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 10 of 10)

[Page 440]

THE PRESIDENT: Has any application been made in respect of it?

DR. DIX: No application has been made as yet. I wanted ...

THE PRESIDENT: Which memorandum? Who drew it up?

DR. DIX: It is a Hitler memorandum of the year 1936, of which there exist three copies, and one of them was in the camp dustbin. This copy arrived here a fortnight or three weeks ago, after we had discussed our document book with the prosecution. I intended to submit the translation of that memorandum today and at the same time to ask that this be admitted in evidence, but unfortunately I am not in a position to do so, because the translation is not yet ready. My colleague, Professor Krauss, was, in fact, told that it had been mislaid.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, let the defendant go on, and you can submit the document in evidence and a translation afterwards.

DR. DIX: Very well. The defendant has a copy and he will quote the most important, very brief passages.

THE WITNESS [Hjalmar Schacht]: I shall quote very brief passages. Hitler says in this memorandum, among other things:-

"It is, above all, not the task of State economic institutions to wrack their brains about methods of production. This does not concern the Ministry of Economics at all."
The Ministry of Economics was under me, and this is therefore a reproach for me. A further quotation:-
"It is furthermore essential that German iron production be increased

[Page 441]

to the utmost. The objection that we are not in a position to produce the same cheap raw iron from German ore, which has only 26 per cent. of iron content, as from the 45 per cent. Swedish ores, is unimportant ... The objection that in this case all the German smelting works would have to be reconstructed is also irrelevant; and, in any case, this is none of the business of the Ministry of Economics."
As is apparent from the statement, I had explained that from 26 per cent. ore one could produce steel only at costs twice or three times those at which one could produce steel from 45 per cent. ore. And I explained further that, in order to use 26 per cent. ore, one would have to have completely different plants from those using 45 per cent. ore. Herr Hitler states that this is none of the business of the Ministry of Economics, and that, of course, means Herr Schacht.

There is one last, very brief quotation:-

"I want to emphasise in this connection that in these tasks I see the only possible economic mobilisation - and not the crippling of the armament industry."
That statement, too, is directed, of course, against my policy.


Q. We have now reached the stage of tension of technical differences between you and Goering, the tension between you and Hitler regarding your functions as Minister of Economics. What were your thoughts at the time about resigning from your office as Minister of Economics? Was it possible for you to resign? Please do not repeat anything that Lammers and other witnesses have already told us about the impossibility of resigning. Please talk only about your own special case and what you yourself did.

A. First of all, I tried to continue my own economic policy, in spite of the fact that Goering as head of the Four-Year Plan tried, of course, as time went on to take over as many as possible of the tasks concerned with economic policy. But the very moment Goering encroached on my rights as Minister of Economics I used it as an opportunity to force my release from the Ministry of Economics. That was at the beginning of August, 1937.

At the time I told Hitler very briefly the reason, namely, that, if I was to assume responsibility for economic policy, then I would also have to be in command. But if I was not in command, then I did not wish to assume responsibility. The fight for my resignation, fought by me at times with very drastic measures, lasted approximately two and a half months, until eventually Hitler had to decide to grant me the desired release, in order to prevent the conflict from becoming more known to the public than it already was.

Q. When you say "drastic measures," do you mean your so- called sit-down strike? In this connection I want to submit to the Tribunal Exhibit 40 of my document book, an affidavit from another former colleague of Dr. Schacht in the Reich Ministry of Economics, Kammerdirektor Dr. Asmis. On Page 180 of the English version of this long affidavit there is a brief passage. I quote:-

"When this was found to be unsuccessful" - it means his fight - "and when developments continued along the course which he considered wrong, he" - Schacht - "in the autumn of 1937, long before the beginning of the war, acted as an upright man and applied for release from his office as Reich Minister of Economics and thereby from his co- responsibility.

He was obviously not able to resign his office in the normal way, because for reasons of prestige the Party required the use of his name. Therefore, in the autumn of 1937, he simply remained away from the Ministry of Economics for several weeks. He started this sit-down strike, as it was humorously called in the Ministry, and went in his official capacity only to the Reichsbank."

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, is it necessary to trouble the Tribunal with all

[Page 442]

this detail? There is no dispute that he did resign, and the only thing that he has to explain is why he continued to be a Minister. The prosecution has given evidence about his resignation and about the conflict between him and the defendant Goering. What is the good of going into all the detail of it, as to this sit-down strike and that sort of thing? That does not interest the Tribunal.

DR. Dix: He did not remain a Minister at that time. He retired.

THE PRESIDENT: I thought he had remained a Minister until 1943.

DR. DIX: Minister without portfolio, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: I did not say Minister with portfolio, I said Minister.

DR. DIX: Yes, but there is a difference, but I shall come to that later. I understood you to mean an active minister, but I shall not go into that now. It was a misunderstanding. Anyway, I have finished with that. I was merely trying to show how difficult it was to resign.


Q. We now come to the manner in which you were released. Have you anything to add to the statements made by Dr. Lammers in this connection or not?

A. I think we should inform the Tribunal of one matter about which I also learned here in prison from my fellow-defendant Speer. He overheard the argument between Hitler and myself on the occasion of that decisive conference in which I managed to push through my resignation.

If the Tribunal allows, I shall quote very briefly. There are two or three sentences. Herr Speer informed me of the following:

"I was on the terrace of the Berghof on the Obersalzberg, and I was waiting to submit my building plans. In the summer of 1937 when Schacht came to the Berghof ..."
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON (Interposing): Speer is present in the room. For one defendant to testify as to a conversation with another defendant is a very convenient way of getting testimony without access to cross-examination, but it seems to me that it is a highly objectionable method. I object to this on the ground that it has no probative value to testify to a conversation of this character when the defendant Speer is in the courtroom and can be sworn and can give his testimony. He sits here and is available.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the subject of the conversation?

DR. DIX: The subject of this conversation is a matter which concerns the defendant Schacht. It is a statement of Hitler regarding Schacht; it is not a matter which concerns the defendant Speer. Therefore I consider it expedient, since - it is a matter which concerns Schacht, for him to be able to make a statement about it. I would, of course, consider it more appropriate that he should not read something which Speer has written to him, but that he should give his own account of what happened between Hitler and Schacht and merely say, "I heard that from Speer." That appears to be' better than ...

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, Dr. Dix, you may give that.


Q. Will you please not read, then, but tell of this incident and say you got it from Speer?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is even more objectionable to me than to have a written statement from Speer. If we are to have Speer's testimony, it at least should be Speer's and not a repetition of a conversation between the two defendants. If Speer has made a written statement, it can be submitted to us in the ordinary course.

This is the second document that we have not had the privilege of seeing before it has been used here, and it seems to me that if this is a document signed by Speer - which I do not understand it to be - if it is, that is one thing. We can then see it and perhaps it can be used. If it is a conversation, I should, prefer Speer's version.

[Page 443]

DR. DIX: May I add something? The question of procedure is not of basic importance for me here. In that case it can be discussed when Speer is examined. However, I do not know whether Speer is going to be called; probably he will be. Actually it would be better for us to hear it now, but I leave it to the Tribunal to decide. It is not a question of great importance to me.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will allow the evidence.


Q. Well then, without reading, please describe the incident.

A. The gentlemen on the terrace, among them Speer, heard this discussion, which was conducted in very loud tones. At the end of the discussion Hitler came out on the terrace and ...

THE PRESIDENT: Just a moment. (Brief pause.) Very well, Dr. Dix, go on.

A. Hitler came out on the terrace after this conference and said to those present, among them Speer, that he had had a very serious argument with Schacht, that he could not work with Schacht, and that Schacht was upsetting his financial plans.

Q. Well then, after you had left your position as Minister of Economics you remained a Department Chief as Reichsbank President. Were you approached by Hitler or the Minister of Finance in your capacity as President of the Reichsbank, and asked for credit?

A. After the Reichsbank had discontinued giving credits, on 31 March, 1938, the Minister of Finance received more urgent demands for money and towards the end of that year he found himself in the awkward situation of not being able to pay even the salaries of the civil servants from the treasury. He came to me and asked me to grant him a special credit. According to its charter and laws the Reichsbank was entitled, and to a certain extent obliged, but actually only entitled, to advance to the Reich up to four hundred million marks per annum. The Reich Minister of Finance had received these four hundred million marks and he was asking, over and above that, for further credits; the Reichsbank refused to give him these credits. The Reich Minister of Finance had to go to the private banks and all the large banks together gave him a credit of a few hundred million marks. However, the Reichsbank did not participate in this credit.

Q. If you, as President of the Reichsbank, turned down those credits, then it seems there was nothing for it but to print more notes. Did Hitler or anyone else suggest that the note printing presses should be set in motion?

A. After the events of 1938 I paid one more visit to London, in December, to attend a conference regarding the financing of the Jewish emigration from Germany in an orderly manner - a thing which I myself had suggested. On that occasion I also talked with Prime Minister Chamberlain. On 2 January, 1939, I arrived at the Berghof in Berchtesgaden to report to Hitler about these matters. On that occasion we, of course, also talked about the financial needs of the Reich. I still refused to give credit to the Reich, and pointed out the very difficult financial situation which called for, or should have called for, a reduction of State expenditure, and, with that, of armament expenditure.

In particular, I pointed out that at the beginning of December the first instalment of the so-called Jewish fine - which had been imposed on the Jews after the murder of Herr von Rath in Paris and which had been collected to the extent of 250 million marks at the beginning of December - that this first instalment of 250 million marks had not been received entirely in the form of cash, but that the Reich Minister of Finance had had to agree to accept a considerable part of it "in kind," as the English say, because it was not possible to make liquid the cash necessary for this payment. Hitler replied:-

"But we can circulate notes on the basis of these goods. I have looked into the question of our future financial policy very carefully and when I

[Page 444]

get back to Berlin in a few days I shall discuss my plans with you and the Minister of Finance."
I saw at once that it was Hitler's intention to resort to the printing of notes to meet his expenditure with or without the necessary cover, but at any rate against certain securities. The danger of inflation was now imminent. And since I realised at once that this was the point where I and the Reichsbank had to say "stop," I replied to him:-
"Very well, in that case I will get the Reichsbank to submit a memorandum to you, setting out the attitude of the Reichsbank to this problem and which can be used at the joint meeting with the Finance Minister."
After that I went back to Berlin and informed my colleagues in the Directorate of the Reichsbank. We saw, to our own personal satisfaction, that here was an opportunity for us to divorce ourselves definitely from that type of policy.

The memorandum dated January 7, which the Directorate of the Reichsbank then submitted to Hitler has, I think, also been submitted as evidence by the prosecution.

In order to explain the statements which the Directorate of the Reichsbank made to Hitler in this decisive moment regarding further State expenditure, and especially armament expenditure, I ask permission to read only two very brief sentences from this memorandum. It says:-

"Unrestrained public expenditure constitutes a definite threat to our currency. The unlimited growth of government expenditure defies any attempts to draw up a regulated budget. It brings State finances to the verge of ruin, despite a tremendous increase in taxes, and it undermines the currency and the issuing bank."
Then there is another sentence:-
"... if during the two great foreign political actions in Austria and the Sudetenland an increase in public expenditure was necessary, the fact that after the termination of these two foreign political actions a reduction of expenditure is not noticeable, and that everything seems rather to indicate that a further increase of expenditure is planned, it is now our absolute duty to point out what the consequences will be for our currency.

The undersigned Directors of the Reichsbank are sufficiently conscious of the fact that in their co- operation they gladly devote all their energy to the great aims that have been set, but that a stop must now be put."

DR. DIX: This memorandum has already been submitted by the prosecution under the No. EC-369, but it is being submitted again as Exhibit 24 in our Document Book, Page 70 of the English text, and Page 63 of the German text.

I shall have to put various questions to Dr. Schacht on that memorandum, but I think that perhaps there is not time now and that I should do so tomorrow.

THE PRESIDENT: If you must, Dr. Dix, but do you think that is very important? At any rate, you had better do it tomorrow, if you are going to do it at all.

DR. DIX: Yes.


DR. SIEMERS: Yes, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, can you inform us whether those extracts are the same as the extracts which were refused in the case of the defendant Ribbentrop?

DR. SIEMERS: I have made a comparison, and I can hand it to the Tribunal in writing. Some documents are the same, some do not tally, and some are missing. I have done that in writing.


The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken until Thursday, 2 May, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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