During the years of Raeder's command of the German Navy, from 1928
to 1943, he played a vital role in building up the Navy as an instrument
of war, to implement the Nazis' general plan of aggression.
(1) Concealed rearmament in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.
In successive and secret steps, the small Navy permitted to Germany
under the Treaty of Versailles was enormously expanded under the guidance
The story of Germany's secret rearmament in violation of the Treaty
of Versailles is told in a history of the fight of the German Navy against
Versailles, 1919 to 1935, which was published secretly by the German
Admiralty in 1937 (C-156). This history shows that before the Nazis
came to power the German Admiralty was deceiving not only the governments
of other countries, but its own legislature and at one stage its own
government, regarding the secret measures of rearmament ranging from
experimental U-Boat an E-Boat building to the creation of secret intelligence
and finance organizations. Raeder's role in these developments are described
"The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Admiral Raeder, had received
hereby a far-reaching independence in the building and development
of the Navy. This was only hampered insofar as the previous concealment
of rearmament had to be continued in consideration of the Versailles
An illustration of Raeder's concealment of rearmament is contained
in his statement that:
"In view of Germany's treaty obligations and the disarmament
conference, steps must be taken to prevent the first E-boat Half-Flotilla
from appearing openly as a formation of torpedo-carrying boats, as
it was not intended to count these E-boats against the number of torpedo-carrying
boats allowed them." (C-141)
It appears that even in 1930 the intention ultimately to attack Poland
was already current in German military circles. An extract from the
History of War Organization and of the Scheme for Mobilization (C-135)
which is headed "All 850/38" suggesting that the document
was written in 1938, reads:
"Since under the Treaty of Versailles all preparations for mobilization
were forbidden, these were at first confined to a very small body
of collaborators and were at first only of a theoretical nature. Nevertheless,
there existed at that time an 'Establishment Order' and 'Instructions
for Establishment,' the forerunners of the present-day scheme for
"An 'establishment organization' and 'adaptable instructions
for establishment' were drawn up for each A-year, the cover name for
a mobilization year.
"As stated, the 'Establishment Organizations' of that time were
to be judged purely theoretically, for they had no positive basis
in the form of men and materials. They provided, nevertheless, a valuable
foundation for the establishment of a War Organization as our ultimate
"The crises between Germany and Poland, which were becoming
increasingly acute, compelled us, instead of making theoretical preparations
for war, to prepare in a practical manner for a purely German-Polish
"The strategic idea of a rapid forcing of the Polish base of
Gdynia was made a basis, and the fleet on active service was to be
reinforced by the auxiliary forces which would be indispensable to
attain this strategic end, and the essential coastal and flak batteries,
especially those in Pillau and Swinemuende were to be taken over.
Thus in 1930 the Reinforcement Plan was evolved." (C-135)
The extract further shows that Hitler had made a clear political request
to build up for him in five years, that is, by April 1938, armed forces
which he could place in the balance as an instrument of political power.
The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 was a signal to Raeder to go full
speed ahead on rearmament. In June 1934 Raeder told Hitler that the
German fleet must be developed to oppose England, and that therefore
from 1936 on, the big ships must be armed with big guns to match the
British "King George" class of battleship. Raeder also went
along with Hitler's demand that the construction of U-Boats should be
kept completely secret, especially in view of the Saar plebiscite (C-189).
In November 1934 Raeder had a further talk with Hitler on the financing
naval rearmament, and on that occasion Hitler told him that in case
of need he would get Doctor Ley to put 120,000,000 to 160,000,000 RM.
from the Labor Front at the disposal of the Navy. (C-190)
Another example of the deceit used by Raeder in building up the German
Navy is the fact that the true displacement of certain German battleships
exceeded by twenty percent the displacement which the Nazis had reported
to the British (C- 23). In similar vein, it was ordered that auxiliary
cruisers, which were being secretly constructed, should be referred
to as "transport ships O." (C-166)
The support given by the German Navy to the German Armament Industry illustrates
Raeder's concern with the broader aspects of Nazi policy and of the close
link between Nazi politicians, German Service Chiefs, and German armament
A commentary on post-1939 naval rearmament is contained in a letter
from Raeder to the German Navy, dated 11 June 1940. This letter was
given extensive distribution; in fact there is provision in the distribution
list for 467 copies. This letter of Raeder which is marked with both
self- justification and apology, reads:
"The most outstanding of the numerous subjects of discussion
in the Officer Corps are the Torpedo position and the problem whether
the naval building program, up to Autumn 1939, envisaged the possibility
of the outbreak of war as early as 1939, or whether the emphasis ought
not to have been laid, from the first, on the construction of U-boats.
"If the opinion is voiced in the Officer Corps that the entire
naval building program has been wrongly directed, and that, from the
first, the emphasis should have been on the U-boat weapon and, after
its consolidation, on the large ships, I must emphasize the following
"The building up of the Fleet was directed according to the
political demands, which were decided by the Fuehrer. The Fuehrer
hoped, until the last moment, to be able to put off the threatening
conflict with England until 1944-45. At that time the Navy would have
had available a fleet with a powerful U-boat superiority and a much
more favorable ratio as regards strength in all other types of ships,
particularly those designed for warfare on the high seas.
"The development of events forced the Navy, contrary to the
expectation even of the Fuehrer, into a war, which it had to accept
while still in the initial stage of its rearmament. The result is
that those who represent the opinion that the emphasis should have
been laid, from the start, on the building of the U-boat arm, appear
to be right. I leave undiscussed, how far this development, quite
apart from difficulties of personnel, training and dockyards, could
have been appreciably improved in any way in view of the political
limits of the Anglo-German Naval Treaty. I leave also undiscussed,
how the early and necessary creation of an effective Air Force slowed
down the desirable development of the other branches of the forces.
I indicate, however, with pride the admirable and, in spite of the
political restraints in the years of the Weimar Republic, far-reaching
preparation for U- boat construction, which made the immensely rapid
construction of the U-boat arm, both as regards equipment and personnel,
possible immediately after the assumption of power." (C-155)
This letter shows no trace of reluctance in cooperating with the Nazi
program. On the contrary, it is evident that Raeder welcomed and became
one of the pillars of the Nazi power.
(2) Conversion of the Navy into a tool of the Nazi conspiracy.
Raeder, more than anyone else, was responsible for securing the unquestioned
allegiance of the German Navy to the Nazi movement -- an allegiance
which Doenitz was to make even more firm and fanatical.
Raeder's approval of Hitler was shown particularly clearly on 2 August
1934, the day of Hindenburg's death, when Raeder and all the men under
him swore a new oath of loyalty with considerable ceremony, this time
to Adolf Hitler and no longer to the Fatherland (D-481). The new oath
ran as follows:
"I swear this holy oath by God that I will implicitly obey the
Leader of the German Reich and people, Adolf Hitler the Supreme Commander
of the Armed Forces and that, as a brave soldier, I will be willing
to stake my life at any time for this oath." (D-481)
For his fatherland, Raeder substituted the Fuehrer.
There is no need to elaborate upon the step by which the German Navy
was progressively drawn into the closest alliance with the Nazi Party.
The facts of history -- such as the incorporation of the swastika into
the ensign under which the German Fleet sailed, and the wearing of the
swastika on the uniform of naval officers and men -- these facts speak
The Nazis, for their part, were not ungrateful for Raeder's obeisance
and collaboration. His services in rebuilding the German Navy were widely
recognized by Nazi propagandists and by the Nazi press. On his 66th
birthday, the Chief Party Organ, the "Voelkischer Beobachter,"
published a special article about him, which summed up Raeder's contribution
to Nazi development:
"It was to Raeder's credit to have already built up by that
time a powerful striking force from the numerically small fleet, despite
the fetters of Versailles.
"With the assumption of power through National Socialism began,
too, the most fruitful period in the reconstruction of the German
"The Fuehrer openly expressed his recognition of Raeder's faithful
services and unstinted cooperation, by appointing him General Admiral
on 20 April 1936"
"As a soldier and a seaman, the General-Admiral has proved himself
to be the Fuehrer's first and foremost naval collaborator." (D-448)
(3) Raeder's political activities and responsibilities. Raeder's
personal part in the Nazi conspiracy arises from the fact that, from
the time of the Nazi seizure of power, he became increasingly involved
in responsibility for the general policies of the Nazi State.
Long before he was promoted to General-Admiral in 1936, he had become
a member of the secret Reich Defense Council, joining it when it was
founded, on 4 April 1933. Thus, at an early date, he was involved, both
militarily and politically, in the Nazi conspiracy. These facts are
contained in a document which contains the classic Nazi directive:
"Matters communicated orally cannot be proven; they can be denied
by us in Geneva." (EC-177)
On 4 February 1938, Raeder was appointed to be a member of a newly
formed Secret Advisory Council for Foreign Affairs (2031-PS).
Three weeks later, a decree of Hitler's stated that as well as being
equal in rank with a Cabinet Minister, Raeder was also to take part
in the sessions of the Cabinet (2098-PS). It is thus clear that Raeder's
responsibility for the political decisions of the Nazi State was steadily
developed from 1933 to 1938, and that in the course of time he had become
a member of all the main political advisory bodies. He was a member
of the inner councils of the conspirators.
As an illustration, Raeder was present at two of the key meetings at
which Hitler openly declared his intention of attacking neighboring
countries. The first of these was Hitler's conference at the Reichs
Chancellory on 5 November 1937, concerning matters which were said to
be too important to discuss in the larger circle of the Reich Cabinet.
The minutes of this meeting establish conclusively that the Nazis premeditated
their crimes against peace (386-PS). The second meeting which Raeder
attended was Hitler's conference on 23 May 1939 (L-79). This was the
conference at which Hitler confirmed his intention to make a deliberate
attack upon Poland at the first opportunity, well knowing that this
must cause widespread war in Europe.
In addition to those two key conferences, Raeder was also present at
many others, where he placed his knowledge and professional skill at
the service of the Nazi war machine. Raeder's promotion of the military
planning and preparation for the Polish campaign is discussed in Section
8 of Chapter IX.
(4) The "Athenia Case". Once the war
was underway, Raeder also showed himself to be a master of one of the
conspirators' favorite techniques -- deceit on the grand scale. His
handling of the case of the "Athenia" is a case in point.
The "Athenia" was a passenger liner which was sunk in the
evening of 3 September 1939, when she was outward bound to America.
About one hundred lives were lost.
On 23 October 1939, the Nazi Party paper, the "Voelkischer Beobachter,"
published in screaming headlines the story, "Churchill sank the
Athenia" (3260-PS). The scale on which this deliberate lie was
perpetrated is indicated by the rest of the "Voelkischer Beobachter"
for that day; on the front page, with large red underlining, were the
words: "Now we indict Churchill" (3260-PS). An extract from
the third page of this issue of the "Voelkischer Beobachter"
refers to photograph of the ship and reads as follows:
"Churchill sank the 'Athenia'. The above picture shows the proud
'Athenia', the ocean giant, which was sunk by Churchill's crime. One
can clearly see the big radio equipment on board the ship. But nowhere
was an SOS heard from the ship. Why was the 'Athenia' silent? Because
her captain was not allowed to tell the world anything. He very prudently
refrained from telling the world that Winston Churchill attempted
to sink the ship, through the explosion of an infernal machine. He
knew it well, but he had to keep silent. Nearly fifteen hundred people
would have lost their lives if Churchill's original plan had resulted
as the criminal wanted. Yes, he longingly hoped that the one hundred
Americans on board the ship would find death in the waves so that
the anger of the American people, who were deceived by him, should
be directed against Germany as the presumed author of the deed. It
was fortunate that the majority escaped the fate intended for them
by Churchill. Our picture on the right shows two wounded passengers.
They were rescued by the freighter, 'City of Flint', and as can be
seen here, turned over over [sic] to the American coast guard boat
'Gibb' for further medical treatment. They are an unspoken accusation
against the criminal Churchill. Both they and the shades of those
who lost their lives call him before the Tribunal of the world and
ask the British people, 'How long will the office, one of the richest
in tradition known to Britain's history, be held by a murderer?' "
Contrary to these Nazi allegations, the "Athenia" made repeated
wireless distress signals, which were in fact intercepted and answered
by His Majesty's ships "Electra" and "Escort," as
well as by the Norwegian steamship "Knute Nelson" and the
Swedish yacht "Southern Cross." In fact, the "Athenia"
was sunk by the German U-boat U-30. So unjustifiable was the torpedoing
of the "Athenia," however, that the German Navy embarked on
a course of falsification of their records and on other dishonest measures,
in the hope of hiding the guilty secret. Meanwhile the Nazi propagandists
sought to shift the responsibility the British. The Captain of U-boat
30, Oberleutnant Lemp, was later killed in action, but some of the original
crew of the 30 have survived to tell the tale as prisoners of war. An
affidavit by a member of the crew of the U-30 establishes the truth
of this episode and reveals the Nazis' attempt to conceal the true facts
(D-654). The affidavit
"I, Adolf Schmidt, Official Number N 1043-33T,
"Do solemnly declare that:
"I am now confined to Camp No. 133, Lethbridge, Alberta.
"That on the first day of war, 3 September 1939, a ship of approximately
10,000 tons was torpedoed in the late hours of the evening by the
"That after the ship was torpedoed and we surfaced again, approximately
half an hour after the explosion, the Commandant called me to the
tower in order to show me the torpedoed ship.
"That I have seen the ship with my very eyes, but that I do
not think that the ship could see our U-boat at that time on account
of the position of the moon.
"That only a few members of the crew had an opportunity to go
to the tower in order to see the torpedoed ship.
"That apart from myself, Oberleutnant Hinsch was in the tower
when I saw the steamer after the attack.
"That I observed that the ship was listing.
"That no warning shot was fired before the torpedo was launched.
"That I myself observed much commotion on board of the torpedoed
"That I believe that the ship had only one smoke stack.
"That in the attack on this steamer one or two torpedoes were
fired which did not explode but that I myself heard the explosion
of the torpedo which hit the steamer.
"That Oberleutnant Lemp waited until darkness before surfacing.
"That I was severely wounded by aircraft 14 September 1939.
"That Oberleutnant Lemp, shortly before my disembarkation in
Reykjavik 19 September 1939, visited me in the forenoon in the Petty
Officers quarters where I was lying severely wounded.
"That Oberleutnant Lemp then had the Petty Officers' quarters
cleared in order to be alone with me.
"That Oberleutnant Lemp then showed me a declaration under oath
according to which I had to bind myself to mention nothing concerning
the incidents of 3 September 1939 on board the U-30.
"That this declaration under oath had approximately the following
wording: 'I, the undersigned, swear hereby that I shall shroud in
secrecy all happenings of 3 September 1939 on board the U-30, regardless
whether foe or friend, and that I shall erase from my memory all happenings
of this day.'
"That I have signed this declaration under oath, which was drawn
up by the Commandant in his own handwriting, with my left hand very
"That later on in Iceland when I heard about the sinking of
the 'Athenia,' the idea came into my mind that the U-30 on the 3 September
1939 might have sunk the 'Athenia,' especially since the Captain caused
me to sign the above-mentioned declaration.
"That up to today I have never spoken to anyone concerning these
"That due to the termination of the war I consider myself freed
from my oaths" (D-654)
Doenitz's part in the "Athena" episode is described in an
affidavit which he has sworn, in English (D-68). At the end of the affidavit
four words are added in Doenitz's handwriting, the significance of which
will be adverted to shortly. Doenitz states:
"U-30 returned to harbor about Mid-September. I met the captain,
Oberleutnant Lemp, on the dockside at Wilhelmshafen, as the boat was
entering harbor, and he asked permission to speak to me in private.
I noticed immediately that he was looking very unhappy and he told
me at once that he thought he was responsible for the sinking of the
'Athenia' in the North Channel area. In accordance with my previous
instructions, he had been keeping a sharp lookout for possible armed
merchant cruisers in the approaches to the British Isles, and had
torpedoed a ship he afterwards identified as the 'Athenia' from wireless
broadcasts, under the impression that she was an armed merchant cruiser
on patrol. I had never specified in my instructions any particular
type of ship as armed merchant cruiser nor mentioned any names of
ships. I despatched Lemp at once by air to report to the SKL at Berlin;
in the meantime, I ordered complete secrecy as a provisional measure.
Later the same day or early on the following day, I received a verbal
order from Kapitaen zur See Fricke [head of the Operations Division
of the Naval War Staff] that:
"1. The affair was to be kept a total secret.
"2. The OKM considered that a court martial was not necessary
as they were satisfied that the captain had acted in good faith.
"3. Political explanations would be handled by the OKM.
"I had had no part whatsoever in the political events in which
the Fuehrer claimed that no U-boat had sunk the 'Athenia.'
"After Lemp returned to Wilhelmshafen from Berlin, I interrogated
him thoroughly on the sinking and formed the impression that although
he had taken reasonable care, he had still not taken sufficient precautions
to establish fully the identity of the ship before attacking. I had
previously given very strict orders that all merchant vessels and
neutrals were to be treated according to naval prize law, before the
occurrence of this incident. I accordingly placed him under cabin
arrest, as I felt certain that a court-martial could only acquit him
and would entail unnecessary publicity' [whereat Doenitz has added
the words, "and too much time" (D-638)
Doenitz's suggestion that the captain of the U-30 sank the "Athenia"
in mistake for a merchant cruiser must be considered in the light of
Doenitz's order of 22 September 1939, that
"the sinking of a merchant ship must be justified in the War
Diary as due to possible confusion with a warship or an auxiliary
The U-30 returned to Wilhelmshaven on 27 September 1939. On that date
another fraudulent entry was made in the War Diary of the Chief of U-Boats:
"U-30 comes in. She had sunk: 'S.S. BIairlogie'; 'S.S. Fanal
Head'." (D-659) There is no reference at all to the sinking of
Perhaps the most elaborate forgery in connection with this episode
was made on the log book of the U-30, which was responsible for sinking
the "Athenia" (D-662). The Prosecution submits that the first
page of that log book is a forgery which shows a curiously un-German
carelessness about detail. It is clear on the original document that
the first page of the text is a substitute for pages that have been
removed. The dates in the first column of that page are in Arabic numerals.
On the second and more authentic-looking page, and throughout the other
pages of the log book, they are in Roman numerals.
Furthermore, all reference to the sinking of the "Athenia"
on 3 September is omitted. The log book shows that at 1400 hours on
3 September 1939 the position of the U-30 is given as AL 0278, which
is one of the few positions quoted at all upon that page, and which
was some 200 miles west of the position where the "Athenia"
was sunk. The recorded course (due south) and the recorded speed (10
knots)those entries are obviously designed to suggest that the U-3 was-
well clear of the "Athenia's" position on 3 September. (D-662)
Finally, the original shows Lemp's own signature upon the page dealing
with 3 September differs from his other signature in the text. The difference
appears in the final letter of his name. The signature in question shows
a Roman "p" whereas on the other signatures there is a script
"p." The inference is that either the signature is a forgery
or it was made by Lemp at some other and probably considerably later,
date. (D- 662)
The story of the "Athenia" establishes that
the German Navy under Raeder embarked upon deliberate fraud. Even before
receiving Lemp's reports, the German Admiralty had repeatedly denied
the possibility that a German U-boat could be in the area concerned.
The charts which showed the disposition of U-boats and the position
of sinking of the "Athenia" (discussed in Section 14 on Doenitz)
have shown the dishonesty of these announcements. The conclusion to
be drawn is this; Raeder, as head of the German Navy, knew all the facts.
Censorship and information control in Nazi Germany were so complete
that Raeder, as head of the Navy, must have been party to the falsification
published in the "Voelkischer Beobachter," which was an attempt
by the Nazi conspirators to save face with their own people and uphold
the myth of an infallible Fuehrer backed by an impeccable war machine.
(5) The Attack on Norway and Denmark. Truth mattered little
in Nazi propaganda, and Raeder's camouflage was not confined to painting
his ships or sailing them under the British flag, as he did in attacking
Norway or Denmark. Raeder's proud comment upon the invasions of Denmark
and Norway, in which he played a leading part, (see Section 9 of Chapter
IX on aggression against Norway and Denmark), is contained in a letter
of Raeder's to the Navy, which stated in part:
"The operations of the Navy in the occupation of Norway will for
all time remain the great contribution of the Navy to this war."
(6) The Attack on the U.S.S.R. With the occupation of Norway
and much of Western Europe safely completed, Hitler turned his eyes
towards Russia. Raeder was against the attack on Russia and tried his
best to dissuade Hitler from embarking upon it. Raeder approached the
problem with cynicism. He did not object to the aggressive war on Russia
because of its illegality, its morality, its inhumanity. His only objection
to it was its untimeliness. He wanted to finish England first before
going further afield.
The story of Raeder's part in the deliberations upon the war against
Russia is told in extracts from a German compilation of official naval-notes
by the German Naval War Staff (C- 170). The first entry, dated 26 September
1940, shows that Raeder was advocating to Hitler an aggressive Mediterranean
policy, in which the Navy would play a paramount role, as opposed to
a continental land policy. The entry reads:
"Naval Supreme Commander with the Fuehrer: Naval Supreme Commander
presents his opinion about the situation: the Suez Canal must be captured
with German assistance From Suez advance through Palestine and Syria;
then Turkey in our power. The Russian problem will then assume a different
appearance. Russia is fundamentally frightened of Germany. It is questionable
whether action against Russia from the North will then be still necessary."
The entry for 14 November reads:
"Naval Supreme Commander with the Fuehrer: Fuehrer is still
inclined to instigate the conflict with Russia. Naval Supreme Commander
recommends putting it off until the time after the victory over England
since there is heavy strain on German forces and the end of warfare
is not in sight. According to the opinion of the Naval Supreme Commander,
Russia will not press for a conflict within the next year, since she
is in the process of building up her Navy with Germany's help -- 38
cm. turrets for battleships, etc.: thus, during these years she continues
to be dependent upon German assistance." (C-170)
And again, the entry for 27 December states:
"Naval Supreme Commander with the Fuehrer: Naval Supreme Commander
emphasizes again that strict concentration of our entire war effort
against England as our main enemy is the most urgent need of the hour.
On the one side England has gained strength by the unfortunate Italian
conduct of the war in the eastern Mediterranean and by the increasing
American support. On the other hand, however, she can be hit mortally
by a strangulation of her ocean traffic which is already taking effect.
What is being done for submarine and naval air force construction
is much too little. Our entire war potential must work for the conduct
of the war against England; thus for Navy and air force every fissure
of strength prolongs the war and endangers the final success. Naval
Supreme Commander voices serious objections against Russia campaign
before the defeat of England." (C-l 70)
The entry for 18 February 1941 reads as follows:
"Chief, Naval Operations (SKL) insists on the occupation of
Malta even before 'Barbarossa'." (C-170)
The 23 February entry reads:
"Instruction from Supreme Command, Armed Forces (OKW) that seizure
of Malta is contemplated for the fall of 1941 after the execution
of 'Barbarossa'." (C- 170)
The entry for 19 March 1941 shows that by March 1941 Raeder had begun
to consider what prospects of naval action the Russian aggression had
to offer. The entry states:
"In case of 'Barbarossa', Supreme Naval Commander describes
the occupation of Murmansk as an absolute necessity for the Navy.
Chief of the Supreme Command, Armed Forces, considers compliance very
difficult." (C- 170).
In the meantime, the entries show that Mussolini was crying out for
a more active Nazi Mediterranean policy. The entry for 30 May reads:
"Duce] demands urgently decisive offensive Egypt-Suez for fall
1941; 12 divisions are needed for that; 'This stroke would be more
deadly to the British Empire than the capture of London'; Chief Naval
Operations agrees completely." (C-170)
Finally, the entry for 6 June indicates the strategic views of Raeder
and the German Navy at that stage:
"Naval Supreme Commander with the Fuehrer: Memorandum of the
Chief, Naval Operations. Observation on the strategic situation in
the Eastern Mediterranean after the Balkan campaign and the occupation
of Crete and further conduct of the war."
"The memorandum points with impressive clarity to the decisive
aims of the war in the Near East. Their advancement has moved into
grasping distance by the successes in the Aegean area, and the memorandum
emphasizes that the offensive utilization of the present favorable
situation must take place with the greatest acceleration and energy,
before England has again strengthened her position in the Near East
with help from the United States of America. The memorandum realizes
the unalterable fact that the campaign against Russia would be opened
very shortly; demands, however, that the undertaking 'Barbarossa',
which because of the magnitude of its aims naturally stands in the
foreground of the operational plans of the armed forces leadership,
must under no circumstances lead to an abandonment, diminishing delay
of the conduct of the war in the Eastern Mediterranean." (C-170)
Thus Raeder, throughout, was seeking an active role for his Navy in
the Nazi war plans.
Once Hitler had decided to attack Russia, Raeder sought
a role for the Navy in the Russian campaign. The first naval operational
plan against Russia was characteristically Nazi. The entry for 15 June
1941 in the notes of the German Naval War Staff reads:
"On the proposal of Chief Naval Operations, use of arms against
Russian submarines, south of the northern boundary of the Poland warning
area is permitted immediately; ruthless destruction is to be aimed
Keitel provides a typically fraudulent pretext for this action in his
letter dated 15 June 1941 (C-38):
"Subject: Offensive action against enemy submarines in the Baltic
"To: "High Command of the Navy -- OKM (SKL)
"Offensive action against submarine south of the line Memel
southern tip of Oeland is authorized if the boats cannot be definitely
identified as Swedish during the approach by German naval forces.
"The reason to be given up to B-day is that our naval forces
believed to be dealing with penetrating British submarines."
This order was given on 15 June 1941, although the Nazi attack on Russia
did not take place until 22 June 1941.
(7) Instigation of Japanese aggression. In the meantime, Raeder
was urging Hitler, as early as 18 March 1941, to enlarge the scope of
the world war by inducing Japan to seize Singapore. Raeder's views at
his audience with Hitler on 18 March were as follows:
"Japan must take steps to seize Singapore as soon as possible,
since the opportunity will never again be as favorable (whole English
Fleet contained; unpreparedness of USA. for war against Japan; inferiority
of US Fleet vis-a-vis the Japanese). Japan is indeed making preparations
for this action, but according to all declarations made by Japanese
officers she will only carry it out if Germany proceeds to land in
England. Germany must therefore concentrate all her efforts on spurring
Japan to act immediately. If Japan has Singapore all other East Asiatic
questions regarding the USA. and England are thereby solved (Guam,
Philippines, Borneo, Dutch East Indies).
"Japan wishes if possible to avoid war against USA. She can
do so if she determinedly takes Singapore as soon as possible."
By 20 April 1941 Hitler had agreed with Raeder's proposition to induce
the Japanese to take offensive action against Singapore. The entry in
the notes of the German Naval War Staff, for 20 April 1941, reads:
"Naval Supreme Commander with the Fuehrer: Navy Supreme Commander
asks about result of Matsuoka's visit, and evaluation of Japanese-Russian
pact. Fuehrer has in- formed Matsuoka, 'that Russia will not be touched
if she behaves friendly according to the treaty. Otherwise, he reserves
action for himself.' Japan- Russia pact has been concluded in agreement
with Germany, and is to prevent Japan from advancing against Vladivostok,
and to cause her to attack Singapore." (C- 170).
The real purpose of Hitler's words to Matsuoka is revealed in another
description of their conversation:
"At that time the Fuehrer was firmly resolved on a surprise
attack on Russia, regardless of what was the Russian attitude to Germany.
This, according to reports coming in, was frequently changing. The
communication to Matsuoka was designed entirely as a camouflage measure
and to ensure surprise." (C-66)
The Axis partners were not even honest with each other. This is typical
of the jungle diplomacy with which Raeder associated himself.
(1) Instigation of the Navy to Violate the Rules of Warfare.
Raeder throughout his career showed a complete disregard for any international
rule or usage of war which conflicted with his intention of carrying
through the Nazi program of conquest. Raeder has himself summarized
his attitude in a long memorandum compiled by Raeder and the German
Naval War Staff and dated 15 October 1939, only a few weeks after the
war started UK-65). The memorandum, which concerns the intensification
f the war at sea, reads in part as follows:
"I. Military requirements for the decisive struggle against
"Our naval strategy will have to employ all the military means
at our disposal as expeditiously as possible. Military success can
be most confidently expected if we attack British sea-communications
wherever they are accessible to us with the greatest ruthlessness;
the final aim of such attacks is to cut off all imports into and exports
from Britain. We should try to consider the requirements. It is desirable
to base all military measures, taken on existing International Law;
however measures which are considered necessary from a military point
of view, provided a decisive success can be expected from them, will
have to be carried out, even if they are not covered by existing International
Law. In principle therefore, any means of warfare which is effective
in breaking enemy resistance should be used on some legal conception,
even if that entails the creation of a new code of naval warfare.
"The supreme War Council will have to decide what measures of
military and legal nature are to be taken. Once it has been decided
to conduct economic warfare in its most ruthless form, in fulfilment
of military requirements, this decision is to be adhered to under
all circumstances and under no circumstances may such a decision for
the most ruthless form of economic warfare, once it has been made,
be dropped or released under political pressure from neutral powers;
that is what happened in the World War to our own detriment. Every
protest by neutral powers must be turned down. Even threats of further
countries, including the US coming into the war, which can be expected
with certainty should the war last a long time, must not lead to a
relaxation in the form of economic warfare once embarked upon. The
more ruthlessly economic warfare is waged, the earlier will it show
results and the sooner will the war come to an end. The economic effect
of such military measures on our own war economy must be fully recognized
and compensated through immediate re-orientation of German war economy
and the re-drafting of the respective agreements with neutral states;
for this, strong political and economic pressure must be employed
Those comments of Raeder are revealing and show that as an active member
of the inner councils of the Nazi state up to 1943, Raeder must share
responsibility for the many war crimes committed by his confederates
and underlings in the course of their wars.
(2) The Navy's Crimes at Sea. Apart from this over-all responsibility
of Raeder, certain war crimes were essentially initiated or ordered
through the naval chain of command by Raeder himself.
(a) Attacks on neutral shipping. The minutes of a meeting between Hitler
and Raeder on 30 December 1939 read in part as follows:
"The Chief of Naval War Staff requests that full power be given
to the Naval War Staff in making any intensification suited to the
situation and to the means of war. The Fuehrer fundamentally agrees
to the sinking without warning of Greek ships in the American prohibited
area in which the fiction of mine danger can be upheld, e.g., the
Bristol Channel." (C-27)
At this time Greek ships also were neutral. This is another demonstration
that Raeder was a man without principle. This incitement to crime was
a typical group effort, since a directive effectuating those naval views
was issued on 30 December 1939 by the OKW, and signed by Jodl (C-12).
This directive reads:
"On 30 December 1939, according to a report of Ob.d.M., the
Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces decided that:
"1) Greek merchant ships in the area around England declared
by USA. to be a barred zone are to be treated as enemy vessels.
"2) In the Bristol Channel, all shipping may be attacked without
warning -- where the impression of a mining incident can be created.
"Both measures are authorized to come into effect immediately."
A pencilled note at the foot of this directive reads:
"Add to (1) Attack must be carried out without being seen. The
denial of the sinking of these steamships in case the expected protests
are made must be possible." (C-12)
Another example of the callous attitude of Raeder's Navy towards neutral
shipping is found in an entry in Jodl's diary for 16 June 1942 (1807-PS).
This extract reads as follows:
"The operational staff of the Navy (SKL) applied on the 29th
May for permission to attack the Brazilian sea and air forces. The
SKL considers that a sudden blow against the Brazilian naval and merchant
ships is expedient at this juncture (a) because defense measures are
still incomplete; (b) because there is the possibility of achieving
surprise; and (c) because Brazil is to all intents and purposes fighting
Germany at sea." (1807-PS).
This was a plan for a kind of Brazilian "Pearl Harbor," although
war did not in fact break out between Germany and Brazil until the 22
Raeder also caused the Navy to participate in war crimes ordered by
other conspirators. A single example will suffice.
(b) The order to shoot commandos. On 28 October 1942 the head of the
Operations Division of the Naval War Staff promulgated to naval commands
Hitler's order of 18 October 1942 requiring the shooting of commandos.
The effect of this order was to deny the protection of the Geneva Convention
to captured commandos. The document dated 28 October 1942 reads:
"Enclosed please find a Fuehrer Order regarding annihilation
of terror and sabotage units.
"This order must not be distributed in writing by Flotilla leaders,
Section Commanders or officers of this rank.
"After verbal distribution to subordinate sections the above
authorities must hand this order over to the next highest section
which is responsible for its confiscation and destruction." (C-179).
It will be difficult to conceive of clearer evidence than this, that
Raeder appreciated the wrongfulness of Hitler's commando order.
One example will show that this order was executed by the German Navy
during the period when Raeder was its Commander.
A certain commando operation of December 1942 had as its objective
an attack on shipping in Bordeaux harbor. The Wehrmacht account of this
incident states that six of the ten participants in that commando raid
were arrested, and that all were shot on 23 March 1943 (UK-57). On this
particular occasion the Navy under Raeder had implemented Hitler's order
much more expeditiously. This fact appears in extracts from the war
diary of Admiral Bachmann, who was the German Flag Officer in charge
of Western France (C-176). The entry for 10 December 1942 reads:
"About 1015. Telephone call from personal representative of
the Officer-in-charge of the Security Service in Paris, SS Obersturmfuehrer
Dr. Schmidt to Flag Officer-in-charge s Flag Lieutenant, requesting
postponement of the shooting, as interrogation had not been concluded.
After consultation with the Chief of Operations Staff the Security
Service had been directed to get approval direct from Headquarters.
"1820. Security Service, Bordeaux, requested Security Service
authorities at Fuehrer's headquarters to postpone the shooting for
three days. Interrogations- continued for the time being." (C-176)
The entry for the next day, 11 December 1942, reads:
"Shooting of the two prisoners was carried out by a unit (strength
1/16) belonging to the naval officer in charge Bordeaux, in the presence
of an officer of the Security Service, Bordeaux, on order of the Fuehrer."
A note in green pencil in the margin opposite this entry reads:
"Security Service should have done this. Phone Flag Officer
in Charge in future cases." (C-176)
This provision for "future cases" was in fact an order that
commandos should be handed over to the Security Service to be shot.
It is therefore evident from Admiral Bachmann's war diary (C- 176)
that the first two men to be shot from the Bordeaux operation were actually
put to death by a naval firing party on 1 December 1942.
The Naval War Staff had this comment to make upon that shooting:
"The Naval Commander, West France, reports that during the course
of the day explosives with magnets to stick on, mapping material dealing
with the mouth of the Gironde, aerial photographs of the port installations
at Bordeaux, camouflage material and food and water for several days
were found. Attempts to salvage the canoe were unsuccessful. The Naval
Commander, West France, has ordered that both soldiers be shot immediately
for attempted sabotage, if their interrogation, which has begun, confirms
what has so far been discovered. Their execution has, however, been
-postponed in order to obtain more information.
"According to a Wehrmacht report, both soldiers have meanwhile
been shot. The measure would be in accordance with the Fuehrer's special
order, but is nevertheless something new in international law, since
the soldiers were in uniform." (D-658)
That last sentence shows clearly that the Naval High Command under
Raeder accepted allegiance to the Nazi conspiracy as of greater importance
than any question of moral principle or professional honor. The shooting
of commandos was not an act of war, but simple murder.