The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. May I ask you once more - from what observations or
conversations did you get to know these facts?

A. From continued discussions I had at that time with Beck,
Oster, Goerdeler, Schacht, and many others, and later, the
question of why Beck did not publicise his resignation
depressed him to such an extent that it was a continual
subject of discussions between us to the end.

Q. That deals with Beck's resignation, but probably the
possibility of Schacht's resignation was also brought up at
these discussions. To your knowledge and from your
observation was the question of the necessity or

                                                  [Page 236]

the suitability of Schacht's resignation discussed between
Schacht and Beck?

A. Yes, it was discussed in great detail.

It was Beck's opinion that his resignation alone might not
be sufficiently effective. He approached Schacht therefore
and asked him whether he would not join him and resign also.
This subject was discussed in great detail both between Beck
and Schacht personally, and between Oster and myself, who
were the two intermediaries. During these discussions, I
must confess that I, too, was of the opinion that Schacht
should retire under any circumstances and I advised him to
that effect. It was Oster's opinion, however, that Schacht
should in any case remain in office and he asked him to do
so, on the grounds that in order to carry weight with the
generals Schacht was needed as an official with a
ministerial title. In retrospect I must say here that my
advice to Schacht was wrong. The events which I have yet to
describe have proved how important it was to Oster and
others that Schacht should remain in office.

Q. That, of course, was a serious question for Schacht's
conscience. You have told the Tribunal what were your and
Oster's opinions. How did Schacht's conscience react to the
situation? What were the pros and cons on which he had to
decide? Did he discuss his final decision with you?

A. Yes.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I don't object to the defendants
putting their case in their own way, but I do think we are
passing beyond the limits of profitable inquiry here.
Schacht is present; he is the man who can tell us about his
conscience, and I know of no way that another witness can do
so, and I think it is not a question to which the answer
would have competent value, and I respectfully object.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, I think you had better tell us what
Schacht actually did - or, rather, get from the witness what
Schacht did.

DR. DIX: If I may, I should like to make a brief remark. It
is true, of course, as Mr. Justice Jackson said, that
Schacht knows his own reasons best and can tell them to the
Tribunal, but on a question as difficult as this, where the
prosecution as it seems to me, is inclined to consider the
train of thought which led to Schacht's decision to be
unacceptable - it appears to me that at least, on the basis
of our rules for evidence, it is relevant for the Tribunal
to hear from an eye and ear witness what the considerations
were and whether they really existed at the time, or whether
Schacht now in the defendants' dock, is thinking up an
explanation, as every defendant is more or less suspected of

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks that the witness can tell
us what Schacht said and what Schacht did, but not what
Schacht thought.


Q. Very well then, what did Schacht say to you regarding the
reasons for his resignation?

A. Schacht told me at the time that after everything we had
experienced the generals could not be relied upon to ever
really revolt. For that reason as a politician he considered
it his duty to think about possibilities other than, a
revolt, of bringing about a change in conditions in Germany.
He therefore evolved a plan which he explained to me at the
time. Schacht told me, "I have got Hitler by the throat." He
meant by that, as he explained to me in great detail, that
now the day was approaching when the debts which had been
incurred by the Reich Minister of Finance, and thus by the
Reich Cabinet, would have to be repaid to the Reichsbank.
Schacht doubted whether the Minister of Finance, Schwerin-
Krosigk, would be Prepared without further ado to make good
the moral and legal obligation of repaying the credits which
had been extended.

Schacht thought that that was the moment in which he should
tender his resignation, with a collective report of the
Reichsbank Directorate, and he

                                                  [Page 237]

hoped that in that case the other ministers of the Reich, of
whom the majority were still civic minded at the time, would
join him.

That is what he meant when he said to me, "I have still got
one arrow which I can shoot, and this is the moment when
even von Neurath, Guertner, and Seldte cannot refuse to
follow me."

I answered Schacht at that time that I doubted that there
would ever be such a meeting of the Cabinet. In my opinion,
the steps which would be taken to dispose of his person
would be much more commonplace. Schacht did not believe me,
and told me he would be certain to achieve one thing; these
matters would have to be discussed in the Cabinet, and then
he would cause a situation in Germany as alarming as the one
which existed in February, 1938, at the time of the Fritsch
crisis. He therefore expected a radical reformation of the
cabinet which would provide the proper psychological
atmosphere for the generals to intervene.

Q. You said at the beginning that Schacht had said or hinted
that he could not absolutely rely on the generals to bring
about a putsch. Which generals was he referring to, and what
did he mean?

A. Schacht meant at the time the first revolutionary
situation which had arisen in Germany, during the months of
May to September, 1938, when we drifted into the
Czechoslovakia war crisis. Beck had assured us at the time
of his resignation - by us I mean Goerdeler, Schacht and
other politicians - that he would leave to us a successor
who was more energetic than he himself, and who was firmly
determined to precipitate a revolution if Hitler should
decide upon war. That man whom Beck trusted, and to whom he
introduced us, was General Halder. As a matter of fact, upon
taking office General Halder, immediately took steps to
start discussions on the subject with Schacht, Goerdeler,
Oster, and our entire group. A few days after he took over
his office, he sent for Oster and informed him that he
considered that we were drifting towards war, and that he
would then undertake an overthrow of the government. He
asked Oster what he, for his part, intended to do to include
the civilians in the plot.

Q. Who were the civilians in question, aside from Goerdeler
and Schacht?

A. Halder asked Oster that question too. We were only a
small circle at that time, and Oster replied that to the
best of his knowledge he only knew two civilians of
importance with whom Halder could have preliminary political
conversations; one was Goerdeler, the other, Schacht.

Halder refused to speak personally to a man as suspect as
Goerdeler, because he felt that it was too dangerous for him
to receive a man whom he did not yet know. While he could
find some official reason for a conference with Schacht,
Halder asked Oster to act as intermediary in that matter.

Through my agency, Oster approached Schacht. Schacht was
prepared. A private meeting was to be arranged, and I warned
Schacht and told him, "Have Halder come to your apartment so
that you are quite sure of the matter."

Halder then visited Schacht personally at the end of July,
1938, in his apartment, and informed him that matters had
reached a stage where war was imminent, and that he, Halder,
would precipitate a putsch. He then asked Schacht whether he
was prepared to play a leading part in aiding him

That is what Schacht told me at the time.

Q. And Oster told you?

A. Yes, since I continually acted as an intermediary in
these discussions. Schacht replied, as he assured me
directly after Halder's visit, that he was prepared to do
everything that was necessary if the generals decided to
remove Hitler.

The following morning, Halder sent for Oster. He told him of
the conversation, and he asked Oster whether the police
preparations had been made for such a revolt. Oster
suggested that Halder talked to me personally about

                                                  [Page 238]

these matters, and we had a long conference in the dark of
the night. I believe that it is important for me to state
here what Halder told me of his intentions at that time.
First he assured me that in contrast to many other generals
he had no doubt, that Hitler wanted war: he described Hitler
to me as being bloodthirsty and he referred to the bloodbath
of 30 June. But he told me that it was, unfortunately,
terribly difficult to explain to the generals, in particular
to the junior officers corps, Hitler's real intentions,
because outwardly the slogan with which the officers corps
was being influenced was that it was all only a colossal
bluff that the army could be absolutely certain that Hitler
did not want to start a war, but rather that he was merely
preparing a diplomatic manoeuvre of blackmail on a large

For that reason, Halder believed that it was absolutely
necessary to prove even to the last captain that Hitler was
not bluffing at all, but had actually given the order for
war. Halder, therefore, decided at that time that for the
sake of informing the German nation and the officers, he
would even tolerate the outbreak of war. But even then
Halder feared the Hitler myth; that is why he suggested to
me that the day after the outbreak of war Hitler should be
killed by means of a bomb, and the German people should be
made to believe as far as possible, that Hitler had been
killed by an enemy bombing attack on the Fuehrer's train. I
replied to Halder that perhaps I was still too young to
understand, but at any rate I could not see why, at least
afterwards, he would not wish to tell the German people,
what the generals had done.

Then, for a few weeks there was no news from Halder. The
Press campaign of hatred against Czechoslovakia assumed a
more threatening character and we felt that now it would be
only a few weeks or perhaps months before the outbreak of
war. At that very moment Schacht decided to visit Halder at
his apartment once more and remind him of what he had said.
I thought it best that a witness should be present during
that conversation and therefore I simply accompanied
Schacht. I did not have the impression that Halder was too
pleased about the presence of a witness. He once again
declared his firm intention to effect a revolt, but again he
wished to wait until the German nation had received proof of
Hitler's intentions to wage war by means of a definite order
for war. Schacht pointed out to Halder the tremendous danger
of such an experiment. He made it clear to Halder that a war
could not be started simply to destroy the Hitler legend in
the eyes of the German people.

In a detailed and very excited conversation Halder now
declared that he was prepared to start the revolt, not after
the official outbreak of the war, but at the very moment
when Hitler gave the armed forces the final order to march.

We asked Halder whether he would then still be able to
control the situation or whether Hitler might not surprise
him with a blitz-action. Halder replied literally:

  "No, he cannot betray me. I have designed my general
  staff plans in such a way that I shall know them forty-
  eight hours in advance."

I think that this is important, since during the later
course of events the period of time between the order to
march and the actual march itself was considerably

Halder assured us that apart from his preparations in Berlin
there was an armoured division ready in Thuringia under the
command of General von Hoeppner, which would possibly have
to halt the Leibstandarte (Bodyguard Regiment) which was in
Munich, on the march to Berlin.

Although Halder had told us all this, Schacht and I retained
a somewhat bitter impression of that conference. Halder had
told Schacht that he, Schacht, seemed to be urging him to
effect this revolt prematurely, and Schacht and I were of
the opinion that Halder might abandon us at the last moment.
We informed Oster immediately of the bad impression which we
had had and we told him that something absolutely had to be
done to win over another general

                                                  [Page 239]

if Halder should not act at the last minute. Oster agreed,
and what follows shows how General Field Marshal von
Witzleben first joined our circle of conspirators.

Q. Who won von Witzleben over?

A. Schacht did.

Q. Who did?

A. Schacht won Witzleben over.

Oster visited Witzleben and told him everything that had
happened. Thereupon Witzleben sent for me and I told him
that in my opinion the police situation was such that he, as
commanding general of the Army Corps in Berlin, could chance
a revolt. Witzleben asked me the question which every
general put to us at that time whether it was true that a
diplomatic incident in the East would really lead to war, or
whether it was not true, as Hitler and Ribbentrop had
repeatedly told the generals in confidence, that there was
tacit agreement with the Western powers giving Germany a
free hand in the East. Witzleben said in the event of such
an agreement really existing, then, of course, he could not
start a revolt. I told Witzleben that Schacht could no doubt
give him comprehensive information, based on his excellent
knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon mentality.

A meeting between Schacht and Witzleben was arranged.
Witzleben brought with him his Divisional-General von
Brockdorf, who was to carry out the putsch in detail.
Witzleben, Brockdorf and I drove together to Schacht's
country house, and had a conference which lasted for hours.
The final result was that Witzleben was convinced by Schacht
that the Western powers would under no circumstances allow
Germany to move into the Eastern Territories and that now
Hitler's policy of surprise had come to an end. Witzleben
decided that he, on his part and independently from Halder,
would make all preparations which were necessary if he
wanted to act.

He issued me false papers and he gave me a position in his
army district command so that there, under his personal
protection, I could make all the necessary police and
political preparations. He delegated General von Brockdorf
to me, and he and I visited by car all points in Berlin
which Brockdorf had to occupy with his Potsdam Division.
Frau Struenk was at the wheel and by our tour we were able
to determine exactly what had to be done.

DR. DIX: That is the witness Struenk.

A. I believe I owe you a brief explanation as to why
Witzleben's co-operation was absolutely necessary. It was
not so easy to find a general who had the actual authority
to order his troops to march. For instance, there were some
generals in the provinces who could not give their troops
such an order.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, is it necessary to go into the
matter in such detail as to why General Witzleben should be
brought in?

DR. DIX: The reasons why Witzleben was needed are perhaps
not essential for our case. We can therefore drop the


Q. Will you please tell me Dr. Gisevius: was Schacht kept
informed of these military and police preparations which you
have described?

A. Schacht was kept informed about all these matters. We met
in the evening in the apartment of von Witzleben and I
described everything that I had worked out in writing during
the day. It was then discussed in full detail.

Q. Aside from these military and police measures which you
have mentioned, were there any political measures?

A. Yes, of course. We carefully had to decide what the
German nation were to be told in such a case from an inner
political point of view, just as there were certain
preparations which had to be made regarding the outside.

Q. What do you mean by outside - foreign political?

                                                  [Page 240]

A. Yes, of course, foreign political.

Q. Why, "of course?" Was the Foreign Office included or what
do you mean when you say "foreign political?"

A. It is very difficult to give an explanation because the
contact with foreign countries during the time of war or
immediately before a war is a matter which is very difficult
to discuss, since we are touching upon a very controversial
subject. If I am to talk about it then it is at least as
important for me to state the reasons which led these people
to carry on these discussions with foreign countries as it
is to give times and dates.

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