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 Thirtieth Day: Wednesday, 15th May, 1946
(Part 11 of 11)

[DR. SIEMERS continues his direct examination of Erich Raeder]

[Page 83]

Q. Then I come to Document C-41, Exhibit USA 47. This is in the Raeder Document Book 10, on Page 22 in the compilation of the British Delegation. This is your letter of 10th February 1932 in regard to torpedo armament of the S-boats, the speed boats.

THE PRESIDENT: Is this in Document Book 10-A or 10?

DR. SIEMERS: Document Book 10. The first document book.

[Page 84]

THE PRESIDENT: I have got my pages wrongly marked somehow. It is all right.

DR. SIEMERS: Please, excuse me. That is how the page numbers were given to me.

THE PRESIDENT: It is correct in the other members' books.


Q. The torpedo armament of speed boats was not expressly permitted in the Versailles Treaty and for that reason you are accused in this connection. Did this involve only the 5 speed boats mentioned in this document?

A. Yes. There were 5 boats which we had ordered for use as patrol boats in the ship-building replacement programme and which in themselves had no armament.

How big were these boats?

A. Certainly not more than 40 tons, probably considerably less.

Q. Were more boats of this type built during the Versailles Treaty?

A. I cannot say with certainty. In any case, we had no other armed boats.

Q. Yes, excuse me, that is what I mean. More armed boats.

A. No no. We could build 12 Plus 4, which makes 16 torpedo boats of 200 tons. A torpedo boat of 200 tons could not be produced in a practical manner at that time because of the question of the motors and of navigability. For that reason, we did not build these torpedo boats for the time being, but kept in service a number of quite old torpedo boats from the beginning of the century in order to be able to train crews with them. We could no longer use these boats for fighting. But so that, during this time when we could not replace them, we might have a few boats capable of action, even if small, which could be of use if the Baltic were blocked. I ordered that these patrol boats should be equipped to take torpedo tubes on board. However, so that in 1932, when we hoped that at the disarmament Conference we might make some progress, we should not make our situation worse by open breaches of the Treaty, I had only one boat at a time armed in order to fit and test the armament and I then had the armament dismounted again, so that there was always only one boat available with armament at any one time.

We planned to put the torpedo tubes on board the speed boats only if the political situation, that is, the situation after the Disarmament Conference would permit it. That is what I state in Number 3 in the concluding sentence.

Q. I can take it then that you were allowed to build 16 torpedo boats, making 3,200 tons in all?

A. Yes.

Q. Concerning the accusation made by the prosecution that you did not include the speed boats in your numbers, you actually did not intend to keep anything secret, but you wanted to discuss it with the Control Commission when the time came?

A. Yes.

Q. Now I come to the most extensive document submitted by the prosecution in regard to breaches, Document C-32, Exhibit USA 50. This is in Document Book 10-A, Page 8; in the new Document Book of the British Delegation.

In this list all breaches are included under the date 9th September 1933. The prosecution justly points out that this compilation is very thorough and it is presented just as thoroughly. Although, as I believe I can prove, they are, in the last analysis, small matters. I am compelled to ask the witness to answer these points in detail since they were brought up in detail. Breach Number 1 concerns the exceeding of the permitted number of mines. In Column 2 it states that according to the Versailles Treaty, the Control Commission allowed 1,665 mines, but we owned 3,675 mines, that is to say, 2,000 too many. Will you please tell the Tribunal the significance of this breach, it doubtlessly was a breach.

[Page 85]

A. I should like to say in advance that this list was prepared for our Navy representative at the Disarmament Conference, so that if these things should be mentioned, he could give an explanation. That is why it was so explicit, even though most of the things it contains are of minor importance. I should like to add to what I said previously as regards the danger of attacks by Poland. In view of the political situation at that time we always feared that the Poles, if they should undertake an invasion of our country, might receive certain naval support from France, inasmuch as French ships, which at that time often visited the Polish port of Gdynia, could attack our coast through the Baltic entrance, the Belt and the Sund. For this reason the defence of the Baltic entrances by mines played an important role, and that was why we undertook this breach of the Treaty, in order to be able to close at least the Baltic entrances at the narrow points; which was of course possible only for a certain time. With these mines only a stretch of 27 sea miles could have been closed. Thus, we would have been able to close a part of Danzig Bay on which Gydnia was situated, or a part of the Belt, by laying several rows of mines. This was the only method which could be effective for any length of time. This was purely a question of defence, but still they exceeded the number of mines permitted.

Q. Just now in the calculation of the 27 sea miles you included the total number which Germany had at that time.

A. Yes.

Q. Not just the number which exceeded that which was permitted?

A. No, the total.

Q. So that the number in excess is only half this number?

A. Yes.

Q. And then I should like to have an approximate comparison. I was told by way of comparison, that the British in the First World War laid about 400,000 to 500,000 mines in the North Sea. Do you recall if this number is approximately right?

A. Approximately it may be right. I cannot say exactly from memory.

Q. I believe the approximation suffices to show a picture of the size.

A second small question now. Is it true that for mining English ports Reichsmarschall Goering's Luftwaffe in one action alone used thirty to fifty thousand mines? Do you know of that?

A. I have heard so.

Q. Then there is a second point:

"Continuous storing of guns from the North Sea area for Baltic artillery batteries."
This involves 96 guns, only 6 of which are of large calibre, the others of smaller calibre. May I ask you to explain this breach of the Treaty?

A. This is quite a small breach. We were allowed a comparatively large number of guns on the North Sea coast. On the other hand, according to plans the Baltic coast was comparatively bare of guns, since they wanted to retain free entry to the Baltic, whereas we had the greatest interest in closing the Baltic against attacks. For this reason we stored the gun barrels which belonged to the North Sea coast defences, but which had been brought to the Baltic for repairs, in sheds in the Baltic area for a long time in order to be able to mount these guns on the Baltic coast in case of attack. The North Sea coast had many guns, and because of the shallowness it was much easier to defend than the Baltic coast. That was the breach.

Q. In practice it only meant moving them from the North Sea to the Baltic, coast. That is, not mounting them, but merely storing them.

A. Yes.

Q. Then under (3), another charge, "non-scrapping of guns". A total of 99 guns are mentioned of which the ten largest of 28 centimetres were actually scrapped. Please comment on this.

A. When we acquired new guns, for example for the battleship Deutschland, six 28 centimetres guns were constructed, or for the Deutschland and the cruisers,

[Page 86]

forty-eight 15 centimetre guns were constructed, we then had to scrap a corresponding number of old guns. Ten of this number were actually scrapped. All the guns were turned over to the army for scrapping and we received a receipt for them, saying that the guns had been scrapped. We learned, however, that the army in fact had not scrapped them, but, with the exception of the ten 28 centimetre guns, intended to use them for the fortifications to be built in case of attack, since they had no such guns at all.

Q. I should like to make the time clear. This must have been a breach of the Treaty which occurred long before the time you took office as Chief of the Navy Command.

A. This happened between 1919 and 1925 for the most part. In any case I had nothing to do with these matters.

Q. (4), is very simple.

"Deviation from the places settled by the Entente for the disposition of coastal batteries."
A. Previously, up to the time of the World War, the heavy and the middle-sized batteries in particular were placed very close to each other, or rather in the batteries the guns were placed very close to each other. Because of our experience in the World War however, the heavy and medium sized guns within the batteries were afterwards placed further apart, so that a single hit would not destroy several guns at 8nce. That is why they were no longer exactly in the places where they had been at the time of the Treaty. Otherwise nothing was changed.

Q. Were these movements of batteries disapproved by the Control Commission merely on technical grounds?

A. I cannot say, I never took part in these negotiations.

Q. (5) concerns the laying of gun-platforms for artillery batteries and the string of A.A. ammunition. In column two there is again the question of changing to a different place than that allowed by the Entente. Does the same reason operate in the case of (4)?

A. No, not completely. We wanted to put the A.A. batteries in positions where they were particularly useful and could be fully utilised, whereas the Commission did not want to have them there. As a result we left the A.A. batteries where they were, but at other points we prepared so-called gun-platforms which were improvised wooden platforms, so that in case of attack from any enemy we could set up the A.A. guns in order to use them most effectively. In the same way -

Q. This is only a question then of platforms for an A.A. battery, only the foundations for a defence?

A. Yes, only foundations.

Q. Then comes (6):

"Laying gun-platforms in the Kiel area".
A. The Kiel area was especially bare of guns, because the entrance through the Belt to Kiel was to be as little armed and as open as possible. For this reason the setting up of guns in the Kiel area was especially forbidden, and in order to be able to set up some guns in a hurry in case of necessity, gun platforms were prepared there also.

Q. The next point the prosecution mentions comes under (7):

"Exceeding the calibre permitted for coastal batteries." "Coastal batteries" obviously means defence, but nevertheless it was brought up as an accusation.
A. Yes. It says here, that instead of three 17 centimetre or rather, instead of six 15 centimetre guns, three 17 centimetre guns were built. Of course, it is a breach, in so far as the guns were to remain there, but it is open to doubt whether these six 15 centimetre guns might not have been better along the coast than the three 17 centimetre guns.

Q. I see, you mean that they are actually less than the number permitted?

A. Yes.

Then comes (8), the arming of M-boats. M-boats are mine sweepers.

[Page 87]
A. We had the old mine-sweepers which, in case of attack in the Baltic, were to serve the double purpose of finding the mines and of guarding the mine barrage which we wanted to lay in the exits of the Belt, etc., in order to close the Baltic and defend it against light enemy forces. For this reason we gave each M-boat a 10.5 centimetre gun and one machine gun C-30.

Q. Actually the minimum armament?

A. Yes.

Q. (9) can be quickly settled, I believe:-

"Arming of six S-boats and eight R-boats."
The six S-boats are those which were discussed in Document C- 141.

A. Yes, It says here boats armed with torpedoes.

Q. (10):-

"Setting up practice AA batteries."
Is that a breach of the Treaty?

A. Yes, it was after all an A.A. battery. It was only because near the garrisons where there were barracks with our men we wanted an opportunity to practice A.A. firing exercise. That is why we set up these batteries near the barracks. There was no intention of using them in this place for defence. It was only a matter of training.

Q. Then comes (11).

A. The individual cases are gradually becoming more ridiculous. I consider it a waste of time.

Q. I am sorry, Grand Admiral, I must put you to this trouble but I believe it is necessary, since the prosecution read almost all these items into the record, and wanted to put a construction on them which puts you at a disadvantage.

A. Then there is "Salute. Battery Friedrichsort".

Friedrichsort is the entrance to Kiel where foreign ships salute when they enter, and the salute must be returned. Two 7.7 centimetre field guns which had been rendered unserviceable had been approved for this purpose. With these guns, one could shoot only with blank cartridge. We considered it expedient, since there was a battery foundation already available there, that instead of these two 7.7 centimetre guns we should set up four 8.8 centimetre A.A. guns which were ready for use. But this too was long before the time when I was Commander-in-Chief of the Navy.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 16th May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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