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-Sixth Day: Wednesday, 22nd May, 1946
(Part 2 of 11)

[Page 279]

THE PRESIDENT: The prosecution?

[Page 280]



Q. Witness, I want to ask you one or two questions about the Athenia matter. You have told the Tribunal that you, yourself, saw the American charge d'affaires and informed him about the middle of September that the Athenia could not have been sunk by a German U-boat. That is so, is it not?

A. I did not see the American charge d'affaires in the middle of September but on the same day on which I heard of the sinking, and that must have been, perhaps, the 3rd, 4th or 5th of September.

Q. Were you already assuring the American representatives as early as that that a U-boat could not have been responsible?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. And did you recommend or, rather, did the German Foreign Office recommend that the Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy should receive the American naval attache and tell him the same thing, namely, that a U-boat could not have sunk the Athenia?

A. That I don't know. I only dealt with the charge d'affaires.

Q. I would like you to look at a new document, D-804, which will be Exhibit GB 477, which is an extract from the SKL file on the Athenia case. You will see that that is a report from Neubauer to the naval attache and it reads as follows:

"The Foreign Office has had a report of the meeting between the Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy and the American naval attache on 13th September, passed on to it by telephone; it is worded as follows: 'On 16th September, at about 1300 hours, the Commander-in-Chief of - "
A. I am sorry; I have not found the place yet.

Q. Perhaps you would like to follow the English copy, witness. I read the second paragraph:

"On 16th September, at about 1300 hours, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy received the American naval attache on the advice of the Reich Foreign Minister, and told him more or less the following: He had intended for some days to ask him to visit him, in order to give him his opinion about the sinking of the Athenia, in view of the continued agitation about it. However, he had waited for the return of those of the submarines that had been employed against merchant ships at the time in question, in order to receive reports from their officers in person. He repeated most emphatically that the sinking of the Athenia was not caused by a German submarine. The ship nearest to the place of the incident was at the time actually about 75 nautical sea miles away. Besides this, the instructions to commanders with reference to methods of dealing with merchant shipping had already been given. Up to date, in no case had these instructions been even slightly disregarded. On the contrary, an American captain reported a short time before about the particularly courteous and chivalrous behaviour of the submarine commanders."
Well, now, it is clear from that, is it not, that the German Foreign Office was most anxious to cover up this matter of the Athenia as best it could; was it not?

A. No, there was nothing to be covered up.

Q. When you discovered at the end of September that in fact it was the U-3o that had sunk the Athenia, there was then a good deal to be covered up, was there not?

A. I believe that I stated yesterday that I received no information to that effect.

Q. Are you saying that you did not know at the end of September, on the return of the U-30, that the U-30 had in fact sunk the Athenia?

A. I do not remember that in any way at all.

Q. When did you first discover that the U-30 had sunk the Athenia?

A. (No answer).

[Page 281]

Q. When did you first discover that the U-30 had sunk the Athenia?

A. According to my recollection, at no time during the war.

Q. But I understood you to say yesterday that you thought that the publication in the Volkischer Beobachter, accusing Mr. Winston Churchill of sinking the Athenia, was a piece of perverse imagination; is that right?

A. Completely.

Q. Are you really saying to the Tribunal that - though you were in a responsible job - are you saying to the Tribunal that when you were directly concerned in the Foreign Office with this matter you did not discover the true facts about the Athenia until the end of the war?

A. I told you already yesterday what I know about this. It seems to me that it was realized later by the Navy, that the sinking of the Athenia was due to the action of a German submarine: but I cannot at all recall that either I or the Foreign Office was informed of this fact.

Q. At any rate, the defendant Raeder took no steps to correct the information that had been passed to the American diplomatic representatives, did he?

A. I have no recollection of Admiral Raeder advising me or the Foreign Office to that effect.

Q. Now, with regard to the defendant won Neurath

If it pleases the Tribunal, I am not proposing to question the witness as to the earlier diplomatic history, as this Tribunal has indicated that it is desirable to reserve the matter for the defendants when they go into the witness-box later.

But I want to ask you a general question. What was the earliest date at which responsible officials of the Foreign Office like yourself first realized that Hitler intended to wage aggressive war?

A. That the foreign policy of Hitler's Government was a dangerous one, I realized clearly for the first time in May, 1933; the fact that an aggressive war was planned, perhaps, in the summer of 1938, or at least that the course pursued in the foreign policy might very easily lead to war.

Q. As early as April, 1938, the foreign political situation was so tense that you sent a special memorandum to all German diplomatic representatives dealing with the situation, which had become critical.

A. That may be. May I be permitted to read the document?

Q. I want you to look at Document 3572-PS, which is a memorandum of 25th of April, 1938, signed by yourself, and a copy of which was sent to all the German diplomatic representatives. It will be Exhibit GB 478.

That document reads:

"Since the work in the field of preparation for the mobilization has made further progress within Germany in the Armed Forces and in all civil administrations, including the Foreign Office, it is necessary now that in the case of government offices abroad corresponding measures also be taken in their area of jurisdiction without delay."
And then there follows a series of instructions as to the actions that are to be taken on the commencement of the period of crisis or of actual mobilization, and there is an insistence in the last paragraph but one
"I request the heads of offices, without waiting for further instructions, to start examining now the measures to be taken into consideration in their sphere of activity in the case of a serious situation. In the interest of absolute secrecy it must be observed strictly that the number of people informed remains as restricted as possible."
That suggests, does it not, that as early as April, 1938, you were conscious of the imminent approach of actual mobilization; is that so?

A. May I ask, is this document really from the year 1938 or is it from 1939? I cannot quite distinguish the date.

Q. It is dated the 25th April, 1938.

A. Well, that maybe.

[Page 282]

Q. Now, you yourself were opposed to Hitler's aggressive foreign policy, were you not?

A. I did not quite understand your question.

Q. You yourself were opposed to Hitler's aggressive foreign policy, were you not?

A. I personally, you mean? Completely.

Q. Did you try to persuade the defendant von Neurath also to oppose Hitler's aggressive foreign policy?

A. Herr von Neurath was not Foreign Minister at that time.

Q. But he continued to be a very important functionary of the Nazi State, did he not?

A. I believe that his influence in that period was even smaller than before, but I did keep in contact with him, and I believe that I agreed with his opinion and he with mine.

Q. And yet he continued to serve the Nazi State, in particular, in a territory which was acquired as a result of this policy of aggression; is that not so?

A. I should be grateful if this question would be put to Herr von Neurath rather than to me.

Q. If you please. Now, you were in Italy and in Rome, were you not, in March of 1944?

A. Yes.

Q. You have given me some evidence as to the behaviour of the German forces in Italy. Were you in Rome at the time of the massacres in the Hadrian Cave? You remember the incident, witness, do you not?

A. Yes.

Q. When 325 Italians were murdered and fifty-seven Jews were thrown in as a bit of make-weight. You were there when that happened, were you not?

A. I believe it was 320 prisoners who were murdered in this cave which you just mentioned.

Q. Yes. Were you consulted about that matter?

A. No.

Q. That was an action by German forces, was it not?

A. I believe by the German police and not by the German Armed Forces.

Q. And you know, witness, that there were many murders of that kind carried out by the SS during the period of German activity in Italy, do you not?

A. I do not know about many murders having taken place, but I know that the German police could do quite a bit in this connection.

Q. You know that they left a record of terror and brutality as their mark upon Italy; is that not so?

A. The German police, yes.

MAJOR ELWYN JONES: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you want to re-examine?

DR. SIEMERS: (Counsel for defendant Raeder) I have no more questions, your Honour.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness can retire.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, may I now call the witness, Vice-Admiral Schulte-Monting.


[Page 283]

ERICH SCHULTE MONTING (a witness), took the stand and testified as follows


Will you state your full name?

A. Erich Schulte-Monting.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Admiral, please tell us briefly what positions you held from 1925 to 1945 particularly in what positions you served immediately under Grand Admiral Raeder.

A. From 1925 to 1928, I was naval adjutant to Reich President Hindenburg, and at the same time second adjutant to the Chief of the Navy. Consequently, my first collaboration with Raeder dates back to 1928.

From 1929 to 1933 I had several Commands.

From 1933 to 1937 I was first adjutant to Raeder.

From 1937 to 1939 I had several front Commands.

From 1939 to 1943, I was Grand Admiral Raeder's chief of staff.

In January 1944, I became Naval C.-in-C. in southern France, and held that post until the invasion; then I became Naval C.-in-C. in North Trondhjem. After the collapse, I was employed for some months by the British Navy in winding-up activities. Then in the autumn, I was interned in a camp for generals in England.

Q. Please tell me, if you remember this, the month of 1939 in which you started to work with Raeder.

A. January 1939.

Q. Can you tell us briefly about Raeder's reputation as a navy expert, especially abroad? I mean only with regard to naval technical questions.

A. Yes, I believe I can, as a result of the many years of service I had with Raeder, and the many conversations I had with foreigners. After all, Raeder was head of the Navy for fifteen years. He was known, or rather had a name as a navy officer, and as Chief-of-Staff of the Chief of the German Imperial Navy, Admiral Hipper, the opponent of the British Admiral Beatty in the Skaggerrak Battle. He was known through his literary activity at the time of the "Tirpitz era," when he edited the Nauticus, and later, after the First World War, through his two works about the cruiser war during 1914-18, for which he received an Honorary Doctor's Degree, and which, I should say, gained him a reputation among experts.

Q. The defendant is accused of building up the Navy with the intention of carrying on an aggressive war, and this even after the Treaty of Versailles was already in force.

A. That is not correct. Never in all my conversations with Raeder was there mentioned even the thought of an aggressive war. I believe that all his actions and his directives contradict this.

Q. Were there possibly any ideas of a strategic nature under consideration while the Versailles Treaty was in force, with a view to an aggressive war?

A. Never.

Q. What was the basic reason for the manoeuvres held by the Navy from the years 1932 until 1939?

A. They were exclusively held for the security, protection and defence of the coastal waters and the coast itself.

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