(10 of 10)
The trial from now on is really outside the control of the Tribunal, and in the long months ahead the prestige of the trial will steadily diminish.April 3, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 98, Keitel testifies on his own behalf:
Keitel: Upon my return to my apartment in Berlin, in the presence of Goebbels and Canaris, we discussed the reports which were to be sent out, and which Canaris then broadcast in Munich. Finally, in order to conclude this matter, it might be interesting to point out that the Chief of Intelligence in the Austrian Federal Ministry, Lahousen, who has been present here in court, told Jodl and me, when later on, he came into the service of the Wehrmacht: "We were not taken in by this bluff." And I indubitably gave Jodl a basis for his entry in the diary, even though it is somewhat drastically worded, for I was naturally impressed by this first experience...April 4, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 99, Keitel testifies on his own behalf:
Keitel: I was called in, and to my complete surprise was presented with ideas concerning preparation for war against Czechoslovakia. This took place within a very short time, before one of Hitler's departures for Berchtesgaden. I do not recall saying one word during these short instructions, but I asked only one question, and then with these extremely surprising directives I went home.
Dr Nelte: What happened then, so far as you were concerned?
Keitel: My reflections during the first hour after that were that this could not be carried out in view of the military strength, which I knew we then possessed. I then comforted myself with the thought that the conversation premised that nothing had been planned within a measurable lapse of time. The following day, I discussed the matter with the Chief of the Operations Staff, General Jodl. I never received any minutes of this discussion, or any record. The outcome of our deliberations was "to leave things alone, because there was plenty of time, and because any such action was out of the question, for military reasons." I also explained to Jodl that the introductory words had been: "It is not my intention to undertake military action against Czechoslovakia within a measurable lapse of time." Then, in the next weeks, we started theoretical deliberations...
Keitel: The final phase of this entire affair may sound like a fairy tale, but it is true nevertheless. The general sent a plane from North Africa to Southern France, near Lyons, in February or March 1944, with a liaison officer, who reported to the Counterintelligence and asked if the general could return to France, and what would happen to him on landing in France. The question was turned over to me. Generaloberst Jodl is my witness that these things actually happened...April 6, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 101, Keitel is cross-examined by the Prosecution:
General Rudenko: I am asking you, Defendant Keitel, known as Field Marshal, and one who, before this Tribunal, has repeatedly referred to yourself as a soldier, whether you, in your own bloodthirsty decision of September 1941, confirmed and sanctioned the murder of the unarmed soldiers whom you had captured? Is that right?
Keitel: I signed both decrees and I, therefore, bear the responsibility within the sphere of my office; I assume the responsibility.
General Rudenko: That is quite clear. In this connection, I would like to ask you, since you have repeatedly mentioned it before the Tribunal, about the duty of a soldier. I want to ask you: Is it in accordance with the concept of a 'soldier's duty' and the 'honor of an officer' to promulgate such orders for reprisals on prisoners of war and on peaceful citizens?
Keitel: Yes, as far as the reprisals of August and September are concerned, in view of what happened to German prisoners of war whom we found in the field of battle; and in Lvov, where we found them murdered by the hundreds.
General Rudenko: Defendant Keitel, do you again wish to follow the path to which you resorted once before, and revive the question of the alleged butchery of German prisoners of war? You and I agreed yesterday that, as far back as May 1941, prior to the beginning of the war, you had signed a directive on the shooting of political and military workers in the Red Army. I have some ...
Keitel: Yes, I also signed the orders before the war, but they did not contain the word 'murder.'
General Rudenko: I am not going to argue with you, since this means arguing against documents; and documents speak for themselves...
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: I [am] going to put exactly what you said; and you listen carefully; and if you have any disagreement, tell the Tribunal. You said, "I request that you interrogate Jodl about the whole incident, and the attitude which I displayed during the whole conference in the presence of Goering, of whose presence during that conference I am not absolutely certain, but Himmler was there." That was your view when you were interrogated on the 10th of November, wasn't it? You said, ". . . during the whole conference in the presence of Goering, of whose presence I am not absolutely certain...." That was your view on the 10th of November?
Keitel: There must have been some misinterpretation in the minutes, which I never read. I expressed my uncertainty about the presence of Goering and, in the same connection, put the request to interrogate General Jodl about it, since, in my opinion, I was not sure that Goering was not present. Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: You agree that you did ask that General Jodl should be interrogated?
Keitel: I made that proposal, yes.
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: Well now, what do you complain about as to the next sentence? ". . . during the whole conference in the presence of Goering, of whose presence during that conference I am not absolutely certain...." Wasn't that your view?
Keitel: Yes, I was rather surprised at this interrogation and, when I was told that witnesses had confirmed that Goering had been present, I was a little uncertain in this matter and asked that General Jodl be interrogated...
Dr Laternser: Did Hitler distrust the generals, particularly those of the Army?
Lammers. One cannot generalize about that. The Fuehrer was rather reserved in his behavior toward most people. He told each one only what actually concerned him. If you call that distrust, then this distrust was present in his relations with almost all ministers and generals, for nobody was told any more than the Fuehrer wanted him to hear.
Dr Laternser: Among the circle of persons who had Hitler's complete confidence, was there any military leader?
Lammers: I do not believe so. I do not know of one...
Gisevius: Contrary to all expectations, Field Marshal Paulus capitulated. This, as is known, was the first wholesale capitulation of generals; whereas we had expected that Paulus with his generals would issue, before his capitulation, a proclamation to the German people and to the East Front, in which the strategy of Hitler and the sacrifice of the Stalingrad army would be branded in suitable words. When this cue had been given, Kluge was to declare that, in future, he would take no further military orders from Hitler. We hoped, with this plan, to circumvent the problem of the military oath, which kept troubling us more and more; the field marshals, one after the other were to refuse military obedience to Hitler, whereupon Beck was to take over the supreme military command in Berlin...April 25, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
This has been a very interesting day. The defense witness, Gisevius, has been on the stand and, as you may have read in the press, he completely destroyed the defendants--man by man, with the exception of Schacht, for whom he was a good witness--but not good enough, in my opinion, to exculpate Schacht, or to save him from punishment. Justice Jackson cross-examined him, and brought out amazing, and indeed shocking, information about these Nazis. The defendants looked very glum--and disconsolate, and indeed they might. They are a group of evil, wicked men. This is perfectly clear to me--and I have been in a position to know. Gisevius did not complete his testimony when the court adjourned for the day. He will be on again in the morning.April 26, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 115, Hans Bernd Gisevius testifies under cross-examination:
Gisevius: It may be that Keitel did not influence Hitler to a great extent. But I must testify here, to the fact that Keitel influenced the OKW and the Army all the more. Keitel decided which documents were to be transmitted to Hitler. It was not possible for Admiral Canaris, or one of the other gentlemen I mentioned, to submit an urgent report to Hitler, of his own accord. Keitel took it over; and what he did not like, he did not transmit; or he gave these men the official order to abstain from making such a report.
Also, Keitel repeatedly threatened these men, telling them that they were to limit themselves exclusively to their own specialized sectors, and that he would not protect them with respect to any political utterance, which was critical of the Party and the Gestapo, of the persecution of the Jews, the murders in Russia, or the anti-Church campaign. As he said later, he would not hesitate to dismiss these gentlemen from the Wehrmacht, and turn them over to the Gestapo. I have read the notes in regard to this, that Admiral Canaris made in his diary. I have read the notes of General Oster in regard to this, from the conferences of commanders in the OKW. I have talked with the Chief Judge of the Army, Dr. Sack, about this, and it is my strong wish to testify here, that Field Marshal Keitel, who should have protected his officers, repeatedly threatened them with the Gestapo. He put these men under pressure, and these gentlemen considered that a special insult...
From Justice at Nuremberg by Robert E. Conot: With his haggard face and drawn mouth, he (Jodl) looked like a man who had never smiled in his life, but had survived on a diet of bitter persimmons. Unquestionably brilliant, his intelligence manifested itself in an irritating superciliousness. Militant, cynical, and outspoken, he had a proclivity for self-righteous rationalization...It was Jodl's contention that his task in preparing the plans for all Hitler's aggressions had been purely technical; but he effectively destroyed his own defense, by exhibiting an impressive knowledge of the diplomatic and political ramifications of the actions, which he attempted to justify . . . .
Each Nazi aggression had entangled Jodl further in the strands of his own complicity. His most irritating and irrational contention was that Barbarossa had been 'undeniably a purely preventive war'--an assertion based on nothing but Hitler's paranoid fear that Stalin, who had shown himself his match for ruthlessness and opportunism, might some day attack or threaten to attack the Reich, when it was fully engaged with Britain . . . . Again, as in the case of so many defendants, the court was confronted with the puzzle: Was Jodl telling the truth now, when he said he had lied to Hitler; or had he meant what he said to Hitler, and was lying now; or, quite likely, had been so corrupted by a system in which mendacity was part of life, and hypocrisy a pervasive force, that he could not himself separate honest declarations from dissimulations?
June 3, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 145, Jodl testifies on his own behalf:
Jodl: The union of the two offices in one person gave me much concern. When we lost Hindenburg, we lost the Field Marshal loved by the Wehrmacht and by the whole German people. What we should get with Hitler, we did not know. It is true, the result of the plebiscite was so overwhelming, that one could say that a higher law than this popular will could not possibly exist. Thus, we soldiers were quite justified in taking the oath to Adolf Hitler...June 4, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 146, Jodl testifies on his own behalf:
Jodl: I recognized and valued international law, with which I was well acquainted, as a prerequisite for the decent and humane conduct of war. Copies of the Hague Rules of Land Warfare and the Geneva Convention were always lying on my desk. I believe that, by my attitude toward the Commissar Order, toward lynching, and toward the intention to repudiate the Geneva Convention--bluntly rejected by all Commanders-in-Chief and all branches of the Wehrmacht, and by the Foreign Office--I have proved that I tried, as far as it was possible for me, to observe international law...June 5, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:On day 147, Jodl testifies on his own behalf:
Dr Laternser: What do you know about the reasons for the mass deaths which occurred among Russian prisoners of war during the winter of 1941?
Jodl: I am informed on this subject because several adjutants of the Fuehrer were sent there personally, and they reported to the Fuehrer in my presence. We were mostly concerned with the mass deaths after the last great battle for the Viazma pocket. The Fuehrer’s adjutants described the reason for the mass deaths as follows: The half-famished encircled Russian armies had put up fanatical resistance during the last 8 or 10 days. They literally lived on the bark of trees and roots, because they had retreated to impenetrable wooded country and, when they fell into our hands, they were in such a condition that they could hardly move. It was impossible to transport them. The situation as regards supplies was critical, because the railway system had been destroyed, so that it was impossible to take them all away. There were no accommodations nearby. Only immediate careful hospital treatment could have saved the majority of them. Soon afterwards the rain started, and then the cold set in...
From The Nuremberg Trial by Ann and John Tusa: When Jodl went into the witness box on the morning of June 6 to face cross-examination by Roberts, he found a watercolor of his favorite range of Bavarian mountains on the ledge. It had been painted by his wife and she had written on it "Calm, calm, oh so calm my dear. And do keep your temper. Losing it only helps the opponent."
Frau Jodl was working in court as an assistant to his counsel. She sat at their table every day and was happy to be near her husband, even though they could not speak. It was a poignant situation, which moved many people. Her quiet dignity and total devotion to her husband had won everyone's admiration, and it was reflected on to Jodl--there was a strong feeling that he must have had some good qualities, to keep the love of such a thoroughly nice woman. The next day, she left for him in the box a small bunch of flowers with the note: "Be patient and do not lose your temper." This was advice Jodl found difficult to take . . . .
On the whole, however, as Jodl told Gilbert, being in the witness box had been like working with Hitler--a constant struggle to keep one's temper. Jodl left the witness box reasonably satisfied with his performance. He certainly retained his own belief in his innocence. Should he be found guilty, he would attribute the verdict to the faulty understanding of his judges. Fritzsche had the impression that Jodl's only fear was of a long term of imprisonment. If the judges failed to acquit him, he would prefer a quick death.
Mr. Roberts: Witness, you told the Tribunal 2 days ago that you had soldiering in the blood, is that right?
Jodl: Yes, this is true.
Mr. Roberts: Very good. And you said yesterday that you were here to represent the honor of the German soldier, is that right?
Jodl: Yes, I do that to a high degree.
Mr. Roberts: Very good, yes. And you put yourself forward as an honorable soldier.
Jodl: With full consciousness, yes.
Mr. Roberts: And you put yourself forward as a truthful man.
Jodl: I represented myself as such a man, and I am.
Mr. Roberts: Very good. Because of the things you say you have been made to do in the last 6 or 7 years, do you think your honor has become at all soiled?
Jodl: My honor was certainly not soiled, for I guarded it personally.
Mr. Roberts: Very good, you say your honor is not soiled. Have you--during the last 6 or 7 years, when causing to be said the things which you say you had to circulate--has your truthfulness remained at the same high standard? [There was no response.] Can't you answer that question?
Jodl: I believe I am too dull for that question.
Mr. Roberts: Very good, then if you are too dull, I won't persist in it; I will go on. I will leave the question and I will go on...
Colonel Pokrovsky: Good. We can find a great many documents of that type; but I do not consider it necessary to waste any more time on the further elucidation of this point. Tell me, would it be correct to say that you were well aware of the entire work carried out by the OKW--that you well knew what important problems were occupying the OKW at that time?
Jodl: Only to limited extent-in individual matters. I was not at all aware of everything that took place in the numerous offices in Berlin. That was quite impossible. It did not concern me. I have testified already that my time was so fully taken up that I had much more to do than I had time for.
Colonel Pokrovsky: Very well, you force me to revert to a question that I really wanted to have done with. Will you please now look at our new Document USSR-476. This document consists of excerpts from Keitel's testimony of 9 November 1945. It is stated there: "Question: 'Would it have been possible for General Jodl, without your knowledge to call such a meeting?"' We are talking, My Lord, of the conference in Reichenhall. Reply of Field Marshal Keitel: "Yes, it was quite possible, as I was frequently on official journeys; and General Jodl had authority to call a meeting because he represented me in my absence." Have you found the passage? Have you read it?
Jodl: Colonel Pokrovsky, of course, it is very difficult for you to follow these military matters. It is ridiculous. Surely I may question my staff officers. I do not need to call a meeting for that. These were my General Staff officers with whom I worked in Reichenhall. Surely I could go to them. That was my office and my duty.
The President: I do not think it is necessary for you to raise your voice in that way.
Colonel Pokrovsky: It seems to me that you have still not answered two of my questions. First, have you read this document?
Please tell me: Have you, or have you not, read the passage which I have just read into the record on Page 1?
Jodl: Yes. Here, Field Marshal Keitel says, " . . . since I was very often away on official journeys . . . "
Colonel Pokrovsky: You do not have to read it a second time. I have read it already. I merely want you to tell me whether you have read that passage?
Jodl: Yes, I read that, and it says here, " ... to ask Generaloberst Jodl."
Colonel Pokrovsky: No, you are reading beyond the passage which interests me at this moment. As for the words " . . . to ask Generaloberst Jodl" -- rest assured, we shall get to that passage. But is it true that Keitel was often away, and that you deputized for him? I do not hear any answer. [There was no response.] I still hear no answer.
Jodl: I have already said that, now and then, he went to the front for a day or so, and that he was several times in Berlin for a few days; but he was at those offices which were subordinate to him. I was alone with my operations staff, and I could do whatever I pleased with my staff. During the entire war, I never called a conference of other offices as a deputy of Field Marshal Keitel. I did not understand anything about those matters.
Colonel Pokrovsky: You have uttered a great many words, but have not given me a clear answer to my very short and simple question--namely, do you confirm, or do you not confirm, the truth of Keitel's statement? "Yes" or "no." That is very easy to answer, is it not?
Jodl: That is what it amounts to; but the thing, as written down, is ridiculous...
Buttlar-Brandenfels: After the Munich Agreement, I concluded from my talks with General Staff officers that there was a general conviction among them that, thanks to his policy, the Fuehrer would continue to preserve peace. I remember that, as late as 25 or 26 August, I saw the Fuehrer, at headquarters in Zossen, having a conversation with Lieutenant Colonel von Zielberg and several other officers. At that time, these officers were still of the opinion that a war would not occur, and that to render the Fuehrer's political aims feasible, it was only necessary to keep the troops firmly under control, so that no political catastrophe should be produced by the laying down of arms...June 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 150, Jodl's Defense calls Major Herbert Buchs to the stand.
Dr Jahrreiss: Witness, it is possible in military life for an officer to receive an order with which he does not agree, is it not?
Dr Jahrreiss: In that case, is it possible for him to put his divergent opinion on record?
Winter: In the German Army, if I remember rightly, such a possibility existed from the time of Moltke. An order from Hitler that came out in 1938--I think, in winter 1938-39--removed such a possibility, once and for all. An order was issued at the time, prohibiting even chiefs of general staffs, and command authorities, from putting their divergent opinions on record.
Dr Jahrreiss: In order to avoid creating difficulties for the interpretation, will you please explain the word ''Aktenklindig''?
Winter: According to that, it was not possible to include, in the official files or in the war diaries of events kept by command staffs, any comments to the effect that the chief was not in agreement with the decision or order of his superior.
Dr Jahrreiss: It was canceled?
Winter: These possibilities existed previously, but since 1938 they no longer existed as they were done away with...
The defendants reflect the ending of these proceedings. They seem to feel that their days are definitely numbered. Even Goering, who has been positively impish up to very recently, now is gray and crestfallen. Keitel wears the mask of the doomed already. And so it goes through the entire dock. General Jodl and Seyss-Inquart being exceptions to some extent, and mostly because they are more stable emotionally...
From The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials by Telford Taylor: Jodl did not meet Hitler until September 1939, at the beginning of the war. From then until near its end, except for a few short gaps, Jodl reported on the military situation at all the daily staff conferences, and was frequently involved in colloquy, and not infrequently controversy, with the Fuehrer. It cannot have been a very happy life . . . .
The relationship remained impersonal and, as time went on, increasingly frosty. Within these limits, however, it is safe to say that during the war Jodl saw and talked with Hitler, more than any other Nuremberg defendant [did]. It is, no doubt, the military and businesslike character of the Fuehrer-Jodl relation, together with Jodl's capital sentence, that has made his conviction more controversial than any other. Especially in comparison to Keitel's dismal weakness, the picture of an exceptionally able officer doing a necessary and difficult military task, and standing by his guns in the face of Hitler's criticism is appealing, particularly to military people, who see him as 'just doing the job he was told to do' . . . .
Jodl was well represented. His head counsel, Professor Dr Franz Exner, and supporting counsel, Professor Dr Hermann Jahrreiss, were both excellent: the first a specialist in criminal law, and the second in international law. Exner was a Jodl family friend, and rapport between client and counsel was good. Dr von der Lippe wrote: 'The Jodl defense team was especially ceremonious, because both professors wore violet university robes, and Frau Jahrreiss (assisting the lawyers) completed the color symphony with a violet gown' . . . .
It was becoming increasingly apparent that Jodl would press his points beyond reason, and decline to acknowledge fault in any actions of his own. Some problems he brushed away by labeling them a 'political' matter, which were none of his business . . . . But Jodl made several comments to Dr Gilbert, that he would never have made in court. He had decided that Hitler's asserted fear of a Russian attack was feigned, simply to get the generals to go along with a war that he wanted. Jodl [had also] come to the conclusion that none of the wars Hitler had brought about were really necessary from the German standpoint.
Dr Exner: At a time when the wounds of the war are still bleeding, when the excitement of the events of the last few years is still felt, at a time when the archives of one side are still closed, it is asked that a just verdict be given with dispassionate neutrality. Material for the Trial has been spread out before us covering a quarter of a century of world history, and events from the four corners of the globe. On the grounds of this tremendous amount of material, we see 22 men being accused simultaneously. That makes it immensely difficult to gain a clear picture of the guilt and responsibility of each individual, for inhumanities of an almost unimaginable vastness have come to light here, and there exists a danger that the deep shadow which falls upon some of the defendants may also darken the others. Some of them, I fear, appear in a different light because of the company in which they now sit, than they would if they were alone in the dock...July 19, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Day 182; Dr Exner concludes his closing argument:
Dr Exner: Psychologically, this attitude of the Fuehrer became still more pronounced, owing to the almost inconceivable mistrust he felt toward his generals. An extraordinary phenomenon; yet, anyone who disregards it can never come to understand the atmosphere which reigned in the Fuehrer's headquarters. It referred--he thought--to the reactionary attitude of the officers' corps. He never forgot that the Reichswehr had fired at National Socialists in 1923. It was, moreover, the natural mistrust of the military dilettante toward the military expert, for he wanted to be a strategist; and also probably the mistrust of the political expert toward political dilettantes in officers' uniform.
This mistrust of the political insight of his military entourage was, moreover, by no means entirely unfounded. For the generals had wanted to put a brake on his rearmament plans, to hold him back from the occupation of the Rhineland; and had expressed objections to his march into Austria, and to his occupation of the Sudetenland. And yet, all these actions had succeeded smoothly and without bloodshed. The generals felt like gamblers, when carrying out the plans; but Hitler was sure of his game. Is it to be wondered at that their political judgment did not carry too much weight with him, and is it to be wondered at that, from the other side, the apparent infallibility of his political judgment met with more and more recognition? Thus Hitler tolerated no interference in his political plans, and the result of it, as has been drastically represented to us here, was that, had a general raised objections to Hitler's political decisions, he might not actually have been shot, but his sanity would have been questioned...
July 22, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 187 of deliberations, US Justice Jackson details Prosecution's closing arguments against Jodl:
Jackson: In January 1934--and, Your Honors, dates in this connection are important--with Defendant Jodl present, the Council planned a mobilization calendar and mobilization order for some 240,000 industrial plants. Again, it was agreed that nothing should be in writing, so that "the military purpose may not be traceable" . . . .
Six months later, emboldened by the bloodless Austria conquest, Hitler, in a secret directive to Keitel, stated his "unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future." On the same day, Jodl noted in his diary that the Fuehrer had stated his final decision to destroy Czechoslovakia soon, and had initiated military preparations all along the line. By April, the plan had been perfected to attack Czechoslovakia "with lightning swift action as the result of an incident" . . . . Jodl, betrayer of the traditions of his profession, led the Wehrmacht in violating its own code of military honor, in order to carry out the barbarous aims of Nazi policy . . . .
It was the fatal weakness of the early Nazi band that it lacked technical competence. It could not, from among its own ranks, make up a government capable of carrying out all the projects necessary to realize its aims. Therein lies the special crime and betrayal of men like Schacht and Von Neurath, Speer and Von Papen, Raeder and Doenitz, Keitel and Jodl. It is doubtful whether the Nazi master plan could have succeeded without their specialized intelligence, [which] they so willingly put at its command. They did so with knowledge of its announced aims and methods; and continued their services, after practice had confirmed the direction in which they were tending. Their superiority to the average run of Nazi mediocrity is not their excuse. It is their condemnation . . . .
Unquestionably, there were conspiracies within the conspiracy, and intrigues, and rivalries, and battles for power. Schacht and Goering disagreed, but over which of them should control the economy, not over whether the economy should be regimented for war. Goering claims to have departed from the plan, because, through Dahlerus, he conducted some negotiations with men of influence in England, just before the Polish war. But it is perfectly clear that this was not an effort to prevent aggression against Poland, but to make that aggression successful and safe, by obtaining English neutrality.
Rosenberg and Goering may have had some differences as to how stolen art should be distributed, but they had none about how it should be stolen. Jodl and Goering may have disagreed about whether to denounce the Geneva Convention, but they have never disagreed about violating it. And so it goes through the whole long and sordid story. Nowhere do we find a single instance, where any one of the defendants stood up against the rest and said: "This thing is wrong and I will not go along with it." Wherever they differed, their differences were as to method, or disputes over jurisdiction, but always within the framework of the common plan.
Shawcross: Had the war been won, is it to be supposed that these men would have retired to the obscurity and comparative innocence of private citizenship? That opportunity was not denied to them before the war, had they wished to disassociate themselves from what was taking place. They chose a different path. From small beginnings, at a time when resistance instead of participation could have destroyed this thing, they fostered the Hitler legend, they helped to build up the Nazi power and ideology, and to direct its activities until, like some foul octopus, it spread its slime over Europe...July 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 189, Chief Prosecutor for the Provisional Government of the Republic of France, M. Champetier de Ribes, details Prosecutions closing arguments:
de Ribes: ... none of the defendants [has] challenged the truth of the facts we have reported. Unable to deny them, they try only to evade their own responsibility, by placing the guilt on those of their accomplices who committed suicide. "We knew nothing of those horrors," they say, or else: "We did everything we could to prevent them, but Hitler, who was all-powerful, gave the orders and allowed no one to disobey or even resign from office." What a poor defense! Who is likely to believe that they alone were ignorant of what the whole world knew, and that their monitoring stations never reported to them the solemn warnings that were broadcast repeatedly by the heads of the United Nations? They could not disobey Hitler's order, they could not even resign from office?
Indeed! Hitler might have governed their bodies, but not their souls. By disobeying him, they might perhaps have lost their liberty, or even their lives; but they would at least have saved their honor. Cowardice has never been an excuse, nor even an extenuating circumstance. The truth is that, having taken part in its elaboration, they all knew perfectly well the doctrine of National Socialism, and its will to universal domination. They were very well aware of the monstrous crimes...
Rudenko: The Defendant Alfred Jodl shares equal responsibility with Defendant Keitel as his assistant, and as Hitler's closest military adviser. Everything connected with the preparation and execution of the aggressive plans of Hitlerite Germany is inseparably linked to the name of Jodl, as well as to Keitel's. There is no need to repeat all the aggressive acts of Hitler's Germany, which had been individually planned and executed, with the direct connivance of Defendant Jodl. They are already facts of common knowledge.
As the representative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, I should like to emphasize, once again, that the criminal plan for the perfidious attack on the Soviet Union, coded by the Hitler clique under the name of the ill-fated conqueror, Friedrich Barbarossa, is signed not only by Hitler and Keitel, but by Jodl as well. But this is more than a mere signature. As far back as the summer of 1940, in Reichenhall, Jodl held the first conference with his staff officers, at which the question of a possible attack by Hitler Germany on Soviet Russia was discussed. It was the Defendant Jodl alone who, even before the attack against the USSR, issued his well-known "Instructions on the Use of Propaganda in the 'Barbarossa' Region." In these instructions, it is definitely stated that "propaganda directed at the partition of the Soviet Union should not, as yet, be carried out." Thus, Defendant Jodl knew beforehand of the actual aims of Germany's attack on the USSR; and knew of the predatory, violent nature of a war that called for the dismemberment of the Soviet Union. It was Jodl...
If I had to say now what sentence I am really counting on, I should have to admit quite frankly, that I am expecting anything under the sun. I find it quite impossible to fix my thoughts on anything. Perhaps it will be worse than we hoped in our brighter moments, or perhaps it will be better than we feared in our gloomier ones. My little bag is ready, whatever happens. I have only to pick it up.
And should death stand at me cell door, I shall not be surprised. Death will find here no broken penitent victim, but a proud man who can look him coldly in the eye. He will find no willing submissiveness, and certainly no penitence or contrition, for I cannot rid myself of the conviction that I have not merited this fate. But I do not want to write you a farewell letter now; it is not yet time for that. Moreover--and this is a change which has come over me in recent weeks: in my heart of hearts, I do not believe that this will be my sentence, and I do not want to believe it for your sake.
Final Statement of Alfred Jodl: Mr. President, may it please the Tribunal, it is my unshakable belief that later historians will arrive at a just and objective verdict concerning the higher military leaders and their assistants, for they, and the entire German Wehrmacht with them, were confronted with an insoluble task, namely, to conduct a war which they had not wanted, under a commander-in-chief whose confidence they did not possess, and whom they themselves only trusted within limits; with methods which frequently were in contradiction to their principles of leadership and their traditional, proved opinions; with troops and police forces which did not come under their full command; and with an intelligence service which, in part, was working for the enemy. And all this, in the complete and clear realization that this war would decide the life or death of our beloved fatherland. They did not serve the powers of Hell and they did not serve a criminal, but rather their people and their fatherland.
As far as I am concerned, I believe that no man can do more than to try to reach the highest of the goals which appear attainable to him. That, and nothing else, has always been the guiding principle for my actions, and for that reason, Gentlemen of the Tribunal, no matter what verdict you may pass upon me, I shall leave this courtroom with my head held as high as when I entered it many months ago. But whoever calls me a traitor to the honorable tradition of the German Army, or whoever asserts that I remained at my post for personal and egotistical reasons, him I shall call a traitor to the truth.
In a war such as this, in which hundreds of thousands of women and children were annihilated by layers of bombs, or [were] killed by low-flying aircraft, and in which partisans used every--yes, every single means of violence which seemed expedient, harsh measures, even though they may appear questionable from the standpoint of international law, are not a crime in morality, or in conscience. For I believe and avow that a man's duty toward his people and fatherland stands above every other. To carry out this duty was for me an honor, and the highest law. May this duty be supplanted in some happier future, by an even higher one, by the duty toward humanity.
Final Judgement: Jodl is indicted on all four Counts. From 1935 to 1938 he was Chief of the National Defense Section in the High Command. After a year in command of troops, in August 1939, he returned to become Chief of the Operations Staff of the High Command of the Armed Forces. Although his immediate superior was Defendant Keitel, he reported directly to Hitler on operational matters. In the strict military sense, Jodl was the actual planner of the war, and responsible in large measure for the strategy and conduct of operations.
Jodl defends himself on the ground [that] he was a soldier sworn to obedience, and not a politician; and that his staff and planning work left him no time for other matters. He said that, when he signed or initialed orders, memoranda, and letters, he did so for Hitler, and often in the absence of Keitel. Though he claims that, as a soldier, he had to obey Hitler, he says that he often tried to obstruct certain measures by delay, which occasionally proved successful, as when he resisted Hitler's demand that a directive be issued to lynch Allied "terror fliers."
Crimes against Peace: Entries in Jodl's diary of 13 and 14 February 1938 show Hitler instructed both him and Keitel to keep up military pressure against Austria, begun at the Schuschnigg conference, by simulating military measures, and that these achieved their purpose. When Hitler decided "not to tolerate" Schuschnigg's plebiscite, Jodl brought to the conference the "old draft," the existing staff plan. His diary for 10 March shows Hitler then ordered the preparation of "Case Otto," and the directive was initialed by Jodl. Jodl issued supplementary instructions on 11 March, and initialed Hitler's order for the invasion on the same date.
In planning the attack on Czechoslovakia, Jodl was very active, according to the Schmundt notes. He initialed Items 14, 17, 24, 36, and 37 in the notes. Jodl admits he agreed with OKH that the "incident" to provide German intervention must occur at the latest by 1400 hours on X-1 Day, the day before the attack, and said it must occur at a fixed time, in good flying weather. Jodl conferred with the propaganda experts on "imminent common tasks," such as German violations of international law, exploitation of them by the enemy, and refutations by the Germans, which "task" Jodl considered "particularly important." After Munich, Jodl wrote:
"Czechoslovakia as a power is out . . . . The genius of the Fuehrer, and his determination not to shun even a world war, have again won the victory without the use of force. The hope remains that the incredulous, the weak, and the doubtful people have been converted, and will remain that way."
Shortly after the Sudeten occupation, Jodl went to a post command, and did not become Chief of the Operations Staff in OKW until the end of August 1939. Jodl discussed the Norway invasion with Hitler, Keitel, and Raeder on 12 December 1939; his diary is replete with later entries on his activities in preparing this attack. Jodl explains his comment--that Hitler was still looking for an "excuse" to move--meant that he was waiting for reliable intelligence on the British plans, and defends the invasion as a necessary move to forestall them. His testimony shows that, from October 1939, Hitler planned to attack the West through Belgium, but was doubtful about invading Holland until the middle of November.
On 8 February 1940, Jodl, his deputy Warlimont, and Jeschonnek, the air forces planner, discussed among themselves the "new idea" of attacking Norway, Denmark, and Holland; but guaranteeing the neutrality of Belgium. Many of the 17 orders postponing the attack in the West for various reasons, including weather conditions, until May 1940, were signed by Jodl. He was active in the planning against Greece and Yugoslavia. The Hitler order of 11 January 1941 to intervene in Albania was initialed by Jodl.
On 20 January, 4 months before the attack, Hitler told a conference of German and Italian generals, in Jodl's presence, that German troop concentrations in Romania were to be used against Greece. Jodl was present on 18 March, when Hitler told Raeder [that] all Greece must be occupied, before any settlement could be reached. On 27 March, when Hitler told the German High Command that the destruction of Yugoslavia should be accomplished with "unmerciful harshness," and the decision was taken to bomb Belgrade without a declaration of war, Jodl was also there.
Jodl testified that Hitler feared an attack by Russia, and so attacked first. This preparation began almost a year before the invasion. Jodl told Warlimont, as early as 29 July 1940, to prepare the plans, since Hitler had decided to attack; and Hitler later told Warlimont [that] he had planned to attack in August 1940, but postponed it for military reasons. He initialed Hitler's directive of 12 November 1940 that preparations verbally ordered should be continued and also initialed "Case Barbarossa" on 18 December. On 3 February 1941, Hitler, Jodl, and Keitel discussed the invasion, and he was present on 14 June, when final reports on "Case Barbarossa" were made.
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: On 18 October 1942 Hitler issued the Commando Order and, a day later, a supplementary explanation to commanding officers only. The covering memorandum was signed by Jodl. Early drafts of the order were made by Jodl's staff, with his knowledge. Jodl testified [that] he was strongly opposed on moral and legal grounds, but could not refuse to pass it on. He insists [that] he tried to mitigate its harshness, in practice, by not informing Hitler when it was not carried out. He initialed the OKW memorandum of 25 June 1944, reaffirming the order after the Normandy landings. A plan to eliminate Soviet commissars was in the directive for "Case Barbarossa." The decision whether they should be killed without trial was to be made by an officer. A draft contains Jodl's handwriting suggesting [that] this should be handled as retaliation, and he testified this was his attempt to get around it. When, in 1945, Hitler considered denouncing the Geneva Convention, Jodl argued the disadvantages outweighed the advantages.
On 21 February, he told Hitler [that] adherence to the Convention would not interfere with the conduct of the war, giving as an example the sinking of a British hospital ship as a reprisal, and calling it a mistake. He said he did so, because it was the only attitude Hitler would consider, that moral or legal arguments had no effect, and argues [that] he thus prevented Hitler from denouncing the Convention. There is little evidence that Jodl was actively connected with the slave labor program, and he must have concentrated on his strategic planning function. But in his speech of 7 November 1943 to the Gauleiter, he said it was necessary to act "with remorseless vigor and resolution" in Denmark, France, and the Low Countries, to compel work on the Atlantic Wall.
By Teletype of 28 October 1944, Jodl ordered the evacuation of all persons in northern Norway, and the burning of their houses, so [that] they could not help the Russians. Jodl says he was against this, but Hitler ordered it, and it was not fully carried out. A document of the Norwegian Government says [that] such an evacuation did take place in northern Norway, and 30,000 houses were damaged. On 7 October 1941, Jodl signed an order that Hitler would not accept an offer of surrender of Leningrad or Moscow; but on the contrary he insisted that they be completely destroyed. He says this was done because the Germans were afraid those cities would be mined by the Russians, as was Kiev. No surrender was ever offered. His defense, in brief, is the doctrine of "superior orders," prohibited by Article 8 of the Charter as a defense. There is nothing in mitigation. Participation in such crimes as these has never been required of any soldier; and he cannot now shield himself behind a mythical requirement of soldierly obedience at all costs, as his excuse for commission of these crimes.
Conclusion: The Tribunal finds that Jodl is guilty on all four Counts.
From Justice at Nuremberg by Robert E. Conot: The eleven condemned to death were no longer permitted to exercise in the yard. Whenever one emerged from his cell, he was handcuffed to a guard. For a few minutes a day, one at a time, they were marched up and down in the center of the cellblock in lock step, with a military policeman. When they saw their attorneys in the Palace of Justice, a GI sat with each of them like a Siamese twin joined at the wrist . . . . The condemned, however, were not informed of the date . . . . The British and French were so apprehensive about demonstrations, or a possible attempt to rescue the prisoners, that they insisted that no prior announcement of the executions be made.
A guard goes from cell to cell. He asks whether we want to make use of our right to a daily walk on the ground floor. The yard is still barred to us. I have to get out; the cell is beginning to feel unbearably oppressive. So I ask to go. But I shudder at the prospect of seeing the men on death row. [Note: The 11 condemned men are housed in cells on the ground floor; the 7 sentenced to prison time are being kept in an upper tier of cells.] The guard holds out the chrome handcuffs. Linked together, we have some difficulty descending the winding staircase. In the silence, every step on the iron stairs sounds like a thunderclap. On the ground floor, I see eleven soldiers staring attentively into eleven cells. The men inside are eleven of the surviving leaders of the Third Reich . . . .
General Alfred Jodl was Keitel's closest associate. He was typical of the intelligent General Staff officers, who were so fascinated by Hitler that they largely cast aside the moral traditions of their class...As the rules prescribe, most of them are lying on their backs, hands on the blanket, heads turned toward the inside of the cell. A ghostly sight, all of them in their immobility; it looks as though they have already been laid on their biers...I cannot stand it for long. Back in my cell, I decide not to go back down again.
Note: German author Werner Maser, in Nuremberg: A Nation on Trial, comments critically on the above passage by Speer: These and the comments immediately following are typical of Speer's usual fanciful descriptions. Since he was handcuffed to a guard, he could not have seen what was going on in the cells. His remarks on his fellow-defendants speak for themselves.
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.
Click to join 3rdReichStudies