The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. I know that, because I was present on the occasion of
that address. What did you think about the ideology of the
"master race," "Herrenvolk"?

A. I have always considered it a very unhappy precedent to
speak of a chosen people, or of "God's own country," or of
things like that. As a

                                                  [Page 392]

convinced adherent to the Christian faith I believe in
Christian charity, which bids me extend love to all men
without regard to race or faith. I would like to mention
also that the silly talk, about the "master race," which
some Party leaders made their own, was held up to constant
ridicule by the German public. That was not surprising,
because most of the leaders of the Hitler Party were not
exactly ideal types of the Nordic race. And in that
connection, when these things were discussed, among the
German population, little Goebbels went under the title "Der
Schrumpf Germane" (the shrunken German). Only one thing - I
have to say this to be just - had most of the leaders of the
Party in common with the old Germans - and that was
drinking; excessive drinking was an outstanding feature of
the Nazi ideology.

Q. What did you think of the so-called National Socialist
ideology (Weltanschauung)?

A. An ideology in my opinion is a summation of all those
moral principles which enable one to acquire a clear
judgement on all aspects of life. Therefore it is a matter
of course that an ideology cannot take root in the visible
word, but must rise above it; it is something metaphysical,
that is to say, it is based on faith, on religion. An
ideology which is not rooted in religion is in my opinion no
ideology at all. Consequently I reject the National
Socialist ideology, which was not rooted in religion.

Q. In the trial brief against you it is expressly stated
that there are no charges against you with regard to the
Jewish question. Nevertheless, I am putting to you a few
questions on this topic, because the very same trial brief
takes from you on the one hand what, on the other hand,
namely, in respect to the Jewish question, it concedes you;
that is to say, the trial brief accuses you repeatedly of
Nazi ideology of which strict adherence to anti-Semitism is
an integral tenet.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I simply can't be bound by silence
after this flagrant misstatement of our position made in
conjunction with this witness's testimony. It is not true
that we make no charges against Dr. Schacht with reference
to the Jews. What is true is that we say that he was not in
complete sympathy with that aspect of the Nazi Party
programme which involved a wholesale extermination of the
Jews, and he was for that reason attacked from time to time.
It is further conceded that he gave aid and comfort to
individual Jews, but we do charge that he believed the Jews
of Germany should be stripped of their rights as citizens,
and that he aided and participated in their persecution. And
I don't like to have our position misstated and then be met
with a claim of estoppel by silence.

DR. DIX: I have to thank you, Mr. Justice Jackson, for your
clarifying statement, and it is now all the more necessary
that I put these questions to Dr. Schacht, but at this
moment I want to emphasise ...

THE PRESIDENT: Please put it then.

DR. DIX: Your Lordship, it is not only a question, but it is
a problem, and I should like to ask the prosecution to
clarify it now, because it still needs clarification even
after the statement of Mr. Justice Jackson. If the Tribunal
does not think that this is the opportune time I can bring
it up later. I believe, however, that it would be right to
bring it up now. As I see it there is a contradiction in the
Indictment and I would like it clarified, so that we shall
not be at cross-purposes in our final speeches.

I can put it quite briefly; it is the question of whether
Dr. Schacht is accused also of Crimes against Humanity; that
is, not only the crime of conspiracy concerning the war of
aggression, but also the typical Crimes against Humanity,
for on this point the individual passages both of the
Indictment and of the prosecutor's speech, in which the
charges were presented, are at variance. I wanted to take
the liberty of pointing out the contradictory passages and
to ask the prosecution to be kind enough to state
conclusively at some future occasion

                                                  [Page 393]
whether Schacht is accused also on Counts III and IV of the
Indictment. In presenting the charges the prosecution

  "Our proof against the defendant Schacht is limited to
  planning and preparation for aggressive war and to
  membership in a conspiracy for aggressive war."

and that indicates that the prosecution will limit itself to
Counts I and II.

Similar statements are on Page 3 of the trial brief. Also,
in Appendix A of the Indictment the charges against Schacht
are limited to Counts I and II. However, on Page 1 of the
Indictment we find the following:

  "We accuse the above-mentioned of Crimes against the
  Peace, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, and of a
  Common Plan or Conspiracy to commit these crimes."

And then all the defendants are listed, including the
defendant Hjalmar Schacht.

On Page 17 of the German text of the Indictment we read

  "On the basis of the facts previously stated, the
  defendants ..." - that is, all the defendants - "are

That is all the defendants are guilty of Counts I, II, III,

It also states, on Page 18 of the Indictment:

  "All the defendants committed War Crimes between 1
  September, 1939, and 8 May, 1945, in Germany and in all
  those countries and territories occupied by the German
  armed forces since 1 September, 1939, and in Austria,
  Czechoslovakia, and Italy, and on the High Seas."

On Page 46 it reads:

  "All the defendants committed Crimes against Humanity
  during a period of years preceding 8 May, 1945, in

and so forth, therefore, some parts of the oral presentation
and of the Indictment show that the prosecution limits its
charges against Schacht to Counts I and II, but other
passages express, beyond doubt, that he is also accused of
Crimes against Humanity.

I think it would be helpful - it need not be done
immediately, but I wanted, as a precaution, to express it
now - if, at the proper time, the prosecution would state to
what extent the charges apply to Schacht.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Your Honour, it will take only one
moment to answer that, and I think the cross-examination ...
the examination should not proceed under any

At all times, and in all documents that I am aware of, the
defendant Schacht has been accused of being guilty of Count

Count I, on the statement of the offence, states:

  "The Common Plan or Conspiracy embraced the commission of
  Crimes against Peace in that the defendants planned,
  prepared, and initiated wars of aggression ... In the
  development and course of the common plan it came to
  embrace the commission of War Crimes, in that it
  contemplated, and the defendants determined upon and
  carried out, ruthless wars ..."

And that included also Crimes against Humanity.

Our contention is that, though the defendant Schacht himself
was not in the field perpetrating these individual
atrocities, yet he is answerable for every offence committed
by any of the defendants or their co-conspirators up to the
time when he openly broke with this regime with which he
became associated.

That is our contention, and Dr. Dix should conduct his
examination on the assumption that every charge is a charge
against Schacht up to the time that he openly, and on record
so that somebody knew it, became separated from the company
with which he chose to travel.

DR. DIX: It is probably my fault, but I still cannot see
clearly. First, I do not know what date the prosecution
means when it admits that Schacht openly broke with the
regime. I must, during my examination ...

                                                  [Page 394]

THE PRESIDENT: I think you must make up your own mind as to
what time it was, the time at which he openly broke.

Aren't you able to hear?

DR. DIX: I have to make up my mind now?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I think you had better go on with the

DR. DIX: All right, I can refer to the subject again later.


Q. Well then, please do not make any statements of principle
concerning the Jewish question, but tell the Tribunal, and
give a few examples, of what your attitude was on the Jewish

A. The Jewish question came up quite early, in 1933, when
the deceased New York banker, James Meier, announced his
intention to visit me. I went to Hitler at that time and
told him:-

  "Mr. James Meier, one of the best reputed New York
  bankers and a great benefactor of his old home country,
  Germany, will come to visit me, and I intend to give a
  dinner in his honour. I assume that you have no

He immediately said, in a very definite and notable manner:-

  "Herr Schacht, you can do everything."

And I assumed that he gave me absolute freedom to keep in
contact with my Jewish friends, which I had done. The dinner
actually took place.

I only mention this because it was the first time the Jewish
question was brought up between us. On every occasion I took
a definite position on the Jewish question ... and wherever
possible publicly ... I have always looked for that
opportunity. I will give only two examples of that.

There was a branch of the Reichsbank in Arnswalde in the
province of Brandenburg. The name of the manager of that
branch office was one day posted up in one of the public
"Sturmer boxes" in his town, and termed a traitor to the
people because his wife had bought 50 pfennig worth of
ribbon or the like in a Jewish store. I at once approached
the competent official at Arnswalde and demanded the
immediate removal of the placard and an immediate
correction, that the man was no traitor to the people. That
was refused, whereupon, without asking anyone, I closed the
Reichsbank branch at Arnswalde. After a few weeks, the
Oberpresident, who was of course also a Nazi boss, came to
me and asked me to re-open the branch office. I told him,
"As soon as you repudiate that affair publicly I shall re-
open the branch office at Arnswalde." Within a few days the
Oberpresident and Gauleiter of Brandenburg, Grube, had the
announcement made public in the Arnswalde newspaper, in
large print, and so I re-opened the branch office in
Arnswalde. That is one example.

The second example has been mentioned briefly; I just want
to sum it up once more because its effect was penetrating.

I referred to the pogrom of 9 November, 1938, on the
occasion of a Christmas celebration for the office boys of
the Reichsbank, and I told the boys, in the presence of many
- parents, Party leaders and Party members - that I hoped
they had nothing to do with these things, which should make
every decent German blush with shame. But if they did they
should leave the Reichsbank at once, because in an
institution such as the Reichsbank, which was built up on
good faith, there was no place for people who did not
respect the property and life of others.

DR. DIX: May I interrupt you, Dr. Schacht, and point out to
the Tribunal that in Exhibit 34, which has been submitted,
and is an affidavit of Dr. Schniewind, on Page 118 of the
German text and on Page 126 of the English text the same
incident which Dr. Schacht has just related is mentioned.
May I quote quite briefly:-

                                                  [Page 395]

  "It is known that, at the Christmas celebration of the
  Reichsbank in December of 1938, he" - that is Schacht -
  "said the following in his address to the young office
  'A few weeks ago things occurred in our Fatherland which
  are a disgrace to civilisation and which must turn every
  decent German's face red with shame. I only hope that
  none of you office boys participated in them, because for
  such an individual there is no place in the Reichsbank.'"


Q. Excuse me. Please continue. You wanted to add something?

A. When in August of 1934 I took over the Reich Ministry of
Economy, of course I first put the question to Hitler: "How
are the Jews in our national economy to be treated?" Hitler
told me then, literally, "The Jews can be active in domestic
economy in the same way as before."

That was the directive that Hitler had promised to me, and
during all the time when I was in charge of the Ministry of
Economy I acted accordingly.

However, I have to add that every few weeks there was a
quarrel on some Jewish question with some Gauleiter or other
Party official. Also, I could not protect Jews against
physical mistreatment and the like because that came under
the competence of the State Attorney and not mine; but in
the economic field, I helped all Jews who approached me to
gain their rights, and in every individual case I prevailed
with Hitler and succeeded against the Gauleiter and Party
officials. Sometimes I even threatened to resign.

I believe that it is notable that the pogrom of November,
1938, only took place after I had resigned from my office.
Had I still been in office, then that pogrom doubtlessly
would not have occurred.

Q. The witness Gisevius has already testified that, in the
course of developments from 1933 on, fundamental changes
took place in your judgement of Adolf Hitler. I ask you now,
because this is a very decisive question, to give the
Tribunal a detailed description of your real attitude and
your judgement of Adolf Hitler in the course of the years -
as exhaustively, but also as briefly as possible.

A. In former statements which I have made here, I have
spoken of Hitler as a semi-educated man. I still maintain
that. He did not have sufficient school education, but he
read an enormous amount later, and acquired a wide
knowledge. He juggled with that knowledge in a masterly
manner in all debates, discussions and speeches.

No doubt he was a man of genius in certain respects. He had
sudden ideas of which nobody else had thought and which were
at times useful in solving great difficulties, sometimes
with astounding simplicity, sometimes, however, with equally
astounding brutality.

He was a mass psychologist of really diabolical genius.
While I myself and several others - for instance, General
von Witzleben told me so once - were never captivated in
personal conversations, still he had a very peculiar
influence on other people, and particularly he was able-in
spite of the screeching and exaggerated tone of his voice-to
stir up the utmost, overwhelming enthusiasm of large masses
in a filled auditorium.

I believe that originally he was not filled with evil
tendencies; originally, no doubt, he believed he was aiming
at good, but gradually he himself fell victim to the same
charm which he exerted on the masses; because whoever
ventures to seduce the masses is finally led and seduced by
them, and so this reciprocal relation between leader and
led, in my opinion, contributed to attracting him to the
evil days of mass instincts, which every political leader
should avoid.

One more thing was admirable in Hitler. He was a man of
unbending energy, of a will power which overcame all
obstacles, and in my estimate only these two characteristics
- mass psychology and his energy and will power

                                                  [Page 396]

 - explain that Hitler was able to rally up to forty per
cent., then later, almost fifty per cent. of the German
people, behind him.

What else can I say?

Q. Well, I was mainly concerned with bringing up the subject
of your own change of opinion. You have said that the break
in your attitude toward Hitler was caused by the Fritsch
incident. You are the best witness who can give us an
explanation not of Hitler's but of your own development, and
your changing attitude towards Hitler.

A. Excuse me. I think there is a basic error here. It
appears from this as if I had been a convinced adherent of
Hitler at some time. I have never been that. On the
contrary, out of concern for my people and my country after
Hitler gained power, I endeavoured with all my strength to
direct that power into an orderly channel, and to keep it
within bounds. Therefore, there was no question of a break
with Hitler. A break could only be spoken of had I been
closely connected with him before. At heart, I was never
closely connected with Hitler, but to all appearances I
worked in the Cabinet and I did so because he was, after
all, in power, and I considered it my duty to put myself at
the disposal of my people and my country for their good.

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