4000bce - 399
400 - 1399
1400 - 1499
1500 - 1599
1600 - 1699
1700 - 1799
1800 - 1899
1900 - 1999
DR. DIX: Dr. Gisevius! Yesterday we got as far as the year 1938. You had returned to Berlin to a fictitious position which Schacht had arranged for you and you were now in continuous contact with your political confidants, Schacht, Oster, Canaris, and Nebe. You testified last that within your circle, at that time, you all had the impression that a coup was imminent.
Now, we really come to the so-called Fritsch crisis; in my opinion the decisive, inner-political first step toward the war. Will you please describe the entire course and the background of that crisis, especially bearing in mind the fact that while that crisis was taking place the march into Austria was made and always remembering, of course, Schacht's position and activities which are the main concern.
GISEVIUS: First, I shall describe the course of the crisis as such; and it is correct that all my friends considered it the first decisive step toward the war. I shall assemble the facts one by one. I consider it advisable, in order not to confuse the picture, to leave Schacht out for the time being, because the facts as such are extensive enough. Furthermore, I will not indicate in the beginning the source of our information or describe my own experiences; rather I shall wait until I am questioned on those subjects.
On 12 January 1938 the German public was surprised by the report that Field Marshal Von Blomberg, at that time Reich Minister for War, had married. No details about his wife nor any photographs were published. A few days later one single picture appeared, a photograph of the Marshal and his new wife in front of the monkey cage at the Leipzig Zoo. Malicious rumors about the past life of the Marshal's wife began to circulate in Berlin. A few days later there appeared on the desk of the Police Commissioner in Berlin a thick file which contained the following information: Marshal Von Blomberg's wife had been a previously convicted prostitute who had been registered as a prostitute in the files of seven large German cities; she was in the Berlin criminal files. I myself have seen the fingerprints and the pictures. She had also been sentenced by the Berlin courts for distributing indecent pictures. The Commissioner of the Police in Berlin was obliged to submit this file, by official channels, to the Chief of the Police, Himmler.
25 April 46
DR. DIX: Excuse me, please; who was the Commissioner of the Police in Berlin at that time?
GISEVIUS: The Commissioner of the Police in Berlin was Count Helldorf. Count Helldorf realized that if that material were transmitted to the Reichsfuehrer SS it would place the Wehrmacht in a very embarrassing position. Himmler would then have in his possession the material he needed to ruin Blomberg's reputation and career, and strike a blow at the leadership of the Armed Forces. Helldorf took this file to the closest collaborator of Marshal Blomberg, the then Chief of the Armed Forces Department, Keitel, who at that time had just become related to Marshal Blomberg through the marriage of their respective children. Marshal Keitel, or Generaloberst Keitel as he was at that time, looked through the file carefully and demanded that Police Commissioner Helldorf should hush up the entire scandal and suppress the file.
DR. DIX: Perhaps you will tell the Tribunal the source of you information.
GISEVIUS: I got my information from Count Helldorf, who described the entire affair to me, and from Nebe, Oberregierungsrat of the police headquarters in Berlin at that time, and later Reich Criminal Director.
Keitel refused to let Blomberg bear any of the consequences. He refused to inform the Chief of the General Staff Beck, or the Chief of the Army Generaloberst Von Fritsch. He sent Count Helldorf to Goering with the file. Helldorf submitted the entire file to Defendant Goering. Goering asserted he knew nothing about the various section of the criminal records and the previous sentences of Von Blomberg's wife. Nevertheless in that first conversation, and in later discussions, he admitted that he already knew the following:
First, that Marshal Blomberg had already asked Goering severe months ago whether it was permissible to have an affair with a woman of low birth, and shortly thereafter he had asked Goering whether he would help him to obtain a dispensation to marry this lady "with a past" as he put it. Later Blomberg came again and told Goering that this lady of his choice unfortunately had another lover and he must ask Goering to help him, Blomberg, to get rid of that lover.
DR. DIX: Excuse me. Goering told that to Helldorf and you learned it from Helldorf?
GISEVIUS: Yes, that is what Goering said, and in the further course of the investigation we learned of it from other sources too. Goering then got rid of that lover by giving him foreign currency and sending him off to South America. In spite of that, Goering did not inform Hitler of this incident. He even went with Hitler, as a
25 April 46
witness, to the wedding of Marshal Blomberg on 12 January. I should like to point out here . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, the Tribunal would wish to know how you suggest that these matters, which appear to be personal, are relevant to the charges and in what way they affect the Defendant Schacht or the Defendant Goering or the Defendant Frick?
DR. DIX: I am here only to serve the interests, the rightful interests, of the Defendant Schacht. It is necessary to present that crisis in all its horribleness in order to conceive what an effect, what a revolutionary effect, it had on Schacht and his circle as far as the regime was concerned. I have already said earlier that the Fritsch crisis was the turning point in the transformation of Schacht from a follower and, to a certain extent, an admirer of Hitler to a deadly enemy who had designs on his life. The Tribunal cannot understand this revulsion if the Tribunal does not receive the same impression as Schacht had at that time. Indeed, I in no way desire to wash dirty linen here unnecessarily. My decision to put these questions and to ask the witness to describe the Fritsch crisis in full detail is only motivated by the fact that the further development of Schacht, and of the Fritsch crisis, or let us say, the Oster-Canaris circle to which Schacht belonged, cannot be understood if one does not realize the monstrous circumstances of that crisis. In the face of these facts, however disagreeable, one must decide to bring these sometimes very personal matters to the attention of the Tribunal. Unfortunately I cannot dispense with it in my defense. It is the alpha and omega of my defense.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: If the Tribunal please, it might be helpful at this time to know our position in reference to this line of testimony, if it is to be considered whether admissible or not now.
I should desire, if this incident were not brought out, to bring it out upon cross-examination upon several aspects. One is that it shows the background of the incident of yesterday, which I think is important in appraising the truthfulness of testimony in this case.
Another thing is that it bears upon the conspiracy to seize power. There were certain men in Germany that these conspirators had to get rid of. Some of them they could kill safely. Some of them, as we see from the Roehm Purge, when they went to killing they aroused some opposition. They had to strike down by other means, and the means they used against Fritsch and Blomberg show the conspiracy to seize power and to get rid of the men who might stand in the way of aggressive warfare.
It will appear, I think, that Fritsch and Blomberg were among the reliants of the German people in allowing these Nazis to get as far as they did, believing that here at least were two men who
25 April 46
would guard their interests; and the method by which those men were stricken down and removed from the scene we would consider an important part of the conspiracy story, and I would ask to go into it on cross-examination.
That might perhaps be material to the Court in deciding whether it should proceed now.
DR. DIX: May I add one more thing?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Dix.
The Tribunal thinks, in view of what you have said and what Mr. Justice Jackson has said, that your examination must continue and you will no doubt try to confine it as much as you can to the political aspects of the matter.
DR. DIX: Of course. But the personal matters are of such political importance in this case that they cannot be omitted.
Well then, Dr. Gisevius, you understand the difficulties of the situation. We want only to give evidence, and not to bring in any thing sensational as an end in itself. However, when it is necessary to speak on such subjects in order to explain the development to the Tribunal, I ask you to speak quite frankly.
GISEVIUS: I ask the Tribunal also to realize my difficulties. I myself do not like speaking about these things.
I must add that Goering was the only head of the Investigation Department. That was the institution which took over all telephone control in the Third Reich. This Investigation Department was not satisfied, as has been described here, with merely tapping telephone conversations and decoding messages; but it had its own intelligence service, all the way down to its own employees, for obtaining information. It was, therefore, also quite possible to obtain confidential information about Marshal Von Blomberg's wife. When Helldorf gave the file to Goering, Goering considered himself compelled to give that file to Hitler. Hitler had a nervous breakdown and decided to dismiss Marshal Blomberg immediately. Hitler's first thought, as he told the generals later at a public meeting, was to appoint Generaloberst Von Fritsch as Blomberg's successor. The moment he made his decision known, Goering and Himmler reminded him that it could not be done as according to a file of the year 1935 Fritsch was badly incriminated.
DR. DIX: Excuse me, Doctor. What is the source of your information regarding this conversation between Hitler and the generals and also Goering's statement?
GISEVIUS: Several generals who took part in that meeting told me about it, and I have said already that in the course of events, which I have yet to describe, Hitler himself made many statements.
25 April 46
We also had in our possession until 20 July the original documents of the Supreme Court-Martial which convened later.
The file of 1935, which was submitted to Hitler in January 1938, referred to the fact that in 1934 the Gestapo conceived the idea of prosecuting, among other enemies of the state, homosexuals as criminals. In the search for evidence the Gestapo visited the penitentiaries and asked convicted inmates, who had blackmailed homosexuals, for evidence and for the names of homosexuals. One of the inmates reported a terrible story, which was really so horrible that I will not repeat it here. It will suffice to say that this prisoner believed the man in question had been a certain Herr Von Fritsch or Frisch. The prisoner could not remember the correct name. The Gestapo then turned over these files to Hitler in 1935. Hitler was indignant about the contents. Talking to the generals, he said he did not want to know about such a disgusting affair. Hitler ordered the files to be burned immediately.
Now, in January 1938, Goering and Himmler reminded Hitler of these files; and it was left to Heydrich's cleverness to submit to Hitler again these files, which had allegedly been burned in 1935 and which had been completed, in the meantime, by extensive investigations. Hitler believed, as he said to the generals at the time, that after having been so disappointed in Blomberg, many nasty things could be expected from Fritsch also. The Defendant Goering offered to bring the convict from the prison to Hitler and the Reich Chancellery. At Karinhall, Goering had previously threatened this convict with death if he did not abide by his statements.
DR. DIX: How do you know that?
GISEVIUS: That was mentioned at the Supreme Court-Martial. Then Fritsch was summoned to the Reich Chancellery and Hitler told him of the accusations which had been made against him. Fritsch, a gentleman through and through, had received a confidential warning from Hitler's adjutant; but it had been so vague that Fritsch came to the Reich Chancellery extremely alarmed. He had no idea of what Hitler was accusing him. Indignantly he denied the crime he had allegedly committed. In the presence of Goering, he gave Hitler his word of honor that all the accusations were false. But Hitler went to the nearest door, opened it, and the convict entered, raised his arm, pointed to Fritsch and said, "That is he."
Fritsch was speechless. He was only able to ask that a judicial investigation should be made. Hitler demanded his immediate resignation; and on condition that Fritsch left in silence, he agreed to allow the matter to rest where it was. Fritsch appealed to Beck, the Chief of the General Staff. Chief of the General Staff Beck intervened with Hitler. A hard struggle ensued for a judicial investigation of these terrible accusations against Fritsch. That
25 April 46
struggle lasted about a week. There were dramatic disputes in the Reich Chancellery. At the end came the famous 4 February when the generals, who until that day-that is to say, 10 days after the dismissal of Blomberg and the relief of Fritsch-were completely unaware of the fact that both their superiors were no longer in office, were ordered to come to Berlin. Hitler personally presented the files to the generals in such a way that they also were completely confused and said they were satisfied that the affair should be investigated by the courts. At the same time Hitler surprised the generals...
DR. DIX: You know of this only through the participants of that meeting?
GISEVIUS: From the participants of the meeting, yes.
At the same time Hitler surprised the generals with the announcement that they had a new Commander-in-Chief, Generaloberst Von Brauchitsch. Some of the generals had, in the meantime, been relieved of their posts; and also on the evening previous to that announcement, a report appeared in the newspapers according to which Hitler, under the pretense of drawing together the reins of government, had dismissed the Foreign Minister, Von Neurath, effected a change in the Ministry of Economics, relieved a number of diplomats of their posts, and then, as an appendix to that report, announced a change in the War Ministry and in the leadership of the Army.
Then a new struggle arose, which lasted several weeks, regarding the convening of the court-martial which should decide as to the reinstatement of Generaloberst Von Fritsch. This was for all of us the moment when we believed we would be able to prove before a German supreme court the methods the Gestapo used to rid themselves of their political adversaries. This was a unique opportunity of being able to question witnesses under oath regarding the manner in which the entire intrigue had been contrived. Therefore we set to work to prepare for our parts in this trial.
DR. DIX: What do you mean by "we" in this case?
GISEVIUS: There was above all one man, who as an honest lawyer and judge was himself a participator of this Supreme Court-Martial. This was the Judge Advocate General at that time, and later Chief Judge of the Army, Ministerial Director Dr. Sack. This man believed that he owed it to the spirit of law to contribute in every possible way toward exposing these matters. This he did, but he also paid with his life after 20 July.
In the course of this investigation the judges of this Supreme Court Martial questioned the Gestapo witnesses. They investigated the records of the Gestapo; they made local investigations; and, with
25 April 46
the aid of the criminologist Nebe, it was not long before they discovered definitely that the entire affair had concerned a double; it was not Generaloberst Von Fritsch but a retired Captain Von Frisch who had been pensioned long before.
In the course of that investigation the judges established another fact; they were able to prove that the Gestapo had been in the residence of this double Von Frisch as early as 15 January and had questioned his housekeeper. May I compare the two dates once more. On 15 January the Gestapo had proof that Fritsch was not guilty. On 24 January the Defendant Goering brings the convict and witness for the prosecution into the Reich Chancellery in order to incriminate Fritsch, the Generaloberst. We believed that here indeed we were confronted with a plot of incredible proportions, and we believed that now even the skeptical general must see that it was not only in the lower ranks of the Gestapo that there was scheming and contriving, invisible and secret, without the knowledge of any of the ministers or of the Reich Chancellery and which would compel any man of honor and justice to intervene. This was the reason why we now formed into a larger group and why we saw that we now no longer needed to collect material about the Gestapo in secret. That, precisely, was the great difficulty we had had to deal with. We heard a great deal; but if we had passed on that evidence, we would in every case have exposed to the terror of the Gestapo those men who had given us the evidence.
Now we could proceed legally, and so we started our efforts to persuade Generaloberst Von Brauchitsch to submit the necessary evidence to the Supreme Court-Martial.
DR. DIX: Whom do you mean by "we"?
GISEVIUS: At that time there was a group, among whom I must mention Dr. Schacht, who was then extremely active and who went to Admiral Raeder, to Brauchitsch, to Rundstedt, and to Guertner, and tried to explain everywhere that the great crisis had now arisen; that we now had to act; that it was now the task of the generals to rid us of this regime of terror.
But I must mention one more name in that connection. In 1936 Schacht had already introduced me to Dr. Goerdeler. I had the honor of traveling the same road with that brave man from then on until 20 July. And now I have mentioned here for the first time, in this room where so many terrible things are made known, the name of a German who was a brave and fearless fighter for freedom, justice, and decency and who, I believe, will one day be an example, and not only to Germany, to prove that one can also do one's duty faithfully until death, even under the terror of the Gestapo.
This Dr. Goerdeler, who had always been a fearless and untiring fighter, had in those days unequaled courage. Like Dr. Schacht he
25 April 46
went from one ministry to another, from one general to the next, and he also believed that now the hour had come when we could achieve a united front of decent people led by the generals. Brauchitsch did not refuse then. He did not refuse to act at Goerdeler's request. In fact he assured Goerdeler of his co-operation in a revolt with almost religious fervor.
And as a witness I may mention that Brauchitsch also solemnly assured me that he would now use this opportunity to fight against the Gestapo. However, Brauchitsch made one condition, and that condition was accepted by the generals as a whole. Brauchitsch said, "Hitler is still such a popular man; we are afraid of the Hitler myth. We want to give to the German people and to the world the final proof by means of the Supreme Court-Martial and its verdict." Therefore Brauchitsch postponed his action until the day when the verdict of the Supreme Court-Martial should be given.
The Supreme Court-Martial met. It began its session. The session was suddenly interrupted under dramatic circumstances. I must add that Hitler appointed the Defendant Goering as president of that Supreme Court-Martial. And now the Supreme Court-Martial, under the chairmanship of Goering, convened. I know from Nebe that Goering during the preceding days had had consultations with Himmler and Heydrich. I know that Heydrich said to Nebe, "this Supreme Court-Martial will be the end of my career."
DR. DIX; Did Nebe tell you that?
GISEVIUS: Yes, on the same day. The Supreme Court-Martial would be the great danger for the Gestapo. And now the Supreme Court-Martial sat for several hours and was adjourned under dramatic circumstances, for that was the day chosen for the German armies to march into Austria. Even at that time we knew without any doubt why the chairman of that court-martial was so unusually interested in having the troops on that day receive the order to march, not to a goal within but outside the Reich. Not until one week later could the Supreme Court-Martial reconvene, and then Hitler was triumphant. The generals had their first "campaign of flowers" behind them, a plebiscite had been proclaimed, the jubilation was great, and the confusion among the generals was still greater. So that court-martial was dissolved. Fritsch's innocence was definitely established, but Brauchitsch said that as a result of the changed psychological atmosphere created by the annexation of Austria, he could no longer take the responsibility for a revolt.
That is roughly the story of how the War Ministry was practically denuded of its leading men, and how the generals were thrown into unequaled confusion. From that time on we took the steep downward path to radicalism.
25 April 46
DR. DIX: Perhaps I may ask the Tribunal to be permitted to read in this connection one sentence from a document which I will submit as Exhibit Number Schacht-15. My document book is still in the process of translation, but I hope that it will be here on the day of the hearing of Schacht. There is only one sentence which is of interest in this connection. It is from the biannual report of the General Staff...
THE PRESIDENT: Have the documents been submitted to the Prosecution and to the Tribunal at all?
DR. DIX: The documents have been discussed with the Prosecution twice in detail, once with regard to the question of translation, and then on the question of their admissibility as evidence; and Mr. Dodd discussed them in open court. I am firmly convinced that the Prosecution is thoroughly acquainted with the document. It is only one sentence and I do not believe that the Prosecution would object to the reading of this one sentence, since otherwise the connection with the documentary evidence might be obscured. I will introduce a document now and then, wherever it seems practical. This is only one sentence from the biannual report of the General Staff of the United States...
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I do not know what this document is, Your Honor. I should like to know because we may want to ask some questions about it. I do not want to delay Dr. Dix, but I do not have a copy of it and I do not know just what it is yet.
DR. DIX: I just wanted to shorten the proceedings; but as I see that difficulties may arise, and that a long discussion may be needed, I will omit it, and will present it later with my documentary evidence. It would not serve my purpose otherwise.
[Turning to the witness.] For the additional information of the Court, perhaps you will describe the position of the chairman in German court-martial proceedings; that the control of the examination is in his hands-that, as a matter of fact, the entire case is in his hands.
GISEVIUS: Dr. Dix, I do not doubt that you could describe the authority of such a chairman better and more clearly from the legal point of view. I would, however, like to say the following:
I read the minutes of that session, for it is one of those documents which we thought we would one day submit to the public. This, too, I hope we will find again. From the minutes it can be seen that the Defendant Goering, as president, determined the tenor of the entire proceedings and of the questions.
He questioned the witnesses for the prosecution, and he took care that no other questions were put which might have proved
25 April 46
embarrassing. I must say, from these voluminous minutes, that Goering knew how to cloak the true facts by the manner in which he led the proceedings.
DR. DIX: In my introductory words at the beginning of the session, I called the Fritsch crisis the first decisive inner-political step of the war; and you, Doctor, have adopted that term. After concluding the description of the Fritsch crisis, will you give the reason for the views you adopted, and what the effect was upon your group in this connection, especially upon Schacht?
GISEVIUS: I must point out again that until this Fritsch crisis it had been difficult in the ranks of the German opposition to consider even the possibility of war. That was due to the fact that in Germany the opposition groups were so sure of the strength of the Army, and of the leading men, that they believed it sufficed to have a man of honor, like Fritsch, at the head of the German Army. It seemed inconceivable that Fritsch would tolerate a sliding into terror or into war. Only a few persons had pointed out that it was in the nature of every revolution some day to go beyond the frontiers of a nation. We believed from history that this theory should be pointed out as a danger threatening the National Socialist revolution, and therefore we repeatedly warned those who were convinced that they were faced with a revolution, not only with a dictatorship, that one day those revolutionaries would resort to war as a last recourse. As it became more evident in the course of the Fritsch crisis that radicalism was predominant, a large circle became aware that the danger of war could no longer be ignored.
DR. DIX: And did the Defendant Schacht also belong to that circle?
GISEVIUS: Yes. During those days of the Fritsch crisis, Schacht said, as did many others: "That means war," and that was also said plainly to the then Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General Von Brauchitsch.
DR DIX: Now the question arises why Schacht had previously financed the rearmament program, at least in the beginning?
GISEVIUS: Schacht always told me that he had financed the rearmament program for purposes of defense. Schacht was convinced for many years that such a large nation in the center of Europe should at least have means of defense. I may point out that at that time large groups of the German people were possessed of the idea that there was a possible danger of attack from the East. You must not forget the type of propaganda with which the German people were inundated at that time, and that the reasons given for this particular danger from the East were based upon Polish aspirations concerning East Prussia.
25 April 46
DR. DIX: Did Schacht also discuss with you at that time the fact that this rearmament was serving his political purposes, as through it he might be able to start discussions on general disarmament again?
GISEVIUS: I beg your pardon. Unfortunately I forgot to emphasize this point myself. Schacht was of the opinion that all means should be used to bring about discussions on rearmament again. He had an idea that very soon-I think he had held that opinion since 1935-the attention of opponent countries should be drawn to German rearmament; and then Hitler, because his rearmament was now known, would be forced to resume discussions at the disarmament conference.
DR. DIX: Was that which you have just said the subject of your conversation with Schacht at that time, or is that your judgment now?
GISEVIUS: No, I remember this conversation very well, because I thought Hitler's inclinations lay in other directions than in attending a disarmament conference. I thought Hitler to be of an entirely different mentality, and was somewhat surprised that Schacht considered it possible that Hitler might harbor such thoughts.
DR. DIX: Did you have the impression from your conversations with Schacht that he was informed in detail of the type, speed, and extent of the rearmament?
GISEVIUS: I well remember how often Schacht asked me and friends of mine whether we could not help him to get information about the extent of rearmament by inquiring at the Reich War Ministry. I have already described yesterday the efforts he made to get details through Oster and Thomas.
DR. DIX: Could you tell the Tribunal whether Schacht made any attempt to limit armament expenses, and thus limit the extent and speed of the rearmament; and, if so, when he made these efforts?
GISEVIUS: To my knowledge, he started to attempt this as early as 1936. In the heated debates about Schacht's resignation as Minister of Economics in 1937, his efforts in this direction played a very important part. I recall that practically every conversation was concerned with that point.
DR. DIX: Now, it is said-and quite understandably also by the Prosecution-that the reasons Schacht gave, even in official reports and so on, for the necessity of these limitations were primarily of a financial-technical nature, that is to say, he spoke as an anxious economic leader and an anxious president of the Reichsbank and not as an anxious patriot afraid that his country might be plunged into war.
26 April 46
Do you know of any discussions with Schacht, of which you can remember anything, concerning the foregoing which might be useful to the Tribunal?
GISEVIUS: In all these preliminary discussions there were dozens of drafts of the communications Schacht wrote. They were discussed in friendly circles. To mention but one example, Schacht repeatedly discussed these drafts also with Goerdeler. It was always one question that was concerned: What could one say, so that such a letter should not be considered a provocation but would serve rather to draw the other non-Party ministers, and particularly the War Minister Blomberg, to Schacht's side? That was just the difficulty, for how could such ministers as Blomberg, Neurath, or Schwerin-Krosigk, who were much more loyal to Hitler, be persuaded to join Schacht rather than to say that Schacht had once again provoked Hitler and Goering with his notoriously sharp tongue. All these letters can only be understood by their tactical reasons which, as I have said, had been discussed in detail with the leading men of the opposition.
DR. DIX: Now, after the Fritsch crisis, how did the political conspiracy between you and your friends and Schacht take form?
GISEVIUS: I want to deal with that word "conspiracy." While up to that moment our activity could only be called more or less oppositional, now a conspiracy did indeed begin; and there appeared in the foreground a man who was later to play an important part as head of that conspiracy. The Chief of the General Staff at that time, Generaloberst Beck, believed that the time had come for a German general to give the alarm both inside and outside the country. I believe it is important for the Tribunal to know also the ultimate reason which prompted Beck to take that step.
The Chief of the General Staff was present when Hitler, in May 1938, made a speech to the generals at Jueterbog. That speech was intended to reinstate Fritsch. A few words were said about Fritsch, but more was said-and for the first time quite openly before a large group of German generals-about Hitler's intention to engulf Czechoslovakia in a war. Beck heard that speech; and he was indignant that he, as Chief of the General Staff, should hear of such an intention for the first time in such an assembly without having been informed or consulted previously. During that same meeting, Beck sent a letter to Brauchitsch asking him for an immediate interview. Brauchitsch refused and deliberately kept Beck waiting for several weeks. Beck became impatient and wrote a comprehensive memorandum in which as Chief of the General Staff he protested against the fact that the German people were being drawn into war. At the end of that memorandum Beck announced
25 April 46
his resignation, and here I believe is the opportunity to say a word about this Chief of the General Staff.
DR. DIX: One moment, Doctor. Will you tell us the source of your knowledge of what Beck thought, and the negotiations between Beck and Brauchitsch?
GISEVIUS: Beck confided in me, and during the latter years I worked in very close collaboration with him, and I was by his side until the last hour of his life on 20 July. I can testify here-and it is important for the Tribunal to know this-that Beck struggled again and again with the problem as to what a chief of the General Staff should do when he realized that events were driving toward a war. Therefore I owe to his memory, and to my oath here, not to conceal the fact that Beck took the consequences of being the only German general to relinquish his post voluntarily, in order to show that there is a limit beyond which even generals in leading positions may not go; but at the sacrifice of their position and their life, must resign and accept no further orders. Beck was of the opinion that the General Staff was not only an organization of war technicians; he saw in the German General Staff the conscience of the German Army, and he trained his staff accordingly. He suffered immensely during the later years of his life because men whom he had trained in that spirit did not follow the dictates of their conscience. I owe it to this man to say that he was a man of inflexible character.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, I think we might get on to what Beck actually did.
DR. DIX: Yes, Your Honor, but...
THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps it would be a convenient time to break off. What I mean is, the witness said that Beck protested in a memorandum and offered to resign, and that was some minutes ago, and since then he was talking and had not told us what Beck actually did.
DR. DIX: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.
[A recess was taken.]
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will not sit in open session on Saturday morning, but will be sitting in closed session.
DR DIX: [Turning to the witness.] You were saying that Generaloberst Beck carried out his decision to tender his resignation after the speech at Jueterbog. What did he do then?
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: Hitler and Brauchitsch urgently pressed him to remain in office, but Beck refused and insisted upon resigning. Thereupon Hitler and Brauchitsch urged Beck at least not to make his resignation public, and they asked him if he would not formally defer his resignation for a few months. Beck, who had not yet gone the way of high treason, thought that he should comply with this request. Later he most deeply regretted this loyal attitude. The fact is that as early as the end of May or the beginning of June his successor, General Halder, took over the office of Chief of General Staff; and from that moment Beck was actually no longer in charge.
DR. DIX: May I ask you once more, from what observations, and conversations with whom, do you base the knowledge of these facts?
GISEVIUS: From constant discussions I had with Beck, Oster, Goerdeler, Schacht, and an entire group of people at that time; later, the question why Beck did not make his retirement public depressed him to such an extent that it was a continual subject of discussions between him and me up to the end.
DR. DIX: That was Beck's resignation; but then the problem of the possible resignation of Schacht was probably also brought up in deliberations. To your knowledge, and from your observation, was the question of the necessity or the opportuneness of Schacht's resignation discussed between Schacht and Beck?
GISEVIUS: Yes, it was discussed in great detail.
It was Beck's opinion that his resignation alone might not be sufficiently effective. He approached Schacht therefore and asked him whether he would not join him, Beck, and resign also. This subject was discussed in great detail, on the one hand between Beck and Schacht personally, and on the other between Oster and myself, who were the two intermediaries. During these conferences, I must confess that I, too, was of the opinion that Schacht should resign under all circumstances; and I also advised him to that effect. It was Oster's opinion, however, that Schacht must definitely remain in office and he asked him to do so; in order to influence the generals Schacht was needed as an official with a ministerial title. In retrospect I must say here that my advice to Schacht was wrong. The events which I have yet to describe have proved how important it was to Oster and others that Schacht should remain in office.
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?
25 April 46
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I don't object to the defendants' trying 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.
DR. DIX: Very well then, what did Schacht say to you regarding the reasons for his resignation?
GISEVIUS: Schacht told me at the time that after all we had experienced the generals could not be relied upon ever really to revolt. For that reason, as a politician, he considered it his duty to think of some possibility other than a revolt for bringing about a change in conditions in Germany. For that reason he evolved a plan which he explained to me at the time. Schacht said to me, "I have got Hitler by the throat." He meant by that, as he explained to me in great detail, that now the day was approaching where the debts which had been incurred by the Reich Minister of Finance, and thus by the Reich Cabinet, would have to be repaid
25 April 46
to the Reichsbank. Schacht doubted whether the Minister of Finance, Schwerin-Krosigk, would be prepared without further ado to carry out the moral and legal obligation of repaying the credits which had been extended.
Schacht thought that that was the moment in which he should come out with his resignation, with a joint step by the Reichsbank Directorate; and he hoped that, given that situation, the other ministers of the Reich would join him, the majority of whom were still democratic at the time.
That is what he meant when he said to me, "I have still one more arrow I can shoot, and that is the moment when not even a Neurath, a Guertner, a Seldte can refuse to follow me."
I answered Schacht at that time that I doubted whether there would ever be such a meeting of the Cabinet. In my opinion, the steps which would be taken to dispose of him would be much more brutal. Schacht did not believe me, and above all he told me he would be certain of achieving one thing; these matters would have to be discussed in the Cabinet, and then he would cause a situation in Germany as alarming as the one which existed in February 1938 at the time of the Fritsch crisis. He therefore expected a radical reformation of the cabinet which would provide the proper psychological atmosphere for the generals to intervene.
DR DIX: You said at the beginning that Schacht had said or hinted that he could not absolutely rely on the generals to bring about a revolt. Which generals was he referring to, and what did he mean?
GISEVIUS: Schacht meant at the time the first revolutionary situation which had arisen in Germany, during the months of May to September 1938, when we drifted into the Czechoslovakia war crisis. Beck had assured us at the time of his resignation-by us I mean Goerdeler, Schacht and other politicians-that he would leave to us a successor who was more energetic than himself, and who was firmly determined to precipitate a revolt if Hitler should decide upon war. That man whom Beck trusted, and to whom he introduced us, was General Halder. As a matter of fact, on taking office, General Halder immediately took steps to start discussions on the subject with Schacht, Goerdeler, Oster, and our entire group. A few days after he took over his office he sent for Oster and informed him that he considered that things were drifting toward war, and that he would then undertake an overthrow of the Government. He asked Oster what he, for his part, intended to do to bring civilians into the plot.
DR. DIX: Who were the civilians in question, apart from Goerdeler and Schacht?
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: Halder put that question to Oster, and under the circumstances at that time, when we were still a very small circle, Oster replied that to the best of his knowledge there were only two civilians with whom Halder could have preliminary political conversations; one was Goerdeler, the other, Schacht.
Halder refused to speak personally to a man as suspect as Goerdeler. He gave as his reason the fact that it was too dangerous for him to receive now a man whom he did not yet know, whereas he could find some official reason for having a conference with Schacht. Halder asked Oster to act as intermediary for such a conference with Schacht.
Oster approached Schacht through me. Schacht was willing. A meeting was to be arranged at a third person's place. I warned Schacht and said to him, "Have Halder come to your house, so that you are quite sure of the matter."
Halder then visited Schacht personally at the end of July 1938 at his residence; and he informed him that matters had reached a stage where war was imminent and that he, Halder, would then bring about a revolt, and he asked Schacht whether he was prepared to aid him politically in a leading position.
That is what Schacht told me at the time, and Halder told it to Oster.
DR. DIX: And Oster told it to you?
GISEVIUS: Yes, as I continually acted as an intermediary in these discussions. Schacht replied, as he assured me directly after Halder's visit, that he was prepared to do anything if the generals were to decide to remove Hitler.
The following morning, Halder sent for Oster. He told him of this conversation, and he asked Oster whether police preparations had now been made for this revolt. Oster suggested that Halder should talk to me personally about these matters. I had a long talk in the darkness with Halder about this revolt. I believe that it is important for me to state here what Halder told me of his intentions at that time. First Halder assured me that, in contrast to many other generals, he had no doubt that Hitler wanted war. Halder described Hitler to me as being bloodthirsty and referred to the blood bath of 30 June. However, Halder told me that it was, unfortunately, terribly difficult to explain Hitler's real intentions to the generals, particularly to the junior officers corps, because the saying which was influencing the officers corps was ostensibly that it was all just a colossal bluff, that the Army could be absolutely certain that Hitler did not want to start a war, but rather that he was merely preparing a diplomatic maneuver of blackmail on a large scale.
25 April 46
For that reason, Halder believed that it was absolutely necessary to prove, even to the last captain, that Hitler was not bluffing at all but had actually given the order for war. Halder therefore decided at the time that for the sake of informing the German nation and the officers he would even risk the outbreak of war. But even then Halder feared the Hitler myth; and he therefore suggested to me that the day after the outbreak of war Hitler should be killed by means of a bomb; and the German people should be made to believe, as far as possible, that Hitler had been killed by an enemy bombing attack on the Fuehrer's train. I replied to Halder at the time that perhaps I was still too young, but I could not understand why he did not want to tell the German people, at least afterwards, what the generals had done.
Then for a few weeks there was no news from Halder. The press campaign against Czechoslovakia assumed an ever more threatening character and we felt that now it would be only a few days, or perhaps weeks, before war would break out. At that very moment Schacht decided to visit Halder again and to remind him of his promise. I thought it best that a witness should be present during that conversation and therefore I accompanied Schacht. It did not appear to me that Halder was any too pleased at the presence of a witness. Halder once again declared his firm intention of effecting a revolt; but again he wished to wait until the German nation had received proof of Hitler's warlike intentions by means of a definite order for war. Schacht pointed out to Halder the tremendous danger of such an experiment. He made it clear to Halder that a war could not be started simply to destroy the Hitler legend in the eyes of the German people.
In a detailed and very excited conversation Halder then declared that he was prepared to start the revolt, not after the official outbreak of the war, but at the very moment that Hitler gave the army the final order to march.
We asked Halder whether he would then still be able to control the situation or whether Hitler might not surprise him with some lightning stroke. Halder replied literally, "No, he cannot deceive me. I have designed my General Staff plans in such a way that I am bound to know it 48 hours in advance." I think that is important, because during the subsequent course of events the period of time between the order to march and the actual march itself was considerably shortened.
Halder assured us that besides the preparations in Berlin he had an armored division ready in Thuringia under the command of General Von Hoeppner, which might possibly have to halt the Leibstandarte, which was in Munich, on the march to Berlin.
25 April 46
Although Halder had told us all this, Schacht and I had a somewhat bitter aftertaste of that conference. Halder had told Schacht that he, Schacht, seemed to be urging him to effect this revolt prematurely; and Schacht and I were of the opinion that Halder might abandon us at the last moment. We informed Oster immediately of the bad impression we had had, and we told Oster that something absolutely must be done to win over another general in case Halder should not act at the last minute. Oster agreed and these are the preliminary events which led to the later General Field Marshal Von Witzleben first coming into our circle of conspirators.
DR DIX: Who won Von Witzleben over?
GISEVIUS: Schacht did.
DR. DIX: Who did?
GISEVIUS: Schacht won Witzleben over. Oster visited Witzleben and told him everything that had happened. Thereupon Witzleben sent for me, and I told him that in my opinion the police situation was such that he, as commanding general of the Berlin Army Corps, could confidently risk a revolt. Witzleben asked me the question which every general put to us at that time: Whether a diplomatic incident in the East would really lead to war or whether it was not true, as Hitler and Ribbentrop had repeatedly told the generals in confidence, that there was a tacit agreement with the Western Powers giving Germany a free hand in the East. Witzleben said that if such an agreement really existed, then, of course, he could not revolt. I told Witzleben that Schacht with his excellent knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon mentality could no doubt give him comprehensive information about that.
A meeting between Schacht and Witzleben was arranged. Witzleben brought with him his divisional general, Von Brockdorff, who was to carry out the revolt in detail. Witzleben, Brockdorff, and I drove together to Schacht's country house for a conference which lasted for hours. The final result was that Witzleben was convinced by Schacht that the Western Powers would under no circumstances allow Germany to move into the Eastern territories and that now Hitler's policy of surprise had come to an end. Witzleben decided that he, on his part and independently of Halder, would make all preparations which would be necessary if he should have to act.
He issued me false papers and gave me a position at his district headquarters so that there, under his personal protection, I could make all the necessary police and political preparations. He delegated General Von Brockdorff, and he and I visited all the points in Berlin which Brockdorff was to occupy with his Potsdam Division. Frau Struenck was at the wheel and traveling ostensibly as tourists we settled exactly what had to be done.
25 April 46
DR. DIX: That is the witness Struenck. Please excuse me.
GISEVIUS: I believe I owe you a brief explanation as to why Witzleben's co-operation was absolutely necessary. It was not so easy to find a general who had the actual authority to order his troops to march. For instance, there were some generals in the provinces who could not give their troops the order to march.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, is it necessary to go into the matter in such detail as to why General Witzleben should be brought in?
DR. DIX: The reasons why Witzleben was needed are perhaps not essential for our case. We can therefore drop this subject.
Will you please tell me, Dr. Gisevius, whether Schacht was kept constantly informed of these military and police preparations which you have described?
GISEVIUS: Schacht was kept informed about all these matters. We met in the evening in the residence of Von Witzleben and I showed everything that I had worked out in writing during the day. It was then discussed in full detail.
DR. DIX: Apart from these military and police measures, which you have mentioned, were there any political measures?
GISEVIUS: Yes, of course. We had to decide carefully what the German nation was to be told in such a case from the point of view of internal politics, just as there were certain preparations which had to be made regarding the external.
DR. DIX: What do you mean by external-foreign politics?
GISEVIUS: Yes, of course, foreign politics.
DR. DIX: Why of course? Was the Foreign Office included or what is meant by foreign politics in this case?
GISEVIUS: It is very difficult to give an explanation, because the co-operation with foreign countries during the time of war, or immediately before a war, is a matter which is very difficult to discuss as we are touching upon a very controversial subject. If I am to talk about it, then it is at least as important for me to state the reasons which led these people to carry on such discussions with foreign countries, as it is to give times and dates.
DR. DIX: I am sure that the Tribunal will permit you to do so. I think that the Tribunal will permit that the motives...
THE PRESIDENT: I think the Tribunal thinks you are going into too great detail over these matters. If the Tribunal is prepared to accept this witness' evidence as true, it shows that Schacht was negotiating with him and General Witzleben at this time with a view to prevent the war. I say, if the Tribunal accepts it; and that
25 April 46
seems to be a matter you will not prove with the details of these negotiations, which seem to me not very important.
DR. DIX: Yes, but in my opinion the gravity and intensity of the activities of these conspirators should be substantiated in detail. In my opinion it is not sufficient that these plans. . .
THE PRESIDENT: But you have touched upon them since 10 o'clock this morning.
DR. DIX: Your Lordship, I am now proceeding in connection with Schacht's point of view, as to whether a survey, a political survey of Schacht's part...
THE PRESIDENT: I am told that you said last night that you would be half an hour longer. Do you remember saying that? Perhaps it was a mistranslation.
DR. DIX: Oh no, that is quite a misunderstanding. I said that if I were to touch upon the Fritsch crisis and complete it, it would take another half hour-that is, the Fritsch crisis alone. Gentlemen of the Tribunal, the position is this: We are now hearing the story of the political opposition, in which Schacht played a leading role. If the Defendant Goering and others had time for days to describe the entire course of events from their point of view, I think that justice demands that those men, represented in this courtroom by the Defendant Schacht, who fought against that system under most dreadful conditions of terror, should also be permitted to tell in detail the story of their opposition movement.
I would, therefore, ask the Tribunal-and I am not in favor of the superfluous to give me permission to allow the witness to make a few more remarks on the measures taken by the group of conspirators, Beck, Schacht, Canaris, and others, which he has already touched upon. I beg the Tribunal to realize that I consider it of the greatest importance; and I assume, Your Lordship, that if it is not done now, the Prosecution will take the matter up during cross-examination. Moreover, I believe that as it is now being told in sequence, it will take less time than if we were to wait for the cross-examination.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not propose to tell you how you are to prove your case, but hopes that you will deal with it as shortly as possible and without unnecessary details.
DR. DIX: Please be sure of that.
Well then, Witness; you had mentioned foreign political measures, and you were about to talk of the motives which caused some of you to enter into relations with foreign countries for the support of your opposition movement. Will you please continue with that?
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: I should like simply to confine myself to the statement that from that time on there were very detailed and weighty discussions with foreign countries in order to try everything possible to prevent the outbreak of war or at least to shorten it or keep it from spreading. However, as long as I am not in a position to speak of the motives of such a delicate matter-in connection with which people like us would be accused of high treason, in Germany, at least-as long as that is the case, I shall not say more than the fact that these conversations took place.
DR. DIX: I did not understand that the Tribunal would prevent you from explaining your motives. You may state them therefore.
GISEVIUS: I owe it to my conscience and above all to those who participated and are now dead, to state here that those matters which I have described weighed very heavily upon their consciences. We knew that we would be accused of conspiring with foreign countries.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal, of course, knows that these matters were not conducted without danger; but we are not really here for the purpose of considering people who have, unfortunately, lost their lives. We are considering the case of the Defendant Schacht at the moment.
DR. DIX: I think the intention of the witness has been misunderstood. He does not wish to speak about those men who lost their lives, and he does not want to speak of the dangers; he wishes rather to speak of the conflicts of conscience suffered by those who planned and undertook those steps. I think that that privilege should be granted the witness if he is to speak of this very delicate matter here in public. I would, therefore, beg you to allow it; otherwise the witness will confine himself to general indications which will not be sufficient for my defense, and I assume that the Prosecution will ask about these things in the cross-examination.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you try and get him to come to the point? We, of course, can't tell what he wants to talk about. We can only tell about what he does talk about.
DR. DIX: Well, then you will describe briefly the considerations which swayed those who entered into those foreign relations, and also describe the character of those relations.
GISEVIUS: Mr. President, it was not merely a question of conscience. I was concerned with the fact that there are relatives still alive today who might become the subject of unjust accusations; and that is why I had to say, with reference to those conferences abroad which I shall describe, that even our intimate circle of friends did not agree in all respects as to what measures were to be permitted. One wanted to go further, while another held back.
25 April 46
I owe it to the memory of the dead Admiral Canaris, for instance, to rectify many erroneous press announcements and state that he refused to conspire with foreign countries. I must guard against the possibility that anything I say now might be applied to men whom I have mentioned earlier. That is why I wanted to make this statement, and at the same time I wanted to say that our friends who did these things rejected the accusation of high treason, because we felt that we were morally obliged to take these steps.
DR. DIX: Well then, what happened?
GISEVIUS: The following happened: Immediately after Hitler announced his intention to invade Czechoslovakia, friends tried to keep the British Government informed, from the first intention to the final decision. The chain of attempts began with the journey of Goerdeler in the spring of 1938 to London, where he gave information concerning the existence of an opposition group which was resolved to go to any lengths. In the name of this group the British Government was continuously informed of what was happening and that it was absolutely necessary to make it clear, to the German people and to the generals, that every step across the Czech border would constitute for the Western Powers a reason for war. When the crisis neared its climax and when our preparations for a revolt had been completed to the last detail, we took a step unusual in form and substance. We informed the British Government that the pending diplomatic negotiations would not, as Hitler asserted, deal with the question of the Sudeten countries but that Hitler's intention was to invade the whole of Czechoslovakia and that, if the British Government on its side were to remain firm, we could give the assurance that there would be no war.
Those were, at the time, our attempts to obtain a certain amount of assistance from abroad in our fight for the psychological preparation of a revolt.
DR. DIX: We now come to September of 1938 and the crisis which led to the Munich Conference. What were the activities of your group of conspirators at that time?
GISEVIUS: The more the crisis moved towards the Munich conference, the more we tried to convince Halder that he should start the revolt at once. As Halder was somewhat uncertain, Witzleben prepared everything in detail. I shall now describe only the last two dramatic days. On 27 September it was clear that Hitler wanted to go to the utmost extremity. In order to make the German people war-minded he ordered a parade of the Berlin army through Berlin. Witzleben had to execute the order. The parade had entirely the opposite effect. The population, which assumed that the troops were marching to war, showed their open displeasure. The troops,
25 April 46
instead of jubilation, saw clenched fists; and Hitler, who was watching the parade from the window of the Reich Chancellery, had a fit of rage. He stepped back from the window and said, "With such people I cannot wage war." Witzleben came home indignant and said that he would have liked to have had the guns unlimbered in front of the Reich Chancellery. On the next morning . . .
DR. DIX: One moment, Witzleben told you that he would have liked to have had the guns unlimbered in front of the Chancellery?
DR. DIX: And what is the source of your knowledge regarding Hitler's remark when he stepped back from the balcony?
GISEVIUS: Several people from the Reich Chancellery told us that.
DR. DIX: Well then, go on.
GISEVIUS: The following morning-that was the 28th-we believed that the opportunity had now come to carry out the revolt. That morning we also learned that Hitler had rejected the final offer from the British Prime Minister, Chamberlain, and had sent the intermediary, Wilson, back with a refusal. Witzleben got that letter and took it to Halder. He believed that proof of Hitler's desire for war had now been produced, and Halder agreed. Halder went to see Brauchitsch while Witzleben waited in Halder's room. After a few moments Halder came back and said that Brauchitsch now had also realized that the moment for action had arrived and that he merely wanted to go over to the Reich Chancellery to make quite sure that Witzleben and Halder's account was correct. Brauchitsch went to the Reich Chancellery after Witzleben had told him over the telephone that everything was prepared; and it was that noon hour of 28 September when suddenly, and contrary to expectations, Mussolini's intervention in the Reich Chancellery took place, and Hitler, impressed by Mussolini's step, agreed to go to Munich; so that actually at the last moment the revolt was eliminated.
DR. DIX: You mean through Munich, don't you?
GISEVIUS: Of course.
DR. DIX: And now the Munich conference was over. How did matters stand in your group of conspirators?
GISEVIUS: We were extremely depressed. We were convinced that now Hitler would soon go to the utmost lengths. We did not doubt that Munich was the signal for a world war. Some of our friends wondered if we should emigrate, and that was discussed with Goerdeler and Schacht. Goerdeler, with this idea in mind, wrote a letter to a political friend in America and asked particularly whether the opposition people should now emigrate. Goerdeler said,
25 April 46
"Otherwise to be able to continue our political work at all in Germany in the future there is only one other possibility, and that is to employ the methods of Talleyrand."
We decided to persevere, and then events followed in quick succession from the Jewish pogroms to the conquest of Prague.
DR. DIX: But before we come to Prague, Witness, you mentioned the Jewish pogroms; and obviously you mean November 1938. Do you know or can you recollect what Schacht's reaction was to those events?
GISEVIUS: Schacht was indignant about the Jewish pogroms, and he said so in a public speech before the personnel of the Reichsbank.
DR. DIX: I shall submit that speech later as documentary evidence. And then how did things go on from there? We have come to the end of 1938. Were there new political events on the horizon which had a stimulating effect on your group of conspirators?
GISEVIUS: First of all, there was Schacht's sudden dismissal from the Reichsbank Directorate. Schacht's desire for a consultation of the Cabinet on this matter did not materialize and our hopes of bringing about a cabinet crisis were vain. Thus our opposition group had no connecting point and we had to wait and see what would happen after the conquest of Prague.
DR. DIX: One moment; you mentioned Schacht's dismissal from his position as President of the Reichsbank. Can you tell us anything about this, about the circumstances leading to it and the effect it had on Schacht, and so on?
GISEVIUS: I saw how the various letters and memoranda of the Reichsbank Directorate were drafted, and how they were progressively toned down, and how Schacht was then dismissed. A few minutes after the letter of dismissal arrived from Hitler, Schacht read it to me; and he was indignant at the contents. He repeated to me the passage in which Hitler praised him for his participation in the German rearmament program; and Schacht said, "And now he wants me to undertake to go on working with him openly, and uphold his war policy."
DR. DIX: But then Schacht remained as a Minister without Portfolio. Was the problem as to whether he should do so or whether he could act differently ever discussed between you and Schacht at the time?
GISEVIUS: Yes, but as far as I know it was the same type of discussion which took place whenever he was to resign. He talked to Lammers, and I assume that Lammers gave him the customary reply.
DR. DIX: In other words, he thought he had to remain, that he was forced to remain?
25 April 46
DR. DIX: Now, you have made several attempts to speak about Prague, but I interrupted you. Will you please describe the effects upon your group of conspirators, as far as Schacht was concerned?
GISEVIUS: Since December our group had definite proof that Hitler would attack Prague in March. This new action was cynically called the "March whirlwind." As it was quite openly discussed in Berlin circles, we hoped that news of this action would also reach the British and French Embassies. We were firmly convinced that this time results would not be achieved by surprise; but Halder had already adopted a different view. He thought that Hitler had been given free passage to Prague by the Western Powers. He refused to have preliminary conferences and wanted to wait and see whether this Prague action could be achieved without a fight. And that is what happened.
DR. DIX: In which direction? You have already spoken about the steps with the British and French Embassies.
GISEVIUS: No, there were no steps taken with regard to the British and French Embassies.
DR. DIX: Do you want to say anything further about it? Have you anything to add?
GISEVIUS: No, I have said that we did not take any steps.
DR. DIX: Now, then, Prague is over; and I believe that you and Schacht went to Switzerland together on behalf of your group. Is that correct?
GISEVIUS: Not only together with Schacht but also with Goerdeler. We were of the opinion that Schacht in Germany-excuse me-that Prague would have incredible psychological effects in Germany. As far as foreign countries were concerned, Prague was the signal that no peace and no treaty could be kept with Hitler. Inside Germany unfortunately we were forced to see that the generals and the people were now convinced that this Hitler could do whatever he wished; nobody would stop him; he was protected by Providence. This alarmed us. On one side we saw that the Western Powers would no longer put up with these things; and on the other side we saw that within Germany the illusion was growing that the Western Powers would not go to war. We could see that a war could be prevented only if the Western Powers would tell not only the Foreign Minister, not only Hitler, but by every means of propaganda tell the German nation that any further step towards the East would mean war. It appeared to us that the only possibility was to warn the generals and to get them to revolt, and that was the subject of the talks which Schacht, Goerdeler, and I conducted in Switzerland, immediately after Prague.
25 April 46
DR. DIX: With whom?
GISEVIUS: We met a man who had excellent connections with the British and French Governments. This man made very exact reports at least to the French Government. I can testify to this because later after Paris was conquered, I was able to find a copy of his report among Daladier's secret papers. We told this man very clearly that in autumn at the latest, the fight for Danzig would start. We told him that, as good Germans, we were without doubt of the opinion that Danzig was a German city and that some day that point would have to be peacefully discussed; but we also warned him against having conferences now regarding Danzig alone because Hitler did not want only Danzig but the whole of Poland, not the whole of Poland but the Ukraine, and that that was the reason why the propaganda of foreign countries should make it abundantly clear to Germany that the limit had now been reached and that the Western Powers would intervene. We said that only then would a revolt be possible for us.
DR. DIX: And did this man who had your confidence make a report in the way you stipulated?
GISEVIUS: Yes, he did; and I must say that very soon public statements on the part of the British, either on the radio or in the press or in the House of Commons, began to remove these doubts among the German generals and the German people. From that time on everything which could be done was done by the British to alarm the German generals.
DR. DIX: Did not Schacht meet his friend Montagu Norman in Switzerland at that time and talk with him in the same vein? Do you know? Were you there?
GISEVIUS: Yes. We thought that the opportunity for Schacht to talk to a close friend of the British Prime Minister, Chamberlain, should not be allowed to pass; and Schacht had very detailed discussions with Montagu Norman, so as to describe to him the psychological atmosphere in Germany after Prague and to persuade him that the British Government should now undertake the necessary clarifications.
DR. DIX: Was not your slogan in reports to foreign countries at the time: "You must play off the Nazis against Germans"?
GISEVIUS: Yes, it was the tenor of all our discussions. We wanted it made clear to the German people that the Western Powers were not against Germany, but only against this Nazi policy of surprise and against the Nazi methods of terror, within the country as well as without.
DR. DIX: And now, having come back from Switzerland, what happened next, particularly with reference to Schacht?
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: We saw that things in Germany were rapidly drifting toward the August crisis and that the generals could not be dissuaded from the view that Hitler was only bluffing and that there would be another Munich or another Prague. And now began all those desperate efforts which we made in order to influence the leading generals, and particularly Keitel, to prevent the decisive order being given to march against Poland.
DR. DIX: Let us come back to Schacht's return from the Swiss journey in spring of 1939. You know that Schacht left Germany then and made a journey to India?
GISEVIUS: He went to India and hoped to stay there as long as possible in order to go to China. But on the way Hitler's order prohibiting him from setting foot on Chinese soil reached him, and he had to return. As far as I remember, he came back a few days before the outbreak of war.
DR. DIX: You said China; did Schacht have sympathies with Chiang-Kai-Chek in spite of the pact with Japan?
GISEVIUS: Yes. He sympathized greatly with the Chinese Government, as did our entire circle. We all had quite a number of good and dear Chinese friends with whom we attempted to keep in touch in spite of the Japanese pact.
DR. DIX: About when did Schacht come back from India?
GISEVIUS: I think it was the beginning of August; but I cannot . . .
DR. DIX: Now matters were rapidly heading toward war. Did Schacht, before the outbreak of war, take any steps to prevent its outbreak?
GISEVIUS: He took a great number of steps, but they cannot be described individually as that would create the impression that Schacht alone was taking these steps. Actually the situation was such that a large group of people were now in the struggle, and each one took those steps which were most suited to him, and each one informed the group of what he had done and what would be advisable for another to do. For that reason I am afraid that it would present a completely erroneous picture if I were to describe individually, and only with respect to Schacht, all those desperate efforts made from August 1939 until the attack on Holland and Belgium.
DR. DIX: The Tribunal has taken cognizance of the fact that Schacht was not acting alone; but here we are dealing with Schacht's case, and I should like to ask you, therefore, to confine yourself to the description of Schacht's efforts.
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: In that case I must state first that Schacht knew of all these other matters and was in a certain sense also an accomplice. Of Schacht himself I can only say at this particular moment that he was co-author of the Thomas memorandum addressed to General Keitel, or the two memoranda, in which Schacht, together with our group, pointed out the dangers of war to Keitel. Further, I can say that, through Thomas and Canaris, Schacht took steps to intervene with Brauchitsch and Halder. But I would like to emphasize expressly that all the steps taken by Beck and Goerdeler were taken with the full knowledge of Schacht and also with his participation. This was a very important undertaking.
DR. DIX: A collective action? Does not Schacht's attempt at the very last moment, at the end of August, to make representations to Brauchitsch through Canaris at headquarters play a part in this?
GISEVIUS: Yes. After General Thomas had failed with both his memoranda and after he had failed to persuade Keitel to receive Goerdeler or Schacht, Schacht tried to approach Brauchitsch or Halder. For that purpose Thomas paid frequent visits to General Halder, and it was typical that during those critical days he could not get past the anteroom of General Halder's office, past General Von Stuelpnagel. Halder was not "at home," and just said that he did not want to see Schacht. Thereupon we took a further step on that dramatic 25 August, the day on which Hitler had already once given the order to march. As soon as the news reached us that Hitler had, given Halder the order to march, Schacht and I first got into touch with Thomas; and then, together with Thomas, we went to Admiral Canaris so that both Thomas and Canaris should accompany Schacht when he went unannounced to the headquarters in Zossen in order to confront Brauchitsch and Halder with his presence. Schacht intended to point out to Brauchitsch and Halder that, in accordance with the existing constitution, the Reich Cabinet must be consulted before waging war. Brauchitsch and Halder would be guilty of a breach of oath if, without the knowledge of the competent political authorities, they obeyed an order for war. That was roughly what Schacht intended to say to explain his step. When Thomas and Schacht arrived at Bendlerstrasse, Thomas went to Canaris. It was about 6 o'clock or...
DR. DIX: The OKW is situated in Bendlerstrasse. The Tribunal should know that Bendlerstrasse meant the OKW or the OKH.
GISEVIUS: When we arrived at the OKW and were waiting at a corner of the street, Canaris sent Oster to us. That was the moment when Hitler between 6 and 7 o'clock suddenly ordered Halder to withdraw his order to march. The Tribunal will no doubt remember that Hitler, influenced by the renewed intervention of Mussolini,
25 April 46
suddenly withdrew the order to march which had already been given. Unfortunately, Canaris and Thomas and all our friends were now under the impression that this withdrawal of an order to march was an incredible loss of prestige for Hitler. Oster thought that never before in the history of warfare had a supreme commander withdrawn such a decisive order in the throes of a nervous breakdown. And Canaris said to me, "Now the peace of Europe is saved for 50 years, because Hitler has now lost the respect of the generals." And, unfortunately, in the face of this psychological change, we all felt that we could look forward to the following days in a quiet frame of mind. So, when 3 days later, Hitler nevertheless gave the decisive order to march, it came as a complete surprise for our group as well. Oster called me to the OKW; Schacht accompanied me. We asked Canaris again whether he could not arrange another meeting with Brauchitsch and Halder, but Canaris said to me, "It is too late now." He had tears in his eyes and added, "That is the end of Germany."
DR. DIX: Your Lordship, we now come to the war, and I think that perhaps we had better deal with the war after lunch.
[The Tribunal recessed until 1400 hours.]
25 April 46
DR. DIX: Dr. Gisevius, before the noon recess we had just come to the outbreak of the war, and so that your subsequent testimony may be understood, I must ask you first in what capacity you served during the war.
GISEVIUS: On the day of the outbreak of war I was called to Security Intelligence by General Oster by means of a forged order. However, as it was a regulation that all officers or other members of the intelligence service had to be examined by the Gestapo, and as I would never have received permission to be a member of the intelligence, they simply gave me a forged mobilization order. Then I was at the disposal of Oster and Canaris without doing any direct service.
DR. DIX: And after the outbreak of war what were the activities of your group of conspirators, the members of which you have already mentioned? Who took over the leadership, who participated, and what was done?
GISEVIUS: Immediately after the outbreak of the war Generaloberst Beck was at the head of all oppositional movements which could exist in Germany at all, with the exception of the Communists with whom we had no contact at that time. We were of the opinion that only a general could be the leader during war, and Beck stood so far above purely military matters that he was the suitable man to unify all groups from the left to the right. Beck chose Dr. Goerdeler as his closest collaborator.
DR. DIX: Consequently the only civilians who worked with this group of conspirators were Schacht and Goerdeler as before?
GISEVIUS: No, on the contrary; all the opposition groups, who had so far had merely loose connections with each other, were now drawn together under the pressure of war. This was especially so with the left opposition movements, which had been greatly reduced in the early years as all their leaders had been interned. These left groups especially now came in with us. In this connection I shall merely mention Leuschner and Dr. Karl Muehlendorf. However, I must also mention the Christian Trade Unions, and Dr. Habermann, and Dr. Jacob Kaiser. Further I must mention the Catholic circles, the leaders of the Confessional Church, and individual political men such as Ambassador Von Hassell, State Secretary Planck, Minister Popitz, and many, many others.
DR. DIX: What was the attitude of these left circles, especially concerning the question of a revolt, the forceful removal of Hitler or even an attempt on his life? Did they also consider the possibility
25 April 46
of an attempt at assassination, which later was actually suggested in your group?
GISEVIUS: No, the left circles were very much under the impression that the "stab in the back" legend had done much harm in Germany; and the left circles thought that they ought not to expose themselves again to the danger of having it said later that Hitler or the German Army had not been defeated on the battlefield. The left wing had long been of the opinion that no matter how bitter an experience it might be for them, it must now be proved absolutely to the German people that militarism was committing suicide in Germany.
DR. DIX: I have already submitted to the Tribunal, a letter which you, Doctor, smuggled to Switzerland for Schacht at about this time-the end of 1939. It is a letter to the former president of the International Bank at Basel, later president of the First National Bank of New York; a man of influence, who probably had access to President Roosevelt.
In anticipation of the documentary evidence pertaining hereto I had originally intended to read this letter to the Tribunal now. However, in discussing the admissibility of evidence I informed the Tribunal of most of the essential points, and as Mr. Justice Jackson could not yet have the Schacht Document Book in hand, and as he remarked previously that he did not like me to produce documentary evidence at this point, I will not carry out my original intention to read this letter in its entirety. I shall come back to it when I present my documentary evidence. Just to refresh the witness' memory about this letter, I will give the underlying reasons for it. Schacht suggested to President Fraser that now the moment. ..
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I make no objection to the use of the letter from Schacht to Leon Fraser as one banker writing to another. If you want to claim that Mr. Fraser was influential with President Roosevelt, I should want you to prove it; but I have no objection to the letter.
DR. DIX: The letter is dated 14 January 1946. I will not read it in its entirety, for there are six long pages. Its contents are. . .
THE PRESIDENT: What date was it?
DR. DIX: I had the wrong letter. The 16 October 1939. It will be Exhibit Number 31 in my document book. He writes that now would be an excellent time to give peace to the world with President Roosevelt-that would be a victory, also a German victory . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Is the letter from Schacht?
DR. DIX: From Schacht to Fraser.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you have proof for the letter?
25 April 46
DR. DIX: If the Tribunal prefers, Schacht can also deal with the letter. In that case I will only ask the witness whether it is true that he smuggled this letter into Switzerland.
[Turning to the witness.] Please answer the question, Witness.
GISEVIUS: Yes. I took this letter to Switzerland and mailed it there.
DR. DIX: Very well. What did your group do to bring about peace, or prevent the war from spreading? Did you undertake further activities in foreign politics in that direction in your opposition group, that is, your group of conspirators?
GISEVIUS: The main thing for us was with all possible means to prevent the war from spreading. It could only spread toward Holland and Belgium or Norway. We recognized clearly that if a step was taken in this direction, the consequences, not only for Germany, but for the whole of Europe would be tremendous. Therefore, we wanted to prevent war in the West by all means.
Immediately after the Polish Campaign Hitler decided to move his troops from the East to the West, and to launch the attack by violating the neutrality of Holland and Belgium.
We believed that if we could succeed in preventing this attack in November we would in the coming winter months gain enough time to convince the individual generals, above all Brauchitsch and Halder and the leaders of the army groups, that they must at least oppose the expansion of the war.
Brauchitsch and Halder evaded the question and said it was now too late, that the enemy would fight Germany to the end and destroy her. We did not share this opinion. We believed a peace with honor was still possible, and by honor I mean that we would of course eliminate the Nazi hierarchy to the last man. In order to prove to the generals that the foreign powers did not wish to destroy the German people, but wanted only to protect themselves against the Nazi terror, we took all possible steps abroad. The first attempt in that direction, or a small part of that attempt, was the letter written by Schacht to Fraser, the object of which was to point out that certain domestic political developments were imminent and that if we could gain time, that is, if we could come through the winter, we could perhaps persuade the generals to undertake a revolt.
DR. DIX: Thank you. May I interrupt you for a moment? I would like to call the attention of the Tribunal now to the fact that the witness is referring to a passage, to a suggestion, contained in the letter. This letter is in English. I have no German translation, and I must therefore read this sentence in English. "My feeling is that the earlier discussions be opened, the easier it will be to influence
25 April 46
the development of certain existing conditions." The question is now...
Now, I would like to ask you: What did Dr. Schacht mean by the "certain existing conditions" that were to be influenced? Did he mean your efforts?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I must interpose an objection. I am not sure whether you have misunderstood it. I think that what Schacht meant is not a question to be addressed to this witness. I shall have no objection to Dr. Schacht telling us what he meant by his cryptic language, but I don't think that this witness can interpret what Schacht meant unless he has some information apart from anything that now appears. I don't want to be over technical about this, but it does seem to me that this is the sort of question which should be reserved for Dr. Schacht himself.
DR. DIX: Mr. Justice Jackson, of course, is right, but this witness said that he smuggled the letter into Switzerland, and I assume that he discussed the contents of the letter with Schacht and was therefore in a position to explain the cryptic words.
THE PRESIDENT: He didn't say this yet; he hasn't said he ever saw the letter except the outside of it. He hasn't said he ever saw the letter.
DR. DIX: Will you please tell us whether you saw the letter and knew its contents?
GISEVIUS: I am sorry that I did not so clearly at once, but I helped in drafting the letter. I was there when the letter was drafted and written.
DR DIX: Then I believe Justice Jackson will withdraw his objection.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes.
DR. DIX: Will you please answer my question; what is meant by those cryptic words?
GISEVIUS: We wanted to suggest that we, in Germany, were interested in forcing certain developments and that we now expected an encouraging word from the other side. I do not, however, want any misunderstanding to arise here. In this letter it also states very clearly that President Roosevelt had in the meantime been disappointed many times by the German side, so that we had to beg, to urge him to take such a step. It is a fact that President Roosevelt had taken various steps for peace.
DR. DIX: Let us go on now. If I give you the cue "Vatican Action"? . . .
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: In addition to this attempt to enter into discussions with America, we believed we should ask for a statement from the British Government. Again it was our aim solely to...
THE PRESIDENT: Is the original of this letter still available or is this only given from memory?
DR. DIX: The original copy, yes; that is, a copy signed by Schacht is here. It was kept during the war in Switzerland and was brought back to us from Switzerland by this witness.
[Turning to the witness.] Now, let us go on to the "Vatican Action."
GISEVIUS: We tried in every possible way to prove to General Halder and General Olbricht that their theory was wrong, that there could be no longer a question of dealing with a decent German government. We believed that we should now follow a particularly important and safe road. The Holy Father made personal efforts in these matters, as the British Government had, with justification, become uncertain whether there really existed in Germany a trustworthy group of men with whom talks could be undertaken. I remember that shortly afterwards the Venlo incident took place when, with the excuse that there was a German opposition group, officials of the English Secret Service were kidnapped at the Dutch border. Therefore, we were anxious to prove that there was a group here which was honestly trying to do its best and which, if the occasion arose, would stand by its word under all circumstances. I believe that we kept our word regarding the things we proposed to do, while we said quite frankly that we could not bring about this revolt as we had said previously we hoped to do.
These negotiations began in October-November 1939. They were only concluded later in the spring, and if I am asked I will continue.
DR DIX: Yes, please describe the conclusion.
GISEVIUS: I believe I must add first that, during November of 1939, General Halder actually had intended a revolt, but that these intentions for a revolt again came to naught because at the very last minute Hitler called off the western offensive. Strengthened by the attitude of Halder at that time, we believed that we should continue these discussions at the Vatican. We reached what you might call a gentleman's agreement, on the grounds of which I believe that I am entitled to state that we could give the generals unequivocal proof that in the event of the overthrow of the Hitler regime, an agreement could be reached with a decent civil German government.
DR. DIX: Did you read the documents yourself, Doctor?
GISEVIUS: These were oral discussions which were then written down in a comprehensive report. This report was read by the Ambassador Von Hassell and by Dr. Schacht before it was given to
25 April 46
Halder by General Thomas. Halder was so taken aback by the contents that he gave this comprehensive report to Generaloberst Von Brauchitsch. Brauchitsch was enraged and threatened to arrest the intermediary, General Thomas, and thus this action which had every prospect of success, failed.
DR. DIX: Doctor, you have testified . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Dix, the last notes that I have got down in my notebook are these: "That we knew that if Holland, Belgium, and the other countries were attacked, it would have very grave consequences and we therefore negotiated with Halder and Brauchitsch and they weren't prepared to help us to stop the war at that time. We wanted peace with honor, eliminating politics. We took all possible steps." Well, now, since I took these notes down, I think we spent nearly 10 minutes in details, which are utterly irrelevant, about further negotiations. If they took all possible steps, what is the point of giving us these details about it?
DR. DIX: Yes, Your Lordship, if a witness is called in a matter of such importance, where he as well as the defendants' counsel must always take into account that people who are of a different opinion may say "these are just generalities, we want facts and particulars," then I cannot forego having the witness testify at least in broad outline that, for example, a detailed action had been undertaken through His Holiness in the Vatican. If he merely says that the result of this action was a comprehensive report, if with Halder and Brauchitsch the above mentioned. . .
THE PRESIDENT: I agree with you that the one sentence about some negotiations with the Vatican may have been properly given, but all the rest of it were unnecessary details.
DR. DIX: Anyway we have already concluded this chapter, Your Lordship.
[Turning to the witness.] You have already testified that the revolt which was planned for November did not occur because the western offensive did not take place. Therefore, we need not pursue this subject any further. I would merely like to ask you at this point: Did your group of conspirators remain inactive during the winter, and particularly during the spring, or were further plans followed and acted upon?
GISEVIUS: Constant attempts were made to influence all generals within our reach. Besides Halder and Brauchitsch we tried to reach the generals of the armored divisions in the West. I remember, for instance, there was a discussion between Schacht and General Hoeppner.
DR. DIX: Hoeppner?
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: Hoeppner. We also tried to influence Field Marshal Rundstedt, Bock, and Leeb. Here, too, General Thomas and Admiral Canaris were the intermediaries.
DR DIX: And how did the generals react?
GISEVIUS: When everything was ready, they would not start.
DR DIX: Now, we come to the summer of 1941. Hitler is in Paris. The aerial offensive against England is imminent. Tell us about your group of conspirators and their activity during this period and the period following.
GISEVIUS: After the fall of Paris, our group had no influence at all for months. Hitler's success deluded everyone, and it took much effort on our part, through all channels available, to try at least to prevent the bombardment of England. Here again the group made united efforts and we tried, through General Thomas and Admiral Canaris and others, to prevent this evil.
DR. DIX: Do I understand you correctly, when you use the word "group" you mean the group which was led by Beck, in which Schacht collaborated?
DR. DIX: Now, at that time did Schacht have several talks, or one talk, along the same line in Switzerland?
GISEVIUS: That was a little later. We have now come to the year 1941, and on this trip to Switzerland Schacht tried to urge that a peace conference should be held as soon as possible. We knew that Hitler was thinking about the attack on Russia, and we believed that we should do everything to avert at least this disaster. With this thought in mind Schacht's discussions in Switzerland were conducted. I myself took part in arranging a dinner in Basel with the president of the B. I. Z., Mr. McKittrick, an American, and I was present when Schacht tried to express at least the opinion that everything possible must now be done to initiate negotiations.
DR. DIX: In this connection I would respectfully like to remind the Tribunal of the article in the Basler Nachrichten, of which I presented the essential contents when we discussed the admissibility of the document. It deals with a similar conversation between Schacht and an American economist. That is the same trip which the witness is now discussing. I will take the liberty of referring to this article later, when presenting documentary evidences.
[Turning to the witness.] Now, the war continued. Do you have anything to say about Russia; about the imminent war with Russia?
GISEVIUS: I can say only that Schacht knew of all the many attempts which we undertook to avert this catastrophe.
232 25 April 46
DR. DIX: Now let us go further to the time of Stalingrad. What was done by your group of conspirators after this critical period of the war?
GISEVIUS: When we did not succeed in persuading the victorious generals to engineer a revolt, we then tried at least to win them over to one when they had obviously come up against their great catastrophe. This catastrophe, which found its first visible signs in Stalingrad, had been predicted in all its details by Generaloberst Beck since December of 1942. We immediately made all preparations so that at the moment, which could be forecast with almost mathematical exactitude, when the army of Paulus, completely defeated, would have to capitulate, then at least a military revolt could be organized. I myself was called back from Switzerland and participated in all discussions and preparations. I can only testify that this time a great many preparations were made. Contact was also made with the field marshals in the East, with Witzleben in the West but again, things turned out differently, for Field Marshal Paulus capitulated instead of giving us the cue at which Kluge, according to plan, was to start the revolt in the East.
DR. DIX: This was the time of the so-called Schlaberndorff attempt?
GISEVIUS: No, a little later.
DR. DIX: Now I shall interpose another question. Until now you have always described the group led by Generaloberst Beck and supported by Schacht, Goerdeler, et cetera, as a revolt movement, that is, a group which wanted to overthrow the government. Did you not now more and more aim at an assassination?
GISEVIUS: Yes, from the moment when the generals again deserted us, we realized that a revolt was not to be hoped for, and from that moment on we took all the steps we could to instigate an assassination.
DR HANS LATERNSER (Counsel for General Staff and High Command of the German Armed Forces): Mr. President, I must object at this point to the testimony of the witness. The witness, Dr. Gisevius, by his testimony has incriminated the group which I represent However, some of this testimony is so general that it cannot be referred to as fact. Furthermore, he has just testified that the field marshals in the East had "deserted" the group of conspirators. These statements are opinions which the witness is giving, but they are not facts, to which the witness must limit his testimony, and therefore I ask-Mr. President, I have not yet finished. I wanted to conclude with the request for a resolution by the Court that the testimony given by the witness, where he asserted that the
25 April 46
generals had "deserted" the group of conspirators, be stricken from the record.
DR. DIX: May I please reply briefly? I cannot agree with the opinion of my esteemed colleague Dr. Laternser that the statement "the generals deserted us" was not a statement of fact...
THE PRESIDENT: I don't think we need to hear further argument upon it. It certainly won't be stricken from the record until we have had time to consider it, and Dr. Laternser will have his opportunity of examining this witness, and he can then elucidate any evidence he wants to.
DR. LATERNSER: But, Mr. President, if I make the motion for the reason that the witness is giving testimony which is beyond his scope as a witness, and that he is giving his opinion, then to that extent it is inadmissible testimony which would have to be stricken from the record.
THE PRESIDENT: If you mean that the evidence is hearsay, that will be perfectly obvious to the Tribunal, and doesn't make the evidence inadmissible, and you will be able to cross-examine him about it.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I have been misunderstood. I did not say, and I am not basing my request to strike the testimony from the record on the allegation that the witness made statements from hearsay; but I say that it is not a statement of fact, but an opinion which the witness is giving when he says that "the generals in the East deserted the group of conspirators."
DR. DIX: May I answer briefly to that? If I try to influence a group of generals to organize a revolt and if they do not do so, that is a fact and I can state this fact with the words, "They deserted us." Naturally I can also say, "They did not revolt," but that is merely a matter of expression. Both are facts and not an opinion. He is not appraising the behavior of the generals in an ethical, military, or political sense, he is merely pointing out, "They were not willing."
THE PRESIDENT: Go on.
DR. DIX: [Turning to the witness.] If I recall correctly, you were just about to tell us that now the policy of the conspirators' group changed from a revolt to an assassination. Is that correct?
DR. DIX: Do you wish to state anything further?
GISEVIUS You had asked me about the first step in this direction after Generaloberst Beck had given up all hope of being able to win over another general to a revolt. It was said at that time that there was now nothing left for us but to free Germany, Europe, and the world from the tyrant by a bomb attack. Immediately after
25 April 46
this decision, preparations were started. Oster spoke to Lahousen and Lahousen furnished the bombs from his arsenal. The bombs were taken to the headquarters of Kluge at Smolensk, and with every possible means we tried to bring about the assassination, which was unsuccessful only because at a time when Hitler was visiting the front, the bomb which had been put in his airplane did not explode. This was in the spring of 1943.
DR. DIX: Now, an event took place in the Abwehr OKW, which as a result of further developments, strongly affected Schacht's further attitude and also your remaining in Germany. Will you please describe that?
GISEVIUS: Gradually even Himmler could not fail to see what was happening in the OKW, and at the urgent request of SS General Schellenberg a thorough investigation of the Canaris group was now started. A special commissioner was appointed and on the first day of this investigation Oster was relieved of his post and a number of his collaborators were arrested. A short time afterwards Canaris was also dismissed from his post. I myself could no longer remain in Germany and thus this group, which until now had in a certain sense been the directorate of all the conspiracies, was eliminated.
DR. DIX: During that time, that is January 1943, Schacht was also relieved of his position as Reich Minister without Portfolio. Did you meet Schacht after that time?
GISEVIUS: Yes. By chance I was in Berlin on the day this letter of dismissal arrived. It was an unusually sharp letter and I remember that that night I was asked to the country house of Schacht, and as the letter had simply stated that Schacht was to be dismissed, we wondered whether he was also going to be arrested.
DR. DIX: I would like to remind the Tribunal that I read this letter into the record when Lammers was examined and showed it to him. This letter-I mean Schacht's letter of dismissal signed by Lammers-has already been read into the record and is probably contained in my document book.
[Turning to the witness.] You were in Switzerland at that time, but on 20 July you were in Berlin. How did that happen?
THE PRESIDENT: You mean the 20th of July 1944?
DR. DIX: Yes, the well-known day of the 20th of July. We are rapidly approaching the end now.
GISEVIUS: A few months after the elimination of the Canaris Oster circle we formed a new group around General Olbricht. At that time Colonel Count Von Stauffenberg also joined us. He replaced Oster in all activities, and when after several months, and after many unsuccessful attempts and discussions, the time finally
25 April 46
arrived in July 1944, I returned secretly to Berlin in order to participate in the events.
DR. DIX: But you had no direct connection with Schacht at this attempted assassination?
GISEVIUS: No; I, personally, was in Berlin secretly and saw only Goerdeler, Beck, and Stauffenberg; and it was agreed expressly at this time that no other civilian except Goerdeler, Leuschner, and myself were to be informed of the matter. We hoped thus to protect lives by not burdening anyone unnecessarily with this knowledge.
DR. DIX: Now I come to my last question.
You know that Schacht had after all held high government positions under the Hitler regime. You, Doctor, as is shown by your testimony today were an arch enemy of the Hitler regime. Despite that you had, as can also be seen from your testimony today, special confidence in Schacht. How do you explain this fact which at first sight seems to be contradictory in itself?
GISEVIUS: My answer can, of course, only express a personal opinion and I will formulate it as briefly as possible. However, I would like to emphasize that the problem of Schacht was confusing not only to me but to my friends as well; Schacht was always a problem and a puzzle to us. Perhaps it was due to the contradictory nature of this man that he kept his position in the Hitler government for so long. He undoubtedly entered the Hitler regime for patriotic reasons, and I would like to testify here that the moment his disappointment became obvious he decided for the same patriotic reasons to join the opposition. Despite Schacht's many contradictions and the puzzles he gave us to solve, my friends and I were strongly attracted to Schacht because of his exceptional personal courage and the fact that he was undoubtedly a man of strong moral character, and he did not think only of Germany but also of the ideals of humanity. That is why we went with him, why we considered him one of us; and, if you ask me personally, I can say that the doubts which I often had about him were completely dispelled during the dramatic events of 1938 and 1939. At that time he really fought, and I will never forget that. It is a pleasure for me to be able to testify to this here.
DR. DIX: Your Lordship, I am now through with the questioning of this witness.
THE PRESIDENT: Does any other member of the defendants counsel want to ask questions of the witness?
HERR GEORG BOEHM (Counsel for SA): Witness, yesterday you said that you were a member of the Stahlhelm. When and for how long were you a member?
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: I entered the Stahlhelm in 1929, I believe, and left that organization in 1933.
HERR BOEHM: You know the mentality of the members of the Stahlhelm. You know that, almost without exception, they were people who had served in the first World War, and I would like to ask you now whether the internal and foreign political goals of the Stahlhelm were to be reached by its members in a legal or in a revolutionary mariner?
GISEVIUS: To my knowledge the Stahlhelm always favored the legal way.
HERR BOEHM: Yes. Was the fight of the Stahlhelm against the Treaty of Versailles which every organization with national tendencies took up, to be carried on by legal or revolutionary means, or means of force?
GISEVIUS: It is very hard for me to answer for the entire Stahlhelm, but I can only say that I, and the members of the Stahlhelm organization with whom I was acquainted, knew that the Stahlhelm wanted to take the legal way.
HERR BOEHM: Is it correct to say that in the year 1932 and 1933 hundreds of thousands, regardless of party and race, entered the Stahlhelm organization?
GISEVIUS: That is correct. The more critical matters became in Germany, the more people went to the right. I myself having experienced this growth of the Stahlhelm as an official speaker at public meetings, from 1929 to 1933, I would describe it in this way: That those who did not want to join the NSDAP and the SA, deliberately entered the Stahlhelm so that within the German rightist movement there would be a counterbalance against the rising "brown" tide. That was the underlying reason of our recruitment for the Stahlhelm at that time.
HERR BOEHM: You know, of course, that in the year 1933 the Stahlhelm organization as a whole was taken into the SA. Was it possible at that time for the individual member of the Stahlhelm to say "no," or to protest against being taken over into the SA?
GISEVIUS: That was possible, of course, as everything was possible also in the Third Reich.
HERR BOEHM: What would have been the possible consequences of such a step?
GISEVIUS: The possible consequences would have been a violent discussion with the regional Party leaders or SA leaders. At that time I was no longer a member of the Stahlhelm and I can merely say that it undoubtedly must have been very difficult for many people, particularly those living in the country, to refuse being
25 April 46
transferred to the SA. After they had been betrayed by their leader, Minister Seldte, or as it was said at that time "sold" to the SA, refusal to transfer to the SA was naturally a sign of open distrust toward National Socialism.
HERR BOEHM: I gather from my correspondence with the former members of the Stahlhelm, that these people who, as former members of the Stahlhelm, were taken into the SA, remained a foreign body in it and were in constant opposition to the NSDAP and the SA. Is that correct?
GISEVIUS: As I myself no longer belonged to that organization, can only say that I assume that those members of the Stahlhelm felt very uneasy in their new surroundings.
HERR BOEHM: Do you know whether the members of the Stahlhelm, before 1934 and from 1934, participated in Crimes against Peace, against the Jews, against the Church, and so forth?
GISEVIUS: No, I know nothing about that.
HERR BOEHM: Now I would also like to question you about the SA as far as you are able to give information. Yesterday at least you expressed yourself freely with regard to the SA leaders. I would like to ask you, in replying to a question I shall now ask, to confine yourself to a circle of SA members which lies between the simple SA man and the Standartenfuehrer or the Brigadefuehrer. Could you tell from the attitude and activity of the ordinary SA man and that of the Standartenfuehrer or Brigadefuehrer-and I do not go beyond that limit because I well remember the statements you made yesterday concerning the Gruppenfuehrer or Obergruppenfuehrer-that these people intended to commit Crimes against Peace?
GISEVIUS: It is, of course, very difficult to answer such a general question. If you ask me about the majority of these SA men, I can only say no.
HERR BOEHM: Witness, did you notice that SA men were arrested and that SA men were also put into concentration camps?
GISEVIUS: I saw that many times. In 1933, 1934, and 1935, that was in the years when it was my official duty to deal with these matters, many SA men were arrested by the Gestapo, beaten to death, or at least tortured, and put into concentration camps.
HERR BOEHM: Could a man, who was in the SA, or anyone outside for that matter, judge the SA as a whole from the activity of its members, or from individual cases, and gather that the SA intended to commit Crimes against Peace?
GISEVIUS: No. When I consider what efforts even we in the High Command of the Wehrmacht had to make to try and discover
25 April 46
whether or not Hitler was planning a war, I naturally cannot attribute to a simple SA man knowledge of something which we ourselves did not know for certain.
HERR BOEHM: The Prosecution asserted that the SA incited the youth and the German people to war. Did you observe anything of that nature? You were a member of the Gestapo and such activities could not have escaped your notice.
GISEVIUS: That is another extremely general question, and I do not know to what extent certain songs, and other things, can be considered a preparation for war. At any rate I cannot imagine that the mass of the SA was of a different frame of mind than the mass of the German people in the years up to 1938, and the general trend of opinion beyond a doubt was that the mere thought of war was absolute madness.
HERR BOEHM: Was there anything that made you think that the SA intended to commit Crimes against Peace, or that they had committed such crimes?
GISEVIUS: As far as the ordinary SA man is concerned, I must say "no" again, and I say the same for the mass of the SA. I could not say to what extent the higher leaders were involved in plotting all the horrible things we have heard about here, but the majority undoubtedly did not know of such things and were not trained for them.
HERR BOEHM: Witness, it cannot be denied that mistakes were made by a number of SA men, and criminal acts were committed for which these people certainly should be punished.
You know the SA and know what took place during the revolutionary period and afterwards. Are you in a position to estimate or to give a proportional figure as to what percentage of the numerous members of the SA conducted themselves in a punishable manner? I call your attention to the fact that up to, perhaps 1932 or 1933, the SA...
THE PRESIDENT: Just a moment, Dr. Boehm. The Tribunal doesn't think that is a proper question to put to a witness, what percentage of a group of this sort, of hundreds of thousands of men, take a certain view.
HERR BOEHM: However the explanation of this question would be very important for my case, Mr. President. Here is a witness who was outside the SA, who as a member of the Gestapo was perhaps one of the few people who could look into the activities of the SA, and actually did look into them, and he will certainly be believed by the Tribunal. He knew fairly well what criminal procedures were carried out and also-and that is what I want to say-the number of members of the SA, and he is one of the few
25 April 46
who are in a position to testify on this matter. I believe that if the witness is in a position to testify hereto, the testimony given by him will be of great importance to the Tribunal also.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has already ruled that not only this witness, but other witnesses, are not in a position to give such evidence, and the question is denied.
HERR BOEHM: Witness, do you know of cases in which SA members worked in opposition to the SA?
GISEVIUS: I answered that question when I said that quite a number of SA members were arrested by the Gestapo.
HERR BOEHM: Yes. Do you know what criminal proceedings were taken against the members of the SA, and possibly how many?
GISEVIUS: Far too few, I am sorry to say, if you put it that way.
HERR BOEHM: Yes.
GISEVIUS: Unfortunately there were many who committed misdeeds in the SA and who went scot-free. I am sorry that I must answer in this way.
HERR BOEHM: Certainly. And in what relation do they stand to the entire SA?
GISEVIUS: Now we have come again to the question...
THE PRESIDENT: That is the same question over again.
HERR BOEHM: Do you know under what circumstances one could resign from the SA?
GISEVIUS: In the same manner as one could resign from all organizations of the Party. That was, of course, a brave decision to make.
HERR BOEHM: Thank you. I have no further question.
DR. LATERNSER: Witness, in replying to a question of my colleague Dr. Dix, you told the Tribunal that after the defeat at Stalingrad a military revolt was to be organized. You testified on this point that discussions had already taken place, that preparations had been made, and that the execution of the military revolt was prevented because the field marshals in the East had deserted the group of conspirators.
I ask you now to give us more details on this question so that I can understand why you came to the conclusion that the field marshals had deserted the conspiracy group.
GISEVIUS: From the outbreak of the war Generaloberst Beck tried to contact one field marshal after another. He wrote letters and he sent messengers to them. I particularly remember the correspondence with General Field Marshal Von Manstein, and I saw
25 April 46
with my own eyes General Von Manstein's answer of the year 1942. To Beck's strictly military explanations that the war had been lost and why, Manstein could reply only: A war is not lost until one considers it as lost.
Beck said that with an answer like that from a field marshal strategic questions could certainly not be raised. Several months later another attempt was made to win General Field Marshal Von Manstein. General Von Tresckow, also a victim of the 20th of July, went to the headquarters of Manstein. Oberstleutnant Count Von der Schulenburg also went to the headquarters of Manstein, but we did not succeed in winning Herr Von Manstein to our side.
At the time of Stalingrad we contacted Field Marshal Von Kluge, and he, in his turn, contacted Manstein. This time discussions reached a point when Kluge definitely assured us that he would win over Field Marshal Von Manstein at a discussion definitely fixed to take place in the Fuehrer's headquarters. Because of the importance of that day, a special telephone line was laid by the General of the Signal Corps, Fellgiebel, between the headquarters and General Olbricht at the OKW in Berlin. I myself was present when this telephone conversation took place. Even today I can still see that paper which said, in plain language, that Manstein, contrary to his previous assurances, had avowed himself to be persuaded by Hitler to remain in office. And even Kluge expressed himself as satisfied at the time with very small military strategic concessions. This was a bitter disappointment to us, and, therefore, I would like to repeat again what Beck said at that time: "We were deserted."
DR. LATERNSER: What further preparations had been made in this special connection?
GISEVIUS: We had made definite agreements with Field Marshal Von Witzleben. Witzleben was the Commander-in-Chief in the West, and therefore he was very important for starting or protecting a revolt in the West. We had made further definite agreements with the Military Governor of Belgium, Generaloberst Von Falkenhausen. In addition, as on 20 July 1944, we had assembled a certain contingent of armored troops in the vicinity of Berlin. Furthermore, those commanders of the troops who were to participate in the action had been assembled in the OKW.
DR. LATERNSER: All this happened after Stalingrad?
GISEVIUS: At the time of the Stalingrad revolt.
DR. LATERNSER: Please continue.
GISEVIUS: We had made all other political preparations which were necessary. It is difficult for me to tell here the entire story of the revolts against the Third Reich.
25 April 46
DR. LATERNSER: Yes. What were the reasons why this intended military revolt was not carried through?
GISEVIUS: What was that?
DR. LATERNSER: Witness, what were the reasons why this revolt, which was intended by the group of conspirators, was not carried through?
GISEVIUS: Contrary to all expectations, Field Marshal Paulus capitulated. This, as is known, was the first wholesale capitulation of generals; whereas we had expected that Paulus with his generals would issue, before his capitulation, a proclamation to the German people and to the East Front, in which the strategy of Hitler and the sacrifice of the Stalingrad army would be branded in suitable words. When this cue had been given, Kluge was to declare that in future he would take no further military orders from Hitler. We hoped with this plan to circumvent the problem of the military oath which kept troubling us more and more; the field marshals one after the other were to refuse military obedience to Hitler, whereupon Beck was to take over the supreme military command in Berlin.
DR. LATERNSER: Witness, you just mentioned the military oath. Do you know whether Blomberg and Generaloberst Beck opposed, or tried to oppose, the pledge the Armed Forces took to Hitler?
GISEVIUS: I know only that Beck up to the last day of his life considered the day he gave his pledge to Hitler as the blackest day of his existence, and he gave me an exact description of how completely taken unawares he had felt at the rendering of the oath. He told me that he had been summoned to a military roll call; and that suddenly it was announced that an oath of allegiance was to be given to the new head of State; that unexpectedly a new form of oath was to be used. Beck could never rid himself of the awful thought that at that time he perhaps should not have given his oath. He told me that while he was on his way home, he said to a comrade, "This is the blackest day of my life."
DR. LATERNSER: Witness, in your testimony, you also mentioned that between the Polish campaign and the Western campaign, or with the beginning of the Western campaign, a further military Putsch was to be attempted, and that this Putsch failed because Halder and Field Marshal Von Brauchitsch shirked it. You used the term "shirked" previously in your testimony. Now I ask you to tell me on the basis of what facts did you arrive at this opinion that both these generals shirked...
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I do not raise an objection that this is harmful to us if we have plenty of time, but this evidence as to these Putsche, and threatened Putsche, and rumored Putsche, was
25 April 46
all admissible here in our view only as bearing on the attitude of the Defendant Schacht. We are not trying these generals for being in a Putsch or not being in a Putsch. For all purposes it is just as well as they should not be in a Putsch. I do not know what purposes this can have in doing it over again. I call the Tribunal's attention for the limited purpose for which this historical matter was admitted, and suggest that it is serving no purpose in this connection to review it.
THE PRESIDENT: What is the answer to that, Dr. Laternser?
DR. LATERNSER: Since the witness has talked about this matter and testified that Halder as well as Brauchitsch shirked, and I cannot establish whether the opinion expressed by this witness with "shirked" is correct on the basis of the facts, I think I am obliged to clarify this point. In a general sense I would like to add further that the Prosecution is also justified in going into this point. I refer to the contention of the French Prosecutor in which he stated that in the light of all these circumstances it was beyond comprehension why Halder, as well as the entire German nation, did not rise as one man against the regime. Therefore, if I start from the viewpoint of the Prosecution, then my question on this point, as I have just put it, is undoubtedly of importance, and I, therefore, ask that this question be permitted.
THE PRESIDENT: The charge against the High Command is that they were a criminal organization within the meaning of the Charter; that is to say that they planned an aggressive war, or that they committed War Crimes or Crimes against Humanity in connection with an aggressive war. Well, whether or not they took part, or were planning to take part in a Putsch to stop the war does not seem very material to any of those questions.
DR. LATERNSER: I agree with you entirely on this point, Mr. President, that it cannot actually be considered of special importance; but on the other hand. . .
THE PRESIDENT: I did not say that it was not of special importance. I say that it was not material to the relevancy. The Tribunal does not think that any of these questions are relevant.
DR. LATERNSER: Then I will withdraw my question. I have one final question.
[Turning to the witness.] Witness, can you tell me the names of those generals who participated on the 20th of July?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, what has that got to do with any charge against the High Command?
DR. LATERNSER: The General Staff is accused of having participated in a conspiracy. The question...
25 April 46
THE PRESIDENT: We are not here to consider the honor of the High Command. We are here to consider whether or not they are a criminal organization within the meaning of the Charter, and that is the only question with which we are going to deal as far as you are concerned.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, the General Staff and the OKW are accused of having participated in a conspiracy. If I prove, as I am trying to do with this question, that on the contrary, instead of participating in a conspiracy, part of the General Staff took part in an action against the regime, then the answer to this question on this point indicates that precisely the opposite was the case; and, for that reason, I ask that the question be permitted.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not think what the General Staff did in July 1944, when the circumstances were entirely different to what they were in September 1939, has any relevancy to the question whether they took part, either before or in September 1939.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, if I put myself in the place of the Prosecution, I must assume that the Prosecution assumes that the conspiracy continued. It cannot be inferred, from testimony by the Prosecution or from anything that has been submitted, that the conspiracy was to have stopped at a certain period of time. So that the answer to this question would be of importance, I believe of decisive importance. I would like to supplement my statement, Mr. President . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Laternser.
DR. LATERNSER: I would like to add that it is precisely for the members of the group I represent that the period of time between 1938 and May 1940 is considered decisive.
THE PRESIDENT: You mean the group changed; therefore, they might be different in 1944?
DR. LATERNSER: I wish to add that a particularly large number of the members of this group only joined it in the course of 1944 because of their official positions, and I do consider this point important.
THE PRESIDENT: All right.
DR. LATERNSER: Witness, my question was: Can you give me the names of those generals who participated in the attempted assassination of the 20th of July 1944?
GISEVIUS: Generaloberst Beck, General Field Marshal Von Witzleben, General Olbricht, General Hoeppner.
DR. LATERNSER: One question: General Hoeppner was previously commander-in-chief of an armored army?
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: I believe so; General Von Haase, and certainly a large number of other generals whom I cannot enumerate offhand. Here I have mentioned only the names of those who were at Bendlerstrasse that afternoon.
DR. LATERNSER: One question, Witness: Do you know whether Field Marshal Rommel also participated on the 20th of July 1944?
GISEVIUS: I cannot answer by merely saying "yes," for it is a fact that Rommel, as well as Field Marshal Von Kluge, did participate. However, it would give a wrong picture if Field Marshal Rommel were suddenly to appear in the category of those who fought against Hitler. Herr Rommel, as a typical Party general, sought to join us very late, and it gave us a very painful impression when suddenly Herr Rommel in the face of his own military catastrophe, proposed to us to have Hitler assassinated, and then, if possible, Goering and Himmler as well. And, even then, he did not want to join in at the first opportunity, but wanted to stay somewhat in the background in order to allow us to profit by his popularity later on. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to know whether these gentlemen, when they joined our group, came as the fallen might. as people who wished to save their pensions, or as people who, from the beginning, stood for decency and honor.
DR. LATERNSER: Did you yourself ever speak to Field Marshal Rommel about this?
GISEVIUS: No. I never considered it worth while to make his acquaintance.
DR. LATERNSER: A further question: Did officers of the General Staff participate in the 20th of July?
GISEVIUS: Yes, a great number.
DR. LATERNSER: About how many would you say?
GISEVIUS: I cannot give you the number, for at that time I was not informed of how many of the General Staff Stauffenberg had on his side. I do not doubt that Stauffenberg, Colonel Hansen, and several other stout-hearted men had discovered a number of clean, courageous officers among the General Staff, and that they could count on the support of very many decent members of the General Staff, but whom they naturally could not initiate into their plans beforehand.
DR. LATERNSER: Yes, that will be sufficient for this point. Another question has occurred to me. You mentioned General Von Tresckow previously. Did you know General Von Tresckow personally?
25 April 46
DR. LATERNSER: Do you know anything about the fact that, after he learned that the commissar decree had been issued, General Von Tresckow remonstrated with Rundstedt and that these remonstrances contributed to the fact that the commissar decree was not passed on in General Field Marshal Von Rundstedt's sector?
GISEVIUS: Tresckow belonged to our group for many years. There was no action which made us so ashamed as this one, and from the very start he courageously called the attention of his superiors to the inadmissibility of such terrible decrees. I remember how at that time we learned of the famous commissar decree at first through hearsay, and we immediately sent a courier to Tresckow to inform him simply of the intention of such an outrage, and how after the decree had been published, Tresckow, at a given signal, remonstrated with General Field Marshal Von Rundstedt in the way you described.
THE PRESIDENT: You said a while ago that you were just going to ask your last question.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I am sorry I could not keep to that. A number of questions arose from the testimony of the witness, but this was my last question.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.
[A recess was taken.]
THE PRESIDENT: Does any other member of the defendants' counsel wish to ask any questions of the witness?
[There was no response.]
Then do the Prosecution desire to cross-examine?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: May it please the Tribunal, I have a few questions to put to you, Dr. Gisevius, and if you will answer them as nearly as possible, "yes" or "no," as you are capable of giving a truthful answer, you will save a great deal of time.
The Tribunal perhaps should know your relations with the Prosecution. Is it not a fact that within 2 months of the surrender of Germany I met you at Wiesbaden, and you related to me your experiences in the conspiracy that you have related here?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And you were later brought here, and after coming here were interrogated by the Prosecution as well as by the counsel for Frick and for Schacht?
25 April 46
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, your attitude and viewpoint are, as I understand you, those of a German who felt that loyalty to the German people required continuous opposition to the Nazi regime. Is that a correct statement of your position?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And you had a very large experience in police matters in Germany.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: If your Putsche or other moves to obtain power in Germany were successful, it was planned that you would be in charge of the police in the reorganization, was it not?
GISEVIUS: Yes, indeed.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Either as Minister of the Interior or as Police Commissioner, whatever it might be called.
GISEVIUS: Yes, certainly.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, you represented the belief that it was not necessary to govern Germany with concentration camps and with Gestapo methods; is that correct?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And you found all of the ways of presenting your viewpoint to the German people cut off by the Gestapo methods which were used by the Nazi regime; is that a fact?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: So that there was no way open to you to obtain any change in German policy except through revolt or assassination, or means of that kind?
GISEVIUS: No. I am convinced that until 1937 or the beginning of 1938 the position could have been changed in Germany by a majority of votes in the Reich Cabinet or through pressure by the Armed Forces.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Then you fix 1937 as the time when it ceased to be possible by peaceful means to effect a change in Germany; is that correct?
GISEVIUS: That is how I would judge it.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, it was not until after 1937 that Schacht joined your group; is that not a fact?
GISEVIUS: Yes, as I said, the group was not formed until 1937, 1938; but Schacht had already introduced me to Goerdeler in 1936, and Schacht and Oster had known each other since 1936. And naturally Schacht had also known a large number of other members of the group for a long time.
25 April 46
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Schacht did not become convinced, as I understand your statement to us, until after 1937-until the Putsch affair-that he wouldn't be able to handle Hitler in some peaceful way; is that not correct?
GISEVIUS: In what manner? In a peaceful manner or...
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: In a peaceful manner.
GISEVIUS: Yes, until the end of 1937 Schacht believed that it ought to be possible to remove Hitler legally.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But by the end of 1937, as you now say, the possibility of a peaceful removal of Hitler had become impossible in fact?
GISEVIUS: Yes, that is what we thought.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes; now, there was, as I understand your view in going to the general-there was no power in Germany that could stop or deal with the Gestapo, except the Army.
GISEVIUS: Yes. I would answer that question in the affirmative.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is, in addition to the Gestapo, this Nazi regime also had a private army in the SS, did they not? And, for a period, in the SA?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And if you were to combat successfully the Nazi regime, you had to have manpower which only the Army had; is that right?
GISEVIUS: Yes, only people who could be found in the Army; but at the same time we also attempted to influence certain people in the Police, and we needed all the decent officials in the ministries, and the broad masses of the people altogether.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But the Wehrmacht was the source of power capable of dealing with the SS and the Gestapo if the generals had been willing?
GISEVIUS: That was our conviction.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And that is the reason you kept seeking the help of the generals and felt let down when they wouldn't give you their assistance finally?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, there came a time when everybody connected with your group knew that the war was lost.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And that was before these plots on Hitler's life, and it was apparent before the Schlaberndorff plot and before the July 20th plot, that the war was lost, was it not?
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: I should like to make it quite clear that there was no one in our group who did not already know, even when the war started, that Hitler would never win this war.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But it became very much more apparent as time went on, not only that the war could not be won by Germany, but that Germany was going to be physically destroyed as a result of the war; is that not true?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yet, under the system which the Nazi regime had installed, you had no way of changing the course of events in Germany except by assassination or a revolt; is that true?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And so you resorted to those extreme measures, knowing that Hitler could never make peace with the Allies; is that true?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And your purpose in this was to save Germany the last destroying blows, which unfortunately she received, from the point of view of the Germans; is that not a fact?
GISEVIUS: I should like to say that actually since the beginning of the war, we no longer thought only of Germany. I think that I may say that we bore a heavy share of responsibility towards Germany and towards the world.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Well, what you were endeavoring to do was to get the war to an end, since you had not been able to stop its commencement, were you not?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And that was impossible as long as Hitler was at the head of the government and this group of men behind him?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, there was another plot on Hitler's life that you haven't mentioned. Was there not a bomb that was later found to have been a communist bomb?
GISEVIUS: This happened on 9 November 1939, in the Buergerbraeukeller, in Munich. It was a brave Communist who acted independently.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, at none of these times when Hitler's life was endangered, by a strange coincidence, was Goering or Himmler ever present; is that not true?
25 April 46
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you attach any importance to that fact?
GISEVIUS: We sometimes regretted it. For instance, the attempt at assassination would perhaps have succeeded, if Goering and Himmler had been with Hitler on 17 July. But as the years went by, the members of this clique separated to such an extent, and protected themselves so much that they could hardly be found together anywhere. Goering, too, was gradually so absorbed in his transactions and art collections at Karinhall that he was hardly ever to be found at a serious conference.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, the assassination of Hitler would have accomplished nothing from your point of view if the Number 2 man had stepped into Hitler's place, would it?
GISEVIUS: That was a debatable problem for a long time, because Brauchitsch, for instance, imagined that we could create a transitional regime with Goering. Our group always refused to come together with that man even for an hour.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: How did you plan-if you were successful-to deal with the other defendants here, with the exception of the Defendant Schacht, all of whom, I understand, you regard as a part of the Nazi government?
GISEVIUS: These gentlemen would have been behind lock and key in an extremely short time, and I think they would not have had to wait long for their sentences.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, does that apply to every man in this dock with the exception of Schacht?
GISEVIUS: Yes, every man.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is, you recognized them, your group recognized them all as parts and important parts of the Nazi regime-a Nazi conspiracy. Is that a fact?
GISEVIUS: I should not like to commit myself to the words "Nazi conspiracy." We considered them the men responsible for all the unspeakable misery which that government had brought to Germany and the world.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I should like to ask you a few questions about the Gestapo. You had testified generally in reference to the crimes which were committed by that organization and I ask you to state whether that included the torturing and burning to death of a large number of persons?
GISEVIUS: The question does not seem to have come through correctly.
25 April 46
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I am asking you as to the crimes committed by the Gestapo, and I am asking if it included the torturing and burning to death of thousands of persons?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did it involve the unlawful detention of thousands of innocent people?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The throwing of them into concentration camps where they were tortured and beaten and killed?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did the Gestapo engage in wholesale confiscation of property?
GISEVIUS: Yes, to a very large extent; they called it "property of persons hostile to the State."
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And did it practice extortion against Jews and against others?
GISEVIUS: In masses and by the million.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did the Gestapo hinder and molest the public officials, who were too prominent to be murdered, until they resigned or were driven from office?
GISEVIUS: The Gestapo used every means, from murder to the extortion which has just been described.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, the question arises here as to whether the members of the Gestapo knew what the Gestapo was doing; and will you please tell the Tribunal what the situation was as to the membership in that organization and its knowledge of its program?
GISEVIUS: I have already stated at the beginning of my testimony that from the first or second day every member of the Gestapo really could not help seeing and knowing what took place in that institution.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, there were some people who were taken into the Gestapo at the beginning, who were transferred from other branches of the civil service, were they not; who were in a sense involuntary members of the Gestapo?
GISEVIUS: Yes; these members were eliminated in the course of the first year as being politically unreliable.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And the transfer took place at the time Goering set up the Gestapo, did it not?
THE PRESIDENT: What did the witness mean by "eliminated"?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think eliminated from the Gestapo.
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: Gradually they were released from the service of the Gestapo.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, after the purge of the 30th of June 1934, were special pains taken to see that no one was permitted in the organization who was not in sympathy with its program?
GISEVIUS: These attempts started after 1 April 1934, when Himmler and Heydrich took over affairs. Actually, from that date, no official was allowed into the Gestapo any longer unless Himmler and Heydrich considered that he held the opinions which they desired. It may be that during the first months some officials, who had not yet been screened by the SS, may have got in. The Gestapo was, of course, a large organization and it naturally took quite a time until the SS had educated and trained their own criminal officials.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: However, did there come a time, and if so, will you fix it as nearly as possible, after which every member of the Gestapo must have known the criminal program of that organization?
GISEVIUS: For many years I have considered that question myself and discussed it with Nebe and my friends. The reply entails very great responsibility, and in the knowledge of that responsibility I would say that from the beginning of 1935, at the latest, everyone must have known what sort of organization he was joining and the type of orders he might have to expect.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You have testified as to the investigations which you made when you were connected with the police administration and you mentioned the Reichstag fire but you did not tell us what your findings were when you investigated that. Will you please tell us?
GISEVIUS: To speak briefly and to begin with the facts, we ascertained that Hitler in a general way had expressed a wish for a large-scale propaganda campaign. Goebbels undertook to prepare the necessary proposals and it was Goebbels who first thought of setting the Reichstag on fire. Goebbels discussed this with the leader of the Berlin SA Brigade, Karl Ernst, and he suggested in detail how it should be done.
A certain chemical, known to every maker of fireworks, was chosen. After spraying it, it ignites after a certain time-hours or minutes. In order to get inside the Reichstag, one had to go through the corridor leading from the palace of the Reichstag President to the Reichstag itself. Ten reliable SA men were provided, and then Goering was informed of all the details of the plan, so that by chance he did not make an election speech on that particular
25 April 46
evening, but at such a late hour would still be sitting at his desk in the Ministry of the Interior in Berlin.
Goering-and he gave assurances that he would do so-was to put the police on wrong trails in the first confusion. From the very beginning it was intended that the Communists should be accused of this crime, and the 10 SA men who had to carry out the crime were instructed accordingly.
That is, in a few words, the story of the events. To tell you how we got hold of the details, I have only to add that one of these 10 who had to spray the chemical was a notorious criminal. Six months later he was dismissed from the SA, and when he did not receive the reward which he had been promised he decided to tell what he knew to the Reich Court sitting in Leipzig at the time. He was taken before an examining magistrate who made a record of his statement, but the Gestapo heard of it and the letter to the Reich Court was intercepted and destroyed. The SA man, named Rall, who betrayed the plan, was murdered in a vile manner with the knowledge of the Defendant Goering, by order of Gestapo chief Diels. Through the finding of the body, we picked up the threads of the whole story.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: What happened to the 10 SA men who carried out the Reichstag fire? Are any of them alive now?
GISEVIUS: As far as we are aware none of them are still alive. Most of them were murdered on 30 June under the pretext of the Roehm revolt. Only one, a certain Heini Gewaehr, was taken over by the police as a police officer, and we tracked him down as well. He was killed in the war, while a police officer on the Eastern Front.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think you testified that you also investigated, with the entire affair of Roehm, the murders that followed the Roehm affair. Didn't you so testify?
GISEVIUS: I cannot actually say that we carried out the investigation, as we, of the Ministry of the Interior, had really been excluded from the entire affair. However, matters were such that after 30 June, all the appeals for help, and all the complaints of the people who were affected reached us in the Ministry of the Interior, and during 30 June, through the continual radio messages, incidental visits to Goering's palace, and the information received from Nebe, we discovered all the details.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, about how many people were killed in that purge?
GISEVIUS: We have never been able to establish the number exactly, but I estimate that no more than 150 to 200 persons lost their lives, which, at that time, was an enormous figure.
25 April 46
I myself with Minister of Justice Guertner checked the list of the number of the dead which had been given him by Hitler and Goering, and we ascertained that the list which contained the names of' 77 dead, who had allegedly been justly killed, was exceeded by nearly double that number only by those names which we had received through the prosecuting authorities, or through the appeals for help coming from relatives to the Ministry of the Interior.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, did you ascertain who selected the men who were killed in that purge?
GISEVIUS: To begin with we ascertained that Himmler, Heydrich, and Goering had compiled exact lists of those to be murdered; for I myself heard in Goering's palace-and it was confirmed by Daluege who was present, and also by Nebe who was present from the very first second-that not one of those who were killed was mentioned by name; instead they just said: "Number so and so is now gone," or, "Number so and so is still missing," and "It will soon be Number so and so's turn."
There is, however, no doubt that Heydrich and Himmler also had a special list. On that special list there were several Catholics, Klausner, and others. I cannot, for instance, say here under oath whether Schleicher was murdered by order of Goering, or whether he was a man who was on Heydrich's and Himmler's special list.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, was the Defendant Frick fully informed as to the facts which you knew about the illegal conduct of the Gestapo?
GISEVIUS: Yes. I had to submit to him all the material that arrived which was important, and I have already described that we reported all these matters to the Secret State Police or to the Ministries of the Interior of the Laender. Naturally I could submit only the most important of these things to Frick personally. I estimate that I received several hundred such complaints daily, but the most important had to be submitted to Frick, because he had to sign them personally; for Goering always complained as soon as he saw that such a young official signed reports and appeals to the Ministry and to himself.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, was Frick informed of your conclusions about the Roehm purge?
GISEVIUS: Yes, because on the Sunday, while the murders were continuing, I spoke to Frick about the murder of Strasser, Klausner, Schleicher and the many other murders; and Frick was particularly disgusted at the murder of Strasser, because he considered that an act of personal revenge by Goering and Himmler. Likewise, Frick was extremely indignant about the murders of Klausner, Bose, Edgar Jung, and the many other innocent men who were murdered.
25 April 46
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But when Frick signed the decree, along with Hitler, declaring these murders legitimate and ordering no prosecutions on account of those murders, Frick knew exactly what had happened from you; is that the fact?
GISEVIUS: He knew it from me, and he had seen it for himself. The story of the 30th of June was undoubtedly known to Frick.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, did Frick ever talk with you about Himmler and Heydrich as being bad and dangerous, cruel persons?
GISEVIUS: On that Sunday, the 1st of July, Frick said to me "If Hitler does not very soon do to the SS and Himmler what he has done to the SA today, he will experience far worse things with the SS than he has experienced now with the SA."
I was greatly struck by that prediction at the time, and by the fact that Frick should speak so openly to me.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But notwithstanding the estimate he made of those men as dangerous persons, did he not thereafter appoint them both in his Ministry of Interior?
GISEVIUS: Well, of course, they were actually appointed by Hitler. However, I can only say that when I took leave of Frick, at the time I left the Ministry of the Interior in May 1935, Frick told me literally that the constant difficulties he had had because of me had taught him from now on to take Party members only in his Ministry, and as far as possible those who had the Golden Party Emblem. He said that it was possible that in the course of events he might even be forced to allow Himmler into his Ministry, but in no case would he accept the murderer Heydrich. Those were the last words I exchanged with Frick.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Both were put in charge of matters that were under his legal control, were they not?
GISEVIUS: Yes, they became members of the Reich Ministry of the Interior and Frick remained their superior.
THE PRESIDENT: Did you say that those were the last words which you exchanged with the Defendant Frick?
GISEVIUS: Yes. That was in 1935 and I have not met him or talked to him since.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, after 1934 Frick was the Minister in charge of the running and controlling of concentration camps, was he not, Dr. Gisevius?
GISEVIUS: In my opinion the Reich Minister of the Interior was responsible from the beginning for all police matters in the Reich and therefore also for the concentration camps, and I do not believe that one can say he had that responsibility only since 1934.
25 April 46
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Well, I am willing to accept your amendment to my question. I ask that you be shown Document Number 3751-PS of the United States, which has not yet been offered in evidence.
[The document was submitted to the witness.]
Now, this purports to be a communication from Dr. Guertner, the Minister of Justice, to the Reich and Prussian Minister of the Interior. That would be from your friend Dr. Guertner to Frick, would it not?
GISEVIUS: I believe I heard you say "friend." During the time he acted as Minister, Guertner did not conduct himself in such a way that I could consider him my friend.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Well then, tell us about Guertner. Tell us about Guertner's position in this situation because we have a communication here apparently from him.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes.
GISEVIUS: At that time Guertner without doubt made many attempts to expose the cruelty in the camps and to initiate criminal proceedings. In individual cases Guertner did make many attempts; but after the 30th of June he signed that law which legalized all those dreadful things, and also in other respects Guertner never acted consistently with his views. But this document which you submit to me was just such an attempt by Guertner and the many decent officials in the Ministry of Justice to bring the question of the Gestapo terror to discussion. As far as I recollect this is one of those letters which we discussed unofficially beforehand in order to provoke an answer, so to say.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I now desire to read some parts of this into the record. It becomes Exhibit USA-828. I will offer it as such.
Will you kindly follow the German text and see if I correctly quote:
"My dear Reich Minister!
"Enclosed you will find a copy of a report of the Inspector of the Secret State Police, dated 28 March 1935.
"This report gives me an occasion to state my fundamental attitude towards the question of corporal punishment for internees. The numerous instances of ill-treatment which have come to the knowledge of the authorities of justice point to three different reasons for such ill-treatment of prisoners:
25 April 46
"1. Beating as a disciplinary punishment in concentration camps.
"2. Ill-treatment, mostly of political internees, in order to make them talk.
"3. Ill-treatment of internees arising out of sheer wantonness or for sadistic motives."
I think I will not take the Tribunal's time to read his comment on Number 1 or Number 2. About Number 3, you will find in the German text:
"The experience of the first revolutionary years has shown that the persons who are charged to administer the beatings generally lose all sense of the purpose and meaning of their action after a short time, and permit themselves to be governed by personal feelings of revenge, or sadistic tendencies. Thus members of the guard detail of the former concentration camp at Bredow, near Stettin, completely stripped a prostitute who had an argument with one of them and beat her with whips and cowhides in such a fashion that the woman 2 months later still showed two open and infected wounds."
I shall not go into the dimensions; they are not important.
"In the concentration camp at Kemna near Wuppertal, prisoners were locked up in a narrow clothing locker and were then tortured by blowing in cigarette smoke, upsetting the locker, et cetera. In some cases the prisoners were first given salt herring to eat, in order to produce an especially strong and torturing thirst.
"In the Hohnstein Concentration Camp in Saxony, prisoners had to stand under a dripping apparatus especially constructed for this purpose, until the drops of water, which fell down at even intervals, caused seriously infected wounds on their scalps.
"In a concentration camp in Hamburg four prisoners were lashed in the form of a cross to a grating for days, once without interruption for 3 days and nights, once for 5 days and nights and fed so meagerly with dry bread that they almost died of hunger.
"These few examples show a degree of cruelty which is such an insult to every German feeling, that it is impossible to consider any extenuating circumstances.
"In conclusion, I should like to present my opinion about these three points to you, my dear Herr Reich Minister, in your capacity as departmental minister competent for the
25 April 46
establishment of protective custody, and the camps for protective custody."
And he goes on to make certain recommendations for action by the Minister. I do not know whether the Tribunal cares to have more of this read.
Was any improvement in conditions noted after the receipt of that communication by Frick?
GISEVIUS: The letter was received just at the time I left the Ministry of the Interior. I should like to say only one thing concerning this letter: What is described therein is really only a fraction of what we knew. I helped prepare this letter in that I spoke to the officials concerned in the Ministry of Justice. The Minister of Justice could bring up only those matters which had by chance become known legally through some criminal record. But there can be no doubt that this communication was merely a motive, and the cause of a very bold letter from Heydrich to Goering, dated 28 March 1935, in which he disputed the right of the Minister of Justice to prosecute cases of ill-treatment. The letter, therefore does not add anything new to my descriptions, and no doubt all have been convinced that these conditions, which started at that time, never ceased but became worse as time went on.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, there came a time when Heydrich was assassinated in Prague, was there not?
GISEVIUS: Yes, some very brave Czechs were able to do what we unfortunately could not achieve. That will always be to their glory.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, I suppose the Czechs expected, and did you expect that the assassination of Heydrich would result in some improvement in this condition?
GISEVIUS: We doubted-we, Canaris, Oster, Nebe, and the others of the group-whether it was possible at all for an even worse man to be found to succeed such a monster as Heydrich, and to that extent we really did think that the Gestapo terror would now subside, and that perhaps we would return to a certain amount of honesty and integrity, or that at least the cruelties might be lessened.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And then came Kaltenbrunner. Did you notice any improvement after the appointment of Kaltenbrunner? Tell us about that.
GISEVIUS: Kaltenbrunner came and things became worse from day to day. More and more we learned that perhaps the impulsive actions of a murderer like Heydrich were not so bad as the cold, legal logic of a lawyer who took over the administration of such a dangerous instrument as the Gestapo.
25 April 46
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Can you tell us whether Kaltenbrunner took an even more sadistic attitude than Himmler and Schellenberg had done? Were you informed about that?
GISEVIUS: Yes. I know that Heydrich, in a certain sense, really had something akin to a bad conscience when he committed his crimes. At any rate, he did not like it when those things were discussed openly in Gestapo circles. Nebe, who as Chief of the Criminal Police had the same rank as the Chief of the Gestapo, Mueller, always told me that Heydrich took care to conceal his crimes.
With the entry of Kaltenbrunner into that organization, this practice ceased. All those things were now openly discussed among the department chiefs of the Gestapo. By now the war had started, of course. These gentlemen lunched together, and Nebe often came to me from such luncheons so completely exhausted that he had a nervous breakdown. On two occasions Nebe had to be sent on long sick leave because he simply could not stand the open cynicism with which mass murder, and the technique of mass murder, were discussed.
I remind you only of the gruesome chapter of the installation of the first gas chambers, which was discussed in detail in this circle, as were the experiments as to how one could remove the Jews most quickly and most thoroughly. These were the most horrible descriptions I have ever heard in my life. It is, of course, so much worse when you hear them first-hand from someone who is still under the direct impression of such discussions-and who because of this is almost at the point of physical and mental collapse, than when you hear of them now from documents. Nebe became so ill that actually as early as 20 July he suffered from a persecution mania and was a mere human wreck after everything he had gone through.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Was it the custom to have daily dinner conferences of the chiefs of the Main Security Office, those who happened to be in town?
GISEVIUS: Daily conferences; everything was discussed at luncheon. This was of particular importance to us, because we heard details of the methods used by the Gestapo in the fight against our group.
To prove what I say, I can state here that, for instance, the order issued for the arrest of Goerdeler on 17 July was decided upon during such a luncheon conference, and Nebe warned us at once. That is the reason why Goerdeler was able to escape, at least for some time, and why we were able to know to what extent the Gestapo were aware of our plot.
25 April 46
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And who were the regular attendants at those luncheon conferences?
GISEVIUS: Kaltenbrunner presided. Then there were Gestapo Mueller, Schellenberg, Ohlendorf, and Nebe.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And do you know whether, at those meetings, the new kinds of torture and the technique of killing by gas, and other measures in the concentration camps, were discussed?
GISEVIUS: Yes. That was discussed in great detail, and sometimes I received the description only a few minutes later.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, what is the situation with reference to the information of the Foreign Office about the conduct of the Gestapo? Will you tell us what was done to inform the Foreign Office from time to time of the crimes that the Gestapo were committing?
GISEVIUS: The Foreign Office, particularly during the earlier years, was continually kept informed, as nearly every day some foreigner was half beaten to death or robbed, and then the diplomatic missions would come with their complaints, and these complaints were sent to the Ministry of the Interior by the Foreign Office. These went through my office and sometimes I had four or five such notes a day from the Foreign Office regarding excesses by the Gestapo; and I can testify that in the course of years there were no crimes by the Gestapo which were not set forth in these notes.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you make certain reports to the Foreign Office which were so dispatched that you are reasonably certain they would reach Neurath?
GISEVIUS: Ribbentrop was not yet the Foreign Minister at that time...
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: No, Neurath.
GISEVIUS: I very often discussed these matters personally with the officials of the Foreign Office, because they were of a particularly difficult nature, and because the officials of the Foreign Office were very indignant, I asked them repeatedly to put these matters before the Minister through the official channels. In addition, I gave as much material as I could to one of the closest collaborators of the Foreign Minister at that time, the Chief of Protocol, "Minister" Von Buelow-Schwante; and according to the information I received from Buelow-Schwante, he very often submitted that material to Neurath.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, were certain of the collaborators close collaborators of Von Papen? Was Von Papen subject to action by the Gestapo?
25 April 46
GISEVIUS: To start with, the entire group around Von Papen was continuously under surveillance by the Gestapo because in the earlier years there was an impression among great masses of people that Von Papen was a special advocate for decency and right. A large group collected around Von Papen and that, of course, was most carefully watched by the Gestapo. As the complaints, which Von Papen received by the score, were carefully compiled in his office, and as no doubt Von Papen quite often took these papers either to Goering or to the Hindenburg palace, the closest collaborators of Von Papen were especially suspected by the Gestapo. So it was that on 30 June 1934 Oberregierungsrat Von Bose, the closest collaborator of Von Papen, was shot dead in the doorway of Von Papen's office. The two other colleagues of Von Papen were imprisoned, and the man who wrote Von Papen's radio speeches, Edgar Jung, was arrested weeks before the 30th of June; and on the morning of 1 July, he was found murdered in a ditch along the highway near Oranienburg.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did Von Papen continue in office after that?
GISEVIUS: I have never heard that he resigned; and I know that very soon after the Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss was murdered, he was sent to Vienna as Hitler's ambassador.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did he ever make any protests that you know of?
GISEVIUS: I personally heard of none at the time, although, we were naturally extremely eager to hear which minister would protest. However, no letter from Papen arrived at the Ministry of the Interior.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Were some of his collaborators murdered after the Anschluss in Austria?
GISEVIUS: On the day of the Anschluss, when the SS entered Austria, Von Papen's closest collaborator, Legation Counsellor Freiherr von Ketteler, was kidnapped by the Gestapo. We searched for him for weeks, until 3 or 4 weeks later his body was washed up on the banks of the Danube.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: After that did Papen continue to serve as a part of the Hitler Government and accept further offices from Hitler's hands?
GISEVIUS: He was no longer a member of the Government at the time. Immediately after the march into Austria Von Papen was disposed of by being made envoy. However, it was not long before he continued his activities as Ambassador at Ankara.
25 April 46
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Does the Tribunal desire to rise at this point?
THE PRESIDENT: You would like a little more time, wouldn't you, with this witness?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: It will take a little more time, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. We will adjourn now.
[The Tribunal adjourned until 26 April 1946 at 1000 hours.]
|Nuremberg Trials Page|
|Volume 12 Menu|