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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
12th March to 22nd March, 1946

Eighty-Fourth Day: Monday, 18th March, 1946
(Part 8 of 9)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING]

[Page 201]

Q. Are there any acts of any of your co-defendants which you claim were not reasonably necessary for carrying out the plans of the Nazi Party?

A. Those are in the first place merely assertions of the prosecutions; they are not yet facts which have been proved. In these assertions there are a number of actions which would not have been necessary.

Q. Will you specify which acts, of which defendants, you claim are beyond the scope of the plans of the Party?

A. That is a very difficult question which I cannot answer straight away and without the data.

DR. STAHMER (counsel for the defendant Goering): I object to this question. I do not believe that this is a question of fact, but rather of judgement, and that it is not possible to give an answer to such a general question.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, the Tribunal thinks that the question is somewhat too wide.


Q. You have said that the programme of the Nazi Party was to rectify certain injustices arising from the Treaty of Versailles; and I ask you whether it is not a fact that your programme went considerably beyond any matter dealt with in that Treaty?

A. Of course, the programme contained a number of other points which had nothing to do with the Treaty of Versailles.

Q. I call your attention to a statement in "Mein Kampf," as follows:

"The boundaries of 1914 do not mean anything for the future of the German nation. They did not constitute a defence in the past nor will they constitute a power in the future. They will not give to the German people inner security or ensure their food supply, nor do these boundaries appear to be favourable or satisfactory from a military point of view."
That is all true, is it not?

A. I should like to re-read the original passages in "Mein Kampf" in order to determine if it is exactly as you have read it. I assume that it is correct. If so, I can only reply that this is the text of a public book and not the Party programme.

Q. The first country to be absorbed by Germany was Austria, and it was not a part of Germany before the First World War and had not been taken from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles; is that correct?

A. For this very reason this point was distinctly separated from Versailles in the programme. Austria was directly connected with Versailles only in so far as the right of self-determination, as proclaimed there, was most gravely infringed on, since one did not allow Austria and the purely German population the "Anschluss" which they wanted to see accomplished as early as 1918, after the revolution.

Q. The second territory taken by Germany was Bohemia, then Moravia, and then Slovakia. These were not taken from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, nor were they part of Germany before the First World War.

A. As far as the Sudetenland is concerned, the same applies as for Austria. The German representatives of the German Sudetenland likewise sat in the Austrian Parliament, and, under their leader Lottmann, cast the same vote. It is different with the last act, that is, the declaration of the Protectorate. These parts of Czech territory, especially Bohemia and Moravia, were not constituent parts of the smaller German Reich before the Treaty of Versailles. But for centuries before they had been united to the German Reich. It is an historical fact.

[Page 202]

Q. You still have not answered my question although you answered everything else. They were not taken from you by the Treaty of Versailles, were they?

A. Of course Austria was taken away by the Versailles Treaty and likewise the Sudetenland, for both territories, had it not been for the Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of St. Germain, would have become German territories through the right of the people to self-determination. To this extent they have to do with it.

Q. You have testified, have you not, on interrogation, that it was Hitler's information that the United States would never go to war, even if attacked, and that he counted on the isolationists of that country to keep it out of war?

A. This interrogation must have been recorded entirely incorrectly. That is the very reason why I refused from the beginning to give my oath to these interrogations before I had been able to took carefully at the German transcript and, determine whether it had been correctly understood and translated. Only once, and that was on the part of the Russian delegation, was a completely correct transcript submitted to me. I signed it page by page and thereby acknowledged it. Now, as far as this statement is concerned, I should like to put it right. I said that, at first, the Fuehrer did not believe that America would intervene in the war, and that he was confirmed in this belief by the attitude of the isolationist Press, while I, on the contrary, unfortunately feared from the very beginning that America would in any case intervene in the war. That I should speak such nonsense - I hope you will excuse me - as to say that America would not come into the war even if she were attacked - you will understand that I could never have said that, because, if a country is attacked, it defends itself.

Q. Do you know Axel Wennergren?

A. He is a Swede whom I have seen two or three times.

Q. You talked with him about this subject, did you not?

A. About the subject of America entering the war? I may very well have spoken with him; it is even probable.

Q. You told him that a democracy could not mobilise and would not fight, did you not?

A. I did not tell him any such nonsense, for we had one democracy as our chief enemy, namely England, and how this democracy would fight we knew from the last World War and we experienced it again during this war. When I talked with Wennergren the war with England was in full swing.

Q. You have testified on interrogation, if I understand you correctly, that there were at all times two basic ideas in Hitler's mind, either to ally himself with Russia and seek increase in living space through the acquisition of colonies, or to ally himself with Britain and seek acquisition of territories in the East. But in view of his orientation, he would very much have preferred to ally himself with Great Britain, is that true?

A. That is correct. I need only refer to the book "Mein Kampf," where these things were set down in thorough detail by Hitler.

Q. Now, as early as 1933 you began a real programme to rearm Germany regardless of any treaty limitations, did you not?

A. That is not correct.

Q. All right; tell us when you started.

A. After all the proposals of disarmament which the Fuehrer made were refused - that is, shortly after our withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference, he made several proposals for a limitation; but, since these were not taken seriously or discussed, he ordered a complete rearmament. At the end of 1933, already certain slight preparations were started by me personally, in so far as that I made some slight preparations in regard to the air and had also undertaken a certain militarisation of the uniformed police. But that was done by me personally, I bear the responsibility.

[Page 203]

Q. Well, then, the militarisation of the police auxiliary was not a State affair. It was your personal affair. What do you mean by that?

A. Not the auxiliary police, but the municipal police; that is, there was one uniformed police force which had simply police duty on the streets, and a second which was grouped in formations and was at our disposal for larger operations - not created by us, let it be understood, but existing at the time of the seizure of power. This municipal police, who were grouped in units, uniformed, armed, and housed in barracks, I formed very soon into a strong military instrument by taking these men out of the police service and having them trained more along military lines and giving them machine guns and such things, in addition to their small arms. This I did on my own responsibility. These formations were taken into the Armed Forces as regular Army units when the Armed Forces Law was declared.

Q. I want to ask you some questions from your interrogation of 17 October, 1945. 1 will first read you the questions and answers as they appear in the interrogations and I shall then ask you whether you gave those answers, and then you can make the explanations if you desire, and I assume you do. The interrogation reads:

"I wanted to ask you to-day about some of the economic history of the period. When was the armament programme first discussed, that is, the rearmament programme? What year?

A. Immediately; in 1933.

Q. In other words, Schacht had assumed the obligation at that time already, to raise funds for the rearmament programme?

A. Yes. But, of course, in co-operation with the Minister of Finance.

Q. During the years 1933 to 1935, before general conscription came in, naturally, the rearmament was a secret rearmament, was it not?

A. Yes.

Q. So that moneys that were used outside of the budget would have to be raised by some secret means not known to foreign nations?

A. Yes, unless they could be raised from normal Army funds.

Q. That is to say, you had a small budget for the standing 100,000-man army which was open, and the rest of the armament had to be from secret sources?

A. Yes."

Q. Were you asked those questions and did you give those answers, in substance?

A. Generally speaking that is correct. I have these remarks to make: (1) I was asked when rearmament had been discussed, not when it had been started. It had, of course, been discussed already in the year 1933, because it was clear at once that our Government had to do something different, that is to say, demand that the other Governments disarm, and, if they did not disarm, that we should rearm. These things required discussion. The conclusion of the discussion and the formulation into a definite order followed after the failure of our attempts to get other countries to disarm. As soon as we, or rather the Fuehrer, saw that his proposals would not be accepted under any circumstances, a gradual rearmament, of course, began to take place. There was no reason whatsoever why we should inform the world about what we were doing in the way of rearmament. We had no obligation to do that, nor was it expedient.

Herr Schacht, in the year 1933 at the very beginning, could not raise any funds because, at the beginning, he held no office. He was able to do this only at a later date. And here it was understandable that the funds had to be raised through the Minister of Finance and the President of the Reichsbank, according to the wishes and the orders of the Fuehrer, especially as we had left

[Page 204]

no doubt that, if the other side did not disarm, we would rearm. That had already been set down on our Party programme since 1921, and quite openly.

Q. Is it not a fact that on 21st May, 1935, by a secret decree, Schacht was named Plenipotentiary for the War Economy?

A. The date - if you will kindly submit the decree to me, then I can tell you exactly - I have not the dates of decrees and laws in my head, especially if they do not have anything to do with me personally; but that can be seen from the decree.

Q. In any event, shortly after be was named, he suggested you as Commissioner for War Materials and Foreign Currency, did he not?

A. If Herr Schacht made this suggestion shortly after his appointment, then that appointment could not have taken place until 1936, because not until the summer of 1936 did Herr Schacht, together with the Minister for War, von Blomberg, make the proposal that I become Commissioner for Raw Materials and Foreign Currency.

Q. Well, I ask you if you did not give this answer to the American interrogator on 10th October, 1945, referring to Schacht:

"He made the suggestion that I was to become the Commissioner for War Materials and Foreign Currency. He had the idea that, in that position, I could give the Minister for Economics and the President of the Reichsbank valuable support."
Now did you give that answer, and is that information correct?

A. That is absolutely correct.

Q. (reading):

"Moreover, he was very outspoken in the suggestion that he and Blomberg made, that I should be put in charge of the Four-Year Plan. However, Schacht's idea was that I did not know very much about economy, and that he could easily hide behind my back."
A. That I said the other day quite clearly.

Q. Now, from that time on you and Schacht collaborated for some time in preparing a rearmament programme, did you not?

A. From that time on I worked together with Schacht in regard to economic matters and covered the whole field of German economy, including the armament programme, which, of course, was a sine qua non for the reassumed German "Wehrhoheit" (the sovereign right of a State to determine its military strength).

Q. And you and he had some jurisdictional differences and executed an agreement settling your different spheres of authority, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And that was in 1937, on 7th July?

A. On that day a certain proposal for a settlement was made, but this did not lead to anything final being accomplished. That was because of the nature of the two posts and our personalities. Both of us - I, as Trustee of the Four-Year Plan, and Herr Schacht, as Minister of Economics and President of the Reichsbank - were able to exercise very great influence on German economy. As Herr Schacht also had a very strong personality and felt his position keenly, and I likewise was not inclined to hide my light under a bushel, whether we were friends or not, we could not help getting in each other's way because of this question of authority, and one of us had finally to give in to the other.

Q. And there came a time when he left the Ministry and the Reichsbank?

A. First he resigned from the Reich Ministry of Economy in November, 1939, and, as far as I know, he resigned as President of the Reichsbank at the end of 1938, but I can not be certain about that date.

[Page 205]

Q. There was no disagreement between you and him that the programme of rearmament should be carried through, was there? You disagreed only in the methods of doing it.

A. I assume that Herr Schacht, also as a good German, was, of course, ready to put all his strength at the disposal of Germany's rearmament, in order that Germany should be strong, and therefore differences could have occurred only in regard to methods, for neither Herr Schacht nor I were arming for a war of aggression.

Q. And after he left the rearmament work he remained as a Minister without Portfolio and sat in the Reichstag for some time, did he not?

A. That is correct. The Fuehrer wished it because, I believe, he wanted in this way to express his recognition of Herr Schacht.

Q. And do you recall the time when you considered the calling up of fifteen-year-olds, the conscription of fifteen- year-olds?

A. During the war you mean?

Q. Yes.

A. It was a question of Air Force auxiliaries, that is correct. They were fifteen or sixteen years old, I do not remember exactly which, and were called in as Air Force auxiliaries.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.