The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Thirty-Fourth Day: Tuesday, January 15th, 1946
(Part 3 of 10)

[Page 253]

Q. What orders existed concerning hospital ships?

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A. Where these orders were laid down and whether in writing or not - I do not remember-I only remember that frequently the Flag Officer U-Boats reminded the commanders of the absolute inviolability of hospital ships.

Q. Do you know of any case in which a hospital ship was attacked by U-boats?

A. No; I do not know of such a case.

Q. If the B.D.U. had been interested in destroying helpless human beings, in violation of International Law, the destruction of hospital ships would have been an excellent measure, do you not think so?

A. Without any doubt.

DR. KRANZBUEHLER: No further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other defence counsel wish to cross- examine this witness?

(No response.)


Q. Did you ever save any of the survivors of the vessels that you torpedoed?

A. No, Sir. I have not been in a position to do that, due to the military situation.

Q. You mean to say it was dangerous to your boat to do it?

A. Not only that. A great part of the sinkings which I did took place in a convoy or in a high, rough sea, so that it was impossible to undertake any rescue measures.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): That is all.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Phillimore, do you wish to re- examine?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, I have about three questions.




Q. When you were a U-boat commander yourself, what were the orders with regard to rescue?

A. At the beginning of the War we had been told that the safety of your own boat was the decisive thing, and that the boat should not be endangered by rescue measures. Whether these orders had been laid down in writing at the outbreak of the War I do not remember.

Q. When you got this order of 17th September, 1942, did you take it merely as prohibiting rescue or as going further?

A. When I received that order, I noticed that it was not unambiguous, as orders of the B.D.U. normally were, that in this order there was a definite ambiguity.

Q. You have not answered my question. Did you take the order to mean that a U-boat commander should merely abstain from rescue measures, or as something further?

A. I interpreted that order to go further in some way, although not as an actual order; but that it was considered desirable.

Q. The instance you were given about the Bay of Biscay, had you any knowledge of the facts of that incident?

A. No, the surrounding circumstances of that case were not known to me.

Q. What were the actual words in which you passed that order on to commanders?

A. I told the commanders, literally the following: "We approach now a very delicate and difficult chapter; it is the question of the treatment of life-boats. The Flag Officer U-Boats has issued the following radio message in September, 1942." Thereupon I read the radio message of September, 1942, in full.

In most instances the chapter was then closed; no commander had any question to ask. In some few instances the commanders asked, "How should

[Page 255]

that order be interpreted?" In that case I gave the two examples as a means of interpretation. And then I added that officially such a thing cannot be ordered, that everybody has to reconcile that with his own conscience.

Q. Do you remember any comment being made by commanding officers after they had read the order?

A. Yes, Sir. Several commanders, following the reading of the order without any commentary being given, uttered the opinion, "That is very clear, but damned hard."

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn for 10 minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, I would not put before the Tribunal two cases where that order of the 17th September, 1942, was apparently put into effect. The first case is set out at the next document in the document book, which is D- 645. My Lord, I put that document in and it becomes Exhibit GB 203.

It is a report of the sinking of a steam trawler, a fishing trawler, the Noreen Mary, which was sunk by U-247 on 5th July, 1944. The first page of the document contains an extract from the log of the U-boat. The time reference 19-43 on the document is followed by an account of the firing of two torpedoes which missed, and then, at 20.55, the log reads:


Fishing vessels: (Bearings given of 3 ships).

Engaged the nearest. She stops after three minutes."

Then there is an account of a shot fired as the trawler lay stopped, and then, the final entry:
"Sunk by flak, with shots into her side. Sank by the stern."
The tribunal will notice there is no mention in the log of any action against the torpedoed or the shipwrecked seamen.

THE PRESIDENT: Why is it entered as 5.7.1943?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, that is an error.


COLONEL PHILLIMORE: It is a typing error. I should have pointed it out.

My Lord, the next page of the document is a comment on the action by the U-boat command, and the last line reads:

"Recognised success: Fishing vessel Noreen Mary sunk by flak."
Then there is an affidavit by James MacAlister, who was a deckhand on board the Noreen Mary at the time of the sinking. My Lord, reading the last paragraph on the first page of the affidavit. He has dealt earlier with having seen the torpedo tracks which missed the trawler. The last paragraph reads:
"At 21.10 hours, while we were still trawling, the submarine surfaced on our starboard beam, about 50 yards to the North-east of us, and without any warning immediately opened fire on the ship with a machine gun. We were 18 miles West from Cape Wrath, on a North- westerly course making 3 knots. The weather was fine and clear, sunny, with good visibility. The sea was smooth, with light airs."
My Lord, then there is an account of the firing in the next paragraph, and then, if I might read from the second paragraph on Page 2.

THE PRESIDENT: Why not read the first?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: If your Lordship please:

"When the submarine surfaced I saw men climbing out of the conning tower. The skipper thought at first the submarine was British, but when she opened fire he immediately slackened the brake to take the weight off gear (that is, the trawler), and increased to full speed, which was about 10 knots. The submarine chased us, firing her machine gun, and with the

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first rounds killed two or three men, including the skipper, who were on deck and had not had time to take cover. The submarine then started using a heavier gun from her conning tower, the first shot from which burst the boiler, enveloping everything in steam and stopping the ship.

By now the crew had taken cover, but in spite of this all but four were killed. The submarine then commenced to circle round ahead of the vessel, and passed down her port side with both guns firing continuously. We were listing slowly to port all the time but did not catch fire.

The mate and I attempted to release the lifeboat, which was aft, but the mate was killed whilst doing so, so I abandoned the attempt. I then went below into the pantry, which was below the waterline, for shelter. The ship was listing more and more to port, until finally at 22.10 she rolled right over and sank, and the only four men left alive on board were thrown into the sea. I do not know where the other three men had taken cover during this time, as I did not hear or see them until they were in the water.

I swam around until I came across the broken bow of our lifeboat, which, was upside down and managed to scramble on top of it. Even now the submarine did not submerge, but deliberately steamed in my direction and when only 60 to 70 yards away fired directly at me with a short burst from the machine gun. As their intention was quite obvious, I fell into the water and remained there until the submarine ceased firing and submerged, after which I climbed back onto the bottom of the boat. The submarine had been firing her guns for a full hour."

My Lord, then the affidavit goes on to describe the Second Engineer and others attempting to rescue themselves and to help each other, and then they were picked up by another trawler.

The last paragraph on that page:

"Whilst on board the Lady Madeleine the Second Engineer and I had our wounds dressed. I learned later that the Second Engineer had 48 shrapnel wounds, also a piece of steel wire 21 inches long embedded in his body."
And there is a sentence on which I do not rely, and the last sentence:
"I had 14 shrapnel wounds."
My Lord, and then the last two paragraphs of the affidavit:
"This is my fourth war-time experience, having served in the whalers Sylvester (mined) and New Seville (torpedoed), and the trawler Ocean Tide, which ran ashore.

As a result of this attack by U-boats, the casualties were six killed, two missing, two injured."

My Lord, the next document, D-647, I put in as Exhibit GB 204. My Lord, this is an extract from a statement given by the Second Officer of the ship Antonico, torpedoed, set afire, and sunk, on the 28th September, 1942, on the coast of French Guiana. The Tribunal will observe that the date of the incident is some eleven days after the issue of the order. My Lord, I would read from the words "that the witness saw the dead," slightly more than halfway down on the first page. An account has been given of the attack on the ship, which by then was on fire:
"That the witness saw the dead on the deck of the Antonico as he and his crew tried to swing out their lifeboat; that the attack was sudden, lasting almost 20 minutes; and that the witness already in the lifeboat tried to get away from the side of the Antonico in order to avoid being dragged down by the said Antonico and also because she was the aggressor's target; that the night was dark, and it was thus difficult to see the submarine, but that the fire aboard the Antonico lit up the locality in which she was submerging, helping the enemy to see the two lifeboats trying to get away; that the enemy ruthlessly machine-gunned the defenceless sailors in

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No. 2 lifeboat, in which the witness found himself, and killed the Second Pilot Amoldo de Andrade de Lima, and wounded three of the crew; that the witness gave orders to his company to throw themselves overboard to save themselves from the bullets; in so doing, they were protected and out of sight behind the lifeboat, which was already filled with water; even so the lifeboat continued to be attacked, At that time the witness and his companions were about 20 metres in distance from the submarine."
My Lord, I have not got the U-boat's log in that case, but you may think that, in view of the order with regard to entries in logs, namely, that anything compromising should not be put in, it would be no more helpful than in the case of the previous incident.

My Lord, the next document, D-646/A, I put in as Exhibit GB 205. It is a monitored account of a talk by a German Naval War Reporter on the long wave propaganda service from Friesland. The broadcast was in English, and the date is 11th March, 1943. It is, if I may quote:

"Santa Lucia, in the West Indies, was an ideal setting for romance, but nowadays it was dangerous to sail in these waters - dangerous for the British and Americans and for all the coloured people who were at their beck and call. Recently a U-boat operating in these waters sighted an enemy windjammer. Streams of tracer bullets were poured into the sails and most of the Negro crew leaped overboard, Knowing that this might be a decoy ship, the submarine steamed cautiously to within 20 yards, when hand grenades were hurled into the rigging. The remainder of the Negroes then leaped into the sea. The windjammer sank. There remained only wreckage. Lifeboats packed with men, and sailors swimming. The sharks in the distance licked their teeth in expectation. Such was the fate of those who sailed for Britain and America."
My Lord, the next page of the document I do not propose to read. It is an extract from the log of the U-boat believed to have sunk this ship. It was in fact the U-105.

My Lord, I read that because, in my submission, it shows that it was the policy of the enemy at the start to seek to terrorise crews, and it fits in with the order with regard to rescue ships and the killing of seamen.

If I might say so, in view of the cross-examination, the prosecution do not complain of rescue ships being attacked. They are not entitled to protection. The point of the order was that they were to be given priority in attack, and the order, therefore, is closely allied with the order of the 17th September, 1942. In view of the Allied building programme, it had become imperative to prevent the ships being manned.

My Lord, I pass to the period after the defendant had succeeded the defendant Raeder. My Lord, the next document is 2098-PS. It has been referred to but not, I think, put in. I put it in formally as Exhibit GB 206. My Lord, I will not read it. It merely sets out that the defendant Raeder should have the equivalent rank of a Minister of the Reich, and I ask the Tribunal to infer that on succeeding Raeder the defendant Donitz would presumably have succeeded to that right.

THE PRESIDENT: This is from 1938 onward?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: From 1938 onward.

The next document, D-648, I put in as Exhibit GB 207. It is an affidavit by an official, or rather it is an official report certified by an official of the British Admiralty. The certificate is on the last page, and it sets out the number of meetings the dates of the meetings and those present, on the occasion of meetings between the defendant Donitz or his representative with Hitler, from the time that he succeeded Raeder until the end. The certificate states:

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"I have compiled from them" - that is, from captured documents - "the attached list of occasions on which Admiral Donitz attended conferences at Hitler's headquarters. The list of other senior officials who attended the same conferences is added when this information was contained in the captured documents concerned. I certify that the list is a true extract from the collective documents which I have examined, and which are in the possession of the British Admiralty, London."
My Lord, I will not go through the list. I would merely call the Tribunal's attention to the fact that either Admiral Donitz or his deputy, Konteradmiral Voss, was present at each of these meetings; and that amongst those who were also constantly there were the defendants Speer, Keitel and Jodl, Ribbentrop and Goering, and also Himmler or his Lieutenants Fegelein or Kaltenbrunner.

My Lord, the inference which I ask the Tribunal to draw from the document is that from the time that he succeeded Raeder, this defendant was one of the rulers of the Reich, and was undoubtedly aware of all decisions, major decisions of policy.

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