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-Sixth Day: Friday, 28th June, 1946
(Part 4 of 10)

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues his cross examination of Hans Fritzsche]

[Page 277]

Q. How was the general German propaganda brought into line with the propaganda measures taken by the OKW?

A. Very probably it was just fitted into the propaganda measures adopted by the OKW, because Dr. Goebbels, was so strong a personality that he would not have tolerated any disregard for his propagandist principles.

Q. Very well. I would like to have your answer to the following question: What relations existed between the. Ministry of Propaganda and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

A. Sometimes relations were a bit tense, but during the latter years of the war a representative from the Foreign Ministry participated in the minister conferences of the Propaganda Ministry at all times.

Q. What part did the Ministry of Foreign Affairs play in the carrying out of propaganda measures, especially in connection with the preparation and execution of aggressive wars?

A. May I answer as follows: At the very beginning of an action or a war, a representative from the Foreign Office used to appear with a completed document book, a White Book. I am unaware of the origin of these White Books. At

[Page 278]

any rate, they were not prepared in the Ministry of Propaganda. In a few cases I later received some knowledge of their compilation from the Foreign Office.

Q. Would it be correct to make the deduction that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs participated directly and actively in the preparation of propaganda tasks and directives? - is that correct?

A. No doubt that is true because the Foreign Minister reserved for himself the decisive word with reference to propaganda which was connected with foreign policy and also with reference to any propaganda which went abroad.

Q. Did you have in mind defendant Ribbentrop when you just replied and when you spoke about the role of the Foreign Minister?

A. Of course.

Q. Very well. You acknowledge and maintain that defendant Ribbentrop personally gave out the propaganda tasks in order to explain the attack on the Soviet Union as a preventive war?

A. That question cannot be answered with yes or no, but with a very brief description of the facts. The former Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop received, in the early morning hours of the day when the Russian campaign started, the foreign Press correspondents and the German Press. He put a White Book before them and he went on to explain in a speech what the situation was, and concluded with the following emphatic statement: "For all these reasons Germany was forced to begin this attack against the Soviet Union in order to forestall a Soviet attack. I ask you, gentlemen of the Press, to please present the facts in this manner."

Q. I should like to determine by this that the propaganda tasks were given by defendant Ribbentrop himself. Do you admit it?

A. I beg to apologise, but I have admitted exactly what I have said, and your last question is the result of a conclusion which is based on what I have just said, and is one with which I cannot agree.

Q. However, replying to my previous question you spoke about the decisive role of defendant Ribbentrop in questions concerning the carrying out of the foreign policy propaganda; is that correct?

A. Perfectly correct.

Q. Well. It is enough; let us cut out that question. Tell me now what were the relations between the Ministry of Propaganda and the so-called Ministry of the Eastern Occupied Territories?

A. There was a permanent liaison officer who was a member both of the Ministry for Eastern Affairs and the Ministry of Propaganda, and beyond that, there was an institution which had been founded by both ministries jointly, and was jointly administered by them. It was the institution called "Vineta," which dealt with the entire propaganda in the East.

Q. Yes, I understand. Who, specifically, prepared the propaganda slogans - as you called them in Germany - which were intended for the occupied territories? Who planned and prepared them?

A. I cannot tell you under oath, because I am not absolutely certain, but it is my assumption that they were based on the existing principles of general propaganda by Dr. Taubert, who was mentioned, as was his associates, in this Vineta institute.

Q. Very well. But you are clearly aware of the fact, and will tell us that the leading influence in all this work was the Ministry of Propaganda.

A. Quite definitely. Indubitably the Ministry of Propaganda had the initiative here, and the greatest influence.

Q. That is clear. Now tell me, what kind of influence did the defendant Bormann have on German propaganda? What role did he personally play in that?

A. His role was great. I know that it is somewhat frowned upon when statements are made here about a man who presumably is dead. In the interests of the historic truth, however, I shall nevertheless have to tell you the following -

[Page 279]

Q. We don't know yet whether Bormann is dead. We only know that he is not present on the defendants' bench, but he is, however, one of the defendants.

Go on, please.

A. The influence of the defendant Bormann was unusually strong in every other sphere as also in the propaganda sector. It became apparent in the following:

Firstly, in the general type of Party agitation which I mentioned yesterday that of the most radical outlook. A teleprint message from Bormann to Dr. Goebbels with, shall we say, the following contents - I hear complaints from Party circles regarding this, that or the other - would always be the cause of a rapid acceleration of Dr. Goebbels's entire machinery.

Secondly - and this is something which I cannot express differently under oath - Dr. Goebbels was quite clearly scared of Martin Bormann.

Finally, he always tried to justify in Bormann's eyes any actions of his which might have been misinterpreted by radical elements in the Party.

Q. Perhaps you will tell us who else of the defendants who were not named here during my cross-examination actively participated in the propaganda policy, and in what way. Maybe you would rather not tell us anything about the defendants who are present here.

A. I certainly would rather not, Mr. Prosecutor, but I shall give you an answer.

Q. Yes, please.

A. Very favourable influence on propaganda was exercised by one of the departments under the defendant Kaltenbrunner. Whether he was responsible for it in person I do not know, but here are the facts: During the struggle for realistic news service which I mentioned yesterday, I repeatedly met with resistance from the Party and the Foreign Office, but I found most useful the support of a department of RSHA, the name of which I have forgotten. This department used to issue reports about the general frame of mind or temper of the German people, which were sent to various supreme authorities in the Reich.

In these reports there was frequent praise for realistic news; the very thing which had been fought against by the other two sources which I have mentioned.

Q. You just mentioned the office of defendant Kaltenbrunner. Who else of the defendants could you name?

A. None of the others played a part in German propaganda.

Q. Defendant Hess is not present here, but did he have any influence or not?

A. Most unfortunately not.

Q. Why do you say "unfortunately"?

A. During the period when lie was still in office, he fulfilled a very beneficial task. He was, shall we say, the "complaint department" for all shortcomings in the Party and the State. I wish he could have continued -

Q. Well; there is no use to speak about it in detail. Now, let's go into the explanation of your personal participation and your personal role in the field of German propaganda. I should like you to state exactly what relations you had with Dr. Goebbels. Yesterday you spoke about it in detail, but here I should like you to state it briefly.

A. The briefest formula is this: Personally, little relationship; officially as time went by, more and more relationship.

Q. Yes. Do you know the name of General Field-Marshal Ferdinand Schoerner?

A. Yes, I know the name.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I should like to read into the record an extract from his testimony. Mr. President, I am submitting this document as Exhibit USSR 472.

Q. We are going to hand you this document in a minute. In order to facilitate the reading of it, the paragraphs which I am going to quote here are underlined in red pencil. I am going to read Excerpt No. 1. Will you please follow the text:

[Page 280]

"Everybody was aware, including myself, that Fritzsche was not only a close associate of Goebbels, but was also a favourite of his. He gained Goebbels's sympathy by frequently copying him in his political activities and quoting him in his speeches. Goebbels, in his printed and verbal speeches, referred to the conclusions and prognoses made by Fritzsche as having the force of official declarations."
Please tell me, defendant Fritzsche, is that in accordance with reality?

A. May I ask you which quotation you have been reading, 1, 2, or 3?

Q. I have already told you, it is quotation No. 1.

A. According to my text, the first one says:

"Everybody was aware, including myself, that Fritzsche was not only a close associate of Goebbels, but was also a favourite of his."
Q. Yes, that is quite correct. That is exactly what I quoted. I am asking you, is that in accordance with reality?

A. I should not have expressed it like that, and I think it is a matter of opinion. This statement -

Q. I understand it -

A. Just a moment. I have something to add.

The expression "close associate of Goebbels" is wrong, objectively seen, and "favourite" - well, I do not think so.

Q. Yes, very well. Let us go further.

You enjoyed the complete confidence of Goebbels and you carried out your duties in the Ministry of Propaganda entrusted with wide powers. Do you admit that?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Very well. Thus, enjoying the confidence and disposing of full powers, in your utterances you fully mirrored the demands of the Hitler Government which were made tasks of German propaganda, is that correct?

A. Yes, to the exact extent which I described yesterday.

Q. Now, I should like to read into the record some extracts from your testimony of 12th September, 1945. I am submitting this document as Exhibit USSR 474. I am going to read into the record Excerpt No. 1.

A. May I have the document?

Q. Certainly, it will be handed to you immediately. Will you please follow my quotation of Excerpt No. 1. It is underlined in red pencil. I am reading:

"During a long time I was one of the leaders of German propaganda."
I omit a few lines and further read:
"I must say that Goebbels valued me as a reliable National Socialist and a capable journalist so that I was considered his confidential aid in the German propaganda machine."
Is that correct?

A. Mr. Prosecutor, that is not correct. I know that I signed this report in Moscow, but at the very moment when I did so I stated:

"You can do what you like with that record. If you publish it then nobody in Germany will believe it and no intelligent person in other countries will believe it because this report contains language which is not mine."
I state that not a single one of the questions contained in this report was put to me in that same form, and I go on to declare that not a single one of the answers in that record was given by me in that form and that I signed it for reasons which I will explain to you in detail if you want me to.

Q. You therefore deny these statements?

A. Yes, only the signature is true.

Q. All right, let us say only the signature is true.

We should remember, however, that this quotation, which I just read and which you deny, says that Goebbels valued you as a National Socialist and a capable journalist and that therefore you were a trustworthy person in the German

[Page 281]

propaganda machine. This is the essence of the quotation, is that right? Do you deny this? Just a minute please. I am going to remind you -

A. Yes, general, I admit that, I admit these facts.

Q. Well, then the quotation was correct, was it not?

A. Yes.

Q. Well, then, you do corroborate your statement?

A. I am talking about the record which has been put before me in its entirety.

Q. At present I am questioning you with particular reference to this quotation which I just read into the record. You are not going to deny it, you admit it?

A. I will not confirm your quotation but I will confirm once more the contents which you have just summarised again.

Q. Very well. The sense is not different from the actual quotation, but results from it. I should like to remind you of an excerpt -

THE PRESIDENT: One moment. What is it you are saying, defendant? Are you saying that you did not sign this document or that you did?

THE WITNESS: Mr. President, I signed the document, although its contents did not correspond with my own statements.

THE PRESIDENT: Why did you do that?

THE WITNESS: I signed it after very severe solitary confinement which had lasted for several months and because one of my fellow prisoners, with whom I once came into contact, had told me that once every month a court was pronouncing sentences based merely on outside records and without interrogation, and I hoped that in this manner I would at least achieve being sentenced and thus terminate my confinement.

So as not to be misunderstood I should like to emphasize that no type of force was used and that I was treated very humanely, even if my detention was very severe.

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