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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th April to 1st May, 1946

One-Hundred-and-Seventeenth Day: Tuesday, 30th April, 1946
(Part 9 of 10)

[DR. DIX continues his direct examination of Hjalmar Schacht]

[Page 391]

Q. I know that, because I was present on the occasion of that address. What did you think about the ideology of the "master race," "Herrenvolk"?

A. I have always considered it a very unhappy precedent to speak of a chosen people, or of "God's own country," or of things like that. As a

[Page 392]

convinced adherent to the Christian faith I believe in Christian charity, which bids me extend love to all men without regard to race or faith. I would like to mention also that the silly talk, about the "master race," which some Party leaders made their own, was held up to constant ridicule by the German public. That was not surprising, because most of the leaders of the Hitler Party were not exactly ideal types of the Nordic race. And in that connection, when these things were discussed, among the German population, little Goebbels went under the title "Der Schrumpf Germane" (the shrunken German). Only one thing - I have to say this to be just - had most of the leaders of the Party in common with the old Germans - and that was drinking; excessive drinking was an outstanding feature of the Nazi ideology.

Q. What did you think of the so-called National Socialist ideology (Weltanschauung)?

A. An ideology in my opinion is a summation of all those moral principles which enable one to acquire a clear judgement on all aspects of life. Therefore it is a matter of course that an ideology cannot take root in the visible word, but must rise above it; it is something metaphysical, that is to say, it is based on faith, on religion. An ideology which is not rooted in religion is in my opinion no ideology at all. Consequently I reject the National Socialist ideology, which was not rooted in religion.

Q. In the trial brief against you it is expressly stated that there are no charges against you with regard to the Jewish question. Nevertheless, I am putting to you a few questions on this topic, because the very same trial brief takes from you on the one hand what, on the other hand, namely, in respect to the Jewish question, it concedes you; that is to say, the trial brief accuses you repeatedly of Nazi ideology of which strict adherence to anti-Semitism is an integral tenet.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I simply can't be bound by silence after this flagrant misstatement of our position made in conjunction with this witness's testimony. It is not true that we make no charges against Dr. Schacht with reference to the Jews. What is true is that we say that he was not in complete sympathy with that aspect of the Nazi Party programme which involved a wholesale extermination of the Jews, and he was for that reason attacked from time to time. It is further conceded that he gave aid and comfort to individual Jews, but we do charge that he believed the Jews of Germany should be stripped of their rights as citizens, and that he aided and participated in their persecution. And I don't like to have our position misstated and then be met with a claim of estoppel by silence.

DR. DIX: I have to thank you, Mr. Justice Jackson, for your clarifying statement, and it is now all the more necessary that I put these questions to Dr. Schacht, but at this moment I want to emphasise ...

THE PRESIDENT: Please put it then.

DR. DIX: Your Lordship, it is not only a question, but it is a problem, and I should like to ask the prosecution to clarify it now, because it still needs clarification even after the statement of Mr. Justice Jackson. If the Tribunal does not think that this is the opportune time I can bring it up later. I believe, however, that it would be right to bring it up now. As I see it there is a contradiction in the Indictment and I would like it clarified, so that we shall not be at cross-purposes in our final speeches.

I can put it quite briefly; it is the question of whether Dr. Schacht is accused also of Crimes against Humanity; that is, not only the crime of conspiracy concerning the war of aggression, but also the typical Crimes against Humanity, for on this point the individual passages both of the Indictment and of the prosecutor's speech, in which the charges were presented, are at variance. I wanted to take the liberty of pointing out the contradictory passages and to ask the prosecution to be kind enough to state conclusively at some future occasion

[Page 393]

whether Schacht is accused also on Counts III and IV of the Indictment. In presenting the charges the prosecution stated:
"Our proof against the defendant Schacht is limited to planning and preparation for aggressive war and to membership in a conspiracy for aggressive war."
and that indicates that the prosecution will limit itself to Counts I and II.

Similar statements are on Page 3 of the trial brief. Also, in Appendix A of the Indictment the charges against Schacht are limited to Counts I and II. However, on Page 1 of the Indictment we find the following:

"We accuse the above-mentioned of Crimes against the Peace, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, and of a Common Plan or Conspiracy to commit these crimes."
And then all the defendants are listed, including the defendant Hjalmar Schacht.

On Page 17 of the German text of the Indictment we read

"On the basis of the facts previously stated, the defendants ..." - that is, all the defendants - "are guilty."
That is all the defendants are guilty of Counts I, II, III, IV.

It also states, on Page 18 of the Indictment:

"All the defendants committed War Crimes between 1 September, 1939, and 8 May, 1945, in Germany and in all those countries and territories occupied by the German armed forces since 1 September, 1939, and in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Italy, and on the High Seas."
On Page 46 it reads:
"All the defendants committed Crimes against Humanity during a period of years preceding 8 May, 1945, in Germany."
and so forth, therefore, some parts of the oral presentation and of the Indictment show that the prosecution limits its charges against Schacht to Counts I and II, but other passages express, beyond doubt, that he is also accused of Crimes against Humanity.

I think it would be helpful - it need not be done immediately, but I wanted, as a precaution, to express it now - if, at the proper time, the prosecution would state to what extent the charges apply to Schacht.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Your Honour, it will take only one moment to answer that, and I think the cross-examination ... the examination should not proceed under any misapprehension.

At all times, and in all documents that I am aware of, the defendant Schacht has been accused of being guilty of Count I.

Count I, on the statement of the offence, states:

"The Common Plan or Conspiracy embraced the commission of Crimes against Peace in that the defendants planned, prepared, and initiated wars of aggression ... In the development and course of the common plan it came to embrace the commission of War Crimes, in that it contemplated, and the defendants determined upon and carried out, ruthless wars ..."
And that included also Crimes against Humanity.

Our contention is that, though the defendant Schacht himself was not in the field perpetrating these individual atrocities, yet he is answerable for every offence committed by any of the defendants or their co-conspirators up to the time when he openly broke with this regime with which he became associated.

That is our contention, and Dr. Dix should conduct his examination on the assumption that every charge is a charge against Schacht up to the time that he openly, and on record so that somebody knew it, became separated from the company with which he chose to travel.

DR. DIX: It is probably my fault, but I still cannot see clearly. First, I do not know what date the prosecution means when it admits that Schacht openly broke with the regime. I must, during my examination ...

[Page 394]

THE PRESIDENT: I think you must make up your own mind as to what time it was, the time at which he openly broke.

Aren't you able to hear?

DR. DIX: I have to make up my mind now?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I think you had better go on with the evidence.

DR. DIX: All right, I can refer to the subject again later.


Q. Well then, please do not make any statements of principle concerning the Jewish question, but tell the Tribunal, and give a few examples, of what your attitude was on the Jewish question.

A. The Jewish question came up quite early, in 1933, when the deceased New York banker, James Meier, announced his intention to visit me. I went to Hitler at that time and told him:-

"Mr. James Meier, one of the best reputed New York bankers and a great benefactor of his old home country, Germany, will come to visit me, and I intend to give a dinner in his honour. I assume that you have no objection."
He immediately said, in a very definite and notable manner:-
"Herr Schacht, you can do everything."
And I assumed that he gave me absolute freedom to keep in contact with my Jewish friends, which I had done. The dinner actually took place.

I only mention this because it was the first time the Jewish question was brought up between us. On every occasion I took a definite position on the Jewish question ... and wherever possible publicly ... I have always looked for that opportunity. I will give only two examples of that.

There was a branch of the Reichsbank in Arnswalde in the province of Brandenburg. The name of the manager of that branch office was one day posted up in one of the public "Sturmer boxes" in his town, and termed a traitor to the people because his wife had bought 50 pfennig worth of ribbon or the like in a Jewish store. I at once approached the competent official at Arnswalde and demanded the immediate removal of the placard and an immediate correction, that the man was no traitor to the people. That was refused, whereupon, without asking anyone, I closed the Reichsbank branch at Arnswalde. After a few weeks, the Oberpresident, who was of course also a Nazi boss, came to me and asked me to re-open the branch office. I told him, "As soon as you repudiate that affair publicly I shall re- open the branch office at Arnswalde." Within a few days the Oberpresident and Gauleiter of Brandenburg, Grube, had the announcement made public in the Arnswalde newspaper, in large print, and so I re-opened the branch office in Arnswalde. That is one example.

The second example has been mentioned briefly; I just want to sum it up once more because its effect was penetrating.

I referred to the pogrom of 9 November, 1938, on the occasion of a Christmas celebration for the office boys of the Reichsbank, and I told the boys, in the presence of many - parents, Party leaders and Party members - that I hoped they had nothing to do with these things, which should make every decent German blush with shame. But if they did they should leave the Reichsbank at once, because in an institution such as the Reichsbank, which was built up on good faith, there was no place for people who did not respect the property and life of others.

DR. DIX: May I interrupt you, Dr. Schacht, and point out to the Tribunal that in Exhibit 34, which has been submitted, and is an affidavit of Dr. Schniewind, on Page 118 of the German text and on Page 126 of the English text the same incident which Dr. Schacht has just related is mentioned. May I quote quite briefly:-

[Page 395]

"It is known that, at the Christmas celebration of the Reichsbank in December of 1938, he" - that is Schacht - "said the following in his address to the young office boys:-

'A few weeks ago things occurred in our Fatherland which are a disgrace to civilisation and which must turn every decent German's face red with shame. I only hope that none of you office boys participated in them, because for such an individual there is no place in the Reichsbank.'"


Q. Excuse me. Please continue. You wanted to add something?

A. When in August of 1934 I took over the Reich Ministry of Economy, of course I first put the question to Hitler: "How are the Jews in our national economy to be treated?" Hitler told me then, literally, "The Jews can be active in domestic economy in the same way as before."

That was the directive that Hitler had promised to me, and during all the time when I was in charge of the Ministry of Economy I acted accordingly.

However, I have to add that every few weeks there was a quarrel on some Jewish question with some Gauleiter or other Party official. Also, I could not protect Jews against physical mistreatment and the like because that came under the competence of the State Attorney and not mine; but in the economic field, I helped all Jews who approached me to gain their rights, and in every individual case I prevailed with Hitler and succeeded against the Gauleiter and Party officials. Sometimes I even threatened to resign.

I believe that it is notable that the pogrom of November, 1938, only took place after I had resigned from my office. Had I still been in office, then that pogrom doubtlessly would not have occurred.

Q. The witness Gisevius has already testified that, in the course of developments from 1933 on, fundamental changes took place in your judgement of Adolf Hitler. I ask you now, because this is a very decisive question, to give the Tribunal a detailed description of your real attitude and your judgement of Adolf Hitler in the course of the years - as exhaustively, but also as briefly as possible.

A. In former statements which I have made here, I have spoken of Hitler as a semi-educated man. I still maintain that. He did not have sufficient school education, but he read an enormous amount later, and acquired a wide knowledge. He juggled with that knowledge in a masterly manner in all debates, discussions and speeches.

No doubt he was a man of genius in certain respects. He had sudden ideas of which nobody else had thought and which were at times useful in solving great difficulties, sometimes with astounding simplicity, sometimes, however, with equally astounding brutality.

He was a mass psychologist of really diabolical genius. While I myself and several others - for instance, General von Witzleben told me so once - were never captivated in personal conversations, still he had a very peculiar influence on other people, and particularly he was able-in spite of the screeching and exaggerated tone of his voice-to stir up the utmost, overwhelming enthusiasm of large masses in a filled auditorium.

I believe that originally he was not filled with evil tendencies; originally, no doubt, he believed he was aiming at good, but gradually he himself fell victim to the same charm which he exerted on the masses; because whoever ventures to seduce the masses is finally led and seduced by them, and so this reciprocal relation between leader and led, in my opinion, contributed to attracting him to the evil days of mass instincts, which every political leader should avoid.

One more thing was admirable in Hitler. He was a man of unbending energy, of a will power which overcame all obstacles, and in my estimate only these two characteristics - mass psychology and his energy and will power

[Page 396]

- explain that Hitler was able to rally up to forty per cent., then later, almost fifty per cent. of the German people, behind him.

What else can I say?

Q. Well, I was mainly concerned with bringing up the subject of your own change of opinion. You have said that the break in your attitude toward Hitler was caused by the Fritsch incident. You are the best witness who can give us an explanation not of Hitler's but of your own development, and your changing attitude towards Hitler.

A. Excuse me. I think there is a basic error here. It appears from this as if I had been a convinced adherent of Hitler at some time. I have never been that. On the contrary, out of concern for my people and my country after Hitler gained power, I endeavoured with all my strength to direct that power into an orderly channel, and to keep it within bounds. Therefore, there was no question of a break with Hitler. A break could only be spoken of had I been closely connected with him before. At heart, I was never closely connected with Hitler, but to all appearances I worked in the Cabinet and I did so because he was, after all, in power, and I considered it my duty to put myself at the disposal of my people and my country for their good.

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