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-Fifth Day: Tuesday, 21st May, 1946
(Part 2 of 9)

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

[Page 240]



Q. The only reason, therefore, why you were pointing this out was that you were considering the 35-cm. guns used in the King George class by the British Admiralty?

A. Yes, it was the aim of every navy at that time to know as early as possible which was the largest calibre of guns being used by other navies. I said yesterday that, to start with, we had chosen as a model the French Dunkerque type, but later on we discovered that the British had advanced to 35.6 cm.

Ships have to be used, if war breaks out, in their actual state, their gun calibre cannot be changed any more. Therefore we always went as high as possible.

Q. Would I be right, therefore - please excuse me - if I said that the expression "against Great Britain" in this connection is not correct, and that a correct translation would have been "with reference to"?

A. Yes, it should have said "with reference to England." I said yesterday that it would have been quite senseless if I were to do something against Great Britain before the conclusion of the pact.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, that was fully gone into in cross-examination, and the defendant stated his explanation of the words used.

[Page 241]


Q. From Document C-190, which is the conversation on 2nd November, 1934, aboard the Emden between you and Hitler, Sir David put it to you that Hitler, in a discussion with you and Goering, said that he considered the expansion of the Navy as planned to be an absolutely vital necessity, since war could not be conducted unless the Navy safeguarded the ore imports from Scandinavia. It was said that this would have to be understood to mean that the Navy was planned in view of a war and in view of safeguarding the ore imports, which really meant aggressive intentions. Are you of the opinion that the British Navy was not planned to safeguard imports to England or for the event of war and was not equipped accordingly?

A. No, there is not the slightest doubt about that.

Q. Six submarines are mentioned in this document. Considering that figure, may I ask you to tell me the number of submarines that Germany would have needed in order to conduct an aggressive war?

A. Well, at any rate, many more than we had in October, 1939; a multiple of that.

DR. SIEMERS: From a document, Mr. President, which was submitted yesterday, D-806, I want to quote, in addition to the second paragraph which has been quoted, the first paragraph, and to put it to the witness. It is D-806, Exhibit GB 462, submitted yesterday at noon.


Q. There it says, "Reference: Submarine Construction Programme. On 27th October, 1936, decision made regarding the full utilization of the still available U-boat tonnage according to the Naval Agreement of 1935 and regarding the immediate ordering of the construction of U-41 to U-51."

Were these the rest of the submarines within the 45 per cent limit to which we were entitled according to the Naval Agreement of 1935?

A. Yes, that is right, judging from the figures.

Q. And then, Grand Admiral, you have been very thoroughly questioned about Austria and Czechoslovakia. Since that subject has been gone into in detail, I shall confine myself to just one question: Did you, at any time, receive any tasks or orders of a foreign political nature from Hitler? Did he ask you for your advice in foreign political matters?

A. I was never asked for advice, and I had no foreign political tasks, unless you consider the duties which I had to fulfil in Bulgaria and Hungary after my resignation of a foreign political nature.

Q. Regarding what was left of Czechoslovakia, you were asked whether Hitler had aggressive intentions against Prague at that time. I think the question ought to have been whether his intentions were for an aggressive war.

In connection with that, you have been asked about Goering's threat to bombard Prague, and you quite rightly admitted that such a bombing would be a threat. Sir David, of course, cited it as being near to aggressive war, but in order to be quite clear, I want you to tell the Tribunal when you learned of this planned bombing.

A. Only after the whole matter had been settled, and only in a conversation. I heard no announcement and I knew nothing else of it beforehand.

Q. So you knew nothing of it before the occupation of Prague?

A. No, because military undertakings against Prague were altogether unknown to me.

DR. SIEMERS: Then there is the Document C-100. Mr. President, it was presented yesterday as Exhibit GB 464.

THE PRESIDENT: 463, I have got it.

DR. SIEMERS: I beg your pardon; 463.

[Page 242]


Q. From that document I want to quote to you from Page 10. It is Page 3 of the attached document. I want to put the following sentence to you:

"Fuehrer asked OBdM whether there were any special wishes of the Navy with reference to bases on Dutch-Belgian Coast. OBdM says, 'no', since bases are within reach of British coast and are therefore useless as submarine bases."
Was it your opinion that -

THE PRESIDENT: Where, exactly, are you reading from? Your pages are not the same as ours. With reference to the Roman numerals, for instance, Sir David Maxwell Fyfe quoted from paragraph IV in Roman numeral.

DR. SIEMERS: I beg to apologise, Mr. President, but the German photostat copy is very difficult to read. The first part of my copy consists of seven pages, and then there is an attached document regarding the report to the Fuehrer on 10th of November, 1939.

THE PRESIDENT: You have got Roman numerals in it, have you not? Have you not got the passage that Sir David read, paragraph IV, Roman numeral?

DR. SIEMERS: I cannot see any Roman numerals here, I am afraid, but I will have a look at the English text.

THE PRESIDENT: It is in the English text. It is on Page 5, No. IV: It goes as follows:

"1st Possibility:

The decision of the Fuehrer is made in favour of a Western offensive, beginning very shortly, within the framework of the instructions - "

DR. SIEMERS: Apparently, Mr. President, Major Elwyn Jones is right. He says that the part which I have just been reading was not contained in the English translation, but it is part of the photostat copy of the original. The English translation only contains the first part of the document, and not that, report to the Fuehrer of 20th November, 1939.

THE PRESIDENT: You had better read it then.

DR. SIEMERS: Very well. It is figure 6 of the attached document.

"Fuehrer asks Commander-in-Chief Navy (OBdM) whether special wishes of Navy exist regarding bases on Dutch- Belgian coast. Commander-in-Chief Navy says 'no' since bases are within reach of the British coast and are therefore useless as submarine bases."

Q. According to this, witness, you were not in favour of an occupation of Belgian and Dutch bases, nor did you in any way make this question your business.

A. This was always my point of view, that, from the experience of the First World War, Belgium and Holland, as far as the Navy was concerned, could not offer any useful bases, since all would be within easy reach of the British Air Force. In the First World War definitely serious fighting occurred between the submarines leaving their ports and destroyers stationed nearby. Therefore I declared myself not to be interested in Belgium and Holland.

Q. Passing various documents, I now come to D-843, GB 466. This is a document in which Dr. Brauer from the Oslo Embassy expresses the view that the danger of a British occupation of Norway was not really very great, and that certain actions were only taken in order to provoke Germany.

I have one more question on that. Did the embassy in Oslo, that is to say Brauer, know about the information that Admiral Canaris was supplying to you?

A. I cannot tell you that. I was never in direct contact with Dr. Brauer, only with the naval attache; but I must add that Dr. Brauer had only been in Oslo for a comparatively short period, and that apparently he was not particularly well informed. Also, statements made by Norwegian ministers were not properly appreciated by him.

[Page 243]

Q. Was there not an order from Hitler that the Foreign Office should not be informed regarding plans concerning Norway?

A. Yes, he expressly ordered that, and apparently for that same reason the Reich Foreign Minister himself was informed very late.

Q. In other words, as far as you can see, the ambassador could not have had Canaris's information through military sources.

A. No, hardly.

Q. Then there were two documents, D-844 and D-845. It was put to you from those that there was no danger in Scandinavia. Was the information that you received at the time different?

A. Yes. I had continuous information -

THE PRESIDENT: All this was gone into yesterday, and the witness gave the same answer.

DR. SIEMERS: I believe that the following has never been mentioned before.


Q. Did you know whether as early as 5th April mines had been laid in the territorial waters off Norway?

A. The Allies, had announced it on 7th April, but the actual operations must have taken place a few days earlier.

Q. Grand Admiral, yesterday -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Dr. Siemers, the only purpose of re-examination is to bring out matters which are favourable to your client and which have not been raised in cross-examination, that is to say, to explain anything which has not been given in cross-examination. When he has given this account in cross-examination it is no good putting it to him again in re-examination. We have heard it.

DR. SIEMERS: I think that on this particular point one explanation is missing.

BY DR. SIEMERS: Yesterday, you were asked rather unexpectedly what had been the technical development since 1936, and how the legal situation regarding submarine warfare would have been influenced thereby. This is a somewhat difficult question, and it is hard to answer it in two seconds. You have mentioned aircraft. Cannot you supplement your statement?

A. Yes, in truth, I forgot the most important point due to the fact that there was a rather lively controversy. The important point is that the spotting of vessels at sea by aircraft was something quite new and had been developed very efficiently. That development continued very rapidly during the war, until submarines could very quickly be located and pursued.

Q. Regarding D-841, which is the affidavit from Dietmann, may I, with the Tribunal's permission, make a formal application? In this affidavit, there is the following sentence:

THE PRESIDENT: Dietmann, you mean?

DR. SIEMERS: Exhibit GB 474.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dietmann's affidavit.

DR. SIEMERS: Yes, Dietmann's affidavit. There is the sentence, the last sentence which was read yesterday:-

"It is my personal opinion that the higher authorities of the Navy in Kiel and other places in Germany had knowledge of these dreadful things."
THE PRESIDENT: It is not "had knowledge" but "must have had knowledge". It seems to me it is in the translation "must have had knowledge".

DR. SIEMERS: Yes. I have not got the German and I do not know how the original is worded. I only have the English translation. It is not quite clear to me how the German version was worded. May I ask the Tribunal -

[Page 244]

THE PRESIDENT: Is the document put in in the original German or is it put in in the English? The deposition is in German presumably.

DR. SIEMERS: I presume that originally the statement was in German. The copy I have states that this is a translation and that is English, but I have not seen the German original.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, there must have been a German copy for the witness yesterday. I do not know whether or not it is the original. I did not see it but I assume it was.

THE PRESIDENT: It is not the case that the deposition was made in German, then translated into English and then translated back into German, is it?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that is why I assume it was the original. I am sorry it was made. I have not got the original document in front of me but I assume that was so. I will find out in a moment for you.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. What is the point, Dr. Siemers?

DR. SIEMERS: I believe that this sentence should be struck from the document. It does not record a fact.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean, you are asking to have it struck out or -


THE PRESIDENT: What do you say, Sir David?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, the witness sets out fully the facts in the preceding paragraphs of the affidavit and then it is true that he introduces the sentence: "By my personal opinion - " but the gist of the statement is that from these facts which I have stated " - the higher formations of the Navy in Kiel and in other places in Germany must have had knowledge of these terrible conditions." A man who has been working in that detachment of the German Navy and knows the communications between that detachment and the head-quarters, is in a position to say whether headquarters would have knowledge of the facts he has stated. His inference has a greater probative value than the inference which the Tribunal can draw. The objection to the statement of a matter of opinion is where the witness gives his opinion on a matter on which the Court is equally capable of drawing an opinion from the same facts, but the importance of that statement is that he is saying "working there and being familiar with the chain of command and communications." I say that anyone at Kiel must have been able to learn from these facts what was going on at these places-so that is the narrow point, whether his special knowledge entitles him to express a view which the Tribunal, without that special knowledge, would not be in a position to draw.

THE PRESIDENT: But ought he not theoretically to state all the facts and if he does state all the facts, then the Tribunal will be in the same position as he is, to form a judgement, and it is for the Tribunal to form the judgement.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that is exactly the point to which I was addressing my argument, that there is the additional fact, that because he was working there, was part of the chain of naval command and he is speaking of the knowledge of the naval command from the point of view of somebody who was working in it, and, therefore, he has on that point his opinion as to the sources of knowledge; and the necessity of constructive knowledge is an additional fact.

My Lord, the state of a man's mind and the expression of his knowledge may be a fact in certain circumstances, just as much a fact as it is stated, as Lord Bowen once put it.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, if the state of his knowledge is directly relevant to an issue.

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