(3) The Order to Kill Commandos. An internal memorandum of the Naval War Staff, written by the division dealing with International Law to another division, discusses the order of 18 October 1942, with regard to the shooting of Commandos (C-178).
Doubt appears to have arisen in some quarters with regard to the understanding of this order. Accordingly, in the last sentence of the memorandum it is suggested:
"As far as the Navy is concerned, it remains to be seen whether or not this case should be used to make sure, after a conference with the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, that all departments concerned have an entirely clear conception regarding the treatment of members of commando units." (C-178)
Whether that conference took place or not is not known. The document is dated some 11 days after Doenitz had taken over command from Raeder.
But in July 1943, the Navy handed over to the SD Norwegian and British Navy personnel, whom the Navy decided came under the terms of the order, for shooting. An affidavit by a British barrister-at-Law who served as judge advocate at the trial of the members of the SD who executed the order states (D-649):
"The accused were charged with committing a war crime, in that they at Ulven, Norway, in or about the month of July
1943, in violation of the laws and usages of war, were concerned in the killing of ***" [there follow the names of six personnel of the Norwegian Navy, including one officer, and one telegraphist of the British Navy, prisoners of war.]
"There was evidence before the Court; which was not challenged by the Defense, that Motor Torpedo Boat No. 345 set out from Lerwick in the Shetlands on a naval operation for the purpose of making torpedo attacks on German shipping off the Norwegian coast, and for the purpose of laying mines in the same area. The persons mentioned in the charge were all the crew of the Torpedo Boat.
"The defense did not challenge that each member of the crew was wearing uniform at the time of capture, and there was abundant evidence from many persons, several of whom were German, that they were wearing uniform at all times after their capture.
"On 27 July 1943, the Torpedo Boat reached the island of Aspo off the Norwegian coast, north of Bergen. On the following day the whole of the crew were captured and were taken on board a German naval vessel which was under the command of Admiral von Schrader, the Admiral of the west coast. The crew were taken to the Bergenhus, where they had arrived by 11 p.m. on 28th July. The crew were there interrogated by Leut. H. P. W. W. Fanger, a Naval Leutnant of the Reserve, on the orders of Korvettenkapitaen Egon Drascher, both of the German Naval Intelligence Service. This interrogation was carried out upon the orders of the staff of the Admiral of the west coast. Leut. Fanger reported to the Officer in Charge of the Intelligence Branch at Bergen that in his opinion all the members of the crew were entitled to be treated as prisoners of war, and that officer in turn reported both orally and in writing to the Sea Commander, Bergen, and in writing to the Admiral of the west coast.
"The interrogation by the Naval Intelligence Branch was concluded in the early hours of 29th July, and almost immediately all the members of the crew were handed over on the immediate orders of the Sea Commander, Bergen, to Obersturmbannfuehrer of the SD, Hans Wilhelm Blomberg, who was at that time Kommandeur of the Sicherheitspolizei at Bergen. This followed a meeting between Blomberg and Admiral von Schrader, at which a copy of the Fuehrer order of 18 October 1942 was shown to Blomberg. This order
dealt with the classes of persons who were to be excluded from the protection of the Geneva Convention and were not to be treated as prisoners of war, but when captured were to be handed over to the SD. Admiral von Schrader told Blomberg that the crew of this Torpedo Boat were to be handed over in accordance with the Fuehrer order, to the SD." (D-649)
The affidavit goes on to describe the interrogation by officials of the SD. These officials took the same view as the Naval Intelligence officers, that the crew were entitled to be treated as prisoners of war. Nevertheless, the crew were taken out and shot by an execution squad composed of members of the SD. The affidavit concludes as follows:
"It appeared from the evidence that in March or April, 1945, an order from the Fuehrer Headquarters, signed by Keitel, was transmitted to the German authorities in Norway. The substance of the order was that members of the crew of commando raids who fell into German captivity were from that date to be treated as ordinary prisoners of war. This order referred specifically to the Fuehrer order referred to above." (D-649)
The date mentioned is important; it was time "in March or April, 1945," for these men to put their affairs in order.
The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.
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