The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Admiral, have you anything to add to these extracts from
the War Diary?

                                                  [Page 171]

A. No, I have nothing to add. The matter is quite clear.

Q. May I ask you now to describe to the High Tribunal - and
with this I am coming to the conclusion of my examination -
how it came about that you resigned in January, 1943?

DR. SIEMERS: Your Honours, shall we have a recess first?

THE PRESIDENT: It depends on whether you hope to finish in a
few minutes. If you hope to finish in a few minutes we will
sit on so that you may finish your examination.

DR. SIEMERS: I believe it will take perhaps ten minutes.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, go on.


Q. Please describe how it came about that you resigned in
January of 1943 but first I should like to ask you one more
question: Had you, already before this, thought of

A. I should like to say briefly that before the war I asked
the Fuehrer on several occasions to relieve me of my post-or
I put an ultimatum to him. I should like briefly to cite two
cases as examples. In November, 1938, in the presence of
General Keitel, I made a report to the Fuehrer about the
type of ships and our plans as to how the ships should be
developed further. On this occasion the Fuehrer began to
attack, in a way that defies description, all our plans for
construction, including those for the Bismarck, and to
declare them wrong. Later I found out that things like that
happened whenever some person of his entourage, who knew
very little about such things, gave him his opinion - that
he always followed it up because he wanted, as I told myself
later, to check whether the things he had been told were
actually correct.

This case, however, was so extreme that I could not do
anything else but simply pick up my plans, put them in my
brief-case, and leave the room. General Keitel was present.
The Fuehrer followed me to the door, asked me to come in
again, softened his accusations and asked me not to resign
now under any circumstances.

The second case was a purely personal one, but it is rather
typical. His naval adjutant, who had just been appointed,
wanted to marry a young girl who had a very unsavoury
reputation at the University of Kiel. I told him I would
never consent to the marriage. The Fuehrer had the girl
introduced to him and decided he had nothing against the
marriage; I left the Berghof and sent the Fuehrer a letter
via a staff officer, in which I told him that I would refuse
my consent, and that should the officer marry, either he or
I would leave the Navy. I asked the officer who acted as my
courier to bring back the answer, since I wanted to reach a
decision at once. The Fuehrer made the officer wait two days
at the Berghof and then sent him back to me with a letter,
saying, "Very well, the officer cannot marry and remain in
the Navy and he will not be used further as a Naval
adjutant; someone else will be put in his place. He will
become some sort of leader in my National Socialist Motor
Corps and will then serve as one of my Party adjutants." It
was typical of the Fuehrer that up to a certain point he
wanted to see his wishes carried out; but anyway this man
was out of the Navy, and in this case I had been able to
make my convictions felt. Under these circumstances I
declared myself ready to continue in office. That was at the
beginning of 1939; in the course of the spring, however, I
asked again whether I could not be relieved of my position,
since I had served for many years in the Navy and I did not
believe I would be able to maintain the dignity of the
office much longer. I suggested to Hitler that perhaps in
October, 1939, I should leave my post. He refused at the
time, and on the 1st October we were at war, and in time of
war I did not believe that I could leave the Navy under any
circumstances unless it was very urgent, especially since I
considered myself totally responsible for all preparations
and for the training of the Navy. Up to the time when the
war started, the Fuehrer and I had, apart from incidents
such as I have just described, worked together quite
amicably, and I had always been treated

                                                  [Page 172]

with considerable respect. But now this relationship
gradually became strained. The Fuehrer became more nervous
when I made reports, flared up in rage when we disagreed, or
if there had been any incidents, as for instance, a
technical defect in, or poor performance by, a ship. It
happened again and again that his entourage influenced him
before I could actually explain matters to him, and I was
called in subsequently to set him straight on these matters.
In that way unpleasant scenes ensued which wore me out

One point about which the Fuehrer was especially sensitive
was the large ships. He was always uneasy when our large
ships were out on the high seas and were carrying on raids
against shipping. The crippling of a ship, such as the Graf
Spee, or later the Bismarck, he considered a tremendous loss
of prestige, and matters like that therefore excited him
tremendously. That went on until the end of 1942. Then there
came - and this particularly impressed me - my defeat at the
consultation with the Fuehrer on questions dealing with
Norway, France, and, above all, Russia. In the final
analysis he always listened more to the Party people, as for
example, Terboven, than to an old officer. That led to a
situation which could not be tolerated for any length of
time. One of the basic characteristics of the Fuehrer was a
tremendous suspicion toward anyone and every one, but
especially directed against old officers who had come from
the old Wehrmacht and of whom he always assured - although
they always treated him with great respect - that in their
hearts they did not share those feelings which he expected
them to. The case of Russia in particular led me to so many
conflicts with him that our relations were strongly
influenced thereby. Indeed, the man who compiled all these
War Diaries and minutes, Admiral Assmann, said, on one
occasion at the conclusion of such a discussion: "The
Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, therefore, is in complete
opposition to the Fuehrer in this matter."

At the end Of 1942, just after I had had to put an end to
our discussions about Norway, an incident occurred which led
to the final break. There was to have been an attack on a
convoy which was going to Murmansk or Archangel from
England. It was in December, at a time when in these
northern regions there are just one or two hours of light,
and no favourable weather for fighting by large ships, if
they find themselves facing large numbers of destroyers. Our
attacking force had started on its journey and had reached
the convoy while it was still light. But since the daylight
soon disappeared and darkness fell, and since the convoy was
guarded by many destroyers, the admiral considered it
expedient to withdraw the large ships from the battle. That
was the only correct decision, for he might have lost them
all by torpedo attack. This fact and, secondly, the fact
that unfortunately the radio connection between this admiral
and the Naval Operations Staff was made difficult and at
times completely broken off, caused the Fuehrer, when I
reported at his headquarters, and told him all that I knew,
to become extremely excited. The whole day was spent with
questions back and forth, and even in the evening I could
not give him a clear picture. This excited him extremely.
Through Admiral Kranke he had all sorts of insults
transmitted to me and demanded that I report to him
immediately, and I could see that very strong friction would
result. I arranged it so that I did not need to report to
him until six days later, on 6th January, in order that the
atmosphere could first cool off a little. By that date I was
able to give him a complete report; and in the evening, at a
discussion at which Field Marshal Keitel was also present,
he made a speech of about an hour's duration in which he
made derogatory remarks about everything that the Navy had
done so far, in direct contrast to all that he had said
about that service before. From this I saw that he was
anxious to bring about a break.

I personally was firmly prepared to seize this opportunity
to resign, especially as it became even clearer that the war
was becoming purely a U-boat war, and I therefore felt that
I could leave at this moment with a clean conscience.

After the Fuehrer concluded his speech, I asked to be
permitted to speak with him alone. Field Marshal Keitel and
the stenographers left and I told him that I was asking for
my resignation as I could see from his words that he was
entirely dis-

                                                  [Page 173]

satisfied with me and, therefore, this was the proper moment
for me to leave. As always, he tried at first to dissuade
me, but I remained adamant and told him that a new Commander-
in-Chief of the Navy would definitely have to be appointed,
who would have complete responsibility. He said that it
would be a great burden for him if I were to leave now,
since for one thing, the situation was very critical -
Stalingrad was impending - and secondly, since he had
already been accused of dismissing so many generals. In the
eyes of the outside world it would incriminate him if I were
to leave at this point. I told him that I would do
everything I could to prevent that happening. If he wanted
to give the appearance, as far as the out-side world was
concerned, that I had not resigned because of a clash, then
he could make me a general inspector with some sort of
nominal title, which would create the impression that I was
still with the Navy and that my name was still connected
with it. This appealed to him at once, and I told him on
that day that I wanted to be dismissed on 30th January, by
which date I should have concluded ten years of service as
Commander-in-Chief of the Navy under him. He agreed to this
proposal and asked me to suggest two successors so that he
could make a choice.

On 30th January he then personally dismissed me by
appointing me Admiral Inspector of the Navy. He said that he
would still on occasion ask me for advice; but that never
happened. I was merely sent out twice, once to Bulgaria when
the King of Bulgaria was buried, and once to Hungary, to
(Regent) Horthy to bring him a gift from the Fuehrer.

Q. You performed no other tasks as Admiral Inspector?

A. I had no functions and received no orders.

Q. Then my last question: Did you have the impression, on
the occasion of your conversation of 6th January, 1943, with
Hitler, that he, in a way, was glad to get rid of you in
view of the many differences of opinion and the fact, that
you contradicted him frequently on technical, naval and
political matters concerning Norway, France, Russia?

A. I do believe that he wanted to get rid of me at this
time, for I was, in a certain way, an inconvenience to him.
This one case, which I described, where I had my way in the
end, he had never forgotten.

Q. Thank you very much.

DR. SIEMERS: This concludes my examination of Admiral of the
Fleet Raeder.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will sit today until half past
one. It will adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

(The defendant Raeder resumed the witness-stand.)

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel want to ask

BY DR. KRANZBUHLER: (Counsel for the defendant Karl Donitz):

Q. Admiral, you recall the memorandum of the Naval
Operations Staff of 15th October, concerning possibilities
for an intensification of the economic war. That is in
Document Book 10 of the British Delegation, on Pages 96 and
97 of the English text. Admiral Wagner has already testified
about it here. Can you add anything to that statement
concerning the purpose and the meaning of that memorandum?

A. Since the war against England came as a complete surprise
to us, we had up until then dealt very little with detailed
questions of submarine warfare. Among other things we had
not yet discussed the question of so-called unrestricted
submarine warfare, which had played such a very important
part in the previous war. That was why, on the 3rd
September, that officer who was recently mentioned here was
sent to the Foreign Office with some points for discussion
on the question of I unrestricted submarine warfare, so that
we could determine just how far we could go. That is the
document which recently played a role here, D-851, Exhibit
GB-451, of 3rd November.

Q. 3rd September, you mean.

                                                  [Page 174]

A. Yes, 3rd September.

This touches upon all these questions. Then discussions with
the Foreign Office took place and this U-boat memorandum,
which was mentioned by you, was worked out in the High
Command of the Navy on the basis of these discussions, and
released on 15th October. I believe that on 15th October I
presented it to the Fuehrer who, in principle, agreed to the
contents. But the very fact that a memorandum about
submarine warfare concerning possibilities for an
intensification of submarine warfare was issued only on 15th
October, shows how little we were prepared for that

That memorandum contains, near the beginning, the sentence
which has been quoted by the prosecution concerning our
position with respect to International Law, where reference
is made to highest ethics of warfare, adherence to
International Law and the basing of all military measures on
existing rules of war wherever possible. But when this is
not possible or when by deviation it is possible to achieve
decisive military results, and one can take the
responsibility for this deviation, then in case of necessity
one must depart from existing International Law. That means
that a new International Law may have to be developed.

However, this entire memorandum represents merely a constant
search for possibilities for conducting submarine warfare
with the least damage to neutrals, and the greatest possible
adherence to International Law, and in such a way that it
would become a decisive factor in the outcome of the war.

Various cases were discussed as to how an intensification
could be introduced, but it always was a question of finding
counter-measures against the enemy. Such possibilities as a
blockade or the new concept, siege of England by submarine
warfare, were examined in detail; but the conclusion was as
always that, in view of the small number of submarines and
other conditions, it was not yet possible to conduct such

The final result of that entire memorandum, as set down in
that document, can be found in the two last pages.
Unfortunately, I have only the German copy in front of me,
where, under the last paragraph D, the final conclusions at
which we arrived deserve notice -

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