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 7 of 10)


[Page 271]

The next entry, for 19th March, 1941, which is at Page 54 of the document book, shows that by March of 1941 Raeder had begun to consider what prospects of naval action the Russian aggression had to offer. There is the entry:
"In case of 'Barbarossa,' Supreme Naval Commander describes the occupation of Murmansk as an absolute necessity for the Navy, Chief of the Supreme Command Armed Forces considers compliance very difficult."
In the meantime, the entries in this document show that Mussolini, the flunkey of Nazism, was crying out for a more active Nazi Mediterranean policy. I refer the Court to Page 57 of the document book, the entry for 30th May:
"Duce demands urgently decisive offensive Egypt-Suez for autumn 1941; 12 divisions are needed for that; 'That stroke would be more deadly to the British Empire than the capture of London'; Chief, Naval Operations agrees completely."
And then, finally, the entry for 6th June, indicating strategic views of Raeder and the German Navy at this stage, reads as follows. It is at Page 58 of the document book:
"Naval Supreme Commander with the Fuehrer: Memorandum of the Chief, Naval Operations. Observation on the strategic situation in the Eastern Mediterranean after the Balkan campaign, and the occupation of Crete, and further conduct of the War."
A few sentences below:
"The memorandum points with impressive clarity to the decisive aims of the war in the Near East, which have been made tangible by the successes

[Page 272]

in the Aegean area. The memorandum emphasises that the offensive utilisation of the present favourable situation must take place with the greatest acceleration and energy, before England has again strengthened her position in the Near East with help from the United States of America. The memorandum, however, realises the unalterable fact that the campaign against Russia would be opened very shortly, demands that the undertaking 'Barbarossa'' which, because of the magnitude of its aims, naturally stands in the foreground of the operational plans of the Armed Forces leadership, must under no circumstances lead to an abandonment, diminishing or delay of the conduct of the War in the Eastern Mediterranean."
Thus Raeder was, throughout, seeking an active role for his Navy in the Nazi war plans.

Now, once Hitler had decided to attack Russia, Raeder sought a role for the Navy in the campaign against Russia, and the first naval operational plan against Russia was a particularly perfidious one. I refer the Tribunal to Document C-170 from which I have just been reading, at Page 59 of the document book. There the Tribunal will see an entry for 15th June, 1941:

"On the proposal of Chief Naval Operations, use of arms against Russian submarines, South of the Northern boundary of the Oland danger zone (declared area) is permitted immediately; ruthless destruction is to be aimed at."
The defendant Keitel provided a characteristically dishonest pretext for this action in his letter, Document C-38, which is at Page 11 of the document book and which will be Exhibit GB 223. The Tribunal sees that Keitel's letter is dated 15th June, 1941:
"Subject: Offensive action against enemy submarines in the Baltic Sea.


High Command of the Navy-O.K.M. (S.K.L.).

Offensive action against submarines South of the line Memel-Southern tip of Oland is authorised if the boats cannot be definitely identified as Swedish during the approach by German naval forces.

The reason to be given up to B-day is that our naval forces are believed to be dealing with penetrating British submarines."

Now, that was on 15th June, 1941, and the Tribunal will remember that the Nazi attack on Russia did not take place until the 22nd of June of 1941. In the meantime, Raeder was urging Hitler, as early as 18th March, 1941, to enlarge the scope of the world war by inducing Japan to seize Singapore. The relevant document is C-152, Exhibit GB 122, at Page 23 of the document book. There is just one paragraph which I would like to be permitted to read. The document describes the audience of Raeder with Hitler on 18th March and the entries in it, in fact, represent Raeder's own views:
"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 only carry it out 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 determinedly takes Singapore as soon as possible."

The Japanese, of course, as events proved, had different ideas from that.

[Page 273]

By 20th April, 1941, the evidence is that Hitler had agreed with this proposition of Raeder's of inducing the Japanese to take offensive action against Singapore. I refer the Tribunal again to Document C-170 and to an entry at Page 56 of the document book, for 20th April, 1941. A few sentences from that read:
"Naval Supreme Commander with the Fuehrer: Naval Supreme Commander asks about result of Matsuoka's visit, and evaluation of Japanese-Russian pact. Fuehrer has informed Matsuoka, 'that Russia will not be touched if she behaves in a friendly manner according to the treaty. Otherwise, he reserves action for himself.' Japan-Russia pact has been concluded in agreement with Germany, and is to prevent Japan from advancing against Vladivostok, and to cause her to attack Singapore."
Now an interesting commentary upon this document is found in Document C-66, at Page 13 of the document book. At that time the Fuehrer was firmly resolved on a surprise attack on Russia, regardless of what was the Russian attitude to Germany. This, according to reports coming in, was frequently changing, and there follows this interesting sentence:
"The communication to Matsuoka was designed entirely as a camouflage measure and to ensure surprise."
The Axis partners were not even honest with each other, and this, I submit, is typical of the kind of jungle diplomacy with which Raeder associated himself.

I now, with the Tribunal's permission, turn from the field of diplomacy to the final aspect of the case against Raeder, namely, to crimes at sea.

The prosecution's summary is that Raeder throughout his career showed a complete disregard for any international rule or usage of war which conflicted in the slightest with his intention of carrying through the Nazi programme of conquest. I propose to submit to the Tribunal only a few examples of Raeder's flouting of the laws and customs of civilised States.

Raeder has himself summarised his attitude in the most admirable fashion in Document U.K. 65, which the Tribunal will find at Page 98 of the document book, and which will be Exhibit GB 224. Now that document, UK 65, is a very long memorandum compiled by Raeder and the German Naval War Staff on 15th October, 1939: that is to say, only a few weeks after the war started. It is a memorandum on the subject of the intensification of the war at sea, and I desire to draw the Tribunal's attention to the bottom paragraph at Page 98 of the document book. It is headed: "Possibilities of future naval warfare."

"1. Military requirements for the decisive struggle against Great Britain.

Our naval strategy will have to employ all the military means at our disposal as expeditiously as possible. Military success can be most confidently expected if we attack British sea communications wherever they are accessible to us with the greatest ruthlessness; the final aim of such attacks is to cut off all imports into and exports from Britain. We should try to consider the interests of neutrals in so far as it is possible without detriment to military requirements. It is desirable to base all military measures which may be taken on existing International Law; however, measures which are considered necessary from a military point of view, provided a decisive success can be expected from them, will have to be carried out, even if they are not covered by existing International Law. In principle, therefore, any means of warfare which is effective in breaking enemy resistance should be used on some legal conception," - the nature of which is not specified - "even if that entails the creation of a new code of naval warfare.

The Supreme War Council will have to decide what measures of military and legal nature are to be taken. Once it has been decided to conduct economic warfare in its most ruthless form, in fulfilment of military

[Page 274]

requirements, this decision is to be adhered to under all circumstances, and under no circumstances may such a decision for the most ruthless form of economic warfare, once it has been made, be dropped or released under political pressure from neutral powers; that is what happened in the World War to our own detriment. Every protest by neutral powers must be turned down. Even threats of further countries, including the U.S. coming into the war, which can be expected with certainty should the war last a long time, must not lead to a relaxation in the form of economic warfare once embarked upon. The more ruthlessly economic warfare is waged, the earlier will it show results and the sooner will the war come to an end. The economic effect of such military measures on our own war economy must be fully recognised and compensated through immediate re-orientation of German war economy, and the re-drafting of the respective agreements with neutral States; for these are the final words: for this, strong political and economic pressure must be employed if necessary."
I submit that those comments are most revealing, and the general submission of the prosecution is that, as an active member of the inner council of the Nazi State up to 1943, Raeder, promoting such ideas as these, must share responsibility for the many War Crimes committed by his confederates and underlings in the course of the war.

But quite apart from this over-all responsibility of Raeder, there are certain crimes which the prosecution submits were essentially initiated and passed down the naval chain of command by Raeder himself.

I refer to Document C-27, at Page 7 of the document book, which will be Exhibit GB 225. These are minutes of a meeting between Hitler and Raeder on 30th December, 1939. 1 will read, with the Court's approval, the second paragraph beginning:

"The Chief of the Naval War Staff requests that full power be given to the Naval War Staff in making any intensification suited to the situation and to the means of war. The Fuehrer fundamentally agrees to the sinking without warning of Greek ships in the American prohibited area, and of neutral ships in those sections of the prohibited American area in which the fiction of mine danger can be upheld, e.g., the Bristol Channel."
At this time, of course, as the Tribunal knows, Greek ships were neutral. I submit that this is yet another demonstration of the fact that Raeder was a man without principle.

This incitement to crime was, in my submission, a typical group effort, because in Document C-12, which is at Page 1 of the document book, the Tribunal will see that a directive to the effect of those naval views was issued on 30th December, 1939, by the O.K.W., being signed by the defendant Jodl. And that Document C-12 will be Exhibit GB 226. It is an interesting document. It is dated 30th December, 1939, and it reads:

"On 30th December, 1939, according to a report of the Oberbefehlshaberder Marine, the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces decided that:
(1) Greek merchant ships in the area around England declared by U.S.A. to be a barred zone are to be treated as enemy vessels.

(2) In the Bristol Channel, all shipping may be attacked without warning where the impression of a mining incident can be created.

Both measures are authorised to come into effect immediately."
Another example of the callous attitude of the German Navy when it was under Raeder's command, towards neutral shipping, is found in an entry in Jodl's diary -

THE PRESIDENT: I think perhaps you should read the pencil note, should you not?

[Page 275]

MAJOR ELWYN JONES: The pencil note on Document C-12 reads:
"And to (1) Attack must be carried out without being seen. The denial of the sinking of these steamships in case the expected protests are made must be possible."
As I was saying, my Lord, another example of the callous attitude of Raeder's Navy towards neutral shipping is found in an entry in Jodl's diary for 16th June, 1942, at Page 112 of the document book, which is Document 1807-PS, and will be Exhibit GB 227. This extract from Jodl's diary is dated 16th June, 1942, and it reads:
"The operational staff of the Navy (S.K.L.), applied on 29th May for permission to attack the Brazilian sea and air forces. The S.K.L. considers that a sudden blow against the Brazilian warships and merchant ships is expedient at this juncture (a) because defence measures are still incomplete; (b) because there is the possibility of achieving surprise; and (c) because Brazil is to all intents and purposes fighting Germany at sea."
This, the Tribunal will see, was a plan for a kind of Brazilian "Pearl Harbour" because the Tribunal will recollect that war did not in effect break out between Germany and Brazil until 22nd August, 1942.

Raeder himself also caused the Navy to participate in War Crimes ordered by other conspirators, and I shall give one example only of that. On 28th October, 1942, as Document C- 179, Exhibit USA 543, at Page 63 of the document book shows, the head of the operations division of the Naval War Staff promulgated to naval commands Hitler's notorious order of 18th October, 1942, with regard to the shooting of Commandos, which, in my submission, amounted to denying the protection of the Geneva Convention to captured Commandos.

The Tribunal will remember the document is dated 28th October, 1942, and it reads:

"Enclosed please find a Fuehrer order regarding annihilation of terror and sabotage units.

This order must not be distributed in writing by Flotilla leaders, Section Commanders or Officers of this rank.

After verbal notification to subordinate sections the above officers must hand this order over to the next higher section which is responsible for its withdrawal and destruction."

What clearer indication could there be than the nature of these instructions as to the naval command's appreciation of the wrongfulness of the murders Hitler ordered?

THE PRESIDENT: Shall we adjourn now for ten minutes?

(A recess was taken.)

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