The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. All right, but at what time, by what conditions, by what
knowledge were you influenced to begin that activity which
the witness Gisevius has described?

A. My serious criticism of Hitler's actions started at the
time of the so-called Roehm putsch on 30 June, 1934. I
should like to point out first that these things occurred
quite unexpectedly and took me by surprise, because I had
not at all anticipated them. At that time I had told Hitler,
"How could you have had these people just simply killed off?
Under any circumstances, there should have been at least a
summary trial of some sort." Hitler stood these remarks and
merely mumbled something about "revolutionary necessity,"
but he did not really contradict me.

Then in the course of the second half of the year 1934 and
the first half of the year 1935, I noticed that I was under
a misconception when I believed that Hitler did not approve
of, what I thought could be considered, revolutionary
excesses and that he was really willing to restore a
respectable atmosphere. Hitler did nothing to put a stop to
the excesses of individual Party members or Party groups.
Very likely the idea which recently - I believe today - was
mentioned by a witness was always in his mind; let the S.A.
have its fling for once. That is to say, for the masses of
the Party, he sanctioned, as a means of recreation, so to
speak, behaviour which is absolutely incompatible with good
order in the State. In the course of the following months,
my suspicions were confirmed and increased and then, for the
first time, in May, 1935, I took occasion to bring these
matters up with him quite openly. I don't know if you want
me to discuss these things now, but I am ready to tell about

Q. I consider it important that the Tribunal should hear
from you how your original attitude towards Hitler, which
you have just described, changed, and you became a
conspirator against him.

A. Well, the decisive change in my attitude came about by
reason of the Fritsch incident, in the very moment when I
had to recognise - and, of course, that did not come with
lightening speed but in the course of weeks and months it
crystallised - that Hitler aimed at war, or at least was not
prepared to do everything to avoid a war. At that moment I
told myself that this was a tremendous danger which was
raising its head, and that violence could only be crushed by

Any opportunity of political propaganda within the German
people was of course out of the question. There was no
freedom of assembly. There was no freedom of speech. There
was no freedom of writing. There was no possibility of
discussing things even in a small group. From A to Z one was
spied upon, and every word which was said in a group of more
than two persons

                                                  [Page 397]

was spoken at the peril of one's life. There was only one
possibility in the face of that terror, which was beyond
democratic reform and which barred every national criticism,
that was to meet this situation with violence.

Thus I came to the conclusion that, in the face of the
Hitler terror, only a coup d'etat, a putsch and finally an
attempt at assassination was possible.

Q. And is Gisevius right in saying that the peripeteia,
decisive turning-point in your attitude occurred during your
impressions and experiences in the so-called Fritsch crisis?

A. Apart from the inherent falsehood which appeared in all
actions and measures of the Party men - the Fritsch crisis
provided the absolute assurance that a basic change was
occurring in the conduct of political affairs: for within
about ten days Blomberg was removed, Fritsch was removed,
Neurath was removed, and Hitler not only appointed so
unsuitable a person as Ribbentrop to be foreign minister,
but also in his speech in the Reichstag soon afterwards
announced that from now on rearmament had to be increased
even more. Consequently the Fritsch crisis was the decisive
turning-point in my attitude and, from then on, I knew that
every further peaceful attempt at controlling the torrent
would fail and that only violent means could succeed.

DR. DIX: For an estimate of the Fritsch crisis, may I quote
now from the document which I wanted to produce on the
occasion of the interrogation of Gisevius, but could not do
so because the document was not then available to the
prosecution. The same view about the Fritsch crisis, which
Gisevius, and now Dr. Schacht, have put here, was also
expressed abroad by an intelligent officer with political
foresight. May I point to Exhibit 15 of my document book?
That is Page 41 of the English text, and 35 of the German
text. It is a biennial report of the Chief of Staff of the
United States Army to the Secretary of War over the period 1
July, 1943, to 30 June, 1945. I
quote one sentence from it:

  "The history of the German High Command from 1938 on is
  one of constant conflict of personalities in which
  military judgement was increasingly subordinated to
  Hitler's personal dictates. The first clash occurred in
  1938 and resulted in the removal of von Blomberg, von
  Fritsch and Beck, and of the last effective conservative
  influence on German foreign policy."

So here also that turning-point has been clearly understood.
And, in summary, I would like to ask this question of Dr.

Q. Were you only disappointed by Hitler or did you consider
yourself deceived by Hitler at that time? Will you answer

A. The answer is that I never felt disappointed by Hitler,
because I had not expected more of him than my appraisal of
his personality allowed me. But I certainly consider myself
deceived by lies, swindled and cheated by him to the highest
degree, because whatever he had previously promised to the
German people and thereby to me, he did not carry out

He promised equal rights for all citizens, but his
adherents, regardless of their capabilities, got privileges
before all other citizens. He promised to put the Jews under
the same protection which foreigners enjoyed. In fact, he
deprived them of every legal protection. He had promised to
fight against political lies, but together with his
minister, Goebbels, he cultivated nothing but political lies
and political fraud. He promised the German people to
maintain the principles of positive Christianity; yet he
tolerated and sponsored measures by which institutions of
the Church were abused, reviled and damaged. Also, in the
foreign political field he had always spoken against a war
on two fronts - and then later undertook it himself. He
despised and disregarded all laws of the Weimar Republic, to
which he had taken the oath when he became Chancellor. He
mobilised the Gestapo against personal liberty. He gagged
and bound all free exchange of ideas and information. He
pardoned criminals and enlisted

                                                  [Page 398]
them in his service. He did everything to break his
promises. He lied to and deceived the world, Germany and
me.Q. Let us return to the period of the seizure of power.
In November, 1932, you stated publicly that Hitler would
become Reich Chancellor. What caused you to make that

A. That statement was caused by the fact that Hitler in the
July elections of 1932 obtained 40 per cent. of all seats in
the Reichstag for his Party. That is an election result,
which if I am informed correctly, had not occurred since
1871, when the Reichstag was founded; and for me, as a
democrat and a follower of democratic parliamentary
government, it was quite inevitable that that man was now to
be charged with the forming of a Cabinet. I do not know what
else could have happened then. There was only one other
possibility, one alternative and that was a military
government. But the Cabinet of von Papen already had had
some special presidential authority and still could not
maintain itself in the face of the Reichstag; and when Herr
Schleicher attempted to establish a military regime without
the participation of the Nazis, he failed after just a few
weeks because he saw himself confronted with the alternative
either of starting a civil war or of resigning.

Hindenburg, and at first Schleicher as well - although at
the last moment he acted differently - were always of the
opinion that the Armed Forces could not stand a civil war;
and Hindenburg was certainly not ready to tolerate a civil
war. But, very unwillingly, he saw himself forced by
necessity to put the reins of government into the hands of
the man who, thanks to his own propaganda and the incapacity
of all preceding governments, and thanks also to the
inconsiderate policy of the foreign countries toward
Germany, had won the majority of German votes.

Q. You know that the prosecution accuses you of having
assisted Hitler and the Nazi regime to power. I therefore
want to ask you now whether, between the July elections 1932
and the day when Hitler became Chancellor - that is 30
January, 1933 - you spoke publicly for Hitler.

A. I want to state first that Hitler's power was an
accomplished fact in July, 1932, when he secured 232
Reichstag seats. Everything else that followed must be
viewed as a consequence of that Reichstag election. During
that entire period - with the exception of the one interview
you mentioned, in which I said that according to democratic
principle Hitler must become Reich Chancellor - I can say
that I did not write or publicly speak a single word for

Q. Did you, during the time when the reorganisation of the
Reich Cabinet was discussed, speak to Hindenburg on behalf
of Hitler's Chancellorship?

A. I have never in consultations with any one of the
competent gentlemen, be it Hindenburg, Meissner or anyone
else, contributed towards exerting any influence in favour
of Hitler, nor did I participate in any way in the
nomination of Hitler to be Reich Chancellor.

Q. The prosecution accuses you, in that connection, of
putting the prestige of your name at the disposal of Hitler
in November, 1932, and refers to a statement made by
Goebbels in the latter's book, "From the Kaiserhof to the
Reich Chancellery." What can you say about that?

A. I would never have expected that this apostle of truth,
Goebbels could once more be mobilised against me here, but
it is not my fault if Herr Goebbels made a mistake.

Q. The prosecutor also states that you provided the funds
for Hitler in the Reichstag elections of 5 March; that is
said to have happened in an industrial meeting on which
there is an affidavit by the industrialist von Schnitzler,
Document 439-EC, Exhibit USA-618. What do you have to say
about that? It is our Exhibit 3 of our document book, Page
11 of the English copy.

A. In February of 1933, at the time when Hitler was already
Reich Chancellor and the elections of 5 March were to
furnish a basis for the shape of the new
                                                  [Page 399]

government, Hitler asked me whether, on the occasion of a
meeting which Goering was to call, and which would have the
purpose of raising funds for the elections, I would be good
enough to take the role of his banker. I had no reason for
refusing to do that. The meeting took place on 26 February.
And now the prosecutor has made it appear that during that
meeting I had pleaded for election funds. The prosecution
itself, however, has presented a document, 203-D, which
apparently is meant to be a record of the election speech
made by Hitler on that evening.

Q. May I interrupt you and point out to the Tribunal that it
is our Exhibit 2, on Page 9 of the English text. Excuse me.
Please, will you kindly go on.

A. 203-D. That document closes with the following sentence:-

  "Goering then passed very cleverly to the necessity that
  other circles, not taking part in this political battle,
  should at least make the financial sacrifices required at
  this time."

Therefore, from that report which was submitted by the
prosecution, it can be seen very clearly that not I, but
Goering pleaded for funds. I only administered these funds
later, and; in the affidavit by Schnitzler, Document 439-EC,
Page 11, the prosecution has carefully left out these
decisive passages which do not accuse, but exonerate me. I
quote the two sentences, therefore, as follows - I am sorry,
I have to quote in English because I have only the English
text in front of me:-

  "At the meeting Dr. Schacht proposed raising an election
  fund of, as far as I remember, three million Reichsmarks.
  The fund was to be distributed between the two 'allies'
  according to their relative strength at the time. Dr.
  Stein suggested that the Deutsche Volkspartei should be
  included, which suggestion, if I remember rightly, was
  accepted. The amounts which the individual firms had to
  contribute were not discussed."

It can be seen from this that the election fund was
collected not for the Nazi Party only, but for the Nazi
Party and its ally, the national group, to which, for
instance, Herr von Papen and Hugenberg belonged, and, during
that very meeting, a third group, the German Volkspartei,
was added. It was, therefore, a collective fund for those
parties which went into the election campaign together, and
not just a Nazi fund.

Q. The prosecution has mentioned those laws which were
decreed after the seizure of power, and which introduced,
and then established, the totalitarian rule of the Nazis and
of Hitler. We have to consider the question of your personal
responsibility as a later member of the cabinet and I have
to discuss these laws with you in detail; for the present I
just want to remind you of them generally: First, the
Enabling Act; then the law about the prohibition of parties
and the establishment of one party; the law about the unity
of Party and State; the law decreeing the expropriation of
the S.P.D. and the trade unions; the law about civil service
associations; the law about the legal limitation of
professions to Jews; the law instituting the Peoples' Court;
the law legalising the murders of 30 June, 1934; and about
the merger of the offices of the Reich Chancellor and the
Reich President in the person of Hitler. How do you, as
member of the cabinet, define your personal responsibility
with respect to these laws?

A. When all these laws were issued I was not even a Cabinet
member. I had no vote in the Cabinet. I had a vote in the
Cabinet only after 1 August, 1934, at which time the last
disastrous law, the merger of the offices of chancellor and
president was decreed. I did not participate in the
discussions preceding even this law, nor did I vote on it. I
had absolutely no part in any of these laws.

Q. I do not know whether I mentioned it, but I want to keep
you from a

                                                  [Page 400]
mistaken impression. This does not apply to the merger of
the offices of the Reich President in the person of Hitler,
after Hindenburg's death.

A. Of course: I did not take part in that either.

Q. And why not?

A. Because I was not then in the Cabinet. I received my
official nomination as minister on 3 or 4 August. I did not
take part in the deliberation of that law. I did not vote
for it, and did not sign it.

Q. But in the Indictment it is stated that you were a member
of the Reichstag. Then as a member of the Reichstag you
would have voted for these laws, inasmuch as, actually,
after 1933 only unanimous votes were cast in the Reichstag?

A. Yes. Unfortunately, there is much in the trial brief
which is not correct. During my entire life I was never a
member of the Reichstag. One look into the "Reichstag
Handbook" could have enlightened the prosecution that also
during that time I was not a member of the Reichstag. I had
nothing to do with all these laws either as member of the
Cabinet or of the Reichstag, because I had been neither
during that time.

Q. Did Adolf Hitler actually take an oath on the Weimar

A. Of course Hitler took an oath on the Weimar Constitution
when he became Reich Chancellor, to Reich President von
Hindenburg. In taking that oath he swore not only to respect
the constitution but also to observe and fulfil all laws
unless they were lawfully changed.

Q. Was the Weimar Constitution ever formally repealed?

A. No, the Weimar Constitution has never been repealed.

Q. In your view was the "Fuehrer principle" established
anywhere legally or constitutionally?

A. The "Fuehrer principle" was not established by a single
law, and the subsequent attempt to reduce the responsibility
of the individual ministers - and that affected me, also -
by saying it was by a prescriptive law, that is not correct.
The responsibility of the ministers continued to exist, my
own also, and was kept down only by the terror and the
violent threats of Hitler.

Q. The questions whether the Enabling Act referred to the
Fuehrer or to the Cabinet; whether the first Cabinet after
1933 was a National Socialist one or a combination of the
parties of the Right , and the question regarding the
development of Hitler to an autocratic dictator, all these
questions I have already put to the witness Lammers. I do
not wish to repeat them, but do you have anything new to add
to what Lammers has testified?

A. I made only two notes. In the Reichstag speech of Hitler
on 23 March, 1933, he said: "It is the sincere desire of the
National Government ." - not the National Socialist, as it
is always referred to later, but the National Government.

And second point: In the proclamation to the Armed Forces
which Defence Minister von Blomberg issued on 1 February,
1933, this sentence occurs:-
  "I assume this office with the firm determination to
  maintain the Reichswehr, in accordance with the testament
  of my predecessors, as a power factor of the State, above
  Party Politics."

This and other factors already mentioned, convinced me that
the Cabinet would be a national coalition cabinet, whereas
Hitler, by his rule of terror and violence, formed a pure
Nazi dictatorship out of it.

Q. The quotation mentioned by Schacht is in our document
book, Exhibit 4, Page 14 of the English text. Now, when you
became Minister of Economy ...

THE PRESIDENT: It is 5 o'clock; the Tribunal will adjourn.
DR. DIX: Mr. President, may I ask a question? Do we continue
tomorrow, because tomorrow is 1 May, and there is some
uncertainty whether there will be a session tomorrow or not.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, the Tribunal will go on tomorrow.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1 May, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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