(3 of 10)
The Polish State has refused the peaceful settlement of relations that I desired, and has appealed to arms. Germans in Poland are persecuted with bloody terror and driven from their houses. A series of violations of the frontier, intolerable to a great Power, prove that Poland is no longer willing to respect the frontier of the Reich. In order to put an end to this lunacy, I have no other choice than to meet force with force from now on. The German Army will fight the battle for the honor and the vital rights of reborn Germany with hard determination. I expect that every soldier, mindful of the great traditions of eternal German soldiery, will ever remain conscious that he is a representative of the National-Socialist Greater Germany. Long live our people and our Reich!
From Jodl's IMT testimony: The war against Poland broke out without my having taken any part in its preparation. It developed into a World War contrary to the hopes of all soldiers. Everything had to be improvised for this war. There was nothing ready except the plan of attack against Poland. There were neither enough bombs, nor enough ammunition. At that time, not a single soldier thought about Norway, Belgium, Holland, Yugoslavia, Greece, or even Russia. No military agreements had been reached with Italy, or with Japan.
This night, for the first time, Polish regular soldiers fired on our own territory. Since 5:45 AM we have been returning the fire and, from now on, bombs will be met with bombs. Whoever fights with poison gas will be fought with poison gas. Whoever departs from the rules of humane warfare can only expect that we shall do the same. I will continue this struggle, no matter against whom, until the safety of the Reich and its rights are secured...September 1, 1939: Chamberlain speaks before the House of Commons:
It now only remains for us to set our teeth and to enter upon this struggle, which we ourselves earnestly endeavored to avoid, with determination to see it through to the end. We shall enter it with a clear conscience, with the support of the Dominions and the British Empire, and the moral approval of the greater part of the world. We have no quarrel with the German people, except that they allow themselves to be governed by a Nazi Government...September 3, 1939: Australia, Britain, France, and New Zealand declare war on Germany; World War Two begins.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: I was presented to the Fuehrer by Field Marshal Keitel in the command train on 3 September 1939, when we were going to the Polish Eastern Front. At any rate, that was the day I first exchanged words with him. Two days after the beginning of the war . . . .
[The Fuehrer’s confidence in me] came about very gradually. The Fuehrer had a certain distrust of all General Staff officers, especially of the Army as, at that time, he was still very skeptical toward the Wehrmacht as a whole. I may, perhaps, quote a statement of his that was often heard: "I have a reactionary Army, a Christian"--sometimes he said too--"an imperial Navy, and a National Socialist Air Force."
The relations between us varied a great deal. At first, until about the end of the campaign in the West, there was considerable reserve. Then his confidence in me increased more and more until August 1942. Then the great crisis arose, and his attitude to me was severely caustic and unfriendly. That lasted until 30 January 1943. Then, relations improved and were particularly good, sincere, after the Italian betrayal in 1943 had been warded off. The last year was characterized by numerous sharp altercations . . . .
Only as far as we needed to know them [did the Fuehrer confide in me regarding his political intentions] for our military work. Of course, for the Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff, political plans are somewhat more necessary than for a battalion commander, for politics is part of strategy.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: I remember that meeting [September 9] perfectly. I met the Fuehrer in the so-called command car, in the chartroom, where Field Marshal Keitel, Canaris, and Lahousen were; and then Canaris made a brief report on the information he had received from the West, and expressed the opinion that a French attack in the Saarbrucken sector was imminent. The Fuehrer contradicted this, and so did I. Apart from that, nothing else was discussed.
From the IMT testimony of Abwehr General Erwin Lahousen: First of all, Canaris had a short [talk] with Ribbentrop, in which the latter explained the general political aims with regard to Poland, and in connection with the Ukrainian question. The Chief of the OKW took up the Ukrainian question in subsequent discussions which took place in his private carriage. These are recorded in the files that I immediately prepared on Canaris' order. While we were still in the carriage of the Chief of the OKW, Canaris expressed his serious misgivings regarding the proposed bombardment of Warsaw, of which he knew. Canaris stressed the devastating repercussions that this bombardment would have in the foreign political field. The Chief of the OKW, Keitel, replied that these measures had been agreed upon directly by the Fuehrer and Goering, and that he, Keitel, had had no influence on these decisions. I quote Keitel's own words here--naturally only after re-reading my notes.
Keitel said: "The Fuehrer and Goering are in frequent telephone communication; sometimes I also hear something of what was said, but not always." Secondly, Canaris very urgently warned against the measures which had come to his knowledge, namely the proposed shootings and extermination measures directed particularly against the Polish intelligentsia, the nobility, the clergy, and in fact all elements which could be regarded as leaders of a national resistance. Canaris said at that time--I am quoting his approximate words: "One day the world will also hold the Wehrmacht, under whose eyes these events occurred, responsible for such methods."
The Chief of the OKW replied--and this is also based on my notes, which I re-read a few days ago--that these things had been decided upon by the Fuehrer, and that the Fuehrer, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, had let it be known that, should the Armed Forces be unwilling to carry through these measures, or should they not agree with then, they would have to accept the presence at their side of the SS, the SIPO and similar units who would carry them through. A civilian official would then be appointed to function with each military commander. This, in outlines, was our discussion on the proposed shooting and extermination measures in Poland . . . .
The Chief of the OKW used an expression which was certainly derived from Hitler and which characterized these measures as 'political housecleaning.' I recall this expression very clearly, even without the aid of my notes . . . . According to the Chief of the OKW, the bombardment of Warsaw, and the shooting of the categories of people which I mentioned before had been agreed upon already: Mainly the Polish intelligentsia, the nobility, the clergy, and, of course, the Jews . . . .
Canaris was ordered by the Chief of the OKW, who stated that he was transmitting a directive which he had apparently received from Ribbentrop, since he spoke of it in connection with the political plans of the Foreign Minister, to instigate in the Galician Ukraine an uprising aimed at the extermination of Jews and Poles . . . . Hitler and Jodl entered, either after the discussions I have just described, or towards the conclusion of the whole discussion of this subject, when Canaris had already begun his report on the situation in the West; that is, on the news which had meanwhile come in on the reaction of the French Army at the West Wall. ...
After this discussion in the private carriage of the Chief of the OKW, Canaris left the coach, and had another short talk with Ribbentrop who, returning to the subject of the Ukraine, told him once more that the uprising should be so staged that all farms and dwellings of the Poles should go up in flames, and all Jews be killed. The Foreign Minister of that time, Ribbentrop, said that to Canaris. I was standing next to him . . . . I have not the slightest doubt about that. I remember with particular clarity the somewhat new phrasing that "all farms and dwellings should go up in flames." Previously there had only been talk of 'liquidation' and 'elimination' . . . .
On the subject of France, a discussion took place in the carriage of the Chief of the OKW, in which Canaris described the situation in the West on the basis of Abwehr reports, and said that, in his opinion, a great attack was being prepared by the French in the sector of Saarbruecken. [Note: Lahousen and Jodl--whose remarks on this are contained in the previous item, Sep 9--obviously disagree on the exact date, but not the substance. Lahousen seems to have to have lumped this entire series of meetings together.] Hitler, who had entered the room in the meantime, intervened, took charge of the discussion, rejected in a lively manner the opinion that Canaris had just expressed, and put forward arguments which, looking back now, I must recognize as factually correct.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: As far as I am concerned, I have not a word of objection to raise against Lahousen's statement. Absolutely correct. I participated insofar as the Commander-in-Chief of the Army had applied to the Fuehrer for permission for the artillery to bombard Warsaw as soon as the deployment of artillery units had been completed. The Fuehrer refused this. He said, "What is happening here because of the Poles is madness." He ordered me to draft new leaflets--which I did personally and immediately--and have them dropped again over the city of Warsaw. It was only when this renewed demand to cease the hopeless resistance had proved absolutely unsuccessful that he sanctioned artillery bombardment and air attacks on the fortress of Warsaw--and I emphasize the word "fortress."
From Jodl's IMT testimony: When we were still 3 days' march away from the Vistula, I was informed to my great surprise--by, I believe, the representative of the Foreign Office--while I was entering the Fuehrer's headquarters, that Soviet Russia would occupy the Polish territories ... that the Polish territories east of an agreed demarcation line would be occupied by Soviet Russian troops at the appointed time. When we were approaching this agreed demarcation line, which was shown to me on a map--the line was the East Prussian Lithuanian border, Narew, Vistula, San--I telephoned to our military attaché in Moscow and informed him that we could probably reach individual points of this demarcation line in the course of the following day. Shortly afterwards, I was informed over the telephone that the Russian divisions were not yet ready.
When, the day after the next, we reached the demarcation line, and had to cross it in pursuit of the Poles, I once again received news from Moscow, at 0200 hours, that the Soviet Russian divisions would take up their position along the entire front at 0400 hours. This maneuver was punctually carried out, and I then drafted an order to our German troops that wherever they had contacted the troops of the Soviet Union, and in agreement with them, they were to withdraw behind the demarcation line . . . . I cannot tell you exactly when the troops reached the line, but I would say it was about 14 or 15 September.
[We] have beaten Poland within eighteen days, and thus created a situation which perhaps makes it possible one day to speak to representatives of the Polish people, calmly and reasonably. Meantime, Russia felt moved, on its part, to march in for the protection of the interests of the White Russian and Ukrainian people in Poland. We realize now that in England and France this German and Russian co-operation is considered a terrible crime. An Englishman even wrote that it is perfidious--well, the English ought to know. I believe England thinks this co-operation perfidious because the co-operation of democratic England with bolshevist Russia failed, while National Socialist Germany's attempt with Soviet Russia succeeded. I want to give here an explanation: Russia remains what she is; Germany also remains what she is. About only one thing are both regimes clear: neither the German nor the Russian regime wants to sacrifice a single man for the interest of the Western democracies. A lesson of four years was sufficient for both peoples.
We know only too well that, [alternatively], now one, then the other, would be granted the honor to fill the breach for the ideals of the Western democracies. We therefore thank both peoples and both States for this task. We intend henceforth to look after our interests ourselves, and we have found that we best have been able to look after them when two of the largest peoples and States reconcile each other. And this is made simpler by the fact that the British assertion as to the unlimited character of German foreign policy is a lie. I am happy now to be able to refute this lie for British statesmen. British statesmen, who continually maintain that Germany intends to dominate Europe to the Urals, [will now] be pleased to learn the limits of German political intentions. I believe this will deprive them of a reason for war, because they profess to have to fight against the present regime, because it today pursues unlimited political goals. Now, gentlemen of the great British Empire, the aims of Germany are closely limited. We discussed the matter with Russia--they, after all, are the most immediately interested neighbor--and if you are of the opinion that we might come to a conflict on the subject--we will not...
From Jodl's IMT testimony: To begin with, there was no plan of attack in the West; but, on the contrary, there was, particularly in the Army, a widespread opinion that the war would die a natural death, if only we kept quiet in the West. That went so far that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army transformed even mobile infantry divisions into fortress divisions, and took away all their mobile equipment from them . . . .
The Fuehrer himself had his doubts during the Polish campaign. He, too, could find no plausible explanation for the complete inactivity of the French and English forces in France, who only staged a kind of a sham war with the help of their war communiqués. In reality not a single shot was fired at the front. But by the end of September, if I remember rightly, the Fuehrer did realize that once England enters a war, she fights it out to the bitter end.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: When we first contacted the Russians in the Polish campaign, relations were rather cool. We were carefully prevented from gaining any information about their troops or equipment. There were constantly unpleasant incidents on the San. The Russians shot at everything, at fleeing Poles or at German soldiers, and there were wounded and dead; and the demarcation line was flown over in numerous cases. The unusually strong forces employed by Russia for the occupation of the Baltic states, of Poland and Bessarabia struck us from the very beginning.
From maps, which were submitted every few days, which were based on intelligence reports and information from the radio interception section, the following picture was formed: In the summer of 1940 there were about 100 Russian divisions along the border. In January 1941, there were already 150 divisions; and these were indicated by number, consequently the reports were reliable. In comparison with this strength, I may add that the English-American-French forces operating from France against Germany never, to my knowledge, amounted to 100 divisions.
Hitler, however, is not interested in extending the war to the north. It is only after Russia had attacked Finland, and the western powers had started laying plans to send troops across northern Norway in support of the Finns, an action that would simultaneously have cut off Germany's ore supplies, that Hitler had changed his mind. The British and French military commanders had, as usual, moved with glacial indecision; and when, early in March of 1940, the Russians had cracked the Finnish defenses and the Finns had sued for peace, both the Allies and the Germans had been left suspended in mid-plan. Conclusion of peace between Finland and Russia deprives England, but us too, of any political basis to occupy Norway" (Conot)
From Jodl's IMT testimony: The Fuehrer said in those days, when I wrote it--not in a diary, but in my notebook, my memorandum book--he said: "To carry out a decision of this kind I need absolutely reliable information with which I can really justify this decision before the world and prove that it was necessary. I cannot tell; I only heard the following from Herr Quisling." And for this reason he kept the Intelligence Service in particular very busy at this time, in order to get even more precise information for the Fuehrer about these many reports which we received . . . .
There is one thing which remains in my memory and which is also written in my notebook. That is the special insistence, quite openly advocated in the French press that, under all circumstances, Germany must be cut off from the Swedish ore supplies. Then came the mine-laying in Norwegian territorial waters; and then came the Altmark case which, according to my study of international law, was a flagrant breach of the agreement ruling the rights and duties of neutral states in naval warfare
A Geneva convention once succeeded in prohibiting, in civilized countries at least, the killing of wounded, ill treatment of prisoners, war against noncombatants, etc., and just as it was possible gradually to achieve universal observance of this statute, a way must surely be found to regulate aerial warfare, use of poison gas and submarines, etc., and also so to define contraband that war will lose its terrible character of conflict waged against women and children and against noncombatants in general. A growing horror of certain methods of warfare will of its own accord lead to their abolition, and thus they will become obsolete...October 9, 1939: From a memorandum and directive by Hitler distributed only to the four service chiefs, Raeder, Brauchitsch, Goering, and Keitel:
The aim of the Anglo-French conduct of war is to dissolve or disintegrate the 80-million-state [Germany] again, so that in this manner, the European equilibrium, in other words, the balance of power which serves their ends, may be restored. This battle, therefore, will have to be fought out by the German people one way or another. Nevertheless, the very great successes of the first month of the war could serve, in the event of an immediate signing of peace, to strengthen the Reich psychologically and materially, to such an extent that, from the German viewpoint there would be no objection to ending the war immediately, insofar as the present achievement with arms is not jeopardized by the peace treaty.
It is not the object of this memorandum to study the possibilities in this direction, or even to take them into consideration. In this paper, I shall confine myself exclusively to the other case: the necessity to continue the fight, the object of which, as already stressed, consists, insofar as the enemy is concerned, in the dissolution or destruction of the German Reich. In opposition to this, the German war aim is the final military dispatch of the West, that is, destruction of the power and ability of the Western Powers ever again to be able to oppose the state consolidation and further development of the German people in Europe. As far as the outside world is concerned, however, this internal aim will have to undergo various propaganda adjustments, necessary from a psychological point of view. This does not alter the war aim. It is and remains the destruction of our Western enemies . . . .
The successes of the Polish campaign have made possible, first of all, a war on a single front, awaited for past decades without any hope of realization; that is to say, Germany is able to enter the fight in the West with all her might, leaving only a few covering troops in the East. The remaining European states are neutral, either because they fear for their own fates or lack interest in the conflict as such, or are interested in a certain outcome of the war, which prevents them from taking part at all, or at any rate too soon . . . .
Belgium and Holland: Both countries are interested in preserving their neutrality but incapable of withstanding prolonged pressure from England and France. The preservation of their colonies, the maintenance of their trade, and thus the securing of their interior economy, even of their very life, depend wholly upon the will of England and France. Therefore in their decisions, in their attitude, and in their actions both countries are dependent upon the West in the highest degree. If England and France promise themselves a successful result at the price of Belgian neutrality, they are at any time in a position to apply the necessary pressure. That is to say, without covering themselves with the odium of a breach of neutrality, they can compel Belgium and Holland to give up their neutrality. Therefore, in the matter of the preservation of Belgo-Dutch neutrality, time is not a factor which might promise a favorable development for Germany...The Nordic States: Provided no completely unforeseen factors appear, their neutrality in the future is also to be assumed. The continuation of German trade with these countries appears possible even in a war of long duration.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: Hitler also told me that at the time, and he always emphasized in that connection that, until such a discussion had taken place, he would not give any orders, since it had been proved to him by General Jodl that, in any case, it was technically impossible to transfer strong troop units into the threatened sectors in the East . . . . Accordingly, nothing was done. The visit or rather discussion with the Russian delegation was prepared, in which connection I would like to say that I made the suggestion at that time that Hitler should talk personally with ... Stalin. That was the only thing I did in the matter.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: That allegation [that the assurance given by Hitler in December and October 1939 that Norwegian neutrality would be respected was given for the purpose of lulling Norway into a false sense of security] can be definitely refuted, and by means of a few dates which I shall now enumerate. These assurances, these political assurances, were given by the Fuehrer--or by the Reich Government, I do not know which--on 2 September and 6 October. On 9 October the Fuehrer read and signed the famous memorandum known as Document L-52. I do not know whether the Tribunal is aware of the fact that it is a personal memorandum by the Fuehrer. This memorandum, as I think is obvious from the document, went out to the three Commanders-in-Chief and to the Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces. It was dictated, word for word, by the Fuehrer himself, and was completed in 2 nights. It is quite out of the question that the Fuehrer, in this extremely secret memorandum, could have mentioned anything but his true purpose at that particular time. That, however, is all the more comprehensible, since it was not until 1 day later, namely 10 October, that Grossadmiral Raeder first mentioned these fears to the Fuehrer . . . .
I know that Field Marshal Keitel was apparently strongly impressed by the attitude of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the General Staff of the Army, and also raised a warning voice against this attack in the West. I know it, although I did not experience it personally; but Schmundt told me about it later. I know that, during this time, he also had a controversy with the Fuehrer, which led to the first request to resign. This is what I can report, according to what Schmundt told me; I did not witness it myself, nor did Field Marshal Keitel tell me about it personally then . . . .
Regarding Belgium, his [Hitler's] intentions in that direction were known comparatively early, that is, about the middle or the early part of October. The German objective in this war was to win, at that time. In any event, any other attack was tremendously difficult, and was highly doubtful. No doubt, the strategic position of Germany in the battle against England improved, through our having the coast [of Belgium and Holland]; that is true . . . .
I do not believe [that that is a covert reference to the Norwegian bases]. I believe it is a general correct naval strategic consideration, and can apply just as well to a base at Murmansk which, for instance, we already had at that time, or in Spain, or in some other state that was neutral at the time; but it is not a reference to Norway, for I have declared under oath that at the time, the Fuehrer never gave a thought to Norway, not the slightest thought, before he received the report from Quisling . . . .
You are asking me continually about a document that, from the first to the last word, was written by the Fuehrer, as I have already told you. You are producing a rather interesting picture of the Fuehrer as a strategist and as a military leader, and it is of interest to the world; but I cannot see how this concerns me. These are the thoughts which the Fuehrer put down as military commander, and are of great interest for the soldiers in the world. But what does it have to do with me? That I do not understand.
My dear Police President: For your enthusiastic letter of 22 September, I thank you heartily. I was quite particularly pleased about it. This wonderful campaign in Poland was a grand opening for this hard and decisive struggle, and has brought about for us an unusually favorable point of departure, politically as well as militarily. The difficult part for the people as well as the Armed Forces is still ahead. But the Fuehrer and his associates are full of the greatest confidence; for the sanctimonious British will not succeed in throttling our economy, and militarily we are without worry. Decisive is the will of the people to stick it out, and this [is something] the many strong-willed and devoted men who are today at the head of the districts, and in other responsible posts, will take care of. This time we will show that we have better nerves, and greater unity. That you, Police President, will contribute your weighty share to keeping the Czechs at it, and not let them perk up, of this I am convinced . . . . Thanking you heartily once more for your words of appreciation, which exceed my modest contribution in the shadow of the powerful personality of our Fuehrer. I am with a Heil Hitler.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: The military development of the Polish campaign, from the military point of view, was extremely satisfactory to us. Of course things happen in life, that would give more satisfaction than a military action. [I did not call the British sanctimonious because they keep treaties and don't have concentration camps and don't persecute Jews], that was not the reason. The reason was that the political situation generally was represented that way, and that I was actually of that opinion at the time . . . .
The fact is that these Gauleiter actually directed the organization of the State and the administration in this war, in a noteworthy way. Despite the catastrophe, the people were much better taken care of than in the years 1914-18. That is uncontested, and it is to the credit of these people. Even in the most terrible conditions at the end, every man in Berlin received his normal rations. It was a model of organization. I can only say that . . . . [Because no opposition to the government or the Party was allowed], it made it easier on one hand, and on the other hand, led to terrible catastrophes about which, of course, I only heard here for the first time . . . .
Since he [Dr. Karl Schwabe] was Police President in Brunn, it was his task to see that quiet and order were maintained in Brunn, and not to tolerate a Czech uprising at our backs while we were at war. That is a matter of course. I did not say that he was to murder or Germanize the Czechs at all, but he had to keep them in order.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: [Who decides what military operational plans are prepared] was the same [for us] as in any other military staff. The Commander-in-Chief--in this case the Fuehrer personally--received data for the decisions to be made: maps, strength returns of both our own and enemy forces, and information about the enemy. He then made his own decisions and, thereupon I would set my general staff to work, giving these decisions the military form necessary for the entire machinery of the Wehrmacht . . . .
I have prepared a great number of such operations [which were never actually carried out]. Of the total number of operations for which I prepared orders and instructions there was only one that I definitely knew would be carried out; that was the operation against Yugoslavia. In the case of all the other operational plans, the decision as to whether it would be carried out, or not, remained undecided for a long time. As an example of operational plans which had been drafted in every detail but which were never carried out, I mention the invasion of England, the march into Spain, the seizure of Gibraltar, the seizure of Malta, the capture of the Fischer Peninsula near Petsamo, and a winter attack on Kandalakscha on the Murmansk Railway.
At the beginning of the war, the work of my general staff did not apply to theaters of war at all, but the Fuehrer's instructions went only to the branches of the Wehrmacht--that is to the Army, the Navy and the Air Force; and it was only in the Norwegian campaign that, circumstances developed for the first time so that the Armed Forces Operations Staff was made responsible for a theater of war. And this condition changed completely when, in the beginning of 1942, the Fuehrer himself assumed supreme command in the Army. Kesselring has already been asked about this, but did not answer. However, it stands to reason that the Fuehrer, as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, could not issue orders through Jodl to himself in his capacity of Commander-in-Chief of the Army, and then have them carried out through Generaloberst Zeitzler. Consequently a separation came about. From that moment on he, with the General Staff of the Army, directed the entire Eastern Front, while the Armed Forces Operations Staff became responsible for the general staff work of all the other theaters of war.
Localities, especially large open cities, and industries are not to be attacked without a compelling military reason, neither in the Dutch nor in the Belgian-Luxembourg areas.-Signed Keitel.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: But my influence on the Fuehrer was unfortunately not in the least as great as it might, or perhaps even ought to have been, in view of the position I held. The reason lay in the powerful personality of this despot, who never suffered advisers gladly. The Fuehrer first spoke to me--I think it was in mid November 1939--at any rate, a fairly long time after Grossadmiral Raeder had first spoken to him [of a plan for a possible occupation of Norway]. At that first conference, which I believe took place on 10 October, I had not yet heard of anything nor did the Fuehrer give me any information. But in the middle of November, he spoke to me about it. I first learned the details during the oral report made by the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, which took place on 12 November, and at which I was present . . . .
The general attitude of the Fuehrer at that time was--it is also established in writing: "I am not at all interested in extending the theaters of war, but if the danger of an occupation of Norway by England really exists, and if that is true, then the situation would be quite different." . . . . Nothing was ordered at that time, but he [Hitler] merely instructed me to think this problem over generally. The preliminary work, as has been proved by documents, began on 27 January 1940 . . . .
The conflict [between Hitler on the one hand, and the military leaders on the other, after the Polish campaign] was particularly serious at that time because the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and many of the higher generals held the … that we should remain quiet in the West, to end the war. As this again was a political argument, which they could not use, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army presented a military argument to the Fuehrer at that time. This argument was that, considering the conditions in which our Army was at the time, it would not be in a position to defeat the French Army, strengthened by the British Army, in an offensive. That made the Fuehrer extremely bitter, and this bitterness expressed itself repeatedly in every speech to the commanding generals. The entire speech of 23 November, the entire memorandum which he wrote on 10 October can only be explained in the light of that conflict.
The purpose of this conference is to give you an idea of the world of my thoughts, which takes charge of me, in the face of future events, and to tell you my decisions. The building up of our Armed Forces was only possible in connection with the ideological (weltanschaulich) education of the German people by the Party . . . . When I started my political task in 1919, my strong belief in final success was based on a thorough observation of the events of the day, and the study of the reasons for their occurrence. Therefore, I never lost my belief in the midst of setbacks that were not spared me, during my period of struggle. Providence has had the last word, and brought me success. Moreover, I had a clear recognition of the probable course of historical events, and the firm will to make brutal decisions. The first decision was in 1919 when I, after long internal conflict, became a politician and took up the struggle against my enemies. That was the hardest of all decisions. I had, however, the firm belief that I would arrive at my goal.
First of all, I desired a new system of selection. I wanted to educate a minority that would take over the leadership. After 15 years, I arrived at my goal, after strenuous struggles and many setbacks. When I came to power in 1933, a period of the most difficult struggle lay behind me. Everything existing before that had collapsed. I had to reorganize everything, beginning with the mass of the people and extending it to the Armed Forces. First, reorganization of the interior, abolishment of appearances of decay and defeatist ideas, education to heroism. While reorganizing the interior, I undertook the second task: To release Germany from its international ties. Two particular characteristics are to be pointed out: Secession from the League of Nations and denunciation of the Disarmament Conference. It was a hard decision. The number of prophets who predicted that it would lead to the occupation of the Rhineland was large; the number of believers was very small. I was supported by the nation, which stood firmly behind me, when I carried out my intentions. After that the order for rearmament.
Here again there were numerous prophets who predicted misfortunes, and only a few believers. In 1935, the introduction of compulsory armed service. After that, militarization of the Rhineland, again a process believed to be impossible at that time. The number of people who put trust in me was very small. Then, beginning of the fortification of the whole country, especially in the west. One year later, Austria came. This step also was considered doubtful. It brought about a considerable reinforcement of the Reich. The next step was Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland. This step also was not possible to accomplish in one campaign. First of all, the western fortification had to be finished. It was not possible to reach the goal in one effort. It was clear to me from the first moment that I could not be satisfied with the Sudeten-German territory. That was only a partial solution. The decision to march into Bohemia was made. Then followed the erection of the Protectorate and, with that, the basis for the action against Poland was laid, but I was not quite clear at that time whether I should start first against the East, and then in the West, or vice versa . . . .
We have an Achilles' heel: the Ruhr district. The strategy of the war depends on the possession of the Ruhr district. If England and France thrust through Belgium and Holland into the Ruhr, we shall be in the very greatest danger.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I can say that this [speech by Hitler] was very closely connected with the crisis between Hitler and the generals. He called a meeting of the generals at that time to present and substantiate his views, and we knew it was his intention to bring about a change of attitude on the part of the generals. In the notes on this speech, we see that individual persons were more than once directly and sharply rebuked. The reasons given by those who had spoken against this attack in the West were repeated. Moreover, he now wanted to make an irrevocable statement of his will, to carry out this attack in the West that very winter, because this, in his view, was the only strategic solution, as every delay was to the enemy's advantage. In other words, at that time, he no longer counted on any other solution than resort to force of arms.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: Those dangers [the occupation of Belgium and Holland by the English and French] were quite clearly indicated by the Fuehrer, first, in his memorandum [above] which has been repeatedly quoted. There … is a reference to the enormous importance of the Ruhr--of which, incidentally, there seems to be quite sufficient evidence even today. In his address of 23 November 1939 to the Commanders-in-Chief … he describes once more … precisely how that danger would be for the Ruhr district if, one day, British and French forces were to appear by surprise in that region. He referred to it there as the "Achilles' heel," and that is just what it was for German war strategy . . . .
I cannot, of course, or could not at the time, swear to the absolute accuracy of the numerous reports from Canaris, but the material we captured afterwards--and in this connection I would draw your attention to the conference of the Supreme War Council in London of 17 November 1939--confirmed on the whole the accuracy of the intelligence reports . . . . At that time there was not the slightest reason for doubt [of Canaris] . . . . On such an occasion I received a report from Canaris to the effect that one unit of the French Army had already crossed one part of the Belgian frontier. I do not know if that is true.
It is not quite correct to say that the Fuehrer had ordered the attack for mid-November, but rather he wanted to order the attack for a time when the meteorologists could predict about 6 or 7 days of clear, frosty weather. But the meteorologists failed completely in this. At times, they thought they could predict such a state of the weather, and then all preparations would be made for the attack. Then they would cancel their weather forecasts again, and the final preparations for attack would be discontinued once more. That is why we so often prepared for the attack, and then refrained from carrying it out.
I was neither a politician, nor was I the military Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht. I was under the impression--and, indeed, an impression that could be proved--that in actual fact the neutrality of these two countries was no longer being respected. And as for the ethical code of my action, I must say that it was obedience, for obedience is really the ethical basis of the military profession. That I was far from extending this code of obedience to the blind code of obedience imposed on the slave has, I consider, been proved beyond all manner of doubt by my previous testimony. Nevertheless, you cannot get around the fact that, especially in operational matters of this particular kind, there can be no other course for the soldier but obedience. And if the Prosecution today is in a position to indict German officers here at all, it owes this only to the ethical concept of obedience of its own brave soldiers.
In complete agreement with this point of view, the Chief of the Naval Operations Staff is therefore also of the opinion that the most favorable solution would doubtless be the maintenance of the present situation which, if strictest neutrality is exercised by Norway, will permit the safe use of Norwegian territorial waters for the shipping vital to Germany's war effort, without the attempt being made on the part of England to seriously endanger this sea lane.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I maintained this point of view when reporting to Hitler. In that report, I first mentioned the intelligence reports which we had at hand. Then I described the dangers that might result to us from a British occupation of bases on the Norwegian coast, and might affect our entire warfare, dangers that I considered tremendous. I had the feeling that such an occupation would gravely prejudice and imperil the whole conduct of our war.
If the British occupied bases in Norway, especially in the South of Norway, they would be able to dominate the entrance to the Baltic Sea from those points, and also flank our naval operations from the Helgoland Bight and from the Elbe, Jade, and Weser. The second outlet that we had was also gravely imperiled, affecting the operations of battleships as well as the courses of our merchantmen. In addition to that, from their air bases in Norway, they might endanger our air operations, the operations of our pilots for reconnaissance in the North Sea or for attacks against England.
Furthermore, from Norway, they could exert strong pressure on Sweden, and that pressure would have been felt in this respect, that the supplies of ore from Sweden would have been hindered or stopped, by purely political pressure. Finally, the export of ore from Narvik to Germany could have been stopped entirely, and it is known how much Germany depended on supplies of ore from Sweden and Norway. They might even have gone so far, and we learned about this subsequently that such plans were discussed as to attack and destroy the ore deposits at Lulea, or to seize them.
All of these dangers might become decisive factors in the outcome of the war. Aside from the fact that I told Hitler that the best thing for us would be to have strict neutrality on the part of Norway, I also called his attention to the dangers which would result to us from an occupation of the Norwegian coast and Norwegian bases, for there would have been lively naval operations near the Norwegian coast, in which the British, even after our occupation of bases, would try to hamper our ore traffic from Narvik. A struggle might ensue which we, with our inadequate supply of surface vessels, would be unable to cope with in the long run.
Therefore, at that time, I did not make any proposal that we should occupy Norway or that we should obtain bases in Norway. I only did my duty in telling the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht about this grave danger which was threatening us, and against which we might have to use emergency measures for our defense. I also pointed out to him that possible operations for the occupation of Norwegian bases might be very expensive for us. In the course of later discussions, I told him that we might even lose our entire fleet. I would consider it a favorable case if we were to lose only one-third, something which actually did happen later on. There was, therefore, no reason for me to expect that I would gain prestige by such an enterprise. I have been accused of this ambition by the Prosecution. As a matter of fact, the exact opposite might easily result.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: As to [the consequences for Germany if England had taken Norway first] I can refer to Grossadmiral Raeder's testimony, and can only say that once Norway was in British hands, the war would have been half lost for us. We would have been strategically encircled on the northern flank and, because of the weakness of our fleet, we would have been incapable of ever rectifying this again . . . .
We captured the entire records of the British brigade that landed in Namsos and in other places. We surprised and captured the British war correspondent Romilly in Narvik, where he expected anything rather than the arrival of German ships; otherwise he could have escaped capture. To the question what he wanted to report about the war in peaceful Narvik, he could not give us any information at all.
Later on, we captured all the records of the French General Staff, a part of which have already been presented by Admiral Raeder's counsel. Particularly instructive, and of great interest to me, were the diaries carried by the English officers and some of the noncommissioned officers, whom we captured in Norway. At least they proved one thing, namely that all these troops had already been embarked, and had been put ashore against the moment our German fleet advanced towards Norway . . . .
Militarily [the air bases and U-boat bases] were tremendously important to us, there is no doubt about that; but the prerequisites to taking them, those were the reports that we had, the threat to Norway.
In the bitter and increasingly exacting conflict which lies before us, we are resolved to keep nothing back, and not to be outstripped by any, in service to the common cause. Let the great cities of Warsaw, of Prague, and of Vienna banish despair even in the midst of their agony. Their liberation is sure...
From Jodl's IMT testimony: I shall be very brief since such problems [specifically, could Germany, from a purely strategic viewpoint, have remained purely on the defensive as far as the West was concerned] are not directly connected with the Trial. I will only say that it would have been the greatest possible error of strategy, because the superiority we possessed at that time would necessarily have diminished in proportion to our delay in making aggressive use of it. [The fact is that] England was continually bringing further divisions over to France, just as the French were from their colonial empire.
I believe I need say no more about that . . . . One thing more is perhaps important. The Fuehrer took such a serious view of this danger, that we might not maintain our superiority in the long run, that he actually wanted to attack in the winter, although all soldiers, without exception, advised him against it.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: It was a terribly weighty decision. To put it shortly, it meant gambling with the entire German fleet. The result of it was that we had to defend a coastline of over 3,000 kilometers, and that meant that nearly 300,000 men were lying idle there. The decision, therefore, depended on really reliable information that Norway was threatened by actual danger. That is the reason why no definite date was fixed for this operation "Weseruebung," and the reason why I, at a later date, suggested that the forces for the Norway operation, in case it became necessary, and for an attack in the West, should be completely separate from each other.
The attitude of the troops to the SS and police alternates between abhorrence and hatred. Every soldier feels repelled and revolted by these crimes which are being perpetrated in Poland by nationals of the Reich and representatives of the State authority. He does not understand how such things can happen with impunity, particularly since they occur, so to speak, under his protection. Every police search and confiscation is accompanied by a tendency, for those of the police involved, to rob and plunder. It is clearly the normal custom for confiscated articles to be distributed among the police and SS units.
If high officials of the SS and police demand acts of violence and brutality, and praise them publicly, then in a very short time we shall be faced with the rule of the thug. Like-minded people, and those with warped characters will very soon come together so that, as is now the case in Poland, they can give full expression to their animal and pathological instincts. It is hardly possible to keep them any longer in check, since they can well believe themselves officially authorized and justified in committing any act of cruelty. The only way of resisting this epidemic is to subordinate those who are guilty and their followers to the military leadership and courts as quickly as possible.
From a supplement to Blaskowitz's memorandum by General der Infanterie Wilhelm Ulex: The acts of violence by the police forces, which have increased recently, demonstrate a quite incredible lack of human and moral feeling, so that it can be called sheer brutality. And even so, I believe that my headquarters only hears of a small number of the acts of violence occurring. It seems as if the superiors privately approve of this activity, and do not wish to intervene. I see the only way out of this ignoble situation, which besmirches the honor of the whole German nation, in the recall and disbanding, at a stroke, of all the police units, including all their superior officers, and all those leaders in the departments of the 'General Government' who have witnessed these acts of violence for months, and their replacement by sound, honorable units.
Unless [the] Norwegian torpedo-boat undertakes to convoy Altmark to Bergen with a joint Anglo-Norwegian guard on board, and a joint escort, you should board Altmark, liberate the prisoners, and take possession of the ship, pending further instructions. If [the] Norwegian torpedo-boat interferes, you should warn her to stand off. If she fires upon you, you should not reply unless attack is serious, in which case you should defend yourself, using no more force than is necessary, and ceasing fire when she desists.February 16, 1940: The Altmark Incident, a naval skirmish between the United Kingdom and Nazi Germany, occurs. After some hand-to-hand fighting with bayonets--the last recorded Royal Naval action with cutlass--overwhelmed the ship's crew and then went down to the hold. One of the released prisoners stated that the first they knew of the operation was when they heard the shout "Any Englishmen here?" from the boarding party. When the prisoners shouted back, the response was "Well, the Navy's here!" which brought cheers. The Norwegians were angered that their neutrality had been infringed, but they did not want to be dragged into a European war. Nonetheless, the Altmark incident sowed doubts about the Norwegian neutrality among the Allies, as well as in Germany. Both sides had contingency plans for military action against Norway, primarily to control the traffic of Swedish iron ore, on which the German armaments industry depended in the early stages of the war. The Altmark incident convinced Adolf Hitler that the Allies would not respect Norwegian neutrality.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: In order to answer that question [The question in question is: In this, like the case of the other three Low Countries--in this case, you simply made an excuse. You thought England might do something, although she had not done it for months, and you breached Norway's neutrality at your own chosen time. Is that right?] "Yes" or "No," one would have to undertake a very thorough study of all the historical documents on both our own and the other side. Then one can say if it is correct or not. Before that has been decided, only a subjective opinion exists. I have mine, and you have another. In the case of Norway, the English did that [violate neutrality] first in the case of the Altmark by laying mines and by firing upon German ships in Norwegian territorial waters. That has been proved indisputably. There is no doubt about that ... it was a violation of international law as far as Norwegian sovereignty was concerned. You could only request that Norway do that, but you yourselves could not carry out a combative action in Norwegian waters. I know the regulations in this connection exactly . . . . I can only say that we were under the definite subjective impression that we carried through an enterprise, in the last second, for which British troops were already embarked. If you can prove to me that is not true, I shall be extremely grateful to you.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: It was no trifle for the Fuehrer to create new enemies possessing a strength of 500,000 men, which the Dutch and Belgian forces represented. It resulted in our having to make the attack in the West with actually inferior forces, namely, with 110 divisions against approximately 135 of the enemy. No military commander would do that except in an emergency . . . .
We were not in a position to break through the Maginot Line at its strongest points, which would then have remained un-captured--namely, between the Rhine and the Luxembourg border, or the Upper Rhine where the Vosges mountains were an additional obstacle in breaking through this West Wall at these points, this Maginot Line. For this purpose heavy artillery was lacking. But that was not a moral reason; it was, in fact, rather an unmoral one.
The great danger lay in the fact that so protracted an attack on the fortifications exposed us to an attack in the rear, by the combined English and French mobile forces thrusting through Belgium and Holland; and they were north of Lille with their engines already running, one might say, for this very task. And the decisive factor was that, owing to the many reports which reached us, the Fuehrer and we ourselves, the soldiers, were definitely under the impression that the neutrality of Belgium and Holland was really only pretended and deceptive.
Individually the reports are not of great interest. There was, however, an endless number of reports from Canaris. They were supplemented and confirmed by letters from the Duce, Mussolini. But what was absolutely proved and completely certain, which I could see for myself on the maps every day, were the nightly flights to and fro of the Royal Air Force, completely unconcerned about neutral Dutch and Belgian territory. This necessarily strengthened the conviction in us that even if the two countries wished to-and perhaps in the beginning they did so wish --they could not possibly remain neutral in the long run.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: [We needed a good reason for breaking Norwegian neutrality] because, for this operation, the Fuehrer considered it absolutely necessary to have some documentary proof. So far, there had only been very strong indications that came near to a proof, but we had as yet no documentary evidence.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: This is not [from] my diary. There is only one diary ... that is from the year 1937 to 1938, and I used to make entries in it every evening. I kept no diary at all during the war, but, of course, I filled up dozens of small notebooks. When one of these notebooks was full, I marked important passages in red on the margin, and my secretary copied them out later, as they might be important for writing the history of the war, and for the official diary of the Armed Forces Operations Staff . . . . I did not check it, and never saw it again. It fell then into the hands of the Prosecution. I did not know at all where those extracts from my notebook had gone. The Prosecution captured it somewhere or other. The remainder are extracts, and partial extracts, from the official Diary of the Armed Forces Operations Staff. It was always kept by a highly qualified expert of my own selection. The final check was made by Dr. Schramm, a professor at the Goettingen University. I usually did not have the time [to check the entries]; but if General [Walter] Scherff read through it and discovered anything in particular, he would draw my attention to it . . . .
[The March 19 diary entry] was a brief note on the statement by the Fuehrer--namely, that he was in perfect agreement with Mussolini that the Balkans must be kept quiet . . . . [We tried to keep the Balkan states as quiet as possible]. We made unremitting endeavors for that. Our attitude toward Yugoslavia was as considerate as if we were dealing with a prima donna. Matters went so far that, when we had to prepare the Greek campaign, the Fuehrer even refused a proposal from the Quartermaster General of the Army that sealed trains--the supply trains--should be sent through Yugoslavia, which would have been permissible according to international law. Moreover, we brought pressure to bear on Bulgaria, so that she should not participate in the impending campaign against Greece; above all, so as not to alarm Turkey. And even after the Greco-Italian campaign, the Fuehrer still hoped that a conflict, an actual war, between Germany and Greece could be avoided.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: The Fuehrer's final decision was made on 2 April and was made on the basis of two pieces of information. First, the reports from the Navy regarding repeated firing on German merchant ships both in Norwegian and Danish territorial waters. Second, a report from Canaris that British troops and transports were lying in a state of readiness in the northern part of the English east coast.
Only in the event of the civil population's putting up a resistance or behaving rebelliously can the following decisions be carried out:
1) If the civilian population offers resistance or if attacks are to be feared, the arrest of hostages should, on principle, be resorted to. Hostages should only be arrested on orders of the commander of a regiment or a commander of equivalent rank.
When accommodating and feeding hostages, it should be borne in mind that they are not imprisoned because of crimes. Hostages and population are to be informed that the hostages will be shot at any sign of hostile action. Previous sanction of the shooting by the divisional commander must be obtained . . . .
Armed resistance by the civilian population is to be crushed by force of arms . . . . The death penalty will be imposed for violence of any kind against the German Armed Forces. Immediate trials will be held by a field court martial. The regimental commander can appoint the summary court, composed of one captain, one sergeant, and one corporal, hear witnesses, and draw up the sentence in writing. The [sentence] will be the death penalty if guilty, otherwise acquittal. The sentence will be executed immediately after confirmation by the regimental commander . . . . The following are to be considered as acts of violence: Sabotage, destruction of our lines of communications, cutting of telephone wires, demolitions, et cetera.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: From the beginning, in his [Hitler's] orders for the attacks in the West, he had the intention to go through Belgium; but he had reservations with regard to Holland for a long time, which were only rescinded later--I believe in the middle of November. Regarding Holland his intentions were not specific . . . .
Yes [it was a sudden invasion with no declaration of war], but at first, it was carried out in a fairly peaceful manner on the whole . . . .
These instructions are, word for word, in complete accord with our directives which, in times of peace, were laid down by the group of experts on international law, in co-operation with the Foreign Office, and with German professors of international law. It would have been well, if only these, our military precepts, our military court procedure laid down before we went to war, had been followed consistently everywhere. Our official directives laid down the question of hostages from the point of view of international law, and there is no doubt that, under international law as applicable in the year 1939, the taking of hostages was admissible . . . .
Then [if nowhere in international law will you find the shooting of hostages legalized at all] it is not with certainty prohibited anywhere in international law. I believe it is an open question. In our directives, even in the Handbook on Tactics, the concept of taking hostages had been laid down for years. I can only summarize and say that every word here is in accord with the directives applicable in the German Army, and these directives were not illegal. But one would have to argue this problem with experts on international law.
Renewed crisis. Political action has failed. Envoy Brauer [the German minister in Oslo] is recalled. According to the Fuehrer, force has to be used . . . . Chaos of leadership is again threatening.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: [The clashes between Hitler and his Generals] were a daily occurrence and in effect led to extremely unpleasant scenes, such scenes as made one ashamed, as a senior officer, to have to listen to such things in the presence of young adjutants. The entry in my diary proves that on 19 April 1940, for instance, Field Marshal Keitel threw his portfolio on the table and left the room. That is a fact . . . . Apart from Hitler, there was no powerful man; there was and could be no influential man next to him . . . .
The claim of the Fuehrer to infringe upon the sovereignty of the Army in its operational area, with Himmler and the Police, led to days of bitter disputes with the Fuehrer. The same disputes had already taken place when Terboven was appointed in Norway. One need only read my entries in my diary . . . . Of course I know today why the Fuehrer insisted on this point of view under all circumstances, and why he forced the Police, under Himmler, into the operational area. It was against all our rules. It was against all previous agreements with the Police and with Himmler, but in the end the Fuehrer put this measure through, in spite of resistance all along the line.
Major Soltmann reports on the interrogation of the Englishmen and submits additional important documents, among them the secret Army list. At noon, the first prisoners arrived in Berlin. They are being interrogated in the Alexander Barracks, and confirm the authenticity of the orders. All the material is being handed over to the Foreign Office.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: The Prosecution has … placed a purely operational problem on the level of soldierly or human honor. Until now, that has never been the custom in this world. I can only say that I neither attacked Norwegians, nor did I resort to lies or excuses. But I did use all my strength to contribute to the success of an operation that I considered absolutely necessary, in order to forestall a similar action on the part of the English. If the seals of the archives are ever broken, the rightness of my attitude will then be clearly shown. But even if it were wrong, the honesty of my own subjective opinion at that time cannot, for that reason, be changed in any way.
From Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis by Ian Kershaw: The eventual success of 'Weser Exercise' concealed, to all but the armed forces' leadership, Hitler's serious deficiencies as a military commander ... for all his talk of keeping strong nerves, Hitler betrayed signs of panic and dilettante military judgement, when things started to go wrong in Narvik in mid-April. General Walter Warlimont, observing Hitler at close quarters in these days, later recounted "the impression of truly terrifying weakness of character, on the part of the man who was at the head of the Reich."
Citing Jodl's diary entries, he pointed to "a striking picture of agitation and lack of balance." He recalled on one occasion having to see Jodl, whom Warlimont credited as largely responsible for the success of the operation, in the Reich Chancellery: "and there was Hitler hunched on a chair in a corner, unnoticed, and staring in front of him, a picture of brooding gloom. He appeared to be waiting for some new piece of news which would save the situation." . . . . On this occasion, the crisis soon passed. Hitler could bask in the glory of another triumph. But when the victories ran out, the flaws in his style of leadership would prove a lasting weakness. For now, however, he could turn his full energies to the long-awaited western offensive.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: I was sure that the Dutch would defend themselves against Germany . . . . According to the intelligence reports, the British are said to have asked for permission to march in, but the Dutch refused. According to reports, measures of the Dutch partly directed against the coast, and partly against us. [Not] possible to obtain a clear picture whether the Dutch do not work hand in hand with the English, or whether they really want to defend their neutrality against the first attacker.
[That Dutch neutrality was going to be broken] is not clear from the entry; it is only a brief argument on the basis of masses of reports that we received from Canaris on that day or on the previous day. If they were to be followed up accurately, the reports immediately preceding this entry would have to be at hand; the entry refers to the latest reports, and not to the many thousands which had come in before.
From the IMT testimony of Hans Bernd Gisevius: I believe that I should cite two more examples that I consider especially significant. First of all, every means was tried to incite Keitel to warn Hitler before the invasion of Belgium and Holland, and to tell him--that is, Hitler--that the information which had been submitted by Keitel regarding the alleged violation of neutrality by the Dutch and Belgians was wrong. Counterintelligence [Canaris] was to produce these reports that would incriminate the Dutch and Belgians. Admiral Canaris, at that time, refused to sign these reports . . . . He told Keitel repeatedly that these reports, which were supposedly produced by the OKW, were wrong. That is one instance when Keitel did not transmit to Hitler that which he should have.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: I should like to establish the facts here briefly, and tell how it really was as far as I can, without being choked with disgust.
I was present when Canaris came to the Reich Chancellery with this report to Field Marshal Keitel, and submitted to him the draft of the White Book of the Foreign Office. Field Marshal Keitel then looked through this book and listened carefully to the essential remarks which Canaris made, at the wish of the Foreign Office, to the effect that the intelligence needed perhaps some improvement, that he was to confirm that military action against Holland and Belgium was absolutely necessary, and that, as it says here, a final really flagrant violation of neutrality was still lacking. Before Canaris had said another word, Field Marshal Keitel threw the book on the table, and said, "I will not stand for that. How could I assume responsibility for a political decision? In this White Book are, word for word, the reports which you yourself--Canaris--gave me."
Whereupon Canaris said, "I am of exactly the same opinion. In my opinion, it is completely superfluous to have this document signed by the Wehrmacht, and the reports which we have here, as a whole, are quite sufficient to substantiate the breaches of neutrality which have taken place in Holland and in Belgium." And he advised Field Marshal Keitel against signing it.
That is what took place. The Field Marshal took the book with him, and I do not know what happened after that. But one thing is certain, that the imaginary reports of this Herr Gisevius turn everything upside down. All these reports about the violations of neutrality came from these people who now assert that we had signed them falsely. This is one of the most despicable incidents of world history . . . .
Of course, I did not follow up every document that came to Field Marshal Keitel; but Field Marshal Keitel submitted everything that was considered necessary for the Fuehrer to know about. I have already said that if Canaris had not been satisfied in this connection, he could have gone to the Fuehrer directly. He had only to go into the next office and inform the Fuehrer's chief adjutant, or he had only to tell me . . . . In fact, he [Canaris] went to the Fuehrer dozens of times . . . .
The attack began on the 10th of May along the whole front. That [the question of what had those countries done to deserve the horrors of invasion and the misery of German occupation], again, is a historical question. I have already said that, according to my personal point of view, England and France in fact forced them to give up their strictly neutral attitude. That was my impression . . . .
They were not only in the way [of our gaining air bases and U-boat bases], but by tolerating actions incompatible with neutrality, they helped England in the war against us. That was my subjective impression.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: I know that the Armed Forces communiqué of 18 May 1940 contained the sentence, "Louvain captured after heavy fighting." Even though the German Armed Forces communiqué was silent on some things, it certainly never stated deliberate untruths. I can say that, because I edited it.
The plan for the unlimited expansion of the SS sounds generally suspicious.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: As a man very well versed in history, I had many misgivings about [the expansion of the SS]. Not only did I have misgivings, but even during the war I quite openly expressed these misgivings to Himmler and Bormann . . . . [Himmler's increasing influence] can be explained by the fact that the Fuehrer had the feeling--which perhaps on the whole was right--that a large section of the officer corps opposed his ideas. He saw in this attitude not only an inner political danger, but also saw in it a danger to victory, which he believed was to be attained only through ruthless methods . . . . The practical results were these: The SS units were multiplied tremendously; the Police received authority which extended even into the operational sphere of the Army, and later, the Higher SS and Police Leaders were created; the intelligence service was transferred to the SS--where, by the way, it was organized by Kaltenbrunner far better than before--the reserve army was put under the jurisdiction of Himmler, and, in the end, also the entire Prisoners of War Organization.
... we build and defend not for our generation alone. We defend the foundations laid down by our fathers. We build a life for generations yet unborn. We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind. Ours is a high duty, a noble task. Day and night, I pray for the restoration of peace in this mad world...June 10, 1940: Italy declares war on France and Britain. Fearing that the war would soon be over, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini said to Pietro Badoglio, the Chief of Staff of the Italian Royal Army: "I only need a few thousand dead so that I can sit at the peace conference as a man who has fought." The goal of the Italian offensive is to take control of the Alps mountain range and the region around Nice, and to win the colonies in North Africa. The offensive will not meet its planned goals, with the Italian forces making only limited headway.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: I do not know what was done politically; but after the collapse of France, when Italy also wished to take an active part in the war, we tried to prevent this, we soldiers in the OKW. But we only succeeded in delaying her intervention by 4 to 6 days; the Fuehrer could not refuse altogether. But during the whole of the war, Italy was of no help to us, rather only a burden; and this will be confirmed by subsequent histories of the war.