Hjalmar Schacht

(9 of 9)

April 25, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 114, Hans Bernd Gisevius continues his testimony:

Dr. Dix: That, of course, was a serious question for Schacht’s own conscience. You have informed the Tribunal of your opinions and of Oster’s opinions. Did Schacht discuss his scruples with you, and the pros and cons of his deliberations in making his final decision?

Hans Bernd Gisevius: Yes.

Mr. Justice Jackson: I don’t object to the defendants’ trying [Sic] their case in their own way, but I do think we are passing beyond the limits of profitable inquiry here. Schacht is present; he is the man who can tell us about his conscience, and I know of no way that another witness can do so, and I think it is not a question to which the answer would have competent value, and I object respectfully.

The President: Dr. Dix, I think you had better tell us what Schacht did--not tell us--but get from the witness what Schacht did.

Dr. Dix: If I may, I should like to make a brief remark. It is true, of course, as Mr. Justice Jackson said, that Schacht knows his own reasons best, and can tell them to the Tribunal. On a question as difficult as this, however, the justification of which is even subject to argument (the Prosecution, apparently, is inclined to consider the train of thought, which led to Schacht’s decision, to be unacceptable) it appears to me, at least, on the basis of our rules for evidence, that it is relevant for the Tribunal to hear, from an eye-and-ear witness, what the considerations were, and whether they really were such at the time; or, whether Schacht, now in the defendants’ dock is, ex post facto, devising some explanation, as every defendant is more or less suspected of doing.

The President: The Tribunal thinks that the witness can tell us what Schacht said and what Schacht did, but not what Schacht thought.

Dr. Dix: Certainly, Your Lordship, I only want him to tell us what Schacht said to the witness at that time, about his opinion.

The President: I don’t think we need any further discussion about it. The witness has heard what I have said, and you can ask him what Schacht said, and what Schacht did; but not what Schacht thought...

April 25, 1946: From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

This has been a very interesting day. The defense witness, Gisevius, has been on the stand and, as you may have read in the press, he completely destroyed the defendants, man by man, with the exception of Schacht, for whom he was a good witness: but not good enough, in my opinion, to exculpate Schacht or to save him from punishment. Justice Jackson cross-examined him, and brought out amazing, and indeed, shocking information about these Nazis. The defendants looked very glum and disconsolate, and indeed they might. They are a group of evil, wicked men. This is perfectly clear to me, and I have been in a position to know. Gisevius did not complete his testimony when the court adjourned for the day. He will be on again in the morning....

April 26, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 115, Hans Bernd Gisevius is further cross-examined by the prosecution:

Mr. Justice Jackson: Now, Schacht believed and, as I understand it, you too believed, during all this period that, under German constitutional law, no war could be declared, except by authority of the Reich Cabinet. Is that correct?

Gisevius: Yes.

Mr. Justice Jackson: In other words, from the point of view of the German Constitution, the war [in your view] was illegal, by German law, as declared and carried out by Hitler.

Gisevius: According to our firm conviction, yes.

Mr. Justice Jackson: I think we found out, yesterday, the position you were to have, if there was a successful overthrow of the Hitler regime. Schacht was under consideration for Chancellor, was he not, if that movement was successful?

Gisevius: No. It is only correct as to the first offer that Halder made, in August of 1938, or perhaps July 1938, when he visited Schacht for the first time. At that time, according to the [information I] received, Halder asked Schacht whether, in the case of an overthrow, he would be ready to take over a position like that. Schacht replied that he would be ready for anything, if the generals would eliminate the Nazi regime, and Hitler...

April 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 117, Schacht testifies on his own behalf:

Dr Dix: ... you were an opponent of the Treaty of Versailles. Would you like to say something about that?

Schacht: It surprised me indeed to hear that reproach from an American Prosecutor. The lieutenant who spoke is, perhaps, too young to have experienced it himself; but he should know it from his education; at any rate, for all of us who have lived through that time, it was one of the outstanding events that the Treaty of Versailles was rejected by the United States and, if I am not wrong, rejected with the resounding approval of the entire American people. The reasons prompting that action were also my reasons for rejecting the Treaty: it stood in contradiction to the Fourteen Points of Wilson, which had been solemnly agreed upon, and in the field of economics it contained absurdities, which certainly could not work out to the advantage of world economy. But I certainly would not accuse the American people of having been adherents of the Nazi ideology because they rejected the treaty...

From The Nuremberg Trial by Ann and John Tusa: Hjalmar Schacht (whose two other Christian names, Horace Greeley, did not appear in the indictment, perhaps because Horace Greeley had once been a Presidential candidate, and was one of the greatest American newspaper editors) was the most intelligent of the defendants. Gilbert’s report to Andrus described him as having "a brilliant mentality, capable of creative originality." In addition, he was astute and cunning. Even more important, for his defense, than his intelligence, was his character. Schacht was a fighter and, in fighting for his life, he wore stout armor: complete confidence in his innocence of all charges. He could have borne on his shield the words of [Prince von] Metternich, when looking back on his career: "Error has never crossed my mind."

Others might think this arrogance, but Schacht saw it as a statement of fact; those who questioned it, merely proclaimed their mental inadequacy to judge his career of intellectual achievement and patriotic service. He regarded his imprisonment as a scandal, writing in his memoirs: "I was described in an English newspaper as the most refractory of all the Nuremberg prisoners, and I am rather proud of it." On one occasion, he threw a mug of coffee at an American photographer, who was taking pictures of the defendants at lunch. He found the man’s behavior vulgar, and added that he himself was eating peas at the time, so "it was not very flattering." He was deprived of his coffee ration for a week. On another occasion, Andrus threatened to deprive him of daily exercise because of his recalcitrance. Schacht was unperturbed: "[While at Nuremberg], secure in the possession of a perfectly clear conscience, I protested in the strongest possible [terms against] any and every form of unjust treatment."

In spite of having been in Flossenburg and Dachau since 1944, he could still write that conditions at Nuremberg were worse than any he had experienced. His reaction to being on trial varied from indignation, to contempt for his accusers. On arrival at Nuremberg, he had told Gilbert that he "hoped the trial would take a short time, so they could hang those other criminals, and let [the innocent] go home."

May 1, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 118, Schacht testifies on his own behalf:

Schacht: Hitler knew how to gather around him all bad elements within the Party and its organization, and to chain tightly all those elements to himself, because he understood how to exploit shrewdly any mistake, slip-up, or misdemeanor on their part. Yesterday, I talked about drunkenness as a constituent part of Nazi ideology; I did not do that with the purpose of degrading anyone personally. I did it for another quite definite reason. In the course of further developments, I observed that even many Party members who had fallen into this net of Hitler, and who occupied (more or less) leading positions, gradually became afraid, because of the consequences of the injustices, and the evil deeds to which they were instigated by the regime. I had the definite feeling that these people resorted to alcohol and various narcotics, in order to flee from their own conscience, and that it was only this flight from their own conscience that permitted them to act the way they did. Otherwise, there would be no explanation for the large number of suicides that took place at the end of the Nazi regime...

May 1, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

Yesterday, Schacht was on the stand all day. He is an old hypocrite--a typical banker, full of righteous phrases and evil designs, and working both sides of the street. The Justice held him to a fairly direct line of testimony, but it is difficult to do much, when the court is so weak. Today, Schacht was on the stand all day: he will finish his direct testimony tomorrow. The Justice will cross-examine him; and then comes Funk, and I will cross-examine him.

May 2, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 119, Schacht is cross-examined by Justice Jackson:

Schacht: I was intent on stopping the Party collections and Party moneys [that] were extracted, everywhere, from the German people; because it was extremely difficult for me to get the money to finance the armament program and the mefo bills. I could only get that point across to Hitler if I told him that, of course, this was being done in the interests of armament. I had told him that this was done...

Mr. Justice Jackson: Yes, but...

Schacht: No, please let me finish. If I had told him that this was done for the building of theaters, or something similar, I would have made no impression on him. However, if I said it must be done because otherwise we could not arm, that was the point which influenced Hitler, and that is why I said it. I admitted that, and explained it during the examination by my attorney.

Mr. Justice Jackson: And you didn’t call that misleading him?

Schacht: I would not call it "misleading"; I would call it "leading."

Mr. Justice Jackson: But leading without telling him the true motives that actuated you, at least.

Schacht: I think you can be much more successful in leading a person, if you do not tell him the truth, than if you do tell him the truth.

Mr. Justice Jackson: I am very glad to have that frank statement of your philosophy, Dr. Schacht. I am greatly indebted to you...

May 3, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 120 of deliberations, Schacht is cross-examined by Justice Jackson:

Mr. Justice Jackson: Now, is it not a fact that your controversy with Goering was a controversy of a personal character, between you and him, for control; and not a controversy as to the question of armament? You both wanted to rearm as rapidly as possible.

Schacht: I do not want to continue that play with words, as to whether it was personal or anything else, Mr. Justice. I had differences with Goering on the subject; and if you ask whether it was on armament, speed, or extent, I reply that I was at greatest odds with Goering, in regard to these points. I have never denied that I wanted to rearm, in order to gain equality of position for Germany. I never wanted to rearm any further. Goering wanted to go further; and this is one difference, which cannot be overlooked.

Mr. Justice Jackson: Now I do not want to play upon words; and if you say my reference to it as personal is a play upon words, you force me to go into what you told us about Goering. Is it not a fact that you told Major Tilley this? "Whereas I have called Hitler an amoral type of person, I can regard Goering only as immoral and criminal. Endowed by nature with a certain geniality that he managed to exploit for his own popularity, he was the most egocentric being imaginable. The assumption of political power was, for him, only a means to personal enrichment, and personal good living. The success of others filled him with envy. His greed knew no bounds. His predilection for jewels, gold and finery, et cetera, was unimaginable. He knew no comradeship. Only as long as someone was useful to him, did he profess friendship. Goering’s knowledge in all fields in which a government member should be competent was nil, especially in the economic field. Of all the economic matters that Hitler entrusted to him in the autumn of 1936, he had not the faintest notion, though he created an immense official apparatus, and misused his powers, as lord of all economy, most outrageously. In his personal appearance he was so theatrical that one could only compare him with Nero. A lady who had tea with his second wife reported that he appeared at this tea, in a sort of Roman toga and sandals studded with jewels, his fingers bedecked with innumerable jeweled rings, and generally covered with ornaments, his face painted, and his lips rouged." Did you give that statement to Major Tilley?

Schacht: Yes.

Mr. Justice Jackson: Yes. And you say you had no personal differences with Goering...

From Justice at Nuremberg by Robert E. Conot: Schacht posed a dilemma for Jackson. A month before, Don Heath, the director of political affairs for the American Military Government, met with Jackson ... Schacht, Heath said, had started to turn from Hitler in 1936 and, by January of 1939, had been an out-and-out opponent. Furthermore, in contrast to evidence that kept turning up against the other defendants, additional material on Schacht tended to exculpate him . . . .

Schacht’s reluctance to reveal his role as informant (a revelation that would virtually have assured his acquittal) was not the prosecution’s problem. But, even so, Jackson had doubts that Schacht could be convicted. Nevertheless, since the United States, pursuing the economics case, had primary responsibility for cross-examining Schacht, Funk, and Speer, Jackson considered it a matter of personal honor to take on Schacht himself. Unfortunately for Jackson, he had little involvement in the investigation of the case against Schacht, so most of his knowledge was second-hand. Harris prepared a fifty-page analysis, plus a hundred pages of excerpts from interrogations, to brief Jackson. Harris recommended that Jackson limit his cross-examination to a few points on which Schacht seemed vulnerable. The theme of the examination should be, Harris quipped, "Figures don’t lie, but liars often figure."

During direct examination by Dix, Schacht demonstrated that his reputation for articulateness, adroit phraseology, and cutting sarcasm was well deserved . . . . On several occasions, Jackson objected to the direction and scope of Dix’s questions. Birkett noted: "He has done this in a most petulant and aggressive manner, and is obviously suffering from frayed nerves. This is the result of his failure against Goering, and he seems to fear a similar result with Schacht. Almost to a man, Schacht’s fellow defendants were pulling for Jackson as he began his examination. Jackson intended to reveal Schacht as a man of expediency and duplicity, who had joined Hitler in a search for power and had left him not because of disagreement over principles, but because Schacht had been frustrated by Goering . . . .

Though Jackson exposed Schacht’s hypocrisy, he failed to heed Harris’s admonition to restrict cross-examination to a few points. He was hopelessly outmatched, when he invaded Schacht’s territory of economics. As Schacht and Jackson fired volleys back and forth in English, Lawrence warned them to slow down, so that the interpreting system could keep up. But Schacht found sardonic pleasure in the translators’ difficulties, and later recalled: "I did not need them, and I did not mind much whether they found their task easy or difficult . . . ."

The judges clearly gave the nod to Schacht. "Schacht is much too clever for him," Biddle thought. "I have been much impressed by him," Parker wrote. "He is a man of real ability, and evidently tried to prevent some of the Nazi outrages." Birkett noted that the prosecution had failed to destroy Schacht’s defense that his contribution toward rearmament had not been illegal, per se, and that he had divorced himself from the regime, when its criminal tendencies had become manifest. "In this particular contest between Schacht and Jackson, Schacht most certainly held his own," Birkett decided. "Nothing occurred during the cross-examination other than a strengthening of Schacht’s defense."

May 8, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

We turned the corner yesterday. We are now actually in the second row of defendants as they sit in the dock.

May 15, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Schacht’s reaction to Raeder’s testimony:

He disapproved of aggressive war, and was deceived by Hitler, but he planned and began the aggressive war. That’s a militarist for you. (Tusa)

May 21, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Raeder’s witness Karl Severing, a former Social Democratic Minister of the Interior during Weimar, is cross-examined by the prosecution:

Severing: Schacht, although I held him in high esteem as an economic expert, was known to me as a rather unreliable person in political matters. By joining the Harzburg Front, Schacht betrayed the cause of democracy. This was not only an act of ingratitude, for it was only through the Democrats that he ever reached the post of President of the Reichsbank; but it was also a great mistake, since he, and others of the same social standing, by joining the Harzburg Front, first made the National [Socialists—socially] acceptable [so to speak]. I could not, for this very reason, agree to any co-operation with Schacht on 20 July 1944 and when, in March 1943, I was asked to join a government [that] was to overthrow Hitler, I categorically refused to do so, giving Schacht’s machinations, and sundry other circumstances, as my excuse . . . .

My friend [Leuschner was] hanged, together with other young Social Democrats: von Harnack, Weber, Maas. [My] friend Leuschner and I discussed the composition of such a government. Leuschner informed me that a general would probably be the President of the Reich, and another general would be the Minister for War. I pointed out that Schacht, in all probability, would become financial or economic dictator, since Schacht was suitable for such a post through his actual or alleged connections with American business circles. But these connections between Schacht and--in National Socialist parlance--between plutocracy and militarism, this connection, I say, appeared to me so compromising to the cause of democracy, especially to the cause of Social Democracy, that I was, under no circumstances, prepared to become a member of any cabinet, in which Schacht would be the financial dictator...

May 24, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Reactions to Schirach’s second morning of testimony:

During Schirach’s statement Gilbert had noticed the tension in the dock: Frank, Funk, and Raeder dabbing their eyes; Streicher sneering. When Schirach went down to lunch, he was congratulated by Fritzsche, Funk, and Speer; and, in their own room, Papen, Neurath, and Schacht agreed [that] he was perfectly right in his judgement of Hitler. (Tusa)

June 22, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

We finished von Papen and Speer; and this morning we started von Neurath. Only Fritzsche remains in the dock. I did not cross-examine Speer, but I wish I had done so. I urged the Justice to do it. I felt he needed it, as Speer was the last one for whom the US had primary responsibility; and I thought, too, that Speer would be easy, and Jackson would look good. Well, he made a mess of it. That is, he did not do at all well. He just cannot cross-examine. Of that, I am completely convinced. When the Goering case went so poorly, I felt that Biddle had made Jackson’s task very difficult: that Goering himself was a difficult man to examine. That perhaps the Justice had a bad day; that on the record it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. With Schacht, I reasoned that Schacht was tough. We had a fairly weak case, and that Jackson was nervous because of his Goering situation, and that all in all it wasn’t too bad. But after yesterday--I know now--that the Justice simply does not have the ability to cross-examine. It shocks me that he doesn’t know it himself. He could have avoided all this, by exercising only the duties of chief counsel, in a case of this size. Speer was ripe for the plucking, but it didn’t work out. Of course he will not escape: we have far too much on him. But we could have destroyed him, as he really deserved. Well, anyway, we are moving along...

July 12, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Funk reacts to the closing remarks of his defense: I don’t see how the court can acquit a single one of us.

July 15, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 178, Dr Dix delivers his final speech:

Dr. Dix: A mere glance at the dock reveals the singularity of Schacht’s case, and the story of his imprisonment and defense. There, in the dock, sit Kaltenbrunner and Schacht. Whatever the powers of the Defendant Kaltenbrunner may have been, he was, in any case, Chief of the Reich Security Main Office. Until those [May days] of 1945, Schacht was a prisoner of the Reich Security Main Office, in various concentration camps. It is surely a rare and grotesque picture to see jailer and prisoner sharing a bench in the dock. At the very start of the Trial, this remarkable picture alone must have given cause for reflection to all those participating in the Trial: judges, prosecutors, and defense counsel alike. Schacht was banished to a concentration camp on the order of Hitler, as has been established here. The charge against him was high treason against the Hitler regime. The judicial authority, the People’s Court, headed by that bloodthirsty judge, Freisler, would have convicted him, had not his imprisonment turned into detention by the victorious Allied Powers. Since the summer of 1944, I was assigned to defend Schacht before Adolf Hitler’s People’s Court; in the summer of 1945, I was asked to conduct his defense before the international Military Tribunal. This, too, is in itself a self-contradictory state of affairs. This, too, compels all those participating in the Trial to reflect on the personality of Schacht...

From The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials by Telford Taylor: Dr Dix began his argument with emotion, effective for the audience but not for some of Schacht’s fellow defendants...Dix himself had represented Schacht in 1944 and 1945, against charges of treason to the Reich; and now, Dix was defending him against a charge of state conspiracy to wage aggressive war. Dix invoked the shades of Nero, who had executed Seneca, later sainted. Dix dryly noted that Schacht did not ’indulge in any such expectations.’ It was a tribute to Dix’s standing with the Tribunal, that Lawrence (the President) allowed him to continue in such grandiloquent irrelevancies but, unlike Stahmer, Dix had taken the precaution of frequently mentioning his client’s name. It was clear that Schacht’s fate would be influenced by the Tribunal’s impression of his genuineness, as a conspirator against Hitler...Dix ended his argument by requesting the Tribunal to find that ’Schacht is not guilty of the accusation which has been raised against him, and that he should be acquitted.’ No other defense counsel had as yet flatly demanded an acquittal.

July 22, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 187, US Justice Jackson details the Prosecution’s closing arguments against Schacht.

Justice Jackson: They first enlisted German industrialists in a secret rearmament program. Twenty days after the seizure of power, Schacht was host to Hitler, Goering, and some 20 leading industrialists. Among them were Krupp von Bohlen of the great Krupp armament works, and representatives of I. G. Farben, and other Ruhr heavy industries. Hitler and Goering explained their program to the industrialists, who became so enthusiastic, that they set about to raise 3 million Reichsmark, to strengthen and confirm the Nazi Party in power. Two months later, Krupp was working to bring a reorganized association of German industry into agreement with the political aims of the Nazi Government. Krupp later boasted of the success in keeping the German war industries secretly alive . . . .

On 21 May 1935, the top secret Reich Defense Law was enacted. Defendant Schacht was appointed Plenipotentiary for War Economy, with the task of secretly preparing all economic forces for war and, in the event of mobilization, of financing the war. Schacht’s secret efforts were supplemented in October 1936, by the appointment of Defendant Goering, as commissioner of the Four Year Plan, with the duty of putting the entire economy in a state of readiness for war within 4 years. A secret program, for the accumulation of the raw materials and foreign credits necessary for rearmament was also set on foot, immediately upon seizure of power. In September of 1934, the Minister of Economics was already complaining that: "The task of stockpiling is being hampered by the lack of foreign currency; the need for secrecy and camouflage [is also] a retarding influence". Foreign currency controls were at once established. Financing was delegated to the wizard Schacht, who conjured up the mefo bill, to serve the dual objectives of tapping the short-term money market for rearmament purposes, while concealing the amount of these expenditures. The spirit of the whole Nazi administration was summed up by Goering at a meeting of the Council of Ministers, which included Schacht, on 27 May 1936, when he said, "All measures are to be considered from the standpoint of an assured waging of war" . . . .

Here, another purpose behind the Jewish persecutions crept in; for it was the wholesale confiscation of their property, which helped finance German rearmament. Although Schacht’s plan--to have foreign money ransom the entire race within Germany--was not adopted, the Jews were stripped to the point where Goering was able to advise the Reich Defense Council that the critical situation of the Reich exchequer, due to rearmament, had been relieved, "through the billion Reichsmarks fine imposed on Jewry, and through profits accrued to the Reich in the Aryanization of Jewish enterprises . . . ."

It was Schacht, the facade of starched respectability who, in the early days, provided the window dressing, the bait for the hesitant, and whose wizardry later made it possible for Hitler to finance the colossal rearmament program, and to do it secretly...It was the fatal weakness of the early Nazi band, that it lacked technical competence. It could not, from among its own ranks, make up a government capable of carrying out all the projects necessary to realize its aims. Therein, lies the special crime and betrayal of men like Schacht and Von Neurath, Speer and Von Papen, Raeder and Doenitz, Keitel and Jodl. It is doubtful whether the Nazi master plan could have succeeded without their specialized intelligence, which they so willingly put at its command. They did so, with knowledge of its announced aims and methods, and continued their services, after practice had confirmed the direction in which they were tending. Their superiority to the average run of Nazi mediocrity is not their excuse. It is their condemnation . . . .

Nearly all the defendants take two or more conflicting positions. Let us illustrate the inconsistencies of their positions, by the record of one defendant who, if pressed, would himself concede that he is the most intelligent, honorable, and innocent man in the dock. That is Schacht. And this is the effect of his own testimony; but let us not forget that I recite it, not against him alone, but because most of its self-contradictions are found in the testimony of several defendants: Schacht did not openly join the Nazi movement until it had won, nor openly desert it, until it had lost. He admits that he never gave it public opposition, but asserts that he never gave it private loyalty. When we demand of him why he did not stop the criminal course of the regime in which he was a minister, he says he had not a bit of influence. When we ask why he remained a member of the criminal regime, he tells us that, by sticking on, he expected to moderate its program. Like a Brahmin among untouchables, he could not bear to mingle with the Nazi socially; but never could he afford to separate from them politically.

Of all the Nazi aggressions, by which he now claims to have been shocked, there is not one that he did not support before the world, with the weight of his name and prestige. Having armed Hitler to blackmail a continent, his answer now, is to blame England and France for yielding. Schacht always fought for his position in a regime he now affects to despise. He sometimes disagreed with his Nazi confederates about what was expedient in reaching their goal, but he never dissented from the goal itself. When he did break with them in the twilight of the regime, it was over tactics, not principles. From then on, he never ceased to urge others to risk their positions and their necks, to forward his plots; but never, on any occasion, did he hazard either of his own. He now boasts that he personally would have shot Hitler, if he had had the opportunity; but the German newsreel shows that, even after the fall of France, when he faced the living Hitler, he stepped out of line to grasp the hand he now claims to loathe, and hung upon the words of the man he now says he thought unworthy of belief. Schacht says he steadily "sabotaged" the Hitler Government. Yet, the most relentless secret service in the world never detected him doing the regime any harm, until long after he knew the war to be lost, and the Nazis doomed. Schacht, who dealt in hedges all his life, always kept himself in a position to claim that he was in either camp. The plea for him is as specious on analysis as it is persuasive on first sight. Schacht represents the most dangerous and reprehensible type of opportunism: that of the man of influential position, who is ready to join a movement that he knows to be wrong, because he thinks it is winning . . . .

Even Schacht showed that he, too, had adopted the Nazi attitude that truth is any story [that] succeeds. Confronted on cross-examination with a long record of broken vows and false words, he declared in justification, and I quote from the record: "I think you can score many more successes, when you want to lead someone, if you don’t tell them the truth, than if you tell them the truth." This was the philosophy of the National Socialists..." Note: Jackson devotes more time in his closing speech to Schacht, than any other defendant. This is an indication of the weakness of the case against him.

From The Nuremberg Trial by Heydecker and Leeb: At lunchtime, when Jackson’s speech was finished, Gilbert observed the reaction of the defendants. It was "hurt surprise that the prosecution still considered them criminals." "What have we been sitting here for eight months for?" protested Papen. "The prosecution isn’t paying the slightest attention to our defense." Doenitz and Schacht joined in, and denounced Jackson’s speech: "it had a very low niveau (level)," thought Schacht. Goering was not surprised, he said, that the defense had had so little impact: "Thing whole trial is a farce." He expressed pleasure that those "who kowtowed to the prosecution," and denounced Nazism, had "got it in the neck just the same," and claimed to be delighted by the way Jackson had described him: "I’d rather be called a murderer, than a hypocrite and opportunist like Schacht." His delight increased next day, when he had logged the transcript of the speech: "I was way out front, with forty-two mentions, and Schacht was a poor second." Streicher had been hardly interested in the speech at all, just rather puzzled by Jackson’s estimate of the number of Jews murdered: "I don’t think it was six million ... maybe four million." He said he had been deeply impressed recently, by reading about Jewish riots in Palestine. "Anybody who can fight and resist and stick together ... for such people I can only have the greatest respect . . . . I would be ready to join them now and help them in their fight." Perhaps he could go as soon as the trial was over, he thought. Jodl and Rosenberg listened for a while wide-eyed, then roared with laughter.

July 23, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 188, Sir Hartley Shawcross, Chief Prosecutor for the United Kingdom, sets out the Prosecution’s closing arguments:

Shawcross: The fact that the Defendants Schacht and Funk dealt chiefly with economics, ought not blind the Tribunal to their important part in the general plan. Schacht says that he had clean hands in this matter. It is for you to say. Schacht played his part in bringing Hitler to power. He says he thought that Hitler was "a man with whom one could co-operate," and assured Hitler that he could always count on him "as your reliable assistant." He helped to consolidate the Nazi position, and he was the main figure in collecting election funds from the industrialists. It then became his task to provide the economic plan and machinery necessary to launch and maintain aggression. He knew the policy about the Jews; he knew the methods Hitler was using to build up his power; he knew the ultimate aim was aggression. But he continued to play his part...

July 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 189, M. Charles Dubost, Deputy Chief Prosecutor for the French Republic, sets out the Prosecution’s closing arguments:

Dubost: They stopped at nothing, in order to achieve their end: Violation of treaties, invasion, and enslavement, in peacetime, of weak and peaceful neighbors, wars of aggression, and total warfare, with all the atrocities [that] these words imply. Goering and Ribbentrop cynically admitted that they took both a spiritual and a material part in it; and the generals and admirals did their utmost to help matters forward. Speer exploited, to the point of exhaustion and death, the manpower recruited for him by Sauckel, Kaltenbrunner, the NSDAP Gauleiter, and the generals. Kaltenbrunner made use of the gas chambers, the victims for which were furnished by Frick, Schirach, Seyss-Inquart, Frank, Jodl, Keitel, and the rest. But the existence of the gas chambers themselves was only made possible through the development of a political ideology favorable to such things; there, inextricably merged, we find the responsibility of all of them: Goering, Hess, Rosenberg, Streicher, Frick, Frank, Fritzsche, down to Schacht himself: the pro-Jewish Schacht. Did he not say to Hirschfeld: "I want Germany to be great; to accomplish this I am prepared to ally myself with the very devil." He did enter into this alliance with the devil, and with hell. We may include Papen, who saw his secretaries and his friends killed around him, and still continued to accept official missions in Ankara and Vienna, because he thought he could appease Hitler by serving him...

July 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 189, General Rudenko, Chief Prosecutor for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, sets out the Prosecution’s closing arguments:

Rudenko: In carrying out a vast and complicated task, the Defendant Hjalmar Schacht played a prominent part in the preparation and realization of the criminal plans of the Nazi conspirators. Schacht’s position, where his defense is concerned, is extremely simple. If he is to be believed, purely patriotic motives attracted him to Hitlerism. He was against aggressive wars, but in favor of rearmament for Germany, in order to maintain peace. He was all for the return of Germany’s colonies, in view of establishing economic stability in Europe. Having come to the conviction that the policy of the Nazi Government was directed toward excessive armament, and thereby threatened with another world war, Schacht went over to the opposition. He sabotaged the measures taken by the Hitlerite Government and, as a result, he was persecuted as a participant in the plot against Hitler. Defendant Schacht now strives to depict the enthusiastic letters, full of expressions of loyalty, which he addressed to Hitler, as a method of camouflaging his true feeling of opposition toward the Hitlerite regime...

August 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 216 of deliberations, the defendants make their final statements:

The President: I call upon the Defendant Hjalmar Schacht:

Final Statement of Hjalmar Schacht: My sense of justice was deeply wounded by the fact that the final speeches of the Prosecution completely by-passed the evidence resulting from this Trial. The only accusation raised against me under the Charter is that I wanted war. The overwhelming evidence in my case has shown, however, that I was a fanatical opponent of war, and tried, actively and passively, by protests, sabotage, cunning, and force, to prevent the war. How, then, can the Prosecution assert that I favored war? How can the Russian prosecutor assert that I did not turn from Hitler until 1943, when my first attempt at a coup d’etat had already been undertaken in the autumn of 1938?

And now, Justice Jackson has raised a new accusation against me in his final speech, which has not been discussed at all in the Trial until now. I am said to have planned to release Jews from Germany, in exchange for a ransom in foreign currency. This, too, is untrue. Disgusted by the Jewish pogrom of November 1938, I managed to obtain Hitler’s approval to a plan, which was to facilitate emigration for the Jews. I intended to place 1,500 million Reichsmarks, taken from confiscated Jewish property, under the administration of an international committee, and Germany was to undertake the obligation to repay this amount to the committee in 20 yearly installments, and in foreign currency, which is the exact opposite of what Justice Jackson asserted here. I discussed this plan in December 1938 in London, with Lord Berstedt of Samuel and Samuel, with Lord Winterton, and with the American representative, Mr. Rublee. They were all sympathetically disposed towards the plan. But since I was removed from the Reichsbank shortly afterwards by Hitler, the matter was dropped. Had it been carried through, not a single German Jew would have lost his life.

My opposition to Hitler’s policies was known at home and abroad and was so clear that, even in 1940, the United States Charge d’affaires, Mr. Kirk, sent me his regards before leaving his Berlin post, adding that, after the war, I could be counted on as a man free from guilt, which is reported in detail by the witness Huelse in his affidavit (37-b in my document book). Instead of that, however, the Prosecution has branded me in the world press, for a whole year, as a robber, murderer, and betrayer. It is this accusation alone, which I have to thank for the fact that, in the evening of my life, I am without means of subsistence, and without a home.

But the Prosecution are mistaken if they believe, as was mentioned in one of their first speeches, that they can count me amongst the pitiful and broken characters. To be sure, I erred politically. I never claimed to be a politician, but my economic and financial policy of creating work by assisting credit proved brilliantly successful. The figure of unemployment dropped from 7,000,000 to zero. In the year 1938, the state revenues had risen to such an extent that the repayment of the Reichsbank credits was fully guaranteed. The fact that Hitler refused this repayment, which he had solemnly confirmed, was a tremendous fraud, which I could not foresee. My political mistake was not realizing the extent of Hitler’s criminal nature at an early enough time. But I did not stain my hands with one single illegal or immoral act.

The terrorism of the Gestapo did not frighten me. For terrorism must always fail before the appeal to conscience. In this, lies the great source of strength which religion gives us. In spite of that, Justice Jackson considered it proper to accuse me of opportunism and cowardice. And this, when the end of the war found me in the Flossenburg extermination camp, where I had been imprisoned for 10 months, and where I escaped Hitler’s order of murder, only by a merciful fate. At the conclusion of this Trial, I stand shaken to the very depths of my soul, by the unspeakable suffering, which I tried to prevent with all my personal efforts and with all attainable means, but which, in the end, I failed to prevent: not through my fault. Therefore, my head is upright, and I am unshaken in the belief that the world will recover, not through the power of violence, but only through the strength of the spirit, and morality of actions.

September 2, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: As the defendants await the courts judgement, Colonel Andrus somewhat relaxes the conditions of confinement, allowing the prisoners limited visiting. The corridors of the Palace of Justice ring with the voices of children, as Schacht’s four- and five-year-old daughters by his second wife play with seven-year-old Edda Goering, and Ribbentrop’s youngest child. Almost a year and a half have passed since the children have been able to see their fathers, and some have difficulty remembering them. At one meeting, Schacht’s four-year-old stands up, and whispers conspiratorially through the grill: "I like you very much." (Conot)

September 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: From notes by Dr Pfluecker, Nuremberg Prison’s German Doctor:

Yesterday, the defendants said farewell to their relatives ... Schacht says that he is pleased that it is over at last. He tells me that his little daughter has had to have an operation. (Maser)

September 1-30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: The thirty-two American journalists covering the trial had created a blackboard in the foreign press room, listing the correspondents’ predictions concerning the defendants’ sentences, in columns headed "Guilty," "Not Guilty," "Death Sentence," and "Prison." The pressmen were unanimous on the death sentence, only for Goering, Ribbentrop, and Kaltenbrunner; as regards the rest, bets on the death sentence were: Keitel and Sauckel 29, Hans Frank 27, Seyss-Inquart 26, Rosenberg 24, Hess 17, Raeder 15, Doenitz and Streicher 14, Jodl 13, Frick 12, Speer 11, von Schirach 9, von Papen 6, Schacht 4, von Neurath 3 and Fritzsche 1. (Maser)

September 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On the penultimate day of this historic trial, the final judgements are read in open court:

Final Judgement: Schacht is indicted under Counts One and Two of the Indictment. Schacht served as Commissioner of Currency and President of the Reichsbank from 1923 to 1930; was reappointed President of the bank on 17 March 1933; Minister of Economics in August 1934; and Plenipotentiary General for War Economy in May 1935. He resigned from these two positions in November 1937, and was appointed Minister without Portfolio. He was reappointed as President of the Reichsbank for a one-year term on 16 March 1937, and for a four-year term on 9 March 1938, but was dismissed on 20 January 1939. He was dismissed as Minister without Portfolio on 22 January 1943.

Crimes against Peace: Schacht was an active supporter of the Nazi Party, before its accession to power on 30 January 1933, and supported the appointment of Hitler to the post of Chancellor. After that date, he played an important role in the vigorous rearmament program that was adopted, using the facilities of the Reichsbank to the fullest extent, in the German rearmament effort. The Reichsbank, in its traditional capacity as financial agent for the German Government, floated long-term Government loans, the proceeds of which were used for rearmament. He devised a system under which five-year notes, known as "mefo" bills, guaranteed by the Reichsbank and backed, in effect, by nothing more than its position as a bank of issue, were used to obtain large sums for rearmament from the short-term money market.

As Minister of Economics and as Plenipotentiary General for the War Economy he was active in organizing the German economy for war. He made detailed plans for industrial mobilization, and the co-ordination of the Army with industry, in the event of war. He was particularly concerned with shortages of raw materials, and started a scheme of stockpiling, and a system of exchange control designed to prevent Germany’s weak foreign exchange position from hindering the acquisition abroad of raw materials needed for rearmament. On 3 May 1935, he sent a memorandum to Hitler, stating that "the accomplishment of the armament program with speed and in quantity is the problem of German politics, that everything else therefore should be subordinated to this purpose." Schacht, by April 1936, began to lose his influence as the central figure in the German rearmament effort, when Goering was appointed coordinator for raw materials and foreign exchange. Goering advocated a greatly expanded program for the production of synthetic raw materials, which was opposed by Schacht on the ground that the resulting financial strain might involve inflation.

The influence of Schacht suffered further when, on 16 October 1936, Goering was appointed Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan, with the task of putting "the entire economy in a state of readiness for war within 4 years." Schacht had opposed the announcement of this plan, and the appointment of Goering to head it, and it is clear that Hitler’s action represented a decision that Schacht’s economic policies were too conservative for the drastic rearmament policy, which Hitler wanted to put into effect. After Goering’s appointment, Schacht and Goering promptly became embroiled in a series of disputes. Although there was an element of personal controversy running through these disputes, Schacht disagreed with Goering on certain basic policy issues.

Schacht, on financial grounds, advocated a retrenchment in the rearmament program; opposed as uneconomical, much of the proposed expansion of production facilities--particularly for synthetics--urged a drastic tightening on Government credit, and a cautious policy in dealing with Germany’s foreign exchange reserves. As a result of this dispute, and of a bitter argument, in which Hitler accused Schacht of upsetting his plans by his financial methods, Schacht went on leave of absence from the Ministry of Economics on 5 September 1937, and resigned as Minister of Economics and as Plenipotentiary General for War Economy on 16 November 1937. As President of the Reichsbank, Schacht was still involved in disputes.

Throughout 1938, the Reichsbank continued to function as the financial agent for the German Government, in floating long-term loans to finance armaments. But on 31 March 1938, Schacht discontinued the practice of floating short-term notes, guaranteed by the Reichsbank, for armament expenditures. At the end of 1938, in an attempt to regain control of fiscal policy through the Reichsbank, Schacht refused an urgent request, of the Reichsminister of Finance, for a special credit to pay the salaries of civil servants, which were not covered by existing funds. On 2 January 1939, Schacht held a conference with Hitler, at which he urged him to reduce expenditures for armaments.

On 7 January 1939, Schacht submitted to Hitler a report, signed by the Directors of the Reichsbank, which urged a drastic curtailment of armament expenditures, and a balanced budget, as the only method of preventing inflation. On 19 January, Hitler dismissed Schacht as President of the Reichsbank. On 22 January 1943, Hitler dismissed Schacht as Reich Minister without Portfolio because of his "whole attitude during the present fateful fight of the German nation." On 23 July 1944, Schacht was arrested by the Gestapo, and confined in a concentration camp until the end of the war. It is clear that Schacht was a central figure in Germany’s rearmament program, and the steps which he took, particularly in the early days of the Nazi regime, were responsible for Nazi Germany’s rapid rise as a military power.

But rearmament of itself is not criminal under the Charter. To be a Crime against Peace under Article 6 of the Charter, it must be shown that Schacht carried out this rearmament as part of the Nazi plans to wage aggressive wars. Schacht has contended that he participated in a rearmament program only because he wanted to build up a strong and independent Germany, which would carry out a foreign policy, which would command respect on an equal basis with other European countries; that when he discovered that the Nazis were rearming for aggressive purposes, he attempted to slow down the speed of rearmament; and that, after the dismissal of Von Fritsch and Von Blomberg, he participated in plans to get rid of Hitler: first, by deposing him, and later by assassination. Schacht, as early as 1936, began to advocate a limitation of the rearmament program, for financial reasons. Had the policies advocated by him been put into effect, Germany would not have been prepared for a general European war. Insistence on his policies led to his eventual dismissal from all positions of economic significance in Germany.

On the other hand, Schacht, with his intimate knowledge of German finance, was in a peculiarly good position to understand the true significance of Hitler’s frantic rearmament, and to realize that the economic policy adopted was consistent only with war as its object. Moreover, Schacht continued to participate in German economic life and even, in a minor way, in some of the early Nazi aggressions. Prior to the occupation of Austria, he set a rate of exchange between the mark and the schilling. After the occupation of Austria, he arranged for the incorporation of the Austrian National Bank into the Reichsbank, and made a violently pro-Nazi speech, in which he stated that the Reichsbank would always be Nazi as long as he was connected with it; praised Hitler; defended the occupation of Austria; scoffed at objections to the way it was carried out; and ended with "to our Fuehrer, a triple ’Sieg Heil’." He has not contended ’ that this speech did not represent his state of mind at the time.

After the occupation of the Sudetenland, he arranged for currency conversion and for the incorporation into the Reichsbank of local Czech banks of issue. On 29 November 1938, he made a speech, in which he pointed with pride to his economic policy, which had created the high degree of German armament, and added that this armament had made Germany’s foreign policy possible. Schacht was not involved in the planning of any of the specific wars of aggression charged in Count Two. His participation in the occupation of Austria and the Sudetenland (neither of which is charged as aggressive war) was on such a limited basis, that it does not amount to participation in the common plan charged in Count One.

He was clearly not one of the inner circle around Hitler most closely involved with this common plan. He was regarded by this group with undisguised hostility. The testimony of Speer shows that Schacht’s arrest on 23 July 1944 was based as much on Hitler’s enmity towards Schacht, growing out of his attitude before the war, as it was on suspicion of his complicity in the bomb plot. The case against Schacht therefore depends on the inference that Schacht did in fact know of the Nazi aggressive plans. On this all-important question, evidence has been given for the Prosecution, and a considerable volume of evidence for the Defense. The Tribunal has considered the whole of this evidence with great care, and comes to the conclusion that this necessary inference has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt.

Conclusion: The Tribunal finds that Schacht is not guilty on this Indictment, and directs that he shall be discharged by the Marshal, when the Tribunal presently adjourns.

September 30, 1946: On their release at the close of the morning session, Fritzsche, Schacht, and Papen are bombarded with questions from the world press:

Question: Where will you live now?

Schacht: I, too, would like to know.

Question: Will you spend the night in jail?

Fritzsche: No, rather in a Nuremberg ruin; no more gray walls and window bars.

Question: What are your plans?
Papen: I will go to my daughter in the British zone, or to my wife and children in the French zone.

Schacht: I will go to my wife and children, who live in the British zone; and I hope I shall never again see anyone from the press!

Fritzsche: The problem of freedom is quite new for me. I can’t say yet what I shall do.

As the press photographers snapped their pictures, the former defendants were asked for many autographs. After a bit, Schacht (the banker) held up his hand and asked for silence. "My two children, aged three and four, have never had any chocolate. I will only give further autographs in return for chocolate."

October 1, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On the 218th and last day of the trial, sentences are handed down:

I have an announcement to make. The Soviet member of the International Military Tribunal desires to record his dissent from the decisions in the cases of the Defendants Schacht . . . . He is of the opinion that they should have been convicted and not acquitted...

October 1, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: From the dissenting Soviet opinion:

Schacht consciously and deliberately supported the Nazi Party, and actively aided in the seizure of power in Germany by the Fascists. Even prior to his appointment as Plenipotentiary for War Economy, and immediately after the seizure of power by the Nazis, Schacht led in planning and developing the German armaments ... Schacht used swindler’s tactics and coercion...

October 2, 1946: Knowing that the German police are waiting outside to arrest him upon his release, Schacht waits until this day to make a dash for it. He makes it to the house in Nuremberg, where his wife is staying, only to find three policemen at the front door. Initially taken to the local police station, he will be allowed to return, temporarily, under house arrest.

October 16, 1946: After the executions, the former defendants’ cells are cleaned thoroughly. Colonel Andrus is unpleasantly surprised by the amount of contraband articles subsequently discovered, and what that says about his security regime. Nearly all the prisoners had squirreled away something in anticipation of eventual desperation. In the cell of the acquitted Schacht is found a length of cord, a yard long, easily strong enough for hanging oneself. In addition, the former Reichsbank President had acquired 10 paperclips, all carefully hidden. (Tusa, Conot)

August 12, 1947: Schacht signs a sworn Affidavit:

I, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, after having been warned that I will be liable to punishment for making false statements, state herewith under oath, of my own free will and without coercion, the following: The amounts contributed by the participants in the meeting of 20 February 1933 at Goering’s house were paid by them to the bankers. Delbruck, Schickler & Co., Berlin, to the credit of an account "Nationale Treuhand" (which may be translated as National Trusteeship). It was arranged that I was entitled to dispose of this account, which I administered as a trustee, and that in case of my death, or that in case the trusteeship should be terminated in any other way, Rudolf Hess should be entitled to dispose of the account. I disposed of the amounts of this account by writing out checks to Mr. Hess. I do not know what Mr. Hess actually did with the money. On 4 April 1933, I closed the account with Delbruck, Schickler & Co. and had the balance transferred to the "Account Ic" with the Reichsbank which read in my name. Later on, I was ordered directly by Hitler, who was authorized by the assembly of 20 February 1933 to dispose of the amounts collected, or through Hess, his deputy, to pay the balance of about 600,000 marks to Ribbentrop. I have carefully read this affidavit (one page) and have signed it. I have made the necessary corrections in my own handwriting, and initialed each correction in the margin of the page. I declare herewith under oath that I have stated the full truth to the best of my knowledge and belief.

September 2, 1948: Schacht, who had been re-arrested by his fellow Germans, is tried in a Denazification court, and sentenced to eight years in a work camp, is released.

1949: Schacht publishes his take on the Nuremberg Trial, Account Settled, most of which he had written during the Trial itself. It will sell 250,000 copies.

1950: Schacht is cleared of all charges. He forms the Duesseldorf Bank and soon becomes an economic and financial advisor for developing countries.

1952: Returning home after consulting for the Indonesian government on economic matters, Schacht’s plane makes an unscheduled emergency stop in Israel. Fortunately for Schacht, the plane will take off again, before anyone realizes Schacht was on Israeli soil. Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion: "Had I known that Dr Schacht was at the air field I should have arrested him at once." (Taylor)

1953: Schacht publishes his autobiography, Confessions of the Old Wizard.

June 3, 1970: Schacht dies in Munich, Germany.

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