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 4 of 10)

[Page 345]

THE PRESIDENT: It does not appear to be in our document. What paragraph are you reading?

DR. EXNER: It is Paragraph 2 in my Document Book, Page 78.

THE PRESIDENT: It has not been translated.

DR. EXNER: Yes. That is just what I said. That is the error; that is why I shall dictate it, or read it slowly.

THE PRESIDENT: You want it to be translated?

[Page 346]


THE PRESIDENT: You see, Paragraph 2 is not translated at all. There is nothing here.

DR. EXNER: These three lines were not translated at all, but they are very important.

THE PRESIDENT: Just read it through the earphones, then; read the passage.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, the full document is in the British Document Book No. 7, Page 102.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Go on.


Q. "For the work of our own Intelligence Service, as well as for answering questions asked by the Russian Intelligence Service, the following guiding principles apply ..." and now explain the subject further.

[ALFRED JODL] A. Such instructions as these here to Canaris' office were issued by me every six weeks. They formed the basis for the so-called counter-espionage work, which I do not wish to discuss in detail here. In this case what mattered to me was that the weak forces which we kept in the East at this time should be made to appear actually stronger. That, for instance, can be clearly seen from Paragraph 3 which says - and I quote:

"In statements on the equipment situation of the forces, especially of the armoured divisions, it is advisable to exaggerate if necessary."
I point out, in the next paragraph, that anti-aircraft defences should also be exaggerated. All this was done because, at that time, apprehension had already arisen that eventually a Russian operation against Roumania might develop. The purpose of this order was to frighten them out of it and it was intended for the Intelligence Service only. If on 6th September I had already known of any aggressive intention against Russia, I would have said exactly the reverse, for with this order, as I had issued it, I might have been working in the interests of Gisevius and his friends, namely, have been informing the Russians that we were beginning to concentrate our troops.

Q. Now, when did you first hear of the Fuehrer's fears that Russia might prove hostile to us?

A. For the first time, on 29th July, 1940, on the Berghof, near Berchtesgaden.

Q. In what connection?

A. The Fuehrer detained me alone after a discussion on the situation and said to me, most unexpectedly, that he was worried that Russia might occupy still more territory in Roumania before the winter, and that the Roumanian oil region, which was the conditio sine qua non for our conduct of the war, would thus be taken from us. He asked me whether we could not concentrate our troops immediately, so that we would be ready by autumn to oppose any such Russian intention with strong forces. These are almost the exact words which he used, and all other versions are false.

Q. You have just mentioned Hitler's concern about the seizure of the Roumanian oilfields. Did the Fuehrer do anything because of this apprehension?

A. Yes, decidedly. When I protested that it was quite impossible to carry out a troop concentration now, because it would take four months, the Fuehrer at once ordered deployment conditions to be improved. Two orders were issued immediately. One, I believe, is of 9th August, and was called "Reconstruction East," and included all measures to improve deployment conditions in the Eastern area. The second order was issued On 27th August. We do not have it here, but it has been recorded in the War Diary of the Naval War Staff (SKL).

DR. EXNER: Yes, that is Page 85, Volume I of my Document Book. There is an entry, right at the end of the page, in the diary of the Naval War Staff:

[Page 347]

"Displacement of ten divisions and two armoured divisions (see next page) to the Government General, should prompt intervention prove necessary for the protection of the Roumanian oilfields."
That is, therefore, an excerpt from Document C-I70, Exhibit USA 136.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Exner, you seem to be reading from Page 85. Were you?

DR. EXNER: Yes, from Page 85. It is Page 85 of the German version. Perhaps the numbering of the pages does not quite tally with the numbering of the English version? It is the entry: "Displacement of ten divisions and two armoured divisions to the Government General."


THE WITNESS: This entry is proof of what the Fuehrer's intention was at that time with regard to this reinforcement in the East.


Q. Well, when was the Fuehrer's order issued to prepare for attack?

A. The first order for the consideration of an attack, or for the consideration of any aggressive operation at all, was issued in writing by the Operations Staff of the Wehrmacht and submitted to the Fuehrer on 12th November. It is Document PS-44.

Q. It is on Page 86, Volume I of my Document Book.

A. And is already known to the Tribunal. But this first order, which is known to me, had to be preceded by oral instructions from the Fuehrer to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

Q. That can be gathered from the document itself, namely, from Page 67, which reads:

"Irrespective of the result of these discussions, all preparations for the East which have already been ordered are to be carried out,"
a proof, therefore, that oral orders and preparations had been previously issued.

A. I am not in a position to say when these oral instructions were issued to the Army.

Q. Tell me, in these statements which Hitler made to you, was there ever any mention of things such as the extension of the "Lebensraum" and of our food bases as a pretext for a war of conquest, et alia?

A. In my presence, the Fuehrer never even hinted at any other reason than a purely strategic and operational one. For months on end, one might say, he incessantly repeated: "No further doubt is possible. England is hoping for this, the last continental dagger thrust against us, else she would have stopped the war after Dunkirk. Whether privately or under cover, agreements have certainly already been made. Russian strategy is clearly recognizable. One day we shall either be crushed politically and left stone cold or we shall be attacked." One could talk about this for weeks on end, but no word was mentioned to me of any other than purely strategical reasons of this kind.

Q. How did you, in pursuance to the reports you had received, develop the military situation in the East after the Polish campaign?

A. When we first contacted the Russians in the Polish campaign the relationship was rather frosty. Units and their equipment were carefully kept secret. There were constantly unpleasant incidents on the San. The Russians shot at everything, at fleeing Poles and at German soldiers. There were wounded and dead, and the demarcation line was flown over in numerous cases. The unusually strong forces employed by Russia for the occupation of the Baltic States, of Poland and Bessarabia struck us from the very beginning.

Q. Did the reports which you received contain indications about military reinforcements for the Red Army?

A. By maps which were submitted every few days, and which were based on counter intelligence reports and on our radio monitoring section, the following

[Page 348]

picture was formed: In the summer of 1940 there were already about a hundred Russian divisions along the border. By January 1941 there were 150 divisions and these were indicated by numbers; consequently the reports were reliable. In comparison with this strength, I may add that the English-American-French forces operating from France against Germany never, to my knowledge, amounted to one hundred divisions.

Q. Did Hitler attempt to clear up the political situation by diplomatic means?

A. He attempted to do so during the famous conference with Molotov, and I must say that I placed great hopes on this talk, since the military situation for us, soldiers, was as follows: with a definitely neutral Russia in our rear, a Russia which, in addition, sent us supplies, we simply could not lose the war. An invasion, such as took place on 6th June, 1944; would have been entirely out of the question if we had had at our disposal all the forces we had used up and lost in this immense struggle in Russia. And it never, for a single moment, entered my mind that a statesman - a statesman who, in the last analysis, was also a military commander - would needlessly relinquish a situation of this description. It is a fact that he struggled for months with himself about this decision and he was certainly influenced by the many opposing ideas suggested to him by the Reichsmarschall, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, as well as the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Q. On the basis of the reports which you received, how did the military situation on both sides look like developing?

A. The Intelligence Service began to be very active as from January 1941. The divisions on our borders and also along the Roumanian frontier grew rapidly. On 3rd February, 1941, the Chief of the General Staff of the Army informed the Fuehrer about the operations which he himself intended to carry out. At the same time he presented a map of the Russian troop concentration. At that time this map indicated - and this has been proved by documents - that there were one hundred infantry divisions, twenty-five cavalry divisions ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Exner, do we need all these strategic details of plans which were drawn up by the German General Staff?

DR. EXNER: It is of very great importance to establish the picture facing the General Staff at that time. If an overwhelming concentration of Russian troops had not -

THE PRESIDENT: But that is not what he tells about. He is telling us about February 1941; that the OKW had produced plans to show the deployment of German troops.

DR. EXNER: That is a plan which was developed by -

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think it is necessary to go into such details as to tell us how many cavalry regiments they had there.


Q. Yes. Please tell us, on general lines, how Halder described the position to you after the February 1941 reports. How many divisions were deployed?

A. I have already said so. One hundred and fifty Russian divisions were deployed against us in February.

THE PRESIDENT: He has said that already.

Q. And how many were there on our side?

A .... and I should like to say in reply that at this same time our deployment, reported by General Halder, had only just begun. And furthermore, I should like to point out that Document C-39, Exhibit USA 138, that is Page 92 of Document Book I, as is clear from a study of this Document Book, is the time-table of the deployment, and that not until 1st June were the actual attack formations, consisting of fourteen armoured divisions and twelve motorized infantry divisions, brought up. I mention 1st June so that one cannot say: "Oh, yes ! It was

[Page 349]

intended, in the German plan of aggression, to attack as far back as February 194I." It was not.

Q. The prosecution has especially emphasized that this plan for the attack on Soviet Russia had been drawn up long before then. Can you perhaps say anything more about that?

A. I will indicate the matter in one sentence; we had to use 10,000 trains for this deployment, and if one could have used one hundred a day, it would have taken one hundred days. But we never reached this figure. From a purely technical point of view this deployment had already taken four months.

Q. Did events in Yugoslavia have any influence on the Fuehrer's decision?

A. They gave it the final impetus. Until that time, the Fuehrer still had his doubts. On 1st April, no earlier, he decided to attack, and on 1st April he ordered the attack to be held in readiness for about 22nd June. The order for the attack itself, that is, the real opening of the campaign, was only issued on 17th June, which is likewise proved by documents.

Q. Then, in your opinion, the Fuehrer waged a preventive war. Did later events prove that this was a military necessity?

A. It was undeniably a purely preventive war. What we established later on was the certainty of an enormous Russian military preparation opposite our borders. I will dispense with details. But I can only say that although we succeeded in a tactical surprise, on the day and the hour, it was no strategic surprise. Russia was fully prepared for war.

Q. As an example, could you perhaps tell the Tribunal the number of new airfields which were discovered in the Russian-Polish area?

A. I recall approximately that there were about twenty airfields located in Eastern Poland and that in the meantime these had been increased to more than a hundred.

Q. Quite briefly, under these conditions, what would have been the result of Russia's having forestalled us?

A. I do not want to go into the strategic principles, into the operations behind the front, but I will only state briefly that we were never strong enough to defend ourselves in the East, as has been proved by the events since 1942. That may sound grotesque, but in order to occupy this front of over 2,000 kilometres we needed 300 divisions at least, and we never had them. If we had waited until the invasion and a Russian attack had caught us in a pincer movement simultaneously, we would certainly have been lost. If, therefore, the political premise was correct, namely, that we were threatened by this attack, then - from a military point of view - the preventive attack was also justified. The political situation was presented to us soldiers in this light. As a result, we based our military work on this premise.

Q. Now, a few questions concerning Japan. What significance did Directive 24, of 5th March, 1941, have on co-operation with Japan? It has already been mentioned but the matter is not quite clear. That is Page 94, Volume I of our Document Book, which is Document C-75. Grand Admiral Raeder, in the witness stand, has already said something about this directive. Can you tell me anything new?

A. The document is very important. First, I must make a confession: so far I have only been accused of having received this document. But it emanated from me. I authorized it. It was worked out in my staff and in the Navy group. Consequently, I knew this document better than anybody else. It is not an operational order, it is a directive for controlling the conversation of German officers.

Q. What does that mean?

A. It means that all German officers who officially or unofficially came into contact with Japanese officers were to be told exactly what the aims of German

[Page 350]

policy were, namely - to attack England even in the Far East, and precisely thereby to keep America out of the war.

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