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

Sixteenth Day: Monday, 10th December, 1945
(Part 7 of 9)

[Page 267]

THE PRESIDENT: Do you have any idea when that marginal notation was put in?

MR. ALDERMAN: I assume that was written by the recipient of this copy of the Order.


MR. ALDERMAN: By the recipient of this particular copy of the Order, which was the Naval War Staff.

"2. To prepare the way for the collaboration it is essential to strengthen the Japanese military potential with all means available.

For this purpose, the High Commands of the branches of the Armed Forces will comply in a comprehensive and generous manner with Japanese desires for information regarding German war and combat experience, and for assistance in military economics and in technical matters. Reciprocity is desirable, but this factor should not stand in the way of negotiations. Priority should naturally be given to those Japanese requests which would have the most immediate application in waging war.

In special cases the Fuehrer reserves the decisions to himself.

3. The harmonising of the operational plans of the two parties is the responsibility of the Navy High Command.

This will be subject to the following guiding principles:

(a) The common aim of the conduct of war is to be stressed as forcing England to the ground quickly, thereby keeping the United States out of the war. Beyond this, Germany has no political, military, or economic interests in the Far East which would give occasion for any reservations with regard to Japanese intentions.

(b) The great successes achieved by Germany in mercantile warfare make it appear particularly suitable to employ strong Japanese forces for the same purpose. In this connection every opportunity to support German mercantile warfare must be exploited.

(c) The raw material situation of the Pact Powers demands that Japan should acquire possession of those territories which it needs for the continuation of the war, especially if the United States intervenes. Rubber shipments must be carried out even after the entry of Japan into the war, since they are of vital importance to Germany.

(d) The seizure of Singapore as the key British position in the Far East would mean a decisive success for the entire conduct of war of the Three Powers.

In addition, attacks on other systems of bases of British naval power - extending to those of American naval power only if the entry of the United States into the war cannot be prevented - will result in

[Page 268]

weakening the enemy's system of power in that region and also, just like the attack on sea communications, in tying down substantial forces of all kinds (Australia).

A date for the beginning of operational discussions cannot yet be fixed.

4. In the Military Commissions to be formed in accordance with the Three-Power Pact, only such questions are to be dealt with as equally concern the three participating powers. These will include primarily the problems of economic warfare.

The working out of the details is the responsibility of the Main Commission, with the co-operation of the Armed Forces High Command.

5. The Japanese must not be given any intimation of the 'Barbarossa' operations."

It is signed by Keitel as Chief of the Armed Forces High Command.

If the Tribunal will glance at the distribution of this list, you will see that it went to the heads of all the Armed Forces, Armed Forces High Command, joint Operation Staff, Intelligence Divisions, and to the Chief of Foreign Affairs, simultaneously for Foreign Office.

It appears from what I have just read that the Nazi's cardinal operational principle in collaboration with Japan was, as early as March, 1941, the inducement of Japan to aggression against Singapore and other British Far Eastern bases. I shall pass over, for the moment, other references to the United States in Basic Order No. 24 and take that point up later.

I now wish to refer to our Document No. C-152, which has already been introduced by the British prosecution as Exhibit GB 122. This document is the top secret record of a meeting on 18th March, 1941, about two weeks after the issuance of Basic Order No. 24; a meeting attended by Hitler, the defendant Raeder, the defendant Keitel and the defendant Jodl. We are concerned only with Paragraph 2 in this instance, where Raeder, then Commander-in- Chief of the Navy, is speaking. I quote:-

"Japan must take steps to seize Singapore as soon as possible, since the opportunity will never again be as favourable (whole English Fleet contained; unpreparedness of U.S.A. for war against Japan; inferiority of U.S. Fleet vis-a-vis the Japanese). Japan is indeed making preparations for this action, but according to all declarations made by Japanese officers she will carry it out only if Germany proceeds to land in England. Germany must, therefore, concentrate all her efforts on spurring Japan to act immediately. If Japan has Singapore, all other East Asiatic questions regarding the U.S.A. and England are thereby solved (Guam, Philippines, Borneo, Dutch East Indies).

Japan wishes, if possible, to avoid war against U.S.A. She can do so if she takes Singapore as soon as possible."

The fact clearly appears, from these minutes, that military staff conferences had already been held with the Japanese, to discuss the activation of Japanese military support against the British, and to urge their immediate attack on Singapore. I quote again the second sentence in Paragraph 2 of our Document C-152.
"Japan is indeed making preparations for this action, but according to all declarations made by Japanese officers, she will carry it out only if Germany proceeds to land in England."

[Page 269]

Apparently the Nazis were subsequently able to persuade the Japanese to eliminate this condition precedent to their performance under the contract.

I now turn to further efforts by the defendant Ribbentrop to induce the Japanese to aggression against the British Commonwealth. On 29th March, 1941, he met the Japanese Foreign Minister, Matsuoka, who was then in Berlin. A report of their conversations, found in the German Foreign Office archives, is contained in our Document 1877-PS, which I now offer in evidence as Exhibit USA 152.

Relevant portions of this document have been translated into English. I shall now read from the top of Page 1 of the English translation:

"The R.A.M. (that is Ribbentrop) resumed the preceding conversation with Matsuoka about the latter's impending talks with the Russians, in Moscow, where they had left off. He expressed the opinion that it would probably be best, in view of the whole situation, not to carry the discussions with the Russians too far. He did not know how the situation would develop. One thing, however, was certain, namely that Germany would strike immediately, should Russia ever attack Japan. He was ready to give Matsuoka this positive assurance, so that Japan could push forward to the South on Singapore, without fear of possible complications with Russia. The largest part of the German Army was in any case on the Eastern frontiers of the Reich, and fully prepared to open the attack at any time. He (the R.A.M.), however, believed that Russia would try to avoid developments leading to war. Should Germany, however, enter into a conflict with Russia, the U.S.S.R. would be finished off within a few months. In this case, Japan had, of course, even less reason to be afraid than ever, if she wanted to advance on Singapore. Consequently, it need not refrain from such an undertaking because of possible fears of Russia.

He could not know, of course, just how things with Russia would develop. It was uncertain whether or not Stalin would intensify his present unfriendly policy against Germany. He (the R.A.M.) wanted to point out to Matsuoka that a conflict with Russia was anyhow within the realm of possibility. In any case, Matsuoka could not report to the Japanese Emperor, upon his return, that a conflict between Russia and Germany was impossible. On the contrary, the situation was such that such a conflict, even if it were not probable, would have to be considered possible."

I now omit five pages of the German text and continue directly with the English translation:-
"Next, the R.A.M. turned again to the Singapore question. In view of the fears expressed by the Japanese of possible attacks by submarines based on the Philippines, and of the intervention of the British Mediterranean and Home Fleets, he had again discussed the situation with General-Admiral Raeder. The latter had stated that the British Navy, during this year, would have its hands so full in the English home waters and in the Mediterranean, that it would not be able to send even a single ship to the Far East. General-Admiral Raeder had described the U.S. submarines as so bad that Japan need not bother about them at all.

Matsuoka replied immediately, that the Japanese Navy had a low estimate of the threat from the British Navy; it also held the view,

[Page 270]

that in case of a clash with the American Navy, it would be able to smash the latter without trouble. However, it was afraid that the Americans would not take up the battle with their fleet; thus the conflict with the United States might perhaps be dragged out to five years. This possibility caused considerable worry in Japan.

The R.A.M. replied that America could not do anything against Japan in the case of the capture of Singapore. Perhaps, for this reason alone, Roosevelt would think twice before deciding on active measures against Japan; for, while on one hand he could not achieve anything against Japan, on the other hand, there was the probability of losing the Philippines to Japan. For the American President, of course, this would mean a considerable loss of prestige; and because of the inadequate rearmament he would have nothing to offset such a loss.

In this connection Matsuoka pointed out that he was doing everything to reassure the English about Singapore. He acted as if Japan had no intention at all regarding this key position of England in the East. Therefore it might be possible that his attitude toward the British would appear to be friendly in words and in acts. However, Germany should not be deceived by that. He assumed this attitude not only in order to reassure the British, but also in order to foot the pro-British and pro-American elements until, one day, he would suddenly open the attack on Singapore.

In this connection, Matsuoka stated that his tactics were based on the certain assumption that the sudden attack against Singapore would unite the entire Japanese nation with one blow. ('Nothing succeeds like success,' the R.A.M. remarked.) He followed here the example of the words of a famous Japanese statesman, addressed to the Japanese Navy at the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war: 'You open fire, then the nation will be united.' The Japanese needed to be shaken up to awaken. After all, as an Oriental, he believed in fate, which would come, whether you wanted it or not."

I then omit part of the German text, and continue with what appears in the English translation:-
"Matsuoka then introduced the subject of German assistance in the blow against Singapore, a subject which had been broached to him frequently, and mentioned the proposal of a German written promise of assistance.

The R.A.M. replied that he had already discussed these questions with Ambassador Oshima. He had asked him to procure maps of Singapore in order that the Fuehrer - who probably must be considered the greatest expert on military questions at the present time - could advise Japan on the best method of attack against Singapore. German experts on aerial warfare, too, would be at her disposal; they could draw up a report, based on their European experiences, for the Japanese, on the use of dive-bombers from airfields in the vicinity, against the British Fleet in Singapore. Thus, the British Fleet would be forced to disappear from Singapore immediately.

Matsuoka remarked that Japan was less concerned with the British Fleet than with the capture of the fortifications.

[Page 271]

The R.A.M. replied that here, too, the Fuehrer had developed new methods for the German attacks on strongly fortified positions, such as the Maginot Line and Fort Eben Emael, which he could make available to the Japanese.

Matsuoka replied in this connection that some of the younger expert Japanese Naval officers, who were close friends of his, were of the opinion that the Japanese Naval Forces would need three months before they could capture Singapore. As a cautious Foreign Minister, he had doubled this estimate. He believed he could stave off any danger which threatened from America, for six months. If, however, the capture of Singapore required still more time, and if the operations should even drag out for a year, the situation with America would become extremely critical, and he did not know as yet how to meet it.

If at all avoidable, he would not touch the Netherland East Indies, since he was afraid that in case of a Japanese attack in this area, the oil fields would be set afire. They could be brought into operation again only after one or two years. The R.A.M. added that Japan would gain decisive influence over the Netherland East Indies simultaneously with the capture of Singapore."

On 5th April, about a week after the conference from whose minutes I have just quoted, Ribbentrop again met Matsuoka, and again pushed the Japanese another step along the road to aggressive war. The notes of this conference, which were also found in the German Foreign Office Archives, are contained in our Document 1882-PS, which I now offer as Exhibit USA 153. I shall read a few brief extracts from these notes, starting with the third paragraph on Page 1 of the English translation.
"In answer to a remark by Matsuoka that Japan was now awakening and, according to the Japanese temperament, would take action quickly after the previous lengthy deliberation, the Reich Foreign Minister replied that it was necessary, of course, to accept a certain risk in this connection, just as the Fuehrer had done so successfully with the occupation of the Rhineland, with the proclamation of sovereignty of armament, and with the resignation from the League of Nations."
I now omit several pages of the German text and continue with the English translation.
"The Reich Foreign Minister replied that the new German Reich would actually be built up on the basis of the ancient traditions of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which in its time was the only dominant power on the European Continent.

In conclusion, the Reich Foreign Minister once again summarised the points he wanted Matsuoka to take back to Japan with him from his trips-:

1. Germany had already won the war. With the end of this year, the world would realise this. Even England would have to concede it, if she had not collapsed before then, and America would also have to resign herself to this fact.

2. There were no conflicting interests between Japan and Germany. The future of both countries could be regulated in the long run on the basis that Japan should predominate in the Far East, Italy and Germany in Europe and Africa.

[Page 272]

3. Whatever might happen, Germany would win the war. But it would hasten victory if Japan entered the war. Such an entry into the war was undoubtedly more in the interest of Japan than in that of Germany, for it offered a unique opportunity, which would hardly ever return, for the fulfilment of the national objectives of Japan, a chance which would make it possible for her to play a really leading role in East Asia."
Here again, in the portion just quoted, we see Ribbentrop pursuing the same theme I have previously noted. Germany has already won the war for all practical purposes. Japan's entry will hasten the inevitable end. But Japan had better get the positions she wants during the war.

I also invite the Tribunal's attention to Ribbentrop's assurances, expressed in the quotation I read from 1877-PS, previously, that if Japan entered the conflict she likewise had nothing to fear from the Soviet Union. The references to the weaknesses of the United States, scattered throughout the quotations I have read, were also an ingredient in this brew which was being so carefully prepared and brought to the boil.

I should like to introduce one more document on the part of the case dealing particularly with exhortation of the Japanese to aggression against the British Commonwealth. This is our Document 1538-PS, which I now offer as Exhibit USA 154. This document is a top secret report, dated 24th May, 1941, from the German Military Attache in Tokyo, to the Intelligence Division of the O.K.W. I wish merely to call attention, at this point, to the last sentence in Paragraph 1, wherein it is stated:-

"The preparations for attack on Singapore and Manila stand."
I shall return to this document later. I point out here, however, the fact which appears from the sentence I have just read, that the German military were keeping in close touch with the Japanese Operational Plans against Singapore, which the Nazi conspirators had fostered.

Next, exhortations by the Nazis to Japanese aggression against the U.S.S.R.

I invite the Tribunal's attention at this point, to the language of the Indictment on Page 10 of the English edition. I quote, beginning with the eighth line from the top of the page

"The Nazi conspirators conceived that Japanese aggression would weaken and handicap those nations with whom they were at war and those with whom they contemplated war. Accordingly, the Nazi conspirators exhorted Japan to seek a 'new order of things.'"
The evidence I have just adduced showed the Nazi exhortations with particular reference to the British Commonwealth of Nations. We now turn to their effort to induce the Japanese to commit a "stab in the back" on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Here again, the defendant Ribbentrop appears as the central figure.

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