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 and Twentieth Day: Friday, 3rd May, 1946
(Part 4 of 12)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of Hjalmar Schacht]

[Page 60]

Q. I think you characterised the manner in which the Sudetenland was acquired as wrong and reprehensible.

A. I do not know when I could have done that. I said that the Allies, through their policy gave the Sudetenland to Hitler, whereas I always had expected that the Sudeten Germans would be given autonomy.

Q. Then you approved of Hitler's policy in handling the Sudetenland situation? Is that what you want to be understood as saying?

A. I never knew that Hitler, beyond the autonomy, demanded anything else.

Q. Your only criticism of the Czechoslovakian situation relates to the Allies, as I understand you?

A. Well, it also applies to the Czechs, maybe to the Germans too; I certainly do not want to be the judge here.

Q. Well, now on 16th October, 1945, in Exhibit USA 636, I ask if you did not make these replies to questions:

"Question: Now, I am coming back to the march against Czechoslovakia which resulted in the appeasement policy in Munich and the cession of the Sudetenland to the Reich.

"Answer: Yes.

"Question: Did you at that time favour the policy of acquiring the Sudetenland?

"Answer: No.

[Page 61]

"Question: Did you favour at that time the policy of threatening or menacing the Czechs by force of arms, so as to acquire the Sudetenland?

"Answer: No, certainly not.

"Question: Then I ask you, did it strike you at that time or did it come to your knowledge that the means which Hitler was using for threatening the Czechs, was the Wehrmacht and the armament industry?

"Answer: He could not have done it without the Wehrmacht."

Did you give those answers?

A. Yes.

Q. Continuing:

"Question: Did you consider the manner in which he handled the Sudeten question wrong or reprehensible?

"Answer: Yes.

"Question: You did?

" Answer: Yes, sir.

"Question: And did you have a feeling at that time, looking back on the events that had preceded and on your own participation in them, that this army which he was using as a threat against Czechoslovakia was at least in part of your own creation? Did that ever strike you?

"Answer: I cannot deny that, sir."

A. Certainly not.

Q. But here again, you helped Hitler once he had been successful with it, did you not?

A. How can you say such a thing? I certainly did not know that Hitler would use the army in order to threaten other nations.

Q. After he had done it, you joined in and took over the Czech bank, did you not?

A. Of course.

Q. Yes. You followed to control economically just as much territory as Hitler had acquired, did you not?

A. But I beg your pardon. He did not take it with violence at all. The Allies gave the territory to him. The whole thing was settled peacefully.

Q. Well, we have your testimony on the part the Wehrmacht played in it and what part you played in the Wehrmacht.

A. Yes, I have never disputed that.

Q. No. What I mean is this, referring to your interrogation of 17th October.

"Question: Now, after the Sudetenland was taken over by the Munich agreement, did you as president of the Reichsbank do anything about the Sudeten territory?

"Answer: I think we took over the affiliations of the Czech Bank of Issue."

Q. And you also arranged for the currency conversion, did you not?

A. Yes, that too.

Q. That is what you did after this wrong and reprehensible act had been committed by Hitler, did you not?

A. It is no "wrong and reprehensible" act "committed" by Hitler, but Hitler received the Sudeten German territory by way of treaty and, of course, the currency and the institution which directed financing had to be amalgamated with this activity in Germany. There can be no talk of injustice. I cannot believe that the Allies put their signature to an injustice.

Q. So you think that everything up to Munich was all right?

A. No. I am certainly of a different opinion. There was much injustice.

Q. Were you in this Court when Goering testified to his threat to bomb Prague - "the beautiful City of Prague?"

A. Thanks to your invitation I was here.

Q. Yes. I suppose you approved that use of the force which you had created in the Wehrmacht?

A. Disapproved. Disapproved under all circumstances.

[Page 62]

Q. You did not think that was right dealing, then?

A. No, no, that was an atrocious thing.

Q. Well, we have found something we agree on, Doctor. You knew of the invasion of Poland?

A. Yes.

Q. You regarded it as an unqualified act of aggression on Hitler's part, did you not?

A. Absolutely.

Q. The same was true of the invasion of Luxembourg, was it not?

A. Absolutely.

Q. And of Holland?

A. Absolutely.

Q. And of Denmark?

A. Absolutely.

Q. And of Norway?

A. Absolutely.

Q. And of Yugoslavia?

A. Absolutely.

Q. And of Russia?

A. Absolutely, sir; and you have left out Norway and Belgium.

Q. Yes; well. The entire course was a course of aggression?

A. Absolutely, to be condemned.

Q. And the success of that aggression at every step was due to the Wehrmacht which you had so much to do with creating?

A. Unfortunately.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, I intend to take up another subject and perhaps it would be ... it is almost recess time.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

THE MARSHAL: If it please the Tribunal, the report is made that defendant von Neurath is absent.


Q. Dr. Schacht, in your direct testimony you made reference to a film, which was taken and exhibited in Germany for propaganda purposes, of your demeanour on the occasion of Hitler's return after the fall of France.

A. May I correct that? Not I but my Counsel spoke of this film; and it was not mentioned that it was used for propaganda purposes. My Counsel merely said that it had been shown as a newsreel, so it probably was shown for about one week.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I will ask that the film be exhibited to the Tribunal. It is a very short film, and the movement in it is very rapid. There is very little translation involved in it, but the speed of it is such that for myself I had to see it twice in order to really see what it is.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you want to put it on now?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I would like to put it on now. It will take only a short time, and Dr. Schacht should be placed where he can see it, for I want to ask him some questions, and particularly I may ask him to identify the persons in it. I will ask, if I may, to have it shown twice.


(At this point the film referred to by Mr. Justice Jackson was shown.)

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think that I, in mentioning this exhibit which I wish to offer in evidence, spoke of it as a "propaganda film." That was not the

[Page 63]

language of Dr. Dix. Dr. Dix described it as a "weekly newsreel" and as a "weekly film."

Q. While our memory is fresh about that, will you tell the Tribunal of as many of the defendants as you recognized present in that picture.

A. In looking at this short film, I could not see exactly who was there. However, I should assume that almost all were present - I say that from memory, not from the film - either in Hitler's retinue or among those who received him.

Q. While you were still President of the Reichsbank and after the action in taking over the Czechoslovakian Bank, you made a speech, did you not, on 29th November, 1938?

A. Yes.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: It is Document EC-611, Exhibit USA 622. I am advised that the film became Exhibit USA 835, and before I pass from it, I would like to offer the statement as to the personality of Hermann Goering, which is Document 3936-PS, as Exhibit USA 836.

Q. In this speech of 29th November, 1938, Dr. Schacht, if I am correctly, informed - and by the way, it was a public speech was it not?

A. Inasmuch as it was made before the German Academy. It was entirely public, and if it passed the censorship, it certainly was also mentioned in the papers. It was public; anyone could have heard it.

Q. You used this language, did you not:

"It is possible that no bank of issue in peace times has carried on such a daring credit policy as has the Reichsbank since the seizure of power by National Socialism. With the aid of this credit policy, however, Germany has created an armament second to none, and this armament in turn has made possible our successes."
Is that correct?

A. That is absolutely correct, and ... would you please mind letting me explain in future? That is correct and I was very much surprised that it was necessary to do this in order to create justice in the world.

Q. The taking over of Czechoslovakia represents your idea of justice?

A. I have already told you that Germany did not "take over Czechoslovakia," but that it was, indeed, presented to Germany by the Allies on a silver platter.

Q. Are you now saying that that was an act of justice, or are you condemning it? I cannot get your position, Doctor. Just tell us, were you for it? Are you today for it, or against it?

A. Against what? Will you please tell me against what and for what?

Q. Against the taking over of the Sudetenland by the method by which it was done.

A. I cannot answer your question for the reason that, as I said, it was no "taking over," but was a present. If some one gives me a present, such as this, I accept it gratefully.

Q. Even though it does not belong to them to give?

A. Well, that I must naturally leave up to the donor.

Q. And although it was taken at the point of a gun, you still would accept the gift?

A. No, it was not taken "at the point of a gun."

Q. Well, we will pass on to your speech. Did you say also:-

"Instead of a weak and vacillating government a single, purposeful, energetic personality is ruling today. That is the great miracle which has happened in Germany and which has had its effect in all fields of life, and not least in that of economy and finance. There is no German financial miracle. There is only the miracle of the re- awakening of German national consciousness and German discipline, and we owe this miracle to our Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler."
Did you say that?

A. Certainly. That was my great surprise.

[Page 64]

Q. As Minister without portfolio, what did your Ministry consist of?

A. Nothing.

Q. What employees did you have?

A. One female secretary.

Q. What space did you occupy?

A. Two or three rooms in my own apartment, which I had furnished as an office.

Q. So the government did not even furnish you with an office?

A. Yes, they paid me a rental for those rooms.

Q. Oh, and whom did you meet with as Minister without Portfolio?

A. I do not understand. Whom I met with?

Q. Well, did you have any meetings? Did you have any official meetings to attend?

A. I have stated here repeatedly that, after my retirement from the Reichsbank, I never had a single meeting or conference, official or otherwise.

Q. Did anybody report to you, or did you report to anybody?

A. No, no one reported to me, nor did I report to anyone else.

Q. Then I take it that you had no duties whatever in this position?

A. Absolutely correct.

Q. And you were Minister without Portfolio, however, at the time that Hitler came back from France, and you attended the reception for him at the railway station? And went to the Reichstag to hear his speech?

A. Yes.

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