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 Twenty-Ninth Day: Tuesday, 14th May, 1946
(Part 1 of 9)

[Page 1]




Q. Do you remember the sinking of the Monte Gorbea in September, 1942?

A. I have some recollection of it.

Q. That was the ship in respect of which the defendant Donitz sent a telegram to the U-boat Commander, threatening him with court martial on his return, because he had sunk the ship after recognising it as a neutral. Now, in 1942 the friendship of Spain was very important to Germany, was it not?

A. I assume so.

Q. You told us yesterday that Admiral Raeder was considering Mediterranean policy, recommending it. Now that was the reason, was it not, why the U-boat Commander was threatened with court martial, that it mattered in 1942 if you sank a Spanish ship?

A. No, that was not the reason. The reason was that the Commander of the U-boat in question had obviously not acted according to the directives of the Commander-in-Chief of the U-boats.

Q. It did not matter in 1940 when you thought you were winning the war, but in September, 1942, I suggest to you it became politically inexpedient to sink a Spanish ship; is that not right?

A. You will have to ask the political departments of the German Reich about that.

Q. If that is the answer, do you think it is unfair to describe your attitude to the sinking of neutral ships as cynical and opportunist?

A. Yes, I reject that absolutely.

Q. I want to ask you one or two questions about the witness Heisig. You spoke yesterday of a conversation in the jail here in the first week of December, 1945.

A. In December, 1945?

Q. Yes. You knew at the time you spoke to Heisig that he was going to be called as a witness, did you not?

A. That could be assumed from his presence here at Nuremberg.

Q. And you knew you were going to be called as a witness, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. Are you telling the Tribunal that you did not tell the defence lawyers about this conversation until quite recently?

A. I do not understand the sense of your question.

Q. Are you telling the Tribunal that you did not report this conversation with Heisig to the defence lawyers until quite recently?

A. I think it was in February or March when I told the Defence Counsel about this conversation.

Q. Now I just want to put the dates to you. The U-boat Commander Eck was sentenced to death on the 20th of October. Do you know that?

[Page 2]

A. I did not know the date.

Q. Death sentence was confirmed by the Commission on the 21st of November and he was executed on the 30th of November: That is to say he was executed before you had this conversation. Did you know that?

A. No. I just discovered that now.

Q. At any rate, the witness Heisig knew it before he gave his evidence, did he not?

A. Obviously not. Otherwise he would most likely have told me about it. Previously he had for ten days -

Q. Will you just listen to a question and answer from his cross-examination? This is a question by Dr. Kranzbuhler: "In your hearing on the 27th of November were you not told that the death sentence against Eck and Hoffmann had already been effected?" Answer: "I do not know whether it was on the 27th of November. I know only that here I was told of the fact that the death sentence had been carried out. The date I cannot remember."

Now if that is right -

THE PRESIDENT: What date was that evidence given?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: That was given on the 14th of January, my Lord.

A. I did not understand who gave this testimony.

Q. The witness Heisig, when he gave evidence here in Court. So that whether or not he was deceived, as you suggest, before he gave his affidavit, he at least knew the true facts before he gave evidence here to the Tribunal?

A. Then he told an untruth to me.

Q. Now, I want to ask you one question regarding the order of the 17th of September, 1942. That is the order that you say you monitored in the Naval War Staff and saw nothing wrong with. Did the defendant Raeder see that order?

A. That I cannot say with certainty.

Q. You were Chief of Staff Operations at that time?

A. Yes, but I cannot be expected to remember every incident in six years of war.

Q. Oh, no, but this was an important order, was it not?

A. Certainly, but there were very many important orders in the course of six years.

Q. Would you normally show an important operational order to the Commander-in-Chief?

A. It was my task to submit all important matters to the Chief of Staff of the Naval Operations Command, and he decided which matters were to be submitted to the Grand Admiral.

Q. Are you saying that you would not have shown this to the Chief of the Staff?

A. No. I am sure he had knowledge of it.

Q. Have you any doubt that this order would have been shown to Admiral Raeder?

A. That I cannot say; I do not recall whether he received it.

Q. Now I want to ask one or two questions about your tasks as Admiral Special Duties. You became Admiral Special Duties in June, 1944; is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. And from then on you attended important conferences with Admiral Donitz and in his absence represented him, did you not?

A. I never participated in any discussions as his representative. Donitz was represented by the Chief of the SKL.

Q. Now at that stage of the war all questions were important in so far as they affected military operations in one way or another, were they not?

A. At every stage of the war all military questions are of importance.

[Page 3]

Q. What I am putting to you is that at that stage of the war the importance of all questions chiefly depended on how they affected the military situation.

A. Yes, that, I imagine, one has to admit.

Q. And during that period Germany was virtually governed by the decisions taken at the Fuehrer's Headquarters, was it not?

A. Yes.

Q. Now I want you to look at a record of one of Admiral Donitz's visits - My Lord, this is D-863, it is a new document, and becomes Exhibit GB 456.

Now that is a record of a visit to the Fuehrer's Headquarters on 28th and 29th of August, 1943. You were not there yourself, but your immediate superior, Vice-Admiral Meisel, accompanied Admiral Donitz, and the names of the Naval Delegation are set out at the top of the page. Admiral Donitz, Vice-Admiral Meisel, Kapitan zur See Rehm, etc. And your programme as set out was: after your arrival, at half- past eleven, conversation with Commander-in-Chief of Navy Commander-in-Chief Luftwaffe; 1300, situation conference with the Fuehrer closing with a further conversation between the Commander-in-Chief Navy, and the Commander-in-Chief Luftwaffe; then at 1600 the Commander-in-Chief Navy left. After that Admiral Meisel had a conversation with Ambassador Ritter of the Foreign Office. Then a conversation with General Jodl; an evening conference with the Fuehrer, and then at midnight a conference with Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler. On the next day the usual conference with the Fuehrer; then a conference with the Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force. And then he left.

Now, is that a fair sample of what went on during Admiral Donitz's visits, that he had conversations, various conferences with other officials?

A. That is a typical example of a visit of the Grand Admiral at Headquarters, in so far as he participated only in situation conferences with the Fuehrer, and in addition he had military discussions with the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force.

Q. And that shows, does it not, that the whole business of government was being carried on at the Fuehrer's Headquarters?

A. No, not at all. I have already said the Grand Admiral only participated at the situation conference, that is, the military situation conference with the Fuehrer, and beyond that one or even two discussions with the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force.

Q. And with General Jodl or Field-Marshal Keitel, somebody from the Foreign Office, and so on?

A. Otherwise the Grand Admiral had no discussions of any sort, as can be seen from the document, for on 28th August at 1600 hours he returned by air. The other discussions were: discussions of the Chief of Staff of the SKL, the -

Q. But I was putting it to you that this was a typical visit. If Admiral Donitz had not left, he would have had these other conversations and not Admiral Meisel, is that not right?

A. No, not at all. The Chief of Staff of the SKL, very rarely had the opportunity of coming to headquarters, and according to the record here, he obviously used his opportunity to contact a few of the leading -

Q. I do Not want to waste time with it. I suggest to you that when Admiral Donitz went there he normally saw other Ministers and conversed with them on any business affecting the Navy.

A. Naturally, the Grand Admiral discussed all questions affecting the Navy with those who were concerned with them.

Q. Now, I want to ask you one or two questions on the minutes with regard to the Geneva Convention - that is C- 158, Exhibit GB 209, Page 69 of the English Prosecution Document Book, Page 102 of the German. Will you look at Page 102.

Now you, as you told us yesterday, initialled those minutes, did you not, and a copy was marked to you, is not that right?

[Page 4]

A. Yes, I signed these minutes.

Q. Yes, were they accurate?

A. They contained catch words about the things which had happened at headquarters.

Q. They were an accurate record, were they?

A. Undoubtedly, I believed that things had taken place as they are recorded here.

Q. Now, did you agree with Admiral Donitz's advice that it would be better to carry out the measures considered necessary without warning and at all costs to save face with the outer world? Did you agree with that?

A. I already explained yesterday, clearly and unequivocally, how I interpreted this sentence which was formulated by me, and I have nothing to add to that statement. In the sense which I stated yesterday, I agree completely.

Q. And the step which Hitler wanted to take was to put prisoners of war in the bombed towns, was it not? Wasn't that the breach of the Convention that he wanted to make?

A. No, it was the renunciation of all the Geneva agreements; not only the agreement about prisoners of war, but also the agreement on hospital ships, the Red Cross agreement and other agreements which had been made at Geneva.

Q. Then what were the measures considered necessary which could be taken without warning? Just look at that sentence.

A. I do not understand that.

Q. Look at the last sentence, "It would be better to carry out the measures considered necessary." What were those measures?

A. They were not discussed at all.

Q. Do you see any difference between the advice which Admiral Donitz was giving then, and the advice which you described as the rather romantic ideas of a young expert on the document about sinking without warning at night. Let me put it to you; what the naval officer said on the Document C- 191 was: "Sink without warning. Do not give written permission. Say it was a mistake for an armed merchant cruiser - "

We have Admiral Donitz saying:-

"Do not break the rules, tell no one about it and at all costs save face with the world."
Do you see any difference?

A. I testified yesterday that the difference is very great. Admiral Donitz opposed the renunciation of the Geneva Convention and said that even if measures to intimidate deserters, or counter-measures against bombing attacks on cities, were to be taken, the Geneva Convention should not be renounced in any case.

Q. Now, I want to put to you a few questions about prisoners of war. So far as naval prisoners of war were concerned, they remained in the custody of the Navy, did they not?

A. I am not informed about the organization of prisoner-of- war camps. According to my recollection they were first put into a naval transit camp. Then they came into other camps; but I do not know whether these camps were under the jurisdiction of the Navy or the OKW.

Q. Have you not seen the defence documents about the Camp Marlek-Marlek telling us how well they were treated. Have you not seen them?

A. No.

Q. Now, naval prisoners, when they were captured by your forces, their capture was reported to the Naval War Staff, was it not?

A. Such captures were, in general, reported as part of the situation reports.

Q. Now, do you remember the Commando Order of 18th October, 1942?

A. Yes.

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