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-Fifth Day: Thursday, 27th June, 1946
(Part 1 of 5)

[Page 245]

THE MARSHAL: If it please the Tribunal, the report is made that defendant Ribbentrop is absent.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, gentlemen of the Tribunal, first a very brief explanation. Yesterday I repeatedly mentioned the Indictment and intend to do so in the course of the examination. Thereby I mean the presentation of Fritzsche's case by Captain Sprecher in the morning session of 23rd January, 1946.

BY DR. FRITZ: Herr Fritzsche, yesterday you spoke of your radio speeches concerning the Allied propaganda. My last question is: Did you attempt to split the front of the Allies by your propaganda?

[Hans Fritzsche] A. Of course, I attempted to do that. I elaborated on all ideological and all practical contrasts or differences between the individual allied nations. I considered that a permissible method of waging war. At that time I wanted a split between the Allies just as much as today I wish their unity, since Germany would be the first victim of any conflict.

Q. Now, you are accused of assisting in establishing Nazi control throughout Germany. Did you agitate against democracy?

A. I never agitated against democracy as such. I spoke against the democracy of the thirty-six parties, the democracy which had prevailed in Germany previously, the democracy under which even strong groups, such as the two Marxist parties, for example, were powerless. I criticized foreign democracy on two points only: First, I criticized those elements which limited the basic thought of democracies - I believe it is superfluous, and perhaps it would be misunderstood, to enumerate them today. Secondly, I criticized the demands of the foreign democracies to force their form of government on us. According to my knowledge and information at that time, it seemed unjustified to me.

Q. Well, did you consider dictatorship a better form of government?

A. I should like to emphasize that at that time, under the existing conditions and only for a temporary emergency period, I did; today, of course, I do not. After the totalitarian form of government had brought about the catastrophe of the murder of five million people, I consider this form of government wrong even in times of emergency. I believe any kind of democratic control, even of limited democratic control, would have made such a catastrophe impossible.

Q. You are accused, furthermore, of having spread the doctrine of the master race. The prosecution makes this charge indirectly against you. How about that?

A. I never set up or represented the theory of the master race.

I even avoided this term. I expressly prohibited the use of this term by the German Press and the German radio when I was in charge of one or the other. I believe that the term "master race" played a greater role in the anti-National Socialist propaganda than in Germany proper. I do not know who invented this term. To my knowledge, it was publicly mentioned only by men like Dr. Ley, for example, men - and I must state this frankly and expressly - who were not taken seriously by anyone in this connection. It is true, however, that this term played a great role, without being expressed openly, among the SS because of its racial exclusiveness, but people of intelligence, tact, of insight, and with some knowledge of the world, very carefully avoided its use.

[Page 246]

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, at this opportunity, I should like to offer an affidavit to the Tribunal by Dr. Scharping of 17th May, 1946. Dr. Scharping was Government Counsellor in the Propaganda Ministry up to the end. From this affidavit I shall now quote only one sentence from Page 13.
"In this connection it can be explained that Fritzsche always opposed the term 'master race.' He even expressly prohibited the use of this word on the radio."

Q. But the prosecution has quoted a passage from one of your radio speeches to prove their assertion on this point.

A. The quotation is correct, but I ask you to read it carefully. The term "master race" is rejected in this quotation for the Jewish and for the German people. The quotation cannot be misunderstood.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, that is in Captain Sprecher's speech for the prosecution, English text, Pages 31-32.


Q. But you carried on propaganda not only in Germany but also abroad. What was the difference?

A. In my radio speeches there was no difference. Before the outbreak of war I made a slight difference in the speeches for Germany and those for other countries, simply because the audience was different, and because I had to pre-suppose a different level of knowledge. During the war my speeches on the Reich-German radio were simply transmitted over the short wave stations. What was said for Germany or for other countries could be controlled by both sides. Moreover, in the twelve years during which I spoke on the German radio, I never permitted my speeches to be translated, since that always involved a differentiation in emphasis. Written articles can be translated, perhaps official speeches also, but not rather light and half-improvised chats.

Q. Were your broadcasts abroad criticized internationally?

A. Yes, very frequently. During the war there was often daily criticism from some country or other. I had these criticisms collected. I asked for them as documents but my application was refused by the Court. As far as I know, I am not accused of inciting war in these criticisms.

Q. Now, you not only acted as a mouthpiece for propaganda but also as an organiser of it. You are accused of having helped to create an important instrument for the alleged conspiracy. The prosecution says that for thirteen years you aided in the creation of the propaganda machine which the conspiracy was able to put to such good use. Did you create the Press organization of the National Socialist State?

A. No, I did not create this organization nor did I have any part in its creation. It was created by Dr. Goebbels, Dr. Dietrich and Reichsleiter Amann. When, in the winter of 1938, I became head of the so-called German Press Section, I attempted to loosen the bonds which had been imposed on the German Press both in the material and personal field. For example, I called back to their work with the Press hundreds of editors of other parties who had been dismissed in 1933 and 1934. Today they will be angry with me. I had good intentions at the time.

In addition to the official Press conferences which were very strictly controlled, also as far as their records were concerned, by my superiors, I arranged the so-called supplementary conferences (Nachkonferenzen) in which I met the representatives of the fifty or sixty most important papers, and discussed more freely the possibilities of their work. I coined the slogan which was often used there:

"You may write any criticism you like in the German papers provided such criticism is not shown in big headlines but is buried somewhere in the text in an elegant form."

[Page 247]

Very many German journalists made use of this possibility in the past twelve years. I should be glad if this work, which was hidden work, would be honoured in some way today in the interest of those people who, in part, returned to their profession as journalists only out of personal confidence in me.

Of course, I must add that the possibility of criticism was not unlimited.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, on this occasion, with the approval of the prosecution, I offer the Tribunal a document as Fritzsche Exhibit 4. It is an excerpt from a letter of the German Lieutenant-General Dittmar, who frequently commented on the military situation on the German radio during the war and who is in British captivity. The well- known English radio commentator, Mr. Liddell-Hart, has sent an excerpt from the letter to the British prosecution. I should like to quote briefly this memorandum which was sent to me. May I quote this passage?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you may.

DR. FRITZ: Dittmar writes:

"The possibility of retaining the critical attitude in my radio commentary was due primarily to the silent approval and the protection accorded to me by Hans Fritzsche, the head of the political radio. I believe that Fritzsche was a secret opponent of the regime and that he was glad of the opportunity to have found a commentator who discreetly expressed ideas which resembled his own and which insidiously would tend to reduce confidence in the regime.''
Following this quotation, there is another quotation from the affidavit of Dr. Scharping, which I have already submitted as Fritzsche Exhibit 2. It is on Page 11 of this affidavit. It runs:
"The radio people and the journalists knew Fritzsche's tolerance quite well. It repeatedly happened that, for example, Fritzsche at his conferences had a copy of the Volkischer Beobachter in his hand and commented ironically on an anti-Jewish article. I recall that once he expressed his criticism in roughly the following words: 'A Berlin paper' - then he held the Volkischer Beobachter up so that everyone could see it - 'has once more, in an editorial, committed more than two errors. Perhaps the publisher may yet succeed in getting the right idea.'

With such ironical remarks, Fritzsche always had the approval of his listeners, but there was some danger for him, for Goebbels daily read the records of these Press conferences."


Q. Herr Fritzsche, following the statement of Lieutenant- General Dittmar, one question: Did you feel yourself to be an enemy of the system, or how does General Dittmar come to make this statement?

A. I was not an enemy of the system. It would be ridiculous and unworthy to try to assert that today. But I was definitely an opponent of any misuse of the system which I could recognize. What I noticed the most, because it was in my. field of work, was whitewashing of news during the war. The aim of all my news policy was realism, and apparently that is what General Dittmar means in the part of his statement which has been read here.

I met General Dittmar in December, 1942, or January, 1943, at the moment when the Sixth German Army at Stalingrad was surrounded, but when this fact was still being kept secret from the German people. Together with General Dittmar, in face of the prohibition, I publicly announced the fact that the Sixth Army was surrounded at Stalingrad. This caused a great sensation at the time. In the following months and year, I always defended General Dittmar and his realistic presentation of the military situation against all attacks, not only against the attacks of the Party, but also against the attacks of the Foreign Office, which repeatedly pointed out that these objective presentations of Dittmar had a bad effect on Germany's allies.

[Page 248]

In connection with this struggle for realistic news service, later - and I ask permission to mention this briefly - I waged a desperate battle against the irresponsible propaganda about miracle weapons. Only one year after Dr. Goebbels had mentioned the future miracle weapons did I mention a new type of weapon for the first time. Speer has mentioned SS Standartenfuehrer Berg, who is said to have carried on secret propaganda for the miracle weapon in connection with the Propaganda Ministry. He wrote an article in Das Reich which attracted much attention, with the sensational and very promising heading, "We, the Bearers of Secrets." I had to fight against things like that.

Another especially striking example was this. Another member of the SS, Hernau, wrote, at the moment when the invasion had succeeded, an article in which he presented the situation as if the evacuation of France had been a very secret trick of the German Command, which was creating the possibility for a very strong counter-blow. I prohibited this article in my field, and I repeatedly had to oppose the irresponsible rumours which were spread in secret about mysterious weapons. I did so publicly, and I plainly stated my point of view on the radio against this propaganda.

On the other hand I may point out that at every moment of the war my superiors always made well-founded promises to me, first, of some military offensive which was just being prepared; for instance, a thrust from East Prussia toward the south, a thrust from Upper Silesia to the Vistula, a thrust from Alsace toward the north, and so forth. Together with these promises which were worked out in detail were the political promises which were mentioned briefly yesterday, that is the descriptions given by Dr. Goebbels that foreign political negotiations were in progress with the enemy on one or the other side.

Q. Another question: Who was in charge of Press policy?

A. Reich Press Chief Dr. Dietrich. He gave very specialized instructions, mostly in a precise wording, the so-called "Daily Paroles" of the Reich Press Chief.

Generally he even gave the wording of the commentaries which were to be added in the Press conference.

For the most part, Dr. Dietrich was at the Fuehrer's headquarters and received his instructions directly from Hitler. Dr. Dietrich's representatives were Sundermann and Lorenz. The second factor decisive for German Press policy was Reichsleiter Amann, who was at the head of the organization of publishers. The third factor was Dr. Goebbels as Reich Propaganda Minister. Dietrich and Amann were nominally subordinate to him; actually, both had the same authority as he had, and I always had to adjust differences in order to obtain co-ordination between these three authorities.

Q. Did you create the organization of the journalistic news service?

A. Yes, I did create this organization. In principle, it originated with me. I may refer to my affidavit, Document 3469-PS (17). I was in charge of the journalistic news service from about 1934 to 1938. I was proud of the fact that, at the beginning of the war, even the enemy recognized the good functioning of this news machine. However, at that time I was no longer the head of the so-called "news service" department. As an expert I created this organization in peace time without thinking of the possibility of using it during war. The conclusion of the prosecution that I also determined the contents of the news service is not correct.

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