The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter VIII
The Economic Aspects of the Conspiracy
(Part 4 of 5)

High-ranking military officers paid tribute to Schacht's con-

[Page 360]

trivances on behalf of the Nazi war machine. An article written for the "Military Weekly Gazette" in January 1937 stated:

"The German Defense Force commemorates Dr. Schacht today as one of the men who have done imperishable things for it and its development in accordance with directions from the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor. The defense force owes it to Schachts skill and great ability that in defiance of all currency difficulties it, according to plan, has been able to grow up to its present strength from an army of 100,000 men."

After the reoccupation of the Rhineland, the Nazi conspirators redoubled their efforts to prepare Germany for a major war. The Four Year Plan was proclaimed by Hitler in his address at the Nurnberg Party Convention on 9 September 1936. It was given a statutory foundation by the decree concerning the execution of the Four Year Plan dated 18 October 1936 (Reichsgesetzblatt, I, 887.). By this decree Goering was put in charge of the plan. He was authorized to enact any legal and administrative measures deemed necessary by him for the accomplishment of his task, and to issue orders and instructions to all government agencies, including the highest Reich authorities. The purpose of the plan was to enable Nazi Germany to attain complete self- sufficiency in essential raw materials, notably motor fuel, rubber, textile fiber, and non-ferrous metals, and to intensify preparations for war. The development of synthetic products was greatly accelerated despite their high costs.

Apart from the self-sufficiency program, however, the Nazi conspirators required foreign exchange to finance propaganda and espionage activities abroad. Thus, in a speech on 1 November 1937 before the Wehrmachtakademie, General Thomas stated:

"If you consider that one will need during the war considerable means in order to organize the necessary propaganda, in order to pay for the espionage service, and for similar purposes, then one should be clear that our internal Mark would be of no use therefore, and that Foreign Exchange will be needed." (EC-14)

This need for foreign exchange was reduced in part by virtue of the espionage and propaganda services rendered free of charge to the Nazi state by leading German industrial concerns. A memorandum dated at Essen on 12 October 1935, which was found in the files of the Krupp company, contains the subheading: "Concerns:-distribution official propaganda literature abroad with help of our foreign connections." I goes on to say that on the morning of October 11 the district representative of the Ribben-

[Page 361]

trop Private Foreign Office, Dienststelle Ribbentrop, made an appointment by telephone with Mr. Lachman to arrive at an appointed time. The memorandum continues:

"In answer to my question, with whom I was dealing and which official bureau he represented, he informed me that he was not himself the district representative of Ribbentrops Private Foreign Office, but that a Mr. Landrat Bollman was such and that he himself had come at Mr. Bollmans order." (D-206)

After discussing the confusion in the field of foreign propaganda, the memorandum states that Ribbentrops Foreign Office is creating a private organization for foreign propaganda, and that for this purpose the support of the Krupp firm and especially an index of addresses are needed. This request received the following response:

"I informed Mr. Lachman that our firm has put itself years ago at the disposal of the official bureaus for purposes of foreign propaganda, and that we had supported all requests addressed to us to the utmost." (D-206)

These activities are demonstrated by another document found in the files of the Krupp company. A memorandum prefaced by Herr Sonnenberg, on 14 October 1937, reports a meeting at Essen on 12 October 1937. The governments request for assistance in foreign intelligence activities met this response:

"On our part we undertook to supply information to the Combined Services Ministry (R) as required." (D-167)

Meanwhile the conspirators program of self-sufficiency was proceeding with great speed. The production of steel, for example, as shown in official German publication, rose as follows:

1933 - 74,000 tons
1934 - 105,000 tons
1935 - 145,000 tons
1936 - 186,000 tons
1937 - 217,000 tons
1938 - 477,000 tons

The production of gasoline increased at an even greater tempo: from 387,000 tons in 1934 to 1,494,000 tons in 1938 (Statistical Yearbook of the German Reich, 1939-1942).

The Nazi conspirators pressed the completion of the armament program with a sense of urgency betraying their awareness of the imminence of war. At a meeting on 4 September 1936 Goering pointed out that "all measures have been taken just as

[[Page 362]

if we were actually in the state of imminent danger of war." He pointed out that:

"***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." (EC-416)

The extreme urgency was manifested by Goering's remark that

"***existent reserves will have to be touched for the purpose of carrying us over this difficulty until the goal ordered by the Fuehrer has been reached; in case of war they are not a reliable backing in any case." (EC-416)

Schacht was advised by a top secret letter dated 31 August 1936 that Hitler ordered all formations of the air force to be ready by 1 April 1937. (1301-PS)

After their successes in Austria and the Sudetenland, the Nazi conspirators redoubled their efforts to equip themselves for the war of aggression which they planned to launch. In a conference on 14 October 1938, shortly before the Nazis made their first demands on Poland, Goering stated:

"***Everybody knows from the press what the world situation looks like, and therefore the Fuehrer has issued an order to him to carry out a gigantic program compared to which previous achievements are insignificant. There are difficulties in the way which he will overcome with the utmost energy and ruthlessness." (1301-PS)

The supply of foreign currency had sunken because of preparations for the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Replenishment was considered necessary. At the same conference, on 14 October 1938, Goering declared:

"These gains made through the export are to be used for an increased armament. The armament should not be curtailed by export activities." (1301-PS)

Goering had received the order from the Fuehrer to increase armaments to an abnormal extent, the air force having first priority, and interpreted it as follows:

"Within the shortest time, the air force should be increased five fold; also the navy should create war weapons more rapidly, and the army should produce large amounts of war weapons at a faster rate, particularly heavy artillery and heavy tanks. Along with this a larger production of armaments must go, especially fuel, rubber, powders and explosives must be moved to the foreground. This should be coupled with an accelerated expansion of highways, canals, and particularly of the railroads." (1301-PS)

[Page 363]

In the course of these preparations for war, a clash of wills ensued between Goering and Schacht, as a result of which Schacht resigned his position as head of the Ministry of Economics and Plenipotentiary for the War Economy in November 1937. He was removed from the presidency of the Reichsbank in January 1939. Regardless of the details of this controversy, Schacht's departure in no way implied any disagreement with the major war aims of the Nazis. Schacht took particular pride in his vast attainments in the financial and-economic fields in aid of the Nazi war machine. In a letter to General Thomas Schacht wrote:

"I think back with much satisfaction to the work in the Ministry of Economics which afforded me the opportunity to assist in the rearmament of the German people in the most critical period, not only in the financial but also in the economic sphere. I have always considered a rearmament of the German people as condition sine quo non of the establishment of a new German nation." (EC-257)

In a letter written to General Von Blomberg, on 8 July 1937, Schacht wrote:

"The direction of the war economy by the plenipotentiary would in that event never take place entirely independent from the rest of the war mechanism but would be aimed at accomplishment of the political war purpose with the assistance of all economic forces. I am entirely willing, therefore, to participate in this way in the preparation of the forthcoming order giving effect to the Defense Act." (EC-252)

In the spring of 1937, Schacht participated with representatives of the three branches of the armed forces in "war games in war economy" at Godesberg. A report of these exercises, entitled War economy tasks in Godesberg undertaken by General Staff between the 25th of May and the 2nd of June," records the speech welcoming Dr. Schacht:

"Before I start with the discussion of the war game in war economy, I have to express how grateful we all are that you, President Dr. Schacht, have gone to the trouble personally to participate in our final discussion today despite all your other activities. This proves to us your deep interest in war economy tasks shown at all times and your presence is renewed proof that you are willing to facilitate for us soldiers the difficult war-economic preparations and to strengthen the harmonious cooperation with your offices."


"I want to point out, however, that all matters and all

[Page 364]

information received has to be kept in strictest secrecy ***" (EC-17)

The annexation of Austria was apparently a goal which Schacht had long sought, for in a speech to the employees of the former Austrian National Bank he declared:

"***Austria has certainly a great mission, namely, to be the bearer of German culture, to insure respect and regard for the German name, especially in the direction of the southeast. Such a mission can only be performed within the Great German Reich and based on the power of a nation of 75 millions, which, regardless of the wish of the opponents, forms the heart and the soul of Europe."


"We have read a lot in the foreign press during the last few days that this aim, the union of both countries, is to a certain degree justified, but that the methods of effecting this union was terrible. This method which certainly did not suit one or the other power was nothing but the consequence of countless perfidies and brutal acts and violence which foreign countries have practiced against us ***"

"***I am known for sometimes expressing thoughts which give offense and there I would not like to depart from this consideration. I know that there are even in this country a few people -- I believe they are not too numerous -- who find fault with the events of the last few days, but nobody, I believe) doubts the goal, and it should be said to all grumblers that you can't satisfy everybody. One person says he would have done it maybe one way, but the remarkable thing is that they did not do it, and that it was only done by our Adolf Hitler; and if there is still something left to be improved, then those grumblers should try to bring about these improvements from the German Reich, and within the German community, but not to disturb us from without." (EC-297-A)

A memorandum of 7 January 1939, written by Schacht and other directors of the Reichsbank to Hitler, urged a balancing of the budget in view of the threatening danger of inflation. The memorandum continued:

"***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

[Page 365]

in spite of the inherent dangers to the currency. The justification thereof was the necessity, which pushed all other considerations into 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 Reichsbank directors, as experts on money, believed that a point had been reached where greater production of armaments was no longer possible. That was merely a judgment on the situation and not a moral stand, for there was no opposition to Hitler's policy of aggression. Doubts were merely entertained as to whether that policy could be financed. Hitler's letter to Schacht on the occasion of Schacht's departure from the Reichsbank paid high tribute to Schacht's great efforts in furthering the program of the Nazi conspirators. The armed forces by now had enabled Hitler to take Austria and the Sudetenland. Hitler, in his letter to Schacht declared:

"Your name, above all, will always be connected with the first epoch of national rearmament." (EC-397)

Even though dismissed from the presidency of the Reichsbank, Schacht was retained as a minister without portfolio and special confidential adviser to Hitler. Funk stepped into Schacht's position as president of the Reichsbank (Voelkisher Beobachter of 21 January 1939). Funk was uninhibited by fears of inaction, and like Goering, under whom he had served in the Four Year Plan, he recognized no obstacles to the plan to attack Poland. In a letter written on 25 August 1939, only a few days before the attack on Poland, Funk reported to Hitler that the Reichsbank was prepared to withstand any disturbances of the international currency and credit system occasioned by a large-scale war. He said that he had secretly transferred all available funds of the Reichsbank abroad into gold, and that Germany stood ready to meet the financial and economic tasks which lay ahead. (699-PS)

It seems clear that the Nazi conspirators directed the whole of the German economy toward preparation for aggressive war. To paraphrase the words of Goering, the conspirators gave the German people "guns instead of butter." They also gave history its most striking example of a nation gearing itself in time of peace to the single purpose of aggressive war. Their economic preparations formulated and applied with the energy of Goering the financial wizardry of Schacht, and the willing complicity of Funk, among others, were the indispensable prerequisites for their subsequent campaign of aggression.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.