The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. I have another, question. Field Marshal Keitel, as Chief
of the High Command, has been accused of having affixed his
signature to certain laws, and I am now asking you what was
the significance of the fact that the Chief of the O.K.W.
affixed his signature to its laws?

A. Since he was exercising the authority of the Minister for
War, he was obliged to countersign these laws. He assumed
the responsibility, vis-a-vis with the Fuehrer, that the
Armed Forces, and everything connected with the former
Ministry of War were given proper recognition.

Keitel could only exercise his war ministerial authority by
mandate of the Fuehrer, as specified in the decree, and as a
result he was obliged to ask the Fuehrer whether he could
affix his signature or not. His authority was limited in
comparison with that of any other minister who simply
affixed his signature as an ordinary minister, whereas Field
Marshal Keitel could only exercise his war ministerial
authority by mandate of the Fuehrer.

Q. In other words, if I understand you correctly, you want
to say that Field Marshal Keitel was not a minister?

A. He was not a minister, as becomes clear from the decree
which expressly states that he only had the rank of a

Q. Do you mean, in other words, that if he had been a
minister that you would have had to give him full ranking of
a minister? But then, he was also a member of the
ministerial council for the Reich Government. Didn't that
make him a minister?

                                                  [Page 114]

A. Nothing was altered in his position in the Reich
Government through that membership.

Q. You mean no, don't you?

A. Yes, I mean no.

DR. NELTE: Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn until five minutes
past two.

(A recess was taken.)

The witness, Hans Heinrich Lammers, resumed the witness-

THE PRESIDENT: Are there any of the other defendants'
counsel who wish to ask questions of this witness?

BY DR. SEIDL (counsel for the defendants Hess and Frank):

Q. Witness, can you recollect what Hitler said in the
Cabinet meeting regarding his political aims and the
programme of the new Government?

A. Hitler delivered a very long speech, in the course of
which the individual ministers also had a chance to speak.
One of the details I remember particularly is that the
Fuehrer talked first of all about the stopping of
unemployment, something which would definitely have to be
achieved. Secondly, he spoke about the fact that an economic
revival of Germany would have to be arranged. And thirdly,
he talked in detail about the fact that a revision of the
Versailles Treaty would have to be effected, and that we
would have to try to put an end to the defamation of Germany
which was contained in the Versailles Treaty, and that one
would have to strive to achieve equality of rights for the
German Reich within the circle of nations.

All these statements of Hitler were then written down in a
special Government declaration. I also recollect that in
that Government declaration the protection of positive
Christianity was mentioned in particular. I can't recall the
essential details. But these, I am convinced, are the main
points concerned.

Nothing was discussed which would have required special
secrecy; and what was discussed was in the main contained in
the Government declaration which was published in the Press.

Q. Did Hitler say anything at all during this Cabinet
meeting about the fact that he was going to alter the system
of government and that he wanted to govern dictatorially?

A. Herr Hitler expressed his opinion to the effect that the
present parliamentary system prevailing up to that time in
Germany had been a failure.

THE PRESIDENT: You are speaking about a meeting. What was
the date of the meeting you are referring to?

THE WITNESS (to the President): It was the first Cabinet
meeting which the defence counsel inquired about. It took
place on 30th January, 1933, on the day after the seizure of
power. The Fuehrer stated that the present governmental
system had been a failure. Furthermore he said that the
result of that failure had been that the President of the
Reich was obliged, in a state of emergency, according to
Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, to govern by means of
emergency decrees, and that the only possibility was to
create a stable Reich Government, a Government which would
be in power for many years. And further, how one could
create such a Government, would be something which would
have to be agreed upon first with the Reich President and
the Reichstag.


Q. Witness, did Hitler say during this Cabinet meeting that
he wanted to concede to the N.S.D.A.P. a specially favoured
position of power?

A. He said that the N.S.D.A.P., as the strongest party,
would naturally have to have due influence in the German
Government. He said nothing to the effect that he wanted to
put an end to the other parties that still existed and were
still represented in the Cabinet, the German Nationalists
and the Stahlhelm Group.

Q. Witness, did Hitler explain his foreign political aims
during this first meeting,

                                                  [Page 115]

and did he say in particular that Germany would definitely
have to be freed from the shackles of the Versailles Treaty
and would again have to take the place befitting her in the
community of nations?

A. I have answered that question already in the affirmative.
Those were the foreign political aims - the complete
revision of the Versailles Treaty.

Q. Did Hitler also mention at the time that for the
achievement of these foreign political aims one would have
to run the risk of another war, possibly even of a
preventive war?

A. As far as I know and as far as I remember, no mention was
made of war, certainly not of a preventive war or an
aggressive war.

Q. Witness, did Hitler in the period following, in Cabinet
sessions or during any other meetings of all or numerous
ministers, present a comprehensive plan for the achievement
of his foreign political aims?

A. No, I knew of no comprehensive plan except the general
points I have mentioned. Neither during that meeting nor
during later meetings did Hitler elaborate a general plan.
In my opinion, he never did discuss and describe in detail
any comprehensive plans of a long-term character at all.

Q. Witness, what caused Hitler: (a) to appoint Hess Deputy
Fuehrer, and (b) to make him a Reich minister?

A. He appointed Hess Deputy Fuehrer, I believe, because he,
as Chancellor of the Reich, no longer wanted to attend to
the business of the Party and had to have a responsible man
for the technical leadership of the Party.

He appointed Hess Reich minister in order to create a link
between Party and State; to have a man in the Cabinet who
was in a position to represent the wishes and views of the
Party in the Cabinet. Perhaps he was thereby hoping to
create a united front between Party and State - something
which became a law later on.

Q. Witness, were the leading generals: (a) before and (b)
after seizure of power in contact with the Reich Directorate
and the Leadership Corps of the Party?

A. Before the seizure of power, as far as I know, contact
between the Party and the generals did not exist as such.
There could only have been cases of personal contact between
individual members of the Party and individual generals.

After the seizure of power I had the opportunity of being
present when the Fuehrer, at the beginning of February,
1933, had the high-ranking generals, the Commanders-in-Chief
introduced to him, and I had the impression that the Fuehrer
did not know most of these men, for they were all introduced
to him - I stood nearby - and it was my impression that he
had known only a few of these men previously.

After the seizure of power, of course, the relations between
the leaders of the Party and the high-ranking generals
became closer, since the Party had a strong position in the
State. But what I would like to say is that relations,
general relations between the Party - that is to say,
between the Reich Directorate of the Party and the
Leadership Corps of the Party on the one side, and the high-
ranking generals and perhaps also the generals with lower
rank, on the other side - that these relations never went
beyond the purely formal, beyond so-called social relations
which were based on duty requirements at chance meetings, on
festive occasions and public demonstrations, etc. I feel
that the general relations between the Reich Directorate and
the Leadership Corps of the Party on the one side and the
generals on the other were in no instance any closer than

Q. Witness, did the character of these relations change
after Hitler became the Head of the State and Supreme
Commander of the Armed Forces?

A. As far as the high-ranking generals are concerned, I am
of the opinion that in principle nothing changed, for the
high-ranking generals regarded the Fuehrer not as the leader
of the Party but as the head of the State, and they
considered him the Supreme Commander of all the Armed
Forces. Consequently, they did not believe that they had to
establish any particularly close relations with the Party.

                                                  [Page 116]

Q. Witness, did joint meetings and conferences take place
for the discussion of political aims between the Reich
Government, the Reich Directorate of the Party, and the high-
ranking generals?

A. Such joint meetings or conferences are out of the
question. They never took place. That would also have been
impossible because of the large number of people involved.

Q. Witness, were members of the Reich Government, the Reich
Directorate of the Party and the high-ranking generals in a
position to present their views to Hitler with regard to
important questions involving the welfare of the nation,
particularly on questions which concerned war or peace?

A. Jointly, these three groups - if I may say so - naturally
could not voice an opinion at all, for they had no
connection with each other in any way. But neither could any
of these groups - the Reich Directorate of the Party, the
Reich Government and the generals - voice its opinion, in
the first place because they were not informed at all about
the Fuehrer's political and economic aims.

Q. What attitude could they take?

A. They were simply taken by surprise by the actual
accomplished facts, and any subsequent voicing of an opinion
would have meant a "stab in the back" of the Fuehrer's

Q. Witness, then an overall political plan on Hitler's part
- in which these most important groups were active
participants - did not exist at all, and, therefore, there
could be no talk of a conspiracy?

A. I know of no such overall plan, but I can assure you of
one thing, that the large majority of ministers never knew
anything of any such overall plan. Just how far the Fuehrer
informed individual persons of such an overall plan, I do
not know. I was not present at such occasions. The Fuehrer
may have discussed some sort of plans with one person or
another, perhaps with a member of the Party or the Reich
Directorate or the generals; but just what was discussed on
such occasions I do not know; and, of course, I cannot say
whether in such cases these gentlemen agreed or disagreed
with the Fuehrer. I also do not know whether shortly before
the execution of any large-scale political plans, such as
for instance the march into Czechoslovakia, or something
like that, they could still advise the Fuehrer as to whether
they agreed or were opposed, or whether they merely received
an order which they had to execute.

Q. Witness, if I understand you correctly, then you want to
say openly that all decisions of any magnitude were made by
Hitler alone?

A. The large-scale political decisions were certainly made
by him alone, at most with some few persons being consulted
and participating but never with the Reich Government
participating. If I may go into detail about this ... it was
at the time when we left the League of Nations that Hitler
for the last time informed the Reich Government before
taking an action. Then followed, as a large, important
action, the march into the Rhineland.

The Cabinet was informed that we were going to withdraw from
the League of Nations; it was informed beforehand.

No one was informed of the march into the Rhineland. The
Fuehrer did not inform the Reich Cabinet until after the
march had taken place. On the occasions of the march into
Austria, the march into the Sudetenland, the march into
Prague, the outbreak of the Polish war, the beginning of the
other campaigns against Norway, France, Russia and so forth,
the Reich Government was informed by the Fuehrer neither
beforehand nor subsequently, and consequently there were ill-
feelings among the ministers because they were in no
instance informed in advance of these large-scale plans,
which had certain implications for the non-military
departments as well, and because the Reich Government did
not learn until later of the accomplished facts.

Thus, to this extent I can say that all these decisions were
made by the Fuehrer alone; and to what extent he consulted
individual persons I do not know. How-

                                                  [Page 117]

ever, on the whole, the large majority of the ministers were
not informed of all these actions. They just had general
information such as any newspaper reader and any radio
listener has; as anyone, I, for instance, has sometimes
heard of a matter a few hours before, when it was made known
to the Press. There was no questioning of the Fuehrer or any
information from him beforehand.

Q. Please tell me now just how it actually came about that
the entire governmental power was thus transferred to the

A. That transfer was accomplished, I might say, by way of
gradually developed state customary law.

First of all, the Fuehrer and the Reich Government had been
given by the well-known Enabling Act of the Reichstag the
power to alter the Constitution. The Reich Government made
use of this power in its actual legislation and, of course,
use was also made of it by way of passive endurance and by
creating state customary law as is actually recognised in
all countries. Thus in the course of the first years, and
also during the later years, it came about quite naturally
by way of customary law that the Fuehrer acted more
independently than would actually have been possible
according to the Weimar Constitution. From the beginning
important political questions were all removed from the
jurisdiction of the Cabinet by the Fuehrer.

Even in 1933 and 1934, when Hindenburg was still alive, the
Fuehrer did not wish general political questions to be
raised in the Cabinet by any minister. I repeatedly had to
have various ministers informed that they were to refrain
from bringing up questions which did not directly affect
their department for discussion in the Cabinet.

For instance, I had to pass on such information to those
gentlemen who wanted to discuss church policy. I had been
forbidden to put any general political questions on the
agenda of a Cabinet meeting. If, in spite of that, a
minister raised a political question during a meeting of the
Cabinet, then the Fuehrer generally interposed and silenced
the minister concerned or referred him to a private
discussion. Things developed in this way in the course of

After Hindenburg's death, when the Fuehrer became the Head
of State such debates in the Cabinet were stopped
altogether. Nothing of this sort could be debated any more.
The ministers were not allowed to feel that they were
political ministers. I had to inform various gentlemen
repeatedly, by order of the Fuehrer, that they were to
refrain from voicing their opinions in regard to such
questions during Cabinet meetings.

Then came the time, which. I have already described, during
which the large-scale actions took place and there were no
more Cabinet meetings. In this connection the Fuehrer acted
alone, and all declarations which were made on behalf of the
Reich Government were made by him alone, acting on his own
and without previous consultation with the Cabinet. I must
admit that the Cabinet very often complained about that but
could not prevail against the Fuehrer.

Thus gradually the governmental power - if I interpret
"Regierung" according to the conception of "government" laid
down in Anglo-Saxon law - changed and then there was after
1936 no longer any complete Reich Government at all
consisting of the Reich Chancellor and the Reich Ministers,
that is, a collective, unified body. The Fuehrer was the
Reich Government, and this power had slipped into his hands
and one will naturally say that it should not have slipped
into his hands. All I can say to this is that it may have
been wrong, it may have been stupid, but it wasn't a crime.
It was a political development such as has happened
repeatedly in history.

I might recall the fact that in Ancient Rome, where the
Senate had the power and that there ...

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