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Q. The prosecution has offered a document in evidence,
according to which in certain ocean areas, attack without
warning against neutrals was authorized, beginning January,
1940. I am referring to Exhibit GB 194. I will read to you
the sentence which the prosecution is holding against you.

THE PRESIDENT: Can you tell us where it is?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: It is in the British document book, Page
30, Mr. President.


Q. I will read you the sentence which is held against you:

  "In the Bristol Channel, attack without warning has been
  authorized against all ships, where it is possible to
  claim that mine hits have taken place."

This order is dated 1st January, 1940. Can you tell me
whether at that time neutrals already actually had been
warned against using this shipping lane.

A. Yes. Germany had sent a note to the neutrals on 24th
November, 1939, and warned them against using these lanes,
and had advised them to follow the example of the United
States whereby American ships - in order to avoid any
incidents - had been forbidden to enter the waters around

                                                  [Page 218]

Q. I will hand you the note of which you speak, and I will
at the same time submit it to the Tribunal as Exhibit Donitz
73, to be found on Page 206 of the document book. It is in
Document Book 4, Page 206.

This is an excerpt from the War Diary of the Naval War
Staff, dated 24th November, 1939. It has the following text:

  "To the missions, according to enclosed list.
  "Telegram. Supplement to wire release of 22nd October.
  "Please inform the government there of the following:
  "Since the warning issued on (date to be inserted here)
  regarding the use of English and French ships, the
  following two new facts are to be recorded:
     (a) The United States has forbidden its ships to sail
     in an exactly defined area.
     (b) Numerous enemy merchant ships have been armed. It
     is known that these armed ships have instructions to
     use their weapons aggressively and to ram U-boats.
  These two new facts give the Reich Cabinet occasion to
  renew and emphasize its warning, that in view of the
  increasingly frequent engagements, waged with all means
  of modern war technique, in waters around the British
  Isles and in the vicinity of the French coast, the safety
  of neutral ships in this area can no longer be taken for
  granted. Therefore the Reich Cabinet urgently recommends
  the choice of the route south and east of the German-
  proclaimed danger zone, when crossing the North Sea.
  "In order to maintain peaceful shipping for neutral
  States and to avoid losses of life and property for the
  neutrals, the Reich Cabinet furthermore feels obliged to
  recommend urgently legislative measures following the
  pattern of the US Government, which in apprehension of
  the dangers of modern warfare, forbade its ships to sail
  in an exactly defined area, in which, according to the
  words of the President of the United States, the traffic
  of American ships might be endangered by belligerent
  "The Reich Cabinet must point out that it rejects any
  responsibility for consequences brought about by
  disregarding the above recommendations and warnings."

This is the note to which you referred, Grand Admiral?

A. Yes.

Q. In other words, in your opinion, these sinkings in the
Bristol Channel could be carried out lawfully as from 1st

A. Yes; these ocean areas were clearly limited areas in
which hostilities took place continuously on both sides. The
neutrals had been warned expressly against using these
areas, and if they entered them they had to run the risk of
being damaged. England followed the same procedure in its
operational areas in our waters.

Q. Since you considered these sinkings legal, why was the
order given to attack without being sighted, if possible, in
order to maintain the fiction that mine hits had taken
place. Doesn't that indicate a bad conscience?

A. No. During a war there is no basic obligation to inform
the enemy with what means one does one's fighting. In other
words, this is not a question of legality, but a question of
military or political expediency.

England in her operational areas did not inform us either as
to the means of fighting she used; and I know how many
headaches this caused me when I was Supreme Commander of the
Navy, later, in my attempts to employ economically the small
means we had.

That is the principle. At that time, when as Commander-in-
Chief of the U-boat fleet I received this order to simulate
mine hits where possible, I considered this as militarily
expedient, because the counter-intelligence branch had been
in doubt as to whether mine sweepers or U-boat defence means
were to be employed.

                                                  [Page 219]

In other words, it was a military advantage for the nation
conducting the war, and today I am of the opinion that
political reasons also may have influenced this decision,
with the object of avoiding complications with neutral

Q. How could complications with neutral countries arise, in
your opinion, if this naval warfare measure was a legal one?

A. During the first World War we had experienced what part
is played by propaganda. Therefore I think it possible that
our Government, our political leaders, for this reason, too,
may have issued this order.

Q. From your own experiences you know nothing about these
political reasons?

A. Nothing at all.

Q. Up to now you have spoken about the orders which were
received by the U-boats, firstly for combating enemy ships,
and secondly for combating or searching neutral ships. Were
these orders then actually executed? That was primarily your
responsibility, was it not?

A. No U-boat commander purposely transgressed an order, or
failed to execute it. Of course, considering the large
number of naval actions, which ran into several thousands
within the five and a half years of war, a very few
individual cases occurred in which, by mistake, an order was
not followed.

Q. How could such a mistake occur?

A. Every sailor knows how easily mistakes in identification
can occur at sea not only during a war, but also in peace
time, due to poor visibility, bad weather conditions, and
other factors.

Q. Is it also possible that submarines fired torpedoes on
the borders of the operational areas, although they were
already outside these borders?

A. That is, of course, also possible. For again every sailor
knows that after a few days of bad weather, for instance,
inaccuracy in the ship's course occurs very easily. This
occurs, however, not only in the case of the submarine, but
also of the ship, which perhaps is under the impression of
having been outside the operational area when torpedoed. It
is very difficult to establish the facts in such cases.

Q. What steps did you, as Supreme Commander of the U-boats,
take when you heard of such a case, a case in which a U-boat
had transgressed its orders, even if by mistake?

A. The main thing was the preventive measures, and that was
done through training the U-boat Commanders to be thorough,
and to investigate quietly and carefully before taking
action. Moreover, this training had already been carried on,
even in peacetime, so that our U-boat organization bore the
motto: "We are a respectable firm."

The second measure was that during the war every commander,
before leaving port, and every commander after returning
from his mission, had to report to me personally. Before
leaving port he had to be briefed by me.

Q. I beg your pardon, Grand Admiral. That did not continue
when you were Supreme Commander, did it?

A. That was limited after 1943, after I had become Supreme
Commander. Even then it did continue. In any case, it was
the definite rule during my time as Supreme Commander of U-
boats, so that a commander's mission was considered
completed and satisfactory only after he had reported to me
in full detail. If, on such an occasion, I could establish
negligence, then I made my decision according to the nature
of the case, as to whether disciplinary action or court
martial proceedings and punishment had to take place.

Q. I have found here in a document of the prosecution, an
entry, submitted as Exhibit GB 198, on Page 230, in Document
Book 4, which I would like to read to you. This is a War
Diary of the Supreme Commander of U-boats, that is,

                                                  [Page 220]

I read the entry of 25th September, 1942:-

  "U-512 reports that the Monte Corbea was recognized as a
  neutral ship before being torpedoed. Assumed suspicions
  of being a camouflaged English ship are insufficient and
  do not justify the sinking. The Commander will have to
  stand court martial for his conduct. All boats at sea
  will be informed."

Two days later, on 27th September, 1942, a radio signal was
sent to all. I read:

  "Radio signal to all:
  "The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy has personally and
  expressly ordered anew that all U-boat commanders are to
  comply exactly with the orders concerning the treatment
  of neutral ships. Violations of these orders will have
  incalculable political consequences. This order is to be
  relayed at once to all commanders."

Will you please tell me what resulted from the court martial
which you ordered here?

A. I had sent my radio signal to the commander stating that
after his return he would have to be answerable before a
court martial, because of the sinking. The commander did not
return from this mission with his boat. Therefore this court
martial did not take place.

Q. Did you, in any other case, have experience as to how the
courts martial treated the difficult tasks of the U-boat
commanders when you had ordered a court martial?

A . Yes. I remember a case against Lieutenant Kramer, who
had to be acquitted by the court martial because it was
proven that, before the attack, before firing the shot, he
had twice noted, by periscope, the ship's identification -
it was a blockade-runner - and, in spite of that, wag of the
opinion that it was a different ship, an enemy ship, and
that he was justified in sinking it. In other words, it was
not a case of negligence, and therefore in this case he was

Q. Taking into consideration all the results of your
measures for training and punishing personnel, have you the
impression that enough was done to make the U-boat
commanders obey your orders, or did the U-boat commanders in
the long run cease to do so?

A. I do not think it is necessary to discuss this question
at all. The simple facts speak for themselves. During the
five and a half years, several thousand naval actions were
engaged in by submarines. The number of incidents is an
extremely small fraction and I know that this result is only
due to the unified leadership of all submarine commanders,
and also to their proper training and their sense of

Q. The prosecution has offered a document -

THE PRESIDENT: If the defendant is speaking so slowly
because of the interpreter, I think he can go a little bit


Q. Grand Admiral, you understand that you can speak faster?
The prosecution has offered a document - Exhibit GB 195 - on
Page 32 of the prosecution's document book. In this document
is entered an order of the Fuehrer, dated 18th July, 1941,
and it reads as follows:-

  "In the original operational area, which corresponds in
  extent with the USA prohibited zone for USA ships and
  which is not touched by the USA-Iceland route, attacks on
  ships under American or British escort or USA merchantmen
  sailing without escort are authorized."

In connection with this order by the Fuehrer the
prosecution, Grand Admiral, termed your attitude cynical and

Will you please explain to the Tribunal what the meaning of
this order actually is?

                                                  [Page 221]

A. In August, 1940, Germany had declared this operational
area in English waters, USA ships were, however, expressly
excluded from attack without warning in this operational
area because, as I believe, the political leaders wanted to
avoid any possibility of an incident with the USA. I said
the political leaders. The prosecution has accused me, in my
treatment and attitude, my differing attitude towards the
neutrals, of having a masterful agility in adapting myself,
an agility guided by cynicism and opportunism. It is clear
that the attitude of a State towards neutrals is a purely
political affair, and that this relation is decided
exclusively by the political leadership, particularly in a
nation that is at war.

Q. You mean to say, in other words, that you had nothing to
do with the handling of this question.

A. As an officer I had not the slightest influence on the
question of how the political leadership believed they had
to treat this or that neutral. Regarding this particular
case, however, from knowledge of the orders I received
through the Chief of the Naval War Staff from the political
leadership, I should like to say the following:-

I believe that the political leader did everything to avoid
any incident on the high seas with the United States.

Firstly, I have already stated that the U-boats were
actually forbidden even to stop American ships.

Secondly -

Q. One moment, Grand Admiral. To stop them where, in the
operational area or outside the operational area?

A. At first, everywhere.

Secondly, that the American three-hundred-mile safety zone
was recognized without any question by Germany, although
according to the existing International Law only a three-
mile zone was authorized.

Thirdly that -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, an interesting distinction
which may be drawn between the United States and other
neutrals is not relevant to this trial, is it? What
difference does it make?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: In connection with the document submitted
by me, Exhibit GB 195, the prosecution has made the
accusation that Admiral Donitz conducted his U-boat warfare
cynically and opportunistically; that is, in that he treated
one neutral well and another one badly. This accusation has
been made expressly, and I want to give Admiral Donitz the
opportunity to make a statement in reply to it. He has
already said that he had nothing to do with the handling of
this question.

THE PRESIDENT: What more can he say than that?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, according to the principles
of the Statute, a soldier is also made responsible for the
orders which he executed. For this reason it is my opinion
that he must be able to state whether on his side he had the
impression that he received cynical and opportunistic orders
or whether on the contrary he had the impression that
everything was done to avoid a conflict, and that the orders
which were given actually were necessary and right.

THE PRESIDENT: You have dealt with this order about the
United States ships, now.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes, I have almost finished.

BY DR. KRANZBUHLER: Did you want to say something more about
the third point, Grand Admiral?

A. I wanted to mention two or three more points on this

Q. I think that is possible.

(The Tribunal conferred.)

                                                  [Page 222]

THE PRESIDENT: You may go on, but we hope that you will deal
with this point shortly. It appears to the Tribunal to be
very unimportant.


THE WITNESS: For instance, I had suggested that mines be
laid before Halifax, the British port of Nova Scotia, and
before Reykjavik, both bases being important for war ships
and merchant shipping. The political leaders, the Fuehrer,
rejected this because he wanted to avoid every possibility
of friction with the United States.


Q. May I formulate the question this way, that you, from the
orders for the treatment of US ships, in no way had the
impression that opportunism or cynicism prevailed here, but
that everything was done with the greatest restraint in
order to avoid a conflict with the United States?

A. Yes. This went so far, in fact, that when the American
destroyers in the summer of 1941 received orders to attack
German submarines, that is, before war started, when they
were still neutral and I was forbidden to fight back, I was
then forced to forbid the submarines in this area to attack
even British destroyers, in order to avoid having a
submarine mistake an American for a British ship.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 9 May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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