The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/10/05

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CAPTAIN SPRECHER: May it please the Tribunal, it is my
responsibility and my privilege to present today the case on
the individual responsibility of the defendant Hans
Fritzsche for Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes
against Humanity as they relate directly to the Common Plan
or Conspiracy.

With the permission of the Tribunal, it is planned to make
this presentation in three principal divisions:

First, a short listing of the various positions held by the
defendant Fritzsche in the Nazi State.

Second, a discussion of Fritzsche's conspiratorial
activities within the Propaganda Ministry from 1933 through
the attack on the Soviet Union.

Third, a discussion of Fritzsche's connection, as a Nazi
propagandist, with the atrocities and the ruthless
occupation policy which formed a part of the Common Plan or

In listing Fritzsche's positions, it is not intended, at
first, to describe their functions. Later on, in describing
some of Fritzsche's conspiratorial acts, I shall take up a
discussion of some of these positions which he held.

Fritzsche's party membership and his various positions in
the propaganda apparatus of the Nazi State are shown by two
affidavits by Fritzsche himself, Document 2976-PS, which is
already in evidence as Exhibit USA 20; and Document 3469-PS,
which I offer in evidence as Exhibit USA 721. Both of these
affidavits have been put into the four working languages of
this Tribunal.

Fritzsche became a member of the Nazi Party on 1 May, 1933,
and he continued to be a member until the collapse in 1945.
He began his services with the staff of the Reich Ministry
for People's Enlightenment and Propaganda - hereinafter
referred to as the Propaganda Ministry - on the 1 May, 1933,
and he remained within the Propaganda Ministry until the
Nazi downfall.

Before the Nazis seized political power in Germany, and
beginning in September 1932, Fritzsche was head of the
Wireless News Service, Drahtloser Dienst, an agency of the
Reich Government at that time under the defendant von Papen.
After the Wireless News Service was incorporated into the
Propaganda Ministry of Dr. Goebbels in May 1933, Fritzsche
continued as its head until the year 1938. Upon entering the
Propaganda Ministry in May 1933, Fritzsche also became head
of the news section of the Press Division of the Propaganda
Ministry. He continued in this position until 1937. In the
summer of 1938, Fritzsche was appointed deputy to one Alfred
Ingemar Berndt, who was then head of the German Press

The German Press Division, in the indictment, is called the
Home Press Division. Since "German Press Division " seems to
be a more literal translation, we have called it the German
Press Division throughout this presentation. It is sometimes
otherwise known as the Domestic Press Division.

We shall show later that this Division was the major section
of the Press Division of the Reich Cabinet.

Now, in December 1938, Fritzsche succeeded Berndt as the
head of the German Press Division. Between 1938 and November
1942, Fritzsche was promoted three times. He advanced in
title from Superior Government Counsel to Ministerial
Counsel, then to Ministerial Assistant Director, and finally
to Ministerial Director.

In November, 1942, Fritzsche was relieved of his position as
head of the

                                                   [Page 79]

German Press Division by Dr. Goebbels, and accepted, from
Dr. Goebbels, a newly created position in the Propaganda
Ministry, that of Plenipotentiary for the Political
Organisation of the Greater German Radio. At the same time
he also became head of the Radio Division of the Propaganda
Ministry. He held both these positions in radio until the
Nazi downfall.

There are two allegations of the Indictment concerning
Fritzsche's positions, for which we are unable to offer
proof. These allegations appear at Page 34 of the English

The first unsupported allegation states that Fritzsche was
"Editor-in-Chief of the official German News Agency,
Deutsche Nachrichten Buro." The second unsupported
allegation states that Fritzsche was "head of the Radio
Division of the Propaganda Department of the Nazi Party."

Fritzsche, in his affidavit, denies having held either of
these positions, and therefore these two allegations must
fall for want of proof.

Before discussing the documentation of the case, I wish, in
passing, to state my appreciation of the assistance in
research, analysis, and translation given to me by Mr.
Norbert Halpern, Mr. Alfred Booth, and Lieutenant
Niebergall, who sits at my right.

The Tribunal will note the relative shortness of this
document book. It has been marked as document book MM. It
contains only 32 pages, which have been numbered
consecutively, I believe in red pencil, for your
convenience. The shortness of the documentation on this
particular case is possible only because of a long affidavit
made by the defendant Fritzsche, which was signed by him on
the 7 January 1946.

It seems appropriate to comment on this significant document
before proceeding. It is before your Honours as Document
3469-PS, beginning at document book, Page 19.

As I said, it has been translated into the four working
languages of this proceeding.

This affidavit contains materials which have been extracted
from interrogations of Fritzsche, and many materials which
Fritzsche volunteered to give himself, at my request,
through his defence counsel, Dr. Fritz. Some of the portions
of the final affidavit were originally typed or hand-written
by the defendant Fritzsche himself, during this trial or
during the holiday recess. All these materials were finally
incorporated into one single affidavit.

This affidavit contains Fritzsche's account of the events
which led to his entering the Propaganda Ministry and his
account of his later connections with that Ministry. Before
Fritzsche made some of the statements in the affidavit
concerning the role of propaganda in relation to important
foreign political events, he was shown illustrative
headlines and articles from the German Press at that time,
so that he could refresh his recollection and make more
accurate statements.

It is believed that the Tribunal will desire to consider
many portions of this affidavit, independent of this
presentation, along with the proof on the conspirators' use
of propaganda as a principal weapon in the conspiracy. Some
of this proof, you will recall, was submitted by Major
Wallis, in the first days of this trial, in connection with
Brief E, entitled "Propaganda, Censorship and Supervision of
the Cultural Activities," and the corresponding document
book, to which I call the Tribunal's attention.

In the Fritzsche affidavit there are a number of statements
which I would say were in the nature of defensive
declarations. With respect to these, the prosecution
requests only that the Tribunal consider them in the light
of the whole conspiracy and the indisputable facts which
appear throughout the record. The prosecution did not feel,
either as a matter of expediency or of fairness, that it
should request Fritzsche, through his defence Counsel, Dr.
Fritz, to

                                                   [Page 80]

remove some of these defensive declarations at this time,
and submit them later in connection with his defence.

Since I shall refer to this affidavit at numerous times
throughout the presentation, perhaps the members of the
Tribunal will wish to place a special marker in their
document book.

By referring to paragraphs 4 and 5 of the affidavit, the
Tribunal will note that Fritzsche first became a successful
journalist in the service of the Hugenberg Press, the most
important chain of newspaper enterprises in pre-Nazi
Germany. The Hugenberg concern owned papers of its own, but
was primarily important because it served newspapers which
principally supported the so-called "national" parties of
the Reich, including the NSDAP.

In paragraph 5 of the affidavit, Fritzsche relates that in
September 1932, when the defendant von Papen was Reich
Chancellor, he was made head of the Wireless News Service,
replacing someone who was politically unbearable to the
Papen regime. The Wireless News Service I might say, was a
government agency for spreading news by radio.

Fritzsche began making radio broadcasts at about this time,
with very great success, a success which Goebbels
recognised, and was later to exploit very efficiently on
behalf of these Nazi conspirators.

The Nazis seized power on 30 January 1933. From paragraph 10
of the Fritzsche affidavit we find that that very evening,
30 January 1933, two emissaries from Goebbels visited
Fritzsche. One of them was Dressler-Andrees, head of the
Radio Division of the NSDAP; the other was an assistant of
Dressler-Andrees named Sadila-Mantau. These two emissaries
notified Fritzsche that although Goebbels was angry with
Fritzsche for writing a critical article concerning Hitler,
still he recognised Fritzsche's public success on the radio
since the previous autumn. They stated further that Goebbels
desired to retain Fritzsche as head of the Wireless News
Service on certain conditions: (1) That Fritzsche discharge
all Jews; (2) that he discharge all other personnel who
would not join the NSDAP; and (3) that he employ with the
Wireless News Service Goebbels' second emissary, Sadila-

Fritzsche refused all these conditions except the hiring of
Sadila-Mantau. This was one of the first ostensible
compromises, after the seizure of power, which Fritzsche
made on his road to the Nazi camp.

Fritzsche continued to make radio broadcasts during this
period, in which he supported the National-Socialist
Coalition Government then still existing.

In early 1933 SA troops several times called at the Wireless
News Service, and Fritzsche prevented them, with some
difficulty, from making news broadcasts.

In April 1913 Goebbels called the young Fritzsche to him for
a personal audience. At paragraph 9 of his affidavit,
document 3469-PS, Fritzsche has volunteered the following
concerning his prior relationships with Dr. Goebbels:

  "I had known Dr. Goebbels since 1928. Apparently he had
  taken a liking to me, besides the fact that in my Press
  activities I had always treated the National Socialists
  in a friendly way until 1931.
  Already before 1933, Goebbels, who was the editor of the
  'Attack' in (Der Angriff) - a Nazi newspaper, had
  frequently made flattering remarks about the form and
  content of the work which I had done as contributor of
  many 'National' newspapers and periodicals, among which
  were also reactionary papers and periodicals."

At the first Goebbels-Fritzsche discussion in early April
1933, Goebbels informed Fritzsche of his decision to place
the Wireless News Service within the Propaganda Ministry as
from 1 May 1933. He suggested that Fritzsche make certain
rearrangements in the personnel, which would remove Jews and

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other persons who did not support NSDAP. Fritzsche debated
with Goebbels concerning some of these steps. It must be
said that during this period Fritzsche made some effort to
place Jews in other jobs.

In a second conference with Goebbels, shortly thereafter,
Fritzsche informed him about the steps he had taken in
reorganising the Wireless News Service. Goebbels thereupon
informed Fritzsche that he would like him to reorganise and
modernise the entire news service of Germany, within the
controls of the Propaganda Ministry.

It will be recalled by the Tribunal that on 17 of March
1933, approximately two months before this time, the
Propaganda Ministry had been formed by decree - 1933
Reichsgesetzblatt, Part 1, Page 104; our document 2029-PS.

Fritzsche was intrigued by the Goebbels offer. He proceeded
to conclude the Goebbels-inspired reorganisation of the
Wireless News Service and, on 1 May, 1933, together with the
remaining members of his staff, he joined the Propaganda
Ministry. On the same day he joined the NSDAP and took the
customary oath of unconditional loyalty to the Fuehrer. From
this time on, whatever reservations Fritzsche may have had,
either then or later, to the course of events under the
Nazis, he was completely within the Nazi camp. For the next
13 years he assisted in creating and in using the chief
propaganda devices which the conspirators employed with such
telling effect in each of the principal phases of this

From 1933 until 1942 Fritzsche held one or more positions
within the German Press Division. For four years, indeed, he
headed this Division, during those crucial years 1938 to
1942. That covers the period when the Nazis undertook actual
military invasions of neighbouring countries. It is,
therefore, believed appropriate to spell out in some detail,
before this Tribunal, the functions of this German Press
Division. These functions will show the important and unique
position of the German Press Division as an instrument of
the Nazi conspirators, not only in dominating the minds and
the psychology of Germans through the German Press Division
and through the radio, but also as an instrument of foreign
policy and psychological warfare against other nations.

The already broad jurisdiction of the Propaganda Ministry
was extended by a Hitler decree of 30 June, 1933, found in
1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part 1, Page 449. From that decree I
wish to quote only one sentence. It is found in Document
2030-PS, Page 3 in your document book:

   "The Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and
   Propaganda has jurisdiction over the whole field of
   spiritual indoctrination of the nation, and the State,
   of cultural, and economic propaganda, and of
   enlightenment of the public at home and abroad.
   Furthermore, he is in charge of the administration of
   all institutions serving those purposes."

It is important to underline the stated propaganda objective
of "enlightenment at home and abroad."

For a clear exposition of the general functions of the
German Press Division of the Propaganda Ministry, the
Tribunal is referred to Document 2434-PS, Document book Page
5. It is offered in evidence as Exhibit USA 722. This
document is an appropriate excerpt from a book by George
Wilhelm Muller, a Ministerial Director in the Propaganda
Ministry, of which the Tribunal is asked to take judicial

Fritzsche's affidavit, paragraphs 14, 15, and 16, beginning
at Page 22 of your document book, contains an exposition of
the functions of the German Press Division, a description
which confirms and adds to the exposition in Muller's book.

Concerning the German Press Division, Fritzsche's affidavit

   "During the whole period from 1933 to 1945 it was the
   task of the German Press Division to supervise the
   entire domestic Press, and to provide

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it with directives by which this division became an
efficient instrument in the hands of the German State
leadership. More than 2,300 German daily newspapers were
subject to this control. The aim of this supervision and
control, in the first years following 1933, was to change
basically the conditions existing in the Press before the
seizure of power. That meant the co-ordination into the New
Order of those newspapers and periodicals which were in the
service of capitalistic special interests or party politics.
While the administrative functions, wherever possible, were
exercised by the professional associations and the Reich
Press Chamber, the political leadership of the German Press
was entrusted to the German Press Division. The head if
[sic] the German Press Division held daily Press conferences
in the Ministry for the representatives of all German
newspapers. Hereby all instructions were given to
representatives of the Press. These instructions were
transmitted daily, almost without exception, and mostly by
telephone, from headquarters by Dr. Otto Dietrich, Reich
Press Chief, in a fixed statement, the so-called "Daily
Parole of the Reich Press Chief." Before the statement was
fixed the head of the German Press Division submitted to him
- Dietrich - the current Press wishes expressed by Dr.
Goebbels and by other Ministries. This was the case
especially with the wishes of the Foreign Office, about
which Dr. Dietrich always wanted to make decisions
personally or through his representatives at headquarters,
Helmut Sundermann and chief editor Lorenz. The practical use
of the general directions in detail was thus left entirely
to the individual work of the individual editor. Therefore,
it is by no means true that the newspapers and periodicals
were a monopoly of the German Press Division, or that essays
and leading articles through it had to be submitted to the
Ministry. Even in war periods this happened in exceptional
cases only. The less important newspapers and periodicals,
which were not represented at the daily Press conferences,
received their information in a different way by being
provided either with ready-made articles and reports, or
with a confidential printed instruction. The publications of
all other official agencies were directed and co-ordinated
likewise by the German Press Division. To enable the
periodicals to get acquainted with the daily political
problems of newspapers and to discuss these problems in
greater detail, the "Informationskorrespondenz" was issued
especially for periodicals. Later on it was taken over by
the Periodical Press Division. The German Press Division was
also in charge of pictorial reporting, insofar as it
directed the employment of pictorial reporters at important
events. In this way, and tempered by the current political
situation, the entire German Press was made a permanent
instrument of the Propaganda Ministry by the German Press

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