Wilhelm Keitel


September 22, 1882: Wilhelm Bodewin Johann Gustav Keitel is born in Helmscherode, Brunswick (Germany), the son of Carl Keitel, a middle-class landowner, and Apollonia Vissering.

March 1901: Keitel becomes a Cadet Officer (Fahnenjunker), joining the 6th Lower-Saxon Field Artillery Regiment.

1902: Keitel is promoted to Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery Regiment No. 46.

1909: Keitel weds Lisa Fontaine, a wealthy landowner's daughter. They will have six children, one of whom will die in infancy.

September 1914: Captain Keitel, while serving on the Western front with the 46th Field Artillery, is seriously wounded in his right forearm by a shell fragment.

Early 1915: Keitel, after recovering from his injuries, is posted to the German General Staff.

1916-17: Keitel serves as an officer with XIX Reserve Corps.

1917: Keitel serves with the 199th Infantry Division before returning to the General Staff in Berlin in December.

June 28, 1919: The Versailles Treaty is negotiated.

August 11, 1919: The Weimar Republic is founded as Reichspräsident Friedrich Ebert of the SPD signs a new German constitution into law.

1919: Keitel, as one of the very few to man the newly created Reichswehr (the German Army now being restricted to just 100,000 soldiers), plays a part in organizing Freikorps frontier guard units on the Polish border.

January 10, 1920: Entry into force of the Versailles Peace Treaty and of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

1920-23: Keitel serves as an instructor at the School of Cavalry at Hanover.

November 9, 1923: The so-called "Beer Hall Putsch' takes place in Munich. Keitel is not involved.

1924: Keitel is transferred to the Ministry of Defense (Reichswehrministerium), serving with the Troop Office (Truppenamt), the post-Versailles disguised General Staff. He will soon be promoted to the head of the organizational department, a post he will retain after the Nazi seizure of power in 1933.

May 12, 1925: Paul von Hindenburg is elected the second President of Germany.

October 16, 1925: From Article 1 of the Rhine Pact of Locarno:

The President of the German Empire and the President of the Czechoslovak Republic; equally resolved to maintain peace between Germany and Czechoslovakia by assuring the peaceful settlement of differences which might arise between the two countries; declaring that respect for the rights established by treaty or resulting from the law of nations is obligatory for international tribunals; agreeing to recognize that the rights of a State cannot be modified save with its consent; and considering that sincere observance of the methods of peaceful settlement of international disputes permits of resolving, without recourse to force, questions which may become the cause of division between States; have decided to embody in a treaty their common intentions in this respect....

The High Contracting parties, collectively and severally, guarantee, in the manner provided in the following Articles: the maintenance of the territorial status quo, resulting from the frontiers between Germany and Belgium and between Germany and France and the inviolability of the said frontiers, as fixed by, or in pursuance of the Treaty of Peace, signed at Versailles, on June 28, 1919, and also the observance of the stipulation of Articles 42 and 43 of the said Treaty, concerning the demilitarized zone.

February 1929: Keitel becomes a Lieutenant Colonel.

January 30, 1933 Machtergreifung: Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: It was clear to me that when Hitler became Chancellor, we soldiers would undoubtedly have a different position in the Reich under new leadership, and that the military factor would certainly be viewed differently from what had been the case before. Therefore we quite honestly and openly welcomed the fact that at the head of the Reich Government there was a man who was determined to bring about an era which would lead us out of the deplorable conditions then prevailing. This much I must confess, that I welcomed the plan and intention to rearm as far as was possible at that time, as well as the ideas which tended in that direction. In any event, as early as 1933, in the late summer, I resigned from my activities in the War Ministry. I spent two years on active service and returned only at the time when the military sovereignty had been won back and we were rearming openly. Therefore, during my absence I did not follow these matters. At any rate, in the period from 1935 to 1938, during which I was Chief under Blomberg, I naturally saw and witnessed everything that took place in connection with rearmament and everything that was done in this field by the War Ministry to help the Wehrmacht branches.

The wording of the Versailles Treaty, as long as it was considered binding upon us, did not, of course, permit these things. The Treaty of Versailles, may I say, was studied very closely by us in order to find loopholes which allowed us, without violating the treaty, to take measures which would not make us guilty of breaking the treaty. That was the daily task of the Reich Defense Committee. From 1935 on, conditions were entirely different, and after my return as Chief, under Blomberg, I must state frankly that I no longer had any misgivings as to whether the Treaty of Versailles was violated or not because what was done, was done openly. We announced that we would raise 36 divisions. Discussions were held quite openly, and I could see nothing in which we soldiers could, in any way, see a violation of the treaty. It was clear to all of us, and it was our will to do everything to free ourselves of the territorial and military fetters of the Treaty of Versailles. I must say honestly that any soldier or officer who did not feel similarly about these things would in my estimation have been worthless. It was taken as a matter of course if one was a soldier.

January 30, 1933: From a telegram to Hindenburg from Ludendorff:

By appointing Hitler Chancellor of the Reich you have handed over our sacred German Fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I prophesy to you that this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe on our nation. Future generations will curse you in your grave for this action.

March 22, 1933: Dachau concentration camp opens near Munich, soon to be followed by Ravensbrück for women, Sachsenhausen near Berlin in northern Germany, and Buchenwald near Weimar in central Germany.

March 23 1933: Hitler addresses the Reichstag:

...For years Germany has been waiting in vain for the fulfillment of the promise of disarmament made to her by the others. It is the sincere desire of the national Government to be able to refrain from increasing our army and our weapons, insofar as the rest of the world is now also ready to fulfill its obligations in the matter of radical disarmament...

April 7, 1933: The Nazi Civil Service Act is passed. It's a law which provides that all civil servants must be trustworthy as defined by Nazi standards and also must meet the Nazi racial requirements.

May 23, 1933: At the second meeting of the Working Committee of the Councilors for Reich Defense, Colonel Keitel states:

No document ought to be lost, since otherwise it may fall into the hands of the enemy's intelligence service. Orally transmitted matters are not provable; they can be denied by us in Geneva.

October 14, 1933: Germany withdraws from the International Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations.

June 30, 1934: The Night of the Long Knives occurs.

August 19, 1934: Polish strongman Pilsudski proposes a war against Germany by Poland and France before Hitler has he chance to rearm.

August 2, 1934: President Paul von Hindenburg dies.

August 19, 1934 Gleichschaltung: Hitler is Fuehrer und Reichskanzler as 90% of the German electorate approves Hitler's merging the two offices of Chancellor and President.

November 8, 1934: Hitler speaks in Munich:

...let us look back in this new Reich upon that which lies behind us and do so in the most distant future, too, and let us bear in mind one article of faith: We shall be resolved at all times to take action! Willing at all times, if necessary, to die! Never willing to capitulate...

March 16, 1935: Hitler's Germany institutes universal military service.

May 21, 1935: Hitler's Germany announces that they will respect the territorial limitations of Versailles and Locarno. Hitler: "Germany neither intends nor wishes to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria, to annex Austria or to conclude an Anschluss."

June 26, 1935: From the minutes of the working committee of the Reich Defense Council: Lieutenant Colonel Jodl:

The demilitarized zone requires special treatment. In his speech of the 21st of May and other utterances, the Fuehrer has stated that the stipulations of the Versailles Treaty and the Locarno Pact regarding the demilitarized zone are being observed. To the aide-memoire of the French charged' affaires on recruiting offices in the demilitarized zone, the Reich Government has replied that neither civilian recruiting authorities nor other offices in the demilitarized zone have been entrusted with mobilization tasks, such as the raising, equipping, and arming of any kind of formations for the event of war or in preparation therefor. Since political complications abroad must be avoided at present under all circumstances, only those preparatory measures that are urgently necessary may be carried out. The existence of such preparations or the intention of making such preparations must be kept in strictest secrecy in the zone itself as well as in the rest of the Reich.

July 26, 1935: From the Diary of Mr. William Dodd, Ambassador of the United States to Germany:

On Monday, July 23, after repeated bombings in Austria by Nazis, a boat loaded with explosives was seized on Lake Constance by the Swiss police. It was a shipment of German bombs and shells to Austria from some arms plant. That looked ominous to me, but events of the kind had been so common that I did not report it to Washington. Today evidence came to my desk that last night, as late as eleven o'clock, the government issued formal statements to the newspapers rejoicing at the fall of Dollfuss and proclaiming the Greater Germany that must follow. The German Minister in Vienna had actually helped to form the new Cabinet. He had, as we now know, exacted a promise that the gang of Austrian Nazi murderers should be allowed to go into Germany undisturbed. But it was realized about 12 o'clock that, although Dollfuss was dead, the loyal Austrians had surrounded the government palace and prevented the organization of a new Nazi regime. They held the murderers prisoners.

The German Propaganda Ministry therefore forbade publication of the news sent out an hour before and tried to collect all the releases that had been distributed. A copy was brought to me today by a friend. All the German papers this morning lamented the cruel murder and declared that it was simply an attack of discontented Austrians, not Nazis. News from Bavaria shows that thousands of Austrian Nazis lining for a year in Bavaria on German support had been active for ten days before, some getting across the border contrary to law, all drilling and making ready to return to Austria.

The German Propagandist of annexing the ancient realm of the Hapsburgs to the Third Reich, in spite of all the promises of Hitler to silence him. But now that the drive has failed and the assassins are in prison in Vienna, the German Government denounces all who say there was any support from Berlin. I think it will be clear one day that millions of dollars and many arms have been pouring into Austria since the spring of 1933. Once more the whole world is condemning the Hitler regime. No people in all modern History has been quite so unpopular as Nazi Germany. This stroke completes the picture. I expect to read a series of bitter denunciations in the American papers when they arrive about ten days from now.

October 1, 1935: Based on a recommendation by Werner von Fritsch, Keitel becomes Chief of the Armed Forces Department in the Reichs Ministry of War (Wehrmachtsamt in Reichskriegsministerum), equal in rank to a Reichs Minister.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: At that time I saw these things and judged them only according to what we were capable of in military terms. I can only say, when I left the troops in 1935, none of these 24 divisions which were to be established existed. I did not view all this from the standpoint of political aims, but with the sober consideration: Can we accomplish anything by attack and the conduct of war if we have no military means at our disposal? Consequently for me everything in this connection revolved around the programs of rearmament, which were to be completed in 1943-1945, and for the Navy in 1945. Therefore, we had 10 years in which to build up a concentrated Wehrmacht. Hence, I did not consider these problems acute even when they came to my attention in a political way, for I thought it impossible to realize these plans except by negotiations.

March 6, 1936: From an order on behalf of the Reich Minister for War, von Blomberg, signed by Keitel, and addressed to the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy (Raeder).

To: C-in-C Navy: The Minister has decided the following after the meeting:

1. The inconspicuous air reconnaissance in the German bay, not over the line Texel-Doggerbank, from midday on Z-Day onward, has been approved. C-in-C air force will instruct the air command VI from midday 7 March to hold in readiness single reconnaissance aircraft to be at the disposal of the C-in-C fleet.

2. The Minister will reserve the decision to set up a U-boat reconnaissance on line, until the evening of 7 March. The immediate transfer of U-boats from Kiel to Wilhelmshaven has been approved.

3. The proposed advance measures for the most part exceed Degree of Emergency A and therefore are out of the question as the first counter-measures to be taken against military preparations of neighboring states It is far more essential to examine the advance measures included in Degree of Emergency A, to see whether one or other of the especially conspicuous measures could not be omitted.

March 7, 1936: The re-occupation and fortification of the Rhineland occurs. Hitler speaks to the Reichstag:

Men of the German Reichstag! France has replied to the repeated friendly offers and peaceful assurances made by Germany by infringing the Reich pack through a military alliance with the Soviet Union exclusive directed against Germany. In this manner, however, the Locarno Rhine Pact has lost its inner meaning and ceased in practice to exist. Consequently, Germany regards herself, for her part, as no longer bound by this dissolved treaty. The German government are now constrained to face the new situation created by this alliance, a situation which is rendered more acute by the fact that the Franco-Soviet treaty has been supplemented by a Treaty of Alliance between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union exactly parallel in form. In accordance with the fundamental right of nation to secure its frontiers and ensure its possibilities of defense, the German government have today restored the full and unrestricted sovereignty of Germany in the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland. ....

We have no territorial claims to make in Europe. We know above all that all the tensions resulting either from false territorial settlements or from the disproportion of the numbers of inhabitants to their living space cannot, in Europe, be solved by war.

January 3, 1937: Hitler speaks before the Reichstag:

...The Four-Year Plan will give permanent employment to those workmen who are now being released from the armament industry. It is significant for the gigantic economic development of our people that there is today a lack of trained workmen in many industries. There will be no strikes or lockouts in Germany, because every one has to serve the interests of the entire nation. Education of the people will never come to an end, and this education includes the Hitler Youth, the Labor Service, the Party, and the Army...

1937: Keitel is promoted to full General.

March 5, 1937: From a letter from Ribbentrop to Keitel:

I have many doubts about such negotiations. In case we should discuss with Hungary possible war aims against Czechoslovakia, the danger exists that other parties as well would be informed about this. I would greatly appreciate it if you would notify me briefly whether any commitments were made here in any respect.

June 24, 1937: Von Blomberg orders preparations for 'Case Otto,' armed intervention in Austria in the event of a Hapsburg restoration.

Nevertheless the politically fluid world situation, which does not preclude surprising incidents, demands a continuous preparedness for war of the German Armed Forces. a. to counter attacks at any time b. to enable the military exploitation of politically favorable opportunities should they occur...

2. The preparations of a general nature include: a. The permanent preparedness for mobilization of the German Armed Forces, even before the completion of rearmament and full preparedness for war. b. The further working on 'Mobilization without public announcement' in order to put the Armed Forces in a position to begin a war suddenly and by surprise both as regards strength and time...

Armed intervention in Austria in the event of her restoring the Monarchy. The object of this operation will be to compel Austria by armed force to give up a restoration. Making use of the domestic political divisions of the Austrian people, the march in will be made in the general direction of Vienna and will break any resistance.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: During this period of time until the first practical measures were taken in the case of Austria, I cannot remember having had any knowledge of a program, or the establishment of a program or far-reaching plan, or one covering a period of years. I must say also that we were so occupied with the reorganization of this small army of seven divisions into an expanded force of twice or three times its original size, apart from the creation of a large air force which had no equipment at all, that in those years a visit to our office would have shown that we were completely occupied with purely organizational problems, and from the way Hitler worked, as described by me today, it is quite obvious that we saw nothing of these things. ...

This document is actually an instruction for mobilization kept in general terms and was in line with our traditional General Staff policy before the war and before the World War, the World War I, that on principle something of the kind must be prepared beforehand. In my opinion, this had nothing to do with any of Hitler's political plans, for at that time I was already Chief of Staff under Blomberg, and General Jodl was at that time the Chief of the National Defense Division. Perhaps it sounds somewhat arrogant for me to say that we were very much satisfied that we were at last beginning to tell the Wehrmacht each year what it had to do intellectually and theoretically.


In the former General Staff training which I received before the World War, the chief aim of these instructions was that the General Staff tours for the purpose of study should afford an opportunity for the theoretical elaboration of all problems. Such was the former training of the Great General Staff. I no longer know whether in this connection Blomberg himself originally thought out these salient ideas of possible complications or possible military contingencies, or whether he was perhaps influenced by the Fuehrer. It is certain that Hitler never saw this. It was the inside work of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht. ...

Of course I remember the Case Otto, which indicated by its name that it concerns Otto von Hapsburg. There must have been—were of course—certain reports about an attempted restoration, and in that case an intervention, eventually an armed one, was to take place. The Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, wished to prevent a restoration of the monarchy in Austria. Later this came up again in connection with the Anschluss. I believe that I can omit that now and perhaps explain later. In any event, we believed that on the basis of the deliberations by the Army some sort of preparations were being made which would bring into being Case Otto, because the code word was "Case Otto comes into force. ...I can state here only what I experienced when Hitler sent me to the Army. I went into General Beck's office and said: "The Fuehrer demands that you report to him immediately and inform him about the preparations which have already been made for a possible invasion of Austria", and General Beck then said, "We have prepared nothing; nothing has been done, nothing at all."

July 1937: Buchenwald concentration camp is established near Weimar, Germany.

November 5, 1937 Hossbach-Konferenz: Hitler addresses Goering, Raeder, Neurath and other political and military leaders.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: I already stated under oath at the preliminary interrogation that I did not know about this, and that I saw a document or the minutes or a record of this meeting at this Trial for the first time. I believe it is the Hossbach document and I do not remember that Von Blomberg gave me any directions to take preparatory steps after this conference. That is not the case.

1938: The Organization Todt proper is founded as a consortium of Todt's administrative offices combined with private company subcontractors, primary sources of technical engineering expertise, and the Labor Service as the manpower source.

February 2, 1938 From the Diary of Alfred Jodl:

The chief of the Armed Forces Department informs me that the battle has been won. The Fuehrer has decided that General Von Brauchitsch should be appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

February 4, 1938: Hitler abolishes the Ministry of War, assumes direct command of the Armed Forces himself, and creates the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht). Keital becomes a member of the Secret Cabinet Council.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: In the years from 1935 to 1938, as chief under Blomberg, I saw the Fuehrer three times. He never spoke one word to me and so he did not know me. If he knew anything at all about me it could have been only through Herr Von Blomberg. I had absolutely no contact with the Fuehrer either personally or through other people who were prominent in the Party or in politics. My first conversation with him was in the last days of January before I was appointed to this office. ...I can say only that fundamentally I bear that responsibility which arises from my position for all those things which resulted from these orders and which are connected with my name and my signature. Further, I bear the responsibility, insofar as it is based on legal and moral principles, for those offices and divisions of the OKW which were subordinate to me. ...

Until that time we had a Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Field Marshal Von Blomberg. In addition there was the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht who, according to the constitution, was the head of the State-in this case, Hitler. With the resignation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Von Blomberg, there was only one Supreme Commander and that was Hitler himself. And from that time on he himself exercised command of all three arms of the Wehmiacht: The Army, Navy, and Air Force. It also says 'from now on directly.' That should establish unequivocally that any intermediary position with authority to issue orders was no longer to exist, but that Hitler's orders as Supreme Commander were issued directly to the three arms of the Wehrmacht and their Commanders. It also says here 'directly' and 'personally.' That, too, had its meaning, for the word 'personally' was to express the fact that there was and would be no, I would say, 'deputizing" of this authority. ...

I do not remember a single instance in which I signed "acting for." According to our military principles, if the question had arisen to appoint a deputy, it could have been only one person, the Commander-in-Chief of the three arms of the Wehrmacht, namely the one highest in rank. ...The Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht had his military staff in the Wehrmachtsamt, that is to say, the Wehrmachtsamt in the Ministry of War. Hitler, as Supreme Commander, took over the Wehrmachtsamt as his military staff. Thus, this staff was to be his personal working staff. At the same time that the post of Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht was eliminated, that of Reich Minister of War was also removed. There was no War Ministry and no Minister of War as heretofore. Thus one could clearly see what Hitler wanted, namely, that between him and the Wehrmacht divisions there was to be no one holding office with any authority either in command channels or in ministerial functions. ...

I must add that I realize only now that this term in its abbreviated form (Chief OKW) is not quite apt. To be exact one should have said, "Chief of Staff of the High Command of the Wehrmacht," and not the abbreviation, 'Chief OKW.' From the case presented by the Prosecution I gathered that the idea of 'Chief' was interpreted as if that were a commander, chief of an office, with authority to issue orders. And that, of course, is an erroneous conclusion. It was neither a position of a chief in the sense of a commander, nor, as might have been assumed or has been assumed, was it a position as chief of a general staff. That too, is incorrect. I was never Chief of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht. It was Hitler's unmistakable wish to concentrate in his own person all the authority, all the power of command. That is not merely a retrospective statement. He clearly expressed this desire to me on several occasions, partly in connection with the fact that he told me repeatedly, "I could never put this through with Blomberg." ...

I was discussing the fact that it was not a position of Chief of the General Staff, since it was Hitler's basic view that commanders-in-chief of the Wehrmacht branches each had his own general staff, or operations staff, and that he did not want the High Command of the Wehrmacht, including the Wehrmacht Operations Staff, to take over the functions of a general staff. Therefore, in practice the work was done by the general staffs of the Wehrmacht branches, while the Wehrmacht Operations Staff of the GKW, which was purposely kept small, was a working staff for Hitler, a staff for strategic planning and for special missions. ...General Jodl never was my Chief of Staff, he was the Chief of the Armed Forces' Operations Staff and one of the departmental chiefs of the Armed Forces High Command as I have already stated, although the first among equals.'

From The Devil's Disciples by Anthony Read: Hitler abolished the War Ministry and in its place created a unified High Command of the Armed Forces, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW), with himself as Supreme Commander and the three services reduced to subsidiary arms. He chose Keitel as its Chief of Staff because he knew he was a pliable yes-man, who would do what he was told and tell him what he wanted to hear. Blomberg had dismissed Keitel as 'nothing more than the man who runs my office' when Hitler, who did not know him, asked about him as a possible replacement. 'That's exactly the man I am looking for,' Hitler had replied.

February 10, 1938: The Austro-German Crisis begins as Hitler, in company with Keitel, meets with Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg at Berchtesgaden.

From Keital's IMT testimony: It was the first official action in which I took part. In the evening of 4 February Hitler left Berlin. He summoned me to be at Obersalzberg on 10 February. There, on that day the meeting with the Austrian Federal Chancellor, Schuschnigg, which has been frequently discussed here, took place. Shortly after I arrived—I had no idea why I had been summoned—General Von Reichenau arrived from Munich, and General of the Air Force, Sperrle; so that we three Generals were present when at about 10:30 Herr Schuschnigg arrived with Herr Von Papen. Since I had never attended a conference or a political action or any meeting of that nature, I did not know what I was there for. I must tell you this frankly, otherwise you will not understand it. In the course of the day the reason for the presence of the three representatives of the Wehrmacht naturally became clear to me. In certain respects they represented a military, at least a military demonstration—I may safely call it that.

In the preliminary interrogation and also in later discussions I was asked the significance of the fact that in the afternoon my name was suddenly called through the house and I was to visit the Fuehrer. I went to him in his room. Perhaps it sounds strange for me to say that when I entered the room I thought that he would give me a directive but the words were "Nothing at all." He used the words, "Please sit down." Then he said, "Yes, the Federal Chancellor wishes to have a short conference with his Foreign Minister Schmidt; otherwise I have nothing at all." I can only assure you that not one word was said to me about a political action apart from the fact that Herr Schuschnigg did not leave until the evening and that further conferences took place.

We generals sat in the anteroom, and when in the evening, shortly before my departure, I received the direction to launch reports that we were taking certain measures for mobilization, of which you have been informed here through a document, then it became quite clear to me that this day had served to bring the discussions to a head by the introduction of military representatives, and the directive to spread reports was to keep up the pressure, as has been shown here.

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.

February 11, 1938 From the Diary of Alfred Jodl:

In the evening and on 12 February General K (Keitel) with General Von Reichenau and Sperrle at Obersalzberg. Schuschnigg, together with G. Schmidt are being put under the heaviest political and military pressure. At 2300 hours Schuschnigg signs protocol.

From Keital's IMT testimony: Nothing further need be said concerning the further developments of the affair. It has already been presented here in detail. On the day of the invasion by the troops I flew with Hitler to the front. We drove along the highways through Braunau, Linz. We stayed overnight and proceeded to Vienna. And to put it modestly, it is true that in every village we were received most enthusiastically and the Austrian Federal Army marched side by side with the German soldiers through the streets over which we drove. Not a shot was fired. On the other side the only formation which had a certain military significance was an armored unit on the road from Passau to Vienna which arrived in Vienna with very few vehicles. This division was on the spot for the parade the next day. That is a very sober picture of what I saw.

February 13, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

In the afternoon General K asks Admiral C (Canaris) and myself to come to his apartment. He tells us that the Fuehrer's order is to the effect that military pressure, by shamming military action, should be kept up until the 15th. Proposals for these deceptive maneuvers are drafted and submitted to the Fuehrer by telephone for approval.

February 14, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

At 2:40 o'clock the agreement of the Fuehrer arrives. Canaris went to Munich to the Counter-Intelligence Office VII and initiates the different measures. The effect is quick and strong. In Austria the impression is created that Germany is undertaking serious military preparations.

February 19, 1938: Schuschnigg's government extends full amnesty to imprisoned National Socialists and gives the National Socialists access to the Fatherland Front.

February 20, 1938: In a speech aimed specifically at Czechoslovakia, Chancellor Adolf Hitler proclaims that the German government vows to protect German minorities outside of the Reich.

February 20, 1938: British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden resigns in protest of Chamberlain's policy of appeasement with Italy and Germany.

February 24, 1938: Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg, in response to an earlier speech by German Chancellor Adolf Hitler; calls for international support to resist future German demands for Austrian concessions; reaffirms the independence of Austria; promises to protect the ten million Germans living outside of the Reich.

March 9, 1938: Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg schedules a plebiscite on the independence of Austria for 13 March. The question is to be: 'Are you for an independent and social, a Christian, German and united Austria?

March 10, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

By surprise and without consulting his ministers, Schuschnigg ordered a plebiscite for Sunday, 13, March, which should bring strong majority for the Legitimists in the absence of plan or preparation. Fuehrer is determined not to tolerate it. The same night, March 9 to 10, he calls for Goering. General v. Reichenau is called back from Cairo Olympic Committee. General v. Schebert is ordered to come, as well as Minister Glaise Horstenau, who is with the District leader (Gauleiter) Buerckel in the Palatinate. General Keitel communicates the facts at 1:45. He drives to the Reichskanzlei at 10 o'clock. I follow at 10:15, according to the wish of General v. Viebahn, to give him the old draft. Prepare case Otto. 1300 hours: General K informs Chief of Operational Staff (and) Admiral Canaris. Ribbentrop is being detained in London. Neurath takes over the Foreign Office. Fuehrer wants to transmit ultimatum to the Austrian Cabinet. A personal letter is dispatched to Mussolini and the reasons are developed which force the Fuehrer to take action. 1830 hours: Mobilization order is given to the Command of the 8th Army (Corps Area 3) 7th and 13th Army Corps; without reserve Army.

March 11, 1938: Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg resigns in an attempt to stall off a threatened German invasion. From Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg's farewell speech:

The Federal President has commissioned me to inform the Austrian people that we are yielding to force. Since we are at all costs determined not to spill German blood, even in this grave hour, we have given orders to our Armed Forces to withdraw without resistance, if the invasion of Austria is carried out, and to await the decision within the next hours.

March 12, 1938 Anschluss: The German Army marches unopposed into Vienna.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: I remember that this order was not issued to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and to the other Commanders-in-Chief until the whole project was under way. Nothing had been prepared. It was all improvised and this was to be the documentary registration of facts which were being put into practice. The commands were given verbally and individually regarding what was to be done and what actually was done on the morning of 12 March, when Austria was invaded. ...May I add to my previous answer that we can see from this that the invasion took place on the morning of 12 March and the order was issued late in the evening of 11 March. Therefore this document could not have had any real influence on this affair. Such an order cannot be worked out between 10 in the evening and 6 in the morning.

March 14, 1938: The Czechoslovak government receives assurances from Hitler's government of the German desire to improve relations between the two states.

March 16-19, 1938: As most of Europe is preoccupied with the German absorption of Austria, the Polish government issues a series of demands to the Lithuanians. Faced with the threat of war, the Lithuanian government immediately agrees to all of the Polish demands, including recognition of the status quo in eastern Europe. The Lithuanian capitulation prevents the crisis from escalating.

March 22-25, 1938: German political parties which had joined the Hodza ministry in Czechoslovakia, and the members of the German Activists withdraw from the government. Sudeten Germans are unmoved when Prime Minister Milan Hodza responds by announcing a new Nationality Statute designed to protect Czechoslovakian minorities.

March 25, 1938: Hitler speaks in Koenigsberg:

...I decided not to wait until April 10, but to effect the unification forthwith. That which has happened in those last weeks is the result of the triumph of an idea, a triumph of will, but also a triumph of endurance and tenacity and, above all, it is the result of the miracle of faith: for only faith has availed to move these mountains. I once went forth with faith in the German people and began this vast fight. With faith in me first thousands, then hundreds of thousands, and at last millions have followed after me. With faith in Germany and in this idea, millions of our fellow countrymen in the New Ostmark in the south of our Reich have held their banners high and have remained loyal to the Reich and to the life of the German people. And now I have faith in this 10th of April. I am convinced that on this day for the first time in history in very truth all Germany will be on the march. And on this day I shall be the Leader of the greatest army in the history of the world; for when on this 10th of April I cast my voting paper into the urn, then I shall know that behind me come 50 millions, and they all know only my watchword: One People and one Reich...

April 10, 1938 Annexionvolksabstimmung: In a national plebiscite, Austrian voters register 99.75% in favor of union with Germany: Austria becomes part of the Reich as a new state, divided into seven Gaue (states). Austria withdraws as a member state from the League of Nations because of the republic's incorporation into Germany.

April 19, 1938: From a top secret Nazi document, the Direction of War as a Problem of Organization; from the appendix entitled What is the War of the Future?:

...Surprise as the requisite for quick initial success will often require hostilities to begin before mobilization has been completed or the armies are fully in position. A declaration of war is no longer necessarily the first step at the start of a war. According to whether the application of the rules of warfare create greater advantages or disadvantages for the warring nations, will the latter consider themselves at war or not at war with the neutral states...

From Keitel's IMT testimony: As a soldier, I must say that the term 'War of Aggression' as used here is meaningless as far as I am concerned; we learned how to conduct actions of attack, actions of defense, and actions of retreat. However, according to my own personal feelings as a military man, the concept 'war of aggression' is a purely political concept and not a military one. I mean that if the Wehrmacht and the soldier are a tool of the politicians, they are not qualified in my opinion to decide or to judge whether these military operations did or did not constitute a war of aggression. I think I can summarize my views by saying that military offices should not have authority to decide this question and are not in a position to do so; and that these decisions are not the task of the soldier, but solely that of the statesman. ...

I believe I can truthfully say that throughout the whole of my military career I was brought up, so to speak, in the old traditional concept that one never discussed this question. Naturally, one has one's own opinion and a life of one's own, but in the exercise of one's professional functions as a soldier and an officer, one has given this life away, yielded it up. Therefore I could not say either at that time or later that I had misgivings about questions of a purely political discretion, for I took the stand that a soldier has a right to have confidence in his state leadership, and accordingly he is obliged to do his duty and to obey.

April 21, 1938: Hitler and Keitel meet and discuss plans for the fall of Czechoslovakia. They discuss the possibility of a military attack justified by a created incident, such as the assassination of the German ambassador at Prague. From a Summary of discussion between Fuehrer and General Keitel:

A. Political Aspect. 1. Strategic surprise attack out of a clear sky without any cause or possibility of justification has been turned down. As result would be: hostile world opinion which can lead to a critical situation. Such a measure is justified only for the elimination of the last opponent on the mainland. 2. Action after a time of diplomatic clashes, which gradually come to a crisis and lead to war. 3. Lightning-swift action as the result of an incident (for example, assassination of German ambassador in connection with an anti-German demonstration.)

Military Conclusions. 1. The preparations are to be made for the political possibilities (2 and 3). Case 2 is the undesired one since "Gruen" will have taken security measures.

2. The loss of time caused by transporting the bulk of the divisions by rail-which is unavailable, but should be cut down as far as possible-must not impede a lightning-swift blow at the time of the action.

3. 'separate thrusts' are to be carried out immediately with a view to penetrating the enemy fortification lines at numerous points and in a strategically favorable direction. The thrusts are to be worked out to the smallest detail (knowledge of roads, composition of the columns according to their individual tasks). Simultaneous attacks by the Army and Air Force. The Air Force is to support the individual columns (for example developers; sealing off installations at penetration points, hampering the bringing up of reserves, destroying signal communications traffic, thereby isolating the garrisons.)

4. Politically, the first four days of military action are the decisive ones. If there are no effective military successes, a European crisis will certainly arise. Accomplished Facts must prove the senselessness of foreign military intervention, draw Allies into the scheme (division of spoils) and demoralize 'Gruen.' Therefore: bridging the time gap between first penetration and employment of the forces to be brought up, by a determined and ruthless thrust by a motorized army. (e.g. via Pilsen, Prague.)

5. If possible, separation of transport movement (Rot from Gruen). ['Rot' was the code name for their then plan against the West.] A simultaneous strategic concentration 'Rot' can lead 'Rot' to undesired measures. On the other hand, it must be possible to put 'Case Rot' into operation at any time. C. Propaganda. 1. Leaflets on the conduct of Germans in Czechoslovakia (Gruenland.) 2. Leaflets with threats for intimidation of the Czechs (Gruenen).

From Keitel's IMT testimony: I believe 6 to 8 weeks after the march into Austria, that is, after the Anschluss toward the end of April. The Anschluss was about the middle of March and also took the form of a sudden summons, one evening, to the Reich Chancellery where the Fuehrer then explained matters to me. This resulted in the well-known directive in the Case Green. The history of this case is well known by the Schmundt Files all of which I identified in the preliminary interrogation. At that time he gave me first directives in a rather hasty manner. It was not possible for me to ask any questions, as he wished to leave Berlin immediately. These were the bases for the questions regarding the conditions under which a warlike action against Czechoslovakia could or would arise. ...In any event the instructions which he gave me that evening were to the effect that preparations for a military action with all the preliminary work, which was the responsibility of the General Staff, were to be made. He expressed himself very precisely although he explained explicitly that the date was quite open and said that for the time being it was not his intention. These were the words: "...for the time being it is not my intention."

I do not believe that we discussed it (the Sudetenland) at all that evening during that short conference. The Fuehrer did not discuss with me the political aspects; he merely assigned me to the consideration of the necessary military measures. He did not say whether he would be content with the Sudetenland or whether we were to break through the Czechoslovakian line of fortification. That was not the problem at that time. But in any event—if they had to be settled by going to war—then the war had to be prepared; if it came to a conflict with the Czech Army, that is, a real war it would have to be prepared. ...

I saw the Schmundt notes for the first time here. We did not receive it at that time as a document to work with. It is not a record. These are notes made subsequently by an adjutant. I do not want to doubt their correctness or accuracy, for memory would not permit me to recall today the exact words which were used. However this question, which is considered significant here, the assassination of the German Minister in Prague, is a situation which I have never heard of, if only for the reason that no one ever said such a thing. It was said it might happen that the Minister is assassinated whereupon I asked which minister, or something similar. Then, as I recall it, Hitler said that the war of 1914 also started with an assassination at Sarajevo, and that such incidents could happen. I did not in any way get the impression at that time that a war was to be created through a provocation. ...

To a certain extent it is true that 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. ...

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, nor 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; this, however, without taking into consultation the branches of the Wehrmacht because I considered myself not authorized to do so. In the following period it is to be noted, as can be seen from the Schmundt File, that the adjutants, the military adjutants, continuously asked innumerable detailed questions regarding the strength of divisions, and so on. These questions were answered by the Wehrmacht Operations Staff to the best of their knowledge.

Mid-May 1938: Keital meets with Hitler in Berlin.

May 23, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

Major Schmundt reports ideas of the Fuehrer. Further conferences, which gradually reveal the exact intentions of the Fuehrer take place with the Chief of the Armed Forces High Command (OKW) on 28 May, 3 and 9 June, see enclosures.

May 28, 1938: Hitler calls a conference of his principal military and political advisers in the winter garden of the Reichs Chancellery in Berlin.

From an affidavit of Fritz Wiedemann (Hitler's adjutant): I recall that on the afternoon of 28 May 1938 Hitler called a conference in the winter garden of the Reichs Chancellery of all the people who were important, from the Foreign Office, the Army, and the Command Staffs. Those present at this conference, as I recall, included Goering, Ribbentrop, von Neurath, General Beck, Admiral Raeder, General Keitel, and General von Brauchitsch. On this occasion Hitler made the following statement: 'It is my unshakable will that Czechoslovakia shall be wiped off the map.' Hitler then revealed the outlines of the plan to attack Czechoslovakia. Hitler addressed himself to the Generals, saying: 'So, we will first tackle the situation in the East. Then I will give you three to four years' time, and then we will settle the situation in the West.' The situation in the West was meant to be the war against England and France. I was considerably shaken by these statements, and on leaving the Reichs Chancellery I said to Herr von Neurath: 'Well, what do you say to these revelations?' Neurath thought that the situation was not so serious as it appeared and that nothing would happen before the spring of 1939.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: About four weeks after I had been given this job, I sent to Obersalzberg a draft of a directive for the preparatory measures. In reply I was informed that Hitler himself would come to Berlin to speak with the commander-in-chief. He came to Berlin at the end of May, and I was present at the conference with Generaloberst Von Brauchitsch. In this conference the basic plan was changed altogether, namely, to the effect that Hitler expressed the intention to take military action against Czechoslovakia in the very near future. As reason why he changed his mind he gave the fact that Czechoslovakia—I believe it was on the 20th or 21st of May—had ordered general mobilization, and Hitler at that time declared this could have been directed only against us. Military preparations had not been made by Germany. This was the reason for the complete change of his intentions, which he communicated orally to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and he ordered him to begin preparations at once. This explains the changes in the basic orders that is to say, the directive which was now being issued had as its basic idea: "It is my irrevocable decision to take military action against Czechoslovakia in the near future."

From The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler by Robert Payne: Keitel was not an imaginative man, and the preamble merely repeated what Hitler had told him. When the time came to launch the invasion, all that was necessary was to make a slight change in the wording of the opening sentence. Instead of: 'It is not my intention to smash Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future,' Hitler wrote: "It is my unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future.' All through the summer Hitler, with the help of the Sudeten leader Conrad Henlein and his own SS disguised as Sudetens, manufactured those 'unbearable provocations,' which 'in the eyes of at least a part of world opinion' gave him the pretext he needed for a lightning invasion. Neville Chamberlain's intervention and the Munich agreement, although satisfying to Hitler because they demonstrated British, French, and Russian weakness and fear of war, did not sway him from his main purpose. When he announced to Chamberlain that he had made his last territorial demand, he was exulting in the knowledge that he was only just beginning to make his most chilling demands. Before he could launch a war against Russia, he would need to occupy a good deal more of Eastern Europe. Keitel, who knew most of Hitler's secrets, was quite sure that Hitler would find some pretext to invade Czechoslovakia by March, 1939. There would follow in quick succession a number of carefully planned coups, for which pretexts would be manufactured as the occasion arose. Hitler despised these pretexts and seems not to have spent any time manufacturing them, but instead left the task to Himmler and Ribbentrop. Goebbels, with his customary inventiveness, could be counted on to produce banner headlines denouncing whatever country Hitler proposed to invade.

May 30, 1938: Hitler issues a revised military directive for Case Green.

It is my unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future. It is the job of the political leaders to await or bring about the politically and militarily suitable moment. An inevitable development of conditions inside Czechoslovakia or other political events in Europe creating a surprisingly favorable opportunity and one which may never come again may cause me to take early action. The proper choice and determined and full utilization of a favorable moment is the surest guarantee of success. Accordingly the preparations are to be made at once.

2. Political Possibilities for the Commencement of the Action. The following are necessary prerequisites for the intended invasion: a. suitable obvious cause and, with it b. sufficient political justification, c. action unexpected by the enemy, which will find him prepared to the least possible degree. From a military as well as a political standpoint the most favorable course is a lightning-swift action as the result of an incident through which Germany is provoked in an unbearable way for which at least part of world opinion will grant the moral justification of military action. But even a period of tension, more or less preceding a war, must terminate in sudden action on our part-which must have the elements of surprise as regards time and extent-before the enemy is so advanced in military preparedness that he cannot be surpassed.

3. Conclusions for the Preparation of "Fall Gruen". a. For the Armed War it is essential that the surprise element as the most important factor contributing to success be made full use of by appropriate preparatory measures already in peace-time and by an unexpectedly rapid course of the action. Thus it is essential to create a situation within the first four days which plainly demonstrates, to hostile nations eager to intervene, the hopelessness of the Czechoslovakian military situation and which at the same time will give nations with territorial claims on Czechoslovakia an incentive to intervene immediately against Czechoslovakia. In such a case, intervention by Poland and Hungary against Czechoslovakia may be expected, especially if France-due to the obvious pro-German attitude of Italy-fears, or at least hesitates, to unleash a European war by intervening against Germany. Attempts by Russia to give military support to Czechoslovakia mainly by the Air Force are to be expected. If concrete successes are not achieved by the land operations within the first few days, a European crisis will certainly result.

This knowledge must give commanders of all ranks the impetus to decided and bold action. b. The Propaganda War must on the one hand intimidate Czechoslovakia by threats and soften her power of resistance, on the other hand issue directions to national groups for support in the Armed War and influence the neutrals into our way of thinking. I reserve further directions and determination of the date.

4. Tasks of the Armed Forces. Armed Forces Preparations are to be made on the following basis: a. The mass of all forces must be employed against Czechoslovakia. b. For the West, a minimum of forces are to be provided as rear cover which may be required, the other frontiers in the East against Poland and Lithuania are merely to be protected, the Southern frontiers to be watched. c. The sections of the army which can be rapidly employed must force the frontier fortifications with speed and decision and must break into Czechoslovakia with the greatest daring in the certainty that the bulk of the mobile army will follow them with the utmost speed. Preparations for this are to be made and timed in such a way that the sections of the army which can be rapidly employed cross the frontier at the appointed time at the same time as the penetration by the Air Force before the enemy can become aware of our mobilization. For this, a timetable between Army and Air Force is to be worked out in conjunction with OKW and submitted to me for approval.

5. Missions for the branches of the Armed Forces. a. Army: The basic principle of the surprise attack against Czechoslovakia must not be endangered by the inevitable time required for transporting the bulk of the field forces by rail nor the initiative of the Air Force be wasted. Therefore it is first of all essential to the army that as many assault columns as possible be employed at the same time as the surprise attack by the Air Force. These assault columns—the composition of each, according to their tasks at that time—must be formed with troops which can be employed rapidly owing to their proximity to the frontier or to motorization and to special measures of readiness. It must be the purpose of these thrusts to break into the Czechoslovakian fortification lines at numerous points and in a strategically favorable direction, to achieve a breakthrough or to break them down from the rear. For the success of this operation, cooperation with the Sudeten German frontier population, with deserters from the Czechoslovakian army, with parachutists or airborne troops and with units of the sabotage service will be of importance.

The bulk of the army has the task of frustrating the Czechoslovakian plan of defense, of preventing the Czechoslovakian army from escaping into Slovakia, of forcing a battle, of beating the Czechoslovakian army and of occupying Bohemia and Moravia speedily. To this end a thrust into the heart of Czechoslovakia must be made with the strongest possible motorized and armored units using to the full the first successes of the assault columns and the effects of the Air Force operations. The rear cover provided for the West must be limited in numbers and quality to the extent which suits the present state of fortifications. Whether the units assigned this will be transported to the Western frontier immediately or held back for the time being will be decided in my special order. Preparations must however, be made to enable security detachments to be brought up to the Western frontier even during the strategic concentration 'Gruen'. Independent of this, a first security garrison must be improvised from the engineers at present employed in constructing fortifications and from formations of the Labor Corps.

The remaining frontiers as well as East Prussia, are to be only weakly protected. But, always depending on the political situation, the transfers by sea, of a part or even the bulk of the active forces of East Prussia, into the Reich must be taken into account. b. Air Force. While leaving a minimum of defensive forces in the West, the Air Force is to be employed in bulk in a surprise attack against Czechoslovakia. The frontier is to be flown over at the same time as it is crossed by the first section of the Army.

May 30, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

The Fuehrer signs directive Green, where he states his final decision to destroy Czechoslovakia soon and thereby initiates military preparation all along the line. The previous intentions of the Army must be changed considerably in the direction of an immediate break-through into Czechoslovakia right on D-Day (X-Tag), combined with aerial penetration by the Air Force. Further details are derived from directive for strategic concentration of the army. The whole contrast becomes acute once more between the Fuehrer's intuition that we must do it this year and the opinion of the Army that we cannot do it as yet, as most certainly the Western Powers will interfere and we are not as yet equal to them.

June 2, 1938: From Plan Study 1938: Instruction for Deployment and Combat: Case Red:

France will a. either interfere in the struggle between the Reich and Czechoslovakia in the course of 'Case Green', or b. start hostilities simultaneously with Czechoslovakia. c. It is possible but not likely that France will begin the fight, while Czechoslovakia still remains aloof... ...Regardless of whether France enters the war as a result of 'Case Green' or whether she makes the opening move of the war simultaneously with Czechoslovakia, in any case the mass of the German offensive formations will, in conjunction with the Army, first deliver the decisive blow against Czechoslovakia.

June 18, 1938: From a Hitler directive prepared and initialed by Keitel:

The immediate aim is a solution of the Czech problem by my own, free decision; this stands in the foreground of my political intentions. I am determined to use to the full every favorable political opportunity to realize this aim. However, I will decide to take action against Czechoslovakia only if I am firmly convinced as in the case of the occupation of the demilitarized zone and the entry into Austria that France will not march and therefore England will not intervene. The directives necessary for the prosecution of the war itself will be issued by me form time to time.

July 18, 1938: From a confidential memorandum of a conversation with the Italian ambassador, Attolico, in Berlin. At the bottom is a handwritten note, headed "For the Reichsminister {Ribbentrop} only." This note reads:

Attolico added that we had made it unmistakably clear to the Italians what our intentions are regarding Czechoslovakia. He also knew the appointed time well enough so that he could take perhaps a two months' holiday now which he could not do later on. Giving an idea of the attitude of other governments Attolico mentioned that the Roumanian government had refused to grant application for leave to its Berlin Minister.

July 24-25, 1938: From a dispatch from the American Consul General in Vienna to the Secretary of State concerning the Nazis' celebration of the murder of Dollfuss:

The two high points of the celebration were the memorial assembly on the 24th at Klagenfurt, capital of the province of Carinthia, where in 1934 the Vienna Nazi revolt found its widest response, and the march on the 25th to the former Federal Chancellery in Vienna by the surviving members of the SS Standarte 89, which made the attack on the Chancellery in 1934—a reconstruction of the crime, so to say. The assembled thousands at Klagenfurt were addressed by the Fuehrer's deputy, Rudolf Hess, in the presence of the families of the 13 National Socialists who were hanged for their part in the July putsch. The Klagenfurt memorial celebration was also made the occasion for the solemn swearing in of the seven recently appointed Gauleiters of the Ostmark.

From the point of view of the outside world, the speech of Reichs Minister Hess was chiefly remarkable for the fact that after devoting the first half of his speech to the expected praise of the sacrifices of the men, women and youths of Austria in the struggle for a greater Germany, he then launched into a defense of the occupation of Austria and an attack on the...foreign press' and on those who spread the idea of a new war. The world was fortunate, declared Hess, that Germany's leader was a man who would not allow himself to be provoked. 'The Fuehrer does what is necessary for his people in sovereign calm...and labors for the peace of Europe' even though provocateurs, 'completely ignoring the deliberate threat to peace of certain small stated,' deceitfully claim that he is a menace to the peace of Europe.

The march on the former Federal Chancellery, now the Reichsstatthalterei, followed the exact route and time schedule of the original attack. The marchers were met at the Chancellery by the Reichsstatthalter Seyss-Inquart, who addressed them and unveiled a memorial tablet. From the Reichsstatthalterei the Standarte marched to the old RAVAG broadcasting center from which false news of the resignation of Dollfuss had been broadcast, and there unveiled a second memorial tablet. Steinhusl, the present Police President of Vienna, is a member of the S. S. Standarte 89.

August 7, 1938: Prisoners from Dachau concentration camp are sent to the town of Mauthausen near Linz, Austria, to begin the construction of a new camp.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: I knew already before the war that concentration camps existed; but at that time I knew only two of them by name; and I supposed and assumed that there were other concentration camps besides the two I knew. I had no further particulars about the existence of concentration camps. As far as internees in such camps were concerned, I knew that they included habitual criminals and political opponents. As Reich Marshal Goering has said, that was the basis of the institution.
I assumed that it was a severe form of detention, or one which brought severe measures in its train, under certain specific circumstances. I knew nothing about the conditions found there, especially in treatment of internees, tortures, et cetera. I tried in two cases to free individuals who were in concentration camps. One was Pastor Niemoller, by intervention of Grossadmiral Raeder.

With the help of Canaris and at the request of Grossadmiral Raeder, I tried to get Pastor Niemoller out of the concentration camps. The attempt was unsuccessful. I made a second attempt at the request of a family in my home village, in a case where a peasant was in a concentration camp for political reasons; and in this case I succeeded. The individual involved was set free. That was in the autumn of 1940. I had a talk with this man; and when I asked him what things were like there, he gave me a non-committal reply to the effect that he had been all right. He gave me no details. I know of no other cases. ...I did not see him directly after his release. I saw him later when I was at home. The reason that I talked to him was because he came to thank me. He said nothing about being badly treated or anything like that at all. ...

I am convinced that these visits took place on Himmler's invitation. I myself once received a personal invitation from him to pay a visit to the Dachau Camp from Munich. He said he would like to show it to me. I know also that large and small groups of officers and commissions were shown through the camps. I think I need scarcely say how these visits were handled as regards the things that were shown to them. To supplement my statement I would like to say it was not uncommon to hear such remarks as "You'll end up in a concentration camp!" or "All sorts of things go on there." I do know, however, that whenever anyone came to me with these rumors and stories and I asked what exactly they knew and where the information came from, the reply was always: "I really do not know; I just heard it." So that whatever one might think, one never got at the facts and never could get at them.

August 10, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

The Army chiefs and the chiefs of the Air Forces groups, Lieutenant Colonel Jeschonnek, and I are ordered to the Berghof. After dinner the Fuehrer makes a speech lasting for almost 3 hours, in which he develops his political thoughts. The subsequent attempts to draw the Fuehrer's attention to the defects of our preparations, which are undertaken by a few generals of the Army, are rather unfortunate. This applies especially to the remarks of General Von Wietersheim, in which, to top it off, he claims to quote from General Adams that the Western fortifications can be held for only 3 weeks.

The Fuehrer becomes very indignant and flares up, bursting into the remarks that in such a case the whole Army would not be good for anything. 'I assure you, General, the position will be held not only for 3 weeks, but for 3 years.' The cause of this despondent opinion, which unfortunately enough is held widely within the Army General Staff, is based on various reasons. First of all, it (the General Staff) is prejudiced by old memories and feels responsible also for political decisions instead of obeying and executing its military mission. That is certainly done with traditional devotion, but the vigor of the soul is lacking, because in the end they do not believe in the genius of the Fuehrer. One does perhaps compare him with Charles XII. And since water flows downhill, this defeatism may not only possibly cause immense political damage, for the opposition between the generals' opinion and that of the Fuehrer is common talk, but may also constitute a danger for the morale of the troops. But I have no doubt that this, as well as the morale of the people, will encourage the Fuehrer enormously when the right moment comes.

August 21-26, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

Visit to Germany of the Hungarian Regent (Reichsverweser). Accompanied by the Prime minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Honored Minister v. Raatz. They arrive with the idea that in the course of a great war, after a few years, and with the help of German troops, the old state of Hungary can be reestablished. They leave with the understanding that we have neither demands from, nor claims against them, but that Germany will not stand for a second provocation by Czechoslovakia, even if it should be tomorrow. If they want to participate at that moment, it is up to them. Germany, however, will never play the role of arbitrator between them and Poland. The Hungarians agree; but they believe that, when the issue arises, a period of 48 hours would be indispensable to them to find out Yugoslavia's attitude.

August 23, 1938: From a German Foreign Office note on a conversation with Ambassador Attolico, signed 'R' (for Ribbentrop):

On the voyage of the 'Patria' Ambassador Attolico explained to me that he had instructions to request the notification of a contemplated time for German action against Czechoslovakia from the German government. In case the Czechs should again cause a provocation against Germany, Germany would march. This would be tomorrow, in six months or perhaps in a year. However, I could promise him, that the German government, in case of an increasing gravity of the situation or as soon as the Fuehrer made his decision, would notify the Italian Chief of Government as rapidly as possible. In any case, the Italian government will be the first one who will receive such a notification.

August 26, 1938: From a memorandum initialed by Jodl entitled Timing of the X-Order and the Question of Advance Measures (Note: In handwriting at the bottom of this document are the notes of Schmundt, Hitler's adjutant. These reveal that the memorandum was submitted to Hitler on 30 August; that Hitler agreed to act along these lines; and that Jodl was so notified on 31 August):

The Luftwaffe's endeavor to take the enemy air forces by surprise at their peace-time airports justifiably leads them to oppose measures taken in advance of the X-order and to the demand that the X-order itself be given sufficiently late on X minus 1 to prevent the fact of Germany's mobilization becoming known to Czechoslovakia on that day. The army's efforts are tending in the opposite direction. It intends to let OKW initiate all advance measures between X minus 3 and X minus 1, which will contribute to the smooth and rapid working of the mobilization. With this in mind OKW also demands that the X order be given not later than 1400 on X minus 1.

To this the following must be said: Operation (Aktion) Green will be set in motion by means of an 'incident' in Czechoslovakia which will give Germany provocation for military intervention. The fixing of the exact time for this incident is of the utmost importance. It must come at a time when weather conditions are favorable for our superior air forces to go into action and at an hour which will enable authentic news of it to reach us on the afternoon of X minus 1. It can then be spontaneously answered by the giving of the X order at 1400 on X minus 1. On X minus 2 the Navy, Army and Air Force will merely receive an advance warning. If the Fuehrer intends to follow this plan of action, all further discussion is superfluous. For then no advance measures may be taken before X minus 1 for which there is not an innocent explanation as we shall otherwise appear to have manufactured the incident. orders for absolutely essential advance measures must be given in good time and camouflaged with the help of the numerous maneuvers and exercises.

Also, the question raised by the Foreign Office as to whether all Germans should be called back in time from prospective enemy territories must in no way lead to the conspicuous departure from Czechoslovakia of any German subjects before the incident. Even a warning of the diplomatic representatives in Prague is impossible before the first air attack, although the consequences could be very grave in the event of their becoming victims of such an attack (e. g., death of representatives of friendly or confirmed neutral powers.) If, for technical reasons, the evening hours should be considered desirable for the incident, then the following day cannot be X day, but it must be the day after that. In any case we must act on the principle that nothing must be done before the incident which might point to mobilization, and that the swiftest possible action must be taken after the incident. (X-Fall)

It is the purpose of these notes to point out what a great interest the Wehrmacht has in the incident and that it must be informed of the Fuehrer's intentions in good time—in so far as the Abwehr Section is not also charged with the organization of the incident. I request that the Fuehrer's decision be obtained on these points.

August 27, 1938: From a German Foreign Office note on a conversation with Ambassador Attolico:

Ambassador Attolico paid me a visit today at 12 o'clock to communicate the following: He had received another written instruction from Mussolini asking that Germany communicate in time the probable date of action against Czechoslovakia. Mussolini asked for such notification, as Mr. Attolico assured me, in order 'to be able to take in due time the necessary measures on the French frontier.' ...N. B. I replied to Ambassador Attolico, just as on his former demarche, that I could not impart any date to him, that, however, in any case Mussolini would be the first one to be informed of any decision.

September 3, 1938: Keitel and von Brauchitsch meet with Hitler at the Berghof:

Gen. Ob. v. Brauchitsch: Reports on the exact time of the transfer of the troops to 'exercise areas' for 'Gruen'. Field units to be transferred on 28 Sept. From here will then be ready for action. When X Day becomes known, field units carry out exercises in opposite directions. Fuehrer: Has objection. Troops assemble field units a 2-day march away. Carry out camouflage exercises everywhere. ?: OKH must know when X-day is by 1200 noon, 27 September. ...The Fuehrer gives orders for the development of the Western fortifications; improvement of advance positions around Aachen and Saarbrucken. Construction of 300 to 400 battery positions (1600 artillery pieces).

September 6, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

Chief of General Staff, General of Artillery Halder, has a conference with the Hungarian Chief of General Staff Fischer. Before that he is briefed by me on the political attitude of the Fuehrer—especially his order not to give any hint on the exact moment. The same with OQI, General v. Stuelpnagel.

September 8, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

General Stulpnagel OQI asks for written assurance that the Army High Command will be informed five days in advance if the plan is to take place. I agree and add that the overall meteorological situation can be estimated to some extent only for two days in advance, and that therefore the plans may be changed up to this moment (D-day-2) (X-2 TAGE). General Stulpnagel mentions that for the first time he wonders whether the previous basis of the plan is not being abandoned. It presupposed that the Western Powers would not interfere decisively. It gradually seems as if the Fuehrer would stick to his decision even though he may no longer be of this opinion. It must be added that Hungary is at least moody and that Italy is reserved. I must admit that I am worrying too, when comparing the change of opinion about political and military potentialities, according to directives of 24 June, 5 Nov 37, 7 Dec 37, 30 May 38, with the last statements.

In spite of that one must be aware of the fact that the other nations will do everything they can to apply pressure to us. We must pass this test of nerves, but because only very few people know the art of withstanding this pressure successfully, the only possible solution is to inform only a very small circle of officers of news that causes us anxiety, and not to have it circulate through anterooms as heretofore. "1800 hours to 2100 hours: Conference with Chief of Army High Command and Chief of General Staff of the Air Force (present were Jeschonnek, Kammhuber, Sternburg and myself). We agree about the promulgation of the D-Day order (X-Befehl), (X-1, 4 o'clock) and preannouncement to the Air Force (D-Day-1, X-1 day, 7 o'clock). The 'Y time' has yet to be examined; some formations have an approach flight of one hour.

September 9, 1938: Hitler meets with Keitel and Generals von Brauchitsch and Halder. Dr. Todt, the construction engineer, later joins the conference, which lasts from 10 in the evening until 3:30 the following morning.

General Oberst v. Brauchitsch: Employment of motorized divisions was based on the difficult rail situation in Austria and the difficulties in getting other divisions (ready to march) into the area at the right time. In the West vehicles will have to leave on the 20th of Sept. if X-Day remains as planned. Workers leave on the 23d, by relays. Specialist workers remain according to decision by Army Command 2. The Fuehrer: Doesn't see why workers have to return home as early as X-11. Other workers and people are also on the way on mobilization day. Also the RR cars, they will stand around unnecessarily later on. General Keitel: Workers are not under the jurisdiction of district commands (Bezirks Kdos.) in the West. Trains must be assembled. v. Brauchitsch: 235,000 men RAD (Labor Service) will be drafted. 96 Construction Bns will be distributed (also in the east). 40,000 trained laborers stay in the West.

September 10, 1938: Hitler issues an order bringing the Reichsarbeitsdienst, the German labor service, under the OKW.

1. The whole RAD organization comes under the command of the Supreme Command of the Army effective 15 September.

2. The Chief of OKW decides on the first commitments of this organization in conjunction with the Reichs Labor Leader (Reichsarbeitsfuehrer) and on assignments from time to time to the Supreme Commands of the Navy, Army and Air Force. Where questions arise with regard to competency he will make a final decision in accordance with my instructions.

3. For the time being this order is to be made known only to the departments and personnel immediately concerned.

September 11, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

In the afternoon conference with Secretary of State Jahnke from the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda on imminent common tasks. The joint preparations for refutation (Wiederlegung) of our own violations of international law, and the exploitation of its violations by the enemy, were considered particularly important.

September 15, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

In the morning conference with Chief of Army High Command and Chief of General Staffs of Army and Air Forces; the question was discussed what could be done if the Fuehrer insists on advancement of the date, due to the rapid development of the situation.

September 16, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

General Keitel returns from the Berghof at 1700 hours. He graphically describes the results of the conference between Chamberlain and the Fuehrer. The next conference will take place on the 21st or 22nd in Godesberg. With consent of the Fuehrer, the order is given in the evening by the Armed Forces High Command to the Army High Command and to the Ministry of Finance, to line up the VGAD along the Czech border. In the same way, an order is issued to the railways to have the empty rolling stock kept in readiness clandestinely for the strategic concentrations of the Army, so that it can be transported starting 28 September.

September 26, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

Chief of the Armed Forces High Command, acting through the Army High Command, has stopped the intended approach march of the advance units to the Czech border, because it is not yet necessary and because the Fuehrer does not intend to march in before the 30th in any case. Order to approach towards the Czech frontier need be given on the 27th only. In the evening of the 26th, fixed radio stations of Breslau, Dresden and Vienna are put at the disposal of the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda for interference with possible Czech propaganda transmissions. "Question by Foreign office whether Czechs are to be allowed to leave and cross Germany.

Decision from Chief of the Armed Forces High Command: yes. 1515 hours: The Chief of the Armed Forces High Command informs General Stumpf about the result of the Godesberg conversations and about the Fuehrer's opinion. In no case will X day be before the 30th. It is important that we do not permit ourselves to be drawn into military engagements because of false reports, before Prague replied. A question of Stumpf about Y hour results in the reply that on account of the weather situation, a simultaneous intervention of the Air Force and Army cannot be expected. The Army needs the dawn, the Air Force can only start later on account of frequent fogs. The Fuehrer has to make a decision for the commander in chief who is to have priority. The opinion of Stumpf is also that the attack of the Army has to proceed. The Fuehrer has not made any decision as yet about commitment against Prague. 2000 hours: The Fuehrer addresses the people and the world in an important speech at the Sportspalast.

September 27, 1938: From Conference notes initialed by Jodl:

As a matter of principle, every effort should be made for a coordinated attack by Army and Air Forces on X Day. The Army wishes to attack at dawn, i.e., about 0615. It also wishes to conduct some limited operations in the previous night, which however, would not alarm the entire Czech front. Air Force's time of attack depends on weather conditions. These could change the time of attack and also limit the area of operations. The weather of the last few days, for instance, would have delayed the start until between 0800 and 1100 due to low ceiling in Bavaria... ...

Thus it is proposed: Attack by the Army—independent of the attack by the air force—at the time desired by the Army (0615) and permission for limited operations to take place before then, however, only to an extent that will not alarm the entire Czech front. The Luftwaffe will attack at a time most suitable to them.

September 27, 1938: Keitel sends a most secret memorandum to Hess and the Reichsfuehrer SS, Himmler:

As a result of the political situation the Fuehrer and Chancellor has ordered mobilization measures for the Armed Forces, without the political situation being aggravated by issuing the mobilization (X) order or corresponding code words. Within the framework of these mobilization measures it is necessary for the Armed Forces authorities to issue demands to the various Party authorities and their organizations, which are connected with the previous issuing of the mobilization order, the advance measures or special code names. The special situation makes it necessary that these demands be met (even if the code word has not been previously issued) immediately and without being referred to higher authorities. OKW requests that subordinate offices be given immediate instructions to this effect so that the mobilization of the Armed Forces can be carried out according to plan.

September 28, 1938 Eine Einzelne Luege: Hitler speaks in Berlin:

...And now we are faced with the final problem that must be solved and will be solved! It is the final territorial demand which I shall make of Europe, but it is the demand which I shall not give up and which with God's help I shall ensure is fulfilled. The history of this problem is this: in 1918, in the spirit of "the right of nations to self-determination" Central Europe was torn apart and reshaped by some insane so-called statesmen. Without regard to the origins of the Peoples, their national aspirations, the economic necessities, Central Europe was fragmented and new states were formed arbitrarily. It is to this process that Czechoslovakia owes its existence. This Czech state began with one single lie...

September 29, 1938 München Konferenz: The Munich Conference concludes.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: We (Hitler's generals) were extraordinarily happy that it had not come to a military operation, because throughout the time of preparation we had always been of the opinion that our means of attack against the frontier fortifications of Czechoslovakia were insufficient. From a purely military point of view we lacked the means for an attack which involved the piercing of the frontier fortifications. Consequently we were extremely satisfied that a peaceful political solution had been reached...I believe I may say that as a result this greatly increased Hitler's prestige among the generals. We recognized that on the one hand military means and military preparations had hot been neglected and on the other hand a solution had been found which we had not expected and for which we were extremely thankful.

September 29, 1938 Jodl's Diary:

The Munich Pact is signed, Czechoslovakia as a power is out. Four zones as set forth will be occupied between the 2d and 7th of October. The remaining part of mainly German character will be occupied by the 10th of October. 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.

September 30, 1938: After it has became clear that the Munich settlement will result in a peaceful occupation of the Sudetenland, Keitel orders that the Free Corps Heinlein in its present composition be placed under command of Himmler:

1. Attachment of Heinlein Free Corps: The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces has just ordered that the Heinlein Free Corps in its present composition be placed under command of Reichsfuehrer-SS and Chief of German Police. It is therefore at the immediate disposal of OKH as field unit for the invasion, but is to be later drawn in like the rest of the police forces for police duties in agreement with the Reichsfuehrer SS.

2. The Armed Forces will have the following tasks: The present degree of mobilized preparedness is to be maintained completely, for the present also in the West. Order for the rescinding of measures taken is held over. The entry is to be planned in such a way that it can easily be converted into operation 'Gruen'... ...Heinlein Free Corps. All combat action on the part of the Volunteer Corps must cease as from 1st October.

October 1, 1938: From a memorandum of the High Command of the German Armed Forces drawn up in anticipation of the invasion of Czechoslovakia:

Use of prisoners of war and civilians for war work, (construction of roads, digging trenches, making munitions, employment in transport, et cetera)...Captured Czech soldiers or Czech civilians are ordered to construct roads or to load munitions...Article 31 of an agreement signed 27 July 1938 concerning the treatment of prisoners of war forbids their use in tasks directly related to war measures. Compulsion to do such work is in every case contrary to international law. The use of prisoners of war as well as civilians is allowed for road construction but forbidden for the manufacture of munitions...The use of these measures may be based on war needs or on the declaration that the enemy has acted in the same way first.

October 1, 1938: From a detailed study compiled by Section L, Jodl's section of the OKW, where anticipated violations of International Law in the invasion of Czechoslovakia are listed and counter-propaganda suggested for the use of the propaganda agencies. The first 10 hypothetical incidents:

1 In an air-raid on Prague the British Embassy is destroyed.

2. Englishmen or Frenchmen are injured or killed.

3. The hradschin is destroyed in an air raid on Prague.

4. On account of a report that the Czechs have used gas, the firing of gas projectiles in ordered.

5. Czech civilians, not recognizable as soldiers, are caught in the act of sabotage (destruction of important bridges, destruction of foodstuffs and fodder) are discovered looting wounded or dead soldiers and thereupon shot.

6. Captured Czech soldiers or Czech civilians are detailed to do road work or to load munitions.

7. For military reasons it is necessary to requisition billets, food stuffs and fodder from the Czech population. As a result the latter suffer from want.

8. Czech population is, for military reasons, compulsorily evacuated to the rear area.

9. Churches are used for military accommodation.

10. In the course of their duty, German aircraft fly over Polish territory where they are involved in an air battle with Czech aircraft.

October 14, 1938: From Top Secret minutes of a conference with Goering in the Air Ministry:

The Sudetenland has to be exploited with all the means. General field Marshal Goering counts upon a complete industrial assimilation of the Slovakia. Czechia and Slovakia would become German dominions. Everything possible must be taken out. The Oder-Danube Canal has to be speeded up. Searches for oil and ore have to be conducted in Slovakia, notably by State Secretary Keppler.

October 15, 1938: German troops occupy the Sudetenland; the Czech government resigns.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: I believe that recently Reich Marshal Goering enlarged on this question in the course of his examination. It was my impression, as I remember it, that Hitler told me at that time that he did not believe that Czechoslovakia would overcome the loss of the Sudeten-German territories with their strong fortifications; and, moreover, he was concerned about the close relations then existing between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union and thought that Czechoslovakia could and perhaps would become a military and strategic menace. These were the military reasons which were given to me... ...

I was not informed of the last conversation in Munich between the British Prime Minister Chamberlain and the Fuehrer. However, I regarded this question as far as its further treatment was concerned as a political one, and consequently I did not raise any objections, if I may so express myself, especially as a considerable reduction in the military preparations decided on before the Munich meeting was ordered. Whenever the political question was raised, the Fuehrer refused to discuss it.

October 21, 1938: On the same day on which the administration of the Sudetenland is handed over to the civilian authorities, a directive outlining plans for the conquest of the remainder of Czechoslovakia is signed by Hitler and initialed by Keitel:

The future tasks for the Armed Forces and the preparations for the conduct of war resulting from these tasks will be laid down by me in a later Directive. Until this Directive comes into force the Armed Forces must be prepared at all times for the following eventualities:

1. The securing of the frontiers of Germany and the protection against surprise air attacks.

2. The liquidation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia.

3. The occupation of the Memelland.

It must be possible to smash at any time the remainder of Czechoslovakia if her policy should become hostile towards Germany. The preparations to be made by the Armed Forces for this contingency will be considerably smaller in extent than those for 'Gruen'; they must, however, guarantee a continuous and considerably higher state of preparedness, since planned mobilization measures have been dispensed with. The organization, order of battle and state of readiness of the units earmarked for that purpose are in peace-time to be so arranged for a surprise assault that Czechoslovakia herself will be deprived of all possibility of organized resistance. The object is the swift occupation of Bohemia and Moravia and the cutting off of Slovakia. The preparations should be such, that at the same time 'Grenzsicherung West' (the measures of frontier defense in the West) can be carried out.

The detailed mission of Army and Air Force is as follows: a. Army—The units stationed in the vicinity of Bohemia-Moravia and several motorized divisions are to be earmarked for a surprise type of attack. Their number will be determined by the forces remaining in Czechoslovakia; a quick and decisive success must be assured. The assembly and preparations for the attack must be worked out. Forces not needed will be kept in readiness in such a manner that they may be either committed in securing the frontiers or sent after the attack army. b. Air Force—The quick advance of the German Army is to be assured by an early elimination of the Czech Air Force. For this purpose the commitment in a surprise attack from peace-time bases has to be prepared. Whether for this purpose still stronger forces may be required can only be determined from the development of the military situation in Czechoslovakia. At the same time a simultaneous assembly of the remainder of the offensive forces against the West must be prepared.

October 1938: Jodl is assigned as an Artilleriekommandeur of the 44th Division in Vienna.

November 6, 1938: Hitler speaks in Weimar:

...From the very first day I have proclaimed as a fundamental principle: 'the German is either the first soldier in the world or he is no soldier at all.' No soldiers at all we cannot be, and we do not wish to be. Therefore we shall be only the first. As one who is a lover of peace I have endeavored to create for the German people such an army and such munitions as are calculated to convince others...

November 24, 1938: From an appendix issued by Keitel to a previous Hitler Order:

The Fuehrer has ordered that besides the three eventualities mentioned in the previous directive...preparations are also to be made for the surprise occupation by German troops of the Free State of Danzig. For the preparation the following principles are to be borne in mind. The primary assumption is the lightning seizure of Danzig by exploiting a favorable political situation, and not war with Poland. Troops which are going to be used for this purpose must not be held at the same time for the seizure of Memel, so that both operations can take place simultaneously, should such necessity arise.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: At that time I accompanied Hitler on an extensive tour of inspection of the eastern fortifications. We covered the entire front from Pomerania through the Oder-Warthe marshland as far as Breslau in order to inspect the various frontier fortifications against Poland. The question of fortifications in East Prussia was thoroughly discussed at that time. When I consider this in this connection today, I can only assume that for him these discussions were possibly connected with the Danzig and Corridor problem and he simply wanted to find out whether these eastern fortifications had sufficient defensive strength, should the Danzig and Corridor question eventually lead to war with Poland... ...

I believe that as early as the late autumn of 1938 orders were issued that Danzig be occupied at a favorable moment by a coup de main from East Prussia. That is all I know about it... ...I do not recall any, nor was there any kind of preparation, any military preparations, at that time, apart from a surprise attack from East Prussia... ...This statement was made time and again, that this occupation of, or the surprise attack on Danzig was to be carried out only if it was certain that it would not lead to war... ...

I believe Poland's refusal to discuss any kind of solution of the Danzig question was apparently the reason for further deliberations and steps... ...I might perhaps add that generally after Munich the situation also in regard to the Eastern problem was viewed differently, perhaps, or as I believe, from this point of view: The problem of Czechoslovakia has been solved satisfactorily without a shot. This will perhaps also be possible with regard to the other German problems in the East. I also believe I remember Hitler saying that he did not think the Western Powers, particularly England, would be interested in Germany's Eastern problem and would sooner act as mediators than raise any objection.

December 17, 1938: Keitel issues an appendix to the original order of October 21: Reference 'Liquidation of the Rest of Czechoslovakia' the Fuehrer has given the following additional order:

The preparations for this eventuality are to continue on the assumption that no resistance worth mentioning is to be expected. To the outside world too it must clearly appear that it is merely an action of pacification and not a warlike undertaking. The action must therefore be carried out by the peace time Armed Forces only, without reinforcements from mobilization. The necessary readiness for action, especially the ensuring that the most necessary supplies are brought up, must be effected by adjustment within the units. Similarly the units of the Army detailed for the march must, as a general rule, leave their stations only during the night prior to the crossing of the frontier, and will not previously form up systematically on the frontier.

The transport necessary for previous organization should be limited to the minimum and will be camouflaged as much as possible. Necessary movements, if any, of single units and particularly of motorized forces, to the troop-training areas situated near the frontier, must have the approval of the Fuehrer. The Air Force should take action in accordance with the similar general directives. For the same reasons the exercise of executive power by the Supreme Command of the Army is laid down only for the newly occupied territory and only for a short period.

January 21, 1939: From the minutes of Hitler's reception of the Czech Minister for Foreign Affairs, Chvalkovsky:

Chvalkovsky began by thanking the Fuehrer for having done his country the honor of receiving the Minister for Foreign Affairs twice within 3 months. He had come here to inform the Fuehrer that he had strictly fulfilled the promise made to him on 14 October although this had cost him a very great deal of trouble...The Fuehrer thanked him for his statements. The foreign policy of a people is determined by its home policy. It is quite impossible to carry out a foreign policy of type 'A' and at the same time a home policy of type 'B.' It could succeed only for a short time. From the very beginning the development of events in Czechoslovakia was bound to lead to a catastrophe. This catastrophe had been averted thanks to the moderate conduct of Germany. Had Germany not followed the National Socialist principles which do not permit of territorial annexations the fate of Czechoslovakia would have followed another course. Whatever remains today of Czechoslovakia has been rescued not by Benes, but by the National Socialist tendencies...

For instance, the strength of the Dutch and Danish armies rests not in themselves alone but in realizing the fact that the whole world was convinced of the absolute neutrality of these states. When war broke out, it was well known that the problem of neutrality was one of extreme importance to these countries. The case of Belgium was somewhat different, as that country had an agreement with the French General Staff. In this particular case Germany was compelled to forestall possible eventualities. These small countries were defended not by their armies but by the trust shown in their neutrality...

Chvalkovsky, backed by Mastny, again spoke about the situation in Czechoslovakia and about the healthy farmers there. Before the crisis, the people did not know what to expect of Germany. But when they saw that they would not be exterminated and that the Germans wished only to lead their people back home, they heaved a sigh of relief...World propaganda, against which the Fuehrer had been struggling for so long a time, was now focused on tiny Czechoslovakia. Chvalkovsky begged the Fuehrer to address, from time to time, a few kind words to the Czech people. That might work miracles. The Fuehrer is unaware of the great value attached to his words by the Czech people. If he would only openly declare that he intended to collaborate with the Czech people—and with the people, themselves, not with the Minister for Foreign Affairs—all foreign propaganda would be utterly defeated. The Fuehrer concluded the conversation by expressing his belief in a promising future.

January 30, 1939: Hitler speaks before the Reichstag:

On account of this intolerable provocation which had been aggravated by a truly infamous persecution and terrorization of our Germans there, I had resolved to solve once and for all, and this time radically, the Sudeten German question. On May 28 I ordered (1) that preparations should be made for military action against this state by October 2. I ordered (2) the immense and accelerated expansion of our defensive front in the West.

January 31, 1939: From notes of a meeting between Himmler and General Oshima, Japanese Ambassador to Berlin:

Today I visited General Oshima. The conversation ranged over the following subjects: 1) The Fuehrer speech, which pleased him very much, especially because it has been spiritually well founded in every respect.

2) We discussed the conclusion of a treaty to consolidate the triangle Germany-Italy-Japan into an even firmer mold. He also told me that, together with German counter-espionage (Abwehr) he was undertaking long-range projects aimed at the disintegration of Russia and emanating from the Caucasus and the Ukraine. However, this organization was to become effective only in case of war.
3) Furthermore, he had succeeded up to now in sending 10 Russians with bombs across the Caucasian frontier. These Russians had the mission to kill Stalin. A number of additional Russians whom he had also sent across had been shot at the frontier.

March 13, 1939: Hitler tells recently deposed Premier Monsignor Tiso of Czechoslovakia in Berlin that 'Czechoslovakia owed it only to Germany that she had not been mutilated further.' From captured German Foreign Office minutes of this meeting:

...now he [Hitler] had permitted minister Tiso to come here in order to make this question clear in a very short time. Germany had no interests east of the Carpathian mountains. it was indifferent to him what happened there. the question was whether Slovakia wished to conduct her own affairs or not. he did not wish for anything from Slovakia. he would not pledge his people or even a single soldier to something which was not in any way desired by the Slovak people. he would like to secure final confirmation as to what Slovakia really wished. he did not wish that reproaches should come from Hungary that he was preserving something which did not wish to be preserved at all. he took a liberal view of unrest and demonstration in general, but in this connection, unrest was only an outward indication of interior instability. he would not tolerate it, and he had for that reason permitted Tiso to come in order to hear his decision. it was not a question of days, but of hours. he had stated at that time that if Slovakia wished to make herself independent he would support this endeavor and even guarantee it. he would stand by his word so long as Slovakia would make it clear that she wished for independence. if she hesitated or did not wish to dissolve the connection with Prague, he would leave the destiny of Slovakia to the mercy of events, for which he was no longer responsible. in that case he would only intercede for German interests and those did not lie east of the Carpathians.

Germany had nothing to do with Slovakia. she had never belonged to Germany. The Fuehrer asked the Reich Foreign Minister if he had any remarks to add. The Reich Foreign Minister also emphasized for his part the conception that in this case a decision was a question of hours not of days. He showed the Fuehrer a message he had just received which reported Hungarian troop movements on the Slovak frontiers. The Fuehrer read this report, mentioned it to Tiso, and expressed the hope that Slovakia would soon decide clearly for herself.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: It is true, I believe in every case, that on the occasion of such state visits and visits of foreign statesmen I was present in the Reich Chancellery or at the reception. I never took part in the actual discussions of political questions. I was present at the reception and felt that I should be present to be introduced as a high-ranking representative of the Wehrmacht. But in each individual case that I can recall I was dismissed with thanks or waited in the antechamber in case I should be needed. I can positively say that I did not say one single word either to Tiso or to President Hacha on that night, nor did I take part in Hitler's direct discussions with these men. May I add that just on the night of President Hacha's visit I had to be present in the Reich Chancellery, because during that night the High Command of the Army had to be instructed as to how the entry which had been prepared was to take place.

March 13, 1939: Admiral Horthy, the Hungarian Regent, writes to Hitler:

Your Excellency, My sincere thanks. I can hardly tell you how happy I am because this Head Water Region—I dislike using big words—is of vital importance to the life of Hungary. In spite of the fact that our recruits have only been serving for 5 weeks we are going into this affair with eager enthusiasm. The dispositions have already been made. On Thursday, the 16th of this month, a frontier incident will take place which will be followed by the big blow on Saturday. I shall never forget this proof of friendship and your Excellency may rely on my unshakeable gratitude at all times.

March 15, 1939: At 1:15 in the morning, Hacha and Chvalkovsky are ushered into the Reichs Chancellery to meet with Hitler, von Ribbentrop, Goering, Keitel, and other high Nazi officials. From an account of the conference:

Slovakia was a matter of indifference to him (Hitler). If Slovakia had kept closer to Germany, it would have been an obligation to Germany, but he was glad that he did not have this obligation now. He had no interests whatsoever in the territory east of the Lower Carpathian Mts. Last autumn he had not wanted to draw the final consequences because he had believed that it was possible to live together. But even at that time, and also later in his conversations with Chvalkovsky, he made it clear that he would ruthlessly smash this state if Benes' tendencies were not completely revised. Chvalkovsky understood this and asked the Fuehrer to have patience. The Fuehrer saw this point of view, but the months went by without any change. The new regime did not succeed in eliminating the old one psychologically. He observed this from the press, mouth to mouth propaganda, dismissals of Germans and many other things which, to him, were a symbol of the whole situation. At first he had not understood this but when it became clear to him he drew his conclusions because, had the development continued in this way, the relations with Czechoslovakia would in a few years have become the same as six months ago.

Why did Czechoslovakia not immediately reduce its army to a reasonable size? Such an army was a tremendous burden for such a state because it only makes sense if it supports the foreign political mission of the State. Since Czechoslovakia no longer has a foreign political mission, such an army is meaningless. He enumerates several examples which proved to him that the spirit in the army had not changed. This symptom convinced him that the army would be a severe political burden in the future. Added to this were the inevitable development of economic necessities and, further, the protests from national groups which could no longer endure life as it was. Last Sunday, therefore, for me the die was cast. I summoned the Hungarian envoy and notified him that I was withdrawing my [restraining] hands from that country. We were now confronted with this fact.

He had given the order to the German troops to march into Czechoslovakia and to incorporate Czechoslovakia into the German Reich. He wanted to give Czechoslovakia fullest autonomy and a life of her own to a larger extent than she ever had enjoyed during Austrian rule. Germany's attitude towards Czechoslovakia will be determined tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and depends on the attitude of the Czechoslovakian people and the Czechoslovakian military towards the German troops. He no longer trusts the government. He believes in the honesty and straight forwardness of Hacha and Chvalkovsky but doubts that the government will be able to assert itself in the entire nation. The German Army had already started out today, and at one barracks where resistance was offered, it was ruthlessly broken; another barracks had given in at the deployment of heavy artillery.

At 6 o'clock in the morning the German army would invade Czechoslovakia from all sides and the German air force would occupy the Czech airfields. There existed two possibilities. The first one would be that the invasion of the German troops would lead to a battle. In this case the resistance will be broken by all means with physical force. The other possibility is that the invasion of the German troops occurs in bearable form. In that case it would be easy for the Fuehrer to give Czechoslovakia at the new organization of Czech life a generous life of her own, autonomy and a certain national liberty. We witnessed at the moment a great historical turning point. He would not like to torture and de-nationalize the Czechs. He also did not do all that because of hatred but in order to protect Germany.

If Czechoslovakia in the fall of last year would not have yielded, the Czech people would have been exterminated. Nobody could have prevented him from doing that. It was his will that the Czech people should live a full national life and he believed firmly that a way could be found which would make far-reaching concessions to the Czech desires. If fighting would break out tomorrow, the pressure would result in counter-pressure. One would annihilate one another and it would then not be possible any more for him to give the promised alleviation’s. Within two days the Czech army would not exist any more. Of course, Germans would also be killed and this would result in a hatred which would force him because of his instinct of self-preservation not to grant autonomy any more. The world would not move a muscle. He felt pity for the Czech people when he read the foreign press. It gave him the impression expressed in a German proverb: 'The Moor has done his duty, the Moor may go.'

That was the state of affairs. There were two courses open to Germany, a harder one which did not want any concessions and wished in memory of the past that Czechoslovakia would be conquered with blood, and another one, the attitude of which corresponded with his proposals stated above. That was the reason why he had asked Hacha to come here. This invitation was the last good deed which he could offer to the Czech people. If it would come to a fight, the bloodshed would also force us to hate. But the visit of Hacha could perhaps prevent the extreme. Perhaps it would contribute to finding a form of construction which would be much more far-reaching for Czechoslovakia than she could ever have hoped for in old Austria. His aim was only to create the necessary security for the German people. The hours went past. At 6 o'clock the troops would march in. He was almost ashamed to say that there was one German division to each Czech battalion. The military action was no small one, but planned with all generosity. He would advise him now to retire with Chvalkovsky in order to discuss what should be done.

March 15, 1939: In defiance of the Munich Pact, the Nazis seize and occupy Bohemia and Moravia. Proclamation of the Fuehrer to the German people:

To the German People: Only a few months ago Germany was compelled to protect her fellow countrymen, living in well-defined settlements, against the unbearable Czechoslovakian terror regime; and during the last weeks the same thing has happened on an ever-increasing scale. This is bound to create an intolerable state of affairs within an area inhabited by citizens of so many nationalities. These national groups, to counteract the renewed attacks against their freedom and life, have now broken away from the Prague Government. Czechoslovakia has ceased to exist.

Since Sunday at many places wild excesses have broken out, amongst the victims of which are again many Germans. Hourly the number of oppressed and persecuted people crying for help is increasing. From areas thickly populated by German-speaking inhabitants, which last autumn Czechoslovakia was allowed by German generosity to retain, refugees robbed of their personal belongings are streaming into the Reich. Continuation of such a state of affairs would lead to the destruction of every vestige of order in an area in which Germany is vitally interested particularly as for over 1,000 years it formed a part of the German Reich.
In order definitely to remove this menace to peace and to create the conditions for a necessary new order in this living space, I have today resolved to allow German troops to march into Bohemia and Moravia. They will disarm the terror gangs and the Czechoslovakian forces supporting them, and protect the lives of all who are menaced. Thus they will lay the foundations for introducing a fundamental re-ordering of affairs which will be in accordance with the 1,000-year-old history and will satisfy the practical needs of the German and Czech peoples. -Adolf Hitler, Berlin.

March 16, 1939: From the Decree of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor on the Establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia:

The Bohemian-Moravian countries belonged for a millennium to the living space of the German people... ...For the purpose of making effective the protection undertaken by the German Reich, the German Armed Forces shall have the right at all times to construct military installations and to keep them garrisoned in the strength they deem necessary in an area delimited on its western side by the frontiers of the State of Slovakia, and on its eastern side by a line formed by the eastern rims of the Lower Carpathians, the White Carpathians, and the Javornik Mountains.

The Government of Slovakia will take the necessary steps to assure that the land required for these installations shall be conveyed to the German Armed Forces. Furthermore, the Government of Slovakia will agree to grant exemption from custom duties for imports from the Reich for the maintenance of the German troops and the supply of military installations.

March 17, 1939: A statement by the Acting US Secretary of State, Sumner Welles:

The Government of the United States has on frequent occasions stated its conviction that only through international support of a program of order based upon law can world peace be assured. This Government, founded upon and dedicated to the principles of human liberty and of democracy, cannot refrain from making known this country's condemnation of the acts which have resulted in the temporary extinguishment of the liberties of a free and independent people with whom, from the day when the Republic of Czechoslovakia attained its independence, the people of the United States have maintained specially close and friendly relations.

The position of the Government of the United States has been made consistently clear. It has emphasized the need for respect for the sanctity of treaties and of the pledged word, and for non-intervention by any nation in the domestic affairs of other nations; and it has on repeated occasions expressed its condemnation of a policy of military aggression. It is manifest that acts of wanton lawlessness and of arbitrary force are threatening the world peace and the very structure of modern civilization. The imperative need for the observance of the principles advocated by this Government has been clearly demonstrated by the developments which have taken place during the past 3 days.

March 25, 1939: From a memorandum of information given by Hitler to von Brauchitsch:

Col. Gen. Keitel shall inform Slovak Government via Foreign Office that it would not be allowed to keep or garrison armed Slovak units (Hlinka Guards) on this side of the border formed by the river Waag. They shall be transferred to the new Slovak territory. Hlinka Guards should be disarmed. Slovak shall be requested via Foreign Office to deliver to us against payment any arms we want and which are still kept in Slovakia. This request is to be based upon agreement these millions should be used which we will pour anyhow into Slovakia.

Czech Protectorate. H. Gr. [translator's note: probably Army groups] shall be asked again whether the request shall be repeated again for the delivery of all arms within a stated time limit and under. the threat of severe penalties. We take all war material of former Czechoslovakia without paying for it. The guns bought by contract before 15 February though shall be paid for. Bohemia-Moravia have to make annual contributions to the German treasury. Their amount shall be fixed on the basis of the expenses earmarked formerly for the Czech Army.

April 3, 1939: Keitel reissues and modifies the directive for the Uniform Preparation for War by the Armed Forces for 1939/40.

1. Preparations must be made in such a way that the operation can be carried out at any time from 1 September 1939 onwards.

2. The High Command of the Armed Forces has been directed to draw up a precise timetable for 'Fall Weiss' and to arrange by conferences the synchronized timing between the three branches of the Armed Forces.

3. The plans of the branches of the Armed Forces and the details for the timetable must be submitted to the OKW by 1 May 1939.


From Keitel's IMT testimony: In the first sentence it is already stated that this document was to replace the regular annual instructions of the Wehrmacht regarding possible preparations for mobilization, a further elaboration of subjects known to us from the instructions which had been issued in 1937-38 and which were issued every year. But in fact, at that time or shortly before, Hitler had, in my presence, directly instructed the Commander-in-Chief of the Army to make strategic and operative preparations for an attack on, for a war with Poland. I then issued these first considerations, as can be seen from this document, that is, the Fuehrer had already ordered the following: Everything should be worked out by the OKH of the Army by 1 September 1939, and that after this a time table should be drawn up. This document was signed by me at that time... ...

I must say that at this time, as in the case of the preparations against Czechoslovakia, both the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the generals to whom I spoke, and also I, myself, were opposed to the idea of waging a war against Poland. We did not want this war, but, of course, we immediately began to carry out the given orders, at least as far as the elaboration by the General Staff was concerned. Our reason was that to our knowledge the military means which were at our disposal at that time, that is to say, the divisions, their equipment, their armament, let alone their absolutely inadequate supply of munition kept reminding us as soldiers that we were not ready to wage a war... ...I did not concern myself with the political problems but only with the question: Can we or can we not?"


April 7, 1939: Italian troops gain an immediate land border with Greece when they occupy Albania this day.

April 1939: Hitler awards Keitel the Golden Party Badge.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: Hitler presented this Golden Badge of the Party to me in April 1939, at the same time that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General Von Brauchitsch, received it. The Fuehrer said it was to be in commemoration of the march into Czechoslovakia. The Golden Badge had '16 and 17 March' engraved on it.

April 15, 1939: From notes of a conference between Goering, Mussolini, and Ciano:

Goering: However, the heavy armament of Czechoslovakia shows, in any case, how dangerous this country could have been, even after Munich, in the event of a serious conflict. Because of Germany's action the situation of both Axis countries was ameliorated, among other reasons because of the economic possibilities which result from the transfer to Germany of the great production capacity (armament potential) of Czechoslovakia. That contributes toward a considerable strengthening of the axis against the Western powers. Furthermore, Germany now need not keep ready a single division for protection against that country in case of a bigger conflict. This, too, is an advantage by which both axis countries will, in the last analysis, benefit. ....

...the action taken by Germany in Czechoslovakia is to be viewed as an advantage for the axis in case Poland should finally join the enemies of the axis powers. Germany could then attack this country from 2 flanks and would be within only 25 minutes flying distance from the new polish industrial center which had been moved further into the interior of the country, nearer to the other Polish industrial districts, because of its proximity to the border. Now by the turn of events it is located again in the proximity of the border.

May 22, 1939: Hitler signs the 'Pact of Steel' with Italy.

May 23, 1939: Hitler addresses his Generals about his future plans. From a summary: (http://comicism.tripod.com/390523.html)

From Keitel's IMT testimony: I saw the minutes of it for the first time in the course of my interrogations here. It reminded me of the situation at that time. The purpose of this address was to show the generals that their misgivings were unfounded, to remove their misgivings, and finally to point out that the conditions were not yet given and that political negotiations about these matters still could and perhaps would change the situation. It was however simply to give encouragement...at that time—and this was perhaps rather naïve—I believed that war would not break out, that in view of the military preparations ordered, negotiations would take place again and a solution would be found. In our military considerations a strictly military point of view was always dominant. We generals believed that France—to a lesser extent England—in view of her mutual-assistance pact with Poland would intervene and that we did not at all have the defensive means for this. For this very reason I personally was always convinced that there would be no war because we could not wage a war against Poland if France attacked us in the West.

May 24, 1939: General Thomas gives the Fuehrer an update in broad terms of German numerical strength: Army: 51 divisions. Navy: 2 battleships, 4 heavy cruisers, 17 destroyers, one aircraft carrier 47 submarines. Luftwaffe: 21 squadrons, 260,000 men.

June 14, 1939: From a directive by Commander-in-Chief of the Army Von Brauchitsch:

The object of the operation is to destroy the Polish Armed Forces. High policy demands that the war should be begun by heavy surprise blows in order to achieve quick results. The intention of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army is to prevent a regular mobilization and concentration of the Polish Army by a surprise invasion of Polish territory and to destroy...the mass of the Polish Army which is to be expected to be west of the Vistula-Narev Line...The army group commands and the army commands will make their preparations on the basis of surprise of the enemy. There will be alterations necessary if surprise should have to be abandoned. These will have to be developed simply and quickly on the same basis; they are to be prepared mentally to such an extent that in case of an order from the Commander-in-Chief of the Army they can be carried out quickly.

June 22, 1939: Keitel submits to Hitler a 'preliminary timetable for Operation White,' the invasion of Poland.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: The question concerning the problem of Danzig and the Corridor were known to me. I also knew that political discussions and negotiations with regard to these questions were pending. The case of the attack on Poland, which in the course of time had to be and was prepared, was, of course, closely connected with these problems. Since I myself was not concerned with political matters, I personally was of the opinion that, as in the case of Munich and before Munich, military preparations, that is, military pressure if I may call it such, would play the same kind of role as in my opinion it had played at Munich. I did not believe that the matter would be brought to an end without military preparations... ...I know that several discussions took place concerning the Danzig question as well as concerning a solution of the Corridor problem. I recall a remark that impressed me at the time, when Hitler once said he deplored Marshal Pilsudski's death, because he believed he had reached or could have reached an agreement with this statesman. This statement was once made to me.

July 6, 1939: The German ambassador in Warsaw wires Ribbentrop that Poland is resolved to fight.

July 27, 1939: From minutes of a conference in Berlin between Goering and a group of officials from the OKW and from other agencies of the German government concerned with war production:

1. In a rather long statement the Field Marshal explained that the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia into the German economy had taken place, among other reasons, to increase the German war potential by exploitation of the industry there. Letters, such as the decree of the Reich Minister for Economics S 10 402/39 of 10 July 39 as well as a letter with similar meaning to the JUNKERS firm, which might possibly lower the kind and extent of the armament measures in the Protectorate, are contrary to this principle. If it is necessary to issue such directives, this should be done only with his consent. In any case, he insists, in agreement with the directive by Hitler, that the war potential of the Protectorate is definitely to be exploited in part or in full and is to be directed towards mobilization as soon as possible.

July 31, 1939: An agreement between the military and the SS concerning the task of the Einsatzgruppen (EG) in Poland is defined this day as the 'combating of all anti-German elements in hostile country behind the troops in combat.'

August 19, 1939: General Halder makes a strange entry in his diary: "Canaris checked with Section I (Operations). Himmler, Heydrich, Obersalzberg: 150 Polish uniforms with accessories for Upper Silesia." (Shirer I) (See August 31, 1939)

From the IMT testimony of Abwehr General Erwin Lahousen: ...the name of this undertaking which took place just before the Polish campaign, was 'Undertaking Himmler.' ...The affair on which I am now giving testimony is one of the most mysterious actions which took place within the Amt Ausland-Abwehr. A few days, or sometime before-I believe it was the middle of August-the precise date can be found in the diary of the division-Abwehr Division I, as well as my division, Abwehr Division II, were given the task of providing Polish uniforms and equipment such as identification cards and so on, for an Undertaking Himmler. This request, according to an entry in the diary of the division which was kept not by me, but by my adjutant, was received by Canaris from the Wehrmacht Operations Staff or from the National Defense Department. I believe the name of General Warlimont is mentioned.

...Where the request originated I cannot say, I can only say that it reached us in the form of an order. It was, to be sure, an order on which we, the divisional chiefs concerned, already had some misgivings without knowing what, in the last analysis, it meant. The name Himmler, however, spoke for itself, and that is also evident from entries of the diary which record my question why Herr Himmler should come to receive uniforms from us. ...These articles of equipment had to be kept in readiness, and one day some man from the SS or the SD—the name is given in the official war diary of the division—collected them. ...The real purpose was unknown to us then; we do not know its details even today. All of us, however, had the reasonable suspicion that something entirely crooked was being planned; the name of the undertaking was sufficient guarantee for that.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: This document deals with Polish uniforms for border incidents or for some sort of illegal actions. It has been shown to me, I know it; it is a subsequent note made by Admiral Canaris of a conversation he had with me. He told me at that time that he was to make available a few Polish uniforms. This had been communicated to him by the Fuehrer through the adjutant. I asked: "For what purpose?" We both agreed that this was intended for some illegal action. If I remember rightly I told him at that time that I did not believe in such things at all and that he had better keep his hands off. We then had a short discussion about Dirschau which was also to be taken by a coup de main by the Wehrmacht. That is all I heard of it. I believe I told Canaris he could dodge the issue by saying that he had no Polish uniforms. He could simply say he had none and the matter would be settled.

August 22, 1939: Meeting in Obersalzberg, Hitler tells his generals that the destruction of Poland "starts on Saturday morning" (26 August), the aim of this war is the wholesale destruction of Poland. (http://comicism.tripod.com/390822.html)

From Keitel's IMT testimony: This speech was made at the end of August and was addressed to the generals assembled at Obersalzberg, the commanders-in-chief of the troops preparing in the East. When Hitler, towards the end of this speech, declared that a pact had been concluded with the Soviet Union, I was firmly convinced that there would be no war because I believed that these conditions constituted a basis for negotiation and that Poland would not expose herself to it. I also believed that now a basis for negotiations had been found although Hitler said in this speech, a copy of which I read here for the first time from notes, that all preparations had been made, and that it was intended to put them into execution.

August 23, 1939: The German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact is signed in Moscow. Sometimes called the Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement of Non-aggression, or simply the 'Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact.'

August 23, 1939: Hitler is delighted with the pact, and believes Stalin has just handed him the perfect opportunity to restore the Reich's "rightful possessions" without having to fight a war on two fronts. He is certain that this new treaty with the Russians will allow him to safely reclaim Danzig and take back the Polish Corridor; so certain that he tells his staff that Britain and France, without other major allies, will not go to war in such a situation... "especially over what everyone knows are, by all rights, German territories anyway."

August 23, 1939: Secret Additional Protocol of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact:

On the occasion of the signature of the Non-aggression Pact between the German Reich and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics the undersigned plenipotentiaries of each of the two parties discussed in strictly confidential conversations the question of the boundary of their respective spheres of influence in Eastern Europe. These conversations led to the following conclusions: 1. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the areas belonging to the Baltic States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the northern boundary of Lithuania shall represent the boundary of the spheres of influence of Germany and the USSR. In this connection the interest of Lithuania in the Vilna area is recognized by each party.

2. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state the spheres of influence of Germany and the USSR shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narew, Vistula, and San. The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish state and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments. In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly agreement.

3. With regard to Southeastern Europe attention is called by the Soviet side to its interest in Bessarabia. The German side declares; its complete political disinterestedness in these areas. This protocol shall be treated by both parties as strictly secret.

August 23, 1939: Hitler sets the date for the invasion of Poland: Saturday, August 26, at 4:30am.

August 24, 1939: Poland and Great Britain formally sign a treaty of mutual assistance. The British Parliament reconvenes and passes the Emergency Powers Act. Royal Assent is given on the same day and the Royal Navy is ordered to war stations. Soon afterward a general mobilization begins. Hitler predicts that the Chamberlain government will fall. President Roosevelt telegrams the President of Poland:

...It is, I think, well known to you that, speaking on behalf of the United States, I have exerted, and will continue to exert, every influence on behalf of peace. The rank and file of the population of every nation—large and small—want peace. They do not seek military conquest. They recognize that disputes, claims and counter-claims will always arise from time to time between nations, but that all such controversies, without exception, can be solved by a peaceful procedure, if the will on both sides exists so to do...

August 25, 1939: Hitler writes to Mussolini, informing him of his intent to fall upon Poland and requesting his assistance:

...I have not kept you informed in detail, Duce, since I did not have an idea of the possible extent of these (German-Russian) conversations, or any assurance of the possibility of their success. The readiness on the part of the Kremlin to arrive at a reorientation of its relations with Germany, which became apparent after the departure of Litvinov, has become ever stronger in the last few weeks and has made it possible for me, after successful preparation, to send my Foreign Minister to Moscow for the conclusion of a treaty which is the most extensive non-aggression pact in existence and whose text will be made public. The pact is unconditional and includes also the obligation for consultation about all questions affecting Russia and Germany. I may tell you, Duce, that through these arrangements the favorable attitude of Russia in case of any conflict is assured, and that the possibility of the entry of Rumania into such a conflict no longer exists...

August 25, 1939: Mussolini replies to Hitler's letter (above):

...Concerning the agreement with Russia, I approve of that completely...As for the practical position of Italy, in case of a military collision, my point of view is as follows: If Germany attacks Poland and the conflict remains localized, Italy will afford Germany every form of political and economic assistance which is requested. If Germany attacks, and Poland's allies open a counterattack against Germany, I want to let you know in advance that it would be better if I did not take the initiative in military activities in view of the present situation of Italian war preparations, which we have repeatedly previously explained to you, Fuehrer, and to Herr von Ribbentrop. Our intervention can, therefore, take place at once if Germany delivers to us immediately the military supplies and the raw materials to resist the attack which the French and English especially would direct against us.

At our meetings the war was envisaged for after 1942 and at such time I would have been ready on land, on sea, and in the air according to the plans which had been arranged. I am also of the opinion that the purely military preparations which have already been undertaken and the others which will be entered upon in Europe and Africa will serve to immobilize important French and British forces. I consider it my implicit duty as a true friend to tell you the whole truth and inform you about the actual situation in advance. Not to do so might have unpleasant consequences for us all. This is my point of view and since within a short time I must summon the highest governmental bodies of the realm, I ask you to let me know yours as well...

August 25, 1939 Vollkommen Klar: After reading Mussolini's reply, Hitler cancels his invasion of Poland scheduled for 4:30 AM the following morning.

August 25, 1939: Keital meets with Hitler in Berlin.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: The first thing which was very surprising to me was that on one of those days which have been discussed here repeatedly, namely on the 24th or 25th, only a few days after the conference at Obersalzberg, I was suddenly called to Hitler at the Reich Chancellery and he said to me only, "Stop everything at once, get Brauchitsch immediately. I need time for negotiations." I believe that after these few words I was dismissed. ...

I at once rang up the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and passed on the order, and Brauchitsch was called to the Fuehrer. Everything was stopped and all decisions on possible military action were suspended, first without any time limit, on the following day for a certain limited period, I believe it was 5 days according to the calculations we can make today. ...

I believe that I saw them (the so-called minimum demands on Poland) in the Reich Chancellery, that Hitler himself showed them to me, so that I knew about them. ...At that time I was always only a few minutes in the Reich Chancellery and as a soldier I naturally believed that these were meant perfectly honestly. ...This question of border incidents was also extensively discussed with me here in my interrogations. In this situation and in the few discussions we had at the Reich Chancellery in those days there was no talk at all on this question.

August 25, 1939: President Roosevelt once again appeals to Hitler for peace.

...Countless human lives can yet be saved and hope may still be restored that the nations of the modern world may even now construct the foundation for a peaceful and happier relationship, if you and the Government of the German Reich will agree to the pacific means of settlement accepted by the Government of Poland. All the world prays that Germany, too, will accept...

August 30, 1939: Keital becomes a member of the Ministerial Council for the defense of the Reich.

August 30, 1939: Unofficial peace envoy Birger Dahlerus continues his shuttle diplomacy:

...I met Goering shortly after midnight on Wednesday, and he told me the nature of the proposals made to Poland. He showed me the note. I called up Forbes to give him this information. He then told me that Ribbentrop had refused to give him the note, after he had read it through very quickly. I went to Goering immediately and told him it was impossible to treat the ambassador of an empire like Great Britain in this way...

From Keitel's IMT testimony: I knew nothing at all of the political discussions that took place in those days from the 24th to the 30th, 31st of August or the beginning of September 1939. I never knew anything about the visits of a Herr Dahlerus. I knew nothing of London's intervention. I remember only that, while in the Reich Chancellery for a short time, I met Hitler, who said to me: "Do not disturb me now, I am writing a letter to Daladier." This must have been in the first days of September. Neither I nor, to my knowledge, any of the other generals ever knew anything about the matters I have heard of here or about the steps that were still taken after 1 September. Nothing at all.

August 30, 1939: Hitler agrees to Britain's request for a 24-hour extension to permit a Polish negotiator to meet with von Ribbentrop.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: May I add...that on 30 August, I believe, the day for the attack, which took place on 1 September, was again postponed for 24 hours. For this reason Brauchitsch and I were again called to the Reich Chancellery and to my recollection the reason given was that a Polish Government plenipotentiary was expected. Everything was to be postponed for 24 hours. Then no further changes of the military instructions occurred.

August 31, 1939: At half past noon, Hitler issues a Directive for the conduct of the war:

1. Now that all the political possibilities of disposing by peaceful means of a situation which is intolerable for Germany are exhausted, I have determined on a solution by force.

2. The attack on Poland is to be carried out. Date of attack: September 1, 1939. Time of attack: 4:45 AM.

August 31, 1939: SS Sturmbannfuehrer Alfred Helmut Naujocks receives the code words "Grandmama dead," thus ending a 14 day wait at the German radio station at Gleiwitz, where he and Gestapo head Heinrich Mueller are to carry out a mock attack. The "canned goods:" a dozen "condemned criminals" dressed in Polish military uniforms and given fatal injections before being shot. Note: See Alfred Naujocks, sworn affidavit, Nuremberg, November 20, 1945, the only documentary evidence for this item. Shortly after signing his affidavit, Naujocks mysteriously disappears from custody.

From Lahousen's IMT testimony: The actual course of events was the following: When the first Wehrmacht communiqué spoke of the attack of Polish units on German territory, Pieckenbrock, holding the communiqué in his hand, and reading it aloud, observed that now we knew why our uniforms had been needed. On the same day or a few days later, I cannot say exactly, Canaris informed us that people from concentration camps had been disguised in these uniforms and had been ordered to make a military attack on the radio station at Gleiwitz. I cannot recall whether any other locality was mentioned. Although we were extremely interested, particularly General Oster, to know details of this action, that is, where it had occurred and what had happened—actually we could well imagine it, but we did not know how it was carried out—I cannot even today say exactly what happened. ...

This matter has always held my interest, and even after the capitulation I spoke about these matters with an SS Hauptsturmfuehrer-he was a Viennese in the hospital in which both of us were staying, and I asked him for details on what had taken place. The man—his name was Birckel—told me: "It is odd, that even our circles heard of this matter only very much later, and then only by intimation." He added: "So far as I know, even all members of the SD who took part in that action were put out of the way, that is, killed." That was the last I heard of this matter.

From Keitel's IMT testimony: This incident, this action came to my knowledge for the first time here through the testimony of witnesses. I never found out who was charged to carry out such things and I knew nothing of the raid on the radio station at Gleiwitz until I heard the testimonies given here before the Tribunal. Neither do I recall having heard at that time that such an incident had occurred.

September 1, 1939: After some delays, Hitler's forces invade Poland. The Wound Badge for Wehrmacht, SS, Kriegsmarine, and Luftwaffe soldiers is instituted. The final version of the Iron Cross is also instituted. Hitler's Proclamation to the German Army:

The Polish State has refused the peaceful settlement of relations which I desired, and has appealed to arms. Germans in Poland are persecuted with bloody terror and driven from their houses. A series of violations of the frontier, intolerable to a great Power, prove that Poland is no longer willing to respect the frontier of the Reich. In order to put an end to this lunacy, I have no other choice than to meet force with force from now on. The German Army will fight the battle for the honor and the vital rights of reborn Germany with hard determination. I expect that every soldier, mindful of the great traditions of eternal German soldiery, will ever remain conscious that he is a representative of the National-Socialist Greater Germany. Long live our people and our Reich!
Continue to Part Two Back:
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 Tripod.com