Alfred Jodl

(8 of 10)

From the text of a Norwegian report: As a result of the advance of the Russian troops, and the retreat of the German Army in Finnmark, October-November 1944, the Germans practiced the 'scorched earth' policy for the first time, in Norway. Orders were issued that the civilian population was to evacuate, and that all houses, transport, and stores were to be destroyed. As a result of this, about 30,000 houses were damaged, apart from 12,000 items of damage to chattels, amounting to 176 million kroner.

From Jodl's IMT testimony: [This was] not exactly [a cruel order]. I should like to make a few explanatory remarks about it. Typically, as I have always said, this order was urged upon the Fuehrer by the Reich Commissioner Terboven; not by the soldiers, but much against their will.

Secondly, this order was not carried out, because otherwise the cities of Kirkenes, Hammerfest, and Alta would today no longer exist. All these cities are east of the Lyngen Fjord. In practice, this order was moderated by our forces in agreement with me, and in conversations I had with my brother, who was the commanding general in that region, and whom I wanted to call as a witness since I expected this document to be produced. It was moderated to such an extent that, in fact, only what was necessary from a military point of view, and could be justified under Article 23 of the Hague Regulations on Land Warfare, was destroyed. Otherwise, no city or house would be left today in northern Norway; and if you were to travel there, you would see that these cities are still standing, not destroyed.

The Armed Forces commander in Norway strongly protested against this attitude of Terboven, and I repeated these objections to the Fuehrer, in similarly strong terms; but, nevertheless, he demanded that this order be issued. We, who retained our humanitarian sentiments, carried out the order, only insofar as it was absolutely necessary for military reasons. These are the facts . . . .

[My brother complained of this order], he was enraged by this decree. No, not just from my point of view, but] from the point of view of the Norwegians as well . . . . What was bombed on the day of the landing is hardly worth mentioning: just a few coastal batteries, and a few fortifications, but no cities. Villages were destroyed only later in the battle with the English brigade at Dombass and at Lillehammer; but nothing was destroyed when the country was first occupied. Then the Norwegians only stood at the quays, hands in their pockets, and looked on with great interest. [It would be better to occupy the country without opposition], undoubtedly; that would have been even better; and the Norwegians would certainly have fared very well during the occupation, if Terboven had not come.

From the IMT testimony of General August Winter: On 15 November 1944, I was called there [the Armed Forces Operations Staff] to succeed General Warlimont, who had fallen ill; and I took over his functions on 15 November 1944. My appointment was dated from 1 December 1944. I was there [situation discussions with the Fuehrer] on an average of 5 days out of 7 during the week. The situation discussion was a permanent part of the afternoon's program, and was attended by a fairly large number of people, while there was a second situation discussion at 2 o'clock in the morning, of no importance to us here. In it, only the junior General Staff officers of the OKH made reports for the Eastern Front, and of the Operations Staff of the OKW for the Western Front.

November 28, 1944: Himmler orders the gas chambers at Auschwitz destroyed.

December 16, 1944 Beleidigender Ardennes: Hitler's big gamble in the West, the Battle of the Bulge, gets underway in Belgium and Luxembourg.

December 17, 1944: The Malmedy massacre, the murder of 90 unarmed American prisoners of war by a unit of the 1st SS Panzer Division, occurs.

From Jodl's IMT testimony: And I should like to refer to something I believe I have stated already, that I ordered an immediate investigation of the Malmedy incident . . . . I studied international law very carefully in its bearing on my orders. I do not wish to detain the Court with the knowledge I gathered from these regulations, for it is only incomplete; but I should like to conclude by saying that, owing to the fact that there were no regulations governing air warfare, deplorable confusion in definition arose, for instance, between rebellion and legal war force; between franc tireur, bandit, and scout; between spy and scout; demolition crews and saboteurs. Any time, with the help of aircraft, a rebellion might be converted into a legal war; and a legal war, on the other hand, might become a state of rebellion. That is the effect that parachute troops and the furnishing of supplies by air have had on international law.

December 29, 1944 Battle of Budapest: The Red Army completes the encirclement of Budapest. (Clark)

January 4, 1945 Churchill to Eden:

Treatment of Germany after the war. It is much too soon for us to decide these enormous questions. Obviously, when the German organized resistance has ceased, the first stage will be one of severe military control. This may well last for many months, or perhaps for a year or two, if the German underground movement is active.

2. We have yet to settle the practical questions of the partition of Germany, the treatment of the Rhur and Saar industries, etc. These may be touched upon at our forthcoming meeting, but I doubt whether any final decision will be reached then. No one can foresee at the present moment what the state of Europe will be, or what the relations of the Great Powers will be, or what the tempers of their peoples will be. I am sure that the hatreds, which Germany has caused in so many countries, will find their counterpart here.

3. I have been struck at every point where I have sounded opinion, at the depth of the feeling that would be aroused by a policy of ‘putting poor Germany on her legs again.’ I am also well aware of the arguments about ‘not having a poisoned community in the heart of Europe’ . . . .

I remember so well, last time, being shocked at the savage views of the House of Commons and of the constituencies, and being indignant with Poincare, when he sent the French into the Ruhr. In a few years, however, the mood of Parliament and the public changed entirely. Thousands of millions of money were lent to Germany by the United States. I went along with the tolerant policy towards Germany up to the Locarno Treaty and during the rest of Mr. Baldwin’s Government, on the grounds that Germany had no power to harm us. [But, a swift] change occurred [thereafter]. The rise of Hitler began. And, thereafter, I once again found myself very much out of sympathy with the prevailing mood…

January 21, 1945: Hitler orders that all commanding generals, down to divisional level, must inform him in advance of any operational movements by the units under their command. "They must ensure that I have time to intervene in their direction if I think fit, and that my counter-orders can reach the front-line troops in time." (Read)

January 24, 1945: Hitler approves Panzer Leader General Heinz Guderian's plan to create a new, emergency army group, to be known as Army Group Vistula. Bormann had suggested to Hitler that he give the command to the Reichsfuehrer SS, knowing that the chances are nonexistent that Himmler, his rival, will distinguish himself. SS leader Heinrich Himmler, who has no operational talent or experience, is now appointed by Hitler to lead Army Group Vistula, the main function of which will be to oppose the main Soviet thrusts. This is seen as an extreme insult by the German General Staff, and by Guderian, who blows up at the idea of 'such an idiocy being perpetrated on the Eastern Front.' (Read)

January 25, 1945 Beleidigender Ardennes: Hitler's big gamble, the Battle of the Bulge, collapses. The last of the German reserves are now gone.

From Jodl's IMT testimony: I did not advise him [Hitler] to capitulate at that time. That was completely out of the question. No soldier would have done that. It would have been of no use. Not even after the failure of the Ardennes Offensive. The Fuehrer realized the situation, as a whole, as well as we did, and probably much sooner than we did. Therefore, we did not need to say anything to him in this connection . . . .

In the winter of 1944, there were many reasons for not doing this [advise the Fuehrer to capitulate], apart from the fact that the question of capitulation, or discontinuing resistance, concerns only the Supreme Commander. The reasons against it were, primarily, that we had no doubt there could be only unconditional surrender . . . . other countries left us in no doubt on that score; and even if we had had any doubt as to what faced us, it was completely removed by the fact that we captured the English "Eclipse"--the gentlemen of the British Delegation will know what that is. It was exact instructions about what the occupying power was to do in Germany after the capitulation. Now, unconditional surrender meant that the troops would cease to fight where they stood on all the fronts, and be captured by the enemy facing them. The same thing would happen as happened in the winter of 1941 at Viazma. Millions of prisoners would suddenly have to camp in the middle of winter, in the open. Death would have taken an enormous toll.

Above all, the men still on the Eastern Front, who numbered about 31 million, would have fallen into the hands of the enemy in the East. It was our endeavor to save as many people as possible by sending them into the western area. That could only be done by drawing the two fronts closer together. Those were the purely military opinions that we held in the last stages of the war. I believe that in years to come there will be more to say about this than I can say or wish to say today.

January 27, 1945: From the notes of a Fuehrer conference:

Hitler: Do you think the English are enthusiastic about all the Russian developments?

Jodl: No, of course not. They have quite different plans. Perhaps we'll discover the full extent of their plans later.

Goering: They certainly didn't plan that we hold them off while the Russians conquer all of Germany... If this goes on we will get a telegram (from the English) in a few days. They were not counting on us defending ourselves step by step...holding them off like madmen while the Russians drive deeper and deeper into Germany, and practically have all of Germany now...

Jodl: The English have always regarded the Russians with suspicion.

Hitler: I have given orders that we shall play a trick on the English—an information sheet telling them the Russians are organizing 200,000 of our men (German POWs) led by German officers, all of them infected with Communism, and they will be marched into Germany. I have ordered this report to be delivered to the English. I have discussed it with the Foreign Minister (Ribbentrop). That will be like sticking them with a needle.

Goering: They entered the war, to prevent us from going east, not to have the East reaching out to the Atlantic.

Hitler: That's quite clear. It is something abnormal. The English newspapers are already saying bitterly: Is there any sense in this war?

Goering: On the other hand, I have read a report in Braune Blaetter that they can support the Russians with their air force. They can reach the Russian forces with their heavy bombers, even though it is a long flight. But the information comes from an absurd source.

Hitler: Tactically, the English cannot support them. Since we don't know where the Russians are, and where we are, how on earth can the English know?

Hitler then assures the assembled participants that this strategy—instilling the fear of unchecked Russian expansionism in the hearts of the British and Americans—will yet prevail. However, the conference ends with no decision being made, as to the defense of the Oder. (Payne, Shirer, Read)

From the IMT testimony of Major Herbert Buchs: I can remember something like [a situation discussion of 27 January 1945, at which the fate of the 10,000 air force officers imprisoned in the Sagan Camp was discussed]: Fegelein must have raised the question of evacuating that camp on the approach of the Russian troops. These captured officers were asked whether they wished to remain in the camp--and be handed over to the Russian Army--or whether they wanted to be taken away in the course of the evacuation of Silesia. As far as I remember, they definitely decided on the latter alternative, that is to say, to be taken away; and I believe that the only question still to be decided was how their transport was to be arranged.

I believe, [that] at that time, the Fuehrer only said, in general terms, that these imprisoned officers could not receive better treatment than our own people. It was just at the time of the evacuation of Silesia; and our traffic situation did not permit the transport of even our own people by means of railway trains, or in large columns; and the population had to tramp along the roads, even in winter. And I think I remember that, at the time, the Fuehrer said, "If these officers wish to be taken along on a transport, they will have to march, just like the German civilian population."

In this connection, may I just mention that it was extremely difficult to take notes of the proceedings. Four to six people frequently spoke at once during these conference, and much more rapidly than usual. The stenographers could only take down what they heard. They could neither look up, nor make certain who actually made such and such a remark, at such and such a moment. There was a table, around which there were often some 30 people standing; and that interfered with the work of the stenographers.

January 28, 1945: The liberation of Auschwitz occurs.

February 2, 1945: Suspected of participation in the 'July 20th plot' against Hitler, Mayor Karl F. Goerdeler of Leipzig is hanged. Jesuit priest Alfred Delp--a convert to Catholicism--is put to the rope, and his cremated his ashes are scattered about. Klaus Bonhoeffer is sentenced to death, by the German People's Court of 'Judge' Roland Freisler.

February 2, 1945: From Reich Commissioner Terboven's report to the Fuehrer:

Those responsible for attempts to murder, and to carry out sabotage, are the illegal elements within Norway, with a bourgeois-national majority, and a communist minority, as well as individual groups which came direct from England or Sweden . . . .

The bourgeois-national majority was opposed to the communist minority, in conception of sabotage and murder, and in particular with regard to their extent and nature. This resistance has ... become progressively weaker, during the course of the past year.

Official departments of the exile government, (as, for instance, the Crown Prince Olaf, as so-called Commander-in-Chief of the Norwegian Armed Forces, and various others), have called upon the population in speeches and orders, to carry out sabotage. As a result, there is a particularly good possibility here, of stamping every supporter of the exile government, as an intellectual instigator or accomplice.

The aim of the coming measures must therefore be: a) to strengthen the power and will to turn once more against sabotage, by threatening the very influential class of leaders in the bourgeois camp; b) thereby to exacerbate more and more antagonism, between the bourgeois and Communists . . . .

[From a further section of this report labeled 'Suggestions,' generated by Jodl's OKW:] Orientation about Reich Commissioner Terboven's Report.

1. Particularly influential representatives, of the explicitly anti-German and anti-National Socialist class of industrialists, to be shot without trial on the accusation that they are intellectual instigators or accomplices, and stating that they were convicted within the framework of police investigations.

2. Similar men from the same circle to be sent to Germany to work on fortifications.

3. In cases where the circumstances are particularly suitable, proceedings to be taken before the SS and Police Court, with the execution of the sentence of death, and suitable publicity . . . .

The Fuehrer has agreed to these proposals, only in part. Especially in connection with efforts at protection against acts of sabotage, he has rejected taking hostages. He has rejected [this section is underlined in blue pencil] the shooting of influential Norwegian representatives, without trial . . . .

From Jodl's IMT testimony: No proposal at all is being made here; but the Armed Forces Operations Staff is advising the military commander in Norway, of what Reich Commissioner Terboven has told the Fuehrer. He [first] reported to the [Fuehrer about] the general situation and then [he] made the proposals mentioned here; and the Armed Forces Operations Staff, which obviously had a representative at this meeting--I was not there--immediately advised the military commander of the handsome proposals of his friend Terboven. That is what happened, and these proposals went beyond … they were too much even for the Fuehrer. But they were not our proposals . . . .

["Orientation about Reich Commissioner Terboven's Report" means] Orientation of the Mountain Army, that is, of General Bohm. General Bohm, as commanding general of the Mountain Army, High Command 20, is advised of the report made to the Fuehrer by Reich Commissioner Terboven, so that he would know what his friend Terboven was proposing. It is no more than information on what Terboven said to the Fuehrer. I cannot tell you who was present; I was not there. The entire thing did not originate with me; I have never seen it.

February 9, 1945 Yalta Conference: Near the end of this day's session, Churchill brings up the subject of war criminals, pushing his favorite plan of summary execution of 'the leading Nazis,' with the sole formality being their positive identification. Stalin inquires about Hess. An annoyed Churchill lamely replies that 'events would catch up with Hess.' Churchill, in complete contrast to the Soviets, does not, at this point, any longer consider Hess a major war criminal. While the British Prime Minister advocates the immediate murder of the top 100 or so Nazis, he feels that Hess, and the rest of 'these men should be given a judicial trial.' (Taylor)

February 13, 1945: At the afternoon situation conference in the Fuehrerbunker--the first since the Germans received the text of the Yalta Communiqué--the anger of Hitler's generals, over Himmler's command of Army Group Vistula, boils over.

Himmler, answering General Guderian's demand that a counter-attack [be immediately] launched against Rokossovsy, meekly stammers that it simply cannot be done, as he needs more fuel and supplies.

Guderian explodes: We can't wait until the last can of petrol, and the last shell [have] been issued! By that time the Russians will be too strong!

Himmler snaps back: I will not allow you to accuse me of procrastination!

Guderian: I'm not accusing you of anything. I'm simply saying that there's no use in waiting until the last load of supplies has been issued, and the favorable moment to attack has been lost.

Himmler: I just told you that I won't allow you to accuse me of procrastinating!

Guderian: I want General Wenck at Army Group Vistula, as Chief of Staff. Otherwise, there is no guarantee that the attack will be successful. (Glaring at Himmler) The man can't do it. How could he do it?

Hitler: The Reichsfuehrer is man enough to lead the attack on his own.

Guderian: The Reichsfuehrer doesn't have the experience, or the right staff, to lead the attack without help. The presence of General Wenck is absolutely necessary.

Hitler: How dare you criticize the Reichsfuehrer! I won't have you criticize him!

Guderian: I must insist that General Wenck be transferred to the staff of Army Group Vistula, to lead the operation properly.

The argument goes on for hours, as most of the conference participants slip out of the room one by one. Finally, with only Hitler, Guderian, Himmler, Wenck, and their adjutants, remaining in the room, Hitler suddenly relents. Stopping in front of Himmler's chair he declares:

Well, Himmler, General Wenck is going to Army Group Vistula tonight, to take over as Chief of Staff. [Turning to Guderian and flashing his most charming smile] Now let us please continue with the conference. Today, Colonel-General, the General Staff has won a battle. (Read, Guderian)

From Speer's IMT testimony: Among the military leaders, there were many [who], each in his own sphere, told Hitler, quite clearly, what the situation was. Many commanders of army groups, for instance, made it clear to him how catastrophic developments were, and there were often fierce arguments during the discussions on the situation. Men like Guderian and Jodl, for instance, often talked openly about their sectors in my presence, and Hitler could see quite well, what the general situation was like. But I never observed that those who were actually responsible, in the group around Hitler, ever went to him and said, "The war is lost." Nor did I ever see these people, who had responsibility, endeavor to unite in undertaking some joint step with Hitler. I did not attempt it for my part either, except once or twice, because it would have been useless since, at this stage, Hitler had so intimidated his closest associates, that they no longer had any wills of their own.

From Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth by Gitta Sereny: Among the generals, too, [in earlier years], there were some who spoke up, however [fruitlessly, such] as Beck, Witzleben, Halder, Blomberg, Fritsch, and even, at times, the formalistic Brauchitsch. And, as Speer said, during the war, Zeitzler, Fromm, Milch, and some others also tried. And finally, there was General Jodl, who, although unhappily for him, he was never sacked or transferred, very often spoke his mind and, particularly in the last months, went through long, harrowing periods of the kind of disfavor Speer experienced, when Hitler, although insisting on his presence, would pretend he wasn't there.

Jodl's wife, Luise, a woman of great distinction, then and now, recalled when we talked: "He would come home, late, late in the [night, his face] exhausted, his voice hoarse. He didn't have to say anything: I knew that he had tried, again failed, to influence Hitler. All I could think of was how to ease his despair, how to help him just rest. So finally, one would talk about practically nothing. You know, the weather, the dogs; just things of little importance, gentle things."

February 13-15, 1945 Dresden Firestorm: 1,300 heavy bombers drop over 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices, in four raids, on the city of Dresden. Estimates vary widely, but recent scholarship has determined that somewhere between 24,000 and 40,000 civilians perished in the resulting firestorm. Himmler is informed of the first raid by the Dresden Police Chief on the 14th, and writes to SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Alvesleben in Dresden: "The attacks were obviously very severe, but every first air raid always gives the impression that the town has been destroyed. Take all necessary steps at once . . . . All the best."

Alvesleben reiterates the vast extent, and horrific effect, of the raid, in a subsequent communication to Himmler, and requests permission to move SS headquarters elsewhere. On the 15th, the Reichsfuehrer gives him permission to move, only as far as the suburbs, saying: "Any further, would make a rotten impression. Now is the time for iron steadfastness, and immediate action, to restore order. Set me a good example of calm and nerve!" When Goebbels hears of the devastation at Dresden, he demands that Hitler shoot "10,000 or more English and American POWs" as a reprisal, one for every German citizen killed in the air raids. Keitel, Jodl, Doenitz, and even Ribbentrop, advise against the idea, and Hitler reluctantly decides against it. (Read)

February 19-20, 1945: From notes of a conferences between Grand Admiral Doenitz and Hitler:

The Fuehrer is considering whether or not Germany should renounce the Geneva Convention. As, not only the Russians, but also the Western Powers, are violating international law by their actions against the defenseless population, and the residential districts, it appears expedient to adopt the same course, in order to show the enemy that we are determined to fight with every means for our existence; and also to urge our people to resist to the utmost. The Fuehrer orders the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy to consider the pros and cons, and to state his own opinion . . . .

The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy informed Generaloberst Jodl, Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff, and the representative of the Foreign Office at the Fuehrer's headquarters, Ambassador Hewel, of his views with regard to Germany's possible renunciation of the Geneva Convention. From a military standpoint, there are no grounds for this step, as far as the conduct of the war at sea is concerned. On the contrary, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Even from a general standpoint, it appears to the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy that this measure would bring no advantages. It would be better to carry out the measures considered necessary, without warning and, at all costs, to save face with the world. The Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff, and Ambassador Hewel, are in full agreement."

From Jodl's IMT testimony: One cannot say it was really impossible to contradict the Fuehrer. Very many times I contradicted him most emphatically; but there were moments, when one actually could not answer a word. Also, by my objections, I induced the Fuehrer to desist from many things. There were a great number of operational questions [that] do not interest the Court; but in the sphere of interest to the Court, there was, for example, Hitler's intention to renounce the Geneva Convention. I prevented that because I objected . . . . One thing I know for certain: the Foreign Office informed me, in writing, of its unfavorable attitude toward this suggestion or idea of the Fuehrer. For me, that was conclusive proof that the Reich Foreign Minister held this point of view. I recorded this unfavorable attitude of the Foreign Office--together with the unfavorable attitude of the Army, Navy, and Luftwaffe--in a short memorandum, and submitted it to the Fuehrer. To what extent the Reich Foreign Minister personally remonstrated with the Fuehrer about the matter, I cannot say with certainty.

The Reich Foreign Minister, the Foreign Office, repeatedly remonstrated with the Fuehrer to withdraw the order concerning the chaining of Canadian prisoners; and it must be assumed that these many objections, which were also supported by the OKW, finally succeeded in having the order withdrawn . . . .

The whole thing, as I have said, is a notice of Admiral Wagner on a conference--from which one can gather only that Grossadmiral Doenitz disapproved--and that he is supposed to have made this remark at the end. I can hardly account for that remark today, because the only reason given to us by the Fuehrer, at that time, was that the tremendous number of German soldiers in the West must be prevented from deserting, as a consequence of enemy propaganda about good treatment. I cannot explain this remark, and in my written draft, [which] I submitted to the Fuehrer, and which contains the attitude of the Navy, that sentence was not included; but only advantages and disadvantages were compared.

The disadvantages were overwhelming; the whole thing was completely impracticable and impossible, and so it was not carried out. More, I cannot say. Witnesses will confirm my statement.

February 21, 1945: From "Notes on report submitted to the Fuehrer on 23 February through the Chief of the Operations Staff," written on Jodl's letterhead notepaper:

The following questions were to be examined . . . . C. Proposal of the OKW: At the present moment, the disadvantages of repudiating the agreements, which have been kept up to now, in any case outweigh the advantages by far.

Just as it was a mistake, in 1914, that we … solemnly declared war on all the states [that] had for a long time wanted to wage war on us; and through this, took the whole guilt of the war on our shoulders before the outside world; and just as it was a mistake to admit that the necessary passage through Belgium in 1914 was our own fault; so it would be a mistake now, to [openly repudiate the] obligations of international law, which we accepted; and thereby to stand again as the guilty party, before the outside world.

Adherence to the accepted obligations does not demand, in any way, that we should have to impose on ourselves any limitations [that] will interfere with the conduct of the war. For instance, if the British sink a hospital ship, this must be used for propaganda purposes, as has been done to date. That, of course, in no way prevents our sinking an English hospital ship, at once, as a reprisal; and then expressing our regret that it was a mistake, in the same manner as the British do.

From Jodl's IMT testimony: I can only say in reply, that this was the sole method which achieved success with the Fuehrer and, by its use, success was, in fact, achieved. If I had come to him with moral or purely legal arguments, he would have said, "Leave me alone with this foolish talk," and he would have proceeded with the renunciation of the Convention; but these things compelled him to reconsider the step and, in consequence, he did not carry it through.

You must, after all, grant me that, at the end of 5 1/2 years, I knew best how to achieve good results with him, and avoid bad ones. My aim was to achieve success, and I achieved it . . . .

[That we should not have told the world the truth in 1914] was an argument that the Fuehrer used frequently. If one repeated his arguments in that form again and again, he was more inclined to read and accept one's suggestions. One had to prevent his flinging our proposals to the ground in a fit of rage, and immediately decreeing renunciation. That was the approach one had to follow. If one cannot do good openly, it is better to do it in a roundabout way, than not at all.

From the IMT testimony of General August Winter: Immediately after the attacks on Dresden, when Hitler had raised the question of leaving the Geneva Convention, this preliminary draft was drawn up at my headquarters, under the responsibility of General Jodl; and the order stated that all angles should be worked on [that] would prevent the Fuehrer from coming to such a decision--that is, of leaving the Geneva Convention. This document was carefully worked out from the point of view of international law, and from the point of view of the psychological effect on the enemy troops, as well as on our own at home. I myself did it. The following day, my chief, General Jodl, received me. He had this document, the contents of which I have not checked now, and he told me that he was completely in agreement with this negative treatment, but that he had felt obliged to work on the draft in more detail, and bring it into line with the information he had from the Navy; and so formulate it tactically, in such a way that would guarantee its success with Hitler, under all circumstances--for his idea must not be allowed to be put into practice.

March 18, 1945: Responding to a report by Commander in Chief in the West, Kesselring, that the German populace is playing a negative role in the struggle against advancing American forces, Hitler orders Keitel to draft the following order:

The presence of the population in the battle zone threatened by the enemy, imposes difficulties upon the fighting troops, as it does upon the population itself. The Fuehrer therefore issues the following command: West of the Rhine, or in the Saar Palatinate, as the case may be, all inhabitants are to be evacuated at once from the area, beginning directly behind the main battle field...Removal is to take place in a general southeasterly direction...

Neither Jodl, nor anyone else present at the conference, raises any objection to this ridiculous order. In fact, Bormann sends out a circular the next day, with implementation instructions, including that, 'in case transportation is not available, evacuation should be undertaken in horse or ox-drawn wagons. If necessary, the male part of the population should proceed on foot.' (Speer)

March 19, 1945 Nero Decree: Fuehrer Order:

Measures for Destruction in Reich Territory: The struggle of our nation for existence, also forces the utilization of all means, to weaken the fighting power of our enemy, and to prevent further advances. Advantage must be taken of all opportunities, to inflict the most enduring damage to the striking power of the enemy, directly or indirectly. It is a mistake to believe in the possibility of work resumption--for our own purposes--of undestroyed, or only temporarily paralyzed traffic, communications, industrial, and supply installations, after the recapture of lost territories. On his retreat, the enemy will leave behind only scorched earth, and refrain from any consideration for the population. I therefore command:

1. All military traffic, communications, industrial and supply installations, as well as objects on Reich territory [that] the enemy might immediately or later utilize for the continuation of his fight, are to be destroyed.

2. The military commands are responsible for the execution of this destruction of all military objects, including traffic and communications installations. The Gauleiters and Commissioners for Reich Defense are responsible for the destruction of the industrial and supply installations, as well as of other valuable objects The Gauleiters and Commissioners for Reich Defense are to be given necessary assistance by the troops in carrying out this task.

3. This command is to be transmitted, as promptly as possible, to all troop commanders; [orders contrary to this command] are null and void. Adolf Hitler.

March 28, 1945: Keitel, preparing to leave for the front, is called back to the Fuehrerbunker for the afternoon conference with Guderian, Busse, Jodl, Burgdorf, Hitler, Bormann, and sundry adjutants, staff officers, stenographers, and men of the SS bodyguard. The long-running conflict between Hitler and his generals comes to a head as, in a scene reminiscent of a Mad-Hatter's Tea Party, Hitler dismisses General Heinz Guderian. Note: At this point in the war it hardly matters; the military situation is beyond hopeless, and, even though there are some Panzers available for action, there is little fuel for them. (Clark)

From the IMT testimony of Major Herbert Buchs (Jodl's second adjutant): I recall that, in March 1945, the Fuehrer again expressed himself very heatedly on this problem [the treatment of "terror-fliers"] to General Koller, who was then Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force. I myself was not present at the beginning of this conversation. I was called in, however, and heard the Fuehrer say something to the effect that, on the basis of the attitude taken by the Armed Forces, and especially by the Air Force, it had been impossible for him to counteract the terror of the Allied fliers over Germany, by means of a corresponding counter-terror.

From the testimony of Luftwaffe General Karl Koller: From 1 September 1943 to 3 September 1944, I was Chief of the Air Force Operations Staff; from 23 November 1944, Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force. A notice taken from the Allied press reporter survey, between the beginning and the middle of March 1945, was laid before the Fuehrer by Bormann, during the situation discussion. In brief it read somewhat to this effect: "An American combat air crew, shot down over Germany a short time previously, was overtaken by advancing American troops. They had declared that they were ill-treated by enraged members of the population, threatened with death, and probably would have been killed, if German soldiers had not released them, and taken them under their protection."

Bormann further pointed out to the Fuehrer, in a few words, that this confirmed that soldiers, in such cases, intervene against the population.

b) Hitler turned angrily to me and said excitedly: "I have already issued one order that bomber crews which bail out are not to be protected against the population. These people only murder German women and children. It is unheard of that German soldiers should take measures to protect them against our own population, which is acting on motives of justifiable hate. Why are my orders not carried out?"

Surprised by this attack, I replied something like this: "I know nothing about any such order; and it would, in any case, be a practical impossibility."

Hitler turned to me, and said very loudly and sharply: "The reason why my orders are not carried out is only the cowardice of the Air Force, because the gentlemen of the Air Force are cowards, and are afraid that something might happen to them too. The whole thing is nothing more than a cowardly pact between the Air Force and the British and American airmen."

Hitler then turned also to Kaltenbrunner, who happened to be present in the background, and went on, addressing him but sometimes not looking at him: "I hereby order that all bomber crews who bailed out in the last few months, as well as all bomber crews bailing out in future, are to be turned over immediately by the Air Force to the SD, and are to be liquidated by the SD. Anyone failing to carry out my orders, or taking action against the population, is liable to the death penalty and is to be shot."

Hitler then further expressed, in general terms, his indignation, and his views on the matter. The assembled officers gave the impression of general surprise and disapproval.

c) After the situation discussion with the Fuehrer, I requested an interview with Kaltenbrunner in the side passageway. Essential points:

Koller: "It is impossible to carry out those orders. The Air Force will have nothing more to do with them, nor I myself in any way whatsoever; and I can say as much for the Reich Marshal. It is entirely out of the question that the Air Force will agree to this, in any way, shape, or form."

Kaltenbrunner: "The Fuehrer has completely mistaken ideas. The duties of the SD are also constantly misunderstood. Those things are no concern of the SD. Moreover, no German soldier does what the Fuehrer demands. That is not in the German soldier's line. He does not kill prisoners. If individual, fanatical Party followers of Herr Bormann try to do so, the German soldier intervenes. The Fuehrer has a completely false idea of the views held by our soldiers. Moreover, I myself will do nothing in the matter either. I have no intention of doing anything. We must just take care that we get out of it again, otherwise we will be the first to get shot. We must gain time. I am again leaving Berlin at once, for a fairly long time anyway."

Koller: "Then we are agreed on the main point. Your leaving Berlin is favorable. But we must have another way out, as far as the Fuehrer is concerned; for it is possible that he may again refer to his order tomorrow. Later on, if it becomes extreme, we will have to see how we can put a stop to the business, or what is going to happen to us?"

The following was decided at my suggestion: "No order along the lines decreed by the Fuehrer will be issued by the Air Force or the SD. Surrenders to the SD--none. In case the Fuehrer should refer to his order again then, first of all, prevent further action through explanations of the following kind: All members of air crews previously captured, not in the hands of the Air Force, but dispersed under the control of the Replacement Army Commander (BdE). Time of capture not known to a central office. Therefore, a lengthy and difficult process to determine the number of air personnel captured during the last few months. Also, preparations must be made, in detail, for getting them out without attracting attention. The newly captured crews go automatically to interrogation centers. These are in process of transfer, owing to operations. Communications are bad. Detailed discussions and agreements with the SD necessary. In order to preserve the appearance of discussion, the I-c officer of the High Command of the Air Force (I-c of OKL), should go to a delegate of Kaltenbrunner who, however, would first have to be appointed."

d) After the situation discussion with the Fuehrer, I spoke to Field Marshal Keitel at the entrance of the air-raid shelter, and said: "The Fuehrer's order is insane."

Keitel affirmed. "It certainly is."

Koller: "The Air Force must keep its escutcheon clean. The order cannot be carried out. I am convinced that the Reich Marshal is entirely of my opinion. To issue such an order--and verbally—and, moreover, with such threats of punishment. He must sign an order of this kind with his own name. It may, or may not be carried out--but not by the Air Force. Nor by the SD, either; I have spoken to Kaltenbrunner."

Field Marshal Keitel: "He will not sign such orders then, and everything is always placed on the shoulders of the OKW. But I'll be damned if I issue such an order."

Koller: "The Air Force cannot join in this in any circumstances. We will not assume such a responsibility."

Field Marshal Keitel: "You are right; neither can I. I must think over what I can do about it, and how I can do it."

The conversation was interrupted because Keitel was called to the telephone. Keitel was very indignant and annoyed about the Fuehrer's order.

e) After refreshments in a side room of the air-raid shelter, I had to cross the antechamber of the conference room again, to reach the cloakroom and exit. Hitler happened to come out of the room, to give an order to an orderly, and he called me as I was passing. The door leading to the conference room was open, and Ley was sitting at the table. Hitler said to me: "I must come back to my order once more. You must all help me, for matters cannot go on like this any longer. The Air Force--or at least defense of the Reich--has failed. What am I to do against the frightful bombing terror which is murdering German women and children?"

Koller: "The Air Defense and our crews do what they can, and what is humanly possible. Our neglect of air armament, and the enemy's present technical and numerical superiority, cannot be eliminated or remedied overnight. When the searchlight units get stronger, the air situation over Germany will be more in our favor."

Hitler: "I cannot wait for that. I can no longer be responsible to the German people for the continuation of this situation in the air. If those fliers realize that they will be liquidated as terrorists, they will think twice about flying here."

Koller: "That will certainly not improve the situation in the air. On the contrary, it will make it worse."

Hitler: "No; the Japanese method is the best."

Hitler's manner was now calm again, in comparison with what it had been at the situation discussion. He appeared more approachable. Experience had shown that it was better to talk to him alone, than in the presence of others. I thought it was a good opportunity to attack the whole problem, and stated: "If I may state my point of view, I think that this will not do. Measures of this kind are in such crass opposition to the education, feelings, and way of thinking of all soldiers, that they cannot be carried out. One cannot train soldiers on the regulations governing warfare and decent conduct, and then order actions that are repulsive to everyone. You must not forget, my Fuehrer that enemy airmen also carry out orders, and do their duty just as ours do. If they are shot down, or make forced landings, they are defenseless and unarmed prisoners. What would the world think of us? And the first thing the enemy would do, would be to treat our aircrews in the same way. That is something for which we cannot answer to our men and their relatives. All their willingness to serve, and their discipline, would collapse at one blow."

Up to that point the Fuehrer had not interrupted me. After his first glance at me, he looked away again and seemed to be lost in thought. He had been listening, however, and at that point he interrupted me and said, quietly and earnestly: "So the Air Force is afraid after all. That is all very well. But I am responsible for the protection of the German people, and have no other means except this."

Hitler turned away, and went back into the conference room.

I) On my arrival at the Air Force headquarters (Kurfurst), I told Colonel von Brauchitsch what had happened, and ordered him to report it to the Reich Marshal, as soon as possible. I myself could not contact the Reich Marshal at the moment. During our conversation, Brauchitsch also expressed disapproval of the Fuehrer's order.

g) An hour or two later, the Reich Marshal called me, and began with the following words: "Tell me, has he gone quite mad now?"

It was quite clear who was meant. I myself reported the principal happenings, and the conversation with Kaltenbrunner, to the Reich Marshal again, and added: "I will not carry out this order, or anything connected with it. I will endeavor to handle the situation so as to gain time now, in any case, and will do everything in my power to protect any of us from disastrous consequences. Perhaps, after the last conference, the Fuehrer will not refer to his order again. If he does, however, a very difficult situation will arise, and you will have to go to the Fuehrer yourself. What the Fuehrer has ordered, must in no case be allowed to happen."

The Reich Marshal expressed strong disapproval of Hitler's attitude, and agreed with me in every point. He ordered me to act as I had suggested, to inform him immediately when necessary, and ended the interview with these words, 'This is all insane, and cannot be done.'

h) Measures against Allied airmen on the basis of the above-mentioned Fuehrer's order were taken neither by the Air Force, nor by the SD. This order did not become known, in my opinion, to the Replacement Army Command (BdE), or its offices, as the Replacement Army Command was not present at the Fuehrer's meeting, and the order was not transmitted by the Armed Forces High Command (OKW).

Hitler made no further reference to his order, either to the Reich Marshal, or to myself or my representative or, I think, to Kaltenbrunner. To be sure, I never spoke to the latter again about this matter. I cannot judge whether Hitler deliberately let the matter drop, or whether he forgot about it under the pressure of events.

i) I know that, about two or three weeks later, an OKW directive was issued--I think a teletype--in which, as I recall, mention was made of the correspondent's report that occasioned it. It disclosed the fact that the Fuehrer had expressed his displeasure that German soldiers had taken action against their own people. No mention was made of the main point of Hitler's order.. If I remember correctly, Keitel signed the directive, and [this] must be regarded as an attempt to cover himself, as far as the Fuehrer was concerned. In my opinion, General Jodl had nothing to do with the affair at all.

From the IMT testimony of Major Herbert Buchs: I remember personally something like the following formulation by the Fuehrer: "This results from the fact that, in the Air Force, war is based on a mutual life insurance policy of 'Don't hurt me; I won't hurt you.'" That was the sentence which impressed me most strongly, which emphasizes what was said.

March 31, 1945: A secret codicil--kept secret for over 50 years--to the Yalta agreement is completed. Stalin agrees that, as the Russians liberate POW camps in Germany, American and British POW's will be turned over to the American and British forces. Likewise, as the Americans and British liberate German POW camps, Russian POW's will, in all cases, be returned to Russia. Unfortunately, while American and British POW's want to return to their own forces, Russian POW's, in the main, do not want to return to Russia, because they know what awaits them. Stalin has made it clear that he considers Russian prisoners traitors . . . . Death or exile will be their fate. FDR and Churchill, aware of these facts, agree anyway; it is hard to see how they could do otherwise, without running the risk of having their own troops become virtual hostages. Note: This is one of the events collectively referred to by some as the 'Allied Holocaust.' Ultimately, two million Soviet citizens will be sent back to the [USSR], where they will either be immediately executed or sent to die in the Gulag.

April 6, 1945: From a teleprint from Oberfuehrer Fehlis, SS Oberfuehrer to the Operations Staff:

In accordance with the instructions of the OKW (WFSt) ... dated 29 March 1945, members of the Norwegian resistance movement, who appear in organized units, and who are easily recognizable as combatants, by arm bands or other insignia, are to be treated as prisoners of war . . . .

I consider this order completely intolerable. I explained this clearly to Lieutenant Colonel Hass and Major Benze from the Armed Forces Operations Staff, who stayed here. There have been isolated appearances of uniformed groups in Norway, but there has been no fighting as yet. Inquiries were made at the defense headquarters in London, as to whether armed resistance should be offered, in case of German or Norwegian police action. As yet, [there is] no partisan or other fighting in Norway. On one occasion, captured members of the military organization in uniform claimed the right to be treated as prisoners of war. If this demand were met at the present moment, the result would be that active fighting on the part of the military organization would be set going. Please obtain cancellation of the order of the Armed Forces Operations Staff.

From a note on the document by Jodl: The objection is justified. Norway has a government in its own country. Whoever fights against it in the country is a rebel. It is another question in the case of Norwegian troops who were taken to England, and from there brought into the struggle under England's order.

From Jodl's IMT testimony: [That is my note]. I am of the opinion [that], from the point of view of international [law, members] of a resistance movement, against their own Norwegian government, are certainly not to be considered as normal troops, but as constituting an uprising, a rebellion. But, if Norwegian troops come to Norway from England, then they are regular soldiers. And that, today, is still my opinion on the basis of international law.

In any event, there was the government of Quisling at the time; and in any event, speaking now from the point of view of international law, we were occupying the country, and therefore, according to international law, were justified in issuing laws and enforcing them. That is accepted under international law, and resistance against it has been considered all over the world as rebellion. The same applies to us in Germany today.

April 7, 1945: Jodl weds his former secretary and mistress, Luise Katharina von Benda, a close friend of his first wife.

April 9, 1945: A few weeks before the end of the war, Admiral Wilhelm Franz Canaris, head of the Abwehr (the German military intelligence service) and member of the German Resistance, is executed in the Flossenburg concentration camp, together with his deputy, General Hans Oster, Ludwig Gehre (another member of the Abwehr), military jurist General Karl Sack, and theologian Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

From Jodl's IMT testimony: The relations between Field Marshal Keitel and Canaris, from the first day to the last, were remarkably friendly, and unfortunately one of too much blind confidence. I know that, even after the 20th of July, Field Marshal Keitel did not believe the charges against Canaris; and that after the arrest of Canaris he supported his family with money. Canaris always tried to maintain especially good relations with Himmler and Heydrich, so that they would not distrust him.

April 11, 1945: A detachment of troops belonging to the US 9th Armored Infantry Battalion liberates Buchenwald.

From Jodl's IMT testimony: I can briefly say that I knew there were concentration camps at Dachau and Oranienburg. Some divisional officers visited Oranienburg once in 1937, and gave me very enthusiastic accounts of it. I heard the name of Buchenwald for the first time, in the spring of 1945. When the name was mentioned, I thought it was a new troop training camp; and I made inquiries. The inmates were always described as German habitual criminals, and certain inveterate political opponents who, however, like Schuschnigg or Niemoeller, were held there in a kind of honorable detention. I never heard a single word about tortures, deported persons, or prisoners of war, crematoriums, or gas vans, torments reminiscent of the Inquisition, and medical experiments. I can only say that, even if I had heard of these things, I would not have believed them until I had seen them with my own eyes.

April 12, 1945: President Roosevelt dies; Truman becomes President. The Allies liberate Buchenwald and Belsen concentration camps.

April 13, 1945: Former US Attorney General and now Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, Justice Robert Jackson, speaks before the American Society of International Law:

All else will fail, unless we can devise instruments of adjudication, and conciliation, so reasonable and acceptable to the masses of people, that future governments will have always an honorable alternative to war. The time when these institutions will be most needed will probably not come, until the names that signify leadership in today’s world will have passed into history...

April 16, 1945: As the Soviets near Berlin, and the Americans enter Nuremberg, Hitler addresses what is left of his forces:

The Jewish Bolshevik archenemy has gone over to the attack, with his masses, for the last time. He attempts to smash Germany, and to eradicate our nation. You soldiers from the east today already know yourselves, to a large extent, what fate is threatening, above all, German women, girls, and children. While old men and children are being murdered, women and girls are humiliated to the status of barracks prostitutes. Others are marched off to Siberia. We have anticipated this thrust, and since January of this year, everything has been done to build up a strong front. Mighty artillery is meeting the enemy. Countless new units [have] replenished our infantry’s casualties. Reserve units, new formations, and the Volkssturm reinforce our front. This time, the Bolsheviks will experience Asia's old fate. That is, he must and will bleed to death...

April 18, 1945: German forces in the Ruhr surrender.

April 20, 1945: Hitler celebrates his 56th birthday, in the Fuehrerbunker.

From Himmler by Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel: But April 20 was no day for celebrations. By now, the Americans were across the Elbe, and in Nuremberg; British patrols were approaching Berlin from the west, and the full Russian forces were marching in from the east. The American and Russian armies were almost on the point of meeting. Hitler decided to receive his guests in the great Bunker, constructed fifty feet under the Chancellery buildings and extending out under the garden.

Although Himmler, against Schellenberg's advice, had decided he had better appear and shake Hitler by the hand, he was not invited to confer in private with the Fuehrer, along with the service chiefs. Relations were cold by now. He lined up with the rest below ground, to congratulate the man he had served as Reichsfuehrer SS for fifteen years. Goering, Goebbels, Ribbentrop, and Speer were there; so were Doenitz, Keitel, and Jodl, all under the watchful eyes of Bormann. It was expected Hitler would now move south, and head the great German Resistance [that] was due to be organized from the Obersalzberg; Himmler joined with the others in urging him to do so.

But Hitler reserved his decision, only declaring that, if Germany should be cut in two by the forward drive of the armies from the east and the west, then Doenitz should take charge of the defenses in the north. The narrow escape route to the south was still open, and once the conference was over the great dispersal took place.

From the IMT testimony of Major Herbert Buchs: Fegelein as liaison officer to Himmler was, as far as the Fuehrer was concerned, the man to whom he turned in all questions of material and personal equipment of the Waffen-SS divisions, whenever these questions arose during the situation discussions, in connection with putting these divisions into operation. In this connection, points which fell within Fegelein's sphere were frequently raised during situation reports. But the official connection between Jodl and Fegelein was otherwise very distant . . . .

April 21, 1945: The Red Army reaches Berlin.

April 21, 1945: Field Marshal Walter Model (AKA the 'Fuehrer's Fireman') learns that the USSR has indicted him for the deaths of 577,000 people in concentration camps in Latvia, the deportation of 175,000 others as slave labor, and other war crimes. Model tells his staffers: "Has everything been done to justify our actions in the light of history? What can there be left for a commander in defeat? In antiquity, they took poison". After his attempts to seek death on the front line do not succeed, he commits suicide this day by shooting himself in the head. (Newton)

April 22, 1945: Jodl again drives to Berlin from his headquarters in Potsdam. This is the last time he will meet his Fuehrer face to face. (SBS)

April 23, 1945: Hitler wakes in a foul mood. When his quack doctor, Theodor Morell, offers to give him an injection of morphine to calm his nerves, the paranoid Fuehrer accuses him of attempting to knock him out, so that he can be transported to Berchtesgaden against his will, and Morell is abruptly dismissed. (Read)

April 23, 1945: By the afternoon situation conference (3 PM), Hitler shows all the signs of a man going through drug withdrawal. For the first time in many months, he is without his daily dose of an amphetamine cocktail that is usually administered by his just dismissed 'doctor.' After learning that Soviet forces have taken Eberswalde without a fight, and that Steiner has refused to give the order for a futile counterattack north of the city, Hitler listens in silence.

Then, in an episode some historians will describe as a nervous breakdown, Hitler suddenly leaps up and, while flushed in the face and trembling violently, sputteringly rants and raves against them all, declaring that they are guilty of every evil attribute from cowardice to incompetence. 'The war is lost,' he screams. 'Everything is falling apart.' He states that suicide is now his only recourse: 'Alive or dead,' he declares, 'I shall not fall into the hands of the enemy. I can no longer fight on the battlefield; I'm not strong enough. I shall shoot myself.' He then slumps into his seat and begins to sob: 'The war is lost. I shall shoot myself.' (Read)

April 23, 1945: For a full five minutes after Hitler declares that he will stay in Berlin and commit suicide, no one in the Bunker speaks. Then, with the encouragement of the others, Jodl, in an attempt to salvage at least some of his Fuehrer's until-now-unbounded confidence, makes a proposal. He suggests that the German Twelfth Army under General Walther Wenck, now facing the Americans, should move to Berlin. He proposes that this can now be done because the Americans, already on the Elbe River, are unlikely to move further east in the near future. Hitler immediately grasps the straw Jodl presents, and orders Wenck to disengage from the Americans, and to move the Twelfth Army north-east, to support Berlin. He later gives further orders that Twelfth Army should attempt a link-up with Ninth Army.

At some point, Hitler orders Bormann, Keitel, and Jodl to fly to Berchtesgaden. All three refuse. Keitel, in Jodl's presence, declares: 'In seven years I have never refused to carry out an order from you, but this is one order I shall never carry out. You cannot, and should not, leave the Wehrmacht in the lurch at a time like this.' 'I am staying here,' Hitler stubbornly replies, 'and that is that. Goering can take over the leadership down there. If there has to be any negotiating with the enemy, as there has to be now, then Goering is better at that than I am. Either I fight and win the Battle of Berlin of Berlin, or I am killed in Berlin. That is my final and irrevocable decision." (Clark, Read, Keitel)

From the IMT testimony of Major Herbert Buchs: In dealing with Bormann as Deputy of the Party, General Jodl always strictly defined his own sphere of military tasks. He always rejected complaints, or unjustifiable accusations, or possible attacks against the Armed Forces. I witnessed this especially while the war was fought on German soil, and there was often friction with the Gauleiter who had been appointed Reich Defense Commissars. For instance, I saw that General Jodl on receiving complaints or letters from Bormann, simply returned the originals with rather abrupt marginal notes of his views. If that had no effect, he did not hesitate to express his views to the Fuehrer, in every possible way, in order to obtain his decision as to the dispute in question . . . .

To my recollection, Generaloberst Jodl had very little official contact with General Burgdorf, although it was Burgdorf who discussed the important questions of the appointment of the commanders and higher officers with the Fuehrer. It was in just such a case that I saw General Burgdorf first of all discuss these matters with the Fuehrer alone, so that General Jodl had comparatively little influence in that direction.

April 23, 1945: In Berchtesgaden, Goering hears the news of Hitler's breakdown from a phone call from Koller. He orders Koller to join him at Obersalzberg. Upon arriving, Koller tells Goering of Hitler's resolve to stay in Berlin, as well as of his statement that Goering would be a better choice to take over leadership in the south, and direct negotiations with the enemy. Goering remarks that Hitler has played a 'mean trick' on him, and put him in a very difficult position. Koller will later write an account of the meeting: 'Then he asked me whether I thought that Hitler was still alive, or whether he had, perhaps, appointed Martin Bormann as his successor. I told him Hitler was alive when I left Berlin.' Koller urges him to seize the moment, but Goering is wary. 'Bormann is my deadly enemy,' Goering explains. 'He is only waiting to get at me. If I act, he will call me a traitor. If I don't, he will accuse me of having failed at the most difficult hour.'

The Fuehrer decree concerning Hitler's successor is located, and read aloud: Should I have my freedom of action be curtailed or I be otherwise incapacitated, Reich Marshal Hermann Goering is to be my deputy and successor in all offices of State, Party, and Wehrmacht.' The State Secretary of the Reich Chancellery is reached on the phone (remarkably, the telephone system will continue to function through most of the Battle for Berlin) for a legal opinion. Lammers: 'The law of 29 June 1941 is valid and legally binding. The Fuehrer has made no other order. If he had, I would have known. He could not have changed the decree legally, without me.' Koller suggests that Goering send a message to Hitler, seeking his approval. Keeping Lammers on the line, the three of them draft a carefully worded message to their Fuehrer. (Read)

April 23, 1945: Goering sends a message to Hitler:

My Fuehrer, Since you are determined to remain at your post in Fortress Berlin, do you agree that I, as your deputy in accordance with your decree of 29.6.41, assume immediately total leadership of the Reich with complete freedom of action at home and abroad? If by 2200 hours no answer is forthcoming, I shall assume that you have been deprived of your freedom of action. I will then consider the terms of your decree to have come into force, and act accordingly for the good of the people and the Fatherland. You must realize what I feel for you in these most difficult hours of my life, and I am quite unable to find words to express it. God bless you, and that you may come here (to Berchtesgaden) after all, as soon as possible. Your most loyal Herman Goering.

April 24, 1945: Hermann Goering is officially placed under house arrest by a squad of 30 SS men.

April 28, 1945: The Allies reject peace offers made by Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler, insisting on nothing less than unconditional surrender on all fronts. The International Red Cross, by arrangement with Himmler, begins the transport of 150 Jewish women from Ravensbrueck to Sweden; the first of 3,500 Jewish and 3,500 non-Jewish women to be transferred to safety in the last ten days of the war.

April 28, 1945: Doenitz, believing that Himmler will soon succeed Hitler, contacts the SS leader and assures him that he has his support. Doenitz asks the Reichsfuehrer SS about rumors of Himmler's negotiations of surrender terms with the West. Himmler denies that there is anything to the rumors. (Shirer)

April 28, 1945: Sometime between 7 and 9 PM, a BBC report picked up in the Fuehrerbunker announces that Himmler has just offered to surrender Germany unconditionally to the Allies.

From the IMT testimony of Major Herbert Buchs: Fegelein, as liaison officer to Himmler was, as far as the Fuehrer was concerned, the man to whom he turned in all questions of material and personal equipment of the Waffen-SS divisions, whenever these questions arose during the situation discussions, in connection with putting these divisions into operation. In this connection, points which fell within Fegelein's sphere were frequently raised during situation reports. But the official connection between Jodl and Fegelein was otherwise very distant . . . .

Jodl disliked Fegelein because, I believe, he discerned the defects of his character at a very early stage. I have known him on several occasions to call Fegelein to account and reprimand him. As for Bormann, I should say General Jodl had no connection with him at all. I also have never noticed any personal or informal relations between them. What I have said about Fegelein also applies to his relations with General Burgdorf, whom General Jodl probably also disliked personally.

April 28, 1945: SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein, the brother-in-law of Eva Braun, and also Himmler's liaison officer in the bunker. is arrested in civilian clothes while preparing to leave the country. He is brought back to Hitler's bunker, but is temporarily saved by Eva's pleas for mercy on behalf of her pregnant sister. The reprieve proves short-lived as Hitler soon becomes convinced that Fegelein's escape attempt is part of Himmler's treachery. Within an hour Fegelein is tried, sentenced to death, taken up to the Reich Chancellery Garden, and executed with a bullet in the back of his head. (Read)

April 29, 1945: Hitler dictates his Political Testament in his bunker in besieged Berlin:

Many very brave men and women have resolved to link their lives to mine, to the very end. I have requested them, and finally ordered them, not to do so, but instead to take part in the continuing struggle of the nation. I ask the commanders of the army, navy, and air force to strengthen, by all possible means, the spirit of resistance of our soldiers in the spirit of National Socialism, emphasizing especially that I too, as founder and creator of this movement, have preferred death to cowardly flight or even capitulation. May it be one day a part of the code of honor, as it is already in the navy, that the surrender of an area or of a town is impossible, and above all in this respect, the leaders should give a shining example of faithful devotion to duty unto death...

April 29, 1945: An unconditional surrender of the German armies in Italy is signed at Caserta; Venice and Mestre are captured by the Allies.

April 29, 1945: Late in the evening, General Krebs radios General Jodl with three terse questions from Hitler:

Request immediate report. Firstly of the whereabouts of Wenck's spearheads. Secondly of time intended to attack. Thirdly of the location of the Ninth Army. Fourthly of the precise place in which the Ninth Army will break through. Fifthly of the whereabouts of General Rudolf Holste's spearhead. (Kershaw)

April 30, 1945: Jodl replies to Krebs:

Firstly, Wenck's spearhead bogged down south of Schwielow Lake. Secondly, Twelfth Army therefore unable to continue attack on Berlin. Thirdly, bulk of Ninth Army surrounded. Fourthly, Holste's Corps on the defensive." Keitel writes on the bottom: "Attacks on Berlin not advanced anywhere. (Kershaw)

April 30, 1945: The Red Army captures the Reichstag at 10:50 PM, hoisting the first of more than forty victory flags, though no photograph can be taken due to the late hour. Various Soviet military units will unfurl and photograph an assortment of flags, of which the one above is the 'official' victory flag, photographed early on the morning of May 1. German artillery will knock it down later that same morning; and it will be replaced in the afternoon, only to be taken down on May 3, and eventually shipped to Moscow.

May 1, 1945: An announcement is made on the German wireless: Announcer:

It has been reported from the Fuehrer's headquarters that our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler has died this afternoon in his battle headquarters at the Reich Chancellery, fallen for Germany, fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism. On the 30th of April the Fuehrer nominated Grossadmiral Doenitz to be his successor. The Grossadmiral and Fuehrer's successor will speak to the German nation." Doenitz: "German men and women, soldiers of the German Armed Forces. Our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler is dead. The German people bow in deepest sorrow and respect. Early, he had recognized the terrible danger of Bolshevism, and had dedicated his life to the fight against it. His fight having ended, he died a hero's death in the capital of the German Reich, after having led an unmistakably straight and steady life.

From the IMT testimony of Professor Dr. Percy Ernst Schramm: It was utterly immaterial to the General [Jodl] whether the members of his staff were Party members or not. Although I was on that staff for 2 years, I personally could not tell you which of the officers were Party members. That was completely unimportant. As to whether the General tried to exercise political influence, I must again draw your attention to the tremendous amount of work for which he was responsible. He would not have had time for it; and with regard to my documents, I can only tell you that I do not remember any papers from which such a conclusion might be drawn. What the General committed to paper, and these papers, as I have seen myself, run into thousands was always strictly confined to military matters, and in no way encroached upon the sphere of politics. To be more exact, I do not remember in the course of those 2 years ever having seen in my files any document of a political nature, inspired by the Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff, or written by himself.

I know from his associates, and from conversations with him, that all diplomatic procedure was repugnant to him, and that he disliked it because it had nothing to do with soldiers. I did not notice any ambition because, if the General was ambitious, he certainly had chosen the least suitable position for such a purpose, since he thus exposed himself to criticism from those below him: from people who did not know the underlying reasons. From that time on, he was criticized a good deal, and he did not receive, from higher quarters, the recognition he deserved. I always thought it peculiar, and even grotesque, that the General, at the time of Adolf Hitler's death, had scarcely more German war decorations than I had myself, as a mere major in the reserve. I did not see whether he had foreign decorations. I never saw him wearing a foreign order. At any rate, there were no indications of ambition or of political aspirations.

May 1, 1945: Following Goebbels' suicide, Doenitz becomes the sole representative of the crumbling German Reich. Ribbentrop offers his services, but Doenitz refuses outright. (Ribbentrop will be captured by the Allies on June 14). Count Ludwig Schwerin von Krosigk, in addition to discharging his duties as Foreign Minister and Minister of Finance, is appointed by Doenitz to form the temporary government, and preside over the activities of its cabinet as Reichskanzler. Himmler attempts to make a place for himself in the new regime, but to no avail. The Doenitz government will not be recognized by the Allies, and will be more or less ignored. In his memoirs, Doenitz will write: "Now, most clearly, I recognized the evil side of National Socialism, and so changed my attitude to the form of state created by it." (Read, Manvell)

May 1, 1945: Doenitz issues his Order of the Day to the Armed Forces:

I expect discipline and obedience. Chaos and ruin can be prevented only by the swift and unreserved execution of my orders. Anyone who at this juncture fails in his duty, and condemns German women and children to slavery and death, is a traitor and a coward. The oath of allegiance that you took to the Fuehrer, now binds each and every one of you to me, whom he himself appointed as his successor.

May 2, 1945: Executive Order of US President Truman:

Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson is hereby designated to act as the Representative of the United States and as its Chief of Counsel in preparing and prosecuting charges of atrocities and war crimes against such of the leaders of the European Axis powers and their principal agents and accessories as the United States may agree with any of the United Nations to bring to trial before an international tribunal...

May 3, 1945: Doenitz invites all the civilian military commanders of the German occupied territories to Flensburg, to coordinate a simultaneous surrender. (Heydecker)

From Jodl's IMT testimony: Between 3 May and 23 May I had time and leisure to burn every piece of paper [entries in the war diary, orders, et cetera], but I gave instructions to my staff not to destroy a single file, for I felt I had nothing to conceal. I handed the complete files, and above all the especially important ones, all the original Fuehrer directives since 1940, to the American officer when I was captured.

From Eisenhower at War, 1943-1945 by David Eisenhower: With an escort of military police, the Friedeburg [Hans George von Friedeburg, Doenitz’s surrender term negotiator] group arrived shortly after dusk at 7 PM . . . . Strong [Kenneth Strong, an Allied negotiator] later described Friedeburg as physically and morally spent, unable to do anything except present Flensburg's [referring to Doenitz's Flensburg government] proposals for a "phased surrender" in the West, including seventy-two hours to permit the Germans complete freedom of movement. Friedeburg had no authority to discuss the eastern front.

On Eisenhower’s behalf, Smith [William Bedell Smith, lead Allied negotiator] replied that SHAEF [Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force] could not consider a phased surrender. The Germans had no alternative but unconditional surrender in place, meaning OKW must agree to implement Allied and Russian orders . . . . The German delegation was crestfallen by the refusal to permit delay and the threat to close the front. Millions had as yet not escaped to safety; surrender to the Russians was "unthinkable" . . . . No one believed that the defeated Germans took the possibility of an Allied schism seriously, and so the request for separate terms appeared to be simply a matter of German officers asking for several more days to evacuate wives and children from Czechoslovakia, where they had been sent to escape the bombing of Germany.

An hour later, news arrived from Flensburg that General Alfred Jodl would join Friedeburg with full power to discuss the eastern front. Strong reminded Eisenhower of the importance of having prominent Germans military figures like Jodl to sign the armistice. Relatively junior officers had signed the armistice document in 1918, before the whole process had been delegated to politicians--hence the myth that the German army had been betrayed by civilian politicians at the eleventh hour.

May 6, 1945: Goering, having finally talked his SS 'captors' into letting him go, writes a letter to Doenitz. He complains of Bormann's intrigues against him, and his resultant loss of status. He offers his services as official German negotiator to Eisenhower--'as one marshal to another'--and reminds him of how well he had done in the past, 'in all the important negotiations abroad, with which the Fuehrer always entrusted me before the war.' 'Moreover,' he continues, 'both Great Britain and America have proved through their press and radio, and in the declarations of their statesman over the last few years, that their attitude toward me is more favorable, than toward all other political leaders in Germany.' Doenitz never replies. (Read)

May 7, 1945: Jodl signs the instruments of unconditional surrender, as representative for Karl Doenitz, and receives permission to make a statement:

With this signature, the German people and the German Armed Forces are, for better or worse, delivered into the hands of the victors. In this war, which has lasted more than five years, they have achieved and suffered much more than any people in the world. In this hour, I can only express the hope that the victor will treat them with generosity.

May 7-8, 1945 VE Day: The Allies formally accept the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. CBS correspondent Charles Collingwood reports that "the mad dog of Europe was put out of the way, the strange monstrosity that was Nazi Germany had been beaten into submission. To millions ... the end of suffering ... [is] the best news the world [has] ever had."

May 9, 1945: Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering surrenders to the Allies.



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