The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Whom do you mean by  "we"?

A. At this time, a group existed, among whom I must mention
Dr. Schacht. He was extremely active, and went to Admiral
Raeder, to Brauchitsch, to Rundstedt, and to Guertner.
Everywhere his battle cry was: "Now the great crisis has
arisen. Now we have to act. Now it is the task of the
generals to rid us of this regime of terror."

But I must mention one more name in that connection. In 1936
Schacht had already introduced me to Dr. Goerdeler. I had
the honour to be able to travel the same route with that
brave man from then on until 20 July. Here, in this room,
where so many terrible things have been brought to light, I
mention his name for the first time. It is the name of a
German who was a brave and fearless fighter for freedom and
justice and decency, and who, I believe, will one day, be an
example, not only to Germany, but to all the world, to prove
that even under Gestapo terror, one can do one's duty
faithfully until death.

This Dr. Goerdeler, who had always been a fearless and
untiring fighter, in those days showed unequalled courage.
Like Dr. Schacht, he went from one ministry to another, from
one general to the next, and he also believed that now the
hour had come when we could achieve a united front of the
decent people led by the generals. Brauchitsch did not
refuse at that time. He did not refuse to act on Guertner's
request. In fact, he assured Guertner, with almost religious
fervour, of his willingness to co-operate in a putsch.

Further, I may mention that Brauchitsch also solemnly
assured me that he would now use the opportunity to fight
against the Gestapo. However, Brauchitsch made one
condition, and that condition was accepted by the generals
as a whole. Brauchitsch said, "Hitler is still such a
popular man that we are afraid of the Hitler Myth. We want
to give to the German people and the world the final proof
through a session of the Reich Court-Martial and its
verdict." Therefore, Brauchitsch postponed his action until
the day when the verdict of the Reich Court-Martial would be
handed down.

The Reich Court-Martial met. It began its session. The
session was

                                                  [Page 232]

suddenly interrupted under dramatic circumstances. I must
add that Hitler appointed the defendant Goering as President
of that Reich Court-Martial. So, the Reich Court-Martial,
under the chairmanship of Goering, met. I know from Nebe
that Goering, during the preceding days, had had
consultations with Himmler and Heydrich. I know that
Heydrich told Nebe that the Reich Court-Martial would be the
end of his career.

Q. Did Nebe tell you that?

A. Yes, on the same day. He said that the Reich Court-
Martial would be extremely dangerous for the Gestapo. The
Supreme Court-Martial convened for several hours, and was
then adjourned under dramatic circumstances, for that was
the day chosen for the German armies to march into Austria.
Even at that time we knew without doubt why the President of
that Court-Martial should be so unusually interested in
troops receiving the order to march to a goal not inside,
but outside the Reich. The Supreme Court-Martial could not
meet again until a week later, but then Hitler was
triumphant. The generals had their first "campaign of
flowers" behind them, a plebiscite had been proclaimed, the
jubilation was great and the confusion amongst the generals
was still greater. So the Court-Martial was dissolved.
Fritsch's innocence was established, but Brauchitsch said,
that as a result of the changed psychological atmosphere
created by the annexation of Austria, he could no longer
take the responsibility for a putsch.

That is roughly the story, telling how the War Ministry was
in practice deprived of its leading men and how the generals
were thrown into unequalled confusion. From that time on we
took the steep downward path to radicalism.

DR. DIX: Perhaps I may ask the Tribunal to be permitted to
read in this connection one sentence from a document which I
will submit as Exhibit Schacht-15. My document book is still
in the process of translation, but I hope that it will be
here on the day of Schacht's hearing. There is only one
sentence which is of interest in this connection. It is from
the bi-annual report of the general staff ...

THE PRESIDENT: Have the documents been submitted to the
prosecution and to the Tribunal at all?

DR. DIX: The documents have been discussed with the
prosecution twice in detail, once in regard to the question
of translation and then on the question of their
admissibility as evidence; and Mr. Dodd discussed them in
open court. I am firmly convinced that the prosecution is
thoroughly acquainted with the documents. It is only one
sentence and I do not believe that the prosecution objects
to the reading of this one sentence since otherwise, the
connection with the documentary evidence might be obscured.
I shall introduce a document wherever it seems practical.
This is only one sentence from the bi-annual report of the
Chief of Staff of the United States.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I do not know what this document is,
your Honour. I should like to know because we may want to
ask some questions about it. I do not want to delay Dr. Dix,
but I have not a copy of it and I do not know as yet just
what it is.

DR. DIX: I just wanted to shorten the proceedings, but, if I
see that there are any difficulties and a long discussion
might set in, I will omit it and will present it later with
my documentary evidence. It would not serve my purpose


Q. For the complete and thorough information of the Tribunal
perhaps you will describe the position the President
occupies in German Court-Martial proceedings; that the
control of the examination is in his hands, that, as a
matter of fact, the entire case is in his hands.

A. Dr. Dix, I do not doubt that you are better qualified to
describe the authority of the President; however, I would
like to say the following:-

                                                  [Page 233]

I have read the minutes of that session, for it is one of
those documents which we thought we would one day submit to
the public, and this, too, I hope will be the case. From the
minutes it can be seen that the defendant Goering as
President directed the tenor of the entire proceedings and
of the questions.

He questioned the prosecution witnesses, and he took care
that other questions, which might have proved embarrassing,
were not put. I must say from these voluminous minutes that
Goering knew how to cloak the true facts by the manner in
which he led the proceedings.

Q. In my introductory words at the beginning of the session,
I called the Fritsch crisis the decisive preparatory step of
the war, and you, Doctor, have accepted that term. After
concluding the description of the Fritsch crisis, will you
give the reason for the opinion you have adopted, and what
was the effect upon your group in this connection,
especially upon Schacht?

A. I must point out again that up to this Fritsch crisis it
had been difficult in the ranks of the German opposition to
even consider the possibility of war. That was due to the
fact that in Germany the opposition groups were so sure of
the strength of the army and of the leading men that they
believed it would be sufficient that a man of honour, like
Fritsch, was at the head of the German Army. It seemed
inconceivable that Fritsch would tolerate a sliding into
terror or into war. Only a few of us had pointed out that it
was in the nature of every revolution to some day go beyond
the frontiers of a nation. We believed that the lessons of
history should show the danger in the National Socialist
Revolution and therefore, those of us who were convinced
that they were faced with a revolution, not only with a
dictatorship, again and again uttered the warning that one
day those revolutionaries would resort to war as a last
recourse. The more it became evident in the course of the
Fritsch crisis that radicalism was predominant, the more it
became clear to a larger group that the danger of war could
no longer be taken lightly.

Q. And did the defendant Schacht also belong to that group?

A. Yes. During those days of the Fritsch crisis, Schacht
said, as did many others: "That means war," and this was
also told plainly to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army,
General Brauchitsch.

Q. Now the question arises why had Schacht financed the
rearmament programme, at least in the beginning?

A. Schacht always told me that he had financed the
rearmament programme for purposes of defence. Schacht had
been convinced for many years that such a large nation in
the centre of Europe should at least have the means for
defence. I may point out that at that time large groups of
the German people were convinced of the idea that possibly
there was danger of an attack coming from the East. You must
not forget the type of propaganda with which the German
people were swamped at that time, particularly about this
danger from the East, propaganda based upon Polish
aspirations about East Prussia.

Q. Did Schacht also discuss with you the fact that this
rearmament was serving his political purposes at the time in
so far as discussions on general disarmament could be
started again?

A. I beg your pardon. Unfortunately I forgot to emphasise
this point myself. Schacht was of the opinion that by all
means the discussion on rearmament should be started again.
He had the idea that very soon - I think he had held that
opinion since 1935 - the attention of the other countries
should be called to German rearmament, and then Hitler,
because news of his rearmament had transpired, would be
forced to resume the discussions at the disarmament

Q. Was that which you have just said the subject of your
conversation with Schacht at that time, or is that your
considered opinion only now?

A. No. I remember this conversation very well, because I
thought that Hitler had other inclinations and desires than
to attend a disarmament con-

                                                  [Page 234]

ference. I thought Hitler to be of an entirely different
mentality, and was somewhat surprised that Schacht
considered it possible that Hitler might have this in mind.

Q. Did you get the impression from your conversations with
Schacht that he was well informed of the type and extent of

A. I well remember how often Schacht asked me and some of my
friends whether we could not help him to get information
about the extent of rearmament by questioning the Reich War
Ministry. I have already described yesterday the efforts he
made to get details through Oster and Thomas.

Q. Could you tell the Tribunal whether Schacht made any
attempt to limit armament expenses, and thus the extent and
speed of the rearmament, and, if so, when he made these

A. He started to attempt this, to my knowledge, as early as
1936. In the heated debates about Schacht's resignation as
Minister of Economics in 1937 his efforts in this direction
played an important part. I recall that practically every
conversation was concerned with that point.

Q. Now, it is said by the prosecution - and quite
understandably - that the reasons Schacht gave, even in
official reports, etc., for the necessity of these
limitations were primarily of a financial nature, that is to
say, he spoke as the leader in the economic field, and
President of the Reichsbank, and not as a patriot who was
afraid that his country might be plunged into war. Can you
recollect any discussions with Schacht which might be of
value to the Tribunal on that point?

A. In all these discussions there were dozens of drafts of
letters which Schacht wrote. They were discussed in friendly
circles. To mention one example, Schacht repeatedly
discussed these drafts with Goerdeler. It was always a
question of the following: How can these letters be framed
so as not to be considered provocative, but rather to help
to attract the other civil ministers, particularly the War
Minister von Blomberg, and draw them to Schacht's side? That
precisely was the difficulty - how such ministers as
Blomberg, Neurath, or Schwerin-Krosigk, who were much more
loyal to Hitler could be persuaded to join Schacht rather
than to say that Schacht once again provoked Hitler and
Goering with his notoriously sharp tongue. All these letters
can be understood only from the tactical reasons which, as I
have mentioned, had been discussed in detail with the
leading men of the opposition.

Q. Now, after the Fritsch crisis how did the political
conspiracy between you and your friends and Schacht take

A. I want to deal with that word "conspiracy. " While up to
that moment our activity could only be called more or less
oppositional, now, a conspiracy did indeed take shape, and
there appeared in the foreground a man who was later to play
an important part as its head. The Chief of the General
Staff at that time, General Beck, believed that the time had
come for a German general to give the alarm-signal both
inside and outside the country. I believe it is important
for the Tribunal to know also the supreme reason which
decided Beck to take that step. The Chief of the General
Staff was present when Hitler, in May, 1938, made a speech
to the generals at Juterborg.

That speech was intended to rehabilitate Fritsch and there
were a few words said about Fritsch, but more was said - for
the first time, and quite frankly, before a large group of
German generals, about Hitler's intention to engulf
Czechoslovakia in a war. Beck heard that speech and he was
indignant that he, as Chief of the General Staff, should
hear of such an intention for the first time in such an
assembly without having been informed or consulted
previously. During that meeting, Beck sent a letter to
Brauchitsch asking him for an immediate interview.
Brauchitsch refused and ostentatiously kept Beck waiting for
several weeks. Beck became impatient, wrote a comprehensive
memorandum in which as Chief of General Staff, he protested
against the fact

                                                  [Page 235]

that the German people would be drawn into war. At the end
of that memorandum Beck announced his resignation, and here
I believe is the opportunity to say a word about this Chief
of the General Staff.

Q. One moment, Doctor. Will you tell us the source of your
knowledge of Beck's thoughts and the negotiations between
Beck and Brauchitsch?

A. Beck confided in me, and, during the last years, I worked
in very close collaboration with him, and was by his side
until the last hour of his life on 20 July. I can testify
here - and it is important for the Tribunal to know this -
that Beck struggled continuously with the problem as to what
a Chief of General Staff should do when he sees that events
are driving toward a war. Therefore, I owe it to his memory,
and to my oath here, not to conceal the fact that Beck knew
what would be the consequences of being the only German
General to leave his post voluntarily, in order to show that
there was a limit beyond which even generals in leading
positions could not go and where, at the sacrifice of their
position and their life, they would be forced to resign and
to accept no further orders. Beck was of the opinion that
the General Staff was not only an organisation of war
technicians; he saw in it the conscience of the German Army,
and he trained his staff accordingly. He suffered endlessly
during the later years of his life because men whom he had
trained in that sense did not follow the dictates of their
conscience. I owe it to this man to say that he was a man of
unbending character.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, I think we might get on to what Beck
actually did.

DR. DIX: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps it would be a convenient time to
break off. What I mean is, the witness said that Beck
protested in a memorandum and offered to resign, and that
was some minutes ago, and since then he has spoken at some
length, but without telling us what Beck actually did.

DR. DIX: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will not sit in open session on
Saturday morning but will be sitting in closed session.


Q. You were saying that General Beck carried out his
decision to tender his resignation after the speech at
Juterborg. What did he do then?

A. Hitler and Brauchitsch urgently pressed him to remain in
office but Beck refused and insisted upon resigning.
Thereupon Hitler and Brauchitsch urged Beck at least not to
make his resignation public, and they asked him if he would
not formally defer his resignation for a few months. Beck,
who had not gone as far as high treason at that time,
believed that he should comply with this request. Later he
deeply regretted this loyal attitude. The fact is that as
early as the end of May or the beginning of June his
successor, General Halder, took over the office of Chief of
General Staff and from that moment Beck was actually no
longer in charge.

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