The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. HORN, Continued:

If one considers the horrible consequences and monstrous
deeds which - without raising here the question of guilt -
undoubtedly were committed by German people, and which can
indisputably be traced back to orders and directives with
which Keitel came into contact in some form, then one has a
feeling of guilt without considering whether this is guilt
in the legal sense, or the tragic feeling of being linked by
fate with the causes and, thereby, also with the

The prosecution has maintained that:

  "At one time all the defendants had banded together with
  the Nazi Party in a plan which they well knew could be
  realised only by the outbreak of a war in Europe."

With regard to the defendant Keitel, it is said that from
1933 on he took active part in this conspiracy.

To prove its thesis, the prosecution stated:

  (a) that the National Socialist programme in itself,
  i.e., according to its wording and meaning, could be
  realised only by using force;
  (b) that the defendant Keitel recognized or should have
  recognized it;
  (c) that with this knowledge, he, together with the
  others, especially with the co-defendants, planned and
  prepared aggressive wars.

As regards these statements, I would like to call the
Tribunal's attention, first of all, to the general part of
Mr. Justice Jackson's opening statement in which he deals
with the programme of the Party. He mentions there a number
of points in the programme about which he says:

  "All of these, of course, were legitimate objectives if
  they were to be attained without resort to aggressive

At a different point he says:

  "I do not criticise this policy. Indeed, I wish it were
  universal. I merely wish to point out that in a time of
  peace, war was a preoccupation of the Party, and it
  started the work of making war less offensive to the
  masses of the people. With this it combined a programme
  of physical training and sports for youth that became, as
  we shall see, the cloak for a secret programme of
  military training."

According to that, the prosecution itself does not assume
that the wording and meaning of the Party programme were
such that normal persons would recognize that these party-
political aims could be realised by use of force only.

I do not wish to repeat what in this connection was said by
the individual defendants at their hearings in court.
Especially convincing appeared to me what Dr. Schacht stated
on this subject. He concludes his critical examination of
the important points of the Party programme with these words

                                                  [Page 181]

  "That is, in ,essence, the content of the National
  Socialist Party's programme, and I cannot see anything
  criminal in it."

I quote this statement especially because it shows how this
programme and its recognizable objectives affected a person
who may be characterised as intelligent, realistically
thinking, free from emotional impulses in politics,
possessing economic far-sightedness and ability to judge.

If that person did not recognize that the Party aims were to
be realised by use of force, how was the soldier Keitel to
come to such a realization?

Keitel was an active officer. As such, he could not be a
member of the Party. The officers were prohibited from any
political and party-political activity. The Wehrmacht
command was intent on keeping the influence of Party
politics away from the Wehrmacht. This was true both for the
time before 1933 and afterwards. Hitler himself confirmed
this principle because he clearly recognized that the time
was not yet ripe for giving the corps of officers, let alone
the higher officers, a political character. According to
tradition and the conception of their profession, those high
officers had a "national attitude", as one used to say, and
they welcomed the national points of the programme which
were put into the foreground by Hitler, were glad about the
co-operation of the Wehrmacht, and without hesitation placed
themselves behind the Government led by Hitler when it
proclaimed the fight against the Treaty of Versailles,
especially against its military-political clauses.

An agreement going beyond these aims or possibly a union
with a political object in view did not exist. The generals,
among them also Keitel, thought no differently from millions
of Germans who were not Party members or who were opponents,
but who regarded the national aims as a matter of course.

Now, one cannot fail to see that it is somewhat different if
millions of Germans, who had no influence, supported that
part of the programme relating to the national aims, or if
the high officers who led the Wehrmacht supported it.
Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that the
materialisation of these national aims carried with it the
danger of a war. But the state of things seems to me to be
such that the generals did not see the danger of war in the
fact that Hitler wanted to realize these national aims by an
aggressive war, but rather the danger that the execution of
these aims would entail sanctions by the former enemy
powers. The idea of an aggressive, warlike preparation was
far from the generals' minds for the absolutely compelling
reason of military impotency. I shall later deal more in
detail with this problem which is closely connected with the
rearmament. Here it is only important that the circles to
which Keitel belonged - and I should like to add, between
1933 and 1938 -

  (1) had no contact with the Party programme;
  (2) had no relationship with Party circles;
  (3) sympathised with a part of the Party programme
  because it corresponded to their national attitude;
  (4) did not think of realising these national objectives
  by an aggressive war,, because it would have been
  hopeless from the military point of view.

Now one could argue that although the generals themselves
did not think of waging an aggressive war, they certainly
recognized or should have recognized that Hitler had the
intention, in the near future, of waging an aggressive war.

The prosecution believes it can presume that the defendant
Keitel had this knowledge from 1933 on. The argument of the
prosecution that this knowledge is the same as the knowledge
of the National Socialist programme has been refuted; the
same holds true of the knowledge of the book Mein Kampf,
even if one assumes he possessed the book.

Therefore, the question is only whether Keitel had knowledge
of Hitler's aggressive intentions for other reasons. For the
period up to 1938 Keitel could not have obtained this
knowledge from Hitler himself, because Keitel spoke with him
late in January, 1938, for the first time.

The speeches which Hitler made before that time, just as
those of the other Party leaders, were unambiguously aimed
at preserving peace. Looking back,

                                                  [Page 182]

one may call it propagandistic camouflage of the opposite
intentions. If that were the case, then this camouflage
successfully deceived not only many millions of Germans, but
also the foreign countries which were partly critical and
partly hostile toward National Socialism.

Keitel believed the protestations of peaceful intentions,
saw their honesty confirmed also by official proposals of
disarmament and treaties with England and Poland. He
believed them all the more because, as has already been
said, an aggressive war appeared to him an impossibility.

The co-defendant von Neurath, too, declared frequently here
that all his information and knowledge of Hitler's policy up
to 5th November, 1937, justified his firm conviction that
Hitler did not want to realize his political aims by force
or aggressive wars. It was only by the speech of 5th
November, 1937, that this conviction of von Neurath's was

In the arguments by Dr. Schacht's defence to which I
referred, those facts were presented which show a
contradiction between the former conduct of the victorious
powers and the thesis which the prosecution upholds on this

Through their official relations and beyond that, the
victorious powers showed that, despite the knowledge of all
the circumstances of which the defendants are now being
accused, they (the victorious powers) did not believe in
Hitler's intentions, or did not recognize his intentions, of
realising his aims by aggressive war.

The prosecution now accuses the defendant that he knew, or
ought to have known, such intentions of Hitler. This is not
convincing and I can leave it to the Tribunal to judge who -
if all contingencies are taken into consideration - had
better possibilities of obtaining information on Hitler's
true intentions.

I believe the defendant Keitel may claim for himself in good
faith an ignorance of such intentions - unless a knowledge
of such intentions and a subsequent participation results
from other circumstances.

Such circumstances during the years 1933 through 1938 may
have been: Keitel's activity in connection with the
rearmament, and in the Reich Defence Committee

The charge of illegal rearmament includes two facts which
have been summed up by the prosecution:

  (1) Secret rearmament by circumventing the Treaty of
  (2) Rearmament with the purpose of planning wars of

For a judicial consideration, however, these facts must be
kept strictly apart; for, they are different with respect to
cause and effect, and they must also be legally assessed
from different points of view.

The time between 1933 and 1938 is the fateful period, a
period of development and conversion. The forces of the
hitherto existing order are struggling against the new
powers which have not yet taken a definite shape. Everything
is in fermentation. The aims remain obscure. They are
camouflaged by the adoption of existing nationalistic
tendencies. By clever propagandistic utilization of these
tendencies, the psychological basis for the aims pursued by
the new rulers is being created without being noticed by
those whom it concerns.

Here lies the problem of the armed forces leadership and of
the defendant Keitel during this period, with which I am
going to deal now.

This problem cannot be solved without duly taking into
consideration Germany's military position. In judging the
then Colonel Keitel another consideration enters the
picture: how the special sphere to which he belonged was
affected by this situation. Keitel considered the Treaty of
Versailles, and especially the military clauses, as a
humiliation for Germany. He considered it a duty towards his
country to collaborate in putting an end to this situation.
He was convinced that the Treaty of Versailles, because of
its impossible military and territorial stipulations, would
have to be revised some day. Such a revision appeared to him
imperative in the interest of justice, as well as reason, if
a lasting world peace was to be preserved. On the basis of
this conviction, he believed that as a German and a soldier
he was entitled in the official capacities in which he acted
during this

                                                  [Page 183]

period, to interpret the military stipulations of the
Versailles Treaty literally, even if this was in
contradiction with the purpose of a stipulation. His
justification for this was that the stipulations limited the
possibilities of development in an unbearable manner, that
is, in a manner completely insufficient for an effective
defence. Though he did not participate personally, he did
not consider it wrong for Germany, under the given
circumstances, to construct submarines in Finland, not for
aggression, but for the purpose of gathering experience and
training specialists; or to maintain construction and
designing offices in Amsterdam in order to observe the
progress achieved in the field of aeronautics and to make
use of it without actually building planes. Symptomatic of
the way democratic Germany of that time thought -
irrespective of position and party - was Dr. Bruening's
statement, which on 15th February, 1932, was broadcast over
all U.S.A. radio stations on the occasion of the meeting of
the disarmament conference. I am going to quote some
passages from that speech:

  "The inner-political fights in Germany are very sharp in
  their outward forms to be sure; but this must not lead
  one to overlook the fact that despite many tendencies
  there exist indisputably many things in common also. On
  the two decisive foreign-political questions of today,
  the questions of disarmament and reparations, uniform
  opinions prevail among the German people. The demand for
  equal rights and equal security is shared by the entire
  German people. Every German government will have to
  uphold these demands. That the fight of the parties as to
  the roads which our politics must take is, perhaps,
  sharper in Germany today than in some other countries is
  a result of the deep misery which presses heavily on
  Germany and is deeply upsetting the people's equanimity."

In connection with this point I also refer to the testimony
which the co-defendant von Neurath gave on 22nd June, 1946.
These words which Bruning spoke prove that there was a
demand which was upheld by the entire people irrespective of
the difference in parties: The demand for equal rights and
equal security. The objection to that is: A demand even if
upheld by the entire people does not in itself create the
right to violate or circumvent opposing settled regulations.
In principle, one can accept that. However, things were not
as simple as that. I do not wish to harp upon a fundamental
law of all countries giving a nation the right to create for
itself a certain state of defence. But even if one does not
want to recognize such a "fundamental law" one will,
perhaps, understand the state of emergency which actually
exists if a country is so limited in its military potential
that it is not only liable to military attack by any
neighbour, but also politically condemned to impotency.

In the course of the hearing of evidence the Tribunal has
had occasion to recognize that this was true with regard to
the situation in which Germany found herself in the year

I want to call your attention to the following passages of
the Marshall report which was submitted to the Tribunal. The
following passages written by this outstanding soldier
summarize as follows the experience of a patriotic and
military life as regards the point discussed here under the
heading "Rearmament":

  "Nature is inclined to pass over weak people. The law
  that only the strong survive is generally recognized

I quote further:

  "The world does not take seriously the wishes of the
  weak. Weakness is too great a temptation for the strong."

And finally I quote:

  "Above all, it seems to me, we must correct the tragic
  misunderstanding that a policy directed at security is a
  war policy."

The best witness with regard to this question, which is so
important for the defendant Keitel, is the book by the
English Major-General A. C. Temperley (Publishers, Collins,
1938) The Whispering Gallery of Europe for which the English

                                                  [Page 184]

Foreign Secretary of the Second World War, Anthony Eden,
wrote a very friendly, concurring preface.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, would it not be possible for you
to pass over the reading of these passages which come from
the book of Major-General Temperley? The Tribunal will take
notice of them. There are quite a number of long speeches
from the book.

DR. NELTE: I intended to ask the Tribunal whether it would
kindly take judicial notice of these passages if I submit
them .... Perhaps one certain passage might be of interest
on Page 38 under:

  (4) "I also name the general staffs because there is no
  greater illusion than that they (the general staffs),
  taken as a whole, are in favour of war. I know the
  general staffs of many countries very well and have never
  known any general staff which would have glorified war or
  would have wished for war. They knew too much about it.
  If they advocated strength, it was because they believed
  in the idea that armed strength can prevent war."

And I shall continue; on Page 40, paragraph 3. I shall also
refer to the statements by Paul Boncour, Henderson, Briand,
Cecil and Viscount Rothermere which have been submitted by
the defence counsel of Dr. Schacht but which I have not

In examining and deciding whether the defendant Keitel
guiltily violated the military clauses of the Treaty of
Versailles in the meaning of the Indictment, the Tribunal
will have to consider the facts which have been presented.
Any individual charges against him on this point have not
been made.

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