The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                  [Page 223]

Q. What I am suggesting is that you come down in favour of a
siege, but you do not want any siege area declared. Will you
look at paragraph 2 of the conclusions, and then I will
leave the document to the Tribunal. That is the point I
suggest. In paragraph 2 of the conclusions you say:-

  "For the future conduct of economic warfare, the basic
  military requirements demand the utmost ruthlessness. The
  employment of the siege by sea as the most intensified
  form of economic warfare meets this demand. Even without
  the public announcement of a state of siege, after it has
  been clearly defined as a concept, a declaration which
  would have drawbacks militarily and from the point of
  view of International Law, and even without the
  declaration of a prohibited zone, it seems perfectly
  possible at the moment, as has been explained in this
  memorandum, to take military measures to introduce the
  most intensive form of economic warfare, and to achieve
  what are at present the greatest possible results in the
  interruption of enemy trade" - now the last words -
  "without the Naval War Staff being tied in all cases to
  special forms and areas."

That is your final conclusion, that you should have as
effective a siege as possible without proclaiming any area.
Is not that so?

A. No, that is not the conclusion. The conclusion is that we
cannot carry out a siege, but that it would be a matter for
the political leadership to decide. The political leadership
of the State has never suggested a siege by decree, and it
can be seen here quite clearly what, on the basis of the
memorandum, is suggested, and then how the intensification
gradually took place.

Q. We must not take time arguing about it, I want you to
make clear -

A. But -

Q. Let me finish. My suggestion to you is - and there I
leave it - that you rejected a formal siege, but you claimed
the right to sink at sight, without warning, all neutral
vessels in an area which the High Command may choose. Now, I
want to pass on to another subject, because I am afraid time
is getting on.

A. That is no siege, however. That was a directive issued
after neutral  ships did not heed our warning and continued
to enter the sea around Britain in order to support Britain
in the economic warfare which she, with the greatest
ruthlessness and severity, was conducting against us. It was
an emergency defence measure.

Q. I put it that the document speaks for itself, now that
the attention of the Tribunal has been drawn to it. I want
to come to another point. You have mentioned certain
matters, in answer to Dr. Horn this morning, with regard to
the treatment of American ships in the summer of 1941. In
April 1941, you were pressing for German naval forces to
operate freely up to three miles of the American coast
instead of the 300-mile safety limit which the Americans
were suggesting, were you not? Well, to save time I will
give the witness Document D-849, Exhibit GB 472. That says
you could not get in touch with the defendant von
Ribbentrop, and therefore you asked Baron von Weiszacker to
get a decision on these points:-

  "(1) Concerning the German naval forces in the western
  part of the Atlantic Ocean being allowed to operate
  freely as far as the international customary three-mile
  "(2) The cancellation of the preferential treatment which
  American merchant vessels have been enjoying so far in
  our warfare at sea."

Now, I hand you Document D-850, that will be Exhibit GB 473.
Your suggestion, which had been made in April, was turned
down by Hitler in June. It is a memorandum from Ritter in
the Foreign Office and it reads:-

"General Jodl informs me that at the recent interview which
Grand Admiral Raeder had with Hitler, the more far-reaching
orders issued to the naval forces, as they were discussed in
connection with the Raeder interview, have been postponed
until further notice.

                                                  [Page 224]

  "Also, permission to attack U.S. merchant vessels, within
  the framework of the prize law, has not been granted."

Your suggestion was to abandon the policy then existing and
attack up to the three-mile limit . Now, I want you to come
to another point

A. No, please may I make a statement concerning that? I
should like to say something, even if you do not put a
question to me. It is not right.

At that time, in March 1941, and on 1st April and later in
1941, a whole number of intensifications were introduced by
the United States, which I mentioned this morning, from the
document which I had before me. Therefore, it was clear that
I, on behalf of the Naval War Staff, which was supposed to
conduct the most effective naval war, urged that also with
respect to the United States steps should be taken which
were permissible according to International Law and that we
should start slowly. Those steps included:-

First: that we should no longer respect that 300-mile limit,
but go as far as the three-mile limit, where according to
existing International Law, it was possible to attack. That
is to say, not against International Law, but it was just
discontinuing certain favourable conditions which we had
granted the United States.

Q. That is exactly what I suggest to you. There is no
dispute between us. I was just establishing that point.

A. Yes ... No ...

Q. Well, I want you to come to -

A. I only wanted to say that during the negotiations with
Grand Admiral Donitz he demanded of us that we should not
treat certain neutrals better than others. We should treat
them equally; that is to say, we must sink them all, no
matter whether we wanted to do so or not, and of course we
were not bound to do that. The second thing: it was a matter
of course that a thoroughly justified suggestion on my part
from the point of view of the Naval War Staff had been
rejected by the Fuehrer if, according to the political
situation, he decided that at that time he did not desire to
adopt a severe attitude towards the United States.

Q. Now, I want you to come to quite a different point. Do
you say that you did not know anything about the
extermination of Jews in the Eastern territories?

A. I say clearly under oath that I had not the slightest
inkling about it. I might add in explanation that on no
account would Hitler have spoken about such things to a man
like myself, whose opinion he knew, because he was afraid
that on my part there would be serious objections. I
explained the other day why I used the word "Jews" in my
memorial speech. In my opinion, I was obliged to do so. But
that had nothing at all to do with an extermination of Jews.
About the Jewish matter I have only learned -

Q. Well -

A. Excuse me, please, one moment. I only learned something
about the Jewish matter when Jews, who were known to me,
mostly friends of my old parents, approached me and told me
that they were about to be evacuated from Berlin. And then I
intervened for them. That was the only thing I knew. On
those occasions I was told in answer to my questions that
they were to be evacuated to cities where ghettoes had been
established. I always understood that a ghetto was a
district in a city where all the Jews lived together, so
that they would not have to mingle with the rest of the

Q. Well, you know, my question was only: Did you know or did
you not, and you could have answered that yes or no. I want
you now to answer about that point -

A. Yes, but I must - so many questions have been asked about
this very point and as every man in my position who held the
same views says the same, that he does not know anything
about it, I should like to explain once for all that one did
not hear about these things, because civilians certainly did
not talk to us about that, because they were always afraid
that they would get into difficulties.

                                                  [Page 225]

The Fuehrer did not speak about it. I had no connection with
Himmler nor with other agents of the Gestapo. I did not know
anything about it.

Q. Well, now, I want you just to tell the Tribunal your
chain of command for the Baltic Coast. Is it correct that
you had the naval chief command, and then the Flag Officer
of the East Baltic Coast, Tallinn, and, under him, you had a
command at Libau; is that right? Was that your chain of

A. I did not understand that.

Q. Was your chain of command for the East Baltic Coast,
Kiel, Flag Officer Tallinn, and an attachment under him at
Libau? You had -

A. I assume so - that depends on various things. If they
were operational matters, then it had to do with the Naval
Group Commander East or North; and as far as matters of
organization were concerned, then it might have gone through
the station chief of the Baltic Sea.

Q. Well, then, at any rate, you had got in 1941 a naval
command at Libau, had you not?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. Well, now, I would like you just to look at Document D-
841, which is a deposition on oath by one of the naval
employees at Libau. My Lord, that will be Exhibit GB 474.

This witness says:-

"Deposition on oath of Walter Kurt Dittmann."

And then it says:-

  "I was Naval Administration Inspector and officer in
  charge of the Naval Clothing Store at Libau in Latvia.
  I held this position from the beginning of August 1941 to
  the end of March 1942.
  The Jewish population of Libau at that time was supposed
  to be about 7,000 people. Up to the end of March 1942
  many thousands of them had already been 'evacuated' by
  the Gestapo and the Latvian police. 'Evacuated' was the
  local expression for the annihilation of these people.
  All Jews were registered. When a new lot was evacuated it
  happened in the following way:
  The Latvian police fetched the Jews out of their houses,
  put them on lorries and drove them to the Naval Port
  about six kilometres outside the town. Later on these
  people had to march and were not taken in lorries.
  In the Naval Port these people were then shot with
  machine-guns. This was done by the Gestapo and the
  Latvian police. The police, of course, got their orders
  from the German Gestapo.
  I personally did not witness these incidents, but
  comrades told me all about them. Some of the Jews before
  they were shot worked for the Navy. About 80-100 people
  worked in the Clothing Store every day. About 100-150
  people worked in the Garrison Office every day.
  About fifty people worked in the Garrison Building Office
  (Naval) every day.
  Through these contacts and through personal visits to the
  houses of Jews I heard a lot regarding the terrible
  happenings in Libau during these months.
  I personally went to my superior, Festungsintendant Dr.
  Lancelle, and before that I also went to another
  superior, the officer in charge of the Hospital
  Administration, named Muller, both were Naval
  Administration Officials. I pointed out to them these
  abuses which have already been described. The answer I
  got was that they could not do anything and that things
  like that were best overlooked.
  The assistant Naval Administration Officer, Kurt
  Traunecker, accompanied a consignment of clothing from
  Kiel to Libau. He stayed a few
                                                  [Page 226]
  weeks in Libau and he expressed his displeasure at the
  conditions there regarding the annihilation of the Jews.
  He then went back to Kiel to the local Clothing Office.
  There again he expressed his displeasure and was ordered
  to appear at the Navy Quartermaster's Headquarters. Whom
  he saw there, I do not know, but it was made clear to him
  that these occurrences were not true, and therefore he
  should not talk about them any more, otherwise he would
  get into serious trouble.
  My personal opinion is that the higher officers of the
  Navy in Kiel and in other places in Germany must have had
  knowledge of these terrible conditions."

Are you saying, defendant, that with your naval detachments
on the East Coast of the Baltic and with these things
happening, nobody reported to you that the Jews were being
slaughtered by the thousands in the Eastern territories, you
are still saying it?

A. Yes, I knew nothing about it.

Q. What was your staff doing, if they were not telling you
about this? Had you an efficient staff? Do you say you had
an efficient staff?

A. That is a question which does not belong here. Of course
I had only efficient officers around me. But here we are
dealing with things which were not done by the Navy. It says
here in all places that it was the police and so on. I even
was in Libau once and I was told - and this is the only
thing I have to tell in connection with this matter - that
the peculiar thing was that the Jews in Libau, contrary to
their custom, were craftsmen, and, therefore, they were
doing useful work there. That was the only thing I heard
about it. As regards any extermination -

Q. When were you in Libau?

A. I cannot say now. It was after it was occupied, probably
immediately afterwards.

Q. Were you there in 1941 or 1942?

A. I said just now that I do not know exactly when; I have
to look it up somewhere. It does not say here that anything
was reported, only that it was apparently discussed in the
Navy Headquarters and with the Navy  Quartermaster, who did
not report to me. Of course I would have intervened if I had
heard about it.

Q. You think you would? Well, I will leave that. Now, tell
me about the Commando Order of 18th October, 1942. . You
received Hitler's Commando Order and passed it on to your
various divisions of the Navy, did you not?

A. Yes, I passed it on through the Naval War Command.

Q. Did you approve of it?

A. I did not recommend it, but I passed it on. I shall have
to make a statement if you want to know what I thought about

Q. Well, that is not what I am asking you. I am asking you -
first answer my question - did you approve of an order to
shoot commandos or to hand them over to the SD to be shot,
did you?

A. I did not recommend the order but, as I received it from
the Fuehrer, as it came into my hands, I passed it on as
ordered with the same instructions as to how far it was to
be passed on, and how it was to be returned. It was all
ordered by Hitler in detail. It was enough for me that in
one of the first paragraphs the reason for this order was
given, and the reasons why Hitler considered a deviation
from International Law justified. Moreover, a short time
before I had been in Dieppe in France, and there I was
informed that on the occasion of the commando action of the
British in France, the prisoners, I believe they were from
the Labour Service, who were working along the coast, had
been shackled with a noose around their neck and the other
end around the lower leg, so that when the leg weakened, the
noose tightened and the man choked.

                                                  [Page 227]

Q. Well, now, will you answer my question: Did you approve
of the order or not? You have not answered it yet. Did you
approve of the order?

A. I say again, no. I say I did not approve; I did not
recommend it. I said that twice already. I passed it on
because it was an order from my Commander-in-Chief.
Moreover, in one of the last paragraphs it said that that
order should not be applied for the treatment of prisoners
taken after a naval action or after large landing
operations, and I, as well as many others in the Navy,
concentrated our attention on this point because that was
our main activity. But I saw no reason to raise objections
to the Fuehrer on account of this order which was justified
in this way. And I would like to state very clearly that I,
as an officer, was not in a position to go to my Supreme
Commander and Chief of State to tell him, "Show me your
reasons for this order"; that would have been mutiny and
could not have been done under any circumstances.

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