The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Did you take part in similar conferences which were
preparatory to attacks, for instance, the meeting of
November, 1940, in which the attack on Russia was discussed?
Please understand, I ask you not to misunderstand me, the
Speer document, which you spoke of yesterday, discusses an
attack which, according to Hitler, was threatened by Russia.
I am speaking now of discussions in which the subject was an
attack on Russia.

A. The fear of an attack from Russia dates back to the fall
of 1936, and therefore has as yet nothing to do with the
war. I never took part in any conference which indicated
intentions of war, consequently not in the conference on the
intended attack on Russia, and I never heard anything about

Q. Does that also apply to the meeting of May, 1941?

A. At the moment, I do not know which meeting that is, but I
did not in any way take part in any meeting in May, 1941,
as, during the entire period when I was Minister without
portfolio, I never took part in any official conference.

Q. Then you also did not get any information about the
conferences which the Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka had
in Berlin?

A. I did not have the slightest knowledge of the Matsuoka
conference, except what may perhaps, have been said on the
radio or in the Press.

Q. Mention has been made in some way that you at one time
had made available 200,000 marks for Nazi propaganda in
Austria. Is there any truth in this?

A. I have not the slightest knowledge of that.

Q. Now we come to your dismissal as President of the
Reichsbank. As you have heard, the prosecution asserts that
you finally brought about your own dismissal in order to
evade the financial responsibility. I ask you to reply to
that accusation and to tell the Tribunal briefly, but
exhaustively, the reasons for and the tactical deliberations
leading to your dismissal, and that of your assistants. They
appear here in the memorandum of the Reichsbank Directorate
which has been under consideration several times.

A. I should like to divide the question into two parts: The
first question is whether I tried to rid myself of my office
as President of the Reichsbank. My answer to that question
is a most emphatic yes. Since the middle of 1938, we in the
Reichsbank always considered that if there were no change in
policy, we in no event wanted to continue in office, because
- and that brings me to the second part of the question - we
did not want to assume the responsibility which we were then
expected to bear.

For everything which we did previously, and for a defensive
rearmament in order to achieve equal rights for Germany in
international politics, we gladly assumed responsibility,
and we assume it before history and this Tribunal. But

                                                    [Page 6]

the responsibility for continuing rearmament which possibly
in itself constituted a serious potential danger of war, or
which would ever aim at war intentionally, that
responsibility none of us wanted to assume. Consequently,
when it became clear that Hitler was working toward a
further increase in rearmament - and I spoke about that
yesterday in connection with the conversation of the 2nd of
January, 1939 - when we became aware of that, we wrote the
memorandum which has been quoted here and is in the hands of
this Tribunal as an exhibit. It indicates clearly that we
opposed every further increase of State expenditure and
would not assume responsibility for it. From that, Hitler
gathered that he would in no event be able to use the
Reichsbank with its present directorate and president for
any future financial purposes. Therefore, there remained
only one alternative; to change the directorate, because
without the Reichsbank he could not go on. And he had to
take a second step; he had to change the Reichsbank Law.
That is to say, an end had to be put to the independence of
the Reichsbank from governmental decrees. At first he did
that in a secret law - we had such things - of 19th or 20th
January, 1939. That law was published only about six months
later. That law abolished the independence of the
Reichsbank, and the president of the Reichsbank became a
mere bank teller for the credit demands of the Reich or,
that is to say, of Hitler.

The Reichsbank directorate did not want to continue along
this line of development. Therefore on the 2oth of January,
the Reichsbank president, the vice-president, and the chief
financial expert, Reichsbank Director Huelse were dismissed;
three other members of the directorate of the Reichsbank,
Geheimrat Vocke, Director Erhardt, and Director Blessing
pressed insistently for their resignation from the
Reichsbank until it was also granted. Two other members of
the Reichsbank directorate, Director Puhl, whose name has
been mentioned here, and an eighth director, Director
Hotschmann, remained in the directorate under the new
conditions. They were both Party members, the only ones in
the directorate, and therefore they could not easily

Q. That is one accusation which is made by the Prosecution
concerning your reasons for writing the memorandum, that is
to say, to evade the financial responsibility. The  second
accusation is that not a word of this memorandum expressly
mentions limitation of armaments, but that it essentially
treats only matters of currency, technical questions of
finance, and economic considerations and that, therefore, it
was not as an opponent of rearmament, but as a bank
president worried about the currency, that you drew up the
memorandum. It is necessary that as co-author of the
memorandum, as its main author, you state your position with
regard to this incriminating interpretation of the

A. I have already explained here that every objection which
I made and had to make to Hitler - and that applies not only
to myself but to all Ministers - could only be made with
arguments arising out of the particular department
administered. Had I said to Hitler: "I shall not give you
any more money because you intend to wage war," I should not
have had the pleasure of conducting this animated
conversation here with you. I would then have had a
conversation with my priest, and later would have lain
silently in my tomb, and the priest would have delivered a

Q. This memorandum is certainly very important, and
therefore we have to delay here for a moment. In summarising
- and please check me - I believe I can express your views
in this way: This memorandum at the end contained demands
for further raising of funds by increase of taxation or by
making use of the stock market, both impossible. Taxation
could not be increased any more. The stock market had just
unsuccessfully attempted a loan. Now, these demands being
impossible, there was an assurance that further funds could
not be raised this way for an unhealthy rearmament
programme. This success was not to be expected, rather you
could expect your dismissal. Did my brief but comprehensive
summary of this matter express your views correctly?

                                                    [Page 7]

A. That entire memorandum was composed in such a way that
there were only two possible answers to it: either an
alteration of financial policy - and that meant a stop in
rearmament, which would have amounted to a complete change
of Hitler's policy - or else the dismissal of the
Reichsbankpresident: and that happened. We expected it,
because at that time I no longer believed that Hitler would
completely change his policy.

Q. Therefore, the Prosecution is right in saying that your
mission ended with your dismissal.

A. Hitler certainly confirmed that himself and in the letter
of dismissal to me said it expressly. We heard from the
testimony of Herr Lammers in this Court that Hitler with his
own hand wrote that addition into the letter, that my name
would remain connected with the first stage of rearmament.
The second stage of rearmament I rejected, and Hitler
understood that very clearly, because when he received that
letter from the Reichsbank he said to those who were
present: "This is mutiny."

Q. How do you know that?

A. The witness, Vocke, who will, I hope, appear in this
Court, will testify to that.

Q. Furthermore, the prosecution asserted that your exit from
the political stage could not be attributed to your policy
of opposition to a war, but to disputes with Hermann Goering
over power and rank. As such, that accusation seems to me to
have been refuted already by statements which Goering and
Lammers have made up to now. We do not wish to recapitulate.
I merely want to ask you whether you have anything to add to
the statements made on this subject by Goering and Lammers,
or whether you disagree with them?

A. In his oral presentation, the Prosecutor said that
throughout the entire material which he had studied he could
not find one piece of evidence for my opposition to a policy
of war. I can only reply: if someone on account of his short-
sightness does not see a tree on a level plain, there is
surely no proof that the tree is not there.

Q. You have heard from the prosecution that you are accused
of having remained a member of the Cabinet as a Reich
Minister without portfolio. That was the cause for the
misunderstanding of yesterday. I merely wanted to express
yesterday that you had resigned as an active minister and
head of a department, that you resigned as Minister of
Economics and his Lordship correctly pointed out that, of
course, you remained a Minister without portfolio, that is
without your own sphere of activity until January, 1943. Of
that you are accused by the Prosecution. What caused you to
remain Reich Minister without portfolio? Why did you do
that? Did you have any particular financial reasons? Excuse
my mentioning the latter, but the trial brief, on Page 5,
charges you with that motive.

A. I have already repeatedly explained here that my release
from office as Minister of Economics was surrounded with
very great difficulties, and you have also submitted several
affidavits confirming the fact. Hitler did not, under any
circumstances, want it to be known that a break, or even so
much as a difference of opinion had occurred between one of
his assistants and himself. When he finally approved my
release, he attached the condition that, nominally, I should
remain Minister without portfolio.

As regards the second accusation, it is as unworthy as it is
wrong. There was a law in Germany that if a person held two
public offices he could be paid only for one. Since I was in
addition President of the Reichsbank I continuously received
my income from the Reichsbank, at first my salary and later
my pension; therefore as a Minister I drew no salary

Q. Did you then, during the entire period of your position
as Reich Minister without portfolio, have any other function
to fulfil in that capacity? Did you take any part in
important decisions of the Cabinet, did you participate in
discussions - in brief, was the Minister without portfolio
just a fancy dress major or was the position one of

                                                    [Page 8]

A. I have already emphasized again and again in this Court -
and I can only repeat it again - that after I left the
Reichsbank I had not a single official discussion; I did not
take part in a single ministerial or official conference and
that, unfortunately, it was not possible for me to bring up
any subject for discussion; for I had no factual basis or
pretext for such a possibility, for the very reason that I
had no particular field to administer. I believe that I was
not the only Minister without portfolio - there were also a
few others - who were not active in any way at all. As far
as I know, Seyss-Inquart was undoubtedly Minister without
portfolio, he had his administration in Holland. Frank was
Minister without portfolio and had his administration in
Poland. Schirach - I do not know whether he was Minister
without portfolio; I think it has been mentioned once, but I
do not know if it is correct - he had his Austrian
administration in Vienna. I had nothing further at all to do
with the State administration or in any other way with the
State or the Party.

Q. What about the ordinary course of affairs? Were there
perhaps some circulars sent out by Lammers on which you

A. On the whole - and I think it is understandable after
what I have stated here - I watched carefully for every
possibility of intervening again in some way, but I
remember, and state with absolute certainty, that during the
entire time until the collapse I received only three
official memoranda. The numerous invitations to State
funerals and similar social State functions really need not
be mentioned here as official communications. I did not
participate in these ceremonies either. However, these three
instances are interesting. The first time it was a letter
from Hitler, pardon, from Himmler, a circular or request or
a bill proposed by Himmler, who intended to transfer court
jurisdiction over the so-called anti-Social elements of the
population to the police or the Gestapo; that is to say, an
administrative principle....

Q. Well, that is known, Dr. Schacht. You can assume that is

A. In regard to this question, I supported Reichminister
Frank, who, in a letter he sent me, emphasized that the
suggested Bill was a violation of the basic principles of
justice, and the Bill was not made law. It would indeed have
been extremely regrettable, because I am firmly convinced
that I myself was a definite anti-Social element in
Himmler's opinion.

The second instance was a letter concerning some discussions
about State property in Yugoslavia after we had occupied
Yugoslavia. I answered that since I had not taken part in
the preliminary discussions on the draft of the law I should
not be counted upon to assist in this matter.

Finally, the third incident, and this is the most important,
occurred in November, 1942. Apparently by mistake there came
into circulation the draft for a law of the Reich Minister
for Air, which contained the proposal for taking 15 and 16-
year old students away from the high school and putting them
into the anti-aircraft defence force, the so-called Flack
Service. I answered this letter because it was a welcome
opportunity for me to state my opinion on the military
situation in a long, detailed reply which I sent to Goering.

Q. On the 3rd of November?

A. It is a letter of the 30th of November, which on the 2nd
of December, I believe, was given personally by my secretary
to the adjutant of Goering in a closed envelope, with the
request that he himself open it.

DR. DIX: One moment, Dr. Schacht. That letter has already
been submitted under Document 3700-PS by the prosecution,
but it is also in our Document Book under Exhibit No. 23,
Page 66 of the English text and Page 59 of the German text.
If we were not so pressed for time, it would have been
especially gratifying for me to read this letter here in
full. It is a very fine letter. However, I want to take time
into consideration and I merely ask you, Dr. Schacht, to
state briefly your opinion of its content.

                                                    [Page 9]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will read the letter. It isn't
necessary for you to read it now, is it?

DR. DIX: All right. Well, witness, do you wish to say
anything further?

THE WITNESS: Yes. I would like to say in this connection if
it is permitted, that to my knowledge this letter has
already been read here by the American Chief Prosecutor,
that is -


Q. Read?

A. Or mentioned, or at least the most important points were
read. I believe it is sufficient if you submit the letter to
the Tribunal in evidence.

Q. Yes, that has been done. Now, that constituted your
entire activity as Reich Minister without portfolio?

A. Yes.

Q. So, therefore, if one wanted to define the position in a
word, one would really say, just a 'Charactermajor.' (Fancy-
dress major).

A. I don't know what a 'Charactermajor' is, at any rate, I
was never a Major, but I have always had character.

Q. But, Dr. Schacht, that is an historical remark made by
Kaiser Wilhelm the First about the authority he had as
German Emperor to Bismarck.

THE PRESIDENT: I think this is a convenient time to break

(A recess was taken).

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