The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Did you know that England actually attempted to act as

A. No, I knew nothing of these matters. A thing which was
very surprising to me was that on one of those days which
have been discussed here repeatedly, namely on 24th or 25th
August, only a few days after the conference at
Obersalzberg, I was suddenly called to Hitler at the Reich
Chancellery and his only words were "Stop everything at
once, fetch Brauchitsch immediately. I need time for
negotiations." I believe that after these few words I was

Q. What followed?

A. I at once rang up the Commander-in-Chief of the Army,
Brauchitsch, and passed on the order, and he was called to
the Fuehrer. Everything was stopped and all decisions on
possible military action were suspended, first without any
time limit, but on the following day for a certain limited
period. I think, from what we can calculate today, the
period was five days.

Q. Did you know of the so-called minimum demands on Poland?

A. I believe that I read them in the Reich Chancellery, that
Hitler himself showed them to me and that I received a copy.

Q. As you saw them, I would like to ask whether you
considered these demands to be serious?

A. At that time I was never in the Reich Chancellery for
more than a few minutes, and as a soldier I naturally
believed that these were perfectly serious demands.

Q. Was there any talk at that time of border incidents?

A. No. This question of border incidents was, too,
extensively discussed with me here in my interrogations, but
in the few discussions we had at the Reich Chancellery in
those days there was no discussion at all of this question.

Q. I now show you Document 795-PS, which consists of notes
dealing with the Polish uniforms for Heydrich.

A. May I add ...

Q. Please do.

A. ... namely, that on 30th August, the day for the attack
was again postponed for twenty-four hours. For this reason
Brauchitsch and I were again called to the Reich Chancellery
and to my recollection the reason given was that a Polish
plenipotentiary was expected. Everything was to be postponed
for twenty-four hours. Then there were further changes in
the military instructions.

This document deals with Polish uniforms for border
incidents or for some sort of illegal actions. It has been
shown to me. It concerns subsequent notes made by Canaris of
a conversation he had with me. He told me at that time that

                                                    [Page 6]

was to make available a few Polish uniforms. This order had
been communicated to him by the Fuehrer through an adjutant.
I asked: "For what purpose?" We both agreed that this was
intended for some illegal action. If I remember rightly I
told him at that time that I did not expect much from it and
that he had better have nothing to do with it. We then had a
short discussion about Dirschau, which was also to be taken
by a surprise attack by the Wehrmacht. That is all I heard
of it. I believe I told Canaris he could dodge the issue by
saying that he had no Polish uniforms - he could simply say
he had none - and the matter would be settled.

Q. You know, of course, that this matter was connected with
the subsequent attack on the radio station at Gleiwitz. Do
you know anything of this incident?

A. This incident, this action has for the first time come to
my knowledge here through the testimony of witnesses. I
never found out who was charged to carry out such things and
I knew nothing of the raid on the radio station at Gleiwitz
until I heard the statements made here before this Tribunal.
Neither do I recall having heard at that time that such an
incident had occurred.

Q. Did you know of America's and Italy's efforts after 1st
September, 1939, to end the war in one way or another?

A. I knew nothing at all of the political discussions that
took place in those days from 24th August to the end of that
month or the beginning of September. I never knew anything
about the visit of one Mr. Dahlerus. I knew nothing of
London's intervention. I only remember that, whilst in the
Reich Chancellery for a short while, I met Hitler and he
said, "Do not disturb me now, I am writing a letter to

This must have been in the first days of September. Neither
I nor, to my knowledge, any of the other generals ever knew
anything about the matters I heard of here and of the
further steps that were taken after 1st September. Nothing
at all.

Q. What did you say in the Fuehrer's train to Canaris and
Lahousen on 14th September, that is shortly before the
attack on Warsaw, with regard to the so-termed political
"Flurbereinigung" (House cleaning)?

A. I have been interrogated here about this point, but I
could not recall this visit at all. However, it appeared,
from Lahousen's testimony, that I had repeated what Hitler
had said and had passed on these orders in his words. I know
that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army who then directed
the military operations in Poland had, at the daily
conferences, already complained about attacks by police in
occupied Polish territory. I can only say that I apparently
repeated what had been said about these things in my
presence by Hitler and Brauchitsch. I can make no statements
regarding details.

I might add that, to my recollection, the Commander-in-Chief
of the Army at that time often stated that as long as he had
the executive power in the occupied territories he would
under no circumstances tolerate any other authority in those
territories; and at his own request he was relieved of his
responsibility for Poland in October. I therefore believe
that the statements the witness made from memory or on the
strength of notes are not quite correct.

Q. We come now to the question of Norway. Did you know that
in October, 1939, Germany had given an assurance of
neutrality to Denmark and Norway?

A. Yes, I knew that.

Q. Were you and the O.K.W., or were you, personally,
consulted about declarations of neutrality in this or other

A. No.

Q. Were you informed of them?

A. No, we were not informed either. These were discussions
referring to foreign policy of which we soldiers were not

Q. You mean you were not informed officially. But you, as
one who read newspapers, knew of them?

                                                    [Page 7]

A. Yes.

Q. Good. Before our discussion about the problem of
aggressive war I asked you a question which, in order to
save time, I would rather not have to repeat. However, it
seems to me that the question I put to you in order to get
your opinion on aggressive war, must be asked again in this
connection because an attack on a neutral country, a country
which had been given a guarantee, was bound to cause
particular scruples on  the part of people who have to do
with this - the waging of war. Therefore, I put this
question to you again, in this particular connection, and
ask you to say what was your and the soldiers' reaction to

A. In this connection, I must say we were already at war.
There was a state of war between England and France and
Germany. It would not be right for me to say that I
interfered in the least with these matters, but I regarded
them rather as political matters and, as a soldier, I held
the opinion that preparations for a military action against
Norway and Denmark did not yet mean the real thing, that
these preparations would very obviously take months if such
an action was to materialise at all, and that, in the
meantime, the situation might change. It was this train of
thought which caused me not to take any steps in this
matter. I considered it impossible to make strategic
preparations at that time, and I therefore took no stand on
the question of intervention in Norway and Denmark, and left
these things to those who were concerned with political
matters. I cannot put it any other way.

Q. When did the preparations for this action start?

A. I think the first discussion took place as early as
October, 1939, but the first directives were issued only in
January 1940, that is to say, several months later. In
connection with the discussions before this Tribunal and
with the information given by Reich Marshal Goering in his
statements, I also remember that one day I was ordered to
summon Grand Admiral Raeder to the Fuehrer, who wanted to
discuss with him questions regarding sea warfare in the Bay
of Heligoland and in the Atlantic Ocean and the dangers we
would encounter in waging war in this area.

Then Hitler ordered me to call together a special staff
which was to study all these problems from the viewpoint of
sea, air and land warfare - I remembered this also upon
seeing the documents produced here. This special staff
dispensed with my personal assistance. Hitler said at the
time that he himself would furnish tasks for this staff.
These were, I believe, the military considerations in the
months from 1939 to the beginning of 1940.

Q. In this connection I should only like to know one further
thing, and that is whether you had any conversation with
Quisling at this stage of the preliminary measures?

A. No, I saw Quisling neither before nor after the Norway
campaign; I saw him for the first time approximately one or
two years later. There were no connections between us, not
even any kind of transmission of information. I already
stated in a preliminary interrogation that by order of
Hitler I sent an officer, I believe it was Colonel
Pieckenboeck, to Copenhagen for conferences with the
Norwegians. I did not know Quisling.

Q. As to the war in the West, there is once more in the
foreground the question of violation of neutrality, in the
case of Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland. Did you know that
these three countries bad been given assurances regarding
the inviolability of their neutrality?

A. Yes, I knew and also was told that at that time.

Q. I do not want to ask the same questions as in the case of
Norway and Denmark, but I should like to ask: Did you
consider these assurances by Hitler to be honest?

A. When I remember the situation as it was then, I did at
that time believe, when I learned of these things, that
there was no intention of bringing any other State into the
war. At any rate, I had no reason, no justification to
assume the opposite, namely that this was intended as a

                                                    [Page 8]

Q. After the conclusion of the Polish campaign did you still
believe that there was any possibility of terminating or
localising the war?

A. Yes, I did believe this. My view was strengthened by the
Reichstag speech after the Polish war, in which allusions
were made which convinced me that political discussions
about this question were going on, above all, with England,
and because Hitler had said to me time and again, whenever
these questions were brought up, "The West is actually not
interested in these Eastern problems of Germany." This was
the phrase he always used to calm people, namely that the
Western Powers were not interested in these problems.

Furthermore, seen from a purely military point of view, it
must be added that we soldiers had, of course, always
expected an attack by the Western Powers, that is to say,
France, during the Polish campaign and were very surprised
that in the West, apart from some skirmishes between the
Maginot Line and the Western Wall, nothing had actually
happened, though we had - this I know for certain - along
the whole Western front from the Dutch border to Basel only
five divisions, apart from the small forces manning the
fortifications of the Western Wall. Thus, from a purely
military point of view, a French attack during the Polish
campaign would have encountered only a military screen, not
a real defence.

Since nothing of this sort happened, we soldiers thought of
course that the Western Powers had no serious intentions,
because they did not take advantage of the extremely
favourable situation for military operations, and did not
undertake anything serious against us during the three to
four weeks when all the German fighting formations were
employed in the East. This also strengthened our views as to
what the attitude of the Western Powers would probably be in
the future.

Q. What were Hitler's plans for the West?

A. I do not quite understand the question.

Q. What were Hitler's plans for the West?

A. During the last phase of the Polish campaign, he had
already transferred all unnecessary forces to the West, in
case that at any time something might happen there. He had,
however, at the same time, told me that he intended to throw
his forces as swiftly as possible from the East to the West,
and if possible attack in the West in the winter of 1939-40.

Q. Did these plans include attacks on and marching through
Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland.

A. Not originally. At first, if I may speak as a soldier,
the concentration of troops in the West was to be merely a
security measure, that is, a thorough strengthening of the
frontiers, particularly, of course, where there were only
border posts. Accordingly, as early as at the end of
September and the beginning of October, some troops were
moved from the East to the West for security purposes only,
without any particular concentration.

Q. What did the military leaders know about Belgium's and
Holland's attitude?

A. Their views, naturally, changed several times, in the
course of the winter. In the autumn of 1939 - I can only
speak for myself, and there may be other opinions on this
matter - I was convinced that Belgium wanted to keep out of
the war under any circumstances, and would do anything she
could to preserve her neutrality. On the other hand, we
received, through close connections between the Belgium and
Italian royal houses, a number of reports that sounded very
threatening. I had no way of finding out whether they were
true, but we learned of them and they indicated that Belgium
was being submitted to strong pressure to give up her

As for Holland, all we knew at that time was that there were
general staff relations between her and England. But then of
course, in the months from October to May, 1940, the
situation changed considerably, and the tension varied
greatly. From the purely military point of view, we knew one
thing: that all the French swift units, that is motorised
units, were concentrated on the Belgian-French border, and
we interpreted this measure as meaning that preparations

                                                    [Page 9]

were being made for crossing through Belgium at any time
with these units and for taking a stand there on the borders
of the Ruhr district.

I think I should omit details here, because they are not
important for the further developments, being of a purely
operative and strategic nature.

0. Were there differences of opinion between the generals
and Hitler with reference to the attack in the West, which
would have to take place through this neutral territory?

A. I must say that at that time one of the most serious
crises in the whole war arose, because of the opinions held
by a number of generals, including the Commander-in-Chief,
von Brauchitsch, his Chief of General Staff, and myself. We
wanted at all costs to attempt to prevent an attack in the
West, but Hitler had already planned this for the winter.
There were various reasons for our opinions: one was the
difficulty of transporting the Eastern Army to the West;
another, which I am bound to mention, was that we believed
at that time, perhaps more from the political point of view,
that if we did not attack, the possibility of a peaceful
solution might still be feasible. We considered that between
then and the spring many political changes might well take
place. Then again, as soldiers, we were decidedly against
the waging of a winter war, in view of the short days and
long nights, always a great hindrance to military

To Hitler's objection that the French motorised forces might
march through Belgium at any time and then stand before the
Ruhr district, we answered that we were equal to such a
situation in a war of movement; we were a match for it; that
was our view. I may say here that this situation led to a
very serious crisis between Hitler and the Commander-in-
Chief of the Army and also myself, because I held this view,
one which Hitler vigorously rejected on the grounds that it
was strategically wrong. In our talks he accused me in the
sharpest manner, of conspiring against him with the generals
of the Army and strengthening them in their opposition to
his views. I must here state that I then asked to be
relieved immediately of my post and given another, because I
was greatly offended, and felt that under these
circumstances the confidence between Hitler and myself had
been completely destroyed. I may add that my relations with
the Commander-in-Chief of the Army also suffered greatly in
this matter, but the idea of my discharge and employment
elsewhere was sharply rejected. It has already been
discussed here; I need not go into it any further.

But this break in confidence was never to be mended. In the
case of Norway, there was a similar conflict of views.
General Jodl's diary refers to it as a "serious crisis." I
shall not go into this in detail, either.

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