The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Erich Raeder

(Part 8 of 9)

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(b) The order to shoot commandos. On 28 October 1942 the head of the Operations Division of the Naval War Staff promulgated to naval commands Hitler's order of 18 October 1942 requiring the shooting of commandos. The effect of this order was to deny the protection of the Geneva Convention to captured commandos. The document dated 28 October 1942 reads:

"Enclosed please find a Fuehrer Order regarding annihilation of terror and sabotage units.

"This order must not be distributed in writing by Flotilla leaders, Section Commanders or officers of this rank.

"After verbal distribution to subordinate sections the above authorities must hand this order over to the next highest section which is responsible for its confiscation and destruction." (C-179).

It will be difficult to conceive of clearer evidence than this, that Raeder appreciated the wrongfulness of Hitler's commando order.

One example will show that this order was executed by the German Navy during the period when Raeder was its Commander.

A certain commando operation of December 1942 had as its objective an attack on shipping in Bordeaux harbor. The Wehrmacht account of this incident states that six of the ten participants in that commando raid were arrested, and that all were shot on 23 March 1943 (UK-57). On this particular occasion the Navy under Raeder had implemented Hitler's order much more expeditiously. This fact appears in extracts from the war diary of Admiral Bachmann, who was the German Flag Officer in charge of Western France (C-176). The entry for 10 December 1942 reads:

"About 1015. Telephone call from personal representative of the Officer-in-charge of the Security Service in Paris, SS Obersturmfuehrer Dr. Schmidt to Flag Officer-in-charge s Flag Lieutenant, requesting postponement of the shooting, as interrogation had not been concluded. After consultation with the Chief of Operations Staff the Security Service had been directed to get approval direct from Headquarters. "1820. Security Service, Bordeaux, requested Security Service authorities at Fuehrer's headquarters to postpone the shooting for three days. Interrogations- continued for the time being." (C-176)

The entry for the next day, 11 December 1942, reads:

"Shooting of the two prisoners was carried out by a unit

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(strength 1/16) belonging to the naval officer in charge Bordeaux, in the presence of an officer of the Security Service, Bordeaux, on order of the Fuehrer." (C-176)

A note in green pencil in the margin opposite this entry reads:

"Security Service should have done this. Phone Flag Officer in Charge in future cases." (C-176)

This provision for "future cases" was in fact an order that commandos should be handed over to the Security Service to be shot.

It is therefore evident from Admiral Bachmann's war diary (C- 176) that the first two men to be shot from the Bordeaux operation were actually put to death by a naval firing party on 1 December 1942.

The Naval War Staff had this comment to make upon that shooting:

"The Naval Commander, West France, reports that during the course of the day explosives with magnets to stick on, mapping material dealing with the mouth of the Gironde, aerial photographs of the port installations at Bordeaux, camouflage material and food and water for several days were found. Attempts to salvage the canoe were unsuccessful. The Naval Commander, West France, has ordered that both soldiers be shot immediately for attempted sabotage, if their interrogation, which has begun, confirms what has so far been discovered. Their execution has, however, been -postponed in order to obtain more information.

"According to a Wehrmacht report, both soldiers have meanwhile been shot. The measure would be in accordance with the Fuehrer's special order, but is nevertheless something new in international law, since the soldiers were in uniform." (D-658)

That last sentence shows clearly that the Naval High Command under Raeder accepted allegiance to the Nazi conspiracy as of greater importance than any question of moral principle or professional honor. The shooting of commandos was not an act of war, but simple murder.

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