The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd May to 13th May, 1946

One Hundred Ninteenth Day: Thursday, 2nd May, 1946
(Part 4 of 12)

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

[Page 13]

Q. We need not repeat that. The only question which I still want to ask you is what were you going to tell the generals, particularly General von Brauchitsch, at that last moment?

A. That he still had a chance to avert a war. I knew perfectly well that bare economic and general political statements would, of course, accomplish nothing with von Brauchitsch because he would then certainly have referred to Hitler's leadership. Therefore I wanted to say to him something of quite a different nature and, in my opinion, that was of the most decisive significance. I was going to remind him that he had sworn an oath of allegiance to the Weimar Constitution. I wanted to remind him that the Empowering Law did not delegate power to Hitler but to the Reich Cabinet, and I wanted to remind him that in the Weimar Constitution there was, and still is a clause, which has never been annulled and according to which, war cannot be declared without previous approval by the Reichstag. I was convinced that Brauchitsch would have referred me to his oath

[Page 14]

sworn to Hitler and I would have told him: "I also have sworn this oath. You have sworn no oath other than your military one, perhaps, but this oath does not in any way invalidate the oath sworn to the Weimar Constitution; on the contrary, the oath to the Weimar Constitution is the one that is valid. It is your duty, therefore, to see to it that this entire question of war or no war be brought before the Cabinet and discussed there, and when the Reich Cabinet has made a decision, that the matter will go before the Reichstag." If these two steps had been taken, then I am firmly convinced that there would have been no war.

Q. You never reached Brauchitsch. We do not want to repeat the description of that whole affair, or of your attempts at the Bendler Strasse and so on. Have you anything to add to Gisevius' testimony or do you wish to change anything in it?

A. I can only confirm that Gisevius' statement is correct in every single point, and I myself merely want to add that Canaris mentioned amongst many reasons which then kept us from making the visit, that Brauchitsch would probably have us arrested immediately if we said anything to him against the war, or if we wanted to prevent him from fulfilling his oath of allegiance to Hitler. But the main reason why the visit did not come about was quite correctly stated by Gisevius. Moreover it is also mentioned by General Thomas in his affidavit, which we shall later submit. The main reason was: the war - is - cancelled. And so I went to Munich on a business matter and to my surprise, while I was in Munich, war was declared on Poland, the country was invaded.

Q. You mentioned the Reichstag a short time ago. A meeting of the Reichstag did in fact take place, though not before the war or before the declaration of war, but immediately thereafter. At the time you were still a Minister without portfolio. Normally you would have had to sit on the Ministers' bench during that meeting. Did you take part in that meeting?

A. I did not participate in that meeting at all and I would like to add at once that, during the entire war, I was present only at one meeting of the Reichstag. I could not avoid it, considering the matters which I already mentioned here yesterday. It was after Hitler's return from Paris. I had to participate in this meeting of the Reichstag, which followed the reception at the station, because, as I said, it would otherwise have been too obvious an affront. It was a meeting at which political matters were not dealt with at all, but at which the Field-Marshal's rank was granted by the dozen.

Q. Now, this last effort, which has just been mentioned, to stop the outbreak of war through Canaris, brings us to the particular chapter of your attempts at a coup to overthrow Hitler and his Government. We want to make it a rule, if possible, not to repeat what the witness Gisevius has already stated, but only to supplement or correct or state what you know from your own memory. Before I touch upon that chapter, however, may I ask you whether you knew from information you received, or from other indications, that your oppositional attitude and that of your similarly minded friends, and your oppositional aims, were known in authoritative circles abroad?

A. I do not wish to repeat anything, I merely want to point out that I have already stated repeatedly here that I continually discussed the situation in Germany, thus also my own position, with my friends abroad, not only with Americans, Englishmen, and Frenchmen, but also with neutrals and I would like to add one more thing: foreign broadcasting stations did not tire at all of speaking constantly about Schacht's opposition to Hitler. My friends and family received a shock whenever information on this subject transpired in Germany.

Q. When did your attempts to overthrow the Hitler government begin?

A. As early as 1937 I tried to determine which groups in Germany one might rely upon in an attempt to remove the Hitler regime. Unfortunately, in the years 1935-1936 and 1937, I realised that all those circles in which I had placed my hope were failing: namely the scientists, the educated middle-class and the leaders of economy.

[Page 15]

I need only mention that the scientists permitted themselves to listen to the most nonsensical national socialist lectures without opposing them in the least. I call attention to the fact that, when the economic leaders saw that I was no longer a figure in economy, they disappeared from my ante-room and thronged into that of Goering. In a word, one could not rely upon these circles; one could depend only on the generals, on the military. Therefore, as has been stated here - and I do not want to pursue it further - I tried at first to contact such generals as Kluge, for instance, merely in order to ascertain whether among the military there were people with whom one could speak openly. And this first occasion led me to a great many generals whom I contacted in the course of time.

Q. That was then in the year 1937, now we come to 1938, still limiting ourselves by what Gisevius has already said, merely touching on it briefly and confirming it. By the way, were you in any way directly or indirectly involved in the negotiations at Godesberg or Munich?

A. In no way.

Q. Now we continue with your political work, aiming at a revolt. Is Gisevius' account of the year 1938 correct or is there something to be added to it?

A. Gisevius' statement is complete and reliable.

Q. That also applies to the attempt at a Coup d'Etat in the late summer of 1938?

A. Yes.

Q. Then came the war, did you fold your arms after war broke out?

A. No, throughout the entire war I pleaded with every general whom I could contact. I used the same arguments which I have just mentioned in connection with the prospective interview with Brauchitsch; therefore, it was not mere theory, but I actually spoke to all these Generals.

Q. Was not a visit to General Hoppner significant in this connection?

A. In 1941 I tried, not only to get in touch with General Hoppner, but in a whole series of conversations I attempted to persuade him to take action. Hoppner was perfectly willing and prepared and later he, too, unfortunately lost his life as a consequence of the events of 20th of July, 1944.

In the year 1942 - and this has not been mentioned here up to now, because Gisevius did not participate - I tried again to spur General von Witzleben to renewed activity. I went on a special journey to Frankfurt on the Main, where he had his headquarters at that time, and von Witzleben proved as ever to be completely resolved to act, but he told me that of course he could only do so if he again received a command at the front. Then I -

Q. At that time Mrs. Struenck, who knew of these matters, was in Frankfurt?

A. She knew of these things and can confirm them.

DR. DIX: Perhaps I may tell the Tribunal at this point that Mrs. Struenck was granted me as a witness and she was here. In order to save time, however, I decided to dispense with this witness since she could make only cumulative statements on what Gisevius has already said and I do not think it is necessary. Schacht himself has just stated the only piece of information which she could have added, namely of this trip, this special journey to Frankfurt to von Witzleben. As the Tribunal very well realizes, in the course of a revolutionary movement stretching over years such as this, many journeys are made and, in respect of this particular journey, it is not important to submit special evidence. In order to save time, therefore, I have decided to dispense with the testimony of Mrs. Struenck. Excuse me, I merely wanted to say this now. Then there is the next -

A. (continued). May I perhaps say one more thing? I of course always participated in the conversations mentioned by Gisevius here with the other Generals, that is the group of Beck, Fromm, Olbricht, etc. The reason that things did not come to a head for some time was because the Generals were waiting for the outcome of negotiations abroad. I think that enough has been said here

[Page 16]

about this topic and I need not further dwell on it. I pass to one last point, which does not become apparent from Gisevius' statement, but about which an affidavit from Colonel Gronau will be submitted here. I can mention it quite briefly in order to save time. Naturally, together with the group of Beck, Goerdeler, my friend Struenck, Gisevius and others, I was completely informed and initiated into the affair of the 20th of July. However, and I think it was mutual, as far as possible we only told each other what was absolutely essential so as to limit possible revelations if any one of us should be submitted to the tortures of the Gestapo. For that reason, apart from being in touch with Beck, Goerdeler, Gisevius and Struenck etc., I had another connection with the Generals who were at the head of this revolt, and that was the General of the Artillery Lindemann, one of the main participants in the attempted coup, who unfortunately also lost his life later.

Q. Perhaps it would be proper - and also more intelligible in connection with your participation in the events of 20th of July - if I read a brief part of Colonel Gronau's affidavit which refers to Lindemann. It is Exhibit No. 39 of our Document Book, Page 168 of the German text and Page 176 of the English text. I shall omit the first part of the affidavit, but I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it; essentially it contains only matters on which evidence has already been given. I shall only read the part that deals with the 20th of July. It begins on Page 178 of the English text and on Page 170 of the German text, and I start with question 5:-

"Question: You brought Schacht and General Lindemann together. When was that?

"Answer: In the autumn of 1943, for the first time in years. I again saw General Lindemann, my former school and regimental comrade. While discussing politics I told him that I knew Schacht well, and General Lindemann asked to be introduced to him, whereupon I established the connection.

"Question: What did Lindemann expect from Schacht, and what was Schacht's attitude toward him?

"Answer: The taking up of political relations with foreign countries following a successful attempt at revolt. He promised his future co-operation. At the beginning of 1944 Lindemann made severe reproaches that the Generals"-that should read "he severely reproached Lindemann" it is incorrectly copied here - "because the Generals were hesitating so long. The attempt at revolt would have to be made prior to the landing of the Allies.

"Question: Was Lindemann involved in the attempted assassination of 20th July, 1944?

"Answer: Yes, he was one of the main figures.

"Question: Did he inform Schacht of the details of this plan?

"Answer: Nothing about the manner in which the attempt was to be carried out he did inform him, however, of what was to happen thereafter.

"Question: Did Schacht approve the plan?

"Answer: Yes.

"Question: Did Schacht put himself at the disposal of the military in the event of a successful attempt?

"Answer: Yes.

"Question: Were you arrested after 20th July, 1944?

"Answer: Yes.

"Question: How were you able to survive your imprisonment?

"Answer: By stoically denying complicity."

Now, we have left the years 1941 and 1942, and, to explain the putsch in logical sequence, we reached the year 1944, something that could not be avoided, but we must now go back again to the year 1941. You have already mentioned fleetingly the efforts made abroad. In 1941 you were in Switzerland. Did you make any efforts in that direction there?

[Page 17]

A. Every time I went abroad I talked at length to my foreign friends and, again and again, searched for some way by which one might shorten the war and begin negotiations.

Q. In this connection, the Frazer letter is of importance. I think the Frazer letter, and the way it was smuggled into Switzerland, has been sufficiently discussed by the witness Gisevius. I have on two occasions stated the contents briefly, once when the translation was discussed and again during the discussion on the admissibility of the letter as evidence before the Tribunal. I do not think I need do so again nor that I need read it. I should merely like to submit it. It is Exhibit 31, on Page 84 of the German and Page 91 of the English text. And - I say this now, we shall discuss it later - the same applies to the article which appeared this year in the Basler Nachrichten, which deals with a conversation which an American had with Schacht recently. I shall not read that either since I have already stated the main points of its contents. I submit it as Exhibit Number 32, Page 90 of the German text and Page 99 of the English text. I might point out that this article has already been the subject of certain accusations, made during the cross-examination of Gisevius, by the representative of the Soviet prosecution.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I should like to raise one objection in regard to Document 32; this is an article about Dr. Schacht and his ideas, by an unknown writer describing his conversations with an unknown economist. The article in question was published in the Basler Nachrichten on the 14 January, 1946, i.e., when the present trials were already well under way, and I cannot, consider that this article can be presented in evidence with regard to Schacht's case.

DR. DIX: I might.... May I, before the Tribunal decides, say something very briefly.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

DR. DIX: The article has already been admitted as evidence. We have discussed it, and the Tribunal approved the article as evidence. The Tribunal can, of course, revoke that decision. I think, for me it would -

THE PRESIDENT: I think the Tribunal has always made it clear that the allowance of these documents is a provisional allowance and that, when the document is actually offered in evidence, they will then decide the relevancy or its admissibility, rather, and its relevancy.

DR. DIX: That is quite beyond doubt. I merely wanted to point out that we have already discussed the question once before. Of course, the Tribunal can today reject the document. I shall -

THE PRESIDENT: The allowance is provisional. It is not a question of the Tribunal's reversing its previous decision. The previous decision was merely provisional, and the question of admissibility now conies up for decision.

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