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-Eighth Day: Monday, 13th May, 1946
(Part 7 of 9)

[DR. SIEMERS continues his direct examination of Gerhard Wagner]


Q. Do you remember that in 1940 and in 1941, Raeder declared himself emphatically against a war with Russia?

A. Yes, he was very strongly opposed to a war with Russia, and that for two reasons; firstly, he considered that to break the treaty of friendship with Russia was wrong and inadmissible, and secondly, for strategic reasons he was convinced that our entire strength should be concentrated against Britain.

When in the autumn of 1940 it appeared that the invasion of Britain could not be carried out, the Admiral worked for a strategy in the Mediterranean to keep open a breach in Britain's policy of encirclement.

Q. The Navy had rather a lot to do with Russia during the friendship period between Russia and Germany in the way of deliveries. As far as, you know did everything in that respect run smoothly?

A. Oh, yes, I know that a large number of deliveries from the Navy stocks went to Russia; for instance, incompleted ships, heavy guns and other war material.

Q. And the Navy, of course, always made efforts to maintain the friendly relations laid down in the Pact?

A. Yes, that was the Admiral's policy.

Q. Admiral Wagner, Admiral Raeder has been accused by the prosecution that he had never bothered about international law, and that he broke international law conventions as a matter of principle if it suited him. Can you express a general opinion about Raeder's attitude in that respect?

A. Yes, that is completely wrong. Admiral Raeder considered it most important that every measure for naval warfare should be examined from the point of view of international law. For that purpose we had a special expert on

[Page 360]

international law in the Naval War Command with whom we in the Operations Department had almost daily contact.

Q. Furthermore, Raeder has been accused by the prosecution of advising a war against the United States and trying to get Japan to go to war with the United States. May I ask for your opinion on that?

A. I consider this charge completely unjustified. I know that Admiral Raeder attached particular importance to the fact, that all naval war measures - especially in the critical year of 1941 - were to be examined very closely as to the effects they might have on the United States of America. In fact he refrained from taking quite a number of perfectly justified measures in order to prevent incidents with the USA. For instance, in the summer of 1941, he withdrew the submarines from a large area off the coast of the USA although that area could certainly be regarded as the open sea. He forbade mine laying action which had already begun against the British port of Halifax, in Canada, to prevent at all costs the possibility of a United States ship striking a mine. And finally, he also forbade attacks on British destroyers in the North Atlantic because the fifty destroyers which had been turned over to England by the United States created the dangerous possibility of confusing the British and American destroyers. All this was done at a time when the United States, while still at peace, occupied Iceland, when British warships were being repaired in American shipyards, when American naval forces had orders that all German units should be reported to the British fleet, and when finally President Roosevelt in July, 1941, gave his forces the order to attack any German submarines they sighted.

Q. Did Admiral Raeder ever make a statement in the Naval War Command that there were no objections to a war against America and that the fleet or the American submarines were not much good.

A. No, Admiral Raeder as an expert would never have made such a statement.

Q. On the contrary, didn't Raeder expressly speak of the strength of the American fleet and that one couldn't fight simultaneously two such great sea-powers as America and Great Britain?

A. Yes, it was perfectly clear to him and to us that America's entry into the war would mean a very substantial strengthening of the enemy forces.

Q. But then, on one occasion, Admiral Raeder suggested his War Diary that Japan should attack Singapore. Was there any discussion about Pearl Harbour in connection with that in the Naval War Command?

A. No, not at all. The attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour was a complete surprise, both to the Admiral and to the Naval War Command and - in my opinion - to every other German Department.

Q. Weren't there any continuous naval-military discussions and conferences between Japan and Germany?

A. No, before Japan's entry into the war, there were no military discussions according to my conviction.

Q. I should now like to show you Document C-41.

(Addressing the President) Mr. President, this is Exhibit GB 69. Later on, the British Delegation will submit it in Document Book CA for Raeder. I do not know whether the Tribunal already has it. It is as yet not contained in the trial brief against Raeder. In the newly compiled Document Book 10A, it is on Page 18.

THE PRESIDENT: You can put it in now, if you want to. You can offer it in evidence now, if you want to. So that you can put it to the witness.

DR. SIEMERS: The prosecution has submitted it.


Q. This concerns a document signed by Admiral Fricke and it is dated 3rd of June, 1940. It is headed "Questions of Expansion of Areas and of Bases."

That document contains detailed statements on future plans.

[Page 361]

I should like to ask you if Raeder gave the order to prepare this memorandum or how did this memorandum come to be written?

A. Admiral Raeder did not give the order to draft this memorandum. This constitutes the personal theoretical ideas of Admiral Fricke regarding the possible developments in the future. They are quite fantastic, and they had no practical significance.

Q. Was this note discussed by any large group in the Naval War Command?

A. No, in my opinion, only the operations officers had knowledge of this document which by its very form shows that it is not a well thought out plan made by order of the Admiral, but a jotting down of thoughts which occurred to Admiral Fricke at the moment.

Q. Was this plan or this document passed on to any outsiders at all?

A. I think I can remember, that this document was not sent to any outside office. It remained in the Operations Department. The Admiral, too, in my opinion did not have knowledge of it, particularly since this document shows that lie didn't initial it.

Q. You have a photostat copy of that document?

A. Yes.

Q. Are there any other initials on it which might show that it was put before Admiral Raeder? How was this sort of thing generally handled in the Naval War Command?

A. Every document that was to be put before the Admiral had on its first page, in the left margin, a note: V.A.V., which means "to be submitted before dispatch," or N.E.V., "to be submitted after receipt" or "to be reported during situation reports." And then at that place the Admiral would initial it with a green pencil or the officers of his personal staff would make a note indicating that it had been submitted to him.

Q. And there are no such marks on this document?

A. No, no.

Q. I should like to show you Document C-38, which is a document of the prosecution bearing the number Exhibit GB 223. It is contained in the prosecution's document book on Raeder, Page 11.

The war between Germany and Russia began on 22nd of June, 1941. According to the last page but one of the document which you have before you, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces had, as early as 15th June - a week before the outbreak of the war - ordered the use of arms against enemy submarines south of the Memel line, the southern tip of Oeland, at the request of the SKL.

The prosecution is basing the accusation on this document, and, once more, referring to an aggressive war. Unfortunately, the prosecution has only submitted the last page of this document. It did not produce the first and second pages of the document. If it had done so, then this accusation would probably have been dropped.

May I read to you, witness, what is contained there, and I quote:

"On 12th June, at 2000 hours, one of the submarines placed as outposts on both sides of Bornholm, as a precautionary measure, reported at 2000 hours an unknown submarine in the vicinity of Aldergrund (20 miles south- west of Bornholm) which had surfaced and was proceeding on a westerly course, and which answered a recognition signal (Erkennungs Signal) with a letter signal which had no particular significance."
That ends the quotation.

May I ask you to explain what it means that this U-boat did not reply to the recognition signal call?

A. In time of war the warships of one's own fleet have an arrangement of recognition signals; that is to say, the recognition signal has a call and a reply which immediately identifies the ship as belonging to one's own fleet. If a recognition signal is wrongly answered, this proves that it is a foreign vessel.

[Page 362]

Q. As far as you can remember, were there any other clues showing that ships appeared in the Baltic sea which were recognized as enemy ships?

A. Yes. I remember that there were individual cases where unknown submarines were observed outside the German Baltic ports. Subsequently it was found in comparing the stations of our own submarines, that these were indeed enemy vessels.

Q. Were these facts the reason which caused the Naval War Command staff to ask for the use of weapons?

A. Yes, these very facts.

Q. A similar case has been made the subject of an accusation in connection with Greece. It has been ascertained here in court from the war diary that on 3oth December, 1939, the Naval War Command asked that Greek ships in the American blockade zone around Great Britain should be treated as hostile. Since Greece was neutral at the time, there has been an accusation against Raeder of a breach of neutrality.

May I ask you to tell us the reasons which caused the SKL and the Chief, Raeder, to make such a request to the OKW?

A. We had had the news that Greece had placed the bulk of its merchant fleet at the disposal of England and that these Greek vessels were sailing under the British command.

Q. And it is correct that Greek vessels in general were not treated as hostile, but only vessels in the American blockade zone around England?

A. Yes.

Q. The next case, which is something similar, is that which occurred in June, 1942, when the Naval War Command made an application to the OKW to be allowed to attack Brazilian ships, although Brazil at that time was still a neutral. The war with Brazil started some two months later on 22nd August. What reasons were there for such a step?

A. We were receiving reports from submarines from the waters around South America, according to which they were being attacked by ships which could only have started from Brazilian bases. The first thing we did was to refer back and get these questions clarified and confirmed. Moreover, I think I can remember personally that at that time it was already generally known that Brazil was giving the use of sea and air bases to the United States, with whom we were at war.

Q. So that this was due to a breach of neutrality on the part of Brazil?

A. Yes.

Q. I should like to submit to you Documents C-176 and D-658. Document C-176 is Exhibit GB 228. These two documents are based on this command order, that is, the order to destroy sabotage troops.

The prosecution has charged Raeder with an incident which occurred in December, 1942, in the Gironde estuary at Bordeaux. In the Document C-176 on the last page, you will find something which I would like to quote.

"Shooting took place of the two captured Englishmen by a commando under the Port Commander at Bordeaux, in the presence of an officer of the SD, and by order of the Fuehrer."
Previous entries, which I don't want to quote separately and which portray the same things, show that the SD had intervened directly and had got into direct touch with the Fuehrer's headquarters.

I now ask you whether the Naval War Command had heard anything at all about this matter before these two prisoners were shot, or whether they knew anything about this direct order from Hitler which is mentioned in this connection?

A. The Naval War Command had nothing to do with a direct order for the shooting of people in Bordeaux. The Naval War Command knew the tactical results in connection with this sabotage undertaking in Bordeaux and, beyond that, knew nothing at that time.

Q. Therefore, this case was not put to the Naval War Command, or to Admiral Raeder, and it was not discussed by them?

[Page 363]

A. Yes. I am certain that this was the case.

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, may I ask the Tribunal to take notice of the fact that this war diary is not the war diary which has been frequently mentioned, the war diary of the Naval War Command, but the war diary of the Naval Commander-in-Chief West, and was therefore unknown to the Naval War Command. That is why the Naval War Command did not know of this case.

THE PRESIDENT: You are referring now to Document C-176?

DR. KRANZBUHLER: Yes, and also D-658. This is the war diary of the Naval War Command.

THE PRESIDENT: What was the reference to it?

DR. KRANZBCHLER: This is D-658, which shows the following:

According to the report of the armed forces, these two soldiers have since been shot. The measure would be in keeping with the special order by the Fuehrer. That has been submitted by the prosecution, and it shows - and I shall refer to this later - the Naval War Command knew nothing about the entire episode because this shows an entry dated 9th December, whereas the whole affair happened on the 11th.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps that would be a good time to break off.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. Admiral, I am now submitting to you Document C-I24.

DR, SIEMERS: Mr. President, Document C-124 corresponds to Exhibit USSR 130. This document deals with a communication from the SKL, dated 29th September, 1941, addressed to the Group North, and it deals with the future of the city of Petersburg. This report to the Group North says that the Fuehrer had decided to wipe the city of Petersburg from the face of the earth. The Navy itself had nothing to do with that report. Despite that, this report was sent to Group North.


Q. Witness, I will return to this point, but I would like to ask you first - you have a photostat copy of the original - to tell me whether Raeder could have seen this document before he resigned?

A. According to my previous statements Admiral Raeder did not see this document since there are no marks or initials to that effect.

Q. And now the more important questions on this point. In view of the terrible communication which is mentioned by Hitler in Point 2, why did the Naval War Command transmit it, even though the Navy itself had nothing to do with it?

A. The SKL had asked that if Leningrad should be bombarded when it was occupied or attacked -

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