The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/02/26

Q. And didn't you know quite well also that Speer was
getting his man-power from foreign labour brought into the

A. I knew, of course, that there were foreign workers in
Germany. It's just as self-evident that as Commander-in-
Chief of the Navy, I was not concerned as to how these
workers were recruited. That was none of my business.

Q. Didn't Gauleiter Sauckel tell you on the occasion of this
trip that he had got 5,000,000 foreign workers into the
Reich, of whom only 200,000 had come voluntarily?

A. I did not have a single conversation with Gauleiter
Sauckel. I have never had a discussion with anyone about
questions referring to workers.

Q. Now, defendant, you were head of a service department in
the fifth and sixth years of the war. Wasn't Germany, like
every other country, searching around to scrape the bottom
of the barrel for labour for all its requirements? Weren't
you in urgent need of labour, like every other country in
the war?

A. I think that we needed workers.

Q. Are you telling the Tribunal that you did not know after
these conferences with Hitler and with Speer that you were
getting this labour by forcing foreign workers to come into
the Reich and be used?

A. During my conferences with Hitler and Speer, the system
of obtaining these workers was never mentioned. The methods
did not interest me at all. During these conferences the
labour question was never discussed. I was interested merely
in how many submarines I received, that is, how large my
allotment was to be in terms of ships built.

Q. You tell the Tribunal you discussed that with Speer and
he never told you where he was getting his labour? Is that
your answer on this point?

A. Yes, that is my answer, and it is true.

Q. Do you remember; just before we pass from the industrial
side of it, that at certain meetings the representatives for
coal and transport and Gauleiter Kaufmann, the
Reichskommissar for Shipping, were present at meetings which
you had with the Fuehrer?

A. No.

Q. You may take it from me that they are listed as being
present at these meetings. Were you dealing with general
problems of shipping and transport?

                                                  [Page 259]

A. Never. As far as sea transport is concerned - that is
true. I was thinking of things on land. I thought you meant
on land. I have already stated that at the end of the war I
was keenly interested in the tonnage of merchant vessels
because this tonnage, which I needed in order to carry out
military transports from Norway and from the East and to the
East and for refugee transports, was not under my
jurisdiction but under that of Gauleiter Kaufmann, the
Reichskommissar for shipping. So at meetings and discussions
which dealt with the sea transport situation I was of course

Q. Let us take another subject of these 119 days. On 39 of
these days, the defendant Keitel was also present at the
headquarters, and on about the same number, the defendant

A. I am sorry, I did not understand the date.

Q. I will put it again. At 39 of these meetings between
January, 1943 and April, 1945 the defendant Keitel was
present, and at about the same number, the defendant Jodl.
Now, is it right that you discussed or listened to the
discussion in their presence of the general strategical

A. I might say that the word "meeting" doesn't quite
describe the matter. It was rather, as I -

Q. Well now, you choose the word; you give us the word.

A. It was, as I described it, a large-scale discussion of
the military situation, and at this discussion I heard also,
of course, reports about the army situation. That I
explained before.

Q. I just want to get it quite clear that over these two
years you had every opportunity of understanding and
appreciating the military strategical position; that is so,
isn't it?

A. Yes.

Q. Well now, on twenty of these occasions the defendant
Goering was present. This defendant has put himself forward
in two capacities; as Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe
and as a politician. What was he doing on these twenty

A. Reichsmarschall Goering was there as Commander-in-Chief
of the Air Force when the military situation was discussed.

Q. And so from the defendant Goering you would have a full
knowledge and appreciation of the air situation and the
position of the Luftwaffe during this period?

A. During my occasional presence at these discussions, in
which only segments were dealt with - an overall picture was
never given at such a discussion - naturally I could only
form a very incomplete opinion. That was the reason why I
have never made statements about military matters outside
the Navy.

Q. Let me ask you just one further question on this point.
Following up what Dr. Laternser asked, on 29th June, 1944,
apart from Keitel and Jodl and Goering, Marshal von
Rundstedt and Marshal Rommel were also present; and may I
remind you that that was three weeks after the Allies had
invaded in the West. You were being given the opportunity,
were you not, of getting the appreciation of the strategical
position after the allied invasion of Normandy, isn't that

A. Yes, from that I gained an impression of the situation in
Normandy after the enemy had set foot there. I was in a
position to report to the Fuehrer which of my new small
attacking weapons I could put to use in that sector.

Q. Now, let us change to another aspect of the government in

On a number of occasions the Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler was
present at these conferences - shall I call them - isn't
that so?

A. Yes. If the Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler was there, and as
far as I remember that happened once or twice, it was
because of his Waffen SS.

                                                  [Page 260]

Q. You may take it from me that he is shown as being there
on at least seven occasions, and that Fegelein, who was his
representative at the Fuehrer's headquarters, is shown as
being present on five occasions. What did Himmler discuss
about the Waffen SS? Was it the doings of the Totenkopf

A. That can't be right. Fegelein was always present during
the discussions of the military situation, he never missed,
because he was a permanent representative. If the
Reichsfuehrer was present during these discussions, he
reported only on the Waffen SS, those divisions of the
Waffen SS which were being used somewhere under the army. I
don't know the names of these individual divisions. I don't
think they included the Totenkopf (Death Head), I never
heard it did there was a Viking or -

Q. That was because they were being largely occupied in
concentration camps, and you say that Himmler never
mentioned that?

A. That Totenkopf divisions were used in concentration camps
I learned here in Nuremberg. It wasn't mentioned there. I
have already said that during the military discussions only
military matters were discussed.

Q. Now, the defendant Kaltenbrunner is reported as being
present only once, on 26th February, 1945, when there was
quite a considerable gathering of SS notabilities. What were
you discussing with him then?

A. It is not correct that Kaltenbrunner was there only once.
As far as I remember, he was there two, three, or four
times. At any rate, during the last months of the war, I saw
him two, three or four times. Kaltenbrunner never said a
word there; as far as I remember, he just listened and stood

Q. What I want you to tell the Tribunal is: What was the
subject of conversation when you had not only the defendant
Kaltenbrunner there, but you had the SS Obergruppenfuehrer
Steiner, your own captain in attendance, and Lieutenant-
General Winter. What were these gentlemen there for, and
what were you hearing from them?

A. Who is the captain and who is the general?

Q. Captain von Assmann; I took it he was the captain in
attendance on you, though I may have been wrong - Captain
Serge von Assmann. Then there was Lieutenant-General Winter,
SS Obergruppenfuehrer Steiner, and SS Obergruppenfuehrer

What were you discussing on 26th February, 1945?

A. I must mention one fact in this connection: Captain
Assmann was present at every discussion of the general

Q. just a moment. You can tell us something afterwards, but
first of all listen to my question. What were you discussing
with these people from the SS on the 26th of February, 1945?

A. I can't remember that now. I do remember, however, that
Steiner received an order in regard to the Army Groups in
Pomerania which were to make the push from the North to the
South in order to relieve Berlin. I think that when Steiner
was present perhaps this question, which didn't concern me,
was discussed.

Q. Now I just want you to concentrate, before I leave this
point. You have agreed with me that at a number of meetings,
a large number, there were present Keitel and Jodl, at not
quite so many Goering, who would give you the army and air
situation in Germany; there was present the defendant Speer,
who would give you the production position, there was
present Himmler, or his representative Fegelein, who would
give you the security position; and you yourself were
present, who would give the naval position. At all meetings
there was present the Fuehrer, who would make the decisions.

I put it to you, defendant, that you were taking as full a
part in the government of Germany during these years as
anyone, apart from Adolf Hitler himself.

A. In my opinion that description is not correct. At these
discussions of the general situation neither Speer nor
anybody else supplied a complete survey of the work being
done. On the contrary, only acute questions of the day were

                                                  [Page 261]

discussed. As I have said, the happenings of the last 24
hours were discussed, and what should be done. That there
was a staff there which in its reports gave an overall
picture - that was quite out of the question. It was not at
all like that. The only one who had a complete picture of
the situation was the Fuehrer.

At these discussions of the military situation the
developments of the last 24 hours and the measures to be
taken were discussed. Those are the facts.

Therefore, one cannot say that any one of the participants
had an overall picture. Rather every one had a clear view of
his own department for which he was responsible. An overall
picture in the mind of any of the participants is out of the
question. Only the Fuehrer had that.

Q. Well, I won't argue with you, but I suppose, defendant,
that you will say - as we have heard from so many other
defendants - that you knew nothing about the slave labour
programme, you knew nothing about the extermination of the
Jews, and you knew nothing about any of the bad conditions
in concentration camps. I suppose you are going to tell us
you knew nothing about them at all, are you?

A. That is self-evident, since we have heard here how all
these things were kept secret, and if one bears in mind the
fact that everyone in this war was pursuing his own tasks
with the maximum of energy, then it is no wonder at all. To
give an example, I learned of the conditions in
concentration camps -

Q. I just want your answer for the moment, and you have
given it to me. I want you to come to a point which was well
within your own knowledge, and that is the order for the
shooting of commandos, which was issued by the Fuehrer on
18th October, 1942. You have told us that you got it when
you were Flag Officer, U-boats. Now, do you remember the
document by which the Naval War Command distributed it? Do
you remember that it said this:

  "This order must not be distributed in writing by
  Flotilla Leaders, Section Commanders or officers of this
  " After verbal notification to subordinate sections the
  above officers must hand this order over to the next
  higher section, which is responsible for its withdrawal
  and destruction."

Do you remember that?

A. Yes, I read that again when I saw the order here. But on
the other side it says also that this measure had already
been announced in the Wehrmacht order.

Q. What I want to know from you is: Why was there this
tremendous secrecy about this order in the naval

A. I did not understand that question. I don't know whether
tremendous secrecy was being observed at all. I am of the
opinion that in 1942 all naval offices had been informed
about it.

Q. This is on the 28th of October, ten days after the order
was issued. I am not going to quarrel with you about
adjectives, defendant. Let me put it this way: Why did the
naval distribution require that degree of secrecy?

A. I don't know. I did not make up the distribution chart.
As an officer at the front I received this order at that
time. I do not know.

Q. Within three months you were Commander-in- Chief of the
Navy. Did you never make any inquiries then?

A. I beg your pardon?

Q. Did you never make any inquiries?

A. No, I did not. I have told you that I saw this order as
Commander of U-boats, and that as far as my field of
activities was concerned this order did not concern me in
the least, and, secondly, that those men, captured during
naval engagements, were expressly excepted; so, as far as
that goes, this order at that time had no actual, no real

In view of the enormous number of things that I had to deal
with when I became Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, it was
quite natural that it did not occur to me to take up the
question of this new order. I didn't think of the order at

                                                  [Page 262]

Q. I am going to put to you when the time comes a memorandum
from the Naval Staff showing that it was put before you.
Don't you remember that?

A. If you are referring to the memorandum which is in my
trial brief, then I can say only that this memorandum was
not submitted to me.

Q. What I want to ask you before the Tribunal adjourns is:
Did you approve of this order or did you not?

A. I have already told you, as I -

Q. No, you have not. I want you to tell the Tribunal now,
and you can answer it either "I approved" or "I did not
approve." Did you or did you not approve this order to your

A. Today I do not approve of that order since I have learned
here that the basis was not so sound -

Q. Did you agree with it when you were Commander-in-Chief of
the German Navy at the beginning of 1943? Did you approve of
it then?

A. As Commander-in-Chief of the Navy I was not concerned
with this order. While I was Commander of U-boats, as I have
already explained to you, I considered it simply a reprisal
order. It was not up to me to start an investigation or to
take, it up with the office which had issued the order to
find out whether the basis was correct or not. It was not up
to me to start an investigation on the basis of
International Law. It was quite clear in point (1) of the
order that we had not placed any opponent of ours outside
the bounds of the Geneva Convention, because they were
murdering prisoners, and that therefore we had to do certain
things as reprisals. Whether these reprisal measures were
necessary or whether they were fully justified by the
conditions in (1) that is something I did not and could not

Q. This is the last question. I want you to try and answer
it with a straight answer if you can. At the beginning of
1943 did you or did you not approve of this order?

A. I cannot give you an answer, because at the beginning of
1943 I did not think of the order and was not concerned with
it. Therefore I cannot say how that order affected me at
that particular time. I can tell you only how it affected me
when I read it as Commander of Submarines; and I can also
tell you that today I reject this order, now that I have
learned that the basis on which it was issued was not so
sound. And thirdly, I can tell you that I personally
rejected any kind of reprisals in naval warfare - every
kind, in every case, and whatever the proposal.

Q. I will ask you some more questions about it tomorrow, as
the time has come to break off.

(The Tribunal adjourned until May 10, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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