In the occupation-zones of the Western powers there is more of a hurry. The main barrier to a political prosecution of the whole leadership of the Third Reich is the existence of a legal and sovereign German government. The Government of the Reich as such has not surrendered. The ominous “unconditional surrender” is signed only by the representatives of the Wehrmacht. The chief aim of Doenitz’s government is to delay capitulation in the east so as to protect the greatest possible number of soldiers and civilians from the terror of the Red Army and to siphon them off to the west. Senior General Jodl tries his utmost to save what still could be saved: 2-3 million Germans could flee ahead of the Soviets. He negotiates with Eisenhower’s chief of staff Bedell Smith for further delay in the east. Eisenhower, blind with hate and politically deranged, brutally smashes this plan, and boasts about it in his “memoirs”:
To us it seemed clear that the Germans were playing for time so that they could transfer behind our lines the largest possible number of German soldiers still in the field. I told General Smith to inform Jodl that unless they instantly ceased all pretense and delay I would close the entire Allied front and would, by force, prevent any more German refugees from entering our lines. I would brook no further delay in the matter. [Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe 426]
On 1 May 1945 the American radio-station gave the answer to the Grand Admiral’s declaration with the cynical assertion from Eisenhower’s headquarters that “it is one of the familiar Nazi tricks to drive a wedge between Eisenhower and his Russian allies.” Senior General Jodl is forced to sign the surrender-document immediately. Additionally Eisenhower repeats to him his threat:
“You will, officially and personally, be held responsible if the terms of this surrender are violated, including its provisions for German commanders to appear in Berlin at the moment set by the Russian high command to accomplish formal surrender to that government.” [Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe 426]
Thus all hopes are smashed. Stalin can be satisfied with his democratic colleagues.
The Wehrmacht has capitulated, but not yet the Reich’s Government. The German Reich continues to exist constitutionally and under International Law. Now, regardless of all written and unwritten laws, and despite the de facto and de jure recognition of Karl Doenitz’s government, which so far has been accepted as a party to negotiations, the intention is to eliminate the legitimate representative of the German people.
A gangsters’ action, such as had never been attempted in European history, was being contemplated! The removal of the last government of the Reich by force under humiliating conditions has an historical background with which one must be familiar in order to be able to understand how far the Western prosecutors and judges lowered themselves to become henchmen of Bolshevik interests.
In the Reich’s most difficult hour, a great soldier has assumed responsibility. Only 20 years later is it possible to gauge how correct and necessary his first political decisions were. Beyond German interests, he was trying to defend the destiny of Europe when he offered to the Western powers the chance to shift the Soviet military frontier as far as possible to the east. In his order of the day to the Wehrmacht on 1 May 1945 he proclaimed:
“Our Leader has appointed me his successor as head of state and as supreme commander of the Wehrmacht. I am assuming supreme command over all parts of the Wehrmacht, with the will to continue the fight against the Bolsheviks until the fighting troops and the hundreds of thousands of families of the German east are saved from enslavement or destruction. Against Englishmen and Americans I must continue the fight for as much and for as long as they hinder me in carrying out the struggle against the Bolsheviks.”
In a radio address to the German people on 1 May 1945, Doenitz declared:
“My first task is to save German lives from destruction by the advancing Bolshevik enemy. Only for this purpose does the military struggle continue. For as much and for as long as the attainment of this goal is hindered by the Britons and Americans, we shall also defend ourselves against them and be forced to continue fighting them.
“The Anglo-Americans in that event are continuing the war not for their own peoples but only for the expansion of Bolshevism in Europe.”
In the last days of April, before being named President of the Reich, Grand Admiral Doenitz was visited by Field-Marshals von Bock and von Manstein. Above all Field-Marshal von Manstein emphasized the need systematically to reduce the distance between the eastern and western fronts. The armies should be led in gradual retreat from the east so as to bring them near the Anglo-American lines.
. Bock and Manstein had both been dismissed by Hitler before the end of the war. The fact that they had no command-assignments at the time explains why they in particular were visiting Doenitz.