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 Thirty-First Day: Thursday, 16th May, 1946
(Part 3 of 9)

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

[Page 96]

Q. I do not quite understand the reference to secrecy in connection with the construction of submarines. None were under construction at the moment, were they?

[Page 97]

A. No. I said secrecy in connection with the preparations for the construction of submarines; that is just a short way of expressing it.

Q. We now come to Document C-190, Exhibit USA 45. It is in Document Book No. 10 of the British Delegation, on Page 67. This is a conversation which took place between Hitler and Raeder on 2nd November, 1934, aboard the Emden. On this occasion, as the Document shows, Hitler informed you that he considered it necessary to achieve a rapid enlargement and improvement of the Navy by 1938; and that, if necessary, he would instruct Dr. Ley to place at the disposal of the Navy 120 to 150 million marks from the Labour Front.

Did you have anything at all to do with raising funds for rearmament?

A. No, not actually with raising funds. I applied for funds to the Reich Minister for Defence, who allocated them to me for the purpose of this rearmament. I presume that this statement was made because the allocation sanctioned for the Navy appeared too small to me and for this reason the Fuehrer said that if necessary he would get Ley to act. This did not actually happen. I received my funds only through the Reich Minister for Defence.

Q. Although the charge made by the prosecution is not quite clear to me, since it is based on Hitler's views, which have nothing to do with you, I want to come back to this sum once more. I may remind you that an armoured cruiser even of the old 10,000-ton class which, after all, was small, cost seventy-five to eighty millions. Could this figure of 120 to 150 millions be large enough to put the Navy in a position to carry out rearmament on a large scale?

A. No, certainly not. Two battleships were also under construction, apart from these two armoured cruisers. You can imagine that the costs continually increased.

Q. So that this sum was not final?

A. No, it was not final.

Q. Will you please go on, then, to point 2. According to point 2 of the Document, you pointed out to Hitler during this conference that it might be necessary to assemble six submarines during the first quarter of 1935.

A. I said this because I knew that at the beginning of 1935 we were going to aim at full liberty in recruiting and arming for the services; and I thought that this might create a critical situation in respect to sanctions, which Hitler always took into consideration. I assume that we were talking about this and that is why I suggested that if the necessity for any special preparations should arise out of the question of liberty in recruiting, then six submarines should be assembled at a date previous to their proper date of assembly, from parts obtained abroad.

Q. Did Hitler actually give the order?

A. No. The order was not given.

THE PRESIDENT: We might break off now.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. I now come to Document C-159, Exhibit USA 54. This document may be found in the British Delegation's Document Book 10-A, Page 10. It is a letter written by von Blomberg on 2nd March, 1936, dealing with the demilitarised zone. Did you make lengthy military preparations for the action which took place on 7th March, 1936?

A. No, I made no lengthy preparations; I only heard of the plan through this document of 2nd March. I may refer you to point 6, which says that, to preserve the peaceful character of the operation, no military security or advance measures are to be taken without my express orders. It was made clear, therefore, that the entire action was to have a peaceful character.

Q. You knew nothing at all about this action till the beginning of March?

A. No, I believe that this action was kept specially secret.

[Page 98]

Q. Then I will turn to Document C-194, Exhibit USA 55, in the British Delegation's Document Book 10-A, Page 128. This Document is a communication from the supreme command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) to the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy dating from 1936; and the wording seems to indicate 6th March, 1936. It deals, therefore, with the same subject as the last Document. May I have your comments?

THE PRESIDENT: Will you give me the page again.




Q. May I ask for your comments?

A. The Reich Minister of Defence had sanctioned a certain air reconnaissance to take place over the North Sea on 6th March; that is to say, the day before the occupation of the occupation of the Rhineland. He intended to withhold his decision, as to whether U-boats were also to be sent out on reconnaissance assignments in the West, as far as the Texel, until the next day. I thereupon issued an order on 6th March, 1936, and gave special instructions -

Q. I beg your pardon. I would like to point out that Raeder's order of 6th March, 1936, is appended to the same document; and that the text is therefore before the High Tribunal. Please go on.

A. I prepared this decree of 6th March as regards the planning of the U-boats, line and the reconnaissance to take place in the bay on 7th March. I pointed out especially that everything which might create a false impression of the Fuehrer's intentions and thus put difficulties in the way of this peaceful action must be avoided.

Q. I would like to supplement your statement that these words taken from the decree of 6th March, 1936, are to be found under Point S. They are in the last few lines.

A. These were all precautionary measures in case of any counter action.

Q. Were these preparations on a large scale?

A. No, no.

DR. SIEMERS: I come now to the two last Documents dealing with the topic of the Versailles Treaty and rearmament. First, Document C-135, Exhibit GB 213, Document Book 10, Page 20. That is the British Delegation's Document Book 10. This is headed: "History of the War Organization." That is the War Organization and Mobilization Scheme. It dates from 1938. This document was read in its entirety by the prosecution, and a very grave charge was based upon it; because the document contains a statement to the effect that Hitler had demanded that in five years - that is, by 1st April, 1938 - a Wehrmacht should be created which he could employ as a political instrument of power; and also because the document mentions Establishment Organization, 1938, and the aim of the War Organization.

Considering the significance of this point, I asked Vice- Admiral Lohmann for his comments on this rather technical question. We are dealing with Exhibit Raeder 2, in my Document Book I, under III, Page 5. I think the prosecution has misunderstood the meaning of certain terms. The terms "Kriegsgliederung" (War Organization) and "Aufstellungsgliederung" (Establishment Organization) have been misunderstood.

I ask permission, therefore, to read this affidavit in conjunction with the documents I have submitted in evidence. I quote:-

"III" refers to Documents C-135 and C-153, Armaments Scheme, Mobilization Scheme, Establishment Organization - i.e., Aufstellungsgliederung - and War Organization - i.e., Kriegsgliederung. I would like to add that C-153 and C-135 are connected. To simplify matters I have taken them together. Therefore I would like to state for the record that 153 is Exhibit USA 43 and may be found [Page 99] in British Document Book 10, Page 107. It is headed "Armaments Scheme for the Third Armaments Period." It is a rather long document and is dated 12th May, 1934.

I quote Vice-Admiral Lohmann's affidavit on these two documents:-

"The above-named documents submitted to me deal with the Establishment Organization, the War Organization, the Mobilization Scheme and the Armaments Scheme. The first three plans or organization orders deal with the same matters and differ only in arrangement. The Armaments Scheme differs from the other plans in dealing only with new construction and the required new materials, and is therefore less extensive.

The German Navy, like the armed forces as a whole - and, no doubt, the armed forces of every nation - made such plans in order to be able, in the case of a conflict or of military complications, to prepare rapidly and use efficiently the means of combat available. Owing to changing conditions, military developments, changes in personnel, and advances in technique, such plans were revised every year. An essential part of these plans which were a matter of course in the case of any armed force, were developed in the Establishment, Mobilization- or War Organization, which provided a survey of all naval installations on land and sea, their local defences and tactical subordination, as well as of all combat material on hand or to be secured, increased or reorganised by a specified date. All operations envisaged by the military command were based on this War Organization; and it also served the political leaders as an indication of the possibilities afforded by the strength and efficacy of the military resources available.

The War Organization planning always had to be prepared with much regard to future eventualities and was generally issued by the High Command of the Navy one and a half years before it was to come into force, in order to enable the responsible departments to attend to such necessary preliminaries as applying to the naval economy for funds and materials such as iron, steel, etc., and for the preparation of accommodation in so far as all this was not already covered by the peacetime expansion of the Navy.

In 1933, when Hitler in his Five-Year Plan demanded that by 1st April, 1938, an armed force should be created which he could throw into the balance as an instrument of political power, the War Organization for 1938 was worked out independently of the War Organization planned yearly. Up to 1935 it dealt mostly with those possibilities of the Treaty of Versailles which had not yet been exhausted and with the question of supplementing the naval strength with craft not subject to limitation in type or number. After the Naval Pact of 1935, the War Organization planned for 1938 was replaced by a "War Organization, ultimate goal" (K.G. Endzeil) which regulated the number of warships of all types existing or to be built in the proportion of 35:100 measured by the tonnage actually existing in the English Fleet. In consideration of monetary and material resources, the capacity of the shipyards and the length of time required to build large warships, this ultimate goal was in the meanwhile fixed for the 1944-45.

There remained always the possibility of postponing it further, on the basis of the development of the English Fleet.

The various terminologies have only a naval technical significance and do not permit conclusions as to political plans."

I would like to indicate a slight error in translation in the English text. The translation of the word "Terminierungen" by "terminology" is, in my opinion, not correct. It should probably be "terms" or "termination."


Q. Are Vice-Admiral Lohmann's statements correct? Can you add anything to this basic point of view?

[Page 100]

A. These statements contain everything which can be said on this matter. All these are, in my opinion, preparations which must be made by every navy if it is to be systematically equipped and made ready for operation.

It says somewhere - in Document 135, Page 1 under Point 2 - that "the growing tension between Germany and Poland forced us to make practical instead of theoretical preparations for war." That was interpreted to mean that at some time - I believe in 1930 - we planned a war of aggression against Poland.

I testified yesterday that our main object was nothing more than to oppose any aggression committed by Poland against East Prussia. That was the object of our work - to protect Germany from attack by Poland. At that time, it would have been madness for German forces, which were still very inadequately armed, to invade Poland or any other country.

Then, since the years 1938 and 1944-45 constantly recur, I would like to point out again that the year 1938 was to be the final date for the first phase of the Shipping Replacement Plan. The last ship included in this Shipping Replacement Plan was to be built from 1936 to 1938.

Then Hitler decreed a Five-Year Plan, which happened also to cover the years 1933 to 1938, and in accordance with which all war preparations were to be completed by 1938. The War Organization (ultimate goal) was fixed for 1944-45, and the reason for fixing this date, as stated in the document which you have just read, was the fact that in fixing our programme we had to take into consideration the funds and material at our disposal, the capacity of our shipbuilding yards and the length of time needed to build big warships. A reasonably strong fighting force could not be created before that date.

Q. The statements in Document C-135 are in accordance with the German-English Naval Agreement, is that correct?

Perhaps I did not formulate my question clearly. The statement that a new programme was set up then implies that it was done in accordance with the German-English Naval Agreement?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. In any case, the reference to C-135, Point 8, is probably to be interpreted in that way; as it says, "a modern fleet, bound only by the clauses of the German-British Naval Agreement."

A. Of course.

Q. Now I turn to another topic and go back to the year 1933.

Grand Admiral, when did you meet Hitler, and did you have any connection with National Socialism before 1933?

A. I met Hitler on 2nd February, 1933, when I saw and talked to him for the first time. It was at an evening party arranged by General von Blomberg at the home of General von Hammerstein, the Chief of the General Staff, at which von Blomberg intended to present to Hitler senior generals and admirals.

I shall describe the proceedings later. Up to that time, I had no connection whatsoever with National Socialism. I only knew Admiral von Levetzow, from the first world war. He was on the staff of Admiral von Scheer, whom I knew well, and who obviously met Hitler at a comparatively early date. I only heard from him, however, that Hitler took a very active interest in naval matters and was surprisingly well informed about them. On the other hand, I believe that von Levetzow had also spoken to Hitler about the reputation of the Navy and his own opinion of the Navy at that time. But I had no connections beyond that.

Q. What were your reasons for remaining in office in 1933, Grand Admiral, when you had no connection with National Socialism?

A. The Reich President, Field Marshal von Hindenburg, at the same time Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht, had appointed the leader of the largest party, Chancellor of the Reich. I think that if I had gone to him and told him I wanted to resign - or intended to resign - because he had appointed a new Chancellor, he would quite certainly have taken it as an insult, and would then have dismissed me. I had not the slightest reason to ask my superior to

[Page 101]

release me from my Command because he in his capacity of Reich President had appointed a new Reich Chancellor.

Q. And where did you first hear Hitler state his political principles?

A. I heard him for the first time on the aforementioned 2nd February, after the dinner at General von Hammerstein's home. I was introduced to him before dinner; and after dinner he gave a speech. He was accompanied by the Foreign Minister, Herr von Neurath. There were no other members of the Party present.

In his speech, he first of all spoke of his career and of his social and national aims. He said that he wanted to regain equal rights for the German Reich and that he would try to rid the country of the shackles of the Versailles Treaty and restore her internal sovereignty to Germany; and he also discussed his social aims, the establishment of true community among the people, the raising of the workers' standard of living, the giving of assistance to the farmers and the promotion of agriculture, the establishment of a labour service and the elimination of unemployment. He specially emphasized - and this was really the main point - that both domestic and foreign policy were to be left entirely in his hands, that the Wehrmacht was to have nothing at all to do with this, that the Wehrmacht was not to be used even to deal with unrest at home; that he had other forces to deal with these affairs; that he wanted to ensure an undisturbed period of development for the Wehrmacht so that it could develop into the factor necessary to prevent the Reich from becoming a "football" for other nations; and that it would, therefore, be necessary in the next few years for the Wehrmacht to devote its entire attention to the preparation of its main object, training for the defence of the country in the case of aggression. The Wehrmacht would be the sole bearer of arms, and its structure would remain unaltered.

He gave no further details; there was a comparatively large party assembled. As far as schemes for war of aggression were concerned - none were mentioned.

All those present were uncommonly pleased with this speech. He spoke with particular respect of Reich President von Hindenburg, the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht, and we had the impression that he would respect this man who had long been honoured by the whole country.

This speech was the only account of his basic principles which he gave me, as C.-in-C. of the Navy, or gave to the other Cs.-in-C.

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