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-Sixth Day: Wednesday, 22nd May, 1946
(Part 6 of 11)

[DR. SIEMERS continues his direct examination of Erich Schulte-Monting]

[Page 295]

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, that is Document 1541 PS; Exhibit GB 13, in the Document Book of the British Prosecution 10 A, Page 270, that is Directive No. 20, case "Marita," of 13th December, 1940.

Q. Admiral, what caused Raeder, apart from that point which Hitler had already explained, to ask that specific question again in the month of March - that is to say on 18th March?

A. A few days before, there had been a British landing in the south of Greece.

Q. Did this landing make it necessary to occupy the whole of Greece?

A. Yes, for strategic reasons, absolutely. The menace of an occupation from the sea or from the air, or the formation of a Balkan front against Germany, or the menace from the air to the oilfields, had to be eliminated under all circumstances. May I only remind you of the Salonika operation in the First World War. I believe that was a similar situation.

Q. Here again the prosecution says this was governed by the desire for conquest and fame. Is that correct?

A. I should like to answer that fame demands deeds, and I do not know what the Navy could have conquered in the Mediterranean. We did not have a single man or a single ship down there; but Raeder had, of course, for the strategic reasons I have mentioned, to advise Hitler in that direction.

Q. Were breaches of neutrality on the part of Greece known to you before this time, before we occupied Greece?

[Page 296]

A. We had been informed that in 1939, certain Greek political and military circles had been in the closest connection with the Allied General Staff. We knew that Greek merchantmen were in British service. Therefore we were compelled to consider the Greek merchantmen which sailed through the prohibited zone to England as enemy ships. And, I believe, in the beginning of 1940 or the middle of 1940 we received information that the Allies intended to land in Greece, or to establish a Balkan front against Germany.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)




Q. Admiral, as the last point in my questions dealing with Russia, I should like to show you the document submitted by the Soviet prosecution, Document UK 45, Exhibit USSR 113. This document is a communication from the Naval Operational Staff of 29th September, 1941, to Group North, that is, General Admiral Karls. Under "II" it gives the result of a conversation between Admiral Fricke and Hitler:

"The Fuehrer is determined to raze the city of St. Petersburg to the ground."
Raeder has been accused of not having done anything to oppose such a monstrous intention, and because the Naval Operational Staff passed on this communication. I ask you, Admiral, did you know of this communication in 1941?

I beg your pardon, Mr. President, I should like to remark that of this moment, I'm sorry to say, I have no photostatic copy of this document. I tried to procure it.

I have this very moment received it, and I should like to submit the photostatic copy at this point, instead of the written copy.

A. This seems to be the original which I have before me?

Q. No, Admiral, it is a copy, an exact copy of the photostatic copy, with all paragraphs and names, made for my own special use.

Were you acquainted with this communication in 1941?

A. I knew nothing about it in 1941. I see it now for the first time.

Q. Do you believe that Grand Admiral Raeder saw this communication before it was sent off, even though you yourself had not seen it?

A. That would have been rather surprising. Communications which were submitted to Admiral Raeder all went through my hands. They were always marked either (1) "The Commander-in-Chief has knowledge of this," and were initialled by me personally in order to certify this, or (2) "This order or this directive is to be submitted to the Commander-in-Chief," and in this case too, my initials were affixed. This order and this copy which you have just shown to me, I have never seen before; I am not acquainted with it; and I consider it impossible that Grand Admiral Raeder saw it, because on 29th September, 1941, I was in good health and exercising my duties in Berlin.

Q. Admiral, what do you know about this question of Leningrad and the Navy?

A. I recall that at the time the situation was considered to be critical and at the following briefing -

DR. SIEMERS: You can continue, but more slowly.

A. - the future of Leningrad was dealt with, and an officer of the Naval Operational Staff reported on the intentions of the army. Whereupon Raeder expressed the desire that it be kept in mind during the operations that Leningrad should fall unscathed into our hands. For he needed shipyards and adjoining territory for naval construction, and he wished that the army be informed of the

[Page 297]

urgency of this desire because we intended, in view of the ever increasing danger of air attacks, to shift part of our shipyard facilities to the East.

At this time we had already begun, if I remember correctly, to move installations from Emden to the East, and wanted, furthermore, as Raeder wished, subsequently to evacuate Wilhelmshaven and move the installations there as far to the East as possible. He emphasized expressly that the city should also be left as undamaged as possible, because otherwise there would be no place for the workers to live. This is all I can truthfully tell you about the case of Leningrad.

Do you know that this wish of Raeder's was rejected by Hitler, because he said it was not possible.

A. No, I do not recall that this case was taken up again. For the operations in the North soon come to a standstill, I believe.

O. Did other high officers tell you anything at all about this document?

A. No, I never heard anything about it, nor did I see any reason to discuss it with anyone.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, if it is agreeable to the Tribunal, I should like to submit a document which was granted me, Exhibit Raeder III, because of its connection with this problem. It is to be found in my Document Book VI, Page 435. It is an affidavit by Rear Admiral Hans Butow, dated 21st March, 1946. I should like to read this document, since it is very brief. It reads as follows

"During the period from 20th June, 1941, to 20th October, 1941, namely, the period to which Exhibit USSR 113 (1) refers, I was stationed in Finland as naval commander. I was under General Admiral Karls, the Commander-in-Chief of Group North. I declare that neither the document in question, a communication of 29th September, 1941, sent by the Naval Operational Staff to Group North, nor its contents have ever come to my knowledge, as it undoubtedly would have if General Admiral Karls had passed on the letter to the officers subordinate to him. As far as I know, no one else in my command received this communication.

I first learned of this order of Hitler in November, 1945, on the occasion of a conversation with Dr. Siemers, the defence counsel for Grand Admiral Raeder.

Other officers, especially other naval commanders, have never spoken to me about this order. It is thus clear that they too had no knowledge of this order."

Then there is the certification and the signature of the senior naval judge before whom this affidavit was made.


Q. Admiral, then I should like to turn to a new topic, the alleged war of aggression which Raeder is supposed to have planned against America. Did Raeder at any time try to instigate Japan to a war against America?

A. No, never. We never had any military discussions with Japan at all before her entry into the war. Quite on the contrary, Raeder warned Hitler against war with America, the great naval superiority which the almost certain combination of America and England would bring about.

Q. For what reasons did you, Raeder, and the High Command especially warn Hitler?

A. First of all, for the reasons which I outlined before, reasons of over-all strategy which guided Raeder during the entire course of the war. Raeder considered the chief enemy on the sea, and not on land. If, in addition to that, the largest sea power in the world was to be added to England's superiority, then for us the war would have taken on unbearable proportions.

Besides, through the reports of our naval attache in Washington, Vice Admiral Wiethoft, Raeder was very well informed about the tremendous potential at the disposal of the United States.

[Page 298]

I might also mention the conversation of the normal economy into a war economy, and the tremendous planning of shipyards and installations which, as Weithoft stated a few months before the war, allowed the construction of a million tons of shipping each month; these figures were very significant, and were naturally at the same time a terrible warning to us not to underestimate the armament potential of the United States.

Q. The prosecution believes it must draw the opposite conclusion from the fact that Raeder, on 18th March, 1941, according to the War Diary, proposed that Japan should attack Singapore.

A. In my opinion, that was an absolutely correct measure, and a correct proposal, which was in line with Raeder's reasoning. He was interested in dealing blows to England's important strategic centres. That he tried to ease our situation is understandable and self-evident. But at no time did he propose that Japan should enter into a war against America, but rather against England.

Q. Were there any discussions about these strategic questions at this time between you and Raeder on one hand, and Japanese military authorities on the other?

A. No, I have already stated that before Japan's entry into the war, no military discussions with Japan had ever taken place. The Japanese attitude was very reserved.

Q. Did Raeder ever discuss an attack by Japan on Pearl Harbour?

A. No. We heard about this for the first time over the radio.

Q. Admiral, during the time of your activity in the High Command of the Navy, or during your activity as a commanding admiral at Trondhjem, did you have any knowledge about the treatment of Allied prisoners of war by the German Navy?

A. I might reply that I know of no case in which Allied prisoners of war, as long as they were under the control of the Navy, were treated other than properly and chivalrously.

I could refer to the testimony given by the English commander of the midget U-boat which attacked the Tirpitz in the Alta Fjord, who, after his return to England from imprisonment, gave a Press interview on the occasion of his being awarded the Victoria Cross. In this interview he mentioned the particularly chivalrous and correct treatment he had received at the hands of the commander of the Tirpitz.

From my own command in Norway, I could mention a case in which members of the Norwegian resistance movement, who, dressed in civilian clothing, were in our power, were treated just as chivalrously and correctly. I had to investigate these cases in the presence of British authorities, and the correctness of the treatment was always proved.

Q. When did you have to investigate this at the order of the British Military Government?

A. After the capitulation.

Q. I beg your pardon, not the Military Government, but the British Navy.

A. The British Navy at Trondhjem, while I was a commanding admiral.

Q. And the cases which were investigated there, first by you and then by the competent British Admiral, were not contested?

A. No. The naval officer handed them over to me and I had to present the findings of the Courts of Enquiry in writing.

Q. And the result -

A. The result was good and correct and occasioned no protests.

Q. And the result was presented to the competent British officer?

A. Yes, on whose order I had had to do this.

Q. Admiral, the case of the Athenia has been dealt with here in detail, and is known to the Tribunal. Therefore, in order to save time, I should like merely to touch upon this case in passing. I should like you to tell me: Did the High

[Page 299]

Command know, did you and Raeder know, at the beginning of September, 1939. that the Athenia had been sunk by a German U-boat?

A. No. The commander of the U-boats reported on the 3rd - that the Athenia could not have been sunk by a German U-boat, since, if I remember correctly, the nearest was about seventy nautical miles away.

Q. When did you learn that a German U-boat had sunk the Athenia?

A. I believe two or three weeks afterwards, after this U-boat returned.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, I should like to refer to a document, according to which the date was the 27th September.


Q. Do you know that a declaration had been made by State Secretary von Weizacker on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th of September, to the effect that it was not a German U-boat? When it was established that it actually had been a German U-boat, what did Raeder do about it?

A. The assumption that it had not been a German U-boat was at first justified, and State Secretary von Weizsacker therefore acted in the best of faith, as did we. After this regrettable mistake became known, Raeder reported this fact to Hitler. Hitler then ordered that he did not want the statement which had been made by the Foreign Office denied. He ordered that the participants,- that is, those who knew, should give their oath to remain silent until, I believe, the end of the war.

Q. Did you give your oath of silence.

A. I personally did not give my oath of silence, and neither did Admiral Raeder. In the High Command we were the only ones, I believe, with the exception of Admiral Fricke who had knowledge of that, and we should probably have taken the oath.

Q. At Hitler's order you were obliged to administer an oath to the others who knew about this?

A. Yes. I am of the opinion that it was the crew of the U-boat, in so far as they knew about this mistake.

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