Wilhelm Keitel 4
January 4, 1945 Churchill to Eden:
Treatment of Germany after the war. It is much too soon for us to decide these enormous questions. Obviously, when the German organized resistance has ceased the first stage will be one of severe military control. This may well last for many months, or perhaps for a year or two, if the German underground movement is active.
January 18, 1945:
2. We have yet to settle the practical questions of the partition of Germany, the treatment of the Ruhr and Saar industries, etc. These may be touched upon at our forthcoming meeting, but I doubt whether any final decision will be reached then. No one can foresee at the present moment what the state of Europe will be or what the relations of the Great Powers will be, or what the tempers of their peoples will be. I am sure that the hatreds which Germany has caused in so many countries will find their counterpart here.
3. I have been struck at every point where I have sounded opinion at the depth of the feeling that would be aroused by a policy of ‘putting poor Germany on her legs again.’ I am also well aware of the arguments about ‘not having a poisoned community in the heart of Europe’… I remember so well last time being shocked at the savage views of the House of Commons and of the constituencies, and being indignant with Poincare when he sent the French into the Ruhr. In a few years however the mood of Parliament and the public changed entirely. Thousands of millions of money were lent to Germany by the United States. I went along with the tolerant policy towards Germany up to the Locarno Treaty and during the rest of Mr. Baldwin’s Government on the grounds that Germany had no power to harm us. But thereafter a swift change occurred. The rise of Hitler began. And thereafter I once again found myself very much out of sympathy with the prevailing mood…
An internal accounting is made of the remaining prisoners in the assorted labor and concentration camps: Birkenau; 15,058 Jews remain. Auschwitz: 16,226 people remaining, mostly Poles. Monowitz; 10,233 Jews, Poles and assorted prisoners remaining. Factories of Auschwitz: Another 16,000 Jews, Poles and prisoners. The order for immediate evacuation—by forced march, if necessary—is given.
January 18, 1945:
The Red Army drive against Berlin begins. Hitler, along with his cooks, adjutants, two or three dozen support, medical and administrative staff, his senior military staff and even his dog, Blondi, move into the Führerbunker, which is located underneath the Chancellery garden in Berlin.
, Last Days of the Third Reich
January 27, 1945:
From the notes of a Führer conference:
Hitler: Do you think the English are enthusiastic about all the Russian developments?
Jodl: No, of course not. They have quite different plans. Perhaps we'll discover the full extent of their plans later.
Göring: They certainly didn't plan that we hold them off while the Russians conquer all of Germany... If this goes on we will get a telegram (from the English) in a few days. They were not counting on us defending ourselves step by step...holding them off like madmen while the Russians drive deeper and deeper into Germany, and practically have all of Germany now...
Jodl: The English have always regarded the Russians with suspicion.
Hitler: I have given orders that we shall play a trick on the English—an information sheet telling them the Russians are organizing 200,000 of our men (German POWs) led by German officers, all of them infected with Communism, and they will be marched into Germany. I have ordered this report to be delivered to the English. I have discussed it with the Foreign Minister (Ribbentrop). That will be like sticking them with a needle.
Göring: They entered the war to prevent us from going East, not to have the East reaching out to the Atlantic.
Hitler: That's quite clear. It is something abnormal. The English newspapers are already saying bitterly: Is there any sense in this war?
Göring: On the other hand I have read a report in Braune Blaetter that they can support the Russians with their air force. They can reach the Russian forces with their heavy bombers, even though it is a long flight. But the information comes from an absurd source.
Hitler: Tactically, the English cannot support them. Since we don't know where the Russians are and where we are, how on earth can the English know?
Hitler then assures the assembled participants that this strategy—instilling the fear of unchecked Russian expansionism in the hearts of the British and Americans—will yet prevail. However, the conference ends with no decision being made as to the defense of the Oder. (Payne, Shirer, Read)
January 28, 1945:
The liberation of Auschwitz occurs.
February 9, 1945 Yalta Conference
: Near the end of this day's session, Stalin inquires about Hess. An annoyed Churchill replies that 'events would catch up with Hess.' Churchill, in complete contrast to the Soviets, does not at this point any longer consider Hess a major war criminal. He tells Stalin that Hess and the rest of 'these men should be given a judicial trial.' (Taylor)
February 11, 1945 Yalta Conference:
The Big Three sign the official Yalta Communiqué at lunch. FDR suggests that the host of the conference sign first, but Stalin declines, explaining that it will be said that he had 'led' the conference. Churchill jokingly argues that he should sign first for alphabetical reasons, and the other two agree. Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, FDR's naval aid, talks the president into leaving Yalta immediately in the USS Catoctin. (Harriman)
March 15, 1945:
Himmler, having managed to get himself up from his hospital bed and make his way to the Führerbunker, receives 'an extraordinarily severe dressing-down' from his enraged Fuehrer. Hitler has learned that one of his favorite generals, SS-Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich, commander of the Sixth SS-Panzer Army—whose four crack Waffen-SS divisions include the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler—has ordered his troops to retreat from the hopeless situation in Budapest. The sputtering warlord orders a petrified Himmler to force the 'traitorous' units to remove their 'loyalty is my honor' armbands.' When Himmler relays the order, Dietrich refuses to pass it down to the embattled soldiery. (Read)
March 18, 1945:
Panzer Leader General Heinz Guderian, extremely concerned that huge numbers of Waffen SS and other German troops are in danger of being surrounded and captured (and most probably killed) by the Red Army, meets with Himmler. Himmler, with no military training or aptitude whatsoever, is in command of the endangered forces, but Guderian finds him laid up 'with an attack of influenza' in a hospital. He finds the Reichsführer sitting up in his bed and, as he wrote in his diary, 'apparently in robust health.'
Guderian, realizing that the lives of many German troops have no chance of rescue under Himmler, whose hospital stay in reality has been caused by the strain of being an incompetent officer faced with an impossible situation, attempts to convince Himmler to give up command by humoring him. He sympathetically points out that the SS chief has far too much responsibility, and that 'such a plethora of offices was bound to be beyond the strength of any one individual.' After Guderian musters a number of further arguments, Himmler protests that he simply could not face Hitler and ask to be relieved. 'He wouldn't approve of my making such a suggestion,' he answers.
Guderian offers to talk with the Führer on Himmler's behalf, and Himmler soon gives his assent. Guderian meets with Hitler soon after and, explaining that Himmler is unwell and 'overburdened,' recommends that he be replaced by the commander of the 1st Panzer Army, General Heinrici. After 'a certain amount of grumbling,' Hitler agrees to the move. He will later comment ruefully that giving Himmler a military command had been a failed experiment. (Clark)
March 19, 1945 Nero Decree:
Measures for destruction’s in Reich Territory: The struggle of our nation for existence also forces the utilization of all means to weaken the fighting power of our enemy and to prevent further advances. Advantage must be taken of all opportunities to inflict the most enduring damage to the striking power of the enemy directly or indirectly. It is a mistake to believe in the possibility of work resumption for our own purposes of undestroyed or only temporarily paralyzed traffic, communications, industrial, and supply installations after the recapture of lost territories. On his retreat the enemy will leave behind only scorched earth and refrain from any consideration for the population. I therefore command:
1. All military traffic, communications, industrial and supply installation as well as objects on Reich territory, which the enemy might immediately or later utilize for the continuation of his fight, are to be destroyed.
2. The military commands are responsible for the execution of this destruction of all military objects including traffic and communications installations. The Gauleiters and Commissioners for Reich Defense are responsible for the destruction of the industrial and supply installations as well as of other valuable objects; the Gauleiter and Commissioners for Reich Defense are to be given necessary assistance by the troops in carrying out this task.
3. This command is to be transmitted as promptly as possible to all troop commanders; orders to the contrary are null and void. Adolf Hitler.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I found myself in such a situation quite frequently, but the decisive questions which conflicted most violently with my conscience and my convictions were those which were contrary to the training which I had undergone during my 37 years as an officer in the German Army. That was a blow at my most intimate personal principles. ...the orders given for the conduct of the war in the East, insofar as they were contrary to the acknowledged usage of war; then something which particularly concerns the British Delegation, the question of the 50 RAF officers, the question which weighed particularly heavy on my mind, that of the terror-fliers and, worst of all, the Nacht und Nebel Decree and the actual consequences it entailed at a later stage and about which I did not know. Those were the worst struggles which I had with myself.
March 22, 1945:
Himmler meets with General Heinrici, who records in his diary that the Reichsführer looked 'unusually white and puffy.' During the meeting, General Busse, commander of the second Army, telephones with the dire news that the endangered German forces have finally been surrounded by the Red Army. Himmler quickly hands the phone to Heinrici: 'You command the Army Group now. Please give the appropriate order.' (Clark)
March 26, 1945:
Hitler, concerned about the fate of the SS regiments surrounded by the Red Army, had ordered a breakthrough rescue mission. The attempt, launched this day, fails to provide any relief to the doomed soldiers. (Clark)
March 27, 1945:
Hitler, enraged by the failure of Busse's relief attack, is fuming as Guderian defends Busse's failure, citing the high casualty rate of the failed attack. Keitel proposes that he himself visit the front to determine whether a further relief attack is 'a practical proposition.' (Clark)
March 28, 1945:
Keitel, preparing to leave for the front, is called back to the Führer Bunker for the afternoon conference. The long-running conflict between Hitler and his generals comes to a head as, in a scene reminiscent of a Mad-Hatter's Tea Party, Hitler dismisses General Heinz Guderian. Note: At this point in the war it hardly matters; the military situation is beyond hopeless, and, even though there are some Panzer's available for action, there is little fuel for them. (Clark)
From Barbarossa by Alan Clark: To avoid interruption from air attack, it had been customary for some time for these afternoon 'briefings,' as they were called, to be held in the corridor of Hitler's personal underground bunker, and into this confined space there crowded, at 2 PM on 28th March, Guderian and Busse, Keitel, Jodl, Burgdorf, Hitler, Bormann, and sundry adjutants, staff officers, stenographers, and men of the SS bodyguard. Soon the conference took on the character, which was to be a recurrent feature of the 'bunker period,' of a hysterical multipartite shouting match. Busse had barely started on his report when Hitler began to interrupt him with the same accusations of negligence, if not cowardice, which Guderian had protested against the previous day. Guderian then began to interrupt, using unusually strong and dissenting language, drawing in turn murmurs of reproof from Keitel and Burgdorf.
March 31, 1945:
Finally Hitler brought the company to order by dismissing everyone except Guderian and Keitel, and turning to Guderian he said, 'Colonel-General, your physical health requires that you immediately take six weeks' convalescent leave.' With the dismissal of Guderian the last rational and independent influence was removed from the direction of military affairs in Germany. Only the 'Nazi soldiers' remained, all of them now in timid conformity with Brauchitch's 'office boy' image and tied to the execution of the Führer's wayward policies. It was one more paradox of the Russian campaign that at the end, when Hitler had mastered the General Staff and finally extinguished the evasions and insubordination’s which had persisted among them (albeit in diminishing strength) since 1941, he began to take on all the characteristics which the generals had so long ascribed to him, and which they had used to excuse their own intermittent disobedience.
A secret codicil (kept secret for over 50 years) to the Yalta agreement is completed. Stalin agrees that as the Russians liberate POW camps in Germany, American and British POW's will be turned over to the American and British forces. Likewise, as the Americans and British liberate German POW camps, Russian POW's will, in all cases, be returned to Russia.
Unfortunately, while American and British POW's want to return to their own forces, Russian POW's, in the main, do not want to return to Russia because they know what awaits them. Stalin has made it clear that he considers Russian prisoners traitors to communism. Death or exile will be their fate. FDR and Churchill, aware of these facts, agree anyway; it is hard to see how they could do otherwise without running the risk of having their own troops become virtual hostages. Note: This is one of the events collectively referred to by some as the 'Allied Holocaust.' Ultimately, two million Soviet citizens will be sent back to the communists where they will either be immediately executed or sent to die in the Gulag.
April 12, 1945:
President Roosevelt dies; Truman becomes President. The Allies liberate Buchenwald and Belsen concentration camps.
April 13, 1945:
Former US Attorney General and now Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, Justice Robert Jackson, speaks before the American Society of International Law:
April 16, 1945:
All else will fail unless we can devise instruments of adjudication, and conciliation, so reasonable and acceptable to the masses of people that future governments will have always an honorable alternative to war. The time when these institutions will be most needed will probably not come until the names that signify leadership in today’s world will have passed into history...
As the Soviets near Berlin and the Americans enter Nuremberg, Hitler addresses what is left of his forces:
April 18, 1945:
The Jewish Bolshevik arch-enemy has gone over to the attack with his masses for the last time. He attempts to smash Germany and to eradicate our nation. You soldiers from the east today already know yourselves to a large extent what fate is threatening, above all, German women, girls and children. While old men and children are being murdered, women and girls are humiliated to the status of barracks prostitutes. Others are marched off to Siberia. We have anticipated this thrust, and since January of this year everything has been done to build up a strong front. Mighty artillery is meeting the enemy. Our infantry's casualties were replenished by countless new units. Reserve units, new formations and the Volksturm reinforce our front. This time the Bolsheviks will experience Asia's old fate. That is, he must and will bleed to death...
German forces in the Ruhr surrender.
April 21, 1945:
The Red Army reaches Berlin.
April 22, 1945:
During a meeting in the bunker in Berlin, Hitler orders Keitel to fly to Berchtesgaden. Keitel, in Jodl's presence, declares: "In seven years I have never refused to carry out an order from you, but this is one order I shall never carry out." (Keitel)
April 29, 1945:
Hitler dictates his Political Testament in his bunker in besieged Berlin:
April 30, 1945:
Many very brave men and women have resolved to link their lives to mine to the very end. I have requested them, and finally ordered them, not to do so, but instead to take part in the continuing struggle of the nation. I ask the commanders of the army, navy, and air force to strengthen by all possible means the spirit of resistance of our soldiers in the spirit of National Socialism, emphasizing especially that I too, as founder and creator of this movement, have preferred death to cowardly flight or even capitulation. May it be one day a part of the code of honor; as it is already in the navy, that the surrender of an area or of a town is impossible, and above all in this respect the leaders should give a shining example of faithful devotion to duty unto death...
An announcement on the German wireless: It has been reported from the Führer's headquarters that our Führer Adolf Hitler has died this afternoon...
May 1, 1945:
Keitel becomes a member of the short-lived Flensburg government controlled by Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz.
May 2, 1945:
Executive Order of US President Truman:
May 7, 1945:
Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson is hereby designated to act as the Representative of the United States and as its Chief of Counsel in preparing and prosecuting charges of atrocities and war crimes against such of the leaders of the European Axis powers and their principal agents and accessories as the United States may agree with any of the United Nations to bring to trial before an international tribunal...
Jodl signs the instruments of unconditional surrender as representative for Karl Dönitz. Jodl receives permission to make a statement:
With this signature the German people and the German Armed Forces are, for better or worse, delivered into the hands of the victors... In this hour I can only express the hope that the victor will treat them with generosity.
May 7-8, 1945 VE Day:
The Allies formally accept the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.
May 8, 1945:
Reichspräsident Dönitz authorizes Keitel to sign the second instrument of unconditional surrender in Berlin. Note: On the previous day, Alfred Jodl had signed an instrument of unconditional surrender in Rheims, France.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I took the full powers with me to Berlin. They had been signed by Großadmiral Dönitz in his capacity as Chief of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht and stated in a few words that he had authorized and ordered me to conduct the negotiations and to sign the capitulation. ...In the course of the afternoon of 8 May I was asked to present the full powers. Obviously they were examined and several hours later they were returned to me by a high-ranking officer of the Red Army who said that I had to show them again when signing. ...I did have my credentials at hand during the act of capitulation and handed them over to become part of the record.
May 8, 1945:
Churchill announces the end of the war in Europe:
May 12, 1945:
The German representatives will be Field-Marshal Keitel, Chief of the High Command, and the Commanders-in-Chief of the German Army, Navy, and Air Forces. Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight to-night (Tuesday, May 8), but in the interests of saving lives the "Cease fire" began yesterday to be sounded all along the front...
Keitel surrenders to the Allies.
From The Memoirs of Field Marshal Keitel: I was to surrender as a prisoner of war and would be flown out at 2:00 that afternoon—in two hours time. I was to turn over my official business to Colonel-General Jodl; I was to be allowed to take with me one personal staff officer, a batman and 300 lbs. of baggage. I stood up, saluted briefly with my Field Marshal's baton and drove back to headquarters... I took leave of Dönitz, who had already been briefed on what was to happen, and selected Lieutenant-Colonel John von Freyend and Monch to accompany me, thereby ensuring a considerably less arduous captivity for them. I handed my personal papers and keys to Jodl and handed Szimonski ... one or two things and a letter for my wife which were to be flown down to Berchtesgaden in the courier plane.
May 15, 1945:
Unfortunately the British later seized everything ... even my ... bank pass-book and the letter to my wife. We took off for a destination not disclosed to us and, after flying right across Germany, landed that evening in Luxumburg airport; there I was treated as a prisoner-of-war for the first time and taken to the internment camp in the Palace Hotel, Mondorf, where Seyss-Inquart had already arrived. In Flensburg I had been my own master; I drove to the airfield in my own car; in those two unguarded hours, I could have put an end to my life and nobody could have stopped me. The thought never occurred to me, as I never dreamed that such a 'via doloris' lay ahead of me, with this tragic end in Nuremberg.
Keitel writes a final message to the OKW staff:
It is hard for me to say farewell for ever to this comradely circle. As a prisoner-of-war I face sentence as a war criminal; my sole desire now is to shield my previous subordinates from a similar fate. My military career is at an end; my life is drawing to its close. (Maser)
From Keitel's IMT testimony: I can say that I was a soldier by inclination and conviction. For more than 44 years without interruption I served my country and my people as a soldier, and I tried to do my best in the service of my profession. I believed that I should do this as a matter of duty, laboring unceasingly and giving myself completely to those tasks which fell to me in my many and diverse positions. I did this with the same devotion under the Kaiser, under President Ebert, under Field Marshal von Hindenburg, and under the Führer, Adolf Hitler... ...
May 23, 1945:
As a German officer, I naturally consider it my duty to answer for what I have done, even if it should have been wrong. I am grateful that I am being given the opportunity to give an account here and before the German people of what I was and my participation in the events which have taken place. It will not always be possible to separate clearly guilt and entanglement in the threads of destiny. But I do consider one thing impossible, that the men in the front lines and the leaders and the subleaders at the front should be charged with the guilt, while the highest leaders reject responsibility. That, in my opinion, is wrong, and I consider it unworthy. I am convinced that the large mass of our brave soldiers were really decent, and that wherever they overstepped the bounds of acceptable behavior, our soldiers acted in good faith, believing in military necessity, and the orders which they received. ....
It is correct that there are a large number of orders, instructions, and directives with which my name is connected, and it must also be admitted that such orders often contain deviations from existing international law. On the other hand, there are a group of directives and orders based not on military inspiration but on an ideological foundation and point of view. In this connection I am thinking of the group of directives which were issued before the campaign against the Soviet Union and also which were issued subsequently.
SS Reichsführer Himmler commits suicide.
May 23, 1945:
British tanks enter Flensburg, Germany, where the British these Nazis that will soon be tried in the Major War Figures Trial: Jodl, Dönitz, Keitel, Rosenberg, and Speer.
June 5, 1945:
The Allies divide up Germany and Berlin and take over the government.
June 7, 1945:
Justice Jackson sends off a progress report to President Truman:
June 21, 1945:
The custody and treatment of war criminals and suspects appeared to require immediate attention. I asked the War Department to deny those prisoners who are suspected war criminals the privileges which would appertain to their rank if they were merely prisoners of war; to assemble them at convenient and secure locations for interrogation by our staff; to deny them access to the press; and to hold them in close confinement...
During a joint US-UK conference, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe presents a list of ten defendants for consideration. Chosen mainly because their names are well known to the public, they are assumed to be criminals; little effort has yet to be made to determine the actual evidence that will be available against them. The initial ten: Göring, Hess (though the British warned that he was possibly insane), Ribbentrop, Ley (see October 25, 1945, below), Keitel, Streicher, Kaltenbrunner, Rosenberg, Frank and Frick. (Taylor)
June 26, 1945:
The United Nations Charter is signed in San Francisco.
June 26, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
From the minutes of this days Conference Session:
June 27, 1945:
: It is, of course, impossible to foresee all the details that should be included in a statute of this kind and I agree that the court which is to be set up must have the power to elaborate detailed instructions that will be necessary; but we are afraid the actual wording of this paragraph number 8, as it is, rather implies that if we do not here and now define basic principles for government of the International Tribunal, it will be left then to the Tribunal itself when set up to do that work, and it would delay the work of the prosecutors.
: May I say that it is our view, too. We would like to draft some rules by agreement although we quite understand that the Tribunal will have the power to modify or extend those rules, but we share the Russian fear that this paragraph as it is might lead to duplication and delay.
: This is a change we can discuss in a memorandum, but we could leave the text as it stands now in the statute and arrange that when necessary. The Tribunal may later elaborate or extend. Justice Jackson. I assume you mean that a memorandum will be prepared by the Soviet which will indicate the type of rules which you think should be incorporated. We do not object to adding any rules we feel should be incorporated as we go along...
From Keitel's interview this day by the US SBS:
Q: Would you then say that from the beginning of the war until the beginning of the Russian campaign the capacity of the industry was adequate to satisfy the three branches of the Armed Forces?
July 1, 1945:
Keitel: Yes. I am of the opinion that the Führer thought so. We always believed that Russia would be finished by 1941. At that time we could determine which product should be emphasized, be it naval guns, or fighter planes, or flak (the Führer always talked about flak). Hitler demanded a report every ten days about production. The Führer knew the production of the war 1914-1918, the then Hindenburg program, and he knew the consumption figures, such as those of the Battle of Verdun or of the Somme. All these figures he had in his head. He knew every figure, the number of guns used in battles. He knew the amount of ammunition consumed and should it come to a stationary war, the consumption figures would have reached a new high. He was definitely of the opinion in the Summer of 1941 that the war could be brought to a rapid conclusion. Later on, Speer assumed Todt's duties.
Q: Was the Armament program considerably increased during the period from September 1940 up to the beginning of the Russian War?
Keitel: No. The increase came in the Winter of 1941/42 after the Russian campaign did not come to a conclusion in 1941. This is as far as the Army is concerned. In the Navy, the fullest efforts were made from the very beginning. The U-boat program began in 1939 or in the Winter 1939/40. There was no change in 1940/41 as far as the Army was concerned. But most accent was on the production of flak and flak ammunition. This was due to the fact that the Air Force has accentuated mainly aerial armaments and the Führer wanted to balance that with flak and flak ammunition.
Q: Was that because Hitler was personally afraid of the bombs?
Keitel: It was through his far-sightedness. He saw ahead that the time would come in which we would be short mostly of flak and then the production would not be enough to satisfy the needs. The best we had in those days was the 88 mm. gun. That in itself was a work of art. That had to be increased to 105 mm. and 128 mm. The production of ammunition was so difficult because each round needed a time fuse. Manufacture of the fuses with the time pieces was in itself a problem.
Q: Would you personally believe that Hitler's opinion that more flak was needed was by any chance caused by personal cowardice?
Keitel: I do not believe that. He said that one could prevent the aiming through the influence of heavy flak, and that was also decisive in the last phases of the War, because you cannot aim properly against a well-defended bridge, and if those bridges had been well defended by flak, the disruption of transport would not have occurred. The hydrogenation plants, the refineries, etc., were all destroyed despite the fact that they were pinpoint targets, because they were attacked with 600-800 bombs and fighter protection could never prevent the well-aimed bombardment even if we had had superior fighters. That could be prevented only through flak. That was an intuitive recognition which the Fuehrer made. The last attacks on Berlin which lasted all through the night, from 9 o'clock in the evening until 4 o'clock in the morning, were impossible to combat with fighters.
US, British, and French occupying forces move into Berlin.
July 7, 1945:
US Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Jackson visits a city 91% destroyed by Allied bombs: Nuremberg. He inspects the Palace of Justice and decides to recommend it as a site for the upcoming trials, even though the Soviets much prefer that the trials take place in Berlin, within their own zone of occupation.
July 16, 1945:
Since May, the Allies have been collecting Nazis and tossing the high-ranking ones into a former hotel in Mondorf, Luxemburg, affectionately referred to as 'Ashcan.' On this day, Ashcan's commander, Colonel Burton C. Andrus, takes representatives of the world's Press on a tour of the facility to squash rumors that the prisoners are living the high-life. "We stand for no mollycoddling here," Andrus proclaims: "We have certain rules and the rules are obeyed.. ..they roll their own cigarettes." (Tusa)
July 17, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
From the minutes of this days Four Power conference session:
July 19, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
: It would not be necessary to write down in the charter anything about the rights of the defendant not giving answer, because, if he refuses to give answer to the prosecution and to the counsel and to the Tribunal, nothing is to be done, and therefore we do not think it would be necessary to point it out in the charter. But as regards the rights of the prosecutor to interrogate, that is very important. If we do write anything about the defendant's right not to answer, then it would look as if we were preparing the ground for him to do so, and, if he knows about it, he will take advantage of it and refuse to answer. Therefore it is not necessary to mention it...
From the minutes of today’s Conference Session:
July 21, 1945:
: We do not consider as a criminal violation the launching of a war of aggression. If we declare war a criminal act of individuals, we are going farther than the actual law. We think that in the next years any state which will launch a war of aggression will bear criminal responsibility morally and politically; but on the basis of international law as it stands today, we do not believe these conclusions are right. Where a state would launch a war of aggression and not conduct that war according to rules of international law, it would be desirable to punish them as criminals, but it would not be criminal for only launching a war of aggression. We do not want criticism in later years of punishing something that was not actually criminal, such as launching a war of aggression. The judges would be in a very difficult position if we insist...
Justice Jackson returns to Nuremberg to inspect possible housing accommodations with British and French representatives.
July 25, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
During this days Four Power conference session: "Justice Jackson: ...I think that every one of the top prisoners that we have is guilty...
July 31, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd
, Executive Trial Counsel for the Prosecution at Nuremberg:
Much gossip is abroad about friction between the US, Great Britain, France and Russia over these trials. The truth is there is no trouble between US, Britain and France—but the Russians are just holding up the whole proceeding. They are impossible, in my opinion. I do not know the details but I do know they are not cooperative on this problem so far. I believe they want to put on another Russian farce for a trial. If that happens, I go home, and promptly! The English appointed their chief counsel 21 days after the US appointed Jackson (who was the first to be appointed). The French followed soon after. Thus far no one has been appointed for Russia. Our people meet with certain Russian representatives but nothing happens. When representatives of the United Nations went to Nuremberg to look it over as a possible site for the trial only the Russians failed to make the trip...
August 1, 1945 Potsdam Conference
: At the Twelfth Plenary Session, the subject of trying Nazi war criminals is raised:
Truman: You are aware that we have appointed Justice Jackson as our representative on the London Commission. He is an outstanding judge and a very experienced jurist. He has a good knowledge of legal procedure. Jackson is opposed to any names of war criminals being mentioned and says that this will hamper their work. He assures us that the trial will be ready within thirty days and that their should be no doubt concerning our view of these men.
August 2, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials
Stalin: Perhaps we could name fewer persons, say three.
Bevin: Our jurists take the same view as the Americans.
Stalin: And ours take the opposite view. But perhaps we shall agree that the first list of war criminals to be brought to trial should be published not later than in one month...
: During this days Four Power conference session:
August 8, 1945:
: There is one question. What is meant in the English by "cross-examination"?
: In an English or American trial, after a witness has given testimony for the prosecution he can be questioned by the defense in order that the defense may test his evidence verify his evidence, to see whether it is really worthy of credit. In our trials the defendant or his counsel is always entitled to put questions in cross-examination. And I think the same situation prevails in the courts of France.
: Yes, the same.
: According to Continental procedure, that is very widely used too. The final form would be then, "The Defendant shall have the right to conduct his own defense before the Tribunal, to cross-examine any witness called by the prosecution be their technique...
The London Agreement
is signed. Meanwhile: The Soviets declare war on Japan and invade Manchuria.
August 12, 1945:
Colonel Andrus and his 15 Ashcan prisoners are loaded onto a US C-47 transport plane bound for Nuremberg. As they fly above Germany, Göring continually points out various geographical features below, such as the Rhine, telling Ribbentrop to take one last look as he is unlikely to ever get the opportunity again. Streicher becomes air-sick. (Tusa)
August 12, 1945:
Justice Jackson releases a statement to the American press:
August 14, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
The representatives of the United Kingdom have been headed by the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General. The Soviet Republic has been represented by the Vice President of its Supreme Court and by one of the leading scholars of Soviet jurisprudence. The Provisional Government of France has sent a judge of its highest court and a professor most competent in its jurisprudence. It would not be a happy forecast for the future harmony of the world if I could not agree with such representatives of the world's leading systems of administering justice on a common procedure for trial of war criminals...
I am able to report the most fascinating days of my life... After lunch at the hotel we returned to the Palace of Justice and began our questioning of Lieutenant General Alfred Jodl. He was in charge of operations—a post like that occupied by Eisenhower. He came in under guard, attired in a long lack outside coat, high crowned cap, a tunic of blue trimmed in red and gold, pale green breeches of whip cord and shining black riding boots. He is well built man of 53 years. A lean hard face, thin lips, blue eyes, light thin hair, very erect in carriage. (Keitel is more dumpy, particularly about the hips, but also very military in his bearing). Jodl has a deep rumbling voice. Keitel's too is deep but softer. Jodl was every inch and every moment the Prussian general—arrogant and haughty. We discussed the Norwegian campaign. He talked freely but sternly. He too told of the impending British invasion.
August 15, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
I am able to report the most fascinating days of my life. After breakfast I went to the Palace of Justice. Colonel Amens, Colonel Brundage, Lt. Col. Hinkel, representatives of the Norwegian government and an interpreter started our interrogation of Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel. The chief of staff of the German army. He came in under guard, dressed in a long blue field coat, a pale green tunic with red and gold trimming, light blue whip cord breeches, black riding boots. He has an unusual countenance—light hair, blue eyes, a light mustache. We talked with him for three hours about the invasion of Norway—the preparations, etc. I cannot give you details but I knew I was sitting in on and participating in a history making occasion. I can only tell you that he claims the Germans invaded Norway only a few hours before the English intended to do so. Remind me to tell you what two Norwegian army officers said when we asked them if there was anything to Keitel's story. Keitel had five children when the war started. Two sons are missing in battle, one was killed in Russia, one daughter is dead and one is living. He is a German officer of the old school, Hitler's close military advisor. Also remind me to tell you of his attitude towards Hitler...
August 25, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
Representatives of the Big Four (Jackson, Fyfe, Gros, and Niktchenko), agree on a list of 22 defendants, 21 of which are in custody. The 22nd, Martin Bormann, is presumed to be in Soviet custody, but Niktchenko cannot confirm it. The list is scheduled to be released to the press on August 28. (Conot)
August 27, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
After lunch I started my first formal questioning of Field Marshal Keitel. We were busy until five o'clock. Present were my interpreter and my stenographer. I did no more than some preliminary questioning as this was our first session alone. I asked him about the military preparations and rearmament of Germany. He told me that Germany started to rearm in earnest in 1935 and that she was expected to be at full peak somewhere between 1943 and 1945. This I believe to be true as I have seen the minutes of a highly secret conference between Hitler, von Blomberg, von Fritsch, Admiral Raeder, Göring, and von Neurath on November 5, 1937. At that time Hitler told these men of his aim and said he could accomplish it by force. He said: 'We should be ready between 1943 to 1945. After that we decline.' He also said that an earlier opportunity might present itself—but from the tenor of his remarks on that afternoon in 1937 it seems clear that he did not expect to start until 1943 to 1945. He planned for war—and he stated the basic proposition to be, 'How much can Germany get by conquest at the least cost?'
August 28, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
Of course Keitel was not then Chief of Staff—he was assistant to von Blomberg. How ever he did tell me that he considered German assistance to Franco Spain as a training opportunity for German arms. He is a gentle appearing man, very polite, very proper. But I never forget that he was Hitler's handyman for war. But we must remember that these men actually planned for war, and nothing in this world could have stopped them. It was a matter of time only. Tomorrow I will question him further. I realize that I am talking with one of the three or four top military men of this war and with Hitler's top military man. It is something I shall never forget.
Just in time to delay the release of the names of the final 22, Niktchenko informs the other three Allied representatives that, unfortunately, Bormann is not in Soviet custody. However, he announces that the valiant Red Army has captured two vile Nazis, Erich Raeder, and Hans Fritzsche, and offers them up for trial. Though neither man was on anyone's list of possible major defendants, it emerges that their inclusion has become a matter of Soviet pride; Raeder and Fritzsche being the only two ranking Nazis unlucky enough to have been caught in the grasp of the advancing Russian bear. (Conot)
August 29, 1945:
The final list of defendants is released to the press. Bormann, though not in custody, is still listed; Raeder and Fritzsche are now included, though there is no longer a Krupp represented. (Conot)
August 29, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
All day yesterday I questioned Field Marshal Keitel—a very interesting session in which we discussed plans and events from November 1937 to September 1, 1939. He insists that the order to prepare to march in Austria was issued only two or three days in advance. As to Czechoslovakia, plans were made earlier and the real order was given on May 28, 1939 by Hitler to Brauchitsch. Keitel has a very considerable respect for Hitler—he shows it at frequent intervals. I am surprised at his effrontery concerning some matters. For example, when I asked why he suggested a surprise attack on Czechoslovakia, he answered, 'Because the Czechs were planning to attack us.'
August 30, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
Of course he attempts to justify his every deed in the same light. Always and ever Germany had to act to defend herself from imminent attack! You see how these people cling to this sort of answer—much as they shouted about the Versailles treaty before the war. This morning I questioned him again—and this afternoon I will continue. Thus you see the field marshal and I are seeing quite a bit of each other... This afternoon I questioned Keitel until after 5 PM. He insisted that Germany feared an attack by Czechoslovakia and France in 1938—and offered this as an explanation for German occupation of Czechoslovakia. Obviously this is a weak explanation for I confronted him with a letter dated May 20, 1938 which he wrote to Hitler suggesting that it must somehow appear to the world that Germany as provoked into attacking the Czechs - even if the incident had to be framed by the Germans! He was very embarrassed and flustered and made a stupid answer. I am convinced that these people were really spoiling for a war—and they intended to get their objectives by war.
With the additions of Raeder and Fritzsche, the final list of 24 defendants is released to the press. Bormann, though not in custody (or even alive), is still listed. (Conot, Taylor)
August 30, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
I was at the office all day questioning Field Marshal Keitel. We are getting along well together. Sometimes I find myself liking him—and feeling sorry for him. He is a very bright man—in my opinion—and a very charming one too. This afternoon he was in good spirits and he told me what he thought of the Italians. It was really humorous. He blames much of Germany's defeat on Italy. For example, Keitel, Hitler and Jodl were in Hendaye, France, in conference with Petain when word reached them that Italy was about to attack Greece. They immediately left for Florence and arrived the next morning at 6 AM. Mussolini greeted them by announcing that he had invaded Greece. Hitler was wild. So was Keitel—and of course Mussolini was cocky. Keitel said: 'How can you defeat the Greeks?' Mussolini said, 'There will be no battles—Ciano has bought up the opposition with a little gold.' Hitler told Keitel once, 'I never tell Mussolini anything important' for what Mussolini knows, Ciano knows, London knows, and Washington knows. About the Finns: Keitel and Jodl met with the Finnish Chief of Staff at Salzburg in May of 1941. They made a proposal to the Finns, Keitel said, 'The Finns gave us their answer with action—they were brave soldiers—our most faithful allies. They never asked for anything and they desired only to preserve their country.'
August 31, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
I continued to question Keitel. We talked of the plans for the attack on Russia and he told me that Hitler wished to attack in the summer of 1941, but the troops could not be moved from France to the East in time. Then he talked of the diplomatic moves in Berlin in October of 1940—the conferences with Molotov and with the Japanese, and the Russo-Japanese agreement. From late fall or surely early winter it was clear that the attack on Russia would come in the spring. He discussed the failure of the Japanese to attack Russia in the summer and fall of 1941 and then he said, 'But in the fall of 1941 I realized that Japan could be most helpful against the US.'
September 1, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
This afternoon, he told me the story of von Blomberg's marriage and the resultant dismissal as Minister of War. Said he, 'This woman was of easy virtue—his second wife to be—and what made it worse was his invitation to Hitler to be his best man. This upset the Führer very much and the officer corps would not stand for it.' (Keitel) agreed that the charges against von Fritsch were probably framed up—degrading charges of homosexuality. But even with respect to this he clings to his defense of Hitler. It is always the same—admiration, respect, affection for Hitler. I cannot understand it. At the time of the attempt on Hitler's life on July 20, 1944. Keitel was in the room where the bomb exploded. An eyewitness who survived tells us that Keitel called out, 'Where is the Führer—where is the Führer?'
Keitel leaned toward me across the desk and said, 'Now I will tell you something that few people know. Hitler was no mere corporal in the German Army in the last war. After the war he was an instructor of officers in Munich!' Finally he said to me, 'I wish you would see my wife in Berchtesgaden. Tell her I am well and to go to our country home in Hanover. If you will do this for me and tell me that she is well I can stand anything.' He stood very erect and handsome as he said these words—and his eyes glistened with a slight trace of water. I admit it touched me some. I assured him I would see what could be done. He asked for paper. I handed him my small notebook and in it he wrote his wife’s name—Frau Lisa Keitel, and her address.
This Saturday, I continued with Field Marshal Keitel. We discussed the killing of hostages: men, women and children in Poland and Russia and Italy. He admitted that he gave such orders but only after terrible attacks had been made on German soldiers. He even verified the wording of his order as calling for 'the most brutal measures even against women and children.' Whole towns were slaughtered and burned. Some few able bodied (people) were shipped back to Germany as slave labor. It is a degrading business for these once proud Prussians to admit these orders. Yet Keitel is adamant. He said, 'I would do it all over again if the situation presented itself as it did then.'
September 2, 1945:
Victory over Japan Day.
September 4, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
In the afternoon we talked with Keitel—Colonal Amens and Brundage and I. It was a little painful for Colonel Amens who felt that Keitel was lying. I do not think so. It all grew out of some questions I asked Keitel about the Japanese and what plans the Germans and Japanese had. He answered by saying that there were no plans—and that he, Keitel—did not even think of the Japs with reference to the US until the late summer of 1941. Well, we found an order which Keitel issued on March 5, 1941—discussing the Japanese and stating that early intervention by the Japs was desirable. It made reference to an attack on American naval vessels. Keitel freely admitted having written it when confronted but claimed he had forgotten about it. I believe him because in my judgment he is not as bright as legend has tried to make him. He told me that in July of 1941 he, Admiral Nomura (of Japan) and General Marras of Italy met as representatives of the three countries and decided on the line 70 degrees (longitude) as a line of demarcation between German-Italian and Japanese influence...
September 5, 1945:
Justice Jackson meets with President Truman, who proposes naming former attorney general Francis Biddle as the American judge at Nuremberg. Jackson, who does not think highly of Biddle, suggests alternatives. Biddle will ultimately get the appointment.
September 9, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
Now, to return to Friday, September 7, when I left Nuremberg. That morning and afternoon I questioned Keitel again very thoroughly and after confronting him with certain directives which he signed, he admitted planning an attack on Czechoslovakia. In his written memo to Hitler he suggested three ways of starting the attack, one of which would be to have the German Ambassador in Czechoslovakia assassinated! He was very uneasy about all this and his explanation is 'Hitler told me what he wanted to do—and I, as a soldier, had to carry out his wishes.'
September 23, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
In the afternoon I interrogated Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Scheidt, who was the historian for the German High Command. He is a very interesting creature with a scholastic background. He can be very helpful to us and it is my intention to develop him that way. For example, he knows a lot about Keitel and Jodl and those who were associated with them. He confirms my opinion of Keitel—i.e., a stupid opportunist with enough cunning to hold a job. But he surprised me when he said Jodl wasn't the brains either—instead General (Walther) Warlimont, a member of Hitler's personal staff. Scheidt said there was considerable friction between Keital and Jodl on one side and Warlimont on the other, and largely because Warlimont was a strict Catholic and Keitel and Jodl did not profess any faith. Scheidt tells me that he has some authentic papers hidden away. One is a memorandum on the fight within the German Army to resist Hitler. I am taking steps to find these at once.
September 26, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
This afternoon I had a wonderful session with Keitel. He admitted that he, Jodl, Hitler and others planned to attack Czechoslovakia in September of 1938 ... in this very city of Nuremberg—Hitler and his generals had a meeting which lasted far into the night and talked of the war, the attack they were soon to make on Czechoslovakia. They were ready, and no power on earth could have stopped them. Perhaps Chamberlain will take an honorable place yet—he got an extension of time for England—maybe for the world. Keitel gets under my skin. I know he is terribly guilty. I know better than most men. Yet I now know him—he has a pathetic aspect to me. He is so weak.
October 2, 1945:
From a letter from Keitel to Colonel Amen:
In carrying out these thankless and difficult tasks, I had to fulfill my duty under the hardest exigencies of war, often acting against the inner voice of my conscience and against my own convictions. The fulfillment of urgent tasks assigned by Hitler, to whom I was directly responsible, demanded complete self-abnegation.
October 5, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
(I interrogated Keitel) all afternoon. Some of the Russian staff sat in and listened. Keitel was uneasy—he kept a weary eye on the Russkies, and well he might, for they will stretch his neck. He admitted ordering the branding of Russian prisoners with a hot lancet—a mark on the left buttocks. He also admitted ordering terrorist measures in Russia and the shooting of captured commissars. The indictment should be filed next week. We should start the trial in November. But this is conjecture.
October 5, 1945:
Andrus loses his first German prisoner to suicide; Dr. Leonard Conti, Hitler's 'Head of National Hygiene.'
October 6, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
I was busy with Keitel both in the morning and in the afternoon. We had a long heart to heart. He told me what he considered his part in the Hitler regime—and he insists that while he believes in Hitler and was a follower to some extent he did not know many of the things that were done—or knowing of them felt there was nothing he could do about them, or finally in those matters which he ordered done in Hitler's name, he was simply carrying out his orders. In any case he is a tragic figure. I think he possesses very limited ability—a certain shrewdness—and a handsome face. He was a perfect tool for Hitler.
October 10, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
A most interesting interview with Keitel. He told me the most romantic story of the last days in Berlin. I feel it is of great historical significance. His eyes filled with tears, his whole facial expression was one of suppressed emotion as he spoke of his last conversation with Hitler. Surely that man, Hitler, must have possessed an amazing personality, a magnetic power and an iron will. These old soldiers believed in him and admired him. This afternoon Keitel and I talked at great length about Hitler as a personality. Believe me it was an interesting few hours.
October 14, 1945:
I must admit that Keitel gets under my skin—I think I like him and I guess he rather likes me. He was a career man, of course, in the German Army—an administrative officer. Hitler made him Chief of the High Command, a job for which he was not fitted either by experience, training, or character or ability. If he had been left at his own level he would probably be a free man today. He got a big job and now he is in a big mess. You will recall that I have often spoken of the tragedy of placing incompetents in important places. Please do not think I am becoming soft about the Nazis—but in this mission, as in most realistic affairs, one knows that things are not all black and white. For nothing ever is. There are always shadings. I have learned such in these few months.
British representative Sir Geoffrey Lawrence is elected President of the IMT (International Military Tribunal).
October 19, 1945:
British Major Airey Neave presents each defendant in turn with a copy of the indictment. Gilbert, the Nuremberg psychologist, asks the accused to write a few words on the documents margin indicating their attitude toward the development. Keitel: "To a soldier, orders are orders" (Heydecker)
October 19, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
Later in the morning I had a session with Keitel—the last one before the indictment was served on him. Shortly after noon the document had been served on all the defendants and about 4 PM I saw von Papen, Keitel and Seyss-Inquart—in that order. Von Papen was shaken and expressed surprise. Keitel was greatly distressed—nervous and highly excited. Seyss-Inquart was obviously upset but appeared despondent and dejected. Old Keitel bothers me—I feel badly about him. We have become rather good friends—so to speak.
October 24, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
At 5 PM today I saw von Papen to tell him that our interviews were over and that a new man would talk with him. He seemed very sorry—and so said. He thanked me, etc., and then handed me his own reconstruction of the Hindenburg will. You see he drafted the original—which the Nazis either destroyed or distorted and the document of course has disappeared. I also saw Seyss-Inquart and bade him adieu—he was thankful, etc. Finally Keitel. He seemed very distressed about the change. He said, 'I feel that you have come to know me as a personality. I am very grateful for the honorable way in which you have treated me. I am sorry that you will not continue to talk with me. I would like to feel that I may write to you or ask to see you and I shall be a soldier to the end.' It was really quite moving. I pity him.
October 25, 1945:
Andrus loses yet another Nazi as the defendant Dr. Robert Ley, Hitler's head of the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront
, DAF), commits suicide in his Nuremberg cell.
[For further details see
, The Suicide of Robert Ley
November 19, 1945:
The day before the opening of the trial, a motion is filed on behalf of all defense counsel:
November 19, 1945:
Two frightful world wars and the violent collisions by which peace among the States was violated during the period between these enormous and world embracing conflicts caused the tortured peoples to realize that a true order among the States is not possible as long as such State, by virtue of its sovereignty, has the right to wage war at any time and for any purpose. During the last decades public opinion in the world challenged with ever increasing emphasis the thesis that the decision of waging war is beyond good and evil. A distinction is being made between just and unjust wars and it is asked that the Community of States call to account the State which wages an unjust war and deny it, should it be victorious, the fruits of its outrage...
After a last inspection by Andrus, the defendants are escorted individually into the empty courtroom and given their assigned seats. (Tusa)
Prior to the trial, the defendants are given an IQ test.
November 20, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 1 of the historic trial, the prosecutors take turns reading the indictment in court. Unfortunately, no one had given any thought to the prisoners lunch break, so, for the first and only time during 218 days of court, the defendants eat their midday meal in the courtroom itself. This is the first opportunity for the entire group to mingle, and though some know each other quite well, their are many who've never met. (Tusa, Conot)
November 21, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 2, the defendants enter their pleas: The President: I will now call upon the defendants to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against them. They will proceed in turn to a point in the dock opposite to the microphone... Keitel: "I declare myself not guilty."
November 21, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Immediately following the pleas of the defendants, Justice Jackson delivers his opening statement:
November 29, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Jackson: In the prisoners' dock sit twenty-odd broken men. Reproached by the humiliation of those they have led almost as bitterly as by the desolation of those they have attacked, their personal capacity for evil is forever past. It is hard now to perceive in these men as captives the power by which as Nazi leaders they once dominated much of the world and terrified most of it. Merely as individuals their fate is of little consequence to the world. What makes this inquest significant is that these prisoners represent sinister influences that will lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to dust. We will show them to be living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power. They are symbols of fierce nationalism’s and of militarism, of intrigue and war making...
The prosecution presents as evidence a film shot by US troops as they were liberating various German concentration camps. That evening in their cells, the defendants react to the horrific images. Keitel: "It was those dirty SS swine... I'll never be able to look people in the face again." Note: Unlike most people who were in court that day, Keitel is able to eat a hearty supper that evening. (Conot).
November 30, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On the 9th day of the trial, prosecution witness Erwin Lahousen is cross-examined by Keitel's defense counsel:
December 1, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: Did Keitel ever ask questions or order any inquiries to be made about the political views of the officers in the Intelligence Department? Did he ever ask whether there were any National Socialists in the departments of the intelligence service?
: At the aforementioned periodical meetings he asked this question and others of this nature in an unmistakable way, and he left no doubt that in an office such as the OKW he could not tolerate any officers who did not believe in the idea of final victory, or who did not give proof of unswerving loyalty to the Führer and much more besides.
: Could these statements be taken to mean that he demanded obedience in the military sense, or do you think he was speaking from a political point of view?
: Of course, he was speaking from a military point of view, but no less clearly from the political aspect, for it was not admissible to make any distinction between the two. The Wehrmacht was to form a single whole—the National Socialistic Wehrmacht. Here he touched upon the root problem.
: You believe, therefore, that the basic attitude was really the military one, also in the OKW?
: The basic attitude was, or should have been, National Socialistic, and not military. In other words, first and foremost National Socialistic, and everything else afterwards.
: You said "should have been."
: Yes, because it actually was not the case.
On day 10, prosecution witness Erwin Lahousen is cross-examined by various defense counsel:
December 1, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal
: Is it true that Keitel, as the Chief of the OKW at first every year, and then from 1943 on, at regular and shorter intervals, spoke to the office and department chiefs of the OKW and on such occasions made a point of telling them that anyone who believed that something was being asked of him which his con science would not allow him to carry out should tell him, Keitel, about it personally?
: It is true that the Chief of the OKW did several times address the circle just mentioned. I cannot recall any exact words of his which could be interpreted in such a way as to mean that one could take the risk, in cases about which I testified yesterday, of speaking with him so openly and frankly as myself and others, that is, witnesses still alive, could speak to Canaris at any time. I definitely did not have that impression, whatever the meaning might have been which was given to his words at that time.
: Do I understand you correctly to mean that in principle you do not wish to challenge the fact that Keitel actually said these words?
: I can neither challenge it, nor can I add anything to it, because I have no exact recollection of it. I do recall that these addresses or conferences took place, and it is quite possible that the Chief of the OKW at that time might have used those words...
: Keitel reacts to Lahousen's testimony:
"I don't know what to say—that Giraud affair—well, I knew that was coming up, but what can I say?...I don't care if they accuse me of starting the war—I was only doing my duty and following orders—But these assassination stories—I don't know how I ever got mixed up in this thing." (Taylor)
December 3, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 11, Sidney Alderman, Associate Trial Counsel for the United States, begins presentation of the Prosecutions case on Waging Aggressive War:
December 4, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: The Tribunal will recall that Hitler and Keitel discussed the pretext which Germany might develop to serve as an excuse for a sudden and overwhelming attack. They considered the provocation of a period of diplomatic squabbling which, growing more serious, would lead to an excuse for war. In the alternative—and this alternative they found to be preferable—they planned to unleash a lightning attack as the result of an incident of their own creation...
On day 12, Sir Hartley Shawcross, Chief Prosecutor for the United Kingdom, begins presentation of the Case on (Count 2) Conspiracy to Commit Aggressive War:
December 11, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: Hitler had foreseen and discussed the likelihood that Poland would be involved if the aggressive expansionist aims which he put forward brought about a general European war in the course of their realization by the Nazi State. And when, therefore, on that very day on which that conference was taking place, Hitler assured the Polish Ambassador of the great value of the 1934 Pact with Poland, it can only be concluded that its real value in Hitler's eyes was that of keeping Poland quiet until Germany had acquired such a territorial and strategic position that Poland was no longer a danger. That view is confirmed by the events which followed. At the beginning of February of 1938 the change from Nazi preparation for aggression to active aggression itself took place. It was marked by the substitution of Ribbentrop for Neurath as Foreign Minister, and of Keitel for Blomberg as head of the OKW...
On the trial's 17th day, prosecution presents as evidence a four-hour movie, The Nazi Plan
, compiled from various Nazi propaganda films and newsreels.
December 11, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Following the viewing of the film, Mr. Thomas J. Dodd, Executive Trial Counsel for the United States, presents the case for the Exploitation of Forced Labor:
December 14, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
The Defendant Göring, as Plenipotentiary General for the Four Year Plan, is responsible for all of the crimes involved in the Nazi slave labor program. Finally, we propose to show that the Defendant Rosenberg, as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, and the Defendant Frank, as Governor of the Government General of Poland, and the Defendant Seyss-Inquart, as Reich Commissar for the occupied Netherlands, and the Defendant Keitel, as Chief of the OKW, share responsibility for the recruitment by force and terror and for the deportation to Germany of the citizens of the areas overrun or subjugated by the Wehrmacht. The use of vast numbers of foreign workers was planned before Germany went to war...
The tendency of some of the defendants to denounce, or at least criticize Hitler on the stand, leads to an outburst by Göring during lunch: "You men knew the Führer. He would have been the first one to stand up and say 'I have given the orders and I take full responsibility.' But I would rather die ten deaths than to have the German sovereign subjected to this humiliation." Keitel fell silent, but Frank was not crushed: "Other sovereigns have stood before courts of law. He got us into this..." Keitel, Dönitz, Funk and Schirach suddenly get up and leave Göring's table." (Tusa)
December 17, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
After the court views the film The Nazi Plan
, Dr. Thomas Dodd, Executive Trial Counsel for the United States, begins presentation of the Case on Forced Labor:
December 20, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Dodd: We shall show that the Defendants Sauckel and Speer are principally responsible for the formulation of the policy and for its execution: that the Defendant Sauckel, the Nazis' Plenipotentiary General for Manpower, directed the recruitment, deportation, and the allocation of foreign civilian labor, that he sanctioned and directed the use of force as the instrument of recruitment, and that he was responsible for the care and the treatment of the enslaved millions; that the Defendant Speer, as Reich Minister for Armament and Munitions, Director of the Organization Todt, and member of the Central Planning Board, bears responsibility for the determination of the numbers of foreign slaves required by the German war machine, was responsible for the decision to recruit by force and for the use under brutal, inhumane, and degrading conditions of foreign civilians and prisoners of war in the manufacture of armaments and munitions, the construction of fortifications, and in active military operations.
We shall also show in this presentation that the Defendant Goering, as Plenipotentiary General for the Four Year Plan, is responsible for all of the crimes involved in the Nazi slave labor program. Finally, we propose to show that the Defendant Rosenberg, as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, and the Defendant Frank, as Governor of the Government General of Poland, and the Defendant Seyss-Inquart, as Reich Commissar for the occupied Netherlands, and the Defendant Keitel, as Chief of the OKW, share responsibility for the recruitment by force and terror and for the deportation to Germany of the citizens of the areas overrun or subjugated by the Wehrmacht...
After this days session, the trial adjourns for a Holiday break until Wednesday, the 2nd of January.
December 23, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Many of the defendants, most of whom are Protestant, attend Christmas Eve services conducted by Pastor Gerecke.
January 4, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Day 27; Beginning of Colonel Telford Taylor's Presentation of the Case Against the General Staff and the High Command:
: Why did this group support Hitler and the Nazis? I think Your Honors will see, as the proof is given, that the answer is very simple. The answer is that they agreed with the truly basic objectives of Hitlerism and Nazism and that Hitler gave the generals the opportunity to play a major part in achieving these objectives The generals, like Hitler, wanted to aggrandize Germany at the expense of neighboring countries and were prepared to do so by force or threat of force. Force, armed might, was the keystone of the arch, the thing without which nothing else would have been possible.
As they came to power and when they had attained power, the Nazis had two alternatives: either to collaborate with and expand the small German Army, known as the Reichswehr, or to ignore the Reichswehr and build up a separate army of their own. The generals feared that the Nazis might do the latter and accordingly were the more inclined to collaborate. Moreover, the Nazis offered the generals the chance of achieving much that they wished to achieve by way of expanding German armies and German frontiers; and so, as we will show, the generals climbed onto the Nazi bandwagon. They saw it was going in their direction for the present. No doubt they hoped later to take over the direction themselves. In fact, as the proof will show, ultimately it was the generals who were taken for a ride by the Nazis...
January 9, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal
: On day 30, the prosecution presents a joint case against Jodl and Keitel:
January 28, 1946:
: Keitel, as would only be expected, he being Chief of the Supreme Command of all the Armed Forces, and Jodl, as only would be expected also, he being Chief of the Operations Staff, were vitally and intimately concerned with every single act of aggression which took place successively against the various victims of Nazi aggression....
So far as Jodl's part in the War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity is concerned, he figures much less than Keitel. Of course, he had no power of giving orders or directives, but we see that he at any rate signed and circulated an infamous order of the Führer saying that commandos ought to be shot and are not to be treated as prisoners of war at all. In my submission the evidence against these two men is overwhelming and their conviction is demanded by the civilized world...
From the diary of the British Alternate Judge, Mr. Justice Birkett:
The evidence is building up a most terrible and convincing case of complete horror and inhumanity in the concentration camps. But from the point of view of this trial it is a complete waste of valuable time. The case has been proved over and over again.
February 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 54, General Rudenko, Chief Prosecutor for the USSR, opens the Russian presentation:
February 11, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: The fascist aggressors, the defendants, knew that by their predatory attacks on other countries they committed the gravest Crimes against Peace. They knew it, and they know it now, and that is the reason why they attempted and are now attempting to camouflage their criminal aggression with lies about defense. Furthermore, it has been repeatedly and authoritatively declared that violations of laws and customs of war established by international conventions must entail criminal responsibility. In this connection it is necessary to note that the gravest outrages in violation of laws and customs of war committed by the Hitlerites—murder, violence, arson, and plunder—are considered punishable criminal acts by all criminal codes throughout the world...
On day 56, the Russians present a surprise witness, Field Marshal von Paulus, who had surrendered at Stalingrad.
February 11, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal
: And one last question: Whom do you consider as guilty of the criminal initiation of the war against Soviet Russia?
: May I please have the question repeated?
: I repeat the question...
: The Tribunal is about to address an observation to General Rudenko. The Tribunal thinks that a question such as you have just put, as to who was guilty for the aggression upon Soviet territory, is one of the main questions which the Tribunal has to decide, and therefore is not a question upon which the witness ought to give his opinion. Is that what Counsel for the Defense wish to object to?
: Yes, Mr. President, that is what I want to do.
: Then perhaps the Tribunal will permit me to put this question rather differently.
: Who of the defendants was an active participant in the initiation of a war of aggression against the Soviet Union?
: Of the defendants, as far as I observed them, the top military advisers to Hitler. They are the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, Keitel; Chief of the Operations Branch, Jodl; and Göring, in his capacity as Reich Marshal, as Commander-in-Chief of the Air Forces and as Plenipotentiary for Armament Economy.
: In concluding the interrogation I shall make a summary. Have I rightly concluded from your testimony, that long before 22 June the Hitlerite Government and the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces were planning an aggressive war against the Soviet Union for the purpose of colonizing the territory of the Soviet Union?
: That is beyond doubt...
: From Nuremberg Diary by Gustave Gilbert:
During the afternoon intermission, the military section blew up in an uproar, and they argued with heated invective with their attorneys and each other. 'Ask that dirty pig if he's a traitor! Ask him if he has taken out Russian citizenship papers!' Göring shot at his attorney. Raeder saw me watching and shouted at Göring, 'Careful! The enemy is listening!' Göring kept right on shouting to his attorney, and there was real bedlam around the prisoners dock. 'We've got to disgrace that traitor,' he roared. Keitel was still arguing with his attorney, and Raeder passed him a note with the same warning. At the other end of the dock, the attitude was more sympathetic to von (sic) Paulus. 'You see,' said Fritzsche, 'that is the tragedy of the German people. He was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.'" Later, Keitel declares: 'I always stuck up for him with the Führer. It is a shame for him to be testifying against us.' (Gilbert, Tusa)
February 12, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 57 of deliberations, prosecution witness von Paulus is cross-examined by various defense counsel:
February 12, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
: If I judge correctly, then I believe that I am supposed to be here as a witness for the events with which the defendants are charged. I ask the Tribunal, therefore, to relieve me of the responsibility of answering these questions which are directed against myself.
: Field Marshal Paulus, you do not seem to know that you also belong to the circle of the defendants, because you belonged to the organization of the High Command which is indicted here as criminal.
: And, therefore, since I believe that I am here as witness for the events which have led to the indictment of these defendants here, I have asked to be relieved of answering this question which concerns myself.
: I ask the Tribunal to decide.
: The Tribunal considers that you must answer the questions...
(Yesterday) The Russians continued to present their case and late in the day they rather dramatically presented the German Field Marshal von Paulus, whom they captured at Stalingrad. He denounced Hitler, the Nazis, and the defendants. However, his story struck me as being just a bit too well rehearsed. The German defense lawyers cross-examined von Paulus and did quite a good job of it.
February 15, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Colonel Andrus tightens the rules for the defendants by imposing strict solitary confinement. This is part of a strategy designed to minimize Göring's influence among the defendants. (Tusa)
February 19, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
"I saw Keitel at 6 PM and von Papen at 6:30. Keitel looks terrible and says the trial is wearing him out—I think he is cracking up."
February 22, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
In a further move to minimize his influence, Göring is now required to eat alone during the courts daily lunch break. The other defendants are split up into groups, with Keitel now sharing his mid-day meal with Frank, Sauckel, and Seyss-Inquart. (Tusa)
March 5, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Winston Churchill (now a private citizen) introduces the phrase Iron Curtain into the English language during his famous Cold War speech at Fulton, Missouri. Speer recorded his fellow defendants' reactions:
(The defendants showed) tremendous excitement. Hess suddenly stopped playing the amnesiac and reminded us how often he had predicted a great turning point that would put an end to the trial, rehabilitate all of us, and restore us to our ranks and dignities. Göring, too, was beside himself; he repeatedly slapped his thighs with his palms and boomed: 'History will not be deceived. The Führer and I always prophesied it. This coalition had to break up sooner or later.' (Speer II)
March 14, 1946:
From an affidavit sworn by Keitel: In summing up it must be established that:
1. In addition to the Wehrmacht as the legal protector of the Reich internally and externally (as in every State) a particular, completely independent power factor arose and was legalized, which politically, biologically, in police and administration matters actually drew the powers of the State to itself.
March 16, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
2. Even at the beginning of military complications and conflicts the SS came to be the actual forerunner and standard bearer of a policy of conquest and power.
3. After the commencement of the military actions the Reichsführer SS devised methods which always appeared appropriate, which were concealed at first, or were hardly apparent, at least from the outside, and which enabled him in reality to build up his power under the guise of protecting the annexed or occupied territories from political opponents.
4. From the occupation of the Sudeten territory, beginning with the organization of political unrest, that is, of so-called liberation actions and 'incidents,' the road leads straight through Poland and the Western areas in a steep curve into the Russian territory.
5. With the directives for the Barbarossa Plan for the administration and utilization of the conquered Eastern territories, the Wehrmacht was, against its intention and without knowledge of the conditions, drawn further and further into the subsequent developments and activities.
6. I (Keitel) and my colleagues had no deeper insight into the effects of Himmler's full powers, and had no idea of the possible effect of these powers. I assume without further discussion that the same holds true for the OKH, which according to the order of the Führer made the agreements with Himmler's officials and gave orders to the subordinate army commanders.
7. In reality, it was not the Commander-in-Chief of the Army who had the executive power assigned to him and the power to decree and to maintain law in the occupied territories, but Himmler and Heydrich decided on their own authority the fate of the people and prisoners, including prisoners of war in whose camps they exercised the executive power.
8. The traditional training and concept of duty of the German officers, which taught unquestioning obedience to superiors who bore responsibility, led to an attitude,—regrettable in retrospect—which caused them to shrink from rebelling against these orders and these methods even when they recognized their illegality and inwardly refuted them.
9. The Führer, Hitler, abused his authority and his fundamental Order Number 1 in an irresponsible way with respect to us. This Order Number 1 read, more or less:
A. No one shall know about secret matters which do not belong to his own range of assignments.
B. No one shall learn more than he needs to fulfill the tasks assigned to him.
C. No one shall receive information earlier than is necessary for the performance of the duties assigned to him.
D. No one shall transmit to subordinate offices, to any greater extent or any earlier than is unavoidable for the achievement of the purpose, orders which are to be kept secret.
10. If the entire consequences which arose from granting Himmler authority in the East had been foreseen, in this case the leading generals would have been the first to raise an unequivocal protest against it. That is my conviction. As these atrocities developed, one from the other, step by step, and without any foreknowledge of the consequences, destiny took its tragic course, with its fateful consequences.
On day 83, defendant Hermann Göring is cross-examined by counsel for Keitel:
March 20, 1946:
: It goes without saying that if it came to a clash between the Führer and myself, or other determined commanders-in-chief, the Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces (Keitel) was, I may say, trodden on by both sides. He came between the millstones of stronger personalities; the one protested that in speaking to the Führer he had not exerted enough pressure; the Führer, when Keitel made presentations, turned a deaf ear and said he would settle matters himself. The task was certainly a very thankless one and a difficult one. I remember that once Field Marshal Keitel approached me and asked me whether I could not arrange for him to be given a frontline command; that he would be satisfied, though a Field Marshal, with one division if he could only get away, because he was getting more kicks than ha'pence. Whether the task was thankless or appreciated was all the same, I answered him; he had to do his duty where the Führer ordered it.
: Are you aware that in this connection Field Marshal Keitel was reproached with not being able to assert himself, as they say, with the Führer?
: This reproach was made against him by quite a number of commanders-in-chief of armies and army groups. It was easy for them to make that reproach because they were out of range of Adolf Hitler, and did not have to submit any proposals themselves. I know that, especially after the collapse, quite a number of generals adopted the point of view that Keitel had been a typical 'yes-man.' I can only say I personally should be interested if I could see those who today consider themselves no-men...
From the diary of the British Alternate Judge, Mr. Justice Birkett:
The trial from now on is really outside the control of the Tribunal, and in the long months ahead the prestige of the trial will steadily diminish.
April 3, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 98, Keitel testifies on his own behalf:
April 3, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
: Do you have any sons?
: I had three sons, all of whom served at the front as officers during this war. The youngest one died in battle in Russia in 1941. The second was a major in Russia and has been missing in action, and the eldest son, who was a major, is a prisoner of war... ...
: Then Field Marshal Von Brauchitsch's statement in his affidavit, of which I have already spoken, is correct? It says here: "When Hitler had decided to use military pressure or military power in attaining his political aims, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, if he participated, received his instructions first orally, as a rule, or by an appropriate order. Thereupon the OKW worked out the operation and deployment plans. When they had been submitted to Hitler and were approved by him, a written order from the OKW to the branches of the Wehrmacht followed." Is that correct?
: Yes, in principle it is correct insofar as the final formulation of the order to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army took the form of a directive, as we called it, based on the general plans which had already been submitted and approved. This work was done by the Wehrmacht Operational Staff (Wehrmachtfdhrungsstab
); thus the Wehrmacht Operational Staff was not an office which became independently active and did not handle matters concerning the issuing of orders independently; rather the Wehrmacht Operational Staff and I took part in the basic determination or approval of these proposals and formulated them in the manner in which they were then carried out by Hitler as Commander-in-Chief. To speak technically we then passed these orders on...
Ribbentrop down—Keitel to go. And 17 to go for a touchdown. Yesterday saw the end of Rib but not until Amen made a mess of cross-exam for us. He is impossible and a real faker, and this myth of the great prosecutor is just about exploded. The court was fed up and so were all the people in the courtroom. It should end his part in the case but the next defendant after Keitel has been assigned to him and it is too late to change and anyway the proof is so strong against him that Amen cannot do much harm... Keitel came on the stand this morning and I must say he made the best appearance so far. Somehow I have a feeling for him. I was glad he looked like an honest soldier. Of course he is guilty but to a lesser degree in my own opinion. He will be on the stand another day or two.
April 4, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 99, Keitel testifies on his own behalf:
April 4, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: When were the preparations made for the occupation of Danzig?
: I believe that as early as the late autumn of 1938 orders were issued that Danzig be occupied at a favorable moment by a coup de main from East Prussia. That is all I know about it.
: Was the possibility of war against Poland discussed in this connection?
: Yes, that was apparently connected with the examination of the possibilities to defend the border, but I do not recall any, nor was there any kind of preparation, any military preparations, at that time, apart from a surprise attack from East Prussia.
: If I remember rightly you once told me, when we discussed this question, that Danzig was to be occupied only if this would not result in a war with Poland.
: Yes, that is so. This statement was made time and again, that this occupation of, or the surprise attack on Danzig was to be carried out only if it was certain that it would not lead to war.
: When did this view change?
: I believe Poland's refusal to discuss any kind of solution of the Danzig question was apparently the reason...
Keitel, in conversation with US Prosecutor Thomas Dodd:
He (Hitler) was full of ideas. He had a thousand ideas. It was very difficult to report to him. When you reported, he started talking very soon. After the second or third sentence, he interrupted me and started to talk to himself. Then lots of ideas come up. After such a report, one was very confused to figure out what he really wanted. It was all very irrational. I did not know what he wanted. (Conot)
April 5, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 100, Keitel is cross-examined by the prosecution:
April 5, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
: Hitler had studied general staff publications, military literature, essays on tactics, operations, and strategy and that he had a knowledge in the military fields which can only be called amazing. May I give an example of that which can be confirmed by the other officers of the Wehrmacht. Hitler was so well informed concerning organization, armament, leadership, and equipment of all armies, and what is more remarkable, of all navies of the globe, that it was impossible to prove any error on his part; and I have to add that also during the war, while I was at his headquarters and in his close proximity, Hitler studied at night all the big general staff books by Moltke, Schlieffen, and Clausewitz and from them acquired his vast knowledge by himself. Therefore we had the impression: Only a genius can do that.
: You will not deny that by reason of your military training and experience you were Hitler's adviser in a number of highly important matters?
: I belonged to his closest military entourage and I heard a lot from him; but I pointed out yesterday to the question of my counsel that even in the simple, every-day questions concerning organization and equipment of the Wehrmacht, I must admit openly that I was the pupil and not the master...
Yesterday was another trial day. They run on so and surely this case has already set a record for me and for most lawyers. Keitel was on direct examination all day—he continues to be a most frank witness and to make the best impression so far.
April 6, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 101, Keitel is cross-examined by the prosecution:
: I am asking you, Defendant Keitel, known as Field Marshal and one who, before this Tribunal, has repeatedly referred to yourself as a soldier, whether you, in your own bloodthirsty decision of September 1941, confirmed and sanctioned the murder of the unarmed soldiers whom you had captured? Is that right?
: I signed both decrees and I, therefore, bear the responsibility within the sphere of my office; I assume the responsibility.
: That is quite clear. In this connection I would like to ask you, since you have repeatedly mentioned it before the Tribunal, about the duty of a soldier. I want to ask you: Is it in accordance with the concept of a 'soldier's duty' and the 'honor of an officer' to promulgate such orders for reprisals on prisoners of war and on peaceful citizens?
: Yes, as far as the reprisals of August and September are concerned, in view of what happened to German prisoners of war whom we found in the field of battle, and in Lvov where we found them murdered by the hundreds.
: Defendant Keitel, do you again wish to follow the path to which you resorted once before, and revive the question of the alleged butchery of German prisoners of war? You and I agreed yesterday that as far back as May 1941, prior to the beginning of the war, you had signed a directive on the shooting of political and military workers in the Red Army. I have some ...
: Yes, I also signed the orders before the war but they did not contain the word 'murder.'
: I am not going to argue with you since this means arguing against documents; and documents speak for themselves...
From Justice at Nuremberg by Robert E. Conot: The initial cross-examination, conducted by Rudenko, was uneven, and Biddle criticized it as 'childish cross-examination, hardly ever directed to the facts.' Fyfe, following, slashed into Keitel with relish... Göring, cursing in one and the same breath the wiliness of Fyfe and the stupidity of the defense attorney's, raged at Keitel for not putting up more of a fight: 'You don't have to answer so damn directly! The question itself doesn't matter so much as the way you answer it. You can dodge around such dangerous questions and wait until they hand you one you have a good answer for and the sail into it!' Keitel shot back: 'But I can't make white out of black!' To Gilbert he said: 'I could only tell them the way things were. The only thing that is absolutely impossible for me is to sit there like a louse and lie—that is absolutely impossible.'
April 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 102, Keitel is cross-examined by the prosecution:
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe
April 8, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
: So that it comes to this, Defendant, doesn't it—that you will go as far as this: You were present at the meeting with Hitler and Himmler. That is what you say. At that meeting Hitler said that the prisoners who were caught by the police were to remain in the hands of the police. You had a strong probability that these prisoners would be shot and with that you used this incident as a deterrent to try and prevent other prisoners of war escaping. All that you admit, as I understand your answers this morning, don't you?
: Yes, I do admit; but I have not been interrogated on this matter as to just what my position was with Hitler, and I have not testified as to that, and that I did not give this warning, but that this warning was an order of Hitler and was the cause for another severe collision between Hitler and me when the first report of shootings reached me. That is how it was.
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe
: I won't go through the details again. One other point: When did you learn of the use of cremation and the sending of cremation urns to this camp?
: This remained unknown to me...
Friday was another trial day. Keitel still on the stand and he practically admitted his guilt. Late in the afternoon, General Rudenko started the cross-exam. It was fair—much better than his first effort... Saturday, the court sat until noontime—Sir David examined Keitel in far, far too much detail... Today we were in court all day and Keitel is still on the stand. As you may know I crossed him up pretty well and got what amounts to a confession from him.
April 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 102, Keitel's defense calls Dr Hans Heinrich Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancellery:
April 9, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Lammers: The Führer informed me that the Minister of War, von Blomberg, was going to leave his position and that on that occasion he wanted to make certain other changes of personnel ... in the High Command of the Army... Subsequently, the Führer gave me the order to draft a decree regarding the leadership of the Wehrmacht. I was to participate in this in collaboration with the Wehrmacht Department of the War Ministry. As a guiding principle the Führer gave me the following instructions: "In the future I no longer want to have a Reich Minister for War; and in the future I no longer want a Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht who stands between me as the Supreme Commander, and the Commanders-in-Chief of the branches of the Wehrmacht."
Accordingly, the decree was drafted, in which, to start with, the High Command of the Armed Forces became a military staff which was to be under the direct orders of the Führer. The Fuehrer desired that there should be no independent authority here, which would stand between him and the Commanders-in-Chief of the branches of the Wehrmacht. Consequently, the then appointed Chief of the OKW, General of Artillery Keitel, had no direct power of command over the branches of the Wehrmacht. Such power of command was out of the question if only for reasons of authority...
On day 103, Major F. Elwyn Jones (Junior Counsel for the United Kingdom), cross-examines Dr. Hans Heinrich Lammers, who has been called to the stand by Keitel's defense:
April 10, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: As Reich Chancellor you were responsible for distributing the largess of the Nazis among yourselves, were you not?
: I was in charge of the Führer's funds; and on his instructions I made the necessary payments out of those funds. I could not spend money as I pleased.
: You, as Reich Chancellor, delivered a million Reichsmark to Dr. Ley, did you not?
: That was a donation that the Führer specifically granted to Ley. I did not do that on my own initiative.
: And Ribbentrop was another recipient of a million, was he not?
: He received a million in installments, first one half and then the other.
: And Keitel was another millionaire, was he not? He received a million, did he not?
: He received a sum of money and an estate, because the Führer renewed the practice of the old Prussian kings of granting land and money to his generals.
: And you yourself received 600,000 marks, did you not?
: I received 60,000 marks on my 65th birthday. I received this sum because I had never received anything in my previous positions, since I had never asked for it—also because I had twice been bombed out and had no house or property of my own. The Führer wished me to buy a small house.
Major JonesThat is all...
On day 104, Keitel's defense calls General Adolf Westhoff to the stand:
April 18, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: Did you answer to one of Colonel Williams' questions that Göring, Himmler, Keitel, and Hitler had decided to shoot the officers who escaped in Sagan?
: No, that is a mistake. Colonel Williams asked me what the Führer had said to Field Marshal Keitel; thereupon, I answered clearly that I could give no information about this, since I had not taken part in that conference. I could only make statements about the conference which Field Marshal Keitel had with General Von Graevenitz.
: Did you answer Colonel Williams that Field Marshal Keitel, during this conference with Graevenitz, said, "This is my order"?'
: No, the Field Marshal could not issue an order regarding the shootings, since the shootings were not within the competence of the Wehrmacht but in that of the Gestapo.
: During your interrogation, particularly also with Colonel Williams, did you state clearly that it never had been a question of an order issued by Keitel himself or of an order which Keitel transmitted to you on higher orders?
: It concerned information given to General Von Graevenitz. That is also stated with no reservations in my sworn statement.
: Then, if I understand you correctly, you declare that Field Marshal Keitel never issued an order of his own nor ever expressed the idea that he at all wanted to give you an order regarding a shooting of the officers?
: No, that he could also not do...
On day 111, Hans Frank delivers his controversial testimony. From The Nuremberg Trial
by John and Ann Tusa:
Frank ... was delighted with his testimony, proud that he had stood out from the other defendants who always claimed ignorance of what was going on. 'I DID know what was going on. I think that the judges are really impressed when one of us speaks from the heart and doesn't try to dodge the responsibility'... Schacht himself was prepared to go further. He wanted to make accusations against fellow defendants—Göring, Ribbentrop, Keitel and Raeder were his chosen targets. 'My people must be shown,' he declared 'how the Nazi leaders plunged them into an unnecessary war.' So by mid-April the defendants were clearly divided. (Tusa)
April 25, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 114, Hans Bernd Gisevius continues his testimony:
April 26, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: On 12 January 1938 the German public was surprised by the report that Field Marshal Von Blomberg, at that time Reich Minister for War, had married. No details about his wife nor any photographs were published. A few days later one single picture appeared, a photograph of the Marshal and his new wife in front of the monkey cage at the Leipzig Zoo. Malicious rumors about the past life of the Marshal's wife began to circulate in Berlin. A few days later there appeared on the desk of the Police Commissioner in Berlin a thick file which contained the following information: Marshal Von Blomberg's wife had been a previously convicted prostitute who had been registered as a prostitute in the files of seven large German cities; she was in the Berlin criminal files. I myself have seen the fingerprints and the pictures. She had also been sentenced by the Berlin courts for distributing indecent pictures. The Commissioner of the Police in Berlin was obliged to submit this file, by official channels, to the Chief of the Police, Himmler...
The Commissioner of the Police in Berlin was Count Helldorf. Count Helldorf realized that if that material were transmitted to the Reichsführer SS it would place the Wehrmacht in a very embarrassing position. Himmler would then have in his possession the material he needed to ruin Blomberg's reputation and career, and strike a blow at the leadership of the Armed Forces. Helldorf took this file to the closest collaborator of Marshal Blomberg, the then Chief of the Armed Forces Department, Keitel, who at that time had just become related to Marshal Blomberg through the marriage of their respective children. Marshal Keitel, or Generaloberst Keitel as he was at that time, looked through the file carefully and demanded that Police Commissioner Helldorf should hush up the entire scandal and suppress the file...
On day 115, Hans Bernd Gisevius testifies under cross-examination:
May 9, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: It may be that Keitel did not influence Hitler to a great extent. But I must testify here to the fact that Keitel influenced the OKW and the Army all the more. Keitel decided which documents were to be transmitted to Hitler. It was not possible for Admiral Canaris or one of the other gentlemen I mentioned to submit an urgent report to Hitler of his own accord. Keitel took it over, and what he did not like he did not transmit, or he gave these men the official order to abstain from making such a report.
Also, Keitel repeatedly threatened these men, telling them that they were to limit themselves exclusively to their own specialized sectors, and that he would not protect them with respect to any political utterance which was critical of the Party and the Gestapo, of the persecution of the Jews, the murders in Russia, or the anti-Church campaign, and, as he said later, he would not hesitate to dismiss these gentlemen from the Wehrmacht and turn them over to the Gestapo. I have read the notes in regard to this which Admiral Canaris made in his diary. I have read the notes of General Oster in regard to this from the conferences of commanders in the OKW. I have talked with the Chief Judge of the Army, Dr. Sack, about this, and it is my strong wish to testify here that Field Marshal Keitel, who should have protected his officers, repeatedly threatened them with the Gestapo. He put these men under pressure, and these gentlemen considered that a special insult...
On day 125, Dönitz is cross-examined by Keitel's counsel:
May 21, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
: Witness, you were present when the witness Gisevius was being examined here. That witness, without giving concrete facts, passed judgment in the following manner: "Keitel had one of the most influential positions in the Third Reich." And at another point he said, "I received very exact information regarding the tremendous influence which Keitel had on everything relating to the Army and accordingly also on those who represented the Army to the German people." Will you, who can judge these matters, tell me whether that judgment of Defendant Keitel's position, his function, is correct?
: I consider it very much exaggerated. I think that Field Marshal Keitel's position has been described here so unequivocally that it ought to be clear by now that what is contained in these words is not at all correct.
: Am I to gather from this that you confirm as correct the description of the position and functions as given by Reich Marshal Göring and Field Marshal Keitel himself?
: Yes, it is perfectly correct...
Yesterday, Raeder continued his testimony—but under cross-examination. He followed the defense line—and committed perjury high, wide and handsome. Sir David did a good job I thought on the cross-exam. I am continually shocked at the appearance of former German admirals, generals, cabinet officers, bankers, etc., who get on the witness stand under oath and proceed to lie in the most shameful manner. Little wonder that catastrophe attended them. Justice Jackson returned from London and Paris yesterday and looked more rested than when he left. This morning we continued with Raeder and finally got him off the stand a little after noontime. It has been much too long a defense—much of it irrelevant and of no value. I have the next defendant, Schirach, former youth leader under the Nazis and I intend to see that no time is wasted on a mass of irrelevancies. Strange—isn't it—that I should be cross-examining the Nazi youth leader? I, who devoted three years and more to the National Youth Administration in the USA.
May 23, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 137, Schirach testifies on his own behalf:
June 3, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: Between Field Marshal Keitel and myself, according to my recollection, there was no discussion concerning that agreement, but I believe we arranged that by correspondence. And I should just like to state that during the entire time from 1933 to 1945, only one or two conversations of about half an hour took place between Field Marshal Keitel and me. The agreement, however, resulted from the following considerations: We endeavored in the Hitler Youth, and it was also the endeavor of the leading men in the Wehrmacht, to take nothing into our training which belonged to the later military training. However, in the course of time, the objection was raised on the part of the military, that youth should not learn anything in its training which later would have to be corrected in the Wehrmacht.
I am thinking, for instance, of the compass. The Army used the infantry compass; the Hitler Youth, in cross-country sports, used compasses of various kinds. It was, of course, quite senseless that youth leaders should train their boys, for instance, to march according to the Bezar compass if later, in their training as recruits, the boys had to learn something different. The designation and the description of the terrain should also be given according to the same principles in the Hitler Youth as in the Army, and so this agreement was made by which, I believe, thirty or sixty thousand HJ leaders were trained in cross-country sports. In these cross-country sports no training with war weapons was practiced...
On day 145, Jodl testifies on his own behalf:
: Perhaps you can tell us this first of all: What connection did you have with this matter, that is, with the treatment of commissars?
: I did not participate in preparing this draft. I was not concerned with prisoners of war nor with questions of martial law at that time. But the draft was submitted to me before it was transmitted to Field Marshal Keitel.
: All right. Now you added: "We must count on retaliation against German fliers. It is best, therefore, to brand the entire action as retaliation." What do you mean by this statement?
: The intention of the Führer which was set forth in this draft was rejected unanimously by all soldiers. Very heated discussions took place about this also with the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. This resistance ended with the characteristic sentence by the Führer: "I cannot demand that my generals should understand my orders, but I do demand that they follow them." Now, in this case, by my notation I wanted to indicate to Field Marshal Keitel a new way by which one might possibly still circumvent this order which had been demanded...
June 4, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 146, Jodl testifies on his own behalf:
June 5, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: And most of your tasks were concerned with this department. The Prosecution say you were Chief of Staff to Field Marshal Keitel. Do you agree?
: That is not correct as has already been shown by the organization which was explained here during Field Marshal Keitel's case. There is a great difference. 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 Führer 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.
: Did you, as Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff, have authority to issue orders?
: No—or rather only through my working staff. I was subordinate to Field Marshal Keitel, and even Keitel himself was not a commander but only the chief of a staff...
On day 147, Jodl testifies on his own behalf:
June 6, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: On this morning when the Führer spontaneously ordered the immediate preparation of an attack on Yugoslavia, I proposed to him, or at least I mentioned to him, that after concentrating our troops we ought first to clarify the real situation, the political situation, by an ultimatum. He refused to do so. He said, "That will not be of any use." Field Marshal Keitel has already confirmed this.
: Tell me, was that on 27 March?
: Yes, that was on the 27th. May I give proof of this. On the evening of the 27th the order was issued...
: I do not think it is necessary if the Defendant Keitel said it...
On day 148, Jodl is cross-examined by Keitel's defense:
June 7, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: What can you say about the attitude of Field Marshal Keitel to Hitler's plan in October 1939, the plan to attack in the West?
: I know that Field Marshal Keitel was apparently strongly impressed by the attitude of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the General Staff of the Army and also raised a warning voice against this attack in the West. I know it, although I did not experience it personally; but Schmundt told me about it later—I know that during this time he also had a controversy with the Fuehrer which led to the first request to resign. This is what I can report according to what Schmundt told me; I did not witness it myself, nor did Field Marshal Keitel tell me about it personally...
On day one hundred and forty-nine—of two hundred and eighteen—Jodl endures tough cross-examination by the prosecution:
July 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: So that if we forget for one minute such formal considerations, such formal circumstances, would it be right to conclude that it was precisely you, Jodl, who actually was Keitel's acting deputy in the eyes of Hitler, of the whole cadre of officers, and of the entire military machinery of the German Reich? Would that be correct, or not?
: In individual cases, when the Field Marshal was not there, and in unimportant things, yes; but when it came to important things I could reach him by telephone, at any time, and so it hardly ever happened that I deputized. He was never ill, and was never away on leave...
On day 173, Dr. Otto Nelte begins his final statement in Keitel's defense:
: National Socialism undoubtedly aimed at and succeeded in rousing the belief in wide circles of the German people that its endeavors were supported by the majority of the people. It thereby procured for itself the alibi of legality. Far from all political considerations, as all the generals and admirals have testified here, the leaders of the Armed Forces believed in the legitimacy of Hitler's Government. It looked upon itself as the instrument of a legal government, as it did when the Kaiser, Ebert, and Von Hindenburg were Germany's representatives. Like all tendencies, all forms of expression of feeling, the feeling of patriotism and of a soldierly attitude bears in itself a tendency to become more radical...
From The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials by Telford Taylor: Wilhelm Keitel was the ranking officer of the German Army, but he was not a commander. His rise in rank had been chiefly due to his administrative pliancy and the marriage of his eldest son to Field Marshal von Blomberg's daughter. Hitler found him useful as a high-level amanuensis and promoted him so that the senior Field Marshal would be 'his man.' Thus Keitel's role in the military hierarchy was comparable to Ribbentrop's among the diplomats. Both were Hitler's mouthpieces and not doers on their own. In contrast to Ribbentrop, however, Keitel was soldierly and carried himself with dignity at Nuremberg. But he was not highly regarded among his fellow officers, who had given him the sobriquet 'Lakeital,' from 'Lakai,' meaning lackey. When France capitulated in 1940 Keitel openly declared Hitler 'the greatest field commander of all times.' He was the sort of weak man whom Hitler could count on to follow his orders regardless of law or morals. ....
July 9, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Dr. Nelte, for Keitel, was abler (in his final statement) than his predecessors and not easily put down. .... Nelte's main argument was that despite Keitel's rank (the highest in the army), impressive designation as Chief of the Wehrmacht, and personal signatures on Hitler's orders, he was not legally responsible for them. Keitel himself had made the same point in his testimony, but Nelte attempted to reinforce it by picturing Keitel as a tragic figure doomed by fate, rather than guilt, to be 'linked' with Hitler's crimes. This was true in the sense that if Hitler had not ordered the criminal acts, Keitel had neither the power nor, so far as the evidence indicated, the inclination to violate law or morals. But the weakness of Keitel's position was that he had hitched his own wagon to Hitler's star. Keitel's signature was more than a clerk's stamp. As Nelte, perhaps incautiously, admitted, Keitel was responsible for 'carrying out the Fuehrer's orders.' Thus he put his own rank and administrative authority behind Hitler's decisions.
On day 174, Dr. Otto Nelte completes his final statement in Keitel's defense (Note: Nelte's Plädoyers
will be exceeded only by Neurath's counsels in length):
July 16, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
Dr. Nelte: By exploiting the willingness to fight for Germany, which might be taken for granted in the case of every German general, Hitler was able to camouflage his party political aims with the pretext of defending the national interests and to present the impending struggle with the Soviet Union as a dispute which must inevitably be settled-even as a war of defense, the necessity for which was made clear by definite information which had been received and on which depended the existence of Germany. In this way Hitler broached the fateful question.
General Jodl has testified here to the fact that, as an officer of long standing, Keitel's conscience pricked him nevertheless; and that he repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, raised objections and suggested alternatives to the orders drafted. During his cross-examination by the representative of the American Prosecution, the Defendant Keitel has openly declared that he was aware of the illegal nature of these orders, but that he believed that he could not refuse to obey the orders of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and head of the State, whose final pronouncement in the case of all objections was: "I do not know why you are worrying; after all, it is not your responsibility. I myself am solely responsible to the German people..."
The defendants reflect the ending of these proceedings. They seem to feel that the days are definitely numbered. Even Goering, who has been positively impish up to very recently, now is gray and crestfallen. Keitel wears the mask of the doomed already. And so it goes through the entire dock. General Jodl and Seyss-Inquart being exceptions to some extent and mostly because they are more stable emotionally.
July 22, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 187, US Justice Jackson details Prosecutions closing arguments against Keitel.
July 23, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Jackson: The Defendant Keitel, who is in a position to know the facts, has given the Tribunal what seems to be a fair summation of the case on the facts: "The defendant has declared that he admits the contents of the general Indictment to be proved from the objective and factual point of view (that is to say, not every individual case) and this in consideration of the law of procedure governing the Trial. It would be senseless, despite the possibility of refuting several documents or individual facts, to attempt to shake the Indictment as a whole."...
The Nazis also proceeded at once to adapt the Government to the needs of war. In April 1933 the Cabinet formed a Defense Council, the working committee of which met frequently thereafter. In the meeting of 23 May 1933 at which Defendant Keitel presided, the members were instructed that: "No document must be lost since otherwise the enemy propaganda would make use of it. Matters communicated orally cannot be proven; they can be denied by us in Geneva"...
The General Staff, of course, also had to be enlisted in the war plan. Most of the generals, attracted by the prospect of rebuilding their armies, became willing accomplices. The hold-over Minister of War von Blomberg and the Chief of Staff General Von Fritsch, however, were not cordial to the increasingly belligerent policy of the Hitler regime, and by vicious and obscene plotting they were discredited and removed in January 1938. Thereupon, Hitler assumed for himself Supreme Command of the Armed Forces and the positions of Blomberg and of von Fritsch were filled by others who became, as Blomberg said of Keitel, "a willing tool in Hitler's hands for every one of his decisions."
The generals did not confine their participation to merely military matters. They participated in all major diplomatic and political maneuvers, such as the Obersalzberg meeting where Hitler, flanked by Keitel and other top generals, issued his virtual ultimatum to Schuschnigg... Six months later, emboldened by the bloodless Austria conquest, Hitler, in a secret directive to Keitel, stated his "unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future". On the same day, Jodl noted in his diary that the Führer had stated his final decision to destroy Czechoslovakia soon and had initiated military preparations all along the line. By April the plan had been perfected to attack Czechoslovakia "with lightning swift action as the result of an incident"... Hitler, after the Polish invasion, boasted that it was the Austrian and Czechoslovakian triumphs by which "the basis for the action against Poland was laid". Göring suited the act to the purpose and gave immediate instructions to exploit for the further strengthening of the German war potential, first the Sudetenland, and then the whole Protectorate.
By May of 1939 the Nazi preparations had ripened to the point that Hitler confided to the Defendants Göring, Raeder, Keitel, and others his readiness "to attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity," even though he recognized that "further successes cannot be attained without the shedding of blood." The larcenous motives behind this decision he made plain in words that echoed the covetous theme of Mein Kampf: "Circumstances must be adapted to aims. This is impossible without invasion of foreign states or attacks upon foreign property. Living space in proportion to the magnitude of the state is the basis of all power-further successes cannot be attained without expanding our living space in the East..."
While a credulous world slumbered, snugly blanketed with perfidious assurances of peaceful intentions, the Nazis prepared not as before for a war but now for the war. The Defendants Göring, Keitel, Raeder, Frick, and Funk, with others, met as the Reich Defense Council in June of 1939. The minutes, authenticated by Goering, are revealing evidences of the way in which each step of Nazi planning dovetailed with every other. These five key defendants, 3 months before the first Panzer unit had knifed into Poland, were laying plans for "employment of the population in wartime," and had gone so far as to classify industry for priority in labor supply after "5 million servicemen had been called up." They decided upon measures to avoid "confusion when mobilization takes place," and declared a purpose "to gain and maintain the lead in the decisive initial weeks of a war."
They then planned to use in production prisoners of war, criminal prisoners, and concentration camp inmates. They then decided on "compulsory work for women in wartime." They had already passed on applications from 1,172,000 specialist workmen for classification as indispensable, and had approved 727,000 of them. They boasted that orders to workers to report for duty "are ready and tied up in bundles at the labor offices." And they resolved to increase the industrial manpower supply by bringing into Germany "hundreds of thousands of workers" from the Protectorate to be "housed together in hutments". It is the minutes of this significant conclave of many key defendants which disclose how the plan to start the war was coupled with the plan to wage the war through the use of illegal sources of labor to maintain production.
Hitler, in announcing his plan to attack Poland, had already foreshadowed the slave-labor program as one of its corollaries when he cryptically pointed out to the Defendants Göring, Raeder, Keitel, and others that the Polish population "will be available as a source of labor"...The orders for the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war were so ruthless that Admiral Canaris, pointing out that they would "result in arbitrary mistreatments and killing," protested to the OKW against them as breaches of international law. The reply of Keitel was unambiguous. He said: "The objections arise from the military conception of chivalrous warfare! This is the destruction of an ideology! Therefore, I approve and back the measures."
The Geneva Convention would have been thrown overboard openly except that Jodl objected because he wanted the benefits of Allied observance of it while it was not being allowed to hamper the Germans in any way. Other crimes in the conduct of warfare were planned with equal thoroughness as a means of insuring victory of German arms. In October 1938, almost a year before the start of the war, the large-scale violation of the established rules of warfare was contemplated as a policy, and the Supreme Command circulated a "most secret" list of devious explanations to be given by the Propaganda Minister in such cases.
Even before this time commanders of the Armed Forces were instructed to employ any means of warfare so long as it facilitated victory. After the war was in progress the orders increased in savagery. A typical Keitel order, demanding the use of the "most brutal means," provided that: "...It is the duty of the troops to use all means without restriction, even against women and children, so long as it insures success. .... Keitel, the weak and willing tool, delivered the Armed Forces, the instrument of aggression, over to the Party and directed them in executing its felonious designs. ....
It was the fatal weakness of the early Nazi band that it lacked technical competence. It could not from among its own ranks make up a government capable of carrying out all the projects necessary to realize its aims. Therein lies the special crime and betrayal of men like Schacht and von Neurath, Speer and von Papen, Raeder and Dönitz, Keitel and Jodl. It is doubtful whether the Nazi master plan could have succeeded without their specialized intelligence which they so willingly put at its command. They did so with knowledge of its announced aims and methods, and continued their services after practice had confirmed the direction in which they were tending. Their superiority to the average run of Nazi mediocrity is not their excuse. It is their condemnation.
On day 188, Sir Hartley Shawcross, Chief Prosecutor for the United Kingdom, details Prosecutions closing arguments:
July 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Shawcross: The evidence with regard to the Commando Order of the 18th of October 1942 directly involves Keitel, Jodl, Dönitz, Raeder, Göring, and Kaltenbrunner. By Article 30 of the Hague Rules, and I quote: "A spy taken in the act shall not be punished without previous trial." And even the regulations printed in the book of every German soldier provide, and I quote: "No enemy can be killed who gives up, not even a partisan or a spy. These will be brought to punishment by the courts."
These men were not spies; they were soldiers in uniform. It is not suggesting that any man dealt with under the order was ever given a trial before he was shot. Legally there can be no answer to the guilt of any of those defendants who passed on or who applied this wicked order, an order which Jodl admitted to be murder and in respect of which Keitel, confessing his shame, admitted its illegality. Raeder admitted that it was an improper order. Even Doenitz stated that now he knew the true facts he no longer regarded it as correct.
The only defenses put forward have been that the individual in question did not personally carry it out, that they regarded the statement in the first paragraph of the order as justifying the action by way of reprisal, that they did their best to minimize its effect and that it was not up to the individual to question the directives of a superior. But no one has seriously disputed that handing over to the SD-in the context here-meant shooting without a trial. The answer to these defenses, insofar as the defenses are not purely dishonest, is that the security precautions provided in the order itself were the plainest indication that the facts stated in the first paragraph did not constitute any justification which would bear the light of day. No higher degree of precaution accompanied the "Kugel Order," Nacht und Nebel
Order, or any other of their brutal orders...
On day 189, M. Charles Dubost, Deputy Chief Prosecutor for the French Republic, details Prosecutions closing arguments:
July 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Dubost: My comments on Keitel are equally brief. The conditions under which he consented to be placed by Hitler at the head of the High Command of the Army in the place of von Fritsch and von Blomberg, and brought into the councils of the Government, his political activities in these posts, as indicated by his presence at the Führer's side in Godesberg and later during the interviews with Petain and Horthy—to say nothing of the orders which he signed, not the least notorious of which was the order for the implementation of the N.N. (Night and Fog) decree—all these facts reveal that we are dealing here not with an ordinary soldier, but with a general who was also a politician, under orders of the regime.
The part he played in the arrest and murder of patriots condemns him. There is no doubt whatsoever that he participated in the work of extermination, if only by handing over to the Police for special treatment certain classes of prisoners of war in defiance of military honor. Moreover, we remember connections between his office and the police services and armed forces of the party...
On day 189, General Rudenko, Chief Prosecutor for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, details Prosecutions closing arguments:
August 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Rudenko: Keitel's counsel stated that his defense is based on the point of view that Keitel "is fighting not for his head but to save his face." I should like to help the Tribunal to unveil Keitel's true face. For this I should have to remind you of a number of Keitel's directives which may well lay claim to being among the foremost of all the infamous documents pointing to the barbarity of the German military clique, to its baseness and foul and unlimited contempt for every concept of the rules and customs of warfare. Let us consider the documents dealing with the shooting of political officers. Keitel, the soldier, as he likes to call himself, ignoring his oath, shamelessly lied to the representatives of the American Prosecution at the preliminary investigation by avowing that, to begin with, this order was in the nature of a reprisal and that the political officers were separated from the other prisoners of war at the request of the prisoners of war themselves. At the Trial he was unmasked...
On day 216 of deliberations, the defendants make their final statements.
Final Statement of Wilhelm Keitel: I acknowledged on the witness stand my responsibility in connection with my official position, and have explained the significance of this position in the presentation of evidence and in the final plea of my defense counsel. It is far from my intention to minimize my part in what took place. In the interest of historical truth, however, it seems advisable to correct a few errors in the final speeches of the Prosecution. The American chief prosecutor said in his final speech, and I quote: "Keitel, a weak, submissive tool, turned the Wehrmacht, the instrument of aggression, over to the Party." A "turning-over" of the Wehrmacht to the Party by me cannot be reconciled with my functions, either up to 4 February 1938, or after that time, when Hitler made himself Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht and thus ruled the Party and the Wehrmacht absolutely. I do not recall that any sort of evidence was presented in the course of this Trial which could justify this serious allegation by the Prosecution.
September 2, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
The presentation of evidence, however, has also shown that the further contention "that Keitel led the Wehrmacht in the execution of its criminal intentions" is wrong. This allegation is in contradiction to the Anglo-American trial brief, which says expressly that I had no authority to issue orders. Consequently, the British chief prosecutor is also mistaken when he speaks of me as—and I quote—'a Field Marshal who issued orders to the Wehrmacht.' And when he claims that I said that I "had no idea what practical results were intended by this"—that is the quotation—I believe that this is something quite different from what I said on the witness stand, which was, and I quote the words I spoke on the witness stand: 'But when an order was given, I acted according to my duty as I saw it, without permitting myself to be confused by the possible, but not always foreseeable, consequences.'
Also, the contention that—and I quote—'Keitel and Jodl cannot deny the responsibility for the operations of the Einsatzkommandos, with which their own commanders co-operated closely and cordially,' cannot be reconciled with the results of the testimony. The OKW was eliminated from the Soviet Russian theater of war. There were no troop commanders under its orders. The French chief prosecutor said in his final speech: "Is it necessary to recall the terrible words, of the Defendant Keitel that 'human life was worthless than nothing in the occupied territories." These terrible words are not my words. I did not think them up, and did not make them the contents of any order either. The fact that my name is connected with the transmission of this Führer order weighs heavily enough upon me.
At another point M. Champetier de Ribes says, and I quote: "This order was executed"—it concerned anti-Partisan activities—'by virtue of instructions from the commander of the army group, who in his turn acted according to general instructions of the Defendant Keitel.' Here again "instructions of Keitel" are mentioned, although the French Indictment itself states that I, as Chief of the OKW, could not give any direct orders to the branches of the Wehrmacht.
In the final speech of the Soviet Russian prosecutor he says, and I quote: 'Beginning with the documents on the executions of political persons, Keitel, this 'soldier,' as he likes to call himself, lied shamelessly to the American Prosecution in the preliminary examination—disregarding his oath—by saying that this decree was in the nature of a reprisal and that political persons had been kept separate from the other prisoners of war at the latter's own request. He was exposed before the Court.' The document in question is Number 884-PS. The accusation that I lied is unfounded. The Soviet Russian Prosecution overlooked the fact that the transcript of my preliminary examination on this question was not a subject of evidence before this Tribunal. Therefore, its use in the final speech of the Prosecution should not have been allowed. I did not see the transcript of the preliminary interrogation and do not know the wording. If it is complete, it will clarify the error which arose because the document in question had not been shown to me. In the examination by my defense counsel on the witness stand I presented the state of affairs correctly.
In the last stage of the Trial, the Prosecution attempted once more to incriminate me severely by connecting my name with an order for the preparation of bacteriological warfare. A witness, the former Generalarzt Dr. Schreiber, had said in his report that: "The chief of the OKW, Field Marshal Keitel, had issued orders to prepare for bacteriological warfare against the Soviet Union." On the witness stand here, to be sure, this witness spoke of a "Fuehrer order." But this is not true, either. The introduction of the testimony of Colonel Bürker, which was approved by the Tribunal in agreement with the Prosecution, indicates that in the autumn of 1943, I, in Bürker's own words, sharply and categorically rejected the suggestion of the Army Medical Inspectorate and the Army Ordnance Branch to begin experiments with bacteria, with the comment that that was completely out of the question and that it was indeed forbidden. This is true. General Jodl also can confirm the fact that no order of the kind alleged by the witness was ever issued; on the contrary, Hitler prohibited bacteriological warfare, which had been suggested by some departments. This proves the allegation to the contrary by the witness Dr. Schreiber to be untrue.
I claim to have told the truth in all things, even if they incriminated me; at least to have endeavored, in spite of the great extent of my field of activity, to contribute to the clarification of the true state of affairs to the best of my knowledge. Now, at the end of this Trial I want to present equally frankly the avowal and confession I have to make today. In the course of the Trial my defense counsel submitted two fundamental questions to me, the first one already some months ago. It was: 'In case of a victory, would you have refused to participate in any part of the success?' I answered: 'No, I should certainly have been proud of it.' The second question was: 'How would you act if you were in the same position again?' My answer: 'Then I would rather choose death than to let myself be drawn into the net of such pernicious methods.'
From these two answers the High Tribunal may see my viewpoint. I believed, but I erred, and I was not in a position to prevent what ought to have been prevented. That is my guilt. It is tragic to have to realize that the best I had to give as a soldier, obedience and loyalty, was exploited for purposes which could not be recognized at the time, and that I did not see that there is a limit set even for a soldier's performance of his duty. That is my fate. From the clear recognition of the causes, the pernicious methods, and the terrible consequences of this war, may there arise the hope for a new future in the community of nations for the German people.
As the defendants await the courts judgment, Colonel Andrus somewhat relaxes the conditions of confinement and allows the prisoners limited visitation. Keitel, along with Papen, refuses a visit by his wife, declaring he is too stressed. (Conot, Maser)
September 26, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
From the Daily Telegraph
, byline by Rebecca West:
The judgment that is now about to be delivered has to answer a challenge which has been thrown down not only by Germans but by many critics among the Allies. It has to prove that victors can so rise above the ordinary limitations of human nature as to be able to try fairly the foes they vanquished, by submitting themselves to the restraints of law... The meeting of the challenge will also warn all future war-mongers that law can at last pursue them into peace and thus give humanity a new defense against them. Hence the judgment of the Nuremberg Tribunal may be one of the most important events in the history of civilization.
September 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On the penultimate day of this historic trial, the final judgements are read in open court:
October 1, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: Keitel is indicted on all four Counts. He was Chief of Staff to the then Minister of War von Blomberg from 1935 to 4 February 1938; on that day Hitler took command of the Armed Forces, making Keitel Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces. Keitel did not have command authority over the three Wehrmacht branches which enjoyed direct access to the Supreme Commander. OKW was in effect Hitler's military staff.
Crimes against Peace
: Keitel attended the Schuschnigg conference in February 1938 with two other generals. Their presence, he admitted, was a "military demonstration," but since he had been appointed OKW chief just one week before, he had not known why he had been summoned. Hitler and Keitel then continued to put pressure on Austria with false rumors, broadcasts, and troop maneuvers. Keitel made the military and other arrangements and Jodl's diary noted "the effect is quick and strong." When Schuschnigg called his plebiscite, Keitel that night briefed Hitler and his generals, and Hitler issued "Case Otto" which Keitel initialed.
On 21 April 1938 Hitler and Keitel considered making use of a possible "incident," such as the assassination of the German Minister at Prague, to preface the attack on Czechoslovakia. Keitel signed many directives and memoranda on Fall Gruen
, including the directive of 30 May, containing Hitler's statement: "It is my unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future." After Munich, Keitel initialed Hitler's directive for the attack on Czechoslovakia and issued two supplements. The second supplement said the attack should appear to the outside world as "merely an act of pacification, and not a warlike undertaking." The OKW chief attended Hitler's negotiations with Hacha when the latter surrendered. Keitel was present on 23 May 1939 when Hitler announced his decision "to attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity."
Already he had signed the directive requiring the Wehrmacht to submit its "Fall Weiss" timetable to OKW by 1 May. The invasion of Norway and Denmark he discussed on 12 December 1939 with Hitler, Jodl, and Raeder. By directive of 27 January 1940 the Norway plans were placed under Keitel's "direct and personal guidance." Hitler had said on 23 May 1939 he would ignore the neutrality of Belgium and the Netherlands, and Keitel signed orders for these attacks on 15 October, 20 November, and 28 November 1939. Orders postponing this attack 17 times until spring 1940 all were signed by Keitel or Jodl. Formal planning for attacking Greece and Yugoslavia had begun in November 1940. On 18 March 1941 Keitel heard Hitler tell Raeder that complete occupation of Greece was a prerequisite to settlement, and also heard Hitler decree on 27 March that the destruction, of Yugoslavia should take place with "unmerciful harshness."
Keitel testified that he opposed the invasion of the Soviet Union for military reasons, and also because it would constitute a violation of the Non-Aggression Pact. Nevertheless he initialed "Case Barbarossa," signed by Hitler on 18 December 1940, and attended the OKW discussion with Hitler on 3 February 1941. Keitel's supplement of 13 March established the relationship between the military and political officers. He issued his timetable for the invasion on 6 June 1941 and was present at the briefing of 14 June when the generals gave their final reports before attack. He appointed Jodl and Warlimont as OKW representatives to Rosenberg on matters concerning the Eastern territories. On 16 June he directed all Army units to carry out the economic directives issued by Goering in the so-called "Green Folder" for the exploitation of Russian territory, food, and raw materials.
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
: On 4 August 1942 Keitel issued a directive that paratroopers were to be turned over to the SD. On 18 October Hitler issued the Commando Order, which was carried out in several instances. After the landing in Normandy, Keitel reaffirmed the order, and later extended it to Allied missions fighting with partisans. He admits he did not believe the order was legal, but claims he could not stop Hitler.
When, on 8 September 1941, OKW issued its ruthless regulations for Soviet prisoners of war, Canaris wrote to Keitel that under international law the SD should have nothing to do with this. On this memorandum, in Keitel's handwriting, dated 23 September and initialed by him, is the statement: "The objections arise from the military concept of chivalrous warfare. This is the destruction of an ideology. Therefore I approve and back the measures." Keitel testified that he really agreed with Canaris and argued with Hitler, but lost. The OKW chief directed the military authorities to cooperate with the Einsatzstab Rosenberg
in looting cultural property in occupied territories.
Lahousen testified that Keitel told him on 12 September 1939, while aboard Hitler's headquarters train, that the Polish intelligentsia, nobility, and Jews were to be liquidated. On 20 October, Hitler told Keitel the intelligentsia would be prevented from forming a ruling class. the standard of living would remain low, and Poland would be used only for labor forces. Keitel does not remember the Lahousen conversation, but admits there was such a policy and that he had protested without effect to Hitler about it. On 16 September 1941, Keitel ordered that attacks on soldiers in the East should be met by putting to death 50 to 100 Communists for one German soldier, with the comment that human life was less than nothing in the East. On 1 October he ordered military commanders always to have hostages to execute when German soldiers were attacked.
When Terboven, the Reich Commissioner in Norway, wrote Hitler that Keitel's suggestion that workmen's relatives be held responsible for sabotage, could work only if firing squads were authorized, Keitel wrote on this memorandum in the margin: "Yes, that is the best." On 12 May 1941, five weeks before the invasion of the Soviet Union, the OKW urged upon Hitler a directive of the OKH that political commissars be liquidated by the Army. Keitel admitted the directive was passed on to field commanders. And on 13 May Keitel signed an order that civilians suspected of offenses against troops should be shot without trial, and that prosecution of German soldiers for offenses against civilians was unnecessary. On 27 July all copies of this directive were ordered destroyed without affecting its validity. Four days previously he had signed another order that legal punishment was inadequate and troops should use terrorism.
On 7 December 1941, as already discussed in this opinion, the so-called Nacht und Nebel
decree, over Keitel's signature, provided that in occupied territories civilians who had been accused of crimes of resistance against the army of occupation would be tried only if a death sentence was likely; otherwise they would be handed over to the Gestapo for transportation to Germany. Keitel directed that Russian prisoners of war be used in German war industry. On 8 September 1942 he ordered French, Dutch, and Belgian citizens to work on the Atlantic Wall. He was present on 4 January 1944 when Hitler directed Sauckel to obtain 4 million new workers from occupied territories.
In the face of these documents Keitel does not deny his connection with these acts. Rather, his defense relies on the fact that he is a soldier and on the doctrine of "superior orders," prohibited by Article 8 of the Charter as a defense. There is nothing in mitigation. Superior orders, even to a soldier, cannot be considered in mitigation where crimes so shocking and extensive have been committed consciously, ruthlessly, and without military excuse or justification.
: The Tribunal finds Keitel guilty on all four Counts.
On the 218th and last day of the trial, sentences are handed down: "Defendant Wilhelm Keitel, on the Counts of the Indictment on which you have been convicted, the Tribunal sentences you to death by hanging." Later: "Keitel stood with his back to the door of his cell. When Dr. Gilbert entered he wheeled around and snapped to attention at the far end of his cell, his fists clenched and arms rigid, horror in his eyes: "Death by hanging! That, at least, I thought I would be spared." Keitel and Seyss-Inquart, both non-smokers, ask Dr. Pflücker to distribute their tobacco ration amongst the other condemned men. (Heydecker, Conot, Maser)
From Justice at Nuremberg by Robert E. Conot: The eleven condemned to death were no longer permitted to exercise in the yard. Whenever one emerged from his cell, he was handcuffed to a guard. For a few minutes a day, one at a time, they were marched up and down in the center of the cell block in lock step with a military policeman. When they saw their attorneys in the Palace of Justice, a GI sat with each of them like a Siamese twin joined at the wrist...The Allied Control Council ordered the executions carried out on the fifteenth day after sentencing. The condemned, however, were not informed of the date...The British and French were so apprehensive about demonstrations or a possible attempt to rescue the prisoners that they insisted that no prior announcement of the executions be made.
October 1, 1946:
Frau Lisa Keitel writes to Dr. Nelte: "I have just written the last letter to my husband. I trust that the request to be executed as soldiers will be granted him and Jodl. Otherwise, please, no petition for clemency." She will see her husband once more before the end. (Maser)
October 10, 1946:
Keitel completes his memoirs (begun his second day in captivity, May 13, 1945) with this final sentence: 'I was transferred to a prison cell in Nuremberg on the 13 of August (1945), and am awaiting my execution on 13th October, 1946. Finis." When published in 1963, the books editor, Walter Goerlitz, will write: 'In general, it is astonishing that despite the great mental strain of the weeks between his sentencing and execution the field-marshal should have been capable of writing such a coherent account of his life and description of his 'modus operanda' during these decisive years of German history." (Taylor)
October 13, 1946:
Keitel (along with Goering and Jodl) had requested that the Allied Control Counsel, the body ruling on the defendants' appeals, modify their sentences to allow them to be shot rather than hung. According to Tusa, Colonel Andrus informs the prisoners on this day that all appeals have been turned down. According to Maser, the defendants' consuls are informed, and they in turn bring the bad news to the defendants.
October 13, 1946:
From Spandau Diary by Albert Speer:
A guard goes from cell to cell. He asks whether we want to make use of our right to a daily walk on the ground floor. The yard is still barred to us. I have to get out; the cell is beginning to feel unbearably oppressive. So I ask to go. But I shudder at the prospect of seeing the men on death row (Note: The 11 condemned men are housed in cells on the ground floor; the 7 sentenced to prison time are being kept in an upper tier of cells). The guard holds out the chrome handcuffs. Linked together, we have some difficulty descending the winding staircase. In the silence, every step on the iron stairs sounds like a thunderclap. On the ground floor I see eleven soldiers staring attentively into eleven cells.
The men inside are eleven of the surviving leaders of the Third Reich. Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces, was unpopular and despised; during the Nuremberg Trial he grew in understanding and dignity...As the rules prescribe, most of them are lying on their backs, hands on the blanket, heads turned toward the inside of the cell. A ghostly sight, all of them in their immobility; it looks as though they have already been laid on their biers...I cannot stand it for long. Back in my cell, I decide not to go back down again.
Note: German author Werner Maser, in Nuremberg: A Nation on Trial
, comments critically on the above passage by Speer: "These and the comments immediately following are typical of Speer's usual fanciful descriptions. Since he was handcuffed to a guard, he could not have seen what was going on in the cells. His remarks on his fellow-defendants speak for themselves."
October 14, 1946:
The condemned men, most of whom have become convinced that the executions will be carried out on the 15th, spend this day as if it were their last. Keitel pleads with the German doctor, Dr. Pflücker, 'that the organist, who often played a few tunes in the evening, should not play the folk song, Shlafe, mein Kindchen, sclaf ein
, as it stirred up particularly nostalgic memories in him." (Heydecker)
October 16, 1946:
From Spandau Diary by Albert Speer:
At some hour of the night I woke up. I could hear footsteps and indistinguishable words in the lower hall. Then silence, broken by a name being called out: "Ribbentrop!" A cell door is opened; then scraps of phrases, scraping of boots, and reverberating footsteps slowly fading away. Scarcely able to breathe, I sit upright on my cot, hearing my heart beat loudly, at the same time aware that my hands are icy. Soon the footsteps come back and I hear the next name: "Wilhelm Keitel..." (Speer II)
October 16, 1946:
Keitel's last words: "Ich fordere Gott Allmächtiger auf, Gnade auf den deutschen Leuten zu haben. Mehr als zwei Millionen deutscheren Soldaten sind zu ihrem Tod für das Vaterland bevor mich gegangen. Ich folge jetzt meinen Söhnen—alle für Deutschland
", which translates roughly to: "I call on God Almighty to have mercy on the German people. More than two million German soldiers went to their death for the fatherland before me. I follow now my sons—all for Germany."
October 16, 1946:
After the executions, the former defendants' cells are cleaned thoroughly. Colonel Andrus is unpleasantly surprised by the amount of contraband articles subsequently discovered, and what that says about his security regime. Nearly all the prisoners had squirreled away something in anticipation of eventual desperation. Keitel had collected an arsenal: 1 large safety pin (hidden in a shirt), 4 metal nuts, 2 sharp-edged bolts, and a knife-like piece of steel (hidden under the fold of his uniform collar). (Heydecker)
From The Devil's Disciples by Anthony Read: (The defendant's bodies) were photographed, wrapped in mattress covers, sealed in coffins then driven off in army trucks with a military escort to a crematorium in Munich, which had been told to expect the bodies of fourteen American soldiers. The coffins were opened for inspection by American, British, French and Soviet officials, before being loaded in the cremation ovens. That same evening, a container holding all the ashes was driven away into the Bavarian countryside, in the rain. It stopped in a quiet lane about an hour later, and the ashes were poured into a muddy ditch..."
From the New York Times: The ashes of the innocent and the ashes of unspeakable criminals are composed of the same elements, blown by the same winds, dissolved in the same waters. And in the midst of our dark day we must now hope and pray for the growth of a new world.
October 20, 1946:
From a Stars and Stripes
interview with Master-Sergeant John C. Woods, the Nuremberg Executioner:
I hanged these ten Nazis in Nuremberg and I am proud of it; I did a good job. Everything went A1. I have ... never been at an execution which went better. I am only sorry that that fellow Göring escaped me; I'd have been at my best with him. No, I wasn't nervous. I haven't got any nerves. You can't afford nerves in my job. But this Nuremberg job was just what I wanted. I wanted this job so terribly that I stayed here a bit longer, though I could have gone home earlier. But I'll say one thing about these Nazis. They died like brave men. Only one of them showed signs of weakness. As Frick climbed the thirteen steps to the gallows, one of his legs seemed to fail and the guard had to hold him up. They were all haughty. One could see how they hated us.
The old Jew-baiter Streicher looked at me as he said: 'One day the Bolshevists will hang you.' I looked him back straight in the eye. They couldn't ruffle me. There's not much to say about the executions themselves. They went off...like all other routine executions. Ten men in 103 minutes. That's quick work. Only one of them moved after he fell. He groaned for a bit but not for long. Another, I think it was Sauckel, started to shout 'Heil Hitler' after I had put the hood over his head. I stopped that - with the rope. I used a new rope and a new hood for each man. I put the noose round myself and attached each rope myself to make sure nothing went wrong. The ropes and hoods were burnt with the bodies so that there was nothing left for the souvenir-hunters. ....
What do I think of the gallows job? Someone has to do it after all... But I'm glad the Nuremberg affair is over. It was a strain. I had never seen any of the condemned men before they came through the door of the execution chamber ... they gave their names as they came to the scaffold... It is difficult to remember exactly what each one did and said. To hang ten people one after the other it has to go fairly quick, you know. And what I had in my hand was a rope, not a notebook.
From Nuremberg: A Nation on Trial by Werner Maser, translated by Richard Barry: The 'job' had certainly not gone off 'A1,' as the hangman maintained. Streicher groaned for a long time after his execution. Jodl took eighteen minutes and Keitel as much as twenty-four minutes to die. Some of the victims' faces were scratched and bleeding. Frick had severe wounds on his face and neck. Possibly the trapdoors were too small or the ropes had not been properly positioned. The hangman's story, which is only a story, is that the faces were smeared with blood because 'they had bitten their tongues at the moment they fell.'
As far as the Allies were concerned all this was a closely guarded secret. When a German journalist named Helmut Kamphausen managed to persuade an American-licensed newspaper in Berlin to publish photographs of the blood-smeared faces and wounded heads, he was promptly arrested. The victors only released 'touched-up' pictures of the eleven bodies lying in a row on the gymnasium floor—with Göring at one end. That night the bodies were photographed—both naked and clothed—by a US Army photographer; they were in wooden packing cases. Göring's right eye was open, staring glassily at nothing; all the others still had the rope round their necks. Each carried a long narrow identification plate on the chest showing the initial of the Christian name and the surname in full. The bodies, still in their packing boxes, were then taken to Munich on two US Army lorries. There, in the Heilmannstrasse, they were cremated and the ashes scattered into the Conwentz Brook.