The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. NELTE, Continued:

Hitler's sources of information were the responsible heads
of each department; it was occasionally not clear whence
Hitler obtained his information, as I have already stated.
Gisevius did not know these conditions from his own
experience; he himself was never near Keitel, who never saw
or spoke to him, and whose name he did not know. If he gave
his opinion here, he could only base it on information given
him by Canaris, Thomas, and Oster.

General Jodl has been heard regarding this question. He
certainly is the best witness in this matter, since he, as
well as Keitel, lived in the direct proximity of Hitler and
therefore could form his own judgement. He stated concerning
this matter:

  "Unfortunately, it was impossible to keep things from
  Hitler. Many channels of information led directly to

Upon my interrogation, at the suggestion of the Tribunal,
Jodl fully confirmed that what Keitel had testified was
quite correct, and that what witness Gisevius stated in this
respect was, in general, merely figures of speech.

The co-defendants Admirals Raeder and Donitz have confirmed
that the allegation of the witness Gisevius that Keitel was
able to keep the high commanders of the branches of the
Wehrmacht away from Hitler, is false.

If, however, this was not the case, it follows that the way
from the branches of the Wehrmacht to the Fuehrer was open
at any time.

Through the hearing of witnesses it was also established
that apart from Jodl, the Chief of the Supreme General
Staff, Canaris in particular had direct access to Hitler.

Thus, the accusation of the witness Gisevius that Keitel had
formed a ring round Hitler is proved false.

(2) The treatment of reports.

The witness Gisevius has declared that reports were
submitted to Keitel by Canaris about atrocities in
connection with deportations, extermination of Jews,
concentration camps, the persecution of the Church, and the
killing of insane persons, and that Keitel withheld all
these reports from Hitler. The same is alleged about the
reports of General Thomas, Chief of the Defence Economy
Office, the purpose of which was to inform Hitler about the
war potential of the enemy and make him listen to reason.

Concerning Admiral Canaris's reports, it must be said that
as Chief of Espionage and Counter-Intelligence he naturally
delivered regular reports which concerned the conduct of the
war, including the conduct of economic warfare.

It is affirmed that reports were submitted on subjects which
belonged neither to the jurisdiction of the Counter-
Intelligence Office nor to that of the High Command of the
Armed Forces (OKW). It has been proved that Hitler took
strict care that every official confined himself to his own
special field, and it was particularly forbidden for
military offices to concern themselves with political

                                                  [Page 198]

Keitel has declared under oath that he knew nothing about
the atrocities, and especially the extermination of the Jews
and the concentration camps. This is in absolute
contradiction to the assertion of the witness Gisevius that
Canaris submitted reports to the defendant Keitel on the
above-mentioned subjects.

One can assert that reports of any kind whatsoever were
delivered to Keitel without fear of being contradicted,
especially when one need not fear that these reports will be
found. For if they were not delivered, they could not be
found, because they did not exist. Now Gisevius has declared
that he gathered documents from the beginning which
contained incriminating material. Is it not remarkable,
under these circumstances, that up to now none of these
reports have been produced? If they had been available at
the High Command of the Armed Forces (OKW), they would have
been used in the accusation and as evidence. Can it be
sufficient under these circumstances for a witness to
declare that he knows from other persons that such reports
were submitted to Keitel?

Canaris, because of his particular activity, which sent him
constantly to foreign countries on personal, secret errands
for Hitler, had access to Hitler at all times. He would thus
have had an opportunity to go to Hitler immediately if he
had had such serious misgivings of conscience as Gisevius
has declared he had. Why did he not do so?

Now, Gisevius who in general has pronounced comprehensive
and damning accusations, has, luckily for Keitel, at one
point of his deposition made a positive declaration that
permits of objective verification: I quote:

  " ... I believe that I have still two examples to
  mention, which to me are particularly characteristic:
  first, the attempt was made by all possible means to
  induce Field-Marshal Keitel to warn Hitler against the
  invasion of Holland and Belgium, that is, to inform
  Hitler that the information submitted by Keitel about
  alleged violations of neutrality by the Dutch and
  Belgians was false. The Counter-Intelligence Office
  (Abwehr) was to prepare reports incriminating the Dutch
  and Belgians. Admiral Canaris at that time refused to
  sign these reports. I request that this be verified. He
  told Keitel repeatedly that this report which was
  ostensibly made by the High Command of the Armed Forces
  (OKW) was false. This is an instance where Herr Keitel
  did not transmit to Hitler what he was supposed to have
  transmitted .... "

I have submitted to Colonel-General Jodl, here on the
witness stand, Document 790-PS which refers to the case of
the White Paper concerning violations of neutrality by
Holland and Belgium. Jodl testified, word for word, I quote:

  " ... I understand the question and would like very
  briefly to state the facts, how it was possible - if
  disgust does not choke me. I was present when Canaris
  came to the Field-Marshal in the Reich Chancellery with
  these report notes and laid before him the draft of the
  Foreign Office's White Paper. Field-Marshal Keitel then
  looked it through, above all paying attention to the
  comments which Canaris had made at the request of the
  Foreign Office, namely, that the reports were perhaps
  still somewhat in need of improvement, that he should
  confirm the fact that a military operation against
  Holland and Belgium was absolutely necessary, and that,
  as is expressed here, a final really striking violation
  of neutrality was still lacking. Before Canaris had said
  a word, Field-Marshal Keitel threw the book on the table
  and said: 'I refuse to do this. Why should I take any
  responsibility at all for a political decision? In this
  White Paper appear word for word, true and correct, the
  very same reports that you, yourself, Canaris, brought to
  me.' To this Canaris said: 'I hold entirely the same
  point of view. It is, in my opinion too, entirely
  superfluous to have this document signed on the part of
  the Wehrmacht and the reports that we have here are
  altogether quite sufficient to prove the violations of
  neutrality which have taken place in Holland and
  Belgium.' And he advised Field-Marshal Keitel not to sign
  it at all. That is the way it happened. The Field-Marshal
  then took the paper with him and I do not know what
  happened subsequently ...."

                                                  [Page 199]

Keitel did not sign the White Paper. Therefore in the only
verifiable case a clear proof is obtained of the
incorrectness of Gisevius's testimony.

(3) According to the statement of the witness Gisevius,
Keitel exerted a tremendous influence on the High Command of
the Armed Forces (OKW) and the Army. These words, without
any presentation of concrete facts, are only a phrase in the
mouth of a man who had no contact whatsoever with Keitel.
They are refuted by the statements of Reichsmarschall
Goering, Admiral Donitz and Admiral Raeder. Jodl has defined
this statement as merely a figure of speech.

In so far as the witness speaks of his tremendous influence
on the OKW, it must appear questionable what the witness
really means. Naturally, Keitel as a Chief of Staff had
influence in the High Command of the Armed Forces, influence
which resulted from his position which I have already
discussed. His position in relation to his subordinates will
be taken up later. The important thing, however, is whether
Keitel had a decisive and culpable influence on what
happened. That this was not the case has even been confirmed
by Gisevius and also the fact that he had no decisive
influence on the branches of the armed forces, it, has also
been established by the results of the testimony.

(4) A particularly damaging charge against the defendant
Keitel was "that instead of placing himself in front of his
subordinate officers to protect them, he threatened to hand
them over to the Gestapo."

In contradiction to this, it has been established that no
office chief in the High Command of the Armed Forces was
dismissed in the years up to 1944; furthermore, until 20th
July, 1944, the day of the attempt on Hitler's life and the
transfer of the judicial power in the home army to Himmler,
no officer of the High Command of the Armed Forces was
turned over to the police. Admiral Donitz has confirmed that
the branches of the armed forces and the High Command of the
Armed Forces were very scrupulous in maintaining the
privileges of the armed forces in relation to the police.

The Court has also seen here how Colonel-General Jodl spoke
about his relationship to the defendant Keitel. I think this
remark has a special importance, not only because Keitel
lived on companionable and friendly terms with his
subordinate, Colonel-General Jodl, during their long years
of co-operation.

As natural as that may appear, the less natural it is, if
one reflects that Jodl in spite of his officially
subordinate position, in reality became more and more
Hitler's only strategic adviser. What this means,
considering the preponderance of the operational tasks in
the war, has been convincingly demonstrated here by Colonel-
General Jodl.

If Keitel accepted this without jealousy, freely
acknowledging the superiority of his subordinate Jodl in
this domain, this proves that Keitel possessed a trait of
character which refutes the information derived from obscure
sources by the witness Gisevius.

The proven fact that Keitel lived on friendly and
companionable terms with his subordinate Chief of Office,
Canaris, also is incompatible with the contrary assertion of
witness Gisevius.

In this connection it is necessary to refer to the fact not
submitted by Keitel but testified to by Jodl without
Keitel's consent, that the latter supported and helped
Canaris's family after his arrest. I only refer to this to
refute the perhaps most serious personal reproach, according
to which Keitel did not behave decently towards his
subordinates and abused his superior position - which was
especially powerful in military life - even to the point of
threatening violence.

In reality, according to Gisevius's evidence, Admiral
Canaris not only played a double role officially, but also
with respect to the defendant Keitel; while exploiting the
friendship shown to him, he expressed a similar attitude,
whereas among his own group he openly spoke in a spiteful
way about Keitel.

Finally, in this connection reference must still be made to
the evidence of the witnesses von Buttlar and Brandenfels
(session of 7th June), from which it is clear

                                                  [Page 200]

that Keitel always treated the officers of the Armed Forces
Operational Staff kindly.

The witness mentions a quarrel between himself and
Lieutenant-Colonel von Ziervogel on the one hand and Himmler
on the other, in which Keitel, to whom the incident was
reported, immediately and energetically intervened in
writing to protect his subordinates against Himmler. The
affidavit of the Chief of Office in Canaris's office,
Admiral Burkner, to which I refer, testifies in the same way
to Keitel's kindly attitude towards his subordinates.

At any rate, it must be said in clarification that Keitel
many times had occasion to speak energetically to his office
and department chiefs.

I shall then continue by explaining that officers did not
generally concern themselves with politics, and that only
when the situation became worse did they make political
information the subject of their argumentation. And I add
that Keitel has, in fact, defined his attitude with words
based on the assumption that the soldier in war must declare
his faith and obedience and if Keitel ever heard anything
about such matters, he would reprimand these officers.

I now continue at the bottom of Page 90:

Keitel did this with "words". That does not mean that this
was mere camouflage which did not reflect his inner
attitude; but it does mean that the way, perhaps often rough
and harsh, in which the defendant Keitel spoke to his
officers more than once led to an officer being punished or
disciplined. Dr. Gisevius, however, perhaps wanted to
suggest that Keitel had dealt with his subordinates in the
High Command of the Armed Forces in a morally reprehensible

I now continue on Page 92 of my statement.

From an impartial estimation of the facts, verified by the
evidence presented, it is shown that the accusations arising
from the testimony of the witness Gisevius are not

But the picture would not be complete if a light were not
thrown on the personality of the witness Gisevius by his own
evidence. This judgement is made up from two factors:

  (1) The career and the position of the witness.
  (2) The trustworthiness of his information.

On Page 92 of my text, I have stated in detail the functions
Dr. Gisevius carried out. I have not emphasized anything
which, from my point of view, might accuse him in any way
for having given the evidence here which you all have heard.
I have only impartially confirmed the following:

(a) He evaded the military service through falsified papers
put at his disposal by Oster.

(b) He lived in Germany during the whole time from 1933
without restriction of liberty and remained in office up to
20th July, 1944.

(c) He was an official of the German Reich and was in its
pay from the middle of 1937 to the beginning of 1939 with
the exception of leave.

(d) He was Vice-Consul of the Reich in Switzerland from 1943
in the Consulate General at Zurich, placed there through
Canaris as intelligence agent, and was naturally paid for
it. At the same time he was in touch with the enemy's
intelligence service.

(e) He had since 1933, when he worked in the Gestapo, exact
knowledge of all the horrible happenings and the perception
of what consequences could arise therefrom for the German

(f ) A special circumstance, which shows the witness Dr.
Gisevius in his true light, is the advice, or the
suggestion, which he gave to the experienced bank
specialist, Dr. Schacht, that he should allow inflation to
set in and thus get the control of matters into his own

This suggestion leaves only two possibilities: A complete
ignorance of the national economic importance and social
effect of an inflation or a boundless unscrupulousness which
completely disregards the fate of employees and workmen.

                                                  [Page 201]

An inflation brought about knowingly can be described only
as a crime against the people. Schacht described it as a
catastrophe. Schacht answered him, according to the record:
"You want the catastrophe; I want to avoid it."

In order to judge the reliability of the statements by the
witness Gisevius before this Tribunal, I must refer to the
book submitted by the witness as evidence: To the Bitter
End. This book is also a "statement" of the witness

To err is human, but when in the year 1945 - after the
collapse of Germany - a book appears in which facts and
occurrences are presented of historical and, for those
personally involved, of moral and even criminal importance,
the incorrectness of which has become obvious in the
meantime, then the error is unforgivable and reference to
false information is no longer an excuse.

Out of the many inaccuracies contained in this book I will
only point out briefly the four which were established
before this Tribunal through the cross-examination by Dr.
Kubuschok, which refer to the defendant von Papen, and I beg
you to take official cognizance of it and I now continue to
Page 94 under 4. It could not be termed an unfounded
reproach if such a statement were to be described as dubious
and the author as unreliable.

It is difficult for me as a German defence counsel to deal
calmly with this problem. The statement of Gisevius reveals
the entire tragedy of the German people. It is for me a
proof of the weakness and of the decadence of certain German
circles who played with the idea of revolt and high treason,
without any feeling for the distress of the people. They
were a higher level of future ministers and generals without
the backing of the large masses of our people, the working
classes, as Reich Minister Severing has declared here very

Mr. Justice Jackson has used the word "resistance movement"
in connection with the examination of the witness Gisevius.
We have often heard during this trial about dauntless, brave
men and women, who fought for their country and have
suffered and died for it. They were our enemies. But no one
who tries to judge these things impartially would deny them
acknowledgement of their heroism. But where do you find this
heroism in the group around Gisevius?

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