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 3 of 11)

[DR. SIEMERS continues his direct examination of Erich Schulte-Monting]

[Page 284]

Q. Was in any one of these manoeuvres between 1932 and 1939 a war with England taken as the basis -

A. No, this was never made a basis, and I believe this would have appeared impossible and unreasonable to every naval officer. I remember that even at the beginning of the year 1939, when Raeder issued a directive to the front commanders to hold manoeuvres, he excluded as impossible any which had as their basis a possible war with England. These were absolutely forbidden.

Q. Herr Admiral, it is general knowledge that the Navy, in the 1920's, with the knowledge of the then parliamentary government, violated the Treaty of Versailles. These questions have been discussed a great deal here, therefore, we can be brief. I should like to ask you generally:

Is it possible from these violations which are known to you to deduce aggressive intentions?

A. No, I can say that is completely out of the question. The violations were insignificant, and based only on protection and defence. It is, therefore, impossible to construe them as aggressive intentions.

Q. Can you give us briefly a few instances or name a few cases where violations took place?

A. First of all, they were limited to the installation of coastal batteries, flak batteries, and the laying of mines, etc., all of which were exclusively for the purpose of defence or protection.

Q. Did these violations of the Treaty of Versailles - or, shall we say, the slight deviations from it - become known to the Inter-Allied Commission in whole, or in part, and did this Commission partly overlook these things because they were really trifles?

A. Yes, in that respect, I would like to say it was an open secret.

Q. I should like to ask you, Herr Admiral, to pause between question and answer so that the interpreters can keep up. Will you pause just a moment after my questions. May I ask you to repeat the answer to my question with regard to the Commission?

A. I should like to say that it was an open secret. It was just ignored.

Q. As proof that these violations of the Treaty were made with the intention of waging aggressive war, the prosecution has several times presented the book by Captain Schuessler entitled: The Navy's Fight Against Versailles. It is Document C-150. I shall have this document submitted to you in the original. In order to save time and not to burden the Tribunal again with details, I shall only ask you: What do you know about this book, and what caused it to be written at all, when was it written, and what is your opinion?

A. I know this book. It came about as a result of the attacks of the National Socialist regime in the years 1934 and 1935, which blamed the preceding Government and the Navy for not having done enough in the past to arm the nation, and for not even having exhausted the possibilities of the Treaty of Versailles. Consequently, the idea arose at that time to publish a sort of justification, and this document is to be considered in that light; a sort of justification for, I should say, sins of omission.

This book was actually never published, or rather was withdrawn from circulation because it represented - I might say - a rather weak effort at justification, for it contained no definite suggestions on re-armament.

Q. Was this book circulated in the Navy later on?

A. No. As I said, it was withdrawn from circulation, and it had already been intensely criticized.

Q. Was the book withdrawn by orders of Raeder?

A. I believe so, yes.

Q. On the basis of this book, and of a document by Assmann, is charged the construction of U-boats by a Dutch firm, and it has also been said yesterday that by order of Grand Admiral Raeder, U-boats were built for Germany in Finland and in Spain. Is that correct?

[Page 285]

A. That is not correct. The U-boats which were designed by the Dutch firm, and which were built abroad, were not built for the German Navy, but for foreign countries.

Q. Do you know for whom they were built? Who received the boats which were built in Finland?

A. I believe Turkey received one and one remained in Finland.

Q. Then the ships were constructed on foreign orders and for a foreign country.

A. Yes.

Q. What advantages at all did the Navy have from their collaboration in this construction?

A. We were only interested in keeping alive the experiences gained in U-boat warfare during the First World War. Therefore the Navy was interested in seeing that constructors of U-boats continued to be active along these lines.

Q. In your opinion, was that prohibited according to the Treaty of Versailles?

A. No, I know no paragraph which prohibited our activity in foreign countries along those lines.

Q. In the beginning of February, 1933, Grand Admiral Raeder made his first naval report to Hitler. Do you know what Hitler, on that occasion, gave Raeder as the basis for rebuilding the Navy?

A. Yes, I recall it exactly, because it was the first report which the then Chief of the Navy, Admiral Raeder, made to the Reich Chancellor Hitler.

Hitler said to Raeder that the basis of his future policy was to live in peace with England and that he was planning to show that by trying to conclude a naval agreement with England. For this reason he wanted the German Navy to be kept relatively small. He wanted to recognize Britain's naval superiority because of her position as a world power. He would by to suggest a ratio of strength in accordance with this. He wanted understanding in the construction of our Navy, and we should take these, his political points of view, into consideration. Raeder was impressed with the statements, for they were completely in accordance with his own convictions.

Q. Within the framework of this policy the German-British Naval Agreement was then concluded in 1935. Was the Navy, as a whole, and Raeder in particular, pleased with this agreement, or did they see certain disadvantages in it?

A. Raeder and the Navy were very pleased with this agreement, although we had to impose voluntarily upon ourselves a severe limitation for a certain length of time, and, as a result, had to count ourselves as one of the smallest sea powers. In spite of that, the agreement was generally welcomed, because friendly relations with the British Navy were desired, and it was believed that if we followed a wise and moderate policy, England in return, would show her appreciation.

Q. Do you know whether at that time Hitler too approved the agreement ill that form and was pleased about it?

A. Yes, I can affirm that. Raeder and I happened to be together with Hitler in Hamburg the day this pact was concluded. When this was reported to him, Hitler said to Raeder:

"This is the happiest day of my life. This morning I received word from my doctor that my throat trouble is insignificant, and this afternoon I am given this very pleasant political news."
Q. You have already stated, Herr Admiral, that the Naval Agreement was welcomed by the Navy. You will recall that in the year 1937, a qualifying Naval Agreement was concluded with England? Was the attitude of the Navy to that question still the same at that time?

A. Yes, absolutely. The Naval Agreement of 1937 brought merely one, I might say, additional clause. This was an exchange of reports, and we had also reached an agreement with the British Navy in regard to a fixed U-boat tonnage. We had no reason -

[Page 286]

Q. Herr Admiral, referring to the U-boat tonnage: 1935 agreement: 100 per cent. of the British U-boat tonnage; Germany limiting herself to 45 per cent., but reserving the right to increase the tonnage up to l00 per cent., in which case she is, however, obliged to notify England and to discuss it with the British Admiralty.

Was this notification about the increase to 100 per cent. given, and if so, when and in what way?

A. After we had reached 100 per cent., Admiral Cunningham came to Berlin; on that occasion it was discussed once more. Whether beyond this a written confirmation was made, I no longer recall. I take it for granted because that was the purpose of the agreement of 1937. On the occasion of his visit in December, 1938, Admiral Cunningham explicitly gave Britain's agreement to the final 100 per cent. equality on U-boats. That is the way I, or rather all of us, interpreted his visit.

Q. Do you recall whether there was a special meeting between Admiral Cunningham and Raeder on the occasion of this visit, in which Admiral Cunningham generally discussed the relations between the German and British Navy or between Germany and England?

A. I had the personal impression that Cunningham and Raeder parted on very friendly terms. At Cunningham's departure there was a breakfast for a rather limited circle, and on that occasion Cunningham expressed his pleasure at the conclusion of the Naval Agreement, ending his speech with a toast to the effect that now that all these questions had been settled at last, it was to be hoped that in the future there would be no war between our navies.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the date of this incident?

DR. SIEMERS: December, 1938, I believe that is correct, Admiral.

THE WITNESS: As far as I remember, December, 1938.

DR. SIEMERS: I remember the date from the testimony given by Grand Admiral Raeder. I myself knew only that it took place in 1938.

THE PRESIDENT: What Admiral Cunningham is it?

DR. SIEMERS: I do not know, I am not a naval expert. Perhaps Admiral Schulte-Monting can tell us.

THE WITNESS: I did not understand the question, Doctor.

DR. SIEMERS: Which Admiral Cunningham is that?

THE WITNESS: The present Lord Cunningham. The older one of the two.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, may I point out that it must have been on 30th or 31st December, 1938, as far as we, or rather as far as Raeder recalls.


Q. From 1933 until 1939, was Raeder confident that Hitler would not start a war?

A. Yes. Raeder was completely confident of that. As proof of this I believe I am able to affirm that nothing was changed in our building programme within that period. The opposite would have been the case if we had even entertained the idea of a conflict.

Q. In what respect would the building programme have had to be changed if one wanted to wage an aggressive war?

A. It would have been necessary to give priority at least to the U-boat building programme.

Q. Was it clear to you and the leading naval officers that a real aggressive war started by Germany would perforce result in a war with England?

A. Yes. The knowledge of this fact is proof, in my opinion, that a war of aggression was not planned.

[Page 287]

Q. Herr Admiral, in 1938 and 1939, incidents took place which, perhaps, led to a justifiable scepticism. I should like you to recall the crisis in the autumn of 1938, regarding the Sudetenland, which almost led to war, a thing which was prevented only at the last moment, through the Munich Agreement.

I should like to call your attention specifically to the occupation of the rest of Czechoslovakia in contravention of the Munich Agreement, in March 1939.

Now, what was the attitude of Raeder to this incident, which you must know since you talked with him practically every day.

A. Since Hitler had stated expressly at Munich that he was interested only in the German areas of Czechoslovakia, and actually, even though, perhaps, he sounded exceedingly determined to the outside world, willing to negotiate, Raeder and the leading circles in the Navy believed that these things would be adjusted politically.

With the occupation of Czechoslovakia, a great restlessness arose, without doubt, among us. But we believed very strongly that Hitler would not put out any exaggerated demands, and that he would be prepared to settle these matters politically because we could not imagine that he would expose the German people to the danger of a second world war.

Q. Did you or Raeder know that, before the agreement with Hacha was made under rather strange circumstances, allegedly a bombardment of Prague had been threatened?

A. I do not believe that Raeder knew anything about this. I am hearing about this for the first time now.

Q. Now I shall turn to Document L-79. This is a speech delivered by Hitler on 23rd May, 1939.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, this is Exhibit USA 27, and is to be found in the Document Book 10, Page 74 of the British Delegation. I am submitting this document to the witness.


Q. This speech delivered by Hitler on the 23rd of May, 1939, was recorded by the adjutant on duty, Lt.-Colonel Schmundt. As far as I know, Raeder on the same day discussed this speech with you in detail. At that time you had been chief of staff for a period of about six months. From your later activity you are familiar with the type of recording which was customary for military speeches?

A. This record can really not be considered a true account. I have from this -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, in the first place, your question was very much a leading one. You didn't ask him a question. You put into his mouth what had happened. That is altogether wrong. You ought to have asked him if you wanted to prove a conversation he had with Raeder, whether he did have a conversation with Raeder. You have told him that he had a conversation with Raeder. The purpose of examination is to ask questions, and then he could tell us if he had a conversation with Raeder. He can't tell us whether this is a true account or a true form of the account when he wasn't at the meeting himself.

DR. SIEMERS: I wish to thank the High Tribunal, and I shall try to put the questions properly. The witness -

THE PRESIDENT: Not only that, but the Tribunal cannot listen to this witness' account or his opinion as to whether this is a true account of a meeting at which he was not present.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, the witness, as Chief of Staff, has always seen the exact minutes on important meetings; they were delivered to him in accordance with the distribution list. Therefore, as this document is of a decisive nature, I should like to determine whether Schulte-Monting as Chief of Staff received the minutes, or whether he just received knowledge of the contents through Grand Admiral Raeder's immediate reporting. That was the purpose of my question.

[Page 288]

THE PRESIDENT: I beg your pardon, you mean you want to ask him whether he ever saw this document? Yes, you may certainly ask him that. Ask him if he saw the document.

DR. SIEMERS: I beg your pardon, your Honour, but I believe the answer of the witness was lost in the interpretation, and if I am correct -

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