First Meeting of Marshal Badoglio's April 1944 Cabinet
Here we see the first cabinet meeting of Marshal Badoglio's second government, formed on 21 April 1944. This was an attempt to widen the support base for his government, and included members from the six parties of the Committee of National Liberation. The new government soon slipped out of Badoglio's control, and he was forced to resign in June 1944.
Mareșal tank destroyer
The Mareșal [b] (meaning "marshal"), also known as the M-tank, was a light tank destroyer produced during World War II by the Kingdom of Romania. The vehicle is credited for having inspired the German Hetzer tank destroyer, which was stated by German Lieutenant-Colonel Ventz.    Seven prototypes were built. Additionally, the development of around 100 series production vehicles had begun, of which a first series of 10 or 12 tank destroyers was near-completed.   The Mareșal never saw action because its development and production were slowed down by Anglo-American bombings and finally put to an end by the invading Red Army. 
Had the Mareșal been deployed into combat, it would have had big potential to become a very effective tank destroyer, according to Waffenamt and OKH delegates who attended its testing.   During tests, it proved to be superior in many aspects to the German StuG III that it competed against,  which itself was very successful and highly appreciated by its crews. The Mareșal's qualities included its strong firepower, accurate gun, good mobility and very low silhouette (around 1.5 m), the latter of which would have made the vehicle a difficult-to-hit target for enemies.  
By 7 October 1943, however, the Russians had indicated an interest in taking over about one-third of the Italian Fleet, a desire they communicated to Eden when he visited Moscow later that month. As Eden warned the War Cabinet on 27 October, the Soviet commissar for foreign affairs, V.I. Molotov, had requested “1 Battleship, 1 Cruiser, 8 Destroyers, 4 Submarines and 40,000 tons of shipping,” which Eden thought reasonable and worth granting quickly, not least because “an early favourable decision would be very helpful at the Moscow Conference.” Eden named a third of the Italian navy on the basis that Italy had surrendered to all three Allied powers.
Although the British Chiefs of Staff weren’t opposed to this in principle, they did feel that “handing over of the ships would, however, give rise to a great many difficulties which would need very careful examination.” War Cabinet member Field Marshal Smuts of South Africa, whose views carried great weight in London, thought that it ought to be discussed by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin at their next meeting, at Teheran.
The War Cabinet were concerned that if Molotov’s demands were met, the ships would not be used against Japan that the ships were not conditioned for Arctic weather that the Free French, Greeks and Yugoslavs might also make demands for Italian vessels as part of what was already being called the “United Nations” that had defeated Italy and above all that it might “discourage Italian co-operation” if the Italian Navy and Government discovered that they were about to be handed over to Bolshevik Russia.
On 29 October Churchill wrote to Eden:
If you think well, try the following on U[ncle] J[oe]. Would he like to have a flotilla of British submarines in the Black Sea? If they could get there in the next ten days would they help drown the bastards escaping from the Crimea and sink valuable material? If he thinks it worthwhile, I would try….In principle we willingly admit the Russians’ right to a share in the Italian Fleet. We had however thought that this Fleet would play its part against Japan, and we had been planning to tropicalize the Littorios [that is, condition the Italian battleships for service in the Pacific] and some other units for this later phase of the war. If Russia would like to have a squadron in being in the Pacific, that would be a very considerable event, and we would like to discuss this project at “Eureka.”
Eden replied the same day stating—somewhat naively in the circumstances—that the Russian demands ought to be met because “There have been many signs during our Conference that the members of the Soviet Government are sincere in their desire to establish relations with ourselves and the United States on a footing of permanent friendship.” For any small proportion of the Italian Fleet that the Russians could be given, Eden thought, “the psychological effect would be out of all proportion to the value of the ships, whatever that may be.” He added that the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, Averell Harriman, fully agreed with this stance. The scene was thus set for discussions between the Big Three at Teheran.
The Second Stage Opens in Italy
From The New International, Vol. X No. 4, April 1944, pp.𧅪.
Also published as The Present Stage of the Italian Revolution, Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 18, 1 May 1944, p.ن.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
The decision of the “six parties” to enter a new Badoglio government with King Victor Emmanuel still on the throne marks a new stage in the development of the revolution in Italy.
When the revolution first broke out in Italy, the masses who came out into the streets by the hundreds of thousands gave ample evidence of their long-suppressed desire to put an end to fascism, to all it stood for, and to the war which it had imposed upon them.
This display of popular hatred, which drove the Black shuns from the streets, was overwhelming enough to topple the Mussolini regime. It proved to the capitalist class and the monarchy that Mussolini did not retain enough support of any kind to keep the masses of the people in check any longer. To save themselves, they hastily abandoned their old savior, Mussolini himself, and all his more discredited henchmen.
A new figure was needed who could perform the task of preserving the old order. The ruling class and the monarchy picked Badoglio, in the hope that even though he might not be able to win the support of the masses, he could maintain “order” by the control over the remnants of the army which they expected would come to him from his previous military position. In addition, they felt, what he lacked in popular authority would be made up by the support he would receive from the Anglo-American forces. With the mantle of friendship for the “great democrats” of Washington and London draped around Badoglio, they thought that this butcher of the Albanian and Ethiopian peoples, who was Mussolini’s military tool in maintaining fascism in Italy for years, might pass as a democrat and appease the discontent of the people. The bread handouts of AMG would help, too.
The ruling class reckoned without its host – the masses of the people. We pointed out at the very beginning of the revolution that Badoglio was only a man of an hour, that his apparent triumph represented only the first stage of the struggle, and that this stage would not last long. The passing of the Badoglio regime, at least of the Badoglio regime as it was first constituted, bears out this prediction.
A Phantom Ruler
Badoglio and his master, the King, failed to obtain even as much social support, or even tolerance, as Mussolini had before the crisis broke out. The military forces he expected to command, and base himself upon, disappeared like water in sand. What was not retained by Mussolini’s gang in the North and incorporated into the Axis divisions, simply went home, fed up completely with the war and leaping at the first opportunity to withdraw from it. The famous “army” that Badoglio and Victor Emmanuel were going to contribute to the great Allied “war for democracy,” in which they blandly made themselves at home, simply failed to materialize.
The masses of the people did not rally to the support of the new regime, either. They did not do it in the South, which is weak industrially and backward politically, and they certainly did not do it in the North, the industrial heart of the country and its most advanced section politically. The masses of the people had not made their superb and successful effort to fling Mussolini into the discard only to accept in its place Mussolini’s general, Mussolini’s King, and a mob of discredited fascist politicians and gunmen who set themselves up as the new government in every southern locality. They did not overturn Mussolini with the idea of “really getting into the war,” but of getting out of it. They got neither the freedom, the peace, the republic, nor the end to starvation for which they yearned and still yearn.
The Anglo-American imperialists would have preferred to have Badoglio remain in power just as he was. Wherever possible and efficacious, they want just such a “strong man,” that is, a hard-boiled reactionary who does not yield to the aspirations for freedom of the “mob.” Darlan was no accident Badoglio was no accident.
But Badoglio’s regime proved inefficacious even from the standpoint of Washington and London. And that for two reasons. First, it showed itself incapable of winning even the passive support of the people in the south, in “liberated” Italy, because it could give them nothing except a slightly modified version of what they had in the old days. Second, it could not win the support of the people in the German-occupied North. The North is decisive for Italy, as indicated. The military progress of the Allies in Italy depends in considerable measure upon the “cooperation,” so to speak, of the rebellious workers of the North. At the same time, the further North the Allies move, the more difficult the problem of dealing with the Italian population would become. The workers of the North could not be sold the idea of a Badoglio regime for even five minutes.
A Little Face-Lifting
Hence the Allies, Moscow of course included, began a campaign to lift the face of the Badoglio regime, to give it a more popular aspect, to make it more acceptable to the people, both in the South and in the North. Here, as in nine-tenths of the cases which involve Allied political moves in Europe, they were dominated above all by fear of revolution. The campaign involved putting as much pressure as needed on Badoglio and Victor Emmanuel to accept a government reorganization that would include the “democratic” panics of the Committee, or Junta, of the “Six Parties” and putting similar pressure on these parties, especially on the party of Count Sforza and the Socialist Party, to enter a Badoglio government without insisting upon the abolition of the monarchy or even the abdication of Victor Emmanuel.
The Allies were forced into this policy by the considerations mentioned above. The Badoglio government had to be “democratized” without running the risk of anything so” upsetting as the overturn of the monarchy, hi order to win the support of the masses without really giving them what they want and need. The government had to be “democratized” in order to trick the masses out of fighting for democratic rights and powers.
The “Six Parties,” which are mostly bureaucratic committees without real organizational strength or following, were reluctant to be pushed into this compromise. This was especially the case of the most important of them, the Sforza party and the Socialist Party, which does have some support among the people. Their reluctance was not due, despite their lofty declarations, to any noble principles. They are showing this by their present action. It was due to fear of compromising themselves too badly – and so early in the fight! – in the eyes of the people. They know the bitterness the people feel toward the monarchy they know the hatred of the people toward Badoglio and the black gang of cut-throats supporting him. They were compelled, from the very beginning, to make the most highfalutin and indignant denunciations of the monarch and his Premier. They swore the most solemn oaths that they would never enter a government of so discredited a scoundrel as Badoglio, that they would take no part in a government that did not first receive the abdication of Mussolini’s co-criminal, the King.
Never? Well, hardly ever! When the pressure grew, these fake democrats collapsed like a jack-knife. They burned all their solemn oaths, they threw all their grandiose principles down the drain, hoped against hope that everybody would forget their heroic speeches and articles and posturings, and went with hat in hand to visit the detestable Marshal in order to bargain with him about the jobs they would get in his new cabinet, formed with the blessings of the High Seats of Democracy, Washington, London and, last but not least, Moscow.
The Stalinist Role
The filthy, the perfectly characteristic, role of the Stalin regime is especially noteworthy. The professional perjurers and bootlickers who edit the Stalinist press throughout the world had been shouting at the top of their bought-and-paid-for lung-power against the Badoglio regime for months. They clamored that it was reactionary that it was hardly a hair’s-breadth different from Mussolini’s that it represented nobody but a cabal of despots and criminals. They denounced and pleaded with Washington and London to cut loose from Badoglio.
Then, for his own good reasons, including the aim of breaking through the “freeze-out” policy practiced by AMG against Moscow in Italy, Stalin granted diplomatic recognition to the government that was reactionary and represented only a handful of despots and criminals. The Stalinist editors and press thereupon made one of their typical turnabout-faces, without so much as the flicker of an eyelash. They know what side their bread is buttered on.
The recognition of the Badoglio regime by Moscow was, however, only the first step. Stalin wants influence in Italy. His imperialist aims do not stop at the shores of the Mediterranean, but extend to the sea itself. Besides, he must always be on the spot to prevent any socialist revolution or revolutionary movement from rising to any strength – the beginning of the socialist victory in Europe means the end of the Stalinist tyranny in Russia.
To Naples, therefore, came one of the most despicable characters in the foreign machine of Moscow, Palmiro Tagliatti, alias Ercoli. Ercoli was for years one of the most unscrupulous tools of Stalin in the Communist International. This cold-blooded, cynical, corrupt flunkey stood by applauding while the best militants in the Italian communist movement – the genuine communist movement, not the present-day caricature of it – were driven from the party, or went sent to prison, or even executed. He cheered with the mob of bureaucrats when the flower of the Russian Revolution was framed up in Russia and executed in the cellars of the GPU. He was just the man for Stalin’s job in Italy.
His job in Italy was, first, to force the “Six Parties” to enter the Badoglio regime to give it a more palatable appearance. With Stalinist pressure on one side and Allied pressure on the other, the rest of the Six Parties capitulated.
It is of the highest interest to learn that the job demanded by the Stalinists in the new cabinet is the Ministry of the Interior. They may not get it, but that is what they want first. The Ministry of the Interior in Italy is in charge of . police and prisons. That is what the Stalinists want to control. That is how they have trained themselves and their representatives to deal with all dissenters – by police and prisons. Success in this field would mean that Stalin has sunk an entering wedge deep into Italy – the wedge of the GPU, this time a GPU clothed with the official authority and power of the Italian state.
But acting officially through the police of the government, or unofficially and in the dark, the knife of Stalinism is directed against the independence of the people, against their democratic and socialist strivings, against all those who represent these strivings to any serious degree – be it our comrades, the revolutionary Trotskyists of Italy, or the socialists who are not ready to take orders and a stipend from Moscow, or even ordinary democrats and liberals who will not do Stalin’s dirty work. It is in the Stalinists that the Italian revolution will find its most sinister enemy, its most potent menace.
The first stage of the revolution in Italy could only give way to the present stage, the second. But the second is no more durable than the first. It must, in turn, give way to a new stage.
A New Staff to Come
The very circumstances in which the new Badoglio regime – the “democratized” Badoglio regime – is coming into office clearly indicates that it can give the people little, if anything, more than did its predecessor. Will these “democratic” governors now try to recruit and mobilize the Italian people for a “more active” part in the war? But that is precisely what the harried masses, ruined by the war, do not want. Will it give them food, which is a burning question for the starving masses now? It is more than doubtful. The profiteers will continue their shameless profiteering, the masses will continue on the brink of exhaustion.
The profiteers, capitalists and princes will not be crushed by a gang of cowards who dared not even break completely with a zero like Badoglio – much less with that other master of food, AMG. Will it give them a republic? What the masses want now, these “democrats” will probably continue to promise them . in the future. Will it give them democratic rights, the genuine right of free press, free speech, free assem-ly, the right to vote for a government of their own, a National Constituent Assembly which will decide the government of Italy? Yes . When? Tomorrow, always tomorrow, and never today. “After the war,” they say. But the people want these rights now, and promises made by those who have already condemned themselves by their cynical violation of solemn promises are not a substitute.
The events leading up to the second stage of the Italian revolution that has just opened, emphasize what we and, we are glad to note, our Italian comrades whose first proclamation we printed recently, have said from the beginning. The people of Italy cannot expect to get their liberation from foreign imperialism, and they cannot expect it from the Stalinists, the Sforza-Croce “democrats” or the right-wing socialists. The winning of their freedom is their own job, and it can be achieved only in the course of an independent struggle.
Real freedom, peace, security, abundance – these are not to be won short of the victory of socialism throughout Europe. The old Europe, the Europe of capitalism, can bring the people only what it has brought them, suffering, war, exploitation, despotism, national hatreds, poverty, weakness. There is not a single country of Europe that can solve its problem by itself. The problem of each of the countries is the problem of all of Europe, to be solved unitedly by the free nations and peoples of Europe, organized in a Socialist United States of Europe There is no other road but leads to despair and ruin.
This does not mean that each country of Europe must wait until all the others are ready for revolution. One can start the others will follow. For various reasons, it is Italy that has started. If it continues, the purifying fire will light in other lands.
Struggle for Democratic Rights
In Italy, the developments have already showed the tremendous revolutionary significance and power, both from the standpoint of the masses of the people, and from the standpoint of revolutionary socialism, of the struggle for democratic rights. So far as the fascists are concerned, it is all clear. But especially so far as the “democratic” imperialists are concerned, and the totalitarian Stalinists, and the capitalist liberals and right-wing socialists as well – they all fear the exercise of democratic rights by the people. They want to do everything from above, without the masses “interfering,” in the hope that this is an easier way to keep the masses in check.
All of them are afraid of what the masses will say about them if they have the unrestricted right of free speech. They fear what the masses will say and plan in their halls and do in the streets if they have the right of assembly. They fear what the masses will organize if they have the right to organize. If the strength of the masses were unleashed, they would not hesitate for a moment to step right into industry and the machinery of distribution and, disregarding the profit interests of capital, see to it that there is food for the people and food equitably shared. This is especially what the capitalist politicians fear. They fear the power of an independent and untrammelled press at the service of the masses.
They are afraid of elections, for then they must submit themselves to the suffrage and judgment of the masses, especially masses of people who are in a revolutionary frame of mind, who demand deeds and not only words, who demand that promises be taken off paper and carried out in life. They are therefore also afraid of calling for a National Constituent Assembly on the basis of universal suffrage to decide the government of Italy. They prefer to do that in the dark of the moon, by bureaucratic arrangements with Anglo-American imperialism, with Moscow, with the monarchists and the bankers – all behind the backs of the people.
Our Italian comrades, who are concentrating their efforts under the most difficult circumstances to build up a truly revolutionary socialist party, a party of the Fourth International, rightly point out to the workers of Italy that they must set themselves the goal of a Socialist United States of Europe.
At the same time, they call upon the workers to fight now for the democratic rights we have outlined above. They call not only for the right of free speech, free press and assembly, and the right to organize, but the right to vote and the convocation of a National Constituent Assembly. In this call, our Italian comrades once more show that the revolutionary socialists do not merely talk about democracy and democratic rights, but are the most consistent and fearless fighters for it. They show that the fight for democracy for the masses of the people lies along the road of the fight for socialism and is best conducted under the leadership of revolutionary socialists.
Our comrades are not deceiving themselves, however, or the workers to whom they speak. They do not ask the workers to look to AMG for the realization of their legitimate demands. They do not tell them to expect it of the King, the bankers, the industrialists, the “ex-fascists” like Badoglio, or even from Sforza and his ilk. To the contrary, in their very first pronouncement, our Italian comrades warned the workers against such illusions. Their warning has already been more than amply justified, and the recent decision of the “Six Parties” serves to underscore it.
Our Italian comrades tell the workers that they must organize and fight for these rights, that they themselves must acquire these rights, including the calling of a National Constituent Assembly. To organize themselves most democratically and most effectively, the workers, soldiers and peasants of Italy, say our comrades, must organize their own councils. It is in such organization that the future of the Italian revolution is assured.
From our standpoint, the course recommend by our Italian comrades is not only thoroughly wise and correct, but corresponds perfectly to the needs and interests of the people of Italy.
Meaning to American Labor
Are the events in Italy, its future, of concern only to the people of that country? No, to the people, especially to the workers, of the United States as well. We have a stake in the development of the revolution in Italy. For if it is defeated, that is a direct blow at us here, and reaction will know how to deliver it. If it is victorious, it is a victory for us, because labor will be as encouraged and emboldened as the capitalists will be upset and demoralized.
We have our duty to perform. It is a downright shame that our labor movement has kept silent while Anglo-American authorities are maintained as conquerors over the Italian people, while these “liberators” continue to deny the Italian people the most elementary democratic rights. We must raise our voices in protest against this disgraceful state of affairs and demand: “Hands of the Italian people and their rights! Hands off the Italian Revolution!”
There is much we can do, of a most concrete kind, for our Italian brothers. Labor must not be remiss in its duty. The freedom of a people is involved.
World War II [ edit | edit source ]
Badoglio was not in favour of the Italian-German Pact of Steel and was pessimistic about the chances of Italian success in any European war but he did not oppose the decision of Mussolini and the King to declare war on France and Great Britain. Following the Italian army's poor performance in the invasion of Greece in December 1940, he resigned from the General Staff. Badoglio was replaced by Ugo Cavallero.
On 24 July 1943, as Italy had suffered several setbacks following the Allied invasion of Sicily in World War II, Mussolini summoned the Fascist Grand Council, which voted no confidence in Mussolini. The following day Il Duce was removed from government by King Victor Emmanuel III and arrested. On 3 September 1943, General Giuseppe Castellano signed the Italian armistice with the Allies in Cassibile on behalf of Badoglio, who was named Prime Minister of Italy. On 8 September, the armistice document was published by the Allies in the Badoglio Proclamation before Badoglio could communicate news of the switch to the Italian armed forces. The units of the Italian Royal Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force were generally surprised by the switch and unprepared for German actions to disarm them. In the early hours of 9 September, Badoglio, King Victor Emmanuel, some military ministers, and the Chief of the General Staff escaped to Pescara and Brindisi seeking Allied protection. ΐ] On 23 September, the longer version of the armistice was signed in Malta. On 13 October, Badoglio and the Kingdom of Italy officially declared war on Nazi Germany. Badoglio continued to head the government for another nine months. Following the German rescue of Mussolini, the liberation of Rome, and increasingly strong opposition, he was on 9 June 1944 replaced by Ivanoe Bonomi of the Labour Democratic Party. Due to increased tensions with the Soviet Union, in which the British government saw Pietro Badoglio as a guarantor of an anti-communist post-war Italy, he was never tried for Italian war crimes committed in Africa. Β] Γ] Δ]
Italian general A professional soldier, he fought at Adowa (1896) and in Libya (1911). He led the successful assault on the Austrian stronghold of Monte Sabotino in 1916, but was subsequently at least partly responsible for the disastrous defeat at Caporetto (1917). Nevertheless, he finished World War I as deputy Chief of Staff, and served as army Chief of Staff 1919–21. Assured by his loyalty to the new Fascist state, Mussolini made him chief of the general staff of the armed forces in 1925, and marshal of Italy in 1926. He was made Governor of Libya in 1929, and in 1935 he took charge from De Bono of the struggling army in the Abyssinian War. In realistic appreciation of the current strength of the Italian army he opposed its participation in the Spanish Civil War, and even more so its entry into World War II. He resigned following Italy's invasion of Greece in 1940. After Mussolini's deposition by the Fascist Grand Council he was invited to form a new government on 26 July 1943. He concluded an armistice with the Allies on 3 September 1943, and declared war on Germany the following month. Nevertheless, his government lacked authority because of the CLN's refusal to cooperate with him until April 1944. Unable to overcome its distrust, he resigned in June 1944, following the liberation of Rome, and was replaced by Bonomi.
Beach assault, Saipan, June 1944. USGov PD.
June 15, 1944
U.S. Marines and Army troops, supported by a massive fleet, invade Saipan in the Mariana Islands of the Central Pacific.
June 19, 1944
Japan's counterattack results in the greatest carrier battle of World War II. U.S. forces shoot down so many Japanese planes that some American servicemen will call the battle "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot."
July 7, 1944
The largest and most fearsome banzai charge of the Pacific War takes place on Saipan. Three thousand suicidal Japanese soldiers attack a U.S. Army division, overrunning two battalions.
July 9, 1944
Saipan falls to the Americans. Hundreds of civilians commit suicide at Marpi Point on the northern tip of the island. Time magazine poses a question that will remain relevant until the end of the war: "Saipan is the first invaded Jap territory populated with more than a handful of civilians. Do the suicides mean that the whole Japanese race will choose death before surrender?"
October 20, 1944
General Douglas MacArthur's 6th Army lands at Leyte, marking his triumphant return to the Philippines. It has been more than two years since he reluctantly abandoned his troops on Bataan and Corregidor.
October 23-26, 1944
The Battle of Leyte Gulf. The U.S. Navy defeats the Japanese Navy in the largest naval battle in history. American servicemen witness Japanese suicide attackers, kamikazes, for the first time.
November 24, 1944
U.S B-29 bombers. attack the Nakajima aircraft factory northwest of Tokyo. The high-altitude mission marks the first bombing raid of Japan from the Mariana Islands. Due to winds and other factors, most bombs miss their targets.
January 8, 1945: 1945
General Curtis LeMay arrives in the Marianas to take over the 21st Bomber Command, the B-29s.
January 20, 1945
The Japanese emperor, Hirohito, approves Ketsu-Go - the plan for a final, decisive battle in which soldiers and civilians on the Japanese home islands will fight to the death to resist an American invasion.
Emperor Hirohito consults seven former prime ministers of Japan. All but one support Ketsu-Go.
February 19, 1945
U.S. Marines land on Iwo Jima, beginning five weeks of terrible fighting for control of the strategically-located island.
March 9 and 10, 1945
General LeMay's B-29s fly their first low-altitude incendiary mission carrying a destructive new weapon: napalm bombs. Though the pilots fear flying low will expose them to deadly anti-aircraft attacks, it will be the Japanese who suffer from the fires caused by the high-tech incendiary jelly. In less than three hours, more than 300 B-29s will destroy 16 square miles of Tokyo, killing more than 83,000 - by some counts up to 100,000 - civilians.
April 1, 1945
The U.S. Tenth Army invades Okinawa supported by the largest invasion fleet in history. Military planners have identified Okinawa as a necessary staging area for the invasion of Japan's main islands.
April 6, 1945
In Okinawa, after almost of week without enemy resistance, the Army encounters stiff resistance at Kakazu Ridge, the Imperial Army's first defensive line. The battle reveals the Japanese have developed an intricate cave system for concealing guns.
A first wave of ten kamikaze attacks hits the U.S. Fifth Fleet off the coast of Okinawa. It is the first large-scale attack by the suicide flyers.
The Japanese battleship Yamato lifts anchor and heads toward the U.S. Fleet off Okinawa on a one-way suicide mission. She is spotted almost immediately by an American submarine and carrier-based pilots. It will take 11 torpedoes and eight bombs to sink the Yamato. More than 3,000 men will go down to their deaths with her.
April 12, 1945
President Franklin Roosevelt dies. Vice President Harry Truman is sworn in as president.
May 8, 1945
V-E Day. Germany surrenders unconditionally. World War II in Europe is over.
May 12-18, 1945
In Okinawa, Marines hit Japan's main line of defense at Sugar Loaf Hill. It will take seven days and more than a dozen attempts to capture the hill. Marines will suffer thousands of casualties.
May 25, 1945
The Joint Chiefs of Staff meet to authorize the invasion of Japan. They choose November 1, 1945, as D-Day.
June 8, 1945
The Japanese hold an Imperial Conference in Tokyo. Despite reports that its war-making capability is severely limited and collapsing, the government decides Japan will fight to the death.
June 18, 1945
Truman's advisers brief him on U.S. plans to invade Japan. The president is particularly concerned about casualties and only approves an invasion of the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. He postpones a decision on the proposed second phase -- an invasion of the Tokyo area.
Organized Japanese resistance in the Philippines ends.
June 22, 1945
The U.S. captures Okinawa after 82 days of bloody battle. American forces have suffered more than 12,000 dead or missing, and more than 36,000 wounded. The losses on the Japanese side are even higher.
Emperor Hirohito meets with his war cabinet and advocates for a diplomatic solution to the war. The war cabinet agrees to ask the Soviet Union to mediate a peace with the Allies.
July 16, 1945
The U.S. Army successfully tests the world's first atomic bomb in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
President Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British prime minister Winston Churchill meet in the Berlin suburb of Potsdam to discuss post-war Europe. Stalin reaffirms his commitment to enter the war against Japan.
July 25, 1945
After General George Marshall meets with Truman, Secretary of War Henry Stimson authorizes the use of the atomic bomb.
July 26, 1945
The Allies issue the Potsdam Declaration. It calls on Japan to surrender its armed forces unconditionally or risk "prompt and utter destruction." Truman rejects an effort by Secretary of War Henry Stimson and others to include a guarantee that Japan's imperial system will be allowed to remain intact. He bases his decision on radio intelligence that indicates such a guarantee would not be enough to obtain surrender.
August 6, 1945
The B-29 Enola Gay drops the world's first deployed atomic bomb on a Japanese city, Hiroshima. From the U.S.S. Augusta Truman announces the bomb to the public.
August 7, 1945
General George Marshall, the chief proponent of invasion, expresses his doubts about going forward to General MacArthur after learning that the Japanese have massively built up their Japanese forces on Kyushu.
August 8, 1945, 11pm Tokyo time
The Soviet Union declares war on Japan and invades Japanese-held Manchuria in the largest land offensive of the Pacific War.
August 9, 1945
Japan learns that the Soviets have entered the war. The War Cabinet meets to discuss the Potsdam Declaration, which it has so far ignored. In the middle of the meeting the cabinet learns the U.S. has dropped a second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki. Late at night, the emperor will break a deadlock over how many conditions to attach to Japan's acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration.
August 10, 1945
The U.S. finally receives the Japanese response to the terms outlined in the Potsdam Declaration. The one condition the Japanese insist upon is that the declaration should not "prejudice the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler." It is not a simple request to retain the emperor as a figurehead leader, but a demand that the U.S. give the emperor substantive power over a post-war U.S. occupation and any reforms.
August 12, 1945
Japan receives America's response to the Japanese conditional surrender. Secretary of State James Byrnes makes it clear that Emperor Hirohito and the militarists will no longer be in charge.
August 14, 1945
President Truman becomes convinced that the Japanese will not surrender and authorizes resumption of conventional bombing. He tells the British ambassador he is contemplating authorizing a third atomic bomb attack on Tokyo. Seven hundred B-29s fly over Japan, dropping more than 4,000 tons of explosives on military targets.
Emperor Hirohito calls an Imperial Conference. A military faction wants to fight to the death, while a peace faction pushes to accept the Byrnes reply. The emperor again breaks the deadlock and accepts the Allies' terms for surrender. Before midnight he will record a surrender message to his people. Junior Army officers stage a short-lived coup d'etat.
August 15, 1945
Japanese civilians hear the voice of their emperor for the first time. His recorded message announces Japan's capitulation — without ever using the word "surrender."
August 17, 1945
After his overseas commanders refuse to accept the emperor's first surrender order, he issues a second statement urging all Japanese armed forces to surrender.
September 2, 1945
The formal surrender ceremony takes place on the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
September 3, 1945
The last Japanese organized resistance in World War II ends.
First Meeting of Marshal Badoglio's April 1944 Cabinet - History
The Reich Cabinet, or Reichsregierung, unlike most of the other Nazi organizations, was not especially created by the Nazi Party to carry out or implement its purposes. The Reichsregierung had, before the Nazis came to power, a place in the constitutional and political history of the country. As with other cabinets of duly constituted governments, the executive power of the realm was concentrated in that body. The Nazi conspirators well realized this fact. Their aim for totalitarian control over the State could not be secured, they realized, except by acquiring, holding, and utilizing the machinery of the State. And this they did. Under the Nazi regime the Reichsregierung gradually became a primary agent of the Nazi Party, with functions and policies formulated in accordance with the objectives and methods of the Party itself. The Reichsregierung became-at first gradually and then with more rapidity-polluted by the infusion of the Nazi conspirators sixteen of whom are accused in the Indictment. Its purpose came to be to clothe every scheme and purpose of the Party, however vile, with the semblance of legality.
A. Composition and Nature of the Reichsregierung.
The term Reichsregierung literally translated means "Reich Government". Actually, it was commonly taken to refer to the ordinary Reich Cabinet. In the Indictment the term Reichsregierung is defined to include not only those persons who were members of the ordinary Reich Cabinet, but also persons who were members of the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich (Ministerrat fuer die Reichsverteidigung) and the Secret Cabinet Council (Geheimer Kabinettsrat). The most important body, however, was the ordinary cabinet. Between it and the other two groups there was in reality only an artificial distinction. There existed, in fact, a unity of personnel, action, function, and purpose that obliterated any academic separation. As used in the Indictment, the term "ordinary cabinet" means Reich ministers, i.e., heads of departments of the central government Reich Ministers without portfolio State Ministers acting as Reich Ministers and other officials entitled to take part in Cabinet meetings. Altogether, 48 persons held positions in the ordinary cabinet. 17 of them have been indicted as defendants. Of the remaining 31, eight are believed to be dead.
(1) The Ordinary Cabinet. Into the ordinary cabinet were placed the leading Nazi trusted henchmen. Then, when new governmental agencies or bodies were created, either by Hitler or by the Cabinet itself, the constituents of these new bodies were taken from the rolls of the ordinary cabinet.
When the first Hitler Cabinet was formed on 30 January 1933, there were 10 ministries which could be classified as departments of the central government. This fact appears from the minutes of the first meeting of that cabinet, which were found in the files of the Reich Chancellery and bear the typed signature of one Weinstein, who is described in the minutes as "Responsible for the Protocol-Counsellor in the Ministry" (351-PS). The ten ministers who attended are set forth:
"Reichs Minister of Foreign Affairs (von Neurath) Reichs Minister of the Interior (Frick) Reichs Minister of Finance (Graf Schwerin von Krosigk) Reichs Minister of Economy Reichs Minister for Food and Agriculture (Dr. Hugenberg) Reichs Minister of Labor (Seldte) Reichs Minister of Justice [no name given the post was filled two days later by Gurtner] Reichs Defense Minister (von Blomberg) the Reichs Postmaster General and Reichs Minister for Transportation (Freiherr von Eltz-Ruebanach)." (351-PS)
In addition, Goering attended as Reichs Minister (he held no portfolio at that time) and Reichs Commissar for Aviation. Dr. Perecke attended as Reich Commissar for Procurement of Labor. Two state secretaries were present-Dr. Lammers of the Reichs Chancellery and Dr. Meissner of the Reich's Presidential Chancellery. In addition, Funk was present as Reichs Press Chief, and von Papen was present as Deputy of the Reichs Chancellor and Reichs Commissar for the State of Prussia. (351-PS)
Not long afterwards new ministries or departments were created, into which leading Nazi figures were placed. On 13 March 1933, the Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda was created, and Paul Josef Goebbels was named as Reich Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda (2029-PS). On 5 May 1933 the Ministry of Air (2089-PS), on 1 May 1934 the Ministry of Education (2078-PS), and on 16 July 1935 the Ministry for Church Affairs (2090-PS) were created. Goering was made Air Minister Bernhard Rust, Gauleiter of South Hanover, was named Education Minister and Hans Kerrl was named minister for Church Affairs. Two Ministries were added after the war started. On 17 March 1940 the Ministry of Armaments and Munitions was established (2091-PS). Dr. Fritz Todt, a high party official, was appointed to this post. Speer succeeded him. The name of this department was changed to "Armaments and War Production" in 1943 (2092-PS). On 17 July 1941, when the seizure of Eastern territories was in progress, the Ministry for the occupied Eastern Territories was created. There was no published decree for this act. A file found in the Presidential Chancellery contains a typewritten copy of the decree of Hitler establishing that post (1997-PS). The decree provides:
"Decree of the Fuehrer concerning the administration of the newly-occupied Eastern Territories dated 17 July 1941."
"In order to maintain public order and public life in the newly-occupied Eastern territories I decree that:
"As soon as the military operations in the newly-occupied territories are over, the administration of these territories shall be transferred from the military establishments to the civil-administration establishments. I shall from to time determine by special decree, the territories which according to this are to be transferred to the civil administration and the time when this is to take place.
"The Civil Administration in the newly occupied Eastern territories, where these territories are not included in the administration of the territories bordering on the Reich or the General government, is subject to the 'Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern territories.'
"I appoint Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. He will hold office in Berlin.' (1997-PS)
During the years 1933 to 1945, one ministry was dropped-the Ministry of Defense (later called War). This took place on 4 February 1938, when Hitler took over command of the whole Armed Forces. At the same time he created the office of the "Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces" or Chief of the OKW. This was held by Keitel. The decree accomplishing this change provides in part as follows:
"He [the Chief of the supreme command of the armed forces] is equal in rank to a Reich Minister. At the same time, the supreme command takes the responsibility for the affairs of the Reichs Ministry of War, and by my order, the chief of the supreme command of the Armed Forces exercises the authority formerly belonging to the Reichs Minister." (1915-PS)
Another change in the composition of the cabinet during the years in question should be noted. The post of vice-chancellor was never refilled after the departure of von Papen on 30 July 1934.
In addition to the heads of departments mentioned above, the ordinary cabinet also contained Reich Ministers without portfolio. Among these were Frank, Seyss-Inquart, Schacht (after he left the Economics Ministry), and von Neurath (after he was replaced as Ministry of the Interior). Other positions also formed an integral part of the cabinet. Those were the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Hess, and later his successor, the leader of the Party Chancellery, Bormann the Chief of Staff of the SA, Ernst Roehm, for the seven months prior to his assassination the Chief of the Reich Chancellery, Lammers and, as already mentioned, the Chief of the OKW, Keitel. These men had either the title or rank of Reich Minister.
The Cabinet also contained other functionaries, such as State Ministers acting as Reich Ministers. Only two persons fell within this category-the Chief of the Presidential Chancellery, Otto Meissner, and the State Minister of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Karl Hermann Frank. In addition, as named in the Indictment, the ordinary cabinet included "others entitled to take part in Cabinet meetings". Many governmental agencies were created by the Nazis between the years 1933 and 1945, but the peculiarity of these creations was that in most instances the new officials were given the right to participate in cabinet meetings. Among those entitled to take part in Cabinet meetings were the Commanders in Chief of the Army and the Navy the Reich Forest Master the Inspector General for Water and Power the Inspector General of German Roads the Reich Labor leader the Reich Youth Leader the Chief of the Foreign Organization in the Foreign Office the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior the Prussian Finance Minister and the Cabinet Press Chief. These posts and officials comprising the ordinary cabinet all appear on the chart entitled "Organization of the Reich Government," and authenticated by Frick (Chart Number 18). The persons who held these posts in the ordinary cabinet varied between the years 1933 to 1945. Their names are listed in the chart (Chart Number 18), which discloses that 17 of these officials are defendants in these proceedings.
(2) The Secret Cabinet Council. Proof that there was only an artificial distinction between the ordinary cabinet, the Secret Cabinet Council, and the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich, is shown by the unity of personnel among the three subdivisions. Thus, on 4 February 1938, Hitler created the Secret Cabinet Council (2031-PS):
"To advise me in conducting the foreign policy I am setting up a secret cabinet council.
"As president of the secret cabinet council, I nominate:
Reichsminister Freiherr von Neurath
"As members of the secret cabinet council I nominate:
Reichsminister for Foreign Affairs, Joachim von Ribbentrop
Prussian Prime Minister, Reichsminister of the Air, Supreme Commander of the Air Forces, General Field Marshall Hermann Goering
The Fuehrer's Deputy, Reichsminister Rudolf Hess
Reichsminister for the Enlightenment of the people and of Propaganda, Dr. Joseph Goebbels
Reichsminister and Chief of the Reichs Chancellery Dr. Hans-Heinrich Lammers
The Supreme Commander of the Army, General Walther von Brauchitsch
The Supreme Commander of the Navy, Grand Admiral Dr. (honorary) Erich Raeder
The Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces Lt Gen Wilhelm Keitel." (2031-PS)
It will be noted that every member of this group was either a Reichsminister or, as, in the case of the Army, Navy, and OKW heads, had the rank and authority of a Reich Minister.
(3) The Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich. On 30 August 1939 Hitler established the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich (better known as the Ministerial Council). This was the so-called war cabinet. The decree establishing this Council provided (2018-PS):
"(1) A Ministerial Council for Reich Defense shall be established as a standing committee out of the Reich Defense Council.
"(2) The standing members of the Ministerial Council for Reich Defense shall include: General Field Marshall Goering as chairman Fuehrer's Deputy [Hess] Commissioner General (or Plenipotentiary) for Reich Administration [Frick] Commissioner General (or Plenipotentiary) for Economy [Funk] Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery [Dr. Lammers] Chief of the High Command for the Armed Forces [Keitel].
"(3) The chairman may draw on other members of the Reich Defense Council including further personalities for advice." (2018-PS).
Again, all members of this group were also members of the ordinary Cabinet.
The Reich Defense Council, for secret war planning, was created by the Cabinet on 4 April 1933 (cf. the unpublished Reich Defense Law of 21 May 1935 (2261-PS). The membership of that Council when first created is shown by the minutes of the second session of the working committee of the delegates for Reich Defense, dated 22 May 1933 and signed by Keitel (EC-177):
"Composition of the Reich Defense Council:
"Depending on the case: The remaining ministers, other personalities, e.g., leading industrialists, etc." (EC-177)
All but the Chiefs of the Army and Navy Command Staff were at that time members of the ordinary cabinet.
The composition of this Reich defense Council was changed by an unpublished law on 4 September 1938, which provided as follows (2194-PS):
"* * * (2) The leader and Reich Chancellor is chairman in the RVR. His permanent deputy is General Field Marshall Goering. He has the right to call conferences of the RVR. Permanent members of the RVR are
The other Reich Ministers and the Reich offices directly subordinate to the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor are consulted if necessary. Further personalities can be called as the case demands." (2194-PS)
On that date all the members also belonged to the ordinary cabinet, for by that time the supreme commanders of the Army and Navy had been given ministerial rank and authorized to participate in cabinet meetings (2098-PS). It is also worth noting that two members of the Reich Defense Council also appear in the Ministerial Council under the same title-The Plenipotentiary for Administration, and the Plenipotentiary for Economy. The former post was held by Frick, while the latter was first held by Schacht and then by Funk. These facts are verified by Frick on the Nazi governmental organization chart (Chart Number 18). Many other ministries were subordinated to these two posts for war-planning aims and purposes. These two officials, together with the Chief of the OKW, formed a powerful triumvirate known as the "Three-Man College" (Frick, Funk, and Keitel) which figured prominently in war plans and preparations.
B. Functions of the Reichsregierung.
The utilization of the ordinary cabinet as a manpower reservoir for other governmental agencies, the chronological development of the offshoots of the ordinary cabinet, and the cohesion between all of these groups, is apparent from the Nazi governmental organization chart (Chart Number 18). The chart shows the following offshoots of the ordinary cabinet: 1933, the Delegate for the Four Year Plan 1938, the Secret Cabinet Council 1939, The Ministerial Defense Council and 1944, the Delegate for Total War Effort (Goebbels). In every case these important Nazi agencies were staffed with personnel taken from the ordinary cabinet.
(1) The Ordinary Cabinet. The unity, cohesion, and interrelationship of the sub-divisions of the Reichsregierung was not the result of a co-mixture of personnel alone. It was also realized by the method in which it operated. The ordinary cabinet consulted together both by meeting and through the so-called circulation procedure. Under the latter procedure, which was chiefly used when meetings were not held, drafts of laws prepared in individual ministries were distributed to other cabinet members for approval or disapproval.
The man primarily responsible for the circulation of drafts of laws under this procedure was Dr. Lammers, the Leader and Chief of the Reich Chancellery. Lammers has described that procedure in an affidavit (2999-PS):
"* * * I was Leader of the Reich Chancellery (Leiter der Reichskanzlei) from 30 January 1933 until the end of the war. In this capacity I circulated drafts of proposed laws and decrees submitted to me by the Minister who had drafted the law or decree, to all members of the Reich Cabinet. A period of time was allowed for objections, after which the law considered as being accepted by the various members of the Cabinet. This procedure continued throughout the whole war. It was followed also in the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich (Ministerrat fuer die Reichsverteidigung)." (2999-PS)
A memorandum dated 9 August 1943, which bears the facsimile signature of Frick and is addressed to the Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, illustrates how the circulation procedure worked (1701-PS). Attached to the memorandum is a draft of the law in question and a carbon copy of a letter dated 22 December 1943 from Rosenberg to the Reich Minister of the Interior, containing his comments on the draft:
"To the Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery. In Berlin W8.
"For the information of the other Reich ministers.
"Subj: Law on the treatment of enemies of the society.
"In addition to my letter of 19 March, 1942.
"After the draft of the law on the treatment of enemies of the society has been completely rewritten, I am sending the enclosed new draft with the consent of the Reich Minister of Justice, Dr. Thierack, and ask that the law be approved in a circulatory manner. The necessary number of prints in attached." (1701-PS)
(2) Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich. The same procedure was followed in the Council of Ministers when that body was created. And the decrees of the Council of Ministers were also circulated to the members of the ordinary Cabinet. A memorandum found in the files of the Reich Chancellery and addressed to the members of the Council of Ministers, dated 17 September 1939, and bearing the typed signature of Dr. Lammers, Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, states (1141-PS):
"Matters submitted to the Council of Ministers for the Reich Defense have heretofore been distributed only to the members of the Council. I have been requested by some of the Reichsministers who are not permanent members of the Council to inform them of the drafts of decrees which are being submitted to the Council, so as to enable them to check these drafts from the point of view of their respective offices. I shall follow this request so that all the Reichsministers will in future be informed of the drafts of decrees which are to be acted upon by the Council for the Reich Defense. I therefore request to add forty-five additional copies of the drafts, as well as of the letters which usually contain the arguments for the drafts, to the folders submitted to the Council." (1141-PS)
Von Stutterheim, who was an official of the Reich Chancellery, comments on this procedure at page 34 of a pamphlet entitled "Die Reichskanzlei":
"* * * It must be noted that the peculiarity in this case is that the subjects dealt with by the Cabinet Council- (Council, of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich), are distributed not merely among the members of the Cabinet Council, but also among all the members of the Cabinet (Kabinett) who are thereby given the opportunity of guarding the interests of their spheres of office by adding their appropriate standpoints in the Cabinet Council legislation, even if they do not participate in making the decree." (2231-PS)
For a time the Cabinet consulted together through actual meetings. The Council of Ministers did likewise, but those members of the Cabinet who were not already members of the Council also attended the meetings of the Ministerial Council. And where they did not attend in person, they were usually represented by the state secretaries of their Ministries. The minutes of six meetings of the Council of Ministers, on 1,4,8, and 19 September 1939, on 16 October 1939, and on 15 November 1939, demonstrate this procedure. (2852-PS)
At the meeting held on 1 September 1939, which was probably the first meeting since the Council was created on 30 August 1939, the following were in attendance:
"Present were the permanent members of the Council of Ministers for the Reich Defense: The Chairman and Generalfield Marshall, Goering the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Hess [a line appears through the name Hess] the Plenipotentiary for Reich administration, Dr. Frick the Plenipotentiary for Economy, Funk the Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, Dr. Lammers and the Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces, Keitel, represented by Major General Thomas." (2852-PS)
These were the regular members of the Council. Also present was the Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture, Darre, and seven State Secretaries: Koerner, Neumann, Stuckart, Posse, Landfried, Backe, and Syrup (2852-PS). These State Secretaries were from the several Ministries or other supreme Reich authorities. Koerner was the Deputy of Goering in the Four Year Plan Stuckart was in the Ministry of the Interior Landfried was in the Ministry of Economics Syrup was in the Ministry of Labor.
The minutes dated 8 September 1939 (2852-PS) note that in addition to all members of the Ministerial Council, the following also were present:
"The Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture * * * Darre State Minister * * * Popitz"
Then come the names of nine State Secretaries from the several Ministries, and then:
"SS Gruppenfuehrer * * * Heydrich"
The close integration of the ministerial Council with the ordinary Cabinet is seen by the following excerpt from the minutes of the same date (8 September 1939):
"The Council of Ministers for the Reich Defense ratified the decree for the change of the Labor Service Law which had already been passed as law by the Reich Cabinet. (Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1744.)"
The minutes of the meeting of 19 September 1939 (2852-PS) show the following Reich Ministers to be present in addition to four members of the Council:
"Also: The Reich Minister for Finance, Count Schwerin von Krosigk.
The Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture, Darre.
The Reich Minister For Enlightenment and Propaganda, Dr. Goebbels.
State Minister * * * Dr. Popitz." (2852-PS)
Then come the names of eight State Secretaries. Others present included:
"SS Gruppenfuehrer * * * Heydrich General of the Police (Ordnungspolizei) Daluege." (2852-PS)
The minutes dated 15 November 1939 show the same co-mixture of Ministers, State Secretaries, and similar functionaries. In addition, the following were also present:
"Reichsleiter, Dr. Ley Reichsleiter, Bouhler Reichsfuehrer SS, Chief of German Police in the Reich Ministry of Interior, Himmler The Reich Labor Service Leader, Hierl * * * Reich Commissioner for Price Control, Wagner * * * as well as experts (Sachbearbeiter) of the German Labor Front and the Reich Labor Service." (2852-PS)
Some of the decrees passed and matters discussed at these meetings of the Ministerial Council are significant. At the first meeting of 1 September 1939 14 decrees were ratified by the Council. Decree No. 6 concerned
"* * * the organization of the administration and about the German safety police in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. (RGB1, I, page 1681)." (2852-PS)
At the meeting of the Council on 19 September 1939 the following occurred:
"The Chairman of the Council, Generalfieldmarshall Goering, made comments regarding the structure of civil administration in the occupied Polish territory. He expressed his intentions regarding the economic evacuation measures in this territory. Then the questions of decreasing wages and the questions of working hours and the support of members of families of inducted workers were discussed."
"The Chairman directed that all members of the Council regularly receive the situation reports of the Reichsfuehrer SS. Then the question of the population of the future Polish Protectorate was discussed and the placement of Jews living in Germany." (2852-PS)
Finally, at the meeting of 15 November 1939 the discussion concerned, among other things, the "treatment of Polish Prisoners of War". (2852-PS)
The minutes of these meetings (2852-PS) not only establish the close working union between agencies of the state and the party, especially the SS, but also tends to establish that the Reichsregierung was responsible for the policies adopted and put into effect by the government.
C. Powers of The Reichsregierung.
But mere working alliances would be meaningless unless there was power. And the Reichsregierung had power. Short of Hitler himself, it had practically all the power a government can exercise.
(1) The Ordinary Cabinet. The Nazi conspirators secured the passage by the Reichstag of the "Law for the Protection of the People and the Reich," Of 24 March 1933 (2001-PS), which vested the Cabinet with legislative powers even to the extent of deviating from previously existing constitutional law. These powers were retained even after the members of the cabinet were changed, and the several states, provinces, and municipalities, which had formerly exercised semi-autonomous powers, were transformed into mere administrative organs of the central government. The ordinary cabinet emerged all-powerful from this rapid succession of events. Frick waxed eloquent upon that achievement in an article which he wrote for the 1935 National Socialist Year Book:
"The relationship between the Reich and the States has been put on an entirely new basis, never known in the history of the German people. It gives to the Reich cabinet (Reichsregierung) unlimited power it even makes it its duty, to build a completely unified leadership and administration of the Reich. From now on, there is only one national authority: The one of the Reich! Thus, the German Reich has become a unified state, and the entire administration in the states is only carried out by order or in the name of the Reich. The state borders are now only administration, technical are boundaries but no longer boundaries of sovereignty! In calm determination, the Reich Cabinet (Reichsregierung) realizes step by step, supported by the confidence of the entire German people, the great longing of the Nation. The creation of the national socialist German, unified state." (2380-PS)
The heightened legislative power of the Cabinet is also emphasized in an article written by Dr. Franz Medicus, an official in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, and published in 1939 in Volume 4 of "Das Dritte Reich in Aufbau":
"* * * Worked out by the Reich Minister of the Interior, the 'Law for Alleviation of the Distress of People and Reich', in short called 'Enabling Law', was issued on 24 March 1933, broke with the liberal principle of 'division of power' by transferring the legislature from the Reichstag to the Reich Cabinet, so that legislation by personally responsible persons took the place of 'anonymous' legislation." (2849-PS)
When the Ministerial Council was formed in 1939, it too was given legislative powers (cf. Article II of the decree of 30 August 1939 (2018-PS). The ordinary cabinet also continued to legislate throughout the war. Because of the fusion of personnel between the Ministerial Council and the ordinary cabinet, questions were bound to arise as to what forum should lend its name to a particular law. Dr. Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancellery and a member of both agencies, wrote a letter on 14 June 1942 to the Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration about these questions (352-PS):
"To the Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration (Generalbevollmaechtigter die Reich Verwaltung)
"Subject: The Jurisdiction of the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich (Ministerrat fuer die Reichsverteidigung)
"Your letter of 3 June 1942, No. 493/42/2882.-Recently the Fuehrer announced in accord with the opinions of the Reich Marshal of the Greater German Reich as shown in my letter of 20 Feb. 1940-RK. 624-B-that he believes it practical to reserve certain legislative missions for the Reich Cabinet. With this he has not limited the competency of the Council of Ministers for the defense of the Reich but given a directive as to how legislation should be handled under the point of view of practicability. I have no doubt that the Fuehrer, as well as the Reich Marshal, have not changed their point of view, in particular, regarding the fact, that at the present there should be only legislation important in the cause of war, and that they will stress the fact that the Fuehrer himself and the Reich Cabinet should not be eliminated from the powers of legislation. It will have to be tested from time to time what measures will be reserved for the Reich Cabinet. My letter of 20 February 1940, and the opinions of the Fuehrer therein expressed may serve as a directive even if the limitations indicated by me are no longer applicable in their full meaning. I would therefore suggest not basing the discussions with the Reich Minister of Finance on the question of competency of the Reich Cabinet or the Council of Ministers for the Defence of the Reich, but on the question of whether it would be practical to achieve settlement through either Reich law or a Decree from the Council of Ministers for the defense of the Reich in the sense of the opinions voiced by the Fuehrer.
Other officials possessed legislative powers. Hitler was of course one. Goering, as Deputy of the Four Year Plan, could and did issue decrees with the effect of law. The Cabinet delegated power to issue laws deviating from existing law to the Plenipotentiaries of Economy and Administration and the Chief of the OKW, the so-called Three-Man College. This was done in the Secret Defense Law of 1938 (2194-PS). These three officials Frick, Funk, and Keitel-however, were also members of the Council of Ministers and of the ordinary cabinet as well. It can therefore be said, in the language of the Indictment, that the Reichsregierung "possessed * * * legislative * * * powers of a very high order in the system of the German government."
The executive and administrative powers of the Reich were concentrated in the central government primarily as the result of two basic Nazi laws that reduced the separate states (called Laender) to mere geographical divisions. One was the law of 30 January 1934, known as the Law for the Reconstruction of the Reich (2006-PS). By that law the States were deprived of their independent status as States, their legislative assemblies were abolished, and their sovereign powers were transferred to the Reich. The other was the Reich Governor's Law, enacted by the Cabinet on 30 January 1935 (2008-PS), which made all Reich Governors (Statthalters) permanent delegates of and subject to the order of the cabinet and, more especially, of the Reich Minister of the Interior, As a result, the ordinary cabinet was possessed of wide powers, which are set forth in "Administration Law," periodical published in 1944 which was edited by Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart, State Secretary in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, and Dr. Harry V. Rosen-v. Hoewel, an oberregierungstat in the Reich Ministry of the Interior (2959-PS). The description of the powers and functions of all the ministries of the ordinary cabinet illustrates the extent of control vested in the Reichsregierung:
"There are at present twenty-one Reich Ministers, namely:
"I. 15 Reich Ministers with a definite portfolio.
The Ministries of the Reich Ministers mentioned under 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 are united with the corresponding Ministries of Prussia.
"1. The Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs (Foreign Office).
(a) He handles all matters touching on the relations of the Reich to foreign countries.
(b) Under him are the diplomatic and consular representatives as well as the Reich office for Foreign Trade.
"2. The Reich Minister of the Interior.
(a) To his portfolio belong general administration, local administration, police administration, administration of officials, public health, welfare, geodetic system, sport system and the Reich Labor Service.
(b) Under him are the general and internal administrations, for example, the Reich Governors, the state governments (Landesregierung) the superior Presidents, the governmental Presidents, as well as police officials and the Reich Labor Service.
Furthermore, there are under him numerous central intermediary boards, for example, the Reich Health Office, the Reich Archives, the Reich Genealogical Office.
"3. The Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.
(a) To his portfolio belong the intellectual influences on the nation, recruiting for the state, culture and economics, and the instruction of domestic and foreign public opinion.
(b) Under him are, among other things, the Reich Propaganda Offices and the film censorship offices. Furthermore, he exercises supervision over the Reich Chamber of Culture, the Recruiting Council of German Economics, the Reich Radio Company, and the Institute of Politics (Hochschule fuer Politik).
"4. The Reich Minister of Aviation and Supreme Commander of the Air Force.
He administers civil and military aviation.
"5. The Reich Minister of Finances.
(a) To his portfolio belong the budget and financial system of the Reich, as well as the administration of taxes, monopolies, and tariffs.
(b) Under him are namely: the administration of taxes and tariffs, as well as the administration of Reich monopolies.
"6. The Reich minister of Justice.
(a) He is in charge of all matters related to the judicial system.
(b) Under him are all judicial agencies and the Reich Patent Office.
"7. The Reich Ministry of Economics.
(a) To his portfolio belong the basic economic political questions of German economy, the supply of the civilian population with goods for consumption and the regulation of their distribution, the handling of foreign economic questions in the framework of policy on foreign trade of the Reich and the supreme supervision over the institutes of credit.
(b) Under him are the Reich administration of mines, the Reich office of Statistics, the Supervisory office for Private Insurance, the Gau Chambers of Economy, the State Economic Offices, (Landeswirtschaftsamt) the Savings Banks, and the State Insurance Offices.
"8. The Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture.
(a) He is in charge of all farmers and of the agriculture, as well as the food administration.
(b) Under him are the State Food Offices (Landesernaechrungsamt) the State Administration of Large Estates (Domaenen verwaltung) the Administration of Rural Affairs and the Agricultural Credit Offices. Furthermore, he exercises state supervision over the Reich Food Supply of which he is the leader."
"14. Reich minister for Armament and War Production.
He has to bring to a level of highest production all offices active in producing arms and munitions. Furthermore, he is responsible for the field of raw materials and production in industry and manual labor.
"15. The Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories.
(a) He administers the recently occupied (i.e. former Soviet-Russian) Eastern territories, insofar as they are under civil administration and not subordinated to the Chief of Civil Administration for the district of Bialystok (cf. page 70) or insofar as they are incorporated in the General Government (cf. page 100).
(b) Under him are the Reich Commissars, the General Commissars, Head Commissars, and District Commissars, in the recently occupied Eastern territories." (2959-PS)
Other important powers and functions contained in the ordinary cabinet were not included in the foregoing list. For example, upon the creation of the People's Court on 24 April 1934, it was placed within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice (2014-PS). With the acquisition and occupation of new territories, the integration and coordination thereof were placed within the Ministry of the Interior. The Reich Minister of the Interior, Frick, (in some cases in cooperation with other Reich Ministers) was, by law, given regulatory powers over such territories. The territory and the applicable law may be listed as follows:
(1) The Saar (1935, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 66).
(2) Austria (1938, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 237).
(3) Memel (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 54).
(4) Bohemia and Moravia (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 485).
(5) Sudetenland (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 780).
(6) Danzig (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1547).
(7) Incorporated Poland (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 2042).
(8) Occupied Poland (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 2077).
(9) Eupen, Malmedy and Moresnet (1940, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 803).
(10) Norway (1941, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 765).
Such were the powers and functions of the ordinary cabinet.
(2) The Secret Cabinet Council. Of the other two subdivisions of the Reichsregierung-the Secret Cabinet Council and the Ministerial Council-the Secret Cabinet Council had no legislative or administrative powers. It was created by Hitler on 4 February 1938
"To advise me in conducting the foreign policy * * *." (2031-PS)
Its position in the Nazi regime is described by Ernst Rudolf Huber, a leading Nazi Constitutional Lawyer, in his book entitled "Verfassungsrecht des Grossdeutschen Reiches" ("Constitutional Law of the Greater German Reich"). In this book, which was an authoritative, widely used work on Nazi Constitutional Law, Huber States (1774-PS):
"A privy cabinet council, to advise the Fuehrer in the basic problems of foreign policy, has been created by the decree of 4 February 1938 (RGBl. I, 112). This privy cabinet council is under the direction of Reich Minister v. Neurath, and includes the Foreign Minister, the Air Minister, the Deputy Commander for the Fuehrer, the Propaganda Minister, the Chief of the Reich Chancellery, the Commanders-in-Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. The privy cabinet council constitutes a select staff of collaborators of the Fuehrer which consists exclusively of members of the Government of the Reich thus, it represents a select committee of the Reich Government for the deliberation on foreign affairs." (1774-PS)
(3) The Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich. The powers concentrated in the Ministerial Council, which did possess legislative and administrative functions, at its creation in 1939, are best expressed by the lecture which Frick gave before the University of Freiburg on 7 March 1940. The lecture, published in a pamphlet entitled "The Administration in Wartime," contains these statements (2608-PS):
"* * * The composition of the Ministerial Council for the defense of the Reich shows the real concentration of power in it. General Field Marshal Goering is the chairman and also the Supreme Director of the War Economy and Commissioner for the Four Year Plan. He is joined by the Plenipotentiary General for the Reich Administration, who directs the entire civilian administration with the exception of the economic administration, and the Plenipotentiary General for Economy. The Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces is the liaison man to the Armed Forces. It is primarily his duty to coordinate the measures for civilian defense in the area of administration and economy with the genuine military measures for the defense of the Reich. The Deputy of the Fuehrer represents the Party, thus guaranteeing the unity between Party and State also within the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich. The Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery is in charge of the business management of the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich."
"The Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich, the highest legislative and executive organ in wartime next to the Fuehrer, created a subordinate organ for the purpose of the defense of the Reich: the Commissioners for the Reich Defense, who have their headquarters at the seat of the individual corps area." (2608-PS)
With such power concentrated in the Reichsregierung and to such a high degree, the Nazi conspirators possessed a formidable weapon to effectuate their plans.
D. Acts and Decrees of the Reichsregierung.
Under the Nazi regime the Reichsregierung became the instrument of the Nazi party.
(1) Execution of the Nazi Party Program. In the original Cabinet of 30 January 1933 only three cabinet members were members of the Party-Goering, Frick, and Hitler. As new Ministries were added to the Cabinet, prominent Nazis were placed at their head. On 30 January, 1937, Hitler accepted into the Party those Cabinet members who were not already members. This action is reported in the Voelkischer Beobachter, South German Edition, of 1 February 1937 (2964-PS):
"In view of the anticipated lifting of the ban for party membership, the Fuehrer, as the first step in this regard, personally carried out the enlistment into the party of the members of the Cabinet, who so far had not belonged to it and he handed them simultaneously the Gold Party Badge, the supreme badge of honor of the party. In addition, the Fuehrer awarded the Gold Party Badge to Generaloberst Freiherr von Fritsch Generaladmiral Dr. H. C. Raeder the Prussian Minister of Finance, Professor Popitz and the Secretary of State and Chief of the Presidential Chancellery, Dr. Meissner.
"The Fuehrer also honored with the gold party badge the party members State Secretary Dr. Lammers, State Secretary Funk, State Secretary Koerner and State Secretary General of the Airforce Milch." (2964-PS)
It was possible to refuse the party membership thus conferred. Only one man, von Eliz-Rubenach, who was the Minister of Post and Minister of Transport at the time, did this. His letter from von Eltz-Rubenach to Hitler, dated 30 January 1937, reads as follows (1584-PS):
"I thank you for the confidence you have placed in me during the four years of your leadership and for the honor you do me in offering to admit me to the party. My conscience forbids me however to accept this offer. I believe in the principles of positive Christianity and must remain faithful to my Lord and to myself. Party membership however would mean that I should have to face without contradiction the steadily aggravating attacks by party offices on the Christian confessions and those who want to remain faithful to their religious convictions.
"This decision has been infinitely difficult for me. For never in my life have I performed my duty with greater joy and satisfaction than under your wise state leadership.
"I ask to be permitted to resign.
"(signed) Baron v. Eltz" (1534-PS).
But the Nazis did not wait until all members of the cabinet were party members. Shortly after they came to power, they quickly assured themselves of active participation in the work of the Cabinet. On 1 December 1933, the Cabinet passed a law securing the unity of party and state (1395-PS). In Article 2 of that law the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Hess, and the Chief of Staff of the SA, Roehm, were made members of the Cabinet (1395-PS). Lest mere membership in the Cabinet would not be effective, Hitler endowed his deputy with greater powers of participation. An unpublished decree signed by Hitler, dated 27 July 1934, and addressed to the Reich ministers, provides (D-138):
"I decree that the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Reich Minister Hess, will have the capacity of a participating Reich Minister in connection with the preparation of drafts for laws in all Reich Administrative spheres. All legislative work is to be sent to him when it is received by the other Reich Minister concerned. This also applies in cases where no one else participates except the Reich Minister making the draft. Reich Minister Hess will be given the opportunity to comment on drafts suggested by experts.
"This order will apply in the same sense to legislative ordinances. The Deputy of the Fuehrer in his capacity of Reich Minister can send as representative an expert on his staff. These experts are entitled to make statements to the Reich Ministers on his behalf.
"[signed] Adolph Hitler" (D-138).
Hess himself made pertinent comment on his right of participation on behalf of the party, in a letter dated 9 October 1934, on the stationery of the NSDAP, addressed to the Reich Minister for Enlightenment of the People and Propaganda (D-139):
"By a decree of the Fuehrer dated 27 July 1934, I have been granted the right to participate in the legislation of the Reich as regards both formal laws and legal ordinances. This right must not be rendered illusory by the fact that I am sent the drafts of laws and decrees so late and am then given a limited time, so that it becomes impossible for me to deal with the material concerned during the given time. I must point out that my participation means the taking into account of the opinion of the NSDAP as such, and that in the case of the majority of drafts of laws and decrees, consult with the appropriate departments of the Party before making my comment. Only by proceeding in this manner can I do justice to the wish of the Fuehrer as expressed in the decree of the Fuehrer of 27 July 1934.
"I must therefore ask the Reich Ministers to arrange that drafts of laws and decrees reach me in sufficient time. Failing this, I would be obliged in future to refuse my agreement to such drafts from the beginning and without giving the matter detailed attention, in all cases where I am not given a sufficiently long period for dealing with them.
A handwritten note attached to the letter reads:
"1. The identical letter seems to have been addressed to all Reich Ministers. In our special field the decree of 27 July 1934 has hardly become applicable so far. A reply does not seem called for.
The participating powers of Hess were later broadened, according to a letter dated 12 April 1938 from Doctor Lammers to the Reich Ministers (D-140):
"* * * The Deputy of the Fuehrer will also have participation where the Reich Ministers give their agreement to the State Laws and legislative ordinances of States under paragraph 3 of the first decree concerning reconstruction of the Reich of Feb 2nd 1934 (Reich Law Gazette I 81). Where the Reich Ministers have already, at an earlier date been engaged in the preparation of such laws or legislative ordinances, or have participated in such preparation, the Deputy of the Fuehrer likewise becomes participating Reich Minister. Laws and legislative decrees of the Austrian State are equally affected hereby.
After Hess' flight to England, Bormann, as Leader of the Party Chancellery, took over the same functions. He was given the authority of a Reich Minister and made a member of the cabinet. (2099-PS)
The Nazi constitutional lawyer, Ernst Rudolf Huber, has this to say about the unity of party and Cabinet (1774-PS):
"Unity of party and Reich-Cabinet (Reichsregierung) is furthermore secured by the numerous personal unions i.e. association of Central State Offices with corresponding party offices. Such personal unions exist in the cases of Food Minister and the Propaganda Minister, the Chief of the German Police and the Reich Labor Leader, the Chief of the Organization in foreign countries, and the Reich Youth Fuehrer. Furthermore, the majority of the Reich Ministries is occupied by leading old party members. Finally, all Reich Ministers have been accepted by the party on 30 January 1937 and have been decorated with golden party insignia." (1774-PS)
In 1943, out of 16 Reich Leaders (Reichsleiters) of the NSDAP, eight were members of the Cabinet: Martin Bormann Walter Darre, Otto Dietrich Wilhelm Frick Paul Josef Goebbels Constantin Hierl Heinrich Himmler Alfred Rosenberg (2473-PS). Through its domination of the Cabinet the Nazi Party strove to secure the fulfillment of its program under a facade of legality.
(a) Decrees of the Ordinary Cabinet. To the Nazi Cabinet, the Nazi Party program of 25 points (1708-PS) was more than a mere political platform it was a mandate for action. And the Cabinet acted.
Point 1 of this program declared:
"We demand the inclusion of all Germans in a greater Germany on the grounds of the right of self-determination." (1708-PS)
In implication of this demand the Nazi Cabinet enacted, among others, the following laws: the law of 3 February 1938 concerning the obligation of German citizens in foreign countries to register (1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 113) the law of 13 March 1938 for the reunion of Austria with Germany (1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 237) (2307-PS) the law of November 1938 for the reintegration of the German Sudetenland with Germany (1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1641) the law of 23 March 1939 for the reintegration of Memel in Germany (1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 559).
Point 2 of the Party platform stated in part:
"We demand * * * the cancellation of the treaties of Versailles and St. Germain." (1708-PS)
The following acts of the Cabinet supported this part of the program: The proclamation of 14 October 1933 to the German people concerning Germany's withdrawal from the League of nations and the Disarmament Conference (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 730) the proclamation and law of 16 March 1935, for the establishment of the Wehrmacht and compulsory military service (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt. Part I, pages 369, 375) (1654-PS) and the defense law of 21 May 1935 implementing the last-named law (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 609).
Point 4 of the Party platform read as follows:
"Only those who are members of the 'Volk' can be citizens. Only those who are of German blood, without regard to religion, can be members of the 'Volk'. No Jew, therefore, can be a member of the 'Volk'." (1708-PS)
Among the cabinet laws which implemented this point were these: the law of 14 July 1933 for the recall of naturalization and the deprivation of citizenship (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 480) the law of 7 April 1933 permitting persons of non-Aryan descent to be refused permission to practice law (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 188) (1401-PS) the law of 25 April 1933 restricting the number of non-Aryans in schools and higher institutions (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 225) (2022-PS) the law of 29 September 1933 excluding persons of Jewish blood from the peasantry (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 685) (1402-PS): the law of 26 June 1936, forbidding people of Jewish blood to hold positions of authority in the army (1936 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 518) (1398-PS) the law of 19 March 1937 excluding Jews from the Reich Labor Service (1937 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 325) the law of 28 March 1938 on the legal status of Jewish religious communities (1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 338) and the law of 6 July 1938 prohibiting Jews from participating in six different types of business (1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 823).
Point 23 of the platform proclaimed:
"We demand legislative action against conscious political lies and their broadcasting through the press." (1708-PS)
To carry out this point numerous Cabinet laws were passed, of which the following are merely examples: the law of 22 September 1933 for the establishment of the Reich Culture Chamber (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 661) (2082-PS) the law of 4 October, 1933 regarding editors (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 713) (2083-PS) and the law of 15 May 1934 regarding the theater (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 411).
All the laws referred to above and hereafter were enacted specifically in the name of the Cabinet (Reichsregierung). A typical introductory paragraph reads:
"The Reich Cabinet (die Reichsregierung) has enacted the following law which is hereby promulgated. * * *" [Law of 1 August 1934, 1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 747]. (2003-PS)
In furtherance of the Nazi plans to acquire totalitarian control of Germany (cf. Section 1-2 of Chapter VII), the Cabinet passed the following laws: Law of 26 May 1933, providing for the confiscation of Communist property (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 293) (1396-PS) Law of 14 July 1933 against the new establishment of parties (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 479) Law of 14 July 1933 providing for the confiscation of property of Social Democrats and others (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 479) (1388-PS) and Law of 1 December 1933 securing the unity of party and state (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1016. (1395-PS)
In the course of consolidating Nazi control of Germany, (cf. Section 3 of Chapter VII) the following laws were enacted by the Cabinet: Decree of the Cabinet, 21 March 1933, creating special courts (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 136) (2076-PS) Law of 31 March 1933 for the integration of States into the Reich (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 153) (2004-PS) Law of 7 April 1933 for the reestablishment of the Professional Civil Service (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 175) (1397-PS) Law of 7 April 1933 for the integration of states into the Reich (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 173) (2005-PS) Law of 30 June 1933 eliminating non-Aryan civil servants or civil servants married to non-Aryans (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 433) (1400-PS) Law of 20 July 1933 providing for the discharge of Communist officials (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 518) (1398-PS) Law of 24 April 1934 creating the People's Court (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 341) (2014-PS) Law of 1 August 1934 uniting the office of President and Chancellor (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 747) (2003-PS) Law of 30 January 1935, Reich Governors Law, further reducing the independence of the states (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 65) Law of 30 January 1935 providing for the abolition of representatives or deliberative bodies in the municipalities (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 49) (2008-PS): Law of 26 January 1937, the comprehensive civil service law (1937 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 39) and Law of 18 March 1938 providing for the submission of one list of candidates to the electorate for the entire Reich (1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 258). (2355-PS)
Nazi extermination of political internal resistance in Germany, through the purge of political opponents and through acts of terror, (cf. Section 4 of Chapter VII), was facilitated and legalized by the following Cabinet laws: Law of 14 July 1933 against the new establishment of parties (containing a penal clause) (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 479 (1388-PS) Law of 3 July 1934 concerning measures for emergency defense of the State (legalizing the Roehm purge) (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 529 (2057-PS) Law of 20 December 1934 on treacherous acts against state and party and for the protection of party uniforms (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1269) (1393-PS) Law of 24 April 1934 making the creation of new or continuance of existing parties an act of treason (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 341) (2014-PS) Law of 28 June 1935 changing the Penal Code permitting punishment under analogous law (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 839) (1962-PS) Law of 16 September 1939 permitting second prosecution of an acquitted person before a special court, the members of which were named by Hitler (1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1841). (2550-PS)
The destruction of the free trade unions in Germany, (cf. Section 5 of Chapter VII), was made possible by the following Cabinet laws: Law of 4 April 1933 concerning factory representative councils and economic organizations (controlling employee representation) (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 161) (1770-PS) Law of 19 May 1933 concerning Trustees of labor (abolishing collective bargaining) (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 285) (405-PS) Law of 20 January 1934 regulating National Labor (introducing leadership principle into industrial relations (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 45) (1861-PS) and Law of 26 June 1935 establishing Reich Labor Service (compulsory labor service) (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 769). (1389-PS)
Even the anti-Jewish Nurnberg laws of 15 September 1935, although technically passed by the Reichstag, were nevertheless worked out by the Ministry of the Interior. Dr. Franz A. Medicus, who served as Ministerialdirigent in the Ministry of the Interior, made this statement in a book published in 1940 (2960-PS):
"* * * The work of the Reich Ministry of Interior forms the basis for the three Nurnberg laws passed by a resolution of the Reichstag on the occasion of the Reichs party meeting of freedom.
"The 'Reich Citizenship Law' as well as the 'Law for the protection of German blood and German honor' (Blood Protection Law) opened extensive tasks for the Ministry of Interior not only in the field of administration. The same applies to the 'Reich Flag Law' that gives the foundation for the complete re-organization of the use of the flag * * *" (2960-PS).
(b) Decrees of The Council of Ministers. Decrees of the Council of Ministers similarly supplied the "legal" basis for other criminal actions of the Nazi conspirators. Among these laws are the following: Decree of 5 August 1940 imposing a discriminatory tax on Polish workers in Germany (1940 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1077) Decree of 4 December 1941 regarding penal measures against Jews and Poles in the occupied Eastern Territories (1941 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 759) (2746-PS) and Decree of 30 June 1942 concerning the employment of Eastern Workers (1942 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 419). (2039-PS)
Almost immediately upon Hitler's coming to power, the Cabinet participated in the Nazi conspiracy to wage aggressive war. This fact appears clearly from the minutes of the second session of the working committee of the Delegates for Reich Defense, dated 22 May 1933 and signed by Keitel (EC-177) from a letter dated 24 June 1935 and signed by von Blomberg, the Reichs Minister of War, which transmits a copy of the secret, unpublished Reich Defense Law of 21 May 1935 and also a copy of the decision of the Reich Cabinet of 21 May 1935 in the Council for the Defense of the Reich (2261-PS) and from a letter dated 5 September 1939 transmitting a copy of the secret, unpublished Reich Defense Law of 4 September 1938 (a note dated 4 September 1938 attached to this law states that the Reich Defense law of 21 May 1935 and the decisions of the Cabinet previously mentioned are repeated) (2194-PS). These three documents, important in the conspiracy to wage aggressive war emphasize the participation of the Reich Cabinet and Reich Ministers, through legislative enactments, in the conspiracy.
The Reich Defense Council was a creation of the Cabinet. On 4 April 1933 the Cabinet decided to form that agency (2261-PS). The circumstances of its creation were discussed at the meeting of 22 May 1933 (EC-177):
"Thoughts about a Reich Defense Council
"All great European powers which are at freedom to arm, have a RVR. One does not have to refer to history to prove the necessity of this institution. The war has shown conclusively that the cooperation with the various ministries has not been close enough. The consequences did not fail to materialize. The soldier is not in a position to have a say in all matters. The disadvantages of the past system were caused by parallel efforts of the various ministries in matters of the Reich defense. To avoid these mistakes a central agency has been created which occupies itself already in peacetime in the widest sense with the problems of Reich Defense. This working staff will continue its existence in time of war.
"In accordance with the cabinet decision of the 4 April 1933 the Reich Defense Council, which until now had been prepared for war emergency, will go into immediate action.
"In time of peace its task will be to decide about all measures for the preparation of the defense of the Reich, while surveying and utilizing all powers and means of the nation." (EC-177)
The composition of the Reich Defense Council is thereupon set out. Hitler was President the Minister of Defense was his deputy and he, plus six more ministers (there were only ten at that time) and the Chiefs of the Army and Navy Command Staffs were permanent members. The remaining ministers, as well as "leading industrialists", were subject to call. Of the defendants who were then members of the Council, there was von Neurath as Foreign Affairs Minister Frick as Interior Minister, Goering as Air Minister and Raeder as Chief of the Navy Command Staff. (EC-177)
The presence of Cabinet ministers was indispensable. The cabinet by that time could legislate for the Reich. It had a definite role to play in this planning, as Keitel pointed out (EC-177):
"Col. Keitel:-Points out once more the urgency of the tasks, since it had been possible to do only very little in this connection during the last years. He asks the delegates to consider the Reich Defense at all times and represent it accordingly at the drafting of new laws. Experiences of the wars are available and are at the disposal of the various ministries (e.g. Reich Archives, Memorandum of an administrative official about gasoline supply). All these sources must be taken advantage of for the future. The task of the full time delegates is also to bring about a close cooperation of the ministries with each other." (EC-177)
Each separate ministry, moreover, was scheduled for a definite task.
"* * * In the work plans the questions and ideas are laid down, which have come up in the Reichswehr Ministry and must be considered in case of mobilization. Up to the present time the support on the part of other Ministries was frequently based only on personal helpfulness since any authority from above was lacking. The following work plans are finished.
"a. Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Economics.
Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Labor.
"These three are composed in one work plan for the preparation of a war economy.
"b. Work Plan for the Reich Postal Ministry.
"c. Work Plan for the Reich Traffic Ministry.
"Request the plans to be worked through carefully by the competent Ministries. The plans will be discussed beginning of June, when proposals for improvements may be made. The other Ministries which have no work plans yet will receive them later on. The Office of Air Raid Protection will work out a work plan in conjunction with the Reich Commissariat for Aviation." (EC-177)
The secrecy of all undertakings was stressed:
"Question has been brought up by the Reich Ministries.
"The secrecy of all Reich Defense work has to be maintained very carefully. Communications with the outside by messenger service only, has been settled already with the Post Office, Finance Ministry, Prussian Ministry of the Interior and the Reichswehr Ministry. Main Principle of security: No document must be lost since, otherwise, the enemy propaganda would make use of it. Matters communicated orally cannot be proven they can be denied by us in Geneva. Therefore, the Reichswehr Ministry has worked out security directives for the Reich Ministries and the Prussian Ministry of the Interior." (EC-177)
As time went on and greater concentration of power was needed, the Cabinet made changes and additions to this secret war planning body. Article 6 of the Secret Defense Law of 1935 (2261-PS) provided:
"(1) The Fuehrer and Reichschancellor will appoint a plenipotentiary-general for war economy to direct the entire war economy.
"(2) It is the task of the plenipotentiary-general for war economy to put all economic forces in the service of carrying on the war and to secure the life of the German people economically.
The Reichsminister for Economy.
The Reichsminister for Food and Agriculture.
The Reichs Labor Minister.
The Reichs Forest Master, and all Reichs' agencies immediately subordinate to the Fuehrer and Reichschancellor. Furthermore the financing of the war effort (in the province of the Reichs Finance Ministry and of the Reichsbank) will be carried on under his responsibility.
"(4) The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy is authorized, within his realm of responsibility to issue legal regulations, which may deviate from the existing legal regulations, which may deviate from the existing laws." (2261-PS)
Schacht was named as Plenipotentiary for War Economy. It will be noted that the Reich Ministers for Food and Agriculture and for Labor, and the Reichs Forest Master (who by this time had Cabinet rank) had not been included in the original membership of the Reich Defense Council. Darre was Minister for Food and Agriculture, Seldte for Labor, and Goering was Reich Forest Master.
On the same day the Law was passed, the Cabinet made these decisions covering the newly-created Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy (EC-177):
"1. The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy appointed by the Fuehrer and Reichschancellor will begin his work already in peacetime * * *.
"2. The Reichsminister of War and the Plenipotentiary for War Economy will effect the preparations for mobilization in closest cooperation on both sides.
"3. The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy will be a permanent member of the Reich Defense Council (Reichsverteidigungsrat). Within the working committee he represents through his leadership staff the interests of war economy." (EC-177)
The complete reorganization of this Reich Defense Council took place in 1938, under the Secret Defense Law of 4th September of that year. By that time, there had been a reorganization of the Armed Forces: the chief of the OKW had been created and the War Ministry had been abolished (2194-PS). The Reich Defense Council in 1938 was composed of Goering, as permanent deputy and Minister of Air and Supreme Commander of the Air Force Raeder as Supreme Commander of the Navy Hess as Deputy of the Fuehrer von Neurath as President of the Secret Cabinet Council Frick as Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration Keitel as Chief of the OKW Funk as Plenipotentiary for Economics Ribbentrop as Minister of Foreign Affairs Schacht as President of the Reichsbank directorate (2261-PS). An important part of the Reich Defense Council was the Working Committee. The minutes of the twelfth meeting of the Reich Defense Working Committee, on 14 May 1936, read (EC-407):
"1. The National Minister of War and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, General Field Marshal von Blomberg, opened the 12th meeting of the Reichs Defense Committee by expressing thanks for the work accomplished and pointing out in principle the necessity of a preparation for a total mobilization with emphasis on the most important measures to be taken at this time. (Among others mobilization schedule, legal basis, preparations in the remilitarized zone.) He further indicates the assignment of the national resources (Reichsressort) to finance its measures for preparation of the Reichs defense out of its budget.
"2. The chairman of the Reichs Defense Committee, Lieutenant General Keitel, states:
"In todays and future meetings of the Reichs Defense Committee a cross section of the general situation concerning all matters of the national defense is presented. The picture of the situation does not appear in the reports of the meetings.
"The open discussion of State secrets before our large committee gives the special obligation to the chairman of the Reichs Defense Committee of pointing out its secrecy.
"Todays sessions takes place under the auspices of the restoration of the State authority in the demilitarized zone.
"The difficulties of the economic situation, which are presented today, must be mastered." (EC-407)
This Working Committee was still functioning in 1939. The Mobilization Book for Civil Administration of 1939 states, in part (1639-A-PS):
"D. Terms for Mobilization Preparations by the Civil Administration.
"The acceptance of all new measures in the Mobilization Book for Civil Administration must be requested from the Chief of the Reich Defense Committee (Department of State Defense in the Armed Forces High Command)." (1639-A-PS)
The composition of the Working Committee was redefined by the Secret Law of 1938 as follows (2194-PS):
"The Reich Defense Committee [Reichsverteidigungsausschuss] (RVA):
"(1) The Reich Defense Committee is the working Committee of the RVR. It prepares the decisions of the RVR, sees to their execution, and secures collaboration between armed forces, chief Reich offices, and party.
"(2) Presiding is the chief of the OKW. He regulates the activity of the committee and gives the directions to the GBV and CBW and to the Reich ministries not subordinated to them and to the chief Reich offices according to the decisions of the RVR, which directions are necessary for securing their uniform execution.
"(3) The RVA is composed of the OKW, deputy of the commissioner for the four year plan, the leader staffs of the GBV and GBW, and the Reich Defense officials.
"(4) Chief office officials for the Reich defense (RV-Referenten) and their deputies are commissioned by the deputy of the leader, by the Reich Chancellery, by each Reich Ministry, by the Reich Leader of the SS and chief of the German police, by the Reich work leaders, by the Reich Forest Master, by the Chief Inspector for the German Road Net, by the Reich Office for Regional Order, by the Reichsbank directorate, and in the Prussian state ministry. RV-Referent and his deputy are immediately subordinate to the minister or the state secretary, and to the chief of the Reich office, resp." (2194-PS)
The GBV and the GBW mentioned in the portion quoted above are, respectively, the Plenipotentiaries for Administration and for Economy. Under them were grouped other ministries, some of which were already permanent members of the Council. By paragraph 3 of the Secret law the following were made subordinate to the Plenipotentiary for Administration: the Ministers of the interior, Justice, Science and Education, Churches the Reich Authority for Spatial Planning and, for limited purposes, the Minister of Finance. Subordinate to and under the direction of the Plenipotentiary for Economy (a position formerly held by Schacht under the title "War Economy" and later held by Funk) were the ministers of Economics, Food, Agriculture, Labor, and for limited purposes, the Reich Finance Ministry and the Reichsbank the Reich Forest Master and the Commissioner for Price Control from the 4-Year Plan.
Paragraph 5 of the law (2194-PS) shows that subordinated to the Chief of the OKW were the Reich Postal Minister, the Reich Transportation Minister, and the General Inspector for German Highways.
This concentration of power by the Cabinet was for one purpose only: to plan secretly with the strongest means at hand for the waging of aggressive war. Further evidence of this objective is contained in an affidavit by Frick covering the place, activities, and scope of the Reich Defense Council, including the Three-Man College (2986-PS):
"I, Wilhelm Frick, being first duly sworn, depose and say:
"I was Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration (Generalbevollmaechtigter fuer die Reichsverwaltung) from the time when this office was created, until 20 August 1943. Heinrich Himmler was my deputy in this capacity. Before the outbreak of the war my task as Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration was the preparation of organization in the event of war, such as, for instance, the appointment of liaison men in the different ministries who would keep in touch with me. As Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration, I, together with the Plenipotentiary for Economy and OKW formed what was called a '3-Man College' (Dreierkollegium). We also were members of the Reich defense Council (Reichsverteidigungsrat), which was supposed to plan preparations and decrees in case of war which later on were published by the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich. Since, as soon as the war started, everything had to be done speedily and there would have been no time for planning, such measures and decrees were prepared in advance in case of war. All one then still had to do was to pull out of the drawer the war orders that had been prepared. Later on, after the outbreak of the war, these decrees were enacted by the Ministerial Council for the defense of the Reich.
"(Signed) Dr. Wilhelm Frick" (2986-PS).
LEGAL REFERENCES AND LIST OF DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE REICH CABINET
Document Description Vol. Page
Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Article 9. I 6
International Military Tribunal, Indictment Number 1, Section IV (H) Appendix B. I 29,68
Note: A single asterisk (*) before a document indicates that the document was received in evidence at the Nurnberg trial. A double asterisk (**) before a document number indicates that the document was referred to during the trial but was not formally received in evidence, for the reason given in parentheses following the description of the document. The USA series number, given in parentheses following the description of the document, is the official exhibit number assigned by the court.
*351-PS Minutes of First Meeting of Cabinet of Hitler, 30 January 1933. (USA 389). III 270
*352-PS Letter from Dr. Lammers to the Plenipotentiary of Administration, 14 June 1942, concerning the jurisdiction of the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich. (USA 398) . III 276
405-PS Law Concerning Trustees of Labor, 19 May 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 285. III 387
*1141-PS Letter from Dr. Lammers to Members of the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich, 17 September 1939. (USA 393) . III 805
1388-PS Law concerning confiscation of Property subversive to People and State, 14 July 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 479 . III 962
1389-PS Law creating Reich Labor Service, 26 June 1935. 1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 769 . III 963
1393-PS Law on treacherous attacks against State and Party, and for the Protection of Party Uniforms, 20 December 1934. 1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 1269 . III 973
*1395-PS Law to insure the unity of Party and State, 1 December 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 1016. (GB 252) . III 978
1396-PS Law concerning the confiscation of Communist property, 26 May 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 293. III 979
1397-PS Law for the reestablishment of the Professional Civil Service, 7 April 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 175 . III 981
1398-PS Law to supplement the Law for the restoration of the Professional Civil Service, 20 July 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 518 . III 986
1400-PS Law changing the regulations in regard to public officer, 30 June 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 433. III 987
1401-PS Law regarding admission to the Bar, 7 April 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, part I, p. 188 . III 989
1402-PS The Homestead Law of 29 September 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 685 . III 990
*1534-PS Eltz letter of resignation, 30 January 1937. (USA 402) . IV 95
*1639-A-PS Mobilization book for the Civil Administration, 1939 Edition, issued over signature of Keitel. (USA 777) . IV 143
**1654-PS Law of 16 March 1935 reintroducing universal military conscription. 1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 369. (Referred to but not offered in evidence.). IV 163
*1701-PS Memorandum from Frick to the Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, 9 August 1943, enclosing draft law and memorandum of comment thereon by Rosenberg, 22 December 1943. (USA 392) . IV 203
*1708-PS The Program of the NSDAP. National Socialistic Yearbook, 1941, p. 153. (USA 255 USA 324) . IV 208
1770-PS Law concerning factory representative councils and economic organizations, 4 April 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 161 . IV 343
*1774-PS Extracts from Organizational Law of the Greater German Reich by Ernst Rudolf Huber. (GB 246) . IV 349
1861-PS Law on the regulation of National labor, 20 January 1934. 1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 45 . IV 497
1862-PS Ordinance for execution of Four Year Plan, 18 October 1936. 1936 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 887 . IV 499
1915-PS Decree concerning leadership of Armed Forces, 4 February 1938. 1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 111 . IV 552
1942-PS Hess' participation in legislative process, published in Legal Regulations and Legal Problems of the Movement, by Dr. O. Gauweiler, p. 20 . IV 584
1962-PS Law to change the Penal Code of 28 June 1935. 1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 839 . IV 600
*1997-PS Decree of the Fuehrer, 17 July 1941, concerning administration of Newly Occupied Eastern territories. (USA 319) . IV 634
2001-PS Law to remove the Distress of People and State, 24 March 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 141 . IV 638
2003-PS Law concerning the Sovereign Head of the German Reich, 1 August 1934. 1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 747 . IV 639
2004-PS Preliminary law for the coordination of Federal States under the Reich, 31 March 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 153 . IV 640
2005-PS Second law integrating the "Laender" with the Reich, 7 April 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 173 . IV 641
2006-PS Law for the reconstruction of the Reich, 30 January 1934. 1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 75 . IV 642
2008-PS German Communal Ordinance, 30 January 1935. 1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 49 . IV 643
2014-PS Law amending regulations of criminal law and criminal procedure, 24 April 1934. 1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 341 . IV 648
*2018-PS Fuehrer's decree establishing a Ministerial Council for Reich Defense, 30 August 1939. 1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 1539. (GB 250) . IV 650
2022-PS Law against overcrowding of German schools and Higher Institutions, 25 April 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 225 . IV 651
2029-PS Decree establishing the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, 13 March 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 104 . IV 652
2030-PS Decree concerning the Duties of the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, 30 June 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 449 . IV 653
*2031-PS Decree establishing a Secret Cabinet Council, 4 February 1938. 1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 112. (GB 217) . IV 654
2039-PS Decree concerning the conditions of employment of Eastern workers, 30 June 1942. 1942 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 419 . IV 655
2047-PS Law for the extension of the law concerning the removal of the distress of People and Reich, 30 January 1937. 1937 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 105 . IV 660
2048-PS Law for the extension of the law concerning the removal of the distress of People and Reich, 30 January 1939. 1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 95 . IV 660
2057-PS Law relating to National Emergency Defense measures of 3 July 1934. 1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 529 . IV 699
2073-PS Decree concerning the appointment of a Chief of German Police in the Ministry of the Interior, 17 June 1936. 1936 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 487 . IV 703
2075-PS Decree for appointment of a chief of organization of Germans abroad within the Foreign Office, 30 January 1937. 1937 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 187 . IV 704
2076-PS Decree of the Government concerning formation of Special Courts, 21 March 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, pp. 136-137 . IV 705
2078-PS Decree concerning establishment of Ministry for Science, Education and Popular Culture, 1 May 1934. 1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 365 . IV 706
2082-PS Law relating to the Reich Chamber of Culture of 22 September 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 661 . IV 708
2083-PS Editorial control law, 4 October 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 713 . IV 709
2089-PS Decree relating to Reich air Ministry, 5 May 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 241 . IV 719
2090-PS Decree relating to coordination of Jurisdiction of Reich and Prussia in relation to church affairs, 16 July 1935. 1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 1029 . IV 720
2091-PS Decree of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor appointing a Reich Minister for Armaments and Munitions, 17 April 1940. 1940 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 513 . IV 720
2092-PS Decree of the Fuehrer for concentration of war economy, 2 September 1943. 1943 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 529 . IV 721
2093-PS First Executive Order relating to transfer of forestry and hunting matters to the Reich, 12 July 1934. 1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 617 . IV 723
2094-PS Decree of Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor concerning Reich Labor Leader in Reich Ministry of Interior, 30 January 1937. 1937 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 95 . IV 723
2095-PS Decree of Fuehrer on Establishment of Supreme Reich Authority- "The Reich Labor Leader", 20 August 1943. 1943 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 495 . IV 724
2097-PS Decree of Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor relating to designation of Chief of Praesidialkanzlei, 1 December 1937. 1937 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 1317 . IV 724
*2098-PS Decree relating to Status of Supreme Commanders of Army and Navy, 25 February 1938. 1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 215. (GB 206) . IV 725
2099-PS Fuehrer decree relating to Chief of Party Chancellery of 29 May 1941. 1941 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 295 . IV 725
2100-PS Decree on position of leader of Party Chancellery, 24 January 1942. 1942 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 35 . IV 726
2101-PS Decree of Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor concerning Inspector General of German Highways administration of 3 April 1941. 1941 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 192 . IV 727
2102-PS Decree of Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor concerning Inspector General for Water and Power, 29 July 1941. 1941 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 467 . IV 727
2103-PS Decree of Fuehrer on Cabinet Legislation, 10 May 1943. 1943 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 295 . IV 729
*2194-PS Top secret letter from Ministry for Economy and Labor, Saxony, to Reich Protector in Bohemia and Moravia, enclosing copy of 1938 Secret Defense Law of 4 September 1939. (USA 36) . IV 843
2231-PS Excerpt from von Stutterheim, "Die Reichskanzlei" (1940), pp. 19-34 . IV 873
*2261-PS Directive from Blomberg to Supreme Commanders of Army, Navy and Air Forces, 24 June 1935 accompanied by copy of Reich Defense Law of 21 May 1935 and copy of Decision of Reich Cabinet of 12 May 1935 on the Council for defense of the Reich. (USA 24) . IV 934
*2307-PS Law concerning reunion of Austria with German Reich, 13 March 1938. 1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 237. (GB 133) . IV 997
2355-PS Second Law Relating to right to vote for Reichstag, 18 March 1938. 1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 258 . IV 1098
*2380-PS Articles from National Socialist Yearbook, 1935. (USA 396) . V 6
*2473-PS Extracts from National Socialist yearbook, 1943, showing party positions of other Cabinet members in 1943. (USA 324) . V 226
2550-PS Law on modification of rules of general criminal procedure, 16 September 1939. 1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 1841 . V 293
*2608-PS Frick's lecture, 7 March 1940, on "The Administration in Wartime". (USA 714) . V 327
2746-PS Decree concerning organization of Criminal Jurisdiction against Poles and jews in Incorporated Territories, 4 December 1941. 1941 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, pp. 759-761 . V 386
2847-PS Extracts from Reichs Ministerialblatt, 1933, regarding Cabinet change in the Common Business Order of Reich Ministries, para. 57c, the Circulation of Drafts . V 509
2848-PS File memorandum from files of Council of Ministers, initialed L . V 510
2849-PS Extract from The Third Reich, Vol. 4, p. 81 . V 511
*2852-PS Minutes of meetings of Council of Ministers for Reich Defense. (USA 395) . V 512
2957-PS Extract from German Civil Servants Calendar, 1940, p. 111 . V 663
*2959-PS The Reich Minister, published in New Formation of Justice and Economy, p. 66. (USA 399) . V 664
*2960-PS The Reich Ministry of Interior, published in Publications on the State Structure. (USA 406) . V 668
2961-PS Regulations for the leadership of the German People, 1940, p. 62 . V 668
*2964-PS Memorial meeting of the Reich Cabinet, published in Voelkischer Beobachter, Munich edition, 1 February 1937. (USA 401) . V 672
2970-PS Extracts concerning The New Construction of the State from New Formation of Law and Economy . V 677
*2986-PS Affidavit of the defendant, Wilhelm Frick, 19 November 1945. (USA 409) . V 688
*2999-PS Affidavit of Hans Heinrich Lammers, 22 November 1945. (USA 391) . V 725
*3787-PS Report of the Second Meeting of the Reich Defense Council, 25 June 1939. (USA 782) . VI 718
*3863-PS Extracts from Operations in the Third Reich by Lammers. (GB 320) . VI 786
*D-138 Decree of 27 July 1934, providing for participation of Fuehrer's deputy in the drafting of all legislation. (USA 403) . VI 1055
*D-139 Letter from Hess to Goebbels, 9 October 1934, concerning participation in legislation of the Reich. (USA 404) . VI 1056
*D-140 Letter from Lammers to Reich Ministers, 12 April 1938. (USA 405) . VI 1057
*EC-177 Minutes of second session of Working Committee of the Reich Defense held on 26 April 1933. (USA 390) . VII 328
*EC-407 Minutes of Twelfth Meeting of Reichs Defense Council, 14 May 1936. (GB 247) . VII 462
**Chart No. 6 Reich Cabinet and subsidiaries. (Enlargement displayed to Tribunal.) . VIII 775
*Chart No. 18 Organization of the Reich Government. (2905-PS USA 3) . End of VIII
Greek Tragedy: Italy’s Disastrous Campaign in Greece
In the autumn of 1940, Benito Mussolini was a frustrated would-be Caesar. His participation in World War II had thus far won him all of 13 villages in the southern French Alps. When he stuck the dagger in France’s back to get a seat at a peace conference, it was Italy that bled more. The French lost some 120 killed or wounded and 150 missing, while Italy suffered 631 dead, 2,631 wounded, 616 missing, and 2,151 frostbite cases. To compound the humiliation, almost 4,000 Italians were captured, and they were the ones invading.
A disgusted Italian general, Quirino Armellini, complained in his diary about “the disorder, lack of preparation, and muddle in every sphere.” He added: “Someone will say: Fifteen days we must be ready to march against Yugoslavia or in eight days we will attack Greece from Albania—as easily as saying, let’s have a cup of coffee. The Duce hasn’t the least idea of the differences between preparing war on flat terrain or in mountains, in summer or in winter. Still less does he worry about the fact that we lack weapons, ammunition, equipment, animals, raw materials.”
Armellini was prescient: in his diary entry for August 11, 1940, Mussolini’s foreign minister and son-in-law, the unctuous Count Galeazzo Ciano, recorded that his father-in-law spoke of “a surprise attack against Greece.” Italian aircraft had already bombed Greek naval vessels in Greek waters four times, without provocation. For Mussolini, Greece appeared to be an ideal—meaning easy—target: an impoverished population only a fifth the size of Italy’s, an antiquated military, deep political divisions barely papered over by a despised king. George II had been imposed on the Greeks by the army in 1935 after an 11- year exile, and was fronting for a fascist-style dictator, Premier Ioannis Metaxas.
Mussolini claimed his decision to invade Greece was “an action which I matured at length for months, before our entry into [World War II] and before the beginning of the conflict.” But, by the brand of logic—or illogic—uniquely his, it was the actions of Bucharest that provoked Mussolini to attack Athens, and clearly more in a fit of temper than following any rumination. The conflict Mussolini fanned to flames in Greece eventually drew in Britain, then Germany as well, with profound consequences for the course and outcome of the war.
In October 1940, the new pro-Fascist regime in Romania had requested troops from Adolf Hitler to strengthen it against a possible takeover by the Soviets. Mussolini “is indignant,” Ciano recorded. He considered the Balkans his sphere and demanded the Romanians ask for military assistance from him as well they requested only a few pilots. With Bulgaria close to allying with Hitler, Mussolini had only one place left where he could—he thought—safely flex his muscles.
On October 12, 1940, Mussolini called in Ciano to secretly inform him of his decision to invade Greece in just 16 days, to coincide with the anniversary of the Fascist seizure of power. “Hitler always faces me with a fait accompli,” Mussolini said, referring to Romania. “This time I am going to pay him back in his own coin. He will find out in the papers that I have occupied Greece. In this way the equilibrium will be re-established.” He added: “I will send in my resignation as an Italian if anyone objects to our fighting the Greeks.”
Incredibly, Mussolini waited three days to inform the military of his plan. Chief of Staff Pietro Badoglio did plenty of objecting, but, as usual, Mussolini ignored practical obstacles.
Besides the lack of time—Badoglio insisted he needed at least three months—there was a lack of men: Mussolini had just demobilized 600,000 troops to bring in the fall harvest. Mussolini brushed aside Badoglio’s objections, and the other service chiefs fell in line. Ciano, too, was confident of the outcome, claiming Greek politicians and generals had been bribed and the Greek people would never fight for King George II or Premier Metaxas. He predicted that with “one hard blow” Greece would “utterly collapse in a few hours.”
Mussolini’s idea of an in-depth briefing, with Ciano, Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Mario Roatta, and the general appointed to command the invasion, Sebastiano Visconti Prasca, was published in all its vacuous glory in the Fascist press:
Mussolini: What is the state of mind of the Greek population?
Ciano: There is a clear distinction between the population and the ruling political, plutocratic class, which animates the spirit of resistance and keeps alive the country’s anglophile spirit. It is a small and very rich class, while the rest of the population is indifferent to everything, including the prospect of our invasion.
Mussolini: How far is it from Epirus [Albania’s southern region] to Athens?
Visconti Prasca: About 150 miles on not very good roads.
Mussolini: What is the country like, in general?
Visconti Prasca: Steep, high hills, quite bare.
Mussolini: In what direction do the valleys run?
Visconti Prasca: From east to west, right in the direction of Athens.
Mussolini: This is important.
Roatta: It is true up to a certain point, because one has to cross a mountain range that is more than 6,000 feet high.
Visconti Prasca: There are a number of mule trails.
Mussolini: Have you been over these roads yourself?
Visconti Prasca: Yes, several times.…
Mussolini: I advise you not to pay too much attention to whatever losses you may suffer. I am telling you this because sometimes a commander halts as a result of heavy losses.
Visconti Prasca: I have given orders that the battalions are always to advance, even against divisions.…
Mussolini: To sum up, then. Offensive in Epirus observation and pressure on Salonika, and, as a second phase, the march on Athens.
When Badoglio had argued that Hitler should be informed, Mussolini replied, petulantly, “Did they ask us anything about attacking Norway? Did they ask our opinion when they wanted to start the offensive in the West? They have acted precisely as if we did not exist. I’ll pay them back in their own coin.”
But, as was often the case with Mussolini, after his bluster, his nerve faltered. In effect eliminating his basic rationale for the invasion, he wrote Hitler: “As regards to Greece, I am resolved to put an end to the delays, and very soon….Greece is to the Mediterranean what Norway was to the North Sea, and must not escape the same fate.”
Reading the letter, Hitler did not at first believe Mussolini was actually going to invade. But when he received confirmation from his embassy in Rome—in part due to Ciano’s indiscretion on a golf course—Hitler, according to his interpreter Paul Schmidt, “was beside himself.” As they rushed to a scheduled meeting with Mussolini, Hitler’s usually obtuse foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, asserted that “the Italians will never get anywhere against the Greeks in the autumn rain and winter snows. The Führer intends at all costs to hold up this crazy scheme of the Duce’s.”
But as Hitler’s train was passing through Bologna, word came that the invasion had already begun. Hitler cursed but kept his anger under control when he stepped off the train in Florence at 10 A.M., October 28, 1940, to be greeted bombastically by Mussolini: “Führer, we are on the march! At dawn this morning our Italian troops victoriously crossed the Albanian-Greek border!”
Seven hours earlier in Athens, an embarrassed Italian ambassador, Emmanuel Grazzi, was knocking at the villa door of Premier Metaxas. Two nights before he had hosted an embassy affair to promote friendship with Greece—while his staff was decoding Mussolini’s ultimatum. Ciano had written it himself, expressing perverse pride in his diary: “Naturally it is a document that allows no way out for Greece. Either she accepts occupation or she will be attacked.”
Metaxas himself, in pajamas and robe, opened the door. Grazzi handed him a demand that Italy be allowed “as a guarantee of Greece’s neutrality…to occupy a number of strategic points.” A ruthless dictator who modeled his secret police after the Gestapo, Metaxas responded with words that rallied all Greeks: “I could not make a decision to sell my house on a few hours’ notice. How do you expect me to sell my country? No!”
A half-hour ahead of schedule, 162,000 troops, about half the number Badoglio said he needed to succeed, launched a three-pronged invasion into Greece from Albania. Italy had invaded Albania in April 1939, a month before allying with Germany, and treated it as a colony. Many of the soldiers were either new conscripts or overage reservists, since Mussolini had refused to rescind his demobilization order.
In the south, Italian forces moved along the Adriatic coast into Greece. To the northeast, two columns advanced into the Pindus Mountains, one aiming for the port of Salonika on the north Aegean Sea, the other heading for the Metsovon Pass into central Greece. Some of the invaders, sharing Ciano’s confidence, were carrying silk stockings and contraceptives, while singing, “Nothing can stop us/Our lips swear we shall win or we shall die.”
Meanwhile, with fight-them-on-the-beaches determination, Metaxas was telling his cab- inet, “We might abandon Epirus and Macedonia, even Athens herself. We will with- draw to the Peloponnesus and then Crete.” Eager to get in on the glory, Ciano had immediately joined a bomber squadron. It was not what he expected, as his diary reflects on November 1, 1940: “The sun has finally come out. I take advantage of it to carry out a spectacular bombardment of Salonika. I am attacked by Greek fighters. All goes well. Two of theirs fell, but I must confess that it is the first time I had them on my tail. It is an ugly sensation.” He was soon back in Rome.
Just a few days into the campaign, however, General Visconti Prasca, in a press conference, desperately tried to reassure international correspondents: “Naturally, there is still much to be done. I am confident there is nothing to worry about.”
The general’s uncharacteristically subdued words and lack of bombast betrayed that there was indeed plenty to worry about. Ciano recorded one major obstacle, the weather, in his diary:
October 29 The weather is bad but the advance continues.
October 30 Things are going a little slowly. It’s because of the rain.
October 31 Continued bad weather.
Endless, pounding, icy rain was turning even brooks into treacherous torrents and what passed for dirt roads into impassable quagmires.
Further, the Italian supply system had immediately disintegrated. Ships arriving at the port of Durazzo, Albania, found it already jammed with ships delivering marble for the Fascist occupation infrastructure when 30,000 tons of supplies were finally offloaded, they were left piled on the docks, useless for lack of transport. Later, Greece’s tiny fleet of four out-of-date submarines (one sank 27,000 tons in a week) and British aircraft (Churchill had informed Greece the day it was invaded, “We will fight a common foe”) operating out of Malta devastated the Italian fleet.
Against the expectations of Italian intelligence, which believed the Greeks could only field 30,000, the Greek army mobilized 230,000, largely due to the efforts of Metaxas. Although poorly equipped even compared to the Italians, the Greeks had the initial advantages of shorter lines of communications and supply (they would bring up 100,000 transport animals essential for the mountain trails of Greece and Albania while the Italians had 30,000 stuck back in Italy), better knowledge of the terrain, better training and discipline, more fire support from their artillery, and a superior commander in Gen. Alexander Papagos.
Most of all, the Greeks had ferocious national pride and a fighting will to match. “I was with that [Greek] Army, whose gallantry and conceit were formidable,” wrote C. L. Sulzberger of the New York Times. “Rickety trucks bounced to the front over impossible roads, bearing Hellenic fisherman and farmers. They rode to the death and glory with garlands over their ears and their rifle muzzles stuffed with flowers, shouting ‘On to Rome.’ Antiquated mountain artillery was trundled along ridge combs to shell the Fascists in the valleys. Evzone [Greek army infantry] guard patrols attacked with their knives and teeth, biting the scared little Italian infantrymen. I visited a forward prisoners’ cage that included dozens of frightened Fascists with tooth wounds in their shabbily bandaged necks.”
In the Italians’ deepest penetration into Greece, the elite 3rd Julia Alpine Division advanced 25 miles in five days to the Metsovon Pass. But once inside the pass, they came under withering fire from the ridgelines and were finally forced to retreat in disorder, after suffering 2,500 casualties.
The Italian offensive everywhere was grinding to a halt, and the Greeks were launching local counterattacks. From Ciano’s diary, November 6, 1940: “Mussolini is dissatisfied over the way things are going in Greece….The enemy has made some progress and it is a fact that on the eighth day of operations the initiative is in their hands.”
On the morning of November 14, an international group of war correspondents was nearing the front lines when suddenly Italian soldiers ran past, shouting. “They’re crazy,” an Italian reporter said. “They say the Greeks are coming.”
By November 14, General Papagos had launched a counteroffensive along the entire front instead of risky frontal assaults, the Greeks would infiltrate through gaps in the overstretched Italian lines to fall on them from the flanks and in the rear. The Italians collapsed, soon fleeing so fast their cargo planes were inadvertently airdropping supplies on the Greeks. “Our soldiers have fought but little, and badly,” complained Ciano.
An Italian captain, Fernando Campione, described the tragedy and disorder: “Another infantryman is lying on the road. His hands are contracted, a shell splinter tore open the right side of his stomach, where the clotted blood has formed a huge dark filthy stain on his jacket….A soldier who had managed to scrounge some alcohol, swaying and staggering in his drunkenness, was carrying in his arms a tin of tuna fish weighing several kilograms.”
The Greeks not only drove the Italians out of Greece but invaded Albania. In their most important victory, the Greeks under Lt. Gen. Giorgios Tsolakoglu captured the important Italian base at Koritsa, 20 miles inside Albania, shattering three Italian divisions and capturing 2,000 prisoners, 135 artillery pieces, and 300 machine guns. Ciano tried to minimize it as “certainly not the loss of Paris,” but Koritsa was enough of a disaster that it forced Mussolini to finally recall those 600,000 troops he had demobilized.
By the time their own offensive stalled on December 5, 1940, in the face of stiffening resistance, the Greeks had knocked the Italians back 50 miles and had penetrated 30 miles into southern and eastern Albania. Amid the international ridicule heaped on the Italians, perhaps the most cutting remark was made by an elderly Greek woman watching some of the 26,000 Italian prisoners trudge past: “I feel sorry for them. They are not warriors. They should carry mandolins instead of rifles.”
Ciano’s diary in the weeks to follow took on the tone of a dirge:
December 7 News from Greece confirms reports that the situation is serious.
December 17 Again a bad withdrawal in Albania.
December 19 The Sienna Division was broken to pieces by a Greek attack.
December 27 The usual story in Albania and this displeases the Duce.
January 11, 1941 We are not getting very good news.
While Ciano was recording the disaster, Mussolini was busy blaming anyone but himself. He had fired Visconti Prasca just 11 days into the offensive, later grousing to Ciano, “Every man has made one fatal error in his life. And I made mine when I believed Visconti Prasca.”
Visconti Prasca’s successor was fired in his turn—he was allegedly spending time at the front composing movie music. Marshal Badoglio openly complained, “All the fault lies with the leadership of Il Duce,” so Mussolini ordered a campaign against him in the Fascist press that forced Badoglio to resign.
Mussolini alternated between rage and despondency, vowing to level Athens, then saying it was time to ask Hitler to mediate a truce: “There is nothing more to be done. It is ridiculous and grotesque, but that is the way it is.”
Ciano talked him out of the idea, later writing bitterly: “I would rather put a bullet in my head than telephone Ribbentrop. It is possible that we are defeated? May it not be that that the commander has laid down arms before his men?”
In effect, Mussolini had. On December 4, 1940, physically drained—face unshaven and eyes swollen, as one account described him— Mussolini called in his ambassador to Germany, Dino Alfieri, and instructed him to seek military, not diplomatic, help from Hitler. Unknown to them, Hitler had a month earlier issued a directive to invade Greece.
In an order as pointless as it was petty, Mussolini sent Ciano and other younger government officials to the front the sight of uniformed bureaucrats floundering in the snow trying to do their paperwork under fire amused rather than inspired Italians. In Ciano’s final diary entry regarding Greece, dated January 26, 1941, a very different man from the glory-seeker of only two months before wrote: “Departure. This time I have a certain amount of experience in such departing. I find it hard to leave. I have no apprehension, only a small amount of conviction and consequently fewer enthusiasms. All of my comrades who have become volunteers by force feel this way, and many do not hide their feelings.”
While Mussolini fumed in Rome, his troops in the Albanian hills endured an agonizing winter in which temperatures fell to 20 degrees below zero. Capt. Fernando Campione wrote of the grim conditions: “The major in command drags himself with his feet affected by the beginning of frostbite. His serious, emaciated, livid face betrays the tragedy of the days and nights passed in the cold and snow….It is said that 40 men are frozen to death daily.”
Perhaps the most shocking statistic of Mussolini’s Greek misadventure was that, while 50,874 Italian soldiers suffered combat wounds, 52,108 endured illness, and 12,368 were incapacitated by frostbite.
Mussolini’s response was astonishingly callous, even for him: “This snow and cold are very good. In this way our good-for-nothing men and this mediocre race will be improved.”
In spite of their military successes, the situation for the Greeks was no less desperate. Greek soldiers subsisted on a near starvation diet of bread and olives as a result, their uniforms “seemed about two sizes too big for them,” an American correspondent reported. Greek amputations from frostbite reached a horrifying 11,000. Ammunition was beginning to run low as the British had to find the right ammunition for the Greeks’ outmoded German and French rifles, then ship it across the Aegean and move it up the hardly existent roads on mules and peasants’ backs.
The Greeks suffered a further blow when Premier Metaxas died suddenly of tonsillitis after an operation on January 29, 1941. His successor, Alexander Koryzis, the head of the National Bank of Greece, had little political experience and would prove, fatally for himself, not up to the job.
It turned out that by dying, Metaxas would have his greatest impact on the war in Greece. Winston Churchill from the start was bent on not merely supplying the Greeks but fighting alongside them. Believing he could raise the Balkans against Hitler and wanting to show the still-neutral United States that Britain would stand beside an ally, Churchill was prepared to pull troops out of North Africa, from their own successful campaign against the Italians there. “No one will thank us for sitting tight in Egypt with ever-growing forces while the Greek situation and all that hangs on it is cast away,” he told his skeptical war secretary, Anthony Eden. “‘Safety first’ is the road to ruin in war.”
Chief of the Imperial General Staff John Dill and Commander in Chief of the Middle East Archibald Wavell saw it differently. They were on the verge of driving the Italians out of North Africa Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps did not arrive until February. Notoriously inarticulate, Wavell for once made himself clear: “Even if we can intervene in Greece, we can’t intervene with enough men, so don’t stop a successful operation for a possibly botched one.”
The arguing remained academic since Metaxas had refused to accept British troops, asserting it would provoke a German invasion. But when he died, Koryzis quickly acquiesced.
Yet just as Dill and Wavell were also finally coming around— or had just been worn down—about an operation in Greece, it was Churchill who began having doubts. “Do not feel obligated to the Greek enterprise if in your hearts you feel it will be only another Norwegian fiasco,” he cabled Eden and Dill, on their way to the final negotiations in Athens.
In the ultimate, bewildering, turnabout, it was Anthony Eden who became the Greek operation’s strongest proponent. On February 27, 1941, the War Cabinet reached, unanimously, its final decision, and Churchill cabled Eden with a marked lack of enthusiasm, “While being under no illusions, we all send you the order ‘Full steam ahead.’” He still continued to hedge, though, cautioning, “We must be careful not to urge Greece against her better judgment into a hopeless resistance.”
As Dill said later, “The Prime Minister had led the hunt before we left England.…By the time he had begun to doubt, the momentum was too great.” Days after the cabinet’s decision, the first of an eventual 58,364 Commonwealth troops began landing—under the watchful eyes of still-neutral German diplomats—for what Wavell called “a gamble in which the dice were loaded against us from the start.”
Arriving ahead was their commander, supposedly incognito in civilian clothes as “Mr. Watt.” It was a bit unrealistic, though, to expect Gen. Henry Maitland Wilson to pass unnoticed: his elephantine girth and gait had earned him the nickname “Jumbo” throughout the British army.
While his army was being routed in the autumn and winter, Mussolini vowed they would win in the spring, which “was Italian.” He piloted his plane to the front to witness the next Italian offensive. He strutted among his troops in a marshal’s uniform, oblivious as always to the true impression he created. He swaggered up to a soldier, in obvious pain from a chest wound, to grandly announce, “I am Il Duce, and I bring you the greetings of the fatherland.”
“Well, now, isn’t that great,” the suffering soldier managed to get out. Mussolini quickly moved on.
From his observation post, Mussolini watched as his artillery fired 100,000 shells in two hours to open the Italian offensive on the central Albanian front on March 9, 1941. Then 50,000 Italians began advancing against 28,000 Greeks along a 20-mile front between the Osum and Aoos rivers, land dominated by the Trebeshina Mountains.
The Greeks managed to hold their positions in often hand-to-hand combat, then launched counterattacks of their own. On the fifth day, a Greek aircraft bombed and strafed Mussolini’s position, forcing him to a shelter for cover. Mussolini asked Badoglio’s successor, Gen. Ugo Cavallero, “How is the morale of our troops?”
“We cannot say it is high,” Cavallero had to admit. “We have losses and no territorial gains.”
Pronouncing himself “disgusted by this environment,” Mussolini flew home after 11 days, to let the offensive grind on another five futile days there were 12,000 Italian casualties at the end.
Time had run out—for Mussolini and, more tragically, for the Greeks. A week after Mussolini’s return to Rome came the fateful letter from Hitler: “Now, I would cordially request you, Duce, not to undertake any further operations in Albania in the course of the next few days.” In other words, stay out of the way.
Before dawn, Palm Sunday, April 6, 1941, it was the German minister’s turn to hand an announcement of aggression against Greece to Premier Koryzis the German XIIth Army had invaded from Bulgaria 30 minutes earlier. Koryzis had no heroic words of defiance, though a doomed Greek soldier on the frontier, in a farewell letter to his family, did: “With our fingers on the trigger, we are following the movements of the enemy, expecting the ultimatum with the resolution to die and with the certainty that we will show the Germans what being a free Greek means.”
He and his fellow soldiers would get little chance. The Germans simultaneously attacked Yugoslavia, blitzing it in just five days and destroying Churchill’s hopes for a united Balkan front. “The sudden collapse destroyed the main hope of the Greeks,” he wrote. “It was another example of ‘One at a time.’…A grim prospect now gaped upon us all.”
Against British advice, the Greeks chose to make their stand in the Metaxas Line, 130 miles of concrete bunkers stretching across the mountains of eastern Greece. Under relentless German assault, it crumbled in only two days, as German air power controlled the skies and, with Yugoslavia’s million-man army routed, the Germans could flank the Greek defenses.
A German soldier described the fighting: “The Gebirgsjäger [mountain troops] are climbing out of the deep valley towards that crest. Their hour has come and rifle and machine-gun fire echo in a succession of rolling thunder claps around the mountain peaks….We run through a hail of machine-gun fire to the first Greek frontier post and see our first dead Greek. His wide open eyes stare up at the sky….The entrances to the pillboxes are blocked and shortly thereafter, at about 19.00 hrs., a white flag is raised….[Greek] dead are still lying in their trenches. Their faces are covered with ice. The deep silence of the mountain surrounds us.”
More disasters awaited the Allies. Athens’ port of Piraeus was wrecked when a Luftwaffe raid exploded a freighter packed with 250 tons of TNT. The blast shattered windows for 11 miles and was heard 150 miles away.
Even worse, at 8 A.M. on April 9, the 2nd Panzer Division rolled unopposed into Greece’s second-largest city and port, Salonika. The falls of the Metaxas Line and Salonika trapped 70,000 Greek soldiers in eastern Greece, leaving them no choice but to surrender. An artillery major made a different choice: he lined up his battery, saluted, then shot himself as his men sang the national anthem.
With only the 6th Australian Division, the New Zealand Division, the 1st British Armored Brigade, and three understrength Greek divisions available to him, Wilson established his own defense line from Mount Olympus to the Aliákmon River. While the British held the 33rd Panzer Regiment a day at Ptolemais (although losing 32 tanks and antitank guns in the process), Wilson learned from decrypted German radio interceptions that he was outnumbered more than two to one and was going to be flanked on both ends of the line. On April 16, he ordered a retreat south across the plain of Thessaly.
The terrain of Greece had been brutal enough for both sides. “Libya was like a billiard table compared with the terrifying ranges and yawning ravines here,” the correspondent for the Times of London wrote.
Incessant German air attacks made it even worse. “For two days I have been bombed, machine-gunned, and shot at by all and sundry,” reported the Times man. “German stukas have blown two cars from under me and strafed a third….All day and all night there have been waves of Germans in the skies….[Luftwaffe Commander in Chief Hermann] Göring must have a third of his air force operating here and it is bombing every nook and cranny, hamlet, village and town in its path.”
One British unit refused to allow its routine to be disrupted in the chaos. A Greek lieutenant watched, astonished, as the soldiers stopped, laid out a playing field by the roadside, and players in shorts came out for a scheduled soccer game: “The game was reaching the end of the first half-time when a dozen stukas appeared over our heads and started strafing a convoy moving along the road, only a few yards away from the field. Nobody moved and the game continued as the players dribbled, passed and kicked the ball with unrelenting zest.”
In Athens, Greek leaders crumbled, exhausted from six months of fighting the Italians and stunned by the magnitude of the German blitzkrieg. Premier Koryzis killed himself on learning that the minister of war, in an act of either defeatism or treason, had granted widespread Easter passes to the troops to leave the fighting. A broken General Papagos told Wilson, “We are finished. But the war is not lost. Therefore, save what you can of your army to help win elsewhere.”
While Mussolini had raged and moaned, Hitler’s enjoyment at Churchill’s new Greek travails was marred by regret over having to devastate the country. “Athens and Rome are his meccas,” his ranking diarist, Josef Goebbels, wrote. “The Führer is a man totally attuned to antiquity. He hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity….What a difference between the benevolent, smiling Zeus and the pain-wracked, crucified Christ….What a difference between a gloomy cathedral and a light airy ancient temple.”
The final blow came when the Germans roared through Yugoslavia down the Monastir Gap to capture Kastoria and cut off the Greek First Army fleeing south from Albania. “The situation offers no way out,” General Tsolakoglu radioed Athens in refusing an order to break through. To avoid having to surrender to the Italians, he signed an armistice with the Germans, but a furious Mussolini demanded, and received, a new ceremony with an Italian general present.
The same day Tsolakoglu surrendered, April 22, the Greek king and cabinet flew to Crete on an RAF bomber and British headquarters in Athens issued the order to evacuate. To buy time for it, Wilson prepared a final stand at, of all places, Thermopylae. The idea of repeating the three-day stand by the Greeks against the Persians in 480 BC struck a chord with Churchill: “The intervening ages fell away. Why not one more undying feat of arms?”
Instead of three days, Wilson could only give Churchill two. Australian gunners knocked out 19 German tanks before Ger – man mountain troops climbed the hills to the west, flanking the pass. The Commonwealth forces withdrew east to the pass just south of Thebes, held two more days, then began the final run for the coast.
The evacuation had been moved up four days, underscoring the desperation of the situation. With Piraeus out of operation and Salonika in German hands, the only ports left were Rafina to the east and Megara to the west of Athens, and Nauplia, Monemvasia, and Kalamata on the Peloponnesus, Greece’s southern peninsula. Passing through Athens at midnight, a British soldier found to his surprise even at that hour “the brave Greek people lining the streets and wishing us good luck. It was terrible. It was like leaving a sinking ship with most of the passengers still on board.”
The Commonwealth forces wrecked trucks and guns to block the roads behind them and to slow the pursuit. To avoid air attack, they marched and boarded ship at night, then sailed no later than 3 A.M. luckily for them, the nights were moonless. Tragically, a Dutch ship lingered until dawn to load, then with its two destroyer escorts was dive-bombed and sunk, with only 50 survivors out of more than 700 on all three ships.
One escape route was the bridge at the Corinth Canal linking the Peloponnesus to the mainland. The Germans launched a combined glider and paratroop attack at 7 A.M. on April 26, just missing by a few hours General Wilson lumbering across with the last of the Commonwealth forces on the road, leaving an Australian rearguard to blow the bridge. The Germans were attempting to defuse the explosives when the bridge suddenly exploded, the British later claiming they set off the charges with rifle shots.
By the time the last ship sailed the morning of April 29, 1941, 80 percent of the Commonwealth force plus Greeks—50,662 people—had been evacuated to Crete or Egypt. Standing out, literally, among the evacuees was Jumbo Wilson, his suitcase in hand, waiting interminably at the edge of the jetty at Nauplia for a Short Sunderland flying boat. With the sound of small-arms fire rattling not far away, a nervous staff officer asked him what he wanted to do. “I will do what many soldiers have done before me—I’ll sit on my kit and wait!” was his reply.
Within 21 days of launching their offensive, the first German units were speeding into Athens. At the Acropolis, it was said, a guard jumped to his death rather than hoist the swastika in view of what lay ahead for the Greeks, it would seem churlish to question his choice.
To his bad judgment, Mussolini added worse taste in demanding a victory parade through Athens the few Greeks to turn out for the token procession gave the Germans some grudging claps so they could greet the Italians with dead silence.
Mussolini’s war by temper tantrum cost the Italians 13,755 killed and 25,067 missing. A bitter comrade wrote their epitaph: “At school they had heard it was a fine thing to die with a bullet in one’s heart kissed by the rays of the sun. No one had thought that one might fall the other way with one’s face in the mud.”
Yet if a parade was all Mussolini got out of the war in Greece, it was more than anyone else. Hitler’s conquest would seem to have been cheap—just 2,559 German dead, 5,820 wounded. But, in the opinion of his commander in chief, Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch, and the chief of the general staff Generaloberst Franz Halder, the month spent conquering Greece and Yugoslavia fatally delayed the invasion of Russia. “Had Hitler not run up a swastika on the Acropolis, he might have succeeded in draping it upon the Kremlin,” commented New York Times foreign correspondent C. L. Sulzberger.
British losses in Greece were 5,100 killed or wounded, mostly from air attacks, and 7,000 abandoned at Kalamata, who were captured when the flotilla commander panicked and withdrew. “We have paid our debt of honor with far less loss than I feared,” said Churchill. But the loss was to be greater than Churchill realized. As the official German history itself notes: “Churchill’s decision [to intervene in Greece] gave the Germans the opportunity to intervene successfully in North Africa, and two years were to pass before the British, together with the Americans, were able to achieve the final victory there which had been so near in February 1941.”
Greece’s war losses—13,408 killed and 42,485 wounded— were only the beginning of a decade of agony. The Germans plundered Greece of food and medicine. Some 100,000 died of starvation and disease in Athens alone. Then communist forces attempted to take over, igniting a civil war that continued until 1949 and in which more than 150,000 died.
The war’s principals came to varying ends. King George II returned to Greece, unpopular as ever, to be imposed again as ruler, this time by the British, but died soon after. (The Greek monarchy ended with George II’s nephew fleeing the colonels’ coup of 1967.) General Tsolakoglu turned from hero to quisling he headed the collaboration regime during the Axis occupation and died in prison waiting trial. General Papagos survived Dachau to also lead Greece, as its elected prime minister.
Of the British, Dill and Wavell were soon sidelined out of roles in Europe. While he was not seriously criticized for the debacle in Greece, Henry Maitland Wilson never held a combat command again he was made field marshal and, on Dill’s death in 1944, was sent to Washington to head the British military mission.
And Galeazzo Ciano? Hitler pressured Mussolini to execute him for abetting his father-in-law’s downfall. But the firing squad bungled the job, and Ciano had to be dispatched with that pistol bullet to the head he had once said he preferred rather than appealing to Ribbentrop for help.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2009 issue (Vol. 21, No. 4) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: Greek Tragedy
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Even Churchill Couldn't Convince Turkey to Join the Allies in World War II
Maybe the Turks were just bad at picking the winning side. In World War I the Central Powers were defeated by the Allies, so in October 1939 they switched to ally with Britain and France. Four days after the fall of Paris, Turkish President Ismet Inönü suspected his country might be on the wrong side yet again. To rectify the situation, he signed the German-Turkish Treaty of Friendship, setting the terms for Turkey’s indefinite neutrality.
While the major world powers mauled each other for five years, Inönü tactfully resisted the invitations of both sides to enter the conflict. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill took a particularly aggressive interest in luring Turkey to the Allied camp. Why did Churchill exhaust so much diplomatic and economic effort on the Turks? After the war had ended, the prime minister conjured myriad reasons for wanting Turkey’s help, but declassified War Cabinet documents tell a different story. The truth Churchill strove to bury was that he needed Turkey’s support, either directly or indirectly, for a planned invasion of the Balkans.
A Military Unprepared For War
At first glance, Ismet Inönü might not appear as the shrewdest, most clever leader to serve during World War II. Those who met him would describe the president of Turkey as a small, wiry man with a soft voice. For a man his size, he had large shoes to fill. The first president of the young Turkish Republic, the revered Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, died just 10 months before the outbreak of World War II. His death left Ismet Inönü, Atatürk’s chief lieutenant, to lead the fledgling republic in a time of international uncertainty.
Although no one could have foreseen the scope of the looming war, Inönü was a sound choice for president. He spoke German, English, and French and had served in the Turkish military for 17 years, rising from lieutenant to general. As a successful commander, he was elevated to War Ministry adviser and then prime minister in 1923. It was June 11, 1940, when Ismet Inönü finally found himself president. His experience told him that the Turkish military was in no condition for serious combat, and this was most likely the primary motivation for Turkey’s withdrawal into neutrality. As soon as Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, Inönü consistently maintained that Germany would never win the war. It was more for pragmatic purposes that he steadfastly kept Turkey a neutral party.
Not long after Turkey declared neutrality, both the Axis and Allied camps made overtures to lure the Turks to their respective sides. From the beginning, Winston Churchill spearheaded the Allied effort to buy Turkey’s loyalty. As early as the fall of 1941, U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull reassured British Ambassador Lord Halifax that the British would be allowed to take the lead in negotiating with Ankara. Allied shipments of war matériel to Turkey began immediately, but Churchill strictly controlled the flow of equipment to ensure it would only be enough for defensive purposes. If German military fortunes appeared to wane, Churchill foresaw increased aid to the Turks as the best way to encourage them into the Allied camp.
Churchill’s Overtures to Turkey
In January 1943, Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt met at Casablanca and outlined the future of Allied grand strategy. American and British staffs clashed throughout the week, but it was the British “Mediterranean strategy” that carried the day. The British vision called for an invasion of Italy supported by more aggressive attempts to draw Turkey into the war. Churchill suggested that this might best be accomplished by a personal meeting with the Turkish leadership on Turkish soil.
That meeting took place at Adana, Turkey, over the last two days of January 1943. On the first day of the meeting, Marshal Fevzi Cakmak, the Turkish chief of the General Staff, outlined the necessary equipment for his military to be combat-ready. The enormous quantities of equipment included 2,300 tanks, 2,600 guns, and 120,000 tons of aviation fuel. Cakmak also requested trucks, other motor transport, and locomotives complete with coal. As the stunned British delegation took notes, Marshal Cakmak chided the British for not filling his standing request for 500 fighter planes.
In his meeting with President Inönü, Churchill agreed to increase Allied supplies to Turkey. In return, Inönü promised nothing more than to reconsider Turkish neutrality. When Churchill inquired about the possibility of Allied air bases in Turkey, Inönü again made no assurances. As long as Axis forces were positioned in Bulgaria, they could threaten Istanbul, the economic center of Turkey. Until this threat was removed or more military assistance was received, the Turks would remain neutral. Remarkably, two days after the Adana Conference Churchill cabled President Roosevelt to report that his visit to Turkey was a “great success.” Unbeknownst to his American allies, Churchill had a very good and very secretive reason to expend so much diplomatic and economic effort to draw Turkey into the war.
“Our Thrust Should be Directed Against the Balkans”
Even as Allied war planners were polishing final details for their invasion of Sicily, British planners were plotting the next move. At Casablanca the Western Allies had agreed to capture Sicily, but the strategic debate was so contentious that no further targets could be agreed upon. No doubt, American Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall was hoping that after the fall of Sicily Allied attention would turn back toward the liberation of France. But as early as Christmas 1942, a month before Casablanca, the British War Cabinet was drafting other plans.
In early December 1942, the War Cabinet printed a secret report titled “Offensive Strategy in the Mediterranean,” which concluded that after successful operations in Italy, “our next thrust should be directed against the Balkans.” Less than a week after issuing the report, the British Joint Planning Staff ordered its Future Planning Section to “examine and report” on the possibility of a Balkan invasion.
Churchill kept close tabs on the reports coming from his War Cabinet. From the beginning he was fully supportive of future operations in the Balkans. During his meeting with President Inönü at Adana, Churchill handed his Turkish counterpart a note called “Morning Thoughts.” The notes hinted that Inönü should face “the possibility of Turkey becoming a full belligerent….” A copy of Churchill’s “Morning Thoughts” filtered back to Washington, alarming Roosevelt and American military planners. The British ambassador, Lord Halifax, tactfully explained to Roosevelt that the memo only represented Churchill’s private opinions and was not written with the consent of the War Cabinet.
With access to declassified War Cabinet documents, it is safe to say that Lord Halifax may not have been entirely forthcoming. By the time Churchill’s “Morning Thoughts” were written, the prime minister would have already had access to War Cabinet directives calling for the preliminary planning for an invasion along the Adriatic coast of the Balkans. Further planning kicked into high gear after the successful conquest of Sicily and the follow-up invasion of the Italian mainland. The Americans were not made privy to this planning process.
A Plan to Take the Aegean
With U.S. and British forces slugging through the mountains of Italy, Churchill’s attention turned toward the Aegean islands. Some historians have suggested that this was just another case of the prime minister’s fertile strategic imagination getting the best of him. But was this really the case, or did Churchill have something else on his mind when he envisioned the capture of the Aegean islands? What we know for certain is that Churchill and Roosevelt exchanged a series of cables discussing the capture of Rhodes and other German-garrisoned islands in the Aegean Sea.
Despite the prime minister’s persistent and increasingly blunt messages, Roosevelt steadfastly refused to divert any forces from the campaign raging in Italy. Perhaps when Churchill was pleading for operations in the Aegean he was recalling a War Cabinet report from December 5, 1942. The report recommended an attack into the Balkans but cautioned that it would not be possible “unless either Turkey comes into the war or Italy goes out of it.”
By October 1943, just when Churchill and Roosevelt were arguing over operations in the Aegean, American war planners were growing ever more suspicious that the British were scheming for a Balkan invasion. In fact, on October 8, 1943, Roosevelt hinted at this when he cabled Churchill. “As I see it, it is not merely the capture of Rhodes but it must mean the necessity and it must be apparent to the Germans, that we intend to go further.… Strategically, if we get the Aegean Islands, I ask myself where do we go from there…?”
Churchill frantically cabled back reassuring messages, promising Roosevelt that he was not asking for a full invasion but only for commando operations. It was too little, too late. The damage had already been done. Roosevelt and his military advisers felt they had sniffed out Churchill’s intentions, but they would have been even more alarmed had they known just how evolved the British invasion plan had become.
To Establish an “Adriatic Bridgehead”
Churchill may have been telling Roosevelt that he did not wish for a land invasion, but back in London the Joint Planning Committee had been refining an invasion plan since 1942. In May 1943, they completed a preliminary investigation of an invasion along the coast of Yugoslavia, but the only possible land bases from which the invasion could be launched were in Turkey. Launching an attack from across the Bosporus, British forces would sweep down to liberate Greece and then move north. Without the necessary Turkish support, this plan was temporarily set aside.
By the fall of 1943, however, the Allied advance in Italy opened up ports across the heel of the Italian boot. Invasion plans for Yugoslavia were dusted off and again revised. On November 8, 1943, the War Cabinet unveiled its most detailed set of plans to establish a bridgehead in Albania, titled “Adriatic Bridgehead.” This time, the attack would not come from across the Bosporus, but from across the Adriatic Sea. The primary goal of the invasion was to topple the already unstable pro-German government in Bulgaria and then encourage a domino effect across the Balkans.
The most pressing concern was to locate a suitable site for the bridgehead. Beaches along the coast of Yugoslavia were not deemed suitable for a large enough force, but Durazzo Bay in Albania could handle roughly 2,000 tons of shipping per day. More importantly, the Durazzo beachhead provided access to much needed airfields. There was a landing ground next to the bay, and larger airfields at Tirana and Valona would be within striking distance. Until these airfields were operational, fighter cover from Foggia in Italy was deemed sufficient.
There was another key advantage to picking Albania over Yugoslavia. The report concluded, “The nature of the country and communications [in Yugoslavia] would make the German task of sealing off the bridgehead easier than in Albania.” Furthermore, a bridgehead in Albania would be better positioned to threaten the Bulgars or to move south to liberate the Greeks. In Yugoslavia, any landing force would have to rely on help from the partisans, who were of an unproven quality.
The tactical details of the operation called for two divisions to assault in the first wave. The northernmost division would land north of the Tirana road junction and secure the port and landing ground at Durazzo. The second division, landing south of the road, would immediately strike inland to capture Tirana. Once the beachhead was secure, a third division and the 1st Special Service Force were both earmarked for support. Naval and air support were to be made available from Italy.
The British Joint Planning Committee report acknowledged that the necessary landing craft for the operation would have to be drawn from Operation Overlord, possibly delaying the invasion of Normandy for up to three months. The Americans were bound to dislike any further delays.
Despite the concerns of the War Cabinet, a rich bounty of tempting prizes seemed ripe for the picking in the Balkans. First, the British knew that Bulgaria’s government was teetering on the verge of switching sides. Axis satellites across the region could fall in a domino effect, knocking out Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, or Croatia. Capture of the Balkans would also stretch German manpower ever thinner and deprive the German war economy of critical resources such as chromite, oil, copper, and bauxite. Chromite ore was of particular concern to the German war effort, since it is essential to steel production. With domestic stocks of chromite ore depleted, Germany now relied solely on two main sources, the Balkans and Turkey.
The United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union all protested Turkey’s double game in feeding the enemy war industry. Privately, Turkish diplomats assured the Allies that they were secretly delaying shipments of chromite to the Germans. Whether this was actually true is debatable. What was undoubtedly true was that Turkey profited handsomely from its trade with Nazi Germany. In return for chromite, the Germans supplied Turkey with more military equipment.
The Tehran Conference Ends Churchill’s Schemes
Despite the lack of cooperation from Turkey, Churchill refused to give up on the invasion of the Balkans. Churchill decided to carry his case to Soviet Premier Josef Stalin at the Tehran Conference in November 1943. The week before the meeting he authored a memorandum calling for the British to “seize a port or ports and establish bridgeheads on the Dalmatian coast….” Before the memo could be cabled to Washington, Field Marshal Alan Brooke, chief of the Imperial Staff, advised the prime minister to strike any reference to the Balkans for fear of alarming the Americans before the meeting at Tehran. Churchill allowed the line to be struck but personally resolved to bring up the issue at the conference.
In November 1943, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met face to face for the first time. On the very first day of the Tehran Conference, November 28, Churchill summoned all of his charisma to present Stalin with the Balkan option to ease pressure on the Eastern Front. Roosevelt had not expected the British prime minister to break ranks with him and was at first surprised. Stalin had long since suspected that the British might try to cross the Adriatic, an area Stalin already considered in his sphere of influence.
Now it was Stalin’s turn to surprise Churchill. The Soviet dictator adamantly insisted that the Allies stick to their preparations for Overlord along with a diversionary attack through southern France. In the Mediterranean, including in Italy, he wished no offensive action to be taken. Stalin then turned his attention to Turkey, Churchill’s pet project, and expressed his opinion that Turkey was a lost cause. Now that the war was beginning to swing against the Axis, he saw no point in continuing to pamper Ankara with attention.
Increasing Allied Pressure on Turkish Neutrality
By December 1943, an invasion of the Balkans was no longer a serious option. Without landing craft from Overlord there would be no way to land the amphibious invasion force. And without Turkey’s entry into the war, the invasion could not be launched from across the Bosporus. To make matters worse, not only did Churchill face opposition from Stalin and Roosevelt, he now faced internal opposition from Chief of Staff Alan Brooke. Brooke correctly analyzed the report from the War Cabinet and noted that any exploitation of the Adriatic bridgehead would take roughly eight divisions.
With his hopes of further Mediterranean action dashed, Churchill abruptly ended his courtship of Turkey. Military and economic aid was reduced to a trickle, and blunt language began to replace once kind words of encouragement to Ankara. When the Turkish General Staff asked why its requests for equipment had not been fulfilled completely, one British general quipped that it would have clogged Turkey’s inadequate rail network for years. The British then demanded to know why Turkey had not yet joined the Allies, to which the Turks shot back that 26 Axis divisions were in position to attack Istanbul from bases in Bulgaria.
Not long after the conference the British telegraphed a secret note to Washington reporting that the Turks “insist their original demands for equipment can be reduced neither in quantity nor in quality and must be accepted in total before our treaty rights can be discussed.” This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In no uncertain terms, U.S. and British diplomats told Turkey to end its trade with Germany immediately. The British ambassador to Ankara was instructed to report that if Turkey did not cooperate with Allied demands aid would be cut off and the Western Allies would remain silent if Stalin made postwar demands on territory around the Dardanelles.
By early 1944, President Inönü must have realized that his double game would have to end. He never doubted that Germany would lose the war but was now faced with the rising power of his Soviet neighbor. On April 14, 1944, the Turkish National Assembly finally suspended commodity exports to Germany. Ankara severed all diplomatic relations with Berlin four months later. The Allies handed Turkey an ultimatum to declare war on Germany by March 1, 1945, if the Turks wanted a seat in the future United Nations. Just days before the ultimatum expired, Turkey finally entered the war on the Allied side. It was merely a token gesture of good faith.
Churchill’s Balkan Regrets
After the success of Operation Overlord was apparent, Churchill did everything in his power to distance himself from the Balkan invasion plans. In his memoirs the former prime minister censored and altered key pieces of evidence to make it appear he had always been a strong proponent of the Normandy invasion. The truth was that Churchill had long expressed private reservations about the invasion of France. He gloomily noted to one adviser in April 1944, “This battle [in Normandy] has been forced upon us by the Russians and by the U.S. military authorities.”
In his postwar writing Churchill bitterly maintained that if only Roosevelt had allowed him to capture the Dodecanese islands, Turkey could have been tipped into the war. This was quite unlikely since official British policy was for the islands to be returned to Greece, not Turkey. What Churchill could never admit in his memoirs was that he secretly needed Turkey’s support to allow a British invasion of the Balkans.