The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-13//tgmwc-13-128.03

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-13/tgmwc-13-128.03
Last-Modified: 2000/02/28

THE WITNESS: This memorandum was issued due to the situation
that existed since the beginning of the war. On 3rd
September, 1939, Britain had begun a total blockade against
Germany. Naturally, that was not directed only against the
fighting men, but against all non-combatants, including
women, children, the aged, and the sick. It meant that
Britain would declare all food rations, all luxury goods,
all clothing, as well as all raw materials necessary for
these items, as contraband, and would also exercise a strict
control of neutral shipping of which Germany would be
deprived in as far as it would have to go through waters
controlled by Great Britain. Apart from that, England
exercised a growing political and economic pressure upon the
European neighbours of Germany, to cease all commerce with

That intention of the total blockade was emphatically
confirmed by the head of the British Government, Prime
Minister Chamberlain, during a speech before the House of
Commons at the end of September. He described Germany as a
beleaguered fort; and he added that it was not customary
that beleaguered forts were accorded free rations, That
expression of the beleaguered fort was also taken up by the
French Press.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Chamberlain stated around the
beginning of October - according to this memorandum it was
on 12th October - that in this war, Britain would utilize
her entire strength for the destruction of Germany. From
this we drew the conclusion, aided by the experiences of the
last World War, that England would soon hit German exports
under some pretext or other.

With the shadow of the total blockade, which no doubt had
been thoroughly prepared during long years of peace,
creeping upon us, we now had a great deal to do to catch up,
since we had not prepared for war against Great

                                                  [Page 343]

Britain. We examined, both from the legal and military point
of view, the possibilities at our disposal by which we, in
turn, might cut off Britain's supplies. That was the aim and
purpose of that memorandum.

Q. You are saying, therefore, that this memorandum contains
considerations regarding means for countering the British
measures with correspondingly effective German measures?

A. Yes, that was definitely the purpose of that memorandum.

Q. Studying that memorandum you will find a sentence, C-1 is
the paragraph according to which the Naval War Staff had to
basically remain within the limits of International Law, but
that decisive war measures would have to be carried out,
even if the existing International Law could not be applied
to them.

Did this mean that International Law was to be generally
disregarded by the Naval War Staff, or what is the meaning
of this sentence?

A. That question was duly studied by the Naval War Staff and
discussed at great length. I should like to point out that
on Page 2 of the memorandum, in the first paragraph, it is
stated that obedience to the laws of chivalry comes before
all else in naval warfare. That, from the outset, would
prevent a barbarous waging of war at sea. We did think,
however, that the modern technical developments would create
conditions for naval warfare which would certainly justify
and necessitate further developments of its laws.

Q. Which technical developments do you mean?

A. I am thinking mainly of two points:-

First, the overwhelming use of the aeroplane in naval
warfare; as a result of its speed and wide range, militarily
guarded zones could be created around the coasts of all
warfaring nations, and in respect to these zones, one can no
longer speak of freedom of the seas.

Second, the introduction of electrical equipment which made
it possible, even at the beginning of the war, to spot an
unseen opponent and to send fighting forces against him.

Q. It says in this memorandum that decisive war measures are
to be made even though they create new laws at sea. Did
occasion arise for such measures?

A. No - at any rate, not at once. In the meantime, I think
on 4th November, the United States of America declared the
so-called American combat zone, and the specific reason
given for it was that in that zone, actual belligerent
actions rendered the sea dangerous for American shipping. By
this announcement, some of the points of that memorandum
were in immediate need of being revised. As a rule, we
remained within the limits of the measures as they had been
employed by both parties during the First World War.

Q. By these measures do you mean the warning against
navigating in certain zones?

A. Yes.

Q. In some of the documents used by the prosecution,
Exhibits GB 194 and 226, it is stated that submarines were
permitted to attack all ships without warning in certain
areas, beginning with January, 1940. The attacks were to be
carried out, if possible, unseen, while the fiction that the
ships struck mines was to be maintained.

Will you please tell the Tribunal which sea lanes or areas
were concerned in this? I shall have a sea-chart handed to
you for that purpose. I am submitting it to the Tribunal as
Exhibit Donitz 93.

Please, will you explain what can be seen on that chart?

A. In the middle of the chart you will find the British
Isles. The large part of the ocean which is shaded on the
edge shows the aforementioned American combat zone. The
shaded parts of the sea near the British coast are those
parts which were ordered to be German submarine operational
zones. They were given letters from A to F in accordance
with the time when they were set up.

Q. Can you tell us up to which depth these German
operational zones went?

A. I think perhaps as far as the 200-metre line.

                                                  [Page 344]

Q. Does this depth guarantee favourable use of mines?

A. Yes, down to 200 metres the use of anchored mines is
possible without any difficulty.

Q. In these operational zones, certain dates have been
entered. Will you please explain how it happened that on
those particular dates and in that sequence these areas were
made operational zones?

A. All those areas were declared to be operational zones
where our fighting forces came into clash with enemy traffic
and a concentration of the enemy defence, resulting in
central points of fighting.

To begin with, they were the zones at the northern and
southern end of the British mines zones, which had been
declared to be on the British East Coast, apart from that,
the Bristol Channel. You can see, therefore, Zone A lies to
the east of Scotland and is dated January 6. The Bristol
Channel Zone is dated January 12, and finally at the
southern end of this danger zone, that is, to the east of
London, there is the date of January 24.

Later on, according to the fluctuations of the actual
fighting, further areas around the British Isles and then
off the French Coast were designated.

Q. Up to what date did this development continue?

A. The last zone was declared on 28 May, 1940.

Q. Had neutrals been warned against navigating in these

A. Yes, an official note had informed neutral countries that
the entire USA fighting zone had to be considered as being
dangerous, and that they should remain in the North Sea, to
the east and to the south of the German mine area which was
to the north of Holland.

Q. What difference is there between the situation as shown
by this chart, and the German declaration of a blockade of
17 August, 1940?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: That is, Mr. President, the declaration I
have submitted as Donitz 104, which can be found on Page
214, in Volume 4 of the document book.


Q. What difference was there between that situation and the
declaration of August?

A. As far as the limits of the danger zone are concerned,
there was really no difference. This fact was also stated by
Prime Minister Churchill in the House of Commons at the
time. However, the difference which did exist was that, up
to that time, we confined ourselves to the area I have just
described, near the British Coast, whereas now we considered
the entire USA combat zone as an operational zone.

The declaration regarding a blockade was based on the fact
that in the meantime France had been eliminated from the
war, and that Britain now was the focal point of all
belligerent action.

Q. Did the German blockade zone in its entirety correspond
exactly or more or less with the USA combat zone?

A. It was nearly exactly the same as the USA combat zone.
There were merely a few insignificant corrections.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, I am submitting another sea-
chart as Donitz; 94, in which -

THE PRESIDENT: I think perhaps that would be a good time to
break off.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Now, Mr. President, as Donitz 94 I submit a
chart of the German blockade zone dated 17th August.


Q. Admiral Wagner, would you mind repeating the limits of
the German blockade region in relation to the US fighting

                                                  [Page 345]

THE PRESIDENT: I thought you had already told us that. You
told us that the blockade zone was the same as the American
zone, did you not

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes, Mr. President, I thought that we had
not been understood quite correctly before the recess.


Q. What was the naval practice on the side of your opponents
as far as this operational zone was concerned? Was there any
practice that they followed?

A. Yes, the practice on the part of the opponent was
identified with ours. In the areas controlled by us in the
Baltic, in the eastern part of the North Sea, around
Skagerrak and later on in the Norwegian and French waters,
the opponents used all suitable fighting means without
giving previous warning, without notifying us in advance by
which means of combat other ships were to be sunk -
submarines, mines, aircraft or surface vessels. In these
regions the same thing applied to neutrals and especially to

Q. Now, I would like to confront you with a statement by the
First Lord of the British Admiralty. You will find this on
Page 208 of the document book, Volume 4. This statement is
dated 8th May, 1940, and I have ascertained, Mr. President,
that unfortunately it is wrongly reproduced in the British
Document Book; so I shall quote from the original.

  "Therefore we limited our operations in the Skagerrak to
  the submarines. In order to make this work as effective
  as possible, the usual restrictions which we have imposed
  on the actions of our submarines were relaxed. As I told
  the House, all German ships by day and all ships by night
  were to be sunk as opportunity served."

I should like to submit this as Exhibit Donitz 102.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the difference that you were making
in the copy we have before us "... all ships were to be sunk
by day and German ships by night ..." Is that it?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes, Mr. President. It should be corrected
to read "all German ships by day and all ships by night were
to be sunk."

THE PRESIDENT: I see, I said it wrong - "and all ships by
night." Yes, very well.


Q. Admiral Wagner, what was the significance of this
statement and this practice so far as the German ships were

A. It means that all German ships by day and by night in
this area were to be sunk without warning.

Q. And what does it mean for, the neutral ships?

A. It means that without warning all neutral ships in this
area by night -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, surely the document speaks
for itself. We do not need to have it interpreted by a
witness who is not a lawyer.



Q. Then, tell me, please, from what period of time onward,
according to German experience, did this practice exist in
the Skagerrak?

A. With certainty, from 8th April, 1940, but I believe I
recall that even on 7th April this practice was already in

Q. Had this area at this period of time, that is, 7th or 8th
April, already been declared as a danger zone?

A. No, the first declaration of danger zone for this area
took place on 12th April, 1940.

                                                  [Page 346]

Q. Now I shall have a sea-chart handed to you dealing with
the British danger zones, and this will be Donitz 92. Please
explain the significance of this chart briefly to the

A. This chart shows the danger zones in European waters as
declared by England on the basis of German data. The
following areas are of special significance:-

First of all, the area in the Bay of Heligoland which, On
4th September, 1939 - that is, on the second day of the war
- was declared dangerous. Then the aforementioned danger
zone, Skagerrak and the area south of Norway, which was
declared on 12th April, 1940. Then the danger zone in the
Baltic, on 14th April, 1940; and following upon that, the
other danger zones as declared in the course of the year

I should like to remark also that, according to my
recollection, these danger zones were all declared as mine
danger zones, with the exception of the Channel zone and of
the Bay of Biscay, on 17th August, 1940. These were
generally called danger zones.

Q. Were these areas actually dominated by the British sea
and air forces, or did German traffic still continue?

A. Even in these areas there was considerable German
traffic. Therefore the Baltic Sea, which in its entire
expanse from east to west, about 400 sea miles in length,
was declared a danger zone and was in reality controlled by
us during the entire war. In this area there was an
extensive freight traffic, the entire ore traffic from
Sweden and the corresponding exports to Sweden.

Q. Was there only traffic of German ships or also of neutral

A. This traffic was in German and Swedish ships, but other
neutrals also participated in it, for instance, Finland. A
similar situation applied in the Skagerrak where, besides
the German supply traffic, a large part of the foodstuffs
for the Norwegian population was transported. Of course
during this time both German and neutral ships were lost.

Q. I assume, therefore, that both German and neutral seamen
lost their lives. Is that correct?

A. Of course.

Q. Were the German merchantmen, at the time when these
operational zones were declared, armed - that is, at the end
of 1939 - beginning of 1940?

A. Until the middle of 194o German merchantmen were not
armed at all. From then on they were comparatively slightly
armed, especially with antiaircraft weapons.

From the beginning, transport ships of the Navy were armed,
that is, State ships, which supplied German cruisers and
armed merchant cruisers in the Atlantic.

Q. Now I shall submit to you the Exhibit GB 193, which can
be found in the prosecution's document book on Page 29. This
deals with a proposal by the commander of the U-boats "...
in the Channel, ships with dimmed lights may be sunk without
warning." Can you tell me just whose ideas we are dealing
with in the statements set forth in this document?

A. From the signature found in this document it appears that
we are concerned with a document of a U-boat expert in the
Naval War Staff.

Q. Who was that?

A. Lieutenant Friesdorf, who was my subordinate.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.