The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/08/15

Q. Herr Fritzsche, how did it happen that about six to seven
weeks later the article "Churchill Sinks the Athenia "
appeared, which was published on 23rd October, 1939? What
are the antecedents? Shall I show you the article?

A. Thank you, no. I remember this incident especially well,
as I have checked my memory about it since this case was
mentioned again for the first time here in the Court.

I know that Hitler himself ordered this article to be
written, giving detailed instructions. The order to write
the article went through two different channels; first,
through a telephone call by the Reich Press Chief, Dr.
Dietrich; and second, through a telephone call by Dr.
Goebbels or one of his delegates - I am not able to tell you
which of the two. This order was to be transmitted to Der
Volkischer Beobachter.

Now we come to the circumstances as to just why I remember
the details. When I told one of my co-workers to inform the
Volkischer Beobachter, he came back to me with the report
that it would not be necessary because the Volkischer
Beobachter had already heard the necessary details directly
from the Fuehrer headquarters.

Q. When was this order given by Hitler and, respectively,

A. The day before it appeared, I assume.

Q. Did any office in the Navy G.H.Q. have any connection
with this article?

A. According to my knowledge, no.

Q. Before this article was published, did you speak with
Grand Admiral Raeder about it, or did you advise him of the
order given by Hitler in, this direction?

A. No, I believe that the Navy G.H.Q. had no knowledge at
all of the article, which originated in the manner that I
have just described to you.

Q. Did you ever again speak with anyone in the Navy G.H.Q.,
or with Grand Admiral Raeder about this case?

A. Only here in the prison.

Q. Herr Fritzsche, is it correct that in September, 1939,
The Times claimed that in Czechoslovakia Germans had
murdered ten thousand Czechs at Prague, including the Lord

A. I do not know whether that was published in The Times,
but it was mentioned in the News Chronicle.

Q. What did the Propaganda Ministry undertake to do

A. German and foreign journalists were taken to Prague. If I
am not mistaken, one of the foreign journalists who went
along to Prague on that trip is present in this courtroom.

Q. What did these foreign journalists find out?

                                                  [Page 274]

A. They had an interview with the Lord Mayor of Prague, who
allegedly had been killed; they travelled about the country,
and they reported accordingly.

Q. According to that, the report was clearly untrue?

A. At that time this report was shown to be quite false.
However, I must add that since Monday of this week, since
the testimony given by Herr von Neurath, it has become quite
clear to me that, under cover of this great and effective
denial, an action of arrests was carried out anyway in
Czechoslovakia. To clarify the matter, I must add this -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Siemers, how does this
affect Raeder?

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, I believe that in a certain way
it is a parallel case to the article in the Volkischer
Beobachter, which the prosecution is stressing for reasons
not quite clear to me.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks the evidence is not


Q. Herr Fritzsche, do you know what Dr. Goebbels's attitude
was to Grand Admiral Raeder?

A. From the few statements which Goebbels made about Grand
Admiral Raeder, it could be seen that he had a hostile
attitude towards him. His reason, frequently expressed, was
Raeder's negative attitude toward the Party and the Party's
wishes and his positive attitude in Church matters,
including the protection which he accorded naval padres who
were subject to attacks on the part of the Party.

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

BY DR. HORN (counsel for defendant von Ribbentrop):

Q. Witness, you stated that a General Niedermeier was
present at the conference which took place between Molotov
and Ribbentrop. Just where did you get your information?

A. There is a mistake contained in your question. I did not
say that General Niedermeier participated in this
conference. What I did say was - and I shall be a little
more explicit - that during my imprisonment I ran into this
General Niedermeier who, for weeks or months, just before
that time, had been in another cell, with the interpreter
who had the task of interpreting the discussion of Molotov
and Ribbentrop.

Q. Did General Niedermeier give you the name of this

A. Without doubt, but I did not try to remember it.

Q. I have one more question. After the last discussion on
30th August, 1939, between the British Ambassador, Sir
Nevile Henderson, and the then Foreign Minister, von
Ribbentrop, in which the conditions for negotiating with
Poland were made public, these conditions were published the
next day in the Daily Telegraph, and allegedly this issue of
the paper was to have been recalled. What do you know about
this article?

A. First of all, I should like to correct an error which has
crept into your question. On the day in question, the Daily
Telegraph did not publish the conditions or the note, but
only a report that during the preceding night the British
Government had been in consultation with the German
Government on conditions for Poland, conditions which had
been transmitted to them by their Ambassador in Berlin.
Therefore, it could be seen from this article - at any rate,
it could not be interpreted in any other way - that these
conditions were known in London.

DR. HORN: Thank you very much.

BY DR. THOMA (counsel for the defendant Rosenberg):

Q. Herr Fritzsche, you stated yesterday that the Volkischer
Beobachter had direct connections with the Fuehrer and with
the Fuehrer's headquarters, throughout the war. What people
in connection with the Volkischer Beobachter were you
referring to?

                                                  [Page 275]

A. I was not especially referring to people in the
Volkischer Beobachter; I was mainly thinking of people at
the Fuehrer's headquarters. So, Dr. Dietrich and his
delegates made it their business always to call the
Volkischer Beobachter direct.

Q. You know that Rosenberg was no longer the chief editor of
the Volkischer Beobachter after 1937?

A. I am of the conviction that even before that time he held
that position only nominally.

Q. Witness, can you tell the Court, as far as the so-called
actions of the Party were concerned - for instance, the
burning of the books, the boycott in April, 1933, the anti-
Jewish actions in November, 1938 - who the driving force in
all these actions was?

A. Today I am of the firm conviction that it was Dr.

Q. Witness, do you know that Goebbels whenever Hitler was in
Berlin, always was Hitler's guest?

A. That is not quite true. Years before the war Dr. Goebbels
saw Hitler, without doubt, only rarely.

Q. I have another question. Do you know that Goebbels had a
direct telephone line to Hitler?

A. That is news to me. This is the first time I have heard
of it.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, this has nothing to do with
Rosenberg, has it, the fact that Goebbels had a direct line
to Hitler?

DR. THOMA: Mr. President, I only wanted to ask Fritzsche by
that whether Rosenberg had the same connection with Hitler
as Goebbels.

THE WITNESS: I do not know what telephone lines Rosenberg
had. But I know, and I have heard frequently, that Rosenberg
seldom visited Hitler.

DR. THOMA: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Is there any other defendant's counsel that
wants to ask questions?

(No response.)

THE PRESIDENT: Then we will recess.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Does the prosecution wish to cross-examine?



Q. Defendant Fritzsche, I should like to begin my
interrogation in order to clear up the role which the German
propaganda played in the criminal activity of the Hitlerite
Government -

A. May I have the sound volume increased slightly, please?
Thank you very much.

Q. I should like to begin the cross-examination in
determining the role which the German propaganda played in
the criminal activity of the Hitlerite Government. Tell me,
do you admit that the German propaganda disseminated racial
theories and introduced into the minds of the German people
the idea of the superiority of the German race, that means,
the idea of the "master race"? Do you admit that?

A. The question touches upon two problems. May I reply to
both of them? I admit that German propaganda spread the
racial theory, but I deny that German propaganda spread the
theory of the "master race."

Q. You do not admit it?

A. No.

                                                  [Page 276]

Q. Very well. You admit that the German propaganda incited
in the German people racial hatred toward the Jews and
propagated the necessity of their extermination?

A. Once again, two problems are contained in this question.
May I answer to both?

Q. I beg your pardon, you don't have to emphasize this. You
can just answer both of these questions, please do that.

A. I admit, as I have in my answer to your first question,
that the German propaganda spread the racial theory but I
deny most emphatically that German propaganda had made
preparations for, or had incited to, the mass murder of

Q. But you do not deny that the German propaganda incited in
the German people their racial hatred toward Jews? You do
not deny that?

A. I cannot even affirm that without reserve. That is the
reason why, in my answer to the second question, I made a
slight distinction. German propaganda, and under that I
understand official German propaganda, did not even preach
racial hatred. It only spoke about racial differences, and
that is something quite different; but I will admit that
there was a certain type of German propaganda which went
beyond that and which did preach the clear-cut and primitive
racial hatred.

Q. You will admit that the activity of the German propaganda
was also directed to the persecution of the Church?

A. No, again I shall have to deny that.

Q. Will you pretend that the German propaganda was not
directed toward the persecution of the Church?

A. That is exactly what I wanted to say. The official German
propaganda did not persecute the Churches. On the other hand
- in order to clear up this point for you - here again there
was an unofficial, illegal propaganda which preached against
the Church. However, the State and its organizations, during
the time of the struggle with the Church, made many
utterances and declarations which might have created the
impression that they had participated in the struggle
against the Churches. By this, I mean the trials against
clergymen which were given sensational importance.

Q. Very well. You will admit that the propaganda conducted
by the Hitlerite Government, in connection with the so-
called problem of the expansion of the living-space of
Germany, cultivated and developed in the German nation
militaristic tendencies.

A. I deny that, too, and most emphatically.

Q. Do you admit that the German propaganda used provocative
methods, lies and slander in order to camouflage the
aggressive plans of the Hitlerite Government?

A. Mr. Prosecutor, it is most difficult for me to answer
that question, after all I have voluntarily testified to in
this courtroom yesterday. If I am to make the attempt to
summarize very briefly, then I shall have to say this: I
maintain that the German propaganda gave the German nation
in the case of every individual action which was carried
out, from the occupation of the Rhineland to the attack
against the Soviet Union, a picture of the events which
among the Germans must have created the impression that we
were in the right. On the other hand, however, I myself -
and I emphasized when this happened - had recognized that
the structure of these arguments had a basis which was
ruptured in several places.

Q. That is to say, a basis of lies and slander?

A. No. Excuse me, but your way of putting it does not appear
to be quite factual enough.

Q. You will persist in denying that the German propaganda
used methods of slander and lies; you do deny this?

                                                  [Page 277]

A. Yes, yes, I deny it, and my denial is based on my
thorough knowledge of German propaganda and I should like
you to permit me to give you a very brief explanation in
this connection. Looking at it today -

Q. Yes, give an explanation, but one directly referring to
my question.

A. But of course, looking at it today, it was the misfortune
of the German people that its propaganda, particularly with
regard to its details which can be checked and controlled,
was so clean that it was completely overlooked that in its
three basic principles there were three fundamental errors.
I cannot be more explicit.

Q. What kind of errors are you speaking about?

A. The first, the belief in Adolf Hitler's humaneness, which
was destroyed by the order to murder five million people.
The second, the belief in the ethical purity of the system,
destroyed by the orders to apply torture; and the third, the
absolute trust in Adolf Hitler's peaceful intentions, shaken
by what has been brought up in this courtroom.

Q. Well. We shall revert to these questions later when we
speak about your personal participation in the conducting of
the German propaganda. I should like to ask you now the
following: Of course you were aware that in the OKW there
was a special section for propaganda, which was subordinate
directly to defendant Jodl?

A. That was known to me, but you are mistaken if you are
under the impression that that department was under Jodl. It
was under the jurisdiction of General Wedel and he was
succeeded by Standartenfuehrer Gunther d'Alquen.

Q. Very well. I have no intention of defining this
circumstance more accurately. I am interested in something
else; what were the relations between the Ministry of
Propaganda and the OKW?

A. I cannot tell you what they were between the Ministry of
Propaganda and the OKW, in general, but I can give you
detailed information about the relationship between the
Ministry of Propaganda and the Propaganda Department of the
OKW which you have just mentioned. A permanent
representative from that department worked in the
ministerial office of Dr. Goebbels, and participated daily
in the Ministry conferences which I have already mentioned
once, and was really always to be found in close proximity
to Dr. Goebbels.

Q. Who gave the propaganda tasks and the directives to the

A. I can only imagine that the propaganda tasks of the OKW
were drawn up according to Dr. Goebbels's wishes and to the
instructions of the chief of the OKW, either Keitel or Jodl.

Q. How was the general German propaganda brought into line
with the propaganda measures taken by the OKW?

A. I do not quite understand the meaning of your question,
I'm afraid.

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