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 8 of 13)

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

[Page 210]

Q. Oh, you have not got it. I am sorry. I will get you one.

Now, that is dealing with the first point, encroachment by the English into Norwegian territorial waters, and it says:-

"An examination of the question as to whether a mass encroachment by the English into the Norwegian territorial waters was so immediately imminent that it might represent a danger to present German shipping, leads to the conclusion that this is not to be expected at the present time. The ore transports are to be continued, as no losses have yet occurred."
Was that your information, that no mass encroachment of Norwegian territorial waters was to be expected on 22nd March?

A. That was not at all my conception. It was the view of Captain Fricke, who was at that time the Chief of the Operations Department. He did not quite agree with me about the whole of this question. He was of the opinion that the British should be allowed to enter Norway first, and then we should throw them out through Sweden, a completely distorted idea which I could not approve of in any way. I had such clear information from Quisling and Hagelin, particularly at that time, the second half of March, that there was no longer any doubt whatever that within a reasonable time the British would intervene on a big scale.

Q. You say that that was Captain Fricke's view, and you did not pay attention to it. Well now, let me look -

A. I did not concern myself with it.

Q. You know Admiral Assmann, whom you have described as a sound historian, kept a diary, and on the next day he gives an account of a meeting between you and Hitler, and he says this. This is the same day. You may have read it, because he turns down your proposal to use U-boats off Halifax. It is the same day, 23rd February. Then, at that date, you are quoted as saying that to ensure the supply of ore from Narvik, it would be best to preserve the neutrality of Norway.

Then, on 26th March, Admiral Assmann in his report of the meeting between you and Hitler, records your answers as follows. It is quite short:-

"British landing in Norway not considered imminent - Raeder suggests action by us at the next new moon - to which Hitler agrees."
That is Admiral Assmann's report of the meeting between you and Hitler on 26th March:
"British landing in Norway not considered imminent - Raeder suggests action by us at the next new moon, 7th April - to which Hitler agrees."
Do you remember that?

[Page 211]

A. No. I mean, it is quite improbable that at that moment I should not have been fully convinced of the imminent landing about which the whole of Documents 004-PS and 007-PS gave me reliable information. I did not see the documents, but the information contained in them was available to us all.

Admiral Assmann compiled his notes from all sorts of war diaries and records. I most certainly never said that, because at that time I reported to Hitler again and again that our preparations would be complete at the end of January, and that that would be the time when the landings had to be carried out for the reasons I had always put forward. It is completely wrong to assume that at that time I had the slightest doubt. Later everything was proved right -

Q. Well now, really we must -

A. And later on, it all turned out to be correct.

Q. We must get down to this matter. You have told us that Admiral Assmann was a trustworthy officer and good at naval history.

A. He does not intend to deceive, but he compiled the document from all sorts of papers and I cannot imagine how he could have arrived at that statement, I certainly never made it.

Q. Well, but the second part of it, the second sentence, is right is it not?

"Raeder suggests action by us at the next new moon, 7th April."
That is right; that is when you did invade. That was when your armada started off to arrive there on the 9th, was it not?

A. But yes, of course. I was in favour of carrying out the landings in Norway at the earliest possible time, after ice conditions had improved, as we had previously decided and as had been ordered by Hitler. For that I assume full responsibility. There was every reason for that.

Q. Well. Again I must not argue with you, but the point comes to this, that you are saying that Admiral Assmann, who is right in his second sentence, is not only wrong, but entirely wrong - I mean, stating the opposite of the truth - when he says that the British landing in Norway was not considered imminent.

Well now, we will just pursue that a little.

A. I only submitted to the Fuehrer this opportunity to land in Norway subject to the information available.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, what was that document of the 26th March, 1940?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: That was an extract from the Assmann Diary which I have used before, and I will have one made up and put in for identification. I have not got it copied yet, my Lord, I am sorry. I shall have it done.

THE WITNESS: I should be grateful if perhaps you could show me the document. You have shown me all the others, but not this one, the one I contest.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I beg your pardon. It is such a short extract I thought you would take it from me, but the last thing I want is not to show you any documents.


Q. You see the entry for 26th March: "British landing in Norway not considered imminent. Raeder suggests action by us at next new moon, 7th April, to which Hitler agrees. Further discussions about laying of mines at Scapa before German invasion of Norway. Hitler agrees with Raeder and will issue instructions accordingly."

A. May I come back to it now. Here it says, 26th March, 1940:-

"Occupation of Norway by British was imminent when the Russian-Finnish peace was concluded."
That Russian-Finnish affair was making it particularly urgent for us to carry out a landing, because the danger existed that the British, under the pretext of supporting the Finns, would carry out a bloodless occupation of Norway.

[Page 212]

Then we go on to the question of the Fuehrer, whether a landing by the British in Norway might be imminent. One must consider that Assmann had summarised all that from war diaries, and this question is explained by the fact that the Fuehrer wanted to know whether the situation had changed in any way, because the peace had been signed. However, the situation had not changed, because we knew in reality that the landings by the British were not to be carried out to help the Finns, but for other reasons. That question, therefore, whether at the time, because of the peace treaty, the British landings might be particularly imminent, was answered by me in the negative. Commander-in-Chief Navy suggests action by us at next new moon, 7th April-Fuehrer agrees. Everything remained as before. To the question whether because of this peace treaty we ought to land at once, I answered "No." That is completely different from what you have been telling me.

Q. You read out the entry for 26th March. What is the entry for 26th March. You read it out in German and we can translate it.

A. Occupation of Norway by the British was imminent when the Russian-Finnish peace treaty was signed. Apparently, because of the treaty, it was postponed. Question by the Fuehrer, whether at that moment a landing by the British in Norway was imminent, was answered in the negative by the Commander- in-Chief Navy - Yes, that did not mean that because of that we had to renounce the idea. Commander-in-Chief Navy suggests action by us for next full moon. The reasons for our landing remained the same as before; only the Finnish business could no longer be used by the British.

Q. The peace treaty, the end of the war with Finland, had taken place in the middle of March. That was off the map at that time?

A. Of course, it was no longer important for us, but our reasons remained as before.

Q. Well now, will you look at Document D-843. This will be Exhibit GB 466. This is a report from your diplomatic representative in Norway, dated 29th March, and at the end of the first paragraph you will see: "The British apparently did not want to take upon themselves the responsibility for openly violating Norwegian territory and Norwegian territorial waters without cause, and for carrying out warlike operations in them." That is a quotation from the Norwegian Foreign Minister. Then your diplomatic representative takes it up:-

"The future will show whether Foreign Minister Koht sees things quite correctly. It definitely appears, however - as I (that is the German Foreign Minister's representative) have frequently pointed out - that the British have no intentions of landing, but that they want to disturb shipping in Norwegian territorial waters, perhaps - as Koht thinks - in order to provoke Germany. Of course, it is also possible that the British behaviour of last week, which I have pointed out as well, will grow into more or less regular and increasing interference in territorial waters to attack our ore traffic off the Norwegian coast."
And then paragraph three:-
"The firm intention of Norway to maintain her neutrality and to ensure that her neutrality rules are respected can be accepted as a fact."
Were you told that your diplomatic representative in Oslo was reporting that the British had no intentions of landing?

A. Yes. Dr. Brauer, the Ambassador to Norway, held a completely wrong view. He believed Foreign Minister Koht's assurances, even though our naval attache kept reporting that Koht was completely on the side of the British and his assurances were not to be believed. At the same time, information had been received from Hagelin that the Norwegians were giving assurances on paper, but they themselves had said that they were doing that only as a subterfuge, and that they would continue to co-operate with the British. That is contained in the documents which we have submitted.

[Page 213]

Q. Let us look at another document. Look at D-444. This is what your diplomatic representative in Sweden was saying at the same time. That will be Exhibit GB 467. That is from your representative in Sweden and you will notice that he quotes Foreign Minister Gunther of Sweden, as first of all - about ten lines down, just after the name of "Weiszacker," you will see:-
"The Swedish Government had no reason at all to believe in an impending action by the Western Powers against Scandinavia. On the contrary, on the strength of all official reports and other information, it considered the situation lately to be much calmer."
And then he says there is no prospect of a coup against Swedish ore. Then he goes on to deal with Norway. Without being anglophile, Gunther did not believe in a British act of war against Norway either, but, of course, he could not speak of this with as much certainty as was the case with Sweden. At any rate, the Norwegian Government, with whom he was in close contact, was of the same opinion. And if you look two paragraphs farther on, it says:-
"In conclusion, Gunther requested me to report his statements to my government, and repeated that the Swedish Government thought it to be of the greatest importance that the German Government should not get the erroneous impression that circumstances existed which might lead to the possibility - he would not use the word necessity at all - of special measures by Germany with regard to Scandinavia."
And then he says in the last paragraph that the Swedish Foreign Minister had probably heard of the German preparations.

Now, would you look at Document D-845, which will be Exhibit GB 468 - that is the next day-from your diplomatic representative in Stockholm:-

"Serious anxiety exists in Swedish military and government circles regarding possible German military preventive measures in Scandinavia against the announced intensification of war measures by the Western Powers. Swedish and Norwegian military and government authorities consider it unlikely that military measures will be taken against Scandinavia by the Western Powers. Press reports on this subject by the Western Powers are attempting to provoke Germany."
That is from your military attache in Stockholm. Were you told about these reports from Stockholm, were you told of that?

A. I assume the Fuehrer told me this. But we had no reason at all to believe these assurances, because, obviously, quite obviously, Sweden had considerable interest in our not going to Norway, because Sweden believed that by so doing we would be able to exercise pressure on Sweden also. That was what the British wanted, according to the information we received later. Our Ambassador was completely misinformed, and, as a result, was not informed by us because it was known that he sided with Foreign Minister Koht. Our information was so clear, so frequent and so unequivocal, that we could certainly carry out our landing with a clear conscience and, in fact, this proved to be true. Therefore, there is no point in discussing the following: that the order on the part of the British to land in Norway - it was Trondheim, Stavanger and, I believe, Christiansund - that this order was given on 5th April; and during the night of 7th-8th, as the British reported in a wireless message, the mine-laying in Norwegian waters was completed by British ships, and on the 7th, troops were shipped on cruisers, the names of which I forget.

Therefore this actually took place and my conception, not Herr Brauer's, was correct. He was dismissed immediately after this because be was a failure. Thereupon we carried out the landings on the strength of quite positive information which we can prove in detail. Sweden's action is thoroughly understandable.

Q. I am not going to argue with you, although you ought to know, and I think you do know, that there was no British order for an invasion at all; there was an order for laying mines; but you took this course, as I suggested, you, knowing quite well that no British invasion was imminent, contrary to your own Chief of

[Page 214]

Operations, Captain Fricke, and contrary to all the information from your diplomatic representatives in Norway. Now, I want to come to another point with regard to Norway and then I am finished with that. You told the Tribunal that in your view, using the enemy's colours was a permissible ruse de guerre so long as you stopped before you went into action. Do you remember saying that?

A. I did not understand.

Q. Do you remember telling the Tribunal that morning that using the enemy's colours on a warship was a permissible ruse de guerre so long as you stopped before you went into action. Do you remember saying that?

A. Yes; of course, that is the principle which is absolutely recognized in naval warfare, that at the moment of firing you have to show your own flag.

Q. Are you telling the Tribunal that it is a recognized procedure in naval warfare to use another country's colours in making an attack on a neutral country, an unannounced attack on a neutral country? There was no war between you and Norway and there was no reason for there to be any ruse. You were at peace with Norway. Are you saying that?

A. It was all a question of hoisting the German flag if we met the British. We did not want to fight with the Norwegians. It says somewhere that we should first of all try to effect a peaceful occupation.

Q. Can you give me a precedent even where the German Navy, before this operation, had ever attacked a neutral country with which it was at peace, using enemy colours? You tell me when you did it before?

A. I do not know. I cannot tell you whether any other navy did it. I have -

Q. You can assume that no other navy ever did. I am merely asking: Have you ever done it?

A. No, we have not done it and apart from that, we did not do it because, on 8th April, we gave the order by wireless - as you know from our war diary - that this should not be done, so it is quite useless to talk here about what might have been done, seeing that it was not done.

Q. I wanted to get clear about your views on the permissibility of naval warfare. I want to come to one other point, and then I am finished with this section of the case. With regard to the attack on the Soviet Union, I am not going to ask you about all your own views and what you said to Hitler, because you told us that at length; but I would just like you to look at Document Book 10-A, Page 252 of the English book and Page 424 of the German book.

A. Which document is it, please?

Q. The big one.

A. I have not got that.

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