The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Hjalmar Schacht

(Part 9 of 13)

[Page 756]

(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

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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).

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