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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
20th June to 1st July 1946

One Hundred and Sixty-Sixth Day: Friday, 28th June, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues his cross examination of Hans Fritzsche]

[Page ]


Q. Very well. Of course, you never thought, defendant Fritzsche, that because of the acts you committed you would be sent to a home of rest. It is obvious that you had to land in a prison and a prison is always a prison. This was just an aside, however.

I should like to ask you about the following. You stated that in 1945 you signed this because of a very strict regime to which you were subjected. Very well.

When you arrived in Nuremberg you were interrogated on 3rd November, 1945, here in Nuremberg by General Alexandrov; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. So that is correct - very well. I should like to remind you of some of your answers. You were asked the following question: "On 12th September, 1945, questions were put to you and you replied. Do you remember these statements?" You answered:

"I have very often been interrogated and I do not know what statements and testimony are in question now."
Thereupon, General Alexandrov submitted to you your testimony of 12th September and you answered him:
"I am fully aware of this document."
You were asked: "I should like you to peruse this document. Do you remember these statements?"

You said: "Of course, there is no doubt about it."

And further: "Do you corroborate this document, which you perused and which was signed by you?" and you replied: "Of course."

Do you remember these statements which you made in Nuremberg?

A. In the statement which you have quoted, all those passages are missing where I stated, again and again, that the record was put before me complete and

[Page 282]

finished for the purpose of obtaining my signature. I had wanted twenty or thirty alterations to be made. Some of them were made. Those passages are lacking, wherein I said in Nuremberg that some of the answers in that protocol contained a certain amount of truth but that none of them actually represented my own answers.

Q. Very well. I should now like to remind you of an extract from your statement of 7th January, 1946.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Your Honours, this is Document 3469-PS. It is not in my book of documents as it was submitted by counsel for the defence. I am going to quote from that document; it is a very short passage.


Q. This is paragraph 39 of your statement.

"Once Goebbels tried to coerce me into submitting my texts for perusal. I refused this request and explained that usually I dictated a short resume of my speech immediately before my broadcast and consequently, so to speak, improvised my speeches. He said it was all right but in case he should wish it, I should in the future only speak on specific, given themes."
Is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Does that not indicate the confidence Goebbels had in you, is that not right?

A. No doubt he had a great deal of confidence in me, and I do not deny it.

Q. Very well. Let us proceed.

In this very same document, which I have just mentioned to you, that is to say in your statement of 7th January, 1946, in paragraph 35 there is the following sentence; I think it is in your own handwriting. It was in reply to some of the questions put by your counsel. You say:

"More and more I became the only official authority in the ministry in the field of radio communication."
Is that right?

A. Unfortunately I did not hear the end of your question, but you have quoted the passage correctly and I did write it.

Q. So, it does correspond to actual reality?

A. Yes, absolutely.

Q. Well, you therefore will admit that in the German propaganda machinery you occupied the most prominent position after Goebbels?

A. No, my previous answer does not contain such a statement.

Q. I am asking you that now.

A. I will admit that I had a most influential position in German radio, of which I was the head.

If you now put a new question, asking who had the second position in the entire set-up of propaganda after Dr. Goebbels I will reply Dr. Dietrich, the Secretary of State, or Dr. Naumann, the -

Q. Excuse me just a minute, please. I did not say the second position, I only said the most prominent position. Are you going to deny this?

A. I have no objection to your using the word "influential," but it does not change my answer.

Q. Very well, "influential position," if you like. That is still stronger. Let us proceed, however.

In the same statement of 7th January you write - it is contained in paragraph 15 - "During the entire period from 1933 to 1945 the task of the German Press section was the supervision of the local Press and supplying it with directives. More than 2,300 German newspapers were thus supervised." And then:

"In the execution of this task given to me by Dr. Goebbels in accordance with instructions of the Ministry of Propaganda, my activity encompassed the entire news and information system of the German Press and radio."

[Page 283]

Is that correct?

A. I don't know whether you have quoted the last sentence correctly, but I have certainly fully recognized the first sentences. It is my affidavit Document 3469-PS. That corresponds word for word with the truth.

Q. Quite correct. Please tell me this: You organized in the section of the German Press, of which you were the head, the "Schnelldienst," the so-called Express Service, which supplied the German Press with provocative material. Do you admit that?

A. If you will eliminate the word "provocative" and replace it with the word "propaganda" material, then I will admit it.

Q. All right. I think the Tribunal will be able to evaluate this statement. We are not going to argue about it.

Now, the last question from this group of questions: Tell me, were your broadcasts on the radio, which were presented with "Hans Fritzsche speaks," considered Government broadcasts?

A. I explained this yesterday. Actually, they were a private work of my own, but the private work, publicly audible, of a Ministerialdirektor of the Ministry of Propaganda and the head of the German radio system would, of course, be regarded as semi-official, though not fully official, and this fact I had to consider, and I did consider it.

Q. All right. Now, I should like again to revert to the testimony of Ferdinand Schoerner, which I have already submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 472. I should like to quote paragraph 2. Have you got it, defendant Fritzsche?

A. Yes.

Q. I am going to read it into the record.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, the Tribunal would like to see the whole of this document, or at any rate would like to see the questions to which these are answers.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, this document has been submitted to you in full.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I see, you mean that what we have got in English here are only the parts that have been translated into English?

GENERAL RUDENKO: Yes, that is quite correct. I am going to read into the record Extract No. 2.


Q. "I am fully aware that Fritzsche was a prominent collaborator of the Ministry of Propaganda and that he was extremely popular in National Socialist circles and amongst the German people. He became widely known, especially for his weekly international political radio commentaries. I often heard Fritzsche's broadcasts in peace time as well as during the war, and I perceived his broadcasts, which were fanatically devoted to the Fuehrer as directives from the Party and the Government."
Do you agree with this evaluation?

A. I cannot raise any objection to this quotation, but beyond that -

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, is the document sworn?

GENERAL RUDENKO: This document was put into official form in accordance with the processes which are in use in the Soviet Union.

THE PRESIDENT: Where was it taken?


THE PRESIDENT: Was the man who made the statement, was he free or was he in prison?

GENERAL RUDENKO: He was at the time a prisoner of war.

[Page 284]

THE PRESIDENT: Did the man who is alleged to have made the statement sign it?

GENERAL RUDENKO: Of course, it was signed by him.


GENERAL RUDENKO: Thank you. And so you -

THE WITNESS: May I add that it is known to me that on distant battle fronts for example, near German colonies abroad, my radio speeches were considered, shall we say, as a political compass.


Q. Yes, I understand. I should like to put to you another document which I will ask you to peruse.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Your Honours, I am submitting as Exhibit USSR 471 the testimony of Hans Voss.


Q. Defendant Fritzsche, do you know this name, Vice-Admiral Hans Voss?

A. I know the name, but as far as I remember, not the man.

DR. FRITZ (counsel for defendant Fritzsche): I apologise, Mr. President. Perhaps not too much should be attached to the Schoerner record, but at any rate I am unable to ascertain from the document the place where it was taken.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko says that it was taken at Moscow.

DR. FRITZ: But the record, the protocol itself does not show that, and I also notice that the photostatic copy which I have here does not show the signature of the Field-Marshal. It just says "signed." Later on in the right margin a hand- written signature has been affixed, but I do not know whether this document is admissible from a legal point of view.

THE PRESIDENT: You can see the original and compare it.


Q. I am speaking about Document 471, which is a written statement by Hans Voss. Please look at the Extract No. 1, which is underlined: I quote:

"In his extreme faithfulness to Hitler and the National Socialist Party, Fritzsche rendered priceless services in helping to spread National Socialism throughout Germany."
Is that in accordance with reality?

A. Well, at least I will not object.

Q. In other words, you are in accord with it?

A. As I told you, I do not object, but I do not want to say by that that I concur.

Q. On the other hand, you do not deny this?

A. No, I say for the third time that I do not raise any objection.

Q. Very well. I should now like to question you regarding your attitude toward the racial theory. You gave yesterday a detailed explanation in this connection to your defence counsel, so that I am going to put to you only two or three questions, and I should like you to reply briefly.

Did you adopt this racial theory?

A. Yes, and precisely to the extent which I described to you yesterday.

Q. All right. In a radio broadcast on 6th April, 1940, you spoke about Poland.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Your Honours, this Document will be Exhibit USSR 496. I am not going to read it as I do not want to propagate the views contained in it, but I should like the defendant to peruse it.

Q. Please will you look at Extract No. 1, which is contained in this document It is underlined in red pencil. This refers to your evaluation of the Polish nation. I just wish to ask you about this speech of yours.

[Page 285]

A. It is impossible for me to recognize a radio speech of mine when I see an extract of only twenty lines, considering that I have spoken about 1,000 times, as I said yesterday. In this case, you will have to let me have the whole speech, so that I can recognize my line of thought at the time.

Q. Did you not examine the document? This is a full text of your speech of 6th February, 1940, on radio station "Deutschlandsender."

A. General, we have twenty lines before us here. They begin with the words, "Considerable effort was necessary to - "

Q. That is enough, all right. There is no need to quote any more. That is the document to which I am referring. I am asking you, is that your speech?

A. It is quite possible, but if you give me only twenty lines of that speech, then I can only confirm to you this: At the time I had seen the official German documents dealing with the atrocities committed against Germans in Poland, and with great disgust, I talked about that on the radio, talked about what I saw in those documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Shall we adjourn now?

GENERAL RUDENKO: All right, Mr. President.

DR. THOMA (counsel for defendant Rosenberg): I ask you to grant leave for defendant Rosenberg to be absent from the Court this afternoon because I have an important conference to hold with him.


(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)


Q. Defendant Fritzsche, extracts from your speech dated 7th July, 1941, will be handed to you. They concern the opposition which the German Fascist troops encountered whilst invading Soviet territory. My Lord, this document, 3064-PS, has already been submitted by the defence.

Will you look at point 7, the last paragraph? I do not intend to read it.

A. Yes, I have noted it.

Q. Very well. Do you admit having used those expressions?

A. Yes, I admit that and I should like to emphasize, without quoting, in what connection this statement was made.

Q. Very well. I should like to ask you the following: When, in your speeches, you call Polish and Russian peoples "inferior people," when you insult them, don't you consider that these words express the racial theory?

A. Mr. Prosecutor, I should like to state that I never called the Russian people or the Polish people an inferior people.

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