The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
December 3 to December 14, 1945

Fifteenth Day: Friday, 7th December, 1945
(Part 7 of 9)


[Page 216]

I do not think I need trouble the Tribunal with the rest. The next document in the bundle, PS-1541, which I offer in evidence as Exhibit GB 117, is the directive issued for the actual attack on Greece. Before reading it, it might be convenient if I summarised the position of the Italian invading forces at that time, as this is one of the factors mentioned by Hitler in the directive. I can put it very shortly. I again use the words in which H.M. Minister reported:-
"The morale of the Greek Army throughout has been of the highest, and our own naval and land successes at Taranto and in the Western Desert have done much to maintain it.

With relatively poor armaments and the minimum of equipment and modern facilities they have driven back or captured superior Italian forces, more frequently than not at the point of the bayonet. The modern Greeks have thus shown that they are not unworthy of the ancient traditions of their country and that they, like their distant forbears, are prepared to fight against odds to maintain their freedom."

In fact, the Italians were getting the worst of it, and it was time that Hitler came to the rescue. Accordingly, this directive was issued on 13th December, 1940; it is Top Secret, Directive Number 20, for the Operation Marita. The distribution included one to the Commander of the Navy, which, of course, would be the defendant Raeder; one to the Commander of the Air Force, which would be the defendant Goering; one to the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, Keitel; and one to the Command Staff, which, I take it, would be the defendant Jodl. I shall read the first two paragraphs and then summarise the next two, if I may:-
"The result of the battles in Albania is not yet decisive. Because of a dangerous situation in Albania it is doubly necessary that the British

[Page 217]

attempt to create air bases under the protection of a Balkan front be foiled, as this would be dangerous above all to Italy as well as to the Roumanian oil fields.

My plan, therefore, is (a) to form a slowly increasing task force in Southern Roumania within the next few months, (b) after the setting in of favourable weather, probably in March, to send this task force for the occupation of the Aegean North coast by way of Bulgaria, and (c) if necessary, to occupy the entire Greek mainland (Operation Marita). The support of Bulgaria is to be expected."

The next paragraph gives the forces for the operation, and Paragraph 4 deals with the operation Marita itself. Paragraph 5 states:-
"The military preparations, which will produce exceptional political results in the Balkans, demand the exact control of all the necessary measures by the General Staff. The transport through Hungary and the arrival in Roumania will be reported step by step by the General Staff of the Armed Forces, and are to be explained, at first, as a strengthening of the German Army mission in Roumania. Consultations with the Roumanians or the Bulgarians which may point to our intentions, as well as notification to the Italians, are each subject to my consent, as also are the sending of scouting missions and advanced parties."
I think I need not trouble the Tribunal with the rest. The next document, PS-448, which I put in as Exhibit GB 118, is again a "Top Secret Directive" carrying the plan a little further; it deals with decisive action in support of the Italian forces in Tripoli and in Albania. I read, if I may, the first short paragraph, and then the paragraph at the foot of the page.
"The situation in the Mediterranean theatre of operations demands, for strategical, political and psychological reasons, German assistance, due to employment of superior forces by England against our allies."
And in Paragraph 3, after dealing with the forces to be transferred to Albania, the directive sets out what the duties of the German forces will be:-
(a) To serve in Albania for the time being as a reserve for an emergency case, should new crises arise there.

(b) To ease the burden of the Italian Army group when later attacking with the aim of tearing open the Greek defence front at a decisive point for a far-reaching operation.

(c) To open up the Straits West of Salonika from the rear, in order to support thereby the frontal attack of List's Army."

That directive was signed by Hitler, and, as can be seen on the original which I have put in, it was initialled by both the defendant Keitel and the defendant Jodl. Here again, of course, a copy went to the defendant Raeder, and I take it that the copy sent to Foreign Intelligence would probably reach the defendant Ribbentrop.

I pass to C-134, the next document in the bundle, which becomes Exhibit GB 119. This records a conference which took place on 19th and 2oth January between the defendant Keitel and the Italian General, Guzzoni, and which was followed by a meeting between Hitler and Mussolini, at which the defendants Ribbentrop, Keitel and Jodl were present.

I need not trouble the Tribunal with the meeting with the Italians, but if you would pass to Page 3 of the document, there is a paragraph there in

[Page 218]

the speech which the Fuehrer made, which is perhaps just worth reading - the speech by the Fuehrer on 20th January, 1941, in the middle of Page 3. It sets out that the speech was made after the conference with the Italians, and then shows who was present.

On the German side I would call your attention to the presence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, and the Chief of the Armed Forces Operational Staff. These are, of course, the defendants Ribbentrop, Keitel and Jodl; and on the Italian side, the Duce, Ciano and the three Generals.

It is the last paragraph that I would wish to read:-

"The massing of troops in Roumania serves a threefold purpose:
(a) An operation against Greece.
(b) Protection of Bulgaria against Russia and Turkey.
(c) Safeguarding the guarantee to Roumania.

Each of these tasks requires its own group of forces, altogether, therefore, very strong forces whose deployment far from our base requires a long time.

Desirable that this deployment is completed without interference from the enemy. Therefore disclose the game as late as possible. The tendency will be to cross the Danube at the last possible moment and to line up for attack at the earliest possible moment."

I pass to the next document, PS-1746, which I offer as Exhibit GB 120. That document is in three parts. It consists, in the first place, of a conference between Field Marshal List and the Bulgarians, on 8th February.

The second part and the third part deal with later events, and I will, if I may, come back to them at an appropriate time.

I would read the first and the last paragraphs on the first page of this document.

"Minutes of questions discussed between the representatives of the Royal Bulgarian General Staff and the German Supreme Command - General Field Marshal List - in connection with the possible movement of German troops through Bulgaria and their commitment against Greece and possibly against Turkey, if she should involve herself in the war."
And then the last paragraph on the page shows the plan being concerted with the Bulgarians:-
Paragraph 3: "The Bulgarian and the German General Staffs will take all measures in order to camouflage the preparation of the operations, and to assure in this way the most favourable conditions for the execution of the German operations as planned.

The representatives of the two General Staffs consider it suitable to inform their Governments that it will be advisable, of necessity, to take secrecy and surprise into consideration when the Three Power Treaty is signed by Bulgaria, in order to assure the success of the military operations."

I pass then to the next Document, C-59. I offer that as Exhibit GB 121. It is a further Top Secret Directive of 19th February. I need not, I think, read it. All that is set out of importance is the date for the Operation Marita. It sets out that the bridge across the Danube is to be begun on 28th February, the river crossed on 2nd March, and the final orders to be issued on the 26th February at the latest.

[Page 219]

It is perhaps worth noting that on the original, which I have put in, the actual dates are filled in the handwriting of the defendant Keitel.

It is perhaps just worth setting out the position of Bulgaria at this moment, Bulgaria adhered to the Three-Power Pact on 1st March -


COLONEL PHILLIMORE: 1941. And on the same day the entry of German troops into Bulgaria began in accordance with the Plan Marita and the directives to which I have referred the Tribunal.

The landing of British troops in Greece on 3rd March, in accordance with the guarantee given in the spring of 1939 by His Majesty's Government, may have accelerated the movement of the German forces; but, as the Tribunal will have seen, the invasion of Greece had been planned long beforehand and was already in progress at this time.

I pass now to the next document in the bundle, C-167, which I put in as Exhibit GB 122. 1 am afraid it is not a very satisfactory copy, but the original, which I have put in, shows that both the defendants, Keitel and Jodl, were present at the interview with Hitler which this extract records. It is a short extract from a report by the defendant Raeder on an interview with Hitler, in the presence of the defendants Keitel and Jodl. It is perhaps interesting as showing the ruthless nature of the German intention.

"The C.-in-C. of the Navy asks for confirmation that the whole of Greece will have to be occupied even in the event of a peaceful settlement.

Fuehrer: The complete occupation is a prerequisite of any settlement."

The above document-

THE PRESIDENT: Is it dated ?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: It took place on the 18th March at 1600 hours.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that on the original document?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: Yes, on the original document.


COLONEL PHILLIMORE: The document I have referred to shows, it is submitted, that the Nazi conspirators, in accordance with their principle of liquidating any neutral who did not remain disinterested, had made every preparation by the end of January and were, at this date, in the process of moving the necessary troops to ensure the final liquidation of Greece, which was already at war with and getting the better of their Italian allies.

They were not, however, yet ready to deal with Yugoslavia, towards which their policy accordingly remained one of lulling the unsuspecting victim. On 25th March, 1941, in accordance with this policy, the adherence of Yugoslavia to the Three-Power Pact was secured. This adherence followed a visit on 15th February, 1941, by the Yugoslav Premier Cvetkovic and the Foreign Minister Cinkar-Markovic to the defendant Ribbentrop at Salzburg and subsequently to Hitler at Berchtesgaden, after which these ministers were induced to sign the Pact at Vienna on 25th March. On this occasion the defendant Ribbentrop wrote the two letters of assurance, which are set out in the next document in the bundle, PS- 2450, which I put in as Exhibit GB 123. If I might read from half-way down the page:-

"Notes of the Axis Governments to Belgrade.

[Page 220]

At the same time, when the protocol on the entry of Yugoslavia to the Tri-Partite, Pact was signed, the governments of the Axis Powers sent to the Yugoslavian Government the following identical notes:

'Mr. Prime Minister.

In the name of the German Government and at its behest I have the honour to inform Your Excellency of the following:

On the occasion of the Yugoslavian entry today into the Tri-Partite Pact the German Government confirms its determination to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia at all times.'"

That letter was signed by the defendant Ribbentrop, who, you will remember, was present at the meeting in August, 1939, when he and Hitler tried to persuade the Italians to invade Yugoslavia. In fact it was 11 days after this letter was written that the Germans did invade Yugoslavia and two days after the letter was written that they issued the necessary order.

If I might read the second letter

"Mr. Prime Minister.

With reference to the conversations that occurred in connection with the Yugoslavian entry into the Tri- Partite Pact, I have the honour to confirm to Your Excellency herewith in the name of the Reich Cabinet (Reichsregierung), that in the agreement between the Axis Powers and the Royal Yugoslavian Government, the Governments of the Axis Powers during this war will not direct a demand to Yugoslavia to permit the march or transportation of troops through Yugoslavian national territory."

The position at this stage, the 25th March, 1941, was, therefore, that German troops were already in Bulgaria moving towards the Greek frontier, while Yugoslavia had, to use Hitler's own term in his letter to Mussolini, "become disinterested" in the cleaning-up of the Greek question.

The importance of the adherence of Yugoslavia to the Three- Power Pact appears very clearly from the next document in the bundle, PS-2765, which I put in as GB 124. It is an extract from the minutes of a meeting between Hitler and Ciano, and, if I might just read the first paragraph

"The Fuehrer first expressed his satisfaction with Yugoslavia's joining the Tri-Partite Pact and the resulting definition of her position. This is of special importance in view of the proposed military action against Greece, for, if one considers that for 350 to 4oo kilometres the important line of communication through Bulgaria runs within 20 kilometres of the Yugoslav border, one can judge that with a dubious attitude of Yugoslavia an undertaking against Greece would have been militarily an extremely foolhardy venture."
Again it is a matter of history that on the night of 26th March, when the two Yugoslav ministers returned to Belgrade, General Simovic and his colleagues effected their removal by a coup d'etat, and Yugoslavia emerged on the morning of 27th March, ready to defend, if need be, its independence. The Yugoslav people had found itself.

The Nazis reacted to this altered situation with lightning rapidity, and the immediate liquidation of Yugoslavia was decided on.

I ask the Tribunal to turn back to PS-1746, which I put in as GB 120, to the second part on Page 3 of the document, consisting of a record of a conference of Hitler and the German High Command on the situation in Yugoslavia, dated 27th March, 1941.

[Page 221]

It shows that those present included the Fuehrer; the Reich Marshal, that is of course, the defendant Goering; Chief of the O.K.W., that is the defendant Keitel; Chief of the Wehrmacht Fuehrungstab, that is the defendant Jodl. Then - over the page - "later on the following persons were added." I call the Tribunal's attention to the fact that those who came in later included the defendant Ribbentrop.

If I might read the part of Hitler's statement set out on Page 4

"The Fuehrer describes Yugoslavia's situation after the coup d'etat. Statement that Yugoslavia was an uncertain factor in regard to the coming Marita action and even more in regard to the Barbarossa undertaking later on. Serbs and Slovenes were never pro-Germans."
I think I can pass on to the second paragraph:
"The present moment, is for political and military reasons favourable for us to ascertain the actual situation in the country and the country's attitude towards us. For, if the overthrow of the Government would have happened during the Barbarossa action, the consequences for us probably would have been considerably more serious."

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.