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 10 of 11)

[Page 78]

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, this is to be found on Page 16 of the document book. It is Raeder's letter to Minister Severing, dated 8th October, 1928. Severing gave me this speech when he came to Nuremberg to appear as a witness.

A. I shall quote from Page 17, the fifth line from the bottom to shorten the sentence somewhat for the interpreters:-

"The Armed Forces - I am speaking of course primarily for the Navy, but I know that today it is the same with the Army, because since 1919, its inner solidarity and training has been perfected with the greatest devotion and loyalty to duty - in their present structure, whether officer or soldier, in their

[Page 79]

present form of development and their inner attitude, are a firm and reliable support, I might even say, because of their inherent military might and in view of conditions within the Reich, that they are the firmest and most reliable support of our German Fatherland, the German Reich, the German Republic and its constitution, and the Armed Forces are proud to be that."
I then turn to Page 3, and it is the sixth line:-
"If, however, the State is to endure, this power must be available only to the constitutional authorities. No one else may have it; not even the political parties. The Wehrmacht must be completely non-political and be composed only of servicemen who, in full realization of this necessity, refuse to take part in any activity of domestic politics. To have realised this from the outset and organized the Wehrmacht accordingly is the great and enduring achievement of Noske, the former Reichswehrminister, whom the worthy Minister Dr. Gessler followed on this road with the deepest conviction."
Then I talked about the composition of the Navy, and on Page 4 I continue, line 7. Perhaps this is the most important sentence:-
"In my opinion, one thing is of course a prerequisite for the inner attitude of the service man, namely that he is willing to put his profession into practice when the Fatherland calls upon him. People who never again want war cannot possibly wish to become soldiers. One cannot take it amiss if the Wehrmacht infuses into its servicemen a manly and warlike spirit; not the desire for war or even a war of revenge or a war of aggression, for to strive after that would certainly in the general opinion of all Germans be a crime, but the will to take up arms in the defence of the Fatherland in its hour of need."
Then I pass on to the last paragraph on Page 4.
"It must be understood, for it is the very essence of the Wehrmacht, - that it strives to be as far as possible in a position to fulfil its tasks, even under the present conditions, dictated as they are by the limitation of the Versailles Treaty."
I then refer to the tasks of the Navy, and that is on Page 5, second paragraph, line six.
"Consider the extent of the German coastline in the Baltic and North Sea, chiefly the Prussian coastline, which would be open to invasion and to the ravages of even the smallest maritime nation, had we not at our disposal modern mobile naval forces at least up to the strength permitted by the provisions of the Versailles Treaty. Above all, think of the position of East-Prussia, which in the event of the closing of the Corridor would be wholly dependent on overseas imports, imports which would have to be brought past the bases of foreign nations and in the event of war would be endangered to the utmost, or even be made impossible, If we were not in possession of fighting ships. I ask you to remember the reports about the effect of the visits of our training ships and of our fleet to foreign countries, when, as early as 1922, the model conduct of our sailors testified to an improvement in the internal conditions of the Reich, and the worlds esteem for it was considerable."
So much for this speech.

THE PRESIDENT: Since you are passing from that now, we might perhaps adjourn.

(A recess was taken).


Q. Grand Admiral, hanging over this trial are the words: "Wars of Aggression are Crimes".

We have just seen from your speech that, as early as January 1928, you used these words before the Kellogg Pact. In conclusion, I should like to ask you, did this principle of January, 1928 remain your principle during the whole time of your command of the Navy?

[Page 80]

A. Of course.

DR.SIEMERS: In connection with the Versailles Treaty, I should now like to submit an affidavit, because some figures are necessary here, which are easier to present in writing than by interrogation. I shall submit Affidavit 2 by Vice- Admiral Lohmann, Exhibit Raeder 8, Document Book I, Page 39.

For the guidance of the Tribunal, so that there may be no misunderstanding I should like to point out that Vice- Admiral Lohmann has nothing to do with the Captain Lohmann, who was well known, almost famous, in the twenties.

The Tribunal may remember that the Lohmann affair was mentioned in connection with the breaches of the Versailles Treaty. Captain Lohmann died in 1930, and has nothing to do with the present author of this affidavit, Vice-Admiral Lohmann. I also remind the Tribunal that the Lohmann affair took place before Admiral Raeder was in charge of the Navy, therefore, before 1928.

I quote from the Lohmann affidavit the statement under Roman numeral I.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you wanting to call this Admiral Lohmann as a witness?

DR. SIEMERS: No, I did not name him as a witness, I was satisfied with an affidavit, because of the many figures. The British Prosecution has already agreed to the affidavit being submitted but asked that Admiral Lohmann might be cross-examined. It was arranged between Sir David and myself.

THE PRESIDENT: I see, yes. You do not need to go into all these figures of tonnages, do you? You do not need to read all these, do you?

DR. SIEMERS: No. I did not want to read the individual figures. I would point out that this affidavit does not deal with tonnage; it concerns Raeder 8, Page 39.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I have got the one. There are a good many tons in it, though.

DR. SIEMERS: I should like to read under Roman numeral "I":

"Under the Versailles Treaty, Germany was permitted to build 8 armoured ships. Germany, however, built only three armoured ships, the Deutschland, the Admiral Scheer and the Graf Spee.

II. Under the Versailles Treaty, Germany was permitted to build 8 cruisers. Germany, however, built only 6 cruisers."

I shall omit the details according to the wish of the Tribunal.
"III. Under the Versailles Treaty, Germany was permitted to build 32 destroyers or torpedo boats. Germany, however, built only 12 destroyers and no torpedo boats."

Q. According to this, in building up her navy, Germany in no way took advantage of the Versailles Treaty and if I understand correctly, she specifically kept at a low figure the construction of the larger ships.

May I ask you to make a statement about this.

A. That is entirely correct. It is astonishing that at this period of time so little advantage was taken of the Versailles Treaty. I was reproached for this later when the National Socialist Government came to power. They did not bear in mind, however, that the Government at that time, and the Reichstag, were not inclined to let us have these ships. We had to fight hard for permission. But this failure to build up the Navy to the strength permitted has no relationship to the small breaches of the Versailles Treaty, which we started primarily in order to build up, one could say, a pitiable defence of the coast in the event of extreme emergency.

Q. I shall come back to Document C-32. It is established that during the time of the Versailles Treaty, Germany did not take advantage of the provisions of the Treaty, particularly in regard to offensive weapons. On the other hand, on the basis of the documents submitted by the prosecution, it has been established and

[Page 81]

it is also historically known that the Navy in building itself up committed breaches of the Versailles Treaty in other directions. I should like to discuss with you the individual breaches which were presented with great precision by the prosecution. But first I should like to discuss the general accusation which I have already mentioned that these breaches were committed behind the back of the Reichstag and the Government.

Is this accusation justified?

A. Not at all. I must repeat that I was connected with these breaches only when on the 1st of October, 1928, I became Chief of the Navy Command in Berlin. I had nothing to do with the things which had been done previously.

When I came to Berlin, the Lohmann case, which you mentioned previously, had already been concluded. It was in the process of being liquidated, and the Reich Defence Minister Groner, when the affair was first discovered, ordered the. army as well as the Navy to report to him all breaches which were in process, and from then on he was to deal with these things together with Colonel von Schleicher, his political adviser. He liquidated the Lohmann affair, and this liquidation was still in progress when I came there.

On 1st October, 1928, he had already come to the decision to transfer the responsibility for all these evasions and breaches of the Versailles Treaty to the Reich Government as a whole, then the Muller-Severing-Stresemann Government, since he believed that he could no longer bear this responsibility alone.

As a result, on 18th October, when I had just become acquainted with these matters, he called a cabinet meeting to which the Chief of the Army Command, General Heyl, and I, as well as some office chiefs in both administrations, were called. At this cabinet meeting, General Heyl and I had to report openly and fully before all the ministers as to what breaches there were on the part of the Army and the Navy. The Muller-Severing-Stresemann Government took full responsibility and exonerated the Reich Defence Minister, who, however, continued to be responsible for carrying things through. In the future we had to report to the Reich Defence Minister everything which happened and were not allowed to undertake any steps alone. The Reich Defence Minister, as a rule, handled matters with the Reichsminister of the Interior, Severing, who showed great understanding for the various requirements.

Q. At this cabinet meeting you, and General Heyl as Chief of the Army Command, submitted a list of the individual small breaches?

A. Yes, yes.

Q. And thereupon the Government told you, "We will take the responsibility"?

A. Yes.

Q. Accordingly, in the following years did you always act in agreement with the Reich Government?

A. Yes, the Reich Defence Minister, Groner was extremely sensitive on this point. He had dissolved all the so-called "block armed formations" which existed and insisted absolutely that he should know about everything and that everything should need his sanction. He thought that only in this way could he take the responsibility vis-a-vis the Government.

I had nothing whatever to do with the Reichstag. The Military chiefs were not allowed to have any contact with the members of the Reichstag in such matters. All negotiations with the Reichstag were carried out through the Reich Defence Minister or by Colonel von Schleicher on his behalf. I was therefore in no position to go behind the back of the Reichstag in any way. I could discuss budget matters with the Reichstag members only in the so-called Budget Committee, where I sat next to the Reich Defence Minister and provided technical explanations to his statements.

Q. From 1928 on, then, there were no longer any secret budgets within the construction programme of the Navy without the approval of the Reich Government?

[Page 82]

A. None without the approval of the Reich Government, and, above all, of the Reich Defence Minister who allotted the money to us exactly as the other budgets were allotted.

DR. SIEMERS: May I ask the Tribunal in this connection to look at Exhibit Raeder 3, which has already been submitted, "Constitution of the German Reich," Document Book 1, Page 10, Article 50, is brief, and reads:-

"In order to be valid, all decrees and orders issued by the Reich President, including those pertaining to the Armed Forces, must be countersigned by the Reich Chancellor or the competent Reich Minister. By the act of countersigning, responsibility is accepted by the Reich Chancellor."
That is the constitutional principle which the Reich Government at that time, October, 1928 insisted upon.

An important part of the building up of the Navy consisted in replacing the old capital ships and cruisers of the last war. In this connection, I take the liberty of submitting to the Tribunal Exhibit Raeder 7, Document Book 1, Page 23. This document deals with the so-called ship replacement construction plan. This ship replacement construction plan was, as Page 24 of the document book shows, paragraph 2, figure 1, submitted by a resolution of the Reichstag. I should like to refer you to Page 24, No. 3 of the document which shows that this ship replacement construction plan covered three armoured ships, and it adds that the construction could last until 1938.

May it please the Tribunal, this figure is important. The prosecution wanted to construe the fortuitous fact that in 1933 a construction plan was drawn up to extend until 1938, to mean that there were aggressive intentions.

This ship replacement construction plan of the year 1930 had the same goal in 1938 and, as the prosecution will admit, can have nothing to do with a war of aggression.

Q. The plan was submitted then, witness, through the Reich Government and you did only the preparatory work?

A. Yes.

Q. Is this only true of the ship replacement plan for 1930, or was it always handled in the same way in subsequent years?

A. The plan as submitted, was approved in principle by the Reichstag. Each individual ship, however, had to be approved again in the budget plan of the year in which the construction was to begin. The whole construction programme was thus always in close agreement with the Reich Government and the Reichstag.

DR. SIEMERS: In connection with this ship replacement programme within the framework of the documentary evidence, I should like to refer to two points which will greatly shorten the questioning of the witness.

For the time being I do not want to quote from Page 26. I ask you to take judicial notice of the rest of the contents, and wish merely to point out that this refers to the obsoleteness of all capital ships, and their replacement which this necessitated.

On page 27 of the document book, it expressly mentions that the Reichstag, in its 89th session of 18th June, 1929, asked the Reich Government for an extension of the period for the construction programme. The general opinion at that time was, as the ship replacement programme shows, set out in the Frankfurter Zeitung of 15th August, 1928, where it is shown that an armoured cruiser gains its full value only when it forms part of a squadron. The Frankfurter Zeitung was, as is well known, the best German newspaper, and it was banned only in 1943, by the National Socialist Dictatorship which was growing ever stronger.

I should like to refer to Page 29 and quote one sentence:-

"The building of battleships will be extended as far as possible, so as to keep the naval yards at Wilhelmshaven occupied continuously. The ideal time of construction is about three years, but, working on the principle of giving as long employment as possible, the building time is prolonged as much as possible."

[Page 83]

I believe this shows there was no aggressive intention, since then the building programme would have been speeded up.

Then I ask you to take judicial notice of Page 30, the construction cost of a 10,000 ton armoured ship, where it mentions that it was about 75 million marks. This figure is important to me as evidence in view of the further course of the testimony, where the cost of the breaches of the Versailles Treaty will be shown.

Finally may I quote from Page 30 a few lines which give the principle for the employment of the Wehrmacht.

"The German Republic, alone among all the Great Powers has, so far, carried out the disarmament programme, and the Wehrmacht, which serves to protect the frontier and ensure peace, may now take up arms for the purpose of:
(a) defence against the stealing of territories.

(b) defence of neutrality in indirect conflict."

I should like to refer to the individual breaches of the Treaty of which the prosecution has accused you.

In this connection, I submit Exhibit Raeder I, in Document Book 1, and I refer to Page 3, Article 191. It concerns the accusation that Germany, contrary to the Versailles Treaty, constructed submarines. It reads as follows:

"The construction and acquisition of all submersible craft, even for commercial purposes, is forbidden to Germany."
I will soon put a question to you in regard to the established fact that the Navy was interested in a firm which dealt with submarine design in Holland, and in a general construction programme for ships and submarines which was being carried out in that country, but in order to save time, it will be simpler if I read from the Lohmann affidavit which I submit as Exhibit Raeder 2, in Document Book 1, page 4.

I quote a short paragraph:

"According to the Treaty of Versailles, the German Reich was neither to build nor to acquire U-boats. When in July, 1922, the firm N. V. Ingenieurs Kantoor Voor Scheepsbouw was established in the Hague, the Navy acquired an interest in it in order to keep informed on modern U-boat construction. The intention was to use the experience gained thereby for the German Navy, when later on the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles would be annulled by negotiations, and Germany would again be permitted to build U-boats. Moreover, the navy wanted, for the same purpose, to train a small nucleus of skilled personnel. The Dutch firm were strictly designers."
May it please the Tribunal, I should like to point out in this passage that there is a translation mistake in the English copy. The word "Konstruktion" has been translated "construction", but the German for "construction" is "Schiffsbau"

As far as I know "Konstruktion" must be translated "design". Since in view of Article 19 I this point is important, I want to correct this.

I quote further:

"The first German U-boat was commissioned 29th June, 1935. The procuring of parts to build U-boats had started correspondingly earlier."
I wish to remind you that when the first submarine was commissioned, the German-English Naval Agreement, according to which submarine construction was permitted, was already in existence. I will ask if this statement of Admiral Lohmann is correct.

A. Yes. It entirely corresponds with the facts.

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