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 8 of 10)

[Page 431]

DR. SIEMERS: I believe I have been misunderstood, your Honour. I have already stated very clearly why I need these documents for my presentation of evidence regarding the Norway action. Beyond that I said merely that, if these

[Page 432]

documents are not granted me, then I cannot present any evidence. I asked the Tribunal merely to take into consideration the fact that the documents from London, which I had originally reckoned on, are not at my disposal. And I do not know why the request, which I am submitting to the Tribunal and which is only in explanation of my previous statements, is being taken amiss by the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that all you have to say?

DR. SIEMERS: I have now finished, your Honours. It is not at all my intention to read all these documents or to spend too much time on them. I believe that, if I am granted these documents, the presentation of evidence will be much easier, for these are groups of documents which show the chronological development of certain plans, and if I have the fifth, sixth or seventh document then I need not read each one. But, if I am granted just one document, I will be put in an extremely difficult position and will have to speak in greater detail than I would if I could simply refer to these documents.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider it.

Now, Dr. Dix.



BY DR. DIX (Counsel for the defendant Schacht):

Q. Now, we come to the whole question of your alleged knowledge of the direct war objectives of Hitler. You have already mentioned in a general way that Hitler never spoke about war to you. Have you anything to add to this?

A. No.

Q. You also touched upon the question of the sincerity of his peaceful assurances and his disarmament proposals. Have you anything to add to that?

A. No, at the beginning I believed that.

Q. And the various members of the cabinet, did they ever speak to you about warlike intentions?

A. Never did I hear anything from any of my fellow colleagues in the cabinet which could lead me to believe that anyone had the intention of going to war or would welcome it if Germany were to start a war.

Q. Now, we turn to your own attitude towards the war. You already indicated your general attitude when you spoke about your philosophy as a pacifist. I believe, therefore, that it is more expedient if I read from my document book the opinion of a third party, a party who knows you very well; namely, the former member of the Reichsbahn directorate, Huelse. It is the Schacht Document Book 37-C, Page 160 of the German text, and 168 of the English text. It is an affidavit. And there, beginning with paragraph 2, Huelse says:

"I recall several chance talks with Dr. Schacht during the years 1935 to 1939 about war and rearmament. In these talks he always expressed his aversion to any war and any war-like conduct. He held the firm opinion that even to the winner war brings only disadvantages, and that a new European war would be a crime against culture and humanity. He hoped for a long period of peace for Germany, as she needed it more than other countries in order to improve and stabilise her unstable economic situation.

To my knowledge, until the beginning of 1938, Dr. Schacht, at meetings of the Reichsbank Board of Directors and in private conversations on the subject of armament, always spoke only of defence measures. I believe I can recall that he told me in the middle of 1938 that Hitler's provocative action against Austria and the Sudeten country, from the military point of view, was worse than indiscreet.

"He said that Germany had undertaken only a defensive armament,

[Page 433]

which would prove absolutely inadequate as a defence in case of attack by one of the big powers, a possibility with which Hitler had to reckon. He said that he had never heard that the Wehrmacht was in any way designed or armed for an aggressive war.

When the war did break out and spread more and more, he said repeatedly that he had erred in his judgement of Hitler's personality; he had hoped for a long time that Hitler would develop into a real statesman who, after the experience of the first World War, would avoid any war. "

Q. You have already touched upon the question of an annexation of Austria and given your general opinion. I ask you now to make a concrete statement about the Anschluss after it had actually taken place, and especially about the manner in which this Anschluss was carried out.

A. That this Anschluss would come at some time we Germans all knew. As for the various political negotiations which took place between Hitler, Schuschnigg and others, I, naturally, was as little informed as were the other cabinet ministers, with the probable exception of Goering and von Ribbentrop and, perhaps, one or two more. The actual Anschluss in March was a complete surprise to us, not the fact but the date. A complete surprise, at any rate, to my acquaintances and myself.

Q. How did you judge the manner, the nature and shape of the Anschluss?

A. I believe that much can be said about the manner. What we heard subsequently and what I have learned in these proceedings is certainly not very gratifying, but I believe that it would have had very little practical influence on the Anschluss itself and the course of events. The whole thing was more of a demonstration to the outside world, similar perhaps to the marching into the Rhineland, but it had no great effect, in my opinion, on the course of the negotiations. I am speaking now of the marching in of the troops. This march was more or less a festive reception.

Q. The prosecution has pointed out that in March, 1938, you regulated the relation of the schilling to the mark for the event of a possible Anschluss, and by this the prosecution obviously wants to prove that you had previous knowledge of this action. Will you tell us your position as to this?

A. The fact to which the prosecution refers is a communication from a Lieutenant Colonel Wiedemann. On the 11th, in the afternoon about three o'clock - I believe I remember that, but I cannot say whether it was by telephone or in person - someone - it may have been Lieutenant Colonel Wiedemann - inquired of me how the purchasing power for the troops in Austria was to be regulated if German troops should march into Austria - purely a matter of currency policy, whether it was necessary to have prescribed regulations. I told him that, of course, everything had to be paid for, everything that the troops might buy there, and that the rate of exchange, if they paid in schillings and not in marks, would be one mark to two schillings. That was the rate which ruled at the time, which remained fairly steady and was the recognised ratio of the schilling to the mark.

The fact that in the afternoon of the 11th I was approached about this matter is the best proof that I had no previous knowledge of these matters.

Q. The prosecution further considers it an accusation against you that in your speech to the Austrian National Bank after the marching in of the troops you used decidedly National Socialist phraseology and thus welcomed the Anschluss.

Perhaps we can use this opportunity to save time and reply to the accusation made repeatedly by the prosecution that in speeches, petitions, etc., you sometimes thought fit to adopt a tone, of which it could perhaps be said that it exuded National Socialist ideas. That has been used as circumstantial evidence against you. Will you please define your position to those arguments and give your reasons for this attitude of yours?

[Page 434]

A. If I did so in the first few years, I did so only in order to remind Party circles and the people of the original programme of the National Socialist Party, to which the actual attitude of the Party members and functionaries stood in downright contrast. I also tried to show that the principles which I upheld in many political matters agreed completely with the principles of the National Socialist programme as they were stated in the Party programme, namely, equal rights for all, the dignity of the individual, esteem for the church, and so forth.

In the later years I also repeatedly used National Socialist phraseology, because from the time of my speech at Konigsberg, the contrast between my views and Hitler's views on the side of the Party was entirely clear. And gradually within the Party I got the reputation of being an enemy of the Party, a man whose views were contrary to those of the Party. From that moment on, not only the possibility of my co-operation, but also my very existence was endangered, and in such moments, when I saw my activity, my freedom and my life seriously threatened by the Party, I utilised these moments to show by means of an emphatically National Socialist phraseology that I was working entirely within the framework of the traditional policies and that my activity was in agreement with these policies, in order to protect myself against these attacks.

Q. In other words, recalling the testimony of the witness Gisevius about a remark of Goerdeler, you used Talleyrand methods in this case?

A. I am not entirely familiar with Talleyrand's methods, but at any rate I did camouflage myself.

Q. In this connection I should like to read a passage from the affidavit of Schniewind which has been quoted repeatedly. It is Exhibit 34. I have often indicated this page. It is Page 118 of the German, Page 126 of the English text. Schniewind says:-

"If Schacht on the other hand occasionally made statements, oral or written, which could be construed as signifying that he went a long way in identifying himself with the Hitler regime, these statements were naturally known to us, but what Schacht thought in reality was known to almost every official in the Reichsbank and in the Reich Ministry of Economics, above all, of course, to his closest colleagues.

On many occasions we asked Dr. Schacht if he had not gone too far in these statements. He always replied that he was under such heavy fire from the Party and the S.S. that he could camouflage himself only by making furtive statements."

I might explain that Schniewind was a high official in the Ministry of Economics, and worked directly under Schacht and with him.

The prosecution has also referred to an affidavit by Tilly to the effect that you admitted that you thought Hitler capable of aggressive intentions. Will you make a statement about that?

A. That affidavit of the British Major Tilly is entirely correct. I told Major Tilly during the preliminary interrogation that in 1938, during the events of the Fritsch affair and afterwards, I had become convinced that Hitler, at any rate, would not avoid a war at all costs and that possibly he even sought to bring about a war. Looking back I pondered over a number of statements by Hitler and asked myself the reason why he, in the course of the years, had reached the point where he might not avoid a war. And I told Major Tilly that the only reason which I could think of was that, looking back, I had the impression that Hitler had fallen into the role which necessarily falls to each and every dictator who fails to relinquish his power in time, namely, that of having to supply his people with some sort of victor's glory - that that was probably the development of Hitler's thought.

Q. That is the same explanation as given by Prince Metternich about Napoleon?

You have already remarked, in parenthesis, that you first became suspicious

[Page 435]

during the Fritsch affair. The witness Gisevius has described the Fritsch affair to the Tribunal in detail. We do not wish to repeat anything. Therefore, I am asking you only to state in regard to the Fritsch affair anything you might have to say to supplement or to amend Gisevius's testimony. If that is going to take a long time - which I cannot judge - then I might suggest to the Tribunal that we have the recess now, if the Tribunal wishes.

A. I have just a brief remark to make.

DR. DIX: A brief remark. Then answer the question briefly.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, if he can do it briefly, we had better have it now.

A. It is just a single remark that I should like to add. The account given by Gisevius of the development of the Fritsch affair is, according to my knowledge and my own experience completely correct in every detail. I have nothing to add to that. I can only confirm it. On the other hand, I should like to refer to a speech of Hitler's on 20 February, 1938, in the Reichstag, which contains a remark which even at that time aroused my attention. He said - and I quote this speech from "Die Dokumente der Deutschen Politik", of which all copies were available here:

"The changes in the Reich Cabinet and in the military administration on 4 February" - that is changes which were made following the Fritsch and Blomberg affair - "were for the purpose of achieving within the shortest time that intensification of our military means of power, which the general conditions of the present time indicate as advisable."
This remark also confirmed my opinion that the change from a peaceful to a military policy on Hitler's part was becoming obvious; I did not wish to omit reference to this remark, in order to complete the account given by Gisevius.

DR. DIX: This is Exhibit 28 of our document book, Page 81 of the English text, Page 74 of the German text. There this passage is quoted.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, we will adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

BY DR. DIX (Counsel for defendant Schacht):

Q. Several meetings have been discussed here, during which Hitler is said to have spoken directly or indirectly about his war intentions. Did you participate in any such meetings?

A. No, not in a single one.

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