The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/28

Q. The prosecutor asserts further that you were interested
in the conquest of neighbouring territory in Europe.

A. This matter is not quite so harmless as the previous
mistake of the prosecution. In a previous interrogation, I
was accused as follows, and the prosecutor, in presenting
his charges here, referred to the fact - I quote the

   "On 16 April, on the occasion of the Paris conference on
   reparation payments, Schacht said, 'Germany in general
   can pay only if the Corridor and Upper Silesia are
   returned to Germany'."

This is the interrogation of 24 August, 1945. According to
the verbatim record of the interrogation, I answered:-

  "It may be that I said such a thing."

Of course, as far as the wording of a statement, which I had
made ten to fifteen years before goes, I did not recall it.
But I did remember that in connection with the Corridor and
Upper Silesia I had made a remark, and since I had to
assume, if the prosecution submitted this record to me, it
would be a stenographic and a correct record, I did not
dispute this remark which allegedly I had made, and said
that it might be that I said something to that effect. The
prosecution takes a "maybe" and out of that reconstructs the
sentence as:-

  "This quotation was read to Schacht, and he said it was

This assertion by the prosecution is therefore wrong. I
said, "It may be that I said something to that effect," but
I did not say that this statement that was submitted to me
was correct.

Then, fortunately, in my imprisonment here, I succeeded in
getting hold of my book, a book which I wrote about the end
of reparation payments, which was published in 1931, and in
which I luckily put down the wording of my statement about
the matter with which we are dealing now. I have the exact
wording, and I would like to say that this book has been
submitted in evidence, and from this wording there appears
what I said, verbatim:-

  "Regarding the problem of German food and food supplies,
  it is especially important that import of foodstuffs has
  been decreased" - I beg your pardon- "that import will be
  decreased." I am sorry again. I cannot read this: "That
  the import of foodstuffs will be decreased and partially
  made up through home production. Therefore, we cannot let
  the fact be overlooked that important agricultural
  surplus territories in the eastern part of Germany have
  been lost by cession and that a large territory, which
  was almost exclusively agrarian, has been separated from
  the Reich. Therefore, the economic welfare of this
  territory, East Prussia, is decreasing steadily and the
  Reich Government must support and subsidise it.
  Constantly, therefore, suitable measures should be taken
  to eliminate these injurious conditions, which are
  hindering considerably Germany's ability to pay."

DR. DIX: Your Lordship, this is from our document book,
Exhibit 16, German Page 38, English Page 44.

                                                  [Page 385]

A. This quotation absolutely does not agree with the
statement submitted to me in the interrogation, and in no
way can we draw the conclusion in consequence that I was in
favour of a return of these areas. What I demanded was that
the separation of these areas be taken into consideration
when Germany's ability to pay and the payments were
determined. When the prosecutor in his speech added: "I
would like to point out that this is the same area over
which the war started in September, 1939, ... " I believe it
is an insinuation which characterises the prosecutor rather
than me, against whom it was intended.

Q. As far as circumstantial evidence is concerned, that is,
the indirect evidence submitted against you of a will to
aggression, the prosecution asserts that you wished - so it
is attributed - for the Anschluss of Austria. Will you
please state your position as to this accusation?

A. I have considered since 1919 the Anschluss of Austria
inevitable and, in the national sense, that is spiritually
and culturally, it was welcome. But that economically the
Anschluss of Austria would not be for Germany so much an
aggrandizement as a liability, that is something I have
always known. But the wish of the Austrian people to belong,
to be incorporated into Germany - I took that wish as my own
and said that, if here there are six and a half million
people, who spontaneously in 1919, and later in innumerable
public meetings, expressed their wish of being incorporated
into the Greater German Reich of related peoples, that was
an event to which no German could be opposed, but, in the
interest of Austria, should be hailed with gladness. In that
sense I always favoured and respected the wish of Austria to
belong to the Reich and wanted it carried through as soon as
external political conditions permitted.

Q. My attention has just been called to the fact that you
are still speaking too fast and that the interpretation is
lagging behind a little bit. Will you please speak a little
more slowly.

What was your opinion as to the incorporation of the
Sudetenland into Germany?

A. Concerning the incorporation of the Sudetenland, I never
thought of any such thing. Of course, Czechoslovakia was a
European problem, and it was regrettable that in that State,
which had five and a half million Czechs, two and a half
million Slovaks and about three and a half million Germans,
the German element had no means of expression. But just
because the Czechoslovakian problem was not a purely German-
Czech but also a Slovak-Czech problem, I sought a solution
of this problem in such a way, and wished it to be in such a
way, that Czechoslovakia should constitute a federated
State, similar, perhaps, to Switzerland; divided into three
different, culturally separate, but politically unified
areas, which would be a guarantee for the unity of a German-
Czech-Slovak State.

Q. What was your opinion and attitude to the problem of war;
by that I mean, as far as philosophical, ideological and
practical considerations are concerned?

A. I always considered war as one of the most devastating
things to which mankind is exposed and on basic principles,
throughout my entire life, I was a pacifist.

Q. Dr. Schacht, during your meditative and thoughtful life,
you certainly considered the fundamental and profound
difference between legitimate and ethically based soldiering
and militarism with its degenerate forms. What did you mean
by the latter and what was your attitude toward it, that is,

A. Of course I saw the necessity of a country's defence in
case of war or threats, and I stood for that theory. In that
sense I was always in favour of a Wehrmacht, but the
profession of a soldier I consider to be full of
deprivations and characterised by willingness and readiness
to sacrifice, not because perhaps during a war the soldier
has to give up his life - that is the duty of every citizen
of military age - but because his whole aim and aspiration
must be directed to

                                                  [Page 386]
the end that, never must the craft which he has learned be
exercised. A soldier, a career officer, who is not
intrinsically a pacifist, has really, in my opinion, missed
his calling. Consequently, I was always an opponent of every
military digression and excess. I was always against
militarism, but I consider that soldiership, conscious of
its responsibility, is the highest calling which a citizen
can pursue.

Q. Now, George Messersmith, as you know, the Consul General
of the United States at Berlin at one time, says, in one of
his various affidavits produced by the prosecution, that you
had told him, and repeatedly told him, about Nazi intents of
aggression. Will you please state your position in that

A. First of all, I would like to remark that of course I
never made a statement of that sort, neither to Mr. George
Messersmith nor anyone else. As far as these three
affidavits of Mr. Messersmith are concerned, which were
submitted by the prosecution, I would like to make a further

Mr. Messersmith asserts that he had frequent contacts and
numerous private conversations with me, and I would like to
state here now that, according to my memory, I saw Mr.
George Messersmith perhaps two or three times in my entire
life. Mr. George Messersmith is picturing himself as having
had numerous contacts and many private conversations with
me, and he asserts further that his official capacity
brought him in contact with me as president of the
Reichsbank and as Minister of Economics. I do not recall
once having received Mr. Messersmith in my office. Mr.
George Messersmith takes these two or three discussions and
proceeds to characterise me. He calls me cynical, ambitious,
egoistic, vain, two-faced. I am, unfortunately, not in a
position to give an equally comprehensive picture of the
character of Mr. Messersmith. But I must definitely dispute
his trustworthiness.

And as a first reason for this I would like to quote a
general remark by Mr. Messersmith. In his affidavit of 30
August, 1945, Document 2385-PS, Mr. George Messersmith says,
and I quote:-

  "When the Nazi Party took over Germany, it represented
  only a small part of the German population."

Contrary to that, I say that before the Nazi Party took over
Germany it occupied about 40 per cent. of all Reichstag
seats. That percentage, Mr. Messersmith calls a small part
of the German population. If diplomatic reports are
everywhere as reliable as in this instance, it is small
wonder that nations do not understand each other.

I would also like to correct a specific remark by Mr.
Messersmith. Mr. Messersmith asserts, as I have quoted just
a minute ago, that his duty brought him in contact with me
as Minister of Economics. In his affidavit of 28 August,
Document 1760-PS, Mr. Messersmith says, and I quote:-

  "During the wave of terrorist activity in May and June of
  1934 I had already assumed my duties as American Charge
  d'Affaires in Vienna."

In August of 1934, I became Minister of Economics, whereas,
on the other hand, Mr. Messersmith, already in May of 1934,
assumed his official duties at Vienna; but this does not
prevent Mr. Messersmith from asserting that his official
duties brought him in frequent contact with me as Minister
of Economics. I believe this will suffice to gauge correctly
the capacity of Mr. Messersmith's memory.

Q. In a similar connection, the prosecution repeatedly
referred to the diary of the former ambassador in Berlin,
Mr. Dodd, which was published on the basis of his private
entries by his children after his death. This exhibit has
the number USA-461. The prosecution quotes from this diary
repeatedly to prove that Mr. Dodd, too, considered you a
warmonger. I know, of course, that you were a friend of Mr.
Dodd's, a fact which is shown in his diary. Can you tell me
how the two facts can be reconciled?

A. First of all, I might say that Ambassador Dodd was one of
the most

                                                  [Page 387]
undefiled personalities I have met, and of upright
character, a man of unflinching fidelity to his convictions.
He was a professor of history, undoubtedly a good historian.
He had studied at German universities. I believe that he
would turn in his grave if he knew that the notes which he
put down casually in his diary were put together by his two
children without commentary and printed without
investigation. Mr. Dodd, I am sorry to say, had one
characteristic which made dealing with him a little
difficult. I think the reason for this lay in his
steadfastness of conviction, which from the first often made
him appear averse to outside influence. He found it rather
hard to make himself understood easily and fluently, and he
was even less in a position to view opinions of others in
the right light. Many things that were told him he
misunderstood and saw in a wrong light.

On Page 176 in his diary, in the lower corner, there is one
sentence I would like to quote, to illustrate the point I am
trying to make. Here he says: "I talked fifteen minutes with
Phipps" - the British Ambassador at that time, - "about the
accumulated evidence of Germany's intense war activities."
This statement dates from the autumn of 1934 and I believe
no one is able to say that, in the autumn of 1934, there was
any talk of a "war activity" on the part of Germany. Mr.
Dodd uses the expression "war" undoubtedly in the place of
"armament," he says "Krieg" instead of "Aufrustung." In that
sense, I believe, he misunderstood the words.

And, as further evidence for the difficulty which one had to
make Dodd understand, I might say that the Foreign Office
asked him once to bring a secretary, who would take notes of
discussions with representatives of the Foreign Office, so
that misunderstandings could be avoided.

I believe, therefore, that all these statements by Mr. Dodd
are apt to be misunderstood. As for myself, I can only say
what I have already said about Mr. Messersmith, that of
course I never talked about war intentions.

Q. Now, in this diary it says that he was friendly disposed
towards you. Do you have any proof for this friendly
attitude to you?

A. Might I perhaps refer to the correspondence with Henderson ...

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