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1900 - 1999
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has read and considered every one of the documents produced by Dr. Horn on behalf of the Defendant Ribbentrop and the Tribunal rules as follows.
I will refer only to the documents to which no objection was taken, where the Tribunal rejects them; that is to say, documents to which no objection is taken are allowed with the particular exceptions which I make.
With reference to the documents to which objection was taken, the Tribunal rejects Numbers 12, 45, 48 to 61 inclusive. It allows Document 62. It rejects Documents 66, 67 and 69. It allows Document 70. It rejects Documents 72, 73, 74. It rejects Documents 76 to 81 inclusive. It grants Document 82. It rejects Document 83. It grants Documents 84 to 87 inclusive. It rejects Documents 88 to 116 inclusive. It rejects Documents 118 to 126 inclusive. It allows Document 127. It rejects Documents 128 to 134 inclusive. It rejects Documents 135 to 148 inclusive. It rejects Documents 151 and 152. It allows Documents 155 and 156. It rejects Documents 157 and 158. It rejects Document 161. It allows Document 162. It allows Document 164. It allows Documents 165 to 183 inclusive. It rejects Document 184. It allows Documents 185 and 186. It rejects Document 191. It allows Documents 193 and 194. It rejects Document 195, Paragraphs 1, 2, 3, and 4. It grants Document 195, Paragraphs 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. It rejects Documents 196 and 197 and 198. It rejects Document 204. It rejects Document 207. It grants the whole of Document 208. It grants Document 210. It rejects Document 211 (a) and (b) and Document 212. It grants Document 213. It rejects 214. It rejects 215 (a) and (b). It grants Documents 217 and 220. It grants Documents 221 to 245, except Document 238, and it also excludes all comments contained in those documents. It rejects Documents 246 to 269. It rejects 270 and 271. It rejects 275. It rejects 276. It grants 277 and 278. As to 279, the Tribunal would like Dr. Horn to inform them what that document is because in the copy that they have got it is unidentified. That is 279, Dr. Horn, in Book 8, I think.
DR. HORN: The document contains the Nonaggression Treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union, of 23 August 1939. It contains the text of that treaty.
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THE PRESIDENT: Yes, well, then that will be allowed. 280 and 281 are granted. 282, 283, and 284 are granted. 285 is rejected. 286 to 289 were withdrawn. 290 was withdrawn. 291 is granted. 292 is rejected, 293 is rejected, 294 is rejected. 295 is rejected. 296 is granted. 298 to 305, inclusive, are rejected. 306 is granted. 307 is rejected. 308 is granted. 309 and 309(a) are both rejected. 310 is rejected. 311 had already been ruled out. 313 is granted. 314 is rejected. 317 is granted. 318 is rejected. Well, 312 is granted; it had not been objected to. I do not have a note of 315 and 316; are they asked for?
DR. HORN: 315, Mr. President, is the reproduction of a PS number, that is 1834-PS, and has already been submitted and therefore need not be submitted again.
THE PRESIDENT: Does that apply also to 316, Dr. Horn?
DR. HORN: 316 also has a PS number and therefore need not be resubmitted.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, that deals with all the numbers, I think.
DR. HORN: Mr. President, I will dispense with Number 312, and ask instead for Number 317. This contains a notarized statement under oath ...
THE PRESIDENT: 317 is granted.
DR. HORN: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, Dr. Horn, will you deal with the ones which we have left in, as far as you wish to deal with them. If you wish to comment upon any of the ones that we have allowed, you may do so now. We do not desire you to do so, but if you wish to do so, you may.
DR. HORN: May I ask Your Lordship for permission to present my arguments. I will present only very brief arguments at a time to be determined by the High Tribunal, so that I can sort the documents and need not take up your time unnecessarily? All the documents are fastened together at present and it would take longer if I were to present my case now than if I could present the sorted documents. I therefore ask the Tribunal to set a time when I may present these documents.
THE PRESIDENT: The application is granted.
DR. HORN: Yes. I will then have concluded my case and will need only a relatively short time to comment briefly on some but not all of the documents.
THE PRESIDENT: If Dr. Nelte is already to go on with the case of the Defendant Keitel, the Tribunal suggests possibly you might be able to deal shortly with your documents at 2 o'clock.
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DR. HORN: Yes, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Would that be agreeable to Dr. Nelte?
DR. HORN: I will consult my colleague.
Dr. Nelte has just advised me that he will fetch his documents and then he can proceed with the presentation of his case immediately.
THE PRESIDENT: Very well.
[Dr. Nelte returned to the courtroom.]
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, the Tribunal is much obliged to you for presenting your argument now.
DR. NELTE: Mr. President, I will begin the presentation of the case for Keitel by asking you to summon the defendant to the witness stand, and I shall question him. The documents which I will use in this interrogation were submitted with a list yesterday. I hope that those documents are at your disposal so that you win be able to follow my questions in a manner which is desirable in the interest of a smoothly conducted interrogation.
THE PRESIDENT: Then you will call the Defendant Keitel?
DR. NELTE: Yes.
[The Defendant Keitel took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your full name?
WILHELM KEITEL (Defendant): Wilhelm Keitel.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me:
I swear by God -- the Almighty and Onmiscient -- that I will speak the pure truth -- and will withhold and add nothing.
[The defendant repeated the oath in German.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.
DR. NELTE: Please describe your military career briefly.
KEITEL: In the year 1901, in the beginning of March, I became an officer candidate in an artillery regiment of the Prussian Army. At the beginning of the first World War, in 1914, I was the regimental adjutant of my regiment. I was wounded in September 1914, and in the beginning of November I became chief of a battery of my regiment. Since the spring of 1915 I served in various general staff capacities, first with higher commands of the field army, later as a general staff officer of a division. Towards the end I was the first general staff officer of the Naval Corps in Flanders. Then I joined the Reichswehr as a volunteer. Beginning with the year 1929 I was Division Head (Abteilungsleiter) of the Army Organizational Division in the Reichswehrministerium. After an interruption from 1933 to 1935 1 became, on I October 1935, Chief of the Wehrmacht
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Department (Wehrmachtsamt) of the Reichskriegsminister, that is Chief of Staff with the Minister of War. While on active service I became Generalmajor. At that time I was chief of an infantry brigade. On 4 February 1938 to my surprise I was appointed Chief of Staff of the Fuehrer, or Chief of the OKW -- Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. On 1 October 1939, I became General of the Infantry and after the campaign in the West in 1940 1 became Field Marshal.
DR. NELTE: Were you a member of the National Socialist German Labor Party?
KEITEL: No, I was not a member. According to military law I could not be or become a member.
DR. NELTE: But you received the Golden Party Badge. For what reason?
KEITEL: That is correct. Hitler presented this Golden Badge of the Party to me in April 1939, at the same time that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General Von Brauchitsch, received it. The Fuehrer said it was to be in commemoration of the march into Czechoslovakia. The Golden Badge had "16 and 17 March" engraved on it.
DR. NELTE: In the year 1944 the Military Service Law was changed so that active soldiers could also become members of the Party. What did you do at that time?
KEITEL: That is correct. In the late summer or autumn of 1944 the Military Service Law was changed so that active soldiers could also be Party members. At that time I was invited to submit personal data for the Party in order to be listed as a member of the Party. At the same time I was asked to send in a donation of money to the Party. I submitted personal data to Party headquarters and also sent in a donation, but as far as I know I never became a member. I never received a membership card.
DR. NELTE: To what extent did you participate at Party functions?
KEITEL: Owing to my position and to the fact that I accompanied the Fuehrer constantly, I participated at public functions of the Party several times, for example, at the Party rallies in Nuremberg, also each year when the Winter Relief Work campaign was launched. Finally, according to orders, each year on the 9th of November, I had to attend, together with a representative of the Party a memorial service at the graves of the victims of 9 November 1923. It took place symbolically in memory of the fight on 9 November, between the Party and the Wehrmacht. I never participated in internal conferences or meetings of the Party directorate. The Fuehrer had let me know that he did not want this. Thus, for
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example, every year on 9 November I was in Munich, but never participated in the gatherings of the so-called Hoheitstrager (bearers of power) of the Party.
DR. NELTE: What decorations did you receive during the war?
KEITEL: During the war -- it must have been in the winter of 1939-1940 -- I received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. I did not receive any other German war decorations.
DR. NELTE: Do you have any sons?
KEITEL: I had three sons, all of whom served at the front as officers during this war. The youngest one died in battle in Russia in 1941. The second was a major in Russia and has been missing in action, and the eldest son, who was a major, is a prisoner of war.
DR. NELTE: Field Marshal Keitel, beginning with essential matters, I would like to put the following basic questions to you: What basic attitude did you, as a soldier, an officer, and a general, have toward the problems with which you had to deal in your profession?
KEITEL: I can say that I was a soldier by inclination and conviction. For more than 44 years without interruption I served my country and my people as a soldier, and I tried to do my best in the service of my profession. I believed that I should do this as a matter of duty, laboring unceasingly and giving myself completely to those tasks which fell to me in my many and diverse positions. I did this with the same devotion under the Kaiser, under President Ebert, under Field Marshal Von Hindenburg, and under the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler.
DR. NELTE: What is your attitude today?
KEITEL: As a German officer, I naturally consider it my duty to answer for what I have done, even if it should have been wrong. I am grateful that I am being given the opportunity to give an account here and before the German people of what I was and my participation in the events which have taken place. It will not always be possible to separate clearly guilt and entanglement in the threads of destiny. But I do consider one thing impossible, that the men in the front lines and the leaders and the subleaders at the front should be charged with the guilt, while the highest leaders reject responsibility. That, in my opinion, is wrong, and I consider it unworthy. I am convinced that the large mass of our brave soldiers were really decent, and that wherever they overstepped the bounds of acceptable behavior, our soldiers acted in good faith, believing in military necessity, and the orders which they received.
DR. NELTE: The Prosecution, in presenting evidence regarding violations of the laws of war, Crimes against Humanity, repeatedly point to letters, orders, et cetera, which bear your name. Many so-
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called Keitel orders and Keitel decrees, have been submitted here. Now we have to examine whether and to what degree you and your actions are guilty of and responsible for the results of these orders. What do you wish to say to this general accusation?
KEITEL: It is correct that there are a large number of orders, instructions, and directives with which my name is connected, and it must also be admitted that such orders often contain deviations from existing international law. On the other hand, there are a group of directives and orders based not on military inspiration but on an ideological foundation and point of view. In this connection I am thinking of the group of directives which were issued before the campaign against the Soviet Union and also which were issued subsequently.
DR. NELTE: What can you say in your defense in regard to those orders?
KEITEL: I can say only that fundamentally I bear that responsibility which arises from my position for all those things which resulted from these orders and which are connected with my name and my signature. Further, I bear the responsibility, insofar as it is based on legal and moral principles, for those offices and divisions of the OKW which were subordinate to me.
DR. NELTE: From what may your official position and the scope of your legal responsibility be inferred?
KEITEL: That is contained in the Fuehrer's decree of 4 February 1938 which has been frequently cited.
DR. NELTE: I am submitting this decree to you so that you can have the text before you. In this Fuehrer decree, Paragraph 1, you will find:
"From now on I will directly and personally take over the Supreme Command of the entire Wehrmacht."
What did that mean compared with the conditions that had existed until then?
KEITEL: Until that time we had a Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Field Marshal Von Blomberg. In addition there was the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht who, according to the constitution, was the head of the State-in this case, Hitler. With the resignation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Von Blomberg, there was only one Supreme Commander and that was Hitler himself. And from that time on he himself exercised command of all three arms of the Wehmiacht: The Army, Navy, and Air Force. It also says "from now on directly." That should establish unequivocally that any intermediary position with authority to issue orders was no longer to exist, but that Hitler's orders
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as Supreme Commander were issued directly to the three arms of the Wehrmacht and their Commanders. It also says here "directly" and "personally." That, too, had its meaning, for the word "personally" was to express the fact that there was and would be no, I would say, "deputizing" of this authority.
DR. NELTE: I assume therefore that you never signed your orders "acting for"?
KEITEL: No, I do not remember a single instance in which I signed "acting for." According to our military principles, if the question had arisen to appoint a deputy, it could have been only one person, the Commander-in-Chief of the three arms of the Wehrmacht, namely the one highest in rank.
DR. NELTE: In Paragraph 2 of the decree of 4 February 1939 it says:
"... the former Wehrmacht office in the Ministry of War, with its functions is placed directly under my command as OKW and as my military staff."
What does this signify in regard to the staff which was thereby formed?
KEITEL: The Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht had his military staff in the Wehrmachtsamt, that is to say, the Wehrmachtsamt in the Ministry of War. Hitler, as Supreme Commander, took over the Wehrmachtsamt as his military staff. Thus, this staff was to be his personal working staff. At the same time that the post of Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht was eliminated, that of Reich Minister of War was also removed. There was no War Ministry and no Minister of War as heretofore. Thus one could clearly see what Hitler wanted, namely, that between him and the Wehrmacht divisions there was to be no one holding office with any authority either in command channels or in ministerial functions.
DR. NELTE: When this decree was issued you were installed as holder of a new office with the title of "Chief OKW." Will you please clarify whether this term "Chief OKW" is correct; that is, whether it really was what the title seems to indicate.
KEITEL: I must add that I realize only now that this term in its abbreviated form is not quite apt. To be exact one should have said, "Chief of Staff of the High Command of the Wehrmacht," and not the abbreviation, "Chief OKW." From the case presented by the Prosecution I gathered that the idea of "Chief" was interpreted as if that were a commander, chief of an office, with authority to issue orders. And that, of course, is an erroneous conclusion. It was neither a position of a chief in the sense of a commander, nor, as might have been assumed or has been assumed, was it a position as
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chief of a general staff. That too, is incorrect. I was never Chief of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht. It was Hitler's unmistakable wish to concentrate in his own person all the authority, all the power of command. That is not merely a retrospective statement. He clearly expressed this desire to me on several occasions, partly in connection with the fact that he told me repeatedly, "I could never put this through with Blomberg."
DR. NELTE: I have here a statement made by Field Marshal Von Brauchitsch and submitted by the Prosecution.
KEITEL: Perhaps I might, add something further. I was discussing the fact that it was not a position of Chief of the General Staff, since it was Hitler's basic view that commanders-in-chief of the Wehrmacht branches each had his own general staff, or operations staff, and that he did not want the High Command of the Wehrmacht, including the Wehrmacht Operations Staff, to take over the functions of a general staff. Therefore, in practice the work was done by the general staffs of the Wehrmacht branches, while the Wehrmacht Operations Staff of the GKW, which was purposely kept small, was a working staff for Hitler, a staff for strategic planning and for special missions.
DR. NELTE: Then Field Marshal Von Brauchitsch's statement in his affidavit, of which I have already spoken, is correct? It says here:
"When Hitler had decided to use military pressure or military power in attaining his political aims, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, if he participated, received his instructions first orally, as a rule, or by an appropriate order. Thereupon the OKW worked out the operation and deployment plans. When they had been submitted to Hitler and were approved by him, a written order from the OKW to the branches of the Wehrmacht followed."
Is that correct?
KEITEL: Yes, in principle it is correct insofar as the final formulation of the order to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army took the form of a directive, as we called it, based on the general plans which had already been submitted and approved. This work was done by the Wehrmacht Operational Staff (Wehrmachtfdhrungsstab); thus the Wehrmacht Operational Staff was not an office which became independently active and did not handle matters concerning the issuing of orders independently; rather the Wehrmacht Operational Staff and I took part in the basic determination or approval of these proposals and formulated them in the manner in which they were then carried out by Hitler as Commander-in-Chief. To speak technically we then passed these orders on.
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DR. NELTE: Then I have an affidavit by Generaloberst.Halder which deals with the same subject. You know this affidavit Number 1. I believe I can dispense with the reading of it and as evidenc refer only to Halder's affidavit Number 1, which has been submitted by the Prosecution (Document Number 3702-PS).
In addition the Prosecution submitted another treatise without a special number. The title of the treatise is "Basis for the Organization of the German Wehrmacht."
THE PRESIDENT: Is this the document which you say the Prosecution offered in evidence but did not give a number to?
DR. NELTE: Mr. President, this document was given to us by the Prosecution, I believe by the American Prosecution, on 26 November 1945. I do not know ...
THE PRESIDENT: You mean it never was deposited in evidence by the Prosecution?
DR. NELTE: I do not believe I can decide that. I assume that a document which has been submitted to the Defense Counsel was submitted to the High Tribunal at the same time, if not as evidence, then at least for judicial notice.
THE PRESIDENT: What is the document? Is it an affidavit or not?
DR. NELTE: It is not an affidavit; it is really a study by the American Prosecution. And, I assume, it is a basis for the indictment of the organization OKW, and so forth.
THE PRESIDENT: Have you got it in your document book or not?
DR.NELTE: No, I do not have it in the document book, because I assumed that was also at the disposal of the High Tribunal. Besides, Mr. President, it is a short document.
THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps, Mr. Dodd can tell us what it is.
MR. DODD: If I could see it I might be able to be helpful. I am not familiar with it. It is probably one of the documents which we submitted to the Defense but which we did not actually introduce in evidence, and that happened more than once, I think, in the early days of the Trial.
TBE PRESIDENT: Yes.
DR. NELTE: I refer to a single short paragraph of this study which I would like to read. Perhaps we can thus obviate submitting the document.
THE PRESIDENT: Are you offering in evidence the whole of the affidavit? I do not mean at this moment, but are you proposing to offer it?
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INSERT MISSING PAGES 475 THROUGH 498 HERE.
DR. NELTE: The difference between the length of his verbal statement and the length of the affidavit is indicated by the relation of 1 to 10. He gave only a brief summary of the answer he wished to make. The affidavit is longer, and therefore I thought I could dispense with reading the affidavit if he would give us a brief summary of the chief points with which we are concerned.
THE PRESIDENT: You and I have a different idea of the word summary.
DR. NELTE: May I continue, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go on.
DR. NELTE: I now come to the question of rearmament, and the various cases of Austria, Czechoslovakia, et cetera. I would like to ask you about the accusation of the Prosecution that you participated in the planning and preparation of wars of aggression. So that we can understand each other, and that you can give your answers correctly, we must be quite clear as to what is meant by war of aggression. Will you tell us your views on that subject?
KEITEL: As a soldier, I must say that the term "War of Aggression" as used here is meaningless as far as I am concerned; we learned how to conduct actions of attack, actions of defense, and actions of retreat. However, according to my own personal feelings as a military man, the concept "war of aggression" is a purely political concept and not a military one. I mean that if the Wehrmacht and the soldier are a tool of the politicians, they are not qualified in my opinion to decide or to judge whether these military operations did or did not constitute a war of aggression. I think I can summarize my views by saying that military offices should not have authority to decide this question and are not in a position to do so; and that these decisions are not the task of the soldier, but solely that of the statesman.
DR. NELTE: Then you mean to say, and this applies also to all commanders and offices involved, that the question of whether or not a war is a war of aggression, or whether it has to be conducted for the defense of a country, in other words, whether a war is a just war or not, was not in the field of your professional deliberations and decisions?
KEITEL: No; that is what I wish to express, since ...
DR. NELTE: What you are giving is an explanation. But you are not only a soldier, you are also an individual with a life of your own. When facts brought to your notice in your professional capacity seemed to reveal that a projected operation was unjust, did you not give it consideration?
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KEITEL: I believe I can truthfully say that throughout the whole of my military career I was brought up, so to speak, in the old traditional concept that one never discussed this question. Naturally, one has one's own opinion and a life of one's own, but in the exercise of one's professional functions as a soldier and an officer, one has given this life away, yielded it up. Therefore I could not say either at that time or later that I had misgivings about questions of a purely political discretion, for I took the stand that a soldier has a right to have confidence in his state leadership, and accordingly he is obliged to do his duty and to obey.
DR. NELTE: Now let us take up the questions individually. Did you know Hitler's plans first in regard to rearmament, and later in regard to any aggression, as the Prosecution calls it? I am thinking chiefly of the period from February 1933 to 1938.
KEITEL: It was clear to me that when Hitler became Chancellor, we soldiers would undoubtedly have a different position in the Reich under new leadership, and that the military factor would certainly be viewed differently from what had been the case before. Therefore we quite honestly and openly welcomed the fact that at the head of the Reich Government there was a man who was determined to bring about an era which would lead us out of the deplorable conditions then prevailing. This much I must confess, that I welcomed the plan and intention to rearm as far as was possible at that time, as well as the ideas which tended in that direction. In any event, as early as 1933, in the late summer, I resigned from my activities in the War Ministry. I spent two years on active service and returned only at the time when the military sovereignty had been won back and we were rearming openly. Therefore, during my absence I did not follow these matters. At any rate, in the period from 1935 to 1938, during which I was Chief under Blomberg, I naturally saw and witnessed everything that took place in connection with rearmament and everything that was done in this field by the War Ministry to help the Wehrmacht branches.
DR. NELTE: Did you know that the occupation of the Rhineland in the demilitarized zone, the re-establishment of military sovereignty, the introduction of conscription, the building up of the Air Force and the increase in the number of Wehrmacht contingents violated the Versailles Treaty?
KEITEL: The wording of the Versailles Treaty, as long as it was considered binding upon us, did not, of course, permit these things. The Treaty of Versailles, may I say, was studied very closely by us in order to find loopholes which allowed us, without violating the treaty, to take measures which would not make us guilty of breaking the treaty. That was the daily task of the Reich Defense Committee.
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From 1935 on, conditions were entirely different, and after my return as Chief, under Blomberg, I must state frankly that I no longer had any misgivings as to whether the Treaty of Versailles was violated or not because what was done, was done openly. We announced that we would raise 36 divisions. Discussions were held quite openly, and I could see nothing in which we soldiers could, in any way, see a violation of the treaty. It was clear to all of us, and it was our will to do everything to free ourselves of the territorial and military fetters of the Treaty of Versailles. I must say honestly that any soldier or officer who did not feel similarly about these things would in my estimation have been worthless. It was taken as a matter of course if one was a soldier.
DR. NELTE: During this Trial, an order, C-194, which bears your signature, was submitted. It concerns aerial reconnaissance and movements of U-boats at the time of the occupation of the Rhineland. This order leads to the inference that you participated in the occupation of the Rhineland. In what capacity did you sign this order?
KEITEL: The order shows already the future introductory phrasing: "The Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Minister Von Blomberg, upon report, has ordered..." I transmitted in this form an instruction which General Von Blomberg had given me, to the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force and I recall that it concerned the introduction of control measures during the days when the three battalions were marching into the demilitarized zone.
DR. NELTE: Did you, up to the time of your appointment as Chief of the OKW, learn from Hitler himself or from other sources, that there were plans in existence which, contrary to Hitler's avowed peace assurances could be put into effect only by force, that is, through a war?
KEITEL: During this period of time until the first practical measures were taken in the case of Austria, I cannot remember having had any knowledge of a program, or the establishment of a program or far-reaching plan, or one covering a period of years. I must say also that we were so occupied with the reorganization of this small army of seven divisions into an expanded force of twice or three times its original size, apart from the creation of a large air force which had no equipment at all, that in those years a visit to our office would have shown that we were completely occupied with purely organizational problems, and from the way Hitler worked, as described by me today, it is quite obvious that we saw nothing of these things.
DR. NELTE: Did you have any personal connection with Hitler before 4 February 1938?
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KEITEL: In the years from 1935 to 1938, as chief under Blomberg, I saw the Fuehrer three times. He never spoke one word to me and so he did not know me. If he knew anything at all about me it could have been only through Herr Von Blomberg. I had absolutely no contact with the Fuehrer either personally or through other people who were prominent in the Party or in politics. My first conversation with him was in the last days of January before I was appointed to this office.
DR. NELTE: Did you hear anything of the meeting or discussion with Hitler in November 1937? 1 am referring to a conference in which Hitler, as it is alleged, made public his last will.
KEITEL: I already stated under oath at the preliminary interrogation that I did not know about this, and that I saw a document or the minutes or a record of this meeting at this Trial for the first time. I believe it is the Hossbach document and I do not remember that Von Blomberg gave me any directions to take preparatory steps after this conference. That is not the case.
DR. NELTE: Did you know of any of Hitler's intentions regarding territorial questions?
KEITEL: Yes. I must answer that in the affirmative. I learned of them, and I also knew from public political discussions that he proposed to settle in some form, gradually, sooner or later, a series of territorial problems which were the result of the Treaty of Versailles. That is true.
DR. NELTE: And what did you think about the realization of these territorial aims, I mean the manner in which they were to be solved?
KEITEL: At that time I saw these things and judged them only according to what we were capable of in military terms. I can only say, when I left the troops in 1935, none of these 24 divisions which were to be established existed. I did not view all this from the standpoint of political aims, but with the sober consideration: Can we accomplish anything by attack and the conduct of war if we have no military means at our disposal? Consequently for me everything in this connection revolved around the programs of rearmament, which were to be completed in 1943-1945, and for the Navy in 1945. Therefore, we had 10 years in which to build up a concentrated Wehrmacht. Hence, I did not consider these problems acute even when they came to my attention in a political way, for I thought it impossible to realize these plans except by negotiations.
DR. NELTE: How do you explain the general directives of June 1937 for preparation for mobilization?
KEITEL: This document is actually an instruction for mobilization kept in general terms and was in line with our traditional
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General Staff policy before the war and before the World War, the World War I, that on principle something of the kind must be prepared beforehand. In my opinion, this had nothing to do with any of Hitler's political plans, for at that time I was already Chief of Staff under Blomberg, and General Jodl was at that time the Chief of the National Defense Division. Perhaps it sounds somewhat arrogant for me to say that we were very much satisfied that we were at last beginning to tell the Wehrmacht each year what it had to do intellectually and theoretically. In the former General Staff training which I received before the World War, the chief aim of these instructions was that the General Staff tours for the purpose of study should afford an opportunity for the theoretical elaboration of all problems. Such was the former training of the Great General Staff. I no longer know whether in this connection Blomberg himself originally thought out these salient ideas of possible complications or possible military contingencies, or whether he was perhaps influenced by the Fuehrer.
It is certain that Hitler never saw this. It was the inside work of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht.
DR. NELTE: But in it you find a reference to a "Case Otto," and you know that that was the affair with Austria.
KEITEL: Of course I remember the Case Otto, which indicated by its name that it concerns Otto von Hapsburg. There must have been -- were of course -- certain reports about an attempted restoration, and in that case an intervention, eventually an armed one, was to take place. The Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, wished to prevent a restoration of the monarchy in Austria. Later this came up again in connection with the Anschluss. I believe that I can omit that now and perhaps explain later. In any event, we believed that on the basis of the deliberations by the Army some sort of preparations were being made which would bring into being Case Otto, because the code word was "Case Otto comes into force."
DR. NELTE: You mean to say that no concrete orders were given in regard to Case Otto on the basis of this general directive?
KEITEL: You mean the Anschluss at the beginning of February?
DR. NELTE: I beg your pardon?
KEITEL: I can state here only what I experienced when Hitler sent me to the Army. I went into General Beck's office and said: "The Fuehrer demands that you report to him immediately and inform him about the preparations which have already been made for a possible invasion of Austria", and General Beck then said, "We have prepared nothing; nothing has been done, nothing at all."
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DR. NELTE: The Prosecution contends that you participated in planning the action against Austria as it was put into effect in March of 1938. I have here the directive regarding Case Otto, C-102.
Can you still affirm that the whole matter was improvised?
KEIT'EL: I remember that this order was not issued to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and to the other Commanders-in-Chief until the whole project was under way. Nothing had been prepared. It was all improvised and this was to be the documentary registration of facts which were being put into practice. The commands were given verbally and individually regarding what was to be done and what actually was done on the morning of 12 March, when Austria was invaded.
DR. NELTE: I must now return to the events preceding the case of Austria. You know that in General Jodl's diary it is stated: "Schuschnigg signs under strongest political and military pressure." In what manner did you participate in this conference at the Obersalzberg which took place with Schuschnigg?
KEITEL: May I add to my previous answer that we can see from this that the invasion took place on the morning of 12 March and the order was issued late in the evening of 11 March. Therefore this document could not have had any real influence on this affair. Such an order cannot be worked out between 10 in the evening and 6 in the morning.
I can say the following in regard to my participation at Obersalzberg on 10 or 11 February:
It was the first official action in which I took part. In the evening of 4 February Hitler left Berlin. He summoned me to be at Obersalzberg on 10 February. There, on that day the meeting with the Austrian Federal Chancellor, Schuschnigg, which has been frequently discussed here, took place. Shortly after I arrived -- I had no idea why I had been summoned -- General Von Reichenau arrived from Munich, and General of the Air Force, Sperrle; so that we three Generals were present when at about 10:30 Herr Schuschnigg arrived with Herr Von Papen. Since I had never attended a conference or a political action or any meeting of that nature, I did not know what I was there for. I must tell you this frankly, otherwise you will not understand it. In the course of the day the reason for the presence of the three representatives of the Wehrmacht naturally became clear to me. In certain respects they represented a military, at least a military demonstration -- I may safely call it that. In the preliminary interrogation and also in later discussions I was asked the significance of the fact that in the afternoon my name was suddenly called through the house and I was to visit the Fuehrer. I went to him in his room. Perhaps it sounds strange for me to say that when
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I entered the room I thought that he would give me a directive but the words were "Nothing at all." He used the words, "Please sit down." Then he said, "Yes, the Federal Chancellor wishes to have a short conference with his Foreign Minister Schmidt; otherwise I have nothing at all." I can only assure you that not one word was said to me about a political action apart from the fact that Herr Schuschnigg did not leave until the evening and that further conferences took place.
We generals sat in the anteroom, and when in the evening, shortly before my departure, I received the direction to launch reports that we were taking certain measures for mobilization, of which you have been informed here through a document, then it became quite clear to me that this day had served to bring the discussions to a head by the introduction of military representatives, and the directive to spread reports was to keep up the pressure, as has been shown here.
Upon my return to my apartment in Berlin, in the presence of Goebbels and Canaris, we discussed the reports which were to be sent out and which Canaris then broadcast in Munich. Finally, in order to conclude this matter, it might be interesting to point out that the Chief of Intelligence in the Austrian Federal Ministry, Lahousen, who has been present here in court, told Jodl and me when later on he came into the service of the Wehrmacht: "We were not taken in by this bluff." And I indubitably gave Jodl a basis for his entry in the diary, even though it is somewhat drastically worded, for I was naturally impressed by this first experience.
DR. NELTE: What is your position on the measures against Austria?
KEITEL: Nothing further need be said concerning the further developments of the affair. It has already been presented here in detail. On the day of the invasion by the troops I flew with Hitler to the front. We drove along the highways through Braunau, Linz. We stayed overnight and proceeded to Vienna. And to put it modestly, it is true that in every village we were received most enthusiastically and the Austrian Federal Army marched side by side with the German soldiers through the streets over which we drove. Not a shot was fired. On the other side the only formation which had a certain military significance was an armored unit on the road from Passau to Vienna which arrived in Vienna with very few vehicles. This division was on the spot for the parade the next day. That is a very sober picture of what I saw.
DR. NELTE: Now we come to the question of Czechoslovakia. When did Hitler for the first time discuss with you the question of Czechoslovakia and his intentions in that respect?
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KEITEL: I believe 6 to 8 weeks after the march into Austria, that is, after the Anschluss toward the end of April. The Anschluss was about the middle of March and also took the form of a sudden summons, one evening, to the Reich Chancellery where the Fuehrer then explained matters to me. This resulted in the well-known directive in the Case Green. The history of this case is well known by the Schmundt Files all of which I identified in the preliminary interrogation. At that time he gave me first directives in a rather hasty manner. It was not possible for me to ask any questions, as he wished to leave Berlin immediately. These were the bases for the questions regarding the conditions under which a warlike action against Czechoslovakia could or would arise.
DR. NELTE: Did you have the impression that Hitler wanted to attack Czechoslovakia?
KEITEL: In any event the instructions which he gave me that evening were to the effect that preparations for a military action with all the preliminary work, which was the responsibility of the General Staff, were to be made. He expressed himself very precisely although he explained explicitly that the date was quite open and said that for the time being it was not his intention. These were the words: "...for the time being it is not my intention."
DR. NELTE: In this connection was a difference made between the Sudetenland and the whole of Czechoslovakia?
KEITEL: I do not believe that we discussed it at all that evening during that short conference. The Fuehrer did not discuss with me the political aspects; he merely assigned me to the consideration of the necessary military measures. He did not say whether he would be content with the Sudetenland or whether we were to break through the Czechoslovakian line of fortification. That was not the problem at that time. But in any event -- if they had to be settled by going to war -- then the war had to be prepared; if it came to a conflict with the Czech Army, that is, a real war it would have to be prepared.
DR. NELTE: You know that the record of the Hitler-General Keitel Conference on 21 April, of which there are two versions, speaks of a lightning action being necessary in case of an incident In the first one after the word "incident" it reads: "for example, the assassination of the German Minister" following a demonstration hostile to Germany. In the second one, after the word "incident" it reads only "for example, action in case of an incident." Will you please explain to what this note, which is not a record in the proper sense of the word, can be attributed?
KEITEL: I saw the Schmundt notes for the first time here. We did not receive it at that time as a document to work with. It is not
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a record. These are notes made subsequently by an adjutant. I do not want to doubt their correctness or accuracy, for memory would not permit me to recall today the exact words which were used. However this question, which is considered significant here, the assassination of the German Minister in Prague, is a situation which I have never heard of, if only for the reason that no one ever said such a thing. It was said it might happen that the Minister is assassinated whereupon I asked which minister, or something similar. Then, as I recall it, Hitler said that the war of 1914 also started with an assassination at Sarajevo, and that such incidents could happen. I did not in any way get the impression at that time that a war was to be created through a provocation.
DR. NELTE: You will have to tell me some more on that point.
THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better adjourn now.
[The Tribunal adjourned until 4 April 1946 at 1000 hours.]