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This party movement received the leadership of the State through legal channels. I served this State because of my obligation as an official and in the execution of German laws. I felt myself bound to carry out this duty and especially during the periods of danger of war and during the war itself at a time when the existence of my country was threatened in the extreme.
In time of war, however, the State is absolutely dependent on the loyalty and faith of its officials.
Here I have heard about horrible crimes in which the offices under my direction were partly involved.
But these are things which I learned here, before this Tribunal. I did not know these crimes and I could not have known them.
I have examined my conscience and my memory with the utmost horror-I have examined my conscience and memory with the utmost care and I have told the Court everything that I knew, openly and freely, and I have concealed nothing. As far as the deposits of the SS at the Reichsbank are concerned, I only did my duty as President of the Reichsbank. According to law, the acceptance of gold and foreign currency was one of the business tasks of the Reichsbank. The fact that the confiscation of these assets was taking place through the organs of the SS subordinate to Himmler, could not make me suspicious. The entire Police system, the border protection units, and especially the search for foreign currency in the Reich and in all occupied areas was under the jurisdiction of Himmler, and I was deceived and imposed upon by Himmler.
Until the time of this trial, I did not know and I did not suspect that among the assets brought into the Reichsbank there were mammoth piles of pearls, precious stones, jewelry, and gold objects of all kinds; and horrible as it may seem to say, gold teeth. That is something I was never told. That is something I never observed. I have never seen these things. Never did even a single person tell me in a single word of incidents like that.
The existence of these extermination camps was unknown to me, totally unknown. I did not even know a single one of their names. Never have I entered a concentration camp, either.
I assumed that some of the gold and foreign currency, which was deposited in the Reichsbank, came from concentration camps, and I stated this fact from the beginning in all of my interrogations openly. But, according to German law, everyone had to turn these assets over to the Reichsbank.
Quite apart from that, the kind and quantity of these shipments from the SS were not made known to me. How was I to even
suspect that the SS had acquired these assets through desecrating corpses?
If I had known of these horrible facts, my Reichsbank would never have accepted these assets for storage and exploitation. I would have refused even in the face of the danger that it would have cost me my head. If I had known of these crimes I would not be sitting in the defendant's dock today. Of that, you must be convinced. There the grave would be easier for me than this tormented and shameful life which I have to endure now, this life full of accusations, suspicions, and slander raised against me.
Not a single human life has been lost because of any measures decreed by me. I have always tried to help people in need, and as far as it lay within my power, to bring happiness and joy into their lives; and for that, many will be grateful to me and remain grateful.
Human life consists of error and guilt.
I myself have made many mistakes, and I, too, have been deceived in many things and I freely admit, I freely admit I have been deceived too easily and in many ways have been too unconcerned and too gullible and therein I see my guilt. But I consider myself free of any penal guilt which I am alleged to have committed through discharging my official duties. In that respect, to-day my conscience is as clear as on the day, ten months ago, when I entered this courtroom for the first time.
XIII. HJALMAR SCHACHT
1. FINAL ARGUMENT by Dr. Rudolf Dix, Defense Counsel Mr. President, Gentlemen of the Bench:
The singularity of Schacht's case appears graphically from one glance at the defendants' bench and from the history of his imprisonment and defense. Kaltenbrunner and Schacht sit on the defendants' bench. Whatever the powers of the defendant Kaltenbrunner may have been, he was in any case Chief of the Main Reich Security Office. Until those May days of 1945, Schacht was a prisoner of the Main Reich Security Office in various concentration camps. It makes a rarely grotesque picture to see a jailer-inchief and a prisoner sharing the same defendants' bench. At the very start of the criminal trial this remarkable picture alone must have given cause for reflection to all those participating in the trial-judges, prosecutors, and defense counsels.
Schacht was banished to the concentration camp on the order
of Hitler, as has been established here. The charge raised against him was high treason against the Hitler Regime. As the judicial authority the People's Court (Volksgerichtshof), headed by that hanging judge Freisler, would have convicted him, if his imprisonment had not been exchanged for one by the victorious Allied powers. Ever since the summer of 1944 I held the commission to defend Schacht before Adolf Hitler's People's Court; in the summer of 1945 I was asked to conduct his defense before the International Military Tribunal. This, too, is in itself a self-contradictory state of affairs. This, too, forces all those participating in the trial to have misgivings, as far as the person of Schacht is concerned.
One involuntarily recalls the fate of Seneca.. Nero, as a counterpart to Hitler, put Seneca on trial for revolutionary activities. After the death of Nero, Seneca was charged with complicity in the bad government and atrocities of Nero, and thus in a conspiracy. A certain wry humor is not lacking in the fact that Seneca was then declared a pagan saint by early Christianity as soon as the 4th century. Even if Schacht does not indulge in such expectations, this historical precedent nevertheless forces us to remain always conscious of the fact that the sentence to be pronounced by this High Court will also have to defend itself before the judgment seat of history.
The picture of the Third Reich has been revealed to the Tribunal in a thorough and careful presentation of evidence. It is a picture with a great deal of background. An opportunity was given to depict, within the range of possibility, these backgrounds also. Within the range of possibility! But at the same time this means the limitation of such a thoroughgoing investigation through a judicial presentation of evidence which was, to be sure, thorough, but which nevertheless had to be brought to an end as soon as 'possible, according to the requirements of the Charter.
In order to learn what it was like under Hitler in German countries, there is still enough which has been left to the intuition of the Court. It is not possible and will never be possible to understand Hitler-Germany from a constitutional point of view according to the scientific conceptions and views of people with a legal mind. As a scientific theme: "The Constitution under Adolf Hitler is a 'lucus a non locendo'." Understand me well! "The constitution", which means a legal arrangement made by the Hitler State, and not the final pleading of Jahrreiss to illuminate the tyranny of a despot from some legal point of view. Possible, but difficult and therefore not yet published, would be a scientific sociology of the Third Reich. Only a very few Germans who lived
in Germany knew the conditions and distributions of power within those circles of people who were apparently or. actually called upon to do their share for the formation of a political will. Most of them will be surprised after the unveiling of this picture. How much less possible was it for a foreigner at the time of bringing the indictment to judge correctly the constitutional, sociological, and internal political conditions of Hitler-Germany. But the correct judgment of these things was a prerequisite for an indictment founded correctly from both the factual and the legal point of view.
I am of the opinion that the prosecution authorities were thereby confronted with what was for them an insoluble task. I am furthermore of the opinion that the prosecution would have never presented their criminal charges against the defendants under the head of a conspiracy, if they could have understood the distribution of political power in Hitler-Germany in the way as this is perhaps possible to-day for an intelligent observer and listener at this trial who is gifted with political intuition, even if this would be difficult enough.
A conspiracy within the meaning of their indictment was as a practical matter not possible in the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler. In the Third Reich nothing was possible but a conspiracy by the opposition against Adolf Hitler and the regime. As we ascertained here, several of such conspiracies took place. Conspirators act somewhat differently to one other than an assistant acts toward the chief perpetrator. The part to be played by the individual conspirator in the execution of the common plan may vary. Several or even one of the conspirators may hold a leading position within the conspiracy. At all times however, cooperation is necessary. Usage of language in itself precludes speaking of a conspiracy if only one commands and all the others are merely executing organs. I am therefore of the opinion that what in this Court has been defined as crime can never be subsumed (subsummiert) according to criminal law as facts in a case of conspiracy. Other legal factors which might come into question are of no interest to me as defense counsel for the defendant Schacht, because as an individual person, without connection with deeds of others and consequently only on the basis of his own actions no criminal charge at all can be brought against Schacht. Schacht personally wanted the permissible and the best. His actions served this desire. To the extent that he erred from a political point of view, he is just as ready to have history judge his deeds. But even the greatest dynamics of international law cannot penalize political error. If it did this, the profession of the statesman and poli