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 7 of 10)

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

[Page 384]

Q. The prosecutor asserts further that you were interested in the conquest of neighbouring territory in Europe.

A. This matter is not quite so harmless as the previous mistake of the prosecution. In a previous interrogation, I was accused as follows, and the prosecutor, in presenting his charges here, referred to the fact - I quote the Prosecutor:-

"On 16 April, on the occasion of the Paris conference on reparation payments, Schacht said, 'Germany in general can pay only if the Corridor and Upper Silesia are returned to Germany'."
This is the interrogation of 24 August, 1945. According to the verbatim record of the interrogation, I answered:-
"It may be that I said such a thing."
Of course, as far as the wording of a statement, which I had made ten to fifteen years before goes, I did not recall it. But I did remember that in connection with the Corridor and Upper Silesia I had made a remark, and since I had to assume, if the prosecution submitted this record to me, it would be a stenographic and a correct record, I did not dispute this remark which allegedly I had made, and said that it might be that I said something to that effect. The prosecution takes a "maybe" and out of that reconstructs the sentence as:-
"This quotation was read to Schacht, and he said it was correct."
This assertion by the prosecution is therefore wrong. I said, "It may be that I said something to that effect," but I did not say that this statement that was submitted to me was correct.

Then, fortunately, in my imprisonment here, I succeeded in getting hold of my book, a book which I wrote about the end of reparation payments, which was published in 1931, and in which I luckily put down the wording of my statement about the matter with which we are dealing now. I have the exact wording, and I would like to say that this book has been submitted in evidence, and from this wording there appears what I said, verbatim:-

"Regarding the problem of German food and food supplies, it is especially important that import of foodstuffs has been decreased" - I beg your pardon- "that import will be decreased." I am sorry again. I cannot read this: "That the import of foodstuffs will be decreased and partially made up through home production. Therefore, we cannot let the fact be overlooked that important agricultural surplus territories in the eastern part of Germany have been lost by cession and that a large territory, which was almost exclusively agrarian, has been separated from the Reich. Therefore, the economic welfare of this territory, East Prussia, is decreasing steadily and the Reich Government must support and subsidise it. Constantly, therefore, suitable measures should be taken to eliminate these injurious conditions, which are hindering considerably Germany's ability to pay."
DR. DIX: Your Lordship, this is from our document book, Exhibit 16, German Page 38, English Page 44.

[Page 385]

A. This quotation absolutely does not agree with the statement submitted to me in the interrogation, and in no way can we draw the conclusion in consequence that I was in favour of a return of these areas. What I demanded was that the separation of these areas be taken into consideration when Germany's ability to pay and the payments were determined. When the prosecutor in his speech added: "I would like to point out that this is the same area over which the war started in September, 1939, ... " I believe it is an insinuation which characterises the prosecutor rather than me, against whom it was intended.

Q. As far as circumstantial evidence is concerned, that is, the indirect evidence submitted against you of a will to aggression, the prosecution asserts that you wished - so it is attributed - for the Anschluss of Austria. Will you please state your position as to this accusation?

A. I have considered since 1919 the Anschluss of Austria inevitable and, in the national sense, that is spiritually and culturally, it was welcome. But that economically the Anschluss of Austria would not be for Germany so much an aggrandizement as a liability, that is something I have always known. But the wish of the Austrian people to belong, to be incorporated into Germany - I took that wish as my own and said that, if here there are six and a half million people, who spontaneously in 1919, and later in innumerable public meetings, expressed their wish of being incorporated into the Greater German Reich of related peoples, that was an event to which no German could be opposed, but, in the interest of Austria, should be hailed with gladness. In that sense I always favoured and respected the wish of Austria to belong to the Reich and wanted it carried through as soon as external political conditions permitted.

Q. My attention has just been called to the fact that you are still speaking too fast and that the interpretation is lagging behind a little bit. Will you please speak a little more slowly.

What was your opinion as to the incorporation of the Sudetenland into Germany?

A. Concerning the incorporation of the Sudetenland, I never thought of any such thing. Of course, Czechoslovakia was a European problem, and it was regrettable that in that State, which had five and a half million Czechs, two and a half million Slovaks and about three and a half million Germans, the German element had no means of expression. But just because the Czechoslovakian problem was not a purely German- Czech but also a Slovak-Czech problem, I sought a solution of this problem in such a way, and wished it to be in such a way, that Czechoslovakia should constitute a federated State, similar, perhaps, to Switzerland; divided into three different, culturally separate, but politically unified areas, which would be a guarantee for the unity of a German- Czech-Slovak State.

Q. What was your opinion and attitude to the problem of war; by that I mean, as far as philosophical, ideological and practical considerations are concerned?

A. I always considered war as one of the most devastating things to which mankind is exposed and on basic principles, throughout my entire life, I was a pacifist.

Q. Dr. Schacht, during your meditative and thoughtful life, you certainly considered the fundamental and profound difference between legitimate and ethically based soldiering and militarism with its degenerate forms. What did you mean by the latter and what was your attitude toward it, that is, militarism?

A. Of course I saw the necessity of a country's defence in case of war or threats, and I stood for that theory. In that sense I was always in favour of a Wehrmacht, but the profession of a soldier I consider to be full of deprivations and characterised by willingness and readiness to sacrifice, not because perhaps during a war the soldier has to give up his life - that is the duty of every citizen of military age - but because his whole aim and aspiration must be directed to

[Page 386]

the end that, never must the craft which he has learned be exercised. A soldier, a career officer, who is not intrinsically a pacifist, has really, in my opinion, missed his calling. Consequently, I was always an opponent of every military digression and excess. I was always against militarism, but I consider that soldiership, conscious of its responsibility, is the highest calling which a citizen can pursue.

Q. Now, George Messersmith, as you know, the Consul General of the United States at Berlin at one time, says, in one of his various affidavits produced by the prosecution, that you had told him, and repeatedly told him, about Nazi intents of aggression. Will you please state your position in that regard?

A. First of all, I would like to remark that of course I never made a statement of that sort, neither to Mr. George Messersmith nor anyone else. As far as these three affidavits of Mr. Messersmith are concerned, which were submitted by the prosecution, I would like to make a further statement.

Mr. Messersmith asserts that he had frequent contacts and numerous private conversations with me, and I would like to state here now that, according to my memory, I saw Mr. George Messersmith perhaps two or three times in my entire life. Mr. George Messersmith is picturing himself as having had numerous contacts and many private conversations with me, and he asserts further that his official capacity brought him in contact with me as president of the Reichsbank and as Minister of Economics. I do not recall once having received Mr. Messersmith in my office. Mr. George Messersmith takes these two or three discussions and proceeds to characterise me. He calls me cynical, ambitious, egoistic, vain, two-faced. I am, unfortunately, not in a position to give an equally comprehensive picture of the character of Mr. Messersmith. But I must definitely dispute his trustworthiness.

And as a first reason for this I would like to quote a general remark by Mr. Messersmith. In his affidavit of 30 August, 1945, Document 2385-PS, Mr. George Messersmith says, and I quote:-

"When the Nazi Party took over Germany, it represented only a small part of the German population."
Contrary to that, I say that before the Nazi Party took over Germany it occupied about 40 per cent. of all Reichstag seats. That percentage, Mr. Messersmith calls a small part of the German population. If diplomatic reports are everywhere as reliable as in this instance, it is small wonder that nations do not understand each other.

I would also like to correct a specific remark by Mr. Messersmith. Mr. Messersmith asserts, as I have quoted just a minute ago, that his duty brought him in contact with me as Minister of Economics. In his affidavit of 28 August, Document 1760-PS, Mr. Messersmith says, and I quote:-

"During the wave of terrorist activity in May and June of 1934 I had already assumed my duties as American Charge d'Affaires in Vienna."
In August of 1934, I became Minister of Economics, whereas, on the other hand, Mr. Messersmith, already in May of 1934, assumed his official duties at Vienna; but this does not prevent Mr. Messersmith from asserting that his official duties brought him in frequent contact with me as Minister of Economics. I believe this will suffice to gauge correctly the capacity of Mr. Messersmith's memory.

Q. In a similar connection, the prosecution repeatedly referred to the diary of the former ambassador in Berlin, Mr. Dodd, which was published on the basis of his private entries by his children after his death. This exhibit has the number USA-461. The prosecution quotes from this diary repeatedly to prove that Mr. Dodd, too, considered you a warmonger. I know, of course, that you were a friend of Mr. Dodd's, a fact which is shown in his diary. Can you tell me how the two facts can be reconciled?

A. First of all, I might say that Ambassador Dodd was one of the most

[Page 387]

undefiled personalities I have met, and of upright character, a man of unflinching fidelity to his convictions. He was a professor of history, undoubtedly a good historian. He had studied at German universities. I believe that he would turn in his grave if he knew that the notes which he put down casually in his diary were put together by his two children without commentary and printed without investigation. Mr. Dodd, I am sorry to say, had one characteristic which made dealing with him a little difficult. I think the reason for this lay in his steadfastness of conviction, which from the first often made him appear averse to outside influence. He found it rather hard to make himself understood easily and fluently, and he was even less in a position to view opinions of others in the right light. Many things that were told him he misunderstood and saw in a wrong light.

On Page 176 in his diary, in the lower corner, there is one sentence I would like to quote, to illustrate the point I am trying to make. Here he says: "I talked fifteen minutes with Phipps" - the British Ambassador at that time, - "about the accumulated evidence of Germany's intense war activities." This statement dates from the autumn of 1934 and I believe no one is able to say that, in the autumn of 1934, there was any talk of a "war activity" on the part of Germany. Mr. Dodd uses the expression "war" undoubtedly in the place of "armament," he says "Krieg" instead of "Aufrustung." In that sense, I believe, he misunderstood the words.

And, as further evidence for the difficulty which one had to make Dodd understand, I might say that the Foreign Office asked him once to bring a secretary, who would take notes of discussions with representatives of the Foreign Office, so that misunderstandings could be avoided.

I believe, therefore, that all these statements by Mr. Dodd are apt to be misunderstood. As for myself, I can only say what I have already said about Mr. Messersmith, that of course I never talked about war intentions.

Q. Now, in this diary it says that he was friendly disposed towards you. Do you have any proof for this friendly attitude to you?

A. Might I perhaps refer to the correspondence with Henderson ...

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