The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Yes, and, of course, for two and a half of these years
that the submarine commanders have been shooting up
survivors, you're not likely to get many cases, are you? I
just want to ask you one other point -

A. Submarine commanders, with the exception of the case of
Eck, have never shot up shipwrecked persons. There is not a
single instance. That is not true.

Q. That is what you say.

A. In no case is that proved. On the contrary, they made the
utmost efforts to rescue. No order to proceed against
shipwrecked people has ever been given by the U-boat arm,
with the exception of the case of Eck, and for that there
was a definite reason. That is a fact.

Q. Well, now, tell me this: Did you know that the log of the
Athenia was faked, after she came in?

A. No, it was not faked, but there was a clear order that
the case of the Athenia should be kept secret for political
reasons, and, as a result, the log had to be changed.

Q. I see. You do not like the word "faked." Well, I'll use
the word "changed"; that a page was cut out of the log and a
false page had been put in. Did you know about that?

A. I cannot tell you that today. It is possible. Probably
Captain Lemm received the order either from me or my staff:
"The case is to be kept a secret." And following that, he or
the flotilla took the log, which went to ten different
departments of the Navy, and altered it. What else could he
do; he could not do otherwise.

Q. I want to know, was it your order and with your knowledge
that that log was altered from, I suppose, the truth into
the falsity in which it exists today? That is a simple
question. Can you answer it?

A. Yes. Either it was done by my order, or, if it had not
been done, then I would have ordered it, because the
political instructions existed "it must be kept secret." The
fighting men had no other choice, therefore, but to alter
the log. The U-boat commanders never received the order to
make a false entry, but in the particular case of the
Athenia, where it was ordered afterwards that it must be
kept secret, it was not noted in the log.

Q. Well, now, I have only one other point to deal with and I
can deal with it quite shortly. You were a firm adherent of
ideological education for service personnel, were you not?

A. Yes, I have explained my reasons.

Q. Well, I just want to get this, and then you can explain
your reasons afterwards. You thought it nonsense that a
soldier should have no politics, did you not? If you want to

                                                  [Page 302]

A. Of course. The soldier had nothing to do with politics,
but, on the other hand, he naturally had to stand by his
country during the war.

Q. And you wanted your commanders to indoctrinate the Navy
with Nazi ideology, didn't you?

A. I wanted the commanders of crews to tell them that the
unity of the German people as it existed then, was a source
of strength for our conduct of the war, and that
consequently since, we enjoyed the advantages of this unity,
we also should see to it that the unity should continue,
because during the World War, we had had some very bad
experiences precisely because of that. Any lack of unity
among the people would have necessarily affected the conduct
of the war.

Q. Look at Page 7 in the English Document Book. I think it
puts it almost exactly as in my question.

A. Page seven?

Q. Yes, seven. The last sentence from the very start.

  "The whole of the officers' corps must be indoctrinated
  that it feels itself co-responsible for the National
  Socialist State in its entirety. The officer is the
  exponent of the State. The idle chatter that the officer
  is non-political is sheer nonsense."

That is your view, it is not?

A. I said that. But you have also got to read from the
beginning, where it says that our discipline and our
fighting strength is miles above that of 1918, and the
reason is because the people as a whole are behind us, and
if that had not been the case then our troops would have
become disintegrated long ago, and that is the reason why I
said that.

Q. Tell me, how many men were you attempting to apply this
to, or how many men had you got in the Navy on the 15th of
February, 1944? I want to see what body you were trying to
affect. How many? A quarter of a million?

A. 600,000 or 700,000.

Q. Now, I would just like you to turn to the next page, Page
8 in the British Document Book, which gives your speech on
Heroes' Day, the 12th of March, 1944, You say this:

  "What would have become of our country today if the
  Fuehrer had not united us under National Socialism. Split
  by parties, beset with the spreading poison of Jewry and
  vulnerable to it, because we lacked the defence of our
  present uncompromising ideology, we would long since have
  succumbed under the burden of this war, and delivered
  ourselves up to the enemy who would have mercilessly
  destroyed us."

What did you mean by the "spreading poison of Jewry"?

A. I meant that we were living in a state of unity and that
this unity represented strength and that all elements and
all forces -

Q. No, that is not what I asked. I am asking you, what did
you mean by the "spreading poison of Jewry"? It's your
phrase, and you tell us what you meant by it.

A. I could imagine that it would be very difficult for the
population in the towns to hold out under the weight of
heavy bombing attacks, if such an influence was allowed to
work, that is what I meant.

Q. Well, now, can you tell me again; what do you mean by the
"spreading poison of Jewry"?

A. It means that it might have had a disintegrating effect
on the people's power of endurance, and in this life and
death struggle of our country, I, as an officer, was
especially anxious about this.

Q. Well now, that is what I want to know. You were the
Supreme Commander, and indoctrinated 600,000 or 700,000 men.
Why were you conveying to them that Jews were a spreading
poison in the party politics? Why was that? What was it that
you objected to in Jews; that made you think that they had a
bad effect on Germany?

                                                  [Page 303]

A. That statement was made during my memorial speech on
Heroes' Day. It shows that I was of the opinion that the
endurance, the power to endure of the people, could be
better preserved if there were no Jewish elements in the

Q. This sort of talk, "spreading poison of Jewry " produced
the attitude in the mind which caused the death of five or
six million Jews in these last few years. Do you say that
you knew nothing about the action and the intention to do
away with and exterminate the Jews?

A. Yes, of course I say that. I did not know anything at all
about it, and if such a statement was made, then that does
not furnish evidence that I had any idea of any murders of
Jewry. That was in the year 1943.

Q. Well, what I'm putting to you is that you were joining in
the hunt against this unfortunate section of your community,
and leading six or seven hundred thousand of the Navy on the
same hunt.

Now, just look at Page 76 of the Document Book in this last
reference to you - Page 76.

A. Nobody amongst my men thought of using violence against
Jews, not one of them, and nobody can draw that conclusion
from that sentence.

Q. Well, now, just look at Page 76. This is where you are
dealing with the promotion of under-officers, and men who
have shown themselves to be personalities in warfare. You,
first of all say:-

  "I want the leaders of units responsible for ratings, and
  the flotilla commanders and other commanders superior to
  them to interest themselves more in the promotion of
  those petty-officers and men who have shown in special
  situations in the war that, thanks to their inner
  attitude and firmness, their energetic and inner drive,
  in short, owing to their personal qualities, they are
  capable of taking right decisions independently, and of
  carrying them out without wavering in their aim and with
  willing acceptance of responsibility.
  "An example: In a prison camp of the auxiliary cruiser
  Cormorau in Australia, a warrant officer, acting as camp
  senior officer, had all Communists, who made themselves
  noticeable among the inmates of the camps, systematically
  done away with in such a way that the guards did not
  notice. This petty officer is sure of my full recognition
  for his decision and its execution, and, after his
  return, I shall do everything I can to promote him, as he
  has shown he is fitted to be a leader."

Was that your idea of leadership in this National Socialist
indoctrinated Navy that he should murder political opponents
in a way that would not be found out by the guards?

A. No, it was not so. It had been reported to me that there
was an informer there who, when new crews were brought in,
was smuggled into the camp, and after listening, passed
information on to the enemy. The result was that on the
strength of that information, U-boats were lost. And it was
then that the senior man in the camp, a petty officer,
decided to remove that man as a traitor. That is what was
reported to me, and what I shall prove by means of a
witness. In my opinion, and every nation will recognize
that, the man acted like anyone else who finds himself in an
extremely difficult situation, and he had to -

Q. Why did you not say that, defendant? If you had stated
that this man had killed a spy, who, by the spreading of
information was dangerous, I would not have put this to you.
But what you say is that it was communists who made
themselves noticeable, and this man had killed them without
knowledge of the guard. Why do you put communists in your
order if you mean a spy?

A. I think this is an order from a Baltic station. I had
been told that it concerned a spy, and it's something that a
witness will prove. If there were reasons - perhaps
intelligence reasons for not divulging that -

Q. Are you putting the responsibility for this order on one
of your junior officers? Are you saying it was one of your
junior officers who put the order out like this? It was not
what you meant at all; is that what you are saying?

                                                  [Page 304]

A. I have merely said how the order came about; up to now,
not once have I shifted the responsibility.


THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Is there any further cross-examination?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: My Lord, the Soviet prosecution has
several questions to ask of the defendant Donitz.


Q. Defendant Donitz, your address to the German people, and
your order to the armed forces in connection with Hitler's
death, were composed by you on the 30th of April, 1945, is
that not so?

A. Yes.

Q. In these documents you informed the people that Hitler's
successor, appointed by Hitler himself, was you. That is
correct, is it not?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ask yourself then for what particular reason
Hitler selected you?

A. Yes, I put that question to myself when I received that
telegram, and came to the conclusion that after the
Reichmarschal had been removed, I was the senior officer of
an independent branch of the armed forces, and that that was
the reason.

Q. In your address to the Army and to the people, you
demanded the continuation of military operations, and all
those who were opposed to resistance were called traitors
and cowards, is that not so?

A. Yes.

Q. A few days afterwards, you gave an order to Keitel to
capitulate unconditionally, is that not right?

A. Yes. I said quite clearly in the first order that I would
fight in the East until troops and refugees could be rescued
from the East and brought to the West, and that I would not
fight one moment longer. That was my intention, and that is
also clearly expressed in that order.

Q. By the way, it is not clearly stated in this order, but
it is not so important - do you agree that on the 30th of
April -

A. I -

Q. First listen to my question and then answer. Do you agree
with the fact that on the 30th of April also, right on the
day when you published the two documents that we are talking
about now, it was absolutely clear that further resistance
of Hitlerite Germany was absolutely aimless and useless? Do
you understand my question? Do you agree with that?

A. Yes, I understood the question. May I say the following:-

I had to continue fighting in the East in order to rescue
the refugees who were moving to the West. That is certainly
very clearly stated. I said that we would only continue to
fight in the East until the hundreds of thousands of
families from the German eastern area could be safely
transferred to the West.

Q. Still, you did not answer my question, Donitz, did you,
even though it was very clearly put. I repeat it once again
so that you can manage to understand it. Do you agree with
the fact that already on the 30th of April, it was
absolutely clear that further resistance of Hitlerite
Germany was absolutely aimless and useless? Answer me, "yes"
or "no."

A. No, that was not clear. From the military point of view,
the war was absolutely lost, and there was then only the
problem of saving as many human beings as possible, and
therefore we had to continue resistance in the East. That
resistance in the East had a purpose.

                                                  [Page 305]

Q. Very well, I understand you, but will you deny that your
order, which called for a continuation of the war, led to
further bloodshed?

A. That was extremely small, compared to the one or two
millions which otherwise would have been lost.

Q. One moment please, will you wait. Don't try and make any
comparisons. First answer and then explain. That is the
order that we have to follow here all the time. First "yes"
or "no" and then an explanation, please.

A. Of course, in the fighting in the East during those few
days there would be further losses, but they were necessary
in order to save hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Q. You didn't answer my question. I shall repeat it for the
third time.

THE PRESIDENT: He did answer; his answer means "Yes, that
bloodshed would be caused." That is an answer to your



Q. I would like you to explain exactly the question of
whether you look upon yourself, first and foremost as a
politician or do you look upon yourself as an officer who
obeyed direct orders of his own superiors without any
analysis of the political meaning and content of such

A. I don't understand that question completely. As chief of
the State, from the 1st of May on, I was a political man.

Q. And before that time?

A. Purely a fighting man.

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