Archive/File: imt/nca/supp-b/nca-sb-02-fritzsche.01 Last-Modified: 1997/12/09 Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, Supplement B XV. Hans Fritzsche Views on German Aggression and Hitler's Guilt Excerpts from Testimony of Hans Fritzsche, taken at Nurnberg, Germany, 3 November 1945, 1430-1530, by Major General Alexandrov, USSR, assisted by members of USSR prosecution staff. Also present: Colonel John H. Amen, OUSCC; Captain Mark Priceman, Interpreter; C.J. Gallagher, Court Reporter. [This interrogation was conducted in Russian. The questions were translated into German, and the answers into Russian by a member of the USSR delegation. Simultaneously questions and answers were translated into English for information purposes only.] Q. Were you a member of the Nazi Party? A. Yes. Q. From which date on? A. Since the 1st of May 1933. Q. Are you familiar with Hitler's book Mein Kampf? A. Yes. Q. As a member of the Nazi Party did you share Hitler's views as stated in his book? A. Generally, yes. Q. Do you admit that Hitler in his book stated clearly his aggressive plans against the West, and the East, and especially against the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Jugoslavia? A. This is not how I interpreted the book, but as I said, it is now 15 or 16 years since I read it. Q. Do you remember the passages which deal with the necessity for "Lebensraum" and with the necessity for Germany to have access to natural resources? A. No, I don't remember that any more. The book was not of that much consequence in my political work. Q. How did the Party deal with these problems of "Lebensraum" and of natural resources, independently from the book Mein Kampf? A. It seems to me that during the years from 1933 to `39, the general policy of the Party, and of the Government, was to make the best of what could be done inside the narrow borders of Germany, and to reach this goal through an extensive exploitation of all our resources. Q. It is not known to you that it was intended, and propagated [Page 1510] in statements, speeches, and so forth by Hitler himself, that this problem was to be solved through expansion? A. Do you mean by conquest? Q. Yes. A. It became clear to me subsequently. Q. When did you realize this? A. During the first part of the war, I felt that the war had not been provoked deliberately by Hitler, but as for the war against Russia, I felt that Hitler had wanted, and had caused it. In 1942, one year after the start of the war against Russia, I became acquainted with the imperialistic aims of the regime to their full extent. In 1941, at the start of that war, I could not believe that Hitler had started it intentionally, because it would have seemed to me like madness to start a new war in the East, having on one's hands an unfinished war in the West. I had Hitler's assurance, and also Ribbentrop's assurance, that the war had been declared on Russia only to beat the Russians to it, who were about to declare war on Germany. Then shortly after the start of the war in 1941, I saw to what extent the occupation of the Eastern territory had been prepared. Finally, in 1942 I realized the full extent of Hitler's imperialistic intentions in the East. Q. I have a question. In other words, this information which you had received previously from Ribbentrop was not accurate? A. No, I found out about it only now, as a prisoner. In a prison cell in Moscow I met General Niedermayer, who had been acquainted with an interpreter who had done the interpreting during the conference between Molotov and Ribbentrop at Moscow, as well as at Berlin. Q. I want to clarify something. In the beginning you started to say that you had received information from Ribbentrop. Now you are saying that you received that information from Niedermayer, as information which he had received from some interpreter. Is that so? A. All the information that I had about the Russian war I had received from Ribbentrop during the night from the 21st to the 22d June 1941. I am referring now to the information which I had up to three-fourths of a year ago. Q. You said that you realized in 1942 what the imperialistic aims of Germany in regard to Russia were? A. Yes. Q. This is why I am asking you whether the information which you had received from Ribbentrop concerning this question was incorrect? A. I became suspicious about it as early as 1942, but even in [Page 1511] 1942 it was still difficult for me to realize what the true situation was. I still could not think that Hitler had deliberately launched this war. Q. I still want an answer from you. You said that you realized it in 1942. I am asking you now whether what you realized in 1942 checked with the information which had been given to you by Ribbentrop in 1941? A. There was no real contradiction, because Ribbentrop had informed me only about the fact that the war had started. He did not tell me then about the final intentions. Q. How did you happen to realize in 1942 that Germany had imperialistic aims in this war? A. I believe that I received conclusive proof of this being so from Niedermayer when I was in prison. Q. I am talking about 1942? A. In 1942 I myself was a soldier, and I was visiting the Eastern areas, and then I saw that extensive preparations for the occupation and administration of the territories, extending as far as the Crimea, had been made, and I came to the conclusion that all of this had been planned long before the war broke out. Q. This was your personal observation? A. Yes. Q. And what do you know about this question from official sources? After all, you were an important official in the Ministry for Propaganda? A. Properly speaking, nothing. There had been very little official publicity on this question. There had been very little official publicity. There had been a certain amount of talk in the press in 1942 of the wealth in natural resources in the East in order to get people interested. Q. Do you admit after these conclusions of yours in 1942, that the attack against the Soviet Union in 1941 was the result of preconceived plans, and reflected official views on how to solve problems of labor shortage, and how to increase Germany's wealth in natural resources? A. Yes, I have come to this conclusion. Q. Are you then of the opinion that these general ideas about the necessity for "Lebensraum" are the main cause of Germany's preparing and starting the war against the Soviet Union, and in general for Germany's starting the World War? A. No. This is my conclusion, but I don't have enough documentation to substantiate my views. I would say-- Q. Go ahead. A. Hitler's guilt is to have prepared this war, to have carried [Page 1512] on very extensive preparations, and at the same time to have made the German people believe that his intentions were peaceful. In the end, when the war was imminent, I think that his guilt was just as great as that of the Western Powers. Both he and the Western Powers could have prevented that war from happening. This is how I see things today.
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