The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. The prosecution has said that the Propaganda Ministry was
the most fabulous lie factory of all times. What do you have
to say about this?

A. First, for myself personally, I should like to make the
following quite clear. I state under oath: in really serious
questions of policy and the conduct of war I did not commit
a single falsification and did not consciously tell a single

How often I myself was the victim of a falsehood or a lie I
cannot say after the revelations of this trial. The same is
true, as far as I know, of all my fellow-workers, but I do
not by any means want to deny that I and my fellow-workers

                                                  [Page 249]

selected news and quotations according to a tendency. It is
the curse of propaganda during war that one works only with
black and white. Only a few great spirits remain
independent. I believe that this painting in black and white
is a luxury which also cannot be afforded any more.

As to the Propaganda Ministry itself, as such, I must say
that I can only judge of the one-twelfth, that is the one
section of which I was in charge at any time. But to my
knowledge it is a mistake to believe that in the Propaganda
Ministry thousands of little lies were thought out. In
details we worked quite cleanly and honestly, technically
even perfectly. If we had lied in a thousand small things,
the enemy would have been able to deal with us more easily
than was the case. But decisive for such a news machine is
not the detail but the final fundamental basis on which
propaganda is built. Decisive is the belief in the
incorruptibility of the leaders of the State, on which every
journalist must rely, and this basis is shaken by what has
become known today of mass murders, of senseless atrocities
and by the doubt in the honesty of Hitler's protestations
for peace, the factual details of which I am in no position
to judge.

Q. In this trial it has been pointed out that there are no
regulations under International Law on the methods of
propaganda in war and peace.

A. I know very well that International Law places no
limitations on propaganda, especially propaganda during war.
I also know very well that only in a very few individual
treaties between States are there regulations about the use
of propaganda; for example in the German-Polish treaty and
in the German-Soviet Union treaty. But in all my life as a
journalist I have emphasized that the lack of international
regulations as to propaganda is no excuse for lies. I always
emphasized the moral responsibility of the journalist and
newsman. I did so long before the war in an international
discussion with Radio Luxembourg, but I need not go into
that here.

If last May I did not seek death, one of the reasons for
this was my wish - I wanted to render an account of where,
in that system, there were the pure idealism and the heroic
sacrifices of millions and where there were lies and the
brutality which did not shrink from committing crimes.

Q. Please give us examples of cases wherein you felt you
were deceived.

A. During this trial the news was discussed which occurred
at the beginning of the Polish war about the attack on the
Gleiwitz radio station. At that time I firmly believed in
the correctness of the official German news. I need say
nothing about this case.

Then, in December of last year, here in the prison in
Nuremberg, I realised from a talk with Grand Admiral Raeder
that it was actually a German submarine which sank the
Athenia. Up to that time I had firmly believed in the truth
of the official German report that there had been no German
submarine in the neighbourhood. I have asked my lawyer to
pick out the most caustic statements I made in my radio
speeches about the Athenia case and include them in my
document book. They are utterances which would really speak
against me but which, on the other hand, show that I worked
not only on the basis of the official German news, but that
I also collected the news which supported the official
German version; for example, the fact which was not at first
made public and therefore was suspicious, that the wreck of
the Athenia, one day after the catastrophe, was sunk by
being shelled by British destroyers, which is a matter of
course in the interest of shipping but which at the time
seemed to me to be a cause for suspicion. I also used
American news on the same subject. But the most impressive
false news of which I was a victim was given out in the last
few days of the war. I must describe it for the sake of
clearing matters up.

In the days when Berlin was surrounded by the Russian Army
the people of Berlin were told that a relief army, the army
of General Weng, was marching on Berlin; that there was no
more fighting on the Western Front. The news was given out
that Ribbentrop had gone to the Western Front and had
concluded a

                                                  [Page 250]

treaty there, and handbills were printed in Berlin which
contained approximately this text:

  "Soldiers of the Weng Army, we Berliners know that you
  are at Potsdam. Hurry, come quickly, help us."

These handbills were printed at a time when the Weng Army no
longer existed and had already been captured. These
handbills were apparently dropped over Berlin inadvertently
and were to give the inhabitants of Berlin new courage. That
was done in the days when Hitler, according to Speer's
testimony, had already told his entourage that there was no
use trying to do anything for the rest of the German people.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, the two radio speeches which the
defendant Fritzsche has mentioned dealing with the Athenia
case are in the document Fritzsche Exhibit which I submitted
yesterday. I refer only to the contents of these radio


Q. Please give examples of untruths which you knew and which
you did not consider lies.

A. One example is the so-called "V" drive. Colonel Britton,
a British colonel, proclaimed this "V" drive, this "Victory"
drive on the British radio. On the same evening I stood
before a German microphone and said, apparently harmlessly -
"We will have a 'V' drive, the 'V' stands for 'Victoria."'

Then Colonel Britton said that I had stolen the "V" from
him. I said that that was not the case, that I thought of it

Q. If you thought you were operating only with the truth,
why your sharp language, why the prohibition against
listening on the radio to foreign stations?

A. I have already emphasized in my affidavit that in my
opinion the sharpness of my language was always less than
that of my opponents. The prohibition against listening to
foreign radio stations was issued decidedly against my will.
This prohibition was only a hindrance to me in my
discussions with my foreign opponents in the various
countries. In this type of prohibition my enemy was, so to
speak, in half shadow; I could not speak to him officially,
but, on the other hand, I knew that many of my listeners had
heard him. May I mention here that I always advocated a mild
judgement on the violators of this prohibition against
listening to foreign radio stations. Legal officials often
consulted me as an expert. I may emphasize that,
particularly after Stalingrad, I established my own
monitoring service for the Russian radio in order to learn
the names of German soldiers captured at Stalingrad which
were mentioned on the Russian radio, and report them to the
relatives, because it seemed cruel to me to deprive the
relatives of such a source of information about the fate of
their people.

Moreover, there was only one alternative to the prohibition
against listening to the radio. That was either to
confiscate all radios and stop the whole German radio system
- the Party often demanded this - or the prohibition against
listening to foreign stations, which seemed to me the lesser
of the two evils.

Lastly, we were in a war, and the enemy was not too
particular in his methods. I should like to give an example.
That was the station Gustav Siegfried 2, which at the
beginning of its work gained listeners in Germany with
stories that I do not want to characterise more precisely
but which caused me to prohibit my own monitoring station
from receiving this broadcast.

Q. You have been charged with urging a policy of ruthless
exploitation of the occupied territories. Do you acknowledge
such a policy?

A. No. The aim of all my propaganda work in Europe was, and
had to be, to win over the peoples of Europe to the German
cause. Anything else would have been illogical. All the
radio broadcasts in all European languages, which were made
under my direction for years, had only one aim, that was to
win the voluntary co-operation, especially of the occupied
territories, for the fight of the Reich.

                                                  [Page 251]

Q. Were you of the opinion that the German administration in
the occupied territories recruited voluntary co-operation?

A. At the beginning, certainly, with one single exception.
That was Koch in the Ukraine. Otherwise, as far as I could
see, all administrations of occupied territories sought this
collaboration more or less skilfully. I saw the gigantic
efforts which the Allies made to interfere with this German
collaboration policy, which was very dangerous for them. I
saw these efforts of the Allies, who at first used their
means of propaganda. This alone would not have worked. Then
I saw how they used other means, attacks and sabotage. These
latter efforts had great success. Attacks always called for
reprisal and reprisals always called forth new outrages.

I hope I will not be misunderstood, and this is not meant
cynically, if I say the following: I, as a propagandist,
considered for example the murder of Heydrich a minor
success. The destruction of Lidice, carried out by the
Germans, however, was a tremendous success for the Allies.
In other words, I always was and had to be an opponent of
reprisals of all kinds.

Q. Did you know of the reprisals? How did you deal with them
in your propaganda?

A. I learned of Lidice, which I just mentioned, only after
months, because at that time I was at the Eastern Front. I
learned - and this is significant - only of the destruction
of the houses of Lidice and the driving out of the
inhabitants. I learned only here in the courtroom of the
killing of a part of the inhabitants. I learned that
hostages were taken, but not that they were killed. The
killing of hostages was made public only in the occupied
territories. If shootings occurred anywhere, I was told that
they had been of persons condemned to death on account of
outrages or conspiracy. The "Nacht and Nebel" decree was
also unknown to me. On the other hand, I frequently learned
of fines which had been imposed on States or districts. In
our propaganda, we always referred to the causes of such

Q. And how did you describe the work of the German
administrations in your propaganda?

A. I always referred to the constructive work which, in
spite of all difficulties and all resistance, was being done
in the various occupied territories, especially - and far
ahead - the work for the intensification of agriculture; and
the increase of industrial production. I had references made
to the supplying of the occupied territories with food,
often, as I should like to emphasize, from scant German
supplies. I had reports made of the creation of schools, and
I received at times very impressive reports and had them
worked on, for example, on the supplying of cities such as
Paris, in spite of the attacks of the enemy against railway
lines or other means of communication. I had such reports
collected in permanent files and had speeches and whole
series of speeches made on them. There were many such
reports. I must emphasize that, as far as I know, in not a
single German occupied territory was there an infant
mortality of 80 per cent, and in none were there fields
lying fallow, and it is simply not true, as the prosecution
said here once, that Germany and the Germans were well fed
and happy during the war while the occupied territories
starved. That is not true.

Q. What did you know about bad conditions in the occupied

A. Above all, they were caused by the failure to call on the
population for their own administration and the lack of
decisive political concessions in the countries which
administered themselves. Immediately after the French
campaign, I had repeatedly demanded the establishment of
Magna Charta for Europe, laying down the basic rights of the
European peoples. I prepared many memoranda on this subject,
which were accepted by Dr. Goebbels and taken to Hitler; and
when, in the autumn of 1942, I decided to return to the
Propaganda Ministry one of the promises which Dr. Goebbels
gave me was that now finally that Magna Charta for Europe
would be proclaimed.

                                                  [Page 252]

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, on this occasion I should like to
quote a passage from the Scharping affidavit, document
Fritzsche Exhibit 2. Page 13 of the affidavit.

  "After the occupation of various European countries,
  Fritzsche issued directives for news releases to the
  effect that the peoples of Europe were to form a league
  of States on the basis of equality with Germany. He told
  me to work out a series of speeches to this effect in
  which this point of view was to play the decisive role,
  and which at the same time should give the authorities
  hints for a healthy reconstruction in the occupied


Q. Did you know what has been said here by the prosecution
about the activity of the police in the occupied

A. No.

Q. At this point I should like to interpolate a question: I
have already asked the witness Paulus about your conduct
after you learned of the Commissar Order. How about that?

A. I learned of the order to shoot captured Soviet
Commissars at the beginning of May, 1942, when I came to the
Sixth Army. I immediately opposed it. Whether it was carried
out or not, I do not know. Field-Marshal Paulus, no doubt,
is correct when he said that he had already prevented in his
army the execution of this order. At any rate, I made it my
business to have the order as such rescinded, and I achieved
this. The Sixth Army at my advice gave certain information
to the High Command of the Wehrmacht or to the operations
staff. I am moreover convinced that many army leaders acted
in the same way as the leader of the Sixth Army and simply
did not carry out the order. At any rate, it was expressly
rescinded afterwards.

Q. The prosecution quotes two paragraphs from your radio
speech of 5th July, 1941.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, that is in the English record of
Captain Sprecher, Pages 32-33.


Q. The prosecution concludes from this presentation that you
had agitated for ruthless measures against the population of
the Soviet Union. You are said to have vilified the people
of the Soviet Union.

THE PRESIDENT: We cannot find it here. What is the PS

DR. FRITZ: It is in the transcript, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: We have not got the transcript here. We have
the document book. The document book does not contain 32 and
33 pages. It only contains 32 - or 31 and a little bit.

DR. FRITZ: I can give the document number, which is 3064-PS,
Exhibit USA 723 and -

THE PRESIDENT: It is Page 14 in our book. Well, did you say
5th July?

DR. FRITZ: 5th July, 1941.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have got 7th and 10th July but not
5th. What page in the shorthand notes was it? You know it?

DR. FRITZ: On Page 32, Page 33 in the English transcript. I
have the English transcript here.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you had better read it then.

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