The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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THE WITNESS: May I repeat: "Anyone who has the reputation of
being cruel does not have to be cruel. He can act humanely."

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but then you went on about going to the
Sixth Army?

THE WITNESS: Yes, shortly thereafter I became a soldier -

                                                  [Page 261]

DR. FRITZ: He added, Mr. President, that shortly after this
meeting with Heydrich, he himself, that is the defendant
Fritzsche, became a soldier and he specifically asked to be
detailed to the Sixth Army which at that time was stationed
in the Ukraine.

THE PRESIDENT: What was the date of this incident?

THE WITNESS: February - March, 1942.


Q. When you were a soldier in the Ukraine, did you try to
check the correctness of Heydrich's statements?

A. I had no official opportunity to do this, but as an old
journalist I made investigations on my own, of course.

First of all, I investigated in Kiev, with the local German
radio station. The answer was yes, several shootings
actually did take place, specifically after the blowing up
of certain blocks of houses, on which occasion many German
soldiers had lost their lives. However, these shootings were
in accordance with sentences imposed by courts martial.

Then, for three days I travelled in all directions between
Kiev and Poltawa. Mostly I travelled alone. I found the
population completely peaceful: there were no signs of
terror whatsoever, and, by the way, I was received very well

At Poltawa, I checked with officers and soldiers. On these
occasions as well, I was told, "Yes, there were some court-
martial sentences. The reason for these sentences was

Then, in Kharkov itself, I visited the SS Command stationed
there, and I spoke with the Sturmfuehrer Rexlach. He denied
any shooting actions. He showed me the prison and there were
perhaps fifty people there, no more. I asked him about camps
and he stated that there were none.

Then I visited an Ukrainian family; I questioned a German
agricultural leader at Bjelgorod, and I met with the same
result in every case: No shooting actions had taken place.

I gathered from that that it had been an attempted
individual action which had not been carried through.

Q. Before this letter which the SS man had sent you, had you
not already suspicions, perhaps from Allied radio broadcasts
which you had access to?

A. These radio broadcasts were accessible to me. I had
reports on atrocities specially collected at that time and
chosen from the great number of enemy broadcasts which we
received every day, and then I had these reports
investigated and checked.

Q. And who concerned himself with this checking?

A. The competent specialist, Oberregierungsrat Korber, in
charge of the department "Schnelldienst" (Express Service)
of the Press Department, or one of his co-workers, or

Q. Where was this checked?

A. We inquired of the RSHA, for in most of these reports of
atrocities the SS or Gestapo were mentioned as the ones who
had perpetrated the murders.

Q. At which of the many branches of this office did you

A. We inquired at the various specialist offices, and I do
not doubt that we inquired of Eichmann, who has been
mentioned in these proceedings here. Apart from that, we
inquired of Sturmbannfuehrer Spengler or his deputy von
Kielpinsky, both of them members of that office which, at
that time or later, was taken over by Ohlendorf, who has
also appeared here as a witness. Frequently we inquired
among the branch offices of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt,
the so-called State police control offices, as well,
especially if there were reports from a special area.

Q. What were the answers you received?

                                                  [Page 262]

A. We always received the answer that the report in question
was either completely wrong and was an invention, or that
the report had this or that legal basis.

Frequently figures and details were reported which in effect
were quite disarming.

Q. Are there any records of this?

A. Yes. The more important questions and answers were put
into writing and were even reproduced and sent to the
various offices within and outside the Propaganda Ministry.
All the material was collected in the archives called
"Schnelldienst," material for which I applied here and which
was granted to me but was not found.

Q. And you just believed these answers?

A. Yes, I did believe them for after all, this was
information which was given to me by official sources and
furthermore I had experienced on numerous occasions that the
authenticity of such reports from these sources had been
proved very completely.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. Perhaps I might give you an example. The first propaganda
action of the war was the report given out by Warsaw about
the destruction of the picture of the "Black Madonna" of
Czenstochow. This report was transmitted all over the world.
We took German and foreign journalists to Czenstochow, who
could assure themselves that this report was not true. But I
must be quite honest here and say that I really wanted to
cite another example in reply to this question put by my
counsel, another report which really had its surprising
after-effects for me in this courtroom some two or three
days ago. The British newspaper the News Chronicle, on 24th
September, 1939, printed the report that the German -

THE PRESIDENT: What is the evidential value of the News
Chronicle, in 1939?

DR. FRITZ: The defendant wants to prove to the High Tribunal
that he found that many reports from abroad, dealing with
German atrocities, actually were false, so that -

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we do not need details about that. No
doubt there were frequent reports which were not accurate.
We do not want you to go into details.

THE WITNESS: I wanted to prove with just one news item how
at that time something which the world believed could be
denied and then, in the shadow of this denial, quite
unnoticed by the German public, something did take place,
such as a larger wave of arrests or a similar matter.

THE PRESIDENT: He can state the facts but he need not go
into detail about a particular issue of the newspaper.


Q. Was it only once, Herr Fritzsche, that you learned of the
falsehood of such foreign broadcasts?

A. No, that took place quite frequently.

Q. Please be very brief, Herr Fritzsche.

A. One of my co-workers gathered the necessary material for
an article entitled "In eight weeks of war 107 lies." I
should like to say only one thing about this. The gathering
of such false reports, given out by our enemy, gave me a
sense of moral superiority over that type of reporting, and
this feeling was the basis of my later work, which could not
be explained without this feeling.

Q. Did you not consider that such false reports occurred
only in the beginning of the war?

A. No, that thought never occurred to me. The reports were
numerous in the beginning, but I noticed them in later years
too, some in their effect on my own person.

                                                  [Page 263]

Q. Now, on your own person, can you sketch it in a few brief

A. One of many statements: An enemy front propaganda
bulletin accused me of the fact that six hundred thousand
Swedish -

THE PRESIDENT: What is he going to now? What is the purpose
of this?

DR. FRITZ: He wants to give an example of how a false
statement applied to him personally. He wanted to state that

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I said already, there were, no
doubt, erroneous statements made in the foreign Press and
every Press. We cannot investigate such matters.

DR. FRITZ: Then I shall pass on to another question.


Q. Did you not, as an experienced journalist in the news
service, have the feeling that where there is smoke there is
fire? Did you not believe that at least something must be
true of the enemy reports about murders and so forth in the
areas under German rule?

A. Precisely because I was a professional newsman I did not
have this feeling. Again and again I thought and I
repeatedly reminded the public of one erroneous bit of
reporting of the First World War. I beg the Tribunal to
grant me permission to mention it quite briefly because it
is also a part of the fundamentals of the propaganda which I
carried on.

THE PRESIDENT: No, I have already pointed out that we assume
that there are a variety of errors. We do not want to go
into detail.

DR. FRITZ: Then I shall turn to another question.


Q. But surely you knew that the Jews had been evacuated from
the Reich; you must have noticed that they disappeared from
the streets?

A. Yes, I did notice that, even though it occurred very
gradually. Beyond that I heard Dr. Goebbels say, on the
occasion of a ministerial conference, that as Gauleiter in
Berlin he had requested the evacuation of Jews.

Q. Where did you think these Jews were taken, and what were
you told about these things?

A. Dr. Goebbels told me that they were taken to reservations
in Poland. I never had any suspicion that they were taken to
concentration camps, or that they were being murdered.

Q. Did you inquire about these reservations into which the
Jews were allegedly being taken?

A. Of course I did that. For instance I learned of various
things from a former co-worker of mine who had been
transferred into the administration of the Government
General and who had an administrative position in the region
Biala-Bodlaska. He said that the area under his control had
become a Jewish area, and he repeatedly pictured the arrival
and the housing of these transportees. He also mentioned the
difficulties and the employment of Jews as workers on
plantations. His entire description bore witness to his
humane point of view. He told me that under him the Jews
fared better than they had in the Reich.

Q. What was the name of this man?

A. Oberregierungsrat Hubert Kuehl.

Q. Did you hear unfavourable reports about these deported

A. Yes. Sturmbannfuehrer Radke of the staff of the
Reichsfuehrer SS reported, perhaps in the winter of 1942,
that the mortality rate of the Jews in the Eastern ghettoes
was abnormally high because of the change over from
sedentary work to manual labour. He mentioned there were
some isolated cases of typhus.

Apart from that, Dr. Tauber, who was head of the department
dealing with Jewish questions in the Propaganda Ministry,
told me in the year 1941, if I remember correctly, that
there had been pogroms in Lemberg and Kovno, but they

                                                  [Page 264]

had been carried out by the local population. He assured me
at the same time that the German authorities had taken steps
against these pogroms. Nevertheless the references to such
things caused me to criticise matters severely, even though
these things appear almost insignificant compared with what
we know of today. My criticism was directed against my
superiors, particularly Dr. Goebbels, and also against co-
workers and members of the Gestapo and of the Party. I
referred repeatedly to the legal, political and moral
necessity of protecting these Jews, who, whether they liked
it or not, had been entrusted to our care.

Q. Did you learn anything else about the fate of these Jews?

A. On several occasions Jews or relatives or friends of Jews
appealed to me because of discriminations or arrests. A
large number of non-Jews also did this, as my name had
become well known to the public. Without exception, I made
their pleas my own and I tried to help through various
offices such as the RSHA, through the personnel section of
my ministry, through individual ministers and Gauleiter.

Q. Why did you turn to so many different authorities and

A. Very many requests were involved, and if my name had been
used too often at the same place the effectiveness would
have ended very quickly.

Q. Did you on occasion turn down these requests?

A. No, not in one single instance, and I should like to
emphasize that particularly, because a letter addressed to
me in this prison here was not handed over to me but was
published in the Press. It was a letter in which a woman
asserted that I had turned down a request for pardon. I
remember this case specifically and I should like to
emphasize briefly that in this case I had expressly called
on the Reich Minister of Justice -

THE PRESIDENT: It is sufficient for him to say that he did
not turn them down. We do not want one instance of somebody
who wrote to him.

How long are you going to be, Dr. Fritz?

DR. FRITZ: I believe I shall be able to conclude the entire
case Fritzsche tomorrow morning.

Mr. President, I have heard that there is no open session
this afternoon -


DR. FRITZ:  - otherwise I would have been able to conclude
the entire case Fritzsche today. However, I hope to be able
to conclude my examination of the defendant as his own
witness and of the witness von Schirmeister. I hope that
tomorrow noon I shall be able to conclude.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal hopes so too, because, as I have
pointed out to you, we do not want you to go into such
elaborate detail. You have been going, in the opinion of the
Tribunal, far too much into detail, and we want the matter
dealt with more generally.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 28th June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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