Morning session, April 4, 1946; part 1

The PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Nelte.
Dr. NELTE: Yesterday we discussed last the meeting on April 21 of you, Hitler, and Adjutant Schmund. I am again having Document 388-PS brought to you and ask you to answer when I ask you. Was this not a conference of the kind which you said yesterday in principle did not take place?
KEITEL: To a certain extent it is true that I was called in and to my complete surprise was presented with ideas concerning preparation for war against Czechoslovakia. This took place within a very short time, before one of Hitler's departures for Berchtesgaden. I do not recall saying one word during these short instructions, but I asked only one question and then with these extreme surprising directives I went home.
Dr. NELTE: What happened then, as far as you were concerned?
KEITEL: My reflections during the first hour after that was that this could not be carried out in view of the military strength, which I knew we then possessed. I then comforted myself with the thought that the conversation promised that nothing had been planned within a measurable lapse of time. The following day, I discussed the matter with the Chief of the Operations Staff, General Jodl. I never received any minutes of this discussion, nor record. The outcome of our deliberations was "to leave things alone because there was plenty of time and because any such action was out of the question for military reasons." I also explained to Jodl that the introductory words had been: "It is not my Intention to undertake military action against Czechoslovakia within a measurable lapse of time."
Then, in the next weeks, we started theoretical deliberations; this however, without taking into consultation the branches of the Wehrmacht because I considered myself not authorized to do so. In the following period it is to be noted, as can be seen from the Schmund File, that the adjutants, the military adjutants, continuously asked innumerable detailed questions regarding the strength of divisions and so on. These questions were answered by the Wehrmacht Operations Staff to the best of their knowledge.
Dr. NELTE: I believe we can shorten this considerably, Herr Marshal, however important your explanations are. The decisive point now is - if you would take the document in front of you - and compare the draft which you finally made on pressure from Obersalzberg and tell me what happened after that.
KEITEL: Yes. About four weeks after 1 had been given this job, I sent to Obersalzberg a draft of a directive for the preparatory measures. In reply I was informed that Hitler himself would come to Berlin to speak with the Commander-in-Chief. He came to Berlin at the end of May and I was present at the conference with Generaloberst Von Brauchitsch. In this conference the basic plan was changed altogether, namely, to the effect that Hitler expressed the Intention to take military action against Czechoslovakia in the very near future. As reason why he changed his mind he gave the fact that Czechoslovakia - I believe it was on the May 20 or 21 - had ordered general mobilization and Hitler at that time declared this could have been directed only against us. Miltary preparations had not been made by Germany. This was the reason for the complete change of his intentions, which he communicated orally to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and he ordered him to begin preparations at once. This explains the changes in the basic orders - that is to say, the directive which was now being issued had as ist basic idea: "It is my irrevocable decision to take military action against Czechoslovakia in the near future."
Dr. NELTE: War against Czechoslovakia was avoided as a result of the Munich Agreement. What was your opinion and that of the generals about this agreement?
KEITEL: We were extraordinarily happy that it had not come to a military operation, because throughout the time of preparation we had always been of the opinion that our means of attack against the frontier fortifications of Czechoslovakia were insufficient. From a purely military point of view we lacked the means for an attack which involved the penetration of the frontier fortifications. Consequently we were extremely satisfied that a peaceful political solution had been reached.
Dr. NELTE: What effect did this agreement have on the generals regarding Hitler's prestige?
KEITEL: I believe I may say that as a result this greatly increased Hitler's prestige among the generals. We recognized that on the one hand military means and military preparations had been neglected and an the other hand a solution had been found which we had not expected and for which we were extremely thankful.
Dr. NELTE: Is it not amazing that 3 weeks after the Munich Agreement that had been so welcomed by everyone, including the generals, Hitler gave instructions for the occupation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia?
KEITEL: I believe that recently Reichs Marshal Göring enlarged on this question in the course of his examination. It was my impression, as I remember it, that Hitler told me at that time that he did not believe that Czechoslovakia would overcome the loss of the Sudeten-German territories with their strong fortifications and moreover, he was concerned about the close relations then existing between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union and thought that Czechoslovakia could and perhaps would become a military and strategic menace. These were the military reasons which were given to me.
Dr. NELTE: Was it not pointed out to Hitler by anyone that solution by force of the problem regarding the remainder of Czechoslovakia involved a great danger, namely, that the other powers, that is England, France would be offended?
KEITEL: I was not informed of the last conversation in Munich between the British Prime Minister Chamberlain and the Führer. However, I regarded this question, as far as its further treatment was concerned, as a political one and consequently I did not raise any objections, if I may so express myself, especially as a considerable reduction in the military preparations decided on before the Munich meeting was ordered. Whenever the political question was raised, the Führer refused to discuss it.
Dr. NELTE: In connection with this question of Czechosloval I should like to mention Lieutenant Colonel Köchling, who was characterized by the Prosecution as the liaison man with Henlien. Was the Wehrmacht or the OKW engaged in this matter?
KEITEL: Köchling's job remained unknown to me; it was I who named Köchling. Hitler asked me if an officer was available for a special mission and if so he should report to me. After I dispatched Lieutenant Colonel Köchling from Berlin I neither saw nor spoke to him again. I do know, however, that, as I heard later, he was with Henlein as a sort of military adviser.
Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution has pointed out that you were present at the visit of Minister President Tiso in March 1939, as well as at the visit of President Hacha and from this it was deduced that you participated in the political discussions which then took place. What role did you play on these occasions?
KEITEL: It is true, I believe in every case, that on the occasion of such state visits and visits of foreign statesmen I was present in the Reichs Chancellery or at the reception. I never took part in the actual discussions of political questions. I was present at the reception and feit that I should be present to be introduced as a high-ranking representative of the Wehrmacht. But in each individual case that I can recall I was dismissed with thanks or in the antechamber in case I should be needed. I can positively say that I did not say one single word either to Tiso or to President Hacha on that night, nor did I take part in Hitler's direct discussion with these men. May I add that just on the night of President Hacha's visit I had to be present in the Reichs Chancellery, because during that night the High Command of the Army had instructed as to how the entry which had been prepared was to take place.
Dr. NELTE: In this connection I wish to establish only that since I assume that this question has been clarified by Reichsminister Görings testimony. You never spoke to President Hacha of posssible bombing of Prague in the event that he should not be willing to sign?
Dr. NELTE: We come now to the case of Poland. Here the Prosecution accuses you of having participated in the planning and preparation for military action against Poland and of having assisted in the execution of this action. Would you state in brief your attitude towards these Eastern problems?
KEITEL: The question concerning the problem of Danzig and the Corridor were known to me. I also knew that political decisions and negotiations with regard to these questions were pending. The case of the attack on Poland, which in the course of time had to be and was prepared, was, of course, closely connected with these problems.
Since I myself was not concerned with political matters, I personally was of the opinion that, as in the case of Munich and before Munich, military preparations, that is, military pressure if 1 may call it such, would play the same kind of role as in my opinion it had played at Munich. I did not believe that the matter would be brought to an end without military preparations.
Dr. NELTE: Could not this question have been solved by preceding negotiations?
KEITEL: That is hard for me to say, although I know that several discussions took place concerning the Danzig question, as well as concerning a solution of the Corridor problem. I recall remarks that impressed me at the time, when Hitler once said I deplored Marshal Pilsudski's death, because he believed he reached or could have reached an agreement with this state. This statement was once made to me.
Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution has stated that already in the autumn of 1938 Hitler was working on the question of a war against Poland. Did you participate in this in 1938?
KEITEL: No. This I cannot recall. I should like to believe that to my recollection, at that time there were even signs that this was not the case. At that time I accompanied Hitler on an extensive tour of inspection of the eastern fortifications. We covered the entire front from Pomerania through the Oder-Warthe marshland as far as Breslau in order to inspect the various frontier fortifications against Poland. The question of fortifications in East Prussia was thoroughly discussed at that time. When I consider this in this connection today, I can only assume that for him these discussions were possibly connected with the Danzig and Corridor problem and he simply wanted to find out whether these eastern fortifications had sufficient defensive strength, should the Danzig and the Corridor question eventually lead to war with Poland.
Dr. NELTE: When were the preparations made for the occupation of Danzig?
KEITEL: I believe that as early as the late autumn of 1938 orders were issued that Danzig be occupied at a favorable moment by a coup de main from East Prussia. That is all I know about it.
Dr. NELTE: Was the possibility of war against Poland discussed in this connection?
KEITEL: Yes, that was apparently connected with the examination of the possibilities to defend the border, but I do not recall any, nor was there any kind of preparation, any military preparations at that time, apart from a surprise attack from East Prussia.
Dr. NELTE: If 1 remember rightly you once told me, when we discussed this question, that Danzig was to be occupied only if this would not result in a war with Poland.
KEITEL: Yes, that is so. This statement was made time and again, that this occupation of, or the surprise attack on Danzig was to be carried out only if it was certain that it would not lead to war.
Dr. NELTE: When did this view change?
KEITEL: I believe Poland's refusal to discuss any kind of solution of the Danzig question was apparently the reason for further deliberations and steps.
Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution is in possession of the directive 3 April 1939...
KEITEL: I might perhaps add that generally after Munich, the situation also in regard to the Eastern problem was viewed differently, perhaps, or as I believe, from this point of view: The problem of Czechoslovakia has been solved satisfactorily without a shot. This will perhaps also be possible with regard to the other German problems in the East. I also believe I remember Hitler saying that he did not think the Western Powers, particularly England, would be interested in Germany's Eastern problem and would sooner act as mediators than raise any objection.
Dr. NELTE: That is Document C-120, the "Fall Weiss". According to this, the directive was issued on April 3 April.
KEITEL: Let us take the document first. In the first sentence is already stated that this document was to replace the regular annual instructions of the Wehrmacht regarding possible preparations for mobilization, a further elaboration of subjects known to us from the instructions which had been issued in 1937 - 38 and which were issued every year. But in fact, at that time or shortly before, Hitler had in my presence, directly instructed the Commander-in-Chief of the Army to make strategie and operative preparations for an attack on, for a war with Poland. I then issued these considerations, as can be seen from this document, that is, the Führer had already ordered the following: Everything should be worked out by the OKH of the Army by September 1, 1939, and after this a time table should be drawn up. This document was signed by me at that time.
Dr. NELTE: What was your attitude and that of the other generals towards this war?
KEITEL: I must say that at this time, as in the case of preparations against Czechoslovakia, both the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the generals to whom I spoke, and also I, myself were opposed to the idea of waging a war against Poland. We did not want this war, but, of course, we immediately began to carry out the given orders, at least as far as the elaboration by the General Staff was concerned. Our reason was that to our knowledge the military means which were at our disposal at that time, that is to say, the divisions, their equipment, their armament, let alone the absolutely inadequate supply of munition kept reminding us soldiers that we were not ready to wage a war.
Dr. NELTE: Do you mean to say that in your consideration, only military viewpoints defined your attitude?
KEITEL: Yes. I must admit that. I did not concern myself with the political problems but only with the question: Can we or we not?
Dr. NELTE: I want to establish only this. Now, on May 23, there was a conference at which Hitler addressed the generals. You know this address? What was the reason for and the content of this address?
KEITEL: I saw the minutes of it for the first time in the course of my interrogations here. It reminded me of the situation at the time. The purpose of this address was to show the generals that their misgivings were unfounded, to remove their misgivings and finally to point out that the conditions were not yet given and the political negotiations about these matters still could and perhaps would change the situation. It was however simply to give encouragement.
Dr. NELTE: Were you at that time of the opinion that war would actually break out?
KEITEL: No, at that time - and this was perhaps rather naïve - I believed that war would not break out, that in view of military preparations ordered, negotiations would take place again and a solution would be found. In our military consideration a strictly military point of view was always dominant. We generals believed that France - to a lesser extent England - in view of her mutual-assistance pact with Poland would intervene and that we did not at all have the defensive means for this. For this very reason I personally was always convinced that there would be no war because we could not wage a war against Poland if France attacked us in the West.
Dr. NELTE: Now then, what was your opinion of the situation after the speech of August 22, 1939?
KEITEL: This speech was made at the end of August and addressed to the generals assembled at Obersalzberg, the Commanders-in-Chief of the troops preparing in the East. When Hitler towards the end of this speech, declared that a pact had been concluded with the Soviet Union, I was firmly convinced that there would be no war because I believed that these conditions constituted a basis for negotiation and that Poland would not expose herself to it. I also believed that now a basis for negotiations had been found although Hitler said in this speech, a copy of which I read here for the first time from notes, that all preparations had been made, and that it was intended to put them into execution.
Dr. NELTE: Did you know that England actually attempted to act as intermediary?
KEITEL: No, I knew nothing of these matters. The first thing which was very surprising to me was that on one of those days which have been discussed here repeatedly, namely on the 24th or 25th, only a few days after the conference at Obersalzberg, I was suddenly called to Hitler at the Reichs Chancellery and he said to me only: "Stop everything at once, get Brauchitsch immediately. I need time for negotiations." I believe that after these few words I was dismissed.
Dr. NELTE: What followed thereupon?
KEITEL: I at once rang up the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and passed on the order, and Brauchitsch was called to the Führer. Everything was stopped and all decisions on possible military action were suspended, first without any time limit, on the folliwing day for a certain limited period, I believe it was 5 days according to the calculations we can make today.
Dr. NELTE: Did you know of the so-called minimum demands on Poland?
KEITEL: I believe that I saw them in the Reichs Chancellery, that Hitler himself showed them to me, so that I knew about them.
Dr. NELTE: As you saw them, I would like to ask whether you considered these demands to be serious?
KEITEL: At that time I was always only a few minutes the Reichs Chancellery and as a soldier I naturally believed that these were meant perfectly honestly.
Dr. NELTE: Was there any talk at that time of border incidents?
KEITEL: No. This question of border incidents was also extensively discussed with me here in my interrogations. In this situation and in the few discussions we had at the Reichs Chancellery in those days there was no talk at all on this question.
Dr. NELTE: I am now having Document 795-PS brought to you, notes which deal with the Polish uniforms for Heydrich.
KEITEL: May I add ...
Dr. NELTE: Please do.
KEITEL:... namely, that on August 30, I believe, the day for the attack, which took place on September 1, was again postponed for 24 hours. For this reason Brauchitsch and I were again called to the Reichs Chancellery and to my recollection the reason given was that a Polish Government plenipotentiary was expected. Everything was to be postponed for 24 hours. Then no further changes of the military instructions occurred.
This document deals with Polish uniforms for border incidents or for some sort of illegal actions. It has been shown to me, I know it, it is a subsequent note made by Admiral Canaris of a conversation he had with me. He told me at that time that he was to make available a few Polish uniforms. This had been communicated to him by the Führer through the adjutant. I asked: "For what purpose?" We both agreed that this was intended for some illegal action. If I remember rightly I told him at that time that I did not believe in such things at all and that he had better keep his hands off. We then had a short discussion about Dirschau which was also to be taken by a coup de main by the Wehrmacht. That is all I heard of it. I believe I told Canaris he could dodge the issue by saying that he had no Polish uniforms. He could simply say he had none and the matter would be settled.
Dr. NELTE: You know, of course, that this matter was connected with the subsequent attack on the radio Station at Gleiwitz. Do you know anything of this incident?
KEITEL: This incident, this action came to my knowledge for the first time heree through the testimony of witnesses. I never found out who was charged to carry out such things and I knew nothing of the raid on the radio Station at Gleiwitz until I heard the testimonies given here before the Tribunal. Neiher do I recall having heard at that time that such an incident had occurred.
Dr. NELTE: Did you know of the efforts of America and Italy after September 1, 1939 to end the war in one way or another?
KEITEL: I knew nothing at all of the political discussions that took place in those days from the August 24 to 30, 31 or the beginning of September 1939. I never knew anything about the visits of a Herr Dahlerus. I knew nothing of London's intervention. I remember only that, while in the Reichs Chancelle for a short time, I met Hitler, who said to me: 'Do not disturb me now, I am writing a letter to Daladier." This must have been in the first days of September. Neither I nor, to my knowledge any of the other generals ever knew anything about the matter I have heard of here or about the steps that were still taken after September 1. Nothing at all.
Dr. NELTE: What did you say to Canaris and Lahousen in the Führer's train on September 14, that is, shortly before the attack on Warsaw, with regard to the so-called political "house cleaning'
KEITEL: I have been interrogated here about this point, but did not recall this visit at all. But from Lahousen's testimony it appeared - he said, as I remember - that I had repeated what Hitle had said and had passed on these orders, as he put it. I know that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army who then directed the military operations in Poland had at the daily conferences already complained about interference by the police in occupied Polish territory. I can only say that I apparently repeated what had been said about these things in my presence between Hitler and Von Brauchitsch. I can make no statements regarding details.
I might add that to my recollection the Commander-in-Chief of the Army at that time complained several times that as long as he had the executive power in the occupied territories he would under no circumstances tolerate other agencies in this area and that at his request he was relieved of his responsibility for Poland in October. I therefore believe that the statements the witness made from memory or on the strength of notes are not quite correct.
Dr. NELTE: We come now to the question of Norway. Did you know that in October 1939 Germany had given a declaration of neutrality to Denmark and Norway?
KEITEL: Yes, I knew that.
Dr. NELTE: Were yoü and the OKW taken into consultation about declarations of neutrality in this or other cases?
Dr. NELTE: Were you informed of them?
KEITEL: No, we were not informed either. These were discussions referring to foreign policy, of which we soldiers were not informed.
Dr. NELTE: You mean you were not informed officially. You as a person who also reads newspapers knew of it?
Dr. NELTE: Good. Before our discussion about the problem of aggressive war I asked you a question which, in order to save time, I would not like to repeat. However, it seems to me that the question I put to you in order to get your opinion on aggressive war must be asked again in this connection because an attack on a neutral country, a country which had been given a guarantee was bound to cause particular scruples on the part of people who have to do with these things, with the waging of war.
Therefore, I put this question to you again in this case. I ask you to describe what your attitude and the soldiers' attitude was to it.
KEITEL: In this connection, I must say we were already at war. There was a state of war with England and France. It would be right for me to say that I interfered in the least with matters, but I regarded them rather as political matter and as a soldier, I held the opinion that preparations for military action against Norway and Denmark did not yet mean their outbreak and that these preparations would very obviously take months if such an action was executed at all and that in the meantime the situation could change. It was this train of thought which caused me to take any steps in regard to the impossibility to consider and prepare strategically this Intervention in Norway and Denmark, therefore, I left these things, I must say, to those who were concerned with political matters. I cannot put it any other way.
Dr. NELTE: When did the preparations for this action start?
KEITEL: I think the first deliberations took place already in October 1939; on the other hand, the first directives were only in January, that is to say, several months later. In connection with the discussions before this Tribunal and with the information given by Reichs Marshal Göring in his statements, I also remember that one day I was ordered to call Grand Admiral Raeder to the Führer. He wanted to discuss with him questions regarding sea warfare in the Bay of Helgoland and in the Atlantic Ocean and the dangers we would encounter in waging war in this area.
Then Hitler ordered me to call together a special staff which was to study all these problems from the viewpoint of sea, air, and land warfare. I remembered this also upon seeing the document produced here. This special staff dispensed with my personal assistance. Hitler said at the time that he himself would furnish tasks for this staff. These were, I believe, the military considerations in the months from 1939 to the beginning of 1940.
Dr. NELTE: In this connection I should only like to know further whether you had any conversation with Quisling at this stage of preliminary measures?
KEITEL: No, I saw Quisling neither before nor after the Norwegian campaign; I saw him for the first time approximately 1 or 2 years later. We had no contact, not even any kind of transmission of information. I already stated in a preliminary interrogation that by order of Hitler I sent an officer, I believe it was Colonel Pieckenbrock, to Copenhagen for conferences with Norwegians. I did not know Quisling.
Dr. NELTE: As to the war in the West, there is once more in the foreground the question of violation of neutrality in the case of Luxemburg, Belgium and Holland. Did you know that the 3 countries had been given assurances regarding the inviolability of their neutrality?
KEITEL: Yes, I knew and also was told that at that time.
Dr. NELTE: I do not want to ask the same questions as in the case of Norway and Denmark, but, in this connection, however I should like to ask: Did you consider these assurances by Hitler to be honest?
KEITEL: When I remember the situation as it was then, I did at that time believe, when I learned of these things, that there was no Intention of bringing any other state into the war. At any rate I had no reason, no justification, to assume the opposite, namely that this was intended as a deception.
Dr. NELTE: After the conclusion of the Polish campaign did you still believe that there was any possibility of terminating or localizing the war?
KEITEL: Yes, 1 did believe this. My view was strengthened by the Reichstag speech after the Polish war, in which allusions were made which convinced me that political discussions about thisl question were going on, above all with England and because Hitler had told me time and again, whenever these questions were brought up, "The West is actually not interested in these Eastern problems of Germany." This was the phrase he always used to calm people, namely that the Western Powers were not interested in these problems.
Furthermore, seen from a purely military point of view, it must be added that we soldiers had, of course, always expected an attack by the Western Powers, that is to say, by France, during the Polish campaign, and were very surprised that in the West, apart from some skirmishes between the Maginot Line and the Westwall, nothing had actually happened, though we had - this I know for certain - along the whole Western Front from the Dutch border to Basel only five divisions, apart from the small forces manning the fortifications of the Westwall. Thus, from a purely military operative point of view, a French attack during the Polish campaign would have encountered only a German military screen, not a real defense. Since nothing of this sort happened, we soldiers thought of course that the Western Powers had no serious intentions, because they did not take advantage of the extremely favorable situation for military operations and did not undertake anything, at least not anything serious, against us during the 3 to 4 weeks when all the German fighting formations were employed in the East. This also strengthened our views as to what the attitude of the Western Powers would probably be in the future.
Dr. NELTE: What plans did Hitler have for the West?
KEITEL: During the last phase of the Polish campaign, he had already transferred all unnecessary forces to the West, in consideration of the fact that at any time something eise might happen there. However, during the last days of the Polish campaign, had already told me that he intended to throw his forces as swiftly as possible from the East to the West and if possible, attack in the West in the winter of 1939-1940.
Dr. NELTE: Did these plans include attacks on and march through Luxemburg, Belgium, and Holland?
KEITEL: Not in the beginning, but first, if we can express it from the military point of view, the deployment in the West was to be a protective measure, that is, a thorough strengthening of the frontiers, of course preferably to take place where there was nothing except border posts. Accordingly, already at the end of September and the beginning of October, a transportation of the army from the East to the West did take place, as a security measure without, however, any fixed center of gravity.
Dr. NELTE: What did the military Leaders know about Belgium's~ and Holland's attitude?
KEITEL: This naturally changed several times in the course of the winter. At that time, in the autumn of 1939 - I can speak only for myself and there may be other opinions on this matter – I was convinced that Belgium wanted to remain out of the war under any circumstances and would do anything she could to preserve her neutrality. On the other band, we received, through the close connections between the Belgian and Italian royal houses, a number of reports that sounded very threatening. I had no way of finding out whether they were true, but we learned of them, and they indicated that strong pressure was exerted on Belgium to give up her neutrality.
As for Holland, we knew at that time only that there were General Staff relations between her and England.
But then of course, in the months from October 1939 to May 1940, the situation changed considerably and the tension varied greatly. From the purely military point of view, we knew one thing: That all the French swift units, that is, motorized units, were concentrated on the Belgian-French border, and, from a military point of view we interpreted this measure as meaning that at least preparations were being made for crossing through Belgium at any time with the swift units and advancing up to the borders of the Ruhr district.
I believe I should omit details here, because they are not important for the further developments, they are of a purely operational and strategic nature.
Dr. NELTE: Were there differentes of opinion between the generals and Hitler with reference to the attack in the West which was to take place through this neutral territory?
KEITEL: I believe I must say that this at that time was one the most serious crises in the whole war, namely the opinions held by a number of generals, including the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Von Brauchitsch and his Chief of the General Staff, and I also personally belong to that group, which wanted at all costs to attempt to prevent an attack in the West which Hitler intended for that winter. There were various reasons for this: The difficulty of transporting the Eastern Army to the West; then the point of view - and this I must state - the fact that we believed at that time, perhaps more from the political point of view, that if we did not attack, the possibility,of a peaceful solution might still exist and might still be realizable. Thus we considered it possible that between then and the spring many political changes could take place. Secondly, as soldiers, we were decidedly against the waging of a winter war in view of the short days and long nights, which are always a great hindrance to all military operations. To Hitler's objection that French swift forces might march through Belgium at any time and then stand before the Ruhr district, we answered that we were superior in such a situation in a war of movement, we were a match for it; this was our view. I may add that this situation led to very serious crisis between Hitlerr and the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and also me, because I had this trend of thought which Hitler vigorously rejected because it was, as he declared, strategically wrong. In our talks he accused me in the sharpest manner of conspiring against him with the generals of the Army, strengthening them in their opposition to his views. I must state here that I then asked to be relieved immediately of my post and given another, because I feit that under these circumstances the confidence between Hitler and myself had been completely destroyed and I was greatly offended. I may add that relations with the Commander-in-Chief of the Army also suffered greatly from this. But the idea of my discharge or employment elsewhere was sharply rejected. I would not be entitled to it. It has already been discussed here; I need not go into it any further. But this breach of confidence was not to be mended, not even in the future. In the case of Norway, there had already been a similar conflict because I had left the house. General Jodl's diary refers to it as a "serious crisis." I shall not go into this in detail.
Dr. NELTE: What was the reason for Hitler's speech to the Commanders-in-Chief on November 23, 1939, in the Reichs Chancellery?
KEITEL: I can say that this was very closely connected with the crisis between Hitler and the generals. He called a meeting of generals at that time to present and substantiate his views, and we knew it was his Intention to bring about a change of attitude on the part of the generals. In the notes on this speech, we see that individual persons were more than once directly and sharply rebuked. The reasons given by those who had spoken against this attack in the West were repeated. Moreover, he now wanted to make an irrevocable statement of his will to carry out this attack in the West that very Winter, because this, in his view, was the only strategic solution, as every delay was to the enemy's advantage. In other words, at that time, he no longer counted on any other solution than resort to force of arms.
Dr. NELTE: When, then, was the decision made to advance through Belgium and Holland?
KEITEL: The preparations for such a march through and attack on Belgium and Holland had already been made, but Hitler withheld the decision as to whether such a big attack or violation of the neutrality of these countries was actually to be carried out, and kept it open until the spring of 1940, obviously for all sorts of political reasons and perhaps also with the idea that the problem would automatically be solved if the enemy invaded Belgium or if the mobile French troops entered, or something like that. I can only state that the decision for the carrying out of this plan was withheld until the very last moment and the order was given only immediately before it was to be executed. I believe that there was a one other factor in this, which I have already mentioned, namely the relationship between the royal houses of Italy and Belgium. Hitler always surrounded his decisions with secrecy for he was obviously äfraid that they might become known through this relationship.

(A recess was taken)


Largest Soviet ground formation. It was attached to a certain area which gave its name to the units involved. For instance the Voronezh front.
German word for leader. During his reign of power Adolf Hitler was Führer of Nazi Germany.
Maginot Line
French defence line along the French-German border.
Highest military rank, Army commander.
To make an army ready for war, actually the transition from a state of peace to a state of war. The Dutch army was mobilized on the 29 August 1939.
Munich Agreement
Conference in 1938 between Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier and Mussolini about Czechoslovakia. To prevent a European war, Czechoslovakia had to give up the "Sudetenland” area to Germany.
Impartiality, absence of decided views, the state of not supporting or helping either side in a conflict.
“Oberkommando des Heeres”. German supreme command of the army.
“Oberkommando der Wehrmacht”. German supreme command of the Armed Forces, Army, Air Force and Navy.
Fast military raid in enemy territory
Soviet Union
Soviet Russia, alternative name for the USSR.
German armed military forces, divided in ground forces, air force and navy.
Also known as Siegfried Line, the German defence line along the German-French border.


The defendants' dock at the IMT. Front row from left to right: Hermann Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Keitel. Bron: Bundesarchiv Image 183-V01732.

Morning session, part 2

The PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, the Tribunal will be glad if, when you refer to Czechoslovakia or any other state you will refer to it by its proper name, you, and the defendants, and other witnesses.
Dr. NELTE: Mr. President, the Defendant Keitel wishes to make a slight correction in the statement which he made earlier upon my question regarding the occupation in the West during the Polish campaign.
The PRESIDENT: Very well.
KEITEL: I said earlier that in the West during the war against Poland, there were 5 divisions. I must rectify that statement. I had confused that with the year 1938. In 1939 there were approximately 20 divisions, including the reserves in the Rhineland and the West district behind the lines. Therefore, the statement I made was made inadvertently and was a mistake.
Dr. NELTE: Now we come to the Balkan wars. The Prosecution, with reference also to the war against Greece and Yugoslavia, have accused you of having cooperated in the preparation, planning and above all in the carrying out of those wars. Whal is your attitude toward this?
KEITEL: We were drawn into the war against Greece and against Yugoslavia in the spring of 1941 to our complete surprise and without having made any plans. Let me take Greece first. I accompanied Hitler during his journey through France for the meetings with Marshal Pétain and with Franco on the Spanish border and during that journey we received our first news regarding the Intention of Italy to attack Greece. The journey to Florence was immediately decided upon and upon arrival in Florence, we received Mussolini's communication, which has already been mentioned by Reichs Marshal Göring, namely, that the attack against Greece had already begun.
I can only say from my own personal knowledge that Hitler was extremely angry about this development and the dragging of the Balkans into the war and that only the fact that Italy was an ally prevented a break with Mussolini. I never knew of any intention to wage war against Greece.
Dr. NELTE: Was there any necessity for Germany to enter in that war or how did that come about?
KEITEL: At first the necessity did not exist, but during the first months, October - November, of that campaign of the Italians, it already became clear that the Italian position in this war had become extremely precarious. Therefore, as early as November - December, there were calls on the part of Mussolini for help, calls to assist him in some form or other.
Moreover, seen from the military point of view, it was clear of course that for the entire military position in the war, a defeat of Italy on the Balkans would have had considerable and very seriousi consequences. Therefore, by improvised means, assistance was rendered. I think a mountain division was to be brought in, but it was technically impossible, since there were no transportation facilities. Then another solution was attempted by means of air transport and the like.
Dr. NELTE: At the time when improvisations ceased, we come however, to the plan presented by the Prosecution and called "Marita." When was that?
KEITEL: The war in Greece and Albania had begun to reach a certain standstill because of winter conditions. During that time, plans were conceived in order to avoid a catastrophy for Italy, to bring in against Greece certain forces from the North for an attacl to relieve pressure, for such I must call it. That would, and did of course, take several months
. May I just explain that at that time the idea of a march through Yugoslavia, or even the suggestion that forces should be brought up through Yugoslavia was definitely turned down by Hitler, although the Army in particular had proposed that possibility as the most suitable way of bringing in troops. Regarding the "Operation Marita," perhaps not muck more can be said than to mention the march through Bulgaria which had been prepared and discussed diplomatically with Bulgaria.
Dr. NELTE: I would like to ask just one more question on this subject. The Prosecution have stated that even before the overthrow of the Yugoslav Government, that is to say, at the end of March 1941, negotiations were conducted with Hungary for the eventuality of an attack on Yugoslavia. Were you or the OKW informed of this or were you consulted?
KEITEL: No. I have no recollection at all of any military discussion on the part of the OKW with Hungary regarding the eventuality of a military action in the case of Yugoslavia. That is completely unknown to me. On the contrary, everything that happened later on - a few words about Yugoslavia will have to be said later - was completely improvised. Nothing had been prepared, at any rate not with the knowledge of the OKW.
Dr. NELTE: But it is known to you, is it not, that military discussions with Hungary had taken place during that period. I assume that you merely want to say that they did not refer to Yugoslavia.
KEITEL: Of course, it was known to me that several discussions had taken place with the Hungarian General Staff.
Dr. NELTE: You said you wanted to say something else about the case of Yugoslavia. Reichs Marshal Göring has made statements upon that subject here. Can you add anything new? Otherwise I have no further questions with regard to that subject.
KEITEL: I should merely Iike to confirm once more that the decision to proceed against Yugoslavia with military means meant completely upsetting all military advances and arrangements made up to that time. Marita had to be completely readjusted. Also new forces had to be brought through Hungary from the north. That was completely improvised.
Dr. NELTE: We come now to Fall Barbarossa. The Soviet Prosecution in particular, have stressed that the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces and you as Chief of Staff, as early as the summer of 1940, had dealt with the plan of an attack against the Soviet Union. When did Hitler for the first time talk to you about the possibility of a conflict, of an armed conflict with the Soviet Union?
KEITEL: As far as I recollect, that was at the beginning of August 1940, on the occasion of a discussion of the situation at Berchtesgaden, or rather at his house, the Berghof. That was the first time that the possibility of an armed conflict with the Soviet Union was discussed.
Dr. NELTE: What were the reasons which Hitler gave at the time which might possibly lead to a war?
KEITEL: I think I can refer to what Reichs Marshal Göring has said on this subject.
According to our notions, there were considerable troop concentrations in Bessarabia and Bukowina. The Foreign Minister too had mentioned figures which I cannot recall, and there was the anxiety which had been repeatedly voiced by Hitler at that time that developments might result in the Romanian theater which would endanger our source of petroleum, the fuel supply for the conduct of the war, which for the most part came from Romania. Apart from that, I think he talked about strong or manifest troop concentrations in the Baltic provinces.
Dr. NELTE: Were any directives given by you at that time or by those branches of the Wehrmacht which were affected?
KEITEL: No. As far as I can recollect this was confined firstly to increased activities of the intelligence or espionage service again Russia and, secondly, to certain investigations regarding the possibility of transferring troops from the west, from France, as quickly as possible to the southeast areas or to East Prussia. Certain return transports of troops from the Eastern military districts had already taken place at the end of July. Apart from that no instructions were given at that time.
Dr. NELTE: How was the line of demarcation occupied? KEITEL: There were continual reports from that border or demarcation line on frontier incidents, shootings, and particularly about frequent crossings of that line by aircraft of the Soviet Union which led to the due exchange of notes. But at any rate there were continual small frontier fights and shootings, particularly in the south, and we received Information through our frontier troops that continual or at certain times new Russian troop units appeared opposite them. I think that was all.
Dr. NELTE: Do you know how many divisions of the German Wehrmacht were stationed there at the time?
KEITEL: During the Western campaign there were - I do not think I am wrong this time - 7 divisions, 7 divisions from East Prussia to the Carpathians, 2 of which, during the western campaign, had even been transported to the west but later on were transported back again.
Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution submitted that at the end of July 1940 Generaloberst Jodl had given general instructions at Reichen¬hall to several officers of the Wehrmacht Operations Staff to study the Russian problem, and particularly to examine the railway trans¬port problems. Since you said a little earlier that not until August did you hear for the first time from Hitler what the situation was, I am now asking you whether you were informed about these con¬ferences of Generaloberst Jodl?
KEITEL: No. I did not hear until I came here, that such a con¬ference took place in Berchtesgaden at the end of July or the begin¬ning of August. This was due to the fact that I was absent from Berchtesgaden. I did not know of this conference, and I think General Jodl probably forgot to teil me about it at the time. I did not know about it.
Dr. NELTE: What were your personal views at that time regard¬ing the problem which arose out of the conference with Hitler?
KEITEL: When I became conscious of the fact that the matter had been given really serious thought I was very surprised and I considered it most unfortunate. I seriously considered what could be done to influence Hitler by using military considerations. At that time, as has been briefly discussed here by the Foreign Minister, I wrote a personal memorandum containing my thoughts on the subject, I should like to say, independently of the experts working in the General Staff and the Wehrmacht Operations Staff and wanted to present this memorandum to Hitler. I decided on that method because, as a rule, one could never get beyond the second sentence of a discussion with Hitler. He took the word out one's mouth and afterwards one never was able to say what one wanted to say. And in this connection I should like to say right now that I had the idea - it was the first and only time - of visiting the Foreign Minister personally, in order to ask him to support me from the political angle regarding that question. That is the visit to Fuschl, which has already been discussed here and which the Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop confirmed during his examination the other day.
Dr. NELTE: Then you confirm what Herr Von Ribbentrop has said, so that there is no need for me to repeat it?
KEITEL: I confirm that I went to Fuschl. I had the memorandum with me. It had been written by hand, since I did not want anybody else to get hold of it and I left Fuschl conscious of the fact that he wanted to try to exercise influence on Hitler to the Same end. He promised me that.
Dr. NELTE: Did you give that memorandum to Hitler?
KEITEL: Yes. Some time later at the Berghof, after a report of the situation had been given, I handed him that memorandum when we were alone. I think he told me at the time that he was going to study it. He took it, and did not give me a chance to make any explanations.
Dr. NELTE: Considering its importance did you later on find opportunity to refer to it again?
KEITEL: Yes. At first nothing at all happened, so that after some time I reminded him of it and asked him to discuss the probllem with me. This he did, and the matter was dealt with very briefly by his saying that the military and strategie consideration put forward by me were in no way convincing. He, Hitler, considered these ideas erroneous and turned them down. In that connection I can perhaps mention very briefly that I was again very much upset and there was another crisis when I asked to be relieved of my post and that another man be put in my office and that I be sent to the front. That once more led to a sharp controversy which has already been described by the Reichs Marshai when he said that Hitler took the attitude that he would not tolerate that a general whose views he did not agree with should ask to be relieved of his post because of this disagreement. I think he said that he had every right to turn down such suggestions and ideas if he considered them wrong. I had not the right to take any action.
Dr. NELTE: Did he return that memorandum to you?
KEITEL: No, I do not think I got it back. I have always assumed that it was found among the captured Schmundt files, which apparently is not the case. I did not get it back; he kept it.
Dr. NELTE: I do not wish to occupy the time of the Tribunal in this connection any further. I will leave it to you as to whether you wish to disclose the contents of that memorandum. I am not so much concerned with the military presentation - one can imagine what it was - but the question is: Did you refer to the Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 in that memorandum?
KEITEL: Yes, but I must say that the main part of my memorandum was devoted to military studies, military studies regarding the amount of forces, the requirements of effectives and the dispersal of forces in France and Norway at the time, and the Luftwaffe in Italy, and our being tied down in the West. In that memorandum I most certainly pointed to the fact that this Non-Aggression Pact existed. But all the rest were military considerations.
Dr. NELTE: Were any military ordern given at that time?
KEITEL: No. No orders were given at that time except, I think for the improvement of lines of communications from the west to the east to permit speeding up troop transports, particularly to the southeastern sector, in other words, north of the Carpathians and in the East Prussian rector. Apart from that no orders of any kind were given at that time.
Dr. NELTE: Had the discussion with Foreign Minister Molotov already taken place at that time?
KEITEL: No. On the contrary, at that time, in October the idea of a discussion with the Russians was still pending. Hitler also told me that at the time, and he always emphasized in that connection that until such a discussion had taken place he would not give an order, since it had been proved to him by General Jodl that in any case it was technically impossible to transfer strong troop units into the threatened sectors in the east which I have mentioned. Accordingly, nothing was done. The visit or rather discussion with th Russian delegation was prepared, in which connection I would like to say that I made the suggestion at that time that Hitler shoul talk personally with M. Stalin. That was the only thing I did in the matter.
Dr. NELTE: During that conference were military matters discussed?
KEITEL: I did not take any part in the discussions with M. Molotov, although in this instance too I was present at reception and at certain social meetings. I remember that an occasions I sat next to Molotov at the table. I did not hear political discussion, nor did I have any political discussions with my table companion.
Dr. NELTE: What did Hitler say after these discussions came to an end?
KEITEL: After the departure of Molotov he really said very little. He more or less said that he was disappointed in the discussion. I think he mentioned briefly that problems regarding the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea areas had been discussed in a geneneral way and that he had not been able to take any positive or desired stand. He said he did not go into details. I asked him about military things which had a certain significance at the time - the strong forces, for instance, in the Bessarabian sector. I think Hitler evaded the answer and said that this was obviously connected with these matters and that he had not gone into it too deeply, or something similar, I cannot remember exactly. At any rate, there was nothing new in it for us and nothing final.
Dr. NELTE: After that conference were any military orders given?
KEITEL: I think not even then, but Hitler told us at the time that he wished to wait for the reaction to these discussions in the eastern area after the delegation had returned to Russia. Certain orders had been given to the ambassador, too, in that respect, however not directly after the Molotov visit.
Dr. NELTE: May I ask you to give the date when the first definite instructions were given?
KEITEL: I can only reconstruct it in retrospect and on the strenght of the instruction Barbarossa which has been shown to me here and which came out in December. I believe it must have been during the first half of December that the orders were issued, the well known order Barbarossa. To be precise, these orders were given at the beginning of December, namely, the orders to work out the strategic plan.
Dr. NELTE: Did you know about the conference which took place at Zossen in December and which has been mentioned by the Prosecution here? Perhaps I may remind you that the Finnish General Heinrichs was present.
KEITEL: No, I knew nothing about the conference in Zossen and I think General Buschenhagen was also there, according to the statements he has made here. I did not know anything about the Finnish General Heinrichs' presence in Zossen and have heard about it for the first time here. The only way I can explain this is that the General Staff of the Army wanted to get information or other things and that for that purpose they discussed that with the persons concerned. I did not meet General Heinrichs until May 1941. At that time I had a conference with him and General Jodl at Salzburg, before that I had never seen him and I had never talked to him.
Dr. NELTE: Is there any significance in the fact that Directive Number 21 says that Hitler would order the actual deployment of the troops 8 weeks before the operational plan would become effective?
KEITEL: Yes, there was considerable significance attached to that. I have been interrogated about that by the Soviet Delegation here. The reason was that according to the calculations of the Army, it would take about 8 weeks to get these troops, which were to be transported by rail, into position; that is to say, if troops from Reichs territory were to be placed in position on an operative starting line. Hitler emphasized when the repeated revisions of the plan were made that,he wanted to have complete control of such deployment. In other words, troop movements without his approval were not to be made. That was the purpose of this instruction.
Dr. NELTE: When did it become clear to you that Hitler was determined to attack the Soviet Union?
KEITEL: As far as I can recollect, it was at the beginning of March. The idea was that the attack might be made approximately in the middle of May. Therefore the decision regarding the transport of troops by rail had to be made in the middle of March. For that reason, during the first half of March a meeting of generals was called, that is to say, a briefing of the generals at Hitler's headquarters and the explanations given by him at that time had clearly the purpose of telling the generals that he was determined to carry out the deployment although an order had not yet been given. He gave a whole series of ideas and issued certain instructions and thing which are contained in these directives here for the special parts of Fall Barbarossa. This is Document 447-PS, and these are the directives which were eventually also signed by me. He then gave us the directive for these guiding principles and ideas, so that the generals were already informed about the contents, which in turn caused me to confirm it in writing in this form, for there was nothing new in it for anyone who had taken part in the discussions.
Dr. NELTE: It appears to me, however, that what Hitler told the generals in his address was something new; and it also seems to me that you who were concerned with these matters, that is to say, who had to work them out, understood or had to understand that now a completely abnormal method of warfare was about to begin, at least when seen from your traditional point of view a soldier.
KEITEL: That is correct. Views were expressed there regarding the administration and economic exploitation of the territories to be conquered or occupied. There was the completely new idea of setting up Reichs commissioners and civilian administrations. There was the definite decisian to charge the Delegate for the Four Year Plan with the supreme direction in the economic field; and what was for me the most important point, and what affected me most was the fact that besides the right of the military commander to exercise the executive power of the occupation force, a policy was to be followed here in which it was clearly expressed that Reichsführer-SS Himmler was to be given extensive plenipotentiary powers concerning all police actions in these territories which later on became known. I firmly opposed that, since to me it seemed impossible that there should be 2 authorities placed side by. In the directives here it says: "The authority of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army is not affected by this."
That was a complete Illusion and self-deception. Quite the opposite happened. As long as it was compatible with my function I fought against this. I think I ought to say that I have no witness to that other than General Jodl, who shared these experiences with me. Eventually, however, Hitler worked out those directives himseif, more or less, and gave them the meaning he wanted. That is how these directives came about.
That I had no power to order the things which are contained in these directives is clear from the fact that it says that the Reichs Marshai receives this task ... the Reichssführer SS receives that task et cetera. I had no authority whatsoever to give orders to them.
Dr. NELTE: Was it never actually discussed that if one wanted to launch an attack on the Soviet Union, one would previously have to take diplomatic steps or else send a declaratian of war, or an ultimatum?
KEITEL: Oh, yes, I discussed that. As early as the wintei 1940-1941, whenever there were discussions regarding the strength of the Russian forces on the demarcation line, that is, in December - January, I asked Hitler to send a note to the Soviet Union so as to bring about a cleaning-up of the situation, if I may express it so. I can add now that the first time he said nothing at all and the second time he refused, maintaining that it was useless since it would only receive the answer that this was an internal affair and that it was none of our business, or something like that. At any rate, he refused. I tried again, at a later stage, that is to say I voiced the request that an ultimatum should be presented before we entered upon an action, so that in some form the basis would be created for a preventive war, as we called it, for an attack.
Dr. NELTE: You say "preventive war." When the final decisions were made, what was the military situation?
KEITEL:- I am best reminded of how we, or rather the Army judged the situation, by a study or memorandum. I believe it Document 872-PS, dated the end of January or the beginning of February, a report made by the Chief of the General Staff of the Army to Hitler on the state of operative and strategie preparation and in this document I found the Information we then had on the strength of the Red Army and other existing Information known to us, which is dealt with fully in this document.
Apart from that, I have to say too that the intelligente service of the OKW, Admiral Canaris, placed at my disposal or at the Army's disposal very little material because the Russian area was closely sealed against German intelligence. In other words, there were gäps up to a certain point. Only the things contained in Document 872-PS were known.
Dr. NELTE: Would you like to say briefly what it contained, as to justify your decision?
KEITEL: Yes, there were - Halder reported that there were 150 divisions of the Soviet Union deployed along the line of demarcation. Then there were aerial photographs of a lange number of aerodromes. In short, there was a degree of preparedness on the part of Soviet Russia, which could at any time lead to military action. Only the actual fighting later made it clear just how far the enemy had been prepared. I must say, that we fully realized all these things only during the actual attack.
Dr. NELTE: You were present during Hitler's last speech to the commanders in the east, made on June 14, 1941, in the Reichs Chancellery, were you not? I ask you, without going over old ground, to state briefly what Hitler said on that occasion, and what effect it had on the generals.
The PRESIDENT: Isn't there a document in connection with this? It must all be in the document. Isn't that so?
Dr. NELTE: I wanted to ask one question on that subject and then submit the document, or, if the Tribunal so desires, I will not read the document at all, but will merely quote the short summaries which are at the end of the document. Will the Tribunal agree to that?
The PRESIDENT: But what you did was to ask the defendant what was in the document.
Dr. NELTE: The document contains, if I may indicate it briefly, the following: The developments, and the ever increasing influence of organizations alien to the Wehrmacht on the course of the war. It is the proof that the Wehrmacht, during this war, which must be called a degenerate war, tried, as far as possible, to keep within the limits of international law and that when the ..
The PRESIDENT: I only want to know what your question is, that is all.
Dr. NELTE: My question to Field Marshai Keitel was to teil about the speech on June 14, 1941, and what Hitler ordered the generals to do and what the effect on them was. With that, I intended to conclude the preparations for the Russian campaign.
The PRESIDENT: He can teil what the effect was upon himseif, but I don't see how he can teil what the effect was upon other generals.
Dr. NELTE: He can only assume of course, but he can say whether the others reacted in one way or another. One can talk and one can take an opposing stand. I merely wanted to know whether this happened or not.
The PRESIDENT: Perhaps you had better ask him what happened that day at the conference; if you want to know what happened at the conference, why don't you ask him?
Dr. NELTE: Please, tell us about it.
KEITEL: After short reports regarding the operational order; the individual commanders, there followed a recapitulation, which I must describe as a purely political speech. The main theme, that this was the decisive battle between two ideologies, and that this fact made it impossible - that the leadership in this war, the practices which we knew as soldier, and which we considered to be the only correct ones under international law - had to be measured by completely different standards. The war could not be carried on by these means. This was an entirely new kind of war based an completely different arguments and principles.
With these explanations, the various orders were then given do away with the legal system in territories which were not pacified to combat resistance with brutal means, to consider every local resistance movement as the expression of the deep rift between two ideologies. These were decidedly quite new and very impressive ideas, but also thoughts which affected us deeply.
Dr. NELTE: Did you, or did any other general raise objections to oppose these explanations, directives, and orders?
KEITEL: No, I personally made no remonstrances, apart from those which I had already advanced and the objections I had already expressed before. However, I have never known which general if any of the generals, addressed the Führer. At any rate, they did not do so after that discussion.
Dr. NELTE: Mr. President, I think that now the time has com to decide whether you will accept the affidavits of the Defendant Keitel contained in my Document Book Number 2 under the numbers 3 and 5, as exhibits. Perhaps the Prosecution can express an opinion on this.
Up to now we have merely discussed the history before the actual Russian war. Insofar as the Defendant Keitel and the OKW is concerned, I should like to shorten the examination by submitting these 2 affidavits. The affidavit number 3 is an expose of the conditions governing the authority for issuing orders in the east. The extent of the territory and the numerous organizations led to an extremely complicated procedure for giving orders. To enable you to ascertain whether the Defendant Keitel, or the OKW, or some other department might be responsible, the conditions govern¬ing the authority to issue orders in the east have been presented in detail. I believe it would save a great deal of time if you would accept this document as an exhibit.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, Mr. Dodd and I have no objection to this procedure used by the Defense and we believe that it might probably help the Tribunal to have in front of them the printed accounts.
The PRESIDENT: Does Dr. Nelte intend to read or only sum¬marize these affidavits?
Dr. NELTE: I intend merely to sübmit it to you after I have asked the defendant whether the contents of the affidavit have been written and signed by him.
The PRESIDENT: And the Prosecution, of course, have had these affidavits for some time?
Dr. NELTE: The same applies, if I understand Sir David cor¬rectly, to affidavit number 5.
The PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, it would be convenient, I think, if you gave these affidavits numbers in the sequence of your exhibit numbers and gave us also their dates so that we can identify them. Can you give us the dates of the affidavits?
Dr. NELTE: May I be permitted to arrange the matter in the secretary's office during the recess?
The PRESIDENT: Yes. The first is dated the 8th of March, isn't it? The other is the 18th, is it? Dr. Nelte, you can do it at the recess and give them numbers. You can give them numbers at the recess.
It is nearly 1 o'clock now, and we are just going to adjourn. You can give them numbers then. Does that conclude your examination?
Dr. NELTE: We come now to the individual cases which I hope however, to conclude in the course of the afternoon. Mr. President, I am sorry but I must discuss the prisoner-of-war affairs and several individual matters. I think I still need this afternoon for myself. I believe that if I bear in mind the interests of the Defendant Keitel I am limiting myself a good deal.
The PRESIDENT: Do you desire to put your questions to him now or not?
Dr. NELTE: I think- I do not know how the President feels about it - it would be convenient if we had a recess now so that the meantime I can put the affidavits in order. I have not finished the discussion of this subject.
The PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal recessed until 14:00 hours.)


A villa hidden deep in the Alps built at the top of the Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden. This villa was property of Hitler and centre of the ”Alpenfestung”. The villa has an enormous complex of tunnels with a length of nearly 11 km. From the Berghof the Third Reich was ruled by Hitler and his close companions. Eva Braun, Hitler’s companion, spent a lot of time there.
Military unit, usually consisting of one upto four regiments and usually making up a corps. In theory a division consists of 10,000 to 20,000 men.
Four Year Plan
A German economic plan focussing at all sectors of the economy whereby established production goals had to be achieved in four years time.
Largest Soviet ground formation. It was attached to a certain area which gave its name to the units involved. For instance the Voronezh front.
German word for leader. During his reign of power Adolf Hitler was Führer of Nazi Germany.
German air force.
Highest military rank, Army commander.
Non-Aggression Pact
Agreement wherein parties pledge not to attack each other.
“Oberkommando der Wehrmacht”. German supreme command of the Armed Forces, Army, Air Force and Navy.
Red Army
Army of the Soviet Union.
Resistance against the enemy. Often also with armed resources.
German-speaking demilitarized area on the right bank of the Rhine which was occupied by Adolf Hitler in 1936 after World War 1.
Soviet Union
Soviet Russia, alternative name for the USSR.
German armed military forces, divided in ground forces, air force and navy.

Afternoon session, part 1.

Dr. NELTE: Mr. President, of the two documents mentioned this morning, the first document, number 3 of Document Book number 2 entitled "The Command Relationships in the East," will be given the number 10 of the Keitel Documents.
The PRESIDENT: That is dated the 14 of March 1946?
Dr. NELTE: Yes, 14 of March 1946.
The PRESIDENT: The document that I have got is headed the 23 February 1946, and at the end, the 14 March 1946. Is that the one?
Dr. NELTE: The document was first written down and later attested. There is, therefore, a differente in the two dates.
The PRESIDENT: I only wanted to identify which it is, that is all.
Dr. NELTE: It is the document of March 14, 1946.
The PRESIDENT: Very well.
Dr. NELTE: The affidavit is dated March 14.
The PRESIDENT: And you are giving it what number?
Dr. NELTE: I give it Number Keitel-10. The second document which is fifth in the document book, is dated at the head March 18, 1946 and has at the end the defendant's attestation as of March 29, 1946. This document has received the number Keitel-12. Permit me to read a summary of a few points on Pagen 11 and 12 of the German copy. This, as it appears to me, is of very great importance for this Trial.
The PRESIDENT: Of which document?
Dr. NELTE: Document Number 12.
Dr. NELTE: The question in this document ...
The PRESIDENT: Just a minute. I do not think the Interpreters have found the document yet, have they? It comes just after a certificate, by Catherine Bedford, and 1 think it is about halfway through the book, and although the pages are not numbered consecutively, it appears to have the figure 51 on it.
Dr. NELTE: I shall begin where it says, "In summing up...' Those are the last three pages of this document:
"In summing up it must be established that:

  • 1. In addition to the Wehrmacht as the legal protector of the Reichs internally and externally (as in every State)" - I interpolate, "in the SS organizations" a particular, completely independent power factor arose and was legalized, which politically, biologically, in police and administration matters actually drew the powers of the State to itself.
  • 2. Even at the beginning of military complications and conflicts the SS came to be the actual forerunner and stand bearer of a policy of conquest and power.
  • 3. After the commencement of the military actions the Reichsführer-SS devised methods which always appeared appropriate, which were concealed at first, or were hardly apparent at least from the outside, and which enabled him in reality to build up his power under the guise of protecting the annexed or occupied territories from political opponents.
  • 4. From the occupation of the Sudeten territory, beginning with the organization of political unrest, that is, of so-called liberation actions and 'incidents,' the road leads straight through Poland and the Western areas in a steep curve into the Russian territory.
  • 5. With the directives for the Barbarossa Plan for the administration and utilization of the conquered Eastern territories, the Wehrmacht was, against its Intention and without knowledge of the conditions, drawn further and further into the subsequent developments and activities.
  • 6. I (Keitel) and my colleagues had no deeper insight into the effects of Himmler's full powers and had no idea of the possible effect of these powers.
    "I assume without further discussion that the same holds true for the OKH, which according to the order of the Führer made the agreements with Himmler's officials and gave orders to the subordinate army commanders.
  • 7. In reality, it was not the Commander-in-Chief of the Army who had the executive power assigned to him and the power to decree and to maintain law in the occupied territories, but Himmler and Heydrich decided on their own authority the fate of the people and prisoners, including prisoners-of-war in whose camps they exercised the executive power.
  • 8. The traditional training and concept of duty of the German officers, which taught unquestioning obedience to superiors who bore responsibility, led to an attitude - regrettable in retrospect - which caused them to shrink from rebellion against these orders and these methods even when they recognized their illegality and inwardly refuted them.
  • 9. The Führer, Hitler, abused his authority and his fundamental Order Number 1 in an irresponsible way with respect to us. This Order Number 1 read, more or less:
    'l. No one shall know about secret matters which do not belong to his own range of assignments.
    2. No one shall learn more than he needs to fulfill the tasks assigned to him.
    3. No one shall receive Information earlier than is neces¬sary for the performance of the duties assigned to him.
    4. No one shall transmit to subordinate offices, to any greater extent or any earlier than is unavoidable for the achievement of the purpose, orders which are to be kept secret.
  • 10. If the entire consequences which arose from granting Himmler authority in the East had been foreseen, in this case the leading generals would have been the first to raise an unequivocal protest against it. That is my conviction.
    "As these atrocities developed, one from the other, step by step, and without any foreknowledge of the consequences, destiny took its tragic course, with its fateful consequences.
Witness, Defendant Keitel, did you yourself write this stateme that is, dictate it as I have just read it? Are you perfectly familiar with its contents and did you swear to it?
Dr. NELTE: I shall submit the document in the original.
(Turning to the defendant): We had stopped at Document C-59 ¬which deals with the abolition of military jurisdiction in the Barbarossa area. I do not know whether you still want to express your opinion on it, or whether that is now superfluous after what has just been read.
KEITEL: I should like to say to this only that these documents C-50 and 884-PS, beginning at Page 4, are the record of the directives that were given in that General Staff meeting on June 14. In line with military regulations and customs they were given the form of written orders and then sent to the subordinate offices.
Dr. NELTE: I have a few more short questions regarding the war against America. The Prosecution assert that Japan was influenced by Germany to wage war against America and have, in the tour of their presentation, accused you of participation and cooperation in this plan. Would you like to make some statement regarding this?
KEITEL: Docurnent C-75 is a directive by the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht which deals with cooperation with Japan. Of course, I participated in the drawing up of this order and sign it by order. The other document, number 1881-PS, regarding a conference between the Führer and Matsuoka, I do not know and I do not know anything about it. I can say only the following for soldiers: In the course of all this time, until the Japanese entry into war against America, there were two points of view that were general directives or principles which Hitler emphasized to us. I was to prevent America from entering the war under any circumstances; consequently to renounce military operations in the seas far as the Navy was concerned. The other, the thought that guided us soldiers, was the hope that Japan would enter the war against Russia; and I recall that around November and the beginning of December 1941, when the advance of the German armies west of Moscow was halted and I visited the front with Hitler, I was asked several times by the generals, "When is Japan going to enter the war?" The reasons for their asking this were that again and again Russian Far East divisions were being thrown into the fight via Moscow, that is to say, fresh troops coming from the Far East. That was about 18 to 20 divisions, but I could not say for certain.
I was present in Berlin during Matsuoka's visit, and I saw him also at a social gathering, but I did not have any conversation with him. All the deductions that might be made from Directive 24, C-75 and which I have learned about from the preliminary examination during my interrogation, are without any foundation for us soldiers and there is no justification for anyone's believing that we were guided by thoughts of bringing about a war between Japan and America, or of undertaking anything to that end. In conclusion, I can say only that this order was necessary because the branches of the Wehrmacht offered resistance to give Japan certain things, military secrets in armament production unless she were in the war.
Dr. NELTE: There was also a letter submitted by the Prosecution, a letter from Major Von Falkenstein to the Luftwaffe Operations Staff. Reichs Marshal Göring testified to this in his interrogation. I only wanted to ask you if you knew of this letter, or if you have anything to add to Reichs Marshal Görings testimony?
KEITEL: I have nothing to add, for I never saw this letter by Von Falkenstein until I saw it here during my interrogation.
Dr. NELTE: We come now to the individual facts with which you and the OKW are charged by the Prosecution. Because of the vast number of points brought up by the Prosecution I can naturally choose only individual groups and those with the most serious charges, in order to elucidate whether and to what extent you were involved and what your attitude was to the ensuing results. In most cases it is a question of orders from Hitler, but in your statement on the actual happenings you have admitted to a certain participation in these things and knowledge of them. Therefore, we must discuss these points. One of the most important is that of hostages. In this connection I want to show you Document C-128. These are orders for operations in the west. Let me ask you, however, first of all what is the basis for the taking of hostages as it was usually carried out by the Wehrmacht?
KEITEL: These are the printed regulations "Secret G-2" (Army Service Regulation G-2) and headed, according to the order: "Service Instructions for Army Units."
Dr. NELTE: I ask you, Mr. President, to turn to Document Book number 1, number 7 on Page 65 of my document book. I ask you to establish that this is a copy from the afore-mentioned Army Regulätions, Section 9, which deals with the question of hostages. This is Document K-7, and it reads as follows:
    "Hostages may be taken only by order of a regimental commander, an independent battalion commander or a commander of equal rank. With regard to accommodation and feeding, it is to be noted that, though they should be kept under strictest guard, they are not convicts. Furthermore, only senior officers holding at least the position of a division commander can decide on the fate of hostages."
That is, if you want to call it so, the Hostage Law of the Germ Wehrmacht.
KEITEL: I might say in this connection that in Document C-1, which is the preparatory operational order of the Army för the battle in the West, this is mentioned especially under the heading "3a. Security measures against the population of occupied territory. A) Hostages."
The PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, are you offering that as Keitel-7?
Dr. NELTE: I ask to have these printed Army Instructions put in evidence as Exhibit Keitel-7 (Document Number Keitel-7).
The PRESIDENT: Would you kindly say what you are putting it in as each time because if you simply say "7" it will lead to confusion.
Dr. NELTE: Keitel-7. (Turning to the defendant): Was Document C-128 the order ~ the High Command of the Army on the occasion of the march into France?
Dr. NELTE: Now I have here another document, Documer number 1585-PS, which contains an opinion expressed by the OKW. It is a letter to the Reichsminister for Air and Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe; and in his letter, I assume, are contained the convictions held by the office of which you were head.
Dr. NELTE: What do you say today in connection with this letter?
KEITEL: I can say only that it is precisely the same standpoint that I represent today, because there is here, with reference to the above-mentioned order, the following paragraph, beginning with the ¬words, "For the protection against any misuse... " and so on. Then the order is quoted.
Dr. NELTE: This is in reference to Regulation G-2, and further that the "decision regarding the fate of hostages ... "
KEITEL: It says, "According to which the decision on the fate of hostages is reserved to senior officers holding at least the position of a division commander."
Dr. NELTE: Is it correct when I say that this letter was draw up by the Legal Department of the OKW after examination of the situation as regards international law and its implications?
KEITEL: Yes, it is to be seen from the document itself that this point of view was taken into consideration.
Dr. NELTE: Did you issue any general orders on this question of hostages in your capacity as chief of OKW, apart from those we have had up to now?
KEITEL: No, the OKW participated only in helping to draw up this order. No other basic orders or directions were issued on this question.
Dr. NELTE: Did you nevertheless in individual cases have anything to do with this question of hostages? You and the OKW are charged by the Prosecution with having expressed yourselves in some way or having taken some kind of attitude when inquiries, were made by Stülpnagel and Von Falkenhausen. I show you Document 1594-PS.
KEITEL: This document, 1594-PS, is a communication from Von Falkenhausen, the Military Commander of Belgium, and is directed to the OKH, General Staff, Quartermaster General and further to the Commander-in-Chief and Military Commander in France and for the Information of the Wehrmacht Commander in the Netherlands and Luftgau Belgium.
I do not know this document nor could I know it, for it is directed to the Army. The assumption expressed by the French Prosecutor that I received a letter from Von Falkenhausen is not true. I do not know this letter and it was not sent to me. Official communication between the military commanders in France and Belgium took place only betweenn the OKH and these two military commanders subordinate to it. These commanders were not subordinate either to the OKW or to me.
Dr. NELTE: The French Prosecution has submitted Document number UK-25 and has asserted that this document was the basis for the hostage legislation in France, that there is, in other words a basic connection between the order you signed on September 16, 1941 and the treatment of hostages in France. I will show you the documents, 1587-PS and 1588-PS, in addition to UK-25 and request you to comment on them.
KEITEL: I must first answer the question as to whether I had any discussion on individual matters with military commanders regarding the question of hostages. Did you not ask me that?
Dr. NELTE: With regard to Stülpnagel and Von Falkenhausen?
KEITEL: Yes, with regard to Stülpnagel and Falkenhausen. It is possible, and I do recall one such case, Stülpnagel called me from Paris on such a matter because he had received an order from the Army to shoot a certain number of hostages for an attack on menbers of the German Wehrmacht. He wanted to have this order certified by me. That happened and I believe it is confirmed by a telegram which has been shown to me here. It is also confirmed that at that time I had a meeting with Stülpnagel in Berlin. Otherwise the relations between myself and these two military commanders were limited to quite exceptional matters, in which they believed that with my help they might obtain certain support with regard to things that were very unpleasant for them, for example, in such questions as labor allocation, that is, workers from Belgium and France destined for Germany, where also, in one case, conflicts arose between the military commanders and their police authorities. I these cases I was called up directly in order to mediate.
Permit me, please, to look at the documents first.
Dr. NELTE: You must begin with UK-25, September 16,1941.
The PRESIDENT: It is impossible for the Tribunal to carry al these documents in their heads by reference to their numbers, and we do not have the documents before us. We do not know what documents you are dealing with here. It is quite impossible for us.
Dr. NELTE: Mr. President, for this reason, I took the liberty of submitting to the Tribunal before the beginning of the sessions a list of documents. I am sorry if that was not done. I could not submit the documents themselves. You will always find a number to the left of this list.
The PRESIDENT: Yes, I see that, but all that I see here is 1587-PS, which is not the one that you are referring to, apparently and it is described as a report to the supreme command of the Army. That does not give us much indication of what it is about. The next one is 1594-PS, a letter to OKH. That again does not give us much indication of what it is about, except that they have something to do with the hostage question.
Dr. NELTE: It is concerned with the question which the Defendant Keitel is about to answer. Do you not also have the order bearing Document number C-128?
The PRESIDENT: Yes, I have that. That is directions for operation in the west.
Dr. NELTE: And UK-25?
Dr. NELTE: And 1588-PS?
The PRESIDENT: We have got them all. The only thing that I was pointing out to you was that the description of them is inadequate to explain to us what they mean and what they are. Perhaps by a word or two you can indicate to us when you come to the document what it is about.
Dr. NELTE: Document UK-25, about which the Defendant Kei is about to testify, is an order of September 16, 1941, signed by him regarding "Communist Uprisings in the Occupied Territories." It contains, among other things, the sentence: "The Führer has now ordered that most severe measures should be taken everywhere in order to crush this movement as soon as possible." The French Prosecution asserted that, on the basis of this order, hostage legislation was promulgated in France, which is contained in Document 1588-PS. If you have Document 1588-PS, you will find on the third page a regular code regarding the taking and treatment of hostages.
The defendant is to state whether such a causal relation did exist and to what extent the OKW and he himself were at all competent in these matters.
KEITEL: Document UK-25, the Führer order of September 16, 1941, as has just been stated, is concerned with Communist uprising in occupied territories, and the fact that this is a Führer order has already been mentioned. I must clarify the fact that this order, as far as its contents are concerned, referred solely to the Eastern regions, particularly to the Balkan countries. I believe that I can prove this by the fact that there is attached to this document a distribution list, that is, a list of addresses beginning, "Wehrmacht Commander Southeast for Serbia, southern Greece, and Crete." This was, of course, transmitted also to other Wehrmacht commanders and also to the OKH with the possibility of its being passed on to subordinate officers. I believe that this document, which, for the sake of saving time, I need not read here, has several indications that the assumption on the part of the French Prosecution that this is the basis for the hostage law to be found in Document number 1588-PS is false, and that there is no causal nexus between the two. It is true that the date of this hostage law is also September --, the number is hard to read - but, as far as its contents are concerned these two matters are, in my opinion, not connected. Moreover, the two military commanders in France and Belgium never received the order from the OKW, but they may have received it through the OKH, a matter which I cannot check because I do not know.
Regarding this order of September 16, 1941, 1 should like to say that its great severity can be traced back to the personal influence of the Führer. The fact that it is concerned with the Eastern region is already to be seen from the contents and from the introduction and does not need to be substantiated any further. It is correct that this order of September 16, 1941 is signed by me.
Dr. NELTE: We come now to the second individual fact, "Nacht und Nebel." The Prosecution charges you of having participated in the Nacht und Nebel decree of December 12, 1941, Document nunber L-90 ...
KEITEL: May I say one more thing regarding the other question?
Dr. NELTE: Please, if it appears to be necessary. In the communication of February 2, 1942 we find the words, "In the annex are transmitted: 1) A decree of the Führer of December 7, 1941.. You wanted to say something more; if it is important, please. Do you have Document number L-90?
KEITEL: L-90, yes.
Dr. NELTE: What was the cause for this order, so terrible in its consequences?
KEITEL: I must state that it is perfectly clear to me that the connection of my name with this so-called "Nacht und Nebel" order is a serious charge against me, even though it can be seen from the documents that it is a Führer order. Consequently I should like to state how this order came about. Since the beginneng of the Eastern campaign and in the late autumn of 1941 until the spring of 1942, the resistance movements, sabotage and everything connected with it increased enormously in all the occupied territories. From the military angle it meant that the security troops were tied down having to be kept on the spot by the unrest. That is how I saw it from the military point of view at that time. And day by day through the daily reports we could picture the sequence of events in the individual occupation sectors. It was impossible to handle this summarily; rather, Hitler demanded that he be informed of each individual occurrence, and he was very displeased if such matter were concealed from him in the reports by military authorities. He got to know about them all the same. In this connection, he said to me that it was very displeasing to him and very unfavorable to establishing peace that, owing to this, death sentences by court-martial against saboteurs and their accom¬plices were increasing; that he did not wish this to occur, since from his point of view it made appeasement and relations with the population only more difficult. He said at that time that a state of peace could be achieved only if this were reduced and if, instead of death sentences - to shorten it - in case a death sentence could not be expected and carried out in the shortest time possible, as stated here in the decree, the suspect or guilty persons concerned - if one may use the word "guilty"- should be deported to Germany without the knowledge of their families and be interned or imprisoned, instead of lengthy court-martial proceedings with many witnesses.
I expressed the greatest misgivings in this matter and know very well that I said at that time that I feared results exactly opposite to those apparently hoped for. I then had serious discussions with the legal adviser of the Wehrmacht, who had similar scruples, because there was an elimination of ordinary legal procedures. I tried again to prevent this order from being issued or to have it modified. My efforts were in vain. The threat was made to me that the Minister of Justice would be commissioned to issue a corre¬sponding decree, should the Wehrmacht not be able to do so. Now may I refer to details only insofar as these ways were provided in this order, L-90, of preventing arbitrary application, and these were primarily as follows:
The general principles of the order provided expressly that such deportation or abduction into Reichs territory should take place only after regular court-martial proceedings and that in every case the officer in charge of jurisdiction, that is, the divisional commander must deal with the matter together with his legal adviser, in the legal way, on the basis of preliminary proceedings.
I must say that I believed then that every arbitrary and excessive application of these principles was avoided by this provision. You will perhaps agree with me that the words in the order, "It is the will of the Führer after long consideration . . ." put in for that purpose, were not said without reason and not without the hope that the addressed military commander would also recognize from this that this was a method of which we did not approve and did not consider to be right.
Finally we introduced a reviewing procedure into the order so that through the higher channels of appeal, that is, the military commander in France and the supreme command or commander of the Army, it would be possible to try the case legally by appeal proceedings if the verdict seemed open to question, at least, within the meaning of the decree. I learned here for the first time of the full and monstrous tragedy, namely, that this order, which was intended only for the Wehrmacht and for the sole purpose of determining whether an offender who faced a sentence in jail could made to disappear by means of this Nacht und Nebel procedure, was obviously applied universally by the Police, as testified by witnesses whom I have heard here and according to the Indictment which I also heard, and so the horrible fact of the existence of whole camps full of people deported through the Nacht und Nebel procedure has been proved.
In my opinion, the Wehrmacht, at least I and the military commanders of the occupied territories who were connected with the order, did not know of this. At any rate it was never reported to me. Therefore this order, which in itself was undoubtedly very dangerous and disregarded certain requirements of law such as I understood it, was able to develop into that formidable affair of which the Prosecution have spoken.
The Intention was to take those who were to be deported from their home country to Germany because Hitler was of the opinion that penal servitude in wartime would not be considered by the persons concerned as dishonorable in cases where it was a question of actions by so-called patriots. It would be regarded as a short detention which would end when the war was over.
These reflections have already been made in part in the note. If you have any further questions, please put them.
Dr. NELTE: The order for the carrying out of this Nacht und Nebel decree states that the Gestapo was to effect the transportation to Germany. You stated that the people who came to Germany were to be turned over to the Minister of Justice, that is, to normal police custody. You will understand that, by the connection with the Gestapo, certain suspicions are raised that it was known from the start what happened to these people. Can you say anything in elucidation of that matter?
KEITEL: Yes. The order that was given at that time was that these people should be turned over to the German authorities of justice. This letter signed "by order" and then the signature, was issued 8 weeks later than the decree itself by the Amt Ausland Abwehr as I can see from my official correspondence. It indicates the conferences, that is, the agreements, which had to be reached at that time, regarding the method by which these people were to be taken from their native countries to Germany. They were apparently conducted by this Amt Abwehr, which evidently ordered police detachments as escorts. That can be seen from it.
I might mention in this connection - I must have seen it - that did not seem objectionable at that time, because I could have, and I had no reason to assume that these people were being turned over to the Gestapo, frankly speaking, to be liquidated, but that Gestapo was simply being used as the medium in charge of transportation to Germany. I should like to emphasize that particularly, so that there can be no doubt that it was not our idea to do away with the people as was later done in that Nacht und Nebel camp.
Dr. NELTE: We come now to the question of parachutists, sabotage troops and Commando operations. The French Prosecution treat in detail the origin and effect of the two Führer orders of October 18, 1942 regarding the treatment of Commandos. Does the Tribunal have a copy of this Führer order? It is 498.
The PRESIDENT: We haven't got a copy of the order. You mean 553-PS or 498?
Dr. NELTE: The second is Document number 553-PS.
The PRESIDENT: We have not got that either, "Combating of lndividual Parachutists, Decree of 4. 8. 42".
° Dr. NELTE: Could you please repeat your statement? What you just said did not come through.
The PRESIDENT: 553-PS, "Combating of Individual Parachutists, Decree of 4. 8. 42." That is what we have, nothing else. You also have 498 ...
Dr. NELTE: Document Number 553-PS is a memorandum signed by Keitel. The French Prosecution has assumed correctly that there is some connection between the Document 553-PS and the Führer order of October 18, 1942. The defendant is to testify what were the reasons that lay behind this Führer order and this notice.
KEITEL: First of all, Document 553-PS, the note: This memorandum was issued by me in August 1942. As I have already described in connection with the Nacht und Nebel decree, sabotage acts, dropping of agents by parachute, the parachuting of arms, munition, explosives, radio sets and small groups of saboteurs reached greater and greater proportions. They were dropped by night from aircraft in thinly populated regions. This activity covered the whole area governed by Germany at that time. It extended from the west over to Czechoslovakia and Poland and from the East as far as the Berlin area. Of course, a large number of the people involved in these actions were captured and much of the mater was taken. This memorandum was to rally all offices, outside the Wehrmacht as well, police and civilian authorities, to the service against this new method of conducting the war, which was, to our way of thinking, illegal; a sort of "war in the dark behind the lines" Even today, after reading this document through again - it has already been given to me here -I consider this memorandum objectionable. It expressly provides that members of enemy forces, that is members of any enemy force, if captured by the police should be taken to the nearest Wehrmacht office after being identified. I know that in the French sector the French police did their full share in arresting these troops and putting them in safe charge. They collaborated in preventing these acts of sabotage. It will perhaps make clear how extensive these activities were if I mention that on certain days there were as many as 100 railways blown up in this way. That is in the memorandum.
Now, as to the Führer orders of October 18, 1942, which has been mentioned very often here and which I may describe as further development of the regulations mentioned in this memorandum: As to these methods, this way of conducting illegal warfare kept on increasing, and individual parachutists grew into small Commando units which landed from heavy aircraft or by parachute and were systematically employed, not to create disturbances or destruction in general, but to attack specific, vital and important military objectives. In Norway, for instance, I recall that they had the task of blowing up the only aluminum works. It may sound strange, but during this period half to three-quarters of an hour of the daily discussion on the situation was devoted to the problem of how to handle these incidents. These incidents in all sectors caused the Führer to demand other methods, vigorous measures to combat this activity, which he characterized as "terrorism" and said that the only method that could be used to combat it was severe countermeasures. I recall that in reply to our objections as soldiers the following words were spoken: "As long as the paratrooper or saboteur runs the danger only of being taken captive, he incurs no risk; in normal circumstances he risks nothing; we must take action against this." These were the reasons behind his thoughts. I was asked several times to express myself on this subject and to present a draft. General Jodl will also recall this. We did not know what we, as soldiers, were to do. We could make no suggestion.
If I may sum up briefly, we heard Hitler's bursts of temper on this subject almost every day, but we did nothing, not knowing what we could do. Hitler declared that this was against the Hague Convention and illegal, that it was a method of waging war not foreseen in the Hague Convention and which could not be foreseen. He said that this was a new war with which we had to contend in which new methods were needed. Then, to make it short, as I have already testified in the preliminary investigation, these order - this order itself and the well-known instructions that those who did not carry out the first order should be punished - were issued in a concise form and signed by Hitler. They were then distributed I believe, by the Chief of the Operations Staff, Jodl. I might that many times the commanders who received these orders asked questions about how they were to be applied, particularly in connection with the threat that they would be punished if they did not carry them out. The only reply we could make was, "'You know what is in the orders," for we were not in a position to change these signed orders.
Dr. NELTE: The Prosecution have accused you personally of having issued the order to kill the English saboteurs captured in Commando operations at Stavanger. In this connection I submit to you Documents 498-PS, 508-PS, and 527-PS. (The documents are submitted to the defendant.)
This, Mr. President, was a Commando mission in the vicinity of Stavanger. The troops who fell into German hands had to be killed according to the Führer decree. There was a remote possibility of interrogating these persons, if that was demanded by military necessity. In this case the Commander-in-Chief in Norway, General von Falkenhorst, dealt with the matter. He turned to the OKW as he has already testified in the minutes of an interrogation.
(Turning to the defendant.] Would you make any statement in this connection?
KEITEL: I was interrogated on this subject, and in the course of the interrogation I was confronted with General Von Falkenhorst. As I recall, I did not remember his having asked me questions regarding the carrying out of this order. I did not know of it. Even the event itself was no longer in my memory and I remembered again only after I had seen the documents. During the interrogation I told the interrogator that I had no authority to change that order, that I could refer any one concerned only to the order, as such. As regards my confrontation with General Von Falkenhorst, I should like to say only what I stated here in the minutes, "He obviou shelved the answers and altered his earlier statements, but did not deny them. Keitel did not deny having had this talk with me but denied that the subject of it was what I said."
Dr. NELTE: Mr. President, I can only say that this is a summary of the interrogation of General Von Falkenhorst, a document which was submitted by the Prosecution without having a document number. (Turning to the defendant). Have you finished your Statement.
KEITEL: Yes. I believe that suffices.
The PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, the Prosecution did not put in the document, did they? They have not offered it in evidence?
Dr. NELTE: I believe they did.
The PRESIDENT: I think they must have put it to the Defendant Keitel in one of his interrogatians, did they not? Isn't that right? ¬That does not mean that it is put in evidente, because the interrogation itself, you see, need not be put in evidente. You must put it in now if you want it to go in.
Dr. NELTE: Mr. President, there is some error here. This doc ment was put in by the Prosecution here as proof of the assertion that the Defendant Keitel had given the order to kill these paratroopers. I received the document here.
The PRESIDENT: The Prosecution will teil me if that is so but I cannot think of any document having been put in here that has not had an exhibit number.
Mr. DODD: We have no recollection of having put it in. Many of these interragations did not have document numbers but of course, if they were put in, they would have USA or Great Britain exhibit numbers.
The PRESIDENT: Well, perhaps the best way would be for Counsel for the Prosecution to verify whether it was read in evidence.
Mr. DODD: That will take me a few minutes, Your Honor.
The PRESIDENT: Yes, I mean at your leisure. Would that be a convenient time to break off for 10 minutes?
Dr. NELTE: Yes.

(A recess was taken.)


Military unit, usually consisting of one upto four regiments and usually making up a corps. In theory a division consists of 10,000 to 20,000 men.
Largest Soviet ground formation. It was attached to a certain area which gave its name to the units involved. For instance the Voronezh front.
German word for leader. During his reign of power Adolf Hitler was Führer of Nazi Germany.
“Geheime Staatspolizei”. Secret state police, the secret police in the Third Reich.
German air force.
Highest military rank, Army commander.
“Oberkommando des Heeres”. German supreme command of the army.
“Oberkommando der Wehrmacht”. German supreme command of the Armed Forces, Army, Air Force and Navy.
Airborne Division. Military specialized in parachute landings.
Resistance against the enemy. Often also with armed resources.
German armed military forces, divided in ground forces, air force and navy.

Afternoon session, part 2.

The PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn this afternoon at a quarter to 5. They will then sit again in this Court in closed session, and they desire that both Counsel for the Prosecution and Counsel for the Defense should be present then, as they wish to discuss with those counsels on both sides the best way of avoiding translating unnecessary documents.
There have, as you know, been a very great number of documents put in, and a great burden has fallen upon the Translation Division. That is the problem which the Tribunal wish to discuss in closed session with Counsel for the Prosecution and Counsel for the Defense. They will, therefore, as I say, sit here in closed sessionn where there is room for all the Defense Counsel. That is at 5 o'clock.
Dr. NELTE: Do you remember an inquiry of the Commander-in-Chief West, in June 1944, regarding the treatment of sabotage troops behind the invasion front? A new situation had been created by the invasion and, therefore, by the problem of the Commandos.
KEITEL: Yes, I remember, since these documents too have been submitted to me here and there were several documents. It is true that the Commander-in-Chief West, after the landing of Anglo-American forces in Northern France, considered that a new situation had arisen with reference to this Führer order of October 18,1942 directed against the parachute Commandos.
The inquiry was, as usual, reported, and General Jodl and I represented the view of the Commander-in-Chief West, namely, that this order was not applicable here. Hitler refused to accept the point of view and gave certain directives in reply, which, according to the document, had at least two editions; after one had been cancelled as useless, the Document 551-PS remained as the final version as approved by the Führer during that report.
I remember all this so accurately because, on the occasion of presenting that reply during the discussion of the situation, this handwritten appendix was added by General Jodl with reference to the application in the Italian theatre, too. With that appendix, this version, which was approved and demanded by Hitler, was then sent out to the Commander-in-Chief West.
Dr. NELTE: In this connection, was the question discussed as how the active support of such acts of sabotage by the population could be judged from the point of view of international law?
KEITEL: Yes, that question arose repeatedly in connection with the order of October 18,1942, and the well-known memorandum previously discussed. I am of the opinion that, giving any assistance to agents or other enemy organs in such sabotage acts, is a violation of the Hague Rules for Land Warfare. If the population takes part in, aids, or supports such action, or covers the perpetrators - hides them or helps them in any way or in any form - that, in my opinion is clearly expressed in the Hague Rules for Land Warfare, namely that the population must not commit such actions.
Dr. NELTE: The French Prosecution have submitted a letter of July 30, 1944, which is Document 537-PS. This document is conceredn with the treatment of members of foreign military missions caught together with partisans. Do you know this order?
KEITEL: Yes I do. Yes, I have already been interrogated on this Document 537-PS during the preliminary investigation, and I made the statement which I will repeat here: It had been reported that attached to the staffs of these partisans, particularly those of the leaders of the Serbian and Yugoslav partisans, there were military missions which, we believed, were certainly individual agents or teams for maintaining liaison with the states with which we were at war. It had been reported to me, and I had been asked what should be done if such a mission, as it was called, were captured. When this was reported to the Führer he decided to reject the suggestion of the military authority concerned, namely, to treat them as prisoners-of-war, since, according to the directive of October 18, they were to be considered as saboteurs and treated as such. The document is, therefore, the transmission of this order which bears my signature.
Dr. NELTE: The problem of terror-fliers and lynch law has been mentioned during the examination of Reichsmarschall Göring. I confine myself to a few questions which concern you personally in connection with that problem. Do you know what we are concerned with in the conception of terror-fliers and their treatment? What was your attitude toward this question?
KEITEL: The fact that, starting from a certain date in the summer of 1944, machinegun attacks from aircraft against the population as has already been mentioned here, increased considerably, with 30 to 40 dead on certain days, caused Hitler to demand categorically an adequate ruling on this question. We soldiers were of the opinion that existing regulations were sufficient, and that new regulations were unnecessary. The question of lynch law was dragged into the problem and the question of what was meant by the term terror-flier. These two groups of questions resulted in very large quantity of documents which you all know and which contain the text of the discussion on these subjects.
Dr. NELTE: I think it will not be necessary to repeat the details which have already been discussed. In connection with your responsibility, I am interested in the words which you have written across this document. Please, will you explain those?
KEITEL: I merely wanted to state, first of all, that I had suggested, following the lines of the warning issued when German prisoners-of-war taken at Dieppe were shackled, that a warning should be issued here too, in the form of a similar official note saying that we should make reprisals unless the enemy commander stopped the practice on their own accord. That was turned down as not being a suitable course of action. And now let us turn to the documents, which are Import to me.
Dr. NELTE: Document 735-PS.
KEITEL: There are some notes in handwriting made by Jodl and myself. That is the record of a report written by me in the margin which runs as follows: "Courts-martial will not work"; at least that was the content. That was written at the time because the question of sentence by courts-martial came up for discussion since this very document laid down in detail for the first time what a terror-flier was, and because it stated that terror attacks were always attacks carried out from low-flying aircraft with machineguns. I was led to think that crews attacking in low-level flights could not, generally speaking, in 99 out of 100 cases be captured alive if they crashed, for there is no possibility of saving oneself with a parachute from low-level attack. Therefore, I wrote that remark in the margin. Furthermore, I considered, apart from the fact that one could conduct proceedings against such a flier, one would, secondly, be able to conclude a satisfactory trial or a satisfactory investigation if an attack had been carried out from a considerable height because no court, in my opinion, would be able to prove that such a man had had the Intention of attacking those targets which possibly were hit.
Finally, there was one last thought, which was that, in accordance with the rules, court-martial sentences against prisoners-of-war had to be communicated to the enemy state through the protecting power, and 3 months grace had to be given during which the home state could object to the sentence. It was, therefore, out of the question that, through those channels the deterrent results desired could be achieved within a brief period. That was really was really what I meant. I also wrote another note, and this refers to lynch law. It states: "If you allow lynching at all, then you can hardly lay down rules for it."
To that I cannot say very muck, since my conviction is that there is no possibility of saying under what circumstances such a method could be regulated or considered justified by mob justice, and am I still of the opinion that rules cannot be laid down, if such proceedings are tolerated.
Dr. NELTE: But what was your attitude regarding the question of lynch law?
KEITEL: It was my point of view that it was a method completely impossible for us soldiers. One case had been reported to the Reichsmarschali in which proceedings against a soldier who stopped such action were suppressed. I know of no case where soldiers, with reference to their duty as soldiers, behaved toward a prisoner-of-war in any way other than that laid down in general regulations. That is unknown to me.
I should also like to state, and this has not been mentioned yet, that I had a discussion with Reichsmarschall Göring at the Berghof about the whole question, and he, at that time, quite clearly agreed with me: We soldiers must reject lynch law under any circumstances. I requested him in this awkward position in which we found ourselves to approach Hitler once more personally, to persuade him not to compel us to give an order in these matters or to draft an order. That was the situation.
Dr. NELTE: We are now turning to questions relating to prisoners-of-war.
KEITEL: May I just say finally that an order from the OKW was never submitted and never issued.
Dr. NELTE: There is hardly any problem in the law of warfare in which all nations and all people are so passionately interested as the prisoner-of-war question. That is why, here too, the Prosecution have stressed particularly those cases which were considered to be violations of laws for prisoners-of-war, according to the Geneva Convention, or to international law in general.
Since the OKW, and you as its Chief, were responsible for prisoner-of-war questions in Germany, I should like to put the following questions to you: What had been done in Germany to make all departments and offices of the Wehrmacht acquainted with international agreements which referred to prisoners-of-war?
KEITEL: There was a special military manual on that subject, which I think is available and which contained all the clauses in the existing international agreements and the provisions for carrying them out. That is, I think, Directive Number 38, which applied to the Army and the Navy, and also to the Luftwaffe as a military manual. That was the basis, the basic order.
Dr. NELTE: How was that put into practice? Were people who were concerned with such questions in practice instructed, or was it sufficient to draw their attention to the Army directives?
KEITEL: Every department right down to the smallest unit had these directives, and every soldier up to a certain point was instructed on them. Apart from that, no further explanations and regulations were issued at the beginning of the war.
Dr. NELTE: I am thinking of the courses of instruction instituted in Vienna for that particular purpose. Do you know that they took place in Vienna?
KEITEL: It is known to me that such matters were the subject of courses of instructions suitable for those people who were actually in contact with prisoner-of-war matters. They took the form of training courses.
Dr. NELTE: Is it furthermore correct that every soldier had a leaflet in his pay book?
KEITEL: Yes. That has already been confirmed by General Milch the other day, who had it with him.
Dr. NELTE: When were the first instructions regarding prisoners-of-war given in our case?
KEITEL: As far as I know, the first instructions appeared after the beginning of the Polish campaign in the East, Since every – I should like to say - preparatory measure for reception of prisoners-of-war had been rejected by Hitler. He had prohibited it. Afterwards things had to be improvised at very short notice.
Dr. NELTE: What was ordered?
KEIT'EL: It was ordered that the three branches of the Wehrmacht, the Navy, Army and Luftwaffe - the latter had to do with if only to a limited extent - but particularly the Army should make appropriate preparations for camps, guards, and whatever was necessary for the establishment and the organization of such things.
Dr. NELTE: Please tell us what the functions of the OKW was regarding the treatment and care of prisoners-of-war?
KEITEL: The principal instruction was treatment according to Directive KGV-38 (Prisoner-of-War Regulation 38) based on international agreements; in my opinion it contained absolutely everything which the people concerned should know. Apart from that, additional instructions were issued at that time, but the above directive was applied.
Dr. NELTE: I should like to know first of all how far the OKW had jurisdiction regarding the treatment of prisoners-of-war.
KEITEL: The OKW was, shall I say, the ministerial directing department which had to issue and prepare all basic regulations and directives concerning these questions. It was entitled to make sure by means of inspections and surprise visits, that the instructions were carried out. In other words, it was the head office which issued directives and was entitled to make inspections, but was not in command of the camps themselves.
Dr. NELTE: Should one not add the contact with the Foreign Office?
KEITEL: Of course, I forgot that. One of the main tasks of the entire Wehrmacht, and therefore of the Navy and Luftwaffe too, was to communicate with the protecting powers, through the Foreign Office and also to communicate with the International Red Cross and all agencies interested in the welfare of prisoners-of-war. I had forgotten that.
Dr. NELTE: Therefore the OKW was, generally speaking, legislator and the control organ?
KEITEL: That is correct.
Dr. NELTE: What did the branches of the Wehrmacht have to do?
KEITEL: The Navy and the Luftwaffe had camps under their command, which were restricted to prisoners-of-war belonging to their own arms and so did the Army. But owing to the large numbers belonging to the Army, the deputy commanding generals of the home front, that is, the commanders of the Wehrkreise were the commanding authorities who in their area were in charge the camps.
Dr. NELTE: Now, let us take the prisoner-of-war camps. Who was at the head of such a camp?
KEITEL: In the Wehrkreis command, there was a commander or a general responsible for questions relating to prisoners-of-war in the Wehrkreis concerned, and the camp itself was under the charge of a camp commandant who had a small staff of officers among them an intelligente officer and similar personnel who were necessary for such matters.
Dr. NELTE: Who was the superior officer of the general for prisoner-of-war affairs in the Wehrkreis?
KEITEL: The commander of the Wehrkreis was the superior officer of the commander for prisoner-of-war affairs in the Wehrkreis.
Dr. NELTE: Who was the superior of the Wehrkreis commander?
KEITEL: The Wehrkreis commanders were under the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Army and the Reserve, and he in turn under the Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
The PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 5 April 1946 at 10:00 hours.)

Also read: Hearing Keitel 1, Hearing Keitel 3, Hearing Keitel 4, Hearing Keitel 5, Final statement Keitel, Verdict Keitel.


A villa hidden deep in the Alps built at the top of the Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden. This villa was property of Hitler and centre of the ”Alpenfestung”. The villa has an enormous complex of tunnels with a length of nearly 11 km. From the Berghof the Third Reich was ruled by Hitler and his close companions. Eva Braun, Hitler’s companion, spent a lot of time there.
Military unit, usually consisting of one upto four regiments and usually making up a corps. In theory a division consists of 10,000 to 20,000 men.
Largest Soviet ground formation. It was attached to a certain area which gave its name to the units involved. For instance the Voronezh front.
German word for leader. During his reign of power Adolf Hitler was Führer of Nazi Germany.
International Red Cross
Name of a complex of co-operating humanitarian organisations which primarily focusses on providing assistance to the sick and wounded military during wartime, to prisoner of war and to civilians during wartime and other conflicts. The role of the Red Cross during World War 2 is somewhat controversial.
Armed incursion.
German air force.
military authority
Dutch military body with special authority on non-military issues (1944 – 1946).
“Oberkommando der Wehrmacht”. German supreme command of the Armed Forces, Army, Air Force and Navy.
German armed military forces, divided in ground forces, air force and navy.


International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg 1947