The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Hjalmar Schacht

(Part 11 of 13)

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(1) His resignation as Minister of Economics and General Plenipotentiary for War Economy. In November 1937, Schacht resigned his offices as Minister of Economics and General Plenipotentiary for War Economy. At the same time, he accepted appointment as Minister without Portfolio, and continued as President of the Reichsbank. It is submitted that the evidence shows at Schacht's resignations were merely the outgrowth of a clash between two power-seeking individuals, Goering and Schacht, over methods of creating a war economy. and over who should have final authority to direct the completion of the task. So far as appears, Schacht was in full accord with the other conspirators upon the desirability of providing Hitler with the means by which he eventually could carry out his planned aggressions.

The basic differences between Schacht and Goering date from a period shortly after Goering became head of the Four-Year Plan Office. The latter office was created by Hitler in September 1936, and in connection therewith, Goering was "given far reaching powers to issue directives to all the highest offices of the State Party". Goering conceived of his function as head of the Four-Year Plan Office "within four years to put the entire economy in a state of readiness for war" (EC-408).

Schacht was in agreement with the "aim and idea" of the Four Year Plan. He promised Goering his complete support and cooperation, and urged that Goering draw upon Schacht's long experience in economic affairs. Thus, in Schacht's letter of 5 August 1937, to Goering, he said:

"The aim and the idea of the Four Year Plan were and remain entirely correct and necessary! It stands, essentially, for the application of increased energy to the efforts already undertaken by my ministry since 1934 with the results shown in the above statistics. As you will remember, I welcomed it when your energy, my dear Prime Minister, was recruited by the Fuehrer for these tasks, and from the very beginning I gave you my most loyal support and cooperation, with the particular plea that I be given a hearing from time to time, since I believed that my more than thirty years of experience in economic life, half of them in public service, could be of value to you." (EC-497)

Goering, however, failed to avail himself of Schacht's offer of services. "I can only regret," said Schacht in the aforemen-

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tioned letter, "that you have made so little use of my offer" (EC-497). Instead, Goering began to encroach upon powers which had been delegated to Schacht, and they became embroiled in a bitter jurisdictional conflict. On 26 November 1936, Goering issued a directive regarding raw and synthetic material production, where by he undertook to assume control over large economic areas previously within Schacht's province

Schacht did not supinely accept Goering's intrusions upon his powers. Goering's directive was countered by an abrupt order from Schacht to all supervisory offices to accept orders from him alone

The conflict reached such dimensions that it threatened to retard the pace of the conspirators' armament program. The military sided with Schacht, who had provided the means for their rapid rearmament. They submitted proposals which would have assured to Schacht as Plenipotentiary General for the War Economy the responsibility for "unified preparation of the war economy as heretofore" (EC-408;

In January 1937, the German Military Weekly Gazette published an article warmly praising Schacht's achievements in rearmament. The timing of the article indicates that it was a further attempt by the military to tip the scales in Schacht's favor. The article

"The German Defense Force commemorates D. 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 Schacht's 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." (EC-383)

Shortly thereafter, Schacht attempted to force a showdown with Goering by temporarily refusing to act in his capacity as Plenipotentiary. Schacht plainly was using his prime importance in the conspirators' program of economic planning and preparation for war as a lever. In a letter to Hitler dated 22 February 1937, General von Blomberg, the Minister of War, suggested a settlement of the jurisdictional fight under which Schacht would fully retain his powers as General Plenipotentiary of War Economy, and concluded by stating:

"If you, my Fuehrer, agree with my view regarding these jurisdictional questions, it may be possible to induce Reichsbank President Dr. Schacht, whose cooperation as Pleni-

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potentiary for preparation of war is of great significance, to resume his former activity." (EC-244)

As a further demonstration of the community of interest between Schacht and the top German military authorities, Schacht attended the secret "War Economy" games at Godesberg in the latter part of May 1937. The purpose of the games was to demonstrate "how the action of the soldiers in total war is influenced by economy and how on the other hand, economy is completely dependent on military operations". Schacht's attendance was acclaimed at the games as

"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." (EC-174) .

In June 1937, Keitel implored Hitler to accelerate a final agreement between Schacht and Goering. Speaking of arrangements concerning cooperation of these two key figures, Keitel said:

"I know that a necessary practical basis for it [the arrangement for cooperation between Schacht and Goering] has already been found, and only a formal agreement is needed in order to carry on the common


"*** to waste time in our situation would be the greatest reproach that history could make upon us.

"May I beg, therefore, once more that the arrangement mentioned be expedited, and that I be notified accordingly." (EC-248)

Finally, on 7 July 1937, Schacht and Goering signed an agreement of reconciliation in Berlin, wherein it was said that the tasks of Goering and Schacht "are being solved in closest mutual cooperation," and that "no doubt exists about the fact that the Commissioner General for War Economy has the position of a supreme authority of the Reich"

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