The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. It is stated, in Paragraph 3, sub-paragraph (a), of the

  "The common aim in the conduct of this war is to crush
  England as soon as possible, and thereby keep the United
  States out of the war."

A. Such a directive was necessary in order that careless
talk on the part of German officers should not encourage
officers of the Japanese Army and Navy to use our policy for
their own purposes, and for this reason the Ministry for
Foreign Affairs also received a copy, as is shown in the
distribution list on the bottom of Page 96. This would never
have happened in the case of an operational order.
Therefore, the Fuehrer did not sign it.

Q. The objectives of the German Navy are also stated on the
top of Page 96. They read as follows:

  "Moreover, attacks on other groups of Anglo-American
  naval bases, if the entry of the United States into the
  war cannot be prevented, are only advisable for
  shattering organized enemy strong points in those

And so we again find the attempt to prevent the entry of the
United States into the war and to attack only if nothing
else should prove possible.

A. I should like to add that the purpose of this document
was not to exert influence on Japan, since that would have
been a political action. It was merely a directive addressed
to all officers, telling them how to express themselves in
such a case.

Q. Grand Admiral Raeder has already told us by what naval
orders he had endeavoured to keep the United States out of
the war. Have you anything to add to this?

A. Only one point, which the Grand Admiral did not mention.
It is obvious from Documents C-119 and AJ-37. It can be read
on Page 98 of Document Book 1.

Q. Page 98 of Volume I, which we submit. It states:

  "Special order on behaviour during the occupation of
  Denmark and Norway."

And then.

A. Only the last sentence need be read.

Q. Please read it.

  A. "All warships and merchant vessels sailing under the
  USA flag are excepted from the prohibition of departure,
  or putting to sea."

Q. And so that is the last sentence at the bottom of Page
98. The paragraph speaks of prohibiting warships, merchant
vessels, airplanes, etc., to leave port with the exception
of the Americans.

A. And so in all the war measures of the Naval Staff,
America was granted an exceptional position for a long time.

Q. Before Japan's attack on America, did you have any
official dealings with Japanese officers?

A. No, not before.

Q. None at all?

A. No.

Q. Did you expect the attack on Pearl Harbour?

A. The attack came as a complete surprise, a complete
surprise to me, and I had the feeling it was also a surprise
to the Fuehrer, for he came in the middle of the night to my
chart-room in order to transmit this news to Field Marshal
Keitel and myself. He was completely surprised.

Q. Now, I should like you to clear up an erroneous
interpretation of this letter of Falkenstein's. It is Page
81, Volume I of our Document Book. There is a letter,
Document PS-376, Exhibit USA 161. There is a letter from
Falkenstein to you, I believe?

A. No, no.

Q. No?

                                                  [Page 351]

A. No, to General von Waldau, of the Operations Staff of the

Q. It states:

  "With a view to a future war against America, the Fuehrer
  is engaged with the question of occupying the Atlantic

That can be interpreted to mean that he intended to attack
America: "With a view to a future war against America, the
Fuehrer is engaged ..." What is meant by that and how did
you interpret it?

A. That is perfectly obvious. At that time consideration was
actually being given to the occupation of the Atlantic
Islands, something the Fuehrer had always wanted to do.

For what purpose?

A. As a certain security base, and so an outpost, in case of
American intervention. And we had to take this idea into
consideration, although the Navy, the Armed Forces
Operations Staff and the Chief of the High Command of the
Wehrmacht definitely rejected it, we had to occupy ourselves
with these matters theoretically at least, and this is what
he tells General von Waldau in this letter.

Furthermore, the same thing is said in an order, Document
PS-444, exactly as written here.

Q. Did we have any interest at all in extending the war?

A. I personally, none. I can only say that the extension of
the front from the North Cape to Tobruk, and from Brest to
Rostov-on-the-Don was too great for my liking.

Q. And were we interested in having Japan declare war on

A. No, we would have much preferred a new and powerful ally
without a new and powerful enemy.

Q. Did we drag Italy into the war?

A. I do not know what was done politically, but after the
collapse of France, when Italy also wished to participate in
the war in a practical way, we tried to prevent this, we
soldiers in the OKW. But we only succeeded in delaying
intervention by four to six days. The Fuehrer could not
refuse intervention altogether. But during the whole of the
war Italy was of no help but only a burden to us, and this
will be confirmed by subsequent histories of the war.

Q. To all the accusations concerning crimes against peace, I
should like to refer to the relevant documents which have
been submitted by Goering, Ribbentrop, Raeder and Donitz. I
do not know whether such a reference is at all necessary
according to the rules of procedure.

Now one final question: the prosecution has represented this
whole series of campaigns as a long-prepared and concerted
plan of conquest which you, as a conspirator, both
instigated and carried out. What have you to say to this

A. I believe I have already corrected this completely
distorted picture by my testimony. The war against Poland
broke out without my having had any part in its preparation.
It developed into a World War, against all the hopes of the
soldiers. Everything had to be improvised for this war.
Nothing was ready except the plan of attack against Poland;
there were neither enough bombs nor enough ammunition. At
that time not a single soldier thought about Norway,
Belgium, Holland, Yugoslavia, Greece or Russia. No military
agreements had been reached with Italy or with Japan.

I acknowledge the statement of the American Chief of Staff,
General Marshall, to be absolutely correct in almost every

DR. EXNER: Mr. President, I have no further questions to

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel want to ask
any questions?

BY DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff and High

Q. General, as Chief of the Operations Staff of the
Wehrmacht, you were for many years the leading General Staff
officer of the German Armed Forces?

                                                  [Page 352]

A. Yes.

Q. In the course of your military activity you were also for
a fairly long time a teacher at the War Academy?

A. Not exactly at the War Academy, but at the General Staff
courses which preceded the War Academy and which at that
time were held at the seat of the individual Defence Area

Q. Since all our higher ranking military leaders came from
the professional class of the General Staff officers, I ask
you to tell us briefly how these officers were trained at
the War Academy. Please confine yourself exclusively to the
following points: how, or rather how much, space was devoted
to instructions on attack, to propaganda for wars of
aggression, to the attitude towards International Law and to

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks this question is
completely irrelevant.

DR. LATERNSER: If the Tribunal believes that these questions
are likely to be irrelevant, I shall dispense with the
answers to these questions.

Q. General, you know the standpoint of the prosecution that
the military leaders are supposed to have formed a group
with the aim of unleashing wars of aggression and committing
crimes, during the course of this war, against military law
and the laws of humanity. Please explain your attitude
toward this point to the Tribunal particularly as to whether
the higher ranking military leaders ever actually formed
such a group.

A. I never understood the concept of this group and I never
will understand it. This so-called group of high-ranking
officers possibly existed to some extent, in the Kaiser's
time as an absolute entity, but even then not entirely. But
after the National Socialist revolution, these groups were
completely split up, politically, philosophically and
ideologically. The goal that united them was the military
profession and the necessary obedience.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better adjourn at this time.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1400 hours.)

BY DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff and the

Q. Colonel-General, before the occupation of Czechoslovakia,
there was a meeting on 10th August, 1938, at the Berghof,
between Hitler and the military leaders at which you were
also present. Up to now that conference has not yet been
discussed here, and I want to ask you what was its subject.

A. During that conference, the Fuehrer spoke to General
Staff officers only and gave them a talk, that lasted for
about two and a half hours, on the whole military and
political situation. In particular, he dealt with the
Sudeten-German problem and said that it would have to be
solved whatever happened. He described the various
possibilities, and, in particular, he made it clear that he
intended to solve the question without France and England
hindering him and was confident he would succeed.

Q. That was the subject of that conference?

A. Yes, that in the main was the subject.

Q. Do you know for what reason the Commanders-in-Chief of
the three branches of the armed forces and their chiefs were
not there?

 A. I know the reason because the Chief Adjutant, Major
Schmundt, informed me of it before the conference. He told
me that it was the Fuehrer's intention to speak directly to
the General Staff officers, when they would not be under the
influence of their Commanders-in-Chief, whose possibly
critical attitude might cause them - the General Staff - to
hesitate in carrying out his instructions.

Q. There was, nevertheless, at that conference considerable
criticism on the part of those officers, was there not?

A. I would not say that there was criticism, but one of the
generals believed that he could or should draw the Fuehrer's
attention to the possibility that France

                                                  [Page 353]

and England might interfere, after all, if he did something
against Slovakia. That was General von Riedersheim.

Q. Did Hitler continue to follow the principle of excluding
the highest military leaders from such conferences?

A. He did that quite often. I would say that he did it on
principle. For instance, after our unsuccessful attack on
the bridgehead at Nettuno, south-east of Rome, he summoned
the junior officers who took part in these battles, from the
regimental commanders down to the company commanders, to his
headquarters. For days, and without their superiors being
present, he personally interrogated each one of them alone.
He did the same thing very, very often with Air Force
officers, whom he interrogated without the
Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force being present.

Q. Colonel-General, you were present during most of the
Hitler conferences about the situation. Could the Army Group
Commanders present at the Fuehrer's Headquarters at the time
take part in such conferences without difficulties?

A. As long as during these situation conferences only things
which had already happened were discussed, the Fuehrer was
very generous about who took part in them, but as soon as
something was discussed which dealt with future operations,
for instance, the attack on Russia in 1942, an Army Group
Commander from the Western Front could not take part, nor
was it possible the other way round, so that so far as his
intentions were concerned, he would only invite such
officers as had to be informed for official reasons.

Q. In such cases then, the so-called "Smallest Circle" was
summoned to a situation conference?

A. That is right. In that case the Chief Adjutant announced
on behalf of the Fuehrer that a discussion among the
"Smallest Circle" would now take place, in which only such
and such officers could take part.

Q. During such situation discussions, did you often hear
energetic remonstrances on the part of the Army Group
Commanders? Who made these remonstrances, and on what
occasion? Please limit yourself to the most important

A. I can only give you a very short answer to that question;
otherwise, I would have to speak about it for an hour. I can
say that not a single conference took place without, if I
may call them so, the old, traditional conceptions regarding
operations coming into conflict with the revolutionary
conceptions of the Fuehrer. Therefore, apart perhaps from
single operations during the first part of the war, I can
state that whenever such a report was made by an Army Group
Commander, there was a clash of opinions. I could mention
the names of all the Army Group Commanders who ever held the
post. I know of no one to whom this would not apply.

Q. Of course, you knew all the Army Group Commanders, did
you not?

A. During the first half of the war I knew all the Army
Group Commanders up to and including the Commanders-in-Chief
of the Army. During the second half of the war, there were
Army Group Commanders in the East whom I did not know. For
the most part they did not come from the General Staff, but
were career officers and some of them I did not know.

Q. Colonel-General, could, for instance, an Army Group
Commander report for a discussion with Hitler without

A. The Army Group Commander could not do that. The Army
Group Commander would, first of all, have to ask the
Commander-in-Chief of the Army as long as there was one.
When the Commander-in-Chief of the Army no longer existed,
the Army Group Commanders then applied to the Military
Adjutant's office, or they applied to the Chief of the
General Staff of the Army for permission to make a report,
but Army Commanders could not do that.

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