The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/09/01

Q.  Do you know whether in reply to such inquiries a clear
and completely plausible denial was given, or how was a
matter of this sort handled?

A. It was not always a denial which we received, not at all;
very frequently we had quite precise answers. For example,
if it was asserted that there had been a strike in Bohemia-
Moravia, then the answer was "yes, in such and such a
factory a strike took place." But always, and without
exception, there was a very definite denial of concentration
camp atrocities and so forth. That is precisely why these

                                                  [Page 312]

denials were so widely believed. I must emphasize that this
was our only possibility of getting information. These
pieces of information were not intended for the public, but
for the Minister, and again and again the answer came: "No,
there is no word of truth in this." Even today I do not know
by what other means we could have obtained information.

Q. Can you say anything about Fritzsche's attitude to Church

A. Herr Fritzsche adopted the views taken by the Minister
during the war. At the beginning of the war, the Minister
demanded complete cessation of strife on religious
questions, for anything which could have brought division
amongst the German people would have had a disturbing
influence. I do not know whether I should elaborate this.

Q. No, I will turn to another very important topic. Do you
know what reasons Goebbels gave to his assistants for the
military actions of Germany?

A. He gave no reasons of his own at all. He only added his
comments to the announcements coming from the Fuehrer.

Q. To quote some examples, can you say briefly whether the
defendant Fritzsche knew in advance that a military attack
was being planned on, 1 - Poland, 2 - Belgium and Holland, 3
- Yugoslavia?

A. In the case of Poland, we knew of course that the
question of Danzig and the Corridor was awaiting a decision.
But Dr. Goebbels himself repeatedly assured us, and he
himself believed, that this question would not lead to war
because, completely mistaken in his view of the attitude of
the Western Powers, he was convinced that they were only
bluffing, and that Poland would not risk a war without the
military support of the Western Powers.

Q. What about Belgium and Holland?

A. On the day before the attack on Belgium and Holland
events were overshadowed by the state visit of the Italian
Minister Pavolini. In the evening there was a performance at
the theatre and afterwards a reception in the House of the
Airmen. At night Dr. Goebbels went with me to the ministry
where he occasionally spent the night. During the night I
had to telephone to several gentlemen, and in the morning
the Minister, in my presence, presented to Herr Fritzsche
the two announcements of the attack which were to be
broadcast, the first containing the military reasons and the
second containing the Secret Service reasons. Herr Fritzsche
did not even have time to look at these announcements;
moreover, he had a sore throat and I had to read the second
broadcast giving the Secret Service reasons; I also had not
seen these announcements beforehand.

Q. What about Yugoslavia?

A. The same thing happened. In the evening, the Minister had
dismissed his adjutant, given him leave. During the night I
had to call the various gentlemen over the phone and ask
them to assemble, and early in the morning the statement,
which up to that time had been completely unknown to us, was
read to us over the radio.

Q. And what happened in the case of the attack on the Soviet

A. That was even more preposterous. Before the attack on the
Soviet Union, the Minister, for purposes of camouflage, had
lied to his own department chiefs. Around the beginning of
May he selected ten of his colleagues out of the twenty who
ordinarily participated in the conferences, and he told
them: "Gentlemen, I know that some of you think that we are
going to fight Russia, but I must tell you today that we are
going to fight England: the invasion is imminent. Please
adapt your work accordingly. You, Dr. Glassmeier, will
launch a new propaganda campaign against England ...." and
so forth. These were impudent lies told to his own
department chiefs for purposes of camouflage.

Q. Are you implying that no one in the Propaganda Ministry
knew of the imminent campaign against Russia?

A. No. The following gentlemen in the Propaganda Ministry
knew about the Russian campaign - a letter to Dr. Goebbels
from Lammers gave this away, for in it Lammers told the
Minister in confidence that the Fuehrer intended to appoint

                                                  [Page 313]

Herr Rosenberg to be Eastern Minister; the letter also asked
Dr. Goebbels to name a liaison man, who was to be sent from
our ministry to Herr Rosenberg personally, and that, of
course, gave away the secret. The people who knew of this
were the Minister, Herr Hadamowsky, who at that time
deputized as his personal representative, Dr. Tauber, the
liaison man to be appointed, I myself, because by accident I
had read this letter, and the head of the foreign Press
department, Dr. Boehme. Dr. Boehme, and this is very
important, told me on the day before his arrest, in the
presence of Prince Schaumburg-Lippe, that he had received
this information from Rosenberg's circle, that is, and I
want to emphasize this, not from our ministry or from our
Minister. Otherwise, as heads of two parallel departments,
both would, of course, have been informed. If Boehme did not
know it from the Minister, then Herr Fritzsche could not
have known it either. As a result of a careless remark on
this subject, Boehme was arrested on the following day and
later killed in action.

Q. Now I want to summarize this part of my examination in
the following general question: Did you ever notice that
before important political or military actions of the
Government or the NSDAP, Goebbels exchanged ideas about
future plans with the defendant Fritzsche?

A. It is quite impossible that that occurred; it would have
been in complete contradiction to the Minister's practice.
Not only did he not exchange ideas on future plans but he
did not even inform anyone.

Q. Now we shall turn to a different subject. The prosecution
charges the defendant Fritzsche with having influenced the
German people in the idea of the master race and thus with
having incited hatred against other nations. Did Fritzsche
ever receive instructions at all to conduct a propaganda
campaign on behalf of the theory of the master race?

A. No, under no circumstance. In this connection, one must
understand that Dr. Goebbels did not use for propaganda
purposes this Party dogma and myth. These are not things
which attract the masses. To him the Party was a large
reservoir in which as many different sections of the German
people as possible should be united; and particularly this
idea of the master race, perhaps on account of his own
physical disability, he ridiculed and rejected completely;
it did not appeal to him. Shall I answer the question of
hatred now? You also asked me about that.

Q. Yes.

A. A propaganda of hatred against other nations was quite
contrary to the propaganda line as set out by Dr. Goebbels
for he hoped, and to the end he clung to this hope like a
fata Morgana, that one day he would be able to change from
the policy of "against England" and "against America" to the
policy of "with England" and "with America." And if one
wants to do that one cannot foster hatred against a nation.
He wanted to be in line with the nations, not against them.

Q. Against whom then was this propaganda in the Press and on
the radio directed?

A. Primarily, against systems; it was Dr. Goebbels who
established the concept "plutocracy" in the sense in which
the whole world knows it today, later the concept
"Bolshevism" was added from the other side. Sometimes his
propaganda was directed against some of the men in power;
but he could not get the full co-operation of the German
Press on that point. That annoyed him, and in a conference
he once said: "Gentlemen, if I could put ten Jews in your
place, I could get it done." But later he stopped these
attacks on personalities such as Churchill; he was afraid
that these men would become too popular as a result of his
counter-propaganda. Apart from that he did not hate
Churchill personally at all, secretly he actually admired
him; just as, for example, throughout the war he had a
picture of the Duke of Windsor on his desk. Therefore the
propaganda of hatred was directed at one time against
individual men and always against systems.

Q. Witness, before answering the next question, will you
think very carefully, and particularly remember your oath.
Was it the aim of this propaganda for which

                                                  [Page 314]

Fritzsche received instructions and which he conducted, to
arouse unrestrained passions tantamount to incitement to
murder and violence, or what was its purpose?

A. No. The arousing of passions was something the Minister
could not use at all in his propaganda, for passions rise
and die down again. What the Minister needed was a steady
and constant line, a resolute attitude even in hard times.
Stirring up of passions, inciting to hatred or even murder
would not have appealed to the German people; nor could Dr.
Goebbels have used such a policy.

Q. Did German propaganda abroad, especially in Russia, come
under the direction of the Propaganda Ministry at all?

A. I must differentiate here. I do not know whether I should
go into the well-known differences between Dr. Goebbels and
Ribbentrop. At the beginning of the war the Foreign Office
had demanded charge of all foreign propaganda, namely,
propaganda in foreign countries, radio propaganda broadcast
to foreign countries and propaganda directed towards
foreigners living in Germany. Very disagreeable
controversies resulted; the problem was put to the Fuehrer
himself, but finally both sides interpreted his decision in
their own favour.

Q. Witness, would you, perhaps, be a little more brief.

A. Very well, I can leave that, the differences between the
two men are well known. However, in regard to Russia, I must
add that there both the Press and propaganda came under the
jurisdiction of Herr Rosenberg up to about March of 1944.
And in this sphere as well, Dr. Goebbels -

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, wait a minute. What has this
Russian propaganda got to do with the defendant?

DR. FRITZ: No; the German propaganda in Russian territory;
that is what I asked him about; he is only going to say one
sentence about it, in fact, he has already said it.

THE WITNESS: Dr. Goebbels was very concerned because he
believed that the Russian campaign could have been won by


Q. I have one more question to put to you.

Yesterday, when Herr Fritzsche was being cross-examined, the
prosecution submitted several interrogation records, among
them, for example, that of Field-Marshal Schoerner, in which
the testimony is unanimous in saying that Fritzsche was the
permanent deputy of Goebbels as Propaganda Minister. Is that

A. That is complete nonsense. I cannot imagine how a
statement like that came to be made. There is not a word of
truth in it.

DR. FRITZ: Thank you. Mr. President, I have no further

THE PRESIDENT: Does any of the other defendants' counsel
want to ask any questions of the witness?

(No response.)

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

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, the Prosecution does not
intend to question this witness, but that does not mean that
we accept without objection the testimony which he has given

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, I should like to point out and
request the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the
documents which are contained in both my document books but
which I did not quote. In my Document Book 2 there is
another affidavit deposed by Dr. Scharping, a document which
I offer to the Tribunal as Fritzsche Exhibit 3, Pages 16 to
19. This affidavit deals with the attitude of the defendant
Fritzsche on measures which Hitler had planned after the
large-scale air attacks on the city of Dresden. May I ask
the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the entire contents
of this affidavit, on Page 16 and the following pages,
Document Book 2.

                                                  [Page 315]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Fritz, the Tribunal observes that in
Exhibit 3, which you have just presented to us, there is a
statement by the person making the affidavit that after the
bombing of German cities in the autumn of 1944, "Dr.
Goebbels stated that there was no longer any objection to
handing over the crews of crashed aeroplanes to the wrath of
the people."

The Tribunal would like to have the defendant Fritzsche back
in the witness box and to question him about that.

Did you ask any questions of the defendant Fritzsche in
reference to this matter in your examination of him?

DR. FRITZ: No, Mr. President, I expected ... I wanted to say
at the conclusion of my case that I had expected a statement
on this subject from the representative of the Protecting
Power, the Swiss Ambassador in Berlin. This statement has,
however, not yet reached me. I wanted to ask permission to
submit it later if it arrives in time.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that another interrogatory or affidavit
that you mean?

DR. FRITZ: Yes; it is a statement which deals with this


DR. FRITZ: And if I may be permitted to add this, Mr.
President, I also expect a statement from a British radio
commentator, Sefton Delmar; that statement has not yet
arrived. May I perhaps submit that -

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly, you may. But what the Tribunal is
concerned with at the moment is that they think it material
that they should know -

DR. FRITZ: Yes, I quite understand, Mr. President.

The defendant, Hans Fritzsche, was recalled to the witness
stand and testified further as follows:


Q. You are still under oath. You may sit down.

You have read this affidavit?

A. But I no longer remember it in detail.

Q. We did not hear the answer to that.

A. I no longer recall in detail this affidavit which my
counsel has just submitted to the Tribunal. I know that it
exists, however.

Q. The statement that the Tribunal wished you to be asked
about was this:

  "Beginning in the autumn of 1944, Dr. Goebbels also spoke
  about this frequently during his so-called 'Conferences
  of Ministers' ..."

I will begin before that:

  "The increasing effect of English and American air
  bombardments on German cities caused Hitler and his most
  intimate advisers to seek drastic measures of reprisal.
  Beginning in the autumn of 1944, Dr. Goebbels also spoke
  about this frequently during his so-called 'Conferences
  of Ministers,' to which numerous officials and
  technicians of his Ministry were convened and which, as a
  rule, I also attended" - that is, Franz Scharping.

A. Yes.

  Q. "On such occasions Dr. Goebbels stated that there was
  no longer any objection to handing over crew members of
  crashed aeroplanes to the wrath of the people."

As you know, there has been a great deal of evidence about
that before this Tribunal. Did you in your propaganda
speeches make any references to this subject?

A. No, I never advocated in my speeches that the crews of
aircraft which had been shot down should be killed. On the
other hand, I know that Dr. Goebbels for reasons of
intimidation, ordered reports to be sent abroad in the
autumn of 1944 to the effect that, to quote an example, an
Anglo-Saxon aeroplane which had machine-gunned church-goers
in the street on a Sunday had been shot

                                                  [Page 316]

down and the members of the crew had been lynched by the
people. Actually this report had no factual basis; it hardly
could have been true, since it is quite improbable that an
aeroplane was shot down at just such a moment.

I know that Dr. Goebbels, through a circular letter
addressed to the Gau Propaganda Offices, asked that details
of such incidents, if they actually occurred, should be
transmitted to him, but to my knowledge he did not receive
any factual details of this sort. That was also the time in
which he had an article on this subject published in the
Reich; I cannot recall the title of this article at the
moment. In any event, this campaign, having died down in
January or February; flared up again in the days after the
air attack on Dresden, and the following incident occurred.
Dr. Goebbels announced at the "11 o'clock morning
conference." which has been mentioned quite frequently in
this court-room, that in the Dresden attack 40,000 people
had been killed. It was not known then that the actual
figure was considerably higher. Dr. Goebbels added that in
one way or another an end would now have to be put to this
terror and Hitler was firmly determined to have English,
American and Russian flyers shot in Dresden in numbers equal
to the figure of Dresden inhabitants who had lost their
lives in this air attack. Then he turned to me and asked me
to prepare and announce this action. There followed an
incident: I jumped up and refused to do this. Dr. Goebbels
broke off the conference, asked me to come to his room, and
there was a very heated discussion between us.

By the end of it I had persuaded him to promise me to use
his influence with Hitler himself to abandon the idea. I
then spoke to Ambassador Ruehle, the liaison man of the
Foreign Office, and asked him to enlist the aid of his
minister to the same end. I also requested State Secretary
Naumann to try to enlist the help of Bormann, whose
predominant influence with Hitler was well known.

Following that, I had a discussion - under the existing
regulations, this was not really permitted - I had a
discussion with the representative of the Protecting Power.
In confidence, I gave him certain indications about the plan
of which I had heard and asked him whether he could suggest
or supply me with some argument, or some means of fighting
against this plan more intensively.

He said he would attend to the matter with the utmost speed
and he called me up on the following morning. We had a
second discussion, and he told me that in the meantime a
prospect for an exchange of prisoners had been held out to
him,  - that is, an exchange of German and English prisoners
- to comprise, I believe, 50,000 men.

I asked him to have this matter put through the normal
diplomatic channels, but to permit me to discuss this
possibility of an exchange of prisoners of war with Dr.
Goebbels, Naumann and Bormann. I did so, and since just at
that time the leaders were obviously especially interested
in getting back prisoners of war who could perhaps still be
used at the front, this prospective offer -

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