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 6 of 10)

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues his cross examination of Hans Fritzsche]

[Page 285]

Q. Very well. I do not intend to argue about it, for the documents speak for themselves.

I would like to turn again to the statement of Hans Voss. This is Exhibit USSR 471. It has already been submitted. Will you pay attention to Excerpt No. 2? It is underlined. It is just a short excerpt, and I will read it:

" ... and he, Fritzsche, understood how to influence the German mind when he tried to convince them that they, the Germans, were the superior race and therefore had to rule over other peoples as their slaves."
Does that agree with the facts?

A. No, it does not agree with the facts; rather, it contradicts the facts in all points.

Q. Let's say it contradicts your assertions.

Very well, I will put another question to you. Do you know the name of Lieutenant-General Rainer Stahel, who was the former commandant of the town of Warsaw?

A. I am not familiar with that name.

[Page 286]

You are not familiar with that name? Very well. You will be handed a document. Mr. President, this is Exhibit USSR 473, and it is the testimony of Rainer Stahel, dated 15th September, 1941.

I will read the first excerpt:

"Goebbels and Fritzsche took every measure in order to popularise the racial theory among the Germans and to convince them that the Germans were a master race, and that other peoples, as inferior races, must be subordinated to the German Master Race.

In order to convince the Germans of this theory, and to compel them to believe in it, the Ministry of Propaganda, run by Goebbels and Fritzsche, made a large number of films before and during the war, and published books, pamphlets, periodicals and other literature in which the authors attempted to prove the superiority of the Germans over other nations.

It can be said that as a result of the energetic activity of Goebbels and Fritzsche the racial theory gained a firm hold on the minds of large numbers of the German people. This contributed to the fact that during the war the German soldiers and officers, having assimilated the teaching of the leaders of German propaganda, committed bestial crimes against civilian populations."

Tell me, did Rainer Stahel correctly describe the part played by you in the propagation of racial theory?

A. No, I should like to add that the level of this statement is even lower than that of the other statements submitted to me. I should be happy if just one of those people whose testimony has been submitted to me in this form could appear here in person in order to testify as to the documentary basis of his statement.

Q. I believe that during the six months that the trial has lasted, you have heard enough testimony. Well, let us go on.

A. No, I have to make this observation: I have not been confronted with any testimony of witnesses dealing with the subject matter discussed here.

Q. You remember, I hope, the testimony of the witness Hoess regarding the extermination of millions of persons.

A. (No response.)

Q. I say that you, I hope, remember the testimony of Hoess, the Kommandant of the concentration camp in Auschwitz, concerning the extermination of millions of people.

A. I did not forget this testimony, and not for a minute did it escape my memory.

Q. Very well. I only reminded you. I do not intend questioning you on this matter. I am passing on to questions connected with the propaganda regarding the preparation for aggressive war by Hitlerite Germany. In order to shorten the cross-examination, I shall quote a few of your own statements, dated 12th September, 1945, which have already been submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 474. Please look at the second excerpt. It is underlined.

A. I object to the reading of this quotation in the same way as I objected to the submission of the entire minutes of the interrogation, and I refer you to what I testified a few hours ago about the origin of this record.

Q. You already gave an explanation to the Tribunal, and the Tribunal will consider your explanation. This document is submitted, and I intend to cite this part of the testimony. Please follow me. Excerpt No. 2:

"In order to justify this aggressive action, Goebbels summoned me and gave me instructions to conduct a hostile campaign against Austria. Among other things he instructed me to find old documents in the archives which in any way incriminated the Austrian Government and to publish them in the Press. Goebbels stressed that the documents to be published must first of all show that the Austrian people wished to unite themselves with the German nation, and that the Austrians adhering to these ideas were being persecuted by the Austrian Government. Furthermore, Goebbels said that

[Page 287]

the German Press had to show that the Germans living in Austria were being systematically persecuted by the Austrian Government, even to the length of mass reprisals being carried out against them."
And further on:
"When Germany occupied Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Poland, Belgium, Norway and the Balkan countries, I, acting on Goebbels's instructions, raked up similar calumnies."
THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, surely it would be better to ask him with reference to one of these paragraphs, did he say that, rather than to put to him the whole document at once.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, I have only one paragraph left, and I intended to read it and then to put the question to him.

THE PRESIDENT: I am not objecting to that. I am only suggesting that it would be better if you put to him each paragraph in turn, and not put three or four paragraphs all in one question.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Very well, Mr. President; I will deal with it in this way.


Q. I am asking you, defendant Fritzsche, do you admit the paragraph read by me concerning the Anschluss?

A. No. And I maintain that that is not what I testified. That extract contains rather the thoughts which the interrogating Russian officer entertained in respect to my testimony. After it had been drawn up, the record was submitted to me for my signature.

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute! What do you deny in it? Take the first paragraph.

THE WITNESS: Mr. President, I am protesting against everything, particularly against the expressions used here, which I have never used. During my interrogations in Moscow I stated exactly the same things as I stated here in this trial yesterday, the day before yesterday and today or as I have set down in my affidavit.

THE PRESIDENT: Take the first paragraph. The first paragraph has just been read to you - "In order to justify this aggressive action - " Were you asked any question about that, and did you make any answer?

THE WITNESS: Yes, indeed. In many interrogations which were held late at night, I was asked such questions, and to the group of questions condensed in this question I answered as follows:

"I do not recall the date, but when the Austrian action was about to take place I was summoned to Dr. Goebbels. He told me that the Austrian Government of Schuschnigg had plans of such and such a nature - they have been described in sufficient detail here - that a government crisis was taking place, that Seyss-Inquart had taken over the government, that a call for help had come from Austria, and that now the march into Austria would take place."
THE PRESIDENT: Are you now telling us what you told the Russian interrogator, or are you telling us what actually happened in Germany at the time of the Anschluss?

THE WITNESS: I am telling what I told the interrogating Russian officer, and that is exactly what took place in the Propaganda Ministry on the day in question.

THE PRESIDENT: You are saying, then, that this first paragraph is entirely made up, are you?

[Page 288]

A. No; I should not like to use the expression "made up," but I should like to say - and I beg permission to do so - which parts in this paragraph are correct. First of all, there is the point that there was a hostile campaign against the Schuschnigg Government; such a campaign actually was instigated in the German Press; whether at the moment of his resignation or just before his resignation I do not remember now.

Furthermore, it is correct, as set down in this paragraph, that it was proposed to show, by quoting individual cases as far as possible, that under the Schuschnigg Government those who were sympathetic towards Germany were persecuted. These are the points that are correct.


Q. Strictly speaking, this means that you have now corroborated what I have just read.

A. No, no, sir. There is an essential difference.

Q. From your point of view. But I believe that you will not deny the fact that you conducted propaganda directed against the Austrian Government. This is the main point of this question.

A. I must deny that as well. This propaganda was not conducted by me, but by my predecessor, as chief of the "German Press Division."

Q. Do I understand correctly that you deny having participated personally in this propaganda, but do not deny that there was such propaganda?

A. You understand me correctly if by the term "propaganda" in this case you mean enumerating those measures used by the Schuschnigg Government against German interests as a whole.

Q. Very well. I should like to read the following paragraph of the same testimony which says:

"When Germany occupied Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Norway, and the Balkan countries, I, acting on the instructions of Goebbels, organized a similar campaign of calumnious propaganda. In every such case I selected every old document from the archives which incriminated the governments of these countries as far as Germany was concerned, added my commentary to these documents and attempted in this way to justify this or that aggressive action on the part of Germany."
Do you also deny this?

A. Yes, in that form I deny that as well.

Q. But you will not deny that propaganda for the purpose of aggression was conducted against all the countries enumerated in this testimony?

A. I contest your last remark. I admit the fact of the propaganda, and I have described in detail the individual actions and my participation in them in my affidavit Document 3469-PS.

Q. Very well; I do not intend questioning you further, as this has been quite adequately explained in your statements of 7th January, 1946, Document 3469-PS, which, in fact, do not contradict what has been stated. Is that right?

A. I see an essential difference. But this affidavit, Document 3469-PS, is absolutely correct.

Q. Very well, I should like, as a supplement to this, to read the testimony of Ferdinand Schoerner, which is Exhibit USSR 472, and which has already been submitted to the Tribunal; I mean Extract No. 3. He says in his statement:

"Fritzsche's political activity in his function as official radio commentator, in the same way as the activity of the war correspondent, General Dittmar, was subordinated to the main task of National Socialism, the unleashing of the world war against democratic countries and the contributing by all possible means to the victory of German arms. Fritzsche's principal method, which he used during the several years of his activity, consisted in, as I later realised, the deliberate deception of the German people. I mention that because, during the last years, we soldiers felt this deception especially keenly, for, in

[Page 289]

spite of Fritzsche's false lamentations, we knew the actual conditions on the front and the actual situation. The main guilt of people such as Fritzsche is that they did know the actual state of affairs, but despite this, proceeding according to the criminal intentions of the Hitler Government, intentionally fed the people with lies or, to use an everyday expression, 'threw dust in their eyes.'"
Tell me, defendant Fritzsche, does this characterisation of German propaganda correspond to the truth?

A. It is utter nonsense, and it so happens that I can prove that some of it is so. Herr Schoerner says part of the activity of the war correspondent General Dittmar was the starting of aggressive wars. General Dittmar spoke over the radio for the first time in the winter of 1942-43. That is one point. The second point is the following: I have never seen Herr Schoerner. I do not know him and I have never spoken to him. I should be very surprised if he were in a position to judge whether I deliberately or unconsciously at any time ever said anything that was not true. However - and this is something I must add - during the last few days in Berlin I indirectly, through State Secretary Dr. Naumann, received a report from General Field-Marshal Schoerner with the instruction that I should use it. It reported that he was in Bohemia with an army which was intact and that he could, if he wanted to, hold this territory for an unlimited period. We in Berlin should not lose courage; he could even come to our aid. I do not know whether Schoerner actually made this statement, but I think it would be worth while to call General Field-Marshal Schoerner here as a witness, in order to ask him on what he based his judgement.

Q. The fact that you do not know Ferdinand Schoerner does not disprove this testimony, for you have yourself stated before this Tribunal that although very many people knew you as an official representative of the Government, you could, of course, not know everybody; is that right?

A. If you will permit me, sir, I should like to call your attention to something illogical. Even without knowing me, it is very easy for anyone to give an opinion about the things I said, but it is impossible for anyone to judge whether I made those statements in good faith or in bad faith. I am sure that you yourself realize this distinction.

Q. You are speaking again of your personal participation, but you do not deny the fact that the German propaganda was harmful.

A. Again I cannot answer "yes" to the question in the way that you put it. This morning I gave you a basis for questions which can be put to me. I contributed my share to an historical clarification by trying to show what was pure idealism and what were false assumptions; these things are now being confused.

Q. I am not putting questions on the basis which you say you gave me, but upon the basis of documents which are at the disposal of the prosecution. Let us go on. I should like to ask you: Did you know about the "Operation Grun" against Czechoslovakia, about the documents concerning the aggression against Poland, the aggression against Yugoslavia, and the propaganda which had to be conducted in this respect?

A. I heard for the first time here the documentary data for the Case "Grun." But as you are now again trying to tie this up with propaganda measures, it is very hard for me to keep both of these matters separate. Perhaps it will serve your purpose if I answer that neither in the case of Czechoslovakia, nor in the case of Poland, nor in any other case did I know about the German attacks until an hour or an hour and a half before they were announced to the German public.

Q. Did you say an hour or an hour and a half?

A. I do not wish to commit myself to an hour or an hour and a half. I do recall that in the case of Russia I had advance knowledge, through Dr. Goebbels of perhaps five or six hours.

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