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Erich Raeder was born in 1876 and joined the German Navy in 1896. By 1915 he had become commander of the Cruiser Koeln. In 1928 he became an admiral, Chief of Naval Command, and head of the German Navy. In 1935 he became Commanderin-Chief of the Navy. In 1936 he became General Admiral, a creation of Hitler's, on his forty-seventh birthday. In 1937 he received the golden badge of honor of the Nazi Party. In 1938 he became a member of the Secret Cabinet Council. In 1939 he was made Grand Admiral, a rank created by Hitler, who presented Raeder with a marshal's baton. In 1943 he became Admiral Inspector of the German Navy, which was a kind of retirement into oblivion, since after January 1943 Doenitz was the effective commander of the German Navy. (2888-PS)
B. RAEDER'S PART IN THE CONSPIRACY TO PLAN AND WAGE WARS OF AGGRESSION.
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 of Raeder.
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 and E-Boat building to the creation of secret intelligence and finance organizations. Raeder's role in these developments are described as follows:
"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 Treaty." (C-156)
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 Mobilization.
"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 aim."
"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 conflict.
"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. (C-135)
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 of 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 150,000,000 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 manufacturers. (C-29)
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's, which is marked with both self-justification and apology, reads:
"The most outstanding of the numerous subjects of discus-