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 4 of 11)

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

[Page 288]

THE PRESIDENT: Never mind about his answer, the question is what question you are to put to him; and he can answer, whether lie ever saw the document.

DR . SIEMERS: Yes, I shall put that question.


Q. Admiral, did you see this document at that time?

A. No, I see it here in Nuremberg for the first time.

Q. How did you hear about the contents of the speech of 23rd May?

A. Raeder informed me fully, as a matter of principle, after every speech or conference, confidential or otherwise. Immediately after the speech, Raeder gave me his impressions; they are in conflict with these so-called minutes. Raeder did not have the - so to speak - exaggerated bellicose impression which appears in this document. But, on the other hand -

THE PRESIDENT: The witness must tell us what Raeder said to him. That is what I told you before. He may tell us what Raeder said to him.


Q. Admiral, I should like you to tell us just what Raeder told you.

A. Raeder told me that Hitler in his speech held out the prospect of a future conflict with Poland, and that this was in contradiction to those matters which he had discussed with him alone. That the speech in itself was contradictory, that was his impression which he expressed to me at that time. He also told me that after the speech he had a conversation alone with Hitler during which he called his attention to the contradictions contained in the speech. At the same time he reminded Hitler of what he had told him previously: to settle the Polish case by all means in a peaceful way rather than resort to the warlike solution he was now considering possible. Hitler, he said, had reassured him, and had told him that politically he had things firmly in hand. At that time, when Raeder asked him, or rather called his attention to this contradiction, and asked him just what he really intended to do, Hitler had answered, as related to me by Raeder, the following:

"I, Hitler, have three ways of keeping matters secret. The first is for the two of us to discuss them together alone. The second is for me to keep them to myself. In the third case - the problems of the future - I think them over, but my thoughts are not translated into words."

Raeder called his attention to the impossibility of war.

To that, according to Raeder, Hitler replied: "Take an imaginary case, in which I had agreed to a settlement by the payment of one mark, and I have already paid 99 pfennig. Now, do you think that, because of this last pfennig, you would take me to court?"

And Raeder said "No." "You see," Hitler said to Raeder, "I obtained what I wanted by political actions, and I do not believe that because of this last political question - as we called it - the solution of the Polish Corridor - we will have to anticipate a war with England."

Q. And that was in a conversation between Hitler and Raeder after this speech had been made?

A. That took place after this speech.

THE PRESIDENT: We will break off now.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. Admiral, with regard to the minutes which I have shown you, I have one final question.

[Page 289]

Did you personally, as Chief of Staff, also receive and read all minutes which were sent to Raeder?

A. Yes, I saw all minutes and reports before they were presented to Raeder.

Q. Was Admiral Raeder of the opinion - excuse me, I should like to put the question differently.

What was the position of Raeder concerning the Navy and politics?

A. Raeder's position was that we, the Navy, had nothing to do with politics. He took that point of view over as a directive and a testament from the old Reich President, von Hindenburg, who, when appointing Raeder to be head of the Navy, imposed this duty upon him.

Q. I now come to Norway. What were the reasons that induced Raeder, in September and October, 1939, to consider a possible occupation of Norway?

A. The reasons were the reports which came from various sources about alleged intentions of an occupation of Norway by the Allies. These reports came from the following sources: first, from Admiral Canaris, who was the chief of our Counter-Intelligence Service, and reported to Raeder in my presence once a week the information that had come in: Secondly, from the naval attache in Oslo, Korvettenkapit“n Schreiber; these reports indicated that the rumours were increasing that the Allies intended to drag Scandinavia into the war in order to prevent, if possible, the iron ore imports from Sweden to Germany. We did not consider these reports altogether impossible because, as documentary evidence from the last World War proves, Churchill had seriously considered the occupation of Norway.

Q. Was there another source for reports of that kind?

A. General Admiral Karls, the Commander-in-Chief of Group North had received similar reports which he passed on verbally and in writing.

Q. Do you remember any details from these reports which you could give us, briefly?

A. Yes. There were reports concerning the presence of British air crews allegedly posing as civilians in Oslo. There were reports about Allied officers making surveys on Norwegian bridges, viaducts and tunnels all the way to the Swedish border, which were taken as an indication that the transportation of heavy material and equipment was planned. And last, but not least, there was news about secret mobilization of Swedish troops because of the alleged danger to the ore areas.

Q. What danger arose for Germany on account of that?

A. With Norway occupied, operations in the North Sea would have become almost impossible, and would have been very difficult in the Baltic. Most probably the ore imports would have been stopped. The danger from the air would have become terrible for north Germany and the Eastern territories. In the long run, the North Sea and the Baltic would have been blocked completely, and this would eventually have led to the total loss of the war.

Q. What was Admiral Raeder's reaction to these considerations?

A. He reported to Hitler about his misgivings and called his attention to the dangers.

Q. When was that report made?

A. If I remember correctly, in the autumn of 1939.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, until the adjournment, will you go very slowly because, owing to the power of the electrical recording being off, it is impossible to record what is happening here in Court, and therefore we have to rely solely upon the shorthand notes which cannot be checked back against the electrical recording. Do you understand? Therefore I want you to go rather more slowly than usual.


When was the conference between Hitler and Raeder in which Raeder for the first time pointed out these dangers?

[Page 290]

A. In October, 1939.

Q. According to the War Diary, that conference, which, of course, you cannot remember offhand, took place on l0th October. At any rate, you probably mean that conference.

A. Yes.

Q. Did that conference lead to a final decision on the part of Hitler?

A. No, in no way at all.

Q. Did discussions about that subject then take place continually between Hitler and Raeder?

A. No. No further discussions along that line took place until perhaps the end of the year. Only when the reports, which I mentioned before, were received in increasing numbers, was that subject taken up again.

Q. Is it known to you that in December, 1939, Quisling came to Berlin and also talked with Raeder?

A. Yes, that is known to me, and I took part in that meeting.

Q. What did Quisling tell Raeder?

A. Quisling came on a recommendation from Rosenberg, and said he had important news of a military and political nature. He confirmed, more or less, the things which we knew already.

Q. Were only the military dangers discussed in this conference?

A. Only these things were discussed; the conference was very short.

Q. No political questions were discussed?

A. No, not at all.

Q. Do you know when Raeder met Quisling for the first time?

A. On the occasion of that visit.

Q. Had Raeder at that time any close connections with Rosenberg?

A. No, he knew him quite casually, having seen him only a few times.

Q. Had Rosenberg informed Raeder before about the relations between him and Quisling?

A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. What did Raeder do when Quisling confirmed the reports received from Canaris and other sources?

A. As the things we suspected were confirmed from Norway, Raeder considered this so serious that he went immediately to Hitler.

Q. Do you know what he suggested to Hitler?

A. Hitler wanted to talk to Quisling himself.

Q. And that happened?

A. Yes, it did.

Q. Was a final decision made then concerning Norway, in December, 1939?

A. No, Hitler directed that, as a counter-measure, theoretical preparations should be made for a German landing in Norway. The order, the final order, as far as I know, was only given in March.

Q. Was the landing in Norway an undertaking which you and Raeder considered a risky one, or was it considered absolutely safe to do so?

A. Both Raeder, the Naval War Staff and also the front commanders saw a tremendous risk in that undertaking. May I remind you of Churchill's speech in Parliament, where he said, after he had been questioned about that fact, that he did not believe that the German Navy would undertake that risk in face of the British Navy.

Q. Do you know when Churchill made that statement, approximately?

A. I believe it was on 7th or 8th April.

Q. 1940?

A. Yes, 1940.

Q. What was your estimation at the Naval War Staff of the risks of losses?

A. Raeder had told Hitler that he would have to reckon on the possible complete loss of the fleet, and that if the operations were carried out successfully, he would have to be prepared for the loss of about 30 per cent. of the forces used.

[Page 291]

Q. And how much was lost?

A. About 30 per cent.

Q. In view of the risk of losing the entire fleet, was Raeder at first in favour of that operation?

A. No. He considered a neutral attitude on the part of Norway as much better than having to take this risk.

Q. The prosecution has asserted that Raeder and the Naval War Staff recommended the occupation of Norway out of the desire for fame and conquest. What do you say about that?

A. The desire for fame was not in Raeder's character. The plans for operations which came from his desk, bore the mark of bold daring, but also of thorough planning. One does not work out plans to the minutest detail covering the distance from German ports up to Narvik, which is about that from Nuremberg to Madrid, and one does not use the Navy against a superior British fleet - for the sake of fame.

Raeder had told the Naval War Staff and the front commanders, that he had to carry out that operation against all the rules of warfare, because there was a compelling necessity to do so.

Q. When did the actual drafting of the military operation take place at the Naval H.Q.?

A. February, 1940.

Q. During the period from December, 1939 until March, 1940, did reports continue to be received from the sources you have mentioned?

A. Yes.

Q. Did these later reports contain a clearer indication as to the place of the landings, or did you not see the details about that?

A. Yes, they covered the areas between Narvik via Bergen to Trondheim, from Bergen to Oslo.

Q. Did Raeder - excuse me; I want to put the question differently: What was the basis which Raeder suggested to Hitler for the relations between Germany and Norway?

A. To that I would like to -

Q. Excuse me, I mean in the period after the operation was carried out and Germany had occupied Norway.

A. Raeder, in speaking to Hitler, advocated a policy of peace.

He suggested repeatedly that attempts should be made for peace with Norway. He was in agreement in that respect with the German Commander-in-Chief in Norway, General Admiral B"hm, while Terboven, who was steering political matters, was, however, of a different opinion.

Q. Did serious conflicts arise in that respect between Terboven and his civil administration on the one side, and Raeder and Bohm and his colleague Korvettenkapitan Schreiber, on the other?

A. Yes, there were serious differences and quarrels all the way up the scale to Hitler. Hitler at that time told Raeder that he could not make peace with Norway out of consideration for France.

Q. Admiral, you said, "out of consideration for France." Wasn't it possible to make peace with France also, and what was Raeder's attitude in that regard?

A. Raeder advocated the same thing concerning France.

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