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“Every village in which partisans were found had to be burnt down.”
Two months later Ribbentrop was urging the Italian Ambassador in Berlin to greater brutality in dealing with the partisans in Croatia (D-741, GB 296):
“The gangs had to be exterminated and that included men, women and children as their continued existence imperilled the lives of German and Italian men, women and children.”
Goering appears to have assisted Himmler in recruiting the necessary personnel for anti-partisan work and he is recorded by a Cabinet Councillor on the 24th of September 1942 as stating that he was looking for daring fellows for employment in the East as Special Purpose Units and that he was considering convicts and poachers for the purpose. His idea was (638-PS, USA 788):
"In the regions assigned for their operations these bands, whose first task should be to destroy the communications of the partisan groups, could murder, burn and ravish. In Germany they would once again come under strict supervision."
A month later he gave the Duce a description of Germany's method in combatting the partisans in the following terms (D729, GB 281):
"To begin with the entire livestock and all foodstuff is taken away from the areas concerned so as to deny the partisans all sources of food. Men and women are taken away to Labor camps, children to children's camps and the villages burnt down Should attacks occur, then the entire male population of villages would be lined up one side and the women on the other side. The women would be told that all men would be shot unless they (the women) indicated which of the men did not belong to the village. In order to save their men the women always pointed out the stranger.”
These methods were not confined to the East. They were going on throughout the length and breadth of every occupied territory. Wherever the slightest resistance was offered the German answer was to attempt to stamp it out with the utmost brutality. It would not be difficult to rival the events of Lidice and Oradour sur Glane by a hundred other instances.
One of the most brutal expedients—the taking of hostages was the subject of an order by the German High Command on 16th September 1941. Keitel ordered (C-148, USA 555):
“It should be inferred in every case of resistance to the German occupying forces no matter what the individual circumstances that it is of Communist origin."
“In order to nip these machinations in the bud the most drastic measures should be taken immediately on the first indication so that the authority of the occupying forces may be maintained and further spreading prevented. In this connection it should be remembered that a human life in unsettled countries frequently counts for nothing and a deterrent effect can be attained only by unusual severity. The death penalty for 50 to 100 Communists should generally be regarded in these cases as suitable atonement for one German soldier's life. The way in which sentence is carried out should still further increase the deterrent effect.”
We may compare the wording of the Einsatz Commando Report (L-180, USA 276):
"In the knowledge that the Russian has been accustomed from old to ruthless measures on the part of the authorities, the most severe measures were applied.”
There is no difference in outlook between Keitel and Kaltenbrunner: The German soldier was being ordered to emulate the SS.
A fortnight after issuing that order, Keitel, whose only defense was that he had pressed for 5 to 10 hostages for one German in place of 50 to 100, had had a further idea, and on the 1st October 1941 he suggested that it is advisable that military commanders should always have at their disposal a number of hostages of different political tendencies, Nationalist, democratic-bourgeois, or Communist, adding (1590-PS, RF 1433):
"It is important that among them shall be well known leading personalities of members of their families whose names are to be made public. Depending on the membership of the culprit, hostages of the corresponding group are to be shot in case of attacks.”
The original document bears the ominous note: “Complied with in France and Belgium.”
The effect of these orders throughout the German Army is well seen from three instances of the action taken by a local commander.
In Yugoslavia, a month after Keitel's original order a station commander reported that in revenge for the killing of ten German soldiers and the wounding of another twenty-six, a total of 2,300 people had been shot, 100 for each killed and 50 for each wounded German soldier (USSR-74).
On the 11th July 1944 the Commander of the District of Kovolo in Italy was, in a public poster, threatening to kill 50 men for every member of the German Armed Forces whether military or civilian, who was wounded, and a hundred if a German was killed. In the event of more than one soldier or civilian being killed or wounded, all the men of the district would be shot, the houses set on fire, the women interned, and the cattle confiscated immedi
ately. In June of the same year 560 persons, including 250 men, were reported by Kesselring as having been taken into custody under threat of shooting within 48 hours, some German colonel having been captured by bandits (UK-66, GB 274; D-39, GB 275).
The men directly implicated in these brutalities are Goering, Ribbentrop, Keitel, Jodl, and Kaltenbrunner, but who can doubt that every man in that dock knew of the orders and of the way in which the German Armed Forces were being taught to murder men, women and children, and were doing so throughout the length and breadth of Europe ? Raeder, who says he disapproved of this sort of policy in Norway, states that he tried to dissuade Hitler, yet he continued to hold his post and to lend his name to the regime under which these things were being done.
I pass on to matters with which he, and Doenitz were more immediately responsible. The conduct of the war at sea reveals exactly the same pattern of utter disregard for law and for decency. There can seldom have been an occasion when the minds of two naval commanders have been so clearly read from their documents as those of the defendants Raeder and Doenitz that can be read in the present case.
As early as the 3rd September 1939 the German Navy, in a memorandum to the Foreign Office, were seeking agreement to a policy of sinking without warning both enemy and neutral merchant ships in disregard of the London Submarine Rules, their own Prize Ordinance and of International Law. A series of docu-ments during the following six weeks reveals constant pressure on the Foreign Office by Raeder to consent to this policy.
On the 16th October 1939 Raeder produced a memorandum on the intensification of naval war against England. In this document, having proclaimed the “utmost ruthlessness” as necessary and the intention to destroy Britain's fighting spirit within the shortest possible time, Raeder went on to say (D-857, GB 471):
“The principal target is the merchant ship, not only the enemy's but in general every merchant ship which sails the seas in order to supply the enemy's war industry both for imports and exports.” (UK-65, GB 224)
It is that document which contains the infamous passage:
"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 war which is effective in breaking enemy resistance should be used on some legal conception, even if this entails the creation of a new code of naval warfare."
In another memorandum on the 30th December he went on to urge further intensification, particularly with regard to neutrals (C-100, GB 463):
“Without binding ourselves to any conceptions of warning," and he suggested that as they were going to invade neutral States it really did not matter if they went a little far at sea.
“The intensified measures of the war at sea will in their political effect only play a small part in the general intensification of the war.”
You will have noted that these memoranda on the conduct of the war at sea echo the High Command's view on the future war which had been written eighteen months earlier (L-211, GB 161):
“The normal rules of war towards neutral nations may be considered to apply only on the basis of whether the operation of these rules will create greater advantages or disadvantages for the warring nations.”
Was that a mere coincidence: At all events, such was the pattern laid down by Raeder and followed by Doenitz. From the very first the Naval War Staff never had any intention of observing the laws of war at sea.
The defense that the sinking of Allied merchant ships without warning was justified by Allied measures is as untenable as the suggestion that the sinking at sight of neutral merchant ships was preceded by warning which complied with the requirements of International Law. You have seen the very vague and general warnings given to the neutrals and the memorandum of the Naval War Staff revealing that these were deliberately given in the most general terms because Raeder knew that the action he intended against neutrals was utterly illegal. I need not remind you of the document which suggests that orders should be given by word of mouth and a false entry made in the log book, the very practice followed in the case of the “Athenia," or of the entries in Raeder's own war diary revealing that carefully selected neutrals should be sunk wherever the use of electric torpedoes might enable the Germans to maintain that the ship had really struck a mine. You have confirmation in the bland denials prepared by Raeder to answer the protests of the Norwegian and Greek Governments on the sinking of the "Thomas Walton” and “Garufalia” and the reluctant admission in the case of the "Deptford," all three ships sunk in December 1939 by the same U-boat. Nothing reveals more of the cynicism or opportunism with which Raeder and Doenitz treated International Law than the contrast between their attitude towards the sinking of a Spanish ship in 1940 and that in September 1942. In 1940 Spain did not matter to Germany; in 1942 she did.
Details with regard to the various successive measures taken in the course of putting into effect the policy of sink at sight do not require recapitulation but there are two features of the conduct of naval warfare by these two defendants which I emphasize. First, they continued to put out to the world that they were obeying the London Rules and their own Prize Ordinance. The reason for that appears in Raeder's memorandum of the 30th December 1939 where he says (C-100, GB 463):
“A public announcement of intensified measures for the war at sea must be urgently advised against in order not to burden the Navy again in the eyes of history with the odium of unrestricted U-boat warfare.”
And that, you see, is the common plan—the very argument put forward by Jodl and Doenitz in February 1945, in favour of simply breaking the regulations of the Geneva Convention rather than announcing Germany's renunciation of it to the world. And here, once again, is the doctrine of military expediency: If it will pay Germany to break a particular law she is entirely justified in breaking it, provided always it can be done in such a way as to avoid detection and the condemnation of world opinion (D-606, GB 492).
It must not be thought that in initiating this policy of sink at sight and in disregarding the rules of the war at sea Raeder was any more drastic than Doenitz. In his defense Doenitz made a great effort to explain away his order of 17th September, 1942. I ask the Tribunal to remember its terms:
"No attempt of any kind must be made at rescuing members of ships sunk
Rescue runs counter to the rudimentary demands of warfare for the destruction of enemy
ships and crews." (D-630, GB 199) His diary entry of the same date, which confirms that order, starts:
“The attention of all C.O.'s is again drawn to the fact that all efforts to rescue
run counter to the rudimentary demands of warfare
Well, the defendant denied that this means that crews were to be destroyed or annihilated. But the previous history makes it abundantly clear that this was an invitation to U-boat commanders to destroy the crews of ship-wrecked merchantmen, while preserving an argument for Doenitz to make, should—as has indeed happened—occasion arise. That, after all, was the pattern laid down by Hitler when on the 3rd January 1942, he told Oshima that (D-423, GB 197):