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 8 of 10)

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues his cross examination of Hans Fritzsche]

[Page 294]

Q. This means that, as far as you are concerned, what Rosenberg writes in his report is untrue?

A. Untrue would be too strong an expression. It may be that this information of which he talks refers to a later period of time. I cannot judge, as I have not read the entire document. It may also be that Rosenberg, in this report, was not quite accurate when he mentions his reception of the responsible representatives of the propaganda organization.

Q. Very well. In this connection I would like to put two questions to you. First of all, I would like to refer to the written testimony of Hans Voss, which you already have. It is Excerpt No. 3 of Exhibit USSR 471. Have you found it?

A. Yes, I have found it.

Q. I quote: This is what Vice-Admiral Voss testified:

"After the defeat of the German troops at Stalingrad, and after the start of the general Soviet offensive on the whole Eastern Front, Goebbels and Fritzsche took great pains to shape German propaganda in such a way as to help Hitler very effectively in mastering the situation at the front. This propaganda was based on the hope that the Germans would be able to hold out for a long time. One tried to frighten the German population by disseminating calumnious reports of the brutal acts of the Russian soldiers and the intention of the Soviet Union to annihilate the German nation.

In the last stage of the war the propaganda conducted by Goebbels and Fritzsche made one last attempt to serve Hitler and to organize resistance to Soviet troops."

Is that correct?

A. It is not only incorrect, it is nonsense.

Q. You frequently used such terminology. Obviously it is a matter of a professional deformation. All right, I do not intend to enter into polemics with you.

I would like you to take a look at your testimony of 12th September, 1945. It is the third excerpt of Exhibit USSR 474. Have you found that passage? I will quote your explanations concerning this question.

A. These are not all my statements. What passage are you referring to, sir.

Q. I mean the marked Excerpt No. 3, which begins with the words, "The military aggression against the Soviet Union ..."

A. Yes.

Q. Please pay attention:

"Since we had a treaty with the Soviet Union the military attack on the Soviet Union was prepared by Germany in secret. Therefore, during the period of preparation for war against the Soviet Union, no propaganda was carried on. Accordingly, the German propaganda authorities did not begin

[Page 295]

active anti-Soviet propaganda until after the war had started on the Eastern Front. It must be added that the main task which Goebbels set the whole propaganda machinery was to justify Germany's expansionist policy towards the Soviet Union.

Accordingly, as Chief of the German Press and radio, I organized a vast campaign of anti-Soviet propaganda, attempting to convince public opinion that the Soviet Union and not Germany was the guilty party in this war. I must, however, state that we had no documentary basis for accusing the Soviet Union of preparing an armed attack on Germany.

In my radio talks I tried especially to instil fear of the horrors of Bolshevism in the hearts of the peoples of Europe and the German population. Thus I asserted that only Nazi Germany was the protective barrier for the European countries against Anglo-American plutocracy and Red imperialism."

Do you admit this?

A. Here again actual statements made by me have been changed. If I may I want to give you briefly the factual basis for the various points.

It is correct to say that I stated in Moscow that the war against the Soviet Union had not been prepared for by propaganda, because this war came very suddenly and as a surprise. Furthermore, it is correct to say that after the attack on the Soviet Union it was the main task of German propaganda to justify the necessity of this attack. Therefore we had to emphasize again and again that we had merely prevented a Soviet attack. Further, it is correct that I said that the next task for propaganda was to show that not Germany but Russia was guilty of this war, which amounts to practically the same thing. Unfortunately the most important argument which I quoted is omitted from this record, namely, that I, and with me millions of Germans, believed the official communiques given out by the German Government because it would have seemed to us nonsensical and crazy if in the middle of a war which had not yet been decided in the West, we wantonly and wilfully risked another war in the East.

I continue: it is also correct that the evidence given in the "White Book" published by the Foreign Office at the time was rather meagre, and it is furthermore correct to say that German propaganda wanted to make Europe afraid of Bolshevism. It is finally correct that German propaganda again and again emphasized the fact that Germany was the only bulwark against the Soviet world revolution.

Q. Very well. I would now like to draw your attention to Excerpt No. 4 of the same document which is in your possession, in connection with propaganda to keep alive the spirit of resistance in the German people, notwithstanding all evidence of Germany's obvious defeat. I would like to read this very short Excerpt No. 4 from the same exhibit:

"Beginning in 1943 I tried my best to assert through German radio propaganda that Germany was in possession of weapons which would shake the power of our enemies. For this I used invented data regarding the output of the German war industry which had been given me by the Reich Minister for Munitions, Speer."
Is that right?

A. One part is wrong, and the part that is correct has been wrongly stated.

To begin with the latter part: it is correct that I received figures from the armament industry which gave me great hopes for progress. I received, for instance, figures dealing with monthly aircraft production, figures dealing with new and especially effective fighter planes. In the meantime, through direct questioning of Speer himself, I have ascertained that the figures which I received were quite correct at the time and that the aeroplanes either were used wrongly, as, for instance, in the Ardennes offensive instead of for the protection of the home country, or that they could not be used because of the fuel shortage. The first half however -

[Page 296]

Q. You are entering too much into details, defendant Fritzsche. You are going into a lot of details which have already been dealt with here and which have nothing to do with you.

I would like to submit to you the testimony of Speer, who was interrogated by the Soviet Prosecutor herein Nuremberg on 14th November, 1945. I submit this document as Exhibit USSR 492. I would like to read into the record only that part of the document which deals with the carrying out of propaganda during this particular period. I quote:

"In September, 1944, I wrote a letter to Dr. Goebbels. In this letter I warned Goebbels that it was wrong to keep on giving out propaganda about new V-weapons, for in this way he would merely arouse vain hopes in the German people. This was secret propaganda which was carried out by Dr. Goebbels in order to instil in the German people the hope of a favourable outcome of the war."
Is that correct?

A. Only partially. It is a fact that Dr. Goebbels more than a year before the use of the first "V" weapon, himself conducted propaganda on its behalf. On the other hand Speer in the meantime has stated in his testimony here that he now knows the actual source of the propaganda dealing with "miracle weapons," namely Standartenfuehrer Schwarz van Berg. Finally, Dr. Goebbels in the last month of 1944, likewise tried to stifle this "miracle weapon propaganda" which he himself had once instigated.

Q. Now I would like to remind you of the part you played in this propaganda. You used the threat of these new weapons to instil in the hearts of the German people the hope of a successful resistance.

I submit to you Exhibit USSR 496. You already have it. It is your radio speech of 1st July, 1944.

THE PRESIDENT: General, are you going to finish very soon or shall we adjourn now?

GENERAL RUDENKO: I believe we should adjourn now, Mr. President, because I will still need about half an hour.

(A recess was taken.)

Q. Well, Excerpt No. 6 from Exhibit USSR 496 has been submitted to you. It is your speech, dated 1st July, 1944. I am going to read it into the record:

"We Germans have been very reserved in our reports on the effect of the new weapons. We could afford this reserve, knowing that some time or other Britain would break the silence with which she tried at first to gloss over the effects of the V-1. We were right. Reports from Britain during the last few days, and especially today, prove that the effects of this first of the new weapons are becoming all too obvious. It is completely beside the point for the British to complain now about the wave of hatred which is supposed to surge from Germany against the British Isles. In the fifth year of the war it is useless to talk about feelings, although much could be said on that score."
Do you admit, defendant Fritzsche, that by means of such propaganda you duped the German people and incited them to senseless resistance?

A. On the contrary, in this case I spoke much more reservedly and much more modestly than, for instance, the German Press did about the results of the V-1. For that matter the very next sentence following your quotation reads:

"We can only repeat that for us the V-1 is the means with which we can break the enemy terror."
Q. Now I should like to remind you, defendant Fritzsche, of your testimony of 12th September, 1945, with regard to the activity of the "Werwolf" organization. This document is Exhibit USSR 474, Excerpt No. 5. Have you found it?

A. Yes, I have found it.

[Page 297]

Q. I am going to read it:
"At the end of February, 1945, the State Secretary in the German Ministry of Propaganda, Dr. Naumann, sent on to me instructions from Goebbels to work out a plan for the organization of a secret broadcasting station. In reply to my question as to why this broadcasting station was needed, Naumann explained that the German Government had made the decision to transfer members of the NSDAP to an illegal secret organization called "Werwolf." Naumann also revealed that all these illegal Werwolf groups would be directed by means of this broadcasting station, which I was to establish."
Some of your testimonies show that you were opposed to the organization of this radio station and you spoke about it with Goebbels However, it was created, and the former chief of the Reich Ministry of Propaganda, Schlesinger, was given the task of directing the broadcasts. Is that correct?

A. No. Two things have been mixed up here. Firstly, the plan described in the paragraph which you have read for the creation of a Werwolf broadcasting station was a plan for a mobile station, and that mobile station was not built. On the other hand - incidentally, it happened during my absence - on 1st April, 1945, by direct order from Dr. Goebbels the so-called "Old German Broadcasting Station" was opened as a Werwolf station.

Q. Very well. I do not want to argue with you about it and I should like to submit to you your own speech broadcast on 7th April, 1945. It is the same document, USSR 496, Excerpt No. 7. Have you found it?

A. Yes.

Q. At that time, you broadcast as follows:

"However, as a result of superiority in man-power and material reserves, the enemy has now penetrated deep into German territory, and at this moment is about to carry out his programme of extermination directed against us."
I am omitting a few lines:
"Let no one be surprised if this desire of strong hearts to avenge oppressed human beings does not even need a short respite for temporary recovery, but leaps suddenly and unexpectedly into flame and becomes active. Let no one be surprised if here and there in unoccupied areas civilians take part in the fight or even if, after the occupation has been carried out, the fight is continued by civilians, that is to say, if without preparation and without organization there comes into being, springing from the pure instinct of self-preservation, that phenomenon which we call the 'Werwolf.'"
Well, what can you tell us now?

A. Although this quotation also has been torn from its context, I recognize it very well. Unfortunately the passage is missing in which I spoke of right and said: "Right is a sensitive concept which has its roots in tradition and ethical consciousness - "

Q. Excuse me if I interrupt you, defendant. I did not ask you for such detailed explanations. I just wanted to determine the fact that you did not only explain what the organization was, but also did your utmost to foster the Werwolf organization.

Is that correct?

A. That is absolutely incorrect. This is certainly not propaganda for the Werwolf; it is an apology for cases of Werwolf activity.

Q. Very well. Let us drop that subject. I should like to ask you, do you know who the head of the Werwolf organization was?

A. That has already been stated here. At the very head of it was Bormann. Under him there was a senior SS Leader whose name I tried in vain to remember during my interrogations in Moscow. I knew one of his associates, however. He was Gunther d'Alquen.

[Page 298]

Q. Very well. Before putting the last few questions to you, I should like to ask you, is it not a fact that Rosenberg and Streicher had great influence on German propaganda?

A. Their influence was negligible. Streicher had no influence at all on official German propaganda, and Rosenberg only to an extent which was not noticeable to me.

Q. All right. I still have a few questions to put to you. You told the High Tribunal that, had you known Hitler's decrees for the murdering of people, you would never have followed Hitler and gone with him. Did I understand you correctly?

A. You have understood me perfectly correctly.

Q. Now, in other words, I understand you to say that you would have gone against Hitler?

A. It is hard to say what I would have done. Of course, this is a question about which I have now thought a great deal.

Q. I should like to ask you if, as you stated here to the High Tribunal, at the beginning of 1942 you received information that in one of the regions in the Ukraine, which was at the time occupied by the Germans, an extermination of the Jews and the Ukrainian intelligentsia was being prepared, simply because they were Jews and members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia? Did you receive such information? Is that correct?

A. That is correct.

Q. That was in the beginning. In May of 1942 you were with the Sixth Army, and in the Sixth Army you learned about the existence of an order to shoot the Soviet Commissars; is that right?

A. Yes.

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