The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/02/24

THE MARSHAL OF THE COURT: If it please the Tribunal, the
defendant Streicher is absent from this session.

THE PRESIDENT: I will deal with the documents in the order
in which they were dealt with by Dr. Kranzbuhler.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 5, Page 7, of the Document Book.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 60, Page 152.

The Tribunal allows Donitz 69, Page 170.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 60, Pages 173 to 197.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 72, Page 185.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 60, Page 204.

It rejects Donitz 74, Page 207.

It allows Donitz 60, Page 208.

It rejects Donitz 60, Page 209.

It rejects Donitz 75, Page 218.

It rejects Donitz 60, Page 219, Page 222 and Page 224.

It allows Donitz 60, Page 256.

It rejects Donitz 81, Pages 233 and 234; 234 being Donitz

It rejects Donitz 85, Page 242.

It rejects Donitz 89, Page 246.

It allows Donitz 9, Page 11, and Donitz 10, Page 12.

It rejects Donitz 12, Page 18.

It allows Donitz 13, Pages 19 to 26, and Page 49.

It allows Donitz 19, Page 34.

It allows Donitz 29, Pages 54 to 59, leaving out - that is
to say, not allowing Page 58.

It rejects Donitz 31, Page 64.

It rejects Donitz 32, Page 65.

It rejects Donitz 33, Page 66.

It allows Donitz 37, Page 78.

It rejects Donitz 38, Page 80.

It rejects Donitz 40, Page 86.

It rejects Goering No. 7, Page 89.

With reference to the next exhibit, Page 91, the Tribunal
would like to know from Dr. Kranzbuhler whether that is
already in evidence or not. It is Page 91 in the Donitz
document book in English, Volume 2, Page 91.

It is headed "C-21, GB 194."

DR. KRANZBUHLER (For the defendant Donitz):

That is an excerpt from a document which the prosecution has
submitted here and which is therefore already in evidence.

                                                  [Page 210]

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, then; we need not be troubled
about it.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 43, Page 95,

It allows Donitz 90, Page 258.

It allows Donitz 67, Page 96.

It allows Donitz 53, Page 99.

It rejects Donitz 47, Page 120.

It allows Donitz 48, Page 122.

It rejects Donitz 49, Page 131.

It rejects Donitz 51 and 52, Pages 134 and 135.

That is all.

The Tribunal will adjourn at a quarter to five and it will
be sitting in closed session thereafter.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: With the permission of the Tribunal, I call
Grand Admiral Donitz as witness.

(The defendant Donitz came to the witness-box.)


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Karl Donitz.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

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.)

You may sit down.



Q. Grand Admiral, since 1910 you have been a professional
officer, is that correct?

A. Since 1910 I have been a naval man, and an officer since

Q. Yes. During the World War, the first World War, were you
with the U-boat arm?

A. Yes, from 1916.

Q. Until the end?

A. Until the end of the war.

Q. After the first World War, when did you again have
contact with the U-boat arm?

A. On 27th September, 1935, I became the Commanding officer
of the U-boat Flotilla Weddigen, the first German U-boat
flotilla after 1918. As an introduction to taking up that
command a few days before, that is in September, 1935, I
spent a few days in Turkey, in order to go there in a U-boat
and to bridge the gap from 1918.

Q. Thus from 1918 to 1935 you had nothing to do with U-

A. No, nothing at all.

Q. What was your rank when you went to the U-boat arm in

A. I was a Fregattenkapitan.

Q. What did the German U-boat arm at that time consist of?

A. The U-boat Flotilla Weddigen, of which I became the
Commanding Officer, consisted of three small boats of 250
tons each, the so-called "Einbaume." Besides, there were six
somewhat smaller boats which were in a U-boat school which
was not under my command, for the purpose of training. Then
there were afloat and in service perhaps another six of
these small boats.

Q. Who informed you of your command as CO of the U-boat

A. Grand Admiral Raeder.

                                                  [Page 211]
Q. Did Grand Admiral Raeder on that occasion issue the order
that the U-boat arm should be prepared for a specific war?

A. No. I merely received the order to fill in that gap from
1918; to train the U-boats for the first time in cruising,
submersion and firing.

Q. Did you prepare the U-boats for war against merchant

A. Yes. I instructed the commanders as to how they should
behave if they stopped a merchantman, and I also issued an
appropriate tactical order for each commander.

Q. Do you mean to say that the preparation for war against
merchantmen was a preparation for war according to prize

A. Yes.

Q. That is to say, the preparations were concerned with the
stopping of ships on the surface?

A. The only instruction which I gave concerning the war
against merchantmen was an instruction on how the U-boat
should behave in the stopping and examining, the
establishing of the destination and so on, of a merchantman.
Later, I believe in the year 1938, when the draft of the
German prize regulations came, I passed this on to the
flotillas for the instruction of the commanders.

Q. You developed new tactics for U-boats, which became known
as "wolf pack tactics." What were these tactics, and had
they any connection with the warfare against merchantmen
according to the prize regulations?

A. The U-boats of all navies had so far operated singly,
contrary to all other categories of ships which, by tactical
co-operation, tried to get better results. The development
of the "wolf pack tactics" was nothing further than breaking
with that principle of individual action for each U-boat and
attempting to use U-boats exactly in the same manner as
other categories of warships, collectively. Such a method of
collective action was naturally necessary when a formation
was to be attacked, be it a formation of warships - that is,
several warships together, or be it a convoy. These "wolf
pack tactics," therefore, have nothing to do with war
against merchantmen according to prize regulations. They are
a tactical measure to fight formation of ships, and of
course, convoys, where procedure according to prize
regulations cannot be followed.

Q. Were you given the task of preparing for war, against a
definite enemy

A. I was not given any such task. I was instructed to
develop the U-boat arm as well as possible, just as it is
the duty of every front line officer of all armed forces of
all nations, to be prepared against all war emergencies.
Once, in the year 1937 or 1938, in the mobilization plan of
the Navy, I received the order that, in case France should
try to interrupt the rearmament by an attack on Germany, it
would be the task of the German U-boats to attack the
transports in the Mediterranean which would leave North
Africa for France.

I then carried out manoeuvres in the North Sea with this
task in mind. If you are asking me about a definite aim or
line of action, that, so far as I remember, was the only
mission which I received in that respect from the Naval War
Staff. That occurred in the year 1937 or 1938. According to
my recollection, that plan had been issued lest the
rearmament of Germany, at that time unarmed, might be
interrupted by some measure or other.

Q. In the year 1939, then, was the German U-boat arm
prepared technically and tactically for a naval war against

A. No. The German U-boat arm, in the autumn Of 1939,
consisted of about thirty to forty operational boats. That
meant that at any time about one-third could be used for
operations. In actual fact the situation seemed much worse
later. There was one month, for instance, when we had only
two boats out at sea. With this small number of U-boats it
was, of course, only possible to give pinpricks to a great
naval power such as England. That the Navy was not prepared
for war against England, is in my opinion, best and most
clearly to be seen from the fact that its armament had to be
radically changed at the beginning of the war. It had been
the intention to create a homogeneous fleet which, of
course, since it

                                                  [Page 212]

was in proportion much smaller than the British fleet, was
not capable of waging a war against England. This programme
for building a homogeneous fleet had to be discontinued when
the war with England started; only these large ships which
were close to completion were finished. Everything else was
abandoned or scrapped. That was necessary in order to free
the building capacity for building U-boats. That, also,
explains why the German U-boat war, in this last war,
actually only started in the year 1942, that is to say, when
the U-boats which had been ordered for building at the
beginning of the war, were ready for action. From peacetime
on, that is in 1940, the replacement of U-boats hardly
covered the losses.

Q. The prosecution has repeatedly termed the U-boat arm an
aggressive weapon. What do you say to this?

A. Yes, that is correct. The U-boat has, of course, the
assignment of approaching an enemy and attacking him with
torpedoes. Therefore, in that respect, the U-boat is an
aggressive weapon.

Q. Do you mean to say by that that it is a weapon for an
aggressive war?

A. Aggressive or defensive war is a political decision and,
therefore, it has nothing to do with military
considerations. I can certainly use a U-boat in a defensive
war because, in defensive war also the enemy's ships must be
attacked. Of course, I can use a U-boat in exactly the same
way in a politically aggressive war. If one should conclude
that the navies which have U-boats are planning an
aggressive war, then all nations - for all the navies of
these nations had U-boats, in fact many had more than
Germany, twice and three times as many - planned aggressive

Q. In your capacity as Flag Officer of U-boats, did you,
yourself, have anything to do with the planning of the war
as such?

A. No, nothing at all. My task was to develop U-boats,
militarily and tactically in action, and to train my
officers and men.

Q. Before the beginning of this war did you give any
suggestions or make any proposals concerning a war against a
definite enemy?

A. No, in no instance.

Q. Did you do so after this war had started?

A. No.

Q. The prosecution has submitted some documents which
contain orders from you to the U-boats and which date from
before the beginning of this war. An order for the placing
of certain U-boats in the Baltic, and an order, before the
Norway action, for the disposition of U-boats along the
Norwegian coast. I ask you, therefore, when were you, as
Flag Officer of U-boats, or from 1939 on as Commander-in-
Chief of U-boats, informed about existing plans?

A. I received information on plans from the Naval War Staff
only after these plans had been completed; that is to say,
only if I was to participate in some way in carrying them
out, and then only when it was necessary for their prompt

Q. Let us take the case of the Norway action, Grand Admiral.
When did you learn of the intention to occupy Norway, and in
what connection did you receive that information?

A. On 5th March, 1940, I was called from Wilhelmshaven,
where I had my command, to Berlin, to the Naval War Staff,
and at that meeting I was instructed on the plan and on my

Q. I present you now with an entry from the War Diary of the
Naval War Staff, which I will submit to the Tribunal as
Exhibit Donitz 6. It is on Page 8 of document book I.

  "5th March, 1940: The Commander-in-Chief of U-boats (BdU)
  participates in a conference with the Chief of Staff of
  the Naval War Staff in Berlin. Object of the conference:
  Preparation of the occupation of Norway and Denmark by
  the German Wehrmacht."

Is that the meeting which you have mentioned?

                                                  [Page 213]

A. Yes,

Q. In the case of Norway or in the previous case of the
outbreak of war with Poland, did you have the opportunity to
examine whether the tactical instructions which you had to
give to your U-boats, led or were to lead to the waging of
an aggressive war?

A. No, I had neither the opportunity nor indeed the
authority to do that. I should like to ask what soldier of
what nation, who receives any military task whatsoever, has
the right to approach his general staff and ask for
examination or justification as to whether an aggressive war
can evolve from this task. That would mean that -

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