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-Fourth Day: Wednesday, 8th May, 1946
(Part 3 of 5)

[Page 209]

THE MARSHAL OF THE COURT: If it please the Tribunal, the defendant Streicher is absent from this session.

THE PRESIDENT: I will deal with the documents in the order in which they were dealt with by Dr. Kranzbuhler.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 5, Page 7, of the Document Book.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 60, Page 152.

The Tribunal allows Donitz 69, Page 170.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 60, Pages 173 to 197.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 72, Page 185.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 60, Page 204.

It rejects Donitz 74, Page 207.

It allows Donitz 60, Page 208.

It rejects Donitz 60, Page 209.

It rejects Donitz 75, Page 218.

It rejects Donitz 60, Page 219, Page 222 and Page 224.

It allows Donitz 60, Page 256.

It rejects Donitz 81, Pages 233 and 234; 234 being Donitz 82.

It rejects Donitz 85, Page 242.

It rejects Donitz 89, Page 246.

It allows Donitz 9, Page 11, and Donitz 10, Page 12.

It rejects Donitz 12, Page 18.

It allows Donitz 13, Pages 19 to 26, and Page 49.

It allows Donitz 19, Page 34.

It allows Donitz 29, Pages 54 to 59, leaving out - that is to say, not allowing Page 58.

It rejects Donitz 31, Page 64.

It rejects Donitz 32, Page 65.

It rejects Donitz 33, Page 66.

It allows Donitz 37, Page 78.

It rejects Donitz 38, Page 80.

It rejects Donitz 40, Page 86.

It rejects Goering No. 7, Page 89.

With reference to the next exhibit, Page 91, the Tribunal would like to know from Dr. Kranzbuhler whether that is already in evidence or not. It is Page 91 in the Donitz document book in English, Volume 2, Page 91.

It is headed "C-21, GB 194."

DR. KRANZBUHLER (For the defendant Donitz):

That is an excerpt from a document which the prosecution has submitted here and which is therefore already in evidence.

[Page 210]

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, then; we need not be troubled about it.

The Tribunal rejects Donitz 43, Page 95,

It allows Donitz 90, Page 258.

It allows Donitz 67, Page 96.

It allows Donitz 53, Page 99.

It rejects Donitz 47, Page 120.

It allows Donitz 48, Page 122.

It rejects Donitz 49, Page 131.

It rejects Donitz 51 and 52, Pages 134 and 135.

That is all.

The Tribunal will adjourn at a quarter to five and it will be sitting in closed session thereafter.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: With the permission of the Tribunal, I call Grand Admiral Donitz as witness.

(The defendant Donitz came to the witness-box.)


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Karl Donitz.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

You may sit down.



Q. Grand Admiral, since 1910 you have been a professional officer, is that correct?

A. Since 1910 I have been a naval man, and an officer since 1913.

Q. Yes. During the World War, the first World War, were you with the U-boat arm?

A. Yes, from 1916.

Q. Until the end?

A. Until the end of the war.

Q. After the first World War, when did you again have contact with the U-boat arm?

A. On 27th September, 1935, I became the Commanding officer of the U-boat Flotilla Weddigen, the first German U-boat flotilla after 1918. As an introduction to taking up that command a few days before, that is in September, 1935, I spent a few days in Turkey, in order to go there in a U-boat and to bridge the gap from 1918.

Q. Thus from 1918 to 1935 you had nothing to do with U- boats?

A. No, nothing at all.

Q. What was your rank when you went to the U-boat arm in 1935?

A. I was a Fregattenkapitan.

Q. What did the German U-boat arm at that time consist of?

A. The U-boat Flotilla Weddigen, of which I became the Commanding Officer, consisted of three small boats of 250 tons each, the so-called "Einbaume." Besides, there were six somewhat smaller boats which were in a U-boat school which was not under my command, for the purpose of training. Then there were afloat and in service perhaps another six of these small boats.

Q. Who informed you of your command as CO of the U-boat flotilla?

A. Grand Admiral Raeder.

[Page 211]

Q. Did Grand Admiral Raeder on that occasion issue the order that the U-boat arm should be prepared for a specific war?

A. No. I merely received the order to fill in that gap from 1918; to train the U-boats for the first time in cruising, submersion and firing.

Q. Did you prepare the U-boats for war against merchant shipping?

A. Yes. I instructed the commanders as to how they should behave if they stopped a merchantman, and I also issued an appropriate tactical order for each commander.

Q. Do you mean to say that the preparation for war against merchantmen was a preparation for war according to prize regulations?

A. Yes.

Q. That is to say, the preparations were concerned with the stopping of ships on the surface?

A. The only instruction which I gave concerning the war against merchantmen was an instruction on how the U-boat should behave in the stopping and examining, the establishing of the destination and so on, of a merchantman. Later, I believe in the year 1938, when the draft of the German prize regulations came, I passed this on to the flotillas for the instruction of the commanders.

Q. You developed new tactics for U-boats, which became known as "wolf pack tactics." What were these tactics, and had they any connection with the warfare against merchantmen according to the prize regulations?

A. The U-boats of all navies had so far operated singly, contrary to all other categories of ships which, by tactical co-operation, tried to get better results. The development of the "wolf pack tactics" was nothing further than breaking with that principle of individual action for each U-boat and attempting to use U-boats exactly in the same manner as other categories of warships, collectively. Such a method of collective action was naturally necessary when a formation was to be attacked, be it a formation of warships - that is, several warships together, or be it a convoy. These "wolf pack tactics," therefore, have nothing to do with war against merchantmen according to prize regulations. They are a tactical measure to fight formation of ships, and of course, convoys, where procedure according to prize regulations cannot be followed.

Q. Were you given the task of preparing for war, against a definite enemy

A. I was not given any such task. I was instructed to develop the U-boat arm as well as possible, just as it is the duty of every front line officer of all armed forces of all nations, to be prepared against all war emergencies. Once, in the year 1937 or 1938, in the mobilization plan of the Navy, I received the order that, in case France should try to interrupt the rearmament by an attack on Germany, it would be the task of the German U-boats to attack the transports in the Mediterranean which would leave North Africa for France.

I then carried out manoeuvres in the North Sea with this task in mind. If you are asking me about a definite aim or line of action, that, so far as I remember, was the only mission which I received in that respect from the Naval War Staff. That occurred in the year 1937 or 1938. According to my recollection, that plan had been issued lest the rearmament of Germany, at that time unarmed, might be interrupted by some measure or other.

Q. In the year 1939, then, was the German U-boat arm prepared technically and tactically for a naval war against England?

A. No. The German U-boat arm, in the autumn Of 1939, consisted of about thirty to forty operational boats. That meant that at any time about one-third could be used for operations. In actual fact the situation seemed much worse later. There was one month, for instance, when we had only two boats out at sea. With this small number of U-boats it was, of course, only possible to give pinpricks to a great naval power such as England. That the Navy was not prepared for war against England, is in my opinion, best and most clearly to be seen from the fact that its armament had to be radically changed at the beginning of the war. It had been the intention to create a homogeneous fleet which, of course, since it

[Page 212]

was in proportion much smaller than the British fleet, was not capable of waging a war against England. This programme for building a homogeneous fleet had to be discontinued when the war with England started; only these large ships which were close to completion were finished. Everything else was abandoned or scrapped. That was necessary in order to free the building capacity for building U-boats. That, also, explains why the German U-boat war, in this last war, actually only started in the year 1942, that is to say, when the U-boats which had been ordered for building at the beginning of the war, were ready for action. From peacetime on, that is in 1940, the replacement of U-boats hardly covered the losses.

Q. The prosecution has repeatedly termed the U-boat arm an aggressive weapon. What do you say to this?

A. Yes, that is correct. The U-boat has, of course, the assignment of approaching an enemy and attacking him with torpedoes. Therefore, in that respect, the U-boat is an aggressive weapon.

Q. Do you mean to say by that that it is a weapon for an aggressive war?

A. Aggressive or defensive war is a political decision and, therefore, it has nothing to do with military considerations. I can certainly use a U-boat in a defensive war because, in defensive war also the enemy's ships must be attacked. Of course, I can use a U-boat in exactly the same way in a politically aggressive war. If one should conclude that the navies which have U-boats are planning an aggressive war, then all nations - for all the navies of these nations had U-boats, in fact many had more than Germany, twice and three times as many - planned aggressive war.

Q. In your capacity as Flag Officer of U-boats, did you, yourself, have anything to do with the planning of the war as such?

A. No, nothing at all. My task was to develop U-boats, militarily and tactically in action, and to train my officers and men.

Q. Before the beginning of this war did you give any suggestions or make any proposals concerning a war against a definite enemy?

A. No, in no instance.

Q. Did you do so after this war had started?

A. No.

Q. The prosecution has submitted some documents which contain orders from you to the U-boats and which date from before the beginning of this war. An order for the placing of certain U-boats in the Baltic, and an order, before the Norway action, for the disposition of U-boats along the Norwegian coast. I ask you, therefore, when were you, as Flag Officer of U-boats, or from 1939 on as Commander-in- Chief of U-boats, informed about existing plans?

A. I received information on plans from the Naval War Staff only after these plans had been completed; that is to say, only if I was to participate in some way in carrying them out, and then only when it was necessary for their prompt execution.

Q. Let us take the case of the Norway action, Grand Admiral. When did you learn of the intention to occupy Norway, and in what connection did you receive that information?

A. On 5th March, 1940, I was called from Wilhelmshaven, where I had my command, to Berlin, to the Naval War Staff, and at that meeting I was instructed on the plan and on my task.

Q. I present you now with an entry from the War Diary of the Naval War Staff, which I will submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit Donitz 6. It is on Page 8 of document book I.

"5th March, 1940: The Commander-in-Chief of U-boats (BdU) participates in a conference with the Chief of Staff of the Naval War Staff in Berlin. Object of the conference: Preparation of the occupation of Norway and Denmark by the German Wehrmacht."
Is that the meeting which you have mentioned?

[Page 213]

A. Yes,

Q. In the case of Norway or in the previous case of the outbreak of war with Poland, did you have the opportunity to examine whether the tactical instructions which you had to give to your U-boats, led or were to lead to the waging of an aggressive war?

A. No, I had neither the opportunity nor indeed the authority to do that. I should like to ask what soldier of what nation, who receives any military task whatsoever, has the right to approach his general staff and ask for examination or justification as to whether an aggressive war can evolve from this task. That would mean that -

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