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 13 of 13)

[COLONEL POKROVSKY continues his cross examination of Erich Raeder]

[Page 231]

Q. "The propagandistic - "

A. "The propagandistic" - shall I read it?

"The propagandistic, political and military announcements given out at the beginning of the war by the Foreign Office and the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, which were to justify the breaking of the Pact because of breaches by the Soviet Union, found very little credence among the people or the armed forces, because they showed too clearly that they were propaganda for a certain purpose and were repulsive."
I know that at that time Hitler himself drafted these documents, together with Goebbels.

Q. I have another question for you in connection with this one. Am I to understand that your divergence of opinion with Hitler over foreign policy, and in particular in regard to aggressive wars, was less strongly defined than your difference of opinion about the question of the marriage of a certain naval officer? Do you understand me?

A. No, they were two quite different things. Those were military questions where the political decisions remained with the Fuehrer. I was very insistent about the moral issues, also, where they concerned the Pact, but I did not send him any written ultimatum because in this matter it would have been unsoldierly. I did not have the final decision, he had it; whereas in the case of Albrecht, it was up to me to decide - to say yes or no.

Q. You are saying now that this is a question of morals. Does it not seem to you that an unprovoked attack on a country with which Germany had a non-aggression treaty, do you not think that such a question is always connected with the question of morals?

A. Of course; that is what I said myself, that in this case, too, I laid special stress on the moral issue. But in spite of that, as senior officer of the Navy, I was not in a position to hold out the threat of resignation at that moment. I was too much of a fighting man to be able to do that, to be able to leave the Navy at a moment like that.

Q. In answer to questions put to you by your defence counsel here in this Courtroom you testified that your speech, which was delivered by you on 12th Match, 1939 - that is Page 169 of the Russian text - in the Ruder Document Book, my Lord - the speech where you praised Hitler and Hitler's policies - you mentioned that this speech was not in accord with your true opinion. Is it so or is it not?

A. No, that is not correct. I said that we had had the experience that the Communists and Jews, from 1917 to 1920, had strongly undermined our power

[Page 232]

of resistance, and that, for this reason it was understandable that a National Socialist government should take certain measures against both of them in order to stem their influence, which was excessive. That was the sense of my statements and I made absolutely no mention of any further steps which might come into question.

Q. In short, you are saying that when you delivered that speech on the 12th March, 1939, that this speech was fully in accord with your ideas and your views. Is that correct?

A. Yes, it was, or I would not have made it. It was in accord in so far as I had to recognize that the National Socialist government had in some way to stem that influence which was generally recognized to be excessive, and as I said yesterday, the National Socialist government had issued the Nuremberg Laws, which I did not entirely approve of where they went to extremes. But even if the government was so disposed, it was not possible for me in an official public speech, which I gave on the orders of that government, to express my personal views if they were different.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you be able to finish in a very few moments? It is now five minutes past five.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I think, my Lord, that only about ten minutes will be sufficient for me. I have only about three or four more questions left.


Q. In order to save time I am not going to argue with you in regard to the motives which made you deliver the speech. It was important for me that you should confirm what you said, and that is, that this speech was in accord with your views and ideas. Now I will pass on to the next question.

On 20th September, 1941, your Chief of Staff, Admiral Fricke - do I pronounce his name correctly? Is it Fricke or Fricker?

A. Fricke, yes, Chief of the Staff of the Naval War Command.

Q. Admiral Fricke published a directive in regard to the future fate of Leningrad. Do you know what document I mean, or must this document be shown to you?

A. No. I know that document very well.

Q. This directive was published with your consent?

A. I did not give a specific order for it because that was not necessary. May I just explain briefly how it was. I had -

Q. Yes, and I would like you to be brief.

A. Quite briefly, yes. I had requested Hitler, when I heard that he intended in the course of the war to attack Leningrad, that he should spare the port and dock installations because they would be useful for us later, as we had to keep moving our bases back to the east on account of the British air attacks in the Baltic. Shortly before the date which you have mentioned Admiral Fricke had been at the Fuehrer's Headquarters - I do not know for what reason - and had there spoken with the Fuehrer in my absence, and the Fuehrer had explained to him that plan to attack Leningrad, especially with planes, and he used those very exaggerated words which were then written down in the document. The Navy had absolutely nothing to do with the shelling of Leningrad. We received no orders for that. We were only interested in that one thing which I mentioned before, that the shipyards and port installations should be spared. The Fuehrer had informed Fricke that unfortunately he was not in a position to do that because the attack, especially if made with aircraft, could not be directed quite so precisely. All we could do was to inform General Admiral Karls that Leningrad, in case it should be taken, could not be used as a base, and General Admiral Karls had to stop the preparations which he had already begun by allocating German workers and probably also machinery which was intended to be used in Leningrad later on. Karls had to know of that, as the document says; and the Quarter-

[Page 233]

master Department of the Navy had to know about it, and that was why Admiral Fricke passed on that letter. Unfortunately he in eluded in it the expressions used by Hitler, which had nothing to do with the whole affair as far as we were concerned, because we had nothing to do with the shelling. By so doing he did not assume in any way the responsibility, in the sense that he approved it. He only believed that he had to pass on Hitler's wording of the order.

The Navy had nothing to do with the matter. It was not necessary to pass it on, and unfortunately and very clumsily that expression used by Hitler was entered in that letter. However, nothing happened and it was not passed on from Admiral Karls to our Finland Commander. That is the whole story.

Q. It seems to me the question is becoming more complicated. I asked you a simple question. Your Chief of Staff, Chief of Operations, published a directive. Did you know about the directive?

A. No. That is not a directive, and that can be seen also from the photocopy, because the letter had not been submitted to me for passing on, and that shows that it was not considered to be very important. It was not a directive to undertake any operation or anything important. It was just a request to stop anything that might have been done with regard to bases; so that really nothing happened. Thus, when that letter was passed on by Admiral Fricke, nothing happened. It was quite superfluous.

Q. You are talking here about the destruction of one of the biggest cities of the Soviet Union. You are talking in this document about razing the city to the ground, and you maintain now that it is a more or less trifling question, that this question was not important enough to be reported to you, as Fricke's Chief? Do you want us to believe that?

A. Of course. It is not a question of the shelling of Leningrad, with which we had nothing to do. It was the minor question which concerned us, the question as to whether we would later be able to establish a naval base there and whether we could bring workers and machines and such things to Leningrad. That was a minor issue. The shelling of Leningrad was a major issue.

Q. I think that the Tribunal will be able to understand you correctly and to draw the necessary conclusions both from this document and from your testimony.

Now, I have one last question for you. On 28th August, 1945, in Moscow, did you not write an affidavit as to the reasons for Germany's defeat?

A. Yes, I took special pains with that after the collapse.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: My Lord, we submit this document to the Tribunal in the form of excerpts; it will be Exhibit USSR 460. In order to save time I would like you to hear several excerpts from this affidavit.

Q. You will be shown where they can be found on the original and you can say whether it was correctly read into the record and whether you acknowledge and confirm it.

"My Attitude Towards Adolf Hitler and the Party. The disastrous influence on the fate of the German State."
Have you found the place?

A. Yes, I have it.

DR. SIEMERS: Would you be kind enough to give me a copy so that I can follow?


"Unimaginable vanity and immeasurable ambition were his main peculiarities; running after popularity and showing off, untruthfulness, impracticability, and selfishness, which were not restrained for the sake of State or People. He was outstanding in his greed, wastefulness, and effeminate, unsoldierly manner."

[Page 234]

Then, a little farther on:
"It is my conviction that Hitler very soon realised his character, but made use of him if it suited his purpose, and burdened him with every new task in order to avoid his becoming dangerous to himself."
On Page 24 of your document you give another characteristic:
"The Fuehrer attached importance to the fact that from the outside his relations to me seemed normal and good. He knew I was well thought of in all the really important circles of the German people, and that in general everybody had great faith in me. This cannot be said of Goering, von Ribbentrop, Dr. Goebbels, Himmler or Dr. Ley."
Now I will ask you to find Page 27.

A. But there is something missing. "In the same way, as for instance, von Neurath, Count Schwerin von Krosigk, Schacht, Dorpmueller and others, who were on the other side."

Q. Evidently it was not correctly translated to you. I will read this passage into the record. Now, on Page 27, this place is underlined in red pencil:

"Donitz's strong political inclination - "
THE PRESIDENT (interposing): I think the Tribunal could read this themselves if the defendant says that it is true that he wrote it. Probably Dr. Siemers could check it over and see that there are no inaccuracies.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Very well, my Lord. Then I shall have the opportunity to put a very brief question.


Q. I will ask you to take a look at a place on Page 29, which is marked with pencil, where the paragraph deals with Field Marshal Keitel and General Jodl.

Will you confirm that?

A. What am I supposed to do? Yes - well -

Q. I am asking you with regard to everything that I read into the record and that you saw just now in this paragraph. I would like to have an answer from you. Do you confirm all that?

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, I quite agree with the suggestion by the Tribunal. However, I should like to ask that the entire document be submitted. I have only short excerpts before me, and I would be grateful if I could see the entire document. I assume that Colonel Pokrovsky agrees to that.

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly, Dr. Siemers, one part of the document having been put in evidence, you can refer to the remainder of the document. You can put the remainder of the document in, if you want to.

THE WITNESS: I said that at the time I tried to understand the cause of our collapse.


Q. First, I ask you to give the answer, yes or no.

A. Yes. On the whole, I agree entirely with this statement. But I should like to add that I wrote those things under entirely different conditions. I do not wish to go into details, and I never expected that that would ever become public. These were notes for myself and for helping me to form my judgement later on. I also want to ask especially that what I said about Colonel-General Jodl should also be read into the record, or where it belongs, that is, right after the statement about Field-Marshal Keitel. With regard to Field Marshal Keitel, I should like to emphasize that I intended to convey that it was his manner towards the Fuehrer which made it possible for him to get along with him for a long time, because if anybody else had been in that position, who had a quarrel with the Fuehrer every day or every other day, then the work of the whole of the armed forces would have been impossible.

That is the reason and the explanation of what I wanted to express by that statement.

[Page 235]

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The Soviet prosecution has no further questions to ask the defendant.

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, have you got the whole document before you? Was that the original document you had before you?


THE PRESIDENT: In your writing?

THE WITNESS: No, it is typewritten. But it is signed by me.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the document can be handed to Dr. Siemers.

Dr. Siemers, do you want to re-examine beyond putting in that document? Have you any questions you want to ask in addition to putting in that document?

DR. SIEMERS: Yes, on account of the cross-examination made by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, I should like to re-examine, and I should like to ask for permission to do that after I have read this document, so that I can also cover the document tomorrow in this connection.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, the thought occurs to me with respect to this document - do I understand that the Tribunal will order copies to be distributed to all defence counsel? There are matters with respect to the defendants on which counsel might want to examine. They might be taken by surprise.

THE PRESIDENT: I thought it was fair that Dr. Siemers should see the document.

MR. DODD: Yes. I have no objection to that. But my point is, that in the document there is reference to defendants other than the defendant represented by Dr. Siemers. And at a later date, if this document is not made known to the others by the reading of it or by the turning over to them in translated form, they may claim surprise, and lack of opportunity to examine on it.

THE PRESIDENT: I think some photostatic copies of the document should be made so that all the defendants referred to therein may be acquainted with the terms of the document.

MR. DODD: I just thought I would make that suggestion.


(The Tribunal adjourned until 21st May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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