The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/08/15

DR. FRITZ: The defendant Fritzsche would like to repeat a
few statements such as some made by Dr. Goebbels.

THE PRESIDENT: All right, you may ask the question.


Q. Did you understand the question?

A. I believe a confusion has arisen, inasmuch as I do not
wish to quote Dr. Goebbels in this connection but rather in
relation to our last series of questions which seem to me
more important than the question you have just put to me

Q. In any event, I should like you to give me a brief answer
to my question. Shall I repeat the question?

A. Thank you, no.

In this connection I should like to refer briefly to the
statements I already made about the murders; that there were
many, many rumours but those were denied. Undoubtedly an
iron ring of silence surrounded these terrible events and
the only thing I observed in the course of my work and which
appears to me to be important is that in the RSHA and some
of its branches there must have existed groups who worked
systematically with the view of concealing these atrocities
and who issued reassuring statements and denials to those
groups who represented the public.

Q. Now I should like to put a last comprehensive question:
In the course of your examination by me, you made statements
about Hitler and his policies which were entirely different
from those you made long ago in your radio broadcasts, etc.
Can you briefly tell us the date and the reason for your
change of opinion?

A. I would like to answer this question very precisely. The
first factor on the road to this realization was not due to
the German defeat, for right or wrong is independent of
victory or defeat. The fact was that Hitler tried to use
this defeat for the self-destruction of the German people,
as Speer has now horribly confirmed, and as I was able to
observe during the last phase of the conflict in Berlin
when, through deceit by raising false hopes, boys of 15, 14,
13 or even 12 years of age were equipped with small arms to
fight against tanks, and called into battle, boys who
otherwise might have been the hope of the period of
reconstruction. Hitler found escape in death, leaving behind
him the order to keep on fighting. He also left behind him
the official report that he had died in battle.

I learned that he had committed suicide, and thus my last
public statement, on 2nd May, 1945, was to let everybody
know of this suicide, for I wanted to nip a Hitler legend in
the bud.

                                                  [Page 270]

Then, whilst in prison, I heard from a fellow-prisoner, a
German major named Sforner, that he had been arrested by the
Gestapo, that he had been tortured in order to obtain a
confession from him and that in his presence his wife had
been beaten. That was factor number two which made me

The third factor concerned another co-prisoner, the world-
famous geographer, General Niedermeier, who proved to me
that the reasons given by Hitler for the attack on Russia
were false, at least in one important point. After he had
talked with the interpreter, he could tell me that in the
decisive discussion between Molotov and Ribbentrop in 1941,
Molotov had not put forth any new demands but that, rather,
he demanded that the assurances which had been given in 1939
should be effective. Therefore, a part of the reasons given,
and I stress this point, that our attack on Russia was to
prevent a Russian attack, was no longer valid.

The fourth factor was the proof submitted in Court here of
the murder of five million Jews. I have already spoken about
this matter.

I consider it my duty to testify to one statement, a
statement which Dr. Goebbels made in my presence on
Saturday, 21st April, 1945. Dr. Goebbels, who was in a state
of great excitement, speaking about the last decisive break-
through of the Russians near Berlin, said, "After all, the
German people did not want it otherwise. The German people,
by a great majority, decided through a plebiscite on the
withdrawal from the League of Nations, and against a policy
of surrender, and chose, instead, a policy of courage and
honour. Thus," concluded Dr. Goebbels, "the German people
themselves chose the war which they have now lost."

These were the last words which I heard spoken by Dr.
Goebbels, and these words are untrue. I declare on oath that
Dr. Goebbels, had never previously given such significance
to that plebiscite. Never had he given it that
interpretation. The exact opposite was the case.

At the time of this plebiscite, the German people were
explicitly assured once again that it was a solemn assurance
of the will for peace on the part of Hitler and his

According to this, I am convinced that Hitler and at least
some of his colleagues had deliberately lied to the people,
in some important instances, right from the beginning of
their political career, and, something that is not so
important to history, I personally consider that, on these
points, I have been deceived.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, I have no further questions to put
to the defendant Fritzsche.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel wish to ask
any questions?

BY DR. STAHMER (counsel for the defendant Goering):

Q. Witness, did you ever hear or ascertain at the beginning,
when the concentration camps were being organized, that in
addition to the regular camps, other unauthorised camps
existed which had been established by the SA leaders without
the knowledge of the competent authorities?

A. No. I heard nothing about it at that time. I heard about
this difference in the concentration camps for the first
time here in Court.

Q. On the basis of your present-day knowledge, to which you
have referred today, can you assert whether these abuses
occurred in these unauthorised concentration camps?

A. I can give you a very precise answer to that question.
These abuses about which I learned occurred in the old camp
Oranienburg, a camp situated in the Berlinerstrasse. I do
not know to which category that camp belonged. However,
these abuses were stopped, and I emphasized in my testimony
that almost immediately after I sent my letter to the
Prussian Minister President, I was called in by a
ministerial counsellor or director and I was assured that an
investigation would be made - a promise which was kept, but
in any case I do not remember whether a final report was
sent me from this office.

DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions.

                                                  [Page 271]

BY DR. KUBUSCHOK (counsel for the defendant von Papen):

Q. In June, 1934, the publication of von Papen's Marburg
speech was forbidden. Is it correct to say that from that
time onward any statement on the part of the defendant von
Papen could only be published with the previous approval of
the Ministry of Propaganda.

A. That is correct, and in even a narrower sense.
Confiscation of the Marburg speech, as I remember
distinctly, was carried out at the instigation of Berndt,
who later became Ministerialdirektor. This man drew Dr.
Goebbels's attention to the speech, also with regard to any
other of Papen's announcements; the principle was that not
even the Ministry of Propaganda had the right to release
them for publication but, rather, that they had to be
forwarded either to the Minister personally or to the

Q. In your testimony you mentioned that you had known the
defendant von Papen for some time and that you got to know
him when you visited Turkey. Just when did you visit Turkey?

A. In January, I believe it was 1944.

Q. What was the purpose of your visit?

A. I delivered a speech to the German colony in Istanbul and
Ankara on 30th January.

Q. Did von Papen have anything to do with this speech and
with this festivity?

A. No, less than nothing. I received an official request
from Berlin to see to it that von Papen did, not
ostentatiously depart before the celebration of the 30th
January, as he was wont to do. On the contrary, I did not
try to persuade him to stay and so he left his office in
order to go skiing.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: That is all.

BY DR. KLEFISCH (counsel for the SA):

Q. Witness, you just now said that it had been reported to
you that at the end of the year 1933 and at the beginning of
1934 SA men, without any special instructions, were guarding
certain concentration camps and that certain abuses were to
be traced back to that fact. I have but one question: Who
reported that to you? Who was the author of that report?

A. The then Press chief or Press expert of Reichsfuehrer SS
Himmler, whose name was Gerhard Ratke.

DR. KLEFISCH: Thank you very much.

BY DR. SAUTER (counsel for the defendant Funk):

Q. Witness, the day before yesterday you stated that the
defendant Funk was not concerned with propaganda in the
Propaganda Ministry, but that, in the main, he was concerned
with organisational and financial matters. Now I should like
to ask you to answer several questions regarding the
activities of the defendant Funk in the Propaganda Ministry.

You know, witness, that a Press Department of the Reich
Government existed and that it was a State institution. How
long did this Press Department exist, and what became of it?

A. It had existed for quite some time, at least until March,
1933, during which time it was a branch of the Foreign
Office. From then on it became a branch of the Propaganda
Ministry, and it had a dual mission to carry on - first of
all to be the Press Department of this Ministry, and
secondly, to continue functioning as the Press Department
for the Reich Government.

Q. Witness, can you tell me who, beginning with March, 1933
- that is, from the incorporation of the Press Department
into the Propaganda Ministry - was the chief of that
department and, for all practical purposes, was the chief of
the whole Press system? Was it Funk or someone else?

A. No, that was Ministerial Counsellor Jahnke, successor to
Ministerial Director Berndt. This Press Department was then
divided into three sections: German Press -

                                                  [Page 272]

Q. I am not interested in that, witness, I am interested
only in knowing whether the chief of this department was the
defendant Funk, or whether it is correct to say that he had
nothing to do with these matters.

A. Nominally, of course, he was the chief, but he had
nothing to do with the practical work. That was taken care
of by Dr. Goebbels and Jahnke.

Q. And later Berndt?

A. Yes.

Q. Witness, I have another question. Who had the management
of the Press policy in the Propaganda Ministry? I am still
referring to the State organ. Did the defendant Funk have
anything to say in this connection, or just who was it? Who
directed the Press policy?

A. At that time Dr. Goebbels himself exercised that
function. Later on it was the Reich Press Chief, Dr.

Q. The defendant Funk was State Secretary in the Propaganda
Ministry, or at least he had the title of State Secretary.
Now, looking at this matter rather generally, I would be
interested in knowing this. Did he, in fact, have the
position of a State Secretary and exercise authority as
such, or did another official exercise the function of State
Secretary as the regular deputy of the Minister?

A. As a matter of course, naturally, he had the position,
the power, the prestige and the salary of a State Secretary,
but the practical work was distributed a little differently.

Q. Just how was it handled?

A. I have already mentioned that. Practically, Funk
concerned himself with organization and finance as they
applied to the gigantic cultural concern which was being
developed at that time; whereas the actual policy was
devised by Dr. Goebbels with the chief of his ministerial
office, Jahnke, who was the successor of Funk as State

Q. I have one final question, witness, which refers to
another topic.

Do you know what Minister Dr. Goebbels in November, 1938, or
later, said about the Jewish pogroms of 9th November, 1938,
as far as Funk was concerned?

A. Much later, Dr. Goebbels stated in my presence that, on
occasion, radical measures would just simply have to be
taken, especially since Funk had constantly declared that
the Jews could not be eliminated from economic life; but he,
Dr. Goebbels had to prove the contrary to Funk by organising
the grim affair of 9th November.

Q. In this connection did he say anything about the fact
that this Jewish action, for which Dr. Goebbels was
responsible, was also instigated with the purpose of
discrediting Dr. Funk and confronting him with a fait
accompli? Did he state anything like that?

A. That was the sense of the answer that I have just given

DR. SAUTER: I have no further questions, Mr. President.

BY DR. SIEMERS (counsel for the defendant Raeder):

Q. Herr Fritzsche, in this Court we have heard what grave
accusations are made against the defendant Raeder because of
an article in the newspaper Der Volkischer Beobachter. The
article I refer to is "Churchill Sinks the Athenia," which
was published on 23rd October, 1939.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, this is Document 3250-PS,
Exhibit GB 218.

Q. (continuing): I should like to put a few questions to you
pertaining to the Athenia case.

Herr Fritzsche, when did the Propaganda Ministry receive the
report about the torpedoing of the Athenia, and through what

A. I cannot give you the date from memory, but I do know
that we received this report by wireless; that is, we
listened in to a foreign broadcast.

Q. This wireless report came in shortly after the sinking of
the Athenia, is that right?

A. Without doubt.

                                                  [Page 273]

Q. Did the Propaganda Ministry get in touch with the Chief
of the Naval War Staff in order to learn the details of this

A. Yes, I personally did that because, quite by accident, I
had a liaison officer from the Naval War Staff in my office,
for censorship purposes.

Q. Whom did you get in touch with in the Naval War Staff,
and what did you learn?

A. First of all, I spoke to the officer who was with me,
whom I have just mentioned - Lieutenant Hahn. Then he
telephoned, and in all probability I phoned too, to the OKN,
the Navy G.H.Q. As far as I recall, I spoke to Lieutenant-
Commander Wolf.

Q, And what did he tell you?

A. Even at this early stage he told me that no German U-boat
was in the area in question.

Q. I should like to remind you that the Athenia was sunk on
4th September, 1939.

What did the Propaganda Ministry do after the Navy G.H.Q.
had stated that it was not a German U-boat which had sunk
the ship?

A. This report was announced.

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