The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. In what way did Dr. Goebbels confer with his associates?

A. After the war broke out there were daily conferences at
11 a.m., which were presided over by Dr. Goebbels
personally, and at which he gave all necessary propaganda
instructions.

Q. How many people attended these 11 o'clock meetings?

A. At the beginning, that is to say, up to the beginning of
the Russian campaign, about twenty people. Later the circle
grew to about fifty people.

Q. Were there discussions during these conferences or was it
more or less a handing out of orders?

A. There was no discussion during these conferences. First
of all, the liaison officer from the OKW would give a survey
of the military situation, and then Dr. Goebbels would give
his instructions regarding propaganda, mostly for the Press,
the radio, and the newsreels.

Q. Who presided over the conferences when Dr. Goebbels was
not present?

A. Normally the State Secretary.

Q. And who presided when the State Secretary was not there
either?

                                                  [Page 303]

A. Usually Herr Fritzsche, sometimes also the head of the
foreign Press department or the foreign department, but
mostly Herr Fritzsche.

Q. Did Fritzsche in these cases give the daily propaganda
instructions on his own initiative or how was that done?

A. No; if the Minister was not in Berlin, he was kept
informed about news material coming in from abroad. He would
then give the instructions to me or to one of my deputies in
the same way as he did during the conferences. I had to pass
these instructions on by telephone. In Berlin, they were
taken down by stenographers and then read out during the
conference verbatim as instructions coming from the
Minister. One should, moreover, be able to see that from the
minutes of the meetings. They were always called
"Instructions from the Minister."

Q. If Fritzsche used written instructions such as you have
described, which came from Dr. Goebbels, did he not try to
clear up questions which Goebbels had dealt with, by
bringing them up for discussion?

A. When Dr. Goebbels was very far from Berlin, it might
happen that the latest news did not get to him in time. In
these cases Herr Fritzsche would bring things up for
discussion, consider the pros and cons, and then give
instructions on his own initiative. That was then put down
in writing; the Minister read it afterwards and he either
approved it or altered it.

Q. But then, surely, apart from the big conferences with
thirty or fifty people present at which Goebbels gave his
instructions, there must have been more confidential
conferences as well.

A. In the course of the morning, of course, individual
department chiefs also came for official discussions with
the Minister.

Q. Was Fritzsche also called to these more confidential
conferences?

A. Generally, no. The Minister used the conferences at which
all departments were represented to summarize whatever he
had to say for the Press, radio and newsreels. The heads of
those departments whose special functions were not of
interest to the others came for individual conferences.

Q: How often was Herr Fritzsche consulted as compared with,
say, the State Secretaries Hancke, Gutterer and Dr. Naumann?

A. The State Secretaries could always be present during
these individual conferences and so could the personal
experts who were always there. Herr Fritzsche was very
rarely present.

Q. What was the position of the twelve department heads of
the Ministry of Propaganda, one of whom was the defendant
Fritzsche?

A. These department heads can be divided into experts on the
one side, such as, for instance, the head of the budget
department, Dr. Ott, and confirmed Party men on the other
side as, for instance, Herr Berndt. Officially it was quite
impossible for them to consult with one another, as a
department head in a ministry normally does. It was
generally known that the Minister was using them as tools
and that when he did not need them any more he would throw
them out. That did not apply only to the department chiefs;
I remember the unworthy manner in which he threw out State
Secretary Gutterer after the latter had done his job.

Q. The Indictment accuses Fritzsche of having made of
Germany's news agencies, radio and Press instruments that
played an important part in the hands of the so-called
conspirators in carrying out their plans. Was Fritzsche
responsible for the organization of the Press in the
National Socialist State and what can you say to this
charge?

A. When Herr Fritzsche entered the Ministry, this Press
department had been set up and organized for some time.
Moreover, I can also say that even Dr. Goebbels, himself
cannot be regarded as belonging to this circle of
conspirators as defined by the Indictment, for, after all,
he did not want to drive us into war, but always advocated
the conquest of countries without bloodshed.

Q. So that the organization was already set up when
Fritzsche took over the department "German Press" in the
winter of 1938-1939?

                                                  [Page 304]

A. Yes, already completely organized.

Q. As the head of that department was Fritzsche independent?
If not, who was his superior?

A. Unfortunately Fritzsche was not only subordinate as
department chief to Dr. Goebbels, but he also stood between
two fires. On the other side there was the Reich Press
Chief, Dr. Dietrich, and the entire German Press knew about
this split between the two. The Reich Press Chief, as State
Secretary, was at the same time a member of the Ministry of
Propaganda, but in spite of this he demanded the right to be
able to give orders independently in his capacity of Reich
Press Chief. If, therefore, the Minister and the Reich Press
Chief did not agree on a certain point, then it was the
unfortunate chief of the department "German Press" who bore
the brunt of this.

Q. In what way was Fritzsche active in the Press
organization? Did he tighten the fetters or did he try to
loosen them?

A. I have already said that Herr Fritzsche was the only real
expert of any calibre who worked in the Press department. He
knew the needs, the worries and the requirements of the
Press. He knew that an editor could work only if you gave
him a certain amount of freedom, and therefore always and at
every opportunity he fought to have the fetters loosened. He
did much more than was apparent to the outside world, for
the Minister would make such and such a decision, and the
outside world would come to know only what the Minister
wanted.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you think he has answered the question?

Q. Did Dr. Goebbels, have any objections to the way the
Press worked? Was it severe enough for him? Please be very
brief.

A. No, it was not severe and not obdurate enough for him.

Q. And how did Fritzsche react to such demands both with
reference to individual journalists and with reference to
the newspapers as a whole?

A. Again and again, at every opportunity, both during the
conferences presided over by the Minister and at private
meetings with the Minister, he spoke on behalf of the Press
and the journalists and tried to represent their point of
view to the Minister.

Q. Can you mention a few names of journalists or papers whom
Fritzsche tried to protect in the manner described?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Fritz, why should he give the names of
individual journalists and papers? Is it not too detailed to
go into that?

DR. FRITZ: Very well; but Mr. President, may I, in that
case, at least offer an affidavit in connection with this
question as Fritzsche Exhibit 5. It is in my Document Book 2
on Page 22. It comes from the chief editor of the
Frankfurter Zeitung, Dr. Wendelin Hecht, and I should like
to quote it very briefly:

  "I herewith make the following affidavit for submission
  to the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg:
  
  1. It is true that several years prior to a ban against
  the Frankfurter Zeitung the defendant Hans Fritzsche also
  helped to protect it by withholding copies of the
  Frankfurter Zeitung from the Fuehrer's headquarters.
  
  2. In the numerous attacks directed against the
  Frankfurter Zeitung because of its political attitude,
  the defendant Hans Fritzsche repeatedly intervened in
  favour of its continued publication.
  
  Leutkirch, 6th March, 1946. Dr. Wendelin Hecht."

BY DR. FRITZ:

Q. What other influential persons, apart from Dr. Goebbels,
were there in the Ministry of Propaganda?

A. After State Secretary Hancke's departure there was only
one man in the Ministry of Propaganda who had any real
influence on the Minister, only one man

                                                  [Page 305]

with whom Dr. Goebbels had some personal relations, and that
was his first personal expert, Dr. Naumann, who later became
his State Secretary.

Q. Did Fritzsche come to you frequently to learn more about
the Minister's views because the Minister did not inform
him?

A. Very often, because Herr Fritzsche knew that I also had
many private conversations with the Minister and he always
complained that he was left in suspense and all at sea, and
he asked me if I could tell him the Minister's view about
this or that matter. I did succeed in helping him by
occasionally arranging for him to be invited by Dr. Goebbels
to private meetings in which I spoke openly about Herr
Fritzsche's needs.

Q. Did Goebbels keep the radio strictly under his own
control?

A. During the war the radio was for Dr. Goebbels the most
important instrument of propaganda. He did not keep such a
strict watch on any department as he did on the radio
department. At meetings over which he presided he personally
decided the most minute details of the artistic programme.

Q. That is enough, witness. Was Fritzsche really the leading
man of German broadcasting, as he appeared to the outside
world?

A. By no means. The leading man was Dr. Goebbels himself.
Apart from that, Fritzsche here again was between two
stools, because on the other side demands came in from the
Foreign Office with reference to foreign broadcasts.

Q. Was Fritzsche in his radio speeches perhaps too
ineffective for Dr. Goebbels?

A. I myself, by order of the Minister, repeatedly had to
reprimand Fritzsche because the former claimed that his
broadcasts were much too weak.

Q. Did Goebbels also praise him and, if so, in what manner?

A. If, as was often the case, the Minister did praise
Fritzsche -

THE PRESIDENT: We have not any interest in whether Goebbels
praised him.

BY DR. FRITZ:

Q. Then another question: Did defendant Fritzsche ever
contradict the Minister?

A. Herr Fritzsche was one of the few people in the Ministry
of Propaganda who did contradict the Minister, both during
conferences and in his apartment. He was always calm and
determined and often it had a certain effect.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, may I have your permission to draw
your attention at this point to a document, an affidavit by
Scharping, Fritzsche Exhibit 2, which has already been
mentioned frequently. It is at the end of Page 7 and the
beginning of Page 8, in my Document Book 2. Might I perhaps
quote one short sentence:

   "During the so-called ministerial conferences it was
   Fritzsche alone who contradicted Goebbels in political
   questions."

BY DR. FRITZ:

Q. Witness, who was responsible for the definitely erroneous
or exaggerated news in the German Press during the Sudeten
crisis?

A. That was Alfred Ingmar Berndt, the head of that
department. At that time he spent whole nights poring over
General Staff maps, address books and lists of names, and he
used these to manufacture atrocity reports from the
Sudetenland. Herr Fritzsche watched this with anxiety. He
came to me once and asked me "What are we drifting into? Are
we not drifting into war? If only we knew what they at the
top really want and what is behind it all."

Q. And then another question on the same subject. Did
Goebbels in connection with any military or political
actions which were being carried out or were to be carried
out, ever consult beforehand with the defendant Fritzsche?

A. Not only did he not consult with Herr Fritzsche but with
nobody else either. The Minister never had any such
consultations.

                                                  [Page 306]

Q. Fritzsche states that he did not hear of Dr. Goebbels's
instigation of the anti-Semitic excesses in November, 1938,
until much later, and that he heard of it then only through
a remark made by Dr. Goebbels. That does not sound very
credible, because, after all, defendant Fritzsche was a
close associate of Dr. Goebbels.

Can you give us an explanation?

A. In 1938 not all of us in the Ministry realised that Dr.
Goebbels was the instigator. During the night in question
Dr. Goebbels was not in Berlin. As far as I remember, just
before that he had been to see the Fuehrer and he was still
in Southern Germany. The conversation which you have just
mentioned did not take place until the middle of the war. It
took place at Lancke, where the Minister had a house, and it
was on an occasion when Herr Fritzsche had been invited.
Someone put the direct question to the Minister as to the
cause of these excesses of November, 1938. Thereupon Dr.
Goebbels. said that the National Socialist economic
leadership had come to the conclusion that the elimination
of Jewry from Germany's economy could not be carried out
further -

Q. Witness, excuse me, that is enough. We have heard about
it already today. Did Fritzsche later on - I believe it is
supposed to have been in June, 1944 - talk to you about his
general attitude toward the Jewish problem?

A. In May or June, 1944, I talked to Fritzsche in his
apartment about the fact that on the day of these outrages
he had said to me: "Schirrmeister, can one go on with this
sort of thing and still be a decent human being?" And then
Herr Fritzsche said to me: "You know, admittedly, I have
always been against the Jews, but only in the way that some
of the Jews also were." And he mentioned a Jewish newspaper,
I believe the C.V. Newspaper.

Q. That is enough, witness. Then how do you explain
Fritsche's anti-Semitic statements in various of his radio
speeches?

A. They had been ordered by the Minister. We had seen from
the British Press that a certain anti-Semitic current in
Britain was growing, but a law in England stopped this from
appearing in the papers. Now the Minister tried to find a
common factor against which our propaganda abroad could be
directed. This common factor was the Jew.

To give support to the foreign propaganda from the Reich,
Herr Fritzsche received orders that in Germany, too, he
should touch upon this subject in some of his broadcasts.

THE PRESIDENT: How long do you think you will be in
concluding the case of the defendant Fritzsche?

DR. FRITZ: I think three-quarters of an hour at the most,
Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, after that the Tribunal will
continue the case of the defendant Bormann until I o'clock
tomorrow.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 29th June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)


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