The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Erich Raeder

(Part 7 of 9)

[Page 863]


(1) Instigation of the Navy to Violate the Rules of Warfare. Raeder throughout his career showed a complete disregard for any international rule or usage of war which conflicted with his intention of carrying through the Nazi program of conquest. Raeder has himself summarized his attitude in a long memorandum compiled by Raeder and the German Naval War Staff and dated 15 October 1939, only a few weeks after the war started UK-65). The memorandum, which concerns the intensification f the war at sea, reads in part as follows:

"I. Military requirements for the decisive struggle against Great Britain.

"Our naval strategy will have to employ all the military means at our disposal as expeditiously as possible. Military success can be most confidently expected if we attack British sea-communications wherever they are accessible to us with the greatest ruthlessness; the final aim of such attacks is to

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cut off all imports into and exports from Britain. We should try to consider the requirements. It is desirable to base all military measures, taken on existing International Law; however measures which are considered necessary from a military point of view, provided a decisive success can be expected from them, will have to be carried out, even if they are not covered by existing International Law. In principle therefore, any means of warfare which is effective in breaking enemy resistance should be used on some legal conception, even if that entails the creation of a new code of naval warfare.

"The supreme War Council will have to decide what measures of military and legal nature are to be taken. Once it has been decided to conduct economic warfare in its most ruthless form, in fulfilment of military requirements, this decision is to be adhered to under all circumstances and under no circumstances may such a decision for the most ruthless form of economic warfare, once it has been made, be dropped or released under political pressure from neutral powers; that is what happened in the World War to our own detriment. Every protest by neutral powers must be turned down. Even threats of further countries, including the US coming into the war, which can be expected with certainty should the war last a long time, must not lead to a relaxation in the form of economic warfare once embarked upon. The more ruthlessly economic warfare is waged, the earlier will it show results and the sooner will the war come to an end. The economic effect of such military measures on our own war economy must be fully recognized and compensated through immediate re-orientation of German war economy and the re-drafting of the respective agreements with neutral states; for this, strong political and economic pressure must be employed if necessary."

Those comments of Raeder are revealing and show that as an active member of the inner councils of the Nazi state up to 1943, Raeder must share responsibility for the many war crimes committed by his confederates and underlings in the course of their wars.

(2) The Navy's Crimes at Sea. Apart from this over-all responsibility of Raeder, certain war crimes were essentially initiated or ordered through the naval chain of command by Raeder himself.

(a) Attacks on neutral shipping. The minutes of a meeting

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between Hitler and Raeder on 30 December 1939 read in part as follows:

"The Chief of Naval War Staff requests that full power be given to the Naval War Staff in making any intensification suited to the situation and to the means of war. The Fuehrer fundamentally agrees to the sinking without warning of Greek ships in the American prohibited area in which the fiction of mine danger can be upheld, e.g., the Bristol Channel." (C-27)

At this time Greek ships also were neutral. This is another demonstration that Raeder was a man without principle. This incitement to crime was a typical group effort, since a directive effectuating those naval views was issued on 30 December 1939 by the OKW, and signed by Jodl (C-12). This directive reads:

"On 30 December 1939, according to a report of Ob.d.M., the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces decided that:

"1) Greek merchant ships in the area around England declared by USA. to be a barred zone are to be treated as enemy vessels.

"2) In the Bristol Channel, all shipping may be attacked without warning -- where the impression of a mining incident can be created.

"Both measures are authorized to come into effect immediately." (C-12)

A pencilled note at the foot of this directive reads:

"Add to (1) Attack must be carried out without being seen. The denial of the sinking of these steamships in case the expected protests are made must be possible." (C-12)

Another example of the callous attitude of Raeder's Navy towards neutral shipping is found in an entry in Jodl's diary for 16 June 1942 (1807-PS). This extract reads as follows:

"The operational staff of the Navy (SKL) applied on the 29th May for permission to attack the Brazilian sea and air forces. The SKL considers that a sudden blow against the Brazilian naval and merchant ships is expedient at this juncture (a) because defense measures are still incomplete; (b) because there is the possibility of achieving surprise; and (c) because Brazil is to all intents and purposes fighting Germany at sea." (1807-PS).

This was a plan for a kind of Brazilian "Pearl Harbor," although war did not in fact break out between Germany and Brazil until the 22 August 1942.

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Raeder also caused the Navy to participate in war crimes ordered by other conspirators. A single example will suffice.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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