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 Thirty-First Day: Thursday, 16th May, 1946
(Part 7 of 9)

[DR. SIEMERS continues his direct examination of Erich Raeder]

[Page 115]

DR. SIEMERS: Under No. 3, toward the end of the document, it says:
"To study weak points of the enemy. These studies must not be left to the General Staffs. Secrecy would no longer be guaranteed. The Fuehrer has therefore decided to order the formation of a small research staff in the OKW composed of representatives of the three bodies of the Wehrmacht and, as occasions arise, the three Commanders-in-Chief, that is to say, chiefs of the General Staff.

This staff will keep the Fuehrer constantly informed.

It will undertake the planning of operations from the theoretical side and the preparations which of necessity arise therefrom."

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, a passage is left out in the English translation. The copy I have got before me says: "These studies must not be left to the General Staffs; secrecy would no longer be guaranteed," and then it goes on: "This staff will keep the Fuehrer informed and will report to him." I don't think it is very important. Go on.

DR. SIEMERS: Apparently the paragraph about the research staff in the Armed Forces High Command was left out in the English.

"The purpose of certain regulations concerns no one outside the staff however great be the increase in the armament of our adversaries, they must at some time come to the end of their resources and ours will be greater. The French have 120,000 men in each class! We shall not be forced into a war but we shall not be able to avoid one."
This research staff, in effect eliminated the Commanders-in- Chief and that was what Hitler wanted to achieve.

If I am correctly informed, the rest has been read by the prosecution; namely, the subsequent aim and the principle; to be specific, the order to keep everything secret; and at the end, as the defendant remembered, that the shipbuilding programme should not be changed and the armament programme should be fixed for 1943-1944.

Q. Had Hitler at this time intended a war of aggression, would he have had to speed up any particular part of the Navy's armament?

A. Yes, indeed. He would have had to speed up all naval construction.

Q. Would not the construction of submarines especially have had to be speeded up?

A. Yes, of course, particularly because they can be built most quickly.

Q. How many submarines did you have at this time?

A. I cannot say exactly, I think about twenty-six.

Q. If I remember rightly, Grand Admiral Donitz has already answered that there were fifteen capable of sailing in the Atlantic - altogether twenty-six.

[Page 116]

A. Yes.

Q. In the winter of 1938-1939, did you have a talk with Sir Neville Henderson on relations between Germany and England?

A. Yes, a very short talk at an evening reception in the Fuehrer's house, where I stood near Ambassador, Henderson and Herr von Neurath, and where the question was discussed - it was brought up by me - whether England had not welcomed Germany's offer to set the proportion of strength at one to three and would not draw certain conclusions from this reciprocal relationship. Ambassador Henderson answered, without anyone else having brought up this question, "Yes, that would be shown in the future when the colonial question was settled." I later reported this answer to the Fuehrer in order to use it to maintain a friendly policy toward England.

Q. We are now at the summer of 1939. In the course of the summer, after the speech of 23rd May, 1939, did you talk to Hitler in view of the generally known danger of war, and what did he tell you?

A. Whenever I talked to the Fuehrer I always brought up the question of England, whereby I annoyed him to a certain extent. I tried to convince him that it would be possible to carry out the peace policy with England which he himself had urged at the beginning of his regime. Then he always reassured me that it remained his intention to carry out such a policy, and always convinced me that there was no danger of a clash with England, in any case, that there was no such danger at this time.

Q. Now I come to the third key document, namely Hitler's speech before the supreme commanders on 22nd August, 1939, at Obersalzberg. There are two documents: 1014-PS and 798- PS. 1014-PS is Exhibit USA 30, in Document Book 10-A, Page 269; and 798-PS is USA 29, in Document Book 10-A, Page 266. In regard to 1014-PS, which I have here in the original in the form submitted by the prosecution, I should like to make a formal request. This document is on Page 194 in the German transcript, in the English transcript Page 371. I object to the use of this document. I request that this document be stricken from the trial record for the following reason.

THE PRESIDENT: What document are you speaking about now, 1014-PS?

DR. SIEMERS: Yes; in Document Book 10-A, Page 269, Exhibit USA 30.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, what are your reasons?

DR. SIEMERS: The deficiencies which were already mentioned in the other transcripts are much greater here. This document is nothing but two pieces of paper headed "Second Speech by the Fuehrer, on 22nd August, 1939." The original has no heading, has no file number, no diary number and no notice that it is secret; no signature, no date.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to look at the original. Yes, Dr. Siemers.

DR. SIEMERS: It has no date, no signature - in the original in the folder, it has no indication of where the document comes from. It is headed, "Second Speech ..." although it is certain that on this date Hitler made only one speech, and it is hardly one and a half pages long.

THE PRESIDENT: You say it has no date, but it is part of the document itself which says that it is the second speech of the Fuehrer on the 22nd August, 1939.

DR. SIEMERS: I said, Mr. President, it has a heading, but no date.

THE PRESIDENT: But you said it has no date.

DR. SIEMERS: It has no date as to when these notes were put in writing. It has only the date of when the speech is supposed to have been made. High Tribunal, on all documents which the prosecution submitted, also in the case of

[Page 117]

minutes, you will. find the date of the session and the date on which the minutes were set up; also the place where the minutes were set up, the name of the person who set it up, an indication that it is secret - something like that. Furthermore it is certain that Hitler spoke for two and a half hours. I believe it is generally known that Hitler spoke very fast. It is quite out of the question that the minutes could be one and a half pages long if they are to give the meaning and the content, at least to some extent, of a speech lasting two and a half hours.

Then I should like to refer to another point. I will submit the original of Document 798-PS afterwards. I am no expert on handwriting or typewriters, but I notice that this document, which is also not signed, and about which we also do not know where it comes from, is written on the same paper with the same typewriter.

THE PRESIDENT: You say we do not know where it has come from - it is a captured document covered by the affidavit which was made with reference to all other captured documents.

DR. SIEMERS: Well, but I would be grateful to the prosecution if, in the case of such an important document, they would be kind enough, in order to determine the actual historical facts, to indicate more exactly from where it originates. It is not signed by Schmundt or Hoszbach or anyone and has no number, it is only loose pages.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not know whether the prosecution can do that but it seems to me to be rather late in the day to ask for it.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I do not know what the exact origin of this document is offhand, but I expect that we could probably get some information before the Tribunal if the Tribunal wishes us to do so; but as the President pointed out, it is a captured document and everything that Counsel says about it seems to go to its weight rather than to its admissibility.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to know where the document was found, if that is possible.

MR. DODD: I will make an effort to find that out.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, Mr. Dodd just pointed out that my objection comes rather late. I believe I recall correctly that repeated objections were raised -

THE PRESIDENT: I think it was I who pointed it out, not Mr. Dodd.

DR. SIEMERS: Excuse me. I believe I am correct in saying that I can remember the defence on several occasions raising objections during the prosecution's case, only to be told that all statements could be made during the defence's case at a later time, namely when it is the defence Counsel's turn to speak.

THE PRESIDENT: I only meant that it might not be possible, at this stage to find out exactly where the document came from, whereas, if the question had been asked very much earlier in the trial, it might have been very much easier. That is all I meant. Have you anything more to add as to why, in your opinion, this document should be stricken from the record?

DR. SIEMERS: I should like to point out, Mr. President, that I do not do it for a formal but rather for a very substantial reason. The most important words in this document have constantly been repeated by the prosecution during these five or six months, viz.: "Destruction of Poland, main objective. Aim, elimination of vital forces, not arrival at a certain line." These words were not spoken, and such a war aim the German High Commanders would not have agreed to.

For that reason it is important to ascertain whether this document is genuine.

In this connection, may I remind the Tribunal that there is a third version of this speech as mentioned in this courtroom, namely Document L-3, which is even

[Page 118]

worse than these and which was published by the whole Press. Wherever people talked this grotesque, brutal speech was brought up. For that reason it is in the interest of historical truth to ascertain whether Hitler spoke in this shocking way at this time.

Actually, I admit he used many expressions which are severe, but he did not use such words, and this is of tremendous significance for the reputation of all the commanders who were present.

Let me point out the next words. They say expressly, "hearts hardened against pity, brutal measures." Such words were not used. I will be in a position to prove this by another witness, Admiral of the Fleet Bohm.

I therefore ask the Tribunal to decide on my request for striking this document from the record. I should like to point out that the document is mentioned in the record at many points. If the Tribunal so wishes, I will look for all the points. I have found only four or five in the German record. If necessary, I will give all the points in the English record. It was submitted on Page 371.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think you need bother to do that. You are only now upon the question of whether the document should be stricken from the record. If it were to be stricken from the record, we could find out where it is.

Is that all you wish to say?

DR. SIEMERS: One question to Admiral Raeder.

Q. The words which I just read, "brutal measures," "elimination of vital forces" - were these words used in Hitler's speech at that time?

A. In my opinion, no. I believe that the version which Admiral Bohm submitted which he wrote down on the afternoon of the same day on the basis of his notes is the version nearest to the truth.

DR. SIEMERS: High Tribunal, in order to achieve clarity on this question, I submit as Exhibit Raeder 27, in Document Book 2, Page 144, an orderly reproduction of this speech.

THE WITNESS: May I also have Document Book 2?

DR. SIEMERS: This is the speech according to the manuscript of Admiral of the Fleet Hermann Bohm. Admiral of the Fleet Bohm was present at Hitler's speech on 22nd August, 1939, at Obersalzberg. He made the notes during the speech. He transcribed them in the present form on the same evening - that is, on 22nd August, 1939 - in the Vier Jahreszeiten Hotel in Munich. I have certified the correctness of the copy. The original is in the handwriting of Admiral of the Fleet Bohm. Bohm has been called by me as a witness for various other questions. He will confirm that the speech was made in this form as I have submitted here. A comparison of the two documents shows that all terms such as "brutal measures", are not contained in this speech. It shows further -

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: (Interposing.) Surely this part of Dr. Siemers's argument must go to weight. He has said that a comparison of the two documents shows such and such. I have just looked at the end of Admiral Bohm's affidavit and it contains, I should argue, every vital thought that is contained in Document 1014-PS. But whether it does or not, that is a matter of weight, surely.

We cannot, in my respectful submission, go into intrinsic comparisons to decide the admissibility of the document. As I say, on that I should have a great deal to say by comparing the documents in detail. That is not before the Tribunal now.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. The Tribunal was only wanting to hear whatever Dr. Siemers has got to say upon the subject.

DR. SIEMERS: A comparison of the document with 798-PS, the longer and better version which the prosecution submitted -

[Page 119]

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Dr. Siemers, as Sir David Maxwell Fyfe has just pointed out, a mere comparison of the documents - of the two or three documents does not help us as to its admissibility. We know the facts about the document. It is a document in German, captured among German documents.

DR. SIEMERS: I understand. I made the statement only in order to show that I am not raising objections for formal reasons but because the thing is actually of great importance.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, you will be able to urge that when you make your speech in criticism of the document as to its weight. You will be able to point out that it does not bear comparison with a more full document taken down by Admiral Bohm or with the other document.

DR. SIEMERS: Absolutely right. To explain my formal request, I refer to my statement on the formal character of the document which I submitted.


The application to strike out Document 1014-PS is refused.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Has the Counsel for the prosecution understood that the Tribunal wishes to have information as to where that document was found?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord; we will do our best to get it.

THE PRESIDENT Yes, and also the other document, 798-PS.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, if your Lordship pleases.


Q. Grand Admiral, I submitted Exhibit Raeder 27, which is the Bohm version, to you. You have read the speech in this version. Is this reproduction correct on the whole, in your recollection?

A. Yes. In my opinion, this version is that one which corresponds most closely to reality. I remember especially that Hitler devoted a large portion of his remarks to the point that England and France would not intervene and gave reasons why they would not. He mentioned a number of reasons, and it was the elaboration of that point that I particularly missed in the other reproductions of the speech.

Q. In the version of the speech, Document 798-PS, or Exhibit USA 29, it says, verbatim: "I am only afraid that at the last moment some swine will offer me some plan of arbitration." Were those words used in the speech at that time?

A. In my recollection, certainly not. The Fuehrer was not accustomed to using expressions like that in speeches which he made to the generals.

Q. On the other hand, the version put forth by Bohm shows that Hitler had, by this time, decided to attack Poland. I am asking you to give us the impression, briefly, which the speech made on you at the time. Tell me also why, despite this speech, which even in this version is severe, you retained your office as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy.

A. Without doubt, I had the impression that the situation was serious and tremendously tense. The fact, however, that Hitler, in his speech put too great a stress on proving that France and England would not intervene, and the second fact that Herr von Ribbentrop, the Foreign Minister, left for Moscow on the same day to sign a pact there, as we were told; these two facts filled not only me, but all listeners as well, with the strong hope that here again was a case of a major political move on the part of Hitler, which "in the end" would result in a peaceful solution.

Therefore I saw no reason to resign my office at that moment. I would have considered that pure desertion.

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