The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-04/tgmwc-04-34.01

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-04/tgmwc-04-34.01
Last-Modified: 1999/09/28

                                                  [Page 246]



THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the other counsel for the defence
wish to cross-examine this witness (referring to Peter
Joseph Heisig, interrogated the previous day)?

(There was no response.)

Then, Colonel Phillimore, do you wish to re-examine?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: No, my Lord, I have no further

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness can go.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: Before I call my second witness, Karl-
Heinz Moehle, an affidavit by him is the next document in
the document book.

(KARL-HEINZ MOEHLE took the stand.)


Q. What is your name?

A. Karl-Heinz Moehle.

Q. Will you repeat this oath: "I swear by God the Almighty
and Omniscient that I will speak the pure truth and will
withhold and add nothing." (The witness repeated the oath in

THE PRESIDENT: You can sit down if you wish.


Q. Karl-Heinz Moehle, you held the rank of Corvette Captain
in the German Navy?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. Did you serve in the German Navy since 1930?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. Will you tell the Tribunal what decorations you hold?

A. I hold the General Service Cross, the Iron Cross Second
Class, the Iron Cross First Class, the Knights Cross, and
the German Cross in Silver.

Q. Did you swear to an affidavit covering a statement you
have made on 21st July, 1945?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. I show you that document and ask you to say whether that
is your affidavit.

(Document 382-PS was submitted to this witness.)

A. (Looking at paper) Yes, this is my affidavit which I
swore to.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: I put that document in, which is 382-PS,
and it becomes Exhibit GB 202.

Q. In the autumn of 1942 were you head of the Fifth U-Boat

A. Yes, I was.

Q. Were you stationed at Kiel?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. How long did you hold that appointment altogether?

A. For four years.

Q. Was that from June, 1941, until the capitulation?

A. That is correct.

Q. What were your duties as commander of that flotilla?

A. My main duties as chief, covered the fitting out of U-
boats which were to be sent to the front, and giving them
the orders as well as necessary equipment.

                                                  [Page 247]

Q. Had you any special responsibility to U-boat commanders
in respect of the orders?

A. Yes, Sir, I was responsible for outgoing U-boat
commanders knowing all new orders of the U-Boat Command.

Q. Had you any responsibility in explaining the orders?

A. The orders of the U-Boat Command were always very clear
and unambiguous. If there were any ambiguities I used to
clarify them at the Command itself.

Q. Did you personally see commanders before they went out on

A. Yes, each commander, before leaving for the front, was

Q. I will go back if I may, for two or three questions. Did
you personally see commanders before they went out on

A. Yes, Sir, each commander before sailing on patrol was
briefed in a session at my office.

Q. And what did that briefing session consist of? Were there
any questions on the orders?

A. Yes, Sir, all experiences of previous patrols and any
questions of equipment, fitting out, were discussed with the
commander at that session. Also, the commanders had an
opportunity at the briefing to clarify any ambiguities which
might have existed in their minds.

Q. Apart from your briefing sessions, did commanders also go
to Admiral Donitz' headquarters for briefing?

A. As far as it was possible, that was done, especially
after the Commander-in-Chief of the U-boat arm had
transferred his office from Paris to Berlin.

Q. Do you remember an order in the autumn of 1942 dealing
with lifeboats?

A. Yes, Sir; in September, 1942, 1 received a wireless
message addressed to all commanders at sea, and it dealt
with that question.

Q. I show you this document - my Lord, that is the exhibit I
have already put in as GB 199.

THE PRESIDENT: What other number has it?


Q. Is that the order you are referring to?

A. Yes, that is the order.

Q. From the time when you were captured until last Friday
had you seen that order?

A. No, Sir.

Q. It follows, I think, that the account of the order in
your statement was given from recollection?

A. Yes, Sir, only from recollection.

Q. Now, after you got that order did you go to Admiral
Donitz' headquarters?

A. Yes, at my next visit to headquarters, where, on receipt
of the order, I discussed it with Captain Kuppisch, who was
a specialist on the staff of the U-Boat Command.

Q. Will you tell the Tribunal what was said at that meeting?

A. At that meeting I asked Corvette Captain Kuppisch how the
ambiguity contained in that order - or I might say, lack of
clarity - should be cleared up and defined. He explained the
order by two illustrations.

The first example was that of a U-boat in the Outer Bay of
Biscay. It was sailing on patrol when it sighted a rubber
dinghy carrying survivors of a British plane. Sailing on
patrol, i.e., being fully equipped, the U-boat could not
take the crew of the plane on board, although, especially at
that time, it appeared very desirable to bring back home
specialists from shot-down aeroplane crews for useful
interrogations. So the commander of the U-boat made a wide
circle and continued his patrol. When he returned from his
patrol he reported this case to the staff of the Commander-
in-Chief of the U-boat arm.

                                                  [Page 248]

The staff officers upbraided him, saying that, were he
unable to bring these specialists home, the right thing to
do would have been to attack them, for it could be expected
that, in twenty-four hours at the latest, the dinghy would
be rescued by British reconnaissance forces, and they -

Q. I do not quite get what you said would have been the
correct action to take. You were saying the correct thing to
do would have been -

A. The right thing to do would have been to fight these
specialists since it was not possible to rescue them, as it
could be expected that this aeroplane crew would be found
and rescued within a short time by British reconnaissance
forces. In the meantime the crew could already have been on
another patrol and might have destroyed one or two German
boats. The second example -

Q. Did he give you any second example?

A. Yes, Sir. The second example I am going to recount now:

During the first month of the U-boat warfare against the
United States a great quantity of tonnage - I do not
recollect the exact figure - had been sunk in the shallow
waters off the American coast. In these sinkings the crews,
for the greater part, were rescued, because of the proximity
of land. That was exceedingly regrettable, as the merchant
marine not only required tonnage but also crews, and in the
meantime these crews were able to man newly built ships.

Q. You have told us about the ambiguity of the order. Are
you familiar with the way Admiral Donitz worded his orders?

A. I do not quite understand the question.

Q. Are you familiar with the way Admiral Donitz normally
worded his orders?

A. Yes. In my opinion, the order should have read like this:
It is pointed out again that, in order to secure the safety
of the submarines, rescue measures should not be taken. This
is how the order would have been worded - if only rescue
measures were to have been forbidden. Therefore -

Q. Are you saying that if it had been intended only to
prohibit rescue measures it would have been sufficient to
refer to the previous order?

A. Yes, Sir, that would have been enough.

Q. Was that previous order also marked "top secret"?

A. I do not remember that exactly.

Q. What was the propaganda at the time with regard to crews?

A. The propaganda at that time said that the enemy had great
difficulties in finding sufficient crews for the mercantile
navy and -

THE PRESIDENT: The question as to the propaganda at that
time is too general a question for him to answer.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: If your Honour pleases, I will not press

Q. From your knowledge of the way orders were worded, can
you tell the Tribunal what you understood this order to

A. It meant, in my own opinion, that rescue measures
remained prohibited, that on the other hand it would be
desirable that in the case of sinkings of merchantmen there
should be no survivors.

Q. And was it because you understood this to be the meaning
that you went to Admiral Donitz's headquarters?

A. I did not go to the headquarters of the U-boat Command on
account of this order alone; these visits took place rather
frequently in order to discuss other questions also, and in
order to have the opportunity of being constantly informed
on the ideas and opinions of the U-boat Command which I had
to transmit to the commanders.

Q. How did you brief commanders on this order?

A. At these briefing sessions I read the wording of the
radio message to the commanders without making any
commentary. In a few instances commanders have asked me
later about the meaning of the message. Then I let them know
the two examples as they had been told to me at

                                                  [Page 249]

However, I added that "The Flag Officer U-boats cannot give
you such an order officially; everybody has to act according
to his own conscience."

Q. Do you remember an order about rescue ships?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. Can you say what the date of that order was?

A. I do not remember the exact date. However, I think the
order was given at the same time as the order of 17th
September, 1942.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: May the witness see the Document D-663
which I put in yesterday?


COLONEL PHILLIMORE: It is the German copy of the document
that I am showing him; the original is being held.

(Document D-663 was submitted to the witness.)

THE WITNESS: Yes, Sir, I recognise that order.

Q. You will note that the date on that document is 7th
October, 1943.

A. Yes, this order is laid down there in the general
Operational Order "Atlantic" No. 56. According to my
recollection, this order was already contained in the
previous Operational Order 54. It covers the general radius
of instructions.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Phillimore, is that order in the
index here?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: Yes, my Lord, that is Document D-663,
which I put in yesterday as Exhibit GB 200. If it is omitted
from the index, it is because, as your Lordship will
remember, it is the document we have just received, as I
explained yesterday.

Your Lordship will remember the order; it deals with rescue
ships attached to convoys, and it was the last sentence to
which I referred.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I only wanted to get the words of it.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: Yes, Sir, I have the original here now,
and if it is thought necessary the witness may see it, but
he has seen a copy.

Q. Do you remember an order about entries in logs?

A. Yes, Sir. At the time - the exact date I do not remember
- it had been ordered that sinkings and other acts which
were in contradiction to international conventions should
not be entered in the log, but should be reported orally
after return to the home port.

Q. Would you care to tell us why it is that you are giving
evidence in this case?

A. Yes, Sir; because when I was taken prisoner it was
claimed that I was the author of these orders, and I do not
want to have this charge connected with my name.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, the witness is available for
examination by my colleagues and for cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any counsel for any defendant wish to
ask the witness any questions ?


BY DR. KRANZBUEHLER (Counsel for defendant Donitz):

Q. Corvette Captain Moehle, since when have you been in the
U-boat arm?

A. Since the end of 1936.

Q. Do you know Grand Admiral Donitz personally?

A. Yes.

Q. Since when?

A. Since October, 1937.

Q. Do you see him here in this room?

A. Yes.

Q. Where?

A. To the left at the back.

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.