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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
20th June to 1st July 1946

One Hundred and Sixty-Fourth Day: Wednesday, 26th June, 1946
(Part 10 of 10)

[DR. FRITZ continues his direct examination of Hans Fritzsche]

[Page 240]

Q. Were you his representative there?

A. No. In the last two and a half years I was his commissioner for broadcasting, and in addition, head of one of the twelve departments of his Ministry. Dr. Goebbels's representatives were his State Secretaries. The last one was Dr. Naumann, who was his successor for one day.

Q. Was Dr. Goebbels your only and direct superior?

A. No. There were many positions between him and me at first, and still a few later on. This is the first time, here in the dock, that I am without official superiors.

Q. By the way, whom of the defendants did you know, or with whom did you have official or personal relations?

A. I had two or three official conversations, shortly after 1933, with Funk, who was then State Secretary in the Propaganda Ministry, mainly dealing with economic and organisational matters. I discussed with him the financial plans for the reorganisation of the News Service.

Then, I once had a talk with Grand Admiral Donitz on a technical matter. I called on Seyss-Inquart in The Hague, and on Papen in Istanbul. I knew all the others only by sight and first made their personal acquaintance during the trial.

Q. How about Hitler?

A. I never had a conversation with him. In the course of twelve years, however, I saw him, of course, several times at the Reichstag, on big occasions or receptions. Once I was at his headquarters and was invited to dinner with a large number of other people. Otherwise, I received instructions from Hitler only through Dr. Dietrich or his representative, or through Dr. Goebbels and his various representatives.

Q. What were your relations with Dr. Goebbels? Were you on friendly terms with him? Did you meet him frequently?

A. One can by no means say that we were friends. The relationship was on an official basis, reserved and to a certain extent formal. I was personally even less frequently with him than with other of his assistants of my rank. But I believe he treated me with more respect than any other of his co-workers. To that extent I occupied a certain special position. I valued Dr. Goebbels's intelligence and his ability, at least sometimes, to change his own opinion in favour of a better argument. I saw him about twice a year during the first five years. When I was head of a department, I saw him perhaps once a month. After the outbreak of war I saw him daily in the course of a conference of 30 to 50 fellow-workers; and in addition, about once a week I had a conference on special subjects with him.

Q. Now we come to the subject of propaganda. Can you sketch the propaganda system in the Third Reich?

[Page 240]

A. I will try to. There were three types of propaganda. The first was the unorganised agitation of the radical fanatics in the Party. It was present in all fields, in the fields of religion, racial policy, art, general policy, and the conduct of the war. As time went by, Martin Bormann became more and more the leader of this unorganised agitation.

The second type of propaganda was under the Reich Propaganda Section of the NSDAP. The head of this was Dr. Goebbels. It attempted to put the agitation of the radicals on a more presentable basis.

The third type was the State organization of the Reich Propaganda Ministry.

Q. The prosecution contended at the beginning that you had been also head of the Radio Section of the Propaganda Division of the NSDAP. How about that?

A. The prosecution has withdrawn that assertion. They said that they had no proof. It would have been more correct to say that this statement has been proved to be false. I refer to my affidavit, Document 3469-PS (37). There I state, that I was not, unlike all of my predecessors - as far as I know - head of the Radio Division of the Ministry, and at the same time head of the Radio Section of the Party. Today I supplement this statement by saying that I held no office whatever in the Party.

Q. You have been accused of having helped Dr. Goebbels plunge the world into the blood-bath of aggressive war. Is that true? Did he ever speak with you about aggressive plans?

A. No; I never heard of any intention to wage aggressive war, either from Dr. Goebbels. or from anyone else.

Q. In the course of this trial, some conferences have been mentioned here several times at which, it was said, various aggressive plans were discussed; for example, before the attack on Czechoslovakia, before the attack on Poland, and on Norway, and on Russia. Did you participate in these conferences? Did you hear of them?

A. I did not participate in a single one of these conferences. I heard of them for the first time here in the courtroom.

Q. Now, if no plans for an attack were discussed in these conferences, was there any talk at all about war or the possibility of war?

A. No; but the danger of war was mentioned as early as 1933; the danger of war due to the one-sided position of one disarmed State surrounded by others which were highly armed. This had to be considered in the light of an inducement to attack.

German propaganda after 1933 underlined this consideration, and this contention as one of the main reasons, first, for the demand for disarmament of the other powers and afterwards for the German demand for equality of armament. That seemed completely logical to me. But never was the danger of war mentioned without, at the same time, making a reference to the German will for peace. That seemed to me honest.

In the summer of 1939, when the danger of war became more and more imminent, I saw Dr. Goebbels more often than ever before. I gave Dr. Goebbels a number of little memoranda as, so to speak, a contribution from my field of work, the News Service. They were analyses of public opinion in Western countries, and they repeatedly indicated that England was determined to go to war in case of a conflict with Poland.

I recall that Dr. Goebbels. was deeply impressed when I once again gave him one of these memoranda. He expressed his concern, and decided immediately to fly to Hitler. He said to me: "Believe me, we did not work successfully for six years in order to risk everything in a war now."

Furthermore, in the summer of 1939, I knew of some serious gaps in German armament which partly have already been mentioned here in the courtroom. Therefore, I was convinced of the honesty of the peaceful intentions in Hitler's policy.

[Page 242]

If documents have been submitted during this trial which indicate that Hitler secretly thought differently or acted differently, then I am at a loss to form a judgement, since the documents of the opposite side have not yet been published. But if what the documents indicate is a fact, then I must state that I was deceived about the aims of German policy.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, at the beginning of my case, I had stated that we were unable to produce here the radio speeches of the defendant Fritzsche. I tried to obtain them from German radio stations and succeeded in getting at least a small part from the years 1939 and 1940. I have selected a few of these speeches which I should like to submit to the Tribunal as Fritzsche Exhibit 1.

To support what the defendant has just said, I should like to quote only one sentence from the radio speech of Fritzsche of 15th November, 1939:

"The sole reason for war which a nation, that as a whole never longs for war, may have at all, the sole reason for war which is also morally justifiable, is the threat to the existence, to the life of that nation."
And this line, emphasized by the defendant Fritzsche at the beginning of the war, was adhered to by him during the war as well. As proof of this, I should like to quote another passage from the same document, from a radio speech of Fritzsche of 23rd July, 1940:
"We Germans have experienced in the course of our history, and especially twenty years ago, enough blood and tears and human suffering to face things honestly now. We knew what war meant, and therefore we did not want war. And because the Fuehrer knows it so well, and had experienced it himself, he offered on 6th October and 19th July to make peace."

Q. Did you in any way have anything to do with war preparations of an intellectual or organisational kind?

A. Not directly, but perhaps indirectly. I demanded the disarmament of the others, and then equality of armament; and I advocated the armament (Wehrhaftmachung) of the German people. The expression "Wehrhaftmachung" is liable to be misunderstood, at any rate to be easily misinterpreted. I should like to define it expressly as the ability to fight in self-defence.

The German people was promised again and again, often by me, that the restoration of its military power would be only for defensive purposes.

Q. How and where did you propagate this idea?

A. In the modest sphere of my weekly radio speeches, while making casual remarks. I was a patriot, but I considered myself free from Chauvinism, that is, exaggerated nationalism. To me, as an historian, it was at that time already clear that, especially in the narrow confines of Europe, the old nationalism was an anachronism, and that it was incompatible with modern communications and weapons. At that time I believed that I saw in Hitler's doctrine also certain elements for a new type of mutual understanding among peoples. It was particularly the constantly repeated thesis that only the nationalism of one people can understand the nationalism of another people.

Only today have I realised ideologically, but particularly, of course, materially, through the further development of arms, that the time of nationalism is past, if mankind does not want to commit suicide, and that the period of internationalism has come, for good or evil.

At that time, however, nationalism was not considered a crime. I advocated it; indeed, everyone advocated it. It can be seen that it is still advocated today.

Q. Now, the prosecution points out that before every attack, a Press campaign was launched in Germany, the aim of which was to weaken the victim of a planned attack and to prepare the German people psychologically for the new drive. Although this is stated by the prosecution without as yet actually referring to you personally, and even though later no direct charge is made that you organized these Press campaigns, the prosecution, nevertheless, stress very strongly your connection with this practice.

[Page 243]

Now, what facts have you to state about your role in these journalistic polemics?

A. First, I can only point out that I described the propagandistic actions in detail in my affidavit, Document 3469-PS (23-33), starting with the Rhineland occupation up to the attack on the Soviet Union. These descriptions also contain information about the type and extent of my participation in these actions. Beyond that, I may emphasize that any reference is missing in the description made in my affidavit as to the question of the right in each case. All attempts at political justification are lacking. I should like to emphasize explicitly that in each case, in each action, I believed I represented a good and just cause. It would be going too far if I were to explain that for each case, inasmuch as many of these cases have already been discussed here. I assume, or rather, I hope that the prosecution will ask questions on this subject, for I assert that, no matter what the facts may have been in the individual cases, at every moment from the Anschluss of Austria on to the attack on Russia, information given to me and through me to the German public left no doubt of the legality or the urgent necessity of the German action and I, as the only surviving informer of the German public, consider it my duty to be available here for any investigation of the correctness of this statement of mine, which is of especial importance for the German public.

Q. Some newspaper headlines are mentioned in your affidavit which are considered typical of the various states of tension prior to the individual actions. What have you to say to that?

A. These headlines are taken without exception from the Volkischer Beobachter. They were submitted to me and, of course, I had to confirm their correctness, but I may emphasize that the Volkischer Beobachter was not typical of my Press policy. The Volkischer Beobachter generally had its own direct connections with headquarters and Hitler. Typical products of my Press policy were papers such as the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, the Munchener Neueste Nachrichten, and the Hamburger Fremdenblatt, to mention only a few.

Q. But the prosecution is of the opinion that you, with your domestic propaganda, also incited the German people to war, in that you tried to arouse hostile feelings in them towards other peoples of Europe and the world. In Captain Sprecher's trial brief, it is said, for instance, that "antagonism against the peoples of the Soviet Union" and "an atmosphere of utter and complete unreason and hatred" were created by you or that you had incited the Germans to blind hatred. Did you do that?

A. No, I did not do that. Never did I attempt to arouse hatred against the English, French, Americans, or Russians. There is not a single word of this kind in perhaps a thousand speeches which I made before the microphone. I did speak strongly against governments, members of governments, governmental systems, but I never preached hatred generally or attempted to awaken it indirectly as was the case - and I ask your pardon for my taking an example from the courtroom - at the moment when a film was presented here and the words were spoken. "Here you see Germans laughing over hanged Yugoslavs." Never did I try to awaken hatred in this general form, and I may point out that for years many anti-National Socialist statements from certain countries, which were still neutral at that time, remained unanswered.

Q. Did your superiors demand that you should mark your propaganda with the stamp of antagonism or to stimulate hatred?

A. Yes, that happened frequently, but it was not demanded that antagonism or hatred should be stirred up against peoples. That was expressly forbidden, because we wanted to win these peoples over to our side, but again and again I was requested to arouse hatred against individuals and against systems.

Q. Who requested you to do this?

A. Dr. Goebbels and Dr. Dietrich, and both of them frequently on the direct orders of Adolf Hitler. The reproach was repeatedly made that the German Press and the German radio did not arouse hatred at all against Roosevelt, Churchill or Stalin, but that they made these three personalities popular as efficient men.

[Page 244]

For that reason, for years the German Press was forbidden to mention these three names at all unless, in an individual case, permission was given with exact instructions.

Q. Do you mean to say that you refused the request to change your propaganda to incite antagonism and to arouse hatred and did not carry it out?

A. I should like to outline exactly what I did. When the reproaches of Dr. Goebbels and Dr. Dietrich piled up, I had all caricatures from the First and Second World War collected - from England, the United States of America, France and a few from Russia. In addition, I had all anti- German propaganda films which I could lay my hands on collected. Then, in five or six demonstrations of several hours each, I presented these caricatures and these films to German journalists and German radio speakers. I, myself, spoke only two or three minutes in introduction. It is quite possible that I created hatred through these showings, but the condemnation of this means of producing hatred in the midst of war I should like to leave to the judgement of the Tribunal. In any case, Dr. Goebbels said later that he was dissatisfied and we were "bunglers."

I may add one statement. I could have used a method of carrying out my orders to arouse real hatred, that is, not one, but a whole group of methods; for instance, to give only one example, I could have used a German edition of the last two volumes of the Tarzan series, an adventure series which was very popular in Germany at that time, and of which the last two volumes were strongly anti-German. I need not describe them here. I never pointed out such early products of anti-German propaganda. I always deliberately ignored such methods.

Q. If you say that you dispensed with hatred and antagonism in your propaganda, what means did you use in that propaganda during the war?

A. During the war, I conducted the propaganda almost exclusively with the concept of the necessity and the obligation to fight. I repeatedly painted the results of defeat in very sombre colours and systematically gave quotations from the Press and the radio of the enemy countries. I quoted repeatedly the enemy demands for unconditional surrender. I used the expression "Super- Versailles" frequently and did - I emphasize this - describe the consequences of a lost war very pessimistically. It does not behove me today to make a comparison with reality.

Q. But could you not learn from the broadcasts of the enemy that the fight of the Allies was not directed against the German people, but only against its leaders? Did you keep that from the German people?

A. On the contrary, I did not keep it from them, but repeatedly quoted it. However, I called it "incredible." For example, I once used the trick of quoting the wording of a medieval declaration of war in which it had already been said that a war was declared only on the King of France, but that one wanted to bring freedom to the French people.

THE PRESIDENT: Would this be a convenient time to break off?

(The Tribunal adjourned until 27th June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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