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 8 of 12)

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

[Page 76]

Q. Then, in the course of the cross-examination, there came up the question of your willingness or unwillingness to give up the office of Plenipotentiary for War Economy, and in order to prove your statement that General von Blomberg did not wish you to give up that office, you referred to a document which has been submitted by the prosecution. I am referring to Document EC-244 and it is a letter from the Reichswehr Minister, von Blomberg, to Hitler, of 22nd February, 1937. It has already been read, so there is no need to do so again. May I only point out that in the last paragraph Blomberg expressed the desire that the Fuehrer would direct or get the Reichsbank president to remain in office, so that covers the statement made by Schacht. Furthermore, in the course of cross-examination by Mr. Justice Jackson, mention was made of your credibility concerning the statement on your colonial aspirations and from the point of view of colonial policy without mastery of the sea - Germany had not the mastery of the sea - can Germany have any colonial problems? That was the question; and in that connection I would like to ask you: Did Germany have colonies before 1914?

A. Yes.

Q. Before?

A. Before 1914.

[Page 77]

Q. Between 1884 and 1914, that is, the time when Germany had colonial possessions, did Germany have mastery of the sea, especially as compared to Great Britain?

A. No, in no way.

Q. That covers it. Then there is another problem from the point of view of the credibility of your statements: Mention has been made of the ethical conflicts concerning your oath to Hitler, as head of the State, as you say, and the intentions which you have revealed to overthrow Hitler, even to kill him. Do you not know of many cases in history where persons holding high office in a State attempted to overthrow the head of the State to whom they had sworn allegiance?

A. I believe you find these examples in the history of all nations.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, we are not concerned with past history, are we? You do not think the question of whether there are historical instances is a legitimate question to put to this witness?

DR. DIX: Then I will not pursue that point any further, it is argumentation and maybe I can use it later in my final pleadings.

Q. Now, returning to the question of colonies, is it not correct that, apart from your personal colonial aspirations, Germany under the German Reich Government, had prepared officially for the acquisition of her colonies and later their administration; and was there not a colonial policy department until 1942 or 1943 or thereabouts?

A. Well, it is set out explicitly in the Party Programme that the colonial demands are part of the Party Programme. Of course, the Foreign Office also concerned itself with it, and I believe, also, in the Party there was a colonial policy department.

Q. There was a colonial policy department under Ritter von Epp?

A. Yes, under Ritter von Epp.

Q. Then concerning the question of the MEFO bills, I ask you only this, and then I have finished. Did you mean to imply that the MEFO bills were to serve as a brake on rearmament, because the signature of the Reich to these bills, that is, of the Reich government, was binding for their repayment?

A. You see, I said very clearly, that the limitation of the MEFO bills to five years and making them mature in five years would automatically put a brake on armament.

Q. Furthermore, Mr. Justice Jackson dealt with the point that the name of Schacht, when he retained the office as Minister without Portfolio, had a propaganda value in favour of the Nazi regime abroad and therefore served the aggressive intentions and their execution. In this connection and in order to shorten the presentation of my documents, may I read from Document Book Exhibit 37; that is, the English text is on Page 157 and the German on Page 149. On Page 5 of that long affidavit Hulse states:

"The foreign Press drew from the dismissal" - that is, the dismissal as Reichsbank President in 1939 - "the correct conclusions and interpreted it as a warning signal. In this connection in repeated conversations, even at the end of 1938, and in agreement with Dr. Schacht, I spoke with representatives of foreign issuing banks, whom I had met at board meetings of the Bank for International Settlement, and I informed them that the resignation of Schacht and individual members of the Reichsbank Directorate meant that things in Germany were following a dangerous path."
Furthermore, the Prosecutor. for the Soviet Union has accused Dr. Schacht, because in the biography of Reuter it is stated expressly that Schacht assisted the regime during the stage of the struggle for power. At any rate, that is the substance. That is correct, as written in Reuter's book, but there is something else. I believe we still have to submit Exhibit 35, Page 133 of the English text and 125

[Page 78]

of the German, and there we find on the second page of that long affidavit the following sentences, which limits the authenticity of that biography and proves it to be a tendentious piece of writing. Reuter says in this affidavit, and I quote:
"I had a biography of Dr. Schacht published twice, first at the end of 1933 by the R. Kittler Publishing House in Berlin, and at the end of 1936 by the German Publishing Institute in Stuttgart. Besides its being a factual presentation of his life and his work, it also served the purpose of shielding him from his attackers. Therefore the principles of purely objective historical research are not applicable to this publication, because defensive views required by the situation at the time had to be taken into consideration."
This must be known and read before one can estimate the evidentiary value of that biography.

And that concludes my questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The defendant can then retire.

DR. Dix: I now call the witness Vocke with your Lordship's permission.


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Wilhelm Vocke.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth, and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Herr Vocke, you were a member of the Directorate of the Reichsbank. When did you enter the Reichsbank Directorate, and when did you resign from it?

A. Reich President Ebert appointed me a member of the Reichsbank Directorate in 1919, and Hitler dismissed me from office on 1st February, 1939. Therefore, I was for about twenty years a member of the Reichsbank Directorate, and for ten of these years I was under Schacht.

Q. Excuse me, but I must ask you, were you a member of the Party?

A. No.

Q. Were you a member of the SA?

A. No.

Q. Were you a member of the SS?

A. No.

Q. Were you a sponsoring member of the SA or SS?

A. No.

Q. You had no connection with the Party?

A. No.

Q. When did you meet Schacht?

A. In 1915. I merely made his acquaintance then, but it was not until he became Reichsbank Kommissar and Reichsbank President, that I came to know him better.

Q. I come now to the period of the First Reichsbank presidency of Schacht, that is, the year 1923. At that time what was the attitude of the Reichsbank Directorate to the candidature of Schacht as Reichsbank President?

A. A disapproving attitude.

Q. And for what reason?

A. The reasons were we wanted Helferich as candidate for the presidency of the Reichsbank, because Helferich, in close co- operation with the Reichsbank, had created the Rentenmark and stabilisation of currency.

[Page 79]

But as a reason for our disapproval of Schacht, we mentioned im incident contained in Schacht's dossier which referred to his activity under Herr von Jung in 1915. According to this Schacht, who had come front the Dresdner Bank, had rendered assistance to the Dresdner Bank which von Jung did not consider quite correct, and therefore he dismissed Schacht as that time.

The Reich Government, however, did not heed the criticism which we made against Schacht, and as Minister Severing told me recently, he followed the proverb, "It is not the worst fruit which is eaten by worms," and Schacht was appointed President.

Q. So that Schacht came to you as President, and he must have known that the Directorate did not want him, or at any rate wanted somebody else. Therefore, I assume the question is in order as to what the relations were among that group, that is, the Reichsbank Directorate and the new President.

A. Schacht took up his office in January, 1924. He called us all to a meeting in which he spoke very frankly about the situation, and this was the substance of what he said:

"Well, you disapproved of me for President because I stole silver spoons, but now I am your President, and I hope that we will work together, and come safely to port."
That was the expression used by Schacht. "However, if one or other of you feel that he cannot work with me, well, then he will have to take the consequences, and I will gladly assist him to find another position."

Our relations with Schacht soon became good and we worked together successfully. It was very good to work with Schacht. We quickly recognized that he was an unrivalled expert in his and our branch, and also in other respects his conduct was beyond reproach. He was clean in his dealings and there was no nepotism. Neither did he bring with him any men whom he wanted to favour. Also he was a man who at all times, tolerated controversy and differing opinions - he even welcomed them. He had no use for colleagues who were "yes men."

THE PRESIDENT: There is neither any charge nor any issue about this.

DR. DIX: That is quite correct, your Lordship, but I thought it would be helpful to touch upon these things, but we are now at the end, and will come to the Reichsbank presidency from 1933 on.


Q. After his short period of retirement Schacht again became President of the Reichsbank in 1933. Did you have any conversations with him about his relations to Hitler and to the Party?

A. Yes.

Q. Would you like to describe to the Tribunal the kind of statements Schacht expressed to you?

A. First, I would like to mention two conversations which I remember almost word for word. During the period when Schacht was not in office, that is about three years, I hardly ever saw him, maybe three or four times at functions at the Wilhelmstift. He never visited me, nor did I visit him: only once, when Schacht came into the bank - maybe he had some business there - and he visited me in my office.

Q. When was that?

A. That must have been in 1932, a comparatively short time before the seizure of power. We immediately began to speak about political questions and his relations with Hitler. I used that opportunity to put Schacht seriously on his guard against Hitler and the Nazis. Schacht said to me, "Herr Vocke, one must give this man or these people a chance. If they are no good, they will disappear. They will be cleared out in the same way as their predecessors."

I told Schacht, "Yes, but it may be that the harm done to the German people in the meantime will be so great that it can never be repaired."

[Page 80]

Schacht did not take that very seriously, and with some light remark, such as "You are an old pessimist" or something like that, he left.

The second conversation about which I want to report took place shortly after Schacht's re-entry into the Bank. It was probably in March, 1933, or the beginning of April. Schacht at that time showed a kind of ostentatious enthusiasm, and I talked to him about his relation to the Party. I assumed that Schacht was a member of the Party. I told him that I had not the intention of becoming a member of the Party, and Schacht said to me, "You do not have to. You are not supposed to. What do you think? I would not even dream of becoming a member of the Party. Can you imagine me bending under the Party yoke, accepting the Party discipline? And then, think of it, when I speak to Hitler I should have to click my heels and say 'Mein Fuehrer,' or when I write to him address him as 'Mein Fuehrer.' That is quite out of the question for me. I am and remain a free man."

That conversation took place and those words were spoken by Schacht at a time when he was well launched on the way to his approach to Hitler, and many a time I have thought about it, whether it was true, and remained true, that Schacht was a free man.

As things turned our after a few years Schacht was forced to realize to his sorrow that he had lost a great deal of his freedom, that he could not change the course of the armaments financing scheme, upon which he had embarked, when he wished to do so; that it had become a chain in the hands of Hitler and that it would take years of filing and tugging to break it.

But, in spite of that, his words were true, inasmuch, as they reflected the inner attitude of Schacht towards Hitler. Schacht never was a blind follower. It was incompatible with his character, to sign himself away to somebody, to sell himself, and follow with blind devotion.

If one should seek to characterise Schacht's attitude to Hitler thus: "My Fuehrer, you command, I follow." And if the Fuehrer ordered him to prepare an armament programme; "I will finance an armament programme. It is for the Fuehrer to decide to what use it shall be put, whether for war or peace," that would be incompatible with Schacht's attitude and character. He was not a man who thought along subaltern lines or who would throw away his liberty; in that Schacht differed fundamentally from a great many men in leading political and military positions in Germany.

Schacht's attitude, as I came to know it from his character and from his statements, could be explained somewhat as follows: Schacht admired the tremendous dynamism of this man which he found was being directed towards national aims and he took this man into his reckoning hoping to use him as a tool for his own plans, Schacht's plans for a peaceful political and economic reconstruction and strengthening of Germany. That is what Schacht thought and believed, and I take that from many statements made by Schacht.

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