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-
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).
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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