The PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, the Tribunal is much obliged to you for presenting your argument now.
Dr. NELTE: Mr. President, I will begin the presentation of the case for Keitel by asking you to summon the defendant to the witness stand, and I shall question him. The documents which I will use in this interrogation were submitted with a list yesterday. I hope that those documents are at your disposal so that you will be able to follow my questions in a manner which is desirable in the interest of a smoothly conducted interrogation.
The PRESIDENT:Then you will call the Defendant Keitel?
Dr NELTE: Yes.
(The Defendant Keitel took the stand.]
The PRESIDENT: Will you state your full name?
WILHELM KEITEL (Defendant): Wilhelm Keitel.
The PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: I swear by God - the Almighty and Omniscient - that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing. (The defendant repeated the oath in German.)
The PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish
Dr. NELTE: Please describe your military career briefly.
KEITEL: In the year 1901, in the beginning of March, I became an officer candidate in an artillery regiment of the Prussian Army. At the beginning of the first World War, in 1914, 1 was the regimental adjutant of my regiment. I was wounded in September 1914, and in the beginning of November I became chief of a battalion of my regiment. Since the spring of 1915 I served in various general staff capacities, first with higher commands of the field army, later as a general staff officer of a division. Towards the end I was the first general staff officer of the Naval Corps in Flanders. Then I joined the Reichswehr as a volunteer. Beginning with the year 1929 I was Division Head (Abteilungsleiter) of the Army Organization Division in the Reichswehrministerium. After an Interruption from 1933 to 1935 I became, on 1 October 1935, Chief of the Wehrmacht Department (Wehrmachtsamt) of the Reichskriegsminister, that is Chief of Staff with the Minister of War. While on active service I became Generalmajor. At that time I was chief of an infantry Brigade. On 4 February 1938 to my surprise I was appointed Chief of Staff of the Führer, or Chief of the OKW - Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. On 1 October 1939, I became General of the Infantry and after the campaign in the West in 1940 I became Field Marshall.
Dr. NELTE: Were you a member of the National Socialist German Labor Party?
KEITEL: No, I was not a member. According to military law I could not be or become a member.
Dr. NELTE: But you received the Golden Party Badge. For what reason?
KEITEL: That is correct. Hitler presented this Golden Badge of the Party to me in April 1939, at the same time that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General Von Brauchitsch, received it. The Führer said it was to be in commemoration of the march into Czechoslovakia. The Golden Badge had "16 and 17 March" engraved on it.
Dr. NELTE: In the year 1944 the Military Service Law was changed so that active soldiers could also become members of the Party. What did you do at that time?
KEITEL: That is correct. In the late summer or autumn of 1944 the Military Service Law was changed so that active soldiers could also be Party members. At that time I was invited to submit personal data for the Party in order to be listed as a member of the Party. At the same time I was asked to send in a donation of money to the Party. I submitted personal data to Party headquarters and also sent in a donation, but as far as I know I never became a member. I never received a membership card.
Dr. NELTE: To what extent did you participate at Party functions?
KEITEL: Owing to my position and to the fact that I accompanied the Führer constantly, I participated at public functions of the Party several times, for example, at the Party rallies in Nuremberg, also each year when the Winter Relief Work campaign was launched. Finally, according to orders, each year at the 9th of November, I had to attend, together with a representative of the Party a memorial service at the graves of the victims of 9 November 1923. It took place symbolically in memory of the fight an 9 November between the Party and the Wehrmacht. I never participated in internal conferences or meetings of the Party directorate. The Führer had let me know that he did not want this. Thus, for example, every year an 9 November I was in Munich, but never participated in the gatherings of the so-called Hoheitsträger (bearers of power) of the Party.
Dr. NELTE: What decorations did you receive during the war?
KEITEL: As a German officer, I naturally consider it my duty to answer for what I have done, even if it should have been wrong. I am grateful that I am being given the opportunity to give account here and before the German people of what I was and my participation in the events which have taken place. It will not always be possible to separate clearly guilt and entanglement in the threads of destiny. But I do consider one thing impossible that the men in the front lines and the leaders and the sub leaders at the front should be charged with the guilt, while the highest leaders reject responsibility. That, in my opinion, is wrong and I consider it unworthy. I am convinced that the large mass of our brave soldiers were really decent, and that wherever they overstepped the bounds of acceptable behavior, our soldiers acted in good faith believing in military necessity, and the orders which they received
Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution, in presenting evidence regarding violations of the laws of war, Crimes against Humanity, repeatedly point to letters, orders, et cetera, which bear your name. Many called Keitel orders and Keitel decrees, have been submitted here. Now we have to examine whether and to what degree you and you actions are guilty of and responsible for the results of these orders. What do you wish to say to this general accusation?
KEITEL: It is correct that there are a large number of orders, instructions and directives with which my name is connected, and it must also be admitted that such orders often contain deviation from existing international law. On the other hand, there are group of directives and orders based not an military Inspiration but on an ideological foundation and point of view. In this connection I am thinking of the group of directives which were issued before the campaign against the Soviet Union and also which were issued subsequently.
Dr. NELTE: What can you say in your defense in regard to those orders?
KEITEL: I can say only that fundamentally I bear that responsibility which arises from my position for all those things which resulted from these orders and which are connected with my name and my signature. Further, I bear the responsibility, insofar as it is based on legal and moral principles, for those Offices and division of the OKW which were subordinate to me.
Dr. NELTE: From what may your official position and the scope of your legal responsibility be inferred?
KEITEL: That is contained in the Führer's decree of 4 February 1938 which has been frequently cited.
Dr. NELTE: I am submitting this decree to you so that you car have the text before you. In this Führer decree, Paragraph 1, you will find: "From now on I will directly and personally take over the Supreme Command of the entire Wehrmacht." What did that mean compared with the conditions that have existed until then?
KEITEL: During the war- it must have been in the winter of 1939-1940, I received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. I did not receive any other German war decorations.
Dr. NELTE: Do you have any sons?
KEITEL: I had three sons, all of whom served at the front as officers during this war. The youngest one died in battle in Russia in 1941. The second was a major in Russia and has been missing in action and the eldest son, who was a major, is a prisoner-of-war
Dr. NELTE: Field Marshal Keitel, beginning with essential matters, I would like to put the following basic questions to you: What basic attitude did you, as a soldier, an officer and a general, have toward the problems with which you had to deal in your profession
KEITEL: I can say that I was a soldier by inclination and conviction. For more than 44 years without Interruption I served my country and my people as a soldier and I tried to do my best in the service of my profession. I believed that I should do this as a matter of duty, laboring unceasingly and giving myself completely to those tasks which fell to me in my many and diverse positions. I did this with the same devotion under the Kaiser, under President Ebert, under Field Marshal Von Hindenburg, and under the Führer Adolf Hitler.
Dr. NELTE: What is your attitude today?
KEITEL: Until that time we had a Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Field Marshal Von Blomberg. In addition there was the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht who, according to the Constitution, was the head of the State - in this case, Hitler. With the resignation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Von Blomberg, there was only one Supreme Commander and that was Hitler himself. And from that time on he himself exercised command of all three arms of the Wehrmacht: The Army, Navy, and Air Force. It also says "from now and directly." That should establish unequivocally that any intermediary position with authority to issue orders was no longer to exist, but that Hitler's order as Supreme Commander were issued directly to the three arms of the Wehrmacht and their Commanders. It also says here "directly and "personally." That, too, had its meaning, for the word "personally" was to express the fact that there was no and would be no I would say, "deputizing" of this authority.
Dr. NELTE: I assume therefore that you never signed your orders "acting for"?
KEITEL: No, I do not remember a single instance in which I signed "acting for." According to our military principles, if the question had arisen to appoint a deputy, it could have been only one person, the Commander-in-Chief of the three arms of the Wehrmacht, namely the one highest in rank.
Dr NELTE: In Paragraph 2 of the decree of 4 February 193 it says: "... the former Wehrmacht Office in the Ministry of War, with its functions, is placed directly under my command as OKW and as my military staff." What does this signify in regard to the staff which was thereby formed?
KEITEL: The Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht had his military staff in the Wehrmachtsamt, that is to say, the Wehrmachtsamt in the Ministry of War. Hitler, as Supreme Commander took over the Wehrmachtsamt as his military staff. Thus, this staff was to be his personal working staff. At the same time that the post of Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht was eliminated, that of Reich Minister of War was also removed. There was no War Ministry and no Minister of War as heretofore. Thus one could clearly see what Hitler wanted, namely, that between him and the Wehrmacht divisions there was to be no one holding office with any authority either in command channels or in ministerial functions.
Dr. NELTE: When this decree was issued you were installed as holder of a new office with the title of "Chief OKW." Will you please clarify whether this term "Chief OKW" is correct; that whether it really was what the title seems to indicate.
KEITEL: I must add that I realize only now that this term in its abbreviated form is not quite apt. To be exact one should have said, "Chief of Staff of the High Command of the Wehrmacht," and not the abbreviation, "Chief OKW." From the case presented by the Prosecution I gathered that the idea of "Chief" was interpreted as if that were a Commander, chief of an office, with authority to issue orders. And that, of course, is an erroneous conclusion. It was neither a position of a chief in the sense of a commander, nor, as might have been assumed or has been assumed, was it a position as chief of a general staff. That too, is incorrect. I was never Chief of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht. It was Hitler's unmistakable wish to concentrate in his own person all the authority, all powers of command. That is not merely a retrospective statement. He clearly expressed this desire to me on several occasions, partly in connection with the fact that he told me repeatedly, "I could never put this through with Blomberg."
Dr. NELTE: I have here a statement made by Field Marshal von Brauchitsch and submitted by the Prosecution. KEITEL: Perhaps I might add something further. I was discussing the fact that it was not a position of Chief of the General Staff, since it was Hitler's basic view that Commanders-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht branches each had his own general staff, or operations staff, and that he did not want the High Command of the Wehrmacht, including the Wehrmacht Operations Staff, to take on the functions of a general staff. Therefore, in practice the work was done by the general staffs of the Wehrmacht branches, while the Wehrmacht Operations Staff of the OKW, which was purposely kept small, was a working staff for Hitler, a staff for strategic planning and for special missions.
Dr. NELTE: Then Field Marshal Von Brauchitsch's statement his affidavit, of which I have already spoken, is correct? It says here:
The PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, although the Tribunal did say that they would hear Dr. Horn at 2 o'clock, they would not wish to interrupt the examination of the Defendant Keitel if you prefer to go on with that now. It is a matter for you to consider whichever you like.
Dr. NELTE: Dr. Horn agrees that I continue the interrogation of Keitel now.
The PRESIDENT: Very well.
Mr. DODD: If it please the Tribunal, for the assistance of the Tribunal I have ascertained that the first Halder affidavit, referred to this morning by Dr. Nelte, was introduced as Exhibit USA-53 (Document Number 3702-PS) on 4 January, by Colonel Taylor; and the second Halder affidavit referred to by Dr. Nelte was introduced as Exhibit USA-533 (Document Number 3707-PS) on 5 January, by Colonel Taylor.
The PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Dr. NELTE: Mr. President, Mr. Dodd was kind enough to put at my disposal a number of copies of the pamphlet, "Principles of Organization of the German Armed Forces" so that I can submit them to the Tribunal. I do so now. (Turning to the defendant.) You last explained that on 4 February, 1938, part of the authority of the War Ministry was transferred to branches of the Armed Forces, and part to the High Command of the Wehrmacht. In the decree which has been mentioned it says concerning this matter: "The OKW at the same time is taking care of the affairs of the Reichs War Ministry. The Chief of the OKW, on my orders will exercise the authority which the Reichsminister of War had heretofore."
Tell me briefly to which fields this applied. I myself will submit to the Tribunal a diagram which has already been sent to the Translation Division for translation. I do not know, however, if the Tribunal already has the translation.
KEITEL: The ministerial functions actually transferred to the OKW were executed by a number of offices. I shall name the more important now, indicating their functions. First of all, a few words about the Wehrmacht Operations Staff, (Wehrmachtführungsstab) which, being an office of the OKW, was subordinated to it in the same way as the other offices of the OKW were, but which was on a higher level than the other offices. As the name implies, the Wehrmacht Operations Staff was an organ of the Führer's High Command with which he frequently - I might say, mostly -collaborated personally. It had no ministerial power.
Then there was the General Armed Forces Office (Allgemeine Wehrmachtsamt) which took care mainly of ministerial and administrative questions. One could almost call it a war ministry on a small scale.
Then the Office of Counter-intelligence Service (Amt Ausland Abwehr), which was to a large extent ministerial but to some degree an aid in operational questions.
Then the Economic Armament Office, in regard to which I might point out that in the year 1940 this office was dissolved and only a small Defense Economy Office (Wehrwirtschaftsamt) remained, which was mainly concerned with questions of supply of all consumer goods needed by the Armed Forces, such as fuel, coal, gasoline et cetera and which I need not mention further.
Then an important field of activity: Replacements Administration for the entire Armed Forces, or abbreviated Recruiting, a central office which was designed mostly to take care of personnel questions within the OKW.
Then the Legal Administration, the Budget Department, and a number of other Offices which it is not necessary to enumerate.
In these offices the ministerial functions of the OKW were carried out. I would like.. .
The PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, I think the Tribunal has followed the distinction which the defendant has made between the General Staff for the High Commands and the position of the OKW; but is it necessary for the Tribunal to go into all these details?
Dr. NELTE: I had finished dealing with this section.
The PRESIDENT: Very well.
Dr. NELTE: I want to put just one more ...
The PRESIDENT: Before you pass from this document that you have just put before the Tribunal, this diagram, are you desiring to make an exhibit of that?
Dr. NELTE: I would like to submit it in evidence. You will also be given a translation.
The PRESIDENT: If so, what number will you give it? You must number all your exhibits.
Dr. NELTE: Please number it Keitel-1(a).
The PRESIDENT: Who prepared it?
Dr. NELTE: We prepared it and the technical division of the Prosecution has reproduced it. The Prosecution also are in possession of the diagram.
The PRESIDENT: Have you asked the defendant to confirm it: it is correct?
Dr. NELTE: Field Marshal, would you please look at this diagram and confirm whether it is correct?
KEITEL: Yes, I recognize the diagram ...
GEN. RUDENKO: Mr. President, the Prosecution have not received this diagram. Therefore, the Prosecution would like, before making conclusions, to acquaint themselves with this diagram.
The PRESIDENT: Have you got any more copies of. it, Dr. Nelte?
Dr. NELTE: They can be obtained and distributed right away. Then I would like the Tribunal to reserve its decision until diagrams have been submitted in sufficient numbers.
KEITEL: I recognize this diagram as correct. It does not contain the minor changes which occurred from the time of the creation the OKW up to the time which I have mentioned, changes brought about by the reorganization of the armament ministries, et cetera but it shows the manner in which it actually worked during the last years.
The PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Nelte.
Dr. NELTE: In order to terminate this group of question: I would like to say the following: Is it correct that according to this, all the Keitel orders, Keitel decrees, which have been submitted by the Prosecution, were in reality Führer orders, that is to say, orders which were the expression of Hitler's will, based on his instructions and commands?
KEITEL: Yes, that is the correct definition of the summary of testimony I have given. I would like to state again in summarizing that, as I have stated from the beginning, I assume and have assumed responsibility for these orders insofar as they are connected with my name, for the position was this: I, of course, knew the contents of these orders which I executed. I recognize my signature of course in the documents which have been submitted to me and therefore I accept the documents as authentic. I may add that insofar as I had military or other objections to the orders, I naturally expressed them very forcibly and that I endeavored to prevent orders being given which I considered controversial. But I must state in all truth that if the decision had been finally made by Hitler I then issued these orders and transmitted them, I might almost say without checking them in any way.
Dr. NELTE: Mr. President, before I enter upon the next phase of my questions I should like to state the following:
The Prosecution have deduced Keitel's participation in the many crimes which have been described here from various facts, facts which cannot always be connected with each other and made to agree. The Prosecution have stated that he was a powerful and important staff officer. That is set out in the Indictment. The Prosecution stated that he was a tool without a will of his own and that the relation between himself and Hitler was an intimate one.
You will understand that if the defendant wants to clarify or protest against these things he must explain the relation between himself and Hitler.
The PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, that is what the defendant has been doing. He has been explaining his relationship to Hitler, and if you want to elucidate it further you must ask him further questions.
Dr. NELTE: I only wanted to let him speak about the private relation to Hitler. So far we have been concerned only with the official relation. (Turning to the defendant.) Would you please tell us something about the co-operation between you and Hitler? I ask you to be as brief as possible and tell us only the most necessary facts, but at same time give us a correct picture.
KEITEL: The co-operation can be characterized only as between a high military superior and his subordinate. In other words, the same relations as I have always had in my military career with the senior officers of whose staff I was a member. The relation between Hitler and myself never departed from this strict military and soldierly relationship. Of course, it was my right and my duty to express my opinions. How difficult that was can be judged only by someone who knows that Hitler, after a few words was wont to take over the entire discussion and to exhaust the subject entirely from his point of view. It was then very difficult of course, to come back to the subject again. I may say that due my various positions in high staff offices I was quite used to deal with the superior commanders, if I may use that expression. However, I was quite unaccustomed to the conditions which I encountered here. They surprised me, and not infrequently they reduced me to a state of real uncertainty. That can be understood if one knows that Hitler, in soldiering or military questions, if I were to express myself very cautiously, was a man with far reaching plans for reform with which I, with my 37 years of service a soldier of the old school, was confronted.
Dr. NELTE: Was it the same during the war or do you refer to the time before the war?
KEITEL: During the war these controversies were moderated by the events, so that actuality was strongly influenced by the urgency of the situation. Therefore, these things did not appear in that form
On the other hand, the position then was that Hitler in his discussions about the situation had a comparatively large circle of about 20 people assembled around him, and speaking in military terms, unsparingly made his accusations - objections and criticism - directed, as a rule, at people who were not present. I took the part of the absent person as a matter of principle, because he could not defend himself. The result was that the accusations and criticism were then aimed at me, and my training as a soldier finally forced me to control myself, because it is unseemly to answer back or oppose or to attempt to contradict a superior before very low subordinates, such as those who were present. Opposition to a superior or to personalities, no matter what their rank, was unbearable to the Führer. One could then attempt to speak to him about these things only in private.
Dr. NELTE: Had you the feeling that you had Hitler's confidence?
KEITEL: I could not say yes. I must frankly admit that Hitler's confidence in me was not without reservations, and today I know only too well that there were many things concerning which he has never spoken frankly to me and about which he never took me in his confidence. It was a fact that Hitler was very suspicious of the old or elderly generals. For him they were products of an old and antiquated school and in this sense he was to us old soldiers a man who brought new revolutionary ideas into the Wehrmacht and wished to incorporate them into Wehrmacht training. This frequently led to serious crises. I believe I do not have to elaborate on that. The real evil, however, was that this lack of confidence led him to believe that I was in conspiracy with the Army generals behind his back and that I supported them against him. Perhaps that was a result of my habit of defending them because they could not defend themselves. At various instances that led to extremely acute and serious crises.
DR. NELTE: Much will depend upon stating how your co-operation with Hitler has to be valued, particularly to what extent you could be considered his collaborator or adviser. Will you tell me whether Hitler discussed his plans with you in the manner which is customary in close collaboration?
KEITEL: In general I must deny that. It was not in any way in keeping with Hitler's peculiar disposition and personality to have advisers of that kind, that is, if you call an adviser someone who gives advice in the sense of presenting, let us say, a great number military elements from long experience as an officer, but not in the sense of an adviser to help to formulate a decision, such far-reaching decisions which are doubtlessly meant here. On principle, such a decision was preceded by weeks or months of careful consideration.
During that time one had to assist by procuring documents, but concerning the main point, the decision itself, he did not brook any influence. Therefore, strange as it may sound, the final answer always was: "This is my decision and it is unalterable." That was the announcement of his decision.
Dr. NELTE: But if various departments were competent for these decisions, were there no general conferences?
KEITEL: No. I cannot recall that any one of the really important decisions after the year 1938 had ever been formulated as the result of joint counsel for instance between the politicians, the soldiers or other ministers, because it was Adolf Hitler's own way to speak privately as a rule, to each department and each department chief to learn from him what he wanted to know and then to find out some element that could be used in the elaboration of his plans. Things were not at all as would appear from the documents here or minutes of conferences of generals, of meetings and similar thing with a list of those present. Never did such a meeting have the character of a deliberation. There could be no question of that. Rather, the Führer had a certain idea, and if for various reasons he thought that we opposed that idea even inwardly, he used that as a reason to clarify his thoughts before a large circle without a discussion. In other words, in these assemblies, which the document here speak of as conferences, there was never any deliberation. I must add that even the external form which these things took was such that, following the military example, the senior commander convened a certain number of generals, everyone was seated, the Führer arrived, spoke and went out. No one in such a situation could have found an opening to say anything. To use just one word for it, and I certainly do not exaggerate, it was the issuing of a order but not a conference.
Dr. NELTE: To come to a different subject, the Prosecution have asserted that you had been a member of the Reichsgovernment What do you have to say about that?
KEITEL: I never belonged to the Reichsgovernment and I was also never a member of the Cabinet. I must also state that I never became a minister, but as is stated in the decree of 1938, "he has the rank of a Reichsminister," not "he is Reichsminister." The expression "minister" is, of course, simply intended to indicate the rank of minister and there was a good reason for that. I need point out only what I said this morning: It was not intended that there should be anyone holding an office with the authority of a minister between Hitler and the Wehrmacht, and the branches of the Wehrmacht must clarify the question which has been frequently raised by the Prosecution that "He had the rank of a minister," by saying that before the decree was issued, I asked whether I was to deal with the state secretaries or with the ministers, and Hitler said, "If on my orders you deal with other ministers of the Reichs, then, of course you can do so only with the rank of a minister, not on the level of a state secretary.
That is the explanation of the expression in the decree "He has the rank of a Reichsminister."
Dr. NELTE: Did you, in the headquarters have any conferences with other important and competent personalities, such as Von Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, Speer, Sauckel, et cetera?
KEITEL: Ministers or special plenipotentiaries visited headquarters according to a plan which very seldom led to the simultaneous presence of several of them. Generally, it was carefully arranged so that a special time was set aside for each one. As a rule, I was of course informed that "the Foreign Minister is here" "Minister Speer is here" or the "Plenipotentiary General of Allocation of Labor Sauckel is here." However, I was called only in regard to purely military questions which the Führer discussed with these gentlemen in private and I could give instances of this. However, as has already been mentioned recently, during the interrogation of State Secretary Steengracht, it would be false to believe that these gentlemen who came to headquarters form a small or select cabinet. Hitler dealt with each of these officials and functionaries separately, gave him his orders, and then dismissed him. It sometimes happened that on the way home, these gentlemen visited me, mostly to ask me about small questions and small favors which I could do for them or with instructions to inform me about a decision or with the order to forward a decision to those military offices which had to be notified.
Dr. NELTE: In concluding, I would like to know whether the expression "intimate" which is contained in the Indictment, is correct in order to describe the relations between you and Hitler, privately or officially?
KEITEL: I found the ward "intimate" in the Indictment and asked myself the question, where does this conception originate. To be quite frank, I have but one answer for it, that is that no one ever heard a single Word from me about the actual and constant difficulties that I had. I deliberately kept quiet about them. Intimate relations are, according to my definition of "intimate" - I do not know if in the English translation "intimate" expresses the same thing which we call "intim"-relations where there is confidence and frank discussion and these did not exist. I have already characterized it. Intimacy was not Hitler's attitude towards the generals, to whose senior generation I also belonged. Apart from the very formal intercourse which sometimes lasted for weeks and in which even the external forms were hardly observed - I do not want to discuss this in detail here -the relation never reached a point where it could be classified as that of a close adviser or a close collaborator as I conceived it in my Army staff positions. I must that for my part I have been faithful and loyal and I always fulfill my duties in that manner. However, I must also say that a sincere and personal relation based upon mutual understanding and confidence never existed. It has always been correct, but it was military and official, and never went beyond that.
Dr. NELTE: By the decree of 4 February 1938 a Secret Cabinet Council was established. According to the contents of that decree, you are supposed to have been a member of the Cabinet Council In order to save time, I merely wish to ask you: Do you confirm from your own knowledge the statement made by Reichs Marshall Göring that the Secret Cabinet Council was established only for appearance and that a Secret Cabinet Council was never constituted and that it never had a session?
KEITEL: I can answer only, Yes, never.
Dr. NELTE: I come now to the question of the Reichs Defense Council (Reichsverteidigungsrat). In the session of 23 November, the Prosecutor submitted in evidence, as proof of the rearmament and the active participation of the Wehrmacht in the planning of war aggression, among others: Document EC-177, which was designated as "Meeting of Reichs Defense Council of 22 May 1933." I must say that I have taken the translation from the minutes and I am not sure whether the expression "Reichsverteidigungsrat" was translated correctly. In the minutes it states that it is a meeting of the working committee. For your Information may I say that the Reichsverteidigungsrat is supposed to be a sort of ministerial body and that in addition, there was a working committee.
A second document, EC-405, was submitted concerning a meeting of the same body on 7 March 1934; and a third document, 2261-PS,¬dealing with the Reichs Defense Law of 1935 and the simultaneous appointment of Dr. Schacht as Plenipotentiary General for Economy.
Beyond doubt, you have been active in questions of national defense. These documents are also submitted as evidence against you. I ask you therefore, to state whether these meetings in which you participated and which you conducted, were concerned with preparations for war and rearmament.
KEITEL: From the very beginning, as long as we were working on these things and by means of a committee of experts from which everything else evolved, I personally participated in these matters and I may call myself the founder of that committee of ministerial experts which was set up to co-operate with the War Ministry. Chief of the Organizational Department of the Army, in the winter of 1929 and 1930, that is, 3 years before Hitler came to power. I formed and personally assembled that committee after the Chancellor - I believe it was Brüning - and the Prussian and Reichsminister of the Interior Severing had consented to it. I would like to add that a representative of Minister Severing was always present to make sure that nothing took place which would have been in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. This work was very difficult because no Reichsminister and no department head was officially obliged to carry out the wishes of the National Ministry of Defense: this was purely voluntary. Consequently, the work went along haltingly and slowly. In this committee of experts which met perhaps 2 or 3 times a year, we dealt with, if I may put it briefly, what assistance the Civilian Department could render, in order to set free the small army of 100,000 soldiers for purely military tasks, naturally limiting ourselves to the defense of our frontiers, as stated in the Treaty of Versailles: "The Defense of Frontiers". I could perhaps still repeat our discussion from memory since, with the exception of the period from 1933 to 1935, I conducted every one of these meetings myself, that is as leader of the discussion, not as Chairman. I can, however, refer you now to Mobilization Handbook for Civil Authorities, which was the outcome of this work and about which I shall speak later. It may be possible to submit it here. We were concerned only with questions of defense, such as the protection of our frontiers, and, in order to make myself clear, I should like to mention some of them. The Wehrmacht was to be free to protect railway property, post office property, repeater stations, radio stations, and to man the frontiers with security units for which the Customs Services were to be responsible. Cable and sea communications with East Prussia were also to be improved.
I will not bore you with all this. They were all defensive measures with a view to freeing the few soldiers for purely military functions, because for purposes of actual military operations I need not tell you what we could have done with an army of only 100,000 men. Any questions which went beyond this were never dealt with in that committee. The manner in which we worked was this: I asked the experts to submit their wishes to the heads of departments or state secretaries and then to try to persuade the heads departments to take over the tasks from us, so that we could say that was being done by others and we need not bother about it. I can guarantee that operational questions, strategic questions, armament questions, questions of supply of war equipment, were never discussed in this committee. They were, only organizational questions of the taking over of functions which generally should be performed by a soldier, but which we wanted to transfer to the civil authorities.
Now, as to the meeting of 22 May 1933, which has been discussed several times, it was already stated in the heading of the minutes which we have before us: "Competency - heretofore the Reichsminister, now the Reichs Defense Council"- I have just explained that. Hitherto Reichswehrminister, over the committee, voluntary participation of the ministers of other departments, now obligatory activity, of the heads of departments, that is, the group of ministers received the title of "Defense Council." I will express that more clearly, so that it cannot be misunderstood. Every member of the committee represented a ministry. The minister to whom the committee member was responsible, along with his colleagues formed the Reichs Defense Council, as envisaged by us then. They were the Council and we were the Committee. Therefore, "heretofore the Reichswehrminister" - now, one could say, as I have just expressed it, the other ministers were obliged to do that.
In Paragraph 3 the working plans were particularly mentioned. These working plans, in a word, are the forerunner of the Mobilization Book, which is the final stage; whereas the working plans of about 1933 were the intermediary stage. Then, as regards the concluding words at the meeting of 22 May 1933, which have been given special prominence here by the Prosecution, and which deal with the need for secrecy - the passage where I said, according to the minutes that nothing which could lead to objections at the Disarmament Conference should be left lying in the desks of the ministries – this is correct. I did say that, and I have said it because the experts told me that, with the exception of a small wooden box or a drawer, a desk which could not be locked, they had no place in which to keep anything and because Von Blomberg, Reichs War Minister at the time, who had been in Geneva at the Disarmament Conference for almost two years, gave me the definite order before this meeting to point out these things, because in Geneva one was surrounded by an extremely large number of agents who were only waiting to be able to present proof that, in spite of the disarmament negotiations, there were things going on which could be interpreted as violations of the Versailles Treaty. That is what I had to say about the document.
Dr. NELTE: I have given to you now the Mobilization Book of the Civil Administration. It is Document 1639-PS. It has been submitted in order to prove that aggressive wars were being planned. Would you explain to us the purpose of this book?
KEITEL: I have already stated that at an earlier stage, that is during the years 1932-33, the individual ministries had so-called working plans, indicating what they were to do if something happened which necessitated their participation in defending the country. In the course of years, naturally, a number of new tasks were added and that finally led to this Mobilization Book for civil authorities and civil administration, the study of which would certainly show nothing which might have anything to do with strategic, operational, or other preparations for war. On the other hand I am not in a position to prove that everything contained in this book could never have been useful in military operations which could develop from an aggressive war plan. Many measures, one could almost say most measures in the event of mobilization would not indicate on the surface whether it is a measure for defense or a measure which is necessary or indispensable for aggressive action. That cannot be determined. But I believe I can say, because I myself, have been engaged so deeply in this work, perhaps more than in any other, that there was no reason at all to burden civilian experts - they were high government counselors - with strategic or operational planning. I do not believe that it is necessary to prove that such work is not within their scope. I have looked through and studied this mobilization book here. I do not wish to bore you by citing points which are of a purely defensive nature. I could name them: barriers, reinforcement of the frontier defense, demolitions, cutting of railroads and similar things, all this is in the book. One of the most important chapters, which, if I remember correctly, we discussed during four or five of these sessions, was the question of evacuation, that is, evacuating territories close to border of valuable war material and personnel, so that, in case war with the neighbor, they should not fall into the hands of the enemy. This problem of evacuation was one of the most difficult because the extent to which one can evacuate, that is, what things can be evacuated, is perhaps one of the most difficult decisions to make.
I would like to say one more thing about the Reichs Defense Committee, supplementing the ideal which I expressed before. Until year 1938, no meeting or session of the Reichs Defense Council was ever held, that is, the ministers who were the superiors of committee members never met, not even once. I would have known about it, although at the cabinet meeting, I believe as early as May 1933, we passed a resolution to make these ministers responsible for a Reichs Defense Council which should deal with these tasks, and oblige them to take over these talks as their necessary contribution to the defense of the Reich, and, of course,, to finance them. That was the main purpose, otherwise the Reichs Defense Council never met.
Dr. NELTE: Actually, the minutes which have been presented, the period of '33 to '38, are of the meetings of the working committee. But you know that about eight days ago two documents were submitted which appeared to be the minutes of the meetings of the Reichs Defense Council. One session or assembly is supposed to have taken place in November 1938, and the second one in March 1939. Unfortunately these documents have not been submitted to me but I have looked at them and you have also seen them. Can you explain to us how these minutes, that is, these meetings came about and what they mean?
KEITEL: I merely wish to add a few supplementary words to the statement which Reichs Marshal Göring has already made. In December 1938, there was passed the Reichs Defense Law, which had been drawn up in 1935, a shelved law, that is, a law which had not been made public and which required modification, the reason being that the Reichs Defense Law of '35 was devised by the Reichs War Minister, Commander-in-Chief Von Blomberg, who no longer held office. I was with Reichs Marshal Göring at that time to discuss this with him and to find a new basis for this law, which until then had not been published. This law of the autumn of 1938 had a number of supplementary clauses as compared to the old one, and perhaps I will be able to give details later. Among other things, according to this law also, Reichs Marshal Göring was the delegate of the Führer, a function formerly held by the Reichs War Minister and which I could not exercise.
This conference in November 1938, to recall it briefly, had been convened by Reichs Marshal Göring in order to present this law which had not been published, and which was not to be published to a large circle of members of the ministries. There were about seventy or more persons present to whom the Reichs Marshal explained the purpose and the essence of this law in the form of a speech. There was no discussion, apart from that speech, and there was certainly no question of a meeting of the Reichs Defense Council at that time.
You also recently showed me the second document of a meeting of the Reichs Defense Council as it is called and as also appears in the heading of the minutes of the summer 1939.
Dr. NELTE: No, March 1939.
KEITEL: That has been mentioned here, and I believe it was the second meeting of the Reichs Defense Council. I can explain that. This is how it was: I called a meeting of the committee and, of course, I furnished Reichs Marshal Göring with the agenda and the names of the people who were to be present. Reichs Marshal Göring informed me that he would come himself and that since he wished to discuss other questions, he would accordingly enlarge the attendance. This conference, therefore, had an agenda which I had planned for the committee and concrete questions were also brought up for debate. It is, however, remarkable that according to the list of those present, that is, according to the numbers, the members of the Reichs Defense Council were represented by only a very small number, almost not at all, although there were about 40 or 50 people present. The Reichs Defense Council itself was a body of 12 people, and it needs no further explanation that, from the form in which these two conferences took place, one could not say that was a plenary session of the Reichs Defense Council based upon a clearly defined agenda, but rather that there were 2 meetings, motive and extent of which I have described here.
(A recess was taken)
The PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, the Tribunal think that you might get on a little more quickly with the defendant. The Tribunal recall that you asked a few days ago that you might submit an affidavit of the defendant's evidence, and there is in your document book an affidavit. You have been over all those matters in the affidavit in very much greater length than you would have gone into them if you read the affidavit, and we hope that you will be able to deal more shortly with the evidence in future.
Dr. NELTE: Mr. President, I made every effort to be as brief and concise as possible in my questions, but testimony is, of course always subjective. The defendant is unfortunately the one who is mentioned most frequently in this Trial and naturally he is interested in clarifying those matters which he considers essential in order to present his case clearly.
The PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Nelte, I do not think it is necessary to discuss the matter further but the Tribunal have expressed their wish.
Dr. NELTE: As far as I am able, I shall comply with your request, Mr. President. (Turning to the defendant) Field Marshal Keitel, you have just given us an explanation of the Reichs Defense Council and the Reichs Defense Committee. You probably realize that we are not and should not be so much concerned with whether decisions are made by a Reichs Defense Council or a Reichs Defense Committee. We are interested in what actually took place and whether or not these things justify the imputations of the Prosecution. In this respect I ask you to tell me if those things which you discussed and planned on the Reichs Defense Committee justify the suspicion that you were considering aggressive war?
KEITEL: I realize fully that we are not concerned with formality of whether it was the Council or the Committee, since Council was a board of ministers while the Committee was a board of minor experts. We are concerned with what actually did take place and what was done. With the exception that in the year 1934 and until the autumn of 1935 I was not present at these discussions and therefore cannot vouch for every word which was spoken at the time, I must state that nothing about the planning of wars, the preparing for wars, the operational, strategical, or armed preparedness for war, was ever discussed.
Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution has labeled you as a member of the Three Man College from which they have deduced that you had special powers to act within the German Reichs Government. I am submitting to you Document 2194-PS. In this document in, the Reichs Defense Law of 1938, Paragraph 5, Subsection 4, you will find the source of this term which in itself is not official.
KEITEL: The Reichs Defense Law of 1938 provided for a plenipotentiary general for administration in order to restrict the size of the body. The Reichs Minister of the Interior was to have this office and further, according to Paragraph 5, Subsection 4, the Supreme Command of the Army was to have priority influence in regard to the Reichsbahn and the Reichspost, for in the event of mobilization, transports must run and the services for the transmission of news must be available, as is the case in all countries.
The Three Man College is a concept which I have never heard until just now. It probably refers to the Plenipotentiary General of Administration, the Plenipotentiary General for Economy and the Chief of the OKW. It referred to these three. There is no doubt about it, because in line with the Reichs Defense Law, they were already supposed to have a number of decrees ready in the drawer which were to be published when this law was made public, and each one of the three had to make the necessary preparations in his own sphere. From the right to assume these functions by reason of these authorities the Three Man College concept originated.
Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution then contended that according to Document 2852-PS you were a member of the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich. Did you become a minister through this membership in the Reichs Defense Council?
KEITEL: I might perhaps say a few words to begin with about the Council of Ministers, insofar as the Reichs Defense Law, the Reichs Defense Committee and the Reichs Defense Council, disappeared as a result of the law regarding the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich, that is, they were never made public and never put into effect, The Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich was newly created on 1 September 1939 and this made all these preparations on paper in the Reichs Defense Council, Reichs Defense Committee and the law null and void and put in its place a new thing, an Institution. This Institution, the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich, was now the small war cabinet, which, if I may say, should previously have been the Reichs Defense Council with their limited number of members. Thus, a new basis was established and new decrees which were necessary were put into effect by the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich, after it had been created and officially confirmed.
I was called into this Council of Ministers or rather I received a chair in this Council of Ministers. I prefer not to give the reasons because they were entirely private. It was a compensation for opposition against these things - I never became active in this Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich, but I was a member, it was not necessary to be active since in the purely military sphere that is, things with which the Wehrmacht immediately was concerned, the Führer personally, without the Council of Ministers issued the necessary decrees with his own signature and the detour via the Council of Ministers in Berlin was not necessary; and in my opinion I must deny that I became a minister by this appointment. The authority to exercise the functions of a minister was in no way given. I was only the representative of the Wehrmacht in the Council of Ministers.
Dr. NELTE: However, your name is indisputably at the bottom of many laws and decrees which were issued. How do you explain the signature on these laws?
KEITEL: Yes, I did sign a series of decrees issued by the Council of Ministers because they were submitted to me by the Secretariat of Ministers, that is, the Chief of the Reichs Chancellery, Minister Lammers, with a request for my signature. When I questioned the necessity doing this, I received a formal answer from Lammers to the effect that other Reichs departments might see that the Wehrmacht was not excluded from these decrees or laws. That is why my signature is included. It means that the Wehrmacht must also obey these decrees and laws. That is why I had ho misgivings in signing my name. Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution further accuse you of having been a political general. Undoubtedly you appeared at various special functions. Will you please answer this accusation and tell us how it came about?
KEITEL: I can readily understand the fact that functions of ministerial nature which necessarily brought me frequently into contact with ministers of the Reich - in the course of a war everything is tied up which the Wehrmacht in some way or other - would seem to indicate that I had exercised a political function in these matters. The same conclusion can be drawn from other events, that is, my presence at State visits and similar functions as indicated by many documents might suggest that I was exercising political functions or in some way had been called to exercise such function. Neither is true; neither in regard to internal German ministerial functions nor in regard to matters connected with foreign policy. There were naturally a great many things to be settled which the ministries, the technical ministries. The Wehrmacht had to participate and had a voice in almost all the decrees which were issued by the civilian ministries. This work was naturally done in Berlin. The fact that I had to remain with the Führer at his headquarters kept me away and this meant that my offices, the offices of the OKW, had to settle these questions with the Reichs departments and their experts rather independently an the whole. Thus it happened naturally, that decrees of this kind were drawn up requiring my comments and the Führer's consent, which was obtained through me and that in this connection I was the person who co-coordinated the various wishes and views of the High Commanders of the Wehrmacht branches and reduced them to a common Wehrmacht denominator, so to speak. Through these activities I was naturally drawn into the general apparatus of this work, but I do not believe that this would justify the application of the term "Political general" to the Führer's Military Chief of Staff.
Dr. NELTE: What can you tell us with regard to foreign policy and the meetings at which foreign policy was discussed?
KEITEL: Concerning the sphere of foreign policy, I would merely like to emphasize what the former Reichs Foreign Minister has already said about collaboration with the leaders of the Wehrmacht. If at all, two of the leading partners marched their own roads, then it was the foreign policy on one side and the Wehrmacht on the other, especially under the influence of the Führer himself, who did not desire collaboration and opposed the mutual exchange of ideas. He kept us in avowedly separate camps, and wished to work with each one separately. I must emphasize that most strongly. To conclude, this applied to all other departments who came to headquarters, that is, everything was discussed with them alone, and they also left the headquarters alone. There were contacts with the Foreign Office, as State Secretary Von Steengracht has stated, with regard to all questions of international law or, in connection therewith, with questions affecting the prisoners of war, questions of communication with the protective powers, and questions which Von Steengracht may have had in mind when he said, "With the Wehrmacht the whole field of an attaché's work," since all reports sent by military attacks in neutral and friendly countries to the Commanders-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht branches went through Foreign Office channels. They all arrived there and we received them from there. It was quite natural that during the war any news of special interest might call for special contacts in that we often had to complain that the reports did not reach us in time from the Foreign Office, and that our Ministry wanted to have them sent directly and not by a roundabout way. Otherwise, however, I must emphasize that there was no collaboration in any other field nor, I might say, any community of work in the field of strategies with the Foreign Office.
Dr. NELTE: About ten days ago Document D-665 was submitted by the Prosecution. This document is headed "The Führer's Ideas Regarding the Waffen-SS" dated 6 August 1940. In this document there is a passage by the OKW which states the following: "The Chief of the OKW has decided in this connection that it can be only desirable for the ideas of the Führer to be given the utmost publicity." Do you know this document?
KEITEL: Yes, I read this document at the time it was submitted and I remembered it. To explain the origin of this document I might say briefly: After the war in France Hitler planned to give an independent status to the SS units, the Waffen-SS units, or form them into complete military bodies of troops. Until that time they had peen Parts of infantry troops attached to different Army formations. Now these groups were to be made into independent and fully equipped units and would thus become independent formations. This created extreme unrest in the Army, and caused acute dissatisfaction among the generals. It was said to denote competition to the Army and the breaking of the promise made to the army that "there only one bearer of arms in Germany, and that is the Wehrmacht." They asked: "Where would this lead to?"
At that time the Commander-in-Chief of the Army asked Hitler's chief adjutant for Information about this revolting affair and General Schmundt, with Hitler's approval, then wrote the passage mentioned in this document.
I went to the Führer personally about this question to tell him plainly that the Army considered it an insult. He decided to handle the matter through his chief adjutant, as it had nothing to do with the High Command of the Wehrmacht. This announcement was then made by the Army itself in order to calm the excited minds. My personal comment that there was no objection to the widest publicity in this case either was given to satisfy General Von Brauchitsch, who expressly requested to be allowed to distribute it to every unit, in order to reassure the Army that the troops in question were police troops who under all circumstances had to have experience of active service, as otherwise they would be denied any recognition at home as troops. That is how that came about, and if I am asked today about my views on this matter I may say briefly: I also thought at the time that there ought to be a limit to these things; I believe 10% was the figure mentioned. With the development of events in connection with the setting up of new formations after 1942, these troops lost their original character of an elite selected on physical and racial grounds. There was no mistaking the fact that considerable pressure was exercised; and I myself was very much afraid that some day this Instrument of the Waffen-SS, which had swelled to a force of more than 20 divisions strong, would grow into a new Army with a different ideology. We had very grave misgivings in this respect, especially as what we now saw before us was no longer an elite in any sense of the term, and since we even saw commissioned and noncommissioned officers and man transferred from these troops to the Wehrmacht. It was no longer the pick of volunteers. I do not think there is anything further to add.
Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution have submitted Document L-211 to me. It is headed "War Operations as an Organizational Problem" and contains the comments of the OKW and the memorandum of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army regarding the organization of the leadership of the Wehrmacht. This document was submitted to prove that the OKW and you, as Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, held views which favored aggression and had expressed them in this study. I assume that you remember this study. What have you to say about the accusation which is based on this study?
KEITEL: This study was submitted to me during my preliminary interrogation and thus I was reminded of its existence. In this connection I must also give a brief description of the background. It not an exaggeration to say that in the early twenties, that is, short after the end of World War I, there was a great deal of literature produced, I believe, in all countries which had taken part in the war, and the most efficient organization and co-ordination at the highest level in the Armed Forces (Kriegsspitzengliederung). I myself wrote on the subject and I know the opinions held in the United States, England, and France. At that time everybody was occupied with the question of that organization and Von Blomberg said he was in favor of the 8th solution – 7 had already been discarded.
In this connection a struggle developed, led by the High Command of the Army and the General Staff of the Army, which constantly opposed the idea of a combined supreme operational command of the Wehrmacht and demanded that the supreme authority should be in the hands of the Army General Staff, as it was before.
When the High Command of the Wehrmacht was created and Blomberg had gone, the Army thought the moment opportune to return with renewed vigor to the attack. The result was a memorandum from the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, written by General Beck and the answer to this is the study mentioned here. As I collaborated in the drafting of this answer, I can vouch for the two men responsible for it, namely, Generaloberst Jodl and myself who were the only two who worked on it. I can state that at the time we were not motivated by any acute problem or by any preliminary general staff work in preparation for war, but only by the fact, as I might put it, that of all the many memoranda and investigations into the most expedient method, the one drawn up by us appeared to be the most practical.
The PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, does not the document speak for itself? He says he collaborated in it, but that it was not concerned with war, so that is all that needs to be said. The document speaks for itself then.
Dr. NELTE: But surely he may clarify some of the ideas contained in this document. Moreover, Mr. President, in regard to the question I took the liberty of submitting the affidavit in Document Book Number 2: "High Command of the Wehrmacht and General Staff" which is signed by the Defendant Keitel as well as by Herr Jodl. It has been submitted to you as Number 2 of Document Book 2
The PRESIDENT: Is that the affidavit of 8 March?
Dr. NELTE: 29 March, Mr. President.
The PRESIDENT: The first one in the book, or where is it?
Dr. NELTE: No, in the second part.
The PRESIDENT: But what page?
Dr. NELTE: The pages have not been numbered consecutively, it has a table of contents, and under that you will find it as Number 2.
The PRESIDENT: Are you quoting then from L-211 now? Are you finished with that?
Dr. NELTE: This affidavit belongs to L-211.
The PRESIDENT: I thought the witness said he had collaborated in the study, which is L-211, and that it was not concerned with war. You might leave it at that.
Dr. NELTE: I believe, Mr. President, in this Trial it matters to hear what the defendants have to say about those documents which allegedly accuse them. The explanation of Document L-211 which the Defendant Keitel wishes to make is contained in the affidavit which I submitted in Document Book Number 2.
The PRESIDENT: If what he wishes to say was put down the affidavit then he should not have been asked about it; the affidavit should have been read.
Dr. NELTE: The difference between the length of his verbal statement and the length of the affidavit is indicated by the relation of 1 to 10. He gave only a brief summary of the answer he wished to make. The affidavit is longer, and therefore I thought I could dispense with reading the affidavit if he would give us a brief summary of the chief points with which we are concerned.
The PRESIDENT: You and I have a different idea of the word summary.
Dr. NELTE: May I continue, Mr. President?
The PRESIDENT: Yes, go on.
Dr. NELTE: I now come to the question of rearmament, and the various cases of Austria, Czechoslovakia, et cetera. I would like to ask you about the accusation of the Prosecution that you participated in the planning and preparation of wars of aggression. So that we can understand each other, and that you can give your answers correctly, we must be quite clear as to what is meant by war of aggression. Will you tell us your views on that subject?
KEITEL: As a soldier, I must say that the term "War of Aggres¬sion" as used here is meaningless as far as I am concerned; we learned how to conduct actions of attack, actions of defense, and actions of retreat. However, according to my own personal feeling: as a military man, the concept "war of aggression" is a purely polit¬ical concept and not a military one. I mean that if the Wehrmacht and the soldier are a tool of the politicians, they are not qualified in my opinion to decide or to judge whether these military oper¬ations did or did not constitute a war of aggression. I think I can summarize my views by saying that military offices should not have authority to decide this question and are not in a position to do so and that these decisions are not the task of the soldier, but solely that of the statesman.
Dr. NELTE: Then you mean to say, and this applies also to all commanders and offices involved, that the question of whether or not a war is a war of aggression, or whether it has to be conducted for the defense of a country, in other words, whether a war is a just war or not, was not in the field of your professional deliberations and decisions?
KEITEL: No, that is what I wish to express, since ...
Dr. NELTE: What you are giving is an explanation. But you are not only a soldier, you are also an individual with a life of your own. When facts brought to your notice in your professional capacity seemed to reveal that a projected Operation was unjust, did you not give it consideration?
KEITEL: I believe I can truthfully say that throughout the whole of my military career I was brought up, so to speak, in the old traditional concept that one never discussed this question. Naturally, one has one's own opinion and a life of one's own, but in the exercise of one's professional functions as a soldier and as an officer, one has given this life away, yielded it up. Therefore I could not say either at that time or later that I had misgivings about questions of a purely political discretion, for I took the stand that a soldier has a right to have confidence in his state leadership, and accordingly he is obliged to do his duty and to obey.
Dr. NELTE: Now let us take up the questions individually. you know Hitler's plans first in regard to rearmament, and later in regard to any aggression, as the Prosecution calls it? I am thinking chiefly of the period from February 1933 to 1938.
KEITEL: It was clear to me that when Hitler became Chancellor we soldiers would undoubtedly have a different position in the Reich under new leadership, and that the military factor would certainly be viewed differently from what had been the case before. Therefore we quite honestly and openly welcomed the fact that at the head of the Reichs Government there was a man who was determined to bring about an era which would lead us out of the deplorable conditions then prevailing. This much I must confess, that I welcomed the plan and Intention to rearm as far as was possible that time, as well as the ideas which tended in that direction. In any event, as early as 1933, in the late summer, I resigned from my activities in the War Ministry. I spent two years on act service and returned only at the time when the military sovereignty had been won back and we were rearming openly. Therefore, during my absence I did not follow these matters. At any rate, in the period from 1935 to 1938, during which I was Chief under Von Blomberg I naturally saw and witnessed everything that took place in connection with rearmament and everything that was done in this field by the War Ministry to help the Wehrmacht branches.
Dr. NELTE: Did you know that the occupation of the Rhineland in the demilitarized zone, the re-establishment of military sovereignty, the introduction of conscription, the building up of the Air Force and the increase in the number of Wehrmacht contingent violated the Versailles Treaty?
KEITEL: The wording of the Versailles Treaty, as long as it considered binding upon us, did not, of course, permit these things. The Treaty of Versailles, may I say, was studied very closely by us in order to find loopholes which allowed us, without violating the Treaty, to take measures which would not make us guilty of breaking the Treaty. That was the daily task of the Reichs Defense Committee
From 1935 on, conditions were entirely different, and after return as Chief, under Von Blomberg, I must state frankly that I no longer had any misgivings as to whether the Treaty of Versailles was violated or not because what was done, was done openly. We announced that we would raise 36 divisions. Discussions were held quite openly and I could see nothing in which we soldiers could, in any way, see a violation of the Treaty. It was clear to all of us, and it was our will to do everything to free ourselves of the territorial and military fetters of the Treaty of Versailles. I must say honestly that any soldier or officer who did not feel similarly about these things would in my estimation have been worthless. It was taken as a matter of course if one was a soldier.
Dr. NELTE: During this Trial, an order, C-194, which bears your signature, was submitted. It concerns aerial reconnaissance and movements of U-boats at the time of the occupation of the Rhineland. This order leads to the inference that you participated in occupation of the Rhineland. In what capacity did you sign this order?
KEITEL: The order shows already the future introductive phrasing: "The Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Minister Von Blomberg, upon report, has ordered..." I transmitted in this form an instruction which General Von Blomberg had given me, the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force and I recall that it concerned the introduction of control measures during the days when the three battalions were marching into the demilitarized zone.
Dr. NELTE: Did you, up to the time of your appointment as Chief of the OKW, learn from Hitler himself or from other sources that there were plans in existence which, contrary to Hitler's avowed peace assurances, could be put into effect only by force, that is through a war?
KEITEL: During this period of time until the first practical measures were taken in the case of Austria, I cannot remember having had any knowledge of a program, or the establishment of a program or far-reaching plan, or one covering a period of years. I must say also that we were so occupied with the reorganization of this small army of 7 divisions into an expanded force of 2 or 3 three times its original size, apart from the creation of a large air force which had no equipment at all, that in those years a visit to our office would have shown that we were completely occupied with purely organizational problems, and from the way Hitler worked, as described by me today, it is quite obvious that we saw nothing of these things.
Dr. NELTE: Did you have any personal connection with Hitler before 4 February 1938?
KEITEL: In the years from 1935 to 1938, as chief under Von Blomberg I saw the Führer three times. He never spoke one word to me a so he did not know me. If he knew anything at all about me it could have been only through Herr Von Blomberg. I had absolutely no contact with the Führer either personally or through other people who were prominent in the Party or in politics. My first conversation with him was in the last days of January before I was appointed to this Office.
Dr. NELTE: Did you hear anything of the meeting or discussion with Hitler in November 1937? I am referring to a conference in which Hitler, as it is alleged, made public his last will.
KEITEL: I already stated under oath at the preliminary interrogation that I did not know about this, and that I saw a document or the minutes or a record of this meeting at this Trial for the first time. I believe it is the Hoßbach document and I do not remember that Von Blomberg gave me any directions to take preparatory steps after this conference. That is not the case.
Dr. NELTE: Did you know of any of Hitler's intentions regarding territorial questions?
KEITEL: Yes. I must answer that in the affirmative. I learned of them, and I also knew from public political discussions that he proposed to settle in some form, gradually, sooner or later, a series of territorial problems which were the result of the Treaty of Versailles. That is true.
Dr. NELTE: And what did you think about the realization of these territorial aims, I mean the manner in which they were to be solved?
KEITEL: At that time I saw these things and judged them only according to what we were capable of in military terms. I can only say, when I left the troops in 1935, none of these 24 divisions which were to be established existed. I did not view all this from the standpoint of political aims, but with the sober consideration: Can we accomplish anything by attack and the conduct of war if we have no military means at our disposal? Consequently, for me everything in this connection revolved around the programs of rearmament which were to be completed in 1943-1945 and for the Navy in 1945., Therefore, we had 10 years in which to build up a concentrated Wehrmacht. Hence, I did not consider these problems acute even when they came to my attention in a political way, for I thought it impossible to realize these plans except by negotiations.
Dr. NELTE: How do you explain the general directives of June 1937 for preparation for mobilization?
KETEL: This document is actually an instruction for mobilization kept in general terms and was in line with our traditional General Staff policy before the war and before the World War, the first World War, that an principle something of the kind must be prepared beforehand. In my opinion, this had nothing to do with any of Hitler's political plans, for at that time I was already Chief Staff under Von Blomberg and General Jodl was at that time the Chief of the National Defense Division. Perhaps it sounds somewhat arrogant for me to say that we were very much satisfied that we were at last beginning to tell the Wehrmacht each year what it had to do intellectually and theoretically. In the former General Staff training which I received before the world war, the chief aim of these instructions was that the General Staff tours for the purpose of study should afford an opportunity for the theoretical elaboration of all problems. Such was the former training of the Great General Staff I no longer know whether in this connection Von Blomberg himself originally thought out these salient ideas of possible complications or possible military contingencies, or whether he was perhaps influenced by the Führer.
It is certain that Hitler never saw this. It was the inside work of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht.
Dr. NELTE: But in it you find a reference to a "Case Otto," and you know that that was the affair with Austria.
KEITEL: Of course I remember the Case Otto, which indicate by its name that it concerns Otto von Habsburg. There must have been - were of course - certain reports about an attempted restoration, and in that case an intervention, eventually an armed one was to take place. The Führer, Adolf Hitler, wished to prevent restoration of the monarchy in Austria. Later this came up again in connection with the Anschluß. I believe that I can omit that now and perhaps explain later. In any event, we believed that one the basis of the deliberations by the Army some sort of preparation were being made which would bring into being Case Otto, because the code word was "Case Otto comes into force."
Dr. NELTE: You mean to say that no concrete orders were give in regard to Case Otto on the basis of this general directive?
KEITEL: You mean the Anschluß at the beginning of February?
Dr. NELTE: I beg your Pardon?
KEITEL: I can state here only what I experienced when Hitler sent me to the Army. I went into General Beck's office and said "The Führer demands that you report to him immediately and inform him about the preparations which have already been mad for a possible Invasion of Austria", and General Beck then said; "We have prepared nothing; nothing has been done, nothing at all."
Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution contends that you participated in planning the action against Austria as it was put into effect in March of 1938. I have here the directive regarding Case Otto, C-102. Can you still affirm that the whole matter was improvised?
KEITEL: I remember that this order was not issued to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and to the other Commanders-in-Chief until the whole project was under way. Nothing had been prepared. It was all improvised and this was to be the documentary registration of facts which were being put into practice. The commands were given verbally and individually regarding what was to be done and what actually was done on the morning of March 12 when Austria was invaded.
Dr. NELTE: I must now return to the events preceding the case of Austria. You know that in General Jodl's diary it is stated "Schuschnigg signs under strongest political and military pressure". In what measure did you participate in this conference at the Obersalzberg which took place with Schuschnigg?
KEITEL: May I add to my previous answer that we can see from this that the Invasion took place in the morning of March 12, the order was issued late in the evening of March 11. Therefore this document could not have had any real influence on this affair. Such an order cannot be worked out between 10 in the evening and 6 in the morning.
I can say the following in regard to my participation at Obersalzberg on February 10 or 11:
It was the first official action in which I took part. In the evening of February 4 Hitler left Berlin. He summoned me to be at Obersalzberg on February 10. There, on that day the meeting with Austrian Federal Chancellor, Schuschnigg, which has been frequently discussed here, took place. Shortly after I arrived - I had no idea why I had been summoned - General Von Reichenau arrived from Munich and General of the Air Force Sperrle, so that we three Generals were present when at about 10:30 Herr Schuschnigg arrived with Herr Von Papen. Since I had never attended a conference, a political action or any meeting of that nature, I did not know what I was there for. I must tell you this frankly, otherwise you will not understand it. In the course of the day the reason for the presence of the three representatives of the Wehrmacht naturally became clear to me. In certain respects they represented a military, at least a military demonstration - I may safely call it that. In the preliminary interrogation and also in later discussions I was asked the significance of the fact that in the afternoon my name was suddenly called through the house and I was to visit the Führer. I went him in his room. Perhaps it sounds strange for me to say that when I entered the room I thought that he would give me a directive but the words were "Nothing at all." He used the words, "Please sit down." Then he said, "Yes, the Federal Chancellor wishes to have a short conference with his Foreign Minister Schmidt, otherwise I have nothing at all." I can only assure you that not one word was said to me about a political action apart from the fact that Herr Schuschnigg did not leave until the evening and that further conferences took place.
We generals sat in the anteroom, and when in the evening, shortly before my departure, I received the direction to launch reports that we were taking certain measures for mobilization, of which you have been informed here through a document, then it became quite clear to me that this day had served to bring the discussions to a head by the introduction of military representatives, and the directive to spread reports was to keep up the Pressure, as has been shown here.
Upon my return to my apartment in Berlin, in the presence of Goebbels and Canaris, we discussed the reports which were to be sent out and which Canaris then broadcast in Munich. Finally, in order to conclude this matter, it might be interesting to point out that the Chief of Intelligence in the Austrian Federal Ministry Lahousen, who has been present here in court, told Jodl and me when later on he came into the service of the Wehrmacht: "We were not taken in by this bluff." And I indubitably gave Jodl a basis for his entry in the diary, even though it is somewhat drastically worded for I was naturally impressed by this first experience.
Dr. NELTE: What is your Position on the measures against Austria?
KEITEL: Nothing further need be said concerning the further developments of the affair. It has already been presented here in detail. On the day of the Invasion by the troops I flew with Hitler to the front. We drove along the highways through Braunau and Linz. We stayed overnight and proceeded to Vienna. And to put it modestly, it is true that in every village we were received most enthusiastically and the Austrian Federal Army marched side by side with the German soldiers through the streets over which we drove. Not a shot was fired. On the other side the only formation which had a certain military significance was an armored unit on the road from Passau to Vienna which arrived in Vienna with very few vehicles. This division was on the spot for the parade the next day. That is a very sober picture of what I saw.
Dr. NELTE: Now we come to the question of Czechoslovakia. When did Hitler for the first time discuss with you the question of Czechoslovakia and his intentions in that respect?
KEITEL: I believe 6 to 8 weeks after the march into Austria that is, after the Anschluß toward the end of April. The Anschluß was about the middle of March and also took the form of a sudden summons, one evening, to the Reichs Chancellery where the Führer then explained matters to me. This resulted in the well-known directive in the Case Green. The history of this case is well known by the Schmundt files all of which I identified in the preliminary interrogation. At that time he gave me first directives in a rather hasty manner. It was not possible for me to ask any questions, he wished to leave Berlin immediately. These were the bases for the questions regarding the conditions under which a warlike action against Czechoslovakia could or would arise.
Dr. NELTE: Did you have the Impression that Hitler wanted to attack Czechoslovakia?
KEITEL: In any event the instructions which he gave me that evening were to the effect that preparations for a military action with all the preliminary work, which was the responsibility of the General Staff, were to be made. He expressed himself very precisely although he explained explicitly that the date was quite open and said that for the time being it was not his intention. These were words: "for the time being it is not my intention."
Dr. NELTE: In this connection was a difference made between the Sudetenland and the whole of Czechoslovakia?
KEITEL: I do not believe that we discussed it at all that evening during that short conference. The Führer did not discuss with the political aspects; he merely assigned me to the consideration the necessary military measures. He did not say whether he would be content with the Sudetenland or whether we were to break through the Czechoslovakian lines of fortification. That was not the problem at that time. But in any event - if they had to be settled by going to war -then the war had to be prepared; if it came to a conflict with the Czech Army, that is, a real war it would have to be prepared.
Dr. NELTE: You know that the record of the Hitler - General Keitel conference on April 21, of which there are two versions - speaks of a lightning action being necessary in case of an incident. In the first one after the word "incident" it reads: "for example, assassination of the German Minister" following a demonstration hostile to Germany. In the second one, after the word "incident: it reads only "for example, action in case of an incident." Will you please explain to what this note, which is not a record in the proper sense of the ward, can be attributed?
KEITEL: I saw the Schmundt notes for the first time here. We did not receive it at that time as a document to work with. It is not a record. These are notes made subsequently by an adjutant. I do not want to doubt their correctness or accuracy, for memory would not permit me to recall today the exact words which were used. However this question, which is considered significant here, assassination of the German Minister in Prague, is a situation which I have never heard of, if only for the reason that no one ever said such a thing. It was said it might happen that the Minister is assassinated whereupon I asked which minister, or something similar. Then, as I recall it, Hitler said that the war of 1914 also started with an assassination at Sarajevo, and that such incidents could happen. I did not in any way get the Impression at that time that a war was to be created through a provocation.
Dr. NELTE: You will have to tell me some more on that point.
The PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better adjourn now. (The Tribunal adjourned until 4 April 1946 at 10:00 hours.