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-Fourth Day: Monday, 20th May, 1946
(Part 7 of 13)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of Erich Raeder]

[Page 206]


Q. Now, I would like you, therefore, defendant, to look at Document 789-PS, which is at Page 261 of the British Document Book 10-A, and Pages 438 to 440 of the German book - 438 to 440. This is the note, defendant, of a conference on 23rd November, 1939, with Hitler, to which all supreme commanders were ordered. Do you see that at the beginning, Pages 438 to 440? Do you see what it says, "to which all supreme commanders are ordered"? Were you present?

A. Yes, it is the conference during the war, on 23rd November, 1939,

Q. Yes. Were you present?

A. I was present.

Q. Who were the other Commanders-in-Chief who were present?

A. The Commanders-in-Chief of the Army, the Air Force, and a considerable number of generals of the Army.

Q. The "Oberbefehlshaber"?

A. Yes, but in the Army -

Q. Yes. Now, I want you to look at a passage. The paragraph begins:-

"One year later, Austria came. This step also was considered hazardous."
Do you see that? Do you see that paragraph?

A. Yes, I have got it.

Q. Much obliged. Now, I just want you to look at the next few sentences.

"It brought about a considerable reinforcement of the Reich. The next step was Bohemia, Moravia and Poland. But this step was not to be accomplished in one move. First of all, the West Wall had to be finished in the West. It was not possible to reach the goal in one bound. It was clear to me from the first moment that I could not be satisfied with the

[Page 207]

Sudeten-German territory. It was only a partial solution. The decision to march into Bohemia was made. Then followed the establishment of the Protectorate and with that the basis for the conquest of Poland was laid, but I wasn't yet clear at that time whether I should start first against the East and then against the West or vice versa. Moltke often had to ponder over the same things in his time. Of necessity it came to a fight with Poland first. I shall be accused of wanting to fight and fight again; in struggle I see the fate of all beings. Nobody can avoid a struggle if he does not want to go under. The increasing population requires a larger living space. My goal was to create a logical relation between the population and the living space."
Whatever you had understood up to that time, you appreciated then, that Hitler himself had had a consistent and clear aim of aggression throughout these matters that I put to you this morning; did you not?

A. Yes, but now we were already in the middle of a war and he was looking at these things retrospectively. Also, he wanted to make it clear to the generals, with whom he had a conflict at that time, that he had always been right in his political conceptions. That is the reason why he quotes all these detailed points again.

Q. Well now, would you turn over to Page 264 of the English Document Book, German Document Book, Pages 445-448. Have you got that?

A. Perhaps you would be good enough to read, I have here a -

Q. It is the paragraph that begins: "We have an Achilles heel: The Ruhr."

A. I have it.

Q. Would you look about halfway down that paragraph? You will see:

"England cannot live without her imports. We can feed ourselves. The permanent sowing of mines off the English coasts will bring England to her knees."
Have you got that passage?

A. Yes.

Q. Thank you. Now, if you would just listen.

"However, this" (that is bringing England to her knees)" can only occur when we have occupied Belgium and Holland. It is a difficult decision for me. Nobody has ever achieved what I have achieved. My life is of no importance in all this. I have led the German people to great heights, even if the world does hate us now. I have to choose between victory or destruction. I choose victory, the greatest historical choice - to be compared with the decision of Frederick the Great before the first Silesian war, Prussia owes its rise to the heroism of one man."
And there is some more about Frederick the Great and Bismarck:
"My decision is unchangeable. I shall attack France and England at the earliest and most favourable moment. Violation of the neutrality of Belgium and Holland is unimportant. No one will question that when we have won. We shall not give such idiotic reasons for the violation of neutrality as were given in 1914. If we do not violate the neutrality, then England and France will. Without attack the war is not to be ended victoriously."
Now, do you remember, defendant, that this was just two weeks after the plans for "Fall Gelb," that is plans for the attack on Holland and Belgium, had been issued on 10th November? Do you remember that?

A. I know that this was discussed here, but we were already at war with England. Therefore at that stage it was no longer necessary to discuss an attack against England and France.

Q. You were not at war with Holland and Belgium, were you?

A. Please I would like to finish.

[Page 208]

I am sorry, I thought you had finished.

A. Here it says:

"If the French Army marches into Belgium to attack us, then it will be too late for us. We must be first."
Hitler at that time stated that he had received definite news that Belgium would not respect her neutrality and that he also had news that certain preparations for the reception of French and British troops, etc., had already been made. For that reason, he wanted to forestall an attack from Belgium against us. Apart from that, in his speech of 22nd August, 1939, he had made a statement entirely to the opposite effect. He had said that Belgium and Holland would not break their neutrality.

Q. Did you agree with what he said, that the "violation of the neutrality of Belgium and Holland is unimportant. No one will question that when we have won."

Did you agree with that view?

A. No, it is not exactly my opinion, but I had no cause on my part to raise any objection against his statement at that moment.

Q. The view of the Naval War Staff was put up to him a month later with regard to U-boat warfare, was it not? Do you remember that on 30th December you had a meeting with Hitler, at which Colonel-General Keitel and Fregattenkapitan von Putkammer were present?

A. Yes, I was with him on 30th December.

Q. I would like you to look at the next document, which is C- 100, Exhibit GB 463.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, ought not this document to be identified?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Your Lordship, of course, is right. I think we had perhaps better give them two numbers, one for each of the original PS documents. My Lord, the comparison -

THE PRESIDENT: 1014-PS has a number already, has it not?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord. That has a number.

THE PRESIDENT: I thought perhaps the comparative document ought to have a number.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Certainly. Shall we call the comparison of 798-PS, Exhibit GB 464, and the comparison of 1014-PS, Exhibit GB 465.

THE PRESIDENT: I have only got one here, as far as I can see.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I am going to get some more done. I am afraid I have only passed up a limited number at the moment, but I will have some more run off.

THE PRESIDENT: Now you are going to give us C-100?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: C-100, my Lord, yes.


Q. Defendant, I will be grateful if you will turn over a few pages to where it comes to a report to the Fuehrer dated 30th December, 1939, and an enclosure to that report.

Would you look at paragraph IV, which says:

"With regard to the form and the moment for the beginning of further intensification of the war at sea, the decision of the Supreme War Command to begin the general intensification of the war with an offensive in the West is of decisive importance."
Have you got that, paragraph IV?

A. Page?

Q. I am afraid the paging is different.

A. "Regarding the form" - yes.

[Page 209]

Q. "With regard to the form and the moment for the commencement of further intensification of the war at sea, the decision of the Supreme War Command to begin the general intensification of the war with an offensive in the West is of decisive importance.

First possibility:-

The decision of the Fuehrer is made in favour of a Western offensive, beginning very shortly, within the framework of the instructions at present issued, by violating the neutrality of other States.

In this case the intensified measures for the war at sea will in their political effect only represent a small part of the entire intensification of the war. The gradual change-over to the intensified form of waging the war at sea within the American restricted zones, with the ultimate aim of a ruthless employment of all means of warfare to interrupt all commerce with England is therefore proposed with the start of the general offensive.

Immediate anticipation of individual intensified measures for the war at sea is not necessary and may be postponed until the start of the general intensification of the war. The benevolent neutrals - Italy, Spain, Japan and Russia, as well as America - are to be spared as far as possible."

Is not that right, that you contemplated that Hitler's violation of the neutrality of the Low Countries would cover, by being a more important matter, your adopting the most ruthless methods of war at sea? Is not that right?

A. No.

Q. What does that mean if it does not mean that? What does that mean if it does not mean what I have put to you?

A. With the beginning of the offensive in the West, Hitler also wanted a certain energetic pursuit of the war at sea. For that reason, he asked me to introduce at this point the intensified measures which I considered justified because of the attitude of the British forces. The intensifications were very carefully considered in that memorandum, and they followed step by step the different steps taken by Britain.

Q. I will deal with the memorandum. You need not be afraid that I will omit that, but what I am putting to you at the moment is this: That so far from disapproving of the violation of the neutrality of Holland and Belgium, you, on behalf of the Navy, were quite prepared to accompany it by the intensification of submarine warfare; is not that right?

A. That is twisting my words. I had nothing to do with this violation of neutrality, for we were not there when they marched into these two countries. The only thing I was interested in was to intensify the submarine war step by step, so as to meet the measures introduced by the British , which also violated International Law.

Q. I shall be coming to submarine warfare, but at the moment I want to try to keep all this in compartments. There are only two more points on this aggressive war. I am now going to pass - you can leave that document for the moment. I will come back to it, defendant; you need not be afraid, and I want you to help me on one or two points in Norway.

With regard to Norway, you were quite content to leave Norway neutral, not occupied, so long as you had a protected channel up the Norwegian coast in neutral waters, is that right? That was an important point for you, to have a channel in neutral waters so that not only your ships, but also your submarines, could go up and start out from neutral waters, is that right?

A. No, I have very clearly explained in documents the origin of the Norwegian campaign. There was the danger that the British might occupy Norway, and information of all sorts indicated that, of course, if we were forced to occupy the Norwegian coast, then, apart from all the numerous disadvantages which I have explained, we had the advantage that we would gain this or that base for our Atlantic submarines.

[Page 210]

Q. Are you telling the Tribunal that the Navy seriously thought that the British wanted to occupy Norway?

A. I most certainly thought that. We had so much information about it that I had no doubt whatever, and it was fully confirmed later on.

Q. I just ask you, then, to look at just one or two typical Navy reports. We will not refer to the document again, but we will start from there, just to get the time.

You remember, on 13th March, 1940, General Jodl entered in his diary that the Fuehrer was still looking for justification; do you remember that? You remember that, do you not?

A. I have already explained once that the expression just used, "justification," is wrong, wrongly translated. Jodl wrote "Begrundung," "reason." But that is also wrong - please will you let me finish - even that is incorrect, because the Fuehrer had an abundance of reasons himself, which appeared in the instruction issued on 1st March, and it was known to all of us. I have said that by the expression, "Begrundung," "reason," he probably meant that he had not yet had a diplomatic note compiled. He had not told the Foreign Minister anything about it at that stage. I told you that recently under oath and I repeat it under oath today.

Q. I see. That is the meaning that you have given to it. Well now, will you look at your own Exhibit, No. 81, in Raeder Document Book V, Page 376.

A. May I have Document Book V?

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