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 9 of 10)

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

[Page 435]

Q. You disagreed, as you have stated, with Hitler and the Party on many issues. Did you ever express this disagreement or did you conform to Hitler's instructions at all times? Can you in particular make statements about your attitude, for instance, to the Jewish question, the Church question, the Gestapo question, the Freemason question, etc.?

A. I might say in advance that Hitler never gave me any order or any instructions which would have been in opposition to my views, and that I also never did anything which was in opposition to my inner convictions. From the very beginning I did not conceal my convictions, not only when speaking to my circle of friends and to larger Party circles, but also in addressing the public, and even when speaking to Hitler personally.

I have already stated here that as early as the Party purge of 30 June, 1934, I called Hitler's attention to the fact that his actions were illegal.

I refer, furthermore, to a document, of which unfortunately, only half has been presented by the prosecution. It is a written report which I personally submitted to Hitler on 3 May, 1935. I remember the date very well because it happened during a trial run of the Lloyd Steamer Scharnhorst, at which both Hitler and I were present.

On that day I handed him two inter-related memoranda which together formed a unit. In the one half I made it clear that I wanted to stop the unrestrained and constant collections of money by various Party organisations, because it

[Page 436]

seemed to me that the money ought not to be used for Party purposes, particularly Party installations, Party buildings and the like, but that we urgently needed this money for State expenses which had to be paid and which, of course, included the rearmament question as well.

The second half of this report dealt with cultural questions. The defence and I have tried for months to get this second half of the document from the prosecution, since they had submitted the first half of the document here as evidence. It had not been possible to obtain that second half. I must therefore confine myself to communicating the contents.

I want to say in advance that, of course, I could only bring forward such charges in regard to the mistaken cultural and legal policy of the Party and of Hitler, when reasons originating in my own department gave me the excuse to submit these things to Hitler. I stated that very serious harm was being done to my foreign trade policy by the arbitrary and inhuman cultural and legal policy which was being carried out by Hitler. I pointed in particular to the hostile attitude toward the churches and the illegal treatment of the Jews and, furthermore, to the absolute illegality and despotism of the whole Gestapo regime. I remember in that connection that I referred to the British Habeas Corpus Act, which centuries ago protected the rights of the individual, and I stated word for word that I considered this Gestapo despotism to be something which would make us despised by the whole world.

Hitler read both parts of this memorandum while on board the Scharnhorst; as soon as he had read it he called me and tried to calm me down by making statements similar to those which he had made to me in July, 1934, when he told me these were still the transitional symptoms of a revolutionary development, and that as time went on this would be set right again and disappear.

The events of July had taught a lesson, however, and consequently I was not satisfied with this explanation. A few weeks afterwards, on 18 August, 1935, I used the occasion of my visit to the Eastern Fair at Konigsberg to mention these very things in the speech which I had to make there, and here I gave clear expression to the same objections which I had made to Hitler aboard the Scharnhorst at the beginning of May.

I did not talk only about the Church question, the Jewish question and the question of despotism; I talked also about the Freemasons, and I shall quote a few sentences from that speech, with the permission of the Tribunal. They are very short. I am speaking about people, and I now quote ...

Q. Just one moment. I want to tell the Tribunal that this is the Konigsberg speech, which I submitted to the Tribunal this morning as a document.

A. I am talking about people and I now quote:

"... people who under cover of darkness heroically smear window panes, who brand as a traitor every German who trades in a Jewish store, who declare every former Freemason to be a scoundrel, and who, in the just fight against priests and ministers who talk politics from the pulpit, cannot themselves distinguish between religion and misuse of the pulpit."
End of quotation, and then another sentence:
"In accordance with the present legislation and in accordance with the various declarations made by the Fuehrer's Deputy, the Reich Minister of the Interior, and the Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (not to mention the Ministry of Economics), Jewish businesses are permitted to carry on their business activities as heretofore."
End of quotation, and then, in the last sentences:
"No one in Germany is without rights. According to point 4 of the National Socialist Party programme the Jew can be neither a citizen nor a fellow German. But point 5 of the Party programme provides legislation for him too; that means, he must not be subjected to arbitrary action, but to the law."

[Page 437]

I assumed the same attitude on every further occasion that offered itself.

Q. One moment, Dr. Schacht, did the regime tolerate this speech?

A. It is a good thing that you remind me of that, because in the course of the Gisevius testimony the same question was discussed with reference to the Marburg speech of von Papen. As up to then my speeches were not subject to censorship - of course I wouldn't have allowed that - this speech was broadcast, seemingly by mistake, over the German Broadcasting System. In that way the speech was brought to the notice of Propaganda Minister Goebbels, and at once he issued an order prohibiting the publication of the speech in the newspapers. As a result, although the speech was broadcast, it did not appear in any newspaper. But as, fortunately, the Reichsbank had its own printing press, which was, of course, not subject to censorship, I had the speech printed in the Reichsbank printing press, and 250,000 copies of it were distributed to the 400 branches of the Reichsbank throughout the country, and in that manner it became known to the entire population.

Q. You were going to continue, were you not?

A. I wanted to go on and say that on every future opportunity which I could find I always returned to these points. I should like to touch upon only two more things in this connection.

This morning I referred to these things in connection with the letter written by me on 24 December, 1935, to the Reich Minister of War. I should merely like to add and point out the following words:

"The economic and legal policy for the treatment of the Jews, the antichurch activities of certain Party organisations, and the legal despotism associated with the Gestapo are detrimental to an armament programme."
The same attitude can also be seen from the minutes of the so-called small Ministerial Council for 12 May, 1936, which have been submitted in evidence by the prosecution. It says in these minutes:
"Dr. Schacht emphasised openly again and again that a cultural and legal policy must be pursued which does not interfere with economy."
I want to remark in this connection that, of course, as Minister of Economics I always linked my arguments with the work of the departments under the Minister of Economics. And, as a last example, one of many others which I cannot mention today, there is the speech on the occasion of a celebration for the apprentices at the Berlin Chamber of Artisans on 11 May, 1937. On that occasion I said the following:
"No community and, above all, no State can flourish which is not based on legality, order and discipline."
And a second sentence:
"For that reason you must not only respect the right and the law, but you must also act against injustice and unlawful actions everywhere, wherever you find them."
And because I made known my attitude not only to a close circle, but also to a wider public, by fearlessly using every opportunity to voice my views, because of this a few weeks ago in this Court the chief of the R.S.H.A., Department 111, Security Service, the witness Ohlendorf, in reply to a question, described me as an enemy of the Party, at least since the year 1937-1938. I believe that the chief of the Security Service, Inland Department, should know, since he had the task of combating political opponents inside Germany.

DR. DIX: May I point out that the statements made during the meeting of the Small Ministerial Council on 12 May, 1936, are contained in my document book, Schacht Exhibit 20, Page 57 of the English text, Page 51 of the German text.

And Schacht's speech to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce on 12 May, 1937 ...

[Page 438]

THE WITNESS: You mean Chamber of Artisans.

DR. DIX: I shall refer to that later when I have the proper document; and I now continue.


Q. We have talked about your participation at the Party Rallies, and I should merely like to ask you in addition: Did you participate in any other Party functions?

A. I do not remember that I ever participated in any other functions of the Party.

Q. The Indictment contains the words, and this is so to speak its tenor, the charge that you used your personal influence and your close connections with the Fuehrer for the aims asset forth. Did you, as far as you know and can judge from your experience, have any influence on the Fuehrer?

A. Unfortunately I never had any influence on the Fuehrer's actions and decisions. I had influence only in so far as he did not dare to interfere with me in my special financial and economic policies. But this lack of influence of all members of Hitler's entourage has already been mentioned by various witnesses and so much has been said about it, that I think I need not take up the Tribunal's time with any further statements on that subject.

Q. What you have just said applies in the main to the question of the influence of the Reich Cabinet, the last meetings of the Reich Cabinet, and so forth. Various witnesses have made statements on that subject. Have you anything new to add?

A. I can merely add that on the whole the Cabinet did not have the slightest influence on Hitler, and that from November, 1937 on - this has been stated repeatedly - there were no more meetings or consultations of the Cabinet. The Reich Cabinet was an uncorrelated group of politically powerless departmental ministers without the proper professional qualifications.

DR. DIX: I should like to add that the number of the speech to the Chamber of Artisans is Exhibit 30, Page 89 of the English text and Page 82 of the German text.


Q. What was the situation regarding rearmament? Whose will was decisive and authoritative as regards the extent of rearmament?

A. I am without any basis for judgement as far as that is concerned. But I have no doubt that Hitler's will here, too, was the sole decisive and authoritative factor.

Q. That is to say, you had no influence other than that of the credit-giver?

A. Within my ministry in so far as I administered this ministry, I did nothing for which I would not assume responsibility myself.

Q. Did you speak to representative foreigners about your lack of influence on Hitler?

A . In this connection I recall a conversation with Ambassador Bullitt in November, 1937. This conversation with Ambassador Bullitt has already been mentioned in some other connection, and Ambassador Bullitt's memorandum has been presented in evidence to the Tribunal by the prosecution. I merely refer to the sentence which refers to me:-

"He" - that is to say, Schacht - "prefaced his remarks by saying that he himself today was completely without influence on 'that man', meaning Hitler. He seemed to regard himself as politically dead and to have small respect for 'that man'."
That was in November, 1937. But if I am permitted to add to this, I want to point out that my foreign friends were kept constantly informed about my position and my entire activity as regards the directing of public affairs in Germany, as I have already mentioned once before. This will be seen on later occasions when various instances are mentioned.

[Page 439]

DR. DIX: This morning I submitted Exhibit 22, Page 64 of the English text.


Q. And now for a few special questions regarding your position as Minister of Economics. You have already made statements regarding the obtaining of foreign raw materials, that is, you have quoted appropriate passages. Could not these be substituted by home products in your opinion?

A. A portion of such raw materials could certainly be replaced by home products. We had learned in the meantime how to produce a large number of new materials which we did not know about before ...

Q. Please be brief.

A. ... to produce them synthetically. But a considerable part could not be replaced in that way and could be obtained only through foreign trade.

Q. And what was your attitude towards the question of self- sufficiency?

A. As far as self-sufficiency was concerned I believe that if, at a reasonable cost, without undue expenditure, which would have meant a waste of German public funds, and German man-power, certain synthetic materials could be produced in Germany, then one should do so, but that apart from this, the maintenance of foreign trade was an absolute necessity for economic reasons, and that it was even more necessary for reasons of international cultural relations, and so that nations might live together. The isolation of nations I always regarded as a great misfortune, just as I have always regarded commerce as the best means of bringing about international understanding.

Q. Who was the exponent in the Cabinet of the self- sufficiency principle?

A. As far as I know, the whole idea of self-sufficiency, which was then formulated in the Four-Year Plan, originated with Hitler alone; after Goering was commissioned with the direction of the Four-Year Plan, then Goering, too, of course, represented that line of thought.

Q. Did you express your views to the contrary to Goering and Hitler?

A. I think it is clear from the record that I did so at every opportunity.

Q. One incidental question: You remember that Goering exclaimed:

"I should like to know where the 'No men' are!"
I want to ask you now, do you claim this honourable title of "No man" for yourself. I remind you particularly of your letter of November, 1942?

A. On every occasion when I was no longer in a position to do what my inner conviction demanded, I said, "No". I was not content to be silent in the face of the many misdeeds committed by the Party. In every case I expressed my disapproval of these things, personally, officially and publicly. I said "No" to all those things. I blocked credits. I opposed an excessive rearmament: I talked against the war and I took steps to prevent the war. I do not know to whom else this title of "No man" might apply if not to me.

Q. Did you not swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler?

A. I did not swear an oath of allegiance to a certain Herr Hitler. I swore allegiance to Adolf Hitler as the Head of the State of the German people, just as I did not swear allegiance to the Kaiser or to President Ebert or to President Hindenburg, except in their capacity as Head of the State; in the same way I did not swear an oath to Adolf Hitler. The oath of allegiance which I did swear to the Head of the German State does not apply to the person of the Head of the State, it applies to what he represents, the German nation. Perhaps I might add something in this connection. I did not swear an oath of allegiance to a perjurer and Hitler has turned out to be a hundredfold perjurer.

Q. Goering has made extremely detailed explanations regarding the Four-Year Plan, its origin, its preparation, its technical opposition to you and the consequences you bore because of this opposition. Therefore we can be brief and deal only with new material, if you have something new to say. Have you anything to add to Goering's statements or do you disagree on points which you remember or about views held?

[Page 440]

A. I gather from Goering's statements that he has described conditions perfectly correctly and I myself have nothing at all to add unless you have something special in mind.

Q. According to your impressions and the experience you had, when did Hitler realise that you were an obstacle in the way of a speedy and extensive rearmament? Did he acknowledge your economic arguments? Was he satisfied with your policy or not?

A. At that time, in 1936, when the Four-Year Plan was introduced in September, I could not tell what Hitler's inner attitude to me was in regard to these questions of economic policy. I might say that it was clear that after my speech at Konigsberg in August, 1935, he mistrusted me. But his attitude to my activities in the field of economic policy was something which I was not yet sure of in 1936. The fact that I had not in any way participated in the preparation of the Four-Year Plan but heard about it quite by surprise during the Party meeting and that, quite unexpectedly, Hermann Goering, and not the Minister of Economics, was appointed Head of the Four-Year Plan, as I heard for the first time at the Party meeting in September, 1936 - these facts naturally made it clear to me that Hitler, as far as economic policy with reference to the entire rearmament programme was concerned, did not have that degree of confidence in me which he thought necessary. Subsequently, here in this prison, my fellow defendant Speer showed me a memorandum which he received from Hitler on the occasion of his taking over the post of minister and which, curiously enough, deals in great detail with the Four-Year Plan and my activities and is dated August, 1936. In August, 1936, Hitler himself dictated this memorandum which has been shown to me in prison by my fellow defendant Speer, and I assume that if I read a number of brief quotations from it - with the permission of ...

DR. DIX: I just want to give an explanation to the Tribunal. The original of this memorandum we received about three weeks ago from the camp commander, through the kind mediation of the prosecution; it was found in the camp dustbin. We then handed it in for translation so that we might submit it now. But the translation has not yet been completed. I shall submit the entire memorandum under a new exhibit number when I receive it.

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