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Wilhelm Keitel

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If you want my own plain opinion about Keitel's orders, I will tell you. They were the orders of a stupid follower of Hitler. I myself paid very little attention to them and I think any attempt to justify his orders would be a mistake on the part of those of us who are steeped in military tradition and good conduct. I trust you will not quote me on these observations. I knew Keitel fairly well and I think that he is a decent person. It was simply that Hitler wanted a weak general in that powerful position in order to be able to have complete control of him. If I had held Keitel's position under Hitler, I wouldn't have lasted two weeks.
--
Ewald von Kleist, to Leon Goldensohn, June 12, 1946

 
Wilhelm Keitel

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No one. That was the difficulty of my position. Any day something might happen to me. Himmler told me at the end of April 1945, after I had held a conference with the Zionist leader in Sweden, that he felt sorry for what he had done in his life, regretted his sneakiness toward other people, and excused himself for that. He said, to quote Himmler from my memory: 'If I had only listened to you, Schellenberg, in 1943, there still would have been time to do something for the German people.' I always had the impression that Himmler was under the influence of Hitler. Himmler was suggestible - could easily have been under the influence of Hitler. Himmler conspired with me too much for it to be true that Hitler was under Himmler's influence. Himmler and I plotted against Hitler too much for that. Toward the end of 1943 Himmler actually talked with me about killing Hitler. That was the danger in my position. Should someone change his mind, it would be the end of me. It became even more obvious after the Attentat of July 20, 1944, when Kaltenbrunner worked more and more closely with Hitler. Kaltenbrunner conspired against Himmler.

 
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He was interested mainly, I might say, solely in his personal standing with Hitler. He spent hours and days drafting letters of protest about Goebbels' interference in his affairs - merely because he was jealous of maintaining his prestige. Ribbentrop had an abnormal desire for rank and position. He wanted personal influence and good standing with Hitler. He did not want anybody to be closer to Hitler than himself. In this way he was unlike Himmler, who, I am convinced, wanted military power. Ribbentrop wanted to satisfy his own vanity. He is a very superficial man.

 
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Warlimont became renowned, with Keitel and Jodl, as one of the German officers most loyal to Hitler and was accordingly sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment in 1949 as a minor war criminal...

 
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The Tribunal is satisfied that Matsui knew what was happening. He did nothing, or nothing effective to abate these horrors. He did issue orders before the capture of the city enjoining propriety of conduct upon his troops and later he issued further orders to the same purport. These orders were of no effect as is now known, and as he must have known. It was pleaded in his behalf that at this time he was ill. His illness was not sufficient to prevent his conducting the military operations of his command nor to prevent his visiting the City for days while these atrocities were occurring. He was in command of the Army responsible for these happenings. He knew of them. He had the power, as he had the duty, to control his troops and to protect the unfortunate citizens of Nanking. He must be held criminally responsible for his failure to discharge this duty.

 
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Keitel, Jodl and Warlimont had never been in the war....Their lack of fighting experience tended to make them underrate practical difficulties, and encourage Hitler to believe that things could be done that were quite impossible...

 
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