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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd May to 13th May, 1946

One Hundred Ninteenth Day: Thursday, 2nd May, 1946
(Part 3 of 12)

[Page 9]


Q. Dr. Schacht we spoke of the letter dated 30th November, 1942, to Goering. Did that letter have any consequences?

A. Yes, the letter had very considerable consequences. It had the result that, on the 22nd of January, I did at last receive my long hoped for release from my position of a nominal Minister without portfolio. The reason given for it, however, was less pleasant. I believe the letter is already in the files of the Tribunal. It is a letter attached to the official document of release from Lammers.

Q. Yes, very well. We put a question on that subject during Lammer's hearing.

A. Yes. But I should like only to refer to the statement which says: "In view of your entire conduct in the present fateful struggle of the German nation," -so that was my wh ole attitude -

DR. DIX: Gentlemen of the Tribunal, it is No. 26 of the Document Book. It is on Page 76 of the English text and on Page 69 of the German text.


Q. Please continue.

A. It was, therefore, my entire attitude during this war which led to my dismissal, and the letter of dismissal also contained the statement that I would be dismissed for the time being. According to Lammer's statement, as we have heard, this expression "for the time being" was included in the letter on the Fuehrer's initiative. I was very conscious of the significance of this expression when I received the letter. Two days later I was removed from the Prussian State Council, of which I was a member - a body, incidentally, which had not met for at least eight years. At any rate, I was not at the meetings. Perhaps it was six years, I do not know. The text of that decision was communicated to me by the chairman of that State Council, Hermann Goering, and, because of its almost amusing contents, I still recollect it very clearly. It stated:-

"My answer to your defeatist letter, undermining the power of resistance of the German people, is that I remove you from the Prussian State Council."

[Page 10]

I say it was amusing because a sealed letter written by me to Goering could not possibly shake the power of resistance of the German people. A further result was that Party Leader Bormann demanded from me the return of the golden Party badge, and I did that at once. In addition, the subsequent days, I was particularly closely watched by the Gestapo. I gave up my residence in Berlin immediately, within twenty- four hours, and for the whole day the Gestapo spies followed me all over Berlin, both on foot and by car. Then I quietly retired to my estate in the country.

Q. Now, since the trial brief has mentioned material and pecuniary reasons for the decisions which you made, it appears to me justified and necessary to ask, what was the position regarding your property and your income after 1933? In your reply please take into consideration that it is a striking fact that in 1942 there was an increase in your income.

A. A few months ago, apparently with the approval of the Military Government, there appeared in the Press a list of donations which the Party leaders and Ministers in Germany received and, in that connection, of their income and their property. I was also listed, not under "donations", but it was stated that in 1942 I had an unusually high income. This list is incorrect, since it is a gross figure which is mentioned and it does not take into consideration the fact that the war profit tax was later deducted from it. When that list was compiled the tax was not yet determined, so that about eighty per cent must be deducted from the sum which is given there. The income is then no longer striking in any way. In regard to my property, the list shows that by comparison, covering a period of ten years, that it has hardly changed, and, I want to emphasize here particularly that, in the last twenty years, my property remained approximately the same and did not increase.

Q. If I remember rightly you reduced your own salary as President of the Reichsbank at a certain time on your own initiative?

A. When, on Hitler's suggestion, President Hindenburg, in March of 1933, appointed me again to the position of President of the Reichsbank, Hitler left it to me to fix my own income. At that time, I voluntarily reduced my income to less than twenty-five per cent of my former income from the Reichsbank.

Q. Did you ever receive presents or donations from Hitler, either in money or in valuables?

A. As I have just mentioned, I have never received any kind of donation from Hitler, and I think he would hardly have risked offering me one. I did, indeed, receive one present from Hitler, on the occasion of my sixtieth birthday. He gave me a picture, which certainly had the value of about 20,000 marks. It was an oil painting by a German painter, Spitzweg; and would have been worth approximately 200,000 marks if it had been genuine. As soon as the picture was brought into my room I recognized it as a forgery, but I succeeded about three months later in tracing the original. I started proceedings on the subject of the genuineness of the picture, and the forgery was established before a court.

THE PRESIDENT: It is not appropriate for the Tribunal to listen to this.


Q. Did Hitler ever bestow on you the right to wear a uniform or give you any kind of decoration or military rank?

A. If the Tribunal will permit me I would like to say that I returned the forgery and it was never replaced; so that I have received no presents from Hitler.

Hitler offered me a uniform. He said I could have any uniform I desired but I only raised my hands in refusal and did not accept any, not even the uniform of an official, because I did not wish to have a uniform.

Q. Now, another subject: Did you know anything about the concentration camps?

[Page 11]

A. Already in the year 1933, when Goering established concentration camps, I heard, indeed several times, that political opponents and other disliked or inconvenient persons were taken away to concentration camps. That these people were deprived of their liberty perturbed me very much at the time, of course, and I continuously demanded, as far as I was in a position to do so during conversations, that the arrest and removal to concentration camps should be followed soon after by a proper legal proceeding before a Court, with full liberty for defence. At that early time, Reichsminister of the interior Frick also protested energetically along the same lines. Subsequently this type of imprisonment became less known to the public, and in consequence I assumed that things were slowly abating. Only much later - let us say the second half of 1934 and 1935 -

Q. When you met Gisevius, you mean?

A. Yes, when I met Gisevius - I heard on repeated occasions that not only were people still being deprived of their liberty, but that sometimes they were being ill-treated, that beatings, etc., took place. I have already said before this Tribunal that as a result, as early as May 1935, I personally took the opportunity of drawing Hitler's attention to these conditions, and that I told him at the time that such a system was causing the whole world to despise us and must cease. I have mentioned that I repeatedly took a stand against all these things publicly, whenever there was a possibility of doing so.

But I never heard anything of the serious ill-treatment and outrages - murder and the like - which started later. Probably because, firstly, these conditions did not begin until after the war, after the outbreak of war, and because from 1939 onwards I led a very retired life. I only heard here, in prison, of the dreadful things which happened. However, I did hear, as early as 1938 and after, of the deportation of Jews. Individual cases were brought to my notice and I ascertained that there were deportations to Theresienstadt, where, allegedly, there was an assembly camp for Jews, where Jews were accommodated until a later date, when the Jewish problem was to be dealt with again. Any physical ill treatment, not to speak of killing or the like, never come to my knowledge.

Q. Did you ever take a look at a concentration camp?

A. I had an opportunity of acquainting myself with several concentration camps when, on the 23rd of July, 1944, I myself was dragged into a concentration camp. Before that date I did not visit a single concentration camp at any time, but came to know not only the ordinary concentration camps but also the extermination camp in Flossenburg.

Q. Did you not, while in Flossenburg, receive a visit from a "comrade in ideas", if I may say so?

A. I know of this matter only from a letter which this gentleman sent to you or to this Tribunal, I believe, in which he describes that visit. I can only, on my own observation -

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think it is improper to give the contents of a letter from a person unidentified. I have said to this Tribunal before that these letters which come from unidentified persons - if he is identified, it has not been done in evidence - come to all of us. I am sure members of the Tribunal get a great many of them. If that is evidence, then the prosecution should reopen its case, because I have baskets of them. I think it is highly improper to take communications and put them in evidence directly, and it is even more improper to relate them by oral testimony when the document is not produced. I think this kind of evidence has no probative value and I object to it.

DR. DIX: May I be permitted to say that I would never do anything improper nor have I done it. I do not intend in any way to submit this very harmless, jocular letter to the Tribunal as evidence. But this letter, which reached me through quite regular channels, informed Dr. Schacht and myself that there existed a plan to murder him in Flossenburg. That is why I also questioned the

[Page 12]

witness Kaltenbrunner on this matter. The only reason why I am asking Dr. Schacht is, I expect him to inform the Tribunal that there was in fact, at that time, an order to murder him. This fact, not the letter, is not without some significance, because if a regime wants to kill a man then, that is at least proof of the fact that it is not particularly well-disposed toward him. That is the only reason why I asked that this letter be submitted, and it is, of course, also at Mr. Justice Jackson's disposal. It is really quite an amusing letter, written by a simple man.

But I would never have considered submitting this letter as a document in evidence. If the Tribunal has objections to hearing the matter, a matter which was also discussed when Kaltenbrunner was examined, then I shall willingly omit it. I am quite astonished that the matter should be given so much significance.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, the Tribunal thinks that the letter isn't being offered in evidence, and therefore you ought not to refer to it. Well then, don't refer to it.

DR. DIX: All right, we will leave it.


Q. Well, now, at last you were released. What did you do then?

A. After that time I did nothing more apart from continuing my efforts towards the removal of Hitler. That was my only political activity. For the rest, I was living on my estate.

Q. Did you not go on a journey in the spring of 1939?

A. Excuse me, you are speaking of the time after my dismissal as President of the Reichsbank. I thought you meant as minister. I was just talking of 1943.

Q. No. No.

A. You are going back to the year 1939. I have already mentioned that, after the dismissal in January, 1939, Hitler suggested to me that I should go on an extensive journey abroad, and at the time I went to India by way of Switzerland, where I again saw my friend.

Q. Were you in any way politically active in India?

A. In India I merely travelled as a tourist. I was not politically active but, of course, I visited several governors and I spent three days as the Viceroy's guest in his house in Simla.

Q. Did you not have political connections with Chinese statesmen in Rangoon?

A. When I was in Burma, after leaving India, I received a visit in Rangoon from a Chinese friend who had visited me before in Berlin on occasions, and who had been commissioned by his government to talk to me about the situation of China.

Q. That is Chiang Kai-Shek's China?

A. Chiang Kai-Shek's China, which was already at war with Japan at the time. The other China did not then exist and this gentleman asked me upon the request of Chiang Kai-Shek and the Chinese Cabinet...

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I can't see the slightest relevancy in this. In the first place, we heard it once before and secondly, after we had heard it, it had no relevancy to the case. We have no charge against him that he did anything in China and we will stipulate that he was as pure as snow all the time he was in China. We haven't a thing to do with that, and it is taking time here and gets us nowhere, and is keeping us away from the real charge in the case.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal quite understands that you say it is irrelevant. Why do you say it is relevant?

DR. DIX: I regret that Mr. Justice Jackson and I understand each other too little. The matter is relevant in the following connection: In this testimony and also in an affidavit which has been read...

[Page 13]

THE PRESIDENT: I think we heard three times that the defendant Schacht went to India. Three times in his evidence he dealt with the fact that he went to India and China. How is it relevant?

DR. DIX: I am not speaking of the journey to India. It had to be mentioned only briefly to explain the connection of time. I put a question, referring to Schacht's negotiations in Rangoon with the envoy from Chiang Kai-Shek, and at that point Mr. Justice Jackson raised his objection. But the fact that Schacht maintained friendly connections with Chiang Kai- Shek's government and gave support to it, that fact is relevant. And for the same reason for which I attached importance to the fact that it became clear here that, in regard to the Union of Soviet Republics also, Schacht pursued a pro-Soviet line in his economic policy during the years when Hitler was conducting a political campaign again t Russia. Here we have a second instance, in which he is demanding relations which were contrary to the principles of Hitler's policy: that is relations with Chiang Kai-Shek, and so against Hitler's ally, Japan. It is in this connection, that the negotiations with the Chinese are of significance. They will take only a moment's time, at most. They were merely to be mentioned in passing.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks that if you consider his relations with China of any importance, it can be stated in one sentence.

DR. DIX: I am of the same opinion.

THE WITNESS: I will sum it up in one sentence. In a written memorandum, I advised Chiang Kai-Shek's government to continue holding out against Japan, giving as reason that the economic resources of China would last longer than the economic resources of Japan; and I advised Chiang Kai-Shek to rely primarily on the United States of America in his foreign policy.

Q. Then upon your return from India, that is, in August, 1939, you found a situation which must have appeared quite tense to someone who was just coming back. Did you not then attempt to contact the cabinet or Hitler in order to discuss this situation?

A. Of course I found a very tense situation with regard to Poland, and I used my return as an occasion for writing a letter to Hitler, a letter to Goering, and a letter to Ribbentrop; that is to say, to the three leading men, in order to inform them that I had come back from India, expecting that at least one of them would ask me for an account of my experiences. Then I should have had an opportunity of talking to the leading men once again. To my very great surprise, I did not get an answer from Hitler at all, I received no reply from Goering; and Herr von Ribbentrop answered me that he had taken note of my letter. There was therefore no other way for me but to make my own inquiries regarding the real state of affairs in respect to Poland, and when things became critical, I took the well- known step, which has already been described here by Herr Gisevius, namely the attempt to gain access to the Fuehrer's headquarters.

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