The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-19/tgmwc-19-186.01

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-19/tgmwc-19-186.01
Last-Modified: 2000/10/18

                                                  [Page 339]


THURSDAY, 25th JULY, 1946

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will sit on now until one
o'clock without any interruption.

I have an announcement to make.

When counsel for the defendant Hess first made his argument,
the Tribunal directed that he should rewrite it and submit
it for the Tribunal's consideration as he had continually
disregarded the Tribunal's directives that the alleged
unfairness of the Versailles Treaty should not be argued.

The argument as now rewritten by Dr. Seidl has been
carefully considered by the Tribunal. It still contains many
allusions to the unfairness of the Versailles Treaty,
irrelevant material, quotations not authorized by the
Tribunal and other matters which have nothing to do with the
issues before the Tribunal. The Tribunal has therefore
deleted the objectionable passages and has directed the
general secretary to hand a marked copy containing the
deletions to Dr. Seidl.

That is all.

The Tribunal directs Dr. Seidl to get in touch with the
general secretary's representative. He will then see the
passages which the Tribunal considers objectionable.

Now, Dr. Fritz.

DR. FRITZ (counsel for defendant Fritzsche): Mr. President,
gentlemen of the Tribunal.

Yesterday afternoon I concluded my statement in response to
the charge that the defendant Fritzsche was guilty of a
crime against peace. Now I continue on Page 32 of my

The next group of accusations levelled against the defendant
is for instance characterised by such terms as: incitement
against Jews, incitement against foreign nations, incitement
for purposes of exploiting occupied territories, propaganda
for the "master race".

On the witness stand Fritzsche made a declaration which
represents a summary of the knowledge he gained after the
collapse and above all here in Court. It ran as follows: "An
ideology in whose name five million people were murdered
must not be permitted to survive this event." Now to what
extent did Fritzsche make propaganda for this anti-Semitism?
Could he, by doing so, foresee the murder? Did he approve of
it or at least accept it as inevitable? The prosecution went
very far in its assertions. It imputed that Streicher, as
"the chief Jew-baiter of all time", could hardly have
surpassed Fritzsche in his defamation of Jews. Fritzsche
defended himself against this accusation - and rightfully in
my opinion. A mere comparison of the slogans from the
arsenal of anti-Semitism", which Mr. Griffith-Jones read for
hours, from excerpts from Der Sturmer at the session of 10th
January, 1946, with Fritzsche's statements submitted here by
the prosecution, justifies this very clearly. Fritzsche,
supported by the affidavit of Scharping dated 17th May,
1946, was able to point out what actions he unleashed
against this paper. It must also be noted here that the
language and arguments of Der Sturmer found no echo in any
German newspaper or at a single broadcasting station of even
the National Socialist regime.

                                                  [Page 340]

Before the war, Fritzsche carried on no anti-Semitic
propaganda of any kind. All utterances and statements of his
submitted by the prosecution originated during the war. They
are, however, not directed against the Jews as a people or
as a race, but are related only to the question of the
origin of the war. They were merely casual, polemical
remarks on the Jewish question in the propaganda battle
which was fought in this war alongside the battle of arms.
This explains the fact that the radio addresses submitted by
the prosecution never contain more than casual remarks and
never speak of the Jews alone. Every one of his radio
speeches may be examined in this respect. Nor does there
exist a speech by him which dealt exclusively with the so-
called "Jewish problem". He never undertook to talk on such
a subject. Fritzsche always spoke at the same time of
"Plutocrats", "Bolshevists", "Democrats", and used other
such phrases by means of which the propaganda of the Third
Reich felt obliged to conduct its fight. During his
interrogation he dealt in detail with each of the radio
addresses submitted in the trial, and discussed the reason
he had each time for making his merely incidental remarks on
this subject. An examination of all of his statements over
the radio would show that of all the fundamental propaganda
subjects of Nazi ideology, Fritzsche mentioned and advocated
anti-Semitism least of all.

This takes all foundation from the conclusion of the
prosecution. For there cannot be any connection between such
rare statements on the part of Fritzsche and the murder
order given by Hitler. I therefore expressly protest against
the accusation that Fritzsche be considered more guilty than
those credulous men who carried out the shootings.

In the course of this trial, we have heard many testimonies
as to what secret and ultra-secret means and methods were
used by the really guilty ones to carry out this horrible
murder. So many testimonies cannot be put aside as
irrelevant and unreliable. Contrary to former assumptions,
this trial should have made it clear that there existed only
a small group of instigators and abettors. It has not been
proved in the least that a man like Fritzsche belonged to
this closest circle of Hitler's despotism. The trial has
even shown that he only made the acquaintance of the
majority of his co-defendants here in the dock.

To draw such far-reaching conclusions against Fritzsche
would necessarily lead to the assumption that everybody who
took a public stand for anti-Semitism as such, if only with
reservations, bears the same criminal guilt. The extent of
the moral guilt is much greater. But we are concerned with
it only in so far as the moral guilt is identical with the
criminal guilt. And therefore there is no need to discuss
here how far a mere error - even a political one - may at
the same time become immoral. The accusation, however, of
being co-responsible for these murders was an especially
deep blow to Fritzsche.

With regard to this it might be objected that, although
Fritzsche did not maintain very close relations to his chief
Goebbels and to the other heads of the news service, he was
yet one of those persons who had access to the foreign Press
and radio news. This is perhaps the reason why Fritzsche is
accused of having had knowledge of almost everything that
happened during Hitler's rule.

Fritzsche was able to state on the witness stand, while
giving many details, that even with this opportunity his
good faith was not shaken in the decisive - perhaps also
moral - questions. Just as little as his profession as
journalist gave him the opportunity to follow rumours up for
himself, did this enable him to realize what was actually
happening? The barriers which had been erected around the
misdeeds could not, however, be broken down by him through
these means.

With regard to foreign reports on atrocities and other
misdeeds, Fritzsche, as well as von Schirrmeister, and
especially Dr. Scharping, has stated that the examination by
the office "Deutscher Schnelldienst" (German express news
service), which was carried out in all cases, resulted time
and again in official replies which eliminated doubts as to
the inaccuracy of such statements from abroad. This office,
the "Deutscher Schnelldienst" (German express news service)
- which

                                                  [Page 341]

had an entirely different significance from that claimed by
the prosecution - was a control agency created especially by
Fritzsche in order to have foreign news tested as to the
truth of the contents through inquiry at the competent
German official agencies. If the defence had succeeded in
submitting the records of this "Schnelldienst" to the
Tribunal, documentary evidence could have been offered in
every detail for the way in which German authorities
answered inquiries of this kind.

For instance, the RSHA knew in a masterly way how to make
its replies sound credible. The foreign propaganda, which
was to serve a definite purpose, could in comparison lay no
claim to a greater power of persuasion. This all the more
since the enemy propaganda in war time also produced, of
course, really incorrect reports, of which fact Fritzsche
was often able to convince himself.

Furthermore, Fritzsche has been accused of advocating the
doctrine of the "master race".

The only statement by Fritzsche himself which the
prosecution submitted in regard to this point shows clearly
that Fritzsche neither championed nor promoted such an idea,
that on the contrary, he expressly rejected it. An
examination of the quotation presented by the prosecution
does not leave any doubt about it. Beyond that the hearing
of evidence - the witness von Schirrmeister and the
affidavit of Dr. Scharping - has shown that Fritzsche
prohibited the use of the word "master race" for Press and
radio altogether, Fritzsche himself under oath termed this
assertion nonsensical. Therefore, after thorough examination
of all obtainable speeches by Fritzsche, I can only state
that this charge is untrue. Nothing is changed in regard to
this statement by the fact that Foss and Stabel judged
differently without giving any concrete facts. I have
already dealt with the value of those documents as evidence.

Fritzsche allegedly stirred up hatred against foreign

To prove this serious charge, the prosecution emphasized
several excerpts from two of Fritzsche's radio addresses
which were given on 5th and 10th July, 1941. In order to be
able to understand correctly the circumstances underlying
the speeches, one must take into consideration the dates on
which they were made. They were made shortly after the
attack on the Soviet Union. He is not charged with any
further statements - made for instance at a later time - or
similar ones which might lead one to suppose some systematic
line of thought. When the passages cited by the prosecution
were supplemented by the full text of the speeches and by
the examination of Fritzsche on the witness stand, it was
shown that Fritzsche did not slander the Soviet Union in
them. Neither could what had led up to these speeches have
given him any reason to stir up hatred against that country.
They were delivered shortly after German sources, and in
particular war correspondents, had reported atrocities in
towns in Galicia which had been conquered by German troops.
These were things which were reported everywhere in Germany
- and also by foreign correspondents - in print, pictures
and motion pictures. In this respect there, was an
especially great volume of material and in his speeches
Fritzsche expressly referred to it. Fritzsche's statements
reflect the agitation of the German public over these
reports, and he pointed to those presumed to be guilty of
the atrocities.

The facts as such were also confirmed by the Russians. The
latter added, however, that not the Russians, but the
Germans were guilty of these actions. What happened was only
that on the basis of undeniable facts a controversy had
flared up as to the responsibility just as happened later in
the famous case of Katyn - in which both sides morally
condemned the instigators.

In neither of those speeches, as an examination of their
entire contents would reveal, did Fritzsche designate entire
nations as inferior or sub-human. Phrases about "sub-
humanity" referred only to those culprits whom in real
indignation he pilloried as morally contemptible. He could
believe the proofs presented by the Germans, and therefore
there is no reason to assume that at the time he

                                                  [Page 342]

delivered the speeches he could have predicted what actually
happened in the East much later. Therefore, there could not
have existed any intention on his part to stir up his
audience to engage in similar actions. It is impossible to
establish any causative connection on the basis of two such
words he had spoken, once.

The same is true of the excerpts from a speech of 29th
August, 1939, which General Rudenko read to him during his
cross-examination. That broadcast also refers to atrocities
committed shortly before the outbreak of the war in Bromberg
and concerning which, on the day of the speech - that being
the reason for it - an official White Book had been
published. It contained a short account of the results of an
investigation of those atrocities. Only the guilty ones were
designated by Fritzsche as inferior human beings. But it is
not justifiable to generalise this opinion to such an extent
as though he had designated the entire Polish nation as
inferior. Fritzsche considered the representation in the
official White Book as correct. He could not have doubted
the fact that Poles had killed Germans. However, no word in
that speech allows for the conclusion to be drawn that he
took the opportunity or even suggested that the Slavic
nations be exterminated. Fritzsche no more than the German
people could imagine anything like it at that time.

General Rudenko attempted in his cross-examination to prove
that my client had made false statements. For that purpose
an excerpt from his broadcast of 2nd May, 1940, was
presented to him. This is the example I mentioned before as
proof of the insufficiency of such evidence in general. In
it Fritzsche gives a description of the towns, villages and
hamlets in Norway which he had visited shortly before, and
which had been spared by the war: The Russian Prosecutor
pointed to the official report of the Norwegian Government
enumerating the damages caused by the war. Thus the
impression was created that Fritzsche had lied to his
audience. The full contents of that speech show, however,
that the quoted sentences regarding undamaged houses in
Norway stand directly next to other sentences in which
Fritzsche himself depicts the destruction caused by the
fighting in Norway. The speech does not contain a lie if
Fritzsche reported in it that in other parts of the country
he visited, not the slightest trace of fighting was found.
His description, therefore, is not in the slightest
contradiction to the Norwegian Government report.

At this point, I should like to insert a few remarks about
the case of the Athenia and the part that Fritzsche played
in this connection. This case shows to what extent Fritzsche
was at pains not to re-transmit reports until they were
proved to be true and reliable. But it shows also how
dependent Fritzsche was on the version of the official
German offices. This is evidence of his good faith, for it
seemed natural to him, and he took it for granted, that
official announcements were to be believed without
questioning, and this conviction could not at that time be

That particular article in the Volkischer Beobachter, dated
23rd October, 1939, has been rightly described in this trial
by all parties as contemptible. Now, Fritzsche also engaged
in polemics on this point in sharp although not similar
terms. I take the liberty of pointing out that such remarks
could be morally condemned only if Fritzsche had known
beforehand that it was actually a German submarine which
sank the Athenia. But as he has testified under oath, this
fact first became known to Fritzsche here in Nuremberg in
December, 1945. Before that, he was precisely the person
from whom this decisive circumstance was withheld, although
he had, through the naval liaison officer, undertaken
investigations at the Naval Supreme Headquarters and other
official sources within the Ministry of Propaganda
concerning foreign reports on the matter.

To support the charge that Fritzsche instigated the ruthless
pillage of the occupied territories, the only evidence
submitted is a statement made on 9th October, 1941. In this,
a passage from a public speech made by Hitler a few days
before is reproduced. I have been at great pains to find an
instigation to

                                                  [Page 343]

ruthless pillage of occupied territories in this quotation
as well as in the remarks made by Fritzsche about it in his
radio address. It is inexplicable to me how one sentence or
other can possibly convey anything to this effect. I can
only assume that it is a case of a misunderstanding and
leave it for the Tribunal to judge.

In no other connection has Fritzsche spoken a word or given
a hint to this effect and, least of all, openly called for
such a thing. Moreover, it is to be gathered from Dr.
Scharping's affidavit dated 17th May, 1946, that the use of
any kind of coercive means against other nations would have
run counter to the purpose of his whole work, including that
within the Propaganda Ministry, namely to gain the voluntary
co-operation of the European populations.

It has also not been proved that Fritzsche really knew about
the manner in which foreign workers were actually recruited.
I would point out that the defendant Sauckel stated that he
had only one brief and unofficial talk with Fritzsche and
that in the beginning of 1945. In his affidavit, Fritzsche
further gave exhaustive details also on the fact that he
obtained extensive material from the competent authorities
to be brought to the attention of the German public, in
which the voluntary character of the recruitment of workers
for employment in Germany was continually pointed out. It is
not to be, assumed that any other information concerning
this was given to the Minister of Propaganda than that given
by Sauckel in his report to Hitler.

Moreover, nothing has proved that Fritzsche approved or used
for propaganda purposes the violations of International Law,
already committed or intended, such as the so-called
Commissar Order, or the lynching of enemy aviators who had
been brought down. As regards the Commissar Order, the
Russian prosecution charged that the defendant as a soldier,
as a member of the 6th Army, received knowledge of this
decree. This has been confirmed by Fritzsche. He could,
however, point out that his attitude had not only been
passive, he even, and this must be noted, took a successful
stand against this by way of proposals to his Commander-in-
Chief, the witness Paulus. General Rudenko's charge that in
spite of this he remained in Hitler's service, although he
most certainly must have assumed that Hitler was the author
of such an order contrary to International Law, is not a
reason for accusing Fritzsche as a propagandist, or even as
far as his ethics are concerned.

Gentlemen! If such an accusation with a criminal legal
foundation could be made, it would affect every German
soldier who fought on for his Fatherland in the East after
the autumn of 1942.

Fritzsche also protested against the fact that Allied flyers
were to be treated contrary to International Law. When he
learned of this, he spontaneously refused to engage in any
propagandistic activity for Goebbels in this respect. These
facts have been ascertained through thorough examination of
him on this subject and through Dr. Scharping's affidavit.

Furthermore, no charges can be made from what he said about
the use of new weapons and the "were-wolf" movement in his
radio speeches, with which he has been charged by the
Russian prosecution on cross-examination.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.