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-Eighteenth Day: Wednesday, 1st May, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

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

[Page 405]

Q. Donitz?

A. I met Donitz here in the prison.

Q. Raeder?

A. I believe I have known him for some time. In the beginning we exchanged occasional friendly visits, visits of a semi-official character but always on a friendly basis; however, I believe that I have not seen him or talked to him since '38.

Q. Brauchitsch?

A. I have not talked with him since '39 - or since '38, since the Fritsch affair.

Q. How about Halder?

A. Halder, as you know, I saw in connection with the Autumn Putsch of '38 but not after that.

Q. How often did you see Hitler after your dismissal as president of the Reichsbank?

A. After my dismissal as president of the Reichsbank?

Q. Since January, 1939.

A. I saw him once more in January, 1939, because I had to discuss my future activity, etc., with him. And on that occasion he suggested - he knew that I had long had the wish to make an extended journey - that I might avail myself of this opportunity to make this journey now, so that there would not be so much talk about my leaving the Reichsbank. Then we agreed on the trip to India. On that occasion I also saw Goering for the last time. And then - after my return in August, I did not see him again - then the war came, during the course of which I saw him twice.

Shall I tell you about those two occasions?

Q. Yes.

A. I saw him once in February, 1940. At that time various American magazines and periodicals had requested me to write articles on Germany's interpretation of the situation, its desires, and its position in general. I was inclined to do this, but because we were at war, I naturally could not do so without first advising the Foreign Minister. The Foreign Minister advised me that he had nothing against my writing an article for an American periodical, but that before sending off this article he wanted to have the article submitted for censorship. Of course that did not appeal to me - I had not even thought of that - and, consequently, I did not write this article.

However, there were further inquiries from America and I said to myself, "It is not sufficient for me to talk with the Foreign Minister, I must go to Hitler in this matter." So, with that aim, I called on Hitler, who received me very soon after my request, and I told him at that time, among other things, just what

[Page 406]

my experience with von Ribbentrop had been, and I further told him that I thought it might be expedient to write these articles; and that it seemed vital to me constantly to have some one in America, who by means of the Press, etc., could enlighten public opinion as to Germany and her interests.

Hitler was favourably impressed with this suggestion of mine and said to me: "I shall discuss this matter with the Foreign Minister." Consequently, the entire matter came to naught.

Then, later, through the good offices of my co-defendant, Funk, who probably had a discussion at that time with Ribbentrop about this matter, I tried to get at least an answer from Ribbentrop. This answer, given to Funk, was to the effect that it was still too early for a step of that sort. And that was my visit in 1940. Then I saw Hitler again in February of 1941 ...

Q. Pardon my interruption. So that we can avoid all misunderstandings, if Hitler had given you permission so that you could have gone to America, just what would your activities have been? Tell us very briefly. I want no misunderstanding.

A. First of all, I had not proposed going myself; I rather made a general suggestion. But, naturally, I would have been very glad to go to America for I saw a possibility -

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not think it is material to know what he would have done if something had happened which did not happen.

DR. DIX: I just wanted to preclude any misunderstanding. I said that misunderstandings ... Well, let us drop the subject.


Q. Then, let us go on to your second visit.

A. In 1941, in February, I called on Hitler once more regarding a private matter. The year before, my wife had died and now I intended to remarry. As minister without portfolio, which I still was, I naturally had to inform the Reichschancellor and the head of the State of my intention, and I called on him for that reason. There was no political discussion on this occasion. As I was going to the door, he asked me, "At one time you had the intention, or you advised me, that some one should go to America. It's probably too late for that, now." I replied immediately, "Of course, it is too late for that now." And that was the only remark of a political nature made. The conversation dealt mainly with my marriage, and after that I did not see Hitler any more.

Q. And now your relationship with Goering?

A. I did not see Goering either after 1939.

Q. Now, I am turning to a point which has been repeatedly stressed by the prosecution, that is, the propaganda value of your participation at Party rallies, and I would like to remind you of that which Mr. Justice Jackson has already mentioned in his opening speech. I am translating from the English because I have no German text:-

"Does anyone believe that Hjalmar Schacht, seated in the first row of the Nazi Party Rally of 1935, and wearing the Party emblem, was only included in the film for the purpose of making an artistic effect? This great thinker, in lending his name to this threadbare undertaking, gave it respectability in the eyes of every hesitating German."
Will you please give me your statement?

A. First of all, I'd like to make a few minor corrections. In 1935, I did not have a Party emblem. Secondly, Germans who were hesitating were no longer of any importance in 1935, for Hitler's domination had been firmly established by 1935. There were only those people who were turning away from Hitler but none who were still coming to him. And then, I must really consider it as a compliment that I am called a figure of importance, a great thinker and so forth; but I believe that the reasons for my being and working in the Hitler

[Page 407]

cabinet have been set forth by me in sufficient detail, so that I need not go into that any more.

The fact that in the first years, especially, I could not very well absent myself from the Party rallies is understandable, I believe, for they were Hitler's principal display of show and ostentation for the outside world, and not only did his ministers participate in the Party rallies but also many other representative guests.

May I add just a few more words?

I stayed away from the later Party Rallies. For example, the Party Rally of 1935 mentioned by the Chief Prosecutor. That was the Party Rally - and this is why I happen to remember it - at which the Nuremberg Laws against the Jews were proclaimed, and at the time I wasn't even in Nuremberg.

I attended the Party Rally in 1933 and in 1934. I am not certain whether I attended it in 1936 or 1937, I rather believe that I attended in 1936. I was decidedly not at the later rallies and the last visit that I made at the Party Rally, which I have just mentioned, I attended only on the "Day of the Wehrmacht" ("Tag der Wehrmacht").

Q. At these Party Rallies were the prominent foreigners ... you already mentioned that. Was the Diplomatic Corps represented?

A. I believe that with the exception of the Soviet Ambassador and of the American Ambassador, in the course of time all other leading diplomats attended the Party Rally, and I must say, in large numbers, with great ostentation, and seated in the first rows.

Q. How did you explain that? The Diplomatic Corps only really takes part in functions of State and this was a purely Party matter? How was this participation explained?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: If it please the Tribunal, I am in a position to object, because I am not embarrassed by it if there is any embarrassment, but for this witness to explain the conduct of the ambassadors of other countries seems utterly beyond probative value, his opinion of what the ambassadors were doing. Why they attended a Party Rally which he was lending his name does not seem to me to have any probative value. The fact that they attended I do not object to, but it seems to me that for him to probe, unless he has some fact - and I want to make clear I do not object to any facts that this witness knows, and I have not objected to most of his opinions, which we have been getting at great length - but I think for him to characterise the action of foreign representatives is going beyond the pale of relevant and material evidence.

THE WITNESS: May I make just one remark in reply?

THE PRESIDENT: I think we had better pass on, Dr. Dix.

DR. DIX: Yes, of course. However, I would ask to be given the permission to answer Mr. Justice Jackson briefly, not because I want to be stubborn, but I believe that if I answer now I can avoid later discussions and can save time thereby. I did not ask the defendant for his opinion; of course Mr. Justice Jackson is right in saying that he is not here to give opinions about the customs of the Diplomatic Corps. But I asked him about a fact: How this participation on the part of the Diplomatic Corps, which is significant, was explained at that time. I consider this relevant, as will be seen more than once in the course of my questioning, and that is why I am saying it now, that throughout his and his co-thinkers' oppositional activities, it is of prime importance to know who gave them moral, spiritual or any other support, and who did not support them. And thereby, of course, the outward demeanour of the official representatives of foreign countries during the whole period is of tremendous importance, with regard to the capacity to act on the part of the opposition group. One can support such a group; one can be neutral to it, or one can also combat it from abroad. That is the only reason why I put my question, and I consider myself obliged to consider this angle of the problem also in the future.

[Page 408]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, I don't think Mr. Justice Jackson's objection was to the fact that the diplomatic representatives were there but to comment upon the reasons why they were there. If all you want to prove is the fact that they were there, then I do not think Mr. Justice Jackson was objecting to that. What the defendant was continuing to give was his opinion of why the diplomatic representatives were there.

DR. DIX: I believe I do not need to make a further reply. He has already said that he does not wish to give an explanation, but if your Lordship will permit me, I shall continue.

Q. About that time, you certainly came into contact with prominent foreigners both officially and privately. What position did they take toward the trend of events at the time the National Socialists consolidated their power? And how did their attitude influence your own attitude and activity?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: May it please the Tribunal! I dislike to interrupt with objections, but I cannot see how it exonerates or aids this defendant that prominent foreigners may have been deceived by a regime for which he was furnishing the window dressings with his own name and prestige. Undoubtedly there were foreigners, I am willing to stipulate there were foreigners, like Dahlerus, who were deceived by this set-up of which he was a prominent and slightly respectable part. But it does seem to me that if we go into the attitude of foreigners who are not indicted here, or accused, that we approach endless questions.

I see no relevance in this sort of testimony.

The question is here, as I have tried to point out to Dr. Dix, the sole thing that is charged against this defendant is that he participated in the conspiracy to put this nation into war and to carry out the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity incidental to it.

Now, I cannot see how the attitude of foreigners either exonerates or helps the Tribunal to decide that question. If it does, of course I do not object to it, but I cannot see the importance of it at this stage.

DR. DIX: I do believe that Mr. Justice Jackson ...

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, Dr. Dix, what exactly was the question that you were asking at that moment? What had it reference to?

DR. DIX: I asked the defendant what the attitude was, that was taken by prominent foreigners with whom he came into contact at that time, officially and privately during the period that the regime consolidated its power. Did they reject the regime, or were they sympathetic to it - in other words, just how far did they influence him and his thinking? And may I ...

THE PRESIDENT: I think you know, Dr. Dix, that to ask one witness what the attitude of other people is is a very much too general form of question. Attitude - what does the word mean? It is far too general, and I do not understand exactly what you are trying to prove.

DR. DIX: I will make the question more precise.


Q. How, Dr. Schacht, through your exchange of thoughts with foreigners, was your personal attitude influenced? How was your attitude and your activity influenced through the attitude of these foreigners?

DR. DIX: That is something which Dr. Schacht can testify to alone, because it is of an intimate nature and personal to Schacht. Your Lordship, I want to state openly the point to be proved which seems very relevant to the defence and on which this question is based. I do not wish to conceal anything.

I, the Defence, maintain that this oppositional group - about which Gisevius has already spoken, and of which Schacht was a prominent member - that this group not only received no support from abroad, but that foreigners rendered

[Page 409]

the opposition more difficult. That is not a criticism that is levelled towards foreign governments.

There is no doubt that the representatives of these countries took that attitude in good faith and with a sense of duty in the service of their countries. But it was of decisive value for this oppositional group to know the position of foreign countries to this regime, whether they respected or whether they supported it by precedence given its representatives, socially, or through caution and reserve showed their disinclination to it, thereby strengthening this oppositional group.

This evidence is of the utmost importance to me in carrying on the defence. I have openly stated it, and, as far as I can, I will fight for this piece of evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, the Tribunal has considered the argument which you have presented to it and they think that the investigation of these facts is a waste of time and is irrelevant. They will, therefore, ask you to go on with the further examination of the defendant.


Q. Dr. Schacht, you financed the rearmament through the Reichsbank. Why did you do that?

A. I considered that Germany absolutely had to have political equality with other nations, and I am of the same opinion today; and in order to reach this state, it was necessary that either the general disarmament, which had been promised by the Allied powers, should come into effect or that if equal rights were to be obtained, Germany would have to re-arm on a corresponding scale.

Q. Was this financial help by the Reichsbank your work alone, or was that decreed through the directorate of the Reichsbank?

A. In the Reichsbank, the leadership principle (Fuehrerprinzip) never applied; I rejected the leadership principle for the Reichsbank. The Reichsbank was governed by a group of men all of whom had an equal power to vote, and if there was a "tie", the vote of the chairman was the decisive vote, and beyond that the chairman had no rights in this group.

Q. You are familiar with the affidavit of the former Reichsbank Director Puhl. Did - I put the question taking into consideration the contents of this affidavit with which the Tribunal is acquainted - did Puhl also participate in giving financial help from the Reichsbank for rearmament?

A. Herr Puhl participated in all decisions which were made by the Reichsbank directorate on this question and not once did he oppose the decision reached.

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