Archive/File: imt/nca/nca-02/nca-02-16-responsibility-12-04 Last-Modified: 1997/05/08 Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume Two, Chapter XIV [Page 751] D. SCHACHT PARTICIPATED IN THE NAZI CONSPIRACY PURPOSELY, WILLINGLY, AND WITH KNOWLEDGE OF ITS ILLEGAL AIMS AND METHODS. (1) He was a faithful adherent of Hitler. It has already been demonstrated that even before Hitler's accession to power, Schacht aligned himself with Hitler and accepted his program. Schacht's utterances after Hitler had entrenched himself in power clearly show that he remained a faithful servant of Hitler despite the series of outrages committed under Hitler's direction. At the opening of the Leipzig Fair on 4 March 1935, Schacht said "My so-called foreign friends don't render any services to me or the cause, which they don't want anyway, of course, but not even to themselves, if they try to construe a contrast between me and the allegedly impossible economic theories of National Socialism and represent me as a sort of guardian of economic reason. I assure you that all that I am doing and saying enjoys the absolute approval of the Fuehrer and that I would never do or say anything that does not have [Page 752] his approval. Not I but the Fuehrer is the guardian of economic reason." (EC-503) On the occasion of the unveiling of Hitler's bust in the vestibule of the Reichsbank on 31 July 1935, Schacht said: "Germany stays and falls with the success of the policy of Hitler." (EC-415) At a ceremony in connection with the creation of the Economic Chamber for Pomerania in Stettin on 19 January 1936, Schacht denied that there was any disagreement between Hitler and his collaborators, and went on to say: "In Germany there is fortunately only one policy and one economic policy, namely that of Adolf Hitler; to work with him and for his goals is the highest satisfaction for every member of the people's community." (EC-502) In May 1936,. Schacht was attacked by some of the more radical elements of the Nazi Party because he had rejected their "partially irrational ideas" concerning armament financing. In repelling these attacks, Schacht emphasized at a secret meeting of the Ministers on 12 May 1936, that his program of financing armaments had meant "the commitment of the last reserve from the very beginning"; and he announced that despite the attacks, he would continue to work because he "*** stands with unswerving loyalty to the Fuehrer, because he fully recognizes the basic idea of National Socialism and because at the end, the disturbances, compared to the great task, can be considered irrelevant." (1301-PS). So far as appears, Schacht did not become a member of the Nazi Party until January 1937. Franz Reuter, whose biography of Schacht was officially published in Germany in 1937, has stated that Schacht's becoming a regular Party member was only a question of secondary importance, and even part of a carefully planned policy, for, "By not doing so -- at least until the final assertion and victory of the Party -- he [Schacht] was able to assist it [the Party] much better than he would have been able to do had he become an official Party member." (EC-460) On 30 January 1937, Hitler bestowed the Golden Party Badge upon Schacht, in recognition of his "special services to Party and State." Schacht accepted this hallmark of approval by the Fuehrer with effusive thanks and a pledge of continued support In his speech of acceptance, Schacht stated: "The presentation of the Golden Badge of the Movement is the highest honor the Third Reich has to offer. In honoring me as the head of the Reichsbank and the Reich and [Page 753] Prussian Ministry of Economics, it honors at the same time the two agencies which I am directing as well as the work of all those officials, employees and workers functioning in these two agencies." ******* "I think all my colleagues among the ranks of officials, employees, and workers for their faithfulness in the performance of their work, and appeal to all of them further to devote, with all their hearts, their entire strength to the Fuehrer and the Reich. The German future lies in the hands of our Fuehrer." (EC-500) The depths of adulation were reached in a speech which Schacht delivered on the occasion of Hitler's 48th birthday in April 1937. Schacht spoke as one of Hitler's "closest collaborators," who had seen at first hand the difficulties which beset the Fuehrer in the relentless march toward his goals. In his speech, Schacht stated: "With the limitless passion of a burning heart and the infallible instinct of the born statesman, Adolf Hitler has won for himself the soul of the German people in a battle fought for 14 years with unswerving consequence." ******* "Only the closest collaborators of the Fuehrer know how difficult is the burden of this responsibility; how sorrowful are the hours during which decisions must be made which bear upon the well being and the fate of all of Germany." (EC- 501 ) In November 1938, at a time Schacht now asserts he was plotting against Hitler, he stated in a speech: "Instead of a weak and vacillating Government, a single, purposeful, energetic personality is ruling today. That is the great miracle which has actually happened in Germany and which has had its effects in all fields of life and not least in that of economy and finance. There is no German financial miracle. There is only the miracle of the reawakening of German national consciousness and German discipline, and we owe this miracle to our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler." (EC-611) 2) Schacht favored the acquisition of additional territory for Germany-peacefully if possible, but by aggressive war, if necessary. Schacht had long been a German nationalist and [Page 754] expansionist. As early as 1927, he spoke against the Versailles Treaty: "The Versailles Dictate cannot be an eternal document, because not only its economic, but also its spiritual and moral premises are wrong." (EC-415) He strongly favored the acquisition by Germany of both colonial territory and contiguous territory in Europe. At the Paris conference on 16 April 1929, he said: "Germany can generally only pay if the Corridor and Upper Silesia will be handed back to Germany from Polish possession, and if besides somewhere on the earth colonial territory will be made available to Germany." (3726-PS) In a speech in Danzig in June 1935, Schacht ascribed the economic difficulties which confronted Danzig to "historical errors of the greatest extent which were beyond the control of the German people". He sought to comfort his listeners with the assurance that "We Germans in the Reich today are looking with fullest confidence upon our comrades in the Danzig Free State, and maintain our people's fellowship with the interests, wishes and hopes of this territory which has unfortunately been separated from us." (EC-498) In January 1936, Schacht again publicly spoke against the Versailles Treaty, and impliedly threatened war unless its terms were revised in Germany's favor. At that time, he stated: "But the memory of war weighs undiminished upon the people's minds. That is because deeper than material wounds, moral wounds are smarting, inflicted by the so- called peace treaties. Material loss can be made up through renewed labor, but the moral wrong which has been inflicted upon the conquered peoples, in the peace dictates, leaves a burning scar on the people's conscience. The spirit of the Versailles has perpetuated the fury of war, and there will not be a true peace, progress or reconstruction until the world desists from this spirit. The German people will not tire of pronouncing this warning." Later in the same year, Schacht again publicly advocated "Lebensraum" for the German people in terms not unlike those employed by Hitler. In his speech at Frankfurt on 9 December 1936, Schacht said: "Germany has too little living space for her population. She has made every effort, and certainly greater efforts than any other nation, to extract from her own existing small space, whatever is necessary for the securing of her liveli- [Page 755] hood. However, in spite of all these efforts the space does not suffice." (EC-415) Schacht had hoped, it is believed, that his desire for additional space for Germany would be realized without resort to war. In Austria, for example, he had authorized 200,000 Marks a month to be set aside for the National Socialists in Austria, hoping thereby to facilitate the absorption of Austria into Germany without war. But if Germany's neighbors would not accede to the conspirators' demands for additional space, Schacht was willing to go to war to fulfill those demands. Thus, on 23 September 1935, Schacht told S. R. Fuller, Jr. at the American Embassy in Berlin: "Colonies are necessary to Germany. We shall get them through negotiation if possible; but if not, we shall take them." In January 1937, Schacht, in a conversation with Ambassador Davies, impliedly threatened a breach of the peace unless Germany's demands for colonies were met. The conversation is related as follows in a report under date of 20 January 1937, by Ambassador Davies to the Secretary of "He [Schacht] stated the following: that the present condition of the Germany people was intolerable, desperate and unendurable; that he had been authorized by his Government to submit proposals to France and England which would (1) guarantee European peace; (2) secure present European international boundaries; (3) reduce armaments; (4) establish a new form of a workable League of Nations; (5) abolish sanctions with new machinery for joint administration; all based upon a colonial cession that would provide for Germany an outlet for population, source for food stuffs, fats and raw material. ***" (L-111) The inference was clear: without a colonial cession, peace could not be guaranteed. Equally clear was the inference that it would be Germany in its search for "Lebensraum" that would disturb the peace. On 21 December 1937, Schacht indicated to Ambassador Dodd that he desired the annexation of neighboring countries, without war if possible, but with war, if necessary. The pertinent portion of Ambassador Dodd's notes on this conversation are as follows: "Schacht meant what the Army chiefs of 1914 meant when they invaded Belgium, expecting to conquer France in six weeks; i.e., domination and annexation of neighboring little countries, especially north and east. Much as he dislikes [Page 756] Hitler's dictatorship, he, as most other eminent Germans, wishes annexation -- without war if possible, with war, if the United States will keep hands off." (EC-461) (3) Schacht knew of Hitler's plans to wage aggressive war and willfully provided the means whereby such a war might successfully be waged. Whether or not Schacht personally favored war it is clear that he at least knew that Hitler planned military aggression and that he was providing Hitler with the instrument by which those plans could be executed. Even before Hitler's accession to power, Schacht knew from a reading of Mein Kampf that Hitler was bent upon expansion to the East by force of arms (5727-PS). In the course of his frequent contacts with Mr. Messersmith, United States Consul General in Berlin from 1930 to 1934, Schacht emphasized that the "Nazis were inevitably going to plunge Europe into war' (EC-451). In September of 1934, Ambassador Dodd recorded in his diary a conversation with Sir Eric Phipps at the British Embassy in Berlin, wherein he stated that "Schacht had acknowledged to me the war purposes of the Nazi Party" (EC-461). Schacht has admitted that in the course of his numerous talk with Hitler from 1933 to 1937, he formed the impression that "in order to make his hold on the Government secure, the Fuehrer felt that he must present the German people with a military victory" (EC-458). These admissions by Schacht are fortified by other evidence which shows that Schacht knew that Hitler planned military aggression. After his appointment as Minister of Economics, Schacht became a permanent member of the secret Reich Defense Council. The function of that Council, as shown in other connections, was secretly to mobilize all of the human and material resources of Germany for war (EC-177). Shortly after his appointment as the Plenipotentiary General for the War Economy in May 193, Schacht was entrusted by the Reich Defense Council with the "preparation of economic mobilization" in connection with the proposed re-occupation of the Rhineland. Schacht and those officials who were charged with the purely military aspects of the re- occupation were enjoined to proceed with the utmost secrecy because of assurances given by Hitler to the French that no military action was contemplated in the de-militarized zone of the Rhineland At the 11th meeting of the Reich Defense Council, on 6 December 1935, which was attended by a number of representatives [Page 757] from Schacht's office of Plenipotentiary of the War Economy, Keitel pointed out that "According to the will of the Fuehrer, the economic leadership puts the increase of our armed might knowingly ahead of other requirements of the state. It is the task of all members of the Reich Defense Council to utilize the national property, made available, primarily for this purpose and economically in the framework of the entire situation, and request only such funds and raw materials which serve absolutely and exclusively the Reich Defense. ***" (EC-406) The singleness of purpose with which Schacht and the other conspirators were gearing the German economy for war is strikingly shown by the Top Secret minutes of the meeting of ministers dated 30 May 1936. This, it will be recalled, was little more than 10 weeks after German troops had occupied the Rhineland. At this meeting, Schacht pointed out that "it must be attempted to produce those raw materials within Germany which are economically favorable; for other raw materials ready reserves for the case of mobilization"; and also that "certain raw materials for war must be stocked." Continuing the discussion, Goering emphasized that "all measures are to be considered from the standpoint of an assured waging of war." Thereafter, Schacht advocated the introduction of price supervision and agreed that first priority should be given to the "specially urgent petroleum question" (1301-PS) . By Top Secret letter dated 31 August 1936, Schacht was advised by General von Blomberg that Hitler had ordered that "the setting up of all air force units has to be completed on 1 April 1937". This accelerated program entailed the expenditure of large additional funds which Schacht and the Minister of Finance were called upon to supply. The sense of urgency with which Hitler pressed the completion of the German air force patently signified that the waging of war was a certainty (1301-PS). Shortly after the receipt of this letter, and on 4 September 1936, Schacht attended a secret cabinet meeting where Goering stated: "The Fuehrer and Reichskanzler has given a memorandum to the Col. General and the Reich War Minister which represents a general instruction for the execution thereof. "It starts from the basic thought that the showdown with Russia is inevitable." ******* [Page 758] "The Colonel General reads the memorandum of the Fuehrer." ******* "If war should break out tomorrow we would be forced to take measures from which we might possibly still shy away at the present moment. They are, therefore, to be taken." ******* "All measures have to be taken just as if we were actually in the stage of imminent danger of war." (EC- 416). There was no room for surmise in these utterances; Hitler was definitely and irrevocably committed to waging aggressive war If Schacht ever had any doubts concerning Hitler's firm resolve to carry out the program of-aggressive war outlined in Mein Kampf; if, contrary to his statements to Mr. Messersmith and Ambassador Dodd, Schacht actually doubted in 1934 that the Nazis, whom he was faithfully serving, would inevitably plunge Europe into war; and if, despite the pressing sense of immediacy that had pervaded the Nazi war economy from the very outset, he had entertained lingering doubts concerning Hitler's plans for armed aggression, all such doubts must have been removed by the clear and unequivocal pronouncements in the above- mentioned eventful meetings of 1936 in which he participated. Yet, despite his knowledge of Hitler's plans to wage aggressive war, despite the fact that he had grave technical doubts about the ability of the Reichsbank to finance further armaments through additional short term credits, and despite the fact that some directors of the Reichsbank had opposed further "mefo" financing, Schacht pledged another 3 billion Reichsmarks by the "mefo" bill method for further financing of armaments in March 1937 (EC-438). The Hossbach notes, dated 10 November 1937, on the important conference of 5 November 1937 in the Reichskanzlei, reveal a further crystallization of Hitler's program of absorption and conquest in Europe (86-PS). Definite plans were laid for the early acquisition of Austria and Czechoslovakia, and for their exploitation in preparation for further military operations. So far as appears, Schacht was not present at this particular meeting. But his awareness of what occurred at the meeting is shown by the fact that he told Ambassador Bullitt on 23 November 1937, "Hitler was determined to have Austria eventually attached to Germany and to obtain at least autonomy for the Germans of Bohemia. At the Present moment he was not vitally con- [Page 759] cerned about the Polish Corridor, and in his [Schacht's] opinion it might be possible to maintain the Corridor provided Danzig were permitted to join East Prussia, and provided some sort of a bridge could be built across the Corridor uniting Danzig and East Prussia with Germany." (L-151) . Although Schacht apparently sought to convey the impression to Ambassador Bullitt that he desired to stay Hitler's hand but was powerless to do so, it is clear that he was actually in complete sympathy with Hitler's objectives. Despite the mounting tension which followed his conversation with Ambassador Bullitt, Schacht remained as President of the Reichsbank, and in that capacity established, in advance of the invasion of Austria, the rate of exchange between Marks and Austrian Schillings which was to prevail after the absorption of Austria (EC-421). Moreover, under his direction, the Austrian National Bank was merged into the Reichsbank (Reichsgesetzblatt, 1938, I, 254). His speech of 21 March 1938, to the employees of the former Austrian National Bank on the occasion of its obliteration as an independent institution, betrayed his true feelings. After inveighing against "the dictates of Versailles and St. Germain", -Schacht stated: "Thank God, these things could after all not hinder the great German people on their way, for Adolf Hitler has created a communion of German will and German thought, he bolstered it up with the newly strengthened Wehrmacht and he then finally gave the external form to the inner union between Germany and Austria." ******* "One person says he would have done it maybe in one way, but the remarkable thing is that they did not do it (hilarity), that IT WAS ONLY DONE BY OUR ADOLF HITLER (Long continued applause) and if there is still something left to be improved, then those grumblers should try to bring about those improvements from the German Reich and within the German community, but not to disturb it from without. (Lively agreement) ". ******* "I ask you to raise your hands and to repeat after me: I swear that: I will be faithful, and obedient to the Fuehrer of the German Reich and the German people, Adolf Hitler, and will perform my duties conscientiously and selflessly. (The audience takes the pledge with uplifted hands). [Page 760] You have taken this pledge. A scoundrel he who breaks it. To our Fuehrer a triple 'Sieg heil'." (EC-297-A) Schacht was likewise enthusiastic about the acquisition of the Sudetenland, and filled with pride over the contribution his credit policy as head of the Reichsbank had made thereto (EC-611). In January 1939, when Hitler was ruthlessly exploiting his successes in Austria and the Sudetenland in preparation for his next aggressive move, Schacht again referred, with pride, to the fact that the Wehrmacht which he had helped create by his ingenious and risky methods had made possible Hitler's successes. Thus, he said: "From the beginning the Reichsbank has been aware of the fact that a successful foreign policy can be attained only by the reconstruction of the German armed forces. It [the Reichsbank] therefore assumed to a very great extent the responsibility to finance the rearmament in spite of the inherent dangers to the currency. The justification thereof was the necessity - - which pushed all other considerations in the background -- to carry through the armament at once, out of nothing and furthermore under camouflage, which made a respect-commanding foreign policy possible." (EC- 369) The foregoing proof establishes, it seems clear, that Schacht knew of Hitler's plans for aggressive war, and willfully created the means whereby those plans could be executed. But apart from this direct proof, it is submitted hat to a man in Schacht's position, the events of the period clearly bespoke Hitler's intentions. Schacht was a key figure in the Nazi Government during the period of the Nazi agitation in Austria, the introduction of conscription, the march into the Rhineland, the conquest of Austria, and the acquisition of the Sudetenland by a show of force. During this period, the Reich debt trebled under the stress of mounting armaments (EC-419), and all the resources of Germany were being strained to the very limit for armament. It was a period in which the burning European foreign policy issue was the satisfaction of Germany's repeated demands for additional territory. Hitler, committed to a policy of expansion, was laying the greatest stress upon utmost speed in preparation for war. Certainly in this setting, Schacht did not proceed in ignorance of the fact that he was assisting Hitler and Nazi Germany along the road towards armed aggression.
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