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-Seventeenth Day: Tuesday, 30th April, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[DR. DIX continues his direct examination of Hjalmar Schacht]

[Page 373]

DR. DIX: Gentlemen of the Tribunal, in this connection, may I call your attention to Exhibit No. 6 of my document book. If the Tribunal agrees, I

[Page 374]

should like, in order to shorten the presentation of documents during the examination of the witness, to call your attention to those documents which are in direct connection with the questions with which the witness is dealing. I believe that this arrangement will be agreeable to the Tribunal since it will shorten the presentation of documents. It is Exhibit No. 6, on Page 12 of the German copy of my document book, and on Page 8 of the English copy, your Lordship, Exhibit No. 6. That is a record of the statements made by Dr. Schacht during the session of the sub- committee for monetary and credit matters on 21 October, 1926. I believe it is not necessary for me to read these statements. They refer to the foreign debts which Dr. Schacht has just mentioned, and contain the same thoughts which Dr. Schacht has just expressed before the Tribunal, and are proof that these thoughts are not views ex post facto. Therefore, without my reading it, I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the whole of this document. I shall return to my examination.


Q. You had resigned your office as Reichsbankpresident. What did you do then?

A. I went to the small estate which I owned in the country and lived there as a private citizen. Then during 1930 I made a trip to the United States. Shortly after the Reichstag elections of September, 1930, I departed and went to New York, via London. There I lectured for about two months on questions which were presented to me by American friends.

Q. When did you first come in touch with the National Socialist ideology, with the Party, and with Hitler personally, and when, in particular, did you read the Party programme and Hitler's "Mein Kampf"?

A. With the exception of a single occasion I have never in my life concerned myself with party politics. Already at the age of twenty-six I was offered a safe electoral district in the Reichstag, which I did not accept since I have never been interested in party politics. My interest always lay in the field of economics and financial policy but, of course, for public affairs I always had a general interest, arising from a concern for the future of my country and my people. Therefore, in 1919, I participated in the foundation of the democratic party.

May I say a few words here about my background and spiritual upbringing? My father, throughout his life, adhered to democratic ideals. He was a Freemason. He was a cosmopolitan. I had, and I still have, numerous relatives on my mother's side in Denmark, on my father's side in the United States, and to this day I am on friendly terms with them. I grew up among these ideas and I have never departed from these basic conceptions of freemasonry and democracy and humanitarian and cosmopolitan ideals. Later I always remained in very close contact with foreign countries. I travelled much, and, with the exception of Ireland and Finland there is no country in Europe which I have not visited. I know Asia down to India, Ceylon, and Burma. I went to North America frequently and, just before the second world war broke out, I intended to travel to South America.

I want to emphasise this in order to show that I was never interested in party politics. Nevertheless, when in the elections of September, 1930, Hitler's party suddenly and surprisingly obtained 109 seats, I began to take an interest in the phenomenon; and on board ship going to the United States I read "Mein Kampf", and, of course, also the Party programme. When I arrived on the other side, the first question was what my opinion was about Hitler and the Party, because naturally everyone was talking about this event in Germany. In my first publication at that time - it was an interview - I uttered an unequivocal warning and said, "If you people abroad do not change your policy towards Germany, then you will soon have very many more adherents of Hitler in Germany than there are now." Throughout that period of two months

[Page 375]

I spoke about fifty times in public meetings, and I always encountered understanding for the question of reparations, the mistakes of the Versailles Treaty, and the economic difficulties of Germany, and I returned with the impression that the whole American attitude, the attitude of the American people towards us, was indeed rather friendly. Not on my initiative but by coincidence, I came in touch later with the adherents of the National Socialist Party: a friend of mine, a bank director, invited me at the beginning of December, 1930, to dine with him at his house and to meet Hermann Goering there. I did that, and gained no really definite impression from Goering's statements and conduct. He was in every respect reserved, modest, and well-mannered, and he invited me to his house in order to meet Hitler. At the beginning of January my wife and I dined with Goering and his wife one evening at their home, and on that occasion Fritz Thyssen was also invited. It had been planned that Hitler should come also and talk with us. I say again now that Goering's apartment was extremely modestly and simply styled. Particularly Goering's first wife made an excellent impression. After supper Hitler appeared, and the ensuing conversation was conducted in such a way that, let us say, five per cent. of it was contributed by us, and 95 per cent. by Hitler. What he said concerned national questions, in which he agreed absolutely with us. No extravagant demands were stated, but, on the other hand, the national necessities of Germany were definitely emphasised. In social matters Hitler expressed a number of good ideas; he was especially intent on avoiding class struggle, strikes, lock- outs and wage disputes by decisive intervention of the State in labour relations and the direction of economic affairs. There was no demand for abolishing private enterprise, but merely for influence on its conduct. It seemed to us these ideas were quite reasonable and acceptable. Besides that, he revealed practically no knowledge in the field of economy and financial policy, though on that evening he did not claim to know anything about these subjects. He merely asked that we, as representatives of economy, should have understanding for his ideas, and give him factual advice. That was the purpose of that evening.

Q. I shall refer to this first conversation with Adolf Hitler later, but I should like to return now to the question I have put before, concerning your attitude to the Party programme and the ideology developed in the book "Mein Kampf". I am stressing this because, as you have heard, the gentlemen of the prosecution are of the opinion that certain parts of the Party Programme and also parts of the book "Mein Kampf" are of a criminal character, and their criminal character was recognisable immediately upon their publication. Therefore I should like to ask you to explain in detail your attitude at the time, and possibly also your attitude today, toward the Party Programme and the ideology of National Socialism as it appears in the book "Mein Kampf".

A. From the proceedings in this Court so far I have not gained the impression that the opinion of the prosecution concerning the criminal character of the Party Programme is a uniform one. I am unable to see in the Party Programme as such any sign of criminal intentions.

Federation of all Germans, which always plays a great role, is always claimed only on the basis of the right for self- determination. A position for Germany in foreign politics is demanded as constituting equality of the German nation with the other nations; that this involved the abolition of the discriminations which were imposed upon the German people by the Versailles Treaty is quite clear.

Land and soil was demanded for the nutrition of our people and the settlement of our excess population. I cannot see any crime in that, because after land and soil was expressly added in brackets the word "colonies". I have always considered that as a demand for colonies, which I myself supported a long time before National Socialism came into existence. Rather strange and, in my opinion, going somewhat beyond the limits were the points concerning the

[Page 376]

exclusion of Jews from civil rights, but, on the other hand, I considered it satisfactory that the Jews should be under the protection of the Aliens' Law, that is, subject to the same laws which applied to foreigners in Germany. I would have wished and always demanded that this legal protection should, under all circumstances, be given to the Jews. Unfortunately they were not given that protection. For the rest - it was emphasised - all citizens should have equal rights and duties.

Promotion of popular education was stressed as being beneficial, and also gymnastics and sports were demanded for the improvement of public health. The fight against intentional political lies was demanded, which Goebbels afterwards conducted very energetically. And, above all, demand was made for the freedom of all religious denominations and for the principle of positive Christianity.

That is, in essence, the content of the National Socialist Party's programme, and I cannot see anything criminal in it. It would, indeed, have been quite peculiar if, had this been a criminal party programme, the world had maintained continuous political and cultural contact with Germany for two decades, and with the National Socialists for one decade.

As far as the book "Mein Kampf," is concerned, there my judgement has always been the same from the very beginning and as it is today. It is a book written in the most inferior kind of German, propaganda of a man who was strongly interested in politics, not to say a fanatical, half-educated man, which to me Hitler has always been. In the book "Mein Kampf," and in part also in the Party Programme, there was one point which worried me a great deal, and that was the absolute lack of understanding of all economic problems. The Party Programme contained a few slogans, such as "Community interests come before private interests," and so on, and then the breaking up of subjection to financial interests and similar phases which could not possibly signify anything sensible. The same held true for "Mein Kampf," which is quite uninteresting from the point of view of economic policy and was consequently quite uninteresting for me.

On the other hand, as regards foreign policy "Mein Kampf" contained, in my opinion, a great many mistakes, because it always toyed with the idea that within the continent of Europe the living space for Germany ought to be extended. And if, nevertheless, I did co-operate later on with a National Socialist Reich Chancellor, then it was for the very simple reason that expansion of the German space toward the East was in the book made specifically dependent upon the approval of the British Government. Therefore, to me, who believed I knew British policy very well, it seemed Utopian and quite unnecessary to consider these theoretical extravagances of Hitler any more seriously than I did. It was clear to me that every territorial change one European territory attempted by force would be impossible for Germany, and would not be approved by the other nations.

Besides that, "Mein Kampf" had a number of very silly and verbose statements, but on the other hand, it had many a reasonable idea, too; I want to point out that I liked two especially: firstly, that anyone who differs from the government in political matters is obliged to state his opinion to the government; and secondly, that, though the democratic or rather parliamentary government ought to be replaced by a Fuehrer government, nevertheless the Fuehrer could only remain if he was sure of the approval of the entire people, in other words, that a Fuehrer also depended on plebiscites of a democratic nature.

Q. Dr. Schacht, you have now described the impression which you gained from your first conversation with Adolf Hitler, from a study of the Party Programme and "Mein Kampf". Did you believe that you would be able to work with Adolf Hitler and what practical conclusions did you derive from that first conversation with Hitler?

[Page 377]

A. To work with Adolf Hitler was out of the question for me personally since I was a private citizen and not interested in party politics and consequently, after that conversation, I did nothing at all to create for myself any personal relations with the Hitler circles. I went quickly back to my farm and I continued to live there as a private citizen. I have said already that naturally I had the future of my country at heart. After that conversation I repeatedly spoke emphatically to Reich Chancellor Bruening and implored him, when forming and heading the cabinet, to include the National Socialists in it, because I believed that only in this way the tremendous impetus, the tremendous propagandistic fervour which I had noticed in Hitler could be caught and harnessed, by putting the National Socialists to practical governmental work. One should not leave them in opposition where they could only become more dangerous, but one should take them into the government and see what they could achieve, and whether they would not acquire polish within the government. That was the suggestion and the very urgent request I made to Bruening, and I might say that according to my impression Hitler would, at that time, have been quite ready to do that. Bruening however could under no circumstances be won over to such a policy and in consequence was later crushed.

Q. Let us stop for a moment and deal with the Party. The Indictment states that you were a Party member. Now, Goering has already said that Hitler conferred the Golden Party Emblem only as a sort of decoration. Have you anything new to add to that statement made by Goering?

A. I do not know whether it has been mentioned here: The Golden Party Emblem was, in January, 1937, given to all ministers and also to all military personalities in the cabinet. The latter could not become Party members at any rate, therefore the award of the Party emblem did not entail membership. On the rest I think Goering has testified from the witness stand. I might mention one more thing. If I had been a Party member, then doubtlessly, when I was ousted from my position as minister without portfolio in January, 1943, the Party Court would have gone into action, since a case of insubordination to Hitler would have been evident. I have never been summoned before the Party Court and even when, on the occasion of my dismissal, the return of the Golden Party Emblem was demanded from me, I was not told that I was being dismissed from the Party since I was not in the Party. I was only told, "return the Golden Emblem of the Party which was conferred upon you," and I promptly complied. I believe I could not add anything else to the statements already made.

Q. Then the Indictment is wrong in this point?

A. Yes; in this point it is absolutely wrong.

Q. Why did you not become a Party member?

A. Excuse me, but I was at odds with quite a number of points of the National Socialist ideology. I do not believe that it would have been compatible with my entirely democratic attitude to change over to a different party programme, and one which, not in its wording but through its execution by the Party has certainly not, in the course of time, gained any more favour with me.

Q. Therefore, you did not become a Party member for reasons of principle?

A. Yes, for reasons of principle.

Q. Now, a biography of you was published by one Dr. Reuther in 1937. There, also, it is correctly stated that you were not a Party member; but the biographer gives different, more tactical reasons, for your refusing the join the Party, and he mentions the possibility of being more influential from outside the Party, and so on. Maybe it is advisable, since the biography has been referred to in the course of the proceedings, that you shortly state your views on this point.

A. I believe that at the time Hitler had the impression that I could be useful to him outside the Party and it may be that Dr. Reuther got knowledge of

[Page 378]

this. But I would rather not be made responsible for the writings of Dr. Reuther; and, in particular, I should like to object to the fact that the prosecutor, who presented the brief against me, described this book by Dr. Reuther as an official publication. Of course, this book is the private work of a journalist for whom I have respect, but who certainly states his own opinions and ideas.

Q. Did you speak in public on behalf of Hitler before the July elections in 1932?

A. Before the July elections of 1932, which brought that tremendous success for Hitler, I was never active either publicly or privately on behalf of Hitler, except once, perhaps, or twice - I remember now, it happened once - Hitler sent a Party member to me who had plans on economic, financial, or currency policies; Hitler may have told him that he should consult me as to whether or not these plans could be put into practice. I might tell the story briefly. It was Gauleiter Roewer, of Oldenburg; he was, before 1932 ... In Oldenburg the Nazis had already come to power before 1932 and he was the Prime Minister there. He wanted to introduce an Oldenburg currency of its own, a consequence of which would have been that Saxony would have introduced its own Saxon currency, Wurttemberg would have introduced its own currency and Baden would have had its own currency, and so on. I ridiculed the whole thing at the time and sent a telegram to Hitler, saying that with such miracles the economic needs of the German Reich could not be cured. If I disregard this case, which might have constituted some sort of private connection, then I may say that neither privately nor publicly, neither in speeches nor in writing, have I at all been concerned with Hitler or his Party and in no way have I recommended the Party.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.