The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. But if you say that that only applied when it was a
question of attacking ships in convoy, would you look at
Page 26 of the English Document Book, and at Page 57 of the
German Document Book? There you will find the account of the
sinking of the Sheaf Mead on 27th May, 1940. And if you will
look at the U-boat's log, opposite the time group 1648 hours
- which is on Page 27 of the English and page 57 of the
German - this is what the log says:-

  "A large heap of wreckage floats up. We approach it to
  identify the name. The crew have saved themselves on
  wreckage and capsized boats. We fish out a buoy; no name
  on it. I ask a man on the raft. He says, hardly turning
  his head, 'Nix, nein.' A young boy in the water calls,
  'Help, help, please.' The others are very composed," and
  so on. "They look damp and somewhat

                                                  [Page 289]

  tired, and, naturally, they have a look of cold hatred on
  their faces. Then on to the old course."

If you turn to Page 57 of the German Document Book, or Page
28 of the English, you will find that the last sentence from
the survivor's report describes the submarine as doing this:

  "They cruised around for half an hour, taking photographs
  of us in the water. Otherwise they just watched us but
  said nothing. Then she submerged and went off without
  offering us any assistance whatever."

There you see the point, defendant, that your own commander
says that there was a young boy in the water calling " Help,
help, please," and your submarine take a few photographs,
submerges, and then goes off.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, ought you to refer to the passage
just after the name of the vessel, under 1648, "It is not

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: "It is not clear whether she was
sailing as a normal merchant ship. The following seemed to
point to the contrary." And then, my Lord, it gives a number
of matters. Of course, my Lord, I am on the point of
survivors at the moment. I am taking this instance as a
matter of wrongful sinking; I am taking it as an instance of
carrying out this order.

I am very much obliged to your Lordship, but that is why I
didn't do it.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)


Q. Defendant, you have now had opportunity of looking at the
log of U-37.

Was it not your practice in May, 1940, to see personally the
logs of all U-boats when they arrived?

A. The commanders of submarines always had to report
verbally to me every time. The logs, which arrived or were
finished several weeks later or some time after the entries
were made, since they had to be written in the port, were
only submitted to me by my Chief of Staff if they contained
something special in addition to the verbal report.

Q. Did you remember seeing the log of U-37 that was involved
in this incident?

A. No.

Q. Do you now observe that the Sheaf Mead was not sailing in

A. Yes. I know that. And I know that it was an armed ship
and that, according to the orders which the commandant had,
he was justified in sinking it as an armed ship. It also
appears from his log that he could not decide on firing the
torpedo until he had ascertained that the ship was armed.
That is very clearly expressed here.

Q. May I please explain to his Lordship that I am not on the
question of sinking. I am on the question of survivors. Did
you take any action with the U-boat commander,
Kapitanleutnant Ernst for not having assisted in the rescue
of survivors?

A. No. But I did tell him that if he was on the spot where
this rescue went on he should have also helped.

Q. Was he not simply carrying out your Order 154 of November
or December, 1939?

A. No, he was not.

Q. Well, now -

A. I have already stated to which waters it applied, and
that it only applied to ships which were protected.

Q. Well, now, would you look at Page 34 in the English
Document Book, Page 69 in the German Document Book. That is
the report of the conversation between Hitler and Oshima,
and you say that you were told nothing about it.

                                                  [Page 290]

Now, I want you just to follow about half-way down, half-way
through the extract, where it says:

  "After having given further explanations on the map, the
  Fuehrer pointed out that, however many ships the United
  States built, one of their main problems would be on the
  lack of personnel. For that reason, even merchant ships
  would be sunk without warning, with the intention of
  killing as many of the crew as possible. Once it gets
  around that most of the seamen are lost in the sinkings,
  the Americans would soon have difficulties in enlisting
  new people. The training of sea-going personnel takes a
  long time."

Now, did you agree with that argument of Hitler that once it
gets around that most of the seamen are lost in the
sinkings, the American would soon have difficulties in
enlisting new people? Did you think that that was a sound
argument on the question of sea warfare against the United

A. I have already given my answer to that question in
writing to the Foreign Office, and I clearly stated my
opinion, which was that I did not believe that it would take
a long time to train seamen, and that America would have no
lack of personnel. Consequently also, I would not be of the
opinion that this would serve as a deterrent.

Q. So you did not agree with the Fuehrer's reasoning on that

A. No, I did not agree with the last part, namely, that
there would be a shortage of seamen.

Q. No, it is the first point that I want your opinion on
expressly, once it gets around that most of the seamen are
lost in the sinkings, the Americans would soon have
difficulties in enlisting new crews. That is, I suggest to
you that the new crews would be scared off by the news of
the sinking and killing of crews. Did you agree that that
was a sound argument. That is what I want your view on.

A. That was his personal point of view. Whether they would
be scared off or not is an American matter which I cannot

Q. Would you look at your own Document Book, Volume 1, Page
29 in the English version, which is your report to the
Fuehrer on the 14th of May, 1942. Do you see the last
sentence where you are advocating a range pistol? You say:

  "A range pistol will also have the great advantage that
  the crew will not be able to rescue themselves on account
  of the quick sinking of the torpedoed ship. This greater
  loss of crews will no doubt cause difficulties for the
  assignment of crews for the great American construction

A. It is perfectly clear, it is correct. If I have not got
the old crews any more, I have to have new ones. It makes it
more difficult. It says nothing about scaring off there, but
the positive fact is stated that new crews have to be

Q. So, are we to take it that if the old crews were sunk
under conditions where they would probably lose their lives,
you did not think that would have any frightening or
terrorising effect on the getting of new crews?

A. That is a matter of opinion, it depends on the courage,
the bravery of the people. The American Minister Knox, said
that if - in 1941 - the sinkings of German U-boats were not
published, he expected it would have a deterrent effect on
my U-boats. That was his opinion. I can only say that the
silent disappearance through American action had no scaring-
off effect on my U-boats. It is a matter of morale.

Q. Well, on the 14th of May, the Fuehrer was pressing you to
take action against the crews after the vessels were sunk.
Is that not so?

A. Yes. He asked whether we couldn't take action against the
crew, and I have already said, after I heard of the Oshima
discussion here, that I believe this question to Grand
Admiral Raeder and myself was the result of that Oshima
discussion. My answer to that of course is known, it was

                                                  [Page 291]

Q. Your answer was "no," it would be far better to have a
range pistol and kill them while they were still on the
boat. That was your answer, was it not?

A. No. My answer was: "Taking action against shipwrecked
personnel is out of the question, but it is taken for
granted that in a fight, one must use the best possible
weapon. Every nation does that.

Q. Yes, but the object of your weapon, as quite clearly set
out, was that the crew would not be able to rescue
themselves on account of the quick sinking of the ship. That
is why you wanted to use the range pistol.

A. Yes. And also of course, because we considered the crews
of the steamers as combatants, since they were fighting with

Q. Well, I am not going back to deal with that point again,
but that was in your mind. Now, the Fuehrer raised this
point again on the 5th of September, 1942, as is shown in
your Document Book, Volume 2, Page 81.

A. I have not got it. Where is it?

Q. It begins with the discussion in the OKW on 5th
September, 1942. It is Exhibit 39, Page 81, and it is in the
English Document Book, Volume 2.

A. Yes, I have it now.

Q. It arises out of an incident of the sinking of the mine-
layer Ulm, and there is a question of whether British
destroyers had fired with machine-guns on soldiers in
lifeboats, and the Fuehrer gave orders to the naval command
to issue an order according to which "our warships would use
reprisals," and if you look a little lower down, you will
see that the matter had been investigated by your operations
staff, and it is stated:-

  "It could not be proved beyond a doubt that the fire had
  been aimed at the crew boarding the lifeboats. The enemy
  fire was evidently aimed at the ship itself."

Then you discuss the question of applying reprisals, at the
foot of that page, and you say:-

  "It is the opinion of the Naval War Command that before
  issuing reprisal orders, one should take into
  consideration whether such measures, if applied by the
  enemy against us, would not in the end be more harmful to
  us than to the enemy. Even now our boats are able only in
  a few cases to rescue ship-wrecked enemy crews by towing
  the lifeboats, etc., whereas the crews of sunken German U-
  boats and merchant vessels have so far, as a rule, been
  picked up by the enemy. The situation would therefore not
  change in our favour, if we were to order as a measure of
  reprisal that, not only should shipwrecked enemy crews
  not be secured, but they should be fired on.
  "It is significant in this respect that it could not be
  proved that, in the cases on record, where the enemy used
  arms against shipwrecked Germans, such action was the
  result of, or was covered by, an order of an official
  British office. We should therefore bear in mind the fact
  that knowledge of such a German order would be used by
  enemy propaganda in such a manner that its consequences
  could not easily be foreseen."

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, I have objections against
this manner of procedure. The document about which this
cross-examination is being made is a document from me and I
have not submitted it yet. I do not know whether it is
customary in this trial that exhibits of the defence are
submitted by the prosecution. For this reason I had
suggested at the time to begin with the documentary evidence
so that the prosecution should also have an opportunity to
use my exhibits in cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you any objection to the document which
is in your Document Book being offered in evidence?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I only want to avoid that now, in the
course of cross-
examination, my documents should be presented by the
prosecution, because this upsets my entire documentary
evidence. This particular case does not play a decisive role
for me, but if the prosecution is proposing to present other

                                                  [Page 292]

of mine which have not yet been submitted, I should like to
ask that the cross-examination be interrupted and I first be
afforded an opportunity to submit my documents.

THE PRESIDENT: That will only waste time, will it not? It
would not do any good; it would only waste time.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, I do not think it would be a
waste of time if I, as Defence Counsel, ask that I be
allowed to submit my own documents to the Tribunal myself
and that they shall not be quoted to the Tribunal by the
prosecution from my Document Book, because the manner of
presentation and the questions asked by the prosecution do,
of course, give these documents a quite different character
and meaning.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, the Tribunal thinks there is
no objection to the course that is being taken. You have had
the opportunity already of putting this document to the
witness. You will have a further opportunity of putting it
to him again in re-examination.


Q. So that there was fresh pressure put on you in September
to take this course, that is, to fire on the crews of sunken
vessels, was there not?

A. No, that is not correct. I only learned of this document
of the Naval War Command here, I was therefore not under
pressure, but it is true that, in accordance with this
document, the Naval War Command (SKL) (Seekriegsleitung) had
apparently had orders from the OKW to compile a list of all
such cases, and that the Naval War Command very correctly
took the point of view that one would have to be very
careful in judging these cases, and that it advised against
reprisal measures. It appears to me that the compilation of
this document served to convince us that, in principle, one
should keep away from these reprisal measures.

Q. Did you know that on the instructions of Hitler, the OKW
had put through an inquiry to the Naval War Command on this
point in September?

A. No, I did not know that. I just said I do not know about
this entry from the war diary of the Naval War Command and
the appendix which is attached to it. I first heard of it

Q. You first heard of it here?

A. I did not know about the entry in the War Diary of the
Naval War Command. That was done in Berlin, and I was
Commander-in-Chief of the Submarine Fleet in France at the

Q. Well, if you tell the Tribunal that you did not know
about it in September, then we will pass on to another
document. That is what you say, that you did not know about
it in September, 1942?

A. No.

Q. Now, I would just like you - I do not want to take you
through the Laconia incident in any detail, but I want you
just to tell me about one, I think, one or two entries. I
think it is Page 40 of your own Document Book.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that not on Page 41?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I am very much obliged to your


Q. It is Page 41, at the bottom. It is on 20th September,
1320 hours. That is your wireless message to the U-boat
Schacht. Do you see that?

A. Yes, and I explained that in great detail yesterday.

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