The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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On the 15th October, 1939, the defendant Keitel wrote a most
secret letter concerning "Fall Gelb," which was the code
name for the operation against the Low Countries. In it he

    "The protection of the Ruhr area by moving A./C.
    reporting service and the air defence as far forward as
    possible in the area of Holland is significant for the
    whole conduct of the war. The more Dutch territory we
    occupy, the more effective can the defence of the Ruhr
    area be made. This point of view must determine the
    choice of objectives of the army, even if the army and
    navy are not directly interested in such territorial
    gain. It must be the object of the army's preparations,
    therefore, to occupy, on receipt of a special order,
    the territory of Holland, in the first instance in the
    area of the Grebbe-Marse line. It will depend on the
    military and political attitude of the Dutch, as well
    as on the effectiveness of their flooding, whether
    objectives can and must be further extended."

The "Fall Gelb" operation had apparently been planned to
take place at the beginning of November, 1939. We have in
our possession a series of seventeen letters, dated from 7th
November until the 9th May, postponing almost from day to
day, the D-day of the operation, so that by the beginning of
November, all the major plans and preparations had been

On the 10th January, 1940, a German aeroplane force-landed
in Belgium. In it was found the remains of an operation
order which the pilot had attempted to burn, setting out
considerable details of the Belgian landing grounds that
were to be captured by the Air Force. Many other documents
have been found which illustrate the planning and
preparation for this invasion in the latter half Of 1939 and
early 1940, but they carry the matter no further, and they
show no more clearly than the evidence to which I have
already referred, the plans and intention of the German
Government and its Armed Forces.

On the 10th May, 1940, at about 0500 hours in the morning,
the German invasion of Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg

And so once more the forces of aggression marched on.
Treaties, assurances, the rights of Sovereign States meant
nothing. Brutal force, covered by as great an element of
surprise as the Nazis could secure, was to seize that which
was deemed necessary for striking the mortal blow against
England, the main enemy. The only fault of these three
unhappy countries was that they stood in the path of the
German invader in his designs against England and France.
That was enough, and they were invaded.

(A recess was taken.)

                                                   [Page 79]

On the 6th April, 1941, German Armed Forces invaded Greece
and Yugoslavia. Again the blow was struck without warning
and with the cowardice and deceit which the world now fully
expected from the self-styled "Herrenvolk." It was a breach
of the Hague Convention. It was a breach of the Pact of
Paris. It was a breach of a specific assurance given by
Hitler on the 6th October, 1939.

He had then said this:

    "Immediately after the completion of the Anschluss, I
    informed Yugoslavia that, from now on, the frontier
    with this country will also be an unalterable one and
    that we only desire to live in peace and friendship
    with her."

But the plan for aggression against Yugoslavia had, of
course, been in hand well before that. In the aggressive
action Eastward towards the Ukraine and the Soviet
territories, security of the Southern flank and the lines of
communication had already been considered by the Germans.

The history of the events leading up to the invasion of
Yugoslavia by Germany is well known. At three o'clock in the
morning of the 28th October, 1940, a three-hour ultimatum
had been presented by the Italian Government to the Greek
Government, and the presentation of that ultimatum was
immediately followed by the aerial bombardment of Greek
provincial towns and the advance of Italian troops into
Greek territory. The Greeks were not prepared. They were at
first forced to withdraw. But later the Italian advance was
first checked, then driven towards the Albanian frontier
and, by the end of 1940, the Italian Army had suffered
severe reverses at Greek hands.

Of the German position in the matter there is, of course,
the evidence of what occurred when, on the 12th August,
1939, Hitler held his meeting with Ciano.

You will remember that Hitler said then:

    "Generally speaking, the best thing to happen would be
    for the neutrals to be liquidated one after the other.
    This process could be carried out more easily if, on
    every occasion, one partner of the Axis covered the
    other while it was dealing with an uncertain neutral.
    Italy might well regard Yugoslavia as a neutral of this

Then the conference went on with other matters and when it
met again on the 13th August, in the course of lengthy
discussions, Hitler said this:

"In general, however, after success by one of the Axis
partners, not only strategical but also psychological
strengthening of the other partner and also of the whole
Axis would ensue. Italy carried through a number of
successful operations in Abyssinia, Spain and Albania, and
each time against the wishes of the democratic entente.
These individual actions have not only strengthened Italian
local interests, but have also reinforced her general
position. The same was the case with German action in
Austria and Czechoslovakia. The strengthening of the Axis by
these individual operations was of the greatest importance
for the unavoidable clash with the Western Powers."

And so once again we see the same procedure being followed.
That meeting had taken place on the 12th and the 13th
August, 1939. Less than two months later, Hitler was giving
his assurance to Yugoslavia that

                                                   [Page 80]

Germany only desired to live in peace and friendship with
her, with the State the liquidation of which by his Axis
partner he had himself so recently suggested.

Then came the Italian ultimatum to Greece and war against
Greece, and the eventual Italian reverse.

We have found, amongst the captured documents, an undated
letter from Hitler to Mussolini which must have been written
about the time of the Italian aggression against Greece.

"Permit me," Hitler said, "at the beginning of this letter
to assure you that within the last 14 days my heart and my
thoughts have been more than ever with you. Moreover, Duce,
be assured of my determination to do everything on your
behalf which might ease the present situation for you. ...
When I asked you to receive me in Florence, I undertook the
trip in the hope of being able to express my views prior to
the beginning of the threatening conflict with Greece, about
which I had only received general information. First, I
wanted to request you to postpone the action, if at all
possible, until a more favourable time of the year, at all
events until after the American Presidential election. But
in any case I wanted to request you, Duce, not to undertake
this action without a previous lightning-like occupation of
Crete, and for this purpose, I also wanted to submit to you
some practical suggestions in regard to the employment of a
German parachute division and a further airborne division
.... Yugoslavia must become disinterested, if possible;
however, from our point of view, interested in co-operating
in the liquidation of the Greek question. Without assurances
from Yugoslavia, it is useless to risk any successful
operation in the Balkans. Unfortunately, I must stress the
fact that waging a war in the Balkans before March is
impossible. Hence it would also serve to make any
threatening influence upon Yugoslavia of no, purpose, since
the Serbian General Staff is well aware of the fact that no
practical action could follow such a threat before March.
Hence, Yugoslavia must, if at all possible, be won over by
other means and other ways."

On the 12th November, 1939, in his top secret order, Hitler
ordered the O.K.H. to make preparations to occupy Greece and
Bulgaria, if necessary. Apparently ten divisions were to be
used in order to prevent Turkish intervention. I think I
said 1939; it should, of course, have been the 12th
November, 1940. And to shorten the time, the German
divisions in Roumania were to be increased.

On the 13th December Hitler issued an order to O.K.W.,
O.K.L., O.K.H., O.K.M. and the General Staff on the
operation "Marita," as the invasion of Greece was to be
called. In that order it was stated that the invasion of
Greece was planned and was to commence as soon as the
weather was advantageous. A further order was issued on the
11th January, 1941.

On the 28th January, 1941, Hitler saw Mussolini. The
defendants Jodl, Keitel and Ribbentrop were present at the
meeting. We know about it from Jodl's notes of what took
place. We know that Hitler stated that one of the purposes
of German troop concentrations in Roumania was for use in
the plan "Marita" against Greece.

On the 1st March, 1941, German troops entered Bulgaria and
moved towards the Greek frontier. In the face of this threat
of an attack on Greece

                                                   [Page 81]

by German as well as Italian forces, British troops were
landed in Greece on the 3rd March, in accordance with the
declaration which had been given by the British Government
on the 13th April, 1939, that Britain would feel bound to
give Greece and Roumania, respectively, all the support in
her power, in the event of either country becoming the
victim of aggression and resisting such aggression. Already,
of course, the Italian operations had made that pledge

On the 25th March, 1941, Yugoslavia, partly won over by the
"other means and other ways" to which Hitler had referred,
signed the Three-power Pact which had already been signed by
Germany, Italy and Japan. The preamble of the pact stated
that the three powers would stand side by side and work

On the same day the defendant Ribbentrop wrote two notes to
the Yugoslav Prime Minister, assuring him of Germany's full
intention to respect the sovereignty and independence of his
country. That declaration was just another example of the
treachery employed by German diplomacy. We have already seen
the preparations that had been made. We have seen Hitler's
attempts to tempt the Italians into an aggression against
Yugoslavia. We have seen, in January, his own orders for
preparations to invade Yugoslavia and then Greece. And now,
on the 25th March, he is signing a pact with that country,
and his Foreign Minister is writing assurances of respect
for her sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As a result of the signing of that pact, an anti-Nazi
element in Yugoslavia immediately accomplished a coup d'etat
and established a new government, and thereupon, no longer
prepared to respect the territorial integrity and
sovereignty of her ally, Germany immediately took the
decision to invade. On the 27th March, two days after the
Three-power Pact had been signed, Hitler issued instructions
that Yugoslavia was to be invaded, and used as a base for
the continuance of the combined German and Italian operation
against Greece.

Following that, further deployment and other instructions
for the action "Marita" were issued by von Brauchitsch on
the 30th March, 1941.

It was stated - and I quote - that

    "The orders issued with regard to the operation against
    Greece remain valid so far as not affected by this
    order. On the 5th April, weather permitting, the Air
    Forces are to attack troops in Yugoslavia, while
    simultaneously the attack of the 12th Army begins
    against both Yugoslavia and Greece."

As we now know, the invasion actually commenced in the early
hours of the 6th April.

Treaties, pacts, assurances, obligations of any kind, are
brushed aside and ignored wherever the aggressive interests
of Germany are concerned.

I turn now to the last act of aggression in Europe-my
American colleagues will deal with the position in relation
to Japan - I turn now to the last act of aggression in
Europe with which these Nazi conspirators are charged, the
attack upon Russia.

In August, 1939, Germany, although undoubtedly intending to
attack Russia at some convenient opportunity, concluded a
treaty of non-aggression with the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics. When Belgium and the Low Countries were occupied
and France collapsed in June, 1940, England - although with
the inestimably valuable moral and economic support of the

                                                   [Page 82]

United States of America - was left alone in the field as
the sole representative of democracy in the face of the
forces of aggression. At that moment only the British Empire
stood between Germany and the achievement of her aim to
dominate the Western World. Only the British Empire - and
England as its citadel. But it was enough. The first, and
possibly the decisive, military defeat which the enemy
sustained was in the campaign against England; and that
defeat had a profound influence on the future course of the

On the 16th July, 1940, Hitler issued to the defendants
Keitel and Jodl a directive - which they found themselves
unable to obey - for the invasion of England. It started off
- and Englishmen will forever be proud of it - by saying

    "Since England, despite her militarily hopeless
    situation, shows no signs of willingness to come to
    terms, I have decided to prepare a landing operation
    against England and if necessary to carry it out. The
    aim is to eliminate the English homeland as a base for
    the carrying on of the war against Germany. The
    preparations for the entire operation must be completed
    by mid-August."

But the first essential condition for that plan was - and I
quote -

    "that the British Air Force must morally and actually
    be so far overcome that it does not any longer show any
    considerable aggressive force against the German

The defendant Goering and his Air Force, no doubt made the
most strenuous efforts to realise that condition, but, in
one of the most splendid pages of our Empire's history, it
was decisively defeated. And although the bombardment of
England's towns and villages was continued throughout that
dark winter of 1940-1941, the enemy decided in the end that
England was not to be subjugated by these means, and,
accordingly, Germany turned back to the East, the first
major aim unachieved.

On the 22nd June, 1941, German Armed Forces invaded Russia,
without warning, without declaration of war. It was, of
course, a breach of the usual series of treaties; they meant
no more in this case than they had meant in the other cases.
It was a violation of the Pact of Paris; it was a flagrant
contradiction of the Treaty of Non-Aggression which Germany
and Russia had signed on the 23rd August a year before.

Hitler himself said, in referring to that agreement, that
"agreements were only to be kept as long as they served a

The defendant Ribbentrop was more explicit. In an interview
with the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin on the 2nd February,
1941, he made it clear that the object of the agreement had
merely been, so far as Germany was concerned, to avoid a two-
front war.

In contrast to what Hitler and Ribbentrop and the rest of
them were planning within the secret councils of Germany, we
know what they were saying to the rest of the world.

On the 19th July, Hitler spoke in the Reichstag:

    "In these circumstances," he said, "I considered it
    proper to negotiate as a first priority a sober
    definition of interests with Russia. It would make
    clear once and for all what Germany believes she must
    regard as her sphere of interest to safeguard her
    future and, on the other hand, what Russia considers
    important for her existence.

                                                   [Page 83]
    From this clear delineation of the sphere of interest
    there followed the new regulation of Russo-German
    Any hope that now, at the end of the term of the
    agreement, a new Russo-German tension could arise is
    childish. Germany has taken no step which would lead
    her outside her sphere of interest, nor has Russia. But
    England's hope to achieve an amelioration of her own
    position through the engineering of some new European
    crisis, is, in so far as it is concerned with Russo-
    German relations, an illusion.
    English statesmen perceive everything somewhat slowly,
    but they too will learn to understand this in the
    course of time."

The whole statement was, of course, a tissue of lies. It was
not many months after it had been made that the arrangements
for attacking Russia were put into hand. The defendant
Raeder gives us the probable reasons for it, in a note which
he sent to Admiral Assmann:

    "The fear that control of the air over the Channel in
    the autumn of 1940 could no longer be attained, a
    realisation which the Fuehrer no doubt gained earlier
    than the Naval War Staff, who were not so fully
    informed of the true results of air raids on England
    (our own losses), surely caused him, as far back as
    August and September" - this was August and September
    of 1940 - "to consider whether, even prior to victory
    in the West, an Eastern campaign would be feasible,
    with the object of first eliminating our last serious
    opponent on the Continent. The Fuehrer did not openly
    express this fear, however, until well into September."

He may not have spoken to the Navy of his intentions until
later in September, but by the beginning of that month he
had undoubtedly told the defendant Jodl about them.

Dated the 6th September, 1940, we have a directive of the
O.K.W. signed by the defendant Jodl; and I quote:

    "Directions are given for the occupation forces in the
    East to be increased in the following weeks. For
    security reasons" - and I quote - "this should not
    create the impression in Russia that Germany is
    preparing for an Eastern offensive."

Directives are given to the German Intelligence Service,
pertaining to the answering of questions by the Russian
Intelligence Service, and I quote:

    "The total strength of the German troops in the East is
    to be camouflaged by frequent changes in this area. The
    impression is to be created that the bulk of the troops
    in the South have moved, whilst the occupation in the
    North is only very small."

And so we see the beginning of the operations.

On the 12th November, 1940, Hitler issued a directive,
signed by the defendant Jodl, in which it was stated that
the political task to determine the attitude of Russia had
begun, but without reference to the result of preparations
against the East, which had been ordered orally.

It is not to be supposed that the U.S.S.R. would have taken
part in ally conversations at that time if it had been
realised that on the very day orders were being given for
preparations to be made for the invasion of Russia, and that
the order for the operation, which was called the "Plan
Barbarossa", was in active preparation. On the 16th November
the order was issued, and I quote:

                                                   [Page 84]

"The German Armed Forces have to be ready to defeat Soviet
Russia in a swift campaign before the end of the war against
Great Britain."

And later, in the same instruction - and I quote again:

    "All orders which shall be issued by the High Commanders in
     accordance with this instruction have to be clothed in such
     terms that they may be taken as measures of precaution in
     case Russia should change her present attitude towards

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