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-Third Day: Saturday, 18th May, 1946
(Part 3 of 6)

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

[Page 166]

It is a conversation between Matsuoka and von Ribbentrop on 29th March, 1941. We have already discussed this matter. In the 8th paragraph of this document, the following is said:
"The Reich Foreign Minister again referred to the problem of Singapore. Because of the fear expressed by Japan that there might be U-boat attacks from the Philippines and that the British Mediterranean Fleet and Home Fleet would join the attack he had discussed the situation once more with Admiral Raeder. The latter told him that Britain would be so completely occupied in the home waters and in the Mediterranean this year that she would not be able to despatch even a single ship to the Far East.

[Page 167]

The American U-boats were described by Grand Admiral Raeder as being so inferior that Japan would not have to concern herself about them at all."

Q. Herr von Ribbentrop, in reply to my question on 1st April, 1946, declared that he had been mistaken, that the statement was probably made by Hitler. Will you please clarify this statement once and for all?

A. I can only confirm that I never discussed such questions with Herr von Ribbentrop, for unfortunately there was no connection between the Foreign Office and the Navy High Command, especially since the Fuehrer had forbidden that any information be given by the Foreign Office to the military authorities. I would never have made such statements, since they were in direct opposition to my own opinion, and especially since in this case I had no basis for them.

Q. Admiral, were not, on the other hand, questions frequently dealt with in the Navy Operational Staff as to the industrial and military strength of the United States, and was there not a feeling that, because of these, any entrance of the United States was to be feared?

A. This was fully clear to us, even to the last detail.

Q. Did you at any time during the war see this document, 1877-PS, which is before you?

A. No, no.

Q. Were you advised about these discussions between Herr von Ribbentrop and the Foreign Minister Matsuoka or the discussion with Oshima?

A. No; I was merely told by the Fuehrer, and that is shown in the document C-170, dealing with the results of this discussion with Matsuoka. But I had no discussions with Herr von Ribbentrop.

DR. SIEMERS: May it please the High Tribunal, I have just been asked to correct a word which I used a few moments ago; in order to be fair, I should like to do so. I said that Hitler, in his directive of the 5th of March, 1941, "commanded" that Singapore be taken. The expression is not correct. He naturally could not give any orders to Japan. The mistake arises because the directive starts with the words:-"The Fuehrer has commanded the following for our co- operation." And under (3) it says:- "The following directives apply in this case." And among these directives the taking of Singapore is mentioned.


Q. Admiral, did you ever in a conversation suggest to anyone that Japan should attack Pearl Harbour?

A. No, never.

Q. Did you hear anything about this plan before it was carried out?

A. No, never. It was a complete surprise for me and the Naval Operations Staff when this attack took place; and it is a complete mistake in judging the mentality of the Japanese to assume that they would have spoken of such a plan to anyone, even inside Japan, who was not directly connected with it. In 1904 they likewise attacked Russian ships out of the blue without anyone suspecting anything at all.

DR. SIEMERS: May it please the Tribunal, in this connection I should like to submit three documents which have been granted me, first Exhibit Raeder 19, to be found in Document Book II, Page 108. This document deals with the report by the American General Marshall, which has been placed at my disposal through the help of the Tribunal.

In this report, dated 1st September, 1945, General Marshall stated the following, and I refer to Page 116:

"In order to establish for the historical record where and how Germany and Japan failed I asked General Eisenhower to arrange for his intelligence officers promptly to interrogate the ranking members of the German High Command who are now our prisoners of war. The results of these interviews are of remarkable interest. They give a picture of dissension among the enemy

[Page 168]

nations and lack of long-range planning that may well have been decisive factors of this world struggle at its most critical moments.

No evidence has yet been found that the German High Command had any over-all strategic plan. Although the High Command approved Hitler's policies in principle, his impetuous strategy outran German military capabilities and ultimately led to Germany's defeat. The history of the German High Command from 1938 on is one of constant conflict of personalities in which military judgement was increasingly subordinated to Hitler's personal dictates. The first clash occurred in 1938 and resulted in the removal of von Blomberg, von Fritsch and Beek and of the last effective conservative influence on German foreign policy.

The campaigns in Poland, Norway, France, and the Low Countries led to serious disagreements between Hitler and the General Staff about the details of execution of strategic plans. In each case the General Staff favoured the orthodox offensive, while Hitler stood out for an unorthodox attack with objectives deep in enemy territory. In each case Hitler's views prevailed and the astounding success of each succeeding campaign raised Hitler's military prestige to the point where his opinions were no longer challenged. His military self- confidence became unassailable after the victory in France, and he began to disparage substantially the ideas of his generals, even in the presence of junior officers. Thus no General Staff objection was expressed when Hitler made the fatal decision to invade Soviet Russia."

And on page 118, there is an extract dealing with Germany and Japan. I quote:
"Nor is there evidence of close strategic co-ordination between Germany and Japan. The German General Staff recognized that Japan was bound by the neutrality pact with Russia but hoped that the Japanese would tie down strong British and American land, sea, and air forces in the Far East.

In the absence of any evidence so far to the contrary, it is believed that Japan also acted unilaterally and not in accordance with a unified strategic plan."

And further, in the documents which were also granted me, Exhibits Raeder 113 and 114, in Document Book VI, Pages 491, 497 -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, I think you should ask the witness whether he agrees with General Marshall's opinions.


Q. Admiral, do you agree with the opinions of the American General Marshall?

A. I have not completely absorbed them. In general they coincide with our ideas on the matter, but I cannot vouch for each single point. In order to speak with certainty I would like to have a look at them or they would have to be read to me again.

DR. SIEMERS: I believe your agreement in general is sufficient.

In Exhibit Raeder 113, I should like to refer to the heading:-

"Army Foresaw Japan's Move, Marshall Says:

Washington, 11th December (AP)-General George C. Marshall, formerly Army Chief of Staff, acknowledged last night that the Army knew more than ten days before 7th December, 1941, that a Japanese move toward Pearl Harbour might take them past the deadline where the American chiefs believed the US should fight."

In order to save time I shall not read the particulars; but it can be gathered from the report by Marshall that the American Army had some information about the Japanese move as early as November 25th or 26th. In addition, Marshall testifies that preparations had been worked out in the United States before the war for the construction of landing ships for American bombers in Raboul, Port Moresby and Singapore.

[Page 169]

In Exhibit Raeder 114, which I am also submitting, Henry L. Stimson, the former United States Secretary of War, made a statement under date of 21st March.
"Henry L. Stimson, former US Secretary of War, disclosed that the late President Roosevelt's War Cabinet had discussed and rejected - nine days before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour - an American attack on the Japanese forces without further warning.

Stimson recounted this in a statement that on 28th November, 1941, he had received information of Japanese movements along the Asiatic Coast. On the same day, he said, the Cabinet met and discussed the possible meaning of the Japanese move.

He further said that if the Japanese got into the Isthmus of Kra, the British would fight, and that if the British fought, we would have to fight."

According to this, Admiral, did the United States know about these Japanese plans before you did?

A. Apparently, yes.

DR. SIEMERS: Then I shall turn to the last accusation by the prosecution, and that concerns Brazil.

In this connection, the prosecution has submitted Document 1807-PS, Exhibit GB 227, to be found in Document Book 10A of the British Delegation, Page 288. This is Jodl's diary, the entry of 16th June, 1942. 1 have to beg your pardon, I am told it is Page 287, not 288. This entry reads:-

"The Naval Operations Staff applied on 29th May for permission to attack the Brazilian sea and air forces. It considers that a sudden blow against the Brazilian naval and merchant ships is expedient at this moment when defensive measures are still incomplete and there is the possibility of surprise, since Brazil is to all intents and purposes waging naval warfare against Germany."
The prosecution is accusing you of violating neutrality and violating International Law because you made that proposal at a time when Brazil was neutral. I call your attention to the fact that the war with Brazil broke out two months later on 22nd August, 1942. Please tell me briefly from memory just how you came to make this proposal.

A. Relations between Brazil and Germany at this time could not have been worse. The Germans were very much persecuted and treated very badly. Germany's economic interests were heavily damaged. The Brazilians were already completely on the side of the United States. They had allowed United States air bases to be established along the Brazilian coast, and also intelligence stations. They themselves confirmed that they had destroyed a German U-boat; and, on the other hand, the German U-boats had attacked Brazilian ships, for the Brazilian ships were not illuminated according to regulations and consequently could not be recognized as such. Germany had previously asked all the South American countries to illuminate their ships in such a way that their nationality could be distinguished at night. Then there were air attacks on U-boats of the Axis Powers, and they could have been carried out only from Brazilian bases. At the request by the Naval Operations Staff to the Fuehrer, the latter decreed that once again we should ask the Italians what intelligence reports they had received, and Italy in turn confirmed that some weeks before, Italian U-boats, which had been operating together with ours, had been attacked near the Brazilian coast. Likewise the Brazilian Air Ministry had made known the fact that Brazilian or United States aircraft coming from Brazilian air bases had attacked Axis U-boats.

On the basis of that confirmation, the Fuehrer permitted the use of weapons against Brazilian ships along the Brazilian coast. A plan was worked out, according to which a certain wave of U-boats, which left the French coast in June to proceed into the Atlantic, were to go to the Brazilian coast. The Fuehrer had ordered in particular that this was not to be mere pin-pricks but rather a serious enterprise. This operation was later stopped and, I am sorry that I am not able to say for what reason it was not carried out. But it can be seen from our document which gives the statements made in the War Diary.

[Page 170]

DR. SIEMERS: May it please the Tribunal, I believe that the entire accusation of the prosecution regarding this planning would not have been raised if Document 1807-PS, Jodl's diary entry of 16th June, had been submitted in toto. Only the first part was submitted. Therefore, I submit this entry as Exhibit Raeder 115, to be found in Document Book VI, Page 500. From the further statements made by General Jodl in his diary we may conclude that the situation was correctly investigated.

The first part, which was submitted by the prosecution, that is, the first two sentences, I have already read. The rest of the entry is as follows:-

"Ambassador Ritter of the Foreign Office declares that an intensification of the conflict with Brazil is undesirable in view of the attitude of Argentina and Chile and that, previous to any war measures against Brazil, consultations must be held with Italy and Japan. Acting on the proposal of the Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff, the Fuehrer has ordered, on 30th May, that the Naval Operations Staff is to ascertain, by inquiring in Rome, whether the Brazilian reports about war-like actions against Axis U-boats are correct. The inquiry by the Naval Operations Staff shows that Italian U-boats were attacked on 22nd and 26th May at the north- east corner of Brazil by planes which beyond a doubt had started from a Brazilian air base. The Naval Operations Staff transmit, moreover, the text of the official communique of the Brazilian Air Ministry about the fighting and propose to put into action near the main Brazilian harbours during the period 3rd-8th August the ten U-boats due to sail during the period 22nd June-4th July from ports in Western France, along with the tanker U-460. The order for execution must be given to the U- boats by 15th June at the latest. After the Commander-in- Chief of the Navy had reported this to the Fuehrer at the Berghof on the afternoon of 15th June, the Fuehrer declared himself in agreement with the intentions of the Naval Operations Staff but ordered that, before any final decision was taken, the political situation should be examined once again by the Foreign Office."
I believe that this proves that we were careful enough; and I refer further to Exhibit Raeder 116 which I should like to submit herewith. It is on Page 503 of the same document book, and is an extract from the War Diary. Under date 6th June there is an entry which states that the development has gone so far that a latent state of war is practically in existence. (Brazil entirely on the side of USA; most severe damage to all German interests; single Brazilian steamers not properly illuminated sunk by U-boats; increasing agitation in Brazil; Brazilians claim they have already sunk German U-boat while patrolling the coast.)"

And a further extract from the War Diary, Exhibit Raeder 117, which I should like to submit herewith, to be found in the same document book, Page 509. I ask the High Tribunal to take notice of this document and its contents and I refer only to (3) and (4) in detail. Under (3) it reads:-

"When Brazilian ships began to provide themselves with camouflage paint and to arm, the order was given on 15th May, 1942, to use arms at once against recognizable armed South Americans."
And under (4) it says:-
"On the basis of the fact that Axis submarines were attacked by vessels along the Brazilian coast and that the Brazilian Air Ministry officially made known that attacks had been made by the Brazilian Air Force, the Naval Operations Staff on 29th May, 1942, in Document 12938/42 Top Secret, asked the Wehrmacht Operations Staff for permission to use arms against Brazilian military forces and merchant ships."
I submit also Exhibit Raeder 118, Document Book VI, Page 510. I ask the High Tribunal to take notice of this document. I do not wish to quote it, since it repeats the facts we have already heard. I believe that (4) of Raeder 117, which I have just read, clarifies the matter completely and refutes every accusation against the Navy.

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