Document Analyst's Report

During October, I analyzed the IMT prosecution files concerning defendants Funk (the banker) and Admiral Doenitz; this amounted to 119 documents and 693 pages of material. The Funk case extended that of his predecessor, Schacht, with a few marginal additions, while the Doenitz material covered the preparation for the war, which the prosecution considered to be the central crime of the regime, and the details of crimes committed in the war at sea, particularly the U-boat campaign that Doenitz commanded.

The gold in the vault: Emil Puhl, Funk's deputy, gave evidence on what the Reichsbank took in from the SS in the Melmer procedure (named for SS officer in charge of the deliveries): "The material deposited by the SS included jewelry, watches, eye glass frames, dental gold and other gold items in great abundance taken from Jews, concentration camp victims and other persons by the SS."

The soldier and the state: In December 1943 Doenitz spoke about the issue of the nonpolitical soldier. "It is also nonsense to say . . . that the soldier or the officer must have no politics. The soldier embodies the state in which he lives, he is the representative, the articulate exponent of this State."

The U-boats and their orders: At the beginning of the war the German navy planned to break Britain's war economy by imposing a complete blockade, but it believed it could not do so if it adhered to the existing law of naval warfare, which prioritized the safety of neutral ships and unarmed ships and prohibited their sinking without warning. The first violation was to authorize the U-boats to sink ships without warning and to record the sinking as due to a confusion of the ship with a hostile warship (1939). Next was an order (1940) for "unrestricted use of weapons against all ships," in such a way that "the pretence of mine hits can be made." Then Hitler clarified that the strategy was to destroy not only the enemy's fleets but also its manpower ("annihilating enemy ships and their crews"). Doenitz ordered his captains to give no assistance to survivors of a ship that was sunk ("We must be harsh in this war"), and then Hitler took the next step in 1942: an order to "shoot up the lifeboats" after a sinking. Captured naval commandos were to be executed rather treated as POWs. Rescue ships in a convoy were to be attacked (1943) in order to maximize "the desired destruction of ships' crews." Finally, in 1944 one U-boat sank a Scottish fishing boat and then shot at the survivors in the water. All of these violations occurred on Doenitz's watch as U-boat fleet commander (1939-43) and then commander in chief of the navy (1943-45).

Matt Seccombe, 13 November 2019