orders of the Reich Government, I could not find it
compatible with my conscience to express my personal
opinions I which were basically different. It must also be
considered that such a speech had to fit into a general
framework. The sentence quoted by the prosecution, however,
is only a short one, and there were other points of much
more prominence. In that connection I ask for permission to
read two more short sentences:-

  "And this is the reason for the demand for equal rights
  and equal respect with all other peoples, which alone can
  guarantee that the nations will live peacefully together
  on this earth."

Then the last sentence, on Page 235:-

  "Within the framework of the German community of people
  the Fuehrer has assigned us our tasks as soldiers to
  protect our homeland and our peaceful national
  reconstruction, and to train the young men, fit for
  military service, who will pass through our hands."

The next sentence was quoted by the prosecution, because
there I spoke of the fact that we should not only train
these young people in the technical use of arms, but also
educate them in the sense of National Socialist ideology and
philosophy, and because I stated that we had to march
shoulder to shoulder with the Party.

I have always taken the view that the Armed Forces should
not be a completely extraneous body in the State. It would
be impossible to have a republican Armed Force in a
monarchist State or an Armed Force with monarchist
tendencies in a democratic State. Thus our Armed Forces
would have to be incorporated into the National Socialist
State to the extent necessary to create a real people's
community, and it would be the task of the commanders of the
Armed Forces to educate their branches of the Forces in such
a way that they would recognize and live up to the good
national and socialist ideals of the National Socialist
State. This should be done in the same way as I did it as
Supreme Commander of the Navy. In this way it was possible
to incorporate the Armed Forces in an orderly manner, to
keep them from all exaggerations and excesses and at the
same time to form a people's community within the State.

And then on the bottom of Page 236:-

  "This nation needs a new, a true peace, the peace of
  justice and honour, a peace without hatred. The world
  also needs peace. Because a weak Germany could not obtain
  peace, a strong one has won it for herself. It is the
  proud task of the German Wehrmacht to secure this peace
  for the German nation against everybody."

And quite at the end of the document, the 11th or 12th line
from the bottom of the page:-

  "But the soldier over there whom we respect as the
  valiant representative of his country, may accept a
  soldier's words: What Germany needs and wants is peace."

These are not words only but have been proved by practical
examples. The construction work of Germany requires many
years of quiet development.

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