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 7 of 7)

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

[Page ]

DR. SIEMERS: With this I should like to conclude t1he question of the occupation of Norway. May I still submit the approved document, Exhibit Raeder 66, which was approved for the purpose of argument? It is an opinion expressed by Dr. Mosler, and it can be found in Volume 4, Page 291; and in this connection, concerning the use of flags, may I draw special attention to (77), Page 304, from which we may see the legal reasoning. Furthermore, may I submit Exhibit Raeder 99, Document Book 5, Page 402, and the following series of documents, as far as they are approved, Exhibit Raeder 91, Admiral Darlan to the French War Minister Daladier on the 12th of April, 1940; and 92, Page 402, which contains the English-French note to the Norwegian Government of the 8th of April, 1940. I have submitted this document because this note expresses the same legal points of view as expressed in the legal opinion of Dr. Mosler.

Then 97 and 98: No. 97 concerns the White Book and the planning of the 7th of February, 1940, concerning the Allied bases in Norway; and 98 is an excerpt from the War Diary concerning the orders which, at the time of the occupation of Norway, were found and from which it could be seen that an English landing was imminent, and concerning the so- called plan under the code name "Stratford Plan," which was prepared by the British Admiralty.


Q. Concerning Norway, may I ask you the following: During and after the occupation did you intervene to see that the Norwegian population was treated decently, and what was your view of the political question in Norway with regard to the attitude of Germany to that country?

[Page 155]

A. From the very beginning I stood out for good treatment of the Norwegian population. I knew that Hitler had given Gauleiter Terboven, whom he had unfortunately appointed Reichkommissar for Norway and to whom he had entrusted the civil administration, instructions that he, Terboven, should establish friendly relations with the Norwegians; that is to say, make them favourably disposed, and that he had the intention, finally, to maintain Norway as a sovereign State in a North Germanic Empire.

Terboven was opposed to that. He treated the Norwegian population in a very unfriendly manner, and by his treatment sabotaged the whole aim and purpose of Hitler. In close understanding with Admiral Bohm, who became the Naval Commander in Norway and who had taken Captain Schreiber, the former Attache, on his staff as liaison officer to the Norwegian population, I tried to counteract these intentions of Terboven. On the basis of the reports of Admiral Bohm I repeatedly approached the Fuehrer and told him that with Terboven he would never achieve his purpose. The Fuehrer then appointed Quisling Chief of the Government. I cannot remember exactly when he became Minister President but Terboven also sabotaged Quisling in his activities by making it extremely difficult for him, and even discredited him among the population. Terboven's chief reason was, in my opinion, that he wanted to remain Gauleiter of Norway. All our attempts were unsuccessful, in spite of the fact that Admiral Bohm tried very hard to achieve with the help of the Navy what Hitler had expected, that is, to win over the Norwegian people.

I didn't understand how on the one side one wanted to gain the sympathy of the Norwegians and on the other hand one sabotaged Hitler's intentions.

That went on until 1942, at which time Bohm made a final report to me, in which he explained that things could not go on like that, and that Hitler's intentions would never be realised. I submitted that report to Hitler, but since it did not bring about any change - it was in the late autumn of 1942 - this failure of mine became one of the reasons which finally led to my retirement.

Q. Did you ask Hitler specifically to dismiss Terboven?

A. Several times. And I suggested that he should appoint General Admiral Bohm as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for Norway and give him far-reaching powers so that he could carry out his - Hitler's - aims. I suggested that the Fuehrer should as soon as possible conclude a peace with Norway, because only in that way could he bring about co- operation between Norway and Germany and make the population turn to him. In this way, I told him, the attempts of sabotage by the Norwegian emigrants would cease and possibly those who were leaning toward England at that time could be induced to return, because they might be afraid that they might "miss the bus," especially from the point of view of economic advantages. The task of defending Norway would be considerably easier if a state of peace could be brought about.

Q. In conclusion, may I refer to Exhibit Raeder 107 which is already known to the Tribunal. It is the affidavit by Schreiber under Roman Numeral II. There Schreiber has mentioned in detail the supreme efforts of the Navy to prevent the regrettable terror regime of Terboven, and explained that Raeder, for the last time in 1942, used all his efforts to get Hitler to conclude a peace between Norway and Germany. I believe that the Navy had a good reputation in Norway, and that I can assume this to be historically known without my having to prove it. To be on the safe side I applied for a witness, but consent was not given.

May I also submit Exhibit Raeder 108, Document Book 41, Page 473, a letter from Raeder to General Admiral Bohm of 23rd October, 1942. Raeder writes:

"To my regret I have to send you enclosed, for your personal information, a letter from Reich Minister Dr. Lammers to Minister-President Quisling."
On Page 476 there is the letter from Lammers to Quisling which says - I quote only one sentence:-

[Page 156]

"The Fuehrer, therefore, desires that during the war there shall be no conferences or discussions concerning a final or a temporary peace between the Greater German Reich and Norway, or concerning other measures fixing or anticipating Norway's position to the Reich after the end of the war."
This is the letter which the witness mentioned, which finally brought to naught all his attempts and those of General Admiral Bohm.

Admiral, you had little to do with France, and therefore we can be very brief, May I merely ask you, did you attempt at any time to influence the political relations between Germany and France?

A. Such as I had, was in the first place directed as much as possible towards improving the defence of the country. In the second place, and this is important, there were humanitarian reasons. I often visited naval and submarine bases in France. During these journeys I got some knowledge of conditions in France. I saw that in 1940 and 1941 the population lived just as if it were at peace, completely undisturbed. Consequently, I believed, since the Fuehrer had shown so much moderation on the occasion of the Armistice, that a basis could be found which would draw France - whose government was after all collaborationist - closer to us.

I was informed that Laval was really sincere in his opinion that only co-operation between France and Germany could guarantee a lasting peace in Europe for the future. Therefore I suggested to him, that he himself should try to do something in that direction, but he clearly had no intention to do this, and I referred to it again, when I heard that Admiral Darlan was trying to work more closely with our Naval Commander in France, Admiral Schulze. That object was first achieved in the field of Intelligence, where his services were very useful to us.

At the end of the year 1941 Admiral Schulze told me that Darlan would like to have a talk with me. I told Hitler of this, and recommended such a conversation because I thought it would do some good.

Q. It would do what?

A. That it might bring some advantage. The Fuehrer approved and instructed me as to his views. The meeting took place near Paris on the occasion of an official trip which I made to the French bases at the end of January or beginning of February, 1942. I had the impression that the meeting was very satisfactory, inasmuch as Darlan was of the opinion that a peace would be of advantage to both nations and he also appeared to be inclined to co-operate. He stressed, however, that the whole political situation would have to be settled before peace could be concluded. I also showed that I was prepared to meet him over the negotiations with the Armistice Commission with respect to heavy guns for big French ships. I reported to the Fuehrer about the results of the meeting. But in this case too the Fuehrer was again hesitant and loath to make a decision. He said he had to see first how the war went before he could decide upon his final attitude toward France. Besides, that would be a precedent which might have an effect on other nations. So that also was a failure - I did not obtain the relief in the defence of France which I had hoped for, and this failure was the second reason which contributed later to my asking for my release, because I could not carry my plans through.

Q. Now I come to the next case, in which accusations are made against you, and that is Russia. When did you hear for the first time that Hitler intended to wage war against Russia, although he had concluded a non-aggression pact with that country?

A. May I first remind you that in the summer of 1940, that is to say, July, August and September, we in the Navy were very much occupied with preparations for a landing in England; therefore it never entered our heads that there could be any plans for action in another direction. In August, I heard from some army officer, possibly the Commander-in-Chief, that considerable troop transports were going to the East. I asked Hitler what that meant and he told me it was a grandiose

[Page 157]

camouflage of his intentions to invade England. He knew that I would be against it right away if he were to speak about any undertaking against Russia. In September - I cannot recall the date exactly - he finally admitted to me that he had certain intentions against Russia. In September I reported to him at least twice, my more important report being on 26th September, when I did everything I could to dissuade him from any undertaking against Russia. In that report, which I made in the presence of Keitel and Jodl, I emphasized particularly the strategic military side; first, because I could do that with complete clarity, and in the presence of other people, and also because I assumed that such military reasons, that is, the possibility of failure of an operation against Russia at a time when the struggle was on against England, would impress him and dissuade him from that plan. On 26th September, after making this official report, I asked for a personal conference alone with Hitler. Keitel and Jodl can testify that I always did this when I wanted to discuss something particularly important with the Fuehrer, where I had to go beyond the conventional procedure, a thing which I could only do if nobody else was present. One could tell Hitler a lot of things if one was alone with him, but one could not do this with a number of other people present. Field Marshal Keitel and Colonel-General Jodl know that very well, particularly well, because they were the ones who in such cases always had to leave the room. On that occasion I gave Hitler my views in detail. First, I pointed out that it was not possible to break the pact with Russia, that it would be morally wrong, that it would serve no purpose, because the pact gave us great advantages and was a basis for a sound policy for Germany later on. Then I told him that under no circumstances could he start a two-front war, as it was he who had always emphasized that he would not repeat the stupidity of the government of 1914 and that, in my opinion, it could never be justified. Then I put to him again the difference of the forces on each side, the absolute necessity for the Navy to concentrate on the war against England, particularly at that moment, when all resources were strained to the utmost to carry out the invasion.

I had the impression that Hitler was inclined to listen to my argument, because later on that day, or on the next, the naval adjutant, Captain von Putkammer, reported to me that Hitler had spoken in very much the same vein as I had, and had appreciated my argument.

That went on for several months. I presented many such reports, returning always with the same arguments. I believed again in November that I had been successful. To my utter surprise, however, on 18th December, Directive No. 21 (Barbarossa) came out, which dealt with the case of a war with the Soviet Union before the termination of the war against England. It is true, of course, that it was a directive for an eventuality. It is Document 446-PS, Exhibit USA 31, of 18th December, 1940.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, that is in Document Book 10-A, Page 247.


Q. Admiral, the prosecution asserted that the Navy and you assisted in the drawing up of this directive. Is that correct?

A. That is in no way correct. Such directives were drafted in the OKW after the Fuehrer had made his political decision, in the Operations Staff; and in that Operations Staff there was also one naval officer and one or more air force officers who, under the Chief of the Operations Staff, dealt with matters concerning the Navy and Air Force when such directives were being drafted. The directive then went to the Commanders-in-Chief of the armed forces and they were ordered, for their part, to work out and present suggestions for the execution of the order of the Fuehrer. They had no influence on the directive itself and did not see it at all beforehand.

May I add one more thing? I have been accused by the prosecution of using my influence with the Fuehrer not for moral and ethical reasons, but because I was anxious to try, cynically, first, to settle the account with England and then to assail

[Page 158]

Russia. I have said before that I told all my reasons to the Fuehrer whenever I had the chance, but that I could not do that in a public meeting or in the presence of other people, nor could I write them down in my war diary, because the harsh words which might be used there must not become known to other people by their entry therein. Beyond that I would like to say - and I want to point to Document C-170, Exhibit USA 136, which dates from the 25th August, 1936, to 22nd June, 1941, and it is a compilation of many excerpts from the war diary of the Naval War Command, and from my minutes of conferences with Hitler, in which the Russian question was dealt with - this is not a literal reproduction of my statements or word for word excerpts from the war diary, but is a summary of excerpts by the naval archivist, Admiral Assmann. I will not read details from these many entries, but I should like to point out that in particular this document, C-170, shows in a large number of its entries that, since the beginning of the war in 1939, I continuously used my influence with the Fuehrer to bring about good relations with Russia for the reasons which I have previously mentioned. It would lead us too far if I were to start quoting several entries here. But the document, I would like to emphasize, is entirely convincing.

Q. You had nothing to do with Directive 21, which is signed by Hitler, Keitel and Jodl?

A. Absolutely nothing.

Q. But following that, you made some preparations in accordance with the directive? As they concerned the Navy they were in any case not so important here.

A. Yes. We had the first conference in January, as can be seen from one of the entries, in Document C-170. I had reported to the Fuehrer on 4th February about our intentions, and in March the Navy began with certain preparations. I have said already that the Navy throughout the first period was not concerned with major operations, but only with the cutting off of the Gulf of Finland by mines and light naval forces. I do not know, whether that is in Directive 21 or somewhere else, but the Fuehrer, at my urgent request, had ordered that the centre of gravity of the naval warfare should still be in the direction of England. Consequently we could use only relatively small forces for the war against Russia.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, we had better break off now. The Tribunal rather understood that you hoped to finish by mid- day today. We realize that you had two hours of today taken up with your documents, but when do you think you will be able to finish now?

DR. SIEMERS: I believe I will need only about three-quarters of an hour, between half an hour and an hour.

THE PRESIDENT: Tomorrow at 1000 o'clock we shall deal with the documents of Seyss-Inquart, and we are told that will only last thirty minutes.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 18th May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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