The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Hjalmar Schacht

(Part 13 of 13)

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(2) Schacht's dismissal from, the Presidency of the Reichsbank. Schacht was dismissed from the Presidency of the Reichsbank in January 1939. The evidence indicates that Schacht engineered his dismissal in order to escape personal responsibility for what he believed to be an impending financial crisis; he was not dismissed because of disagreement with the ultimate objectives of the conspiracy or common plan.

Schacht had always feared an inflation in Germany. As early as 8 May 1936, he emphatically stated that he would "never be party to an inflation" (1301-PS). In January 1939, Schacht was convinced that ruinous inflation was, in fact, imminent (EC-369). There was, it appears, ample basis for his fear. The Finance

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Minister, von Krosigk, had already recognized the situation in September 1938, and had written to Hitler warning that we are steering towards a serious financial crisis, the forebodings of which have led already abroad to detailed discussions of this weak side in our economic preparations and to an apprehensive loss of confidence domestically. (EC- 419)

Schacht was not only afraid of a financial crisis; he was even more fearful that he personally would be held responsible for it and his prestige would suffer a crushing blow. One of his associates at the Reichsbank has stated:

"When Schacht saw that the risky situation which he had sponsored was becoming insoluble, he was more and more anxious to get out. This desire to get out of a bad situation was for a long time the 'leitmotif' of Schacht's conversations with the directors of the bank." (EC-348)

In the end, Schacht deliberately stimulated his dismissal from the Presidency of the Reichsbank by arbitrarily refusing an end-of-the-month loan in a relatively small amount to the Reich, contrary to well established practice (3730-PS; 3731-PS).

Despite differences of opinion concerning the limits to which the German economy might be pushed without plunging the country into inflation, Schacht continued to enjoy Hitler's confidence. In his letter to Schacht dated 19 January 1939, Hitler stated:

"On the occasion of your recall from Office as President of the Reichsbank Directory, I take the opportunity to express to you my most sincere and warmest gratitude for the services which you rendered repeatedly to Germany and to me personally in this capacity during long and difficult years. Your name, above all, will always be connected with the first epoch of the national rearmament. I am happy to be able to avail myself of your services for the solution of new tasks in your position as Reich Minister." (EC- 397).

On his side, Schacht evidenced his abiding faith in Hitler and his continued agreement with his aggressive policies, by remaining as Minister without Portfolio until January 1943. As such he received a large salary from the Nazi Government and enjoyed the emoluments of public office (3724-PS).

(3) Conclusion. Schacht's assistance in the earlier phase of the conspiracy was an important factor in enabling the conspirators to seize the German state and thus pave the way for their later crimes. His 'work was indispensable to the rearma-

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ment of Germany and to the economic planning and preparation required to launch the German wars of aggression. As long as he remained in power, he worked as eagerly for the preparation of aggressive war as any of his co-conspirators. He personally was favorably disposed towards aggression, if "Lebensraum" for Germany could not otherwise be attained. He knew that Hitler intended to and would break the peace, and with this knowledge, he willingly and purposely contributed his efforts. His withdrawal from three of his four posts reflected no moral feeling against the use of aggressive warfare as an instrument of national policy; he withdrew for reasons wholly unrelated to Hitler's program of illegal aggression. By the time of his withdrawal from these three positions, he had already provided his co-conspirators with the physical means and economic planning necessary to launch and maintain their wars of aggression; and he continued in his lucrative fourth position (Minister without Portfolio) until January 1943-until, in short, it became doubtful ether the conspirators could maintain the successes which they had gained in the wars they had illegally launched and were waging.

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