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-Eighteenth Day: Wednesday, 1st May, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page 401]

THE PRESIDENT: Before we go on with the case of the defendant Schacht, the Tribunal wishes to announce its decision on the applications by Dr. Sauter on behalf of the defendant von Schirach. The first application to which any objection was taken related to the group of Documents Nos. 30-31-45-68-73-101-124 and 133. That application with respect to that group of documents is denied.

The next matter was an application in respect of Document No. 118-A. That application is granted and the document is to be translated.

The next was Document No. 121 and in that case the application is denied.

With regard to witnesses, Dr. Sauter withdrew his application for the witness, Marsalek.

In connection with the other applications, the Tribunal grants the application that Ueberreiter should be called as a witness.

That is all.

DR. DIX (Counsel for Schacht): Yesterday, much to my regret, I neglected, after an answer given by Dr. Schacht to my question, as to whether he was disappointed by Hitler or whether he considered himself deceived by him, to read a passage from a document which deals with the same point. I am referring to a document, which has been submitted to the High Tribunal and which has been quoted several times - Exhibit GB-34, Page 114 of the English text. This passage may be found on Page 124 of the English document book and reads as follows:-

"Dr. Schacht, even in the years 1935-36, as may have been seen from numerous statements, had fallen into the role of a man who, in good faith, had put himself at Hitler's disposal, but who now felt he had been betrayed.

"Of the many statements made by Dr. Schacht, I quote only one, which he made on the occasion of a supper with my wife and myself in the summer of 1938. When Dr. Schacht appeared it was evident that he was in an excited state and, during the supper, he suddenly gave vent to his feelings, when, considerably agitated, he almost shouted at my wife, 'My dear lady, we have fallen into the hands of criminals - how could I ever have suspected that?'"

This is the affidavit made by Schniewind.

Yesterday I mentioned three documents: namely, a speech by Schacht on "Geography and Statistics" at Frankfurt-on-Main, then a theme Schacht had written on the colonial problem, and a speech given at Konigsberg by him.

I wish to submit these documents: The speech on "Geography and Statistics" at Frankfurt is Exhibit 19, Page 48, English Page 54. The theme on the colonial question is Exhibit 21, German version Page 53 and English version Page 59. The speech at Konigsberg is Exhibit 25 of my document book, German version on Page 44 and English version Page 73.




Q. Dr. Schacht, in the middle of the year 1934, shortly before you entered the Ministry of Economics and when you became Minister of Economics, you were familiar with the happenings of 30 June, 1934, and their legalisation by the

[Page 402]

Cabinet. Did you not have any misgivings about entering the Cabinet or what reasons prompted you to put aside these misgivings?

A. As far as my personal feelings were concerned, it would have been very simple not to assume office and to resign. Of course, I asked myself how that would help the future development of German politics if I refused office. We were already at a stage in which any open public opposition and criticism against the Hitler regime had been made impossible. Meetings could not be held, societies could not be established, freedom of the Press no longer existed, and all political opposition, without which no Government can thrive, had been suppressed by Hitler by his policy of terror. There was only one possible way to use criticism and even form an opposition which could prevent undesirable measures being taken by the government. And this opposition could solely be formed within the government itself. Thus convinced, I entered the government, and I hoped in the course of the years to find a certain amount of support and backing among the German people. There was still a large mass of spiritual leaders, professors, scientists, and teachers, of whom I did not expect simple acquiescence to a regime of coercion. There were also many industrialists, leaders of economy, whom I did not expect to bow to a policy of coercion incompatible with free economy. I expected a promise of support from all these circles - support which would make it possible for me to have a moderating influence in the government. Therefore, I entered Hitler's Cabinet - not with any enthusiastic agreement - but because it was necessary to keep on working for the German people and endeavour to exercise a moderating influence within the government itself.

Q. No oppositional developments occurred within the Party?

A. In answering that question, I would like to say that within the Party of course, the decent elements were by far in the majority, the greater part of the population had joined and backed the Party, because they felt it right and because they were driven to it by the need in which the German nation found itself.

I would like to say about the S.S., for instance, that in the beginning numbers of decent people joined the S.S. because Himmler gave the S.S. the character of fighting for a life of ideals. I would like to call your attention to a book written by an S.S. man which appeared at that time under the significant title, "Schafft anstandige Kerle", "Let's Make Decent Men".

But, in the course of time, Hitler learned how to gather all the less ardent elements within the Party and its organisation around him, and to tightly bind all of those elements to himself by adroitly exploiting any mistake, slip- up, or misdemeanour on their part. Yesterday I talked about drunkenness as a constituent part of Nazi ideology; I did not do that for the purpose of degrading anyone personally. I did it for another quite definite reason.

In the course of further developments, I mentioned that even many Party members who had fallen into Hitler's net and who occupied more or less leading positions, gradually became afraid because of the consequences of the injustices and the evil deeds to which they were instigated by the regime. I had the decided feeling that these people resorted to alcohol and narcotics in order to flee from their own consciences, and that it was only this flight from their own consciences that permitted them to act the way they did. Otherwise, there would be no explanation for the large number of suicides that took place at the end of the Nazi regime.

Q. You know that you are accused of being a participant in a conspiracy which had as its object an illegal violation of the peace. Did you at any time have secret discussions or secret orders or secret directives which worked toward this objective?

A. I may say that I myself never received any order or fulfilled any wish which might have been contrary to the conception of right. Never did Hitler

[Page 403]

request anything from me which he knew I would surely not carry out, because it did not agree with my moral point of view. But neither did I ever notice or observe that one of my fellow ministers or one of the other leading men who did not belong to Hitler's inner circle - of course, I could not control that circle - or anyone else whom I met in official contacts, that there was in any way an intent on their part to commit a war crime; on the contrary, we were always very glad when Hitler made a hit with one of his big speeches in which he assured, not only the entire world, but above all the German people that he was thinking of nothing except peace and peaceful work. The fact that Hitler deceived the world and the German people, and many of his co-workers, is one of the things that I mentioned yesterday.

Q. Did you at any time - of course, I mean outside of your normal official oath - take any oath or bind yourself in any other way to the Party or another National Socialist organisation?

A. Not a single oath and not a single obligation beyond my oath to the head of the state as an official.

Q. Did you have close private relations with leading National Socialists, for example, with Hitler or Goering?

A. I assume you mean a close friendly or social contact.

Q. Yes.

A. I never had relations of that sort with Hitler. He repeatedly urged me, in the first years, to come to the luncheons at the Reichschancellery where he was lunching with close friends. I attended twice at various intervals, and I must say that not only the tone of the discussion at the luncheon and the abject humility to Hitler repulsed me, but I also did not like the whole crowd, and I never attended again.

I never called on Hitler personally on a private matter. Of course, naturally, I attended the large public functions which all the ministers, the diplomatic corps and high officials, etc., attended, but I never had any intimate social or other close contact with him. That applies to the other gentlemen as, well.

As a matter of course, in the first months of our acquaintance we visited each other, but all so-called social gatherings which still took place in the first period had a more or less official character. A close private relationship did not exist.

Q. And does this answer apply to all the other leading National Socialists as well?

A. All of them.

Q. When, for instance, did you speak for the last time with the following persons. Let us start first with Bormann.

A. I gather from the use of the word "first" that you are going to mention others also.

Q. Yes, Himmler, Hess, Ley and Ribbentrop.

A. In that case I would like to make a few preliminary remarks: At the close of the French campaign, when Hitler returned triumphant and victorious from Paris, all of us - the ministers and the Reichsleiter and the other dignitaries of the Party, state secretaries, and so forth - received an invitation from the Reichschancellery to be present at the Anhalter Railway Station to greet Hitler on his arrival. As I was in Berlin at the time, it was impossible for me to refuse this invitation. It was 1940, the conflict between Hitler and myself had been going on for some time, and it would have been a veritable affront if I had stayed at home. Consequently, I went to the station and saw a very large number of Party dignitaries, ministers and so forth, but, of course, I do not remember now, just who all these people were.

Q. I beg your pardon for interrupting you. I have a rather poor memory for films and especially for newsreels, but I believe that that reception was shown in a weekly newsreel, and I believe that you were a boat the only civilian who was present among those people.

[Page 404]

A. I personally did not see that film, but my friends told me about it. They mentioned especially that among all the gold braid, I was the only civilian in ordinary dress there. Of course, it could be seen from the film who was present at the time.

I mentioned this reception, for it is possible that I said "Good Morning" to many people and inquired about their health, etc., and I also recall that I arrived at the station with Rosenberg in the same car, because there were always two people to a car. I did not attend the reception which followed at the Reichschancellery. Rosenberg went; but I said, "No, I would rather not go. I am going home."

Q. Then, I may assume that you probably saw the leading men, Hess, Ley, Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, Frick, Frank, Schirach, Speer, Sauckel, Seyss-Inquart, Kaltenbrunner, etc., for the last time then?

A. It is possible that all these gentlemen were there, but I did not speak at length with any of them except Hitler himself.

Q. Did you speak with Hitler at that time?

A. Hitler addressed me, and that was one of the strangest scenes of my life. We were standing in line and Hitler passed by everyone rather quickly. When he saw me, he came up to me with a triumphant smile and extended his hand in a most cordial manner, something which I had not seen him do for a long time, and he said to me, "Now, Herr Schacht, what have you to say now?" Then, of course, he expected me to congratulate him or express my admiration or a similar sentiment, and to admit that my prognosis about the war and about the disaster of the war was wrong, for he knew my attitude about it. It was extremely hard for me to avoid giving a suitable answer and I was at a loss for an alternative, finally replying: "I can only say to you, 'God protect you'." That was the only significant conversation which I had that day. I believed the best way to keep my distance was through just such a completely neutral and inconsequential remark.

Q. Well . . .

A. But perhaps you would like me to refer to the individual gentlemen, and I can tell you just when I spoke to these gentlemen for the last time.

Q. Himmler?

A. I think I talked to him last in 1936.

Q. Hess?

A. Hess, of course, I am not referring to the conversations here in the prison. The last time we spoke was some years before the beginning of the war.

Q. Ley?

A. I had not seen him since the beginning of the war.

Q. Ribbentrop?

A. I saw him last after I was thrown out of the Reichsbank, because I had to talk with him about the journey to India, and that must have been, I would say, February, 1939. I have not talked with him since.

Q. Rosenberg?

A. Apart from this reception of Hitler's perhaps not since '36.

Q. Frick?

A. I perhaps saw him last in the year '38.

Q. Schirach?

A. I did not even know Schirach.

Q. Speer?

A. I talked with him for the last time - and I can tell you this exactly - when I went to the World Exposition in Paris in the year 1937.

Q. Of course, you are always referring to the time before you were taken prisoner?

A. Yes, of course, naturally here I have ...

[Page 405]

Q. Sauckel?

A. Not since the beginning of the war.

Q. Seyss-Inquart?

A. I would say that I spoke to him for the last time in 1936, when I visited a colleague in the Reichsbank in Austria.

Q. Kaltenbrunner?

A. I saw him for the first time here at the prison.

Q. We will refer to Hitler later. Frank is still missing.

A. I saw Frank last perhaps in 1937 or '38.

Q. Most likely on the occasion of the speech you mentioned yesterday?

A. Yes, and maybe afterwards at an official reception, but I do not believe that I saw him after '38.

Q. Now, how about the leading men of the Wehrmacht, Keitel, for instance?

A. I never had any contact with Keitel. I perhaps saw him at some social gathering, but never after '38.

Q. Jodl?

A. I made Jodl's acquaintance here in the prison.

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