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-Fourth Day: Monday, 20th May, 1946
(Part 2 of 13)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of Erich Raeder]

[Page 186]

Q. You say that does not offend you as a description. That is all I wanted to get clear. I do not want to spend a great deal of time.

A. But the headings mean nothing.

For instance, it might say in the actual text that the Navy did not fit into the National Socialist State properly. I do not know. The same holds good of the fleet. Of course -

Q. I am not going to waste time on it. There were three matters which you dealt with in your examination-in-chief, and I am not going to deal with them in detail; but I just want to remind you of them and put one general question. You can put that document away; I am not going to pursue it further. (A short pause). Would you mind putting that document away and giving me your attention for the next question?

You were asked about the E-boats, your survey list, that long document, in September 1933, and the question of disguised auxiliary cruisers as transport ships O. Is this a fair summary of your answer: that you admitted that these breaches of the Treaty took place, but said in each case that the breach was only a little one. Is that a fair summary of your answer? Is it?

A. No.

Q. Now, let us take it in bits, then. Are you disputing that any of these matters with regard to the E-boats, the matters on the survey lists or the transport ships O-are you disputing that any of these matters took place? I understood you admitted they all did take place -

A. No, but they took place in the way I described. For instance, these auxiliary cruisers were not built. We were not allowed to do that. We were allowed to make plans and we were allowed to select those ships which, in the event of war - if a war had broken out in which Germany was attacked by another State - could have been used as auxiliary cruisers. That was not a violation. If it were I would admit it. The U-boat design office in Holland was not a violation of the Versailles Treaty. The wording was quite different; I do not remember the third case which you mentioned.

Q. Now, you remember there was a long list in your document.

A. Yes, of course.

Q. And I understood, maybe wrongly, that you admitted these things took place, but you said, "the breach is only a little one."

A. Yes, of course. Those were small things, but they were urgently necessary in Germany's defence interests.

Q. Now, I want to ask you about an officer of yours, Vice- Admiral Assmann. Was he an officer in whom you had confidence?

A. He was a very able historian.

Q. Will you answer my question? Was he an officer in whom you had confidence?

A. I had confidence that he would write history correctly.

Q. That is all I wanted. Now, would you have a look at a new document, D-854, which, my Lord, will be Exhibit GB 460. Now, that is an extract from one of a series of essays on the operational and tactical considerations of the

[Page 187]

German Navy and consequent measures taken for its expansion between 1919 and 1939, contained among the files of Vice- Admirals Assmann and Gladish, who were in the historical section of the German Admiralty.

Now, would you mind not looking at it for a moment, defendant? I want to ask you some questions and then you can look at it with pleasure afterwards. Do you agree that in nearly all spheres of armament where the Navy was concerned, the Treaty of Versailles was violated in the letter and all the more in the spirit? Do you agree with that?

A. No, by no means in every sphere. In the most important sphere we were far behind the Versailles Treaty, as I explained to you very clearly. Possibly we infringed it in the other direction by not doing as much as we could have done.

Q. Will you just look at this document. At the beginning, the first quotation, your officers say:-

"That - as was stated - in nearly all spheres of armament where the Navy was concerned, the Treaty of Versailles was violated in the letter and all the more in the spirit - or at least its violation was prepared - a long time before the 16th of March, 1935 ... "
Are your admirals wrong in stating that? Is that what you are telling the Tribunal?

A. May I please see which page this is on? I have not seen it yet. Yes, he says:-

"in nearly all spheres of naval armament ... "
That is not the case, for in the sphere of -

Q. That is what I put to you; is that right?

A. No, it is not eight. We had not even built as many ships as we could have built, but - as I have explained repeatedly, the violations were concerned with -

Q. You have explained that.

A. - violations were -

Q. Really, we do know the position of your shipbuilding yards. You have given that explanation and it is a matter of discussion whether it is of any value. I am not going to argue with you. I am asking you this question: Are you saying that the admirals of your historical section are wrong in that sentence that I read out to you?

A. Yes, I am stating that. It is wrong as it stands.

Q. I see. Well, now let us pass on - the Tribunal will judge that - to the statement of Admiral Assmann. It goes on:-

"This probably took place in no other sphere, either so early, or under such difficult circumstances, as in the construction of a new submarine arm. The Treaty of Versailles had only been in force a few months (since 10th January, 1920), when it was violated in this point."
Do you agree with Admiral Assmann on that?

A. No, he is wrong. It was not violated at all in this point, and the reason it started so early was because all the ex-U-boat commanders and U-boat officers and technicians were out of a job and offered their services to maintain technical developments in U-boats abroad; that is why it was so early. But that has nothing to do with me because I had no say in these matters then. At that time I was working on the Navy archives.

Q. Well, how are you able to be so confident today that Admiral Assmann is wrong? I thought you said that he was a good historian. He had not to go back very far. He only goes back twenty years.

A. A good historian can make mistakes, too, if his information is wrong. I merely said I had confidence in him -

Q. Well, let us just see how far he was wrong. We need not go into the first paragraph, which deals with shipbuilding for Japan, but take the second one. Do you see the paragraph which begins,

"As early as 1922, three German shipbuilding yards established a German U-boat design office in Holland under a Dutch cover name, with about thirty

[Page 188]

engineers and builders. In 1925 a Dutch shipbuilding yard built two 500-ton U-boats for Turkey according to the plans of that office, which enjoyed the financial and personal support of the Naval Command. In this matter, too, Captain Lohmann was responsible for final decisions."
Is that right?

A. We have admitted that. That was in no way a violation of the Versailles Treaty.

Q. We will not argue that, but it is right anyway. Admiral Assmann is right about that. There he deals with Finland and with Spain. And, if you look at the end of the paragraph, after dealing with Spain, he says:-

"In the autumn of 1927 the Naval Construction Department was commissioned to carry out construction in Spain by the Chief of the Naval Command, Admiral Zenker, who accepted the responsibility despite all the difficulties in the field of home politics. The working out of the project and the drawing up of the construction plans took place in the Dutch Bureau. After completion in 1931, the ship carried out trial runs and diving exercises from Cadiz to Cartagena, under German direction - "
A. Yes -

Q. "and with German personnel, consisting of officers, engineers, naval construction students and foremen."

That is all. That is quite right, is it not?

A. Yes, but the shipbuilding designer from our Designing Office, in particular, as well as the above-named other persons employed on U-boat construction, were discharged from the Navy.

Q. And just look at the last sentence

"This boat which is now the Turkish submarine Guer became the prototype for the U-25 and U-26."
A. Yes.

Q. Now, the 250-ton submarines which were made in Finland. And, if you look at the last sentence of the next paragraph:-

"The Finnish U-boat was the first U-boat plan to be worked out in Germany and successfully carried out; the Dutch office was called upon only to work out the details. The Finnish 250-ton vessel became the prototype for U-1 to U-24 - "
A. Yes.

Q. And now the next paragraph:-

"The building and the thorough trial of the prototype vessel made it possible to obtain the parts for U-1 to U- 24 in 1933 to '35, long before the order for the assembly of the vessels; and the latter was prepared beforehand as far as was possible without endangering secrecy."
A. Yes.

Q. Now, would you turn to Page 156. You see where the next quotation is from.

"At the beginning of 1935" - that is six months before the Anglo-German Treaty - "there were probably Six 250- ton boats ready for assembly, six 275-ton and two 750-ton boats on which preparatory work was being done. About four months were needed for assembling the small ships and about ten for the big ones, dating from 1st February, 1935, but everything else was still quite uncertain."
Now, look at the next words
"It is probably in this very sphere of submarine construction that Germany adhered least to the restrictions of the German-British Treaty.

Considering the number of U-boats which had already been ordered, about fifty-five U-boats could have been provided for up to 1938. In reality one hundred and eighteen were ready or ordered.

The preparations for the new U-boat arm were made so early, so thoroughly and so secretly, that as early as eleven days after the conclusion

[Page 189]

of the German-British Naval Treaty, which permitted the construction of U-boats, the first German V-boat could be put into commission on 29th June, 1935."

Now, take that sentence, which is written by Admiral Assmann, and we have seen what your connections with Assmann were through about one hundred documents. He said:-

"It is probably in this very sphere of submarine construction that Germany least adhered to the restrictions of the German-British Treaty."
Now, you have told this Tribunal, during several hours of your evidence, that that was a freely negotiated treaty, of which you were very proud, and which you were ready to support. Are you telling the Tribunal that your admirals are wrong in saying that in submarine construction Germany least adhered to the restrictions of that freely negotiated treaty?

A. That is a completely erroneous conclusion. I have stated here that, as long as no negotiations with Great Britain had taken place with regard to the pending treaty, all the preparations which we did make were exclusively attended to abroad - that in the proportion which probably -

Q. Defendant, you can make your explanation -

A. Will you please stop interrupting me.

Q. We will take it in this order, and do not get cross about it. You answer my question, and then you make your explanation. Now answer my question first. Are you saying that Admiral Assmann is wrong in saying in that first sentence: "That it was just in the sphere of submarine construction that Germany least adhered to the restrictions of the German-British Treaty"? Is Admiral Assmann wrong when he says that, is that what you are telling the Tribunal? Well, that is my question.

A. He is wrong. I said so; I have already said so.

DR. SIEMERS (Counsel for defendant Raeder): Mr. President, I believe these are not questions relating to facts. They are questions for legal decisions. It is a legal argument as to just how Article 191 of the Versailles Treaty is to be interpreted.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks that the question is quite proper. In his explanation, of course, he can explain that in his view it was not a breach of the treaty and he has already explained that. He can give us his opinion about it. He was the head of the German Navy.


Q. Well, now, will you take the second sentence -

A. But I should like to finish, if I may. I wish to explain.

All these things were preparations made outside Germany. The point under discussion is whether the Finnish U-boats were constructed with the help of German designers. That is true. German designers were not forbidden to help Finnish designers to draft designs for U-boats. It is also true that this U-boat later -

Q. I am awfully sorry to interrupt you, but you know this is not dealing - this sentence is not dealing with this early period. This is dealing with the period after the Anglo- German Treaty in 1935 and that is what I want you to answer me about. This Finnish matter was long before that.

A. I am still speaking of the period preceding the agreement, for I was accused of manufacturing U-boat parts abroad. And the fact is that -

Q. Yes, I know, but do you not see that -

A. I have not given my answer yet. No -

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