The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. And did this man who had your confidence make a report in
the sense which you stipulated?

A. Yes, he did and I must say that very soon public
statements on the part of the British, either on the radio
or in the Press, or in the House of Commons began to dispel
these doubts of the German generals and the German people.
Beginning at that time everything which could be done, was
done by the British to alarm the German generals.

Q. Did not Schacht meet his friend Montague-Norman in
Switzerland at that time and talk with him in the same vein?
Do you know? Were you there?

A. Yes. We thought that the opportunity for Schacht to talk
to a close friend of Prime Minister Chamberlain should not
be allowed to pass by, and Schacht had a very detailed
discussion with Montague-Norman in order to describe to him
the psychological atmosphere in Germany after Prague, and to
persuade him that the British Government should now make
their attitude clear.

Q. Was not the current slogan to foreign countries: "You
must play off the Nazis against Germans?"

A. Yes, it was the tenor of all our discussions. We wanted
it made clear to the German people that the Western powers
were not against Germany but only against this Nazi policy
of surprise and against the Nazi methods of terror, within
the country as well as abroad.

Q. And now, having come back from Switzerland, what happened
next, particularly with reference to Schacht?

A. We saw that things in Germany were rapidly drifting
towards the August crisis, and that the generals could not
be dissuaded from the view that Hitler was only bluffing,
and that there would be another Munich or another Prague.
And now began all those desperate efforts which we made in
order to influence the leading generals, and, in particular,
Keitel, to prevent the decisive order to march against
Poland being given.

                                                  [Page 245]

Q. Let us come back to Schacht's return from the Swiss
journey in spring of 1939. You know that Schacht left
Germany and made a journey to India?

A. He went to India and he intended to stay there as long as
possible, and then go on to China. But on the way Hitler's
order, prohibiting him from setting foot on Chinese soil,
reached him, and I think, he returned a few days before the
outbreak of war.

Q. You said China; did Schacht have sympathies for Chiang-
Kai-Chek in spite of the pacts with Japan?

A. Yes. He sympathised greatly with the Chinese Government,
as did our entire circle. We all had quite a number of good
and dear Chinese friends with whom we attempted to keep up
relations in spite of the Japanese pact.

Q. About when did Schacht come back from India?

A. I think it was the beginning of August; but I cannot ...

Q. Now matters were rapidly heading towards war. Did
Schacht, before the outbreak of war, take any steps to
prevent its outbreak?

A. He took a great number of steps, but I cannot describe
them individually since that would create the impression
that only Schacht was taking these steps; actually the
situation was that a large group of people were now in the
struggle and each one took those steps which were most
suited to him, and everyone informed the group of what he
had done and what it would be advisable for someone else to
do. For that reason I am afraid that it would present a
completely erroneous picture if I were to describe
individually and only in regard to Schacht, all those
desperate efforts made in August, 1939, until the attack on
Holland and Belgium.

Q. The Tribunal has taken cognizance of the fact that
Schacht was not acting alone, but here we are dealing with
Schacht's case and I should like to ask you, therefore, to
confine yourself to the description of Schacht's efforts.

A. In that case I must state first that Schacht knew of all
these matters and was in a certain sense an accomplice. Of
Schacht himself I can say only, at this particular moment,
that he was co-author of the Thomas memorandum, addressed to
General Keitel, or, rather, the two memoranda, in which
Schacht, together with our group, pointed out to the general
the dangers of war. Further, I can say that through Thomas
and Canaris, Schacht took steps to intervene with
Brauchitsch and Halder. But I would like to emphasise
expressly that all the steps taken by Beck and Goerdeler
were taken with the full knowledge of Schacht and also with
his participation. This was a very important undertaking.

Q. Did not Schacht's attempt at the very last moment - at
the end of August - play a part in obtaining an interview
for Canaris with Brauchitsch at headquarters?

A. Yes. After General Thomas had failed with both his
memoranda and his attempts to persuade Keitel to receive
Goerdeler or Schacht, Schacht tried to approach Brauchitsch
or Halder. For that purpose Thomas paid frequent visits to
General Halder and it was typical that during those critical
days he could not get past the ante-room of General Halder's
office or General von Stuelpnagel. Halder disavowed himself
and said that he did not want to see Schacht. Thereupon we
took a further step on that dramatic 25 August, the day on
which Hitler had already given the order to march. As soon
as the news reached us that Hitler had given Halder the
order to march, Schacht and I attempted to get in touch with
Thomas and then, together with Thomas, we went to Admiral
Canaris so that both Thomas and Canaris should accompany
Schacht when he went without previous announcement to the
headquarters in Zossen in order to confront Brauchitsch and
Halder with his presence. Schacht intended to point out to
Brauchitsch and Halder that in accordance with the existing
constitution the Reich Cabinet should be consulted and heard
before waging war, and that both Brauchitsch and Halder
would be guilty of a breach

                                                  [Page 246]

of oath if, without the knowledge of the competent political
authorities, they obeyed an order to march. That was roughly
what Schacht intended to say in order to provide a motive
for the step he had taken. When Thomas and Schacht arrived
in the Bendlerstrasse, Thomas went to Canaris. It was about6
o'clock or ...

DR. DIX: The O.K.W. is situated on Bendlerstrasse. The
Tribunal should know that Bendlerstrasse meant the O.K.W. or
the O.K.H.

A. (Continuing) When we arrived at the O.K.W. and were
waiting on a corner in the street Canaris sent Oster to us.
That was the moment when Hitler, between six and seven,
suddenly ordered Halder to withdraw his order to march. The
Tribunal will no doubt remember that Hitler, influenced by
the renewed intervention of Mussolini, suddenly withdrew the
order to march which had already been given. Unfortunately,
Canaris and Thomas and all our friends were now under the
impression that, this withdrawal of an order to march was an
incredible loss of prestige for Hitler. Oster thought that
never before in the history of warfare had a supreme
commander withdrawn such a decisive order in the stress of a
nervous breakdown. And Canaris told me "Now the peace of
Europe is saved for fifty years, because Hitler has lost the
respect of the generals." Unfortunately, in the tension of
this psychological change, we all felt that we could look
forward to the following days in a quiet frame of mind. So,
when three days later, Hitler gave the decisive order to
march, it came as a complete surprise for our group as well.
Oster called me to the O.K.W. Schacht accompanied me. We
asked Canaris again whether he could not arrange another
meeting with Brauchitsch and Halder, but Canaris said to me:
"It is too late now." He had tears in his eyes, adding:
"That is the end of Germany."

DR. DIX: Your Lordship, we now come to the war, and I think
that perhaps we had better deal with the war after lunch.

(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)


Q. Dr. Gisevius, before the noon day recess we had just come
to the outbreak of the war, and so that your subsequent
testimony may be understood, I must ask you first in what
capacity you served during the war.

A. On the day of the outbreak of the war I was called into
the Abwehr by General Oster with a forged order. However,
since it was a regulation that all officers or other members
of the Abwehr had to be examined by the Gestapo, and since I
would never have received permission to be a member of the
Abwehr, they simply gave me a forged mobilisation order.
Then I was at the disposal of Oster and Canaris without
doing any direct service.

Q. And after the outbreak of the war what did your group of
conspirators the members of which you have already mentioned
do? Who took over the leadership, who participated, and what
was done?

A. Immediately after the outbreak of the war, General Beck
was at the head of all oppositional movements which could
exist in Germany with the exception of the Communists, with
whom we had no contact at that time. We were of the opinion
that only a general could be the leader during a war, and
Beck stood so far above purely military matters that he was
one the man capable of unifying all groups from the left to
the right. Beck named Dr. Goerdeler as his first assistant.

Q. Therefore, the only civilians who participated in this
group of conspirators were, as before, Schacht and

A. No; on the contrary, now all oppositional groups who had
merely had vague connections with each other, were unified
under the pressure of war, especially the left oppositional
movements, which had been severely decimated in the early
years since all their leaders had been interned. Especially

                                                  [Page 247]

"left" groups came in with us. In this connection I mention
Leuschler and Dr. Karl Muehlendorf, but I must also mention
the Christian organisations Dr. Habermann and Dr. Kaiser and
also the Catholic circles, the leaders of the Confessional
Church and individual political men such as Ambassador von
Hassel, State Secretary Plan, Minister Popitz, and many,
many others.

Q. What was the position of these "left" circles, especially
in regard to the question of a putsch, the forceful removal
of Hitler or even an attempt on his life? Did they also
consider the possibility of an attempt at assassination,
which later was actually suggested in your group?

A. No, the "left" circles were very much under the
impression that the "stab in the back" legend had done much
damage in Germany and they felt that they did not want to
expose themselves again to the danger of having it said
later that Hitler or the German Army had not been defeated
on the battlefield. The left wing had long been of the
opinion that now it must be proved to the German people that
militarism was committing suicide in Germany, no matter how
bitter an experience it might be for them.

Q. I have here, and have already offered to the high
Tribunal, a letter which you, Doctor, smuggled to
Switzerland for Schacht at about this time - the end of 1939
- It is a letter to the former President of the
International Bank at Basel, later President of the First
National Bank of New York - a man of influence, who probably
had access to President Roosevelt.

In anticipation of the documentary evidence hereto
pertaining I had intended to read this letter to the
Tribunal now. However, in discussing the admissibility of
evidence I informed the Tribunal of the most essential
points, and since Justice Jackson has not, as yet, got the
Schacht Document Book and has already said that he did not
like me to produce documentary evidence at this time, I will
not carry out my original intention to read this letter in
its entirety. I will come back to it when I present my
documentary evidence. However, in order to refresh the
witness' memory about this letter, I will give you the
underlying reasons for it. Schacht suggested to President
Frazier that now the moment ...

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I make no objection to the use of the
letter from Schacht to Leon Frazier as one banker writing to
another. If you want to claim that Frazier was influential
with President Roosevelt, I should want you to prove it, but
I have no objection to the letter.

DR. DIX: The letter is dated 14 January, 1946. I will not
read it in its entirety, for there are six long pages. Its
contents are ...

THE PRESIDENT: What date was it?

DR. DIX: I had the wrong letter. 16 October, 1939. It will
be Exhibit number 31 in my document book. He writes that
this was the psychological moment to give peace to the world
- with the aid of President Roosevelt - a peace which in
itself would also amount to a German victory -

THE PRESIDENT: Is the letter from Schacht?

DR. DIX: From Schacht to Frazier.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you proof for the letter?

DR. DIX: If the High Tribunal prefers, Schacht himself can
deal with the letter. In that case I will only ask the
witness whether it is true that he smuggled this letter into


Q. Please answer the question, witness.

A. Yes. I took this letter to Switzerland and mailed it

Q. Very well. What did your group do to try to bring about
peace, or prevent the war spreading? Did you undertake
further foreign political activities in that direction in
your oppositional group, that is, your group of

A. The main thing for us was to prevent, by all means
possible to us, any

                                                  [Page 248]

expansion of the war. This expansion could only be towards
Holland and Belgium or Norway. We recognised clearly that if
a step was taken in this direction, the consequences, not
only for Germany, but for all of Europe would be tremendous.
Therefore, we wanted to prevent war in the West by all

Immediately after the Polish campaign Hitler decided to move
his troops from the East to the West, and to launch the
attack by violating the neutrality of Holland and Belgium.

We believed that if we could succeed in preventing this
attack in November we would, in the coming winter months,
gain enough time to convince the individual generals, above
all Brauchitsch and Haider and the leaders of the army
groups, that they must at least oppose the expansion of the

Brauchitsch and Haider evaded the question and said it was
too late now, that the enemy would fight Germany to the end
and destroy her. We did not share this opinion. We believed
a peace with honour was still possible, and by honour I mean
that we would of course eliminate the Nazi hierarchy to the
last man. In order to prove to the generals that the
opposing side did not wish to destroy the German people but
merely wanted to protect itself against the Nazi terror, we
took all possible steps abroad, and the first attempt in
that direction, or a small part of that attempt was the
letter written by Schacht to Frazier, the object of which
was to point out that certain domestic political
developments were imminent and that if we could gain time,
that is, if we could survive through the winter, we could
perhaps persuade the generals to undertake a putsch.

DR. DIX: May I interrupt you for a moment. I would like to
call the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that the
witness is referring to a passage, to a suggestion contained
in the letter. This letter is in English. I have no German
translation and I must therefore read this sentence in
English. "My feeling is that the earlier discussions are
opened, the easier it will be to influence the development
of certain existing conditions." The question is now -


Q. Now, I would like to ask you: What did Dr. Schacht mean
by saying that certain existing conditions could be
influenced, did he mean your efforts and aims?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I must interpose an objection. I am not
sure that you may not have misunderstood it. I think that
what Schacht meant is not a question to be addressed to this
witness. I shall have no objection to Dr. Schacht telling us
what he meant by his cryptic language, but I don't think
that this witness can interpret what Schacht meant unless he
has some information apart from anything that now appears. I
don't want to be over-technical about this, but it does seem
to me that this is the sort of question which should be
reserved for Dr. Schacht himself.

DR. DIX: Mr. Justice Jackson, of course, is right, but this
witness said that he smuggled the letter into Switzerland
and I assume that he discussed the contents of the letter
with Schacht and was therefore in a position to explain the
cryptic words.

THE PRESIDENT: He hasn't said that yet; he hasn't said that
he ever saw the letter except the outside of it. He hasn't
said he ever saw the letter itself.

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