Document Analyst's Report

During August I analyzed the defense documents in five of Admiral Raeder's six document books. In the middle of the month I reached and then passed one round number: 5000 IMT trial documents organized and analyzed. In slightly rounded numbers we now have:
100 pre-trial and administrative documents
3710 prosecution documents
1235 defense documents (so far)
The final total for the full trial can't be predicted; we won't know until we're done.

Good information, bad location: Most of the defense attorneys introduced their evidence with brief statements at the end of the documents confirming their authenticity; this doesn't call for separate attention in the database. Raeder's attorney, Dr. Siemers, was more emphatic: The first page of nearly every Raeder defense document is his certificate confirming that the document is authentic and the text is accurate, with his title for the document included. Unfortunately for me, this initial page has to be accounted for in three different fields in the analysis: the literal title field, the descriptive title field, and the author field. The first is simple, but the others are complicated and add several minutes to the time required for the analysis. I am hoping that other attorneys did not adopt Siemers's model.

The sailor and the party: Raeder tried to present himself as a nonpolitical military man, citing laws in force early in his career that required members of the military to not participate in politics. Those laws were from the pre-Nazi period, however, and a speech by Raeder in March 1939 indicated he had adapted to the new regime. The paragraphs of the speech that he emphasized on the stand concerned the defensive nature of Germany's military buildup and Germany's need for continued peace, but the speech also covered the soldiers' need for political education in the Nazi "ideology and form of life." The ban on politics had been reversed: "Wehrmacht and Party . . . have more and more become one indivisible entity."

War, but not a war of aggression: While Admiral Doenitz was primarily concerned about charges of war crimes committed in the war at sea, Raeder faced the charge that as commander of the navy he had participated in planning and conducting wars of aggression. His primary defense was that the campaigns he conducted against Britain and France and their allies involved bilateral attacks and defense, not one-sided aggression. His defense used Allied documents that the Germans had seized early in the war when it occupied France and Norway. These included British and French plans to attack Germany from multiple directions and to recruit allies, notably in Scandinavia, to join the war on their side. Not surprisingly, Winston Churchill's military proposals came up often. One British official claimed that operations based from Egypt and Greece would allow the Allies to "deal the knockout blow to the German dragon, not against the scale-armour of the Siegfried Line, but against its soft underbelly." A British naval officer asked a colleague to gather information for a planned occupation of northern Norway in February 1940, advising him to keep it secret and "don't get yourself shot if you can help it."

Matt Seccombe, 4 September 2023