From The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer: The German generals, upright Christians that they considered themselves to be, found the situation embarrassing. On September 12 (1939) there was a meeting on the Fuehrer's railroad car between Keitel and Admiral Canaris at which the latter protested against the atrocities in Poland. The lackey Chief of OKW curtly replied that 'the Fuehrer has already decided on this matter.' If the Army wanted 'no part in these occurrences it would have to accept SS commissars in each military unit 'to carry out exterminations.' Canaris wrote in his Diary: 'I pointed out to General Keitel that I knew that extensive executions were planned in Poland and that particularly the nobility and the clergy were to be exterminated. Eventually the world would hold the Wehrmacht responsible for these deeds.
From Jodl's testimony before the IMT: I met the Fuehrer in the so-called command car, in the chartroom, where Field Marshal Keitel, Canaris, and Lahousen were; and then Canaris made a brief report on the information he had received from the West and expressed the opinion that a French attack in the Saarbrucken sector was imminent. The Fuehrer contradicted this, and so did I. Apart from that nothing else was discussed.
From the IMT testimony of Abwehr General Erwin Lahousen: First of all, Canaris had a short tale with Ribbentrop, in which the latter explained the general political aims with regard to Poland and in connection with the Ukrainian question. The Chief of the OKW took up the Ukrainian question in subsequent discussions which took place in his private carriage. These are recorded in the files which I immediately prepared on Canaris' order. While we were still in the carriage of the Chief of the OKW, Canaris expressed his serious misgivings regarding the proposed bombardment of Warsaw, of which he knew. Canaris stressed the devastating repercussions which this bombardment would have in the foreign political field. The Chief of the OKW, Keitel, replied that these measures had been agreed upon directly by the Fuehrer and Goering, and that he, Keitel, had had no influence on these decisions. I quote Keitel's own words here-naturally only after re-reading my notes.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I have been interrogated here about this point, but I did not recall this visit at all. But from Lahousen's testimony it appeared—he said, as I remember—that I had repeated what Hitler had said and had passed on these orders, as he put it. I know that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army who then directed the military operations in Poland had at the daily conferences already complained about interference by the police in occupied Polish territory. I can only say that I apparently repeated what had been said about these things in my presence between Hitler and Brauchitsch. I can make no statements regarding details. I might add that to my recollection the Commander-in-Chief of the Army at that time complained several times that as long as he had the executive power in the occupied territories he would under no circumstances tolerate other agencies in this area and that at his request he was relieved of his responsibility for Poland in October. I therefore believe that the statements the witness made from memory or on the strength of notes are not quite correct.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I think the first deliberations took place already in October 1939; on the other hand, the first directives were issued only in January, that is to say, several months later. In connection with the discussions before this Tribunal and with the information given by Reich Marshal Goering in his statements, I also remember that one day I was ordered to call Grand Admiral Raeder to the Fuehrer. He wanted to discuss with him questions regarding sea warfare in the Bay of Helgoland and in the Atlantic Ocean and the dangers we would encounter in waging war in this area. Then Hitler ordered me to call together a special staff which was to study all these problems from the viewpoint of sea, air, and land warfare. I remembered this also upon seeing the documents produced here. This special staff dispensed with my personal assistance. Hitler said at the time that he himself would furnish tasks for this staff. These were, I believe, the military considerations in the months from 1939 to the beginning of 1940.
From Keitel's SBS interview: Q: After the campaign in Poland had been finished, what was the plan of action against France and England?
Keitel: I have gained the personal opinion from the Reichstag Speech at the time that the Fuehrer hoped that the Polish campaign would not lead to another war. One was of the opinion that another war could be avoided. That was also my opinion when I left the Reichstag after the speech.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: "When I remember the situation as it was then, I did at that time believe, when I learned of these things, that there was no intention of bringing any other state into the war. At any rate, I had no reason, no justification, to assume the opposite, namely that this was intended as a deception. ...My view was strengthened by the Reichstag speech after the Polish war, in which allusions were made which convinced me that political discussions about this question were going on, above all, with England, and because Hitler had told me time and again, whenever these questions were brought up, "The West is actually not interested in these Eastern problems of Germany." This was the phrase he always used to calm people, namely that the Western Powers were not interested in these problems.
Furthermore, seen from a purely military point of view, it must be added that we soldiers had, of course, always expected an attack by the Western Powers, that is to say, by France, during the Polish campaign, and were very surprised that in the West, apart from some skirmishes between the Maginot Line and the West Wall, nothing had actually happened, though we had—this I know for certain—along the whole Western Front from the Dutch border to Basel only five divisions, apart from the small forces manning the fortifications of the West Wall.
Thus, from a purely military operative point of view, a French attack during the Polish campaign would have encountered only a German military screen not a real defense. Since nothing of this sort happened, we soldiers thought of course that the Western Powers had no serious intentions, because they did not take advantage of the extremely favorable situation for military operations and did not undertake anything, at least not anything serious, against us during the 3 to 4 weeks when all the German fighting formations were employed in the East. This also strengthened our views as to what the attitude of the Western Powers would probably be in the future.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: Not in the beginning (was Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland considered as targets), but first, if we can express it from the military point of view, the deployment in the West was to be a protective measure, that is, a thorough strengthening of the frontiers, of course preferably to take place where there was nothing except border posts. Accordingly, already at the end of September and the beginning of October, a transportation of the army from the East to the West did take place, as a security measure without, however, any fixed center of gravity. ...
This naturally changed several times in the course of the winter. At that time, in the autumn of 1939—I can speak only for myself, and there may be other opinions on this matter—I was convinced that Belgium wanted to remain out of the war under any circumstances and would do anything she could to preserve her neutrality. On the other hand, we received, through the close connections between the Belgian and Italian royal houses, a number of reports that sounded very threatening. I had no way of finding out whether they were true, but we learned of them, and they indicated that, strong pressure was exerted on Belgium to give up her neutrality. As for Holland, we knew at that time only that there were General Staff relations between her and England. But then of course, in the months from October 1939 to May 1940 the situation changed considerably and the tension varied greatly. From the purely military point of view, we knew one thing: That all the French swift units, that is motorized units, were concentrated on the Belgian-French border, and from a military point of view, we interpreted this measure as meaning that at least preparations were being made for crossing through Belgium at any time with the swift units and advancing up to the borders of the Ruhr district. I believe I should omit details here, because they are not important for the further developments, they are of a purely operative and strategic nature. ...
I said earlier that in the West during the war against Poland, there were five divisions. I must rectify that statement. I had confused that with the year 1938. In 1939 there were approximately 20 divisions, including the reserves in the Rhineland and in the West district behind the lines. Therefore, the statement I made was made inadvertently and was a mistake. ...at that time, in October the idea of a discussion with the Russians was still pending. Hitler also told me that at the time, and he always emphasized in that connection that until such a discussion had taken place he would not give any orders, since it had been proved to him by General Jodl that in any case it was technically impossible to transfer strong troop units into the threatened sectors in the East which I have mentioned. Accordingly, nothing was done. The visit or rather discussion with the Russian delegation was prepared, in which connection I would like to say that I made the suggestion at that time that Hitler should talk personally with M. Stalin. That was the only thing I did in the matter.
From the interview of Field Marshal Albert Kesselring by the US SBS:
Kesselring: The most opportune time (to invade Britain) would have been immediately following Dunkirk, but the preparations were not ready at that time. I personally regretted very much that this attack was called off. The preparations were ordered but later on recalled because the September-October period were the limits of the possibility from the preparation point of view and from the weather point of view.
Q: What did the Luftwaffe do in preparation for this invasion?
Kesselring: The preparations were very simple because I and my air fleet were located opposite the target and it was only mental preparation on our part and maybe bringing up additional operational groups and finding air fields for them, and then conferences on the cooperation with the Army and Navy immediately before, during and after the invasion.
Q: Did the Luftwaffe think it could be accomplished?
Kesselring: I recommended the invasion very strongly to the Reichsmarshal and since a leader can not lead unless he has faith, I believed in it, too.
Q: Why was the invasion called off?
Kesselring: I am convinced that the preparation as far as procurement of sea-going craft was not sufficient. I must assume this. This is the only thing that could have stopped it.
Q: Is it correct that the Navy played the decisive part?
Kesselring: I should assume so because there was no hesitation on the part of any other branch of the Armed Forces. It must have hinged on the fact that they did not have the necessary tonnage for the ferrying of the Army.
From Goering's US SBS interview: Goering: To quite an extent (we were suffering from fuel shortages) already in June 1944, when we finally managed to get the 'bugs' out of the HE 177, which gave us a little trouble. This aircraft was put in operation on the Russian front after it had been used against England. I had to ground that aircraft because it consumed too much gasoline and we just didn't have enough for it." (SBS)
From Keitel's SBS interview: Keitel: I am of the opinion that we were not able to compete with the Anglo-Americans as far as the fighter and bomber aircraft were concerned. We had dropped back in technical achievements. We had not preserved our technical superiority. We did not have a fighter with sufficient radius. As you know, we were on the way to make up for this deficiency through new types, which did not make their appearance in time. I feel sure that the force as such, especially its personnel, officers, non-commissioned officers, and enlisted men, were not as courageous and as anxious to fight as at the beginning of the war. I refuse to say that the Luftwaffe has deteriorated. I only feel that our means of fighting have not technically remained on top.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: I drafted that order...I studied international law very carefully in its bearing on my orders. I do not wish to detain the Court with the knowledge I gathered from these regulations, for it is only incomplete, but I should like to conclude by saying that owing to the fact that there were no regulations governing air warfare, deplorable confusion in definition arose for instance between rebellion and legal war force; between franc tireur, bandit, and scout; between spy and scout; demolition crews and saboteurs. Any time with the help of aircraft a rebellion might be converted into a legal war; and a legal war, on the other hand, might become a state of rebellion. That is the effect that parachute troops and the furnishing of supplies by air have had on international law.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I believe I must say that this at that time was one of the most serious crises in the whole war, namely, the opinions held by a number of generals, including the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Brauchitsch, and his Chief of General Staff, and I also personally belong to that group, which wanted at all costs to attempt to prevent an attack in the West which Hitler intended for that winter. There were various reasons for this: The difficulty of transporting the Eastern Army to the West; then the point of view—and this I must state—the fact that we believed at that time, perhaps more from the political point of view, that if we did not attack, the possibility of a peaceful solution might still exist and might still be realizable. Thus we considered it possible that between then and the spring many political changes could take place. Secondly, as soldiers, we were decidedly against the waging of a winter war, in view of the short days and long nights, which are always a great hindrance to all military operations.
To Hitler's objection that the French swift forces might march through Belgium at any time and then stand before the Ruhr district, we answered that we were superior in such a situation in a war of movement, we were a match for it; that was our view. I may add that this situation led to a very serious crisis between Hitler and the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and also me, because I had this trend of thought which Hitler vigorously rejected because it was, as he declared, strategically wrong. In our talks he accused me in the sharpest manner of conspiring against him with the generals of the Army and strengthening them in their opposition to his views. I must state here that I then asked to be relieved immediately of my post and given another, because I felt that under these circumstances the confidence between Hitler and myself had been completely destroyed, and I was greatly offended. I may add that relations with the Commander-in-Chief of the Army also suffered greatly from this. But the idea of my discharge or employment elsewhere was sharply rejected, I would not be entitled to it. It has already been discussed here; I need not go into it any further. But this breach of confidence was not to be mended, not even in the future. In the case of Norway, there had already been a similar conflict because I had left the house. General Jodl's diary refers to it as a "serious crisis." I shall not go into this in detail.
November 23, 1939: From notes of a speech by the Fuehrer at a conference attended by all Supreme Commanders:
The purpose of this conference is to give you an idea of the world of my thoughts, which takes charge of me, in the face of future events, and to tell you my decisions. The building up of our Armed Forces was only possible in connection with the ideological (weltanschaulich) education of the German people by the Party...When I started my political task in 1919, my strong belief in final success was based on a thorough observation of the events of the day and the study of the reasons for their occurrence. Therefore, I never lost my belief in the midst of setbacks which were not spared me during my period of struggle. Providence has had the last word and brought me success. Moreover, I had a clear recognition of the probable course of historical events and the firm will to make brutal decisions. The first decision was in 1919 when I, after long internal conflict, became a politician and took up the struggle against my enemies. That was the hardest of all decisions. I had, however, the firm belief that I would arrive at my goal.
First of all, I desired a new system of selection. I wanted to educate a minority which would take over the leadership. After 15 years I arrived at my goal, after strenuous struggles and many setbacks. When I came to power in 1933, a period of the most difficult struggle lay behind me. Everything existing before that had collapsed. I had to reorganize everything, beginning with the mass of the people and extending it to the Armed Forces. First, reorganization of the interior, abolishment of appearances of decay and defeatist ideas, education to heroism. While reorganizing the interior, I undertook the second task: To release Germany from its international ties. Two particular characteristics are to be pointed out: Secession from the League of Nations and denunciation of the Disarmament Conference. It was a hard decision. The number of prophets who predicted that it would lead to the occupation of the Rhineland was large, the number of believers was very small. I was supported by the nation, which stood firmly behind me, when I carried out my intentions. After that the order for rearmament.
Here again there were numerous prophets who predicted misfortunes, and only a few believers. In 1935 the introduction of compulsory armed service. After that, militarization of the Rhineland, again a process believed to be impossible at that time. The number of people who put trust in me was very small Then, beginning of the fortification of the whole country, especially in the west. One year later, Austria came. This step also was considered doubtful. It brought about a considerable reinforcement of the Reich. The next step was Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland. This step also was not possible to accomplish in one campaign. First of all, the western fortification had to be finished. It was not possible to reach the goal in one effort. It was clear to me from the first moment that I could not be satisfied with the Sudeten-German territory. That was only a partial solution. The decision to march into Bohemia was made. Then followed the erection of the Protectorate, and with that the basis for the action against Poland was laid, but I wasn't quite clear at that time whether I should start first against the East and then in the West, or vice versa.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I can say that this (speech by Hitler) was very closely connected with the crisis between Hitler and the generals. He called a meeting of the generals at that time to present and substantiate his views, and we knew it was his intention to bring about a change of attitude on the part of the generals. In the notes on this speech, we see that individual persons were more than once directly and sharply rebuked. The reasons given by those who had spoken against this attack in the West were repeated. Moreover, he now wanted to make an irrevocable statement of his will to carry out this attack in the West that very winter, because this, in his view, was the only strategic solution, as every delay was to the enemy's advantage. In other words, at that time, he no longer counted on any other solution than resort to force of arms.
November 30, 1939: The USSR attacks Finland.
December 14, 1939: The USSR is expelled from the League of Nations.
January 20, 1940: Churchill addresses the House:
...In the bitter and increasingly exacting conflict which lies before us we are resolved to keep nothing back, and not to be outstripped by any in service to the common cause. Let the great cities of Warsaw, of Prague, of Vienna banish despair even in the midst of their agony. Their liberation is sure...
March 5, 1940 Katyn Forest Massacre: People's Commissar for Internal Affairs and First Rank Commissar of State Security, Lavrentiy Beria, had earlier suggested that the 25,700 Polish 'nationalists and counterrevolutionaries' kept at camps and prisons in occupied western Ukraine and Belarus be excecuted. On this day, the Soviet Politburo approves and Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Kliment Voroshilov and Anastas Mikoyan sign the order.
March 10, 1940 Jodl's Diary:
The news about the Finnish-Russian negotiations is very gratifying from a political point of view. The French press is furious about it, because it considers it necessary to cut Germany off from Swedish ore.
March 19, 1940 Jodl's Diary:
The Fuehrer has returned beaming with joy and highly satisfied from the conference with the Duce. Complete agreement...The Balkans should and must remain quiet.
March 25, 1940 Jodl's Diary:
The English have begun to molest or to fire on our merchantmen in Danish and Norwegian territorial waters.
From Jodl's IMT testimony: I was present when Canaris came to the Reich Chancellery with this report to Field Marshal Keitel, and submitted to him the draft of the White Book of the Foreign Office. Field Marshal Keitel then looked through this book and listened carefully to the essential remarks which Canaris made, at the wish of the Foreign Office, to the effect that the intelligence needed perhaps some improvement, that he was to confirm that military action against Holland and Belgium was absolutely necessary, and that, as it says here, a final really flagrant violation of neutrality was still lacking. Before Canaris had said another word, Field Marshal Keitel threw the book on the table, and said, "I will not stand for that. How could I assume responsibility for a political decision? In this White Book are, word for word, the reports which you yourself—Canaris—gave me."
Whereupon Canaris said, "I am of exactly the same opinion. In my opinion, it is completely superfluous to have this document signed by the Wehrmacht, and the reports which we have here, as a whole, are quite sufficient to substantiate the breaches of neutrality which have taken place in Holland and in Belgium." And he advised Field Marshal Keitel against signing it. That is what took place. The Field Marshal took the book with him, and I do not know what happened after that. But one thing is certain, that the imaginary reports of this Herr Gisevius turn everything upside down. All these reports about the violations of neutrality came from these people who now assert that we had signed them falsely. This is one of the most despicable incidents of world history.
April 3, 1940: From a letter from Keitel to Ribbentrop:
The military occupation of Denmark and Norway has been, by command of the Führer, long in preparation by the High Command of the Wehrmacht. The High Command of the Wehrmacht has therefore had ample time to occupy itself with all the questions connected with the carrying out of this operation. The time at your disposal for the political preparation of this operation is, on the contrary, very much shorter. I believe myself, therefore, to be acting in accordance with your ideas in transmitting to you herewith, not only these wishes of the Wehrmacht which would have to be fulfilled by the Governments in Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm for purely military reasons, but also I include a series of requests which certainly concern the Wehrmacht only indirectly but which are, however, of the greatest importance for the fulfillment of its task.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: The preparations for such a march through and attack on Belgium and Holland had already been made, but Hitler withheld the decision as to whether such a big attack or violation of the neutrality of these countries was actually to be carried out, and kept it open until the spring of 1940, obviously for all sorts of political reasons, and perhaps also with the idea that the problem would automatically be solved if the enemy invaded Belgium or if the mobile French troops entered, or something like that. I can only state that the decision for the carrying out of this plan was withheld until the very last moment and the order was given only immediately before it was to be executed. I believe that there was also one other factor in this, which I have already mentioned, namely the relationship between the royal houses of Italy and Belgium. Hitler always surrounded his decisions with secrecy for he was obviously afraid that they might become known through this relationship.
April 9, 1940: Nazi forces invade Norway and Denmark.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: In this connection, I must say we were already at war. There was a state of war with England and France. It would not be right for me to say that I interfered in the least with these matters, but I regarded them rather as political matters, and, as a soldier, I held the opinion that preparations for military actions against Norway and Denmark did not yet mean their outbreak and that these preparations would very obviously take months if such an action was executed at all and that in the meantime the situation could change. It was this train of thought which caused me not to take any steps in regard to the impossibility to consider and to prepare strategically this intervention in Norway and Denmark; therefore, I left these things, I must say, to those who were concerned with political matters. I cannot put it any other way... ...
I saw Quisling neither before nor after the Norway campaign; I saw him for the first time approximately one or two years later. We had no contact, not even any kind of transmission of information. I already stated in a preliminary interrogation that by order of Hitler I sent an officer, I believe it was Colonel Pieckenbrock, to Copenhagen for conferences with Norwegians. I did not know Quisling.
May 12-13, 1940: The largest tank battle up to this date occurs in neutral Belgium; the Battle of Hannut.
May 14, 1940 Rotterdam Blitz: A total of 90 Luftwaffe bombers bombard Rotterdam during the German invasion of the Netherlands in order to; support the German troops fighting in the city; break Dutch resistance; and force the Dutch to surrender.
From Kesselring's US SBS interview: Q: What about Rotterdam?
Kesselring: First, Rotterdam was being defended in the parts which were later on attacked. Secondly, in this case one could notice that a firm attitude had to be taken. This one attack brought immediate peace to Holland. It was asked for by Model and was approved by the OKW. It was a very small part in the heart of Rotterdam. I would like to add in this connection that Model asked for a second attack. I had my reconnaissance planes fly over the area in question and they reported that they did not think a second attack was necessary. Thereupon, the planes which had already left were recalled.
Q: Did you learn any special lessons as to air power in the Battle of Britain?
Kesselring: The war against England taught a very important lesson. First of all that it was necessary to have an airplane which could have a long range and carry a large load of bombs and also have self-protection. Second, that the radius of our fighters was not sufficient and also that our fighters weren’t sufficiently armed against the enemy.
May 19, 1940: The Nazis invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister. French General Henri Honoré Giraud, a member of the Superior War Council, is captured by German troops while trying to block a German attack through the Ardennes.
May 26, 1940: FDR delivers a Fireside Chat to the American people:
...we build and defend not for our generation alone. We defend the foundations laid down by our fathers. We build a life for generations yet unborn. We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind. Ours is a high duty, a noble task. Day and night I pray for the restoration of peace in this mad world...
May 26-June 4 1940: The Dunkirk evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo by the British, occurs as Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk evacuate to England.
From Keitel's SBS interview: Keitel: The aim of this campaign was, of course, to destroy the French Army and at the same time to eliminate the British Expeditionary Force. The opinion was to the very last that the English were not successful in their Dunkirk evacuation, inasmuch as they only saved lives, but lost all their equipment.
June 22, 1940: France signs an armistice with Germany. Under its terms, the French army is to be disbanded and two thirds of France is to be occupied by the Germans.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: Among the documents of the French Armistice Delegation there ought to be a large number of documents asking for all sorts of concessions in connection with North Africa and more especially Central and West Africa, owing to the fact that during the winter of 1940-41 riots had taken place in French Central Africa against which the French Government wanted to take measures. I believe that in the spring of 1941 a conference lasting several days took place in Paris with the French General Staff, in order to prepare measures in which the German Wehrmacht, which already had troops stationed in Tripoli in the Italian area, would participate.
July, 1940: Keitel is promoted to Field Marshal. Keitel, in a meeting with Hitler, learns of his Fuehrer's intention to exploit occupied Russian territory and make it part of the Reich.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: During the war—it must have been in the winter of 1939-1940—I received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. I did not receive any other German war decorations.
July 12, 1940: The OKW under Jodl sets up a special group for the planning of Operation Felix, a proposed German march through Spain and the seizure of Gibraltar and the Spanish possessions in North Africa. Franco, however, will ultimately refuse to cooperate and the plan will never be implemented. (Brown)
From Jodl's IMT testimony: As Chief of Staff, I would have been Field Marshal Keitel's assistant, concerned with all of his duties. I was, however, only the chief of one of the many departments subordinate to Field Marshal Keitel. Beginning with the year 1941 it became the practice for me and my operational branch to report to the Fuehrer direct on all matters concerned with strategies, while Field Marshal Keitel, using my quartermaster department as a sort of personal working staff, took over all other tasks...I was subordinate to Field Marshal Keitel, and even Keitel himself was not a commander but only the chief of a staff. But in the course of this war I naturally decided many operational details myself and signed them myself. There was no disagreement of any sort in these matters with the commanders-in-chief for I had their confidence, and I worked on the best possible terms with them.
July 29, 1940: General Halder, Chief of Staff of the German Army, records in his diary remarks that were made by Hitler during a military conference: "Russia is the factor by which England sets the greatest store...If Russia is beaten, England's last hope is gone...Decision: As a result...Russia must be dealt with. Spring 1941." (Baldwin)
From Keitel's IMT testimony: There were continual reports from that border or demarcation line (between the Germans and Russians in Poland) on frontier incidents, shootings, and particularly about frequent crossings of that line by aircraft of the Soviet Union, which led to the due exchange of notes. But at any rate there were continual small frontier fights and shootings, particularly in the South, and we received information through our frontier troops that continual or at certain times new Russian troop units appeared opposite them. I think that was all. ...
During the Western campaign there were—I do not think I am wrong this time—seven divisions, seven divisions from East Prussia to the Carpathians, two of which, during the Western campaign, had even been transported to the West but later on were transported back again. ...I did not hear until I came here, that such a conference took place in Berchtesgaden at the end of July or beginning of August. This was due to the fact that I was absent from Berchtesgaden. I did not know of this conference, and I think General Jodl probably forgot to tell me about it at the time. I did not know about it.
August 1, 1940: Hitler gives Göring the go-ahead for Operation Eagle, the Luftwaffe bombing campaign against Britain. Raeder reports to Hitler that the earliest possible date for an invasion of Britain is September 15.
From Professor William Messerschmitt's US SBS interview: Professor Messerschmitt was not aware that Britain's fighters out-classsed German fighters during the Battle of Britain. The plan for the Battle of Britain was first to knock out the RAF and then to make a landing. (SBS, Read)
From Kesselring's US SBS interview: Q: Was the Battle of Britain—the air battle—conducted as preparation for the invasion?
Kesselring: Yes, at any rate, the air attacks as such can be regarded as an introduction to the invasion. I can not recall the exact date at which time we were notified that the invasion was called off.
Q: Why were the air battles called off?
Kesselring: Because our losses were too high. Because we did not have enough fighter escort for the bombers.
Q: Was this because of the comparatively short range of the ME 109 and 110?
Kesselring: Yes, partly. It took a long time and a lot of practice to send over proper fighter cover. As for the ME 109, they were able to provide fighter escort all the way back to the French Coast. This was done by increasing their range through the use of the belly tank and a system of relays of escort. We also used ME 110's in places where we did not expect very heavy fighter opposition and by pushing our land bases nearer the English Coast.
Q: Was it the loss of fighters or bombers that was disturbing, or both?
Kesselring: The losses were much larger in the beginning in bombers, of course, and the Spitfires were not so efficient, at first, but as the English improved the Spitfire, we were outsmarted and the English could dive through our bomber formations and shoot them down from the formation.
Q: What were the strategic objectives of the attack?
Kesselring: In the first place, the enemy air force. Secondly, seaports, thirdly, the enemy war production, and in fourth place, the attacks on London, which had hostile vital installations as targets. We had strict orders from Hitler and Goering not to bomb cities under any circumstances - only the industrial production. Hitler had ordered that we should not start the bombing of civilian population, but he did, however, order the bombing of political targets.
Q: What is a political target?
Kesselring: The government district—the leadership center.
Q: Do you think that you carried out strictly Hitler's orders?
Kesselring: As a flyer I have to say the following. The order was given and carried out, if possible. That there are times when a bomb has to be released by accident, is well known to every aviator.
Q: Were strict orders given to the crews not to let the bombs fall in the city?
Kesselring: Until such time as the terror attacks were started by the Allies, this order was never countermanded. The first attacks on London were limited to military objectives. However, the English started very early with their attacks against German cities. That this kind of attack called for counter-measures, become a firm conviction of the Fuehrer. He made a speech to the world on this which everyone knows.
From Keitel's SBS interview: Q: After the defeat of France, what was your plan to win against England?
Keitel: Well, the armed forces more or less thought that the war had come to an end, but I remember that a directive was issued that nobody was to be demobilized and that the training had to be carried on with the greatest vigor. The Fuehrer said in his Reichstag speech on 22 July that he did not want to conquer any British territory, that we left the French the entire fleet. We also allowed the French to keep their colonies with the only exception of those that were formerly German, and we let them have their own government and we hoped that discussions for peace would result. On the other hand, we realized that the English continued to mobilize and we didn't forget for a moment that the United States bolstered the morale of England, to say the least. Then again, we knew of the efforts of Cripps in Russia. We tried to extend the Axis Pact by getting Yugoslavia into our sphere of influence. However, there was a certain feeling of uncertainty because one was sure that the massing of Soviet troops on the border meant something and we finally realized that the mutual distrust was increasing. Finally, in the late summer, the question arose 'Will there be any war with Russia?'
Q: In the meantime, what was the plan of the armed forces to beat England?
Keitel: England could only be attacked by crossing the Channel or by increasing the U-boat warfare as was done in 1914 to 1918 - the blockade. England, as is known, depends in more or less everything on imports from overseas.
Q: Was anything done to put the plan of invasion into effect?
Keitel: Yes. After we had become masters on the coasts, we immediately considered that we could perhaps bring the war to a speedy conclusion by crossing the Channel and attacking England. Three points have to be taken into consideration. First of all, the British Navy which would play an important role in such an enterprise. Secondly, was the necessary shipping space available not only for the troops, but also for supplies. Thirdly, was the Luftwaffe strong enough to put an umbrella over this enterprise inasmuch as we had to figure on strong English counter-action. Shipping space as such was not available in the required quantity. At least, not immediately. It was attempted to find this shipping space in the French canals, in the French harbors, and in the German harbors. However, this would have taken considerable time due to the damages inflicted on the German waterways. No day could be set and besides it depended upon the capability of the German Navy and how long we could cross the Channel on calm seas. This was only possible until August or the beginning of September inasmuch as gales start in September and nothing could be done thereafter.
Q: Had Hitler himself accepted this plan?
Keitel: Yes, he did. He was very much urged to follow this plan because the general opinion was that the time was very favorable. Then came the question as to who should assume the responsibility for this stroke. The Navy had to be listened to, and the Air Force, of course, as well; because it could have been clearly assumed that during this stroke the English Navy had to be regarded as an important factor. The Navy had certain doubts and the Air Force added a few to that. Therefore, the decision could have been taken only by an office that was above the three armed forces. All preparations and necessary measures were taken. The invasion itself could then not be carried out. That was the beginning of September, 1940. The next order said that the invasion was to be postponed until a different time of the year, but that all orders and directives were to continue in their validity.
Q: Do you know why Hitler ordered that?
Keitel: That is difficult to answer. There were not only political but also realistic reasons. We had dominated the air, but we could not have known at what time we could expect a more favorable ratio between the two Navies. We had started for instance, the expedition in the Atlantic, and the cruiser warfare. Later, during the Bismarck trip, the whole English fleet had gone into action. The first thing that was stopping us was the respect for the English fleet, because we had to count on the English throwing in their whole fleet, with the destroyers, cruisers, battleships, as well as their carriers—we did not have a single carrier and we had to understand clearly that against such a formidable fleet there must be sufficient protection from the air, and secondly that those ships are very difficult to hit with a bomb dropped from 4 - 5,000 meters, and therefore, the situation, in general, was very problematic. There was, therefore, a possibility that the English fleet might be lured away some place.
Q: What was your personal attitude towards this decision?
Keitel: On the one hand, I believed that with the invasion of England, the whole war could have come to an end probably in a few weeks under certain circumstances. On the other hand, although I was considered an optimist by nature, I was very much worried. I fully realized that we would have to undertake this invasion with small boats which were not seaworthy. Therefore, at that time I had fully agreed with the decision of the Fuehrer. You could even feel quite obviously that each one of the three armed forces was trying to pass the responsibility on to the other one. The Army people told me: 'It doesn't depend on us; we are ready, but can the Navy go through with it? The Navy passed the responsibility on to the Air Force, and in the end, one must realize that one cannot after all sail to England with what are practically un-seaworthy rowboats.
Q: Of what opinion was the Air Force?
Keitel: They were very positive, until they were pinned down to answer the question, 'Can you guarantee that the English fleet will be kept away?' On this they said: 'Well, of course, we cannot guarantee that.' Then the Navy would say: 'In that case, we can't, of course, cross the Channel.' In the Army, they would say: 'Well, if something goes wrong, it is hard for us to disembark along the way.'
Q: How could you avoid making the decision yourself?
Keitel: The Fuehrer always made the important decisions himself. He asked me, and he had talked with the different Supreme Commanders, both individually and jointly. He also asked General Jodl, and then he would make the decision himself, quite independently. He would often say, 'I want to think this over for 24 hours,' and then he would come out with a decision that was final. I said then that under these circumstances, and considering the English fleet and the fact that we did not have a sufficient bomber force. I personally would not undertake it. In these circumstances, Hitler always made the final decisions himself. It was all the same to him whether Goering shared his opinion or whether Brauchitsch or Raeder were of the same opinion. He took their viewpoints or sometimes he even asked them to give him the arguments in writing, but then there was no more discussion. Discussions took place only when he asked for them. When he decided the Generals concerned were called and none of them knew what the results would be. Neither did I. Then he would appear and say: 'I have come to this decision and no more discussion will follow.'
From Keitel's testimony before the IMT: As far as I recollect...(Hitler's first talk of the possibility of an armed conflict with the Soviet Union) was at the beginning of August 1940, on the occasion of a discussion of the situation at Berchtesgaden, or rather at his house, the Berghof. That was the first time that the possibility of an armed conflict with the Soviet Union was discussed. ...I think I can refer to what Reich Marshal Goering has said on this subject. According to our notions, there were considerable troop concentrations in Bessarabia and Bukovina. The Foreign Minister, too, had mentioned figures which I cannot recall, and there was the anxiety which had been repeatedly voiced by Hitler at that time that developments might result in the Romanian theater which would endanger our source of petroleum, the fuel supply for the conduct of the war, which for the most part came from Romania. Apart from that, I think he talked about strong or manifest troop concentrations in the Baltic provinces.
...As far as I can recollect this was confined firstly to increased activities of the intelligence or espionage service against Russia and, secondly, to certain investigations regarding the possibility of transferring troops from the West, from France, as quickly as possible to the Southeast areas or to East Prussia. Certain return transports of troops from the Eastern military districts had already taken place at the end of July. Apart from that no instructions were given at that time.
August 11, 1940: From the diary of Italian Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano:
...the decision for war had been taken: Mussolini continues to talk about a lightning attack into Greece at about the end of September. In the meantime, the original Italian plan of attacking Yugoslavia was shelved, because of German opposition and lack of the necessary transport.
From Kesselring's US SBS interview: Kesselring: I spent three and one-half years in Italy and believe I know the Italian soldier well. Apart from excellent individual achievements, I have seen failures in all fields of the Italian armed forces which were simply unbelievable. Then you have to add a Southern stubbornness which does not like to accept advice. It would have been best if the Italians had remained neutral. If, however, we wanted to hold the Mediterranean we would have to make it a main theater of operations, knowing how important the Mediterranean was for the British. Here again, the peculiar traits of character of the Italians showed up in that they would not accept any help and thought that they could tackle the job themselves. They did ask for help now and then but when a division arrived, they said 'No, one division is not enough.'
Q: What was the aim of the Germans in the Mediterranean?
Kesselring: As far as I can see there was no aim for us there. But if Italy was to be in the war, Malta should have been eliminated.
Q: Would you personally have abandoned Italy as a theater of war?
Kesselring: No. The German aim, in the first place, was to get the Italians going. German interests were not at stake... ...But I have to be fair to the Italians. Their equipment was so miserable that, in all fairness, you could not expect anything better from such an army.
September 17, 1940: Hitler postpones Operation Sealion.
From the summary of Professor Messerschmitt's US SBS interview: No attempt was made after the battle of Britain to increase the number or effectiveness of German aircraft. This was a great mistake as the Luftwaffe had been a decisive weapon in all other campaigns. Professor Messerschmitt could not understand the reason why no such action had been taken. He always claimed that the war would be won by the nation which could control the air over its own territory and over the battlefield.
From the US SBS interview summary of Dr. Tank (president of the Focke-Wulf Aircraft Company): It would be natural to have expected that the failure of the Luftwaffe in 1940 in the Battle of Britain would have resulted in an immediate program for the production of new and superior types of German aircraft, and for greatly increased numbers of such aircraft. The heavy losses of flying personnel would also have indicated the necessity for an immediate increase in pilot training. Strangely enough, nothing of the sort occurred. As late as May of 1941, aircraft production had been relegated to seventh priority after tanks, artillery, locomotives, V-weapons and munitions (explosives).
From Keitel's SBS interview: Q: What was the relation between the invasion plan and the heavy bombardment attacks on England?
Keitel: I believe that the bomber warfare did not begin until later, and that the beginning of the heavy bombardment was actually marked by the indisputable fact that it was not us who started bombing the cities but the English. We had seen the first attacks on Berlin, and at that time nobody thought of an attack on London. There is a certain connection between the invasion and the bombardment insofar as we were not able to carry out the invasion and the war had to be continued by warfare against the English armament industry and especially against the English harbors. A great quantity of motor vehicles and equipment came from America and so the war was continued through attacks on these harbors. Furthermore, in the harbors you not only knocked out the cargo, but you also destroyed by the sinking of a ship, so many tons of carrying capacity. The harbor installations were also hit and through that, the war potential of England was hit heaviest. The large warehouses and docks were also severely damaged.
Q: At that time, did you personally agree to the bombing of England?
Keitel: I had considered it militarily correct, but I had to criticize it insofar as we had not remained consistent enough as far as the fight against the harbors was concerned. Every command pilot should have been obliged to report why he attacked any other target except the harbor. But the OKW did not exclusive a command function over the Air Force, but issued only general directives. In a large number of the harbors, there was a considerable amount of construction going on and the completion of these vessels would have been made impossible. Finally, there was the possibility of preventing or making it very difficult to enter these harbors through the laying of mines either from the air or from the water. I was of the personal opinion that the fight against the harbors with mine and bomb was the strongest means of warfare after the invasion did not come off.
Q: You said that there were two plans? Invasion or blockade. Was this bomber offensive part of this blockade?
Keitel: Yes. It was a considerable part of the blockade.
Q: What were the other steps taken?
Keitel: Submarine warfare and cruiser warfare. One must consider these three. The submarine warfare, the blockade and the cruiser warfare (both with real and auxiliary cruisers), the mines from the sea and from the air and the aerial warfare against harbors and sea strong-points.
Q: Do you mean attacks against English ships?
Keitel: Yes, but on the whole, these were with limited success. We believed the pilots when they said that they dad sunk this or that cruiser. We thought this or that battleship was sunk by us and after a certain time, that battleship would appear on the sea after an overhaul in an American harbor. That was not a falsified claim, but that happens in a fast-moving airplane. I, personally, as a non-flyer, believed that the level of bombing against battleships is to say the least very problematic.
Q: What measures were taken in foreign countries to carry out the blockade through economic warfare?
Keitel: I believe that the success of our economic warfare was very limited. The only thing that we could do was that we could, for instance, buy all the sardines in one country and pay for them with guns, and therefore prevent them from going to England. We could try to buy goods in Spain in exchange for war equipment. We could buy mercury and lead in Spain. In such manner we have tried to buy up things that looked also very valuable to us. Outside of that, we had no means and we had never used any pressure.
Anyway, decisions in these questions were up to the Foreign Ministry and the execution up to the Minister of Economics and it was only the delivery of arms in payment, which was the job of the Wehrmacht. I did have an Admiral in the OKW who dealt with it, and continually followed the questions of economic warfare. This was Admiral Gross. Gross was very active when it came to the blockade runners. We had a limited traffic through blockade runners with Japan. We had exchanged arms for quinine and rubber. That stopped in the spring of 1943.
September 27, 1940: From a statement released by the US State Department:
The reported agreement of alliance (Tripartite Pact) does not, in view of the Government of the United States, substantially alter a situation which has existed for several years. Announcement of the alliance merely makes clear to all a relationship which has long existed in effect, and to which this Government have repeatedly called attention. That such an agreement has been in process of conclusion has been well known for some time, and that fact has been fully taken into account by the Government of the United States, in the determining of this country's policies.
September 29, 1940: FDR delivers a Fireside Chat to the American people:
For, on September 27th, 1940, this year, by an agreement signed in Berlin, three powerful nations, two in Europe and one in Asia, joined themselves together in the threat that if the United States of America interfered with or blocked the expansion program of these three nations—a program aimed at world control—they would unite in ultimate action against the United States. The Nazi masters of Germany have made it clear that they intend not only to dominate all life and thought in their own country, but also to enslave the whole of Europe, and then to use the resources of Europe to dominate the rest of the world...
October 12, 1940: The Germans occupy the Romanian oil fields.
October 28, 1940: Italy's ambassador in Athens, Emmanuele Grazzi, hands an ultimatum from Mussolini to Greek leader Metaxas. In it, the Duce demands that his troops be permitted to occupy unspecified 'strategic points' inside Greek territory. Metaxas rejects the ultimatum with the words 'Alors, c'est la guerre' (French for 'Then, it's war.'). Italian military forces launch an invasion of Greece from Albanian territory.
October 29, 1940: From a memorandum by Falkenstein, a major of the General Staff and Luftwaffe liaison officer with the Operations Stab of the OKW headed by the Jodl:
5) The Fuehrer is at present occupied with the question of the occupation of the Atlantic islands with a view to the prosecution of a war against America at a later date. Deliberations on this subject are being embarked upon here. Essential conditions are at the present: (a) No other operational commitment; (b) Portuguese neutrality; (c) support of France and Spain. A brief assessment of the possibility of seizing and holding air bases and of the question of supply is needed from the GAF (German Air Force).
...General Botticher has made repeated reference, especially in his telegram 2314, dated 26th of October, to the fact that in his opinion too many details of our knowledge of American aircraft industry are being published in the German press. The matter has been discussed at Armed Forces Supine Command. I pointed out that the matter was specifically a GAF one but have taken the liberty of referring the matter to you on its own merits.
October 30, 1940: To support the Greek government, the British send an expeditionary force to Crete and other Greek islands. In addition, the Soviet government sends 134 fighter aircraft to the Greeks to help stem the Italian invasion.
October 31, 1940: The Italian Supreme Command announces that 'Our units continue to advance into Epirus and have reached the river Kalamas at several points. Unfavorable weather conditions and action by the retreating enemy are not slowing down the advances of our troops.' In reality, the Italian offensive is already in trouble.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: We were drawn into the war against Greece and against Yugoslavia in the spring of 1941 to our complete surprise and without having made any plans. Let me take Greece first: I accompanied Hitler during his journey through France for the meetings with Marshal Petain and with Franco on the Spanish border, and during that journey we received our first news regarding the intention of Italy to attack Greece. The journey to Florence was immediately decided upon, and upon arrival in Florence, we received Mussolini's communication, which has already been mentioned by Reich Marshal Goering, namely, that the attack against Greece had already begun. I can only say from my own personal knowledge that Hitler was extremely angry about this development and the dragging of the Balkans into the war and that only the fact that Italy was an ally prevented a break with Mussolini. I never knew of any intentions to wage war against Greece.
November 4-13, 1940: In the 'Battle of Pindus,' a successful Greek counter-attack ends in a complete Greek victory.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: At first the necessity (to help the Italian's) did not exist, but during the first months, October-November, of that campaign of the Italians, it already became clear that the Italian position in this war had become extremely precarious. Therefore, as early as November or December, there were calls on the part of Mussolini for help, calls to assist him in some form or other. Moreover, seen from the military point of view, it was clear of course that for the entire military position in the war, a defeat of Italy in the Balkans would have had considerable and very serious consequences. Therefore, by improvised means, assistance was rendered. I think a mountain division was to be brought in, but it was technically impossible, since there were no transportation facilities. Then another solution was attempted by means of air transport and the like.
November 12-14, 1940: Soviet Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov travels to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I did not take any part in the discussions with M. Molotov, although in this instance too I was present at the reception and at certain social meetings. I remember that on two occasions I sat next to Molotov at the table. I did not hear any political discussion, nor did I have any political discussions with my table companion. ...After the departure of Molotov he (Hitler) really said very little. He more or less said that he was disappointed in the discussion. I think he mentioned briefly that problems regarding the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea areas had been discussed in a general way and that he had not been able to take any positive or desired stand. He said he did not go into details. I asked him about military things which had a certain significance at the time—the strong forces, for instance, in the Bessarabian sector. I think Hitler evaded the answer and said that this was obviously connected with all these matters and that he had not gone into it too deeply, or something similar, I cannot remember exactly. At any rate, there was nothing new in it for us and nothing final. ...Hitler told us at the time that he wished to wait for the reaction to these discussions in the Eastern area after the delegation had returned to Russia. Certain orders had been given to the ambassador, too, in that respect, however not directly after the Molotov visit.
December 13, 1940: From Direction Number 20 - Operation Marita:
The result of the battles in Albania is not yet decisive. Because of a dangerous situation in Albania it is doubly necessary that the British endeavor be foiled to create airbases under the protection of a Balkan front, which would be dangerous above all to Italy as well as to the Rumanian oil fields. 2. My plan therefore is (a) to from a slowly increasing task force in Southern Rumania within the next months. (b) After the setting in of favorable weather, probably in March, to send this task force for the occupation of the Aegean North coast by way of Bulgaria, and if necessary to occupy the entire Greek mainland...
From Keitel's IMT testimony: The war in Greece and Albania had begun to reach a certain standstill because of winter conditions. During that time, plans were conceived in order to avoid a catastrophe for Italy, to bring in against Greece certain forces from the North for an attack to relieve pressure, for such I must call it. That would, and did of course, take several months. May I just explain that at that time the idea of a march through Yugoslavia, or even the suggestion that forces should be brought in through Yugoslavia was definitely turned down by Hitler, although the Army particularly had proposed that possibility as the most suitable way of bringing in troops. Regarding the "Operation Marita," perhaps not much more can be said than to mention the march through Bulgaria, which had been prepared and discussed diplomatically with Bulgaria.
December 18, 1940: Hitler gives orders—from Fuehrer Headquarters—for the military preparations against the USSR. From Directive No. 21:
Operation Barbarossa. The German Armed Forces must be prepared, even before the conclusion of the war against England, to crush Soviet Russia in a rapid campaign. ... General Intention: The bulk of the Russian Army stationed in western Russia will be destroyed by daring operations led by deeply penetrating armored spearheads. Russian forces still capable of giving battle will be prevented from withdrawing into the depths of Russia. The enemy will then be energetically pursued and a line will be reached from which the Russian Air Force can no longer attack German territory...
From the summary of Professor Messerschmitt's US SBS interview: Professor Messerschmitt believed that the reason that no attempt was made to invade England was that Germany was afraid that Russia would seize the opportunity to stab her in the back. In this connection, he stated that he had...been told once in 1941 by Dr. Todt that Germany had information that Russia had intended to attack her and that it was therefore necessary for Germany to attack first to obtain the advantage of surprise. He reported having heard that Russia had notified Germany that she demanded the following territory: Finland, The Baltic States, One-half of Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, European Turkey, The Dardanelles. 4. German intelligence was unaware of the degree of Russian armament. Russia had better tanks and artillery.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I believe it must have been during the first half of December that the orders were issued, the well known order Barbarossa. To be precise, these orders were given at the beginning of December, namely, the orders to work out the strategic plan. ...I knew nothing about the conference in Zossen, and I think General Buschenhagen was also there, according to the statements he has made here. I did not know anything about the Finnish General Heinrichs' presence in Zossen and have heard about it for the first time here. The only way I can explain this is that the General Staff of the Army wanted to get information or other things and that for that purpose they discussed that with the persons concerned. I did not meet General Heinrichs until May 1941. At that time I had a conference with him and General Jodl at Salzburg. Before that I had never seen him and I had never talked to him. ...
Yes, there was considerable significance attached to that (that Hitler would order the actual deployment of the troops 8 weeks before the operational plan would become effective). I have been interrogated about that by the Soviet Delegation here. The reason was that according to the calculations of the Army, it would take about eight weeks to get these troops, which were to be transported by rail, into position; that is to say, if troops from Reich territory were to be placed in position on an operative starting line. Hitler emphasized when the repeated revisions of the plan were made that he wanted to have complete control of such deployment. In other words, troop movements without his approval were not to be made. That was the purpose of this instruction.
December 23, 1940: Keitel meets with Admiral Canaris and General Lahousen.
From Abwehr General Erwin Lahousen's IMT testimony: The order to liquidate, that is, to be explicit, to murder Weygand and Giraud, was given to me by Canaris, who received it from Keitel. This order and this intention regarding the matter Weygand, were furthermore transmitted to me through direct speech with Keitel. Keitel asked me after Canaris had read to him a report in my presence, on December 23, 1940, according to my notes, about the progress in the case Weygand. As regards the second case, that is the case Giraud, I had it from Canaris himself that the order was sent to him by Keitel—as did also the other chiefs who were present. I further heard of it a second time during a report from Canaris to Keitel, in my presence, in July 1942, when this order was communicated to me in a manner similar to that of the case Weygand, and, finally, I received it in a direct manner from Keitel through telephone conversation which I described here, and transmitted as urgent intelligence.
January 21, 1941: From the diary of Count Ciano concerning a meeting between Mussolini and Ribbentrop:
The Duce is pleased with the conversation on the whole. I am less pleased. Above all, because Ribbentrop, who had always been so boastful in the past, told me, when I asked him outright how long the war would last, that he saw no possibility of its ending before 1942.
From Ribbentrop's IMT testimony: The Defendant Keitel was with me at the time at Fuschl, and on that occasion he told me that the Fuehrer had certain misgivings regarding Russia and could not leave the possibility of an armed conflict out of his calculations. He said that, for his part, he had prepared a memorandum which he proposed to discuss with the Fuehrer. He had doubts as to the wisdom of any conflict of that kind in the East, and he asked me at the time if I would also use my influence with the Führer in that direction. I agreed to do so. But an attack or plans for an attack were not discussed; I might say that all this was a discussion more from a General Staff point of view. He made no mention to me of anything more concrete.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: When I became conscious of the fact that the matter (of an attack on Russia) had been given really serious thought I was very surprised, and I considered it most unfortunate. I seriously considered what could be done to influence Hitler by using military considerations. At that time, as has been briefly discussed here by the Foreign Minister, I wrote a personal memorandum containing my thoughts on the subject, I should like to say, independently of the experts working in the General Staff and the Wehrmacht Operations Staff and wanted to present this memorandum to Hitler. I decided on that method because, as a rule, one could never get beyond the second sentence of a discussion with Hitler. He took the word out of one's mouth and afterwards one never was able to say what one wanted to say. And in this connection I should like to say right now that I had the idea—it was the first and only time—of visiting the Foreign Minister personally, in order to ask him to support me from the political angle regarding that question. That is the visit to Fuschl, which has already been discussed here and which the Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop confirmed during his examination the other day. ...
I confirm that I went to Fuschl. I had the memorandum with me. It had been written by hand, since I did not want anybody else to get hold of it. And I left Fuschl conscious of the fact that he wanted to try to exercise influence on Hitler to the same end. He promised me that. ...Some time later at the Berghof, after a report of the situation had been given, I handed him (Hitler) that memorandum when we were alone. I think he told me at the time that he was going to study it. He took it, and did not give me a chance to make any explanations. ...
At first nothing at all happened, so that after some time I reminded him of it and asked him to discuss the problem with me. This he did, and the matter was dealt with very briefly by his saying that the military and strategic considerations put forward by me were in no way convincing. He, Hitler, considered these ideas erroneous, and turned them down. In that connection I can perhaps mention very briefly that I was again very much upset and there was another crisis when I asked to be relieved of my post, and that another man be put in my office and that I be sent to the front. That once more led to a sharp controversy as has already been described by the Reich Marshal when he said that Hitler took the attitude that he would not tolerate that a general whose views he did not agree with should ask to be relieved of his post because of this disagreement. I think he said that he had every right to turn down such suggestions and ideas if he considered them wrong. I had not the right to take any action. ...
I do not think I got it back. I have always assumed that it was found among the captured Schmundt files, which apparently is not the case. I did not get it back; he kept it. ...I must say that the main part of my memorandum was devoted to military studies, military studies regarding the amount of forces, the requirements of effectives, and the dispersal of forces in France and Norway at the time, and the Luftwaffe in Italy, and our being tied down in the West. In that memorandum I most certainly pointed to the fact that this Non-Aggression Pact existed. But all the rest were military considerations. ...
No orders were given at that time except, I think, for the improvement of lines of communications from the West to the East to permit speeding up troop transports, particularly to the Southeastern sector, in other words, north of the Carpathians and in the East Prussian sector. Apart from that no orders of any kind were given at that time. ...As early as the winter of 1940-1941, whenever there were discussions regarding the strength of the Russian forces on the demarcation line, that is, in December-January, I asked Hitler to send a note to the Soviet Union so as to bring about a cleaning-up of the situation, if I may express it so. I can add now that the first time he said nothing at all, and the second time he refused, maintaining that it was useless, since he would only receive the answer that this was an internal affair and that it was none of our business, or something like that. At any rate, he refused. I tried again, at a later stage, that is to say I voiced the request that an ultimatum should be presented before we entered upon an action, so that in some form the basis would be created for a preventive war, as we called it, for an attack.
January 30, 1941: Hitler speaks in Berlin:
England in reality is socially the most backward country in the world. Thus, considered internally, this gigantic external wealth is really barren as far as the masses as distinct from the few are concerned. But even externally this world domination is only a figment. New centers have been given to the world. Gigantic States have arisen which can be neither attacked nor even threatened by Great Britain. The whole British idea of world domination was based on getting others to proceed against the Continent. But outside this European Continent or far beyond it great States have come into existence which are completely unassailable by England. British diplomacy may only attempt to maintain its position there by clever manipulations and by trying to bring other forces into play, which means that it must now attempt to raise the so-called Balance of Power in Europe to a Balance of Power in the world. In other words, it has to play Great Powers against each other in order to maintain at least a semblance of a World Power. In Europe, itself, however, the awakening of the nations has already done away with the theory of the so-called Balance of Power, that is, disorganization of the Continent. The national development of Germany and the creation of the new German Empire pierced into this disorganized European Continent and to the south of us, Italy did the same. To this must be added new elements...
February 3, 1941: Hitler meets with Keitel, Jodl, Brauchitsch, and Halder; as well as Colonel Schmundt, Hitler's Adjutant:
The proposed time schedule is charted on the map. First Deployment Echelon (Aufmarschstaf) now being transferred, Front-Interior-East. Second Deployment Echelon from the middle of March gives 3 divisions for reinforcement in the West, but Army groups and Army High Commands are withdrawn from the West. In the East there are already considerable reinforcements though still in the rear area. From now on, 'Attila' (the code word for the operation for the occupation of unoccupied France) can be carried out only with difficulty. Economic traffic is hampered by transport movements.
From the beginning of April, Hungary will be approached about the march-through. Third Deployment Echelon, from the middle of April. 'Felix' is now no longer possible, as the main part of the artillery has been shipped. In industry the full capacity timetable is in force. No more camouflage. Fourth Deployment Echelon, from 25. IV to 15. V, withdraws considerable forces from the West ('Seelowe' can no longer be carried out). (Seelowe—Sea Lion) The concentration of troops in the East is clearly apparent. The full capacity timetable is maintained. The complete picture of the disposition of forces on the map shows 8 Marita divisions. Commander-in-Chief, Army, requests that he no longer have to assign 5 control divisions for this; but might hold them ready as reserves for commander in the West. Fuehrer: 'When Barbarossa commences the world will hold its breath and make no comment.
February 23, 1941: From notes of a meeting with the Japanese Ambassador Oshima, Matsuoka, and Ribbentrop:
The Reich Foreign Minister mentioned further that if America should declare war because of Japan's entry into the war, this would mean that America had the intention to enter the war sooner or later anyway. Even though it would be preferable to avoid this, the entry into the war would, as explained above, be by no means decisive and would not endanger the final victory of the countries of the Three Power Pact. The Foreign Minister further expressed his belief that a temporary lift of the British morale caused by America's entry into the war would be canceled by Japan's entry into the war. If, however, contrary to all expectations, the Americans should be careless enough to send their navy, in spite of all, beyond Hawaii and to the Far East, this would represent the biggest chance for the countries of the Three Power Pact to bring the war to an end with the greatest rapidity. He—the Foreign Minister—is convinced that the Japanese Fleet would then do a complete job. Ambassador Oshima replied to this that unfortunately he does not think the Americans would do it, but he is convinced of a victory of his fleet in Japanese waters... ...
The Reich Foreign Minister then touched upon the question, explicitly designated as theoretical, that the contracting powers might be required, on the basis of new affronts by the USA, to break off diplomatic relations. Germany and Italy were fundamentally determined on this. After signing of the Three Power Pact, we should proceed, if the occasion arises, also jointly in this matter. Such a lesson should open the eyes of the people in the United States, and under certain conditions swing public opinion towards isolation. Naturally a situation had to be chosen in which America found herself entirely in the wrong. The common step of the signatory powers should be exploited correspondingly in propaganda. The question, however, was in no way acute at the time.
February 24, 1941: Hitler speaks in Munich:
I place my confidence in the best army in the world, in the best army which the German nation has ever possessed. It is numerically strong, it has the finest weapons and is better led than ever before. We have a body of young leaders who have not merely proved their worth in the present war but, I can well say, have covered themselves with glory. Wherever we look today, we see a bodyguard of chosen men to whom the German soldiers have been entrusted. They in their turn are the leaders of soldiers who are the best trained in the world, who are armed with the finest weapons on earth. Behind these soldiers and their leaders stands the German nation, the whole German people...
February 27, 1941: From an Agreement between Germany, Bulgaria and Rumania for attacking Greece and eventually Turkey:
During the operation of the German troops against Greece or Turkey, the Bulgarian army will not be committed in an offensive way against the two mentioned countries, according to an agreement between the two governments. It will be reinforced, in order to safeguard the new order on the Balkan. 2. Up to the arrival of German troops on the Bulgarian South and Southeast border, the Bulgarian army will alone defend its territory with its own troops...
March 1, 1941: From notes of a conference General Thomas held with his subordinates on 28 February 1941:
The general ordered that a broader plan of organization be drafted for the Reich Marshal. Essential Points:
1. The whole organization to be subordinate to the Reich Marshall Purpose: Support and extension of the measures of the Four Year Plan.
2. The organization must include everything concerning war economy, excepting only food which is said to be made already a special mission of State Secretary Backe.
3. Clear statement that the organization is to be independent of the military or civil administration. Close co-ordination, but instructions direct from the central office in Berlin.
4. Scope of activities to be divided into two steps: a) Accompanying the advancing troops directly behind the front lines in order to avoid the destruction of supplies and to secure the removal of important goods; b) Administration of the occupied industrial districts and exploitation of economically complementary districts.
5. In view of the extended field of activity the term 'war economy inspection' is to be used in preference to armament inspection.
6. In view of the great field of activity the organization must be generously equipped and personnel must be correspondingly numerous. The main mission of the organization will consist of seizing raw materials and taking over all important exploitations. For the latter mission reliable persons from German concerns will be interposed suitably from the beginning, since successful operation from the beginning can only be performed by the aid of their experience. (For example: lignite, ore, chemistry, petroleum).
After the discussion of further details Lieutenant Colonel Luther was instructed to make an initial draft of such an organization within a week. Close co-operation with the individual sections in the building is essential. An officer must still be appointed for the Wi and Ru with whom the operational staff can remain in constant contact. Wi is to give each section chief and Lieutenant Colonel Luther a copy of the new plan regarding Russia. Lieutenant General Schubert is to be asked to be in Berlin the second half of next week. Also, the four officers who are ordered to draw up the individual armament inspections are to report to the office chief at the end of the week. signed—Hamann.
March 1, 1941: Bulgaria officially joins the Tripartite Pact signed previously by Germany, Italy and Japan (September 27, 1940).
March 5, 1941: Basic Order Number 24: The Fuehrer has issued the following order regarding collaboration with Japan:
It must be the aim of the collaboration based on the Three Power Pact to induce Japan, as soon as possible, to take active measures in the Far East. Strong British forces will thereby be tied down, and the center of gravity of the interests of the United States of America will be diverted to the Pacific. The sooner she intervenes, the greater will be the prospects of success for Japan in view of the still undeveloped preparedness for war on the part of her adversaries. The Barbarossa operation will create particularly favorable political and military prerequisites for this. To prepare the way for the collaboration it is essential to strengthen the Japanese military potential with all means available.
For this purpose the High Commands of the branches of the Armed Forces will comply in a comprehensive and generous manner with Japanese desires for information regarding German war and combat experience, and for assistance in military economics and in technical matters. Reciprocity is desirable, but this factor should not stand in the way of negotiations. Priority should naturally be given to those Japanese requests which would have the most immediate application in waging war. In special cases the Führer reserves the decisions for himself. The harmonizing of the operational plans of the No parties is the responsibility of the Naval High Command. This will be subject to the following guiding principles: a. The common aim of the conduct of war is to be stressed as forcing England to the ground quickly and thereby keeping the United States out of the war.
Beyond this Germany has no political, military, or economic interests in the Far East which would give occasion for any reservations with regard to Japanese intentions. b. The great successes achieved by Germany in mercantile warfare make it appear particularly suitable to employ strong Japanese forces for the same purpose. In this connection every opportunity to support German mercantile warfare must be exploited. c. The raw material situation of the pact powers demands that Japan should acquire possession of those territories which it needs for the continuation of the war, especially if the United States intervenes. Rubber shipments must be carried out even after the entry of Japan into the war, since they are of vital importance to Germany. d. The seizure of Singapore as the key British position in the Far East would mean a decisive success for the entire conduct of war of the three powers.
In addition, attacks on other systems of bases of British naval power-extending to those of American naval power only if the entry of the United States into the war cannot be prevented—will result in weakening the enemy's system of power in that region and also, just like the attack on sea communications, in tying down substantial forces of all kinds (Australia). A date for the beginning of operational discussions cannot yet be fixed. In the military commissions to be formed in accordance with the Three Power Pact, only such questions are to be dealt with as equally concern the three participating powers. These will include primarily the problems of economic warfare. The working out of the details is the responsibility of the main commission with the co-operation of the Armed Forces High Command. The Japanese must not be given any intimation of the Barbarossa operations.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: As far as I can recollect, it was at the beginning of March (that Hitler made it clear that he was was determined to attack the Soviet Union). The idea was that the attack might be made approximately in the middle of May. Therefore the decision regarding the transport of troops by rail had to be made in the middle of March. For that reason, during the first half of March a meeting of generals was called, that is to say, a briefing of the generals at Hitler's headquarters and the explanations given by him at that time had clearly the purpose of telling the generals that he was determined to carry out the deployment although an order had not yet been given. He gave a whole series of ideas and issued certain instructions on things which are contained in these directives here for the special parts of Fall Barbarossa. This is Document 447-PS, and these are the directives which were eventually also signed by me. He then gave us the directive for these guiding principles and ideas, so that the generals were already informed about the contents, which in turn caused me to confirm it in writing in this form, for there was nothing new in it for any one who had taken part in the discussions.
March 9, 1941: The Italians launch a full-scale counterattack across the entire front in Greece. It fails.
March 13, 1941: Keitel signs an operational directive to Fuehrer Order Number 21:
b) In the area of operations of the Army the Reichsfuehrer SS is, on behalf of the Fuehrer, entrusted with special tasks for the preparation of the political administration-tasks which result from the struggle which has to be carried out between two opposing political systems. Within the realm of these tasks the Reichsfuehrer SS shall act independently and under his own responsibility. The executive power invested in the Supreme Commander of the Army (OKH) and in agencies determined by him shall not be affected by this. It is the responsibility of the Reichsfuehrer SS that through the execution of his tasks military operations shall not be disturbed. Details shall be arranged directly through the OKH with the Reichsfuehrer SS.
c) As soon as the area of operations has reached sufficient depth, it is to be limited in the rear. The newly occupied territory in the rear of the area of operations is to be given its own political administration. For the present it is to be divided on the basis of nationality and according to the positions of the Army groups into North (Baltic countries), Center (White Russia), and South (Ukraine). In these territories the political administration is taken care of by Commissioners of the Reich who receive their orders from the Fuehrer.
3) For the execution of all military tasks within the areas under the political administration in the rear of the area of operations, commanding officers who are responsible to the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (OKW) shall be in command. The commanding officer is the supreme representative of the Armed Forces in the respective areas and the bearer of the military sovereign rights. He has the tasks of a territorial commander and the rights of a supreme Army commander or a commanding general. In this capacity he is responsible primarily for the following tasks: a) Close co-operation with the Commissioner of the Reich in order to support him in his political tasks; b) exploitation of the Country and securing its economic values for use by German industry.
4) The Fuehrer has entrusted the uniform direction of the administration of economy in the area of operations and in the territories of political administration to the Reich Marshal, who has delegated the Chief of the 'Wi Ru Amt.' with the execution of the task. Special orders on that-will come from the OKW/Wi Mu Amt... ...III. Regulations regarding Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Finland.
9) The necessary arrangements with these countries shall be made by the OKW together with the Foreign Office and according to the wish of the respective high commands. In case it should become necessary during the course of the operations to grant special rights, applications for this purpose are to be submitted to the OKW... ...IV. Directives regarding Sweden.
12) Since Sweden can only become a transient area for troops, no special authority is to be granted to the commander of the German troops. However, he is entitled and compelled to secure the immediate protection of railroad transports against sabotage and attacks.
March 27, 1941: Hitler decides to invade Yugoslavia.
The Fuehrer is determined, without waiting for possible loyalty declarations of the new government, to make all preparations in order to destroy Yugoslavia militarily and as a national unit. No diplomatic inquiries will be made nor ultimatums presented. Assurances of the Yugoslav government which cannot be trusted any how in the future will be taken note of. The attack will start as soon as the means and troops suitable for it are ready. It is important that actions will be taken as fast as possible. An attempt will be made to let the bordering states participate in a suitable way. An actual military support against Yugoslavia is to be requested of Italy, Hungary, and in certain respects of Bulgaria too. Rumania's main task is the protection against Russia...
March 30, 1941: From a summary contained in General Halder’s diary of a conference at Berlin with Hitler and leaders of the Wehrmacht:
Clash of two ideologies. Crushing denunciation of Bolshevism, identified with a social criminality. Communism is an enormous danger for our future. We must forget the concept of comradeship between soldiers. A Communist is no comrade before nor after the battle. This is a war of extermination. If we fail to grasp this, and though we are sure to beat the enemy, we shall again have to fight the Communist foe 30 years from now. We do not wage war to preserve the enemy...
War against Russia. Extermination of the Bolshevist Commissars and of the Communist intelligentsia. The new States must be Socialist, but without intellectual classes of their own. Growth of a new intellectual class must be prevented. A primitive Socialist intelligentsia is all that is needed. We must fight against the poison of disintegration. This is no job for military courts. The individual troop commander must know the issues at stake. They must be leaders in the fight. The troops must fight back with the methods with which they are attacked. Commissars and GPU men are criminals and must be dealt with as such. This need not mean that the troops get out of hand. Rather the commander must give orders which express the common feelings of his troops. This war will be very different from the war in the West. In the East, harshness today means leniency in the future. Commanders must make the sacrifice of overcoming their personal scruples.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: Views were expressed there regarding the administration and economic exploitation of the territories to be conquered or occupied. There was the completely new idea of setting up Reich commissioners and civilian administrations. There was the definite decision to charge the Delegate for the Four Year Plan with the supreme direction in the economic field; and what was for me the most important point, and what affected me most was the fact that besides the right of the military commander to exercise the executive power of the occupation force, a policy was to be followed here in which it was clearly expressed that ReichsFuehrer SS Himmler was to be given extensive plenipotentiary powers concerning all police actions in these territories which later on became known. I firmly opposed that, since to me it seemed impossible that there should be two authorities placed side by side. In the directives here it says: "The authority of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army is not affected by this."
That was a complete illusion and self-deception. Quite the opposite happened. As long as it was compatible with my functions, I fought against this. I think I ought to say that I have no witness to that other than General Jodl, who shared these experiences with me. Eventually, however, Hitler worked out those directives himself, more or less, and gave them the meaning he wanted. That is how these directives came about. That I had no power to order the things which are contained in these directives is clear from the fact that it says that the Reich Marshal receives this task ... the ReichsFuehrer SS receives that task, et cetera. I had no authority whatever to give orders to them. ...
After short reports regarding the operational orders to the individual commanders, there followed a recapitulation, which I must describe as a purely political speech. The main theme was that this was the decisive battle between two ideologies, and that this fact made it impossible—that the leadership in this war, the practices which we knew as soldiers, and which we considered to be the only correct ones under international law, had to be measured by completely different standards. The war could not be carried on by these means. This was an entirely new kind of war, based on completely different arguments and principles. With these explanations, the various orders were then given to do away with the legal system in territories which were not pacified, to combat resistance with brutal means, to consider every local resistance movement as the expression of the deep rift between the two ideologies. These were decidedly quite new and very impressive ideas, but also thoughts which affected us deeply. ...I personally made no remonstrances, apart from those which I had already advanced and the objections I had already expressed before. However, I have never known which generals, if any of the generals, addressed the Fuehrer. At any rate, they did not do so after that discussion.
April 3, 1941: "Balkan operation delay; Barbarossa now in about 5 weeks. All measures which can be construed as offensive actions are to be stopped according to the Fuehrer's order."
April 5, 1941: From notes of a meeting between Hitler, Matsuoka and Ribbentrop:
Matsuoka then spoke of the general high morale in Germany, referring to the happy faces he had seen everywhere among the workers during his recent visit to the Borsig. works. He expressed his regret that developments in Japan were not yet as far advanced as in Germany and that in his country the intellectuals still exercised considerable influence. The Reich Foreign Minister replied that at best a nation which had realized its every ambition could afford the luxury of intellectuals, some of whom are parasites, anyway. A nation, however, which has to fight for a place in the sun must give them up. The intellectuals ruined France; in Germany they had already started their pernicious activities when National Socialism put a stop to these doings; they will surely be the cause of the downfall of Britain, which is to be expected with certainty.
April 6, 1941: On Palm Sunday, Hitler invades Yugoslavia and Greece.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I should merely like to confirm once more that the decision to proceed against Yugoslavia with military means meant completely upsetting an military advances and arrangements made up to that time. Marita had to be completely readjusted. Also new forces had to be brought through Hungary from the North. All that was completely improvised.
April 13, 1941: German troops enter Belgrade Yugoslavia.
April 14, 1941: Hungarian troops occupy northern Yugoslavia.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I have no recollection at all of any military discussion on the part of the OKW with Hungary regarding the eventuality of a military action in the case of Yugoslavia. That is completely unknown to me. On the contrary, everything that happened later on...was completely improvised. Nothing had been prepared, at any rate not with the knowledge of the OKW. ...Of course, it was known to me that several discussions had taken place with the Hungarian General Staff.
April 21, 1941: From a letter from Dr. Lammers to Keitel:
Herewith I am sending you a copy of the Fuehrer's decree of the 20th of this month by which the Fuehrer appointed Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg as his commissioner for the central control connected with the east European region. In this capacity Reichsleiter Rosenberg is to make the necessary preparations for the probable emergency with all speed. The Fuehrer wishes that Rosenberg shall be authorised for this purpose to obtain the closest co-operation of the highest Reich authorities, receive information from them, and summon the representatives of the highest Reich authorities to conferences. In order to guarantee the necessary secrecy of the commission and the measures to be undertaken, for the time being, only those of the highest Reich authorities should be informed on whose co-operation Reichsleiter Rosenberg will primarily depend. They are: The Commissioner for the Four Year Plan (Goering) the Reich Minister of Economics, and you yourself (Keitel). Therefore, may I ask you in accordance with the Fuehrer's wishes to place your co-operation at the disposal of Reichsleiter Rosenberg in the carrying out of the task imposed upon him. It is recommended in the interests of secrecy that you name a representative in your office with whom the office of the Reichsleiter can communicate and who, in addition to your usual deputy, should be the only one to whom you should communicate the contents of this letter. I should be obliged if you would acknowledge the receipt of this letter. Heil Hitler, Yours very sincerely, signed, Dr. Lammers.
Hitler's order: I name Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg as my commissioner for the central control of questions connected with the east European region. An office, which is to be furnished in accordance with his orders, is at the disposal of Reichsleiter Rosenberg for the carrying out of the duties thereby entrusted to him. The necessary money for this office is to be taken out of the Reich Chancellery Treasury in a lump sum. Fuehrer's headquarters, 20th April 1941. The Fuehrer, signed, Adolf Hitler; Reich Minister and Head of Reich Chancellery, signed, Dr. Lammers.
April 29, 1941: From a document outlining Plan Barbarossa Oldenburg (Oldenburg is the code name given to the economic counterpart of Plan Barbarossa):
1. Welcome. Purpose of the meting: Introduction to the organizational structure of the economic section of the undertaking Barbarossa-Oldenburg. As already known, the Fuehrer, contrary to previous procedure, has ordered for this drive the uniform concentration in one hand of all economic operations and has entrusted the Reich Marshal with the overall direction of the economic administration in the area of operations and in the areas under political administration. The Reich Marshal has delegated this function to an Economic General Staff working under the director of the Economic Armament Office (Chief, Wi Ru Amt). Under the Reich Marshal and the Economic General Staff the supreme central authority in the area of the drive itself is the"—and then a heading—"Economic Staff Oldenburg for special duties under the command of Lieutenant General Schubert. His subordinate authorities, geographically subdivided, are: 5 economic inspectorates, 23 economic commands, and 12 district offices which are distributed among important places within the area of the economic command. These offices are used in the military rear area. The idea is that in the territory of each army group an economic inspectorate is to be established at the seat of the commander of the military rear area, and that this inspectorate will supervise the economic exploitation of the territory.
A distinction must be made between the military rear area and the bathe area proper on the one hand, and the rear area of the army on the other hand. In the latter, economic matters are dealt with by the Group IV Economy of the Army Headquarters Command, that is, the liaison officer of the Economic Armament Office within the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces assigned to the Army Headquarters Command. For the battle area he has attached to him technical battalions, reconnaissance and recovery troops for raw materials, mineral oil, agricultural machinery, in particular, tractors and means of production. In the rear area of the Army situated between the battle and the military rear area, Group IV Economy with the various field commands are placed at the disposal of the liaison officer of the Economic Armament Office for the support of the specialists of the Army Headquarters Command, who are responsible for supplying the troops from the country's resources and for preparing the subsequent general economic exploitation.
While these units move with the troops, economic inspectorates, economic commands and their sub-offices remain established in the locality. The new feature inherent in the organization under the command of the Economic Staff Oldenburg is that it does not only deal with military industry but comprises the entire economic field. Consequently all offices are no longer to be designated as offices of the military industries or armaments but quite generally as economic inspectorates, economic commands, et cetera. This also corresponds with the internal organization of the individual offices which, from the Economic Staff Oldenburg down to the economic commands, requires a standard subdivision into three large groups, i. e. Group M, dealing with troop requirements, armaments, industrial transport organization; Group L, which concerns itself with all questions of feeding and agriculture, and Group W. which is in charge of the entire field of trade and industry, including raw materials and supplies; further, questions of forestry, finance and banking, enemy property, commerce and exchange of commodities, and manpower allocation.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: The Operational Staff for Military Economy East, attached to the Four Year Plan as Barbarossa-Oldenburg, was responsible for the entire economic direction of the whole of the Eastern area. It was responsible for the technical instructions of the State Secretaries in the Operational Staff for Military Economy, for the organization of Thomas' Economic Armament Office, and for applying all measures to be taken by the Operational Staff for Military Economy East under the direction and command of the Reich Marshal. ...I described very briefly the small group of experts attached to the High Command quartermaster departments in the West. Later on, as I have already stated, at the beginning of June, the entire economic direction was transferred to the Four Year Plan and the plenipotentiaries for the Four Year Plan, as far as anything passed beyond current supplies intended to cover daily requirements, fuel, et cetera. This was done by a special decree, which has already been mentioned by the Reich Marshal and which had been issued by the Fuehrer.
Spring 1941: The Waffen SS now consists of the equivalent of six divisions Das Reich, Totenkopf, Polizei, Wiking and SS Division Nord and the Leibstandarte, 1 SS Infantry, 2 SS Infantry and the SS Cavalry Brigades. The Waffen SS will see action throughout the war and ultimately grow to a force of over 38 divisions. Will be condemned as a criminal organisation at Nuremberg.
May 13, 1941: Hitler Order:
Order concerning the exercise of martial jurisdiction and procedure in the area 'Barbarossa' and special military measures. ...The application of martial law aims, in the first place, at maintaining discipline. The fact that the operational areas in the East are so far-flung, the battle strategy which this necessitates, and the peculiar qualities of the enemy, confront the courts-martial with problems which, being short-staffed, they cannot solve while hostilities are in progress and until some degree of pacification has been achieved in the conquered areas, unless jurisdiction is confined, in the first instance, to its main task. This is possible only if the troops themselves take ruthless action against any threat from the enemy population.
For these reasons I herewith issue the following order effective for the area 'Barbarossa' (area of operations, Army rear area, and area of political administration): I. Treatment of offenses committed by enemy civilians.
1. Until further notice the military courts and the courts martial will not be competent for crimes committed by enemy civilians.
2. Guerillas should be disposed of ruthlessly by the military, whether they are fighting or in flight.
3. Likewise all other attacks by enemy civilians on the Armed Forces, its members, and employees, are to be suppressed at once by the military, using the most extreme methods, until the assailants are destroyed.
4. Where such measures have been neglected or were not at first possible, persons suspected of criminal action will be brought at once before an officer. This officer will decide whether they are to be shot. On the orders of an officer with the powers of at least a battalion commander, collective drastic measures will be taken without delay against localities from which cunning or malicious attacks are made on the Armed Forces, if circumstances do not permit of a quick identification of individual offenders.
5. It is expressly forbidden to keep suspects in custody in order to hand them over to the courts after the reinstatement of civil courts.
6. The commanders of the army groups may, by agreement with the competent naval and air force commanders, reintroduce military jurisdiction for civilians in areas which are sufficiently pacified. For the area of the political administration this order will be given by the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.
II. Treatment of offenses committed against inhabitants by members of the Armed Forces and its employees.
1. With regard to offenses committed against enemy civilians by members of the Wehrmacht and its employees prosecution is not obligatory, even where the deed is at the same time a military crime or offense.
2. When judging such offenses, it must be borne in mind, whatever the circumstances, that the collapse of Germany in 1918, the subsequent sufferings of the German people, and the fight against National Socialism which cost the blood of innumerable supporters of the movement, were caused primarily by Bolshevistic influence and that no German has forgotten this fact.
3. Therefore, the judicial authority will decide in such cases whether a disciplinary penalty is indicated, or whether legal proceedings are necessary. In the case of offenses against inhabitants it will order a court-martial only if maintenance of discipline or security of the forces call for such a measure. This applies, for instance, to serious offenses originating in lack of self-control in sexual matters or in a criminal disposition and to those which indicate that the troops are threatening to get out of hand. Offenses which have resulted in senseless destruction of billets or stores or other captured material, to the disadvantage of our forces, should as a rule be judged no less severely. The order to institute proceedings requires in every single case the signature of the judicial authority.
4. Extreme caution is indicated in assessing the credibility of statements made by enemy civilians. III. Responsibility of military commanders of the troops. Within their sphere of competence military commanders are personally responsible for seeing that:
1. Every commissioned officer of the units under their command is instructed promptly and in the most emphatic manner on principles set out under I, above.
2. Their legal advisers are notified promptly of these instructions and of verbal information in which the political intentions of the High Command were explained to the commanders-in-Chief.
3. Only those court sentences are confirmed which are in accordance with the political intentions of the High Command. IV. Security. Once the camouflage is lifted, this decree will be treated as most secret.
May 28, 1941: French General Maxime Weygand acquires a reputation as an opponent of collaboration when he protests, in Vichy, against the Protocols of Paris signed by Admiral Darlan, agreements which grant bases to the Axis in Aleppo (Syria), Bizerte and Dakar and envisaged an extensive military collaboration with Axis forces in the event of Allied countermeasures.
From Lahousen's IMT testimony: In this discussion Canaris (in the winter of 1940, either in November or December) revealed to us that already for some considerable time Keitel had put pressure on him to arrange for the elimination of the French Marshal, Weygand; and that naturally I—that is my division - would be charged with the execution of this task. ...In this discussion Canaris revealed to us that already for some considerable time Keitel had put pressure on him to arrange for the elimination of the French Marshal, Weygand; and that naturally I—that is my division - would be charged with the execution of this task. ...
The reason given (for attempting to kill Weygand) was the fear that Weygand together with the unconquered part of the French Army might form a center of resistance in North Africa. That, in the main, was the reason, as far as I remember today; it may be that there were other contributing factors. ...This request which was first put to the military Abwehr so openly and in such an undisguised form by a representative of the Armed Forces, was decidedly and indignantly rejected by all those present. I, myself, as the person most involved, since my division was expected to carry out this task, indicated flatly before all present that I had not the slightest intention of executing this order. My division and my officers are prepared to fight but they are neither a murderers' organization nor murderers. ...
Canaris said: "Calm down. We'll have a word together later," or something to that effect. ...When the other gentlemen had left the room, I spoke with Canaris alone and he told me immediately: 'It is quite obvious that this order will not only not be carried out, but it will not even be communicated to anybody else," and that, in fact, happened. ...
On one occasion when Canaris was reporting to Keitel, and I was present, Keitel mentioned the subject to me, and asked me what had happened or what had been done in this matter up to now. The date of this incident was recorded in my notes, on Canaris' suggestion and with his knowledge. ...I cannot, of course, recall my precise words (in reply to Keitel), but one thing is certain; I did not answer that I had no intention of carrying out this order. That I could not tell him, and did not tell him; otherwise, I would not be sitting here today. Probably, as in many similar cases, I replied that it was very difficult but everything possible would be done, or something of that sort. Naturally, I cannot recall my precise words.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: ...there were reports at the time that General Weygand was traveling in North Africa, visiting the troops, and inspecting the colonial troops. I consider it quite natural that I told Canaris, who was the Chief of Counterintelligence, that it should be possible to determine the object of General Weygand's journey, the places at which he stopped in North Africa, and whether any military significance could be attached to this visit, as regards putting colonial troops into action or the introduction of other measures concerning them in North Africa. He is sure to have received instructions to try to get information through his Intelligence Department as to what was taking place. ...
We had no reason to think that General Weygand might be, shall we say, inconvenient. In view of the connection with Marshal Petain, which was started about the end of September and the beginning of October of that year, and the well-known collaboration policy which reached its height in the winter of 1940-41, it was absurd even to think of doing away with the Marshal's Chief of Staff. An action of this kind would not have fitted into the general policy followed in dealing with the situation in North Africa. We released a large number of officers in the regular French Colonial Army from French prisoner-of-war camps in the winter of 1940-1941 for service with the colonial forces. There were generals among them; I remember General Juin in particular who, as we knew at the time, had been Chief of the General Staff in North Africa for many years. At my suggestion he was put at the disposal of the Marshal by Hitler, obviously with the aim of utilizing him in the colonial service. There had not been the slightest motive for wishing General Weygand ill or to think of anything of the sort. ...
I said at a later meeting, "What about Weygand?" That was the phrase Lahousen used; and he might have drawn the conclusion that, perhaps, in that sense of the word, as he represented it, he kept on saying "in that sense of the word," and when asked what that meant, he said "To kill him." It is due only to that, it can be due only to that I must say that Canaris was frequently alone with me. Often he brought the chiefs of his departments along. When we discussed matters by ourselves, I thought he was always perfectly frank with me. If he had misunderstood me, there would certainly have been discussions about it, but he never said anything like that. ...
In the collaboration of the Fuehrer Adolf Hitler and Marshal Petain an act of that kind (putting Weygand out of the way) would have had the greatest imaginable political significance. ...Although it was at a much later date that General Weygand was taken to Germany, on the occupation of the hitherto unoccupied zone of Southern France, I was told by the Fuehrer himself that he had given orders only for the general to be interned in his own home, without being inconvenienced by guards—an honorable arrest and not the treatment accorded to an ordinary prisoner of war. Of course, that was in 1942.
June 6, 1941 Hitler's Commissar Order to his Generals:
The war against Russia cannot be fought in knightly fashion. The struggle is one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be waged with unprecedented, unmerciful, and unrelenting hardness. All officers will have to get rid of any old fashioned ideas they may have. I realize that the necessity for conducting such warfare is beyond the comprehension of you generals, but I must insist that my orders be followed without complaint. The commissars hold views directly opposite to those of National Socialism. Hence these commissars must be eliminated. Any German soldier who breaks international law will be pardoned. Russia did not take part in the Hague Convention and, therefore, has no rights under it.
From Lahousen's IMT testimony: Certainly, many members of the Wehrmacht knew of the essential contents of this order, for the reaction of the Wehrmacht against this order was tremendous. Apart from official discussions which I have reported here, these orders were discussed a great deal in casino clubs and elsewhere, because all these matters became manifest in the most undesirable form and had a most undesirable effect on the troops. As a matter of fact, officers, and high-ranking officers at the front, either did not transmit these orders or sought to evade them in some way and this was discussed a great deal. I have named some of these officers; some are listed in the notes, diary, et cetera. It was not an everyday occurrence, and it was then the topic of the day. ...They (the orders) must have been known to them (leaders of the SA and SD), for the ordinary soldiers who watched all these proceedings knew and spoke about them. To a certain extent they were even known to the civilian populace; civilians learned far more details about these matters from wounded soldiers returning from the front than I could tell here.
June 12, 1941 Declaration of St James's Palace: The representatives of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa and of the exiled governments of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia and of General de Gaulle of France, met at the ancient St. James’s Palace and sign a declaration: "The only true basis of enduring peace is the willing cooperation of free peoples in a world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy economic and social security; It is our intention to work together, and with other free peoples, both in war and peace, to this end."
June 20, 1941: From a memorandum by General Thomas:
The following is a new conception of the Fuehrer, which Minister Todt has explained to me and which has been confirmed later on by Field Marshal Keitel: I. The course of the war shows that we went too far in our autarkical endeavors. It is impossible to try to manufacture everything we lack by synthetic procedures or other measures. For instance, it is impossible to develop our motor fuel economy to a point where we can entirely depend on it. All these autarkical endeavors demand a tremendous amount of manpower, and it is simply impossible to provide it. One has to choose another way. What one does not have but needs, one must conquer. The commitment of men which is necessary for one single action will not be as great as the one that is currently needed for the running of the synthetic factories in question. The aim must therefore be to secure all territories which are of special interest to us for the war economy by conquering them. At the time the Four Year Plan was established I issued a statement in which I made it clear that a completely autarkical economy is impossible for us because the need of men will be too great. My solution, however, has always been directed to securing the necessary reserves for missing stocks by concluding economic agreements which would guarantee delivery even in wartime.
June 21, 1941: A massive invasion force prepares for action on the Soviet border.
From Keitel's SBS interview: Q: You must have had a certain plan in mind when you started the campaign against Russia? How long did you expect this campaign to last?
Keitel: The opinions on this question vary. My personal idea was that if we succeeded to beat Russia in a short campaign, say by the winter of 1941, we would have been to see clearly. Later on we realized that this was to be a long war. When we attacked Moscow we could still maintain that the balance was in our favor. Later on, however, it was realized that unless we could finish the war by winter, a new military power would arise in Russia and would oppose us.
Q: When were the first discussions held in the OKW with regard to the campaign in Russia?
Keitel: I have thought this question over several times. The first thought of a impending campaign against Russia arose in November 1940 on the occasion of Molotoff's(sic) visit to Berlin. At that time, very lengthy and far-reaching political discussions took place with regard to demands by Russia on the Fuehrer. They concerned the Baltic, Finland, Rumania, the Bucovina and similar questions. In connection with this, there was employment of many Russian divisions on our eastern border and the Fuehrer told us then 'I believe that it will come to blows with Russia because I cannot give into their demands.' I was not present at these discussions, but I was informed of these discussions later on.
Q: Did the Yugoslav campaign disarrange your time schedule?
Keitel: This campaign came as a complete surprise. We had invited Yugoslavia to join the Axis Pact, but the attitude of Stalin, who had told them that they shouldn't worry about anything and should not give in to our demands, killed all that. But you see all these things in a historical light today and, therefore, slightly tinted.
Q: Was the Fuehrer aware of the fact that the war might last a long time?
Keitel: After the decisive battles at Bryansk, which was a terrific beating for the Russians, or perhaps, after the siege of Moscow and Leningrad, or after the battles on the Donetz Basin, one had to realize that it would come to a long war. I don't know when the Fuehrer became aware of this. The Fuehrer always kept to himself. I believe, however, that already in the winter of 1941-1942, the Fuehrer was well aware that this war could not be brought to a rapid conclusion.
Q: Was it contemplated to bring it to a decision then?
Keitel: Yes, in the year 1942. The winter of 1941 brought for us as well as for the German Eastern Army's crisis and then a counter-attack out of the territory of Mscow, which, however, was paralyzed in the snow and ice. If the German Army had then started a retreat, it could very well have become a catastrophe. To elaborate on the above question, the preparations for the Russian campaign were under way prior to the Yugoslav campaign. The exact time was not determined. It was only in the Fuehrer's mind. However, the strategic and operational plans had been prepared by the General Staff. It is our firm and decided conviction that the Russians started this war by putting division after division at our Eastern border. The Fuehrer had set a day, but it was not made known to us until March or April. At that time, the first concrete orders were given, with respect to the fact that we had to figure on a Russian attack. The construction by the Russians of airdromes from Lithuania to Romania of a size which was completely unknown to us pointed this out the stronger. These airdromes had two runways made of concrete whereas our airdromes were made of meadows. In addition, we had to deliver weapons to Russia in exchange for oil and other goods. We delivered naval guns which we could hardy spare, such as the 20.3 cm. naval gun, which, although we couldn't admit it, was hard for us to manufacture.
Q: You had a non-aggression pact and somebody must have broken it?
Keitel: I can't tell you that. This is purely political. It was one of the most remarkable traits of the Fuehrer that he drew a line between political and military affairs. He told his soldiers: 'Don't discuss politics, this isn't what you are here for, but do what I tell you.' In other words, don't put your fingers into every pie. Nobody was supposed to know more of any matter than was absolutely necessary for the task. This was one of our sacred things and there were posters in every barracks stating this. We only had five divisions at the Russian front during the French campaign and when the Russians massed their troops at the Eastern border, the all-around opinion was that something was bound to happen. In addition, there was a demarcation line between Poland and Russia, but the Russians sent reconnaissance units across the line and there were prisoners taken and soldiers killed. There was a permanent guerilla warfare at this line.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.
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