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-Fifteenth Day: Friday, 26th April, 1946
(Part 3 of 8)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of Hans Bernd Gisevius]

[Page 279]


Q. Well, in addition to a system of spoils from confiscated property, there were also open gifts from Hitler to the generals and ministers, were there not, of large sums of property and money?

A. Yes. Those were the famous donations with which, especially in the years after the outbreak of the war, the top generals were systematically corrupted.

Q. And did that hold true with reference to many of the ministers?

A. I do not doubt it.

[Page 280]

Q. Now, as I understood your testimony, whatever doubts you may have had before 1938 when the affair Fritsch occurred, that event or series of events convinced even Schacht that Hitler was bent on aggressive warfare.

A. After the Fritsch crisis Schacht was convinced that, now radicalism and the course toward war could no longer be held back.

Q. There was never any doubt in the minds of all of you men who were in the resistance movement, was there, that the attack on Poland of September, 1939, was aggression on Hitler's part?

A. No, no there could be no doubt about that.

Q. And that diplomatic means of righting whatever wrongs Germany felt she suffered in reference to the Corridor and Danzig had not been exhausted?

A. I can only point to the existing documents. There was no will for peace.

Q. Now, in the German resistance movement, as I understand you, there was agreement that you wanted to obtain various modifications of the Treaty of Versailles, and you also wanted various economic betterments for Germany, just as other people wanted them. That was always agreed upon, was it not?

A. We were all agreed that a calm and a reasonable balance could be achieved again in Europe only when certain modifications of the Versailles Treaty were carried through by means of peaceful negotiations.

Q. Your difference from the Nazi group was chiefly, in reference to that matter, one of method.

A. Yes.

Q. From the very beginning, as I understand you, it was the position of your group that a war would result disastrously for Germany as well as for the rest of the world.

A. Yes.

Q. And that the necessary modifications, given a little patience, could be brought about by peaceful means.

A. Absolutely.

Q. Now, it was in the light of that difference of opinion, I suppose, that your resistance movement against the regime in power in Germany carried out these proposals for putsches and assassinations which you have described.

A. Yes, but I would like to add that we were not only thinking of the great dangers outside, but that we also realised what internal dangers lay in such a system of terror. From the very beginning there was a group of people in Germany who still did not even think of the possibility of war, and nevertheless protested against injustice, the deprivation of liberty and the fight against religion.

In the beginning, therefore, it was not a fight against war, but if I may say so, it was a fight for human rights. From the very first moment, among all classes of people, in all professional circles and in all age groups, there were people who were ready to fight, to suffer, and to die for that idea.

Q. Now, the question may arise here as to what were your motives and your purposes in this resistance movement with reference to the German people, and I shall ask you to state to the Tribunal your over-all purpose in resisting the government in power in your country.

A. I should like to say that it is only because death has reaped such a rich harvest among the members of the resistance movement, that I sit here, and that otherwise more worthy and able men could give this answer. Having said this, I feel that I can answer that whether Jew or Christian, there were people in Germany, who believed in the freedom of religion, in justice and human dignity, not only for Germany, but also, in their profound responsibility, as Germans, for the higher concept of Europe and the world.

Q. There was a group which composed this resistance, as I understand it.

A. It was not only just a group, but many individuals had to carry the

[Page 281]

secret of their resistance silently to their death rather than confide it to the Gestapo records; and only a very few persons have enjoyed the distinction of being referred to now as a group.

Q. Most of the men who were associated with you in this movement are dead?

A. Almost all of them.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add to clarify your position to the Tribunal, Dr. Gisevius?

A. Excuse me, I did not understand you.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add in order that the Tribunal may understand your position in this, your feeling, your very strong feeling in this matter, to understand and appraise your own relation to this situation?

A. I do not like to talk of myself, but I want to thank you, Mr. Prosecutor, for giving me an opportunity to testify emphatically on behalf of the dead and the living.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I have concluded the examination.


THE PRESIDENT: Wasn't the understanding arrived at with counsel for the prosecution that the witnesses for the defendant Frick should only be cross-examined by one prosecutor?

MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Mr. President, I have an agreement with the prosecutors to the effect that the examination of the defendant Schacht and his witnesses will be carried out by the American Prosecution, but that, in the event of additional questions during cross-examination, the Soviet Prosecution could also join in the examination. In view of the fact that the Soviet Prosecution has several additional questions to ask the witness Gisevius, which are of great importance to the case, I ask permission to address these questions to him.

THE PRESIDENT: What are the questions which you say are of particular importance to the Soviet Union? I do not mean the individual questions but the general nature of them.

MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Questions connected with the part played by the defendant Frick in the preparation for war, questions connected with the attitude of the defendant Schacht towards the Hitler regime, as well as a number of other important questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn in order to consider whether the prosecution ought to be allowed to cross-examine this witness in addition to the cross- examination which has already taken place.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has before it two documents which were presented to it by the Chief Prosecutors upon the subject of cross-examination. In the first of these documents it was provided that the following procedure for the cross-examination of the defendants Keitel, Kaltenbrunner, Frank, Frick, Streicher, and Funk was agreed; and that with reference to Frick the American Prosecution was to conduct the cross-examination of the defendant and his witnesses. This document was presented because of the Tribunal's express desire that too much time should not be taken up by the cross-examination by more than one prosecutor.

In addition to that document there was another document, which was only a tentative agreement, and with reference to the defendant Schacht it provided that the American delegation should conduct the principal cross-examination and the Soviet and the French delegations should consider whether either would wish to follow.

In view of those two documents, the first of which suggests that the prosecution have agreed to only one cross- examination of the witnesses of the defendant

[Page 282]

Frick, and the second of which tentatively suggests that, in addition to the American Prosecution, the Soviet and the French might wish to cross-examine, the Tribunal propose to allow the additional cross-examination in the present instance, and they are loath to lay down any hard and fast rule concerning cross-examination. They hope, however, that in the present instance, after the full cross-examination by the United States Prosecutor, the Soviet Prosecutor will make his cross-examination as short as possible. For the future, the Tribunal hopes that the prosecutors may be able to agree among themselves that in the case of witnesses one cross-examination only will be sufficient and that in any event the additional cross-examination will be made as brief as possible.


Q. Witness, in order to save time, I beg you to answer my questions as briefly as possible.

Tell me, what part did the German Ministry of the Interior and the defendant Frick personally play in the preparation for the second World War?

A. This question is very difficult for me to answer. I left the Ministry of the Interior as early as May, 1935, and I cannot say any more about conditions after that time than any other German, which is that the Ministry of the Interior was part of the German Government machine and doubtlessly there, as in all other ministries, those preparations for war were made which administrations have to make in such cases.

DR. PANNENBECKER (Counsel for the defendant Frick): May I say something? The witness has just stated that he could not say any more in answering that question than any other German could. I believe that, under these circumstances, the witness is not the right person to make any factual statements.

THE PRESIDENT: He has just said so himself. That is exactly what he said. I don't see any reason for any intervention. The witness said so.

DR. PANNENBECKER: I only meant that he could not even function as a witness concerning these facts.

MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDROV: For perfectly obvious reasons I am deprived of all possibility to put these questions to any German, but I am perfectly satisfied with the answers of the witness Gisevius.

Do you know anything about the so-called "Three Man Board?" It consisted of the General Plenipotentiary for the Administration of the Reich, of the Plenipotentiary for National Economy and of a representative of the O.K.W. This Board was entrusted with the preparation of ail fundamental questions pertaining to the war?

A. I personally cannot give any information on that.

Q. Do you know anything about the activities of the Ministry of the Interior in territories occupied by the Germans?

A. As far as I know, the Ministry of the Interior sent important officials into the military administration, but it is not clear to me whether these officials, from that moment on, were subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior or the O.K.W.

Q. Do you know whether the machinery of the Reich Commissariat in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union was recruited from the Ministry of the Interior or, at least, with considerable help from this Ministry?

A. I should assume so, yes. It holds good as far as help is concerned, because the ministry for the territories occupied in Russia could only take its officials from the personal department of the Ministry of the Interior.

Q. What do you know of the visits paid by the defendant Frick to the concentration camps?

[Page 283]

A. At the time when I was in the Ministry of the Interior I did not hear anything about that.

Q. And after that?

A. After that I didn't hear anything about it either.

Q. Could a situation arise in which the defendant Frick, although Minister of the Interior, would not be informed regarding the system of concentration camps established in Germany and of the violence and lawlessness practised in the camps?

A. I believe that I have already yesterday given exhaustive information as to the fact that we were informed about everything.

Q. In this particular case I am interested in the defendant Frick. What do you know about him in this connection?

A. I said yesterday that the Reich Ministry of the Interior received numberless cries for help from all over the country, and yesterday we even saw a letter from the Ministry of Justice; also I have referred -

THE PRESIDENT: This subject was fully covered yesterday.

MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDROV: I shall pass on to the next question.


Q. Are you acquainted with the secret law issued in Germany in 1940 concerning the killing of sick persons and the old?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the attitude of the defendant Frick towards the promulgation and enforcing of this law?

A. I assume that he as Minister of the Interior signed it.

THE PRESIDENT: The law, if there was a law, was after 1935, was it not? What is the law that you are putting? If it was in 1935, then this witness was not in the Ministry of the Interior.

MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDROV: I am speaking of the law which was promulgated in 1940.

THE PRESIDENT: He would not know anything about it any more than anybody else.

MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDROV: I am satisfied with the answer which I have received from the witness. Will you now allow me to proceed to questions concerning the defendant Schacht?


Q. Witness, you were in close relationship to the defendant Schacht for a considerable period of time. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Thus you were sufficiently acquainted with his State and political activities?

A. I believe so, yes.

Q. Tell me, what do you know about the part played by Schacht in Hitler's seizure of power?

A. That was at a time when I had not yet become acquainted with Schacht, and about which I cannot, therefore, give any information.

Q. But you know something about it?

A. I know only that he entered the cabinet and that without doubt he assisted Hitler in the preliminary political negotiations.

Q. Do you know anything about the meeting engineered by Schacht between Hitler and the big industrialists, in February, 1933?

A. No.

Q. As a result of this meeting a fund was created by the industrialists with a view to guaranteeing the success of the Nazi Party at the elections. What do you know about this meeting?

A. I know nothing about this meeting. In my book I wrote that to my knowledge the largest amount for the election campaign in 1932 was given by

[Page 284]

Thyssen at that time and Grauert, a member of the Rhein- Hessian iron and steel industry group.

Q. What was the part played by the defendant Schacht on this occasion?

A. At that time I did not see Schacht in the Ruhr district, and I also do not know whether he was there at that time. I emphasise again that I did not know him at all.

Q. I know that. But in your book entitled "Until the Bitter End," published in 1946, and in your replies to preliminary interrogations by defence counsel, Dr. Dix, you favourably described the defendant Schacht is that correct?

A. I did not understand the last words.

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