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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd May to 13th May, 1946

One Hundred and Twenty-Third Day: Tuesday, 7th May, 1946
(Part 9 of 10)

[Page 189]

DR. KRANZBUHLER (Counsel for the defendant Donitz): Mr. President, first I should like to ask permission to have a secretary, in addition to my assistant, in the courtroom, in order to facilitate the submission of documents.

With the permission of the Tribunal, I shall first submit a number of documents, and I shall use the document book of the prosecution and the document books which I have submitted. These Document Books consist of four volumes. The table of contents is in Volume I and in Volume 3.

In the first document of the Document Book of the prosecution, USA No. 12, I should like to correct an error in translation which may be of significance. It says there, in the German text, under "1939," " Konter-Admiral, Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote," and that in the English text has been translated by "Commander-in-Chief." The correct translation should be "Flag Officer of Submarines." That point is of importance in regard to the fact that Admiral Donitz, until his appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy in 1943, was not a member of the group which the prosecution terms criminal.

I should like to call the attention of the Tribunal back to Exhibit GB 190. That is a sea-chart which the prosecution has submitted. This chart shows the position of the German submarines to the West of England on 3rd September, 1939, and the prosecution uses that chart as evidence for the question of aggressive war.

The prosecution says, rightly, that these U-Boats must have left their home bases at an earlier date. The first document which I offer as Donitz 1, is to prove,

[Page 190]

first, that this belongs to the category of measures resorted to in times of crisis (Sparungsmassnahmen) such as were taken by every nation in Europe at this time and that they were in no way preparatory measures for an aggressive war against England, because such a war was not planned.

I shall read from this document, Document Book, Page 1. It is an excerpt from the War Diary of the Naval Operational Staff of September, 1939, and I read the entry of 15th August:-

"Prepared (for Case Weiss) the following measures:"

DR. KRANZBCHLER: Page 1 of the Document Book, Volume I.


DR. KRANZBUHLER: "15. 8. Prepared (for case Weiss) the following measures:-

"On 15.8. Spee and all Atlantic submarines ready to sail.

"On 22.8. Transport Westerrvald ready to sail.

"On 25.8. Deutschland ready to sail."

And then we find the list of these ships:-
"21.8. Report B service about "Sparungsmassnahmen" of French fleet.

"23.8. Report B service: Continuation of French 'Spartingsmassnahmen' of fleet to 3rd grade. English and French blockade measures off ports.

"25.8. B Service reports: German and Italian steamers are being watched and reported by France."

And then the instructions:-
"31.8. Arrival Order 1 of OKW for conduct of war: Forcible solution in the East, attack against Poland 1 September, 0445 hours. In the West responsibility for starting hostilities unequivocally to be left to England and France. Strictly respect neutrality of Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland. The western border not to be crossed. At sea no hostile actions or such that could be interpreted as hostile. Air force only in defence.

"In case of opening of hostilities by Western powers: Defence only economical use of forces. Reserve start of aggressive operations. The army to hold the 'Westwall.' Naval economic war concentrated against England. To augment effect probable declaration of zones of danger. Prepare these and submit them. The Baltic to be safeguarded against enemy invasion."

With the next document, Donitz No. 2, I should like to prove that the British submarines, too, were active before the start of the war and appeared in the Bay of Heligoland at the very beginning of the war. It is on Page 2 of the Document Book. I probably need only point out that as early as 1st September the sound of electric motors was heard in the Bay of Heligoland, and that on 4th September, several reports arrived concerning English submarines sighted in the Bay of Heligoland.

I come now to the document with reference to which Admiral Donitz is accused of participating in the planning of the attack against Norway. That is Exhibit GB 83. The prosecution has submitted it as proof of the fact that Admiral Donitz played a decisive part in the occupation of Norway. I shall refer to this document in more detail when examining the witness. I merely want to establish certain dates now. On the document - and I am about to submit the original to the Tribunal - there is a stamp which establishes when the document was received at the High Command. This stamp shows the date 11th October, 1939.

THE PRESIDENT: You are speaking of Exhibit GB 83?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes. And I refer now to Exhibit GB 81, which appears on Page 6 of my Document Book. According to this the decisive report by Grand Admiral Raeder to the Fuehrer had already been made on 10th October, 1939, that is, a day before Exhibit GB 83 was received at the High Command.

[Page 191]

With the next document I should like to prove that considerations as to bases had nothing to do with the question of an aggressive war, as far as the U-Boat Commander, Admiral Donitz, was concerned. I am submitting Documents Donitz 3 and Donitz 4. They are on Pages 3 and 5 of the Document Book. Donitz 3 is a war diary of the Commander of U-Boats, of 3rd November, 1939, and I read from the second paragraph, the tenth line from the top:
"At the same time Naval Operational Staff reports that there are possibilities for the establishment of a 'Base North' which seem to be very promising. In my opinion the immediate introduction of all possible steps in order to arrive at a clear judgement of the existing possibilities is of the greatest importance."
And then there follows a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of such a base, which is absolutely identical with the considerations mentioned in Exhibit GB 83.

It is a question of Murmansk, in connection with "Base North," as can be seen from Document Donitz 4, and it is known that these considerations were in full accord with the Soviet Union.

Furthermore, I should like to show that the question of bases continuously comes up in enemy navy without reference to -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, you are going a little bit fast over these documents and I am not quite sure that I am quite following what use you are making of them. This base mentioned in the report is Murmansk?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes, Murmansk.

And I want to use it as proof, Mr. President, that the question of bases has nothing to do with the question of whether one wants to wage aggressive war with the country in which these bases are situated. The considerations as to Murmansk were taken in full accord with the Soviet Union, and in the same manner Admiral Donitz took the question of Norwegian bases into consideration. That is the subject of my proof.

THE PRESIDENT: But the fact that Murmansk was suggested as a base, to be taken with the consent of the Soviet Union - if it was the case - doesn't have any relevance, does it, to taking a base in Norway without the consent of Norway.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, the relevancy seems to me to exist in the fact that Admiral Donitz as Commander of the U- Boats in both cases received merely the order to state his opinion about bases in a certain country, but that in the last analysis, he had as little to say in the case of Narvik and Trondheim as in the case of Murmansk.

COLONEL POKROVSKY (of the Russian Prosecution): In Document No. 3, the one just being referred to by the Defence Counsel for the defendant Donitz, mention is definitely made of the Northern bases, but nothing is said, in this document, of any plans of the Soviet Union. And to discuss, here and now, some plan or other of the Soviet Union is, in my opinion, quite out of order, since there are no plans of the Soviet Union in connection with the Northern bases, and there never have been.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: If the representative of the Soviet Union has any doubts that this base was considered in full accord with the Soviet Union, then I shall prove that by calling a witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Anyhow, the document does not say anything about it.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: The document says nothing about it.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not think you ought to make statements of that sort without any evidence, and at the moment you are dealing with a document which does not contain any evidence of the fact.

[Page 192]

DR. KRANZBUHLER: May I perhaps read the Document Donitz No. 4?

THE PRESIDENT: It is Donitz 3, is it not?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I have now come to Donitz 4. I had read from Donitz 3. I shall now read from Donitz 4, the entries for 17th April, 1939:-

"Commander of U-boats receives instructions from Naval Operational Staff to try out Base North. Naval Operational Staff considers the trying out of the base by 'U 36,' due to sail within the next days, highly desirable. Supply goods for tanker Phoenizia, in Murmansk, going with fishing steamer to Murmansk on 22 November."
It seems to me that this entry very clearly shows that that could have happened only in accord with the Soviet Union. Furthermore, I want to show that considerations as to bases -

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute.

Dr. Kranzbuhler, the Tribunal thinks you ought not to make these observations on these documents which really do not support what you are saying. Document No. 3, for instance, does not bear any such interpretation, because it refers to attacks which it was suggested should be made against ships coming from Russian ports, in paragraph 2. And equally the other document you referred to, Donitz 4, on Page 5, does not bear the interpretation which you are putting upon it.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, I am afraid that the contents of both documents have been presented too quickly by me. For anyone who is familiar with such war diaries, many things are self-evident which otherwise are not so easy to understand.

Document Donitz 3 states, in that part which I have read, that possibilities for the establishment of a Base North exist. These possibilities can be only political possibilities, because one can establish a base in a foreign country only if that country agrees.

The Document Donitz 4 shows that the base in question is Murmansk, and that this base is being tried out with a supply ship, a fishing steamer, and a U-boat. That convincingly shows in my opinion -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): The objection the Tribunal was raising was to the statement by you that the Soviet Union had agreed, and these documents do not bear out any such statement.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: I am of the opinion, that in Document Donitz 4 that can clearly be seen. It is not possible -

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I definitely protest against the fact that apart from what has been stated in the documents, certain unfounded conjectures or assertions have been made with a view to interpreting the documents in the manner in which Dr. Kranzbuhler has endeavoured to interpret them from the initial stages of his defence. I do not belong to the category of fortune tellers and palmists. I cannot conjecture what hypothetical conclusions may be drawn from one or another of the documents. I am a lawyer and I am accustomed to operate with documents such as they appear, and I am accustomed to operate with the contents of a document such as they are expressed.

I consider that the Tribunal has quite correctly expressed to the Defence Counsel the absolute impossibility of drawing the conclusions he is attempting to reach, and I would ask that Counsel for the Defence be reminded of his duty to limit himself exclusively to such interpretations as may be deduced from the document.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Your Honour, I would be grateful if the Tribunal would consider a general point of procedure. We have a number of objections to a considerable number of Dr. Kranzbuhler's documents. I have prepared a short list grouping as far as is possible our objections, which I can hand to the Tribunal, and, of course, to Dr. Kranzbuhler now. It is a matter for con-

[Page 193]

sideration by the Tribunal whether it would be useful to see that list before the Tribunal adjourns tonight, and maybe here tender certain observations of Dr. Kranzbuhler upon them. Then the Tribunal might be able to give a decision with regard to certain of the documents before sitting again tomorrow, and thereby save some time.

I suggest that to the Tribunal for their consideration as perhaps the most profitable procedure under the circumstances.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you suggesting that at a certain point of time we should adjourn for the consideration of your list, and then hear Dr. Kranzbuhler on it?


THE PRESIDENT: That is what you suggest?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, sir. I was going to explain my list, put my list to the Tribunal and explain it, and then the Tribunal could hear Dr. Kranzbuhler upon it, and adjourn at whatever time it is suitable.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: May I make a statement in that regard?


DR. KRANZBUHLER: I do not agree with such a proceeding, Mr. President. Before this Tribunal I have said very little as Defence Counsel so far; but I am of the opinion that it is my turn now, and that I have to be granted permission to submit my documents in that order in which I plan to and which I consider correct for my defence.

I ask the Tribunal just to imagine what would have happened if before the presentation of its case by the prosecution I had said that I should like to speak about the relevancy of the documents of the prosecution. I believe that this comparison shows that I should not have thought of proceeding in this way.

I shall try, before submitting my documents, to explain their relevancy to a greater extent than I have thought necessary up until now. But I ask the Tribunal to grant that I present my case now and to limit the prosecution to making their suggestions when I submit my documents individually.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The inconvenience of that course, my Lord, is that I shall then be interrupting Dr. Kranzbuhler every two or three documents, and making a specific objection to an individual document, which will take a great deal of time. I thought it would be more convenient if I indicated to the Tribunal my objections to the documents in the usual way by classes rather than individually.

I put it to the Tribunal to rule on whatever method they think would be most convenient for them.

The last thing I want is to interfere with Dr. Kranzbuhler's presentation but, on the other hand, the method that he suggests will mean individual objections, because, of course, an objection is useless if it is put in after Dr. Kranzbuhler has dealt with the document. Or, if it is not useless, it is at any rate of very much less weight.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, supposing that Sir David presents his objections to the documents now, whether in groups or in whatever way he likes, and you then answer him individually upon each document, pointing out the relevance in your view of each document; how does it harm you? The Tribunal will then consider your arguments and will rule upon them, and then you will know what documents the Tribunal have ruled out, and you can then refer to any of the other documents in any way you please?

The only object of it and the only effect of it is to prevent the prosecution having to get up and interrupt, put on the earphones, and take the time for an individual objection to each document to which it wishes to object as it turns up. I cannot see that it can interfere with you in the least.

[Page 194]

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, I have no objection to the prosecution stating their objections now, I merely wish to avoid my having to reply to each individual objection. If I am permitted to state my views when each individual document comes up, then I have no objection to the prosecution stating its objections now to individual documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, the Tribunal would like you to state now your objections to these documents. They will then allow Dr. Kranzbuhler to proceed with his discussion of the documents, answering your argument as to the admissibility of each document that you object to when he comes to it.

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