The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
21st January to 1st February, 1946

Forty-First Day: Wednesday, 23rd January, 1946
(Part 2 of 9)


[Page 82]

Thereby, the entire German Press was subordinate to the political aims of the Government. This was exemplified by the timely measuring and the emphatic presentation of such Press polemics as appeared to be most useful, as shown for instance in the following themes: the class struggle of the system era; the leadership principle and the authoritarian State the party and interest politics of the system era; the Jewish problem the conspiracy of World Jewry; the Bolshevistic danger; the plutocratic Democracy abroad; the race problem generally; the church; the economic misery abroad; the foreign policy; the living space - "Lebensraum."
This description of Fritzsche establishes clearly - and in his own words that the German Press Division was the instrument for subordinating the entire German Press to the political aims of the Government.

We now pass to Fritzsche's first activities on behalf of the conspirators within the German Press Division. It is appropriate to read again from his

[Page 83]

affidavit - paragraph 17, your document book Page 23. Fritzsche begins by describing a conference with Goebbels in late April or early May of 1933:
"At this time Dr. Goebbels suggested to me, as a specialist on news technique, the establishment and direction of a section "News," within the Press Division of his Ministry, in order to organise fully and to modernise the German news agencies. In executing this assignment given to me by Dr. Goebbels I took for my field the entire news field for the German Press and the radio, in accordance with the directions given by the propaganda Ministry, at first with the exception of the D.N.B., German News Agency."
An obvious reason why the D.N.B. was excepted from Fritzsche's field at this time is that the D.N.B. did not come 4nto existence until the year 1934, as we shall see presently. Later on, in paragraph 17 of the Fritzsche affidavit, the Tribunal will note the tremendous funds put at the disposal of Fritzsche in building up the Nazi news services. Altogether, the German news agencies received a ten-fold increase in their budget from the Reich, an increase from 400,000 to 4,000,000 Mark. Fritzsche himself selected and employed the Chief Editor for the Transocean News Agency and also for the "Europa" Press. Fritzsche states that some of the "directions of the Propaganda Ministry which I had to follow were" . "increase of German news copy abroad at any cost" ... "spreading of favourable news on the internal construction and peaceful intentions of the National Socialist System."

About the summer of 1934, the defendant Funk, then Reich Press Chief, achieved the fusion of the two most important domestic news agencies, the Wolff Telegraph Agency and the Telegraph Union, and thus formed the official German news agency, ordinarily known as D.N.B. It has already been pointed out to the Tribunal that the indictment is in error in alleging that Fritzsche himself was Editor-in-Chief of the D.N.B. Fritzsche held no position whatsoever with the D.N.B. at any time. However, as head of the news section of the German Press Division, Fritzsche's duties gave him official jurisdiction over the D.N.B., which was the official domestic news agency of the German Reich after 1934. In the last part of paragraph 17 of the affidavit, Fritzsche states that he co-ordinated the work of the various foreign news agencies "within Europe and overseas with each other and in relationship to D.N.B."

The Wireless News Service was headed by Fritzsche from 1930 to 1937. After January, 1933, it was the official instrument of the Nazi government in spreading news over the radio. During the same time that Fritzsche headed it, he personally made radio broadcasts to the German people. These broadcasts were naturally subject to the controls of the Propaganda Ministry and reflected its purposes. The influence of Fritzsche's broadcasts upon the German people, during this period of consolidation of control by the Nazi conspirators, is all the more important since Fritzsche was concurrently head of the Wireless News Services, which controlled for the government the spreading of all news by radio.

It is by now well known to the world that the Nazi conspirators attempted to be - and often were - very adept in psychological warfare. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on the strategy of expediency, they initiated a Press campaign calculated to weaken their victims, and to prepare the German people psychologically for the impending Nazi madness. They used the Press, after their earlier conquests, as a means for further influencing foreign politics, and in manoeuvring for the next aggression.

By the time of the occupation of the Sudetenland on 1 October, 1938,

[Page 84]

Fritzsche had become deputy head of the entire German Press Division. Fritzsche states that the role of German propaganda before the Munich Agreement on the Sudetenland was directed by his immediate chief, Berndt, then head of the German Press Division. In paragraph 27 of the Fritzsche affidavit, Page 26 of your document book, Fritzsche describes this propaganda which Berndt directed. Speaking of Berndt, Fritzsche states:
"He exaggerated minor events very strongly, sometimes using old episodes as new - and there were complaints even from the Sudetenland itself, that much of the news reported by the German Press was untrustworthy. As a matter of fact, after the great foreign political success at Munich in September, 1938, there came a noticeable loss of confidence among the German people in the trustworthiness of their Press. This was one reason for the recalling of Berndt in December 1938, after the conclusion of the Sudeten action, and for my appointment as head of the German Press Division. In addition, Berndt, by his admittedly successful but still primitive military-like orders to the German Press, had lost the confidence of the German editors."
Now, what happened at that time? Fritzsche was made head of the German Press Division in place of Berndt. Between December 1938 and 1942, Fritzsche, as head of the German Press Division, personally gave to the representatives of the principal German newspapers the "daily parole of the Reich Press Chief." During this history-making period he was the principal conspirator directly concerned with the manipulations of the Press. The first important foreign aggression after Fritzsche became head of the German Press Division was the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia. In paragraph 28, of the affidavit, your document book Page 26, Fritzsche gives his account of the propaganda action surrounding the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia as follows:
"The action for the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia, which took place on 15 March 1939, while I was head of the German Press Division, did not take so long to plan as the Sudeten action. According to my memory it was in February that I received the order from the Reich Press Chief, Dr. Dietrich, which was repeated as a request by the envoy Paul Schmidt of the Foreign Office, to bring the attention of the Press to the efforts for independence of Slovakia and to the continued anti- German coalition politics of the Prague Government. I did this. The daily paroles of the Reich Press Chief and the Press conference minutes at that time show the wording of the corresponding instructions. Typical headlines of leading newspapers and the emphatic leading articles of the German daily Press at that time were as follows: (1) the terrorising of Germans within the Czech territory by arrest, shooting of Germans by the State police, destruction and damaging of German homes by Czech gangsters; (2) the concentration of Czech forces on the Sudeten frontier; (3) the kidnapping, deporting and persecuting of Slovakian minorities by the Czechs; the Czechs must get out of Slovakia; (4) secret meetings of Red functionaries in Prague. Some few days before the visit to Hacha, I received the instruction to publish in the Press very emphatically the incoming news on the unrest in Czechoslovakia. Such information came only in part from the German News Agency, D.N.B. Mostly it came from the Press Division of the Foreign Office, and some of it came from big newspapers with their own news services. Among the newspapers offering information was above all the Volkischer Beobachter which, as I learned later on, received its information from the S.S. Standartenfuehrer Gunter D'Alquen. He was at this time in Pressburg. I had forbidden all news agencies and newspapers to issue news on unrest in Czechoslovakia until I had seen it. I wanted to avoid a repetition of the very annoying results

[Page 85]

of the Sudeten action propaganda, and I did not want to suffer a loss of prestige caused by false news. Thus, all news checked by me was, though admittedly full of tendency, not invented news. After the visit of Hacha in Berlin and the beginning of the invasion of the German Army, which took place on 15 March 1939, the German Press had enough material for describing those events. Historically and politically the event was given justification by the indication that the declaration of independence of Slovakia demanded interference, and that Hacha by signing had avoided a war, and had reinstated a thousand-year union between Bohemia and the Reich."
The propaganda campaign of the Press preceding the invasion of Poland on 1 of September, 1939, and thus just preceding the precipitation of World War II, bears again the handiwork of Fritzsche and his German Press Division. In paragraph 30 of Fritzsche's affidavit, document book Page 27, Fritzsche speaks of the conspirators' treatment of this episode as follows:
"Very complicated and changing was the Press and propaganda treatment in the case of Poland. Under the influence of the German-Polish agreement, the German Press had, for many years, been generally forbidden to publish anything on the situation of the German minority in Poland. This remained the case too when, in the Spring of 1939, the German Press was asked to become somewhat more active about the problem of Danzig. Also, when the first Polish-English conversations took place, and when the German Press was instructed to use a sharper tone against Poland, the question of the German minority still remained in the background. But during the summer this problem was picked up again, and the result was an immediate and noticeable sharpening of the situation, for all the larger German newspapers had for some time quite an abundance of material on complaints of the Germans in Poland, without the editors having a chance to use it. The German papers, from the time of the minority discussion at Geneva, still had correspondents or free collaborators in Kattowitz, Bromberg, Posen, Thorn, etc. Their material now came forth with a rush. Concerning this, the leading German newspapers, as the result of directions given out in the so-called "daily parole," brought out the following headlines with great emphasis: (1) cruelty and terror against Germans, and their extermination in Poland; (2) forced labour of thousands of German men and women in Poland; (3) Poland, land of servitude and disorder; the desertion of Polish soldiers; the increased inflation in Poland; (4) provocation of frontier clashes upon direction of the Polish Government; the Polish lust to conquer; (5) persecution of Czechs and Ukrainians by Poles. The Polish Press replied particularly sharply."
The Press campaign preceding the invasion of Yugoslavia followed the conventional pattern. You will find the customary defamations, the lies, the incitement and the threats and the usual attempts to divide and to weaken the victim. Paragraph 32 of the Fritzsche affidavit, your document book Page 28, outlines this propaganda action as follows:
"During the period immediately preceding the invasion of Yugoslavia, on 16 of April 1941, the German Press emphasised by headlines and leading articles the following topics: (1) the planned persecution of Germans in Yugoslavia, including the burning down of German villages by Serbian soldiers; the confining of Germans in concentration camps, and also the physical mishandling of German-speaking persons; (2) the arming of Serbian bandits by the Serbian Government; (3) the incitement of Yugoslavia by the plutocrats against Germany; (4) the increasing anti-Serbian feeling in Croatia; (5) the chaotic economic and social conditions in Yugoslavia."

[Page 86]

Since Germany had a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union and because these conspirators wanted the advantage of surprise, there was no special propaganda campaign immediately preceding the attack on the USSR. Fritzsche in paragraph 33 of his affidavit discusses what line the propaganda should take in order to justify this aggressive war to the German people.
"During the night of 21-22 June 1941, Ribbentrop called me to a conference in the Foreign Office Building at about 5 o'clock in the morning, at which representatives of the domestic and foreign Press were present. Ribbentrop informed us that the war against the Soviet Union would start that same day, and asked the German Press to present the war against the Soviet Union as a preventative war for the defence of the Fatherland, a war which was forced upon us through the immediate danger of an attack by the Soviet Union against Germany. The claim that this was a preventative war was later repeated by the newspapers, which received their instructions from me during the usual daily parole of the Reich Press Chief, and I have, myself, in my regular broadcasts, given this presentation of the cause of the war."
Fritzsche, throughout his affidavit, constantly refers to his technical and expert assistance to the colossal apparatus of the Propaganda Ministry. In 1939 he apparently became dissatisfied with the efficiency of the existing facilities of the German Press Division in furnishing grist for the propaganda mill, and for its intrigues. He established a new instrument for improving the effectiveness of Nazi propaganda. In paragraph 19 of his affidavit, Page 24 of your document book, Fritzsche describes this new propaganda instrument as follows:
"About the summer of 1939 I established within the German Press Division a section called 'Speed-Service.'" And then further on "At the start it had the task of checking the correctness of news from foreign countries. Later on, about the fall of 1939, this section also elaborated on collecting materials which were put at the disposal of the entire German Press. For instance, data from the British Colonial policy, from political statements of the British Prime Minister in former times, descriptions of social distress in hostile countries, etc. Almost al German newspapers used such material as a basis for their polemics. Hereby was achieved a great unification within the fighting front of the German Press. The title 'Speed Service' was chosen because materials for current comments were supplied with unusual speed."
Throughout the entire period preceding and including the launching of aggressive war, Fritzsche made regular radio broadcasts to the German people under the following titles: "Political Newspaper Review," "Political and Radio Show," and later "Hans Fritzsche Speaks." His broadcasts naturally reflected the polemics and the control of his Ministry and thus of the Common Plan or Conspiracy.

We of the prosecution contend that Fritzsche, one of the most eminent of Goebbels' propaganda team, helped substantially to bathe the world in the blood bath of aggressive war.

With the Tribunal's consent I will now pass to proof bearing on Fritzsche's incitement to atrocities, and his encouragement of a ruthless occupation policy. The results of propaganda as a weapon of the Nazi conspirators reach into every aspect of this conspiracy, including the abnormal and inhuman conduct involved in the atrocities, and the ruthless exploitation of occupied countries. Most of the ordinary members of the German nation would never have participated in or tolerated the atrocities committed throughout Europe, had they not been conditioned and goaded to barbarous convictions and misconceptions by the constant grinding of the Nazi propaganda machine. Indeed, the

[Page 87]

propagandists who tent themselves to this evil mission of instigation and incitement are more guilty than the credulous and callous minions who headed the firing squads, or operated the gas chambers, of which we have heard so much in these proceedings. For the very credulity and callousness of those minions was in large part due to the constant and evil propaganda of Fritzsche and his official associates.

With respect to Jews, the Department of Propaganda within the Propaganda Ministry had a special branch for the "Enlightenment of the German people and of the world as to the Jewish question, fighting with propagandistic weapons against enemies of the State and hostile ideologies." This quotation is taken from a book written in 1940 by Ministerial Director Muller, entitled "The Propaganda Ministry." It is found in Document 2434-A-PS, your document book, Page 10, offered in evidence as Exhibit USA 722. It is another excerpt from Ministerial Director Muller's book and I merely ask that you take judicial notice of it for that one sentence that I have read.

Fritzsche took a particularly active part in this "enlightenment" of the Jewish question, in his radio broadcasts. These broadcasts literally teemed with provocative libels, the only logical result of which was to inflame Germany to further atrocities against the helpless Jews who came within her physical power. Document 3064-PS contains a number of complete broadcasts by Fritzsche, which were monitored by the British Broadcasting Corporation and translated by BBC officials. For the convenience of the Tribunal I have had those excerpts upon which the prosecution relies to show illustrative types of Fritzsche's broadcasts, mimeographed and made into one document, which I offer into evidence as Exhibit USA 723. Even the defendant Streicher, the master Jew-baiter of all time, could scarcely outdo Fritzsche in some of his slanders against the Jews. All the excerpts in document 3064-PS are from speeches of Fritzsche given on the radio between 1941 and 1945, which we have already proved to have been a period of intensified anti-Jewish measures. With the permission of the Tribunal, I would like to read some of these excerpts:

Page 14 of our document book, Item 1. From a broadcast of 18 December 1941: It is found on Page 2122 of the translations from BBC:

"The fate of Jewry in Europe has turned out to be as unpleasant as the Fuehrer predicted it would be in the event of a European war. After the extension of the war instigated by Jews, this unpleasant fate may also spread to the New World, for you can hardly assume that the nations of this New World will pardon the Jews for causing this misery when the nations of the Old World did not do so."

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