The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
December 17, 1945 to January 4, 1946

Twenty-Seventh Day: Friday, 4th January, 1946
(Part 7 of 9)


A highly successful programme of conquest depends on armed might. It cannot be executed by an unprepared, weak, or recalcitrant military leadership. It has, of course, been said that war is too important a business to be left to soldiers alone; and this is, no doubt, true, but it is equally true that an aggressive diplomacy is far too dangerous a business to be conducted without military advice and support, and no doubt some of the German generals had qualms about Hitler's timing and the boldness of some of his moves. Some of these doubts are rather interestingly reflected in an entry from Jodl's diary which has not yet been read.

That is Document 1780-PS again - the entry for 10th August, 1938. It appears on Page 4 of the translation of 1780-PS:

"10th August, 1938. The Army Chiefs and the Chiefs of the Air Forces Groups, Lieut.-Colonel Jeschonnek and I - are ordered to the Berghof. After dinner the Fuehrer makes a speech lasting for almost

[Page 325]

three hours, in which he develops his political thoughts. The subsequent attempts to draw the Fuehrer's attention to the defects of our preparations, which are undertaken by a few generals of the army, ar rather unfortunate. This applies especially to the remark of General Wietersheim, in which, to cap it, he claims to quote from Genera Adams that the Western fortifications can be held for only three weeks. The Fuehrer becomes very indignant and flares up, bursting into th remark that in such a case the whole Army would not be good fo anything. 'I assure you, General, the position will be held not only for three weeks, but for three years.' The cause of this despondent opinion, which unfortunately enough is held very widely within th Army General Staff, is based on various reasons. First of all, it (the General Staff) is restrained by old memories; political consideration play a part as well, instead of obeying and executing its military mission That is certainly done with traditional devotion, but the vigour of th soul is lacking, because in the end they do not believe in the genius of the Fuehrer. One does perhaps compare him with Charles XII. And since water flows downhill, this defeatism may not only possibly cause immense political damage, for the opposition between the generals' opinion and that of the Fuehrer is common talk, but may also constitute a danger for the morale of the troops. But I have no doubt that th Fuehrer will be able to boost the morale of the people in an unexpecte way when the right moment comes."
THE PRESIDENT: Shall we break off now for ten minutes?

(A recess was taken.).

COLONEL TAYLOR: The extract from the jodl diary from which I have just read may indeed show that some of the German generals at that time were cautious with respect to Germany's ability to take on Poland and the Western Powers simultaneously; but nevertheless the entry shows no lack of sympathy with the Nazi aims for conquest. And there is no evidence in Jodl's diary or elsewhere that any substantial number of German generals lacked sympathy with Hitler's objectives. Furthermore, the top military leaders always joined with and supported his decisions, with formidable success in these years from 1938 to 1942.

So, if we are told that German military leaders did not know that German policy toward Czechoslovakia was aggressive or based on force or threat of force, let us remember that on 30th May, 1938, Hitler signed a most secret directive to Keitel - already in the transcripts, Document 388-PS, Exhibit USA 26 - in which he stated clearly his unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future.

The defendant Jodl was in no doubt what that directive meant. He noted in his diary, the same day, that the Fuehrer had stated his final decision to destroy Czechoslovakia soon, and had initiated military preparation all along the line.

And the succeeding evidence, both in the Schmundt file and in the Jodl diary, shows how these military preparations went forward. Numerous examples of discussions, plans, and preparations during the last few weeks before the Munich Pact, including discussions with Hungary and the Hungarian General Staff, in which General Halder participated, are con tained in the Jodl diary and the later items in the Schmundt file. The day

[Page 326]

the Munich Pact was signed, the 29th September, Jodl noted in his diary - 1780-PS, the entry for 29th September:
"The Munich Pact is signed. Czechoslovakia as a power is out. Four zones as set forth will be occupied between the 2nd and 7th of October. The remaining part, of mainly German character, will be occupied by the 10th of October. The genius of the Fuehrer and his determination not to shun even a World War have again won the victory without the use of force. The hope remains that the incredulous, the weak and the doubtful people have been converted and will remain that way."
Plans for the liquidation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia were made soon after Munich. Ultimately the absorption of the remainder was accom plished by diplomatic bullying, in which the defendant Keitel participated, for the usual purpose of demonstrating that German armed might was ready to enforce the threats - as shown by two documents already in, which I need not read: Document 2802-PS, Exhibit USA 107; and Document 2798-PS, Exhibit USA 118. And once again the defendant Jodl in his 1943 lecture, Document L 172, Exhibit USA 34 -- tells us clearly and in one sentence why the objective of eliminating Czechoslovakia lay as close to the hearts of the German military leaders as to the hearts of the Nazis:
"The bloodless solution of the Czech conflict in the autumn of 1938 and the spring of 1939 and the annexation of Slovakia rounded off the territory of Greater Germany in such a way that it then became possible to consider the Polish problem on the basis of more or less favourable strategic premises."
And this serves to recall the affidavits by Blomberg and Blaskowitz, from which I have already read. "The whole group of German staff and front officers believed that the question of the Polish Corridor would have to be settled some day, if necessary by force of arms," they told us, and "Hitler produced the results which all of us warmly desired."

I turn now to Poland. The German attack on Poland is a particularly interesting one from the standpoint of the General Staff and High Command. The documents which show the aggressive nature of the attack have already been introduced by Colonel Griffith Jones of the British Delegation. I propose to approach it from a slightly different angle, inasmuch as these documents serve as an excellent case-study of the functioning of the General Staff and High Command Group as defined in the Indictment.

This attack was carefully timed and planned, and in the documents one can observe the staff work step by step. Colonel Griffith Jones read from a series of directives from Hitler and Keitel, embodied in Document C-120, GB 41, involving "Fall Weiss," which was the code word for the plan of attack on Poland. That is a whole series of documents, and the series starts - C 120 - with a re-issuance of a document called "Directive for the Uniform Preparation for War by the Armed Forces."

We have encountered this periodically re-issued directive previously. That was a sort of form of standing instructions to the Armed Forces laying out what their tasks during the coming period would be.

In essence these directives are, firstly, statements of what the Armed Forces must be prepared to accomplish in view of political and diplomatic policies and developments and, secondly, indications of what should be

[Page 327]

accomplished diplomatically in order to make the military tasks easier and the chances of success greater. They constitute, in fact, a fusion of diplomatic and military thought and they strongly demonstrate the mutual inter-dependence of aggressive diplomacy and military planning.

Note the limited distribution of these documents, early in April, 1939, in which the preparation of the plans for the Polish war is ordered. Five copies only are distributed by Keitel: one goes to Brauchitsch, O.K.H.; one to Raeder, O.K.M.; one to Goering at O.K.L.; and two to Warlimont in the Planning Branch of O.K.W.

Hitler lays down that the plans must be capable of execution by ist September, 1939, and, as we all well remember, that target date was adhered to. The fusion of military and diplomatic thought is clearly brought out by a part of one of these documents which has not previously been read; that is Document C 120, sub-division D, and it is to be found at Page 4.

The sub-heading is: "Political Requirements and Aims.

German relations with Poland continue to be based on the principle of avoiding any quarrels. Should Poland, however, change her policy towards Germany, based up to now on the same principles as our own, and adopt a threatening attitude towards Germany, a final settlement might become necessary, notwithstanding the pact in effect with Poland.

The aim, then, will be to destroy Polish military strength and create in the East a situation which satisfies the requirements of national defence. The free State of Danzig will be proclaimed a part of the Reich territory at the outbreak of the conflict at the latest.

The political leadership considers it its task in this case to isolate Poland if possible, that is to say, to limit the war to Poland only.

The development of increasing internal crises in France and the resulting British cautiousness might produce such a situation in the not too distant future.

Intervention by Russia, so far as she would be able to do this, cannot be expected to be of any use for Poland, because this would imply Poland's destruction by Bolshevism.

The attitude of the Baltic States will be determined wholly by German military exigencies.

On the German side Hungary cannot be considered a certain ally. Italy's attitude is determined by the Berlin-Rome Axis."

Sub-heading 2: "Military Conclusions.
The great objectives in the building up of the German Armed Forces will continue to be determined by the antagonism of the Western Democracies. ' Fall Weiss' constitutes only a precautionary complement to these preparations. It is not to be looked upon in any way, however, as the necessary prerequisite for a military settlement with the Western opponents.

The isolation of Poland will be more easily maintained, even after the beginning of operations, if we succeed in starting the war with heavy, sudden blows, and in gaining rapid successes.

The entire situation will require, however, that precautions be taken to safeguard the Western boundary and the German North Sea coast, as well as the air over them."

Let no one suggest that these are hypothetical plans or that the General Staff and High Command Group did not know what was in prospect. The

[Page 328]

plans show on their face that they are no war game. But, to clinch this point, let us refer briefly to Mr. Alderman's " pin-up " document on Poland, Document L-79, Exhibit USA 27. These are Schmundt's notes on the conference in Hitler's study at the Reich Chancellery, Berlin, on 23rd May, 1939, when Hitler announced - and I quote just one sentence - "There is, therefore, no question of sparing Poland, and we are left with the decision to attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity."

Note who was present besides Hitler and a few military aides: the defendant Goering, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe; the defendant Raeder, Navy; the defendant Keitel, O.K.W.; von Brauchitsch, Cornmander-in-Chief of the Army; Colonel General Milch, who was State Secretary of the Air Ministry and Inspector General of the Luftwaffe; General Bodenschatz, Goering's personal assistant; Rear Admiral Schniewindt, Chief of the Naval War Staff; Colonel Jeschonnek, Chief of the Air Staff; Colonel Warlimont, Planning Staff. All of them, except Milch, Bodenschatz, and the adjutants, are members of the Group.

So far these documents have shown us the initial and general planning of the attack on Poland. These general plans, however, had to be checked, corrected and perfected by the field commanders who were to carry out the attack.

I offer Document C-1142, which will be Exhibit USA 538. Thisdocument was issued in the middle of June, 1939, and in it von Brauchitsch, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, passed on the general outlines of the plan for the attack on Poland to the field commanders- in-chief-to the Oberbefehlshaber of army groups and armies - so that the field commanders could work out the actual preparation and deployment of troops in accordance with the plans.

This is from Page 1 of the translation, and I quote:

"The object of the operation is to destroy the Polish Armed Forces. High policy demands that the war should be begun by heavy surprise blows in order to achieve quick results. The intention of the Army High Command is to prevent a regular mobilisation and concentration of the Polish Army by a surprise invasion of Polish territory, 'and to destroy the mass of the Polish Army which is to be expected to be West of the Vistula-Narve Line."
I pass to the next paragraph:
"The Army Group Commands and the Army Commands will make their preparations on the basis of surprise of the enemy. There will be alterations necessary if surprise should have to be abandoned. These will have to be developed simply and quickly on the same basis; they are to be prepared mentally to such an extent that in case of an order from the Army High Command they can be carried out quickly."
THE PRESIDENT: What is the date of that document?

COLONEL TAYLOR: The date of that document is the middle of June, 1939; I believe it is the 15th or 14th of June, 1939. The date is on the original.

The next document is 2327-PS, which will be Exhibit USA 539, signed by Blaskowitz. It is dated 14th June, 1939, and it shows us an Oberbefehlshaber at work in the field, planning an attack. Blaskowitz at that time was Commander of the Third Army Area Command and he became

[Page 329]

Commander-in-Chief of the German Eigth Army during the Polish campaign. I read some extracts trom this document -- found on Page 1 of the translation:
"The Commander-in-Chief of the Army has ordered the working out of a plan of deployment against Poland, which takes into account the demands of the political leadership for the opening of war by surprise and for quick success.

The order of deployment by the High Command, known as 'Fall Weiss,' authorises the Third Army Group - in Fall Weiss Eighth Army Headquarters - to give necessary directions and orders to all commands subordinated to it for ' Fall Weiss'."

I pass to paragraph 7 on Page 1.
"The whole correspondence on 'Fall Weiss' has to be conducted under the classification 'Top Secret.' This is to be disregarded only if the contents of a document, in the judgment of the chief of the responsible command, is harmless in every way - even in connection with other documents.

For the middle of July a conference is planned where details of the execution will be discussed. Time and place will be ordered later on. Special requests are to be communicated to Third Army Group before 10th July."

That is signed: "The Commander-in-Chief of Army Area Command 3, F. Blaskowitz."

I pass to paragraph 2 to read one further extract under the title - at the top of Page 2 of the translation - " Aims of Operation 'Fall Weiss '."

"The operation, in order to forestall an orderly Polish mobilisation, is to be opened by surprise with forces which are, for the most part, armoured and motorised, placed on alert in the neighbourhood of the border. The initial superiority over the Polish frontierguards and surprise, both of which can be expected with certainty, are to be maintained by quickly bringing up other parts of the Army, as well as by counteracting the marching up of the Polish Army. Accordingly, all units have to keep the initiative against the foe by acting quickly and attacking ruthlessly."

[ Previous | Index | Next ] [an error occurred while processing this directive]