International Military Tribunal
The Unfounded Acquittal of Defendant Fritzsche
The acquittal of defendant Hans Fritzsche follows from the reasoning that Fritzsche, allegedly, had not reached in Germany the official position making him responsible for the criminal actions of the Hitler regime and that his own personal activity in this respect cannot be considered criminal. The verdict characterises him as a secondary figure carrying out the directives of Goebbels and Ribbentrop, and of the Reich Press Director Dietrich.
The verdict does not take into consideration or mention the fact that it was Fritzsche who until 1942 was the Director de facto of the Reich Press and that, according to himself, subsequent to 1942, he became the " Commander-in-Chief of the German radio." (Transcript, Morning Session, 23rd January, 1946.)
For the correct definition of the role of defendant Hans Fritzsche it is necessary, firstly, to keep clearly in mind the importance attached by Hitler and his closest associates (as Goering, for example) to propaganda in general and to radio propaganda in particular. This was considered one of the most important and essential factors in the success of conducting an aggressive war.
The Germany of Hitler, propaganda was invariably a factor in preparing and conducting acts of aggression and in training the German populace to accept obediently the criminal enterprises of German fascism.
The aims of these enterprises were served by a huge and well centralised propaganda machinery. With the help of the police controls and of a system of censorship it was possible to do away altogether with the freedom of the press and of speech.
The basic method of the Nazi propagandistic activity lay in the false presentation of facts. This is stated quite frankly in Hitler's " Mein Kampf "; " With the help of a skilful and continuous application of propaganda it is possible to make the people conceive even of heaven as hell and also make them consider heavenly the most miserly existence." ;(US-276. D. 302.)
The dissemination of provocative lies and the systematic deception of public opinion were as necessary to the Hitlerites for the realisation of their plans as were the production of armaments and the drafting of military plans. Without propaganda, founded on the total eclipse of the freedom of press and of speech, fit would not have been possible for German Fascism to realise its aggressive intentions, to lay the groundwork and then to put to practice the war crimes and the crimes against humanity.
In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.
In his Court testimony, defendant Goering named three factors as essential in the successful conduct of modern war according to the Nazi concept, namely, (l) the military operations of the armed forces, (2) economic warfare, (3) propaganda. With reference to the latter he said: " Propaganda has tremendous value, particularly propaganda carried by means of radio.... Germany has learned this through experience better than anyone else". (English Transcript, pp. 5981-5982.)
With such concepts in ascendance it is impossible to suppose that the supreme rulers of the Reich would appoint to the post of Director of Radio Propaganda who supervised radio activity of all the broadcasting companies and directed their propagandistic content-a man they considered a secondary figure.
The point of view of the verdict contradicts both the evidence submitted and the actual state of affairs.
Beginning with 1942, and into 1945, Fritzsche was not only Chief of the Radio Department of the Reich Ministry of Propaganda but also " Plenipotentiary for the Political Organisation of Radio in Greater Germany " This circumstance is fully proven by the sworn affidavit of Fritzsche himself. (PS-3469, US-721.) It thus follows that not at all was Fritzsche merely ",one of the twelve departmental chiefs in the Ministry of Propaganda " who acquired Responsibility for all radio propaganda only toward the end of the war, as the verdict asserts.
Fritzsche was the Political Director of the German radio up and into 1945, i.e., up to the moment of German defeat and capitulation. For this reason it is Fritzsche who bears responsibility for the false and provocative broadcasts of the German radio during the years of the war.
As chief of the Press Section inside Germany it was also Fritzsche who was responsible for the activity of the German daily press consisting of 2,300 newspapers. It was Fritzsche who created and perfected the Information Section winning from the Reich Government for the purpose an increase in the subsidy granted the newspapers from 400,000 to 4,000,000 marks. Subsequently Fritzsche participated energetically in the development of the propaganda campaigns preparatory to the acts of aggression against Czechoslovakia and Poland. (Transcript, Morning, Session, 23rd January, 1946.) A similar active propaganda campaign was conducted by the Defendant prior to the attack on Yugoslavia as he himself admitted on oath in court. (Transcript, Morning Session, 23rd January, 1946.)
Fritzsche was informed of the plan to attack the Soviet Union and was put " au courant" the military intentions at a conference with Rosenberg. (PS-1039, US-146, Rosenberg's Written Report to Hitler on the Subject of Preliminary Drafts on Eastern European Problems.)
Fritzsche headed the German press campaign falsifying reports of Germany's aggressive war against France, England, Norway, the Soviet Union, the U.S.A., and the other States.
The assertion that Fritzsche was not informed of the war crimes and the crimes against humanity then being perpetrated by the Hitlerites in the occupied regions does not agree with the facts. >From Fritzsche's testimony in court it is obvious that already in May, 1942, while in the Propaganda Section of the 6th Army, he was aware of Hitler's decree ordering execution for all Soviet political workers and Soviet intellectuals, the so-called " Commissar Decree ". It is also established that already at the beginning of hostilities Fritzsche was fully aware of the fact that the Nazis were carrying out their decision to do away with all Jews in Europe. For instance, when commenting on Hitler's statement that " among results of the war there will be the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe" (p. 248 of the transcript), Fritzsche stated that: "As the Fuehrer predicted it will occur in the event of war in Europe, the fate of the European Jewry turned out to be quite sad." (P. 3231 of the transcript.) It is further established that the defendant systematically preached the antisocial theory of race hatred and characterised peoples inhabiting countries victimised by aggression as " subhumans ". (Transcript, Morning Session, 26th April, 1946, p. 83; and of the Afternoon Session, pp. 12.)
When the fate of Nazi Germany became clear, Fritzsche came out with energetic support of the defendant Martin Bormann and of other fanatical Hitler adherents who organised the undercover fascist association, the so-called " Werewolf."
On the 7th of April, 1945, for example, in his last radio address, Fritzsche agitated for all the civilian population of Germany to take active part in the activities of this terroristic Nazi underground organisation.
He said: " Let no one be surprised to find the civilian population, wearing civilian clothes, still continuing the fight in the regions already occupied and even after occupation has taken place. We shall call this phenomenon " Werewolf " since it will have arisen without any preliminary planning and without a definite organisation, out of the very instinct of life." (USSR 496.)
In his radio addresses Fritzsche welcomes the German use of the new terror weapons in conducting the war, specifically the use of the " V" rockets. On receiving a plan for the introduction of bacterial warfare he immediately forwarded it to the OKW for acceptance. (USSR-484 Evidence submitted during the Afternoon Session, 28th June, 1946.)
I consider Fritzsche's responsibility fully proven. His activity had a most basic relation to the preparation and the conduct of aggressive warfare as well as to the other crimes of the Hitler regime.
International Criminal Court
Published online by Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights - 27 May 2002