The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/28

                                                  [Page 250]

Q. Do you know Grand Admiral Donitz as an Admiral to whom
none of his subordinates could speak?

A. No.

Q. Or was it the opposite way?

A. He could be reached by everybody at any time.

Q. Have you been yourself on patrol as commander of a U-

A. Yes, on nine occasions.

Q. From when to when?

A. From the beginning of the war until April, 1941.

Q. How many ships did you sink?

A. I sank twenty ships.

Q. After sinking ships, have you destroyed the rescue
possibilities or have you fired at the survivors?

A. No.

Q. Did you have an order to do that?

A. No.

Q. Was it dangerous to the U-boat? Had the danger passed for
a U-boat after the attack on a merchantman?

A. No, the danger to the U-boat is not passed when the
attack is over.

Q. Why not?

A. Because in most instances when a ship is sunk, the ship
is able to send radio messages with its position, and
therefore in the last minute it is able to get other ships
to the spot.

Q. Is there any principle in the U-boat arm to the effect
that fighting comes before rescuing?

A. I never heard of that principle so formulated.

Q. Prior to the order of September, 1942, did you know of
any other orders in which rescuing was prohibited when
connected with danger to the U-boat?

A. Yes, but I do not know when and in which documents this
order was laid down. It had been ordered that, as a matter
of principle, the safety of their own boat was the main

Q. Was this ordered only once, or on several instances?

A. That I cannot say.

Q. Do you know that the order of September, 1942, was given
in consequence of an incident in which German U-boats,
contrary to orders, had undertaken rescue measures?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. And the U-boats were then attacked by Allied aircraft?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. A minute ago you classified the order of September, 1942,
as ambiguous, did you not?
A. Yes, Sir.

Q. You interpreted it to the commanders in the sense that
the order should comprise the destruction of rescue
facilities and of its crews?

A. No, not quite, since I gave the two examples to the
commanders only if they made an inquiry, and they themselves
could draw that conclusion from these two examples.

Q. In which sentence of the order do you see a hidden
request to kill survivors or to destroy rescue facilities?
Just a second, I shall read to you a sentence of the order.
I read from the Document D-630:

   "(1) No attempt of any kind must be made at rescuing
   crews of ships sunk, and this includes picking up
   persons in the water and putting them in lifeboats,
   righting capsized lifeboats, and handing over food and
   water. These are absolutely forbidden."

Do you see it in this sentence?

A. No.

                                                  [Page 251]

Q. "All rescue measures contradict the most primitive
demands of warfare that ships and crews should be

Do you see that in this sentence?

A. Yes.

Q. Does that sentence contain anything as to the destruction
of shipwrecked sailors?

A. No, of crews.

Q. At the end of the order is the phrase "Be harsh." Have
you heard that phrase here for the first time?

A. No.

Q. Was this phrase used by the Flag Officer of the U-boats
in order to harden commanders and their crews against

A. Yes.

Q. You have discussed the order with Corvette Captain

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember that, exactly?

A. As far as I can rely upon my recollection after such a
long time.

Q. Where did that conference take place?

A. At the staff of the U-Boat Command, probably in Paris.

Q. What position did Kuppisch occupy at the time?

A. As far as I can remember, he was the man in charge of
enemy convoys, but
I could
not say that with any certainty.

Q. The superior officer of Kuppisch was Hessler?

A. Superior officer? I would not say so. Hessler was on the
same level as Kuppisch, a specialist.

Q. Was Kuppisch's superior Admiral Godt?

A. Yes, in his capacity as Chief of Staff.

Q. Have you spoken to Captain Hessler or Admiral Godt or
with the Grand Admiral himself with regard to the
interpretation to be given to the order of September?

A. Whether I did with Hessler, I do not remember; but
certainly not with Godt or the Grand Admiral himself.

Q. You said Capt. Kuppisch had told you of the opinion which
was prevalent at the staff of the U-Boat Command with regard
to the attitude taken towards aviators in the Bay of Biscay?

A. Yes.

Q. Did he tell you that it was the opinion of the Grand
Admiral himself?

A. I do not remember that. It is too far back. To us, the
chiefs of the flotillas, it was a matter of course, that the
opinion expressed by a responsible member of the staff, in
connection with interpretations, was the official opinion of
the U-Boat Command. Admiral Godt was only approached
personally in such cases where the Staff Specialists refused
to commit themselves, and assume the responsibility for an

Q. Did you not know that the incident with these airmen in
the Bay of Biscay had really been just the opposite of what
you described?

A. I do not understand.

Q. I continue: that the commander had been reproached
because he did not bring home these airmen even if thus
forced to end his patrol.

A. No, I do not know that.

Q. Did Corvette Captain Kuppisch tell you in that second
example you mentioned, that the shipwrecked sailors should
have been killed and rescue facilities near the American
coast destroyed?

A. No, he only said it was regrettable that the crews had
been rescued.

Q. And you concluded from that that it was desirable to kill
the shipwrecked?

A. I did not draw any conclusions, since I passed on these
examples without any commentary.

                                                  [Page 252]

Q. Do you know the standing orders of the U-Boat Command? Do
they contain the general principles of U-boat warfare?

A. Yes.

Q. Are there any orders in the standing orders directing or
advising the killing of shipwrecked sailors or the
destruction of rescue facilities?

A. As far as I know, no.

Q. What kind of secrecy was attached to these standing

A. As far as I remember, "Geheime Kommandosache" - Top

Q. Do you remember that in Standing Order 511, the following
was ordered:

DR. KRANZBUEHLER: Mr. President, I read from an order which
I shall submit in evidence later on. I cannot do it now
because I have not as yet the original with me.

   "Standing Order of Flag Officer U-boats No. 511, 20th
   May, 1943.
   Taking on board officers of sunken ships.
   (1) As far as accommodation facilities on board permit,
   Captains and Chief Engineers of sunken ships are to be
   brought in. The enemy tries to thwart this intention and
   has issued the following order: '(a) Masters are not
   allowed to identify themselves when questioned, but
   should if possible use sailors selected especially for
   this purpose. (b) Crew has to state that Masters and
   Chief Engineers remained on board.' If in spite of
   energetic questioning it is not possible to find the
   Masters or the Chief Engineers, then the other ship's
   officers should be taken aboard.
   (2) Masters and officers of neutral ships, which,
   according to Standing Order No. 101, can be sunk (for
   instance, Swedish ships outside Goteborg Traffic), are
   not to be brought in because internment of these
   officers would violate International Law.
   (3) In case the ship's officers cannot be taken
   prisoner, members of the crew should be taken along, as
   far as accommodation facilities and further operations
   permit, for the purpose of interrogation for military
   and propagandist purposes.
   (4) In case of the sinking of a single cruising
   destroyer, corvette, or trawler, try at all events to
   take prisoners, if that can be done without endangering
   the boat. Interrogation of the prisoners at
   interrogation camps can produce valuable hints as to
   anti-submarine tactics, devices and weapons used by the
   enemy; the same applies to air crews of shot down


Q. Do you know that order?

A. The order is familiar to me.

Q. Do you know the order 513?

   "Standing Order of U-Boat Command, 1st June, 1944,
   Bringing in of Prisoners.
   (1) Statements of prisoners are the safest and best
   source of information regarding enemy tactics, weapons,
   location sets and methods, and questioning of prisoners
   from planes and destroyers may be of the greatest
   importance to us; therefore, as far as possible and
   without endangering the boat, the utmost is to be done
   to take such prisoners.
   (2) As prisoners are extremely willing to talk when
   captured, interrogate them at once on board. It is of
   special interest to know the manner of locating U-boats
   by aircraft, whether by radar or by passive location;
   for instance, by ascertaining, through electricity or
   heat, the location of the boat. Immediately report
   prisoners taken, in order to hand them over to returning

Do you know that order?

                                                  [Page 253]

Have you noticed and tried to clarify a contradiction
between those orders concerning the rescue of air crews in
each instance, and the story you told about the destruction
of air crews?

A. No, because the order of September, 1942, retains the
order with regard to bringing in as prisoners the masters
and the chief engineers.

Q. Did you hear of any instance in which a U-boat has
brought in masters and chief engineers but has killed the
rest of the crew?

A. No.

Q. Do you consider it at all possible that such an order can
be given-that is, that part of the crew should be rescued
and the rest of the crew should be killed?

A. No, Sir. Such an order cannot be given.

Q. Did you hear that a U-boat commander, on the basis of
your briefings, had destroyed rescue facilities or had
killed shipwrecked sailors?

A. No.

Q. Was it permitted to attack neutral vessels outside the
fixed blockaded areas?

A. Only in case they were not marked as neutrals according
to specifications.

Q. Was the Flag Officer U-Boat Command very severe in
enforcing this order concerning neutral ships?

A. Since such cases are not known to me, I cannot say
anything on that subject.

Q. Do you know that the commanders were threatened with
court martial if they did not obey the orders given for the
protection of neutrals?

A. Yes; I remember one case which happened in the Caribbean

Q. Do you remember an order of 1944 directing that neutral
ships were to be stopped and searched?

A. Yes, it was ordered - I do not remember the date - that,
in particular, Spanish and Portugese ships in the North
Atlantic should be stopped and searched.

Q. Did you pass on that order to the commanders?

A. As far as I recollect, this order was given in writing
and is contained in one of the official sets of orders. I
have passed on orders to commanders only in instances where
they were not contained in a set of orders.

Q. In passing that order on, did you make an addition as to
whether that order should be executed or not?

A. Yes, I remember that I said - when that order came by
radio and the commanders did not know of it yet - that they
should be exceedingly careful, as far as the stopping of
neutrals was concerned, since there existed always the
danger that a neutral ship might report the position of the
U-boat by radio. Owing to the air superiority of the enemy
in the North Atlantic, it would always be safer or better
not to be compelled to carry out these stoppings.

Q. Had you orders to make such additional remarks?

A. No. As far as I remember, one of the members of the staff
- I think it was Captain Hessler - told me that he
emphasised that any stopping of ships, including neutrals,
involved increased danger to the U-boat.

Q. Because of the air superiority?

A. Yes.

Q. Has your attention been called to the order concerning
the "so-called rescue ships"? Do you remember that?

A. Yes.

Q. Were these rescue ships recognised under International
Law as hospital ships, with special markings?

A. As far as I know, no.

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