The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Donitz, right. I beg your pardon. That is what you were
saying, is it not?

A. No. The whole thing, as I have said, is a notice of
Admiral Wagner on a conference from which one can gather
only that Grand Admiral Donitz disapproved and that he is
supposed to have made this remark at the end. I can hardly
account for that remark today, because the only reason given
to us by the Fuehrer at that time was that the tremendous
number of German soldiers in the West must be prevented from
deserting as a consequence of enemy propaganda about good
treatment. I cannot explain this remark, and in my written
draft which I submitted to the Fuehrer and which contains
the attitude of the Navy, that sentence was not included,
but only advantages and disadvantages were compared. The
disadvantages were overwhelming, the whole thing was
completely impracticable and impossible, and so it was not
carried out. More I cannot say. Witnesses will confirm my

MR. ROBERTS: I am now going to put to you your own Document
606-D. My Lord, that has not yet been exhibited. I offer it
as Exhibit GB 492.

Q. Now that is signed by you, is it not? It deals with the
subject of the breach of the Geneva Convention. If you would
say first whether it is signed by you? Is it signed by you?
Please answer my question: is it signed by you?

A. Yes; my signature is at the end.

Well, that is where one usually finds the signature. Now, it
is dated 21st February, 1945, and it is written on your
headed notepaper. And then, "Telegraphic report submitted to
the Fuehrer on the 23-2 through the Chief of the Ops Staff.
The following questions were to be examined." My Lord, I do
not propose to read it all, or anything like all. If the
witness would follow me, I will read anything he wants. But
it is a discussion as to the various advantages and
disadvantages of repudiating the various international
agreements, and I think I am not doing the witness an
injustice if I say from a utilitarian rather than a moral
point of view.

A. Yes, quite correct. For my only aim was to succeed with
the Fuehrer and this document was worded accordingly.

Q. Well, now, I want to read the last paragraph.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, it is the last page but one of your
Lordship's document, right at the bottom: "C, Proposal of
the OKW":

  "At the present moment the disadvantage of repudiating
  international obligations which have been kept to up to
  now will in any case outweigh the advantages by far.
  Just as it was wrong in 1914 that we ourselves solemnly
  declared war on all the States which had for a long time
  wanted to wage war on us, and through this took the whole
  guilt of the war on our shoulders before the outside
  world, and just as it was wrong to admit that the
  necessary" -  note the word "necessary" - "passage
  through Belgium in 1914 was our own fault, so it would be
  wrong now to repudiate openly the obligations of
  International Law which we accepted and thereby to stand
  again as the guilty party before the outside world.
  Adherence to the accepted obligations does not demand in
  any way that we should have to impose on ourselves any
  limitations which will interfere
                                                  [Page 420]
  with the conduct of the war. For instance, if the British
  sink a hospital ship, this must be used for propaganda
  purposes as has been done to date. That, of course, in no
  way prevents us from sinking an English hospital ship at
  once as a reprisal and then expressing our regret that it
  was a mistake, in the same manner as the British do."

That is not very honourable, is it?

A. I can only say in reply that this was the sole method
which achieved success with the Fuehrer, and by using it,
success was, in fact, brought about. If I had come to him
with moral or purely legal arguments, he would have said,
"Leave me alone with this foolish talk," and he would have
proceeded with the renunciation of the Convention; but these
things compelled him to reconsider the step, and, in
consequence, he did not carry it through.

You must, after all, grant me that at the end of five and a
half years I knew best how to achieve good results with him
and avoid bad ones. My aim was to achieve success, and I
achieved it.

Q. But, you see, you were deploring it there, the fact that
you told the world the truth in 1914: In 1914 you said that
you only regarded treaties as a scrap of paper. You are
saying now, "What a pity we told the world the truth in
1914. We ought to have told them something untrue, and then
we should have, possibly, had a better world reputation."

A. That was an argument which the Fuehrer used frequently.
If one repeated his arguments in that form again and again,
he was more inclined to read and accept one's suggestions.
One had to prevent his flinging our proposals to the floor
in a fit of rage, and decreeing the immediate renunciation.
That was the approach one had to follow. If one cannot do
good openly, it is better to do it in a roundabout way than
not at all.

Q. I am now coming to quite another point. Were you an
admirer of the principles of the Nazi Party?

A. No.

Q. Were you of the opinion that there was a successful
fusion between the Nazi Party and the Wehrmacht which
brought about the rejuvenation, the resurrection of Germany,
after 1933?

A. It could have happened and I hoped for a long time that
it would happen; indeed, on the whole, the relationship
improved somewhat in the course of the years, and especially
during the war. At first, it was poor, very poor.

Q. You wrote - Please, I am reading now from your speech.
Document 172-L. It is Page 290 of Document Book 7, and it is
Page 6 of your lecture notes, Page 290 of Document Book 7
and 203 of the German:

  "The fact that the National Socialist movement in its
  struggle for internal power was the preparatory stage to
  the outer liberation from the dictate of Versailles is
  one I need not enlarge upon in this circle. I should
  like, however, to mention how clearly all thoughtful
  regular soldiers realize what an important part has been
  played by the Nazi movement in re-awakening the will to
  fight, in nurturing fighting strength, and in re-arming
  the German people. Despite all the virtues inherent in
  it, a numerically small Reichswehr could never have been
  able to cope with this task, if only because of its
  restricted radius of action. Indeed, what the Fuehrer
  aimed at and has so happily been successful in bringing
  about was a fusion of these two forces."

Did that represent your honest opinion or not?

A. Yes, that is historical truth, indisputable historical
truth. The movement did bring that about, that is certain.

Q. Very good. Then, I now want to put to you the last
document but one that I put in.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, it has not been exhibited. It is
1808-PS. I offer it as Exhibit GB 493.

                                                  [Page 421]


Q. You made a speech, did you not, after the attempt on
Hitler's life, to your staff? And are these the notes of
your speech on 24th July?

A. I have never seen this document before. I am seeing it
for the first time now. I did not know that any notes were
made about the speech.

Q. Well, let us go by stages. Did you make a speech to your
staff shortly after the attempt on Hitler's life on 24th
July, 1944?

A. Yes, even while my head was still bandaged.

Q. Secondly, is that document which you have in front of
you, is that a document which comes from your files? Look at
the cover, if necessary.

A. I assume so. It is headed: "Wehrmacht Operational Staff -
War Diary." Most likely these are notes of Major Schramm.

Q. Let me begin at the beginning of those notes. Just see if
you can remember what you said. Did you begin by saying:
"The 20th July was the blackest day which German history has
seen as yet, and will probably remain so for all time?"

A. Yes, that is quite possible.

Q. Why was it such a black day for Germany? Because somebody
tried to assassinate a man whom you now admit was a

A. Should I - at a moment when I was attacked in a cowardly,
insidious manner by one of my own comrades, together with
many opponents of the regime - should I perhaps have
approved of it all? That, to me, was the worst thing that
happened. If the man with a pistol in his hand had shot the
Fuehrer and had then given himself up, it would have been
entirely different. But these tactics I considered the most
repulsive for any officer. I spoke under the impression of
those events, which are actually among the worst I know, and
I maintain today what I said then.

Q. I do not want to argue with you, but do you think it is
any more dastardly than shooting those fifty American
soldiers who landed in the North of Italy to destroy a
military target, shooting them like dogs?

A. That also was murder, undoubtedly. But it is not the task
of a soldier to be the judge of his commander-in-chief. Let
history or the Almighty do that.

Q. Very good. I have only about three more questions to ask

MR. ROBERTS. My Lord, I am going to read from Page 2 of that
document, about ten lines from the top. It begins: "The
Fuehrer ... "


Q. As I read this slowly, see if you can recognize it.

  "The Fuehrer ignored this and other things, and now the
  attempted assassins wished to eliminate him as a
  'despot.'" Do you remember saying that or something like
  that? Can you find the place? "The Fuehrer ignored this
  and other things, and now the attempted assassins wished
  to eliminate him as a 'despot.'" Do you remember that?
  "And yet, they themselves experienced how the Fuehrer did
  not come to power by force, but was raised up by the love
  of the German people." Do you remember saying that?

A. Yes, and that is true. He came to power raised up by the
love of the German people. I had tremendous experiences in
that respect. He was almost overwhelmed by this love of the
people and of the soldiers.

Q. Raised up by ... I beg your pardon, have you finished? I
did not mean to interrupt you.

A. Yes, I have dealt with that point.

Q. Raised up by the love of the German people. You have
forgotten the SS, the Gestapo, and the concentration camps
for political opponents, have you not?

A. I have told you how unfortunately little I knew of all
these things, almost nothing. Of course, with a knowledge of
these things, all this takes a different aspect.

Q. I take your answer, and I put my last document to you.

                                                  [Page 422]

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, this is a new document, 1776-PS. I
offer it as Exhibit GB 494.


Q. Just have a look; see if it is signed by you, will you.

A. Yes.

Q. So it is signed by you. Now, you have told the Tribunal
that you were opposed to terror attacks. Just see what this
document says. Now, note the date first, the 30th of June,
1940. That is just after the temporary fall of France:

  "Chief W FA.
  The continuation of the war against England.
  If political means will be without results, England's
  will to resist will have to be broken by force
  (a) by making war against the English mother country,
  (b) by extending the war to the periphery.
  Regarding point (a), there are three possibilities
  (1) Siege.
  (2) Terror attacks against English centres of population.
  (3) A landing of troops."

And now I read this as an example of historical prophecy:

  "Germany's final victory over England is only a question
  of time."

Then I go down several paragraphs:

  "Together with propaganda and temporary terror attacks -
  said to be reprisal actions - this increasing weakening
  of English food supply will paralyse the will of her
  people to resist and finally break it, and thus force the
  government to capitulate.
  Signed Jodl."

"Terror attacks against English centres of population" -
would you like to say anything to justify that sentence?

A. Yes, a few remarks. This proposal - this document,
actually, is only a compilation of notes - proves three

First of all, that on 30th June, 1940, I did not know of any
intention or of the possibility of entering into a war with
Russia, otherwise I would not have written:

  "Germany's final victory over England is only a question
  of time."

Secondly, I admit having voiced an idea which was later
carried into practice with such perfection by the
Anglo-American Air Force.

Thirdly, this idea came to me only after the attack on the
civilian population had been started and continued by the
British Air Force, despite months of efforts and repeated
warnings on the part of the Fuehrer.

It is a historical fact, confirmed by many documents, that
the Fuehrer tried to the utmost to avoid this form of air
war against the population. But it was already clear at that
time that he would not be able to succeed.

Q. Well, now, I have finished, witness. You will notice that
of all the documents I have put, except for that one
American report, they were all German documents originating
at the time of these events about which I have been cross-

In the face of those documents, do you still say that you
are an honourable soldier and a truthful man?

A. Not only do I still affirm that, but I also think that
the submission of these documents has actually and quite
specifically proved it.

MR. ROBERTS: It is not coming through - his answer did not
come through.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 7th June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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