The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th May to 6th June, 1946

One Hundred and Forty-Seventh Day: Wednesday, 5th June, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

[DR. EXNER continues his direct examination of ALFRED JODL]


Q. I shall read Paragraph 2, printed on Page 48 of my Document Book:
"The Nordic States: Their neutrality in the future, provided no completely unforeseen circumstances arise, can be taken for granted. The continuation of German trade with these countries appears possible, even if the war is of long duration."
A. It is quite out of the question that the Fuehrer, in this extremely secret memorandum, could have mentioned anything but his true purpose at that particular time. That, however, is all the more comprehensible, since only one day later, namely, 10th October, Grand Admiral Raeder first mentioned these fears to the Fuehrer.

Q. Was the occupation of Norway a very weighty decision for the Leadership?

A. It was an appallingly weighty decision. Briefly, it meant gambling with the entire German Fleet. The result was that we had to defend a coastline of over 3,000 kilometres and that meant utilization of nearly 300,000 men for that task. The decision, therefore, depended on really reliable information that Norway was threatened by actual danger. That is the reason why no definite date was fixed for Operation "Weserubung" and the reason why I, at a later date, suggested that the forces for the Norway operation, in case it became necessary, and for an attack in the West, should be completely separate from each other.

Q. What were the reasons why the occupation had to be prepared in. every detail?

A. The reasons are quite openly and unequivocally expressed in the order of 1st March, 1940, which is in Document C-174 -

Q. That is Exhibit GB 89 -

A. Yes, we had to be prepared in any case.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that 174-PS or what?

DR. EXNER: It is not printed in my Document Book. It refers to a document which the British prosecution has submitted as Exhibit GB 89.

THE PRESIDENT: But 174 must mean something, must it not? The defendant said Document 174.

DR. EXNER: C-174.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, it is C-I74 -

THE PRESIDENT: C-174. Very well.

[Page 338]

MR. ROBERTS: And it was put in by Major Elwyn Jones, in Document Book 3.


Q. Now you say in your diary that the Fuehrer was searching for a justification. The meaning has already been explained here, but you yourself should know best what the meaning is, since you wrote it yourself. What does it mean?

A. The Fuehrer said in those days - I wrote this down, not in a diary but in my notebook, my memorandum book - "To carry out a decision of this kind I need absolutely reliable information, with which I can justify this decision before the world and prove that it was necessary". I cannot confirm this. I only heard it from Herr Quisling. For this reason he kept the intelligence service in particular very busy at this time, in order to get even more precise information about these many reports which we received -

Q. Now Grand Admiral Raeder has explained the facts from which England's plans could be deduced. Have you anything to add to that or is the question settled?

A. On the whole, Grand Admiral Raeder has already submitted all the reports. There is one thing which remains in my memory and which is also written down in my notebook, the special insistence quite openly advocated in the French Press that under all circumstances Germany must be cut off from the Swedish ore supplies. Then came the mine-laying in Norwegian territorial waters, and then came the Altmark case which - according to my study of International Law - was a flagrant breach of the agreement ruling the rights and duties of neutral States in naval warfare (vide Articles I and II).

DR. EXNER: Regarding the first two points which the witness has mentioned, I should like to draw your attention to Document 1809-PS, that is Exhibit GB 99, Page 53 of Volume I of my collection. There is an entry on 10th March:

"The news about the Finnish-Russian negotiations is very gratifying from a political point of view. The French Press rages about it, because it considers it necessary to cut Germany off from the Swedish ore."
And then the entry of 25th March:
"The English have begun to molest or to fire on our merchantmen in Danish and Norwegian territorial waters."

Q. Now, please tell us, what gave rise to the decision to attack?

A. The Fuehrer's final decision was made on and April, and made on the basis of two items of information, the first being reports from the Navy regarding repeated firing on merchant ships both in Norwegian and Danish territorial waters, and the second a report from Canaris, saying that British troops and transports were in a state of readiness in the northern part of the English east coast.

Q. What would have been the consequences for us, if England had got there first?

A. Concerning this I refer to Admiral Raeder's testimony, where he says: "Once Norway was in British hands-the war would have been half lost for us." We would have been strategically enveloped on the northern flank and we would have been incapable, because of the weakness of our fleet, ever to rectify this again.

Q. Was indisputable proof found later that the British plan really existed?

A. We captured the entire records of the British brigade which landed in Namsos and in other places. We captured the British war correspondent, Rommilly, by surprise in Narvik, where he expected anything on earth except the appearance of German ships, otherwise he could have escaped capture. To the question, what he was trying to report about the war in peaceful Narvik, he could not give us any information at all.

Later on we captured all the records of the French General Staff, a part of which have already been presented by Admiral Raeder's defence counsel. Particularly instructive and of great interest to me were the diaries carried by the English officers and some of the non-commissioned officers whom we captured in

[Page 339]

Norway. At least they proved one thing, namely, that all these troops had already been embarked and, at the moment when our German fleet was advancing towards Norway, had been put ashore again.

DR. EXNER: I should like to refer again to two entries in the diary, Page 54, Volume I, of my Document Book, the entry of 24th and 26th June - I beg your pardon - 26th April. There it says:

"Major Soltman reports about the interrogation of the Englishmen and submits additional important documents, among them the secret Army Register. At noon the first prisoners arrived in Berlin. They are being interrogated in the Alexander Barracks and confirm the authenticity of the orders. All material is handed over to the Foreign Office."
In conclusion I also draw your attention again to Soltman's questionnaire. It is Document AJ, No. 4, which I now present, Page 173 of Volume II; but I need not read it aloud. I merely draw your attention to Soltman's answers to questions 4 and 5.


Q. Now, one last question about this Norwegian business. The British representative of the, prosecution has said that this shows how honourable the soldiers were, who attacked Norway and then used lies and excuses.

A. The prosecution has thereby raised a purely operational problem to the level of soldierly or human honour. So far that has never been the custom in this world. I can only say that I neither attacked Norwegians nor did I resort to lies or excuses. But I did use all my strength to contribute to the success of an operation which I considered absolutely necessary in order to forestall a similar action on the part of the English. If the seals of the archives are ever broken, the truth of my contention will then be clearly proven. But even had my contention proved incorrect, the honesty of my own subjective opinion at that time cannot, for that reason, be affected in any way.

Q. We are now talking about the war in the West. After the end of the Polish campaign was there already an operational plan for attacks in the West in existence?

A. No. To begin with, there was no plan of attack in the West, but on the contrary, there was, particularly in the army, a widespread opinion that the war would die a natural death if only we kept quiet in the West. That opinion was so strong that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army transformed even mobile infantry divisions into fortress divisions, and so took away all their mobile equipment from them.

Q. Did you already know the Fuehrer's intentions towards the West during the Polish campaign?

A. The Fuehrer himself had his doubts during the Polish campaign. He too could not find a plausible explanation for the complete inactivity of the French and English forces in France, who only staged a kind of a sham war with the help of their war communiques. In reality not a single shot was fired at the front.

But by the end of September, if I remember rightly, the Fuehrer realised perfectly well that if England should once enter a war, she would fight it out to the bitter end.

Q. As a General Staff officer, you must be able to answer the following questions better than anybody else. Could we, from a purely strategical viewpoint, have remained purely on the defensive in the West as well?

A. I shall be very brief, since such problems are not directly connected with the trial. I shall only say that it would have been the greatest possible strategic error because the superiority we possessed at that time must necessarily have diminished in proportion to our delay in making aggressive use of it, for England was continually bringing further divisions over to France, just as the French were bringing them from their colonial empire.

I believe I need say no more about that.

[Page 340]

Q. I draw your attention to Document C-62, Exhibit GB 106, Volume I of my Document Book, Page 56. I need not, however, read it aloud. It is a directive for the conduct of the war and contains the leading ideas which we have already heard expressed.

A. One thing more is, perhaps, important. The Fuehrer took this danger so seriously, the danger that we might just not maintain our superiority in the long run, that he actually wanted to attack in the winter, although absolutely all the soldiers advised him against it.

Q. Here attention might be drawn to our document, Volume I, Pages 48-49, a memorandum of the Fuehrer on the conduct of the war. It is Document L-52, Exhibit USA 540, and it gives the Fuehrer's reasons in detail.

Why was France not attacked then without violating the neutrality of Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium?

A. It was no trifle for the Fuehrer to create new enemies with a strength of 500,000 men, as represented by the Dutch and Belgian forces. It resulted in our having to make the attack in the West with actually inferior forces, namely, with 110 divisions against, approximately, 135 of the enemy. No military commander would do that except in an emergency.

Q. Now, what were the reasons?

A. We were not in a position to break through the Maginot Line at its strongest points, namely, between the Rhine and the Luxembourg border, or the Upper Rhine where the Vosges mountains were an additional obstacle in breaking through the West Wall at these points. For this purpose heavy artillery was lacking.

The great danger lay in the fact that so protracted an attack on the fortifications exposed us to an attack in the rear by the combined English and French mobile forces, thrusting through Belgium and Holland, and the latter were already stationed north of Lille, one might say that their engines were already running for precisely such a task. And the decisive factor was that both the Fuehrer and we ourselves, the soldiers, were definitely under the impression, as a result of the many reports which reached us, that the neutrality of Belgium and Holland in the last analysis was only specious and deceptive.

Q. How did you arrive at that conclusion?

A. Individually, the reports are not of great interest. There was, however, an endless number of reports from Canaris. They were supplemented and confirmed by letters from the Duce, Mussolini. But the fact which was absolutely capable of proof, which was completely certain, which I could see for myself on the maps every day, was the nightly flights back and forth of the Royal Air Force, completely unconcerned by the neutrality of Dutch and Belgian territory. This necessarily strengthened the conviction in us that even if the two countries wished to-and perhaps in the beginning they did so wish-they could not remain neutral in the long run.

A. Those dangers were quite clearly indicated by the Fuehrer. Firstly, in his memorandum L-52, which has been repeatedly quoted. There, on Page 48 of the Document Book, in the last paragraph of the page, is a reference to the enormous importance of the Ruhr, of which, incidentally, there seems to be quite sufficient evidence even today.

In his address of 23rd November, 1939, to the commanders-in-chief, Document 789-PS, Exhibit USA 23, he described once more, on Page 59, Volume I of the Document Book, precisely how tremendous that danger would be for the Ruhr District if one day British and French forces should appear by surprise in that region. He referred to it there as the "Achilles heel," and that is what it was for Germany's military operations, too.

Q. And he said there, on Page 59 of our Document Book:

"We have an Achilles heel: the Ruhr District. The conduct of the war depends on the possession of the Ruhr District. If England and France

[Page 341]

thrust through Belgium and Holland into the Ruhr, we shall be in the very greatest danger."
A. I cannot, of course, or could not at the time swear to the absolute accuracy of the numerous reports from Canaris, but the material we eventually captured - and in this connection I would draw your attention to the conference of the War Council in London of 17th November, 1939 - confirmed, on the whole, the accuracy of the intelligence reports.

Q. Presumably you had no reason, at that time, to doubt Canaris' honesty, had you?

A. No. At that time there was not the slightest reason for doubt.

Q. Yes. Whereas now, indeed, some doubt has arisen.

Now, the German attack was originally planned for November 1939. Why did the Fuehrer postpone it over and over again? We have before us no less than seventeen orders, postponing the attack time and again.

A. It is not quite correct to say that the Fuehrer had ordered the attack for mid-November, but rather he wanted to order the attack for a time when the meteorologists could predict about six or seven days of clear, frosty weather. But the meteorologists failed completely in this. Occasionally they thought they could predict such a state of the weather and then all preparations would be made for the attack. Then they would again disavow their weather forecasts and all the final preparations for attack would be discontinued once more. That is why we so often prepared for the attack and then refrained from carrying it out.

On this occasion I received a report from Canaris to the effect that one unit of the French Army had already crossed one part of the Belgian frontier. I did not know if that was true.

Q. You have been accused by the prosecution of first deceiving these countries and then invading them. Please explain what you have to say on that subject.

A. The same holds good as I have previously stated. I was neither a politician nor was I the military Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. I was under the impression - and indeed an impression which could be proved correct - that in actual fact the neutrality of these two countries was no longer being respected. As for the ethical code of my actions, I must say that it was obedience, since obedience is really the ethical basis of the military profession. That I was far from extending this code of obedience to the blind obedience imposed on the slave has, I consider, been proved beyond all manner of doubt by my previous testimony. Nevertheless, you cannot avoid the fact that in operational matters of this particular kind there can be no other course for the soldier but obedience.

And if the prosecution today is in a position to indict German officers here at all, they owe this only to the ethical concept of obedience of their own brave soldiers.

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