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 5 of 12)

[Page 17]

DR. DIX: It is quite clear to me, your Lordship. I am merely surprised at the objection raised by the Soviet prosecution, inasmuch as a member of the Soviet Delegation himself referred to that article in his observations during the cross-examination of the witness Gisevius. It is true, he did not submit it to the Tribunal, but he referred to it in his observations to the witness Gisevius. However, if the Tribunal has the slightest objections to allowing the article as documentary evidence, then I shall ask permission to leave it. I will then - and I think I may - ask the witness Schacht whether it is true that in 1941 he had a conversation with an American who was a professor of national economy, a conversation which dealt with the possibility of peace. I leave it to the Tribunal. I thought it would have been simpler if I submitted the article.

[Page 18]

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, as you have raised the objection to this document, what have you to say about the point that Dr. Dix makes that you used the document yourself in cross-examination?

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, we did not use this document in the cross-examination of the witness Gisevius. An explanatory question was asked in order to reach a decision on this point and I particularly emphasize -

THE PRESIDENT: Will you say that again? I did not understand you.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I say that we did not use this document during the cross-examination of the witness Gisevius, but we did ask an explanatory question in order that, when the document was presented by Dr. Dix, we could object to it as being of no probative value.

THE PRESIDENT: But did you not put the contents of the document to Gisevius? I do not remember. What I want to know is did you not put the contents of the document?

GENERAL RUDENKO: No, no, we did not submit the contents, and we did not discuss the substance of the document. We merely asked a question - did the witness Gisevius know about the article in the Basler Nachrichten, of the 14th January, 1946. That was the question, and the witness answered that it was known to him.

DR. DIX: May I say one more thing? It appears to me that the Soviet Delegation does not desire to have the article submitted as evidence. I therefore withdraw it as evidence. I would like the Tribunal to consider the matter as settled.

May I now put my question?

Q. Well, you had conversations in Switzerland?

A [Hjalmar Schacht]. Yes.

Q. What was the subject of these conversations, in broad outlines, and with whom did you have them?

A. This article, which has just been discussed -

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: First, your Honour, may I interpose an objection? The reason I did not join in the Soviet objection to this document was that I want to know who this economist is. I want to check this thing. There are very peculiar circumstances about this document, and I object to his retailing a conversation with an unknown economist. All I ask is that he identify time and place and person with whom he had his conversation, so that we can do a little verifying of this effort to get something before the Tribunal that did not appear until 1946.

DR. DIX: The question is now being given a significance which its comparative triviality really does not merit. I shall, therefore, dispense with this question too. Please, do not now refer to the conversation with the professor, and I shall leave it to the prosecution to put the question which Mr. Justice Jackson has just mentioned during cross- examination.

Well, your conversations in Switzerland, then, excepting that with the unknown professor.

A. Yes, I tried again and again to shorten the war and to bring about some form of mediation which I always sought for, particularly through the good offices of the American President. That is all that I can say here. I do not think I need go into details.

Q. Very well. Did you in your letters to Ribbentrop and Goering - you have already mentioned Hitler - or also, did you, during the war, state your views about the policy of the war in writing at any time? First of all, as far as Hitler was concerned.

A. I mentioned my discussion with Hitler in February, 1940. In the summer of 1941 I wrote a detailed letter to Hitler, and the witness Lammers has admitted

[Page 19]

its existence. I do not think he was asked about the contents of this letter here, or he was not allowed to talk about it. If I may come back to it; in that letter, I pointed out somewhat as follows - I shall use direct language - "You are at present at the height of your success." This was after the first Russian victories. The enemy believes that you are stronger than you really are. The alliance with Italy is rather a doubtful one, since Mussolini will one day fall and then Italy will drop out. Whether Japan can still come to your aid at all is questionable in view of Japan's weakness in the face of America. I assume that the Japanese will not be so foolish as to wage war against America. The output of steel, for instance, in spite of approximately similar population figures, amounts to one-tenth of the American production. I do not think, therefore, that Japan will enter the war. I now recommend you at all events to reverse foreign policy completely and to attempt with every means to conclude a peace."

Q. Did you state your views to Ribbentrop during the war?

A. I do not know when it was. On one occasion Herr von Ribbentrop conveyed to me through his State Secretary, Herr von Weizsaecker, the reproachful message that I should not indulge in defeatist remarks. That may have been in 1940 or in 1941, during one of those two years. I asked where I had made defeatist remarks and it appeared that I had talked to my ministerial colleague Funk and had given him exhaustive reasons why Germany could never win this war. I held this conviction inflexibly both before and during the war, even after the fall of France. I answered Ribbentrop through his State Secretary that I, as Minister without portfolio, considered it my duty to state my opinion frankly to a ministerial colleague, and in this written reply I maintained the view that Germany's economic power was not sufficient to wage this war. This letter, that is, a copy of this letter was sent both to Minister Funk and to Minister Ribbentrop through his State Secretary.

DR. DIX: I think, your Lordship, this would be a suitable moment....

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)


Q. I spoke before of the 20th of July. Do you recall a statement made by Hitler about you in connection with the 20th of July?

A. Co-defendant Minister Speer was present and told me about it. It was on the 22nd of July, 1944 when Hitler issued the order for my arrest. At that time he made derogatory remarks about me and stated that he had been greatly hindered in his rearmament programme by my negative activities, that it would have been better if he had had me shot before the war.

Q. In concluding I come to a few general summarising questions. Voices were heard within the country, and also abroad-and even the prosecution, although recognising your intellectual capacities and the services you rendered, appears to consider it incomprehensible that a man as clever as you did not recognize the true nature, the real intentions of Hitler in time. I would like you to state your position in regard to that accusation.

A. I should like very much to have known the gentlemen who are now judging me at a time when it might have been of use. These are the people who always know afterwards what ought to have been done. I can only state first that, from 1920 until the seizure of power by Hitler, I tried to influence the nation and foreign countries in a sense which would have prevented Hitler's seizure of power. I warned the country to be thrifty, but I was not heeded. I repeatedly warned the foreign nations to develop an economic policy which would enable Germany to live. I was not heeded, although, as it now appears, I was considered a clever and farsighted man. Hitler came to power because my advice was not followed. The German people were reduced to great economic need and neither - .

[Page 20]

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President. For two days now we have been listening to lengthy explanations on the part of the defendant Schacht, and I rather think that the explanations which have just been given by the defendant Schacht are not definite answers to questions concerned with the indictment brought against him, but mere speeches. I consider that they will only prolong the trial.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, the Tribunal is I think fully apprised with the case on behalf of defendant Schacht. They don't want to stop him putting forward his defence fully, but they would be glad if you could make it as short as possible, and if he could make it as short as possible.

DR. DIX: My Lord, I am certain that I shall be through by recess time, and perhaps even before the recess, but I would like you to consider that the defendant is accused of having assisted in the seizure of power. The question arises, how was -

THE PRESIDENT: I wasn't ruling that this evidence was inadmissible. I was only asking you to get on with it as quickly as you could.


Q. Very well, Dr. Schacht please continue and try to comply with the suggestions of the representative of the Soviet prosecution as far as possible.

A. As briefly as possible. I will not go into detail; I will merely state that due to the collapse of 1918 and the unsatisfactory conditions of the Versailles Treaty, Germany was faced with a great depression. The Democratic Parties, which had a firm hold on the regime at that time, were not able to improve the situation; and the other nations did not know what policy to take towards Germany. I do not reproach any one, I merely state facts. Consequently in this depression, Hitler received a larger majority in the Reichstag than had ever been the case since the creation of the Reichstag.

Now, I ask the people who, although they were silent at the time, can tell me now what I should have done - I ask them what they would have done? I have stated that I was against a military regime; that I wanted to avoid a civil war and that in keeping with democratic principles, I saw only the one possibility: to allow the man to lead the government once he had come to power. I said further, that from the moment I realised this, I tried to participate in the government not with the intention of supporting this man in his extremist ideas, but to act as a brake and, if possible, to direct his policies back into normal channels.

Q. Then there came a time when you recognized the dangers, when you yourself suffered under the unbearable conditions of terror and of suppressed opinion, so that perhaps this question is pertinent and admissible: Why didn't you emigrate?

A. Had it been only a question of my personal fate, nothing would have been simpler, especially since, as we have heard before, I would have been offered that opportunity and it would have been made easy for me. It was not merely a question of my own welfare, but since I had devoted myself to the public interest since 1923, it was the question of the existence of my people, of my country. I know of no instance in history where emigrants were of help to their nation. Of course, I speak of those emigrants who leave of their own free will, not those that have been expelled. It was not the case in 1792, at the time of the French Revolution; it was not the case in 1917 during the Russian Revolution, and it was not the case at the time of the National Socialist revolution which we witnessed. To sit in a secure port abroad and to write articles which are not read in the home country -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, we don't want an historical lecture, do we?

DR. DIX: I believe we can stop here. He merely wanted to state why he did not emigrate. (To Schacht:) You have been understood.

A. Thank you.

[Page 21]

BY DR. DIX: Q. In the course of the proceedings, either in a letter or in a poem - I don't known which at the moment - there was some mention of your thoughts on the possibility of dying a martyr's death; whether it would have served the cause of peace and the German nation, if you had done more than you did; if you had sacrificed your life.

A. I believe that you refer to a quotation from one of my notes which a representative of the American prosecution read here, in which I spoke of the silence of death.

Q. Yes.

A. If I had sacrificed myself, it would not have been of the slightest use because the circumstances of my sacrifice would never have become known. Either I would have disappeared in some prison or I would have died there, and no one would have known whether I was alive or not; or I would have been the victim of a planned accident and it would not have been possible to be a martyr. Martyrs can be effective only if their martyrdom becomes known to the public.

DR. DIX: May I ask for the attention of the Tribunal for a moment? Yesterday I was denied a question concerning the social attitude of the diplomatic corps and its influence on men like Schacht, for instance. The question which I want to put now is not the same question otherwise I would not put it. But it has nevertheless -

THE PRESIDENT: The objection that I made was to the use of the word "attitude" because I don't see how witnesses can give evidence about the attitude of a corps. I said, I think, especially that the fact that the diplomatic corps were present at the Party rally might be given in evidence, but I said that the word "attitude" was far too general. What is it you want to put now?

DR. DIX: Yesterday, the question which I formulated in the following manner was denied: "How was Schacht influenced by the collective attitude of the diplomatic corps?" That question was denied and that concludes the matter. Now, I should like first to clarify the matter, because I do not want to create the impression of smuggling into the proceedings a question which may raise the same objections. On the other hand, it is essential for my line of defence to show that people from abroad with judgement, who were above being suspected of wanting to prepare for an aggressive war, had the same altitude toward the regime as Schacht. On the other hand, it is one of the strong points of my defence to show that the work of these people in their opposition was not only not supported by foreign countries but was actually made more difficult. That is the thema probandum - that is important for me and this theme ... but please, Herr Schacht, do not answer before I have received the permission of the Tribunal ... this theme -

THE PRESIDENT: State exactly what the question is.

DR. DIX: Yes, I will put the question now. According to my notes I intended to refer to the honours which the Nazi regime received abroad and to the representatives and numerous visits honouring the regime which have already been discussed here in detail. I wanted to ask the defendant what influence these frequent marks of great honour had on the work and aims of this group of conspirators. However, since that question is very similar to the one that has been rejected - and I prefer to make the objections myself rather than to have them made to me - I wanted to submit the question to the Tribunal first and make sure that it is admissible.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, the question being: "What effect did the recognition of the Nazi regime from abroad have upon the group of conspirators with whom the defendant Schacht was in contact?" That is the question, is it not? Well, that question, as the Tribunal thinks, you may put.

[Page 22]

DR. DIX: It is admissible if "Anerkennung" is translated correctly as "honouring them" "Honour," not "recognition," in the sense of recognition of a government, in diplomatic official language, but as an honour, a distinction. It is a difficulty of translation and I do not want a misunderstanding... May I put to him, first, the individual official visits which I have noted, so that he can answer the question? May I do that?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you may; actual visits?

DR. DIX: Yes. The list will not be complete.

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