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 6 of 10)

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

[Page 378]

Q. Did you vote National Socialist in July, 1932?

A. No, I would not think of it.

Q. The prosecution now lists a number of points by which it wants to prove that you were an adherent of the National Socialist ideology. I am going to name them one by one and I ask you to state your view on each of them. First, that you were an opponent of the Treaty of Versailles. Would you like to say something about that?

A. It surprised me indeed to hear that reproach from an American prosecutor. The lieutenant who spoke is perhaps too young to have experienced it himself but he should know it from his education; at any rate, for all of us who have lived through that time, it was one of the outstanding events that the Treaty of Versailles was rejected by the United States and, if I am not wrong, rejected with the resounding approval of the entire American people.

The reasons prompting that action were also my reasons for rejecting the Treaty: it stood in contradiction to the fourteen points of Wilson, which had been solemnly agreed upon and, in the field of economics, it contained absurdities which certainly could not work out to the advantage of world economy. But I certainly would not accuse the American people of having been adherents of the Nazi ideology because they rejected the Treaty.

Q. The prosecution also asserts that for a long time already you had been a German nationalist, not merely a German patriot, but a German nationalist and expansionist. Would you like to state your position in that respect?

A. You, yourself, by emphasising the word "patriot" have recognised that one must be clear on just what a nationalist is. I have always been proud to belong to a nation which for more than a thousand years has been one of the leading civilised nations of the world. I was proud to belong to a nation which has given to the world men like Luther, Kant, Goethe, Beethoven, to mention only these. I have always interpreted nationalism as the desire of a nation to be an example to other nations, and to maintain a leading position in the field of spiritual and cultural achievement through high moral standards and intellectual attainment.

[Page 379]

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: If it please the Tribunal, it seems to me that we are getting very far from the relevant charges in this case, and particularly if they are going to be preceded by a statement of the prosecution's position.

We have no charge against Dr. Schacht because he opposed the Treaty of Versailles; we concede it was the right of any German citizen to do that by means short of war. Nor do we object to his being patriotic German by any means short of war. The only purpose has been to find out what his attitude in these matters was in connection with the charge that he helped to prepare and precipitate war. To deal with these philosophical matters separately from the war charge seems to me entirely irrelevant, and I assure the Tribunal we have no purpose in charging that it is a crime to oppose the Treaty of Versailles. Many Americans did that. It is no crime to be a German patriot. The crime is the one defined in the Indictment, and it seems to me we are a long way off from that here, and wasting time.

THE PRESIDENT: What do you say to that, Dr. Dix?

DR. DIX: I was eager and glad to hear what Justice Jackson just said, but I must quote from Wallenstein, "Before dinner we heard another version." There was no doubt - and once, because I thought I had misunderstood, I even asked again - that the criminal character of the Party Programme, the criminal character of the contents of "Mein Kampf", and the opposition to the Treaty of Versailles - were cited as being, to say the least, indicative of crimes committed later-and further the accusation of having been expansionist and nationalist; all these things have repeatedly in the course of the proceedings here been held against Dr. Schacht in order to strengthen the foundation of the charges made against him.

If Mr. Justice Jackson now, with gratifying frankness, states, "That the prosecution does not accuse Schacht because he opposed the Treaty of Versailles; does not assert that he was more than a patriot, that is to say, a nationalist in the sense described before; and does not maintain either that our statements are circumstantial evidence of his later co-operation, his financial co- operation, in the rearmament programme, which is evidence indicative of his intent to assist in waging a war of aggression" - If that is now stated unequivocally by the prosecution, then we can dispense with a great many questions which I intended to put in the course of my examination of the witness; I would then gladly leave the whole subject of Schacht's expansionism and nationalism. We have not yet mentioned expansionism; Mr. Justice Jackson has not mentioned it either: I do not believe however that the prosecution will withdraw the accusation of expansionism, that is the expansion of German living space in Europe: I am not sure of this, but we shall certainly hear about it. As I said, if these accusations which have been made are withdrawn, then I can dispense with these questions and my client need not answer them.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Of course, I made no such statement as Dr. Dix has assumed. My statement was clearly made in the opening and clearly is now, that he had a perfect right to be against the Treaty of Versailles and to be a German nationalist and to follow those aims by all means short of war. I do not want to have put in my mouth the very extensive statements made by Dr. Dix. My statement was made clear in the opening, and these matters as to the Versailles Treaty and nationalism and Lebensraum, as political and philosophical matters, are not for the Tribunal to determine. We are not going to ask you to say whether the Treaty of Versailles was a just document or not. They had a right to do what they could to get away from it by all means short of war.

The charge against Dr. Schacht is that he prepared, knowingly, to accomplish those things by means of aggressive warfare. That is the hub of the case against him.

DR. DIX: Then on this point there is ...

[Page 380]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, I think the case for the prosecution has been clear from the outset, that all these matters are only relied upon when they were entered into with the intention of making war.

DR. DIX: Very true. I need not put these question if the prosecution no longer uses these accusations as circumstantial evidence for his intent to wage a war of aggression, but Mr. Justice Jackson has not yet made a statement to that effect. But there seems to be no doubt - and I do not believe that I misunderstood the prosecution - that in order to prove Dr. Schacht's intention to wage a war of aggression, the prosecution did refer to Schacht's opposition to the Treaty of Versailles, to his nationalism and expansionism, that is, extension of "Lebensraum". We do not want to make academic or theoretical statements about the ideas of "Lebensraum" and nationalism, but as long as these ideas which the prosecution concedes he is justified in holding, as long as these characteristics are considered to be in part proof of his intent, my client must have the opportunity of telling the Tribunal just what he meant by "Lebensraum" if he ever spoke of it, which I do not yet know. But I think, nevertheless, that there is still a matter not quite clear between Mr. Justice Jackson and myself, and that I do not quite agree either with what was said by your Lordship ...

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): What you were asking him about was his views upon nationalism. That is what you were asking him about, his views upon nationalism, and that seems to be a waste of time.

DR. DIX: I put to him that he was accused of being a nationalist and an expansionist, and that the prosecution therefrom drew the conclusion that he planned an aggressive war by financing armament; now he has to show, of course, that ...

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): What Mr. Justice Jackson has pointed out is that the prosecution have never said that he simply held the views of a nationalist and of an expansionist, but that he held those views and intended to go to war in order to enforce them.

DR. DIX: Yes, your Lordship, but it is held that these opinions were proof - one proof among others - that he had the intention of waging aggressive war, that they constitute what we jurists call circumstantial evidence of his intent to wage war, and as long as this argument - it is no longer a charge maintained by Mr. Justice Jackson but it is an argument of the prosecution -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): There is no issue about it. He agrees that he did hold these views. Therefore it is quite unnecessary to go into the fact. The prosecution say he held the views; he agrees that he held the views. The only question is whether he held them with the innocent intention of achieving them by peaceful methods, or whether he had the alleged criminal intention of achieving them by war.

DR. DIX: I only wish to say one more thing to that: Expansionism has not yet been discussed. Should Dr. Schacht have had expansionist tendencies, then Mr. Justice Jackson certainly would not say that he has no objection. Therefore ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, I think that you may ask him questions about the expansionists, his ideas of what expansionists were, what he meant by expansion, but for the rest it seems to me you are simply proving exactly the same as the prosecution have proved.

DR. DIX: I fully agree. Dr. Schacht, were you ...

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)


Q. I believe, Dr. Schacht, that both of us will have to speak a little more slowly and pause between question and answer.

[Page 381]

Now, please reply to the accusation by the prosecution that you had been an expansionist. Please define your position.

A. Never in my life have I demanded even a foot of space that did not belong to Germany, and I should never think of such an idea.

I am of the opinion that neither is it national to try to dominate and govern foreign peoples, nor is appropriation of foreign territory a politically just action. These are two questions with which we are much concerned at present.

I might perhaps add, in order to clarify my position, just what I understand by nationalism, and just why I was against each and every form of expansionism. Just one sentence will suffice, a sentence from a speech which I made in August of 1935. On that occasion I said, and I quote:

"We want to express that self respect requires respect for others, and the upholding of our national individuality must not mean disparagement of the individuality of others; by respecting the acts of others we respect our own action; and a battle of economic competition can be won in the end only through example and achievement, and not through methods of violence or craft."
Q. According to the opinion of the prosecution, in the year 1936 you made a public threat of war, on which occasion you are alleged to have said that the spirit of Versailles was instrumental in keeping alive war mania. I am referring to Document 415-EC, a document to which the prosecution has referred.

A. I never understood, in the course of this proceeding, how there could be a threat of war in this quotation. The quotation concludes with the words - and I must quote in English because I just have the English words before me:

"The spirit of Versailles is perpetuated in the spirit of war, and there will not be a true peace, progress, or reconstruction until the world desists from this spirit. The German people will not tire of pronouncing this warning."
The conclusion says that the German people will not tire of pronouncing this warning. It seems to be a matter of course that hereby expression is given to the fact that I am warning others from persisting in war mania. I am not warning ourselves, but the entire world, to avoid perpetuating the spirit of Versailles.

Q. The prosecution further accuses you in this connection that you publicly approved the idea of "Lebensraum", living space, for the German people. In this special connection reference was made to the speech you made at Frankfurt on 9 December, 1936, in which you said:

"Germany had too limited a living space (Lebensraum)."
A. This speech of 9 December, 1936, was a speech which was solely concerned with a restoration of the colonial rights of Germany. I have never demanded any "Lebensraum" for Germany other than colonial space. And in this instance, again, I am surprised that just the American Prosecutor should accuse me on my efforts in this direction, because in the fourteen points of Wilson, which regrettably were not adhered to later on, we, the Germans, were given consideration for our colonial interests.

In consequence, I said, again and again:

"If you want peace in Europe, give Germany an economic outlet through which Germany can develop and satisfy her needs. Otherwise Germany will be a centre of unrest and a problem for Europe."
I would like to quote one sentence only from the speech I made:
"Peace in Europe, together with the peace of the entire world, is dependent upon whether the densely Populated areas of Central Europe will have the possibility of life or not."
I emphasised this viewpoint again and again, but at no time did I connect these views with the idea of an armed conflict.

[Page 382]

I would like to quote another sentence from this same speech:-
"I did not mention this consideration as to the parts of Germany which were separated from her, in order that we might draw the conclusion of war-like intentions; my entire position and my work is marshalled to the objective of bringing about peace in Europe through peaceful and sensible considerations and measures."
THE PRESIDENT: Will you please give me the PS numbers and the exhibit number of those two speeches?

DR. DIX: I can't at this moment, your Lordship, I am sorry, but I will try to get these numbers and submit them in writing. The last speech refers to the speech at Frankfurt, and the others -

THE PRESIDENT: That is quite all right. You will let us know in writing, will you?

DR. Dix: Yes, indeed.

A. (Continuing): Perhaps if it is permitted I might refer to two other sentences from my article which was published in "Foreign Affairs", the well-known American magazine in the year 1937. I have the German translation before me, which says, in the introduction, and I quote:-

"I am making these introductory remarks in order to clarify the situation. The colonial problem today, as in the past, is for Germany not a question of imperialism or militarism, but, purely and simply, a question of economic existence."
Perhaps I might refer to the point that very influential Americans were in constant accord with this view. I have a statement made by the collaborator of President Wilson, Colonel House, who made the well-known distinction between the "haves" and "have nots", and who was especially influential in advocating consideration for German colonial interests. Perhaps I can dispense with the quotation.

Q. In this connection I would like to point to the document submitted by the prosecution, Document 111-L, Exhibit USA- 630. This document is concerned with the conversation which you had with the American Ambassador Davies, and in which you are accused of indirectly having threatened a breach of peace.

A. I have already set forth just now that I constantly said that Europe cannot have peaceful development if there is no means of livelihood for the completely overpopulated Central Europe, and I believe conditions at present show how absolutely right I was - just what an impossibility it is to feed these masses of people. And beyond that I had a keen interest in diverting Hitler's quite misguided ideas from Eastern Europe, and therefore was constantly at pains to direct his attention to the colonial problem, with the purpose of turning his thought from the crazy ideas of expansionism in the East. I recall that in 1932, shortly before he assumed office, I had a conversation with him in which for the first time I approached him on this question, and above all told him what utter nonsense it would be to think of an expansion in the East.

Then, constantly, in the subsequent years, again and again, I spoke about the colonial problem until at the last, in the summer of 1936, I had the opportunity of pursuing my ideas, and Hitler gave me the mission which I had suggested to him, of going to Paris to discuss with the French Government the possibility of colonial satisfaction for Germany. This actually happened in the summer of 1936. And for the satisfaction of myself and all other friends of peace, I might say that the government of Leon Blum, which was in office at the time, showed gratifying appreciation of this solution for Europe's food and economic problems, and stated, for its part, that it was ready to deal with the colonial problem with the aim of perhaps returning one or two colonies to Germany. Leon Blum then undertook, in agreement with me, to inform the British Government about these conversations in order to secure its consent, or to bring up a discussion of this problem within the British Government. That actually did take place, but

[Page 383]

the British Government hesitated for months, and when it finally could decide on taking a position in this matter the discussion dragged on up to the initial months of the Spanish civil war, was eclipsed and supplanted by the problems of that war so that a continuation of the discussion on this colonial problem never came about.

At that time, in January of 1937, when the American Ambassador to Moscow, Ambassador Joseph Davies, visited me at Berlin, I was rather irritated by the slowness with which the British Government was meeting these suggestions, and consequently I came forth with a request for understanding and support, and told Ambassador Davies about the whole matter. I tried constantly and repeatedly to gain the understanding support of representatives of the American Government. I tried again and again to advise these gentlemen about domestic conditions and developments within Germany, to tell them as much as was possible and compatible with German interests and to keep them informed. That applies to Ambassador Davies, Ambassador Dodd, Ambassador Bullitt when he was in Berlin, and so on.

This conversation with Ambassador Davies is referred to in the document which the prosecution has submitted, L-111, and which is taken from the book which Ambassador Davies wrote about his mission in Moscow, and we will perhaps come back to this book later on.

As the pith of my conversation with Davies, I would like to quote just one sentence again, which I must again quote in English, since I have only the English book at my disposal:-

"Schacht earnestly urged that some such feasible plan could be developed if discussion could be opened; and that, if successful, would relieve the European war menace, relieve peoples of enormous expenditures for armaments, restore free now of international commerce, give outlet to the thrift and natural abilities of his countrymen and change their present desperation into future hope."
In this connection the affidavit of Fuller plays an important part, that is the Exhibit USA-629, and Document 450-EC. According to this affidavit, you allegedly declared to Fuller that if Germany could not get colonies through negotiations she would take them. Please define your position as to this statement.

A. In a German drama an intriguer is being instructed by a tyrant to ruin a man of honour and he says in reply, "Just give me one word said by this man, and I will hang him thereby." I believe, my Lord Justices, that in this courtroom there isn't a single person who, at one time or another in his life, has not said a rather unfortunate word. And how much easier is it when he is speaking in a foreign language of which he is not complete master!

Mr. Fuller is known to me as a respectable businessman, and this discussion which he has here reproduced is indubitably given according to the best of his knowledge. He himself rightly says that even had he tried to put down the exact words he could not guarantee that each and every word had been said. But if I did say these words, then it means only that I said, that we Germans must have colonies and we shall have them. Whether I said, "We will take them, " or "We will get them," that, of course, it is impossible for me to say with assurance today after a period of ten years.

The representative of the prosecution also thought the expression, "We will take them," a little colourless in effect and therefore I believe he just added a trifle, for he said twice in his presentation of the charges that I had said, "We would take these colonies by force," and on a second occasion he even said: "We would take these colonies by force of arms." But 'force' or 'force of arms' are not mentioned in the whole of Fuller's affidavit. And if I had used that word, or even used it only by implication, Mr. Fuller would have had to say with reason: "So you want to take colonies by force; how do you expect to do

[Page 384]

that?" It would have been utter nonsense to assert that Germany would ever have been able to take overseas colonies by force. She lacked - and always will lack - domination of the seas, which is necessary for this.

Fuller did not take exception to my manner of expression and in his conversation he immediately continued - and I quote:-

"You mentioned a little while ago that necessary raw materials could not be obtained through German lack of foreign exchange. Would stabilisation help you?"
Therefore, rather than become excited about the fact that I wanted to take colonies by force - something which I never said and which is contrary to my views, which I have already stated - he immediately goes on to foreign exchange and to stabilisation.

[ 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.