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 8 of 9)

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

[Page 120]

DR. SIEMERS: May it please the Tribunal, in this connection I would like, because of their chronological correspondence, to submit the two documents,, Exhibits Raeder 28 and 29, and I only ask that the Tribunal take judicial notice, without my making further reference to them.


Q. The prosecution has cited Document C-I-55 and has accused you, through this document

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, the documents to which Dr. Siemers has just referred - Exhibits Raeder 28 and 29 - the first is a memorandum of General Gamelin and the second is a letter from General Weygand to General Gamelin of 9th September, 1939.

Your Lordship will remember that the prosecution objected to these documents as being irrelevant, and, my Lord, the prosecution maintains that objection.

I do not wish to interrupt Dr. Siemers' examination any more than is necessary. If at the moment he is merely asking the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the documents and does not intend to use them, it would probably be convenient, in order not to interrupt the examination-in-chief, that I should merely indicate formally that we are maintaining our objection to the documents.

Of course, I am at the disposal of the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Is the position that they were allowed to be translated and put in the document book, but no further order of the Tribunal has been given?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: No further order has been given and therefore, My Lord, it is still open to us to object, as I understand the position.

THE PRESIDENT: Then, perhaps we had better deal with it now.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Lordship pleases.

DR. SIEMERS: May I make a few remarks on this point?

THE PRESIDENT: But we had better hear the objection first, had we not? And then we will hear you afterwards.

DR. SIEMERS: Yes, Mr. President, as you wish. This is a purely formal point. I believe that Sir David erred slightly in referring to number 28. There was no objection to this document by the prosecution, but only against 29.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My friend is quite right; we did not object to the translation of 28. However, my Lord, it falls into the same category as 29, and I would still raise an objection.

I apologise to your Lordship if I conveyed the impression that we had made an objection before.

My Lord, 28 is a letter from General Gamelin to M. Daladier, on the 1st September, 1939, in which General Gamelin gives his view as to the problem of the neutrality of Belgium and Luxembourg, and contrasts that view with the view of the French Government.

Now, my Lord, I submit that that expression of opinion on the part of General Gamelin is in itself intrinsically too remote from the issues of this trial to be of any relevance or probative value.

Then, apart from its intrinsic nature, the position is that this was a document which, as I understand from Dr. Siemers' verification on Page 158, is taken from the White Book of the German Foreign Office, from the secret files of the French General Staff, which could not have been captured until sometime after June, 1940. Therefore, as a secondary reason, it can have no relevance to any opinion formed by the defendant Raeder in September of 1939.

My Lord, the second document is, as I said to the Tribunal, a letter from General Weygand, who was then the Commander-in- Chief of the French Army in the Levant, to General Gamelin. It describes a plan which General Weygand

[Page 121]

had in mind with regard to possible operations in Greece. Nothing came of these operations before June, 1940, when an armistice was made by Marshal Petain on behalf of part of the French people, although not, of course, of the whole; and it can have no relevance to October, 1940, when Greece was invaded by Italy, or to the position at the end of 1940 and the beginning of 1941, when the invasion of Greece begins to be considered in the German directives and operational ,orders which have been put in before the Tribunal.

That is the first point, and the same secondary point applies to this document, that it was also a document which could not have been captured before June, 1940; therefore it can have no relevance to this defendant's state of mind in August or September of 1939.

My Lord, as a matter of convenience, I have just made a list of the documents to which objections will be made, and my Lord, there are one or two additions which my French and Soviet colleagues have asked me to make, and I will deal with them when they arise.

My Lord, I would just like the Tribunal to have in mind that there are four groups of documents arranged geographically as opposed to the arrangement here, which the Tribunal will have to consider. One is formed by documents relating to the Low Countries. The second, which is Group G on the list which I have just put before the. Tribunal, deals with Norway. A third deals with Greece, of which No. 29 is an example, and a fourth is Group E in the list which I have just put in, dealing with tentative proposals and suggestions made by various military figures with regard to the oilfield in the Caucasus or operations on the Danube.

My Lord, the same objections which I have made particularly with regard to Documents 28 and 29 will apply generally to these groups, and I thought that I ought to draw the Tribunal's attention to that fact. In addition, my friend Colonel Pokrovsky has intimated to me some special objections which he will have to certain documents on which he can assist the Tribunal himself when they arise.

But, my Lord, I do take these specific Cases, 28 and 29, as objectionable in themselves, and I draw the Tribunal's attention to the fact that they are also typically objectionable as belonging to certain groups.

The decision of the Tribunal, your Lordship, has been given. Your Lordship said, "The question of their admissibility will be decided after they have been translated."

M. DUBOST: May it please the Tribunal, I would ask the Tribunal for an opportunity to associate myself publicly with the declaration just made by Sir David, and to give a few examples which will show the degree of importance which should be attached to the documents in question.

The defence is asking that the Tribunal take into account a document published in the German White Book No. 5, under No. 8. This document reports a statement by a French prisoner of war, who is supposed to have said that he had been in Belgium since 15th April. However, the German White Book gives neither the name of this prisoner nor any indication of his unit. We have none of the information which we need in order to judge whether the statement is relevant.

We are therefore faced with a document which is not authentic and which has no value as evidence.

The defence is asking that No. 102 of the same document book be admitted by the Tribunal.

I ask the Tribunal to let me make a few observations to show the one-sided manner in which these documents have been assembled by the German authorities in the White Book.

I would say, first of all, that No. 102 has not been quoted at length. The French Delegation has referred to the text of the German White Book. We have read it carefully. This document is only a preparatory order in view of

[Page 122]

defensive preparations organized by the Belgians on the Franco-Belgian frontier. We have consulted the Belgian military authorities. This order was a manifestation of the Belgian Government's determination to defend Belgium's neutrality on all its frontiers.

It is therefore contrary to the truth to try to prove by means of this document the existence of Staff contacts between Brussels, London and Paris, which, if they had existed, would have been contrary to the policy of neutrality.

The commentary made by the German Minister of Foreign Affairs in the introduction to the German White Book, Page 11 of the French text, took defence counsel by surprise and certainly did not mislead Admiral Raeder, who is a Service man. In fact the official commentator affirms, on the one hand, that the expression "les forces amies" (friendly forces) used in this document means French and British troops, whereas in reality it is a regular expression used in the Belgian Army to describe Belgian units in the immediate vicinity of those actually fighting.

On the other hand, the German commentator states, and I quote:-

"The general line Tournai-Antoing of the canal from Mons to Conde, Saint Chislain and Binche is partly in Belgium and partly in French territory."
It is sufficient to look at a map to see that all those localities are in Belgian territory and they are all at least some tens of kilometrics distant from the Franco- Belgian frontier, and in places, sixty kilometres.

I ask the Tribunal to excuse this interruption. I thought it was advisable to give a convincing example of the value of the evidence furnished by the German White Book.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, the Tribunal thinks the most convenient course would be to hear your argument now upon these documents, not only upon 28 and 29, but upon the other documents specified in Sir David Maxwell Fyfe's list, and then the Tribunal would consider these documents after the adjournment and would give its decision tomorrow morning.

DR. SIEMERS: May it please the Tribunal, I should be very grateful if it would be possible to proceed in a somewhat different manner. I should like to call attention to the fact that a rather lengthy debate regarding documents has already taken place, and the decision of the Tribunal followed. I believe that if I comment upon all the documents at this point a great deal of time will be lost, since the coherence of the documents will emerge of itself later during my presentation of evidence. If I now deal with the list submitted by Sir David I would, in order to show my reasons, have to set forth all that which will appear again in the regular course of testimony later on.

I thought that the decision of the Tribunal first to present the documents in the document book was specifically to save time, and then objections could be made one by one as individual documents are presented.

THE PRESIDENT: I know; but there are a very great number of documents. The Tribunal will have to hear an argument upon each document, if we do what you suggest, reading the list of Sir David. There are thirty or forty documents, suppose.

DR. SIEMERS: Sir David has already stated that he will be guided according to different geographical groups. Therefore, there will not be objections with regard to each document, but rather with regard to each group of documents and each group of questions; for instance, an objection in the Norway case against all Norwegian documents, or in the Greek case against all Greek documents. It would be easier to deal with matters that way, since in my testimony I shall be dealing with Greece and Norway in any case, whereas if I do so now, I shall have to say everything twice.

But I shall be guided by the decision of the Tribunal. I only fear that an unnecessary amount of time will be lost that way.

[Page 123]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I only want to say one word on procedure. I did hope that Dr. Siemers and I had already occupied sufficient of the Tribunal's time in arguing this point, because, of course, the arguments as to relevancy must be the same. Whether they are so obviously irrelevant as not to be translatable, or whether they are inadmissible, at any rate, my arguments were the same. And I did not intend to repeat the argument which I made before the Tribunal.

Dr. Siemers already has assisted the Tribunal for an hour and a half on this point which we discussed before, and I hoped that, if I stated, as I did state, that I have maintained the points which I put before the Tribunal in my previous argument, Dr. Siemers might be able on this occasion to shorten matters and to say that he relied on the - if I may say so - very full argument which the Tribunal had on the other occasion. That is why I thought it might be convenient if we dealt with them now and put this problem beyond the need of further consideration.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, the Tribunal thinks that you must argue these questions now, and it hopes that you will argue them shortly, as your arguments in their favour have already been heard. But we think that you must argue them now and not argue each individual document as it comes up ; and the Tribunal will consider the matter. It has these documents already, but will consider the matter again and decide it tonight.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: My Lord, in as much as the Tribunal decided that Dr. Siemers should argue on the point that was expressed by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe and other prosecutors, I think it is my duty to name three documents to which the Soviet prosecution objects.

The Soviet prosecution would like to object altogether to five documents. But two of them - I have in mind Nos. 78 and 88 - have been already included by my friend Sir David Maxwell Fyfe in the list which has been given to the Tribunal. So all I have to do now is to name three others, so that Dr. Siemers would have the easier task of answering all together. I name Nos. 13, 27 and 83.

No. 13 is a record of a report of Captain Lohmann. There is an idea expressed in this report which I cannot call other than the crazy and propagandistic idea of a typical Nazi. The idea is that the aim of the Red Army is world revolution, and that the Red Army is really trying to incite world revolution. I consider that it would not be proper if such nightmares and politically harmful ideas were reflected in the documents which are to be admitted by the Tribunal.

My second objection is in connection with the Document No. 27. This is a record which was made by a voluntary reporter, Bohm, of an address of Hitler in Obersalzberg. The Tribunal has already rejected Dr. Siemers' application to include two documents pertaining to the same questions; and the Tribunal emphasized that it does not wish to compare the authenticity of different documents pertaining to or dealing with the same question.

I consider that, in as much as the Tribunal already has at its disposal, among documents that were admitted, two records dealing with Hitler's address in Obersalzberg, there is no necessity to admit the third record of his speech, in as much as in this third version there are altogether shameless, slanderous and calumnious remarks addressed to the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union and the leaders of the Soviet Union.

Neither the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union nor we as representatives of the Soviet State would ever agree to such remarks being included in the record.

The third document is No. 83. This is an excerpt from the White Book. As the authenticity of this White Book has already been questioned by Dr. Dubost, I consider it to be material that cannot be relied upon, and in particular in regard to the Document R-83. There are several remarks, harmful to the Soviet Union, which have absolutely no political basis; for instance, the passage pertaining to the relations between the Soviet Union and Finland.

[Page 124]

So on the grounds of such general political motives, I would ask the High Tribunal to exclude this document as evidence, from the list of documents that were presented to the Tribunal by defence counsel Siemers.

Furthermore, strictly speaking, it is absolutely clear this document is irrelevant. That is all I want to say.

DR. SIEMERS: May it please the Tribunal, I note to my regret that we are back at the beginning again in our debate about documents, for we are disputing about documents now which were not mentioned at all in the original debate concerning documents which took place in May. I had believed, however, that I could rely on this one principle, that at least those documents which at that time were not objected to would be considered granted. Now, however, I find that documents which were not discussed at that time at all are under dispute. It is extremely difficult -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, the Tribunal thinks you are entirely in error because it is obvious that a document which has not been translated cannot be finally decided on by the prosecution or by the Tribunal, and the fact that the prosecution does not object to it at that stage in no way prevents it from objecting at a later stage, after translation.

DR. SIEMERS: There were some documents about which I was told that the prosecution did not object, and with regard to them I believed, at any rate, that that was final; just as with reference to some documents -

THE PRESIDENT: I thought I had made myself clear. What I said was this: The prosecution, in objecting or not objecting to a document before it is translated, does not in any way bind itself not to object to it after it is translated. Is that clear?

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.