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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
5th April to 15th April, 1946

One Hundredth Day: Friday, 5th April, 1946
(Part 4 of 9)

[DR. NELTE continues his direct examination of Wilhelm Bodewin Johann Gustav Keitel]

[Page 45]

Q. Then you still believe that if it had happened, it would have meant the collapse of the policy instituted by Hitler?

A. Yes, one would have had to expect that.

Q. Considering Weygand's personality only.

A. Yes.

Q. Can you give any other explanation, or any proof that the designs attributed to you, but which were never put into practice, had no foundation in fact?

A. Although it was at a much later date that General Weygand was taken to Germany, on the occupation of the hitherto unoccupied zone of France, I can only say that I was told by the Fuehrer himself that he had given orders for the General to be interned in his own home, without having to be bothered by guards - an honourable imprisonment and not the treatment accorded to an ordinary prisoner of war. Of course, that was in 1942.

Q. Therefore, you deny under oath that you gave any order or expressed yourself in any way which might lead to the conclusion that you intended or wished General Weygand to be put out of the way?

A. Yes. I definitely deny that.

Q. The witness Lahousen also spoke of Giraud and described the case much in the same way as that of Weygand. In neither case was he in a position to say from his own first-hand knowledge that you have given such an order, but he

[Page 46]

reported what Canaris had told him and illustrated his testimony by means of later events. I ask you to tell us what you know about the case of Giraud, which created a sensation at the time, and to say what part you took in discussions regarding him.

A. First phase: Giraud's escape from the Fortress of Koenigstein near Dresden on 19th April, 1942, created a sensation; and I was severely reprimanded about the guarding of the General's quarters, military fortress, etc. The escape was successful despite all attempts to recapture him on his way back to France either by police or military action.

Canaris had instructions from me to keep a particularly sharp watch on all the places at which he might cross the frontier into France or Alsace-Lorraine - so that we could recapture him. The police were also put on to this job. Eight or ten days after his escape it was made known that the General had arrived safely back in France. If I issued any orders during this search I probably used the words I gave in the preliminary interrogations, namely: "We must get the General back, dead or alive." I probably did say something like that. He had escaped and was in France.

Second phase: Efforts made through the Legation, Abetz, Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, to induce the General to return to captivity of his own accord, appeared to be promising, as the General had declared himself willing to go to the occupied zone to discuss the matter. I was of the opinion that the General might possibly do it on account of the concessions made to Petain regarding personal wishes in connection with the release of French Generals in captivity. The meeting with General Giraud took place in occupied territory, at the Staff H.Q. of a German Army Corps, where the question of his return was discussed. The Military Commander informed me by telephone of the General's presence in occupied territory at the hotel where the German officers were billeted.

The Commander suggested that if the General would not return voluntarily it would be a very simple matter to apprehend him.

I at once refused categorically to consider any such thing; for I regarded it a breach of faith. The General had come trusting to receive proper treatment, and he returned unmolested.

Third phase: The attempt or desire to get the General back somehow in military custody arose from the fact that Canaris told me that the General's family was in territory occupied by German troops, and it was almost certain that he would try to see his family, even if only after a certain period of time and when things had quietened down. He suggested to me that measures be taken to recapture the General if he made a visit of this kind in occupied territory. Canaris said that he himself would initiate these preparations through his Counter Intelligence office in Paris and through his other establishments. Nothing happened for some time, and it was surely quite natural that on several occasions, no matter who was with Canaris - perhaps Lahousen - I should ask: "What's happening to Giraud?" or: "How is the Giraud affair getting on?" Lahousen replied: "It is very difficult; but we shall do everything we can." That was his answer. Canaris made no reply. That strikes me as significant now; but at the time it did not occur to me.

Fourth phase: This began with Hitler's saying, to me: "This is all nonsense. We are not getting results. Counter Intelligence is not capable of this and can not handle this matter. I will turn it over to Himmler and Counter Intelligence had better keep out of this, for they will never get hold of the General again."

Admiral Canaris said at the time that he was counting on having the necessary security measures taken by the French secret State police if General Giraud went to the occupied zone; and a fight might result, as the General was known to be a spirited soldier - a man who, at the age of sixty, lowers himself 45 metres over a cliff by means of a rope. That is how he escaped from Koenigstein.

[Page 47]

Fifth phase: Canaris's desire to transfer the matter to the secret State police (which Lahousen said was done as a result of representations from the departmental heads) - because I asked how matters stood and he wanted to get rid of this uncomfortable mission. Canaris came to me and asked if he could pass it on to Reich Security Office or the police. I said "Yes," because the Fuehrer had already told me repeatedly that he wanted to hand it over to Himmler.

Next phase: I wanted to warn Canaris some time later, when Himmler came to see me and informed me that he had received orders from Hitler to have Giraud and his family watched unobtrusively and that I was to stop Canaris from taking any action in the case - he had been told that Canaris was working along parallel lines. I immediately agreed.

Now we come to the phase which Lahousen has described at length. I asked about "Gustav" and similar questions. I wanted to direct Canaris immediately to stop all his activities in the matter, as Hitler had confirmed the order.

What happened in Paris according to Lahousen's detailed reports, that excuses were sought, etc., that the matter was thought to be very mysterious, e.g. Gustav as an abbreviation for Giraud - all this is fancy rather than fact. I had Canaris summoned to me at once, for he was in Paris and not in Berlin. He had done nothing at all, right from the start. He was thus in a highly uncomfortable position with regard to me for he had lied to me. When he came I only said, "You will have nothing more to do in this matter; keep clear of it."

Then came the next phase: The General's escape without difficulty to North Africa by plane, which was suddenly reported - if I remember correctly - before the invasion of North Africa by the Anglo-American troops. That ended the business. No action was ever taken by the Counter Intelligence whom I had charged to watch him, or by the police; and I certainly never even used the words "To do away with the General."

The final phase of this entire affair may sound like fiction, but it is fact nevertheless. The General sent a plane from North Africa to the Lyons district of France in February or March, 1944, with a liaison officer who reported to the Counter Intelligence and asked if the General could return to France, and what would happen to him on landing in France. The question was turned over to me. Colonel General Jodl is my witness that these things actually happened. The chief of the Counter Intelligence was with me. The answer was: "Exactly the same treatment as General Weygand, who is already in Germany. There is no doubt that the Fuehrer will agree."

Nothing came of this, but all that I have described did actually happen.

Q. To complete our information, I must ask you a few questions, for the French prosecution has mentioned that later the family of General Giraud suffered inconveniences or losses of a rather serious nature. When you were investigating Giraud or his family, who were living in occupied France, did you cause them any trouble? Did you give any directives which would confine or inconvenience the family in any way?

A. No. I only had an unobtrusive watch kept on the family's residence in order to receive information of any visit which the General might have planned. But no steps of any kind were taken against the family. It would have been foolish in this case.

Q. To make matters quite clear: you had no knowledge of anything having happened later on?

A. No.

Q. Well, General Giraud is still alive and I will only ask you, in conclusion, under your oath: Can you confirm that you did not at any time give an order or a directive which might be interpreted to mean that General Giraud was to be killed?

A. No. I never gave such an order, unless the phrase "We must have him back, dead or alive" is interpreted in that way. I never gave orders that the General was to be killed or done away with, or anything of the kind. Never.

[Page 48]

DR. NELTE: I have concluded my direct examination of the defendant Keitel. May I ask you to permit me to submit in evidence the affidavit - the last one - in Document Book Number 2. I would like to submit that affidavit in evidence. It begins on Page 51.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you not put that in as K-12 yesterday?

DR. NELTE : Today I submit it as K- 13.

THE PRESIDENT: This affidavit that you want to submit now, where is it and what is the date of it?

DR. NELTE: It is Page 51, and it is dated 9th March, 1946.


DR. NELTE: This affidavit has also been attested to by Colonel General Jodl. I ask permission to question him about it, or to show it to him for confirmation when he is called to the witness stand.


MR. DODD: If the Tribunal please, we have looked into the matter of the so-called interrogation of General von Falkenhorst referred to yesterday by Dr. Nelte, and in so far as we can determine, this paper was never offered in evidence by any members of the prosecution. It was referred to by M. Dubost, or rather, it was not referred to by him but it was included in his brief. I did not refer to it and I did not offer it in evidence. That is how it came into the hands of Dr. Nelte, but not in evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: Does Dr. Nelte want to offer it in evidence now?

DR. NELTE: I ask to submit it as Exhibit K-14.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Now, do any of the other defence counsel want to ask questions?

DR. STAHMER (counsel for defendant Goering): Witness, you have corrected your former statement by answering the question put by your counsel to the effect that Reich Marshal Goering was not present at the conference in which Hitler gave orders for the airmen who had escaped from the Sagan Camp to be held by the police. You further said that a briefing conference with Goering in Berlin did not take place. Therefore I only have the following question. Some weeks after that escape, did you receive a letter from the Quartermaster General of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe informing you that the Luftwaffe wanted to hand over their prison camps to the O.K.W.?

A. Yes, I received this letter and following an interview with Hitler I declined the offer.

DR. STAHMER: I have no more questions.

DR. SEIDL (counsel for defendant Frank): At the beginning of the war, the defendant Frank was a lieutenant of the 9th Infantry Regiment; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember receiving a letter from Frank, who was then Governor General, in 1942, saying that he wanted to rejoin the Wehrmacht? The purpose of that letter was, of course, that he might in this way be relieved of his office. Is that so?

A. Yes, I received such a letter, and handed it to the Fuehrer, who merely made a movement with his hands and said "Out of the question." I informed Frank of that decision through the liaison officer who was with him at the time.

DR. DIX (counsel for defendant Schacht): Sir, it is three minutes to one and it will not take me very long, but it might take me beyond one o'clock, so it might be better to adjourn now. I would then put my question to the witness after the intermission.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, we will adjourn until two o'clock.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 14.00 hours.)

[Page 49]

DR. DIX (counsel for defendant Schacht): May it please the Tribunal, this witness is competent and an expert who can give the Tribunal definite figures about the armament expenditures of the Reich. However, the witness is certainly not in a position to remember these figures at all times. Professor Kraus, my colleague, therefore, during my absence, was kind enough to take down these figures and to check them in co-operation with the witness. The written deposition was signed by the witness at that time, in order to avoid any misunderstanding. In order to assist his memory, I now ask your permission to have submitted to the witness this deposition which he has signed. I have had translations made of this deposition into the three languages in question and I now submit to the Tribunal eight copies. I also have four copies for the four delegations of the prosecution, and German copies for the counsels of the defendants Keitel, Jodl, Raeder, Donitz, and the O.K.W. May I ask for just one moment so that the witness can read it?


Q. Witness, would you please look at the first column only, which bears the heading "Total Expenditures." The second and the third column show which of those sums were raised through the Reichsbank and which were raised from other sources. These figures I should like to have certified during the interrogation of Schacht himself, because they were the results of Schacht's calculations and the witness here can therefore give no information about them. May I ask you concerning these armament expenditures of the Reich beginning with the fiscal year of 1935 - the fiscal year running from 1st April to 31st March.

Are the figures stated herein of 5 billions for 1935, 7 billions for 1936, 9 billions for 1937, 11 billions for 1938, and 20.5 billions for 1939, are these figures correct?

A. According to my conviction these figures are correct. May I add that at the beginning of my captivity I also had an opportunity to speak to the Reich Finance Minister about these figures and to co-ordinate our opinions.

Q. Now, a question about the armament strength of the Reich on 1st April, 1938. Is it correct to say that at that time there existed: 24 infantry divisions, 1 armoured division, no mechanised divisions, 1 mountain division and 1 cavalry division; that in addition 10 infantry divisions and 1 armoured division were being formed? I wish to add, that of the 3 reserve divisions on April, 1938, none had been completed and only 7 to 8 were in the process of being formed, and expected to be complete by October, 1938.

A. I consider these figures correct and I have therefore confirmed them in this affidavit.

DR. DIX: That is as far as the deposition goes. I would like to put two more questions to the witness, which have not been discussed with him, so that I do not know whether he remembers the figures in question.


Q. I consider it possible that the Tribunal would be interested in the proportion of strength between the Reich, on the one hand, and Czechoslovakia on the other hand at the time of Hitler's march into Czechoslovakia; that is the relation of strength: (a) concerning the armed might, and (b) concerning the civilian population.

A. I cannot give accurate figures about that. In the previous interrogation I was questioned about it and I believe the figures will be correct if I say that in the autumn of 1938, going by combined formations, divisional combined formations ...

Q. You said 1938?

A. Yes, 1938.

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