The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Thirty-First Day: Thursday, January 10th, 1946
(Part 9 of 10)


[Page 171]

Lastly, we have a letter from Baldur von Schirach, the Reich Youth Leader, published in "Der Sturmer" of January, 1938:
"It is the historical merit of 'Der Sturmer' to have enlightened the broad masses of our people in a popular way as to the Jewish world danger. 'Der Sturmer' is right in refusing to fulfil its task in a purely aesthetic manner. Jewry has shown no regard for the German people. We have, therefore, no cause to be considerate and to spare our worst enemy. What we fail to do to-day, our youngsters of to-morrow will have to suffer for bitterly."
My Lord, it may be that this defendant is less directly involved in the physical commission of the crimes against Jews, of which this Tribunal has heard, than some of his co- conspirators. The submission of the prosecution is that his crime is no less the worse for that reason. No Government in the world, before the Nazis came to power, could have embarked upon and put into effect a policy of mass extermination in the way in which they did, without having a people who would back them and support them, and without having a large number of people, men and women, who were prepared to put their hands to their bloody murder. And not even, perhaps, the German people of previous generations would have lent themselves to the crimes about which this Tribunal has heard, the killing of millions and millions of men and women.

It was to the task of educating the people, of producing murderers, educating and poisoning them with hate, that Streicher set himself; and for 25 years he has continued unrelentingly the education - if you can call it so - the perversion of the people and of the youth of Germany. And he has gone on and on as he saw the results of his work bearing fruit.

In the early days he was preaching persecution. As persecutions took place he preached extermination and annihilation; and, as we have seen in the Ghettos of the East, as millions of Jews were being exterminated and annihilated, he cried out for more and more.

That is the crime that he has committed. It is the submission of the prosecution that he made these things possible, made these crimes possible, which could never have happened, had it not been for him and for those like him. He led the propaganda and the education of the German people in those ways. Without him the Kaltenbrunners, the Himmlers, the General Stroops, would have had nobody to carry out their orders. And, as we have seen, he has concentrated upon the youth and the childhood of Germany. In its extent his crime is probably greater and more far-reaching than that of any of the other defendants. The misery that they caused finished with their incarceration. The effects of this man's crimes, of the poison that he has injected into the minds of millions and millions of young boys and girls and young men and women, lives on. He leaves behind him a legacy of almost a whole people poisoned with hate, sadism, and murder, and perverted by him. That German people remain a problem and perhaps a menace to the rest of civilisation for generations to come.

My Lord, I submit that the prosecution's case against this man as set out in the Indictment is proved.

My Lord, Lieutenant Brady Bryson, of the United States delegation, will present to the Court the case against Schacht.

LIEUTENANT BRADY BRYSON: May it please the Tribunal, a document book has been prepared and filed and the appropriate number of copies has been delivered to the defendants.

We ask the Tribunal's permission to file, within the next few days, a trial brief, which now is in the process of preparation.

Our proof against the defendant Schacht is confined to planning and preparation of aggressive war.

THE PRESIDENT: What was it you said about the trial brief?

[Page 172]

LIEUTENANT BRYSON: We ask permission to file a trial brief within the next few days, as our brief is not yet ready.


LIEUTENANT BRYSON: Our proof against the defendant Schacht is limited to planning and preparation for aggressive war, and to membership in a conspiracy for aggressive war.

The extent of Schacht's criminal responsibility as a matter of law, under the Charter of the Tribunal, will be developed in our brief. Only a few of our 50 odd documents have been previously submitted in evidence. We have taken special pains to avoid repetition and cumulative proof, but for the sake of continuity we would like, in several instances, simply to draw the Tribunal's attention to evidence previously received, with an appropriate reference to the transcript of the record.

Before commencing our proof, we wish to state our understanding that the defendant Schacht's control over the German economy was on the wane after November, 1937, and that by the time of the aggression on Poland his official status had been reduced to that of Minister without Portfolio and personal adviser to Hitler. We know, too, that he is sometimes credited with opposition to certain of the more radical elements of the Nazi Party; and I further understand that at the time of capture by United States forces he was under German detention in a prison camp, having been arrested by the Gestapo in July, 1944.

Be this as it may, our proof will show that at least up until the end of 1937 Schacht was the dominant figure in the rearming of Germany and in the economic planning and preparation for war; that without his work the Nazis would not have been able to wring from their depressed economy the tremendous material requirements of armed aggression; and that Schacht contributed his efforts with full knowledge of the aggressive purposes which he was serving.

The details of this proof will be presented in four parts. First, we will very briefly show that Schacht accepted the Nazi philosophy prior to 1933 and supported Hitler's rise to power.

Second, proof of the contribution of Schacht to German rearmament and preparation for war will be submitted. This evidence will also be brief, since the facts in this respect are well known and have already been touched upon by Mr. Dodd in his preparation of the case on economic preparation for war.

Third, we will show that Schacht assisted the Nazi conspiracy purposely and willingly with knowledge of and sympathy for its illegal ends.

And last, we will prove that Schacht's loss of power in the German Government did not in any sense imply disagreement with the policy of aggressive war.

We turn now to our proof that Schacht helped Hitler to power.

Schacht met Goering for the first time in December, 1930, and Hitler, early in January, 1931, at Goering's house. His impression of Hitler was favourable. I offer in evidence Exhibit USA 615, consisting of an excerpt from a pre-trial interrogation of Schacht, under date of 20th July, 1945, and quote two questions and answers related to this meeting, near the middle of the first page of the interrogation.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you going to give us the exhibit number? You have not given us the other number?

LIEUTENANT BRYSON: This is an interrogation, Sir, and it will not have two.

TIM PRESIDENT: Have you got a number for it?

LIEUTENANT BRYSON: You will find it in your document book in the back, labelled "Schacht Interrogation of 20th July, 1945." I quote from the middle of the first page:

"Q. What did he (that is, Hitler) say?

A. Oh, ideas he expressed before, but he was full of will and spirit."

[Page 173]

And near the bottom of the page:
"Q. What was your impression at the end of that evening?

A.I thought that Hitler was a man with whom one could co- operate."

After this meeting Schacht allied himself with Hitler, and at a crucial political moment in November, 1932, he lent the prestige of his name, which was widely known in banking, financial and business circles throughout the world, to Hitler's cause. I offer in evidence Exhibit USA 616, consisting of excerpts from a pre-trial interrogation of Schacht on 17th October, 1945. I wish to quote beginning at the top of Page 36 of this interrogation. This is the interrogation of 17th October, 1945, at Page 36. I may say that, when I refer to the page numbers, I speak of the page of the document.
"Q. Yes, and at that time (referring to January, 1931) you became a supporter, I take it -

A. In the course -

Q. Of Hitler's coming to power.

A. Especially in the course of the years 1931 and 1932."

And I quote further from the lower half of Page 37 of the same interrogation:
"Q. But what I mean is - to make it very brief indeed - did you lend the prestige of your name to help Hitler come to power?

A. I have publicly stated that I expected Hitler to come to power, for the first time that I remember, in November, 1932."

I quote further:
"Q. And you know, or perhaps you do not, that Goebbels in his diary records with great affection

A. Yes.

Q. The help that you gave him at that time?

A. Yes, I know that.

Q. November, 1932?

A. From the Kaiserhof to the Chancellery and back.

Q. That is right; you have read that?

A. Yes.

Q. And you do not deny that Goebbels was right?

A. I think his impression was, that this was correct at the time."

I now refer the Tribunal to this statement of Goebbels, set forth in Document 2409-A-PS. The entire diary of Goebbels is in evidence as Exhibit USA 262. The entry I wish to read, which appears in 2409-A-PS, was made on 21st November, 1932.
"In a conversation with Dr. Schacht, I assured myself that he absolutely represents our point of view. He is one of the few who accepts the Fuehrer's position entirely."
It is believed that Schacht joined the Party only in the sense that he allied himself with the cause. Dr. Franz Reuter, whose biography of Schacht was officially published in Germany in 1937, has stated that Schacht refrained from formal membership in order to be of greater assistance to the Party. I offer in evidence Document EC-460, Exhibit USA 617, consisting of an excerpt from Reuter's biography, and I quote the last sentence of the excerpt:
"By not doing so - at least until the final assertion and victory of the Party - he was able to assist it (the Party) much better than he would have been able to do had he become an official Party member."
It was Schacht who organised the financial means for the decisive March, 1933, election, at a meeting of Hitler with a group of German industrialists in Berlin. Schacht acted as the sponsor or host of this meeting, and a campaign fund of several million Marks was collected. Without reading therefrom, I offer in evidence Document EC-439, Exhibit USA 618, an affidavit of von Schnitzler under date of 10th November, 1945, which already appears in the record (Pages 130-1, Part 1).

[Page 174]

Further evidence on this point is also contained in the excerpt from the interrogation of Schacht on 20th July, 1945, from which I read a part a moment ago. Schacht lent his support to Hitler not only because he was an opportunist, but also because he shared Hitler's ideological principles. Apart from the entry in Goebbel's diary, this may be seen from Schacht's own letter to Hitter, under date of 29th August, 1932, pledging continued support to Hitler after the latter's poor showing in the July 1932 elections. I offer this letter in evidence as Document EC-457, Exhibit USA 619, and quote from the middle of the first paragraph and further from the next to the last paragraph:
"But what you could perhaps do with in these days is a word of most sincere sympathy. Your movement is carried internally by so strong a truth and necessity that victory in one form or another cannot elude you for long."
And further down, and keep in mind that neither Hitler nor Schacht was then in the German Government, Schacht says:
"Wherever my work may take me in the near future, even if you should see me one day within the fortress, you can always count on me as your reliable assistant."
THE PRESIDENT: What do those words mean at the top, "The President of the Reichsbank in retirement"? Are they on the letter?

LIEUTENANT BRYSON: Yes, they are, Sir. Dr. Schacht had previously been a President of the Reichsbank. At this time he was in retirement. You will remember, this is prior to Hitler's accession to power.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, of course.

LIEUTENANT BRYSON: And then Hitler reinstated Dr. Schacht as President of the Reichsbank after the Nazis had taken over.

THE PRESIDENT: And he put that at the top of his letter, did he?

LIEUTENANT BRYSON: That I cannot say. I will also point out that Schacht signed this letter "With a Vigorous Heil."

We turn now to the second part of our proof, relating to Schacht's contribution to preparation for war.

The detailed chronology of Schacht's official career in the Nazi Government, as set forth in Document 3021-PS, has already been submitted in evidence as Exhibit USA 11. However, it may be helpful at the outset to remind the Tribunal that Schacht was recalled to the Presidency of the Reichsbank by Hitler on 17th March, 1933, which office he continuously held until 20th January, 1939 that he was Acting Minister and then Minister of Economics from August, 1934, until November, 1937; and that he was appointed General Plenipotentiary for War Economy in May, 1935. He resigned as Minister of Economics and General Plenipotentiary for War Economy in November, 1937, when he accepted appointment as Minister without Portfolio, which post he held until January, 1943. His position as virtual economic. dictator of Germany in the four crucial years from early 1933 to the end of 1936 is practically a matter of common knowledge.

Schacht was the guiding genius behind the Nazi expansion of the German credit system for rearmament purposes. From the outset, he recognised that the plan for the German military supremacy required huge quantities of public credit. To that end, a series of measures was adopted which subverted all credit institutions in Germany to the over-all aim of supplying funds for the military machine. I will briefly mention some of these measures.

By Cabinet decree of 27th October, 1933, the statutory reserve of 40 per cent. in gold and foreign exchange required against circulating Reichsbank notes was permanently abandoned. By the Credit Act of 1934, the Government assumed jurisdiction of all credit institutions, and control over the entire banking system was centralised in Schacht as Chairman of the Supervisory

[Page 175]

Board for the Credit System and President of the Reichsbank. This Act not only enabled Schacht to control the quantity of credit but also its use. On 29th March, 1934, a system of forced corporate lending to the Reich was imposed on German business. And on 19th February, 1935, the Treasury was authorised to borrow funds in any amounts approved by the Reich Chancellor, that is, Hitler.

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