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-Second Day: Friday, 17th May, 1946
(Part 5 of 7)

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

[Page 146]

DR. SIEMERS: It is in the Document Book of the British Delegation, 10-A, Page 6.

THE WITNESS: It says here, on the third page of the German version, the next but last paragraph, under the date of 13th January:-

"Situation discussion with the Chief of the SKL."
DR. SIEMERS: I beg your pardon, Mr. President. C-21 was not entirely translated by the prosecution. This document may be found in my Document Book as Exhibit Raeder 69, and I should like to submit it herewith. It is in Document Book III, Page 62.

THE PRESIDENT: Document Book III only goes to 64, is not that right? It must be Document Book IV.

DR. SIEMERS: There must be a mistake in the Document Book then. At first, due to an oversight, the table of contents vas only completed as far as 64 by the Translation Section, but since that time it has been corrected and supplemented. It is in Document Book IV, Page 317.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Page 317, at the top.


Q. Please comment on this document.

A. In the penultimate paragraph, it says:-

"In complete agreement with this point of view, the Chief of the Naval War Staff (SKL) is therefore also of the opinion that the most favourable solution would doubtless be the maintenance of the present situation which, if strictest neutrality is exercised by Norway, will permit the safe use of Norwegian territorial waters for the shipping vital to Germany's war effort without the attempt being made on the part of England to seriously endanger this sea-lane."
I maintained this point of view when reporting to Hitler. In that report I first mentioned the Intelligence reports which we had. Then I described the dangers which might result to us from a British occupation of bases on the Norwegian Coast and might affect our entire war effort, dangers which I considered tremendous. I had the feeling that such an occupation would prejudice and imperil the whole conduct of our war.

[Page 147]

If the British occupied bases in Norway, especially in the South of Norway, they would be able to dominate the entrance to the Baltic Sea from those points, and also flank our naval operations from the Heligoland Bight and from the Elbe, Jade and Weser. The second outlet which we had was also gravely imperilled, affecting the operations of battleships as well as the courses of our merchantmen.

In addition to that, from their air bases in Norway they might endanger our air operations, the operations of our pilots for reconnaissance in the North Sea or for attacks against England.

Furthermore, they could then exert strong political pressure on Sweden, so that the supplies of ore from Sweden would have been hindered or stopped. Finally, the export of ore from Narvik to Germany could be stopped entirely, and we know how much Germany depended on supplies of ore from Sweden and Norway. They might even have gone so far - and we learned later on that such a plan was discussed - as to attack and destroy the ore deposits at Luka, or to seize them.

All of these dangers might become decisive factors in the outcome of the war. Apart from the fact that I told Hitler that the best thing for us would be strict neutrality on the part of Norway, I also called his attention to the dangers which would result to us from an occupation of the Norwegian coast and bases, for there would have been lively naval operations near the Norwegian coast in which the British, even after our occupation of bases, would try to hamper our ore traffic from Narvik. Battles might result which we, with our inadequate force of surface vessels, would not be able to fight successfully.

Therefore, at that time I did not make any proposal that we should occupy Norway or that we should obtain bases in Norway. I only did my duty in telling the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht about this grave danger which was threatening us, and against which we might have to use emergency defensive measures. I also pointed out to him that operations for the occupation of Norwegian bases might be very expensive for us. In the course of later discussions I told him that we might even lose our entire fleet, and that I would consider that we were fortunate if we were to lose only one-third; as actually did happen later on.

There was, therefore, no reason for me to expect that I would gain prestige in such nn enterprise - I have been accused of this ambition by the prosecution. As a matter of fact, the exact opposite might easily result.

DR SIEMERS: I should like to call the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that these things may be seen in documents which date from the time of the war, one of which is Exhibit Raeder 69, of 13th January, 1940, which has just been handed over. This document is a study - and it is claimed that this study is based on the consideration that if England were to have the bases in Norway, the situation would be impossible for the conduct of the war by Germany and such a situation could be prevented only if we forestalled England by occupying Norway ourselves. What the witness has just said is stated in exactly the same way in the War Diary.

In the same connection, I should like to refer to the prosecution's Document C-66, Exhibit GB 81, which may be found in British Document Book 10-A, Page 35. This document is dated 10th January, 1944. May I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the fact that under the code-name "Weserubung" - that was the name covering this action - may be found the explanations which the witness has just made. I do not wish to read all of them since we would lose valuable time thereby.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean C-66? That is about the Plan Barbarossa. Is that the one you mean?

DR. SIEMERS: The last page, under the heading "Weserubung," Page 39, of the English Document Book. Mention is made there of the letter by Admiral Karls, spoken of by the witness, and of his thoughts in connection with this matter. In the German original there is the heading, "Appendix 2."

[Page 148]

A clearer version is found in Document Raeder 69, since that dates from January, 1940, three months later, and in the meantime new reports had come in. This, on the other hand, is a description dating from October, 1939.


Q. Grand Admiral, I must once more refer to Document C-122, which you have already mentioned.

The prosecution, in that document, accuses you of saying: "The Chief of SKL deems it necessary to tell the Fuehrer as soon as possible of the ideas of the SKL, on the possibility of expanding the sphere of operations in the North," and thinks it may conclude therefrom that that was your primary thought, to expand the operational sphere of the Navy.

A. No, I have already said that by the possibility of expansion of the operational zone to the North I meant an expansion of British operations and its consequences, and also the possibility of our forestalling this, thus gaining bases which would be of certain importance to us.

Q. What did Hitler reply at this discussion on the 10th of October, 1939?

A. Hitler had not yet concerned himself with this question. The question was very far from his mind, for he knew very little about matters of naval warfare. He always remarked that he had no overall picture of these things, and therefore felt somewhat uncertain. He said that he would deal with this question and that I should leave the notes with him, which I had worked out on the basis of statements made by the SKL, so that he might use them as a basis for his deliberations on this problem.

It was typical, and really speaks very much against the character of the conspiracy, that on this occasion Hitler, when confronted with the problem of Norway, did not say a single word about the fact that in the summer of that year he had already discussed Norwegian questions with Rosenberg. I gather from a document which I saw for the first time here, that on 20th June, 1939, Rosenberg had submitted to the Fuehrer a comprehensive report about his connections with Norwegian political circles, but I heard of these connections for the first time on 11th December.

It would have been natural if the Fuehrer, who was dealing with Norwegian strategical matters, had told me on this occasion: "I have such and such information about Norwegian matters." But he did not do that - as our work was always separate. He told me that we should await the arrival of further reports, and that he would then deal with these questions.

Q. In the subsequent period of October and November, up to 11th December, did you discuss this question with Hitler again?

A. No, the question was not discussed at all during those months, but in September, Lt.-Commander Schreiber, who had first been appointed assistant attache in Oslo and later, naval attache, gave me further reports about conditions in Norway, and so did the Intelligence Service. He told me of reports which were circulating there about a possible British landing. Later on Captain Schreiber was actually my chief collaborator in these Norwegian problems, and he showed a particular understanding of the whole situation.

DR. SIEMERS: In this connection, I should like to submit to the Tribunal, Exhibit Raeder 107, an affidavit of the naval attache who has just been mentioned, Richard Schreiber. This may be found in my Document Book V, Page 464.

According to that document, Schreiber was drafted on the 7th of September, 1939, as a reserve officer and was sent to Oslo as a naval attache. He states that he held that post since the autumn of 1939.

With the permission of the Tribunal, I should like to read a portion of this, under I, on Page 464, at the bottom.

THE PRESIDENT: We told you that we had read all these documents which were objected to. We allowed this document, so it is not necessary for you to read it all again.

[Page 149]

DR. SIEMERS: Very well. Then in this connection, may I refer to the first part of this affidavit, Part I?

Mr. President, I should like to point out a small but misleading error in translation on Page 466. In the second paragraph, second line, the word "Deutsch," "German," is missing: "there were clear directives of the German Foreign Office that Norwegian neutrality should be particularly respected by the Germans." In the English text it says "of the foreign office." It should read "of the German Foreign Office." I should be very grateful if this mistake would be rectified.


Q. Grand Admiral, you know the affidavit given by Schreiber.

A. Yes.

Q. Different reports are contained therein. You have already referred to them in part. Did any additional special reports come in during those two months? Was Narvik mentioned in addition to the ports already mentioned?

A. As far as I remember it was Captain Schreiber who mentioned Narvik expressly for the first time. Captain Schreiber had very quickly made himself acquainted with conditions there. He had established good connections in Norwegian circles. A confirmation of all that I had known up to that point only came on 11th December.

Q. Now, would you please describe your meeting with Quisling on 11th December, 1939?

A. May I first ask whether the Documents 004-PS and 007-PS which, I believe, were submitted by the prosecution, may be used in this connection? For example, the minutes of the conference of 11th and 12th December, an accompanying letter by Rosenberg referring to these minutes, and similar matters?

Q. Grand Admiral, I believe that you will be permitted to use these documents. But since they are known you only need to mention the points that you remember.

A. Yes.

Q. On this occasion I should merely like to ask whether you did not know the documents by Rosenberg, 004-PS and 007-PS?

A. No, I did not know those documents.

Q. Did you see them for the first time here?

A. I saw them for the first time here. But the reports contained in these documents were already known to us at that time as is proved by the documents according to date.

Q. Please tell us only what you heard at that time from Quisling.

A. Up until 11th December I had neither connections with Herr Rosenberg - except for the fact that I had seen him on occasion - nor, above all, did I have any connections with Quisling, about whom I had heard nothing up to that time.

On the 11th December my Chief of Staff, Schulte-Monting, reported to me that Major Quisling, a former Norwegian Minister of War, had arrived from Oslo. He was asking for a discussion with me through a Herr Hagelin, because he wished to tell me about Norwegian conditions.

Herr Hagelin had been sent to my Chief of Staff by Herr Rosenberg. Rosenberg had already known Hagelin for some time as I have mentioned before. Since reports from such a source on Norwegian conditions seemed to be of great value to me, I declared myself ready to receive Herr Quisling.

He arrived on the same morning and reported to me at length about the conditions in Norway, with special reference to the relations of the Norwegian Government to England and the reports on the intention of England to land in Norway, and characterised the whole situation as especially critical for, according to his reports, the danger seemed to be imminent. He tried to determine a date. He thought it would occur before 10th January, since a favourable political situation would arise then.

[Page 150]

I told him that I was not really concerned with the political situation, but I would try to arrange that he should give his information to the Fuehrer. I would be concerned only with the military and strategic situation, and in that connection I could tell him right away that it would not be possible to take any measures from 11th December until 10th January, firstly, because time was short and secondly because it was winter.

I considered his expositions to be of such importance that I told him I would try to arrange for him to report to the Fuehrer personally, so that these reports would reach him directly.

Then on the 12th - that is, on the next day - I went to Hitler and informed him of the conversation between Quisling and me, and asked him to receive Quisling personally so that he might form a personal impression of him. On this occasion I told him - and this is written down in one of the documents - that in cases of this kind one would have to be especially cautious, since one could not know to what degree such a party leader would try to further the interest of his party. Therefore, our investigations would have to be especially careful. And I again called the attention of the Fuehrer to the fact that an attempt to occupy Norway would bring with it great risk as well as certain disadvantages for the subsequent situation. In other words, I carefully presented both sides of the picture in a neutral manner.

Hitler then decided to receive Quisling together with Hagelin, on one of the following days. The two gentlemen in the meanwhile were obviously in touch with Rosenberg - I believe they stayed with him - and Rosenberg sent me, by letter, a record of a meeting which had apparently been taken down by Quisling and Hagelin, and also a description of Quisling's personality.

In this letter, which is here as a document but which was not read by the prosecution, it says specifically that Rosenberg knew what the political conditions were, but that, of course, he would have to leave the military side entirely to me, since I was the competent authority on that.

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