The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. That answers the question fully.

Now the prosecution accuses Schacht and alleges that Hitler
picked out Schacht to finance armament for an aggressive
war. You, Herr Vocke, were a member of the Reichsbank
directorate and you worked with him during all those years.
Therefore, I ask you to tell the Tribunal whether anything
came out in the course of conversations, or you noticed
anything about Schacht's activities and work which would
justify such a reproach.

A. No. Schacht often expressed the view that only a peaceful
development could restore Germany and not once did I hear
him say anything which might suggest that he knew anything
about the warlike intentions of Hitler. I have searched my
memory and I recall three or four incidents which answer
that question quite clearly. I should like to mention them
in this connection.

The first was the 420,000,000 gold mark credit which was
repaid in 1933. Luther, when the Reichsbank cover
disintegrated in the crisis -

                                                   [Page 81]

DR. DIX: May I interrupt for the information of the
Tribunal. Luther was Schacht's predecessor.

A. - in 1931 when the cover for the issue of notes had to be
cut down, Luther in his despair sent me to England in order
to acquire a large credit in gold from the Bank of England
which would restore confidence in the Reichsbank. Governor
Norman was quite prepared to help me, but he said that it
would be necessary for that purpose to approach also the
Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Bank of France, and
the International Bank in Basle. That was done and the
credit amounted to 420 million gold marks, but the inclusion
of the Bank of France created political difficulties which
delayed the credit for about ten or twelve days.

When I returned to Berlin, I was shocked to hear that the
greater part of the credit had already been used up. The
gold was torn from our hands, and I told Luther, "The credit
has lost its usefulness, and we must repay it immediately.
Our honour is our last asset. The banks which have helped us
shall not lose a single penny."

Luther did not have sufficient understanding for that, and
he said in so many words "What one has, one holds. We do not
know for what purposes we may still have urgent need of the
gold." And so the credit was extended and dragged out over
years.

When Schacht came to the bank in 1933, I told myself,
Schacht will understand me, and he did understand me
immediately. He agreed with me, and he repaid that credit
without hesitation. It never entered his head that one might
use that enormous sum of gold for some other purpose, and I
say here that if Schacht had known of any plans for a war,
he would have been a fool to pay back 420,000,000 gold
marks.

The second incident - I can't give the exact date, but I
believe it was in 1936. The Reichsbank received a letter
from the Command of the Army or the General Staff marked
"Top Secret," with the request to remove the gold reserves
of the Reichsbank, the securities and bank note reserves
from the frontier regions of Germany to a zone in the
interior. The reasons given were the following: In the event
of a threat to attack Germany on two fronts, the Command of
the Army had decided to evacuate the frontier areas and to
confine itself to a central zone which was to be defended at
all costs. I still remember from the map which was attached
to the letter that the line of defence in the east -

THE PRESIDENT: It seems to the Tribunal that this is very
remote from any question we have to decide.

DR. DIX: Your Lordship, that map which the witness wants to
describe shows clearly and beyond doubt that the attitude of
the German High Command in 1936 was a defensive attitude and
one which accepted great strategic disadvantages; and this
was communicated to the Reichsbank under the presidency of
Schacht. We can see from that communication that nobody at
that time even thought of aggressive intentions of the Army
Command.

THE PRESIDENT: At what time?

DR. DIX: I understood him to say that -  Perhaps it is
better that he should give you the date.

A. I cannot say exactly what the date was, but it must have
been about 1936, in my estimation.

DR. DIX: I believe that it is extremely relevant. May the
witness continue?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

A. The line of defence in the East went from Hof straight up
to Stettin; I cannot remember so well where the Western line
was drawn, but Baden and the Rhineland were outside of it.

                                                   [Page 82]

The Reichsbank was shocked to hear about that and about the
threat of a two-front attack on Germany and the tremendous
sacrifice of German territory. It was also shocked at the
idea that the Reichsbank, in the event of an occupation of
these regions by the enemy, would have to leave these
occupied territories without any financial support.
Therefore we refused the last mentioned request, but, as far
as the gold was concerned, we placed it in Berlin, Munich,
Nuremberg, and so on.

We could no longer have any doubt, however, after this top
secret document, about the defensive character of our
armaments and preparations.

I come to a third incident. That was in 1937. At that time,
when the economy was already running smoothly and more and
more money was being put in, Schacht asked for the support
of the German professors, economists, and called them
together to persuade them to work along his lines, that is
to try to check this trend. At that meeting one of those
present asked Schacht the question, "What will happen if war
breaks out?" Schacht got up and said, "Gentlemen, then we
are lost. Then everything is over with us. I ask you to drop
this subject. We cannot worry about it now."

Now I come to the fourth incident, which also leaves no
doubt about Schacht's attitude or the completeness of his
information. That was a conversation immediately after the
outbreak of the war. In the first few days Schacht, Hulse,
Dreise, Schniewind and I met for a confidential talk. The
first thing Schacht said was, "Gentlemen, this is a fraud
such as the world has never seen. The Poles have never
received the German ultimatum. The newspapers are lying in
order to lull the German people. The Poles have been
attacked. Henderson did not even receive the ultimatum, but
only a short excerpt from the note was given to him
verbally. If at any time at the outbreak of a war, the
question of guilt was clear, then it is so in this case.
That is a crime the like of which cannot be imagined."

Then Schacht continued: "What madness to start a war with a
military power like Poland, which is led by the best French
general staff officers. Our armament is no good. It has been
bungled and there is no thought-out plan. The money has been
wasted."

To the retort "But we have an air striking force, which can
make itself felt," Schacht said, "The air force does not
decide the outcome of a war, but only the ground forces. We
have no heavy guns, no tanks; in three weeks the German
armies in Poland will break up, and then think of the
coalition which will be ranged against us."

Those were Schacht's words and they made a deep impression
on me; for me they are a definite and clear answer to the
question which Dr. Dix put to me.

Q. Now, in the course of those years from 1933 to 1939 did
Schacht ever speak to you about alleged or surmised war
plans of Hitler?

A. No, never.

Q. What was Schacht's basic attitude to the idea of a war;
did he ever mention that to you?

A. Yes, of course, fairly often. Schacht always emphasized
that war destroys and ruins both the victor and the
vanquished, and, in his and our field, he pointed to the
example of the victorious powers whose economy and currency
had been devaluated and practically crippled. England had to
devaluate her currency; in France there was a complete
breakdown of the financial system, not to speak of other
powers, such as Belgium, Poland, Roumania and
Czechoslovakia.

Q. Schacht made these statements?

A. Yes, he did, and quite frequently. Schacht went into
detail and was very definite about the situation in neutral
countries. Schacht said again and again, there will be
conflicts and war again, but for Germany there is only one
policy, absolute neutrality. And he quoted the examples of
Switzerland, Sweden, and so on, who by their neutral
attitude had grown rich and more powerful and become
creditor nations. Schacht again and again emphasized that
very strongly.

                                                   [Page 83]

Q. In that connection you will understand my question. How
can you explain then, or rather, how did Schacht explain to
you the fact that he was financing armament at all?

A. Schacht believed at that time that a certain quantity of
armaments, such as every country in the world possessed, was
also necessary for Germany for political -

Q. May I interrupt you. I want you to state only the things
which Schacht told you, not your opinions about what Schacht
may have thought, but only what Schacht actually said to
you.

A. Yes. Schacht said a foreign policy without armament is
impossible over a period of time. Schacht also said that
neutrality, which he demanded for Germany in case of
conflict between the big powers, must be an armed
neutrality. Schacht considered armaments necessary, because,
otherwise, Germany would always be defenceless in the midst
of armed nations. He was not thinking of definite attack
from any side, but he said in every country there is a
militarist party which may come to power today or tomorrow,
and a completely helpless Germany, surrounded by other
nations, is unthinkable. It is even a danger to peace
because it is an incentive to attack one day. Finally,
however, and principally Schacht saw in armaments the only
means of revitalising and starting up German economy as a
whole. Barracks would have to be built. The building
industry, which is the backbone of economy, must be
revitalised. Only in that way he hoped, could unemployment
be tackled.

Q. Now, events led to the militarisation of the Rhineland,
the re-introduction of compulsory military service. Did you
have conversations with Schacht in which he said that if
this policy of Hitler was pursued it might lead to a war, at
least to an armed intervention by other nations which did
not approve of such policies? Were there any such
conversations between you and Schacht?

A. Not in the sense of your question. Schacht did speak to
me about the incidents when the Rhineland was re-occupied,
that is to say, he explained to me that at that time Hitler,
as soon as France adopted a somewhat menacing attitude, was
resolved to withdraw his occupation forces - Hitler had
climbed down - and was only prevented in this by von
Neurath, who said to him, "I was against that step but now
that you've done it, it will have to stand." What Schacht
told me at that time about Hitler's attitude was that Hitler
would do anything rather than have a war. Schacht also felt
this, as he told me, when he mentioned the friendship with
Poland, the renunciation of his claim to Alsace-Lorraine,
and, in particular, Hitler's policy during the first years,
all of which was a peaceful policy. Only later did he begin
to have misgivings as regards foreign policy.

Q. What were Schacht's principles and ideas in foreign
policy and how did these line up with his attitude to
Hitler's foreign policy?

A. He definitely disapproved, especially of course, since
Ribbentrop had gained influence in foreign politics, Schacht
saw in him the most incapable and irresponsible of Hitler's
advisers. But already before that there were serious
differences of opinion between Schacht and Hitler on foreign
policy.

For instance, as regards Russia: Already from 1928 and 1929
onwards Schacht had built up a large trade with Russia by
long term credits which helped the economy of both
countries. He has often been attacked on account of that,
but he said, "I know what I'm doing. I also know that the
Russians will pay punctually and without bargaining. They
have always done it." Schacht was very angry and unhappy
when Hitler's tirades of abuse spoiled the relations with
Russia and brought this extensive trade to an end.

Also as regards China, Schacht was convinced of the
importance of trade with China and was just about to develop
it on a large scale, when Hitler, by showing preference to
Japan and recalling the German advisers to Chiang-Kai-Chek,
again destroyed all Schacht's plans. Schacht saw that this
was a fatal mistake and said that Japan would never be able
nor willing to compensate us for the loss of trade with
China.

                                                   [Page 84]

Also Schacht always advocated close co-operation with the
United States, with England, and with France. Schacht
admired Roosevelt and was proud of the fact that Roosevelt,
through the diplomat Cockerill, kept in constant touch with
him. Schacht was convinced of the necessity of remaining on
the best terms with England and France, and for that very
reason he seriously disapproved of Ribbentrop being sent to
London.

Schacht was against Hitler's policy towards Italy. He knew
that Mussolini did not want to have anything to do with us,
and he considered him the most unreliable and weakest
partner.

As regards Austria, I only know that Schacht thought a great
deal of Dollfuss and was horrified and shocked when he heard
of his murder. Also after the occupation of Austria, he
disapproved of much that happened there.

May I, in this connection, say a word about Schacht's
colonial policy, which was a sort of hobby of Schacht and
about which he once gave a lecture? I can best illustrate
Schacht's views by telling you about the orders which he
gave me. Schacht's idea was to make an arrangement with the
powers, England, France, etc., whereby these powers should
purchase part of the Portuguese colony of Angola and
transfer it to Germany, not that she would exercise any
sovereign rights, but would exploit it economically, and he
had experts' opinions -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, the Tribunal thinks that this is
being given in far too great length.

BY DR. DIX:

Q. Well, we can leave out the individual examples. The late
Field-Marshal Blomberg made a statement to the effect that
the Reichsbank received every year from the Ministry of
Defence a written communication about the state of the
armaments. Do you, who were a member of the directorate,
know anything about this communication?

A. No, I have never heard anything about it.

Q. From the whole of your experience in the Reichsbank and
your experience of Schacht's attitude to his colleagues, do
you consider it possible that Schacht personally received
that information, but did not pass it on to any of his
colleagues in the Reichsbank Directorate?

A. It may be, but I consider it highly improbable.

Q. Now, when did Schacht start to try to stop the financing
of armaments and thereby check rearmament; and, it he did
try, and if you can affirm it, what were his reasons?

A. Schacht made the first attempts to limit armaments, I
believe, about 1936, when economy was operating at top speed
and further armament seemed an endless spiral. The
Reichsbank was blocked and, I believe, in 1936, Schacht
himself started making serious attempts to put an end to
armaments.

Q. And do you know from your own experience what these
attempts were?

A. These attempts continued throughout the following years:
First, Schacht tried to influence Hitler and that proved to
be in vain. His influence decreased as soon as he made any
such attempt. He tried to find allies in the civic
ministries, and also among the generals. He also tried to
win over Goering, and he thought he had won him over, but it
did not work. Schacht then put up a fight and at last he
succeeded in stopping the Reichsbank credits for armaments.
That was achieved at the beginning of March, 1938. But that
did not mean that he discontinued his efforts to stop
rearmament itself, but he continued to use every means, even
sabotage.

In 1938 he issued a loan at a time when he knew that the
previous loan had not yet been absorbed; when the banks were
still full of it; and he made the amount of the new loan so
big that it was doomed to failure. We waited eagerly to see
whether our calculations were correct. We were happy when
the failure became obvious, and Schacht informed Hitler.

                                                   [Page 85]

Another way in which he tried to sabotage armaments, was
when the industries which applied for loans to expand their
factories were prohibited from doing so by Schacht, and thus
were prevented from expanding. The termination of the
Reichsbank credit did not only mean that the Reichsbank
could no longer finance armaments, but it dealt a serious
blow to armament itself. This was shown in 1938, when
financing became extremely difficult in all fields, and upon
Schacht's resignation, immediately reverted to the direct
credits of the issuing bank, which was the only means of
maintaining elastic credit, the so-called perpetual credit,
which Hitler needed and could never have received from
Schacht.

I know that from my personal recollection, because I
protested against that law which was put to me and which
Hitler issued after Schacht's dismissal. I said to the Vice-
President: "I am not going to have anything to do with it."
Thereupon, I was immediately dismissed ten days after.

Q. Now, Herr Vocke, for those not in the know, the motive
for stopping the financing of armaments may have been purely
economic? Have you any grounds, have you any experience
which shows that Schacht was now also afraid of war and
wanted to prevent a war by this stoppage of credit?

A. Yes. At any rate, in 1938 the feeling that this
tremendous armaments programme which had no limits would
lead to war, became stronger and stronger, especially after
the Munich Agreement. In the meantime, Schacht had realised,
and I think the Fritsch affair had made it very clear to
him, that Hitler was the enemy, and that there was only one
thing to do; that was to fight against Hitler's armament
programme and war-mongering by every possible means. These
means, of course, were only financial, such as sabotage,
etc., as I have already described. The final resort was the
memorandum by which Schacht forced his resignation.


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