Trial of German Major War Criminals
Opinion and Judgment of the Nürnberg
International Military Tribunal

The unfounded acquittal of Defendant Schacht

The evidence, submitted to the Tribunal in the case of Schacht, confirms the following facts:

(a) Schacht established contact with Goering in December, 1930, and with Hitler at the beginning of 1931. He subsequently established contact between the leadership of the Nazi Party and the foremost representatives of the German industrial and financial circles. This, in particular, is confirmed by the testimony of Witness Severing. (Transcript, Afternoon Session, 23rd May, 1946; also US-615.)

(b) In July, 1932, Schacht, demanded that Papen resign his post as Reich Chancellor in favour of Hitler. This fact is confirmed by Papen's testimony at the preliminary interrogation and by Schacht's own testimony in Court. (Transcript, Afternoon Session, 2nd May, 1946.)

(c) In November, 1932, Schacht collected signatures of German industrialists, urging them to come out for Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor. On 12th November, 1932, Schacht wrote to Hitler:

" I have no doubt that the way we are directing the course of events can only lead to your appointment as Reich Chancellor. We are trying to secure a large number of signatures among the industrial circles to ensure your appointment to this post." (EC-456, US-773, PS-3901, US-837.)

(d) In February, 1933, Schacht organised the financing of the pre-election campaign conducted by the Nazi Party, and demanded at the conference of Hitler and Goering with the industrialists, that the latter provide three million marks (D-203). Schacht admitted in Court that he had pointed out the necessity for providing the Nazi leaders with this sum (Transcript, Afternoon Session, 3rd May, 1946), while the defendant Funk and the former member of the management of " I.G. Farbenindustrie " Schnitzler, who were present at this conference, both confirmed that it was Schacht who was the Initiator of the financing of the pre-election campaign. (Transcript, 4th July,1946, and EC39, US-618.)

(e) Utilising his prestige Schacht also repeatedly admitted in his public statements that he asked for the support in the elections of both the Nazi .Party and of Hitler. (US-615, Transcript, Afternoon Session, 2nd May 1946.)

On 2nd August, 1932, Schacht wrote to Hitler:

" No matter where my activities lead me in the near future, even if some day you see me imprisoned in a fortress, you can always depend on me as your loyal aide." (EC-457, U619.)

Thus, 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, as follows:

(a) On 17th March, 1933, Schacht was appointed President of the Reichsbank (PS-3021, US-11), and as he himself stated in a speech before his Reichsbank colleagues on 21st March, 1938, the Reichsbank under his management was "none other than a national socialist institution ". (Transcript, Afternoon Session, 3rd May, 1946.)

(b) In August, 1934, Schacht was appointed Reich Minister of Economy (P3021, US-11). His Ministry " was given the task of carrying out the economic preparation for war". (EC-128, US-623.) A special decree granted Schacht in his capacity of Reich Minister of Economy, unlimited authority in the field of economy. (" Reichsgesetzblatt " for 1934, Part 1, p. 565.)

(c) Making use of these powers in 1934, Schacht launched upon the execution of the " new programme" developed by him ("Reichsgesetzblatt", 1934, Part 1, p. 826), and, as Schacht himself noted in his speech of 29th November, 1938, this organisation played a tremendous part in the course of Germany's rearmament. (EC-611, U-62.)

(d) For the purpose of the most effective execution of this " new programme " Schacht used the property and means of those political enemies of the Nazi Regime, who either became the victims of terror or were forced to emigrate (Schacht's note to Hitler of 3rd May, 1939, PS-1168, US-137). Schacht used swindler's tactics and coercion " in an effort to acquire raw material and foreign currency for armaments". (Affidavit of Vice-President of the Reichsbank, Puhl EC-437, US-624.)

(e) During the very first day of his association with Reichsbank. Schacht issued a series of decrees (27th October, 1933, 23rd March, 1934, 19th February, 1935), which in the long run helped realise the broad programme of the financing of armaments, developed by him. and with the aid of which, as he testified, he " had found the way to finance the rearmament programme".

In his speech in Leipzig on 1st March, 1935, Schacht, while summing up his preceding economic and financial activities, announced ". . . everything that I say and do has the Fuehrer's full agreement and I shall not do or say anything which is not approved by the Fuehrer ". (USSR-427.)

Having become the Plenipotentiary General for War Economy, Schacht unified under himself the leadership of the entire Germany economy and through his efforts the establishment of the Hitlerite war machine was accomplished.

(a) The secret law of 21st May, 1935, which appointed Schacht the Plenipotentiary General for War Economy, states as follows: "The task of the Plenipotentiary General for War Economy is to place all the economic resources in the service of warfare." " The Plenipotentiary General for War Economy within the framework of his functions is given the right to issue legal orders, deviating from the existing laws." " He is the responsible head for financing wars through the Reich Ministry and the Reichsbank." (PS-2261, US-24.)

(b) Schacht financed German armaments through the MEFO system of promissory notes, which was a swindling venture on a national scale that has no precedent, and the success of which was dependent upon the realisation of the aggressive plans of the Hitlerites. It was because of this that Schacht set 1942 as the date when the MEFO notes were to mature and he pointed out in his speech of 29th November, 1938, the relation between " the daring credit policy " of the Reichsbank and the aims of the Hitlerite foreign policy. (EC-611, US-522.)

(c) Having made full use of his plenary powers, Schacht carefully developed and carried out a broad programme of economic mobilisation which allowed the Hitlerite leaders to wage war at any time considered most favourable. In particular, from the report of Schacht's deputy, Wohltat, " the preparation for mobilisation carried out by the Plenipotentiary for War Economy" shows that Schacht provided to the last detail for the system of exploitation of the German economy in war time, all the way from the utilisation of industrial enterprises, of raw material resources and manpower down to the distribution of 80,000,000 ration cards (EC-258, US-625). It is significant that this report was drawn up a month after Hitler's statement at the conference of 5th November, 1937, at which Hitler set forth this concrete plan of aggression (PS-386, US-25).

Summarising his past activity, Schacht wrote in January, 1937: " I worked out the preparation for war in accordance with the principle that the plan of our war economy must be built in peace time in such a way that there will be no necessity for any reorganisation in case of war". Schacht confirmed his statement in Court Transcript, Afternoon Session, 2nd May, 1946).

Schacht consciously and deliberately prepared Germany for war.

(d) The former Minister of War, von Blomberg, testified that: " Schacht was fully cognizant of the plans for development and increase of the German armed forces, since he was constantly informed . . . of all the financing necessary for the development of the German armed forces". (US-838.)

On 31st August, 1936, von Blomberg informed Schacht that: " The establishment of all the Air Force units must be completed by 1st April, 1937, and therefore large expenditures must be entailed in 1936 . . ." (PS-1301, US-123.)

In the Spring of 1937, Schacht participated in the military exercises in Godesberg. (EC-174.)

(e) In his memorandum to Hitler on 3rd May, 193S, entitled the " Financing of Rearmament ", Schacht wrote: " A speedy fulfillment of the programme for rearmament on a mass scale is the basis of German policy, and, therefore, everything else must be subordinate to this task; the completion of this task, the achievement of this purpose must meet no obstacles . . ." (PS-1168, US-37.)

In his speech on 29th November, 1938, Schacht announced the Reichs bank's policy made possible for Germany to create an " unsurpassed machine, and, in turn, this war machine made possible the realisation of the aims of our policy ". (EC-611, US-622.)

One must exclude the supposition that Schacht was not informed as to what purposes these weapons were to serve since he could not but take into consideration their unprecedented scale and an obvious preference for offensive types of weapons, heavy tanks, bombers, and so on. Besides Schacht knew perfectly well that not a single country intended to wage war on Germany nor had it any reasons to do so.

(a) Schacht utilised the military might growing under his direction to back Germany's territorial demands which grew in proportion to the increase in armaments. Schacht testified in court that " at first he confined himself (in his demands) to the colonies which had once belonged to Germany." (Transcript, Morning Session, 3rd Max. 1946.)

In September, 1934, during ,his talk with the American Ambassador Dodd, Schacht pointed out that he "desired annexation if possible without war, but through war, if the U.S. would stay out of it". (EC-461, US-58.)

In 1935, Schacht announced to the American Consul Fuller: " Colonies are essential to Germany. If it is possible, we shall acquire them through negotiations; if not, we shall seize them." (EC-450, US-629.)

Schacht admitted in Court that military pressure put upon Czechoslovakia was " in some measure the result and the fruit of his labour ". (Transcript, Morning Session, 3rd May, 1946.)

(b) Schacht personally participated in the plunder of private and State property of ,the countries which became victims of Hitlerite aggressions.

The minutes of the conference of the Military Economic Staff on 11th March, 1938, in which Schacht participated, state that those present were given Hitler's latest directives about the invasion of Austria. Further, the minutes state that: "After this, at the suggestion of Schacht, it was decided that' . . . all the final accounting will be made in Reichsmarks at the rate of exchange: 2 shillings for one Reichsmark". (EC-421, US-645.)

Schacht admitted in court that he personally was in charge of the seizure of the Czechoslovak National Bank after the occupation of Czechoslovakia. (Transcript, Morning Session, 3rd May, 1946.)

(c) At the beginning of 1940, Schacht offered Hitler his services for negotiations with the United States of America in regard to the discontinuance of aid to England and he informed Goering of his offer. (PS-3700, US-780.)

(d) Schacht considered it his duty to greet and congratulate Hitler publicly after the signing of armistice with France, although Schacht, better than anyone else, understood the usurpatory nature of the armistice. (German Documentary, US-635.)

(e) In this letter to Funk on 17th October, 1941, Schacht suggested a more effective exploitation of occupied territory. In this case, too. Schacht acted on his own initiative. (EC-504, US-930.)

Schacht also participated in the persecution of the Jews:

(a) He testified in court that he " continued the policy of the persecution of the Jews as a matter of principle " (Transcript, Afternoon Session, 2nd May, 1946) although, he stated, " to a certain extent " it was a matter of conscience which, however, "was not serious enough to bring about a break " between him and the Nazis. (Same Transcript; also US-616.)

(b) In his capacity of Minister of Economy, Schacht signed a series of decrees, in accordance with which the property of the Jews in Germany was subject to plunder with impunity. (US-832 and US-616.) Schacht confirmed in Court the fact that he had signed a series of anti-Semitic decrees. (Transcript, Afternoon Session, 2nd May, 1946.)

As to the reasons for Schacht's resignation from the post of the Minister of Economy and the Plenipotentiary General for War Economy in November 1937, and also from the post of the President of the Reichsbank on 20th November, 1939, and finally from the post of the Minister without Portfolio in January, 1943, the evidence submitted establishes the following:

(a) The reason is not Schacht's disagreement with the economic preparation for aggressive wars.

Three weeks before leaving the Ministry of Economy and the post of Plenipotentiary. General for War Economy, Schacht wrote to Goering: ". . . I also don't consider that my opinion can differ from yours on economic policy . . ." (EC-497, US-775.)

In his reply Goering states: " . . . You promised me your support and collaboration . . . You have repeated this promise many times, even after differences of opinion began to creep up between us." (EC-93, US-642.)

Schacht testified in Court that Goering and he " differed in matters of procedure ". (Transcript, Morning Session, 3rd May, 1946.)

In the preliminary examination Goering testified that Schacht's leaving the Reichsbank " had no relation to the programme of rearmament ". (US- 648.)

The Vice-President of the Reichsbank, Puhl, confirmed that Schacht's resignation from the Reichsbank can be explained by " his desire to extricate himself from a dangerous situation" which developed as the result of Schacht's own crooked financial operations. (EC-534, US-646.)

(b) The reason is not Schacht's disapproval of mass terror conducted by the Hitlerites.

The witness for the Defence, Gesevius, testified that he constantly informed Schacht of the criminal actions of the Gestapo, created by Goering, and that nevertheless, right up to the end of 1936, Schacht looked for " Goering's support". (Transcript, Morning Session, 24th April, 1946.)

In his letter to von Blomberg on 24th December, 1935, Schacht suggested that Gestapo apply " more cautious methods " since the open terror of the Gestapo "'hinders the objectives of rearmament". (Transcript, Afternoon Session, 2nd May, 1946.)

On 30th January, 1937, Schacht was awarded a golden Party insignia by Hitler. (EC-393, US-643.) As stated in an official German publication, " he was able to be of greater help to the Party than if he were actually a member of the Party ". (EC-60, US-617.)

Only in 1943, having understood earlier than many other Germans, the inevitability of the failure of the Hitlerite regime, did Schacht establish contact with the opposition circles, however, doing nothing to help depose this regime. Therefore, it was not by chance that having found out these connections of Schacht, Hitler still spared Schacht's life.

It is thus indisputably established that:

(1) Schacht actively assisted in the seizure of power by the Nazis;

(2) During a period of 12 years Schacht closely collaborated with Hitler:

(3) Schacht provided the economic and financial basis for the creation of the Hitlerite military machine;

(4) Schacht prepared Germany's economy for the waging of aggressive wars;

(5) Schacht participated in the persecution of Jews and in the plunder of territories occupied by the Germans.

Therefore, Schacht's leading part in the preparation and execution of the common criminal plan is proved.

The decision to acquit Schacht is in obvious contradiction with the evidence in possession of the Tribunal.

International Criminal Court

Published online by Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights - 27 May 2002
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