The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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This completed my general treatment of the key documents and
I now ask the Tribunal's permission to add a few points on
each individual document, since the prosecution again and
again stressed these documents as the basis for the charge
of conspiracy.

Discussion of 5th November, 1937, in the Reich Chancellery:

The crucial passages of this document are obvious, and the
prosecution has cited them often enough. But in dealing with
this document it should be taken into consideration that
both Goering and Raeder stated here that Hitler announced in
advance his intention of following a certain trend or
purpose in his speech. Hitler was dissatisfied with the
measures taken by Field-Marshal von Blomberg, and especially
by Generaloberst von Fritsch, the Commander-in-Chief of the
Army, and felt that progress in the rearmament of the Army
was too slow. Hitler therefore intentionally exaggerated,
and since this was known only to Goering and Raeder, it is
natural that the impression which the speech made on
Neurath, who had no idea of this intention, was entirely
different and considerably alarming.

It is interesting to note that apparently Hitler did not
fully get what he wanted, because the last two paragraphs of
the document indicate that to some extent Blomberg and
Fritsch saw through Hitler's scheming, and that his
exaggerations did not deceive them. Though Hitler did not
permit discussion on such occasions, Blomberg and Fritsch
intervened in this case and pointed to the need for
preventing England and France from lining up as Germany's
adversaries. Blomberg explained the reasons for his protest,
and in the penultimate paragraph of the document Fritsch
showed unmistakably that he was sceptical of Hitler's words,
by remarking that under such circumstances he would not be
able to take his planned vacation abroad, scheduled to begin
on 10th November.

It is also significant that Hitler thereupon came round and,
in contrast to his earlier statements, said that he was
convinced of England's non-participation, and that,
consequently, he also did not believe in any military action
against Germany un the part of France.

That Hitler's ideas in this document are not tenable is also
evident from the fact that as a starting-point for his
statements he voiced a truly fantastic view, namely an
Italian-French-English war or - equally fantastic - a civil
war in France. In contradictory terms Hitler spoke in his
speech on the one hand of an application of force, on the
other of an attack by Poland against East Prussia - which
could only refer to German defensive measures - and in
regard to Czechoslovakia he said that in all probability
England and France had already quietly written that country
off. This reference is an indication that Hitler was
prepared to negotiate, which also corresponds to the actual
historic developments. He said that Austria and
Czechoslovakia would be brought to their knees but,
nevertheless, in the following year, in March and September,
1938, he carried on negotiations and settled both questions
without war. This fact in particular seems significant,
because it proved to Raeder, in the course of later events
that he was right in not ascribing undue importance to
Hitler's sharp words of 5th November, 1937, for in spite of
these words Hitler, in reality, carried on negotiations at a
later date.

During his interrogation Raeder also rightly pointed out
that the second extensive Naval Pact had been concluded with
England only just a few months earlier and that as a result
he could not seriously expect Hitler to abandon a line of
policy which he himself was pursuing.

                                                   [Page 48]

And finally, there is this point: the whole document deals
with political questions on the one hand, and with possible
land operations on the other. Raeder had nothing to do with
political questions because he is no politician, while
Neurath as Foreign Minister, naturally had reason to
consider Hitler's political attitude more important. It is
also significant that Neurath testified here that, as a
result of this speech, he too asked Hitler for his personal
attitude, and that he refused to remain Foreign Minister
because Hitler told him that those were his actual
intentions. To me it seems typical of Hitler to tell one
person, namely Neurath, that perhaps he would go to war, and
to tell another, namely Raeder, that he would under no
circumstances wage war. This difference in explaining his
position was obviously caused by the fact that at that time
he no longer appreciated Neurath as Foreign Minister,
because he realised that in the foreign policy which he
proposed to follow, Neurath would not be as submissive as
the successor whom he had in view, Ribbentrop. On the other
hand, at that time he still wanted to retain Raeder as
Commander-in-Chief of the Navy at all costs. This is another
instance of how Hitler's actions were determined by a
certain ultimate purpose, and how he always and without any
compunction followed the principle that the end justifies
the means.

Hitler's speech of 23rd May, 1939, the so-called "Little
Schmundt", US-27. Here again Hitler expressed himself in the
most dubious fashion imaginable; he speaks of a programme of
aggression, of the preparation of a planned attack and of
the decision to attack Poland. I fail in no way to recognize
that there is good reason for the prosecution to consider
this document as particularly good evidence. I believe,
however, that taking into account the numerous aspects which
I pointed out, the value of this document as evidence in the
case of Raeder is very much smaller than the prosecution
maintains and very much smaller than a first glance at the
wording of the Schmundt version might warrant. Schmundt
obviously made an endeavour to formulate Hitler's
contradictory, fantastic and incongruous statements more
clearly in line with his exact military ways of thinking.
This gives the document a clarity which does not correspond
to Hitler's speech. We do not know when Schmundt prepared
the document, and he failed to show the record he had made
to the other participants.

During his examination and cross-examination the witness
Admiral Schulte-Monting pointed to the contradictions of
this document in particular, which I need not repeat here.
Of even greater and decisive importance is the contradiction
between these words and the words which Hitler at the same
time again and again used in conversation with Raeder, and
which always followed the same line, namely that he did not
intend to wage war and that he would not make excessive
demands.

Raeder was shocked by this speech, and was only calmed by
the private conversation which he had with Hitler directly
after the speech, when Hitler assured him that he would
under all circumstances settle the case of Poland also in a
peaceful manner. Raeder believed him, and had every right to
assume that Hitler was telling him the truth in answer to
his very precise question. I draw attention to the very
exact statements made on this document during the
examination of Raeder and the examination of the witness
Schulte-Monting. I especially refer to the statement of
Schulte-Monting that Hitler used the comparison that nobody
would go to court if he had received 99 Pfennigs but wanted
one Mark, and added that in the same way he had received
what he had asked for politically, and that consequently
there could be no war on account of this last political
question, namely the question of the Polish Corridor. That
Raeder himself was absolutely opposed to a war of aggression
and that he relied in this respect on Hitler's assurances,
is proven by the statements of all witnesses and not least
by the deposition by Donitz that on the occasion of the U-
boat manoeuvres in the Baltic Sea in July, 1939, Raeder
expressed his firm conviction that there would be no war.
Raeder, furthermore, knew that the Navy was absolutely unfit
for a war at sea against England; he had explained that to
Hitler again and again. But he was confident

                                                   [Page 49]

that in the Polish question also, Hitler, as he had said,
would again negotiate; the testimony of the witness Dahlerus
shows that negotiations did in fact take place, and they
were even successful at the beginning. The reason why
nevertheless the attempt finally failed and the Second World
War began, was explained in detail by the witness Dahlerus
who illustrated the terrible tragedy of this event.

It seems to me important that up to August, 1939, not only
the witness Dahlerus but also Chamberlain still believed in
Hitler's good will. It must be said again therefore that one
cannot expect Raeder as a soldier to have been more far-
seeing and to have recognized Hitler's dangerous ideas, if
men like Chamberlain, Halifax and Dahlerus did not even at
that time see through Hitler.

I myself have referred to the seriousness and the
incriminating character of this document, but I ask the
Tribunal to take into consideration that the incriminating
material in this document just as in the document of 5th
November, 1937, is of political nature. As defence counsel
for the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, I have to judge the
facts not from a political but from a military point of
view. From a military point of view, however, it is
absolutely impossible to follow the arguments of the
prosecution, because the military leaders are not authorized
to take part in decisions about war and peace, but are
merely obliged to make such military preparations as the
political leaders consider necessary. In no country of the
world does an admiral have to give his opinion on whether
the possible war, for which he must make plans, is a war of
aggression or a defensive war. In no country of the world
does the decision of the question whether war will be waged
rest with the military, but on the contrary it is always
left to the political leaders, or to the legislative bodies.

Accordingly, Article 45 of the German Constitution
stipulates that the Reich President represents the Reich in
international relations and stipulates further:

  "The declaration of war and the conclusion of peace are
  decreed by a law of the State."

Therefore, the question whether a war was to be waged
against Poland rested with the Reichstag and not with the
military leaders. Professor Jahrreiss has already explained
that in view of the constitutional development of the
National Socialist State this decision rested in the last
analysis exclusively with Hitler. For the case of Raeder it
is of no consequence whether Hitler could be regarded as
constitutionally authorized to start a war on his own
decision, as he actually did in the autumn of 1939. The
decisive factor is only that at all events the military
leaders were not authorized, either in practice or
constitutionally, to participate in this decision. The
prosecution cannot possibly maintain that every act of
military planning on the part of Germany was a crime; for
the military leaders, who merely receive the order to work
out a certain plan, are neither authorized nor obliged to
decide whether the execution of their plans will later on
lead to an aggressive or a defensive war. It is well known
that the allied military leaders rightly hold the same view.
No admiral or general of the Allied armed forces would
understand it, if a charge were brought against him on the
basis of the military plans which were made on the Allied
side too a long time before the war. I do not have to
elaborate this point, I believe it will suffice if I refer
to Ribbentrop Document No. 221. This is a secret document,
which, according to the title, deals with the "Second Phase
of the Anglo-French General Staff Conferences". This
document shows that exact plans, regarding the Allied
forces, were worked out for a war embracing many countries;
plans which according to this document include a war in
Europe and a war in the Far East. The document expressly
says that the French and British Commanders-in-Chief in the
Far East-I quote-"worked out a joint plan of operations",
and it expressly speaks about the importance of possessing
Belgian and Dutch territories as a starting-point for the
offensive against Germany. The decisive point about this
parallel military case seems to me to be the fact that this
document bears a date in the same month as Hitler's

                                                   [Page 50]

speech to the Commanders-in-Chief, which has already been
discussed, namely, May, 1939. The document has the
inscription: "London, 5th May, 1939".

I now come to the address of Hitler to the Commanders-in-
Chief on 22nd August, 1939, at the Obersalzberg.

Regarding the evidential value of Documents 1014-PS and 798-
PS submitted by the prosecution, I should like first of all
for the sake of brevity to refer to the statements which I
made to this Tribunal in connection with the formal
application to reject Document 1014-PS. Although the
Tribunal denied this application, I still maintain that the
evidential value attached to these documents, and
particularly to Document 1014-PS, is very small. The
American prosecution, in presenting these documents, pointed
out at the time that the Tribunal should take into
consideration any more accurate version of this speech which
the defence might be able to submit. I therefore submitted
Raeder Exhibit No. 77, the version of the witness Admiral
Boehm, and I believe that when I submitted it, I showed
convincingly that it is in fact a more accurate version than
the versions contained in the prosecution documents. Sir
David Maxwell Fyfe then handed in two documents in which
Boehm's version is very scrupulously compared with the
versions 1014-PS and 798-PS; in this way he considerably
facilitated the comparison of these documents for all of us.
So as on my part to assist the Tribunal and the prosecution
in making this comparison, I requested Admiral Boehm in the
meantime to compare these versions himself and in doing so
to use the compilation of the British prosecution which I
mentioned just now. The result is contained in Boehm's
affidavit.

When surveying all this material, it is clear that Document
1014-PS is extremely incomplete and inaccurate, all the more
so as, apart from its formal deficiencies, it is only one
and a half pages long, and for this reason alone cannot be
an adequate reproduction of a two-and-a-half-hours speech.

Document 798-PS is no doubt more satisfactory, but it also
contains numerous errors as Boehm's affidavit shows. Not
every sentence is of importance, but the point is that some
of the most important passages from which a charge against
the Commanders-in-Chief might more easily be deduced were
actually, according to Boehm's sworn statement, never spoken
at all. According to Boehm's affidavit it is not true that
Hitler said he had decided as early as spring, 1939, to
attack the West first and the East later. Nor did he use the
words: "I only fear that at the last moment some swine will
come to me with an offer of mediation; we shall continue in
the pursuit of our political aims." And, most important of
all, these words were never used, either: "Annihilation of
Poland in the foreground, the aim is the liquidation of the
living forces and not the reaching of a certain line";
Hitler only spoke of the breaking up of the military forces.

These differences in individual words and phrases are very
important, because they concern the sharp phrases to which
the prosecution has frequently drawn attention, and from
which the intention of a war violating International Law, or
even the intention to murder civilians, can be deduced. If
these phrases had been spoken, one could justly accuse the
Commanders-in-Chief who were present of having waged the war
and of having carried out Hitler's orders, in spite of the
criminal end in view. If, however, these sentences were not
used, but, as Boehm testified under oath, other sentences
referring merely to military aims, then the prosecution
cannot reproach any of the Commanders-in-Chief present for
having remained at their posts. No one can in earnest demand
of an admiral that he should resign his post a few days
before the outbreak of a war, and thus shake the military
power of his own country. I am quite convinced that the most
serious reproaches can, at any rate, be brought against
Hitler's attitude from after the time of the Munich
Agreement until the outbreak of the war in Poland, not - and
this is decisive for the Raeder case - not against the
Military Command, but exclusively against the Political
Leader. We know that Hitler himself recognized this, and for
that reason evaded all responsibility by his suicide,
without, either during or at the

                                                   [Page 51]

end of the war, showing the slightest regard for the life
and the well-being of the German people.

I come now to Hitler's speech to the Commanders-in-Chief on
23rd November, 1939. I shall deal with it quite briefly, and
if you will permit me, Mr. President, I should like to do
this now before the Tribunal adjourns, because the subject
which follows is rather longer.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

DR. SIEMERS: I think I can be relatively brief with regard
to this last key document, which again lacks the date on
which the record was made and the signature; we, therefore,
do not know the author of this document. It is not an
official transcript; and it again pursues a special trend.
Early in November, 1939, a serious difference had arisen
between Hitler and the Generals because Hitler wanted to
start the offensive in the West immediately, whereas the
Generals were of a different opinion, and apparently hoped
that the outbreak of a real world war might still be
avoided. Hitler's dissatisfaction and annoyance with his
Generals are clearly evident. In consequence, by repeating,
as usual, his past deeds, he strives to show what he has
accomplished, and also to show that he has always been in
the right. It is an absolutely typical Hitler speech,
corresponding to his public speeches in which he also loved
to boast and to glorify himself as a genius. Hitler, after
all, belonged to those people who always believe themselves
in the right, and avail themselves of every opportunity to
prove it. He also took the opportunity of using threats, to
nip in the bud the resistance in high military circles,
which had become known to him, and in this way strengthening
his dictatorship. It is absolutely typical when he says in
this document literally: "I shall not shrink from anything
and I shall destroy everyone who is against me." This was
also recognized by foreign military leaders. I draw
attention for example to General Marshall's official report,
which speaks about the "lack of far-reaching military
planning" and about the fact that the German High Command
did not have an all-embracing strategic plan, and points out
in this connection that "Hitler's prestige reached the stage
at which one no longer dared to oppose his views".

Finally it remains to be mentioned that these last key
documents date from a time when the war was already in
progress, and that the military leaders cannot he blamed if
in all their plannings during a war they strive to attain
victory. The allies too were planning at the same time. I
refer to documents Ribbentrop Exhibit No. 222 and Raeder
Exhibit No. 34; the former dates from 1st September, 1939,
and is a secret letter from General Gamelin to Daladier
containing the basic idea that it is necessary to invade
Belgium in order to wage the war outside the French
frontier. The other document also deals with military plans;
it is a secret letter from General Gamelin to General
Lelong, military attache of the French Embassy in London,
dated 13th November, 1939, and also concerns the operation
which the Allies had planned in Holland and Belgium.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 17th July, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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