The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. From that one could draw the conclusion that at that time
Schacht still believed that the crash could be averted. What
reasons did he give for this view?

A. I think, at the time the word "crash" was too strong for
him. Schacht was thinking along the traditional lines of
former governments, though he saw that here and there a
change had come about, especially since Bruening's time,
through emergency laws and certain dictatorial measures. But
as far as I could see at the time and during all our
subsequent conversations, uppermost in his mind was still
the idea of a Reich government which would meet and pass
resolutions, where the majority of ministers would be
bourgeois, and where at a given moment, which might be
sooner or later, one might steer a radically changed course.

Q. What was his attitude towards Hitler at that time?

A. It was quite clear to me that at that time he still
thought very highly of Hitler. I could say that at that time
Hitler was to him a man of irreproachable integrity.

THE PRESIDENT: What time are you speaking of?

THE WITNESS: I am now speaking of the time of my first
meeting with Schacht at the end of 1934 or the beginning of

Q. What was your profession at that time? Where were you?
Where did you work?

A. I had succeeded in leaving the Reich Ministry of the
Interior in the meantime, but had been transferred to the
Reich Criminal Office, which was in the process of being
formed. When we realised that the Gestapo were extending
their power, we believed we could establish some sort of
police apparatus side by side with the Gestapo, that is, a
purely criminal police. My friend Nebe had been made Chief
of the Reich Criminal Office, so that he could create a
police apparatus from there which would enable us to resist
the Gestapo if need be. The Ministry of the Interior gave me
the task of organisation and sent me to this government
office, then in process of formation, to make suggestions
for its establishment.

Q. We now slowly approach the year 1936 - the year of the
Olympic Games. Did you have a special assignment there?

A. Yes. At the beginning of 1936 it was decided to make me
Chief of Staff of the Police at the Central Police Office on
the occasion of the Olympic Games in Berlin. That was an
entirely non-political and technical affair. Count Helldorf,
who was then Commissioner of Police, thought that because of
my connections with the Ministry of the Interior and the
Ministry of Justice this would be useful. But I was quickly
removed from this position. Heydrich discovered it and

Q. Your book contains a letter from Heydrich, which I don't
propose to read in its entirely. It is addressed to Count
Helldorf and calls his attention to the fact that, during
the time of your office at the Prussian Ministry of the
Interior, you always put every possible difficulty in the
way of the Secret State Police and that their relations with
you had been extremely unpleasant. He continues:

   "I fear that his participation in the police
   preparations for the Olympic
                                                  [Page 223]
   Games, even in this sphere, would not promote co-
   operation with the Secret State Police, and it should
   therefore be considered whether Gisevius should not be
   replaced by another suitable official. Heil Hitler.

Is that the letter which affected your position?

A. Yes. That was the reason why I was dismissed from that
job also. I only had to wait a few more weeks before Himmler
became the Chief of the Police in the Reich, and on the very
day when that happened I was definitely removed from any
kind of police service.

Q. And where did you go?

A. After my discharge from the police service I was sent to
the government in Munster, where I was assigned to the price
control office.

Q. Could you, while in the price control office in Munster,
continue in any way your political work and make the
necessary contacts?

A. Yes. I had plenty of opportunity to make official
journeys. I made a thorough study, not only of prices, but
also of the political situation in the Rhineland and
Westphalia, and went to Berlin nearly every week so as to
keep in touch with my friends.

Q. Were you in touch with Schacht?

A. From that time on I met him very nearly every week.

Q. Did you, from Munster, make contacts with other persons
in prominent positions also, in connection with the work you
were doing?

A. Yes. One of the reasons why I went to Munster was that
the President of the Province (Oberpraesident), Freiherr von
Luening, was a man of the old school - clean, correct, a
professional civil servant - and politically a man who was
keen on justice and order. He, too, ended on the gallows
after the 20 July, 1944.

I also got in touch in Dusseldorf with the District
President, State Secretary Schmidt, and immediately upon my
arrival in Munster I did everything to get in touch with the
commanding general there, von Kluge, who later became Field
Marshal. In this I succeeded. There, too, I tried at once to
continue my old political discussions.

Q. We shall revert to General Kluge later on. I now ask you:
At that time when you were working in Munster, did you
perceive a change in Schacht's attitude towards the regime,
and in his attitude towards Hitler, as distinct from what
you described to the Tribunal as existing in 1934?

A. Yes. By a steady process Schacht withdrew himself farther
and farther from the Nazis. If I were asked to describe the
phases, then I would say at the beginning - that is to say,
in 1935 - he was of the opinion that the Gestapo was the
main evil; that Hitler was the man who was the statesman, or
could at least become the statesman, and that Goering was
the conservative strong man whose services one ought to use
and could use to oppose the terror of the Gestapo and the
State by establishing orderly conditions. I contradicted
Schacht vehemently regarding his views about the defendant
Goering. I warned him. I told him that in my opinion Goering
was the worst of all, precisely because he was hiding under
the middle-class and conservative cloak. I implored him not
to utilize the services of Goering in framing his economic
police since this could only have bad results.

Schacht - for whom much could be said, but not that he is a
good psychologist - contradicted this emphatically, and only
when, in the course of 1936, he began to realise more and
more that Goering was not supporting him against the Party,
but was supporting the radical elements against him, only
then did Schacht's attitude begin to change gradually, and
he came to regard not only Himmler but also Goering as a
great danger. For him Hitler was still the one man with whom
one could frame a policy, provided the majority of the
cabinet could succeed in getting him to come out on the side
of law and order.

                                                  [Page 224]

Q. Are you now talking approximately of the time when
Schacht was handing over the foreign currency control to

A. Yes. That was the moment when I warned him, and when I
said that he became apprehensive about Goering and realised
that he was not supporting him against the radical elements;
that was the time I meant.

Q. By turning over the foreign currency control to Goering
he showed a negative, a yielding attitude, but now that he
was gradually changing his views, did he not have any
positive ideas as to how to bring about a change?

A. Yes. He was entirely taken up with the view, held by many
other people in Germany at that time, I could almost say by
the majority of people in Germany, namely, the view that
everything depended on strengthening the middle class
influence in the cabinet, and that a prerequisite should be
that the Reich Ministry of War, headed by Blomberg, should
be brought over to the side of the middle-class ministers.
Schacht had, if you like to put it that way, the very
constructive idea that one would have to concentrate on the
fight to win over Blomberg, and that was precisely where I
agreed with him, since it was the same battle which I tried
to fight with my friend Oster, in my small department, and
in a far more modest way.

Q. Did he do anything to achieve that end at that time? As a
clue I mention the steps taken by Reise, the Vice-President
of the Reichsbank.

A. Yes. First of all he tried to establish close contact
with the competent expert in the Ministry of War, General
Thomas, who later on became Chief of the Army Economic
Staff. Thomas was a man who, right from the beginning, was
sceptical about National Socialism, or even opposed it. As
by a miracle he later on emerged from the concentration camp
alive. Schacht at that time began to fight for Blomberg
through Thomas. I took part in that fight, because Schacht
used me as an intermediary through Oster, and I was also
informed about these connections through Herbert Goering;
moreover I learned about these things from the many
discussions with Thomas. I can testify here that, even at
that time, it was extraordinarily difficult to establish
connections between Schacht and Blomberg, and I was naive
enough to tell Schacht repeatedly, simply to telephone
Blomberg and ask him for an interview. Schacht replied that
Blomberg would certainly be evasive and that the only way
was to prepare the meeting via Oster and Thomas. This was
done. I know how much we expected from the many discussions
Schacht had with Blomberg. I was, of course, not present as
a witness, but we discussed these conferences in great
detail at the time. I took notes and was very pleased when I
found that these recollections of mine tallied absolutely
with the recollections of Thomas, whose hand-written notes I
have in my possession. Thomas was repeatedly reprimanded by
Blomberg and was told not to bother him with these qualms on
Schacht's part. He was told that Schacht was querulous, and
that he, Thomas -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Is it necessary to go into all
this detail, Dr. Dix?

DR. DIX: Yes, I believe, your Lordship, that it will be
necessary. This change from a convinced follower of Hitler
to a resolute opponent and revolutionary, even a
conspirator, is of course so complicated a psychological
process that I believe that I cannot spare the Tribunal the
details of that development. I shall certainly be economical
with non-essential matters, but I should be grateful if the
witness could be given a certain amount of freedom during
this part of the testimony, as he is the only witness I have
on this subject.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal thinks that you can give
the essence of the matter without giving it in this great
detail. You must try, at any rate, to give as little
unnecessary detail as possible.

DR. DIX: I shall be glad to do that.


Q. Well, then, Dr. Gisevius, you have heard the wish of the
Tribunal, and

                                                  [Page 225]

you will no doubt yourself bring out only the essential

Is there any other essential fact in the affair Blomberg via
Thomas that you wish to state, or can we conclude that

A. No, I shall now try to give a brief description of the
other channels which were tried. I do not know how much the
Tribunal wishes to hear about it. But I will say that
Schacht tried to approach Baron von Fritsch, the Commander-
in-Chief of the Army, but as he was very difficult to
approach, he sent his Reichsbank Vice-President, Reise, to
establish the contact. We also made one big attempt to
approach Fritsch and Blomberg through General von Kluge.

Q. And, briefly, what was the object of that step? What were
the Generals supposed to do. I mean these generals mentioned
by you?

A. This, step had as its object to make it clear to Blomberg
that things were taking a more and more extremist turn, that
the economy of the country had deteriorated, and that the
Gestapo terror must be stopped by all means.

Q. So that at the time there were only misgivings about the
economy and the Gestapo terror - not as yet about the danger
of war?

A. No, only the fear of extremism.

Q. We now turn to 1937. You know that was the year of
Schacht's dismissal as Reich Minister of Economy. Did
Schacht say anything to you as to why he remained in office
as Reichsbank President?

A. Yes. I witnessed in detail the struggle for his release
as Reich Minister of Economy. On the one side there was his
attempt to be released from the Ministry, and I think I am
right in saying that this was not so easy. Schacht told
Lammers one day that if he did not receive the official
notification of his release by a certain date, he would
consider himself dismissed and inform the Press accordingly.
On that occasion scores of people implored Schacht not to
resign. Throughout those years, whenever a man wanted to
resign from office, there was, always the question whether
his successor might not steer an even more radical course.
Schacht was implored not to leave, lest radicalism should
gain the upper hand in the economic field also. I need only
mention the name of Ley, as the head of the labour front.

Schacht replied that he could not carry the responsibility,
but that he hoped he would be able as Reichsbank President
to keep one foot in, as he expressed it. He imagined that he
would be able to have a general view of the overall economic
situation, and that through the Reichsbank he would be able
to maintain certain economic political measures. I can
testify that many men, who later became members of the
opposition, implored Schacht to take that line and to keep
at least one foot in.

Q. Was that decision of his not influenced by his attitude
to and his judgement concerning some of the generals,
particularly General Fritsch?

A. Yes, that is quite right. One of the greatest disasters
was the fact that so many people in Germany imagined that
Fritsch was a strong man. I remember that not only high-
ranking officers, but also high ministerial officials told
me over and over again that there was no need to worry,
Fritsch was on the march; Fritsch was only waiting for the
right moment; Fritsch would one fine day cause a revolt and
end the terror. General von Kluge, for instance, told me
this as a fact, and he was a close friend of Fritsch, and so
we all lived in the completely mistaken belief, as I can say
now, that one day would come the great revolt of the Armed
Forces against the S.S. But instead of this the exact
opposite occurred, namely, the bloodless revolt of the S.S.,
the famous Fritsch crisis, the result of which was that not
only was Fritsch relieved of his post but that the entire
Armed Forces leadership was beheaded, politically speaking,
which meant that now all our hope -

Q. (Interposing) Forgive me if I interrupt you, but we shall
come to the Fritsch crisis later. This crisis was in 1938,
was it not?

A. Yes.

                                                  [Page 226]

Q. I should like to finish speaking about Schacht's efforts
and actions in 1937 and to ask you - it is mentioned in your
book - did not some unsuccessful attempt to approach General
von Kluge and a journey by Schacht to Munster play a part?

A. Yes, I thought I was supposed to be brief about that.
Although Schacht made a great effort to get in touch with
Fritsch, it was not possible to arrange a conversation in
Berlin. It was secretly arranged to meet von Kluge in
Munster as the latter was too scared to meet Schacht
publicly at the time. There was a lot of beating about the
bush and the net result was that the two gentlemen did not
meet at all. It was not possible to bring together a Reich
Minister and a commanding general. It was all most

Q. Where were you at the time? What were you doing? Were you
still at Munster, or was there a change?

A. I was still in Munster at that time, but in the middle of
1937 Schacht wanted me to return to Berlin. The greater his
disappointment, the more he was inclined to take seriously
my warnings against an increasing radicalism and an S.S.

By the autumn of 1937, things in Germany had reached such a
point that everybody in the opposition group felt that evil
plans were being made. We thought at that time that there
would be another bloody 30 June, and we were trying to
protect ourselves. It was Schacht who got in touch with
Canaris through Oster and expressed the wish that I should
be brought back to Berlin by some means or other. At that
time there was no government office which would have given
me a post. I had no other choice but to take a long leave
from the civil service, alleging that I wanted to devote
myself to economic studies. Schacht, in agreement with
Canaris and Oster, arranged for me to be given such a post
in a Bremen factory but I was not allowed to show myself
there, and so I came to Berlin to place myself completely at
the disposal of my friends for future happenings.

DR. DIX: Your Lordship, we are now coming to January, 1938,
and the Fritsch crisis. I do not think that it would be
helpful to interrupt that part of the witness' testimony. If
I may, I would suggest that your Lordship now adjourn the
session, or else we would have to go on at least another

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, we'll adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 25 April, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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