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Final statement Hjalmar Schacht

THE PRESIDENT: I call upon the Defendant Hjalmar Schacht .

HJALMAR SCHACHT (Defendant): My sense of justice was deeply wounded by the fact that the final speeches of the Prosecution completely by-passed the evidence resulting from this Trial. The only accusation raised against me under the Charter is that I wanted war. The overwhelming evidence in my case has shown, however, that I was a fanatical opponent of war and tried actively and passively, by protests, sabotage, cunning and force, to prevent the war.
How then, can the Prosecution assert that I favored war? How can the Russian prosecutor assert that I did not turn from Hitler until 1943, when my first attempt at a coup d état had already been undertaken in the autumn of 1938?
And now Justice Jackson has raised a new accusation against me in his final speech, which has not been discussed at all in the Trial until now. I am said to have planned to release Jews from Germany in exchange for a ransom in foreign currency. This too, is untrue. Disgusted by the Jewish pogrom of November 1938, I managed to obtain Hitler's approval to a plan which was to facilitate emigration for the Jews. I intended to place 1,500 million Reichsmarks taken from confiscated Jewish property under the administration of an international committee and Germany was to undertake the obligation to repay this amount to the committee in 20 yearly instalments and in foreign currency, which is the exact opposite of what Justice Jackson asserted here.
I discussed this plan in December 1938 in London with Lord Berstedt of Samuel and Samuel, with Lord Winterton and with the American representative, Mr. Rublee. They were all sympathetically disposed towards the plan. But since I was removed from the Reichsbank shortly afterwards by Hitler, the matter was dropped. Had it been carried through, not a single German Jew would have lost his life.
My opposition to Hitler's policies was known at home and abroad and was so clear that even in 1940 the United States Chargé d’Affaires, Mr. Kirk, sent me his regards before leaving his Berlin post, adding that after the war I could be counted on as a man free from guilt, which is reported in detail by the witness Hülse in his affidavit (37-b in my document book).
Instead of that, however, the Prosecution has branded me in the world press for a whole year as a robber, murderer and betrayer. It is this accusation alone which I have to thank for the fact that in the evening of my life I am without means of subsistence and without a home. But the Prosecution are mistaken if they believe, as was mentioned in one of their first speeches, that they can count me among the pitiful and broken characters.
To be sure, I erred politically. I never claimed to be a politician, but my economic and financial policy of creating work by assisting credit proved brilliantly successful. The figure of unemployment dropped from 7,000,000 to zero. In the year 1938 the state revenues had risen to such an extent that the repayment of the Reichsbank credits was fully guaranteed. The fact that Hitler refused this repayment, which he had solemnly confirmed, was a tremendous fraud which I could not foresee. My political mistake was not realizing the extent of Hitler's criminal nature at an early enough time. But I did not stain my hands with one single illegal or immoral act. The terrorism of the Gestapo did not frighten me. For terrorism must always fail before the appeal to conscience. In this lies the great source of strength which religion gives us.
In spite of that, Justice Jackson considered it proper to accuse me of opportunism and cowardice. And this when the end of the war found me in the Flossenburg extermination camp, where I had been imprisoned for 10 months and where I escaped Hitler’s order of murder only by a merciful fate. At the conclusion of this Trial, I stand shakeni to the very depths of my soul by the unspeakable suffering which I tried to prevent with all my personal efforts and with all attainable means, but which in the end I failed to prevent not through my fault.
Therefore, my head is upright and I am unshaken in the belief that the world will recover, not through the power of violence, but only through the strength of the spirit and moraIity of actions.

See also: Verdict Schacht


“Geheime Staatspolizei”. Secret state police, the secret police in the Third Reich.
Middle Eastern people with own religion that lived in Palestine. They distinguished themselves by their strong monotheism and the strict observance of the Law and tradition. During World War 2 the Jewish people were ruthlessly persecuted and annihilated by the German Nazis. . An estimated 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated.


From right to left: Hans Fritzsche, Hjalmar Schacht and Franz von Papen meet the press shortly after their acquittal by the Tribunal. Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-V01715 / CC-BY-SA 3.0.


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Arnold Palthe
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International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg 1947