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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th May to 24th May, 1946

One Hundred and Thirtieth Day: Wednesday, 15th May, 1946
(Part 6 of 11)

[Page 61]

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, the difficulty consists of something else. The defendant Goering says, and I think rightly, that he can put his questions to the witness in a reasonable way only if he has an opportunity of seeing the document to which the prosecution referred. Therefore, during the cross-examination I wanted to have the guard pass on Document 3947-PS to defendant Goering. That was refused, however, on the ground that by an order of the Commandant of the Prison, documents can no longer during the proceedings be handed to those defendants whose case has already been concluded.

THE PRESIDENT: Although the document was read over the earphones the defendant Goering and yourself shall certainly see it, but the witness must be called during this sitting. You may see the document and the defendant Goering too may see it, but the witness must be recalled for any questions at once.

[Page 62]

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, only excerpts were read from the document. In my opinion the defendant Goering is right in saying: If I am to ask a sensible question I must know the whole document. I think there are only two possibilities; either the prosecution must in the case of defendants whose cases are said to have already been concluded, refrain from presenting new material, or the defendant must be given the opportunity of seeing this fresh evidence -

THE PRESIDENT: Do not go too fast.

DR. SEIDL: - or the defendant must be given the opportunity of seeing the evidence newly introduced, and when only excerpts of 2 document are read, he must have access to the whole document.

THE PRESIDENT: The document is only just over one page and there is only one paragraph in it which refers to Goering and that paragraph has already been read. When I say one page, it is just one page of this English copy, I think you have a German translation before you.

DR. SEIDL: I have three and half pages.

THE PRESIDENT: There is only one paragraph which relates to Goering.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, it is only a question of whether in the main proceedings I may give this photostat copy to the defendant Goering, or not. If this is possible -

THE PRESIDENT: You are going too fast.

DR. SEIDL: - and I see no reason why it should not be possible ... then I will shortly be able to ask the witness Puhl any question that may be necessary; but I think the defendant Goering is right in saying that he would like to see the entire contents of a document from which only excerpts have been read.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I might be a little bit helpful. I would like to point out that Dr. Seidl had the document for ten minutes anyway during the recess; and also I would like to point out that it was not we as members of the prosecution who prevented him having it. It is entirely a matter of a security measure.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps you will be satisfied, Dr. Seidl, if we order that the witness Puhl be recalled at two o'clock for you to put any questions to him that you wish, and of course you would have the document. You have the document now.

DR. SEIDL: That is the difficulty, Mr. President. I have the document but on account of the existing instructions I cannot hand it to the defendant Goering.

THE PRESIDENT: You can give the document to Goering now.

DR. SEIDL: I am not allowed to do that.

THE PRESIDENT: I am telling you to do it, and they will let you do it.

Dr. Sauter, do you wish to cross-examine the man who has made a statement? Do you wish to cross-examine Toms?

DR. SAUTER: Yes, if I may.


DR. SAUTER: Yes. Mr. President, may I comment on what Dr. Seidl has just said? It is not only a question concerning this one document which Dr. Seidl just wanted to give to the defendant Goering, but it is a general question of whether during the session a defence counsel is authorized to hand to a defendant documents which have been submitted. Hitherto this has been allowed, but now the security ruling is that defendants whose cases have been completed for the present, may no longer be given any documents in the courtroom by their defence counsel. Defence counsel feel that this is an unfair ruling, since, as the case of Goering

[Page 63]

shows, it can very easily happen that a defendant is in some way involved in a later case. And the request which we now direct to you and to the Tribunal is that defence counsel should again be permitted to give the defendants documents here during the session, even if the case of the defendant in question has already been concluded.

That is what Dr. Seidl wanted to ask you.

Mr. President, may I say something else?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Sauter? You wanted to say something more to me?

DR. SAUTER: May I also point out the following? In the interrogation room down in the prison we have so far not been allowed to hand any documents to the prisoners with whom we were speaking. Thus, if I want to discuss a document with my client, I have to read the whole of it to him. And When ten, twelve or fifteen defence counsel are down there in the evening, it is almost -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, the Tribunal is of the opinion that any document which is handed to the defendants' counsel may be handed to the defendants themselves by the counsel and that it does not make any difference that a particular defendant's case has been closed with reference to that rule.

DR. SAUTER: We are very grateful to you, Mr. President, and we hope that your ruling will not, in practice, encounter any difficulties.

THE PRESIDENT: Well then now, you want to cross-examine Toms?


THE PRESIDENT: Is Toms here? Can he be brought here at once?

MR. DODD: He is on his way ... he is probably right outside the door.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, would the Marshal see if he is available.

MR. DODD: I have not had time, Mr. President, to have the affidavit sworn to because I have not seen the man.

THE PRESIDENT: No, but as far as his cross-examination is concerned, he can be put under oath here.

THE MARSHAL: No sir, he is not here yet.

MR. DODD: He is on his way.

THE PRESIDENT: He is not available.

MR. DODD: He is on his way. He was in Lieutenant Meltzer's office a minute ago and he went out to get him.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, he can be called then at two o'clock after the other witness.

Now Dr. Siemers, would you be ready?

DR. SIEMERS: (Defence counsel for Grand Admiral Dr. Erich Raeder.)

Your Honours, may I say, first of all, how I intend to proceed in the presentation of my case?

In accordance with the suggestion of the Tribunal, I should like to call Raeder as a witness in connection with all the documents which the prosecution has submitted against him. I have given all these documents to Raeder so that he will have them before him on the witness stand, and no time will be lost by handing him each one individually. The British Delegation was so kind as to put all these documents, only some of which are in the Raeder Document Book, in a new document book - 10a. I assume that this document book is in the possession of the Tribunal.

Then to facilitate matters, I shall give the page number of the English Document Book 10a or 10 in the case of each document.

At the same time if the Tribunal agrees, I intend to submit from my own document books those documents which in each case are connected with the matter under discussion. Thank you.

[Page 64]

May I then ask that Grand Admiral Raeder be called to the witness stand.

ERICH RAEDER, called as witness, took the stand and testified as follows


Q. Will you state your full name.

A. Erich Raeder.

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.

(Witness repeated oath).

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Grand Admiral Raeder, may I ask you first to tell the Tribunal briefly about your past and your professional career?

A. I was born in 1876 in Wansbeck near Hamburg. I joined the Navy in 1894 and became an officer in 1897. Then normal advancement; two years at the naval academy; in each year, three months leave to study languages; in Russia during the Russo-Japanese War; 1906 to 1908 in the Reich Navy Office, in the Intelligence Division "Von Tirpitz," responsible for the Foreign Press and the publications Marine Rundschau and Nautikus.

1910 to 1912, Navigation Officer on the Imperial yacht Hohenzollern. 1912 to the beginning of 1918, Chief Naval Staff Officer and Chief of Staff of the battle cruiser Admiral Hipper.

After the First World War, in the Admiralty, Chief of the Central Division with Admiral von Trotha. Then two years of writing at the naval archives: history of naval war. From 1922 to 1924, with the rank of Rear Admiral, Inspector of Training and Education in the Navy. 1925 to 1928, as Vice- Admiral, Chief of the Baltic naval station at Kiel.

On October 1928, Reich President von Hindenburg named me Chief of the Navy Command in Berlin, at the suggestion of Reich Minister of Defence, Groner.

In 1935 I became Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, and on April 1939, Grand Admiral.

On 30th January, 1943 I resigned as Commander-in- Chief of the Navy; I received the title of Admiral-Inspector of the Navy, but remained without any official duties.

Q. I should like to come back to one point. You said that in 1935 you became Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. This was only, if I am right, a new name?

A. It was only a new name.

Q. So you were, actually, head of the Navy from 1928 to 1943?

A. Yes.

Q. After the Versailles Treaty, Germany had an army of only one hundred thousand men and a navy of fifteen thousand men, with one thousand five hundred officers. In relation to the size of the Reich, the Wehrmacht was thus extremely small.

Was Germany in the twenties in a position to defend herself with this small Wehrmacht against possible attacks by neighbouring States, and with what dangers did Germany have to reckon in the twenties?

A. In my opinion, Germany was not at all in a position to defend herself effectively against attacks, even of the smallest States, since she had no modern weapons; the surrounding States, Poland in particular, were equipped with the most modern weapons, while even the modern fortifications had been taken away

[Page 65]

from Germany. The danger which Germany constant1v faced in the twenties was a Polish attack on East Prussia with the object of severing this territory, already cut off from the rest of Germany by the Corridor, and occupying it. The danger was especially clear to Germany, because at that time Vilna was occupied by the Poles, then at peace with Lithuania, and Lithuania had taken away the Memel area. In the south, Fiume was also taken away, without objection being raised by the League of Nations or anyone else. It was however, quite clear to the German Government of those days, that one thing which could not be allowed to happen to Germany during that time of her weakness was the occupation of East Prussia and its separation from the Reich. Our efforts were therefore aimed at preparing ourselves to oppose with all possible means a Polish invasion of East Prussia.

Q. You said that it was feared that such an invasion might take place. Did not several frontier incidents actually occur in the twenties?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. Is it true that these dangers were recognized not only by you and by military circles, but also by the Government of that period, especially by the Social Democrats and by Stresemann?

A. Yes. I already said that the Government, too, realised that such an invasion could not be allowed to happen.

Q. Now, the prosecution has accused you of conduct contrary to International Law and contrary to existing treaties, even in pre-Hitler days.

On 1st October, 1928 you became Chief of the Navy Command, and thus rose to the highest position in the German Navy. Did you, in view of the dangers you have described, use all your power to build up the German Navy within the framework of the Versailles Treaty, particularly with the object of protecting East Prussia?

A. Yes, I exerted all my strength for the reconstruction of the Navy, and I came to consider this as my life work. In all stages of this period of naval reconstruction I met with great difficulties, and as a result, I had to battle in one way or another constantly throughout those years in order to put this reconstruction into effect. Perhaps I became rather one-sided, since this fight for the reconstruction of the Navy filled all my time and prevented me from taking part in any matters not directly concerned with it. In addition to material reconstruction, I put every effort into the formation of a competent officer corps, and well-trained, especially well-disciplined crews.

Grand Admiral Donitz has already commented on the result of this training of our men and officers, and I should like only to confirm that these German naval men earned full recognition in peace-time, both at home and abroad, for their dignified good behaviour and their discipline, and also during the war, when they fought to the end in an exemplary manner, in complete unity, with irreproachable battle ethics, and, in general, did not participate in any kind of atrocities. Also in the occupied areas to which they came, in Norway for instance, they earned full approval of the population for their good and dignified conduct.

Q. Since for fifteen years you were head of the Navy and reconstructed it in those years, can it be said that as chief of the Navy you are responsible for everything that happened in connection with this reconstruction?

A. I am fully responsible for it.

Q. Who were your superiors, as regards the reconstruction of the Navy? You could not, of course, act with complete independence.

A. I was subordinate, firstly, to the Reich Minister of Defence and, through him, to the Reich Government, since I was not a member of the Reich Government; and secondly, I also had to obey the Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht in these matters. From 1925 to 1934 the Commander-in- Chief of the Wehrmacht was Reich President Generalfeldmarshal von Hindenburg, and after his death on: August, 1934, Adolf Hitler.

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