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 6 of 12)

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

[Page 68]

Q. You have now contended that you knew about the Plot of 20th July on Hitler's life?

A. I knew about it.

Q. You knew that Gisevius says you did not know about it?

A. I stated yesterday that I was told not only of Goerdeler's efforts, but that I was thoroughly informed by General Lindemann, and the evidence of Colonel Gronau has been read here. I also stated that I did not inform my friends about this because there was a mutual agreement between us that we should not tell anyone anything which might bring him into an embarrassing situation in case he were tortured by the Gestapo.

Q. Do you recall that Gisevius said that there were only three civilians that knew about that plot which was carefully kept within military personnel?

A. You see that even Gisevius was not informed on every detail. Naturally, he cannot testify to more than what he knew.

Q. And so, Dr. Schacht, we are to weigh your testimony in the light of the fact that you preferred, over a long period of time, a course of sabotage of your government's policy by treason against the head of the State, rather than open resignation from his Cabinet?

A. You constantly refer to my resignation. I have told you and proven that no resignation was possible. Consequently your conclusion is wrong.

Q. All right! Now, in your interrogation on 16th October, 1945, Exhibit USA 636, some questions were asked you about the generals of the Army, and I ask you if you were not asked these questions and if you did not give these answers.

"Question: Suppose you were Chief of the General Staff, and Hitler decided to attack Austria, would you say you had the right to withdraw?

"Answer: I would have said, 'Withdraw me, sir.'

"Question: You would have said that?

"Answer: Yes.

"Question: So you take the position that any official could at way time withdraw if he thought that the moral obligation was such that he felt he could not go on?"

"Answer: Quite.

"Question: In other words, you feel that the members of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht who were responsible for carrying into execution Hitler's plan are equally guilty with him?

[Page 69]

"Answer: That is a very difficult question you put to me, sir, and I answer, yes."
You gave those answers, did you not? Did you give those answers?

A. Yes, and I should like to give an explanation of this, if the Tribunal permits it. If Hitler ever had given me a doubtful order, I should have refused to execute it. That is what I said about the generals also, and I am committed to this statement which you have just read.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I have finished with him, your Honour, except that I would like to note the exhibit numbers. The petition to Hindenburg referred to yesterday is 3901-PS, and will become Exhibit USA 837. The von Blomberg interrogation of October, 1945, is Exhibit USA 838.

DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff and the OKW): Mr. President, I request that the following testimony of the defendant Schacht, which, as such, became part of the minutes, be taken out of the record. The question, as I understood it, was whether he considered the General Staff to be just as guilty as Hitler. This question was answered in the affirmative by the defendant Schacht in this examination.

The question and the answer - the question to begin with is inadmissible and likewise the answer because a witness cannot pass judgement. That is the task of the Tribunal. And for this reason I request that this testimony should not be included in the record.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: May it please the Tribunal, I do not, of course, offer this opinion of Schacht's as evidence against the General Staff or against any individual soldier on trial. The evidence, I think, was as to the credibility of Schacht and as to his position. I do not think that his opinion regarding the guilt of anybody else would be evidence against that other person; I think that his opinion on this matter is evidence against himself in the matter of credibility.


DR. DIX: The question by Justice Jackson was not whether Schacht considered the Generals guilty, but the question was whether it was correct that Schacht, in an interrogation previous to the trial, had given certain answers to certain questions. In other words, it was a question about an actual occurrence which took place in the past, and not a question about an opinion or a judgement which he was to give here. As Schacht's counsel, I am interested in not having this passage taken from the record only to the extent that these words remain:

"I, Schacht, would never have executed a doubtful order and questionable demand by Hitler." So far as the rest of this answer of Schacht is concerned, I, as his defence counsel, declare that it is a matter of indifference to me.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, after the declaration of Justice Jackson, I withdraw my objection.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Mr. President, may I begin my cross- examination?



Q. Defendant Schacht, when answering the questions put to you by your counsel, you informed us of the circumstances under which you first became acquainted with Hitler and Goering. You even remembered a detail such as the pea soup with lard which was served for supper at Goering's home.

What I am interested in now are some other particulars, rather more relevant to the case, of your relations with Hitler and Goering. Tell me, on whose initiative did your first meeting with Hitler and Goering take place?

A. I have already stated that my friend, Bank Director von Strauss, invited me to spend an evening in his home, in order that I might meet Goering there.

[Page 70]

The meeting with Hitler then took place when Goering asked me to come to his home - that is, Goering's home - to meet Hitler.

Q. For what reasons did you, at that time, accept the invitation to meet Hitler and Goering?

A. The National Socialist Party at that time was one of the strongest parties in the Reichstag with 108 seats, and the National Socialist movement, throughout the country, was extremely active. Consequently, I was more or less interested in making the acquaintance of the leading men of this movement whom up to then I did not know at all.

Q. But you declared that you were invited by Goering himself. Why did Goering especially invite you?

A. Please ask Goering that.

Q. Did you not ask him yourself?

A. Goering wished me to meet Hitler, or Hitler to meet me.

Q. What for? With what aim in mind?

A. That you must ask Goering.

Q. Don't you think that Hitler and Goering intended - and not unsuccessfully at that - to inveigle you into participating in the Nazi movement, knowing that in Germany you were a prominent worker both in the economic and financial field, and one who shared their views?

A. I was uninformed about the intentions of these two gentlemen at that time; however, I can imagine that it was just as much a matter of interest for these gentlemen to meet Herr Schacht as it was for me to meet Herr Hitler and Herr Goering.

Q. Then it was a matter of purely personal interest; or were there other considerations involved, of a political nature? You yourself understood that your participation in the Nazi movement would be profitable to Hitler, inasmuch as you were a well-known man in your own country?

A. As far as I was concerned, I was only interested in seeing what kind of people they were; what motives these two gentlemen had, as I have already stated, is unknown to me. My collaboration in the Nazi movement was entirely out of the question, and it was not given, either.

Q. Tell me, please ...

A. Please let me finish. My collaboration was not given before the July, elections of 1932. As I have stated here, the acquaintance was made in January 1931, which was one and a half years before these elections. Throughout these one and a half years, no collaboration took place.

Q. Tell me, was your acquaintance with Hitler and Goering exclusively limited to these meetings, or had you already met them before Hitler came into power?

A. Until July, 1932, I saw Hitler and Goering, each of them, perhaps once, twice or three times. I cannot recall any other occasions, in these one and a half years; however, there is no question of any frequent meetings.

Q. Then, how do you explain your letter to Hitler of 29th August, 1932, in which you offered your services to Hitler? You remember this letter?

A. Yes.

Q. How do you explain it?

A. I have spoken about this repeatedly. Will you be so kind as to read it in the record?

Q. Please repeat it once more, briefly?

THE PRESIDENT: If he has been over it once, that is sufficient.


Q. When, and by whom were you first invited to participate in the future Hitlerite Government and promised the post of Director of the Reichsbank?

A. The President of the Reichsbank did not hold a position in the government, but was a high official outside the government. The first time that there was

[Page 71]

any talk in my presence about this post was on 30th January, 1933, when I accidentally ran into Goering in the lobby of the Kaiserhof Hotel, and he said to me: "Ah, here comes our future President of the Reichsbank."

Q. When answering the questions of your Counsel, you declared that the Nazi theory of race supremacy was sheer nonsense, that the Nazi world-outlook was no world-outlook at all, that you were opposed to the solution of the "Lebensraum" problem by the seizure of fresh territories, that you were opposed to the Leadership Principle within the Nazi Party, and even made a speech on this subject in the Academy of Law, and that you were opposed to the Nazi policy of exterminating the Jews.

Is that right? Did you say that when answering the questions put by your Counsel?

A. Yes, we both heard it.

Q. Well, then tell me, what led you to National Socialism and to co-operation with Hitler?

A. Nothing at all led me to National Socialism; I have never been a Nazi.

Q. Then what induced you to co-operate with Hitler since you had adopted a negative attitude toward his theories and the theories of German National Socialism?

THE PRESIDENT: General Alexandrov, he has told us what he says led him to co-operate with Hitler. I think you must have heard him.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: But it did, in fact, take place?


Q. In reply to a question by your Counsel as to why you did not emigrate, you stated that you did not wish to be a simple martyr. Tell me, did you not know the fate which befell Germany's outstanding personages, personages who held democratic and progressive ideas, when Hitler came to power? Do you know that they were all exiled or sent to concentration camps?

A. There is a confusion here. I did not answer that I did not want to be a martyr to the question of whether I wanted to emigrate, but I said, "Emigrants - that is, voluntary emigrants - never did any service to their country"; and I did not want to safeguard my own life, but I wanted to continue to work for the welfare of my country.

The martyr point was in connection with a question following, as to whether I expected any good to have resulted for my country if I had died as a martyr. To that I replied that martyrs are of use to their country only if their sacrifice becomes known.

Q. You told me that somewhat differently. I shall, nevertheless, repeat my question.

THE PRESIDENT: I would be very grateful if you would repeat the question.

Q. Do you know the fate which befell the foremost men of Germany, men who held progressive and democratic ideas when Hitler came to power? You know that all these people were either exiled or sent to concentration camps?

A. I expressly stated here, when I spoke of emigrants, of those who were in exile, not having left the country under compulsion, but having left voluntarily - those are the ones I was speaking about. The individual fates of the others are not known to me. If you ask me about individual persons, I will tell you regarding each one of these people, whether I know his fate or not.

Q. The fate of these great men is universally known. You, one of the few outstanding statesmen in democratic Germany, co-operated with Hitler. Do You admit this?

A. No.

Q. You testified - and I am obliged to refer once again to the same question - that the entry in the Goebbels' diary of 21st November, 1932, was a forgery. Once again I remind you of this entry which G6bbels wrote, and I quote:

[Page 72]

"In a conversation with Dr. Schacht, I found that he fully reflects our view-point. He is one of the few who fully agrees with the Fuehrer's position."
Do you continue to say that this entry does not conform to reality I have just asked you this question.

A. I have never claimed that this entry was false. I only claimed that Goebbels, was labouring under a false impression.

Q. But, according to your statement, this entry does not conform to reality, to your attitude toward Hitler's regime. Is that the case or not?

A. In the general way in which Goebbels represents it there, it is wrong, it is not correct.

Q. Why did you not lodge a protest? After all, Goebbels' diary, including this entry, was published.

A. If I had protested against all the inaccuracies which were printed about me, I would not have remained sane.

Q. But do you not see, this is not exactly an ordinary excerpt from Goebbels' diary - and he was rather an outstanding statesman in Nazi Germany - for he describes your political views, and if you were not in agreement with him you might, somehow or other, have reacted to this statement.

A. Permit me to say something regarding this. Either you ask me ... I say that the diary of Goebbels was an unusually commonplace manuscript.

Q. The witness, Franz Reuter, your biographer and a close friend, in his written affidavits of 6th February, 1946, presented to the Tribunal by your Counsel as No. 35, testified to the following:-

"Schacht joined Hitler in the early 'thirties and helped him to power ..."
Do you consider these affidavits of the witness, Franz Reuter, as untrue, or do you confirm them?

A. I consider them wrong.

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