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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
December 3 to December 14, 1945

Fifteenth Day: Friday, 7th December, 1945
(Part 5 of 9)

[MR. G.D. ROBERTS, K.C., continues]

[Page 205]

My Lord, there is a similar assurance to the Netherlands, the next part of the document:
"The new Reich has endeavoured to continue the traditional friendship with the Netherlands. It has not taken over any existing differences between the two countries and has not created any new ones."
I submit it is impossible to over emphasise the importance of those assurances of Germany's good faith.

My Lord, the value of that good faith is shown by the next document, which refers to the very next day, 7th October. Those two guarantees were 6th October. Now we come to Document 2329-PS, dated 7th October. It is

[Page 206]

from the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, von Brauchitsch, and it is addressed to various Army Groups. He said, third paragraph:
"The Dutch Border between Ems and Rhine is to be observed only.

At the same time Army Group B has to make all preparations, according to special orders, for immediate invasion of Dutch and Belgian territory, if the political situation so demands."

"If the political situation so demands" - the day after the guarantee! I put in the last document; that bears an original typewritten signature of von Brauchitsch, and it will be Exhibit GB 105.

My Lord, the next document is in two parts. Both are numbered C-62. The first part is dated 9th October, 1939, two days after the document I have read. My Lord, that was all read by the Attorney General in opening, down to the bottom of Paragraph (c). Therefore, I will not read it again. May I remind the Tribunal of just one sentence.

"Preparations should be made for offensive action on the Northern flank of the Western Front crossing the area of Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. This attack must be carried out as soon and as forcefully as possible."
In the next paragraph, may I just read six words:
"The object of this attack is to acquire as great an area of Holland, Belgium and Northern France as possible."
That document is signed by Hitler himself. It is addressed to the three accused: the Supreme Commander of the Army, Keitel; Navy, Raeder; and Air Minister, Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, Goering. That is the distribution.

I will hold that document over and put that other one in with it.

My Lord, the next document refers to 15th October, 1939. It is from the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. It is signed by Keitel in what is to some of us his familiar red pencil signature, and it is again addressed to Raeder and Goering and to the General Staff of the Army.

Now, that also has been read by the Attorney General; may I just remind the Tribunal that at the bottom of the page there is:

"It must be the object of the Army's preparations, therefore, to occupy - on receipt of a special order - the territory of Holland, in the first instance as far as the Grebbe-Maas" - or Meuse - "line."
The second paragraph deals with the taking possession of the West Frisian Islands.

It is clear beyond discussion, in my submission, that, from that moment, the decision to violate the neutrality of these three countries had been made. All that remained was to work out the details, to wait until the weather became favourable, and, in the meantime, to give no hint that Germany's word was about to be broken again. Otherwise these small countries might have had some chance of combining with themselves and their neighbours.

It will be Exhibit GB 106.

The next document is a Keitel directive. It is Document 440- PS, Exhibit GB 107. It is again sent to the Supreme Commander of the Army, the Navy and the Air Forces, and it gives details of how the attack is to be carried out. I want to read only a very few selected passages.

[Page 207]

Paragraph 2 on the first page:-
"Contrary to previously issued instructions, all action intended against Holland may be carried out without a special order as to when the general attack will start.

The attitude of the Dutch Armed Forces cannot be anticipated ahead of time."

Then may I comment here, will your Lordships note here that this is a German concession:-
"Wherever there is no resistance, the entry should carry the character of a peaceful occupation."
Paragraph (b) of the next paragraph:-
"At first the Dutch area, including the West Frisian Islands situated just off the coast, for the present without Texel, is to be occupied up to the Grebbe-Maas line."
The next two paragraphs I need not read. They deal with action against the Belgians, however, and in Paragraph 5:
"The 7th Airborne Division" - they were parachutists - "will be committed for the airborne operation only after the possession of bridges across the Albert Canal" - which is in Belgium, as the Court knows - "has been assured."
Then, in Paragraph 6 (b), Luxembourg is mentioned. It is mentioned in Paragraph 5 as well. The signature is "Keitel", but that is typed. It is authenticated by a staff officer.

Then the next Document is C-10, Exhibit GB 108, and it is dated 28th November, 1939. That has the signature of Keitel, in his red pencil, and it is addressed to the Army, Navy and Air Force. It deals with the fact that, if a quick break- through should fail North of Liege, other machinery for carrying out the attack will be used.

Paragraph 2 shows clearly that the Netherlands is to be violated. It speaks of "(a) The occupation of Walcheren Island and thereby Flushing harbour, or of some other southern Dutch island especially valuable for our sea and air warfare" and "(b) Taking of one or more Maas crossings between Namur and Dinant."

My Lord, the documents show that from November until March, 1940, the High Command and the Fuehrer were waiting for favourable weather before A-day, as they called it. That was the attack on Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.

My Lord, the next Document, C-72, consists of 18 documents which range in date from 7th November until 9th May, 1940. They are certified photostats I put in, and they are all signed either by Keitel personally or by Jodl personally, and I do not think it is necessary for me to read them. The defence, I think, have all had copies of them, but they show successively that A-day is being postponed for about a week, having regard to the weather reports. That will be Exhibit GB 109.

My Lord, on 10th January, 1940, as the Attorney General informed the Tribunal, a German aeroplane made a forced landing in Belgium. The occupants attempted to burn the orders of which they were in possession, but they were only partially successful. The next document I offer is Document TC-58a; it will be Exhibit GB 110. The original is a photostat certified by the Belgian Government who, of course, came into possession of the original.

[Page 208]

My Lord, I can summarise it. They are orders to the Commander of the Second Air Force Fleet - Luftflotte - clearly for offensive action against France, Holland and Belgium. One looks at the bottom of the first page. It deals with the disposition of the Belgian Army. The Belgian Army covers the Liege-Antwerp Line with its main force, its lighter forces in front of the Meuse-Schelde Canal. Then it deals with the disposition of the Dutch Army; and then, if you turn over to Page 3, you see that the German Western Army directs its attack between the North Sea and the Moselle, with the strongest possible air-force support, through the Belgian-Luxembourg region.

My Lord, I think I need read no more. The rest are operational details as to the bombing of the various targets in Belgium and in Holland.

My Lord, as to the next document, my learned friend, Major Elwyn Jones, put in Jodl's diary, which is GB 88, and I desire to refer very, very briefly to some extracts which are printed first in Bundle No. 4.

If one looks at the entry for 1st February, 1940, and then some lines down -


MR. ROBERTS: Yes, that is right, my Lord.

THE PRESIDENT: We have not got the GB numbers on the documents.

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry, my Lord.

If your Lordship will look eight lines down it says: "1700 hours General Jeschennek" and then:-

"1.Behaviour of parachute units. In front of The Hague they have to be strong enough to break in if necessary by sheer brute force. The 7th Division intends to drop units near the town.

2. Political mission contrasts to some extent with violent action against the Dutch Air Force."

My Lord, I think I need not read the rest: it is operational detail.
"2nd February." I refer again to Jodl's entry under "a" as to "landings can be made in the centre of The Hague."
THE PRESIDENT: Which date?

MR. ROBERTS: That was 2nd February, my Lord, the bottom of the same page, under "a". I was endeavouring not to read more than a word or two.

THE PRESIDENT: Quite right.

MR. ROBERTS: If your Lordship will turn over the page - I omit 5th February - you come to "26th February. Fuehrer raises the question whether it is better to undertake the Weser Exercise before or after case 'Yellow'."

Then on 3rd March, the last sentence:-

"Fuehrer decides to carry out Weser Exercise before case 'Yellow', with a few days' interval".
Then, my Lord, there is an entry to which I desire to call your Lordship's attention, on 8th May, that is, two days before the invasion, the top of the page:-
"Alarming news from Holland, cancelling of furloughs, evacuations, road-blocks, other mobilisation measures. According to reports of the intelligence service the British have asked for permission to march in, but the Dutch have refused."

[Page 209]

My Lord, may I make two short comments on that? The first is that the Germans are rather objecting because the Dutch are actually making some preparation for resistance. "Alarming news " they say. The second point is that Jodl is there recording that the Dutch armies according to their intelligence reports, are still adhering properly to their neutrality. But I need not read any more of the diary extracts.

My Lord, that is the story except for the documents which were presented to Holland and to Belgium and to Luxembourg after the invasion was a fait accompli, because, as history now knows, at 4.30 a.m. on 10th May these three small countries were violently invaded with all the fury of modern warfare. No warning was given to them by Germany and no complaint was made by Germany of any breaches of any neutrality before this action was taken.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps this will be a convenient place to break off until 2 o'clock.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, my Lord.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

MR. ROBERTS: May it please the Tribunal, when the Court adjourned, I had just come to the point at 4.30 a.m. on 10th May, 1940, when the Germans invaded these three small countries without any warning - a violation which, the prosecution submits it is clear from the documents, had been planned and decided upon months before.

My Lord, before I close this part of the case, may I refer to three documents in conclusion. My Lord, the invasion having taken place at 4.30 in the morning, in each of the three countries, the German Ambassadors called upon representatives of the three governments some hours later, and handed in a document which was similar in each case and which is described as a "Memorandum" or an "Ultimatum". My Lord, an account of what happened in Belgium is set out in our Document TC-58, which is about five documents from the end of the bundle. It is headed "Extract From 'Belgium - The Official Account of What Happened 1939-1940'", and I hand in an original copy, certified by the Belgian Government, which is Exhibit GB 111.

My Lord, might I read short extracts? I read the third paragraph:-

"From 4.30 information was received which left no shadow of doubt: the hour had struck. Aircraft were first reported in the East. At 5 o'clock came news of the bombing of two Netherlands aerodromes, the violation of the Belgian frontier, the landing of German soldiers at the Eben-Emael Fort, the bombing of the Jemelle station."
My Lord, then I think I can go to two paragraphs lower down:-
"At 8.30 a.m. the German Ambassador came to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When he entered the Minister's room, he began to take a paper from his pocket. M. Spaak" - that is the Belgian Minister - "stopped him: 'I beg your pardon, Mr. Ambassador. I will speak first.' And in an indignant voice, he read the Belgian Government's protest: 'Mr. Ambassador, the German Army has just attacked our country. This is the second time in 25 years that Germany has committed a criminal aggression against a neutral and loyal Belgium. What has just happened is perhaps even more odious than the aggression

[Page 210]

of 1914. No ultimatum, no note, no protest of any kind has ever been placed before the Belgian Government. It is through the attack itself that Belgium has learned that Germany has violated the undertakings given by her on 13th October, 1937, and renewed spontaneously at the beginning of the war. The act of aggression committed by Germany, for which there is no justification whatever, will deeply shock the conscience of the world. The German Reich will be held responsible by history. Belgium is resolved to defend herself. Her cause, which is the cause of Right, cannot be vanquished'."
Then I think I shall omit the next paragraph: "The Ambassador read the note" - and in the last paragraph: "In the middle of this communication M. Spaak, who had by his side the Secretary-General, interrupted the Ambassador: 'Hand me that document', he said. 'I should like to spare you so painful a task.' After studying the note, M. Spaak confined himself to pointing out that he had already replied by the protest he had just made."

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like you to read what the Ambassador read.

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry. I was thinking of the next document I was going to read. I read the last paragraph on the first page:

"The Ambassador was then able to read the note he had brought:

'I am instructed by the Government of the Reich,' he said, 'to make the following declaration: In order to forestall the invasion of Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg, for which Great Britain and France have been making preparations clearly aimed at Germany, the Government of the Reich is compelled to ensure the neutrality of the three countries mentioned, by means of arms. For this purpose, the Government of the Reich will bring up an Armed Force of the greatest size, so that resistance of any kind will be useless. The Government of the Reich guarantees Belgium's European and Colonial territory, as well as her dynasty, on condition that no resistance is offered. Should there be any resistance, Belgium will risk the destruction of her country and loss of her independence. It is, therefore, in the interests of Belgium that the population be called upon to cease all resistance and that the authorities be given the necessary instructions to make contact with the German Military Command'."

My Lord, the so-called ultimatum, handed in some hours after the invasion had started, is Document TC-57, which is the last document but three in the bundle. It is the document I handed in and it becomes Exhibit GB 112. My Lord, it is a long document and I will read to the Tribunal such parts as the Tribunal thinks advisable:
"The Reich Government" - it begins - "has for a long time had no doubts as to what was the chief aim of British and French war policy. It consists of the spreading of the war to other countries, and of the misuse of their peoples as auxiliary and mercenary troops for England and France.

The last attempt of this sort was the plan to occupy Scandinavia with the help of Norway, in order to set up a new front against Germany in this region. It was only Germany's last minute action which upset this project. Germany has furnished documentary evidence of this before the eyes of the world.

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