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 5 of 11)

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

[Page 291]

Q. And what did he say?

A. He tried to arrange a conference with Admiral Darlan in an effort to advance these matters. He had pointed out to Hitler when the Atlantic coast was fortified, that it would be better and more practical to make peace with France than to make great and yet inadequate sacrifices for defence. Hitler replied that he fully agreed, but out of consideration for Italy, could not conclude a peace treaty with France.

Q. Did the conversations between Raeder and Darlan take place?

A. Yes, near Paris.

Q. Were you present?

[Page 292]

A. No, but Admiral Schultze, the commanding admiral in France, was there.

Q. Did Raeder tell you whether the results of the conversation were favourable.

A. Yes, he told me the results were very favourable.

Q. Did Raeder report on that to Hitler?

A. Yes.

Q. And in spite of that, Hitler refused?

A. Out of consideration for Mussolini.

Q. According to your knowledge, did the Party or the Leadership of the SS, through Heydrich, attempt to fight Raeder?

A. Heydrich repeatedly attempted to bring Raeder and the Navy into discredit with Hitler through defamatory remarks and by spying, either by posting spies in the officers' corps or the casino, or by misrepresenting or distorting news. Against these attacks, Raeder defended himself tenaciously and successfully.

Q. Why was the Party against Raeder?

A. That is a question which is very difficult to answer. I believe mainly because, first of all, there were differences in the religious field. Many commanders before they put to sea for combat, turned to Raeder for help so that, during their absence, their relatives would not have their religious freedom curtailed.

Q. When did the first differences occur between Raeder and Hitler, and during what period did Raeder ask for his dismissal?

THE PRESIDENT: We have had that from the defendant himself, have we not. Raeder told us when we asked for it. There was no cross-examination about it.


Q. Then may I ask you for what reasons Raeder remained?

A. First, because Hitler himself had asked him to stay, and gave him assurances for the integrity of the Navy -

THE PRESIDENT: The electric power is on again now; so you can go at your ordinary speed.

DR. SIEMERS: Thank you, Sir.


Q. The power is on again; we can go a little faster now.

A. Furthermore, at that time, there were discussions about combining the Navy and the Mercantile Marine into one ministry, and putting Party people into that ministry. In this we saw not a strengthening, but a weakening of our fighting force. Besides, during that period there occurred a gap in the line of successors, due to illness and losses.

And last, but not least, Raeder remained in the war out of a sense of responsibility and patriotism.

Q. Did you yourself ask Raeder to remain in office?

A. Yes. I did this frequently, and urged him very seriously to do so. I myself was once ordered by Hitler to come to the Reich Chancellery.

Q. When was that?

A. In the beginning of 1939, when he explained his standpoint to me in a long conversation, and asked me to convince Raeder that he had to stay. Moreover, Raeder enjoyed the confidence of the Navy. The senior officers and officials of the Navy had asked me verbally and in writing, to try to persuade Raeder not to leave his office prematurely. Since 1928 he had led the Navy with a firm hand through all political vicissitudes.

Q. Admiral, may I return again to your conversation with Hitler in the beginning of 1939? Did you speak with Hitler alone?

A. Yes; It was a private conversation of about an hour and a half.

Q. Did Hitler tell you anything about his political plans on that occasion?

A. No; not about political plans in the sense of what is called politics, but he tried once more to bridge the political gulf between himself and Raeder. He told me one should not weigh each individual word of his. Every one who left

[Page 293]

him, always felt that he - Hitler - had been right; all he wanted was to appeal to the emotions of his listeners and to stir them up to do their utmost, but not to commit himself with words. In the future, he promised, he would try on those occasions to uphold all the technical questions of the Navy.

Q. You just said "not to weigh each individual word." Admiral, were the speeches of Hitler ever taken down accurately, that is, by stenographers?

A. Yes, but as far as I know, only in the later part of the war. Hitler was against having his words put on record, because everyone who listened to him returned home feeling that he - Hitler - had been correct. He himself did not keep to his text; he thought out loud and wanted to carry his listeners away, but he did not want his individual words to be taken literally. I spoke about that to Raeder very frequently. We always knew what was expected of us, but we never knew what Hitler himself thought or wanted.

Q. If Hitler did not want to be taken at his word, how did it come about that he agreed in the war to have his speeches taken down by stenographers?

A. I told you already that too many misunderstandings had occurred, and that Hitler, as well as those who reported to him, believed that each had convinced the other of his opinion. Thereupon they started keeping minutes. The minutes kept up to then were personal impressions of those who were not instructed to keep them, but did so on their own initiative.

THE PRESIDENT: What time is the witness speaking of? He said up to then the minutes had been kept on the personal initiative of the person who took them. What time is he speaking of?


Q. Since when, according to your recollection, were these minutes taken by the stenographers?

A. Since 1942, I believe.

Q. Since 1942?

A. It may also be 1941. During the war, at any rate.

Q. But your conversation with Hitler was in January, 1939?

A. Yes, January, 1939.

Q. Admiral, what did the stenographic minutes look like later on? Did you ever see them?

A. We repeatedly asked for excerpts from the minutes, and tried to compare them with the prepared text, and they too contained contradictions.

Q. Now, I come to the period when Hitler prepared for war against Russia, and I am going to show you the Directive 21 of 18th December 1940, concerning the "Case Barbarossa."

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, that is Document 446-PS, Exhibit USA 31, in the Document Book of the British Prosecution 10A Page 247.


Q. The prosecution has asserted that Raeder or the Naval War Staff had taken part in the drafting of that directive; is that correct?

A. No, that is not correct. The Navy had nothing to do with its drafting.

Q. Did Raeder have any previous knowledge of Hitler's plan to attack Russia, before he received that directive?

A. Yes, by a verbal communication from Hitler to Raeder, about the middle of October, 1940.

Q. October, 1940. Did Raeder inform you about his conferences with Hitler concerning Russia, and what attitude did he adopt in these conferences?

A. Raeder informed me fully because the prospect of war with Russia was much too serious to be taken lightly. Raeder opposed most energetically any plan for a war against Russia, and, I should like to say, for moral reasons, because Raeder was of the opinion that the pact with Russia should not be broken as long as the other side gave no cause for it. That, as far as Raeder knew, was not the case in

[Page 294]

October. That economic treaty-as we called it at that time - to our knowledge was about 90 per cent. of it at the expense of the Navy. We gave Russia one heavy cruiser, heavy artillery for battleships, artillery installations, submarine engines, submarine installations, and valuable optical instruments for use on submarines. Besides, Raeder was of the opinion that the theatre of operations should not be allowed to be carried into the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea was our parade ground, so to speak. All our recruits were trained there; all our submarine training took place in the Baltic Sea.

We had already partly stripped the Baltic coast of batteries and personnel for the purpose of protecting the Norwegian and the French coasts. We had very small oil reserves at our disposal; the synthetic oil production was not yet in full swing. The Navy had to turn over some of its reserves to industry and agriculture. Consequently, Raeder was strongly opposed to waging war against Russia.

Q. Admiral, the prosecution believes that Raeder was opposed only to the date set for the war against Russia and concludes this from the War Diary in which actually the entries refer to the date. Is that correct?

A. No, that is not correct. After the receipt of Directive 21, called " Barbarossa," Raeder approached Hitler again with reference to the war against Russia, and had also put down his thoughts in a memorandum. He tried to convince Hitler of the following: as Poland had been crushed, France been occupied, and, for military reasons, an invasion of England was not in question, clearly the time had now arrived when the further conduct of the war could bring no decision on the Continent, but only in the Atlantic. Therefore, he told him that he had to concentrate all forces at his disposal on one target: to hit the strategic points of the Empire, especially the supply lines to the British Isles, in order to compel England, under all circumstances to sue for negotiations, or, if possible, to make peace. He suggested, as has been mentioned before, that the policy of peace with Norway should be pursued, peace with France, and closer co-operation with the Russian Navy, such as was provided for in the economic treaty, and the repurchase of submarine equipment or submarines. He said that the decision or the date for a decision no longer rested with us because we did not have the necessary sea power, and that, in case of a long duration of the war, the danger of the participation of the United States had also to be considered; that, therefore, the war could not be decided on the European continent, and least of all, in the vastnesses of the Russian steppes. That point of view he continued to present to Hitler as long as he was in office.

Q. Admiral, you said at first, that Raeder had protested, in principle, as you have expressed it, for moral reasons, that is, for reasons of International Law.

A. Yes.

Q. Why was not that entered into the War Diary when the other reasons that you have mentioned can be found in the War Diary, or were at least alluded to?

A. That I can answer, or at least give you an explanation. Raeder, as a matter of principle, never criticized the political leadership in the presence of the Naval War Staff or the front commanders. Therefore, he did not speak to me and the others about the private conversations which he had with Hitler, except when it was necessary for military reasons.

Q. When were the preparations made by the Navy on the basis of Directive 21 that you have in front of you? Do you remember that?

A. I believe about three months later.

Q. At any rate, certainly after the directive?

A. Yes, after the directive.

Q. Were they made on the basis of that directive?

A. On the basis of that, yes.

Q. Was that directive already a final order, or was it just a precautionary strategic measure?

A. In my estimation it should not be considered as an order, and that can be seen from Points 4 and 5.

[Page 295]

In what way?

A. Point 5 says that Hitler was still waiting for reports from Commanders-in-Chief; and Raeder was still reporting to Hitler, after he had received the directive.

Q. Is Point 4, if you will look at it once more, also in accordance with your opinion?

A. Yes, absolutely. The words "precautionary measures" are underlined.

Q. Precautionary measures for what?

A. In case of war against Russia.

Q. Well, I think Admiral, since you have mentioned it yourself, you should read the sentence which follows the words "precautionary measures."

A. "In case Russia should change her attitude, she is - "

THE PRESIDENT: You cannot argue with your own witness about the meaning of the words. He has given his answer.

DR. SIEMERS: Very well.


Q. Was Raeder of the opinion, at any time, that he had succeeded in dissuading Hitler from the unfortunate plans against Russia?

A. Yes. After he had made his report at that time, he returned and said: "I believe I have talked him out of his plan"; and at first we did have that impression, because in the following months there were no more conferences about it, to my knowledge, not even with the General Staff.

Q. May I ask you quite briefly then about Greece. According to Document C-152, which I will have shown to you, Raeder made a report to Hitler on 18th March, 1941, in which he asked that the whole of Greece should be occupied. What were the reasons that caused the High Command, that is Raeder and you, to make that suggestion?

A. When Raeder asked for confirmation, as it says here in the War Diary, that the whole of Greece should be occupied, even in the event of a peaceful settlement, we, according to my recollection, had already been for three months in possession of the directive which was concerned with the occupation of Greece, and when -

Q. Excuse me. Was that Directive No. 20? I will have it shown to you. Is that the one you mean?

A. Yes, "Marita," that is the one.

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