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 11 of 12)

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

[Page 89]

Q. And what was von Lumm's position? What was he doing in Brussels?

A. He was Commissioner for Banking, with the General Command.

Q. General Command of the German Army?

A. Bank Commissioner, Commissioner for the Banks - of the Occupation Army -

[Page 90]

Q. Named by Germany?

A. Without doubt.

Q. Well, he was a German, not a Belgian?

A. Yes, he was a German.

Q. Now, some time after that Schacht was dismissed by von Lumm, was he not?

A. Yes.

Q. And you had a discussion with von Lumm. about that and you had one with Schacht about it, did you not? Tell me whether you had the visit -

A. I read the official reports in Berlin about the dismissal of Schacht. I worked in the Reich Office of the Interior, and I only spoke about these things with Schacht when he became Reichsbank President, and spoke to me about it one day.

Q. Now, before Schacht joined the staff of von Lumm, he was director of the Dresdner Bank.

A. Yes.

Q. And the dismissal was because Schacht had delivered to that bank a considerable amount of Belgian francs.

A. Yes. I do not know how large that amount was.

Q. But it was considerable.

A. Maybe.

Q. And that, von Lumm thought, gave to the Dresdner Bank an advantage which was incompatible with Schacht's duties as a public official?

A. That, at any rate, was von Lumm's view. He took a very serious view, which Schacht, not being a civil servant, could not quite appreciate.

Q. And von Lumm called a meeting and reproached Schacht?

A. Yes.

Q. Schacht then gave an answer to von Lumm which von Lumm considered was not sincere but was merely a lie?

A. Yes. That was von Lumm's point of view.

Q. Now, that is what von Lumm told you about?

A. That was in the written report which I have read.

Q. Now, when you came to talk to Schacht about it and about his answer to von Lumm, Schacht told you that it was perhaps not quite an open answer, but not a lie?

A. Yes.

Q. However, having heard both sides of it, you along with all of the other directors of the Reichsbank, were opposed to Schacht's appointment as President, as you have testified?

A. Yes.

Q. And you took the view, along with all the other directors, that the behaviour of Dr. Schacht in the Belgian bank affair was not quite fair and not quite correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, when Dr. Schacht came back to the Reichsbank under the Nazi regime, as I understand it, there was a good deal of resentment and reserve against him on the part of the Reichsbank Directorate, because he "in our eyes then was a Nazi. He was in close touch with Hitler, and kept some things secret from us, his colleagues." That is correct, is it not?

A. I could not say that. It is true that there was some feeling against Schacht. As I explained before, because we had assumed, and I had assumed - though we were wrong about it - that he was a Nazi. It is possible that Schacht did keep things secret from us, but at any rate I do not know whether he did, or what those things were.

Q. Now, did you not say in a statement that he was in close touch with Hitler and kept some things secret from "us, his colleagues"?

A. I do not know whether he kept things secret from us. It is possible, but I could not prove it.

[Page 91]

Q. Is it not true that years later, when already a critical situation was reached in the currency system, circulation, price and wages system, "Rumours came to our ears through semi-official channels that Dr. Schacht had given Hitler the promise to finance armaments"? Did you not say that?

A. That Schacht had given the promise to Hitler? Well, in certain circles there were rumours of that nature. Whether it is true, I could not say.

Q. Now, you felt, after the Munich Agreement, and after Hitler's speech at Sauerbrucken, you felt that that destroyed all hopes of peace, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And from that date, together with Pilseck, you did all in your power to persuade Schacht that a decision had to be forced?

A. Yes.

Q. Dr. Schacht agreed with you, but hesitated to take the decisive step?

A. Yes. He said that Schacht was not against it in principle, but he himself wanted to decide when our memorandum should be submitted, and as this memorandum was to be signed by all of us, and each one of us wanted to make corrections, the handing in of this memorandum was delayed from October to 7th of January.

Q. The agreement was prepared by you and Pilseck?

A. Yes.

Q. And you approached Dr. Schacht again and again on it?

A. Yes.

Q. And he kept the draft all this time and told you that he was in doubt about the best time to bring it before Hitler?

A. Yes.

Q. And it was not until Hitler refused to see him at Berchtesgaden that he finally sent him the memorandum?

A. That I do not know. I have heard here for the first time that Hitler refused to receive Schacht at Berchtesgaden. It may be. I only heard that Schacht was at Berchtesgaden and after his return, according to my recollection, he talked about his meeting with Hitler and that now the time had come to send him the memorandum.

Q. Well, your memorandum is the only source of my information, and according to my translation it says:

"Finally, in December, 1938, he resolved to sign it after a last attempt to speak with Hitler in Berchtesgaden."
A. Yes.

Q. At that time, there was something of a financial crisis.

A. Yes.

Q. Considerable difficulty, inflation was just round the corner, as you might say.

A. The Government was confronted with the three billion MEFO bills which were about to fall due and which had to be covered, and the Finance Minister had a cash deficit of one billion. The Finance Minister came to see us, and asked us to tide it over, because otherwise he could not pay the salaries on 1st January.

We refused. We did not give him a single penny. We told him that the best thing that could happen would be that bankruptcy should become evident in order to show how impossible it was to continue this system and this policy. He then received money from private banks.

Q. And you and Hulse, particularly Hulse, had long warned against this course of the Reichsbank, is that not true?

A. No, that is not true.

Q. Had not you and Hulse, long before this, warned that this MEFO business would end up in trouble.

A. Of course, the Reichsbank had for years fought against the MEFO bills, which were to mature in March, 1938, and from then on the Reichsbank did not give any more armament credits.

[Page 92]

Q. Now, after his dismissal from the Reichsbank, you very frequently discussed matters with Schacht and you found that he had turned very bitter against the Government. Is that not true?

A. I did not have frequent meetings with Schacht. We met every few months in the beginning and then when Schacht went to Guhlem. our meetings stopped. I saw him there only once or twice. But it was not only after his dismissal that Schacht became a bitter enemy of Hitler, but during the whole of 1938.

Q. And you said, "I think, in his heart he hoped he would be called after Hitler's defeat to help build a new and better order of things in Germany"?

A. Certainly. Schacht spoke to me in Guhlem about the men who would have to come after Hitler had been finally overthrown, and in conversation we mentioned the Ministers who then could save Germany from despair, and Schacht was certain that he also would be called in to assist.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: No further questions, your Honour.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the other prosecution Counsel want to cross-examine?



Q. Herr Vocke, in reply to the questions of Mr. Justice Jackson, you have explained the attitude and the statement of Herr von Lumm about the incident in Brussels. You also told the Tribunal about the statement by Minister Severin, which he made about that incident not so long ago.

A. Yes.

Q. Did you not also speak to the President of the Supreme Court of the Reich, Simons, who was at that time in the Foreign Office and knew the case very well? Did you not speak to him about that case?

A. Yes, I spoke to him and Ministerial Director Lewelt. At that time I was a young assistant judge.

Q. You will have to tell the Tribunal who Lewelt was.

A. That is correct. I spoke to Simons who later became President of the Supreme Court of the Reich, and to His Excellency Lewelt, who later became State Undersecretary in the Ministry of the Interior, and whom I came to know officially in their capacity of experts in the Reich Ministry of the Interior.

Both gentlemen smiled at the self-important attitude of von Lumm who made mountains out of molehills and also at the misfortune of Herr Schacht. They smiled benevolently and saw the whole thing as a tremendous exaggeration.

DR. DIX: Thank you, that is enough. I have no further questions.

However, if the Tribunal will permit me, I should like to point out that Schacht mentioned here that on 2nd January, 1939, he spoke at great length to Hitler, in Berchtesgaden. I do not know whether I am confusing that with a statement made by a witness or with a statement made by him. I just wanted to point it out. If he were still sitting here as a witness, he could tell us about it.

Your Lordship, I bring that up because it was stated by Mr. justice Jackson that Hitler did not receive Schacht in Berchtesgaden and that that was the cause of Schacht's decision to present that memorandum. I only mention it as this witness here cannot know it; that Schacht spoke to Hitler. If he did not say so this morning or yesterday, he may say it at any time.

I cannot remember now. Sometimes one confuses private information with what one has heard in the courtroom.

THE PRESIDENT: Put the microphone where the defendant Schacht can speak and ask him the question.

DR. DIX: You have witnessed the cross-examination. Would you like to tell the Tribunal what happened?

[Page 93]

DEFENDANT SCHACHT: When I spoke here, I said that I had a long conversation on 2nd January, 1939, with Hitler at Berchtesgaden on the Obersalzberg, and that after that conversation in which the preposterous suggestion was put to me to create an inflation, I considered that the time had come to take that step which the Reichsbank afterwards took, to dissociate itself from Hitler and his methods.


Q. There is one question I want to ask you, Witness. Did the defendant Schacht ever tell you that he had been appointed General Plenipotentiary for War Economy?

A. Yes.

Q. When?

A. Well, I believe he was appointed to that office in 1935, I believe that is the date. I could not say for certain.

Q. I did not ask you when he was appointed. I asked you when he told you.

A. I do not know that because we had nothing to do with these things. I only know that either in 1935 or 1936 - I believe it was 1935 - he received such an appointment.

Q. Yes. The question I asked you was: Did the defendant Schacht ever tell you that he had been appointed?

A. Yes.

Q. When did he tell you?

A. I think in 1935.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. DIX: May I put one last question to this witness?


Q. Did you have any idea of the importance of that office?

A. No. I never heard that Schacht had done anything in that matter except that he had special letter headings for this. His activity in the Reichsbank continued in the same way as previously, without his selecting a staff for that office, and without - at least as far as my knowledge goes - using the premises and facilities of the Reichsbank for this new office.

Q. Have you any knowledge as to whether be had a separate office or a separate staff for carrying on his activity as General Plenipotentiary?

A. You mean General Commissioner for Armaments?

Q. General Plenipotentiary for War Economy.

A. No, he had no separate office, and as I have said before, as far as I know he never had a staff.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

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