Post by Matt Seccombe
During May I finished the analysis of the IMT prosecution documents on generals Keitel and Jodl, and began work on the documents about Alfred Rosenberg; this amounted to 128 documents and 873 pages of material.
Old concepts and new: In September 1941 Admiral Canaris circulated a commentary on the new policy to treat Soviet POWs as criminals, noting that it violated traditional international law. Keitel commented that “The objections arise from the military concept of chivalrous warfare.” Since the current war was of a different kind, “the destruction of an ideology!,” Keitel supported the new policy.
The Know-Nothings: In September-October 1943, the SS and police conducted an operation to arrest and deport the Jews in Denmark, with notice given to the military. On the report, Jodl noted, “I know nothing of this,” and Keitel added “Neither do I!” When the arrest of 232 Jews in Copenhagen was announced, Jodl remarked that it was “a matter of complete indifference to us.”
Terrorism good and bad: In September 1942 Goering suggested a plan to recruit prison inmates who had been hunters or smugglers, who would be sent behind enemy lines in the East, where they would be free to “murder, burn and ravish.” (When such tactics were used against German forces, the response was to execute 100 civilian hostages for every German casualty.)
Optimism and a strategic choice: In October 1939, after the conquest of Poland, Jodl declared in a private letter that “militarily we are without worry.” (He did advise that the Czechs would have to be monitored, noting the importance of “not letting them perk up.”) He was more prudent in June 1940 in a candid memo in the military command about the approach to Britain, the one adversary that Hitler regarded as formidable. There were three options: a blockade by sea and limited air strikes; “terror attacks” by the air force across England; an invasion by the army. Jodl believed that the first option, which could strangle Britain economically and cut it off from its empire, might well push Britain to sue for peace in order to save its empire and preserve some prestige [depending on who led the British government, of course]. The more aggressive measures, however, would have a reverse effect: “Against a complete destruction England would fight to the bitter end.”
The HLS Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have posted five trials so far (NMT 1 through NMT 4 and NMT 7) and have completed digitization of all the documents and transcripts.
We are now engaged in the process of analyzing, describing and making machine readable the remaining trials’ materials in preparation for posting them to the Web. We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding. For more information about this project, please contact [email protected].