The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Hjalmar Schacht

(Part 12 of 13)

[Page 763]

Schacht resumed his duties as General Plenipotentiary with renewed vigor. On the day following his formal agreement with Goering, he wrote to General von Blomberg on "Measures for the preparation of the conduct of war," pledging continued cooperation in their mutual

"*** by the direction of the supreme authority for the conduct of war, the coordination of the conduct of war will be assured in its execution through mutual agreement between you and me, which I look upon as a matter of course

[Page 764]

in the Central Authority and without which I cannot envisage any conduct of war. The direction of the 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 the accomplishment of the political war purpose with the mustering 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 Reich Defense Act [Reichsverteidgungsgesetz]." (EC- 252)

However, Schacht and Goering were soon again in disagreement. After a sharp exchange of letters in which each sought to justify his particular economic program as the best means of making possible the attainment of Hitler's objectives (EC-497; EC-493) Schacht suggested to Goering in a curt letter dated 26 August 1937, that he (Goering) assume sole charge of economic policies. In this letter, Schacht rationalized his precipitate action as follows:

"To me it does not seem to be of decisive importance to raise questions of competence and initiative, but it is of decisive importance that the Fuehrer's economic policy should be carried out in a coherent manner, and with the least amount of friction." (EC-283)

Despite the uncompromising tenor of the latter communication, Schacht was still amenable to an arrangement with Goering which would have permitted him a measure of autonomy in economic planning and preparation for war. On 1 November 1937, he attended a conference with

"*** which led in an entirely friendly manner to the working out of a series of proposals, which *** Goering promised to have presented to me [Schacht] in writing on the following day *** so that, after having reached an agreement we could present a mutually approved text to you, my Fuehrer." (EC-495)

But the written agreement was not forthcoming as Goering had promised, and Schacht repeated his request to be relieved from the Ministry of Economics, "in the interest of a uniform government management" (EC-495). Hitler finally accepted Schacht's resignation as Minister of Economics on 26 November 1937, simultaneously appointing him Minister Without Portfolio. Schacht's resignation was also extended to his position as Plenipotentiary for War Economy (EC-494).

In subsequent interrogations, both Schacht and Goering have confirmed the fact that Schacht's withdrawal was simply the re-

[Page 765]

sult of a losing struggle with Goering to retain personal power (3730-PS;

There is nothing to indicate that Schacht's withdrawal from the Ministry of Economics and the Office of Plenipotentiary for War Economy in any sense represented a break with Hitler on the ground of contemplated military aggression. He consented to retain his position as President of the Reichsbank, where he remained undisputed master, and accepted the post of Minister of Portfolio, in order to be Hitler's "personal adviser." In the letter accepting Schacht's resignation as Minister of Economics, Hitler said:

"If I accede to your wish it is with the expression of deepest gratitude for your so excellent achievements and in the happy consciousness that, as President of the Reichsbank Directorium, you will make available for the German people and me for many years more your outstanding knowledge and ability and your untiring working strength. Delighted at the fact that in the future, also, you are willing to be my personal adviser, I appoint you as of today a Reich Minister." (L-104).

As President of the Reichsbank, Schacht continued to carry out Hitler's policies. As previously shown, he participated in the planning of the invasion of Austria by fixing the conversion rate the Austrian Schilling in advance of the invasion; and under direction, the Austrian National Bank was merged into the Reichsbank. He publicly approved the absorption of Austria and acquisition of the Sudetenland. He continued to finance armaments by "mefo" bill credits until April 1938, and thereafter, until his resignation in January 1939, authorized an increase of approximately 2.6 billion Reichsmarks in bank notes in order to discount commercial paper which was used in connection with the armament program. (EC-438)

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