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 July to 15th July 1946

One Hundred and Seventy-Eighth Day: Monday, 15th July, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[Page 373]

DR. DIX: I interpreted the decision of the High Tribunal barring quotations from Lord Rothermere from the document book - to mean and there were also reasons for this interpretation in the Indictment - that this was a matter for argument which should not be submitted in evidence as a fact, and that it would be irrelevant in the hearing of the evidence that Rothermere and others were of this opinion; and from this I drew the conclusion - and I am still of the opinion today that this conclusion is correct - that in the course of my argument, that is, in the course of my appraisal of the evidence, I could cite passages from the literature of the entire world, in so far as it is known, in order to support a train of thought. That Rothermere said that is not a fact which I want to submit to the Tribunal as evidence, but only in support of the assertion in the course of my argument that not only Schacht, but also other intelligent and prominent people, even outside of Germany, at first had the same opinion of Hitler's personality

THE PRESIDENT: Dr: Dix, the Tribunal has already indicated its refusal to allow this to be used as evidence, because it does not pay any attention to the

[Page 374]

opinions expressed by this author. Therefore, we think it would be better if y went on to some other part of your argument.

DR. DIX: Then I ask - the Tribunal surely has a translation of my final, speech before it - that I be allowed to quote a short passage from Summer Welles and then a passage which seems very important to me from the book written by the last ambassador. I should be very grateful if I could quote both of these two passages, for if one wants to prove that even an intelligent man can hold a certain opinion and is entitled to hold it, then I do not know but what the most obvious and convincing proof for that is the fact that other intelligent and completely objective people also held the same view. I shall lose an important point of my argument if I am not permitted to quote the two short passages, and I should like to ask that it be heard briefly; it is only the quotations from Sumner Welles and Henderson.

THE PRESIDENT: I have not said anything about Sumner Welles. It was only because we had expressly excluded the writings on this subject of Lord Rothermere that we thought it was inappropriate that you should quote him. I do not think we excluded these other books to which you here refer in your speech, therefore we thought you might go on to that.

DR. DIX: I quote from Sumner Welles's book, Time for Decision, published in New York in 1944:

"Economic circles in each of the Western European democracies and the New World welcomed Hitlerism."
` And it is correct, when Great Britain's last ambassador in Berlin, even during, the war, states on Page 25 of his book:
"It would be highly unjust not to recognize that a great number of those who joined Hitler and worked for him and his Nazi regime were hones idealists."
Farther on he makes the interesting remark:
"It is possible Hitler was an idealist himself in the beginning."
And the Government of Great Britain would surely never have concluded a naval agreement with Hitler Germany in April, 1935, and therewith have contributed in a proper way to a modification of the Versailles Treaty, if it had not had entire confidence in Hitler and his Government. Finally, the same holds true for all the international treaties concluded by Hitler, including the treaty with Russia concluded in August, 1939. And there is still something deeply affecting today about the fact that such an intelligent man, of such high ethical standing, as the late British Prime Minister Chamberlain still declared in a speech in January, 1939 - at a time when Schacht had already long been treading the dark paths of conspiracy against Hitler, and in spite of the events of the year 1938 - that he gained the definite impression from Hitler's previous speech that it was not the speech of a man who was making preparations to plunge Europe into another war. I do not doubt that these words were not spoken as a matter of tactics, but reflected the speaker's true opinion. Such examples could be quoted in great number. Would you now deny that in 1933 and the following years a German had the right to hold the same opinion about Hitler in good faith? This is not inconsistent with the fact that Schacht did not enter office as Minister Economics until after 30th June, 1934. Only in retrospect does the full monstrosity of these events become clear. In June, 1934, we were still in the midst of a revolutionary movement and history will be able to show similar occurrences in any revolution of this kind. I do not have to give detailed proof of this, nor do I want to do so. The events of 30th June were no more, or even less, a reason for Schacht to turn away from Hitler with disgust than they were enough to prevent the governments in the world from not only continuing diplomatic relations with Hitler in full confidence, but also rendering him great honours and allowing him to score important successes in foreign policy, especially after 1934.

[Page 375]

If Schacht, however, cannot be criminally charged with the fact that he placed himself at the disposal of Hitler's Government, it would be completely superfluous, indeed, it would be of minor importance, to attempt to make long statements in excuse of individual acts, such as his petition addressed to the Reich President in 1932 or his letter to Hitler in the same year. Anybody who knows life can see a thoroughly natural explanation for them in this fundamental attitude of Schacht. If this attitude is proved to be unobjectionable from the point of view of criminal law and the rules of evidence, then no such documents can be used against Schacht in argument. All that matters is what is fundamental. The same holds true for Schacht's participation in the so-called meeting of industrialists. On this subject I should only like to remark by way of correction (see Schnitzler affidavit) that Schacht neither directed this meeting nor administered these funds exclusively for the National Socialist Party.

Now a witness here has passed judgement on Schacht's attitude towards the seizure and consolidation of power during this very period: "Schacht was an untrustworthy fellow," he said. "Schacht betrayed the cause of democracy at that time. I (the witness) therefore refused in 1943 to join a government that intended to overthrow Hitler with Schacht's participation."

This was former minister Severing who, according to his own statement, left his ministerial seat and room on 20th July, 1932, when the Berlin Chief of Police and two police officers called on him, demanding his removal with the assertion that they had been authorized to do so by the Reich President. Severing left the field, as he said himself, to avoid bloodshed. In spite of the great respect which I feel. towards Severing's clean political character, I am forced, to my regret, to deny him any right to pass competent judgement on statesmen who, unlike him and his government coalition, did not remain lethargically passive. Severing and his political friends, indeed, bear a far greater responsibility than Hjalmar Schacht for Adolf Hitler's seizure of power, because of their indecision and, finally, their lack of political ideas, but they do not have to answer for this to any judge except history. The witness, indeed, makes the claim that at that time he had already recognized that Hitler's accession to power meant war. But for this very reason, if one believes that he possessed this correct political intuition, his responsibility and that of his political friends must be regarded as all the greater because of their passivity on that and later occasions, and this again makes their responsibility far greater than that of Hjalmar Schacht. Our German workers, however, are really no more cowardly than the Dutch. Our hearts rejoiced to hear a witness here describe the manly courage of Dutch workers, who dared to strike under the very bayonets of the invading army. The followers whom Severing and his political friends deservedly had in the German working class might perhaps have induced our German workers not to watch the dissolution of the trade unions with such dull passivity as was the case in 1933, if their natural leaders, such as Severing and his colleagues, had been a little more daring and exposed themselves. Finally, as is known, the Kapp revolt in 1923 was overcome by the general strike of the workers. The Hitler regime was not so strong in 1933 that it did not have to fear the truth of the poet's words addressed to the workers: "All wheels stand still at your strong arm's will." The National Socialist Government at that time was quite well informed about this, and was consequently apprehensive. This is also apparent from Goering's interrogation on 13th October, 1945, the transcript of which was quoted and submitted by Professor Kempner on 16th January, 1946. Goering said: "You must consider that at that time the activity of the Communists was extraordinarily strong and that our new government as such was not very secure." But even this strong arm which I have just mentioned required a guidance which remained denied to the working class, and which would have been the natural vocation of men like Severing. In all justice, they will have to account for their passivity, not before the judge in a criminal court, but before history. I do not presume to make a final judgement. I restrict myself to revealing this problem and to attributing a strong and painful measure of self- righteousness to

[Page 376]

the witness Severing, although I respect him as a man, if he feels himself call upon to accuse others when studying the question as to who, from the viewpoint of history, is guilty of the seizure and consolidation of power by Nazism, instead of submitting himself with humility to the judgement of history, relying on his undoubtedly decent views and his undoubtedly pure intentions; especially as ho claims, in contrast to Schacht, he intuitively foresaw the later evolution of Hitler.

We always want to bear in mind, in the interest of historical truth, that especially at the beginning of the Nazi rule there were only two power groups, with they exception of foreign intervention, which could perhaps have liberated Germany Army and the working class, provided, of course, that both were under the proper leadership.

I had to be so detailed on this point because such a detrimental remark by such a blameless and distinguished man as Severing carries with it the danger of unjust deductions regarding my client. It would have been agreeable to me if I could have been spared this discussion of Severing's incriminating testimony. Severing has further brought the charge of political opportunism against Schacht. In politics, to be sure, the boundary between opportunism and statesmanlike conduct dictated by expediency is very fluid. Before appraising Schacht's conduct in 1932 and 1933 as opportunistic, his past history should have been examined: After 1923, this past was lived in complete publicity. It has partly been a subject of these proceedings, it is partly already known to the Tribunal. This past speaks rather for the fact that Schacht does what he judges to be right, not only with a great disregard of consequences, but also with great courage. Indeed, he has proved this courage as a conspirator against Hitler, as was clearly shown from an examination of his activity as conspirator, and from the description of him given by Gisevius here.

But let us go back with Schacht to the year 1923. At that time he stabilised the mark against all parties interested in inflation; in 1924 he blocked credit against all hoarders of foreign currency; in 1927 he deprived the exchange speculators of the credit basis for their exchange manipulations. From 1925 to 1929 he fought against the debt and expenditure policy of the municipalities and thereby incurred the enmity of all the mayors. In 1929 he signed the Young Plan, and thus defied the opposition of the heavy industry circles, and continuing this policy he fought openly from 1934 against the perversities and abuses of the Nazi ideology and never personally carried out a plan or an order which was contrary to his conscience or his sense of justice.

Every statesman must make certain concessions during a period of fanaticism. Certain sticklers for morality - of whom there are many today - who demand a steely hardness for the protection of principles, should not forget that steel has two qualities, not only solidity, but also flexibility.

My Lord, I have now finished one particular section; the next one would take longer. I certainly will not finish it until after one o'clock. I should grateful if your Lordship would call the noon recess now. I am now coming to Enclosure No. 1 -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, I think you had better go on until one o'clock.

DR. DIX: Your Honours, in the translated copy which you have before you there are two enclosures at the end, two annexes. I had to employ this device because the matters dealt with in this annex happened after I had given my speech to be translated. Therefore, I had to work in my comments on this subject somehow, and could only do it by way of an annex.

And so I now come to the reading of Annex 1, which is at the back, and to the opinion on the testimony of Gisevius expressed by my colleague, Dr. Nelte, since I am here concerned with evaluating the testimony of witnesses.

In so far as my colleague Dr. Nelte criticized the objective reliability of the testimony of Gisevius regarding his statements incriminating the defendant

[Page 377]

Keitel, Goering, and so on, I refrain from any statements. The prosecution may take any standpoint it desires. This is not my task.

But now Dr. Nelte has also attacked the subjective credibility of Gisevius and the personal character of this witness and thus also indirectly the reliability of his testimony concerning Dr. Schacht. This demands a statement of my opinion, and a statement of a very fundamental nature.

Your Honours, it is here where we mentally differ. An unbridgeable gap opens up between Schacht's standpoint and the standpoint of all those who adopt the train of thought with which Dr. Nelte attempts to discredit the character of Gisevius, the deceased Canaris, Oster, Nebe, and others. I most certainly owe it to my client, Dr. Schacht, to state the following fundamental point very clearly and unequivocally:

Patriotism means loyalty to one's fatherland and people, and war to the knife against anyone who criminally leads one's fatherland and one's own people into misery and destruction. Such a leader is an enemy of the fatherland; his actions are many times more dangerous than those of any enemy in war. Every means, even "a corsaire, corsaire et demi," are justified against such a criminal State leadership.

High treason against such a State leadership is true and genuine patriotism and, as such, highly moral, even during war. Who could still entertain the slightest doubt after the findings of this trial, and finally after the testimony of Speer about Hitler's cynical remarks, regarding the destruction of the German people, that Adolf Hitler was the greatest enemy of his people, in short, a criminal toward his people, and that to remove him any means were justified, and any, yes any, deed committed toward that end was patriotic? Worlds separate Schacht from everyone in the defendants' dock who does not recognize this.

I had to say this in order to clear the atmosphere. After this fundamental clarification, I can refrain from refuting details in Dr. Nelte's attacks against Dr. Gisevius. In so far as Dr. Nelte fails to see any willingness for active service amongst members of these resistance groups to which Dr. Schacht belonged, I need only point to the many hundreds who were hanged after the 20th of July, that Schacht is one of the very few survivors, and that he, too, was to be liquidated in Flossenburg. I point to the dead victims of the political judiciary of the Hitlerian State whose numbers run into thousands. Truly, the waging of a war by conspirators against Hitler, and the necessity for cunning and dissimulation in connection with this, were not less dangerous to life and limb than exposing one's self at the front.

During his cross-examination by my colleague, Dr. Kubuschok, Gisevius immediately admitted his mistake, resulting from the ban on publication, in the affair of Papen's resignation. I do not have to say anything more about this.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

DR. DIX: May it please the, Tribunal, I had concluded with the consideration of the probative value of the statements made here by the witnesses Severing and Gisevius.

Now, on concluding the evaluation of Schacht's conduct up to about 1935 and entering the period from 1935 to 1937, I emphasize once more that, in order to save time, I will not repeat the arguments which were presented to the Tribunal in detail during the cross-examination, as; for instance, the non-participation of Schacht in the legislation which led to the abrogation of International Law, because this took place before his entry into the Cabinet. The decisive event for the stabilisation of Hitler's power, the merging of the offices of the Reich President and of the Chancellor of the Reich in the person of Hitler, also lay outside his co- operation and responsibility. According to this decree, the Army took their oath to Hitler. The Chancellor of the Reich had not only the authority over the police as heretofore, but also authority over the Army. It is not my task to investigate

[Page 378]

who is to bear the political responsibility and thus the historic guilt for this law; in any case, it is not Schacht. All the basic anti-Jewish laws were also enacted before he took office as a minister. He was completely surprised by the later Nuremberg laws.

The decree dealing with the exclusion of the Jews from German economic life, dated 12th November; 1938, and the ordinance concerning the use of Jewish property and possessions of 3rd December, 1938, were issued after he had left his post as Minister of Economics, and thus without his active collaboration. The same applies to the decree excluding Jews from the Reichsarbeitsdienst, which moreover probably hardly affected them. The law providing for the death penalty for undisclosed reserves of foreign exchange, the so-called law of betrayal of the people, was not directed specifically against the Jews, but solely against big industry and high finance; that also was not within or under Schacht's supervision, but under that of the Minister of Finance. Schacht did not want to cause a breach of relations on account of such laws, because he believed it was his duty to perform a more important task.

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