The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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As to the Low Countries, neither Hitler nor the
military leaders were disturbed about treaty
considerations. The Tribunal will remember that at a
conference between Hitler and the principal military
leaders in May, 1939, as shown in Document L-79,
Exhibit USA-27, already in the record, when the
intention to attack Poland was announced, Hitler in
discussing the possibility of war with England said
that the Dutch and Belgian air bases must be
occupied by armed forces. " Declarations of
neutrality will be ignored." And later in his speech
to the Oberbefehlshaber, in November, 1939, Hitler
said that they must first invade the Low Countries
and " no one will question that when we have won."

Accordingly, one can well imagine that the winter of
1939 and 1940 and the early spring of 1940 was a
period of very intensive planning in German military
circles. The major attack in the West through the
Low Countries

                                          [Page 335]

had to be planned and the attack on Norway and
Denmark had to be planned. The defendant Jodl's
diary for the period 1st February to 26th May, 1940,
Document 1809-PS, Exhibit GB-88, contains many
entries reflecting the course of this planning. Some
of the entries have been read into the record and
others are now of interest.

The Tribunal will see from these entries which have
already been read, that during February and early
March there was considerable doubt in German
military circles as to whether the attack on Norway
and Denmark should precede or follow the attack on
the Low Countries, and that at some points there
even was doubt as to whether all these attacks were
necessary from a military standpoint. But the
Tribunal will not find a single entry which reflects
any hesitancy from a moral angle, on the part of
Jodl or any of the people he mentions, to over-run
these countries.

I will make some references now to Document 1809-PS
and some of the entries in it. I do not find a
direct quotation in any one of them. The Court will
note that on 1st February, 1940, General Jeschonnek,
the Chief of the Air Staff and a member of the Group
as defined in the Indictment, visited Jodl and made
a suggestion that it might be wise to attack only
Holland, on the ground that Holland alone would
offer a tremendous improvement for Germany's aerial

On 6th February, Jodl conferred with Jeschonnek,
Warlimont, and Colonel von Waldau, and what Jodl
calls a "new idea" was proposed at this meeting:
that the Germans should only carry out Action H
(Holland) and the Weser Exercise (Norway and
Denmark) and should guarantee Belgium's neutrality
for the duration of the war.

I suppose the German Air Force may have felt that
the occupation of Holland alone would give them
sufficient scope for air bases for attacks on
England, and that if Belgium's neutrality were
preserved the German bases in Holland would be
immune from attack by the French and British armies
in France. If, to meet this situation, the French
and British should attack through Holland and
Belgium, the violation of neutrality would be on the
other foot. But whether or not this new idea made
sense from a military angle, it appears to be a most
extraordinary notion from a diplomatic angle. It was
a proposal to violate without any excuse the
neutrality of three neighbouring small countries and
simultaneously to guarantee the neutrality of a
fourth. What value the Belgians might have
attributed to a guarantee of neutrality offered
under such circumstances it is difficult to imagine,
and in fact, the " new idea " projected at this
meeting seems a most extraordinary combination of
cynicism and naivete.

In the meantime, as Jodl's diary shows, on 5th
February, 1940, the "special staff" for the Norway
invasion met for the first time and got its
instructions from Keitel. On 21st February, Hitler
put General von Falkenhorst in command of the Norway
undertaking; and Jodl's diary records that
"Falkenhorst accepts gladly."

On 26th February Hitler was still in doubt whether
to go first to Norway or the Low Countries, but on
3rd March he decided to deal with Norway first and
the Low Countries a short time thereafter. This
decision proved final. Norway and Denmark were
invaded on 9th April, and the success of the
adventure was certain by 1st May. The invasion of
the Low Countries took place ten days later.

                                          [Page 336]

So, France and the Low countries fell, Italy joined
the war on the side of Germany, and the African
campaign began. In October, 1940, Italy attacked
Greece. The Italo-Greek stalemate and the uncertain
attitude of Jugoslavia became embarrassing to
Germany, particularly because the attack on the
Soviet Union was being planned and Germany felt she
could not risk an uncertain situation at her rear in
the Balkans.

Accordingly, it was decided to end the Greek
situation by coming to Italy's aid, and the
Jugoslavian coup Xetat Of 26th March, 1941, brought
about the final German decision to crush Jugoslavia
also. The documents have already been introduced by
Colonel Phillimore, and there is little that I need
to add for my present purpose. The decisions were
made; the Armed Forces drew up the necessary plans
and executed the attacks. The onslaught was
particularly unmerciful and ruthless against
Jugoslavia for the special purpose of frightening
Turkey and Greece. The final deployment instructions
were issued by Brauchitsch and appear in a document
R-95, Exhibit GB-127 which has not been read before.
Two extracts from this are of interest. These
extracts are very short:

     "The political situation in the Balkans having
     changed by reason of the Jugoslav military
     revolt, Jugoslavia has to be considered an
     enemy even should it make declarations of
     loyalty at first.
     "The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander has decided
     therefore to destroy Jugoslavia as quickly as

And turning to paragraph No. 5, the "Time-table for
the Operations":

     "On 5th April, as soon as sufficient numbers of
     the Air Force are available and weather
     permitting, the Air Force should attack
     continuously by day and night the Jugoslav
     ground organisation and Belgrade."

The German attack on the Soviet Union I have little
more to say about. The documents showing the
aggressive nature of the attack have been put in by
Mr. Alderman. I suppose it is quite possible that
some members of the General Staff and High Command
Group opposed "Barbarossa" as unnecessary and unwise
from a military standpoint. The defendant Raeder so
indicated in a memorandum he wrote on 10th January,
1944, Document C-66, Exhibit GB-81. C-66 is the
translation, the only document I propose to read on
this subject, from which a few extracts are of
interest. The quotation starts at the very outset of
the Document C-66:

     "At this time the Fuehrer had made known his
     'unalterable decision' to conduct the Eastern
     campaign in spite of all remonstrances. After
     that, further warnings, as no new situation had
     arisen, were found to be completely useless. As
     Chief of Naval War Staff I was never convinced
     of the  `compelling necessity' for Barbarossa."

And passing to the third paragraph:

     "The Fuehrer very early had the idea of one day
     settling accounts with Russia; doubtless his
     general ideological attitude played an
     essential part in this. In 1937-38 he once
     stated that he intended to eliminate the
     Russians as a Baltic power; they would then
     have to be diverted in the direction of the
     Persian Gulf. The advance of the Russians
     against Finland and the Baltic States in
     1939-40 probably further strengthened him in
     this idea."
And passing to the very end of the document,

paragraph 7, page 4:

     "As no other course is possible, I have
     submitted to compulsion. If thereby a
     difference of opinion arises between 1 S.K.L.
     and myself "

                                          [Page 337]

that, if I may interpolate, is a division or tne
Naval War Staff having. to do with operations -- "
it is perhaps because the arguments the Fuehrer used
on such occasions (dinner speech in the middle of
July to the Officers in Command) to justify a step
he had planned, usually had a greater effect on
people not belonging to the 'inner circle' than on
those who often heard this type of reasoning.

     Many remarks and plans indicate that the
     Fuehrer calculated on the final ending of the
     Eastern campaign in the autumn of 1941, whereas
     the Supreme Command of the Army (General Staff)
     was very sceptical."

That, to be sure, indicates division of opinion as
to the military chances of a rapid success, but the
part last quoted indicates that other members of the
group favoured "Barbarossa," and Raeder's memorandum
actually says and substantiates what Blomberg's
affidavit says, that some of the generals lost
confidence in the power of Hitler's judgment, but
that the generals failed as a group to take any
definite stand against him although a few tried and
suffered thereby. Certainly the High Command took no
stand against Hitler on "Barbarossa" and the events
of 1941 and 1942 do not suggest, that the High
Command embarked on the Soviet War tentatively or
with reservations, but rather with ruthless
determination backed by careful planning. The plans
themselves have all been read and cited to the Court

That concludes the evidence on the criminal
activities of the Group under Counts One and Two.
The documents written by the military leaders are
not the writings of men who were reluctant to plan
and execute these manifold wars.

I want to make clear again the nature of the
accusations against this Group under Counts One and
Two. They are not accused on the ground that they
are soldiers. They are not accused merely for doing
the usual things a soldier is expected to do, such
as making military plans and commanding troops. It
is, I suppose, among the normal duties of a diplomat
to engage in negotiations and conferences, to write
notes and aide-memoires, to entertain at dinner
parties and cultivate good will toward the
government he represents. The defendant Ribbentrop
is not indicted for doing these things. It is the
usual function of a politician to draft regulations
and decrees, to make speeches. The defendants Hess
and Frick are not indicted for doing those things.

It is an innocent and respectable business to be a
locksmith, but it is none the less a crime if the
locksmith turns his talents to picking the locks of
neighbours and looting their homes. And that is the
nature of the charge under Counts One and Two
against the defendants and the General Staff and
High Command Group. The charge is that, in
performing the functions of diplomats, politicians,
soldiers, sailors, or whatever they happened to be,
they conspired, and did plan, prepare, initiate and
wage illegal wars and thereby committed crimes under
Article 6 (a) of the Charter.

It is no defence for those who committed such crimes
to plead that they practised a particular
profession. It is perfectly legal for military men
to prepare military plans to meet national
contingencies, and such plans may legally be drawn,
whether they are offensive or defensive in a
military sense. It is perfectly legal for military
leaders to carry out such plans and engage in war,
if in doing so they do not plan and launch and wage
wars which are illegal because they are aggressive
and in contravention of the Charter.

                                          [Page 338]

group, where drawing the line between legal and
illegal behaviour might involve some difficulties.
That is not an uncommon situation in the legal
field. But I do not believe that there is any doubt
or difficulty here, before this Tribunal, as to the
criminality of the General Staff and High Command
Group as a Group under Counts One and Two, or as to
the guilt of the five defendants who are members of
the group.

In the case of the defendants Goering, Keitel and
Jodl the evidence is voluminous and their
participation in aggressive plans and wars is more
or less constant. The same is true of defendant
Raeder, and his individual responsibility for the
aggressive and savage attack on Norway and Denmark
is especially clear. The evidence so far offered
against Doernitz is less voluminous for the reason
that he was younger and not one of the top group
until later in the war.

But numerous other members of the General Staff and
High Command Group, including its other leaders, are
shown to have participated knowingly and wilfully in
these illegal plans and wars: Brauchitsch, the
Commander-in-Chief of the Army, and his Chief of
Staff Halder; Warlimont, the deputy of Jodl. In the
nature of things these men knew.all that was going
on and participated fully, as the documents show.
Reichenau and Sperrle helped to bully von
Schuschnigg; Reichenau and von Schobert, together
with Goering, were immediately sent for by Hitler
when von Schuschnigg ordered the plebiscite.

At a later date we have seen Blaskowitz as an
Oberbefehlshaber in the field, knowingly preparing
for the attack on Poland; Field Marshal List
educating the Bulgarians for their role during the
attacks on Jugoslavia and Greece; von Falkenhorst
"gladly accepting" the assignment to command the
invasion of Norway and Denmark.

On the air side, Jeschonnek has been recorded
proposing that Germany attack Norway, Denmark and
Holland and simultaneously assuring Belgium that
there is nothing to fear.

On the naval side, Admiral Karls, member of the
Group, forsees at an early date that German policy
is leading to a general European war, and at a later
date the attack on Norway and Denmark is his brain-
child; Krancke, later one of the group, is one of
the chief planners of this attack; Schniewindt is in
the inner circle for the attack on Poland; Fricke
certifies the final orders for Weseruebung and a few
months later proposes that Germany annex Belgium and
Northern France and reduce the Netherlands and
Scandinavia to vassalage.

Most of the nineteen officers I have mentioned were
at that time members of the Group, as defined, and
the few who were not subsequently became members. At
the final conference for Barbarossa seventeen
additional members were present, and at the two
meetings with Hitler, at which the aggressive plans
and the contempt for treaties were fully disclosed,
the entire group was present.

The military defendants will perhaps argue that they
are pure technicians. This amounts to saying that
military men are a race apart from and different
from the ordinary run of human beings -- men above
and beyond the moral and legal requirements that
apply to others, incapable of exercising moral
judgment on their own behalf.

What we are discussing here is the crime of planning
and waging aggressive war. It stands to reason that
that crime is committed most consciously

                                          [Page 339]

and culpably by a nation's leaders -- the leaders in
all the major fields of activity which are necessary
to and closely involved in the waging of war. It is
committed by propagandists and publicists. It is
committed by political leaders, by diplomats, by the
chief ministers, by the principal industrial and
financial leaders. It is no less committed by the
military leaders.

In the nature of things, planning and executing
aggressive war is accomplished by agreement and
consultation among all these types of leaders. And
if the leaders in any notably important field of
activity stand aside or resist or fail to co-
operate, then the programme will at the very least
beseriously obstructed. That is why the principal
leaders in all these fields of activity share
responsibility for the crime, and the military
leaders no less than the others. Leadership in the
military field, as well as in other fields, calls
for moral wisdom as well as technical astuteness.

I do not think that the responsible military leaders
of any nation will be heard to say that their role
is that of a mere janitor or custodian or pilot of
the war machine which is under their command, and
that they bear no responsibility whatsoever for the
use to which that machine is put.

The prevalence of such a view would be particularly
unfortunate to-day, when the military leaders
control forces infinitely more powerful and
destructive than ever before. Should the military
leaders be declared exempt from the declaration in
the Charter that planning and waging aggrehsive war
is a crime, it would be a crippling, if not fatal,
blow to the efficacy of that declaration.

Such is certainly not the view of the United States.
The prosecution here representing the United States
believes that the profession of arms is a
distinguished profession. We believe that the
practice of that profession by its leaders calls for
the highest degree of integrity and moral wisdom, no
less than for technical skill. We believe that in
consulting and planning with the leaders in other
fields of national activities the military leaders
must act in accordance with International Law and
the dictates of the public conscience. Otherwise the
military resources of the nations will be used not
in accordance with the laws of modern society but in
accordance with the law of the jungle. The military
leaders share responsibility with other leaders.

I use the word " share " advisedly. Obviously the
military leaders are not the final and exclusive
arbiters, and the German military leaders do not
bear exclusive responsibility for the criminal
holocaust which was committed. But the German
military leaders conspired with others to undermine
and destroy the conscience of the German nation. The
German military leaders wanted to aggrandise Germany
and, if necessary, to resort to war for that

As the Chief Prosecutor for the United States said
in his opening statement, The German military
leaders are here before you because they, along with
others, mastered Germany and drove it to war."

Your Lordship, that concludes the evidence under
Counts One and Two, and if this would be a
convenient stopping point ---

THE PRESIDENT: You have another branch of the

COLONEL TAYLOR: Counts Three and Four, your Honour,
which will take considerable time.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, we will adjourn now.

                  (The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours on 7
                                 January, 1946)

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