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 5 of 9)

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

[Page 49]

Q. I am asking you now about the time when Hitler marched into Czechoslovakia, in the spring of 1939.

A. That was in the same year of mobilisation, that is to say at that time, as far as figures are concerned, there were fewer divisions than Czechoslovakia had at her disposal. In the autumn of 1938 the number of formations, divisional formations, was probably equal. In the spring of 1939, when we marched in, the strength.

[Page 50]

which was used then was less than that which stood ready in the autumn of 1938. Accurate figures, if they are important to this Tribunal, you could get better from General Jodl.

Q. As to the number of divisions which Czechoslovakia had at her disposal in March, 1939, could you not tell us anything about that?

A. No, I do not know anything about that.

DR. DIX: Then I shall possibly ask General Jodl about that later.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps you will actually offer this document in evidence when the defendant Schacht gives evidence. Is that what you intend to do?

DR. DIX: I am going to submit it in evidence and it will be included in my document book. It is not necessary to keep it now, because I have to take it up again when Schacht comes to be examined, and you will find it then in the document book. However, I would like to suggest that the copy which I have given to the witness should become a part of the record, because my questions have referred to this document. For this reason it might be useful to make this copy a part of the record.

THE PRESIDENT: If you want to make it a part of the record it had better be given a number now. It had better be S-1, had it not?

DR. DIX: Your Lordship, may I suggest Sch-1?


BY DR. STAHMER (representing Dr. Servatius for the defendant Sauckel):

Q. Witness, on 4th January, 1944, a conference allegedly took place between the Fuehrer and Sauckel about the manpower question. Were you present at this conference ?

A. Yes.

Q. Did Sauckel on this occasion state that he could not fill the manpower demands of industry to the extent demanded?

A. Yes, he discussed it thoroughly and also explained why he could not do this.

Q. What reasons did he give?

A. He pointed out the great difficulties encountered in the areas from which he was supposed to draft or recruit manpower, the strong activity of guerrillas and partisans in these areas, the great obstacles in obtaining sufficient police forces at his disposal, and similar reasons. I do not remember any details.

BY DR. KRANZBUEHLER (counsel for defendant Donitz):

Q. Field Marshal, were you the leader of the German delegation which signed the capitulation with which the war in Europe was terminated?

A. Yes.

Q. When and where did that take place?

A. In Berlin on 8th May, that is to say during the night 8th- 9th May, 1945.

Q. Were you asked for credentials which would designate you as authorised to negotiate about the capitulation?

A. Yes. I took the credentials with me to Berlin. They had been signed by Admiral Donitz in his capacity as Chief of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and stated in a few words, that he had authorised and ordered me to conduct the negotiations and to carry out the capitulation.

Q. Were these papers examined by the Allies and acknowledged?

A. In the course of the afternoon of 8th May I was asked to present my credentials. Apparently they were examined, and several hours later they were returned to me by a high ranking officer of the Red Army, who said that I had to show them again when signing.

Q. Did you show them again?

A. I had my credentials at hand during the act of capitulation and handed them over to become part of the record.

BY PROFESSOR DR. JAHRREISS (counsel for the defendant Jodl):

Q. Witness, during your testimony you have explained the Organisation of the High Command of the Armed Forces. This Organisation was based on a decree

[Page 51]

of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor of 4th February, 1938. In that decree the O.K.W. was designated as the military staff of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

So, in that aspect you were the Chief of Staff. Now, the prosecution has repeatedly named Jodl as your Chief of Staff. Is that correct?

A. No. General Jodl never was my Chief of Staff. He was the Chief of the Armed Forces' Operations Staff and a departmental chief of the Armed Forces High Command, as I have already stated.

Q. That is to say, the Chief of several co-ordinated offices?

A. Yes; I never had a Chief of Staff.

Q. Mention was made here about the discussion between Hitler and Schuschnigg at Obersalzberg on 12th February, 1938. Do you remember that? A diary entry by Jodl referring to this conversation has been submitted to the Tribunal. Was Jodl present at this conference?

A. No, he was not present and his knowledge is derived from the conference which I described before and which I held with him and Canaris, about the news which was to be disseminated as to certain military preparations during the days following the Schuschnigg conference; it is therefore an impression gained by General Jodl as a result of the description given to him.

Q. In the course of the preparations for solving the German- Czechoslovakian question, i.e. the Sudeten question, the plan to stage an incident played a great role. Did you ever give an order to the department Abwehr II (Counter Intelligence) under Canaris to stage such an incident in Czechoslovakia or on the border?

A. No, such orders were never given to the Abwehr, anyway not by me.

Q. After Munich, that is in October, 1938, Field Marshal Jodl, then Chief of National Defence, left this position and was transferred to Vienna. Who was his successor?

A. Jodl was transferred to the front. He became chief of an artillery division in Vienna and his successor was Warlimont, at that time Colonel Warlimont.

Q. Did you say his successor?

A. Yes.

Q. If I understood you correctly, you mean that Jodl was not only sent on leave but he definitely left his office?

A. Jodl had definitely left the High Command of the Armed Forces (O.K.W.) and became chief of a division; Warlimont was not his representative but his successor.

Q. Now, the prosecution has said that at the occasion of that famous conference of 23rd May, 1938 - no, 1939 - Warlimont was present as deputy designate for Jodl. What had Jodl to do with that conference?

A. Nothing at all: he was at that time a front-line officer and commander in Vienna.

Q. Why did you select Jodl to be chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff?

A. Because of our co-operation from 1935 to 1938. My opinion was that I could not find a better man for that position.

Q. How did Jodl picture his military career once his command as artillery commander in Vienna or Bruenn ended?

A. I knew about his passionate wish to become commander of a mountain division. He frequently told me about it.

Q. Well, would there have been any chance to get such a command?

A. Yes, I tried to use my influence with the Commander-in- Chief of the Army and I remember that during the summer of 1939, I wrote him that his wish to become the commander of a mountain division in Reichenhall - I do not remember the number - would come true. I was glad to be able to give him that information.

Q. Was it up to you to make the decision or was it up to the O.K.H.?

[Page 52]

A. I had made a request to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and he had made the decision.Q. And if I understand correctly, you yourself notified Jodl?A. I wrote him a letter because I knew that it would make him very happy.

Q. May I ask, Field Marshal, whether you corresponded regularly with Jodl?

A. No; I believe that was the only letter which I wrote to him during that year.

Q. I ask that for a definite reason. Jodl left the O.K.W. He knew that if the necessity arose he would become Chief of the future so-called Armed Forces Operations Staff, a rather important position. He went to the front, as you say. One would think that then he would receive a private letter not only once from you but would be kept informed by you regularly.

A. That was certainly not done on my part and, according to my personal opinion, every general staff officer who goes to the front is happiest when he is not bothered with such things any longer.

Q. Yes, but fate does not grant us everything which would make us happy. It could be that somebody got the official order, for instance, to keep this gentleman informed.

A. I certainly did not do it. I do not believe that it happened, but I do not know for sure whether or not somebody tried to do it.

Q. During the period when Jodl was in Vienna and Bruenn, that is, away from Berlin, was he repeatedly in Berlin to get information?

A. I did not see him and he did not come to see me. I believe it is very unlikely, because if such were the case he would have visited me.

Q. Consequently I have to understand what you say to mean that when he came to Berlin shortly before the beginning of the war, in response to a telegram, he first had to be informed as to what was going on?

A. Yes, and that was the first contact between him and myself.

Q. You informed him?

A. Yes.

Q. Another thing, Field Marshal. You remember, perhaps, the somewhat stormy morning in the Reich Chancellery after the Simowitsch Putsch; that was 27th March, 1941, was it not?

A. Yes, Yugoslavia.

Q. If one reflects on the politics and the history of the wars of the last two hundred years in Europe, one asks: Was there nobody at that conference in the Reich Chancellery who might have suggested that instead of attacking immediately, it would be better to march to the borders of that State, whose attitude was now quite undecided, and then clarify the situation by an ultimatum?

A. Yes, during all these pros and cons under turbulent conditions in that morning session, Jodl himself, to my knowledge, brought that point up in the debate. Proposal: to march and to send an ultimatum; that is about the way it was.

Q. If I am correctly informed, you were in the East in October, 1941, for the purpose of an inspection or a visit to Army Group North; is that correct?

A. Yes, in the autumn of 1941 I frequently went by plane to Army Group North in order to get information for the Fuehrer.

Q. Was Field Marshal Leeb the commander of Army Group North?

A. Yes, he was.

Q. Did von Leeb tell you about particular worries which he had at that time?

A. I think it was during my last or next to last visit to von Leeb, that the questions of capitulation - that is to say, the question of the population of Leningrad - played an important role, which worried him very much at that time. There were certain indications that the population was streaming out of the city and infiltrating into his area. I remember that at that time he asked me to make the suggestion to the Fuehrer, that as he could not take over and feed millions of civilians within the area of his Army Group, a sluice, so to speak, should be made towards the East, i.e. the Russian zone, so that the population could flow out in that direction.

[Page 53]

I reported that to the Fuehrer at that time.

Q. Well, did the population flow in any other direction?

A. Yes, especially to the South. According to von Leeb a certain pressure exerted by the population to get through the German lines made itself felt at the time in the woodlands in a southern direction.

Q. And that would have impeded your operations?

A. Yes.

Q. Field Marshal, you are aware, I suppose, since it has been mentioned this morning, of the order issued by the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander about the commandos, dated 18th October, 1942. That is Document 498-PS, which has been submitted here. That an order of that kind would be issued had been announced publicly beforehand. Do you know that?

A. Yes; the item in question was included in one of the daily communiques of the Wehrmacht.

Q. We are dealing with the Armed Forces communique of 1st October, 1942, which, below the usual report, states with reference to what had happened:

"The High Command of the Armed Forces therefore considers itself obliged to issue the following orders":
The first item is of no interest here and then, as the second item, appears the following sentence:
"In the future all terror and sabotage troops of the British and their accomplices who do not conduct themselves as soldiers, but rather like bandits, will be treated as such by the German troops and will be killed without mercy wherever they appear."
Field Marshal, who drafted this wording?

A. The Fuehrer personally. I was present when he dictated and corrected it.

BY DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the O.K.W.):

Q. Witness, I should like to continue at the point which was last mentioned by Prof. Jahreiss. The Commando Order (Document 498-PS) was discussed, and Hitler threatened that all commanders would be court-martialled if they did not carry out this order. Do you know what considerations prompted Hitler to include this particular passage in the order?

A. Yes, they are actually quite clear, I should think; the purpose was to put emphasis on the demand that this order should actually be carried out, since it was definitely considered by the generals, and those who were to carry it out, as a very severe order, and for that reason compliance was to be enforced by the threat of punishment.

Q. Now, I should like to put several questions to you concerning the character of the so-called groups of the General Staff and the O.K.W. What do you understand to be the German General Staff?

A. By the General Staff I understand those officers who are especially trained to be assistants to the higher leadership.

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