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 and Twentieth Day: Friday, 3rd May, 1946
(Part 5 of 12)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of Hjalmar Schacht]

[Page 64]

Q. Now, notwithstanding your removal as President of the Reichsbank, the government continued to pay you your full salary until the end of 1942, did it not?

A. I stated yesterday that that is not correct. I received my salary from the Reichsbank, which was due to me by contract, but a ministerial salary was not paid to me. I believe that as Minister I received certain allowances to cover expenses, I can't say at the moment; but I did not receive a salary as a Minister.

Q. Well, I will return to your interrogation of 9th October, 1945, and ask you whether you gave these answers to these questions on that interrogation:-

"Question: What salary did you receive as Minister without Portfolio?

"Answer: I could not tell you exactly. I think it was Some 24,000 marks - 20,000 marks. I cannot tell you exactly, but it was accounted on the basis of salary and afterwards on the basis of pension which I got from the Reichsbank, so I was not paid twice.

"Question: In other words, the salary that you received as Minister without Portfolio during the period you were also President of the Reichsbank was debited to the Reichsbank?

"Answer: Yes.

"Question: However, after you severed your connection with the Reichsbank in January, 1939, did you receive the whole salary?

"Answer: I received the whole salary because my contract ran until the end of 1942.

"Question: So you received a full salary until the end of 1942?

"Answer: Full salary and no extra salary, but from the first of January, 1942, I got my pension from the Reichsbank, and again the Ministerial salary was deducted from that, or vice versa. Which was higher, I do not know; I got a 30,000 mark pension from the Reichsbank."

And on 11th July, 1945, at Ruskin, you were questioned and gave answers as follows:-
"Question What was the date of your contract?

"Answer: From 8th March, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942. Four years. Four years contract.

"Question: You were really then given a four-year appointment?

[Page 65]

"Answer: That is what I told you. After 194Z I got a pension from the Reichsbank. "Question: What was the amount of your salary and all other income from the Reichsbank? "Answer: All the income from the Reichsbank, including my fees for representation, amounted to 60,000 marks a year, and the pension is 24,000. You see, I had a short contract but a high pension. As Reich Minister without Portfolio I had another, I think 20,000 or 24,000 marks."
Now, is that correct?

A. The salaries are stated on paper and are correctly cited here, and I have, indeed, claimed that I was paid by one source only. I was asked, "What salary did you receive as Reich Minister?" I stated the amount, but I did not receive it, as it was merely deducted from my Reichsbank salary. And the pension, as I see here, is quoted wrongly in one case. I believe I had only 24,000 marks pension, while it says here somewhere that it was 30,000 marks. In my own money affairs I am somewhat less exact than in my official money affairs. However, I was paid only once, and that was mainly by the Reichsbank up to ... and that also has not been stated here correctly. It was not the end of 1942, but the end of June, 1942, that my contract expired. Then the pension began and it, too, was paid only once. How those two, that is, the Ministry and Reichsbank, arranged with each other is unknown to me.

Q. Well, you were entitled to a salary and a pension, both, and one was offset against the other; is that what you mean? And that arrangement continued as long as you were a part of the regime?

A. It is still in effect today. It has nothing to do with the Government in power. I hope that I will still receive my pension; how else can I pay my expenses?

Q. Well, they may not be very heavy, Doctor. When General Beck resigned, he asked you to resign, did he not?

THE PRESIDENT: Just a minute, it is quite unnecessary for anyone present in Court to show his amusement by laughter.


Q. (continuing). Were you asked to resign when General Beck resigned?

A. No, he did not say that.

Q. Have you in mind the testimony given by Gisevius here?

A. Yes. It was a mistake on the part of Gisevius.

Q. Oh, well, in any event, when General Beck resigned, it was called sharply to your attention?

A. He paid me a visit and told me about it a few days before his retirement. I assume that was about the end of August or the beginning of September of 1938.

Q. And you say that no proposal was made to you at that time that you should resign along with Beck?

A. No, nothing was said about that. Beck saw me in my room, he did not mention anything of this sort, and it was not discussed by us.

Q. Did it ever occur to you that resignation would be the appropriate way of expressing your protest against these things which you now say you disapprove?

A. No, I do not at all believe that a resignation would have been the means to achieve that which had to be done, and I also regretted it very much that Beck retired. That which happened, was caused by an entirely false policy - a policy that partly was forced upon us, and partly, I am sorry to say, was not handled properly by us. In February, Neurath was dismissed. In the autumn Beck left; in January, 1939, I was dismissed. One after the other was dismissed. If it had been possible for our group - if I too may now speak of a group - to carry out a common action, as we hoped for and expected, then that would have been an excellent thing. However, these individual retirements had no use whatsoever; at least, they had no success.

[Page 66]

Q. You felt that Beck should have stayed at his post and been disloyal to the head of the State?

A. Absolutely.

Q. And, in all events, you continued in every public way throughout the period until the fall of France to hold yourself out as a part of the government and a part of the regime, did you not?

A. Well, I never considered myself a part of the regime, exactly, because I was against it. But, of course, ever since the autumn of 1938 I worked towards my own retirement, as soon as I saw that Hitler did not stop the rearmament but continued it, and I was aware that I was powerless to act against it.

Q. Well, when did you start working towards your own retirement?

A. Pardon me; I did not understand - to work towards what?

Q. When did you start working towards your own retirement from all office?

A. After Munich and after we realised that we could no longer expect a disarmament or a cessation of rearmament by Hitler, and that we could not prevent a continuation of the rearmament; so, within the circles of the Reichsbank directorate, we began to discuss this question and to realize that we could not sanction a continued course of rearmament. That was the last quarter of 1938.

Q. And all of these events of which you disapproved never were of sufficient consequence to cause you to resign and withhold a further use of your name from this regime?

A. Until then I had still hoped that I could bring about a change for the better consequently I accepted all the disadvantages entailed with my remaining in office, even the danger that some day I might be judged, as is happening today.

Q. You continued to allow your name to be used at home and abroad despite your disapproval, as you say, of the invasion of Poland?

A. I never was asked for my permission, and I never gave that permission.

Q. You knew perfectly well, did you not, that your name meant a great deal to this group at any time, and that you were one of the only men in this group who had any standing abroad?

A. The first part of your statement I already accepted yesterday from you as a compliment. The second part, I believe, is not correct. I believe that several other members of the regime also had a "standing" in foreign countries, some of whom are sitting with me here in the prisoners' dock.

Q. Any foreign observer, who read affairs in Germany, would have obtained the understanding that you were supporting the regime continuously until you were deprived of the office of Minister without Portfolio, would they not?

A. That is absolutely incorrect. As I have stated repeatedly yesterday and also during my direct examination, I was always referred to in foreign broadcasts as a man who was an opponent of this system, and all my numerous friends and acquaintances in foreign countries knew that I was against this system and worked against it. And if any journalist can be mentioned to me today who did not know this, then he does not know his business.

Q. Oh, do you refer to the letter which you wrote to the New York banker, Leon - ?

A. Leon Frazier.

Q. Now, at the time you sent that letter to Switzerland, there was a diplomatic representative of the United States in Berlin, was there not?

A. Yes.

Q. And you knew he had a communication at least once a week and usually once a day with Washington?

A. Yes. I did not know it, but I assumed it.

Q. And, if you wanted to communicate with the Government of the United States or with an official of the United States, you might have communicated through the regular channels?

A. I did not desire to communicate with the American Government or with an American official. I merely desired to re-establish my connection with a friend

[Page 67]

who had invited me in January to come to the United States, and I made reference to this previous correspondence between him and me in January.

A. That disposes of the Frazier matter, then.

Now, Dr. Schacht, while you were Minister without Portfolio, aggressive wars were instituted, according to your testimony, against Poland, against Denmark and Norway, in April of 1940, against Holland and Belgium in May of 1940; in June there was the French armistice and surrender; in September of 1940 there was the German-Japanese-Italian Tripartite Pact; in April of 1941 there was an attack on Yugoslavia and Greece, which you say was aggressive, in June of 1940 there was the invasion of Soviet Russia, which you say was aggressive; on 7th December, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, and after the attack declared war on the United States; on 8th December, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan, but not on Germany; on 11th December, 1941, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States; and all of these things happened in the foreign field and you kept your position as Minister without Portfolio under the Hitler Government, did you not?

A. Sir -

Q. Did you not, and is not that a fact?

A. Yes, and I wish to add something to this. From dozens of witnesses who have testified here, and from myself, you have heard again and again that it was impossible unilaterally to retire from this office because, if I was put in as a Minister by the head of a government, I could also only be retired with his permission. You have also been told that at various times I attempted to rid myself of this ministerial office. Besides the witnesses' testimony I can present to you testimony from countless others, including Americans, to the effect that it was well known that Hitler did not permit anyone to retire from office without his permission. And now you charge me with having remained. I did not remain for my pleasure, but I remained because I could not have retired from the ministry without making a big disruption. And almost constantly, I should say, I tried to bring this about until finally, in January, 1943, I succeeded and I was able to disappear from office, not without danger to my life.

Q. Well, I'll deal with your explanation later. I am now getting the facts.

You did not have an open break with Hitler so that you were not entirely out of office until after the German offensive broke down in Russia and the German armies were in retreat, and until after the Allies had landed in Africa, did you?

A. The letter by which I brought about the last successful break is dated 30th November, 1942. The break and its success dates from 21st January, 1943, because Hitler and Goering and whoever else participated in discussing it, needed seven weeks to make up their minds about the consequence of my letter.

Q. Then, by your letter, it plainly shows that you thought the ship was sinking, does it not, that means that the war was lost?

A. My previous oral and written declarations have already shown this. I have spoken here also about this. I have testified regarding the letter to Ribbentrop and Funk, I have given a number of descriptions here which prove that I never believed in the possibility of a German victory. And my disappearance from office has nothing whatsoever to do with all these questions.

Q. Now, meanwhile, while you were remaining as Minister without Portfolio, because you thought it might be dangerous to resign, you were encouraging the Generals in the army to commit treason against the head of the State, were you not?

A. Yes, and I should like now to make an additional statement to this. It was not because of a threatening danger to my life, that I could not resign earlier. For I was not afraid of endangering my life, because I was used to that ever since 1937, having constantly been exposed to the whim of the Party and its heads.

Your question as to whether I tried to turn a number of Generals to high treason, I answer in the affirmative.

Q. And you also tried to get assassins to assassinate Hitler, did you not?

[Page 68]

A. In 1938, when I made my first attempt, I was not thinking then of an assassination of Hitler. However, I must admit that later I said if it could not be done any other way, we would have to kill the man, if possible.

Q. Did you say, "We'll have to kill him," or did you say "Somebody else will have to kill him," Dr. Schacht?

A. If I had had, the opportunity I would have killed him, I myself. I beg you therefore, not to summon me before a German court for attempted murder, because in that sense, I am, of course, guilty.

Q. Well, now, whatever your activities, they were never sufficiently open so that the foreign files in France, which you say were searched by the Gestapo, had an inkling of it, were they?

A. Yes, I could not announce this matter in advance in the newspapers.

Q. And the Gestapo, with all its questioning of you, never was in a position to put you under arrest until after the 20th July attack on Hitler's life?

A. They could have put me under arrest much earlier than that, if they had been a little smarter; but that seems to be a weakness of any police force.

Q. And it was not until 1943 that the Hitler regime dismissed you? Until that time apparently, they believed that you were doing them more good than harm?

A. I do not know what they believed at that time, hence I ask you not to question me about that. You will have to ask somebody belonging to that regime, you still have enough people here.

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