The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. When was that?

A. That was in the summer of 1944. And I received the answer
that he was all right.

Q. Did you write to him directly, or how did it happen?

A. No. I received this information through a third person.

Q. Was that the only message you received from a
concentration camp?

A. The only one I received.

Q. In the cross-examination, a report by Captain Assmann was
presented about a conference with the Fuehrer in May, 1943.
You remember its contents. You are alleged to have said that
in view of the present naval war situation, it was desirable
that Germany should get possession of Spain and Gibraltar.
Did you make a positive suggestion in that direction? One
cannot see that from the document.

A. Of course, when I discussed the situation, I mentioned
the danger of the narrow strip of the Bay of Biscay, and I
said that it would be more favourable to us if we could
start our U-boats from a wider area. At that time nobody
even thought of a move in the direction of Spain, either
with the consent of Spain or in the form of an attack. It
was quite obvious that our forces were in no way sufficient
for that.

On the other hand, it is quite understandable that when I
speak of my concern about that narrow strip, I should say it
would have been better if that area had been wider. That is
what I meant by that statement. I was referring to U-boat
warfare and not to any move against Spain on land. It
certainly would have been impossible for me, as a naval
officer, to make a suggestion to attack Spain.

Q. In connection with the sinking of the Athenia, it has
been hinted that your statement was considered an excuse;
that is, that the commanding officer of the submarine
confused the Athenia with an auxiliary cruiser. Therefore, I
should like to put an excerpt from the war diary of the
commanding officer who took part in the same action, and I
want you to confirm that it is really from the same
commanding officer. I shall read from the document of the
prosecution, Exhibit GB 222, on Page 142, in my Document
Book, Volume 3. It is the war diary of the submarine U-30.
The excerpt is dated the 11th September, 1939, Page 142, in
Document Book, Volume 3:-

  "Sighted a vessel with lights dimmed. Trailed. In zig-zag
  course recognized as merchant ship. Requested to stop by
  Morse lantern. Steamer signals 'not understood,' tries to
  escape in the thick squall and sends out SOS 'chased by
  submarine,' and position by radiotelegraphy. Gave 'stop'
  signal by radiotelegraphy and Morse lantern.
  "Ran ahead. Fired five shots with machine-gun C 30 across
  the bow. Steamer does not react. Turns partly, about 90
  degrees, directly toward the boat. Sends 'Still chased.'
  Therefore, fire opened from aft bearing with 8.8 cm.
  English steamer Blairlogie, 4425 tons. After 18 shots
  were fired and three hits, the steamer stops. The crew
  boards the boats. Last message by radio-telegraphy:
  'Shelled, taking the boats.' Fire immediately halted when
  an emergency light was shown and steamer stopped. Went to
  the lifeboats, gave an order to pull away toward the
  south. Steamer sunk by torpedo. Afterwards both ship
  crews supplied with Steinhager and cigarettes. 32 men in
  two boats. Red stars were shot until it became light.
  Since the American steamer American Skipper was nearby,
  we departed. Crew was rescued."

Can you confirm, Grand Admiral, that this was an entry by
the same commanding officer of the U-boat, who nine days
before had torpedoed the Athenia?

A. Yes, that is the same commander of the same operation,
who, shortly before, had committed this error.

Q. In the cross-examination it was once more maintained, and
very definitely, that you had sent an order to destroy to
the commanders. I should like to put to you a letter which
is signed by various U-boat commanders. You know the

                                                  [Page 311]

letter and know the signatures, and I should like to ask you
to tell me whether the U-boat commanders who signed were
taken prisoners before September, 1942, that is, before your
alleged order to destroy, or were captured afterwards.

I am reading from the Document Book, Volume 2, Page 99, of
the Document Book Donitz 53, which I submit to the Tribunal.
It is addressed to the camp commander of the prisoner-of-war
camp, Camp 18, in the Featherstone Park Camp in England. I
received it through the British War Ministry and the
Secretary-General of the Court. I read under the date of
18th January, 1946, and the text is as follows:-
  "The undersigned commanders, who are now here in this
  camp and whose U-boats were active on the front, wish to
  make the following statement and express the request that
  this statement should be forwarded to the International
  Military Tribunal in Nuremberg.
  "From the Press and radio we learn that Grand Admiral
  Donitz is charged with having issued the order to destroy
  survivors from the crews of torpedoed ships and not to
  take any prisoners. The undersigned state under oath that
  neither in writing nor orally was such an order ever
  given by Grand Admiral Donitz. There was an order that
  for reasons of the security of the boat, because of
  increased danger through defence measures of all kinds,
  we might not surface after torpedoing. The reason for
  this was that experience had shown that if the boat
  surfaced for a rescue action, as was done in the first
  years of the war, we had to expect our own destruction.
  This order could not be misunderstood. It has never been
  regarded as an order to annihilate shipwrecked crews.
  "The undersigned declare that the German navy has always
  been trained by its leaders to respect the written and
  unwritten laws and rules of the sea. We have always
  regarded it as our honour to obey these laws and to fight
  chivalrously while at sea."

Then come the signatures of 67 German submarine commanders
who are at present prisoners-of-war in British hands.

I ask you, Grand Admiral, do you know these signatures? Were
these commanders captured before September, 1942, or after
September, 1942?

A. Most of them beyond doubt were made prisoners after
September, 1942. In order to examine that exactly from both
sides, I should like to see the list again. But most of them
beyond doubt were captured after September, 1942.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: That is enough. I have no further

DR. LATERNSER: (Counsel for the General Staff and the OKW)
Mr. President, I should like to clarify only one point which
came up during the cross-examination.


Q. Grand Admiral, during the cross-examination, you have
stated that you were present at the situation conferences on
the 19th and the 20th of February, 1945, and you said -

A. (Interposing): No, that this date -

Q. I made a note of it and you will recognize the conference
at once. During the situation conference of the 19th of
February, Hitler is alleged to have made the suggestion to
leave the Geneva Convention. I ask you now to tell me which
high military leaders were present during that situation

A. I believe there is a mistake here. I did not hear this
question or suggestion of the Fuehrer from his own lips but
I was told about it by a naval officer, who regularly took
part in these situation conferences. Therefore, I do not
know for certain whether the date is correct, and I also do
not know who was present when the Fuehrer first made that
statement. In any case, I remember the matter was again
discussed the next day, or two days later, and then I
believe the Reichsmarschall,

                                                  [Page 312]

and of course Jodl and Field-Marshal Keitel, were present.
At any rate, the whole of the armed forces were unanimously
against it and, according to my recollection, the Fuehrer,
because he saw our objection, did not come back to this
question again.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The defendant can return to the dock.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, after the experience of the
cross-examination of today, I consider it proper to submit
my documents to the Tribunal now, if it pleases the
Tribunal, before I call further witnesses. I believe that I
can thereby shorten the questioning of the witnesses and
that it will be more easily understood.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, Dr. Kranzbuhler.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: May I as a preliminary remind the Tribunal
that in the prosecution Document Book, Exhibits GB 224 and
GB 191 contain the same general accusations against the U-
boat warfare as are referred to in my following documents.
The documents dealing with these general accusations are in
Document Books 3 and 4.

First, I submit Document Donitz 54, which contains the
declaration of German membership in the London U-boat
protocol. I do not need to read it because it has already
been mentioned repeatedly.

Then, I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the
German Prize Ordinance, an excerpt of which can be found on
Page 137. I should like to point out that Article 74 agrees,
word for word, with the regulations of the London protocol.

May I point out at the same time that, as shown on Page 138,
this Prize Ordinance was not signed by the Commander-in-
Chief of the Navy. That is a contribution to the question as
to whether the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy was a member
of the Reich Government. He had no kind of authority to sign
this ordinance.

The next document which I submit is Donitz 55. That is the
order of 3rd September, 1939, by which the U-boats entered
the war. I do not know whether these documents are so well
known to the Tribunal that I need merely sum them up or
whether it is better to read parts of them.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you might mention them together,
really, specifying shortly what they relate to.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes. The Order of 3rd September directs
ships to pay strict attention to all the rules of naval
warfare. It orders the war to be conducted according to the
Prize Ordinance. Furthermore it provides for a preparatory
order for the intensification of economic warfare, because
of the arming of enemy merchant ships. This order is on Page
140. Since I shall refer to that later when examining a
witness, I need not read it now.

I should like to read to the Tribunal from an English
document, to show that the boats were really acting
according to these orders. It is Exhibit GB 191. It is in
the original on Page 5, Mr. President. That sentence is not
in the English excerpt and that is why I will read it in
English from the original:-

  "Thus the Germans started with the Ordinance, which was,
  at any rate, a clear, reasonable, and not inhuman

Mr. President, it is not copied in the document book of the
prosecution. Therefore, I read it from the original which
the prosecution has submitted:-

  "German submarine commanders, with some exceptions,
  behaved in accordance with its provisions during the
  first month of the war. Indeed, in one case, a submarine
  had ordered the crew of a trawler to take to their boat
  as the ship was to be sunk. But when the commander saw
  the state of the boat, he said: 'Thirteen men in that
  boat. You English are no good,

                                                  [Page 313]

  sending a ship to sea with a boat like that.' And the
  skipper was told to re-embark his crew on the trawler and
  make for home at full speed, with a bottle of German gin
  and the submarine commander's compliments."

That is an English account taken out of a document of the

My next document is Donitz 56, an excerpt from the war diary
of the Naval War Command of 9th September, 1939, on Page

  "English information office disseminates the news through
  Reuter that Germany has opened total U-boat warfare."

Then, as Document Donitz 57, on Page 143, I should like to
submit to the Tribunal the experiences which the Naval War
Command had in U-boat warfare tip to that date. It is an
entry of the 21st September, 1939, in the war diary of the
Naval War Command. I read under the figure "2":-

  "The commanders of U-boats which bad returned report the
  following valuable experiences:-
  "(b) English, partly also neutral steamers, strong zig-
  zags, partly dimmed lights. English steamer, when
  stopped, immediately radios SOS with exact position.
  Thereupon English planes come in to fight U-boats.
  "(c) English steamers have repeatedly tried to escape.
  Some steamers are armed, one steamer returned fire.
  "(d) Up to now no cases of abuse by neutral steamers."

The document on Page 144 of the document book is already in
evidence. It is an excerpt from Exhibit GB 222, war diary of
the U-boat U-30, of 14th September. I will only read a few
sentences from the beginning:-

  "Smoke screen. Steamer in strong zig-zag course. Easterly
  course. Ran towards her. When recognized, turns to
  counter-course and signals SOS.
  "English steamer Fanad Head, 5,200 tons, bound for
  "Pursued at full speed. Since steamer does not react to
  order to stop, a shot fired across her bow from a
  distance of 2,000 metres. Steamer stops. Crew takes to
  the boats. Boats pulled out of the danger zone."

I summarize the following. It shows how the U-boat, as a
result of the wireless message from the steamer, was
attacked by aeroplanes, what difficulties it had in getting
the prize crew on board again, and how, in spite of the
bombing attacks of the planes, it did not sink the steamer
until two English officers, who were still on deck, had
jumped overboard and had been rescued by the U-boat. The
depth charge pursuit lasted for ten hours.

The next document, Donitz 58, shows that merchant ships
acted aggressively against U-boats; and that also is an
excerpt from the war diary of the Naval War Command. The
entry of 24th September, reads:-

  "C.-in-C. Submarine Fleet (BdU) reports that on 6th
  September, the English steamer Manaar, on being told to
  stop by U-38 after a warning shot, tried to escape.
  Steamer sent wireless report and opened fire from rear
  gun. Withdrew from ship only after four or five hits,
  then sank it."

Then, another message of 22nd September:-

  "English reports that when the English steamer Akenside
  was sunk, a German U-boat was rammed by a steam trawler."

From the Exhibit of the prosecution GB 193, which is copied
on Page 147, I should like to point out the opinion from the
point of view of the Naval War Command, as to radio
messages. I read from Figure 2, two sentences, beginning
with the second:-

  "In almost every instance English boats on sighting U-
  boats have sent out wireless SOS messages and given their
  position. Following these SOS messages from the ship,
  after a certain time, English aeroplanes always appeared,
  which makes it clear that with the English it is a matter
  of a military measure and organized procedure. The SOS
  call, together with the giving of the position, may
  therefore be considered as the giving of military
  information, even as resistance."

                                                  [Page 314]

The next document, Donitz 59, shows the approval of the
entry submitted by the C.-in-C. Submarine Fleet that ships
which used their wireless when stopped should be sunk. I
read the entry of 24th November, 1939. It is under Figure 4:-

   "On the basis of the Fuehrer's approval, the following
   order is given to Groups and the C.-in-C. Submarine
   Fleet (BdU):-

  "Armed force should be employed against all merchant
  vessels using wireless when ordered to stop. They are
  subject to seizure or sinking without exception. Efforts
  should be made to rescue the crews."

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 11th May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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