The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/11/05



Q. Is it true, Dr. Schlegelberger, that the Reich Ministers,
which means the members of the Reich Cabinet, had the
highest rank, had the highest responsibility, and the
highest pay of all German officials?

                                                  [Page 236]

A. Yes.

Q. Is it correct to state that the appointment as a member
of the Reich Cabinet was a completely voluntary act?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it correct to state that a member of Hitler's Cabinet
had the right to resign if he did not agree with Hitler's

A. I believe not.

Q. Do you ... Do you know any Cabinet members, or State
Secretaries like yourself, who resigned?

A. One minister resigned.

Q. What was his name?

A. Eltz von Ruebenach.

Q. Do you know a State Secretary who resigned?

A. I do not remember.

Q. What about yourself, Dr. Schlegelberger, did you not

A. This question is not so easy to answer.

Q. When did you leave your office?

A. In August, 1942, I was dismissed by the Fuehrer.

Q. Is it a correct statement if I say you were dismissed
because you did not like the policy of the Fuehrer
concerning the judges?

A. Yes, that is true.

Q. Now, you remember that the Minister of Economics, Dr.
Kurt Schmidt, resigned?

A. I do not know from my own knowledge whether Dr. Schmidt
resigned or whether he was dismissed.

Q. Then I should like to refresh your memory, and I show you
an affidavit, a new document, a short one, which I offer to
the Tribunal. And this document this document will become
Exhibit USA 922.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I should like to object to the admission of
this affidavit. It deals with questions, concerning the
resignation of the witness, which concern him personally and
in which he is greatly interested personally. I believe that
if this question, which in my opinion is not relevant, is to
be discussed at all, we cannot avoid calling the witness
himself; he lives near Munich. I also believe that this
affidavit is not suitable to prove the credibility of the
witness Schlegelberger in any way. The details of the
resignation of another minister need not be known to the
State Secretary of another ministry. The witness stated he
did not know anything further about it. I believe,
therefore, that the examination to test the credibility of
this witness is not fulfilled by this document.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kempner, the Tribunal thinks you should
submit the facts of the resignation to the witness. Have you
heard? That you should submit the facts of the resignation
to the witness.

DR. KEMPNER: It did not come through.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you not heard now?


THE PRESIDENT: I said, the Tribunal thinks that you should
put the facts of the resignation to the witness.

BY DR. KEMPNER: You know that another minister, Minister
Kurt Schmidt, resigned? Do you remember now?

A. Yes, I remember that, of course, but I do not know
whether he resigned or whether he was dismissed. That I do
not know.

Q. Do you know that Minister Schmidt resigned because he
knew that Hitler's policy would lead to war?

                                                  [Page 237]

A. That is unknown to me.

Q. Now, another chapter; is it true that the Reich Cabinet
became a legislative body of Nazi Germany through the
Enabling Act?

A. Yes, through the Enabling Act.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kempner, the Tribunal thinks you could
put the first part of the affidavit to the witness.

BY DR. KEMPNER: I come back to the question of the
resignation of Minister Schmidt and ask you whether the
following is true or not:

  "As Minister of Economics I was a member of the Reich
  Cabinet from June 30th, 1933, until the beginning of
  January, 1935. I resigned from the Cabinet, technically
  for reasons of ill health (June 28th, 1934) but factually
  because of deep differences of opinion with the policy of
  the Hitler Cabinet."

Were you informed about this, Dr. Schlegelberger?

A. I can only repeat, I only know that Herr Schmidt was
Reich Minister of Economics and that he left the Cabinet. In
what way he left, whether he was dismissed, whether he
wanted to be dismissed, or whether he was dismissed for
sickness or differences of opinion, I do not know.

Q. But now you agree with me that you knew two ministers who
resigned and who were neither killed nor put in
concentration camps?

A. That is certainly true

Q. That is enough, that answers my question. Is it true that
the Reich Cabinet exercised its legislative powers

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that the Reich Cabinet had more than a hundred
meetings and passed numerous laws. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that the Cabinet continued to pass and
promulgate laws even without formal session, by circulating
drafts of the laws among the Cabinet members? Is this

A. It is true that when the Cabinet meetings stopped, laws
and decrees were issued after being circulated.

Q. Now, do you know how many laws were passed by the Reich
Cabinet by means of this circulation method in the year
1939, for instance?

A. No, I cannot answer that.

Q. If I tell you that in the year 1939 alone the Reich
Cabinet passed the following laws -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kempner, you can state what the fact is.

DR. KEMPNER: If I tell you that they passed 67 laws, would
you say that is the correct statement?

THE WITNESS: If you say that it is true, Dr. Kempner, I
accept it as such.


Q. Do you know that the Reich Cabinet had also the duty of
approving the Reich budget?

A. Yes.

Q. Would you say that the members of the Reich Cabinet were
informed about the things which were going on in Germany
because they had to approve the budgets of all ministries?

A. I believe that very much can be determined from the Reich
budget, but not necessarily everything.

Q. Do you know -

                                                  [Page 238]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kempner, you are asking the next question
a little too quickly. We did not hear the answer come
through. I think the witness said that important matters
were to be derived from the budget or something of that

DR. KEMPNER: Would you repeat the answer, please?

THE WITNESS: I believe that very much can be determined from
the Reich budget, but not everything can be gathered from


Q. You know that the Reich budget had special provisions
about concentration camps?

A. No, I do not know that.

Q. When you were a Minister of Justice, and acting Minister
of justice, did you have anything to do with the anti-Jewish

A. I believe that during the period in which I was active,
one law or decree was issued in the year 1941. As far as I
can recall, it concerned rent conditions that affected Jews.

Q. Do you remember that you yourself made up proposals, a
legislative proposal, together with the defendant Dr. Frick,
to sterilise all half-Jews in Germany and the occupied

A. No, I do not recall that.

Q. Now I should like to show you a letter from the official
files, which has your signature, and you might remember, you
might be able to refresh your memory by reading this letter.
This will be my last question.

DR. KEMPNER: And this will become Exhibit USA 923.


Q. Do you remember now that you put your signature under
this terrible document?

A. Yes, I remember; yes, I remember it.

Q. You remember that the Party and that the defendant Frick
proposed to sterilise all Jews and all half-Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. And you remember that the various Cabinet members, like
the defendant Goering, the chief of the Four-Year Plan, that
the Reich Minister of the Interior, Dr. Frick (attention of
his Secretary of State), that the Foreign Office (attention
of Under-Secretary Luther) got copies of this legislative

A. Yes.

Q. And you remember, on Page I of this document, that this
legislative proposal to sterilise all Jews and all half-Jews
should be submitted to Hitler?

A. I did not quite understand the question.

Q. You remember that your, and Minister Frick's proposal
should be submitted to Hitler?

A. (No response.)

Q. Yes or no?

A. Dr. Kempner, I beg your pardon, I still have not quite
understood your question. I do not know what I am to try to

Q. Whether your proposal should be submitted to Hitler?

A. I believe so.

Q. And you remember what Hitler said?

A. No, I do not remember that.

Q. Is it a true statement that your Secretary of State,
Freisler, told you: "Hitler does not like this sharp measure
of the Reich Cabinet at the present time, he will postpone
it until after the war"?

                                                  [Page 239]

A. I do not remember that.

Q. You regret deeply your signature under this law?

A. I can say yes. I should like to add only one thing. At
that time, there was already a serious struggle to obtain
this limitation

Q. And you regret deeply these crimes; is that correct?

A. I regret greatly that I signed this.

DR. KEMPNER: Thank you. That is all.

DR. DIX (counsel for the defendant Schacht): I ask the
Tribunal to permit me to ask three questions of the witness,
because these questions arise from the cross-examination by
Dr. Kempner, because the answers to these questions and the
questions themselves concern the interests of the defendant
Schacht and his own testimony directly, and because the
charge against the Reich Cabinet is now being discussed, and
also because Schacht, in the period known to the Tribunal,
was a member of the Reich Cabinet. For these reasons, I ask
the Tribunal to make an exception and to permit me, after
the cross-examination, although I am not a defence counsel
for an organization, to ask questions of this witness.




Q. Dr. Schlegelberger, was Hitler's signature necessary for
the dismissal of a minister?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you recall that not immediately after 1933, but later,
perhaps only during the war, Hitler expressly prohibited
Reich Ministers to hand in their resignations?

A. I may say the following: An order was issued changing the
German Civil Servant's Law. According to this law, every
official had the right to be released from his office. This
right was abolished during the war. It was decreed that the
release did not have to be granted, and as I recall, Hitler
actually did not accept resignations of ministers.

Q. Now, my third and last question: As State Secretary, in
answer to Dr. Kempner's question about the departure of the
former Minister, Eltz von Ruebenach, you said that he had
resigned. To check and assist your memory, may I point out
that we heard here from Goering on the witness stand a
modified version of this event which agrees with the
recollection of the defendant Schacht. Of course, I do not
have the transcript of the Goering case before me and
therefore I can only give Goering's testimony from memory.
But I believe that in essence and effect I present it
correctly. According to his testimony, this departure of
Eltz developed from the conferring of the Golden Party Badge
upon various ministers, including Eltz von Ruebenach. When
Hitler, with the idea of pleasing the ministers, had handed
him this Golden Party Badge, Eltz started and made some
remark to the effect of whether he was thereby incurring any
confessional obligations. Hitler was annoyed at this, and
the upshot was that Eltz von Ruebenach left the Cabinet,
which cannot exactly be termed a resignation on von
Ruebenach's own initiative.

I believe that I have at least reproduced the sense of
Goering's testimony correctly.

A. I knew these events only from reports which I received
from others. I myself was not present at the incident. I
have no reason to believe that the defendant Goering, who
was present, did not describe the facts as they actually

Q. You say you know the story only from reports; that is,
actual reports from Herr Guertner, for example?

A. Yes.

                                                  [Page 240]

Do you still recall these reports, more or less? Or is what
I have just said the first reminder?

A. No; I recall vaguely that according to Herr Guertner's
report, as Dr. Dix just stated, Eltz von Ruebenach had said
something about confessional obligations, and that the
Fuehrer was annoyed at that and the conflict resulted from
that incident. I can only repeat, if it is put to me, I have
no reason to deny the correctness of an eye-and-ear-witness.

DR. DIX: Thank you very much. I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: I think we will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until Saturday, 3rd August, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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