On 4 October the Cabinet were informed that the Russians and the US representatives on the inter-Allied Commission for the prosecution of war crimes had proposed that the German General Staff should be indicted as a criminal organisation so that, if the case against the German General Staff as a whole were proved, individual members of that staff could be dealt with as war criminals if it could be proved that they had been members of that organisation. The UK Government was willing for Generals Keitel and Jodl to be indicted individually but considered that an indictment of the entire General Staff could be met by the defence that they had only been carrying out the orders of their government.
The following extracts give a flavour of what was said in Cabinet:
R. & U.S. insist on indictg. G. general staff. Ques: is it desirable to indict the High Command as such, not individuals. They were carrying out orders of Govt. We were incldg. Keitel & Jodl as individuals. But acc. to voting under W. Cr. Agreemt.,
2 will carry it.
Critical sitn y´day. We opposed because not a group or organn &
because orders of Govt. But U.S. say some evce tht. pre-war
G. general staff diverted money to Nazi party funds.
U.S. attitude due to U.S. newspp. pressure.
If shown tht. G. genls. gave orders involvg. brutality etc., we shd be
ill-advised to oppose.
On what lines are they to be indicted?
Group declared criminal: then indivs. to be indicted for membership
U.S. idea = proceed thus v. G. genl. staff. as a crim. organn.
Under Agreemt. majority decides on trial. If U,S, & R. favour it,
we can´t stop it.
Propose we acquiesce. Agreed.
Taken from C.M. 38(45) - Meeting held on 4 October 1945.