In the 15 years he commanded it, Raeder built and
directed the German Navy, he accepts full responsibility until retirement
in 1943. He admits the Navy violated the Versailles Treaty, insisting
it was "a matter of honour for every man" to do so, and alleges
that the violations were for the most part minor, and Germany built
less than her allowable strength. These violations, as well as those
of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935, have already been discussed
elsewhere in this Judgment.
Raeder received the directive of 24th June, 1937,
from von Blomberg requiring
special preparations for war against Austria.
He was one of the five leaders present at the Hoszbach Conference of
5th November, 1937. He claims Hitler merely wished by this conference
to spur the Army to faster rearmament, insists he believed the questions
of Austria and Czechoslovakia would be settled peacefully, as they were,
and points to the new naval treaty with England which had just been
signed. He received no orders to speed construction of U-boats, indicating
that Hitler was not planning war.
Raeder received directives on "Fall Gruen"
and the directives on "Fall Weiss" beginning with that of
3rd April, 1939, the latter directed the Navy to support the Army by
intervention from the sea. He was also one of the few chief leaders
present at the meeting of 23rd May, 1939. He attended the Obersalzburg
briefing of 22nd August, 1939.
The conception of the invasion of Norway first arose
in the mind of Raeder and not that of Hitler. Despite Hitler's desire,
as shown by his directive of October, 1939, to keep Scandinavia neutral,
the Navy examined the advantages of naval bases there as early as October.
Admiral Karls originally suggested to Raeder the desirable aspects of
bases in Norway. A questionnaire, dated 3rd October, 1939, which sought
comments on the desirability of such bases, was circulated within SKL.
On 10th October, Raeder discussed the matter with Hitler; his War Diary
entry for that day says Hitler intended to give the matter consideration.
A few months after Hitler talked to Raeder, Quisling, Keitel and Jodl,
OKW began its planning and the Naval War Staff worked with OKW staff
officers. Raeder received Keitel's directive for Norway on 27th January,
1940. and the subsequent directive of 1st March, signed by Hitler.
Raeder defends his actions on the ground it was a move
to forestall the British. It is not necessary again to discuss this
defence, which the Tribunal have heretofore treated in some detail,
concluding that Germany's invasion of Norway and Denmark was aggressive
war. In a letter to the Navy Raeder said: " The operations of the
Navy in the occupation of Norway will for all time remain the great
contribution of the Navy to this war"
Raeder received the directives, including the innumerable
postponements, for the attack in the West. In a meeting of 18th March,
1941, with Hitler, he urged the occupation of all Greece. He claims
this was only after the British had landed and Hitler had ordered the
attack, and points out the Navy had no interest in Greece. He received
Hitler's directive on Yugoslavia.
Raeder endeavoured to dissuade Hitler from embarking
upon the invasion of the U.S.S.R. In September, 1940, he urged on Hitler
an aggressive Mediterranean policy as an alternative to an attack on
Russia. On 14th November, 1940, he urged the war against England "
as our main enemy " and that submarine and naval air force construction
be continued. He voiced " serious objections against the Russian
campaign before the defeat of England," according to notes of the
German Naval War Staff. He claims his objections were based on the violation
of the Non-Agression Pact as well as strategy. But once the decision
had been made, he gave permission six days before the invasion of the
Soviet Union to attack Russian submarines in the Baltic Sea within a
specified warning area and defends this action because these submarines
were " snooping " on German activities.
It is clear from this evidence that Raeder participated
in the planning and waging of aggressive war.
Raeder is charged with war crimes on the high seas.
The "Athenia," an unarmed British passenger liner, was sunk
on 3rd September, 1939, while outward bound to America. The Germans
two months later charged that Mr. Churchill deliberately sank the "
Athenia" to encourage American hostility to Germany. In fact, it
was sunk by the German U-boat 30. Raeder claims that an inexperienced
U-boat commander sank it in mistake for an armed merchant cruiser, that
this was not known until the U-30 returned several weeks after the German
denial and that Hitler then directed the Navy and Foreign Office to
continue denying it. Raeder denied knowledge of the propaganda campaign
attacking Mr. Churchill.
The most serious charge against Raeder is that he carried
out unrestricted submarine warfare, including sinking of unarmed merchant
ships, of neutrals, non-rescue and machine-gunning of survivors, contrary
to the London Protocol of 1936. The Tribunal makes the same finding
on Raeder on this charge as it did as to Doenitz, which has already
been announced, up until 30th January, 1943, when Raeder retired.
The Commando Order of the 18th October, 1942, which
expressly did not apply to naval warfare, was transmitted by the Naval
War Staff to the lower naval commanders with the direction it should
be distributed orally by flotilla leaders and section commanders to
their subordinates. Two commandos were put to death by the Navy, and
not by the SD, at Bordeaux on the 10th December, 1942, the comment of
the Naval War Staff was that this was " in accordance with the
Fuehrer's special order, but is nevertheless something new in international
law, since the soldiers were in uniform." Raeder admits he passed
the order down through the chain of command, and he did not object to