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Therefore it is held to be essential to obtain the opinion of the Army as to the conditions under which an occupation of this area could be carried out and how long it would take, and in this case it would be necessary to reassess the commitment
against Great Britain.” (375-PS) It was apparently assumed by the staff officer who prepared this document, and assumed quite rightly, that the leaders of the German nation and the High Command would not pay the smallest attention to the fact that Germany had given her word not to invade Holland or Belgium. It was recommended as a militarily advantageous thing to do, with the knowledge that, if the commanders and the Fuehrer agreed with that view, treaties would be completely ignored. Such was the honor of the German Government and of its leaders.
In March of 1939, the remainder of Czechoslovakia had been peacefully annexed, and the time had come for further guarantees. Assurances which were accordingly given to Belgium and the Netherlands on the 28th of April 1939 (TC-30). A guarantee was also made to Luxembourg in a speech by Hitler in the Reichstag, in which he dealt with a communication from Mr. Roosevelt, who was feeling a little uneasy as to Hitler's intentions (TC-42A). In “The Nazi Plan," a motion picture shown to the Tribunal by the American prosecution (3054-PS), the delivery by Hitler of this part of this speech was shown. Hitler appeared in one of his jocular moods, as his words were greeted and delivered in a jocular vein. The film shows that Goering, who sits above Hitler in the Reichstag, appreciated very much the joke, the joke being this: That it is an absurd suggestion to make that Germany could possibly go to war with any of its neighbors. In this speech Hitler declared:
"Finally Mr. Roosevelt demands the readiness to give him an
the result of a demarche by them or at least with their con-
of me in his peculiar telegram.” (TC-42-A) Although that is sneering at Mr. Roosevelt, it is suggesting in the presence, among others, of Goering, as being quite absurd that Germany should nurture any warlike feeling against its neighbors. The hollow falsity of that declaration and of the preceding guarantee is shown by the minutes of Hitler's conference of the 23rd of May (L-79). The first page shows that those present included the Fuehrer, Goering, Raeder, von Brauchitsch, Keitel, Warlimont (Jodl's deputy), and various others. The purpose of the conference was an analysis of the situation, which proceeded in this fashion:
“What will this struggle be like?”'
"The Dutch and Belgian air bases must be occupied by armed force. Declarations of neutrality must be ignored.”
"Therefore, if England intends to intervene in the Polish war, we must occupy Holland with lightning speed. We must aim at securing a new defense line on Dutch soil up to the
Zuider Zee." (L-79) In Hitler's speech on 22 August, the following passage occurred:
“Attack from the West from the Maginot Line: I consider
trality of these countries.” (798-PS) Nevertheless, a further assurance was given by the Ambassador of Germany to the Belgian Government:
"In view of the gravity of the international situation, I am
expressly instructed by the Head of the German Reich to
conformity with the new situation thus created.” (TC-36) It seems likely that the decision having been made to violate Belgian neutrality, those last words were put in to afford some excuse in the future.
A similar document assurance was communicated to Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands on the same day, 26 August 1939 (TC-40). Likewise assurances were given to Luxembourg at the same time. It is in the same terms as the other two assurances, and amounts to a complete guarantee with the sting in the tail (TC-42). Poland was occupied by means of a lightning victory, and in October 1939 German armed forces were free for other tasks. The first step that was taken, so far as the Netherlands and Belgium are concerned, was a German assurance on 6 October 1939, as follows:
considered in Belgium as a threat." (TC-32) A similar assurance was made to the Netherlands on the same day:
“The new Reich has endeavored to continue the traditional
friendship with Holland. It has not taken over any existing differences between the two countries and has not created
any new ones.” (TC-32) The value of these pledges of Germany's good faith is shown by an order issued on the very next day, 7 October. This order was from the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Von Brauchitsch, and was addressed to various Army Groups. The third paragraph provided :
“The Dutch Border between Ems and Rhine is to be observed only. “At the same time, Army Group B has to make all preparations according to special orders, for immediate invasion of Dutch and Belgian territory, if the political situation so demands." (2329-PS) Two days later, on 9 October, Hitler directed that:
"Preparations should be made for offensive action on the northern flank of the Western Front crossing the area of Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland. This attack must be carried out as soon and as forcefully as possible.
“The object of this attack is to acquire as great an area of
Holland, Belgium and Northern France as possible." (C-62) That document is signed by Hitler himself. It is addressed to the Supreme Commander of the Army, Keitel; Navy, Raeder; and Air Minister and Commander in Chief of the Air Force, Goering. On 15 October 1939, a supplementary order was issued from the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. It was signed by Keitel in his familiar red pencil signature, and was addressed to Raeder, Goering, and the General Staff of the Army. It declared, in part:
“It must be the object of the Army's preparations, therefore, to occupy-on receipt of a special order—the territory of Holland, in the first instance as far as the Grebbe-Maas line."
(C-62) The second paragraph deals with the taking possession of the West Frisian islands.
It is clear that from that moment the decision to violate the neutrality of these three countries had been made. All that remained was to work out the details, to wait until the weather became favorable, and in the meantime, to give no hint that Germany's word was about to be broken again. Otherwise, these small countries might have had some chance of combining with themselves and their neighbors.
Another Keitel directive, again sent to the Supreme Commanders of the Army, Navy, and Air Forces, gives details of how the attack is to be carried out. The following are pertinent passages:
"Contrary to previously issued instructions, all action in-
“Wherever there is no resistance, the entry should carry the character of a peaceful occupation.”
“At first the Dutch area, including the West-Frisian islands
the Albert Canal" (in Belgium) “has been assured.” (440-PS) In addition to Belgium and Holland, the document, in paragraph (5) and (6) (b) mentions Luxembourg. The signature of Keitel is typed. It is authenticated by a staff officer.
A later order of 28 November 1939, over the signature of Keitel, in the usual red pencil, is addressed to the Army, Navy, and Airforce. It states that if a quick break-through should fail north of Liege, other machinery for carrying out the attack will be used. Paragraph 2 shows clearly that the Netherlands is to be violated. It speaks of “The occupation of Walcheren Island and thereby Flushing harbor, or of some other southern Dutch island especially valuable for our sea and air warfare," and "b Taking of one or more Maas crossings between Namur and Dinant
*." (C-10) From November until March of 1940 the High Command and the Fuehrer were waiting for favorable weather before A-Day, as they called it. That referred to the attack on Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. The successive postponements are shown in a series of orders which range in date from 7 November 1939 until 9 May 1940, and which are all signed either by Keitel or by Jodl. (C-72)
On 10 January 1940, a German airplane made a forced landing in Belgium. The occupants endeavored to burn the orders of which they were in possession, but they were only partially successful. Among the papers which were captured is an order to the Commander of the Second Army Group, Air Force GroupLuftflotte—the Second Air Force Fleet, clearly for offensive action against France, Holland, and Belgium. It deals with the dis