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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th February to 11th March, 1946

Seventy-Fifth Day: Wednesday, 6th March, 1946
(Part 2 of 6)

[Page 177]

DR. SIEMERS: The American Ambassador approached Weizsaecker immediately after the "Athenia" case in order to clarify the case. Thereupon Weizsaecker spoke with Raeder: however, only after he had already told the American Ambassador that no German submarine was involved. The question as to whether a German submarine was involved in the "Athenia" case was settled only after the return of the German submarine. Prior to that, the defendant Raeder had not known of it either. The German submarine returned on 27th September, the sinking was on 3rd September.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you state these facts about conversations between the American Ambassador and State Secretary Weizsaecker in one of your previous applications?

DR. SIEMERS: Yes, on 6th February I did submit the application, and also mentioned in general terms the "Athenia" case. I may add that Weizsaecker knows also the subsequent occurrences. Weizsaecker knows exactly that the Navy, and particularly the defendant Raeder, had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the article which the Propaganda Ministry published in the newspapers. Weizsaecker was just as outraged about this article as was the defendant Raeder. But it is precisely this that the prosecution charges against Raeder.

[Page 178]

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal will consider what you say.

DR. SIEMERS: Let me add that I have made a mistake. I have just heard that Weizsaecker is still with the Vatican in Rome: in other words, it is known where he is.


DR. SIEMERS: No. 14, Colonel Soltmann. As far as I know, Colonel Soltmann will be requested as a witness also by the defendant Jodl, and an affidavit or an interrogatory has already been sent to him. I therefore concur with Sir David that an affidavit from Soltmann will suffice, subject to the consent to the applications of the defence counsel for General Jodl.

THE PRESIDENT: He does not appear to have been located yet.

DR. SIEMERS: Yes, the witness Soltmann? I have given his address in my application.


DR. SIEMERS: It is Falkenberg, near Moosach in Upper Bavaria.

No. 16, Admiral-General Schultze, is in Hamburg, and it is an easy matter to have him testify personally here in Nuremberg. The prosecution has accused the defendant Raeder of participating in the National Socialist policy of conquest. This accusation is unfounded. Raeder, both in Norway and in France, constantly directed his efforts towards bringing about peace: in other words, not towards the effecting of any final conquest of the countries. In this, Raeder found himself in strong opposition to Hitler, and only after much urging did Raeder succeed in getting permission to negotiate with Darlan in Paris concerning the possible conclusion of a peace. I believe that such a positive intervention for a quick termination of the war with France is important enough, in a trial like this, to have the witness testify personally. I cannot understand how Sir David, in view of his accusation, can say that this point is irrelevant. The prosecution has constantly declared that the defendant Raeder was agitating for war.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not believe that Sir David did say it was irrelevant. He suggested interrogatories.

DR. SIEMERS: I made a note that Sir David said the witness was irrelevant, but that he would, as a concession, agree to an affidavit.

THE PRESIDENT: Then I was wrong.

DR. SIEMERS: I simply wanted to make my position clear on the question as to whether or not this witness is irrelevant. I believe I have shown that he is relevant.

THE PRESIDENT: You want the witness? You would not agree to an affidavit or an interrogatory? Is that right?

DR. SIEMERS: I ask the Tribunal to hear Schultze as a witness here in Nuremberg because, in my opinion in view of the principles of the Indictment, it is, a vital point that Raeder's attitude toward the entire problem is shown by facts prevailing at that time, and not by present assertions and statements.

I come now to the witnesses to whom Sir David has objected. Firstly, witness No. 11, Vice-Admiral Burkner. I asked for him on 31st January. So far I have received no answer. I asked to be allowed to speak to the witness Buerkner in order to acquaint myself with the details. The interview is denied me so long as he has not been approved as a witness. In order to speak with him, therefore, I am dependent on his being approved, first of all, as a witness. Should it then prove that this evidence is cumulative, I am willing to forgo the witness. I presume that Sir David is agreeable to this.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, the Tribunal does not quite understand why the counsel should not have seen this officer who is in prison in Nuremberg, subject of course to security.

[Page 179]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: We have no objection to the counsel seeing Admiral Buerkner. I think up to now the prosecution have always taken the view that what Dr. Siemers wanted to see him about was not relevant. I do not think the Tribunal has ruled on that.

THE PRESIDENT: The view of the Tribunal is that counsel for the defence ought to be in touch with the witnesses before, in order to see whether they are able to give relevant evidence or not. They cannot give the evidence or the relevancy of it unless they know what the witness is going to say.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: No objection will be made, and Dr. Siemers can make arrangements, as far as the prosecution is concerned, to see Admiral Buerkner at the earliest date he likes.

DR. SIEMERS: I am grateful to the Tribunal for clarifying this point. This point has made the work of the defence counsel extremely difficult. I have been waiting for more than a month to speak to Buerkner. For four weeks I have not been able to speak to Admiral Wagner for the same reason. I should like to speak to others also who are in the court- house prison. They were all denied me because the Tribunal had not yet approved them as witnesses.

I believe that the point is now clarified.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Siemers.

DR. SIEMERS: It is quite possible that, after speaking with the witness, I may not call him to the stand, particularly since I hear today that Schulte-Moenting can be called, and provided that Boehm is approved.

THE PRESIDENT: That who is approved?

DR. SIEMERS: Boehm, No. 10.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh yes. That was Sir David's only objection to No. 11, was it not, that it was cumulative to 5 and 10?

DR. SIEMERS: No. 12, Captain Schreiber. Sir David has rightly pointed out that I have already stated the possibility that I may give up this witness. This still stands. If the witness Schulte-Moenting and the witness Boehm actually appear, the witness Schreiber is not necessary. No. 13, the witness Lackorn in Leipzig. Before the occupation of Norway, Lackorn was on business in Oslo. He had nothing to do with the military. It was purely by accident that he learned, in the Hotel Bristol in Oslo, that the landing of English troops was imminent. This point is important because one can only judge the defendant's attitude towards the Norwegian undertaking if one considers the general situation of Norway. The general situation of Norway means, however, the relations of Norway with Germany, England, Sweden, and all the other countries adjacent to Norway. It is not proper, in such a decisive question, to state that only a small part is relevant. I am agreed, however, that the witness is not to be heard here. I have, therefore, while I was waiting for the decision of the prosecution, written to the witness in order to obtain an affidavit. It is therefore agreeable to me if an affidavit only is submitted here. He need not be approved as a witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, you did not deal with that aspect of the matter, with an affidavit.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Well, my Lord, I am afraid the view of the prosecution is that the story, which apparently started in the bar of a hotel in Oslo, is not evidence which is really admissible, relevant, or of any weight in a matter of this kind. That is the view we have taken throughout.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, it appears from the application which is before us that you originally made a request for this witness on 19th January, 1946, which appears to have been in perfectly general terms, and that the Tribunal

[Page 180]

ordered, on 14th February, that you should furnish supplementary details of the evidence which you wanted to obtain by calling this witness. Thereupon, on 2ist February, you withdrew your application.

You now submit the application again without giving any details at all, simply saying that the witness had been in Oslo on business and received information there of the imminent landing of Allied forces in Norway. Well, that is a perfectly general statement, just as general as the original statement. It does not seem to comply with the orders of the Tribunal at all.

DR. SIEMERS: On 21st February I withdrew my application because of the basic point of view which I have also presented to the Court.

I have pointed out that, in my opinion, the defence cannot be expected to give every single detail, when we have not, for three months after we were consulted, had the slightest word, not one word, about a single witness of the prosecution, when we of the defence have not had the opportunity even of taking a stand on the relevancy of their witnesses . . .

THE PRESIDENT: I have already pointed out on several occasions that the reason why the defendant's counsel have to submit applications for their witnesses is because they are unable to get their witnesses themselves and because they are applying to the Tribunal to get their witnesses for them and their documents for them. It is a work of very considerable magnitude to find and to bring witnesses to Nuremberg.

I understand from you that with reference to this witness you are trying now to get an affidavit from him.

DR. SIEMERS: Yes. At any rate, I have been making the effort. Whether I shall receive the answer in time from Leipzig, which is in the Russian Zone, remains to be seen. In the meantime, in order to facilitate matters and to avoid delay, I have written to the witness Lackorn.


DR. SIEMERS: I hope that an affidavit will be available in time. For this reason, I am willing to waive having him testify here.

THE PRESIDENT: If you get the affidavit you will be able to give the Tribunal particulars of the evidence which the witness would give, and also to show it to the prosecution, who will then be able to say whether they wish to have the witness brought here for cross-examination.

DR. SIEMERS: Certainly.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal will consider this application.

DR. SIEMERS: Witness No. 15 is a Norwegian, Alf Whist, former Secretary of Commerce. By decision of the Court on 14th February he was rejected as irrelevant.

Whist can testify that the reputation of the German Navy in Norway was very good throughout the occupation, and that in Norway the complaints were directed exclusively against the civil administration and not against the German Navy.

Whist knows definitely, as does every other Norwegian, that the Navy was not involved in a single illegal or criminal measure in Norway during the occupation.

If this is considered irrelevant, I presume that Sir David means that the Navy, during the occupation of Norway, behaved correctly. Of course, this is a question that must be sharply distinguished from the question which I shall discuss later, that is, the question of the occupation and the attack on Norway. I am speaking now only of the time after the occupation had been carried out.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The point of the prosecution is this: That whatever the facts were, assuming for the moment that the facts were that the German Navy had behaved with meticulous correctness on every point, the

[Page 181]

view of Mr. Alf Whist, who was Secretary of Commerce in the Quisling Cabinet in Norway, as to how the German Navy behaved, would not have the slightest interest or relevance or weight with anyone. That is the view of the prosecution.

DR. SIEMERS: I hoped that Sir David would make his position clear as to whether charges in this connection will be made against the Navy. Sir David speaks of the Germans in general. I draw attention to the fact that the entire administration in Norway was a civil administration and that in the Terboven jurisdiction the Navy had nothing to do with this administration: if I have named a single witness where I might have named hundreds, I did this only to give the Tribunal a picture of how Admiral Boehm, the Navy and Raeder conducted themselves.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider it, Dr. Siemers.

DR. SIEMERS: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Then you have still No. 17, the interpreter.

DR. SIEMERS: Regarding Lieutenant-Colonel Goldenberg, it is Sir David's point of view that he is unnecessary: if Colonel- General Schultze is approved as witness, an affidavit from Goldenberg will suffice for me. A short affidavit appears to me to be important, because Oldenburg was present as an impartial interpreter at every conference which took place between Darlan and Raeder.

An affidavit will suffice in this case.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you can pass now to your documents. I ought to call your attention to an observation at the end of your application, which is that you intend to summon one or two more witnesses. Who are they?

DR. SIEMERS: The Tribunal has declared that the details about a witness have to be submitted a long time in advance only because the Tribunal must procure the witness. When it is a question of a witness who comes to Nuremberg on his own initiative, I should be obliged for a decision on the point in connection with my defence as to whether or not the Tribunal will admit such a witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, I have stated one of the principal reasons why defence counsel have to make applications : and another principal reason is a necessity for expedition in this trial, expedition and security. The question of security is important, and therefore, we must insist on being told who the witnesses are that you wish to call, Dr. Siemers. Otherwise, you will not be able to call them.

DR. SIEMERS: Am I obliged to do this even when the witness is already in the building?

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly, because, as I have told you, there are twenty or twenty-one defendants in the dock and we have to try and make this trial expeditious and we, therefore, cannot allow them to call as many witnesses as they choose to call. But if it is a question of your not having the names of the witnesses in your mind at the moment, you can certainly specify them after a short delay, or tomorrow.

DR. SIEMERS: I shall submit information on this matter shortly. I do not want to name the witness before I have talked it over with him.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, the Tribunal has no objection to your applying in respect of other witnesses, provided that you do so by tomorrow.

DR. SIEMERS: Very well, I know that, at the moment , the witness in question is not in Nuremberg, so that I cannot talk to him. I ask the Tribunal to pardon me for being so cautious. The Tribunal will be cognizant of the fact that witnesses have been taken into custody. I cannot take the responsibility for somebody being taken into custody because I named him as a witness. That is the reason.

[Page 182]

I shall, however, notify the Tribunal as soon as the witness is in Nuremberg and I have had a chance to speak to him. I shall do so within twenty-four hours. It is here a question of a testimony which would take ten minutes at the most of the Tribunal's time. Therefore, I do not believe that this will burden the Tribunal too much.


DR. SIEMERS: Then I should like to add that I can give the address of the witness Severing, retired Reich Minister. I received it yesterday by telegraph. Witness Severing is No. 3: and the prosecution is agreeable to his being heard. I shall submit the address in writing to the General Secretary. He is in Bielefeld and can be reached without trouble.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. If you give it to the General Secretary, that is all that is required. And now would probably be a convenient time to break off for ten minutes.

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