The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
November 20 to December 1, 1945

Fifth Day: Monday, 26rd November, 1945
(Part 5 of 7)

[MR ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 168]

I suppose that is the French "force motrice."
"Her strength lies in the following:-

(1) The British themselves are proud, courageous, tenacious, firm in resistance and gifted as organisers. They know how to exploit every new development. They have the love of adventure and bravery of the Nordic race. Quality is lowered by dispersal. The German average is higher.

(2) World power in itself. It has been constant for 300 years. Extended by the acquisition of allies, this power is not merely something concrete, but must also be considered as a psychological force embracing the entire world. Add to this immeasurable wealth, with consequential financial credit.

(3) Geopolitical safety and protection by strong sea power and a courageous air force.

England's weakness.

If in the World War 1 we had had two battleships and two cruisers more, and if the battle of Jutland had been begun in the morning, the British Fleet would have been defeated and England brought to her knees. It would have meant the end of this war" - that war, I take it - " It was formerly not sufficient to defeat the

[Page 169]

Fleet. Landings had to be made in order to defeat England. England could provide her own food supplies. Today that is no longer possible.

The moment England's food supply routes are cut, she is forced to capitulate in one day. But if the Fleet is destroyed; immediate capitulation will be the result.

There is no doubt that a surprise attack can lead to a quick decision. It would be criminal, however, for the government to rely entirely on the element of surprise.

Experience has shown that surprise may be nullified by:

(1) Disclosure outside the limit of the military circles concerned.

(2) Mere chance, which may cause the collapse of the whole enterprise.

(3) Human failings.

(4) Weather conditions.

The final date for striking must be fixed well in advance. Beyond that time, the tension cannot be endured for long. It must be home in mind that weather conditions can render any surprise intervention by Navy and Air Force impossible.

This must be regarded as a most unfavourable basis of action.

(1) An effort must be made to deal the enemy a significant or the final decisive blow. Consideration of right and wrong or treaties do not enter into the matter. This will only be possible if we are not involved in a war with England on account of Poland.

(2) In addition to the surprise attack, preparations for a long war must be made while opportunities on the on the Continent for England are eliminated.

The army will have to hold positions essential to the Navy and Air Force. If Holland and Belgium are successfully occupied and held, and if France is also defeated, the fundamental conditions for a successful war against England will have been secured.

England can then be blockaded from Western France at close quarters by the Air Force, while the Navy with its submarines can extend the range of the blockade.


England will not be able to fight on the Continent.

Daily attacks by the Air Force and Navy will cut all her life-lines.

Time will not be on England's side.

Germany will not bleed to death on land.

Such strategy has been shown to be necessary by World War I and subsequent military operations. World War I is responsible for the following strategic considerations which are imperative:-

(1)With a more powerful Navy at the outbreak of the War, or a wheeling movement by the Army towards the Channel ports, the end would have been different.

(2) A country cannot be brought to defeat by an air force. It is impossible to attack all objectives simultaneously, and the lapse of time of a few minutes would evoke defence countermeasures.

(3) The unrestricted use of all resources is essential.

(4) Once the Army, in co-operation with the Air Force and Navy, has taken the most important positions, industrial production will cease to flow into the bottomless pit of the Army's battles, and can be diverted to benefit the Air Force and Navy.

The Army must, therefore, be capable of taking these positions. Systematic preparations must be made for the attack.

Study to this end is of the utmost importance. The aim will always be to force England to her knees.

A weapon will only be of decisive importance in winning battles, so long as the enemy does not possess it.

[Page 170]

This applies to gas, submarines and Air Force. It would be true of the latter, for instance, as long as the English Fleet had no available countermeasures; it will no longer be the case in 1940 and 1941. Against Poland, for example, tanks will be effective, as the Polish Army possesses no counter-measures.

Where straightforward pressure is no longer considered to be decisive, its place must be taken by the elements of surprise and by masterly handling."

The rest of the document, if the Tribunal please, deals more in detail with military plans and preparations. I think it unnecessary to read further.

The document just read is the evidence which specifically supports the allegations in Paragraph 4(a) of Section IV (F) of the indictment, appearing on page 9 of the printed English text, relating to the meeting of 23rd May, 1939. We think it leaves nothing unproved in those allegations.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Alderman, perhaps you ought to read the last page and the last five lines, because they refer in terms to one of the defendants.

MR. ALDERMAN: I didn't read these, Mr. President, simply because I am convinced that they are mistranslated in the English translation. I will be glad to have them read in the original German.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, if you are of that opinion.

MR. ALDERMAN: We could get it from the original German.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean that the English translation is wrong?


THE PRESIDENT: You had better inform us then if it is wrong.

MR. ALDERMAN: Did you have a reference to the last Paragraph headed "Working principles"?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, the one after that.

MR. ALDERMAN: Yes. Might I ask that the German interpreter read that, as it can be translated into the other languages. It is on page 16 of the original.



(1) Study of the entire problem.

(2) Study of the events.

(3) Study of the means needed.

(4) Study of the necessary training.

Men with great powers of imagination and high technical training must belong to the staff, as well as officers with sober and sceptical powers of understanding.

Working principles:-

(1) No one is to take part in this who does not have to know of it.

(2) No one can find out more than he must know.

(3) When must the person in question know it at the very latest? No one may know anything before it is necessary that he know it.

On Goering's question, the Fuehrer decided that:-

(a) The armed forces determine what shall be built.

(b) In the shipbuilding programme, nothing is to be changed.

(c) The armament programmes are to be modelled on the years 1943 or 1944."

Schmundt certified this text.

MR. ALDERMAN: Mr. President, the translation was closer than I had anticipated.


MR. ALDERMAN: We think, as I have just said, that this document leaves nothing unproved in those allegations in the indictment. It demonstrates that the Nazi conspirators were proceeding in accordance with a plan. It demonstrates the cold-blooded premeditation of the assault on Poland. It demonstrates that the questions concerning Danzig, which the Nazis had agitated with Poland as a political pretext, were not true questions, but were false issues, issues agitated to conceal their motive of aggressive expansion for food and "Lebensraum."

In this presentation of condemning documents, concerning the initiation of war in September 1939, I must bring to the attention of the Tribunal a group of

[Page 171]

documents concerning an address by Hitler to his chief military commanders, at Obersalzburg, on 22nd August, 1939, just one week prior to the launching of the attack on Poland.

We have three of these documents, related and constituting a single group. The first one, I do not intend to offer as evidence. The other two, I shall offer.

The reason for that decision is this: The first of the three documents came into our possession through the medium of an American newspaperman, and purported to be original minutes of this meeting at Obersalzberg, transmitted to this American newspaperman by some other person; and we had no proof of the actual delivery to the intermediary by the person who took the notes. That document, therefore, merely served to keep our prosecution on the alert, to see if it could find something better. Fortunately, we did get the other two documents, which indicate that Hitler on that day made two speeches, perhaps one in the morning, one in the afternoon, as indicated by the original minutes, which we captured. By comparison of those two documents with the first document, we conclude that the first document was a slightly garbled merger of the two speeches.

On 22nd August, 1939, Hitler had called together at Obersalzberg the three Supreme Commanders of the three branches of the Armed Forces, as well as the commanding generals, bearing the title "Oberbefehlshaber," Commanders- in-Chief.

I have indicated how, upon discovering this first document, the prosecution set out to find better evidence of what happened on this day. In this the prosecution succeeded. In the files of the O.K.W. at Flensburg, the "Oberkommamdo der Wehrmacht," Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces, there were uncovered two speeches delivered, by Hitler at Obersalzberg, on 22nd August, 1939. These documents are 798 PS and 1014 PS, in our series of documents.

In order to keep serial numbers consecutive, if the Tribunal please, we have had the first document, which I do not intend to offer, marked for identification exhibit USA 28. Accordingly, I offer the second document, 798 PS, in evidence as exhibit USA 29, and the third document 1014 PS as exhibit USA 30.

These are, again, especially the first one, rather lengthy speeches, and I shall not necessarily read the entire speech.

Reading from 798 PS, which is exhibit USA 29, the Fuehrer speaks to the Commanders-in-Chief on 22nd August, 1939. "I have called you together."

THE PRESIDENT: Is there anything to show where the speech took place?

MR. ALDERMAN: Obersalzberg.

THE PRESIDENT: How do you show that

MR. ALDERMAN: You mean on the document?


MR. ALDERMAN: I am afraid the indication "Obersalzberg" came from the first document which I have not offered in evidence. I have no doubt that the defendants will admit that Obersalzberg was the place of this speech.

The place is not very significant; it is the time.


MR. ALDERMAN: (Reading)

"I have called you together to give you a picture of the political situation, in order that you may have insight into the individual element on which I base my decision to act, and in order to strengthen your confidence. After this, we will discuss military details.

It was clear to me that a conflict with Poland had to come sooner or later. I had already made this decision in Spring." (I interpolate, I think he is there referring to the May document, which I have already read, L-79.) "But I thought I would first turn against the West in a few years, and only afterwards against the East. But the sequence cannot be fixed. One cannot close one's eyes even before a threatening situation. I wanted to establish an acceptable relationship with Poland, in order to fight first against the West, but this plan, [Page 172] which was agreeable to me, could not be executed, since the essential points have changed.

It became clear to me that Poland would attack us, in case of a conflict with the West.

Poland wants access to the sea.

The further development became obvious after the occupation of the Memel region, and it became clear to me that under the circumstances a conflict with Poland could arise at an inopportune moment.

I enumerate as reasons for this reflection, first of all, two personal constitutions" -

I suppose he means "personalities." That probably is an inept translation -
"my own personality, and that of Mussolini. Essentially, it depends on me, my existence, because of my political activities."
I interpolate to comment on the tremendous significance of the fact of a war, which engulfed almost the whole world, depending upon one man's personality.
"Furthermore, the fact that probably no one will ever again have the confidence of the whole German people as I do. There will probably never again be a man in the future with more authority. My existence is, therefore, a factor of great value. But I can be eliminated at any time by a criminal or an idiot.

The second personal factor is Il Duce. His existence is also vital. If something happens to him, Italy's loyalty to the alliance will no longer be certain. The basic attitude of the Italian Court is against the Duce. Above all, the Court sees in the expansion of the empire a burden. The Duce is the man with the strongest nerves in Italy.

The third factor, favourable for us, is Franco. We can ask only benevolent neutrality from Spain, but this depends on Franco's personality. He guarantees a certain uniformity and steadiness of the present system in Spain. We must take into account the fact that Spain has not as yet a Fascist Party or our internal unity.

On the other side, a negative picture, as far as decisive personalities are concerned. There is no outstanding personality in England or France."

I interpolate: I think Adolf Hitler must have overlooked one in England, perhaps many.

(Mr. Alderman continues)

"For us it is easy to make decisions. We have nothing to lose - we can only gain. Our economic situation is such, because of our restrictions, that we cannot hold out more than a few years. Goering can confirm this. We have no other choice; we must act. Our opponents risk much and can gain only a little. England's stake in a war is unimaginably great. Our enemies have men who are below average. No personalities, no masters, no men of action."
I interpolate again. Perhaps that last sentence explains what he meant by no personalities - no masters having authority that he had over his nation.
"Besides the personal favour, the political situation is favourable for us; the Mediterranean rivalry between Italy, France, and England; in the Orient tension, which leads to the alarming of the Mohammedan world.

The English Empire did not emerge from the last war strengthened. From a maritime point of view, nothing was achieved: there was conflict between England and Ireland, the South African Union became more independent, concessions had to be made to India England is in great danger, her industries unhealthy. A British statesman can look into the future only with concern.

France's position has also deteriorated, particularly in the Mediterranean.

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