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 4 of 10)


[Page 258]

My Lord, I pass to the next document, C-178, that has already been put in as Exhibit USA 544. It is an internal memorandum of the Naval War Staff, written by the division dealing with International Law to another division, and the subject is the order with regard to the shooting of Commandos of 18th October, 1942, with which the Tribunal, I think, are familiar.

The point of the document is that some doubt appeared to have arisen in some quarters with regard to the understanding of the order, and in the last sentence of the memorandum it is suggested, "As far as the Navy is concerned, it remains to be seen whether or not this case should be used to make sure, after a conference with the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, that all departments concerned have an entirely clear conception regarding the treatment of members of Commando units."

My Lord, whether that conference took place or not I do not know. The document is dated some 11 days after this defendant had taken over from the defendant Raeder.

But the next document in the book, D-649, which I put in as Exhibit GB 208, is an instance of the Navy in July of that year, July, 1943, handing over to the S.D. for shooting, Norwegian and British naval personnel, whom the Navy decided came under the terms of the order. My Lord, it is an affidavit by a British barrister-at-law who served as judge advocate at the trial of the members of the S.D. who executed the order.

Paragraph I sets out that the deponent was judge advocate at the trial of 10 members of the S.D. by a military court held at the Law Courts, Oslo, Norway, which sat on Thursday, 29th November, 1945, and concluded its sitting on Tuesday, 4th December, 1945.

My Lord, the next paragraph sets out who convened the court, and the names of the prosecuting and defending counsel, and the third paragraph states:

"The accused were charged with committing a war crime, in that they at Ulven, Norway, in or about the month of July, 1943, in violation of the laws and usages of war, were concerned in the killing" - and then there follows the names of six personnel of the Norwegian Navy, including one officer, and one leading telegraphist of the Royal Navy, prisoners of war.
I might read from paragraph 4:
"There was evidence before the Court, which was not challenged by the defence, that Motor Torpedo Boat No. 345 set out from Lerwick in the Shetlands on a naval operation for the purpose of making torpedo attacks on German shipping off the Norwegian coast, and for the purpose of laying

[Page 259]

mines in the same area. The persons mentioned in the charge were all the crew of the torpedo boat."

Paragraph 5: "The defence did not challenge that each member of the crew was wearing uniform at the time of capture, and there was abundant evidence from many persons, several of whom were German, that they were wearing uniform at all times after their capture."

Paragraph 6: "On 27th July, 1943, the torpedo boat reached the island of Aspo off the Norwegian coast, north of Bergen. On the following day the whole of the crew were captured and were taken on board a German naval vessel which was under the command of Admiral von Schrader, the Admiral of the West coast. The crew were taken to Bergenhus where they had arrived by 11 p.m. on 28th July. The crew were there interrogated by Lieut. H. P. W. Fanger, a Naval Lieutenant of the Reserve, on the orders of Korvettenkdaitan Egon Drascher, both of the German Naval Intelligence Service. This interrogation was carried out upon the orders of the staff of the Admiral of the West coast. Lieut. Fanger reported to the Officer in Charge of the Intelligence Branch at Bergen that in his opinion all the members of the crew were entitled to be treated as prisoners of war, and that officer in turn reported both orally and in writing to the Sea Commander, Bergen, and in writing to the Admiral of the West coast.

Paragraph 7: The interrogation by the Naval Intelligence Branch was concluded in the early hours of 29th July, and almost immediately all the members of the crew were handed over on the immediate orders of the Sea Commander, Bergen, to Obersturmbannfuehrer of the S.D., Hans Wilhelm Blomberg, who was at that time Kommandeur of the Sicherheitspolizei at Bergen. This followed a meeting between Blomberg and Admiral von Schrader, at which a copy of the Fuehrer order of the 18th October, 1942, was shown to Blomberg. This order dealt with the classes of persons who were to be excluded from the protection of the Geneva Convention and were not to be treated as prisoners of war, but when captured were to be handed over to the S.D. Admiral von Schrader told Blomberg that the crew of this torpedo boat were to be handed over, in accordance with the Fuehrer order, to the S.D.

Paragraph 9: The S.D. then conducted their own interrogation -

THE PRESIDENT: You can summarise the rest, cannot you?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: If your Lordship pleases.

My Lord, paragraph 9 described the interrogation by officials of the S.D., and that these officials took the same view as the Naval Intelligence officers, that the crew were entitled to be treated as prisoners of war; that despite this they were taken out and shot by an execution squad composed of members of the S.D.

Then there is a description of the disposal of the bodies.

My Lord, the last paragraph is perhaps important in connection with the case against the defendant Keitel.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, read it.


"(11) It appeared from the evidence that in March or April, 1945, an order from the Fuehrer Headquarters, signed by Keitel, was transmitted to the German authorities in Norway. The substance of the order was that members of the crews of Commando raids who fell into German captivity were from that date to be treated as ordinary prisoners of war. This order referred specifically to the Fuehrer order referred to above."
The members of the Tribunal will of course have noted the date; it was time to put their affairs in order.

My Lord, the next document, C-158, I put in as Exhibit GB 209. It consists of two extracts from minutes of conference, on the 19th and 20tb February,

[Page 260]

1945, conferences between the defendant Donitz and Hitler. If I might read the first and last sentence of the first extract:
"The Fuehrer is considering whether or not Germany should renounce the Geneva Convention."
That is, of course, the 1929 prisoners of war convention. And the last sentence:
"The Fuehrer orders the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy to consider the pros and cons of this step and to state his opinion as soon as possible."
Then the second extract; the defendant Donitz states his opinion in the presence of the defendant Jodl and the representative of the defendant Ribbentrop. It is the last two sentences on which I rely:
"On the contrary, the disadvantages" - that is, the disadvantages of renouncing the convention - "outweigh the advantages. Even from a general standpoint it appears to the Commander-in-Chief that this measure would bring no advantage. It would be better to carry out the measures considered necessary without warning, and at all costs to save face with the outer world."
My Lord, it is no small matter, that document, when one reflects that it was to that convention that we owe the fact that upwards of 165,000 British and 65,000 to 70,000 American prisoners of war were duly recovered at the end of the war. And to advocate breaching that convention, preferably without saying so, is not a matter to be treated lightly.

My Lord, the next document, C-171, I put in as Exhibit GB 210. It is another extract from the minutes of a meeting between the defendant Donitz and Hitler, the 1st July, 1944. The extract is signed by the defendant:

"Regarding the General Strike in Copenhagen, the Fuehrer says that the only weapon to deal with terror is terror. Court-martial proceedings create martyrs. History shows that the names of such men are on everybody's lips, whereas there is silence with regard to the many thousands who have lost their lives in similar circumstances without court-martial proceedings."
My Lord, the next document, C-195, I put in as Exhibit GB 211. It is a memorandum signed by the defendant, dated late in 1944. There is no specific date on the document, but it is late in 1944, in December, I think, of 1944. The distribution on the third page includes Hitler, Keitel, Jodl, Speer and the Supreme Command of the Air Force.

My Lord, if I might read the second paragraph. He is dealing with the review of German shipping losses.

"Furthermore, I propose reinforcing the shipyard working parties by prisoners from the concentration camps, and as a special measure for relieving the present shortage of coppersmiths, especially in U-boat construction, I propose to divert coppersmiths from the construction of locomotives to ship-building."
Then he goes on to deal with sabotage, and the last two paragraphs on that page are:
"Since, elsewhere, measures for exacting atonement taken against whole working parties amongst whom sabotage occurred, have proved successful, and, for example, the shipyard sabotage in France was completely suppressed, possibly similar measures for the Scandinavian countries will come under consideration."
THE PRESIDENT: Do you need to read any more than that?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, no. The last sentence of the document in the next page is:

"Item 2 of the summing-up reads: '12,000 concentration camp prisoners will be employed in the shipyards as additional labour (security service agrees to this).'" That is the S.D.

[Page 261]

My Lord, this man was one of the rulers of Germany, and, in my submission, that document alone is sufficient to condemn him. It was not for nothing that at these meetings Himmler and his Lieutenants, Fegelein and Kaltenbrunner, were present.

My Lord, they were not there to discuss U-boats or the use of battleships. It is clear, in my submission, from this document that this defendant knew all about concentration camps and concentration camp labour, and as one of the rulers of Germany he must bear his full share of that responsibility.

My Lord, I pass to the last document, D-650, which I put in as Exhibit GB 212.

My Lord, this contains the orders issued by the defendant in April. The document, in my submission, shows the defendant's fanatical adherence to the Nazi creed, and his preparedness, even at that stage, to continue a hopeless war at the expense of human life and with the certainty of increased destruction and misery to the men, women and children of this country. I read the last paragraph on the second page:

"I therefore demand of the commanding officers of the Navy: That they clearly and unambiguously follow the path of military duty, whatever may happen. I demand of them that they stamp out ruthlessly all signs and tendencies among the men which endanger the following of this path."
Then he refers to an order:
"I demand from Senior Commanders that they should take just as ruthless action against any commander who does not do his military duty. If a commander does not think he has the moral strength to hold his position as a leader in this sense, he must report this immediately. He will then be used as a soldier in this fateful struggle, in some position in which he is not burdened with any tasks as a leader."
And then the last paragraph on that page, from the secret Baltic Order of the Day of 19th April, he gives an example of the type of under-officer who should be promoted:
"An example: In a prison camp of the auxiliary cruiser Cormorau, in Australia, a petty officer acting as camp senior officer, had all Communists, who made themselves noticeable among the inmates of the camp systematically done away with, in such a way that the guards did not notice it. This petty officer is sure of my full recognition for his decision and his execution. After his return, I shall certainly promote him, as he has shown that he is fitted to be a leader."
My Lord, of course the point is not whether the facts were true or not, but the type of order that he was issuing. My Lord, if I might just sum up, the defendant was no plain sailor, playing the part of a service officer, loyally obedient to the orders of the Government of the day; he was an extreme Nazi who did his utmost to indoctrinate the Navy and the German people with the Nazi creed. It is no coincidence that it was he who was chosen to succeed Hitler; not Goering, not Ribbentrop, not Goebbels, not Himmler. He played a big part in fashioning the U-boat, fleet, one of the most deadly weapons of aggressive war. He helped to plan and execute aggressive war, and we cannot doubt that he knew well that these wars were in deliberate violation of treaties. He was ready to stoop to any ruse where he thought he would not be found out, such as breaches of the Geneva Convention or of neutrality, where they might hope to maintain that sinking was due to a mine. He was ready to order, and did order, the murder of helpless survivors of sunken ships, an action only paralleled, by that of his Japanese ally.

My Lord, there can be few countries where widows or parents do not mourn for men of the merchant navies whose death was due to the callous brutality with which, at the orders of this man, the German U-boats did their work.

My Lord, my learned friend, Major Elwyn Jones, will now deal with the defendant Raeder.

[Page 262]

MAJOR ELWYN JONES: May it please the Tribunal, it is my duty to present to the Tribunal the evidence against the creator of the Nazi Navy, the defendant Raeder. The allegations against him are set out in Appendix A of the Indictment at Pages 33 and 34, and the Tribunal will see that the defendant Raeder is charged with promoting and participating in the planning of the Nazi wars of aggression; with executing those plans; and with authorising, directing and participating in Nazi War Crimes, particularly war crimes arising out of sea warfare.

At the outset the Tribunal may find it convenient to look at Document 2888-PS, which is already before the Tribunal as Exhibit USA 13, which the Tribunal will find at Page 96 of the document book. That is a document which sets out the offices and positions held by the defendant Raeder. The Tribunal will see that he was born in 1876 and joined the German Navy in 1896. By 1915 he had become commander of the Cruiser Koln. In 1928 he became an admiral, chief of naval command, and head of the German Navy. In 1935 he became Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. In 1936, on Hitler's 47th birthday, he became General Admiral, a creation of Hitler's. In 1937 he received the high Nazi honour of golden badge of honour of the Nazi Party. In 1938 he became a member of the secret cabinet council. And in 1939 he reached the empyrean of Grand Admiral, a rank created by Hitler, who presented Raeder with a marshal's baton. In 1943 he became Admiral Inspector of the German Navy, which, as the Tribunal will shortly see, was a kind of retirement into oblivion, because from January, 1943 on, as the Tribunal has heard, Donitz was the effective commander of the German Navy.

In these eventful years of Raeder's command of the German Navy from 1928 to 1943 he played a vital role. I would like, in the first instance, to draw the Tribunal's attention to Raeder's part in building up the German Navy as an instrument of war to implement the Nazis' general plan of aggression.

The Tribunal is by now familiar with the steps by which the small navy permitted to Germany under the Treaty of Versailles was enormously expanded under the guidance of Raeder. I will do no more than to remind the Tribunal of some of the milestones upon Raeder's road to Nazi mastery of the seas, which mercifully he was unable to attain.

With regard to the story of Germany's secret rearmament in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, I would refer the Court to the Document C-156, which is already before the Court as Exhibit USA 41, and which the Tribunal will find at Page 26 of the document book. That document, as the Tribunal will remember, was "A history of the fight of the German Navy against Versailles, 1919 to 1935," which was published secretly by the German Admiralty in 1937. The Tribunal will remember that that history shows that before the Nazis came to power the German Admiralty was deceiving not only the governments of other countries, but its own legislature and, at one stage, its own government. Its secret measures of rearmament ranged from experimental U-boat and E-boat building to the creation of secret intelligence and finance organisations. I only propose to trouble the Tribunal with a reference to the last paragraph at Page 33 of the document book, which refers to the role of Raeder in this development. It is an extract from Page 75 of this Document C- 156, and it reads:

"The commander-in-chief of the Navy, Admiral Raeder, had received hereby a far-reaching independence in the building and development of the Navy. This was only hampered insofar as the previous concealment of rearmament had to be continued in consideration of the Versailles Treaty."

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