The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th April to 1st May, 1946

One-Hundred-and-Thirteenth Day: Wednesday, 24th April, 1946
(Part 9 of 9)

[DR. DIX continues his direct examination of Hans Bernd Gisevius]

[Page 222]

Q. From that one could draw the conclusion that at that time Schacht still believed that the crash could be averted. What reasons did he give for this view?

A. I think, at the time the word "crash" was too strong for him. Schacht was thinking along the traditional lines of former governments, though he saw that here and there a change had come about, especially since Bruening's time, through emergency laws and certain dictatorial measures. But as far as I could see at the time and during all our subsequent conversations, uppermost in his mind was still the idea of a Reich government which would meet and pass resolutions, where the majority of ministers would be bourgeois, and where at a given moment, which might be sooner or later, one might steer a radically changed course.

Q. What was his attitude towards Hitler at that time?

A. It was quite clear to me that at that time he still thought very highly of Hitler. I could say that at that time Hitler was to him a man of irreproachable integrity.

THE PRESIDENT: What time are you speaking of?

THE WITNESS: I am now speaking of the time of my first meeting with Schacht at the end of 1934 or the beginning of 1935.

Q. What was your profession at that time? Where were you? Where did you work?

A. I had succeeded in leaving the Reich Ministry of the Interior in the meantime, but had been transferred to the Reich Criminal Office, which was in the process of being formed. When we realised that the Gestapo were extending their power, we believed we could establish some sort of police apparatus side by side with the Gestapo, that is, a purely criminal police. My friend Nebe had been made Chief of the Reich Criminal Office, so that he could create a police apparatus from there which would enable us to resist the Gestapo if need be. The Ministry of the Interior gave me the task of organisation and sent me to this government office, then in process of formation, to make suggestions for its establishment.

Q. We now slowly approach the year 1936 - the year of the Olympic Games. Did you have a special assignment there?

A. Yes. At the beginning of 1936 it was decided to make me Chief of Staff of the Police at the Central Police Office on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Berlin. That was an entirely non-political and technical affair. Count Helldorf, who was then Commissioner of Police, thought that because of my connections with the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice this would be useful. But I was quickly removed from this position. Heydrich discovered it and intervened.

Q. Your book contains a letter from Heydrich, which I don't propose to read in its entirely. It is addressed to Count Helldorf and calls his attention to the fact that, during the time of your office at the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, you always put every possible difficulty in the way of the Secret State Police and that their relations with you had been extremely unpleasant. He continues:

"I fear that his participation in the police preparations for the Olympic

[Page 223]

Games, even in this sphere, would not promote co- operation with the Secret State Police, and it should therefore be considered whether Gisevius should not be replaced by another suitable official. Heil Hitler.


Is that the letter which affected your position?

A. Yes. That was the reason why I was dismissed from that job also. I only had to wait a few more weeks before Himmler became the Chief of the Police in the Reich, and on the very day when that happened I was definitely removed from any kind of police service.

Q. And where did you go?

A. After my discharge from the police service I was sent to the government in Munster, where I was assigned to the price control office.

Q. Could you, while in the price control office in Munster, continue in any way your political work and make the necessary contacts?

A. Yes. I had plenty of opportunity to make official journeys. I made a thorough study, not only of prices, but also of the political situation in the Rhineland and Westphalia, and went to Berlin nearly every week so as to keep in touch with my friends.

Q. Were you in touch with Schacht?

A. From that time on I met him very nearly every week.

Q. Did you, from Munster, make contacts with other persons in prominent positions also, in connection with the work you were doing?

A. Yes. One of the reasons why I went to Munster was that the President of the Province (Oberpraesident), Freiherr von Luening, was a man of the old school - clean, correct, a professional civil servant - and politically a man who was keen on justice and order. He, too, ended on the gallows after the 20 July, 1944.

I also got in touch in Dusseldorf with the District President, State Secretary Schmidt, and immediately upon my arrival in Munster I did everything to get in touch with the commanding general there, von Kluge, who later became Field Marshal. In this I succeeded. There, too, I tried at once to continue my old political discussions.

Q. We shall revert to General Kluge later on. I now ask you: At that time when you were working in Munster, did you perceive a change in Schacht's attitude towards the regime, and in his attitude towards Hitler, as distinct from what you described to the Tribunal as existing in 1934?

A. Yes. By a steady process Schacht withdrew himself farther and farther from the Nazis. If I were asked to describe the phases, then I would say at the beginning - that is to say, in 1935 - he was of the opinion that the Gestapo was the main evil; that Hitler was the man who was the statesman, or could at least become the statesman, and that Goering was the conservative strong man whose services one ought to use and could use to oppose the terror of the Gestapo and the State by establishing orderly conditions. I contradicted Schacht vehemently regarding his views about the defendant Goering. I warned him. I told him that in my opinion Goering was the worst of all, precisely because he was hiding under the middle-class and conservative cloak. I implored him not to utilize the services of Goering in framing his economic police since this could only have bad results.

Schacht - for whom much could be said, but not that he is a good psychologist - contradicted this emphatically, and only when, in the course of 1936, he began to realise more and more that Goering was not supporting him against the Party, but was supporting the radical elements against him, only then did Schacht's attitude begin to change gradually, and he came to regard not only Himmler but also Goering as a great danger. For him Hitler was still the one man with whom one could frame a policy, provided the majority of the cabinet could succeed in getting him to come out on the side of law and order.

[Page 224]

Q. Are you now talking approximately of the time when Schacht was handing over the foreign currency control to Goering?

A. Yes. That was the moment when I warned him, and when I said that he became apprehensive about Goering and realised that he was not supporting him against the radical elements; that was the time I meant.

Q. By turning over the foreign currency control to Goering he showed a negative, a yielding attitude, but now that he was gradually changing his views, did he not have any positive ideas as to how to bring about a change?

A. Yes. He was entirely taken up with the view, held by many other people in Germany at that time, I could almost say by the majority of people in Germany, namely, the view that everything depended on strengthening the middle class influence in the cabinet, and that a prerequisite should be that the Reich Ministry of War, headed by Blomberg, should be brought over to the side of the middle-class ministers. Schacht had, if you like to put it that way, the very constructive idea that one would have to concentrate on the fight to win over Blomberg, and that was precisely where I agreed with him, since it was the same battle which I tried to fight with my friend Oster, in my small department, and in a far more modest way.

Q. Did he do anything to achieve that end at that time? As a clue I mention the steps taken by Reise, the Vice-President of the Reichsbank.

A. Yes. First of all he tried to establish close contact with the competent expert in the Ministry of War, General Thomas, who later on became Chief of the Army Economic Staff. Thomas was a man who, right from the beginning, was sceptical about National Socialism, or even opposed it. As by a miracle he later on emerged from the concentration camp alive. Schacht at that time began to fight for Blomberg through Thomas. I took part in that fight, because Schacht used me as an intermediary through Oster, and I was also informed about these connections through Herbert Goering; moreover I learned about these things from the many discussions with Thomas. I can testify here that, even at that time, it was extraordinarily difficult to establish connections between Schacht and Blomberg, and I was naive enough to tell Schacht repeatedly, simply to telephone Blomberg and ask him for an interview. Schacht replied that Blomberg would certainly be evasive and that the only way was to prepare the meeting via Oster and Thomas. This was done. I know how much we expected from the many discussions Schacht had with Blomberg. I was, of course, not present as a witness, but we discussed these conferences in great detail at the time. I took notes and was very pleased when I found that these recollections of mine tallied absolutely with the recollections of Thomas, whose hand-written notes I have in my possession. Thomas was repeatedly reprimanded by Blomberg and was told not to bother him with these qualms on Schacht's part. He was told that Schacht was querulous, and that he, Thomas -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Is it necessary to go into all this detail, Dr. Dix?

DR. DIX: Yes, I believe, your Lordship, that it will be necessary. This change from a convinced follower of Hitler to a resolute opponent and revolutionary, even a conspirator, is of course so complicated a psychological process that I believe that I cannot spare the Tribunal the details of that development. I shall certainly be economical with non-essential matters, but I should be grateful if the witness could be given a certain amount of freedom during this part of the testimony, as he is the only witness I have on this subject.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal thinks that you can give the essence of the matter without giving it in this great detail. You must try, at any rate, to give as little unnecessary detail as possible.

DR. DIX: I shall be glad to do that.


Q. Well, then, Dr. Gisevius, you have heard the wish of the Tribunal, and

[Page 225]

you will no doubt yourself bring out only the essential facts.

Is there any other essential fact in the affair Blomberg via Thomas that you wish to state, or can we conclude that chapter?

A. No, I shall now try to give a brief description of the other channels which were tried. I do not know how much the Tribunal wishes to hear about it. But I will say that Schacht tried to approach Baron von Fritsch, the Commander- in-Chief of the Army, but as he was very difficult to approach, he sent his Reichsbank Vice-President, Reise, to establish the contact. We also made one big attempt to approach Fritsch and Blomberg through General von Kluge.

Q. And, briefly, what was the object of that step? What were the Generals supposed to do. I mean these generals mentioned by you?

A. This, step had as its object to make it clear to Blomberg that things were taking a more and more extremist turn, that the economy of the country had deteriorated, and that the Gestapo terror must be stopped by all means.

Q. So that at the time there were only misgivings about the economy and the Gestapo terror - not as yet about the danger of war?

A. No, only the fear of extremism.

Q. We now turn to 1937. You know that was the year of Schacht's dismissal as Reich Minister of Economy. Did Schacht say anything to you as to why he remained in office as Reichsbank President?

A. Yes. I witnessed in detail the struggle for his release as Reich Minister of Economy. On the one side there was his attempt to be released from the Ministry, and I think I am right in saying that this was not so easy. Schacht told Lammers one day that if he did not receive the official notification of his release by a certain date, he would consider himself dismissed and inform the Press accordingly. On that occasion scores of people implored Schacht not to resign. Throughout those years, whenever a man wanted to resign from office, there was, always the question whether his successor might not steer an even more radical course. Schacht was implored not to leave, lest radicalism should gain the upper hand in the economic field also. I need only mention the name of Ley, as the head of the labour front.

Schacht replied that he could not carry the responsibility, but that he hoped he would be able as Reichsbank President to keep one foot in, as he expressed it. He imagined that he would be able to have a general view of the overall economic situation, and that through the Reichsbank he would be able to maintain certain economic political measures. I can testify that many men, who later became members of the opposition, implored Schacht to take that line and to keep at least one foot in.

Q. Was that decision of his not influenced by his attitude to and his judgement concerning some of the generals, particularly General Fritsch?

A. Yes, that is quite right. One of the greatest disasters was the fact that so many people in Germany imagined that Fritsch was a strong man. I remember that not only high- ranking officers, but also high ministerial officials told me over and over again that there was no need to worry, Fritsch was on the march; Fritsch was only waiting for the right moment; Fritsch would one fine day cause a revolt and end the terror. General von Kluge, for instance, told me this as a fact, and he was a close friend of Fritsch, and so we all lived in the completely mistaken belief, as I can say now, that one day would come the great revolt of the Armed Forces against the S.S. But instead of this the exact opposite occurred, namely, the bloodless revolt of the S.S., the famous Fritsch crisis, the result of which was that not only was Fritsch relieved of his post but that the entire Armed Forces leadership was beheaded, politically speaking, which meant that now all our hope -

Q. (Interposing) Forgive me if I interrupt you, but we shall come to the Fritsch crisis later. This crisis was in 1938, was it not?

A. Yes.

[Page 226]

Q. I should like to finish speaking about Schacht's efforts and actions in 1937 and to ask you - it is mentioned in your book - did not some unsuccessful attempt to approach General von Kluge and a journey by Schacht to Munster play a part?

A. Yes, I thought I was supposed to be brief about that. Although Schacht made a great effort to get in touch with Fritsch, it was not possible to arrange a conversation in Berlin. It was secretly arranged to meet von Kluge in Munster as the latter was too scared to meet Schacht publicly at the time. There was a lot of beating about the bush and the net result was that the two gentlemen did not meet at all. It was not possible to bring together a Reich Minister and a commanding general. It was all most depressing.

Q. Where were you at the time? What were you doing? Were you still at Munster, or was there a change?

A. I was still in Munster at that time, but in the middle of 1937 Schacht wanted me to return to Berlin. The greater his disappointment, the more he was inclined to take seriously my warnings against an increasing radicalism and an S.S. revolt.

By the autumn of 1937, things in Germany had reached such a point that everybody in the opposition group felt that evil plans were being made. We thought at that time that there would be another bloody 30 June, and we were trying to protect ourselves. It was Schacht who got in touch with Canaris through Oster and expressed the wish that I should be brought back to Berlin by some means or other. At that time there was no government office which would have given me a post. I had no other choice but to take a long leave from the civil service, alleging that I wanted to devote myself to economic studies. Schacht, in agreement with Canaris and Oster, arranged for me to be given such a post in a Bremen factory but I was not allowed to show myself there, and so I came to Berlin to place myself completely at the disposal of my friends for future happenings.

DR. DIX: Your Lordship, we are now coming to January, 1938, and the Fritsch crisis. I do not think that it would be helpful to interrupt that part of the witness' testimony. If I may, I would suggest that your Lordship now adjourn the session, or else we would have to go on at least another half-hour.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, we'll adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 25 April, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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