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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
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." (C21)
Whereupon, the order is given to Flag Officer, Submarines, carry-
"The High Command of the Armed Forces has issued the
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,
the sea-route U. S. to Iceland.” (C-118) As these orders show, 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
follow these methods." (D-423) An extract from the B.D.U. Wir 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 mem-
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, con
tains 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 manoeuverable, 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 the 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