Alfred Jodl

(9 of 10)

May 8, 1945: Churchill announces the end of the war in Europe:

The German representatives will be Field-Marshal Keitel, Chief of the High Command; and the Commanders-in-Chief of the German Army, Navy, and Air Forces. Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight to-night (Tuesday, May 8), but in the interests of saving lives, the "Cease fire" began yesterday, to be sounded all along the front...

May 12, 1945: Keitel surrenders to the Allies.

From The Memoirs of Field Marshal Keitel: I was to surrender as a prisoner of war, and would be flown out at 2:00 that afternoon -- in two hours time. I was to turn over my official business to Colonel-General Jodl; I was to be allowed to take with me one personal staff officer, a batman, and 300 lbs. of baggage. I stood up, saluted briefly with my Field Marshal's baton, and drove back to headquarters . . . . I took leave of Doenitz, who had already been briefed on what was to happen, and selected Lieutenant-Colonel John von Freyend, and Monch, to accompany me, thereby ensuring a considerably less arduous captivity for them. I handed my personal papers and keys to Jodl, and handed Szimonski ... one or two things and a letter for my wife, which were to be flown down to Berchtesgaden in the courier plane.

Unfortunately, the British later seized everything ... even my ... bank passbook, and the letter to my wife. We took off for a destination not disclosed to us and, after flying right across Germany, landed that evening in Luxembourg airport; there I was treated as a prisoner-of-war for the first time, and taken to the internment camp in the Palace Hotel, Mondorf, where Seyss-Inquart had already arrived. In Flensburg, I had been my own master; I drove to the airfield in my own car; in those two unguarded hours, I could have put an end to my life, and nobody could have stopped me. The thought never occurred to me, as I never dreamed that such a 'via dolorosa' lay ahead of me, with this tragic end in Nuremberg.

May 23, 1945: Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler commits suicide.

May 23, 1945: British tanks enter Flensburg, Germany, where the British find and arrest Doenitz, Rosenberg, Speer, Jodl, and his second adjutant, Major Herbert Buchs.

June 5, 1945: The Allies divide up Germany and Berlin, and take over the government.

June 7, 1945: Justice Jackson sends off a progress report to President Truman:

The custody and treatment of war criminals and suspects appeared to require immediate attention. I asked the War Department to deny those prisoners who are suspected war criminals the privileges which would appertain to their rank, if they were merely prisoners of war; to assemble them at convenient and secure locations, for interrogation by our staff; to deny them access to the press; and to hold them in close confinement...

June 7, 1945: Jodl is interviewed by the US Strategic Bombing Survey:

The [contraction] of space, and thereby the gaining of forces from the great outlying parts of the center [of Germany], has been often discussed. Especially, the effects of the air war again and again lead to it. We would not give up any space voluntarily, as long as we still could get some advantage from it; and there were a lot of advantages. We still got a considerable production from our areas in Italy. Until the end, almost 90% of our machine pistols were manufactured there. From Norway, we got canned fish; from Italy fruit and vegetables; and other material from all areas not under attack.

[As to] the question of negotiations, I can only say that the government of that time could not negotiate at all, because it had been told, quite [definitely from] all sides, [that] the war would have to end with unconditional surrender, or, in the long run, with the extermination of everything German. Therefore, the prerequisites for negotiations as they existed, in previous wars, when one could say "We have lost and lower our swords, we surrender you a province," were not given in this war. Negotiations were therefore out of the question. The political leaders, therefore, would have only had the alternative of simply putting a bullet through their own heads. (SBS)

June 21, 1945: During a joint US-UK conference, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe presents a list of ten defendants for consideration. Chosen mainly because their names are well known to the public, they are assumed to be criminals; little effort has yet to be made to determine the actual evidence that will be available against them. The initial ten: Goering, Hess (though the British warned that he was possibly insane), Ribbentrop, Ley (see October 25, 1945, below), Keitel, Streicher, Kaltenbrunner, Rosenberg, Frank and Frick. (Taylor)

June 26, 1945: The United Nations Charter is signed in San Francisco.

June 26, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials: From the minutes of this day's Conference Session:

Nikitchenko: It is, of course, impossible to foresee all the details that should be included in a statute of this kind, and I agree that the court which is to be set up must have the power to elaborate detailed instructions that will be necessary; but we are afraid the actual wording of this paragraph number 8, as it is, rather implies that if we do not, here and now, define basic principles for government of the International Tribunal, it will be left then to the Tribunal itself, when set up to do that work; and it would delay the work of the prosecutors.

Mr. Roberts: May I say that it is our view, too. We would like to draft some rules, by agreement, although we quite understand that the Tribunal will have the power to modify or extend those rules; but we share the Russian fear that this paragraph, as it is, might lead to duplication and delay.

Nikitchenko: This is a change we can discuss in a memorandum, but we could leave the text as it stands now, in the statute, and arrange that when necessary. The Tribunal may later elaborate or extend.
Justice Jackson: I assume you mean that a memorandum will be prepared by the Soviet that will indicate the type of rules that you think should be incorporated. We do not object to adding any rules we feel should be incorporated as we go along...

July 1, 1945: US, British, and French occupying forces move into Berlin.

July 7, 1945: US Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Jackson visits a city 91% destroyed by Allied bombs: Nuremberg. He inspects the Palace of Justice, and decides to recommend it as a site for the upcoming trials, even though the Soviets much prefer that the trials take place in Berlin, within their own zone of occupation. (Conot, Tusa, Maser)

July 7, 1945: Jodl is again interviewed by the US Strategic Bombing Survey:

There is no doubt that many of the major decisions made by the Fuehrer himself prevented us from losing the war sooner. One of his biggest leadership achievements was the decision to occupy Norway. Another of his great personal accomplishments was the decision for the attack on France through Sedan, which he decided entirely on his own, and against the advice of his staff, who had all urged him to follow the so-called 'Schlieffen Plan,' for an envelopment attack through Holland along the coast. That was also an outstanding personal accomplishment, but perhaps his greatest military achievement was the way he personally intervened to stop the retreat of the German Army in the East, in November 1941. Nobody else could have accomplished that. A panic had already stared there. It might easily have led to the same kind of disaster that overtook the French Army, in the campaign of 1812 . . . .

In 1942, however, during the summer campaign in Russia, I personally became convinced that the Fuehrer was not making sound decisions. I believe that the reason for it was the hot continental climate, which he could not stand. He complained of constant headaches, and so it occurred that he would give orders and, the next day, after they were carried out to the letter, he would bawl out the General Staff for having done what he had ordered. This went so far that I had Schreff write down what he ordered every day, and what the General Staff carried out, so as to prove that all that happened through my decisions was exactly what he had ordered. That led to conflicts between [us] up until August 1942, when he decided to call in the stenographers, in order to have a proof on his side of what he had ordered. I do believe that, at this time, his leadership was bad . . . .

I cannot consider [not invading England] a mistake because, at the time, I gave him a situation appraisal, in which I advised against it . . . . In the course of the latter years, there were naturally decisions taken in the East which are hard to understand, and which cannot be justified from a purely military point of view. It had been proved in the early years of the war, that he had frequently been right, when the General Staff was wrong, and this served to increase his mistrust of our advice later on. When the retreat from the East was suggested by the OKW, he opposed it because he believed that it was just another sign of weakness and excessive conservatism. He had too little immediate contact with the troops, and so some of his decisions in the latter period were not based on military reality.

But, looking at the whole picture, I am convinced that he was a great military leader. Certainly no historian could say that Hannibal was a poor general just because, in the end, Carthage was destroyed. It was clear, from the moment he took over the Supreme Command, that what he most lacked was the experience of a long military career, through all the grades to the top. You can only learn by experience. He took part in the trench warfare in the last war, and he mastered that form of warfare outstandingly; but he had no real experience in mobile warfare and all the difficulties that are caused in communications with the uncertain conditions of mobile warfare. [Therefore, he] tended to overlook the difficulties of executing some of the operations that he had planned. (SBS)

July 16, 1945: Since May, the Allies have been collecting Nazis, and tossing the high-ranking ones into a former hotel in Mondorf, Luxembourg, affectionately referred to as "Ashcan." On this day, Ashcan's commander, Colonel Burton C. Andrus, takes representatives of the world's Press on a tour of the facility, to quash the rumors that the prisoners are living the high-life. "We stand for no mollycoddling here," Andrus proclaims. "We have certain rules and the rules are obeyed ... they roll their own cigarettes."

July 16, 1945: First US atomic bomb test; the Potsdam Conference begins. (Tusa)

July 17, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials: From the minutes of this day's Four Power conference session:

Nikitchenko: It would not be necessary to write down in the charter anything about the rights of the defendant not giving answer, because, if he refuses to give answer to the Prosecution and to the counsel and to the Tribunal, nothing is to be done; and therefore we do not think it would be necessary to point it out in the charter. But as regards the right of the prosecutor to interrogate, that is very important. If we do write anything about the defendant's right not to answer, then it would look as if we were preparing the ground for him to do so, and, if he knows about it, he will take advantage of it and refuse to answer. Therefore it is not necessary to mention it...

July 19, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials: From the minutes of today’s Conference Session:

Professor Gros: We do not consider as a criminal violation the launching of a war of aggression. If we declare war a criminal act of individuals, we are going farther than the actual law. We think that in the next years any state which will launch a war of aggression will bear criminal responsibility morally and politically; but on the basis of international law as it stands today, we do not believe these conclusions are right. Where a state would launch a war of aggression, and not conduct that war according to rules of international law, it would be desirable to punish them as criminals, but it would not be criminal for only launching a war of aggression. We do not want criticism in later years of punishing something that was not actually criminal, such as launching a war of aggression. The judges would be in a very difficult position if we insist...

July 21, 1945: Justice Jackson returns to Nuremberg [with British and French representatives], to inspect possible housing accommodation. (Conot, Tusa)

July 25, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials: During this day's Four Power conference session:

>STRONG>Justice Jackson: ...I think that every one of the top prisoners that we have is guilty...

July 31, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd, Executive Trial Counsel for the Prosecution at Nuremberg:

Much gossip is abroad, about friction between the US, Great Britain, France, and Russia, over these trials. The truth is, there is no trouble between US, Britain and France--but the Russians are just holding up the whole proceeding. They are impossible, in my opinion. I do not know the details, but I do know they are not cooperative on this problem so far. I believe they want to put on another Russian farce for a trial. If that happens, I go home, and promptly!

The English appointed their chief counsel 21 days after the US appointed Jackson (who was the first to be appointed). The French followed soon after. Thus far no one has been appointed for Russia. Our people meet with certain Russian representatives, but nothing happens. When representatives of the United Nations went to Nuremberg, to look it over as a possible site for the trial, only the Russians failed to make the trip.

August 1, 1945 Potsdam Conference: At the Twelfth Plenary Session, the subject of trying Nazi war criminals is raised:

Truman: You are aware that we have appointed Justice Jackson as our representative on the London Commission. He is an outstanding judge and a very experienced jurist. He has a good knowledge of legal procedure. Jackson is opposed to any names of war criminals being mentioned, and says that this will hamper their work. He assures us that the trial will be ready within thirty days, and that there should be no doubt concerning our view of these men.

Stalin: Perhaps we could name fewer persons, say three.

Bevin: Our jurists take the same view as the Americans.

Stalin: And ours take the opposite view. But perhaps we shall agree that the first list of war criminals to be brought to trial should be published not later than in one month...

August 2, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials: During this day's Four Power conference session:

General Nikitchenko: There is one question. What is meant in the English by "cross-examination"?

Lord Chancellor: In an English or American trial, after a witness has given testimony for the Prosecution, he can be questioned by the defense, in order that the defense may test his evidence, verify his evidence, to see whether it is really worthy of credit. In our trials, the defendant or his counsel is always entitled to put questions in cross-examination. And I think the same situation prevails in the courts of France.

Judge Falco: Yes, the same.

General Nikitchenko: According to Continental procedure, that is very widely used too. The final form would be then, "The Defendant shall have the right to conduct his own defense before the Tribunal, to cross-examine any witness called by the Prosecution ...

August 8, 1945: The London Agreement is signed. The Soviets declare war on Japan and invade Manchuria.

August 12, 1945: Colonel Andrus and his 15 Ashcan prisoners are loaded onto a US C-47 transport plane bound for Nuremberg. As they fly above Germany, Goering continually points out various geographical features below, such as the Rhine, telling Ribbentrop to take one last look as he is unlikely to ever get the opportunity again. Streicher becomes air-sick. (Tusa)

August 12, 1945: Justice Jackson releases a statement to the American press:

The representatives of the United Kingdom have been headed by the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General. The Soviet Republic has been represented by the Vice President of its Supreme Court and by one of the leading scholars of Soviet jurisprudence. The Provisional Government of France has sent a judge of its highest court and a professor most competent in its jurisprudence. It would not be a happy forecast for the future harmony of the world if I could not agree with such representatives of the world's leading systems of administering justice, on a common procedure for trial of war criminals...

August 14, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

I am able to report the most fascinating days of my life . . . . After lunch at the hotel we returned to the Palace of Justice and began our questioning of Lieutenant General Alfred Jodl. He was in charge of operations--a post like that occupied by Eisenhower. He came in under guard, attired in a long black outside coat, high crowned cap, a tunic of blue trimmed in red and gold, pale green breeches of whip cord, and shining black riding boots. He is a well built man of 53 years. A lean hard face, thin lips, blue eyes, light thin hair, very erect in carriage. (Keitel is more dumpy, particularly about the hips, but also very military in his bearing). Jodl has a deep rumbling voice. Keitel's, too, is deep but softer. Jodl was every inch, and every moment, the Prussian general--arrogant and haughty. We discussed the Norwegian campaign. He talked freely, but sternly. He, too, told of the impending British invasion.

August 18, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

Yesterday, our group and two British colonels interviewed General Jodl again. The questions were all on strategy and tactics. He answered all of them and, no matter what else may be said about him, it is perfectly clear that he knows his business. He said that Germany failed to invade England in 1940, simply because no one expected France to fall in less than one year. The Germans had no plans ready. Said Jodl: 'If I had instructed my staff to draw up an invasion plan for Britain in 1940, they would have said I was mad.' In respect to Spain, he stated that Hitler met Franco in May or June of 1940, at the Spanish-French frontier for the purpose of arranging the talks of Gibraltar. Franco refused, and as a result, Germany was not able to lock the Mediterranean to the British.

Jodl said: 'We had the plans ready--we could have taken Gibraltar easily.' He told us that no one knew of Italy's plan to invade Greece. Hitler heard of it the day it started--when he met Mussolini at Florence. As Hitler stepped from his plane, Mussolini greeted him with the news. Hitler and the German generals were furious. O! I could write pages on all this. Jodl said: "After all, Hindenburg was right when he said, 'Even Mussolini can do no more than make Italians out of Italians.'" When did Jodl realize the war was lost? "I first thought it possible that we could lose, in 1942. I felt quite sure, after the Americans landed in Normandy. I was positive, after the Americans crossed the Remagen bridge on the Rhine." Of course, it is only one side of this I feel sure--these professional German militarists respected Hitler. They say he really ran the war! To hear Jodl tell of his last hours with Hitler is moving--if not anything else.

August 25, 1945: Representatives of the Big Four (Jackson, Fyfe, Gros, and Nikitchenko), agree on a list of 22 defendants (from the original list of 122), 21 of whom are in custody, including Jodl. The 22nd, Martin Bormann, is presumed to be in Soviet custody, but Nikitchenko cannot confirm it. The list is scheduled to be released to the Press on October 28. (Conot)

August 28, 1945: Just in time to stop the release of the names of the 22, Nikitchenko informs the other three Allied representatives that, unfortunately, Bormann is not in Soviet custody. However, he announces that the valiant Red Army has captured two vile Nazis: Erich Raeder, and Hans Fritzsche, and offers them up for trial. Though neither man was on anyone's list of possible defendants, it emerges that their inclusion has become a matter of Soviet pride; Raeder and Fritzsche being the only two ranking Nazis unlucky enough to have been caught in the grasp of the advancing Russian bear. (Conot)

August 29, 1945: The final list of defendants is released to the press. Bormann, though not in custody, is still listed; Raeder and Fritzsche are now included, though there is no longer a Krupp represented. (Conot)

August 29, 1945: The Manchester Guardian reacts to the release of the list of defendants:

Grave precedents are being set. For the first time, the leaders of a state are being tried for starting a war and breaking treaties. We may expect after this that at the end of any future war the victors--whether they have justice on their side or not, as this time we firmly believe we have--will try the vanquished.

August 30, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

I was at the office all day questioning Field Marshal Keitel. We are getting along well together. Sometimes I find myself liking him--and feeling sorry for him. He is a very bright man--in my opinion--and a very charming one too. This afternoon he was in good spirits, and he told me what he thought of the Italians. It was really humorous. He blames much of Germany's defeat on Italy.

For example, Keitel, Hitler, and Jodl were in Hendaye, France, in conference with Petain, when word reached them that Italy was about to attack Greece. They immediately left for Florence, and arrived the next morning at 6 AM. Mussolini greeted them by announcing that he had invaded Greece. Hitler was wild. So was Keitel--and of course Mussolini was cocky. Keitel said: "How can you defeat the Greeks?" Mussolini said, "There will be no battles--Ciano has bought up the opposition with a little gold." Hitler told Keitel once, "I never tell Mussolini anything important, for what Mussolini knows, Ciano knows, London knows, and Washington knows."

About the Finns: Keitel and Jodl met with the Finnish Chief of Staff at Salzburg, in May of 1941. They made a proposal to the Finns; Keitel said, "The Finns gave us their answer with action--they were brave soldiers--our most faithful allies. They never asked for anything, and they desired only to preserve their country."

August 30, 1945: The Glasgow Herald reacts to the release of the list of defendants: Scanning this list, one cannot but be struck by the completeness of the Nazi catastrophe. Of all these men, who but a year ago enjoyed wide influence or supreme power, not one could find a refuge in a continent united in hate against them.

September 2, 1945: Victory over Japan Day.

September 5, 1945: Justice Jackson meets with President Truman, who proposes naming former attorney general Francis Biddle as the American judge at Nuremberg. Jackson, who does not think highly of Biddle, suggests alternatives. Biddle will ultimately get the appointment. (Conot, Tusa)

September 17, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

Yesterday, Jackson told the press that the US would be ready to start the trial on November 1. By the way, the Russian representative (Nikitchenko) had been suddenly withdrawn. No explanations--mere notice that he will no longer represent Russia in this matter. After weeks of negotiating, weeks of work with him as chief counsel for Russia, he simply goes home and does not come back. These Russians are impossible. What effect this will have on the trial or the trial; date no one knows, but you can imagine the confusion that may arise out of it.

September 23, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

[In] the afternoon I interrogated Dr Wilhelm Heinrich Scheidt, who was the historian for the German High Command. He is a very interesting creature, with a scholastic background. He can be very helpful to us, and it is my intention to develop him that way.

For example, he knows a lot about Keitel, and Jodl, and those who were associated with them. He confirms my opinion of Keitel--i.e., a stupid opportunist, with enough cunning to hold a job. But he surprised me when he said Jodl wasn't the brains either--instead General (Walther) Warlimont, a member of Hitler's personal staff. Scheidt said there was considerable friction between Keitel and Jodl on one side, and Warlimont on the other, and largely because Warlimont was a strict Catholic, and Keitel and Jodl did not profess any faith. Scheidt tells me that he has some authentic papers hidden away. One is a memorandum on the fight within the German Army to resist Hitler. I am taking steps to find these at once.

September 26, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

This afternoon, I had a wonderful session with Keitel. He admitted that he, Jodl, Hitler, and others planned to attack Czechoslovakia in September of 1938. [In] this very city of Nuremberg, Hitler and his generals had a meeting, which lasted far into the night, and talked of the war: the attack they were soon to make on Czechoslovakia. They were ready, and no power on earth could have stopped them. Perhaps Chamberlain will take an honorable place yet--he got an extension of time for England--maybe for the world. Keitel gets under my skin. I know he is terribly guilty. I know better than most men. Yet I now know him--he has a pathetic aspect to me. He is so weak.

October 5, 1945: Andrus loses his first German prisoner to suicide; Dr Leonard Conti, Hitler's 'Head of National Hygiene.' (Conot, Tusa)

October 8, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

It is a secret--but Dr (Leonardo) Conti, on of those who worked medical experiments on concentration camp inmates, hung himself in the jail Saturday morning. No announcement has been made so far, so keep this to yourself.

October 10, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

Surely that man, Hitler, must have possessed an amazing personality, a magnetic power and an iron will. These old soldiers believed in him and admired him . . . . Please do not think I am becoming soft about the Nazis -- but in this mission, as in most realistic affairs, one knows that things are not all black and white. For nothing ever is. There are always shadings. I have learned such in these few months.

October 14, 1945: British representative Sir Geoffrey Lawrence is elected President of the IMT (International Military Tribunal). (Conot, Tusa)

October 19, 1945: British Major Airey Neave presents each defendant in turn with a copy of the indictment. (Conot, Maser, Tusa)

October 25, 1945: Andrus loses yet another Nazi, as the defendant Dr Robert Ley, Hitler's head of the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF), commits suicide in his Nuremberg cell. (Tusa)

1945: Prior to the trial, the defendants are given an IQ test. Administered by Dr. Gilbert, the Nuremberg Prison psychologist, and Dr. Kelly, the psychiatrist, the test includes inkblots, and the Wechsler-Bellevue test. Jodl scores 127. Note: After the testing, Gilbert comes to the conclusion that all the defendants are "intelligent enough to have known better." Andrus is not impressed by the results: "From what I've seen of them as intellects and characters I wouldn't let one of these supermen be a buck sergeant in my outfit." (Tusa)

November 19, 1945: After a last inspection by Andrus, the defendants are escorted, handcuffed, into the empty courtroom and given their assigned seats. (Conot, Tusa)

November 19, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: The day before the opening of the trial, a motion is filed on behalf of all defense counsel:

The Defense of all defendants would be neglectful of their duty, if they acquiesced silently in a deviation from existing international law, and in disregard of a commonly recognized principle of modern penal jurisprudence, and if they suppressed doubts which are openly expressed today outside Germany, all the more so as it is the unanimous conviction of the Defense that this Trial could serve in a high degree the progress of world order even if, nay in the very instance where, it did not depart from existing international law...

November 20, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 1 of the historic trial, the prosecutors take turns reading the indictment in court. Unfortunately, no one had given any thought to the prisoners' lunch break, so, for the first and only time during 218 days of court, the defendants eat their midday meal in the courtroom itself. This is the first opportunity for the entire group to mingle, and though some know each other quite well, there are many who have never met.

November 21, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 2, the defendants enter their pleas: The President: I will now call upon the defendants to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against them. They will proceed in turn to a point in the dock opposite to the microphone ... Jodl: Not guilty. For what I have done or had to do, I have a pure conscience before God, before history and my people.

November 21, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: Immediately following the pleas of the defendants, Justice Jackson delivers his opening statement:

Jackson: These men created in Germany, under the 'Fuehrerprinzip,' a National Socialist despotism equaled only by the dynasties of the ancient East. They took from the German people all those dignities and freedoms that we hold natural and inalienable rights in every human being. The people were compensated by inflaming and gratifying hatreds towards those who were marked as 'scapegoats.' Against their opponents, including Jews, Catholics, and free labor, the Nazis directed such a campaign of arrogance, brutality, and annihilation, as the world has not witnessed since the pre-Christian ages. They excited the German ambition to be a 'master race,' which, of course, implies serfdom for others. They led their people on a mad gamble for domination. They diverted social energies and resources, to the creation of what they thought to be an invincible war machine. They overran their neighbors. To sustain the 'master race' in its war making, they enslaved millions of human beings, and brought them into Germany, where these hapless creatures now wander as 'displaced persons.' At length, bestiality and bad faith reached such excess, that they aroused the sleeping strength of imperiled Civilization. Its united efforts have ground the German war machine to fragments. But the struggle has left Europe a liberated yet prostrate land, where a demoralized society struggles to survive. These are the fruits of the sinister forces that sit with these defendants...

November 29, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 8, the Prosecution presents as evidence a film shot by US troops as they were liberating various German concentration camps.

November 29, 1945: Jodl writes his wife:

These facts are the most fearful heritage that the National-Socialist regime had left the German people. It is far worse than the destruction of German cities. Their ruins could be regarded as honorable wounds suffered during a people's battle for existence. This disgrace, however, besmirches everything--the enthusiasm of our youth, the entire German Wehrmacht, and its leaders. I have already explained how we were systematically deceived in this matter. The accusation that we were all aware of these circumstances is false. I would not have tolerated such wrongdoing for a single day.

November 30, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 9, prosecution witness Erwin Lahousen is examined:

Colonel Amen: Do you also see Jodl in the courtroom?

Lahousen: Yes; he is in the second row, next to Herr Von Papen.

Colonel Amen: Now, to the best of your knowledge and recollection, will you please explain, in as much detail as possible, to the Tribunal, exactly what was said, and what took place at this conference in the Fuehrer's train?

Lahousen: 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.

Colonel Amen: And what further discussions took place then?

Lahousen: 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...

December 1, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 10, during cross-examination of prosecution witness Erwin Lahousen by Goering’s defense counsel:

Dr Stahmer: I would like to ask the Court for a fundamental ruling on whether the defendant also has the right personally to ask the witness questions. According to the German text of the Charter, Paragraph 16, I believe this is permissible.

The President: The Tribunal will consider the point you have raised and will let you know later.

Justice Jackson: The United States Prosecution would desire to be heard, I am sure, if there were any probability of that view being taken by the Tribunal.

The President: Perhaps we had better hear you now, Mr. Justice Jackson.

Justice Jackson: Well, I think it is very clear that these provisions are mutually exclusive. Each defendant has the right to conduct his own defense, or to have the assistance of counsel. Certainly, this would become a performance, rather than a trial if we go into that sort of thing. In framing this Charter, we anticipated the possibility that some of these defendants, being lawyers themselves, might conduct their own defenses. If they do so, of course, they have all the privileges of counsel. If they avail themselves of the privileges of counsel, they are not, we submit, entitled to be heard in person.

Dr Stahmer: I would like to point out once more that Paragraph 16 (e), according to my opinion, speaks very clearly for my point of view. It says that the defendant has the right, either personally, or through his counsel, to present evidence; and according to the German text, it is clear that the defendant has the right to cross-examine any witness called by the Prosecution. According to the German text, therefore, reference can be made only to the defendant, with respect to terms as well as to the contents. In my opinion, it is made clear that the defendant has the right to cross-examine any witness called by the Prosecution...

From The Arms of Krupp by William Manchester: To Germans of the war generation, the name Nuremberg is synonymous with disgrace--disgrace because the city cradled National Socialism, the dream which betrayed them, and because there the enemy imposed foreign justice upon them. Anglo-Saxon legal procedure was adopted for the trials, a decision which, defense counsel rightly protested, put them at a disadvantage.

Frankfurt's Die Neue Zeitung skillfully summed up the handicaps which the accused men faced. They were accustomed to a continental courtroom, whose judge held the defendant's record in his hands, was acquainted with every detail of the police investigation, was under legal obligation to trust an official's word more than that of a private citizen, and had the power to prevent cross-examination. Now all that was turned round. The judges listened, while prosecutors and defense lawyers led the proceedings. Defendants were considered innocent until proven guilty. Only what was said in court under oath counted.

December 3, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 11, Sidney Alderman, Associate Trial Counsel for the United States, begins presentation of the Prosecutions case on Waging Aggressive War:

Alderman: On 26 August, the Defendant Jodl initialed a memorandum entitled, "Timing of the X-Order and the Question of Advance Measures." This is Item 17 at Pages 37 and 38 of the English translation of the Schmundt file on Case Green, our Number 388-PS. I should like to invite the special attention of the Tribunal to this memorandum. It demonstrates, beyond the slightest doubt, the complicity of the OKW and of Defendant Keitel and Jodl, in the shameful fabrication of an incident as an excuse for war. It reveals, in bare outline: the deceit, the barbarity, the completely criminal character, of the attack that Germany was preparing to launch...

December 4, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: Day 12: Sir Hartley Shawcross, Chief Prosecutor for the United Kingdom, delivers his opening statement:

Shawcross: The British Empire with its Allies has twice, within the space of 25 years, been victorious in wars which have been forced upon it, but it is precisely because we realize that victory is not enough, that might is not necessarily right, that lasting peace and the rule of international law is not to be secured by the strong arm alone, that the British nation is taking part in this Trial.

There are those who would perhaps say that these wretched men should have been dealt with summarily without trial, by "executive action"; that their power for evil broken, they should have been swept aside into oblivion without this elaborate and careful investigation into the part which they played in bringing this war about: Vae Victis! Let them pay the penalty of defeat. But that was not the view of the British Government. Not so would the rule of law be raised and strengthened on the international as well as upon the municipal plane; not so would future generations realize that right is not always on the side of the big battalions; not so would the world be made aware that the waging of aggressive war is not only a dangerous venture but a criminal one...

December 11, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 17 the Prosecution presents as evidence a four-hour movie, 'The Nazi Plan,' compiled from various Nazi propaganda films and newsreels. Far from viewing the film as another nail in their coffins, the defendants enjoy it hugely. From the diary of Dr. Victor von der Lippe:

Goering was visibly delighted to see himself once more 'in the good times.' Ribbentrop spoke of the gripping force of Hitler's personality, another defendant declared himself happy that the Tribunal would see him at least once in full uniform, and with the dignity of his office. (Taylor)

December 11, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: Following the viewing of the film, Mr. Thomas J. Dodd, Executive Trial Counsel for the United States, presents the case concerning the Exploitation of Forced Labor:

Mr. Dodd: The conspirators had preached that war was a noble activity, and that force was the appropriate means of resolving international differences; and, having mobilized all aspects of German life for war, they plunged Germany and the world into war. We say this system of hatred, savagery, and denial of individual rights, which the conspirators erected into a philosophy of government within Germany, or into what we may call the Nazi constitution, followed the Nazi armies as they swept over Europe...

December 13, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: The Prosecution introduces grisly evidence from Buchenwald concentration camp, including the head of an executed Pole, used as a paperweight by Commandant Karl Koch, and tattooed human skin allegedly favored by the commandant's wife for use in lampshades and other household furnishings.

December 14, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: The tendency of some of the defendants to denounce, or at least criticize, Hitler on the stand, leads to an outburst by Goering during lunch: "You men knew the Fuehrer. He would have been the first one to stand up and say "I have given the orders and I take full responsibility." But I would rather die ten deaths than to have the German sovereign subjected to this humiliation." Keitel fell silent, but Frank was not crushed: "Other sovereigns have stood before courts of law. He got us into this." Keitel, Doenitz, Funk, and Schirach suddenly get up and leave Goering's table." (Tusa)

December 20, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: After this day's session, the trial adjourns until Wednesday, 2nd of January, for a Holiday break.

December 23, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: Many of the defendants, most of whom are Protestant, attend Christmas Eve services, conducted by Pastor Gerecke.

January 4, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Day 27; Beginning of Colonel Telford Taylor's Presentation of the Case against the General Staff and the High Command:

Colonel Taylor: Why did this group support Hitler and the Nazis? I think Your Honors will see, as the proof is given, that the answer is very simple. The answer is that they agreed with the truly basic objectives of Hitlerism and Nazism, and that Hitler gave the generals the opportunity to play a major part in achieving these objectives The generals, like Hitler, wanted to aggrandize Germany at the expense of neighboring countries, and were prepared to do so by force or threat of force. Force, armed might, was the keystone of the arch, the thing without which nothing else would have been possible.

As they came to power, and when they had attained power, the Nazis had two alternatives: either to collaborate with, and expand, the small German Army, known as the Reichswehr, or to ignore the Reichswehr and build up a separate army of their own. The generals feared that the Nazis might do the latter, and accordingly were the more inclined to collaborate. Moreover, the Nazis offered the generals the chance of achieving much that they wished to achieve by way of expanding German armies and German frontiers; and so, as we will show, the generals climbed onto the Nazi bandwagon. They saw it was going in their direction for the present. No doubt they hoped later to take over the direction themselves. In fact, as the proof will show, ultimately it was the generals who were taken for a ride by the Nazis...

January 9, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 30, British prosecutor Mr. Roberts presents evidence:

Mr. Roberts: I believe that I can treat this, so far as Keitel and Jodl are concerned, in a very few sentences, because I submit that the documents which are already in, which have been read and reread into the record, demonstrate quite clearly that Keitel, as would only be expected, he being Chief of the Supreme Command of all the Armed Forces, and Jodl, as only would be expected also, he being Chief of the Operations Staff, were vitally and intimately concerned with every single act of aggression [that] took place, successively, against the various victims of Nazi aggression...

January 17, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 36 the Chief Prosecutor for the French Republic, M. Francois De Menthon, presents the case for France:

De Menthon: France, [having been] invaded twice in 30 years in the course of wars, both of which were launched by German imperialism, bore almost alone, in May and June 1940, the weight of armaments accumulated by Nazi Germany over a period of years in a spirit of aggression. Although temporarily crushed by superiority in numbers, material, and preparation, my country never gave up the battle for freedom, and was at no time absent from the field. The engagements undertaken, and the will for national independence, would have sufficed to keep France behind General De Gaulle, in the camp of the democratic nations.

If, however, our fight for freedom slowly took the shape of a popular uprising, at the call of the men of the Resistance, belonging to all social classes, to all creeds and to all political parties, it was because, while our soil and our souls were crushed by the Nazi invader, our people refused not only to submit to wretchedness and slavery; but even more, they refused to accept the Hitlerian dogmas, which were in absolute contradiction to their traditions, their aspirations, and their human calling...

January 28, 1946 From the diary of the British Alternate Judge, Mr. Justice Birkett:

The evidence is building up a most terrible and convincing case of complete horror and inhumanity in the concentration camps. But from the point of view of this trial it is a complete waste of valuable time. The case has been proved over and over again.

February 7, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 53, the French Prosecution presents its case:

Whether their conscience was at that moment disturbed by the feeling, more or less obscure, that they were infringing human and divine laws, is a question which need not be asked on the juridical plane on which you will be working. But, even assuming that we should consider it our duty to put this question to ourselves on the psychological plane as a result of scruples, we should then have to remember two essential concepts. The first is that the German, as a French writer puts it, at times combines in himself the identity of contraries [conflicting personalities]

Consequently, it is possible that, in certain cases, he may consciously do evil while remaining convinced that his act is irreproachable from the moral point of view. The second concept is that, according to the law of National Socialist ethics, sometimes put into words by certain National Socialist leaders, that which promotes the interests of the Party is good; that which does not promote the interests is evil...

February 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 54, General Rudenko, Chief Prosecutor for the USSR, opens the Russian presentation:

General Rudenko: ... the fascist aggressors, the defendants, knew that, by their predatory attacks on other countries, they committed the gravest Crimes against Peace. They knew it, and they know it now, and that is the reason why they attempted, and are now attempting, to camouflage their criminal aggression with lies about defense. Furthermore, it has been repeatedly and authoritatively declared that violations of laws and customs of war established by international conventions must entail criminal responsibility. In this connection, it is necessary to note that the gravest outrages, in violation of laws and customs of war, committed by the Hitlerites--murder, violence, arson, and plunder--are considered punishable criminal acts by all criminal codes throughout the world...

February 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Goering, who, along with Hess, had removed his earphones in disgust during Rudenko's presentation, declares during the lunch break: "I did not think that they (the Russians) would be so shameless as to mention Poland." And later: "You will see--this trial will be a disgrace in 15 years." (Gilbert)

February 9, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

Yesterday, Friday, opened the Russian case. General Rudenko made his statement and the Russian photographers were all over the place. It lasted most of the day and about 4 o'clock the Russkies began presenting evidence. I conferred with the Justice about segregating Goering from the other defendants, for he is browbeating and threatening them--and particularly those who might admit some guilt. He wants all to hang together--and to prove that Roosevelt was the cause of the war! Well, we will take care of that defense all right, but I do not think he is entitled to go on intimidating people as he has done for much of his life.

February 11, 1946 From the diary of Dr. Victor von der Lippe:

The press reporters were all there; supposedly they had been told of Paulus' appearance beforehand. The defense lawyers were more or less taken by surprise. The news of Paulus' presence spread through the courthouse like wildfire. Everyone rushed to the hearing-room so as not to miss the spectacle. (Taylor)

February 11, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 56, the Russians present a surprise witness, Field Marshal von Paulus, who had surrendered at Stalingrad.

General Rudenko: And one last question: Whom do you consider as guilty of the criminal initiation of the war against Soviet Russia?

Paulus: May I please have the question repeated?

General Rudenko: I repeat the question.

The President: The Tribunal is about to address an observation to General Rudenko. The Tribunal thinks that a question such as you have just put, as to who was guilty for the aggression upon Soviet territory, is one of the main questions which the Tribunal has to decide, and therefore is not a question upon which the witness ought to give his opinion. Is that what Counsel for the Defense wish to object to?

Dr. Laternser: Yes, Mr. President. That is what I want to do.

General Rudenko: Then perhaps the Tribunal will permit me to put this question rather differently.

The President: Yes.

General Rudenko: Who of the defendants was an active participant in the initiation of a war of aggression against the Soviet Union?

Paulus: Of the defendants, as far as I observed them, the top military advisers to Hitler. They are the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, Keitel; Chief of the Operations Branch, Jodl; and Goering, in his capacity as Reich Marshal, as Commander-in-Chief of the Air Forces and as Plenipotentiary for Armament Economy.

General Rudenko: In concluding the interrogation I shall make a summary. Have I rightly concluded from your testimony that, long before 22 June, the Hitlerite Government and the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces were planning an aggressive war against the Soviet Union, for the purpose of colonizing the territory of the Soviet Union?

Paulus: That is beyond doubt...

February 11, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: From Nuremberg Diary by Gustave Gilbert:

During the afternoon intermission, the military section blew up in an uproar, and they argued with heated invective with their attorneys and each other. "Ask that dirty pig if he's a traitor! Ask him if he has taken out Russian citizenship papers!" Goering shot at his attorney. Raeder saw me watching and shouted at Goering, "Careful! The enemy is listening!" Goering kept right on shouting to his attorney, and there was real bedlam around the prisoners’ dock. "We've got to disgrace that traitor," he roared. Keitel was still arguing with his attorney, and Raeder passed him a note with the same warning. At the other end of the dock, the attitude was more sympathetic to von [sic] Paulus. "You see," said Fritzsche, "that is the tragedy of the German people. He was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea." Later, Keitel declares: "I always stuck up for him with the Fuehrer. It is a shame for him to be testifying against us." (Gilbert, Tusa)

February 12, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 57 of deliberations, prosecution witness von Paulus is cross-examined by various defense counsel:

Paulus: If I judge correctly, then I believe that I am supposed to be here as a witness for the events with which the defendants are charged. I ask the Tribunal, therefore, to relieve me of the responsibility of answering these questions that are directed against myself.

Dr Nelte: Field Marshal Paulus, you do not seem to know that you also belong to the circle of the defendants, because you belonged to the organization of the High Command which is indicted here as criminal.

Paulus: And, therefore, since I believe that I am here as witness for the events which have led to the indictment of these defendants here, I have asked to be relieved of answering this question which concerns myself.

Dr Nelte: I ask the Tribunal to decide.

The President: The Tribunal considers that you must answer the questions...

February 12, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

[Yesterday] the Russians continued to present their case, and late in the day they rather dramatically presented the German Field Marshal von Paulus, whom they captured at Stalingrad. He denounced Hitler, the Nazis, and the defendants. However, his story struck me as being just a bit too well rehearsed. The German defense lawyers cross-examined von Paulus and did quite a good job of it.

February 15, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: From the diary of the British Alternate Judge, Mr. Justice Birkett:

The presentation of the case dealing with crimes against the civilian population of various countries overrun by the German armies has been most detailed, and is contained for the most part in official documents which purport to record judicial hearings of the evidence. The impression created on my mind is that there has been a good deal of exaggeration, but I have no means of checking this. But no doubt can remain in any dispassionate mind that great horrors and cruelties were perpetrated. I think, also, that there is a good deal of evidence to show that the Nazi hierarchy used calculated cruelty and terror as their usual weapons. But it is impossible to convict an army generally, and no doubt many of the terrible excesses were those of a brutal and licentious soldiery, to quote Gibbon. The only importance of the evidence is to convict the members of the Cabinet and the military leaders of calculated cruelty as a policy.

February 15, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Colonel Andrus tightens the rules for the defendants by imposing strict solitary confinement. This is part of a strategy designed to minimize Goering's influence among the defendants. (Tusa)

February 22, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: In a further move to minimize his influence, Goering is now required to eat alone during the court's daily lunch break. The other defendants are split up into groups, with Jodl dining with Kaltenbrunner, Rosenberg, and Frick. (Tusa)

March 5, 1946: Winston Churchill (now a private citizen) introduces the phrase Iron Curtain into the English language during his famous Cold War speech at Fulton, Missouri. Speer recorded his fellow defendants' reactions:

[The defendants showed] tremendous excitement. Hess suddenly stopped playing the amnesiac and reminded us how often he had predicted a great turning point that would put an end to the trial, rehabilitate all of us, and restore us to our ranks and dignities. Goering, too, was beside himself; he repeatedly slapped his thighs with his palms and boomed: "History will not be deceived. The Fuehrer and I always prophesied it. This coalition had to break up sooner or later." (Speer II)

March 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Day 77, General Erhard Milch testifies for the defense:

Milch: All measures taken by Hitler--beginning with the occupation of the Rhineland--came very suddenly, as a rule after only a few hours' preparation. That applies to Austria; that also applies to Czechoslovakia and to Prague. The only time that we were told anything beforehand was the affair with Poland, which I mentioned before, where we had a conference on 23 May.

Dr Laternser: In all other cases, therefore, it was rather a surprise to the high military leaders?

Milch: Yes, a complete surprise.

Dr Laternser: Now I have one more question: What was the possibility of resignation for high military leaders during the war?

Milch: That has been told several times. I have also experienced it myself--one was not permitted to hand in one's resignation. It was said if there was a reason for anyone to leave, he would be informed by his superiors. In an authoritarian state the subordinate, the citizen has no right to resign on his own initiative, whether he be a soldier or a civilian...

March 11, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 78, General Erhard Milch continues his testimony:

Mr. Roberts: Was it not a job of the soldier to object, if he was asked to break his country's word?

Milch: I fully agree with you, if a soldier breaks his word in matters that are his province and where he has a say as a soldier. As regards matters quite outside his province, which he cannot judge, and about which he knows nothing, he cannot be made responsible and called to account.

Mr. Roberts: You can only speak for your own knowledge. Are you saying that you did not know that your country was pledged to observe the neutrality of these three small countries?

Milch: That I have read in the Reichstag speech. But I did not know how the other side had reacted to that promise. I did not know it, and it could easily be that the other side did not at all want this protection, or this promise, or this guarantee. The soldier could not judge this at all; only the political authorities could know this.

Mr. Roberts: Well, we perhaps will have to ask that of the soldiers in the High Command, who are now in the dock, when they get in the witness box. But I put it to you: it must have been common knowledge in Germany that Hitler was giving guarantees and assurances to all these smaller countries?

Milch: Hitler proposed and offered many things. He offered limitations of armaments for all countries; he offered not to use bombers; but in these cases also, his proposals were not accepted. Therefore, the political authorities alone could know what they should and could demand from their soldiers. The only duty of a soldier is to obey...

March 12, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 79, Albert Kesselring testifies for Goering's defense:

Dr Jahrreiss: After all we have heard, here, Adolf Hitler must have been a rather difficult customer.

Kesselring: That must be admitted. On the other hand, I found him--I do not know why--understanding in most of the matters I put to him.

Dr Jahrreiss: Did you yourself settle these differences of opinion with Hitler?

Kesselring: In critical cases Colonel General Jodl called me in, if he could not carry his point.

Dr Jahrreiss: If you could not carry the point?

Kesselring: No, if Jodl could not carry the point.

Dr Jahrreiss: If Jodl could not carry the point, you were called in?

Kesselring: Yes.

Dr Jahrreiss: Did Jodl's opinions, too, differ from Hitler's?

Kesselring: On the various occasions when I attended for reporting, I observed very definite differences of opinion between the two gentlemen, and that Jodl--who was our spokesman at the OKW--put his point of view with remarkable energy, and stuck to it right to the end...

March 16, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 83, defendant Hermann Goering continues his testimony:

Dr Exner: Is it known to you that, particularly in 1942, a severe conflict arose between the Fuehrer and Colonel General Jodl?

Goering: Yes.

Dr Exner: Is it known to you that, at that time, Jodl was even to be relieved?

Goering: The conflict arose from the Caucasus crisis. The Fuehrer blamed General Jodl for the fact that no concentrated forces had been used, to press forward in the direction of Tuapse; but that battalions of mountain troops had been marched from the valleys over the mountain chain of the Ebrus, which the Fuehrer thought was senseless. At that time, as far as I remember, Jodl pointed out to him that this matter had been discussed with, and approved by him. The Fuehrer severely criticized the commander who was in charge of this sector. Jodl defended him on those grounds, and this led to extremely strained relations. The Fuehrer mentioned to me that he wanted to relieve Jodl. The tension was so strong that, from this moment on, as far as I remember, the Fuehrer withdrew from the Officers Club, jointly used by both his Operations Staff and High Command, and even took his meals alone. For quite some time, for several months, he refused to shake hands with this gentleman.

This illustration is just to show you how great the tension was at that time. As successor to Jodl, Paulus was already selected; the Fuehrer had special confidence in him. Just why this change did not materialize, I do not know exactly. I assume that here again, despite all tension, the decisive factor for the Fuehrer was that it was extremely hard for him to get used to new faces, and that he did not like to make any changes in his entourage. He preferred to continue working with men of his entourage whom he did not like, rather than change them. In the course of the years, however, his confidence in Jodl's tactical ability increased again considerably; he had complete confidence in his tactical capacity. The personal relations of both gentlemen were never very close...

Click to join 3rdReichStudies

Click to join 3rdReichStudies

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of historical, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, environmental, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Note: This material, which is available in its entirety at the outstanding Avalon and Nizkor sites, is being presented here in a catagorized form for ease of study and is not meant to supplant or replace these highly recommended sources.

Make your own free website on