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Nuremberg Trial Defendants:
Karl Doenitz


Nuremberg Defendants: Table of Contents | Hermann Goering | Hans Frank


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A. NAVAL AND POLITICAL CAREER.

After his appointment in 1935 as commander of the Weddigen U- boat flotilla -- the first flotilla to be formed-after the World War in 1918-Doenitz, who thus became in effect commander of U-boats, rose steadily in rank as the U-boat arm expanded until he became an admiral. On 30 January 1943 he was appointed Grand Admiral and succeeded Raeder as Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy, retaining his command of the U-boat arm. Then, on 1 May 1945, he succeeded Hitler as leader of Germany (2887-PS).

Doenitz was awarded the following decorations: On 18 September 1939 he received the Cluster of the Iron Cross, first class, for the U-boat successes in the Baltic during the Polish campaign. This award was followed on 21 April 1940 by the high award of the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross, while on 7 April 1943 he received personally from Hitler the Oak Leaf to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, as the 223rd recipient.

Doenitz's services in building up the German Navy, and in particular the offensive U-boat arm, for the coming war, were outstanding. An extract from the official publication "Das Archiv" an the occasion of Doenitz's promotion to vice-admiral, dated 27 September 1940, reads as follows:

"* * * In four years of untiring and in the fullest sense of the word uninterrupted work of training, he [Doenitz] succeeds in developing the young U-boat arm, personnel, and material till it is a weapon of a striking power unexpected even by the experts. More than three million gross tons of sunken enemy shipping in only one year achieved with only few boats speak better than words of the services of this man."

An extract from the diary for the German Navy, 1944 edition (1463-PS) emphasizes Doenitz's contribution. It describes in detail Doenitz's work in building up the U-boat arm; his ceaseless work in training night and day to close the gap of seventeen years, during which no training had taken place; his responsibility for new improvements and for devising the "pack" tactics which were later to become famous. His position is summarized further as follows:

" In spite of the fact that his duties took on unmeasurable proportions since the beginning of the huge U-boat construction program, the chief was what he always was and always will be, leader and inspiration to all the forces under him. *** In spite of all his duties, he never lost touch with his men and he showed a masterly understanding in adjusting himself to the changing fortunes of war." (1463-PS)

It was not only, however, his ability as a naval officer which won Doenitz these high honors: his promotion to succeed Raeder as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy; the personal position he acquired as one of Hitler's principal advisers; and finally, earlier candidates such as Goering having betrayed Hitler's trust or finding the position less attractive than they had anticipated, the doubtful honor of becoming Hitler's successor. These he owed to his fanatical adherence to Hitler and to the Party, to his belief in the Nazi ideology with which he sought to indoctrinate the Navy and the German people, and to his "masterly understanding in adjusting himself to the changing fortunes of war" (1463- PS), which may be regarded as synonymous with a capacity for utter ruthlessness.

B. INDOCTRINATION OF NAVAL PERSONNEL WITH NAZI POLITICAL IDEOLOGY.

Doenitz's attitude to the Nazi Party and its creed is shown by his public utterances. In a speech -- subsequently circulated by Doenitz as a Top Secret document for senior officers only and by the hand of officers only at a meeting of commanders of the Navy in Weimar on 17 December 1943, Doenitz stated (D-443):

" I am a firm adherent of the idea of ideological education. For what is it in the main? Doing his duty is a matter of course for the soldier. But the whole importance, the whole weight of duty done, are only present when the heart and spiritual conviction have a voice in the matter. The result of duty done is then quite different to what it would be if I only carried out my task literally, obediently, and faithfully. It is therefore necessary for the soldier to support the execution of his duty with all his mental, all his spiritual energy, and for this his conviction, his ideology are indispensable. It is therefore necessary for us to train the soldier uniformly, comprehensively, that he may be adjusted ideologically to our Germany. Every dualism, every dissension in this connection, or every divergence, or unpreparedness, imply a weakness in all circumstances. He in whom this grows and thrives in unison is superior to the other. Then indeed the whole importance, the whole weight of his conviction comes into play. It is also nonsense to say that the soldier or the officer must have no politics. The soldier embodies the state in which he lives; he is the representative, the articulate exponent of this state. He must therefore stand with his whole weight behind this state.

"We must travel this road from our deepest conviction. The Russian travels along it. We can only maintain ourselves in this war if we take part in it with holy zeal, with all our fanaticism.

"Not I alone can do this, but it can only be done with the aid of the man who holds the production of Europe in his hand, with Minister Speer. My ambition is to have as many warships for the Navy as possible so as to be able to fight and to strike. It does not matter to me who builds them." (D-443)

In a speech on the same subject by Doenitz as Commander-in- Chief of the Navy to the Commanders in Chief on 15 February 1944, he had this to say:

"From the very start the whole of the officer corps must be so indoctrinated that it feels itself co- responsible for the National Socialist State in its entirety. The officer is the exponent of the state; the idle chatter that the officer is nonpolitical is sheer nonsense." (D-640) Doenitz's position was made unmistakably clear in a speech which he made to the German Navy and the German people on Heroes' Day,

"German men and women!

" What would have become of our country today, if the Fuehrer had not united us under National-Socialism! Split into parties, beset with the spreading poison of Jewry and vulnerable to it, and lacking, as a defense, our present uncompromising world outlook, we would long since have succumbed to the burdens of this war and been subject to the merciless destruction of our adversaries. ***" (2878-PS)

A speech by Doenitz to the Navy on 21 July 1944 shows his fanaticism:

"Men of the Navy ! Holy wrath and unlimited anger fill our hearts because of the criminal attempt which was intended to have cost the life of our beloved Fuehrer. Providence wished it otherwise -- watched over and protected our Fuehrer, and did not abandon our German fatherland in the fight for its destiny." (2878-PS)

And then he goes on to deal with the fate which should be meted out to the traitors.

The abolition of the German military salute and the adoption of the Nazi salute in the German forces was due to Doenitz along with Goering and Keitel (2878-PS).

When Adolf Hitler was reported dead, Doenitz spoke over the German radio announcing the Fuehrer's death and his own succession. The German announcer made this statement:

"It has been reported from the Fuehrer's Headquarters that our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler has died this afternoon in his battle headquarters at the Reichschancellery fighting to the last breath for Germany against Bolshevism.

"On the 30th April the Fuehrer nominated Grand Admiral Doenitz to be his successor. The Grand Admiral and Fuehrer's successor will speak to the German nation." (D-444)

Whereupon Doenitz spoke as follows:

"German men and women, soldiers of the German Armed Forces. Our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler is dead. The German people bow in deepest sorrow and respect. Early he had recognized the terrible danger of Bolshevism and had dedicated his life to the fight against it. His fight having ended, he died a hero's death in the capital of the German Reich, after having led an unmistakably straight and steady life." (D-444)

Doenitz proceeded to issue an order of the day, to the same effect (D-444).

C. PARTICIPATION IN PLANNING AND EXECUTION OF AGGRESSIVE WARS.

Apart from his services in building up the U-boat arm, there is ample evidence that Doenitz, as Officer Commanding U- boats, took part in the planning and execution of the aggressive wars against Poland, Norway, and Denmark.

(1) Poland. The distribution list on a memorandum by Raeder, dated 16 May 1939, shows that the sixth copy went to the Fuehrer der Unterseeboote, who was Doenitz. This document was a directive for the invasion of Poland (Fall Weiss) (C- 126). Another memorandum from Raeder's headquarters, dated 2 August 1939, is addressed to the fleet, and The Flag Officer, U-boats -- this is, Doenitz (C-126). This was merely a covering letter on operational directions for the precautionary employment of U-boats in the Atlantic in the event that the intention to carry out Fall Weiss remained unchanged. The second sentence is significant:

"Flag Officer, U-boats, is handing in his operational orders to SKL [Seekriegsletung, the German Admiralty] by 12 August. A decision on the sailings of U-boats for the Atlantic will probably be made at the middle of August." (C-126)

Doenitz proceeded to give operational instructions to his U- boats for the operation Fall Weiss. These instructions, signed by him, are not dated, but it is clear from the subject matter that the date must have been before 16 July 1939 (C-172). These operational instructions gave effect to Raeder's directive (C-126).

(2) Norway and Denmark. An extract from the War Diary of the Naval War Staff of the German Admiralty, dated 3 October 1939, records the fact that the Chief of the Naval War Staff has called for views on the possibility of taking operational bases in Norway (C-122). It states Doenitz's views as follows:

"Flag Officer U-boats already considers such harbors extremely useful as equipment-and supply-bases for Atlantic U-boats to call at temporarily." (C-122)

A communication from Doenitz as Flag Officer U-boats, addressed to the Supreme Command of the Navy (the Naval War Staff) dated 9 October 1939, sets out Doenitz's views on the advantages of Trondheim and Narvik as bases. Doenitz proposes the establishment of a base at Trondheim with Narvik as alternative (C-5).

Doenitz then gave operation orders to his U-boats for the occupation of Denmark and Norway. This Top Secret order, dated 30 March 1940, under the code name "Hartmut," provided:

"The naval force will, as they enter the harbor, fly the British flag until the troops have landed, except presumably at Narvik." (C-151)

(3) England. The preparations for war against England are perhaps best shown by the disposition of the U-boats under Doenitz's command on 3 September 1939, when war broke out between Germany and the Western Allies. The locations of the kings in the following week, including that of the Athenia, provide corroboration. These matters are contained in two charts prepared by the British Admiralty. The first chart sets out the disposition of German submarines on 3 September 1939. The certificate attached to this chart reads:

"This chart has been constructed from a study of the orders issued by Doenitz between 21 August 1939 and 3 September 1939, and subsequently captured. The chart shows the approximate disposition of submarines ordered for 3 September 1939, and cannot be guaranteed accurate in every detail, as the file of captured orders are clearly not complete and some of the submarines shown apparently had received orders at sea on or about September 3 to move to new operational areas. The documents from which this chart was constructed are held by the British Admiralty in London."

It will be apparent that U-boats which were in the positions indicated on this chart on 3 September 1939 had left Kiel a considerable time before. The location of the U-boat U-30 is particularly significant.

The second chart sets out the sinkings during the first week of the war. The attached certificate reads:

"This chart has been constructed from the official records of the British Admiralty in London. It shows the position and sinkings of the British merchant vessels lost by enemy action in the seven days subsequent to 3 September 1939."

The location of the sinking of the Athenia is significant.

D. PARTICIPATION IN CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT VIOLATIONS OF RULES OF WARFARE.

The course of the war waged against neutral and allied merchant shipping by German U-boats followed, under Doenitz's direction, a course of consistently increasing ruthlessness.

(1) Attacks on Merchant Shipping. Doenitz displayed "his masterly understanding in adjusting himself to the changing fortunes of war" (1463-PS). From the very early days, merchant ships, both allied and neutral, were sunk without warning, and when operational danger zones had been announced by the German Admiralty, these sinkings continued to take place both within and without those zones. With some exceptions in the early days of the war, no regard was taken for the safety of the crews or passengers of sunken merchant ships, and the announcement claiming a total blockade of the British Isles merely served to confirm the established situation under which U-boat warfare was being conducted without regard to the established rules of international warfare or the requirements of humanity.

The course of the war at sea during the first eighteen months is summarized by two official British reports made at a time when those who compiled them were ignorant of some of the actual orders issued which have since come to hand. An official report of the British Foreign Office summarizes German attacks on merchant shipping during the period 3 September 1939 to September 1940, that is to say, the first year of the war (D-641-A). is report, made shortly after September 1940, states in part follows:

" During the first twelve months of the war, 2,081,062 tons of Allied shipping, comprising 508 ships, have been lost by enemy action. In addition, 769,213 tons of neutral shipping comprising 253 ships, have also been lost. Nearly all these merchant ships have been sunk by submarine, mine, aircraft or surface craft, and the great majority of them sunk while engaged on their lawful trading occasions. 2,836 Allied merchant seamen have lost their lives in these ships.

"In the last war the practice of the Central Powers was so remote from the recognized procedure that it was thought necessary to set forth once again the rules of warfare in particular as applied to submarines. This was done in the Treaty of London 1930, and in 1936 Germany acceded to these rules. The rules laid down:

"1) In action with regard to merchant ships, submarines must conform to the rules of International Law to which surface vessels are subjected.

"2) In particular, except in the case of persistent refusal to stop on being summoned, or of active resistance to visit and search, a warship, whether surface vessel or submarine, may not sink or render incapable of navigation a merchant vessel without having first placed passengers, crew, and ship's papers in a place of safety. For this purpose, the ship's boats are not regarded as a place of safety unless the safety of the passengers and crew is assured in the existing sea and weather conditions, by the proximity of land, or the presence of another vessel which is in a position to take them on board. "At the beginning of the present war, Germany issued a Prize Ordinance for the regulation of sea warfare and the guidance of her naval officers. Article 74 of this ordinance embodies the submarine rules of the London Treaty. Article 72, however, provides that captured enemy vessels may be destroyed if it seems inexpedient or unsafe to bring them into port, and Article 73 (i) (ii) makes the same provision with regard to neutral vessels which are captured for sailing under enemy convoy, for forcible resistance, or for giving assistance to the enemy. These provisions are certainly not in accordance with the traditional British view but the important point is that, even in these cases, the Prize Ordinance envisages the capture of the merchantman before its destruction. In other words, if the Germans adhered to the rules set out in their own Prize Ordinance, we might have argued the rather fine legal point with them, but we should have no quarrel with them, either on the broader legal issue or on the humanitarian one. In the event, however, it is only too clear that almost from the beginning of the war the Germans abandoned their own principles and waged war with steadily increasing disregard for International Law, and for what is, after all, the ultimate sanction of all law, the protection of human life and property from arbitrary and ruthless attacks." (D-641-A)

Two instances are then set out:

"On 30 September 1939, came the first sinking of a neutral ship by a submarine without warning and with loss of life. This was the Danish ship 'Vendia' bound for the Clyde in ballast. The submarine fired two shots and shortly after torpedoed the ship. The torpedo was fired when the master had already signalled that he would submit to the submarine's orders and before there had been an opportunity to abandon ship. By November submarines were beginning to sink neutral vessels without warning as a regular thing. On the 12th November the Norwegian 'Arne Kjode' was torpedoed in the North Sea without any warning at all. This was a tanker bound from one neutral port to another. The master and four of the crew lost their lives and the remainder were picked up after many hours in open boats. Henceforward, in addition to the failure to establish the nature of the cargo, another element is noticeable, namely an increasing recklessness as to the fate of the crew." (D-641-A)

And then, dealing with attacks on allied merchant vessels, certain figures are given:

"Ships sunk 241

"Recorded attacks 211

"Illegal attacks 112

"At least 79 of these 112 ships were torpedoed without warning." (D-641-A)

The report continues:

"By the middle of October submarines were sinking merchant vessels without any regard to the safety of the crews. Yet four months later the Germans were still officially claiming that they were acting in accordance with the Prize Ordinance. Their own semi-official commentators however, had made the position clearer. As regards neutrals, Berlin officials had early in February stated that any neutral ship that is either voluntarily or under compulsion bound for an enemy port -- including contraband control harbors -- thereby loses its neutrality and must be considered hostile. At the end of February the cat was let out of the bag by a statement that a neutral ship which obtained a navicert from a British Consul in order to avoid putting into a British contraband control base was liable to be sunk by German submarines, even if it was bound from one neutral port to another. As regards Allied ships, in the middle of November 1939 a Berlin warning was issued against the arming of British vessels. By that date a score of British merchantmen had been illegally attacked by gunfire or torpedo from submarines, and after that date some fifteen more unarmed Allied vessels were torpedoed without warning. It is clear, therefore, that not only was the arming fully justified as a defensive measure, but also that neither before nor after this German threat did the German submarines discriminate between armed and unarmed vessels." (D-641- A)

A similar report covering the next six months (D-641-B) makes these statements:

"On 30 January 1941, Hitler proclaimed that 'every ship, with or without convoy, which appears before our torpedo tubes is going to be torpedoed.' On the face of it, this announcement appears to be uncompromising; and the only qualification provided by the context is that the threats immediately preceding it are specifically addressed to the-peoples of the American Continent. German commentators, however, subsequently tried to water it down by contending that Hitler was referring only to ships which attempted to enter the area within which the German 'total blockade' is alleged to be in force.

"From one point of view it probably matters little what exactly was Hitler's meaning, since the only conclusion that can be reached after a study of the facts of enemy warfare on merchant shipping is that enemy action in this field is never limited by the principles which are proclaimed by enemy spokesmen, but solely by the opportunities or lack of them which exist at any given time."

*******

"The effect of the German total blockade is to prohibit neutral ships from entering an enormous stretch of sea round Britain (the area extends to about 500 miles west of Ireland, and from the latitude of Bordeaux to that of the Faroe Islands), upon pain of having their ships sunk without warning and their crews killed. As a matter of fact, at least thirty-two neutral ships, exclusive of those sailing in British convoys, have been sunk by enemy action since the declaration of the 'total blockade'."

*******

"Yet, though information is lacking in very many cases, details are available to prove that, during the period under review, at least thirty-eight Allied merchant ships, exclusive of those in convoys, have been torpedoed without warning in or near the 'total blockade' area.

"That the Germans themselves have no exaggerated regard for the area is proved by the fact that of the thirty- eight ships referred to at least sixteen were torpedoed outside the limits of the war-zone."

*******

"The sinking of the 'City of Benares' on 17 September 1940 is a good example of this. The 'City of Benares was an 11,000-ton liner with 191 passengers on board, including nearly 100 children. She was torpedoed without warning just outside the 'war zone,' with the loss of 258 lives, including 77 children. It was blowing a gale, with hail and rain squalls and a very rough sea when the torpedo struck her at about 10 p.m. In the darkness and owing to the prevailing weather conditions, at least four of the twelve boats lowered were capsized. Others were swamped and many people were washed right out of them. In one boat alone sixteen people, including 11 children, died from exposure; in another 22 died, including 15 children; in a third 21 died. The point to be emphasized is not the unusual brutality of this attack but rather that such results are inevitable when a belligerent disregards the rules of sea warfare as the Germans have done and are doing."

"There are hundreds of similar stories, stories of voyages for days in open boats in Atlantic gales, of men in the water clinging for hours to a raft and gradually dropping off one by one, of crews being machine-gunned as they tried to lower their boats or as they drifted away in them, of seamen being blown to pieces by shells and torpedoes and bombs. The enemy must know that such things are the inevitable result of the type of warfare he has chosen to employ." (D-641-B)

The total sinkings by U-boats during the war (1939 to 1945) Amounted to 2775 British, Allied, and Neutral ships totalling 14,572,435 gross tons (D-641-C).

Another example of the ruthless nature of the actions conducted by Doenitz's U-boat commanders, particularly as both British and German versions of the sinking are available, is the sinking of "S.S. Sheaf Mead." The British report, which includes the German account in the shape of a complete extract from the U-boat's log, states:

"The British 'S.S. Sheaf Mead' was torpedoed without warning on 27 May 1940 with the loss of 31 of the crew. The commander of the U-boat responsible is reported to have behaved in an exceptionally callous manner towards the men clinging to upturned boats and pieces of wood. It was thought that this man was Kapitaenleutnant Oehrn of U-37. The following extract from his diary for 27 May 1940 leaves no doubt on the matter and speaks for itself as to his behaviour." (D-644)

The relevant extract from the log, at 1554 hours, reads:

"Surface. Stern [referring to the ship which has been torpedoed] is underwater. Bows rise higher. The boats are now on the water. Lucky for them. A picture of complete order. They lie at some distance. The bows rear up quite high. Two men appear from somewhere in the forward part of the ship. They leap and rush with great bounds along the deck down to the stern. The stern disappears. A boat capsizes. Then a boiler explosion. Two men fly through the air, limbs outstretched. Bursting and crashing. Then all is over. A large heap of wreckage floats up. We approach it to identify the name. The crew have saved themselves on wreckage. We fish out a buoy. No name on it. I ask a man on the raft. He says, hardly turning his head -- 'Nix Name.' A young boy in the water calls 'Help, help, please.' The others are very composed. They look damp and somewhat tired. An expression of cold hatred is on their faces. On to the old course. After washing the paint off the buoy, the name comes to light: Greatafield, Glasgow. 5006 gross registered tons." (D- 644)

"On to the old course" means merely that the U-boat makes off.

The report of the Chief Engineer of the "S. S. Sheaf Mead" contains this description of the situation:

"When I came to the surface I found myself on the port side, .that is, nearest to the submarine, which was only about five yards away. The submarine Captain asked the steward the name of the ship, which he told him, and the enemy picked up one of our lifebuoys, but this had the name 'Gretaston on it, as this was the name of our ship before it was changed to 'Skeaf Mead' last January."

*******

"She had cutaway bows, but I did not notice a net cutter. Two men stood at the side with boat hooks to keep us off.

"They cruised around for half an hour, taking photographs of us in the water. Otherwise they just watched us, but said nothing. Then she submerged and went off, without offering us any assistance whatever." (D-644)

The U-boats log at 1444 hours contains a description of the sighting of the ship, the difficulty in identification, and then the

"The distance apart is narrowing. The steamship draws in quickly, but the position is still 40-50. I cannot see the stern yet. Tube ready. Shall I or not? The gunnery crews are also prepared. On the ship's side a yellow cross in a small, square, dark blue ground. Swedish? Presumably not. I raise the periscope a little. Hurrah, a gun at the stern, an ack-ack gun or something similar. Fire! I cannot miss"

The actual documents by which Doenitz and his fellow conspirators issued their orders in disregard of International Law indicate that the compiler of the above reports understated the case. These orders cover not only the period referred to in the above reports, but also the subsequent course of the war. It is interesting to note in them the steps by which the conspirators progressed. At first they were content with breaching the rules of International Law to the extent of sinking merchant ships, including neutral ships, without warning where there was a reasonable prospect of being able to do so without discovery. The facts already quoted show that the question of whether ships were defensively armed or outside the declared operational areas was in practice immaterial.

A memorandum by the German Naval War Staff, dated 22 September 1939, (C-191) provides:

"Flag Officer U-boats intends to give permission to U- boats to sink without warning any vessels sailing without lights. *** In practice there is no opportunity for attacking at night, as the U-boat cannot identify a target which is a shadow in a way that entirely obviates mistakes being made.

If the political situation is such that even possible mistakes must be ruled out, U-boats must be forbidden to make any attacks at night in waters where French and English Naval forces or merchant ships may be situated. On the other hand, in sea areas where only English units are to be expected, the measures desired by F. O. U-boats can be carried out; permission to take this step is not to be given in writing, but need merely be based on the unspoken approval of the Naval War Staff. U-boat commanders would be informed by word of mouth and the sinking of a merchant ship must be justified in the War Diary as due to possible confusion with a warship or an auxiliary cruiser. In the meanwhile, U-boats in the English Channel have received instructions to attack all vessels sailing without lights." (C-191)

The War Diary of the Naval War Staff of the German Admiralty contains the following report by Ia (Staff Operations Officer on the Naval War Staff) on directive of the Armed Forces High Command of 30 December 1939:

"According to this the Fuehrer, on report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, has decided:

"a) Greek merchant vessels are to be treated as enemy vessels in the zone blockaded by USA. and Britain.

"b) In the Bristol Channel all ships may be attacked without warning. For external consumption these attacks should be given out as hits by mines.

"Both measures may be taken with immediate effect." (C- 21)

Another report by Ia, refers to intensified measures in naval and air warfare in connection with "Fall Gelb"

"In consequence of this Directive, the Navy will authorize, simultaneously with the general intensification of the war, the sinking by U-boats, without any warning, of all ships in those waters near the enemy coasts in which mines can be employed. In this case, for external consumption, pretence should be made that mines are being used. The behaviour of, and use of weapons by, U-boats should be adapted to this purpose." (C-21)

A third extract from the Naval War Diary, dated 6 January 1940, states:

"the Fuehrer has in principle agreed (see minutes of report of C. in C. Navy of 30 December) to authorize firing without warning whilst maintaining the pretence of mine hits in certain parts of the American blockaded zone." (C-21)

Whereupon, the order is given to Flag Officer, Submarines, carrying out that decision (C-21). The report for 18 January 1940 states:

"The High Command of the Armed Forces has issued the following Directive dated 17th of January, cancelling the previous order concerning intensified measures of warfare against merchantmen.

"The Navy will authorize, with immediate effect, the sinking without warning by U-Boats of all ships in those waters near the enemy coasts in which the use of mines can be pretended. U-Boats must adapt their behavior and employment of weapons to the pretence, which is to be maintained in these cases, that the hits were caused by mines. Ships of the United States, Italy, Japan and Russia are exempted from these attacks." (C-21)

An extract from the BDU War Diary (Doenitz's War Diary) dated 18 July 1941, reveals a further extension of the above order so as to cut down the protected categories:

"Supplementary to the order forbidding, for the time being, attacks on U. S. warships and merchant vessels in the operational area of the North Atlantic, the Fuehrer has ordered the following:

"1. Attack on U. S. merchant vessels sailing in British or U. S. convoys or independently is authorized in the original operational area which corresponds in its dimensions to the U. S. blockade zone and which does not include the sea-route U. S. to Iceland." (C-118)

As these orders slow, at one date the ships of a particular neutral under certain conditions could be sunk, while those of another could not. The attitude to be adopted toward ships of particular neutrals changed at various times, for Doenitz conducted the U-Boat war against neutrals with cynical opportunism. It all depended on the political relationship of Germany toward a particular country at a particular time whether her ships were sunk or not.

 

(2) The Orders Concerning Treatment of Survivors. A series of orders led up to the issue of an order which enjoined U- Boat commanders not merely to abstain from rescuing crews and give them no assistance, but deliberately to annihilate them.

Among these preliminary standing orders of the U-Boat Command is Order Number 154, signed by Doenitz:

"Paragraph (e). Do not pick up survivors and take them with you. Do not worry about the merchant-ship's boats. Weather conditions and distance from land play no part. Have a care only for your own ship and strive only to attain your next success as soon as possible. We must be harsh in this war. The enemy began the war in order to destroy us, so nothing else matters." (D-642)

In 1942, when the United States entered the war with its enormous ship-building capacity, the change thus brought about necessitated a further adjustment in the methods adopted by the U-Boats. Doenitz accordingly issued an order, which intended not merely the sinking of merchant ships, not merely the abstention from rescue of the crews, but their deliberate extermination.

The course of events is shown by the record of a conversation between Hitler and the Japanese Ambassador, Oshima, (D-423) in the presence of Ribbentrop, on 3 January 1942:

"The Fuehrer, using a map, explains to the Japanese Ambassador the present position of marine warfare in the Atlantic, emphasizing that he considers his most important task is to get the U-Boat warfare going in full swing. The U-Boats are being reorganized. Firstly, he had recalled all U-Boats operating in the Atlantic. As mentioned before, they would now be posted outside United States ports. Later, they would be off Freetown and the larger boats even as far down as Capetown."

*******

"After having given further explanations on the map, the Fuehrer pointed out that, however many ships the United States built, one of their main problems would be the lack of personnel. For that reason, even merchant ships would be sunk without warning with the intention of killing as many of the crew as possible. Once it gets around that most of the seamen are lost in the sinkings, the Americans would soon have difficulties in enlisting new people. The training of sea-going personnel takes a very long time. We are fighting for our existence and our attitude cannot be ruled by any humane feelings. For this reason he must give the order that in case foreign seamen could not be taken prisoner, which is not always possible on the sea, U-boats were to surface after torpedoing and shoot up the lifeboats.

"Ambassador Oshima heartily agreed with the Fuehrer's comments, and said that the Japanese too are forced to follow these methods."

An extract from the B.D.U. War Diary of 16 September 1942 is part of the story in the sense that it was on the following day that the annihilation order was issued. It records an attack on a U-boat, which was rescuing survivors, chiefly the Italian survivors of the Allied liner "Laconia," when it was attacked by an Allied aircraft (D-446).

A Top Secret order, sent to all commanding officers of U- boats from Doenitz's headquarters, dated 17 September 1942, provided:

"1. No attempt of any kind must be made at rescuing members of ships sunk, and this includes picking up persons in the water and putting them in lifeboats, righting capsized lifeboats, and handing over food and water. Rescue runs counter to the rudimentary demands of warfare for the destruction of enemy ships and crews.

"2. Orders for bringing in Captains and Chief Engineers still apply.

"3. Rescue the shipwrecked only if their statements will be of importance for your boat.

"4. Be harsh, having in mind that the enemy takes no regard of women and children in his bombing attacks on German cities." (D-630)

The intentions of this carefully worded order are made clear by an extract from Doenitz's War Diary which is personally signed by Doenitz. The War Diary entry for 17 September 1942 reads:

"The attention of all commanding officers is again drawn to the fact that all efforts to rescue members of the crews of ships which have been sunk contradict the most primitive demands for the conduct of warfare by annihilating enemy ships and their crews. Orders concerning the bringing in of the Captains and Chief Engineers still stand." (D-630). [Page 828]

(2) The Orders Concerning Treatment of Survivors. A series of orders led up to the issue of an order which enjoined U- Boat commanders not merely to abstain from rescuing crews and give them no assistance, but deliberately to annihilate them.

Among these preliminary standing orders of the U-Boat Command is Order Number 154, signed by Doenitz:

"Paragraph (e). Do not pick up survivors and take them with you. Do not worry about the merchant-ship's boats.

Weather conditions and distance from land play no part. Have a care only for your own ship and strive only to attain your next success as soon as possible. We must be harsh in this war. The enemy began the war in order to destroy us, so nothing else matters." (D-642)

In 1942, when the United States entered the war with its enormous ship-building capacity, the change thus brought about necessitated a further adjustment in the methods adopted by the U-Boats. Doenitz accordingly issued an order, which intended not merely the sinking of merchant ships, not merely the abstention from rescue of the crews, but their deliberate extermination.

The course of events is shown by the record of a conversation between Hitler and the Japanese Ambassador, Oshima, (D-423) in the presence of Ribbentrop, on 3 January 1942:

"The Fuehrer, using a map, explains to the Japanese Ambassador the present position of marine warfare in the Atlantic, emphasizing that he considers his most important task is to get the U-Boat warfare going in full swing. The U-Boats are being reorganized. Firstly, he had recalled all U-Boats operating in the Atlantic. As mentioned before, they would now be posted outside United States ports. Later, they would be off Freetown and the larger boats even as far down as Capetown."

*******

"After having given further explanations on the map, the Fuehrer pointed out that, however many ships the United States built, one of their main problems would be the lack of personnel. For that reason, even merchant ships would be sunk without warning with the intention of killing as many of the crew as possible. Once it gets around that most of the seamen are lost in the sinkings, the Americans would soon have difficulties in enlisting new people. The training of sea-going personnel takes a very long time. We are fighting for our existence and our attitude cannot be ruled by any humane feelings. For this reason he must give the order that in case foreign seamen could not be taken prisoner, which is not always possible on the sea, U-boats were to surface after torpedoing and shoot up the lifeboats.

"Ambassador Oshima heartily agreed with the Fuehrer's comments, and said that the Japanese too are forced to follow these methods."

An extract from the B.D.U. War Diary of 16 September 1942 is part of the story in the sense that it was on the following day that the annihilation order was issued. It records an attack on a U-boat, which was rescuing survivors, chiefly the Italian survivors of the Allied liner "Laconia," when it was attacked by an Allied aircraft (D-446).

A Top Secret order, sent to all commanding officers of U- boats from Doenitz's headquarters, dated 17 September 1942, provided:

"1. No attempt of any kind must be made at rescuing members of ships sunk, and this includes picking up persons in the water and putting them in lifeboats, righting capsized lifeboats, and handing over food and water. Rescue runs counter to the rudimentary demands of warfare for the destruction of enemy ships and crews.

"2. Orders for bringing in Captains and Chief Engineers still apply.

"3. Rescue the shipwrecked only if their statements will be of importance for your boat.

"4. Be harsh, having in mind that the enemy takes no regard of women and children in his bombing attacks on German cities." (D-630)

The intentions of this carefully worded order are made clear by an extract from Doenitz's War Diary which is personally signed by Doenitz. The War Diary entry for 17 September 1942 reads:

"The attention of all commanding officers is again drawn to the fact that all efforts to rescue members of the crews of ships which have been sunk contradict the most primitive demands for the conduct of warfare by annihilating enemy ships and their crews. Orders concerning the bringing in of the Captains and Chief Engineers still stand." (D-630).

In this connection, a telegram from the Commander of the U- boat "Schacht" to Doenitz's headquarters, and the reply, are significant. "Schacht" had been taking part in the rescue of survivors from the "Laconia." The telegram from "Schacht," dated 18 September 1942, reads:

"163 Italians handed over to 'Annamite.' Navigating Officer of 'Laconia' and another English Officer on board." (D-630)

The telegram goes on to set out the position of English and Polish survivors in boats.

The reply from Doenitz's headquarters was sent on the 20th:

"Action as in wireless telegram message of 17th of September was wrong. Boat was detailed to rescue Italian allies and not for the rescue of English and Poles." (D-630)

Such were Doenitz's plans before the bombing incident ever occurred.

"Operation Order Atlantic No. 56," dated 7 October 1943, contains the sailing orders of a U-boat (D-663). Although the date of this order is 7 October 1943, in fact it is only a reproduction of an order issued earlier, in the autumn of 1942. The following is an extract from this order:

"Rescue ships: A so-called rescue ship is generally attached to every convoy, a special ship of up to 3000 gross registered tons, which is intended for the picking up of survivors after U-boat attacks. These ships are, for the most part, equipped with a shipborne aircraft and large motor-boats, are strongly armed with depth-charge throwers, and very maneuverable, so that they are often called U-Boat Traps by the commander. In view of the desired destruction of ships' crews, their sinking is of great value." (D-663)

The Prosecution does not complain against attacks on rescue ships. They are not entitled to protection. But the point of the foregoing order to U-boats was that priority in attack should be given to rescue ships. This order, therefore, is closely allied with order of 17 September 1942 (D-630): in view of the Allied shipbuilding program the German Navy had resolved to take all means to prevent Allied ships from being manned.

To summarize, it would appear from the War Diary entry of 17 September that orders on the lines discussed between Hitler and Oshima were, in fact, issued. They have not, however, been captured. It may be that they were issued orally, and that Doenitz awaited a suitable opportunity before confirming them. The incident of the bombing of the U-boats detailed to rescue the Italian survivors from the "Laconia" afforded the opportunity, and the order to all commanders was issued. Its intent is clear when it is considered in the light of the War Diary entry. The wording is, of course, extremely careful, but to any officer of experience its intention was obvious: he would know that deliberate action to annihilate survivors would be approved under that order.

It may be contended that this order, although perhaps unfortunately phrased, was merely intended to stop a commander from jeopardizing his ship by attempting a rescue, which had become increasingly dangerous as a result of the extended coverage of the ocean by Allied aircraft; and that the notorious action of U-Boat Commander Eck in sinking the Greek steamer "Peleus" and then machine-gunning the crew on their rafts in the water, was an exception; and that, although it may be true that a copy of the order was on board, this action was taken solely, as Eck himself swore, on his own initiative.

In reply it may be said that if the intention of this order was to stop rescue attempts, in the interests of the preservation of the U-boat, it would have been done by calling attention to Standing Order 154. Secondly, this very fact would have been prominently stated in the order. Drastic orders of this nature are not drafted by experienced staff officers without the greatest care and an eye to their possible capture by the enemy. Thirdly, if it was necessary to avoid the risks attendant on surfacing, not only would this have been stated but there would have been no question of taking any prisoners at all except possibly in circumstances where virtually no risk in surfacing was to be apprehended. Fourthly, the final sentence of the first paragraph would have read very differently. And fifthly, if in fact -- and the Prosecution does not accept it -- Doenitz did not mean to enjoin murder, his order was so worded that he cannot escape the responsibility which attaches to such a document.

The instructions given by Admiral Doenitz with regard to the murder of shipwrecked Allied seamen are described in an affidavit by Oberleutnant Zur See Peter Josef Heisig (D- 566). (Heisig was called as a prosecution witness in the case against Doenitz and testified on direct examination to the same effect, in substance, as the statements in his affidavit.) In September 1942 Heisig was a Midshipman in a training course for U-boat officers of the watch. On the last day of the course Grand Admiral Doenitz, who was then Commander-in-Chief, U-boats, held an inspection tour and made a speech to the officers in training. Heisig describes the content of Doenitz's speech as follows:

"According to news received from America we were bound to reckon with the possibility that in the Allied countries more than 1,000,000 net registered tons of new merchant shipping space would be brought into service monthly. This was more shipping space than would be sunk even with good U-boat successes. The bottleneck of the Allies lay only in the problem of personnel for these newly built ships. The Atlantic route was too dangerous for seamen so that they even had to be brought aboard ship under compulsion. This was the point where we, the U-boat crews, had to take a hand. He therefore demanded that we should from now on carry on total warfare against ship and crew. That meant: so far as possible, no seaman from a sunk ship was to get home any more. Only thus could the supply line of the British Isles be seriously endangered and only thus in the long run could we strike a noticeable blow at Allied merchant shipping traffic. In this way it would be impossible for the opponent even to make use of his newly built ships, since no more crews would be available to him. After the sinking of a ship, every possibility of rescue must be denied to the crew, through the destruction of every means of saving life. "I later discussed these remarks of Admiral Doenitz's with the others, and all present unanimously and unambiguously took them to mean that after the sinking of a ship, all possibility of escape, whether in boats, on rafts, or by any other means, must be denied to the crew and the destruction of the crew was to be attempted by every means. This mode of warfare was for me as for most of my comrades completely new. Owing to Admiral Doenitz's authoritative position, it was nevertheless fully and completely accepted by many of them. He sought to invalidate in advance any doubts which might arise, by pointing to the air war and the bombing." (D-566)

Further light on the real meaning of the Top Secret radio message sent by the Commander in Chief, U-boats, to all U- boat and operational flotillas in September 1942 (D-630) is contained in the statement of Korvettenkapitaen Karl Heinz Moehle (382-PS). (Moehle was called as a Prosecution witness in the case against Doenitz and testified on direct examination to the same effect, in substance, as the statements in his affidavit.) Concerning this order which was couched in terms of a prohibition against the rescue of survivors, Moehle states as

"This W/T message was without any doubt sent out at the instigation of the Commander in Chief U-boats himself, i.e. Grand Admiral Doenitz. In view of my knowledge of the way in which the Staff of the Chief Command U-boats worked, I consider it quite impossible that an order of such importance could have been given without his knowledge."

*******

"So far as concerns the order itself, it undoubtedly states, and in particular for those who know the manner in which Commander in Chief U-Boats is wont to give his orders, that the High Command regard it as desirable that not only ships but also their crews should be regarded as objects of attack, i.e. that they should be destroyed; at that time German propaganda was continually stressing the shortage of crews for enemy merchant ships and the consequent difficulties. I too understood this order in that way.

"Had the point of view of the High Command been otherwise the order would undoubtedly have been expressed in different words. It would then only have stated that for reasons of security rescue measures were to cease and this order would have passed as a normal secret W/T message. It was perhaps even the intention that this order could be interpreted in two ways and the reason may be that in the first place, it contravenes international laws of warfare and secondly, that it was an order which must give rise to serious conflicts of conscience in commanding officers."

"To conclude, I can only stress that the order of September 1942 appeared to me personally to go too far and I am in total disagreement with it at heart. As a serving officer I had however to carry out the command to pass on this order to commanding officers for their instruction.

"During the long time that I was senior officer of the Flotilla no single commanding officer mentioned to me that he could not reconcile obedience to this order with his conscience and that he was therefore unable to carry it out." (382-PS)

Moehle graphically describes Doenitz's incitement of his men to the murder of survivors:

"A type VII boat (600-tonner) reported in her war log that when outward bound from a base in France she met far out in the Bay of Biscay a raft with five enemy airmen, but was not able to take them on board owing to shortage of room (she had a complement of 54 and carried full provisions for 14 weeks). The boat therefore proceeded without taking any notice of the survivors.

"This action of the U-boat was vehemently denounced by the Commander in Chief U-boats' staff. It was stated that she would have acted more correctly in destroying this raft since it was highly probably that the enemy air crew would be rescued by the enemy and in the meantime might once more have destroyed a German U- boat.

"This occurrence made the views of the Commander in Chief U-boats clear to me." (382-PS)

As senior officer of the Fifth U-boat Flotilla, it was Moehle's duty to transmit orders from the Commander in Chief, U-boats, to commanding officers of U-boats. In this connection, Doenitz' ambiguous order against the rescue of survivors caused difficulties.

"I was wont to pass on this controversial and serious order with more or less the following words: -- `I have now to inform you of a High Command order concerning conduct towards survivors. It is a very ticklish matter. Commander in Chief U-boats in September 1942 gave the following order in an 'officers only' signal (*** the exact words of the order were then read out).'

"Since I am myself in my innermost conscience in disagreement with this order, I was very glad that in most cases commanding officers raised no queries and I was therefore relieved of any further discussion on this point.

"Sometimes however queries were raised and I was wont to answer somewhat as follows:

" 'I will explain the viewpoint of the High Command, which gave this order, by reference to the following event:' I then mentioned the example of the Type VII boat in the Bay of Biscay together with the explanation and viewpoint expressed to me by commander in Chief U- boats' staff. I then went on to say, 'Gentlemen, you must yourselves decide what is compatible with your own consciences. The safety of your own boat must always remain your prime consideration.' "

*******

"I also remember that many commanding officers after the order of September 1942 had been read said, 'That is quite clear and unequivocal however hard it may be.' Had this order been given to me as a commanding officer I would have taken note of it in silence but in practice would always have been able with a clear conscience not to carry it out since I consider I would endanger my own boat by acting in this way, (i.e., by shooting at lift-boats)." (382-PS)

Finally, Moehle describes the orders to omit from U-boat logs the notation of any actions in violation of International Law:

"There was an order -- I do not remember whether it was in the form of a written or verbal instruction -- that no events during a war patrol which contravened established international agreements should be entered in the war log. I believe that the reason for this order was that eight copies were made of war logs and were available to many authorities; there was always the danger therefore that events of this nature would become known and it was undoubtedly undesirable for reasons of propaganda that this should be so.

"Events of this nature were only to be reported if asked for when commanding officers made their personal reports; these were invariably made after every patrol to Commander in Chief U-boats or later in certain instances to Captain U-boats." (382-PS)

Two cases may be noted in which the order of 17 September 1942 (D-60) was apparently put into effect. The first case is the sinking of a steam trawler, the "Noreen Mary," which was sunk by U-247 on 5 July 1944. The log of the U-Boat shows that at 1943 hours two torpedoes were fired, which missed (D- 645). At 2055 hours the log reads:

"Fishing Vessels: [Bearings of 3 ships given].

"Engaged the nearest. She stops after three minutes." (D-645)

There follows an account of a shot fired as the trawler lay stopped, and then, the final entry:

"Sunk by flak, with shots into her side. Sank by the stern." (D-645)

The U-Boat Command made this comment on the action:

"Recognized success: Fishing vessel 'Noreen Mary' sunk by flak."

An affidavit by James MacAlister, who was a deck-hand on board the "Noreen Mary" at the time of the sinking, describes the torpedo tracks which missed the trawler, and continues as follows:

"At 2110 hours, while we were still trawling, the submarine surfaced on our starboard beam, about 50 yards to the northeast of us, and without any warning immediately opened fire on the ship with a machine gun. We were 18 miles west from Cape Wrath, on a north- westerly course, making 3 knots. The weather was fine and clear, sunny, with good visibility. The sea was smooth, with light airs."

*******

"When the submarine surfaced I saw men climbing out of the conning tower. The skipper [of the trawler] thought at first the submarine was British, but when she opened fire he immediately slackened the brake to take the weight off gear, and increased to full speed, which was about 10 knots. The submarine chased us, firing her machine gun, and with the first rounds killed two or three men, including the skipper, who were on deck and had not had time to take cover. The submarine then started using a heavier gun from her conning tower, the first shot from which burst the boiler, enveloping everything in steam.

"By now the crew had taken cover, but in spite of this all but four were killed. The submarine then commenced to circle round ahead of the vessel, and passed down her port side with both guns firing continuously. We were listing slowly to port all the time but did not catch fire.

"The Mate and I attempted to release the lifeboat, which was aft, but the Mate was killed whilst doing so, so I abandoned the attempt. I then went below into the pantry, which was below the water line, for shelter. The ship was listing more and more to port, until finally at 2210 she rolled right over and sank, and the only four men left alive on board were thrown into the sea. I do not know where the other three men had taken cover during this time, as I did not hear or see them until they were in the water.

"I swam around until I came across the broken bow of our lifeboat, which was upside down, and managed to scramble on top of it. Even now the submarine did not submerge, but deliberately steamed in my direction and when only 60 to 70 yards away fired directly at me with a short burst from the machine gun. As their intention was quite obvious, I fell into the water and remained there until the submarine ceased firing and submerged, after which I climbed back on to the bottom of the boat. The submarine had been firing her guns for a full hour." (D-645)

The affidavit goes on to describe the attempts of the Second Engineer and others to rescue themselves and to help each other; they were later picked up by another trawler. The affidavit continues:

"Whilst on board the 'Lady Madeleine' the Second Engineer and I had our wounds dressed. I learned later that the Second Engineer had 48 shrapnel wounds, also a piece of steel wire 21/2 inches long embedded in his body. *** I had 14 shrapnel wounds."

*******

"This is my fourth wartime experience, having served in the whalers 'Sylvester' (mined) and 'New Seville' (torpedoed), and the Trawler 'Ocean Tide', which ran ashore.

"As a result of this attack by U-boat, the casualties were six killed, two missing, two injured." (D-645).

The next case is that of the ship "Antonico" which was torpedoed, set afire, and sunk on 28 September 1942, off the coast of French Guiana. The date of the incident is some eleven days after the issue of the order (D-630). A statement given by the Second Officer describes the attack on the ship, which by then was on fire (D-647):

" That the witness saw the dead on the deck of the 'Antonico' as he and his crew tried to swing out their lifeboat; that the attack was fulminant, lasting almost 20 minutes; and that the witness already in the lifeboat tried to get away from the side of the 'Antonico' in order to avoid being dragged down by the same 'Antonico' and also because she was the aggressor's target; that the night was dark, and it was thus difficult to see the submarine, but that the fire aboard the 'Antonico' lit up the locality in which she was submerging, facilitating the enemy to see the two lifeboats trying to get away; that the enemy ruthlessly machined-gunned the defenseless sailors in No. 2 lifeboat, in which the witness found himself, and killed the Second Pilot Arnaldo de Andrade de Lima, and wounded three of the crew; that the witness gave orders to his company to throw themselves overboard to save themselves from the bullets; in so doing, they were protected and out of sight behind the lifeboat, which was already filled with water; even so the lifeboat continued to be attacked. At that time the witness and his companions were about 20 meters in distance from the submarine." (D-647)

The U-boat's log in that case is not available, but it may be surmised, in view of the order that nothing compromising should be included in entries in logs, that it would be no more helpful than in the case of the previous incident.

A broadcast by a German Naval War Reporter on the long wave propaganda service from Friesland, (D-646-A) in English, on 11 March 1943, stated:

"Santa Lucia, in the West Indies, was an ideal setting for romance, but nowadays it was dangerous to sail in these waters -- dangerous for the British and Americans and for all the colored people who were at their beck and-call. Recently a U-boat operating in these waters sighted an enemy windjammer. Streams of tracer bullets were poured into the sails and most of the Negro crew leaped overboard. Knowing that this might be a decoy ship, the submarine steamed cautiously to within 20 yards, when hand grenades were hurled into the rigging. The remainder of the Negroes then leaped into the sea. The windjammer sank. There remained only wreckage. Lifeboats packed with men, and sailors swimming. The sharks in the distance licked their teeth in expectation. Such was the fate of those who sailed from Britain and America." (D-646-A)

This statement shows that it was the policy of the enemy to seek to terrorize crews. It is a part with the order with regard to rescue ships and with the order on the destruction of steamers.

After Doenitz succeeded Raeder as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy he presumably also succeeded to the equivalent rank of a Minister of the Reich, which Raeder had held (2098-PS).

An official report certified by an official of the British Admiralty sets out the number of meetings, the dates of the meetings, and those present, on the occasion of meetings between Doenitz or his representative with Hitler from the time that he succeeded Raeder until the end (D-648). The certificate states:

"I have compiled from them [captured documents the attached list of occasions on which Admiral Doenitz attended conferences at Hitler's headquarters. The list of other senior officials who- attended the same conferences is added when this information was contained in the captured documents concerned. I certify that the list is a true extract from the collective documents which I have examined, and which are in the possession of the British Admiralty, London."

Either Admiral Doenitz or his deputy, Konteradmiral Voss, was present at each of the numerous meetings listed. Among hose who were also constantly present were Speer, Keitel, Jodl, Ribbentrop, Goering, and Himmler or his lieutenants, Fegelein or Kaltenbrunner. The inference is clear that from the time that he succeeded Raeder, Doenitz was one of the rulers of the Reich and as undoubtedly aware of all major decisions of policy.

(3) The Order to Kill Commandos. An internal memorandum of the Naval War Staff, written by the division dealing with International Law to another division, discusses the order of 18 October 1942, with regard to the shooting of Commandos (C-178).

Doubt appears to have arisen in some quarters with regard to the understanding of this order. Accordingly, in the last sentence of the memorandum it is suggested:

"As far as the Navy is concerned, it remains to be seen whether or not this case should be used to make sure, after a conference with the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, that all departments concerned have an entirely clear conception regarding the treatment of members of commando units." (C-178)

Whether that conference took place or not is not known. The document is dated some 11 days after Doenitz had taken over command from Raeder.

But in July 1943, the Navy handed over to the SD Norwegian and British Navy personnel, whom the Navy decided came under the terms of the order, for shooting. An affidavit by a British barrister-at-Law who served as judge advocate at the trial of the members of the SD who executed the order states (D-649):

"The accused were charged with committing a war crime, in that they at Ulven, Norway, in or about the month of July 1943, in violation of the laws and usages of war, were concerned in the killing of ***" [there follow the names of six personnel of the Norwegian Navy, including one officer, and one telegraphist of the British Navy, prisoners of war.]

*******

"There was evidence before the Court; which was not challenged by the Defense, that Motor Torpedo Boat No. 345 set out from Lerwick in the Shetlands on a naval operation for the purpose of making torpedo attacks on German shipping off the Norwegian coast, and for the purpose of laying mines in the same area. The persons mentioned in the charge were all the crew of the Torpedo Boat.

"The defense did not challenge that each member of the crew was wearing uniform at the time of capture, and there was abundant evidence from many persons, several of whom were German, that they were wearing uniform at all times after their capture.

"On 27 July 1943, the Torpedo Boat reached the island of Aspo off the Norwegian coast, north of Bergen. On the following day the whole of the crew were captured and were taken on board a German naval vessel which was under the command of Admiral von Schrader, the Admiral of the west coast. The crew were taken to the Bergenhus, where they had arrived by 11 p.m. on 28th July. The crew were there interrogated by Leut. H. P. W. W. Fanger, a Naval Leutnant of the Reserve, on the orders of Korvettenkapitaen Egon Drascher, both of the German Naval Intelligence Service. This interrogation was carried out upon the orders of the staff of the Admiral of the west coast. Leut. Fanger reported to the Officer in Charge of the Intelligence Branch at Bergen that in his opinion all the members of the crew were entitled to be treated as prisoners of war, and that officer in turn reported both orally and in writing to the Sea Commander, Bergen, and in writing to the Admiral of the west coast.

"The interrogation by the Naval Intelligence Branch was concluded in the early hours of 29th July, and almost immediately all the members of the crew were handed over on the immediate orders of the Sea Commander, Bergen, to Obersturmbannfuehrer of the SD, Hans Wilhelm Blomberg, who was at that time Kommandeur of the Sicherheitspolizei at Bergen. This followed a meeting between Blomberg and Admiral von Schrader, at which a copy of the Fuehrer order of 18 October 1942 was shown to Blomberg. This order dealt with the classes of persons who were to be excluded from the protection of the Geneva Convention and were not to be treated as prisoners of war, but when captured were to be handed over to the SD. Admiral von Schrader told Blomberg that the crew of this Torpedo Boat were to be handed over in accordance with the Fuehrer order, to the SD." (D-649)

The affidavit goes on to describe the interrogation by officials of the SD. These officials took the same view as the Naval Intelligence officers, that the crew were entitled to be treated as prisoners of war. Nevertheless, the crew were taken out and shot by an execution squad composed of members of the SD. The affidavit concludes as follows:

"It appeared from the evidence that in March or April, 1945, an order from the Fuehrer Headquarters, signed by Keitel, was transmitted to the German authorities in Norway. The substance of the order was that members of the crew of commando raids who fell into German captivity were from that date to be treated as ordinary prisoners of war. This order referred specifically to the Fuehrer order referred to above." (D-649)

The date mentioned is important; it was time "in March or April, 1945," for these men to put their affairs in order.

(4) Reasons for Not Renouncing the Geneva Convention. The minutes of conferences on 19 February 1945 and 20 February 1945 between Doenitz and Hitler read as follows:

"The Fuehrer is considering whether or not Germany should renounce the Geneva Convention *** [the 1929 Prisoners of War Convention].

*******

"The Fuehrer orders the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy to consider the pros and cons of their step and to state his s opinion as soon as possible." (C-158)

Doenitz then stated his opinion in the presence of Jodl and a representative of Ribbentrop:

"On the contrary, the disadvantages [of renouncing the convention] outweigh the advantages. It would be better to carry out the measures considered necessary without warning, and at all costs to save face with the outer world." (C-158)

An extract from the minutes of another meeting between Doenitz and Hitler, on 1 July 1944, -- the extract is signed by Doenitz -- states:

" *** Regarding the General Strike in Copenhagen, the Fuehrer says that the only weapon to deal with terror is terror. Court martial proceedings create martyrs. History shows that the names of such men are on everybody's lips, whereas there is silence with regard to the many thousands who have lost their lives in similar circumstances without court martial proceedings." (C-171)

(5) Use of Concentration Camp Labor in Shipyards. In a memorandum signed by Doenitz sometime late in 1944, which was distributed to Hitler, Keitel, Jodl, Speer, and the Supreme Command of the Air Force, Doenitz reviews German shipping losses, and concludes:

"Furthermore, I propose reinforcing the shipyard working parties by prisoners from the concentration camps and as a special measure for relieving the present shortage of coppersmiths, especially in U-boat construction, I propose to divert coppersmiths from the construction of locomotives to shipbuilding." (C-195)

In dealing with sabotage, Doenitz has this to say:

"Since, elsewhere, measures for exacting atonement taken against whole working parties amongst whom sabotage occurred, have proved successful, and,-for example, the shipyard sabotage in France was completely suppressed, possibly similar measures for the Scandinavian countries will come under consideration." (C-195)

Item 2 of the summing-up reads:

"12,000 concentration camp prisoners will be employed in the shipyards as additional labor (security service [SD] agrees to this) " (C-195)

It was not for nothing that at these meetings Himmler and his Lieutenants, Fegelein and Kaltenbrunner, were present.

They were not there to discuss U-boats or the use of battleships. It is clear from this document that Doenitz knew all about concentration camps and concentration camp labor, and as one of the rulers of Germany he must bear his full share of that responsibility.

(6) Doenitz's Incitement of Ruthless Conduct By His Men. The orders issued by Doenitz in April 1945 (D-650) show his fanatical adherence to the Nazi creed, and his preparedness even at that stage to continue a hopeless war at the expense of human life, and with the certainty of increased destruction and misery to his country:

"I therefore demand of the commanding officers of the Navy: That they clearly and unambiguously follow the path of military duty, whatever may happen. I demand of them that they stamp out ruthlessly all signs and tendencies among the men which endanger the following of this

"I demand from Senior Commanders that they should take just as ruthless action against any commander who does not do his military duty. If a commander does not think he has the moral strength to occupy his position as a leader in this sense, he must report this immediately. He will then be used as a soldier in this fateful struggle in some position in which he is not burdened with any tasks as a leader." (D-650)

In the secret Battle order of the day of 19 April 1945, Doenitz gives an example of the type of under-officer who should be promoted:

"An example: In a prison camp of the auxiliary cruiser 'Cormorau', in Australia, a petty officer acting as camp senior officer, had all communists who made themselves noticeable among the inmates of the camp systematically done away with in such a way that the guards did not notice. This petty officer is sure of my full recognition for his decision and his execution. After his return, I shall promote him with all means, as he has shown that he is fitted to be a leader."

E. CONCLUSION

Doenitz was no plain sailor, playing the part of a service officer; loyally obedient to the orders of the government of the day. He an extreme Nazi who did his utmost to indoctrinate the Navy and the German people with the Nazi creed. It is no coincidence that it was he -- not Goering, not Ribbentrop, not Goebbels, not Himmler -- who was chosen to succeed Hitler. He played a large part in fashioning the U-boat fleet, one of the most deadly weapons of aggressive war. He helped to plan and execute aggressive wars, which he knew well were in deliberate violation of treaties. He was ready to stoop to any ruse where he thought he would not be found out: breaches of the Geneva Convention or of neutrality, where it might be asserted that sinking was due to a mine. He was ready to order, and did order, the murder of helpless survivors of sunken ships, an action only paralleled by that of his Japanese ally.

There can be few countries which do not mourn for men of the merchant navies whose destruction was due to the callow brutality with which, at the orders of this man, the German U-boat did their work.


Sources: Nizkor. Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, Volume II, Chapter XVI, pp.815-843

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