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Final statement Hans Fritzsche

THE PRESIDENT: I call upon the Defendant Hans Fritzsche.

HANS FRITZSCHE (Defendant): May it please the Tribunal: The chief prosecutors in their final speeches have repeated several of the accusations against me, although in my opinioin they were clearly refuted by the evidence.
I have summarized some of these points. I do not propose to read them. If it is not contrary to the rules of this Tribunal and if it pleases the Tribunal, then I shall request that they take judicial notice of this summary, which amounts to six pages. They are available in translation.
I should not like to waste the great opportunity for the final word in this Trial by enumerating details, all of which can be found in the transcripts and documents. I must turn to the sum total of all the crimes, since the Prosecution alleges that I was connected with all these crimes through a conspiracy.
To this charge I can only say that if I had spread the kind of propaganda in my radio talks which the Prosecution now accuses me of; if I had advocated the doctrine of the master race; if I had preached hatred against other nations; if I had incited people to wars of aggression, acts of violence, murder and inhumanity; if I had done all that, then, Gentlemen of the Tribunal, the German nation would have turned from me and would have repudiated the system for which I spoke.
Even if I had done this only in disguised form, my listeners would have noticed it and repudiated it.
But the misfortune lies precisely in the fact that I did not advocate all these doctrines which were secretly guiding the actions of Hitler and a small circle which, in the light of the testimony of the witnesses Hoess, Reinecke and Morgen, among others, is now slowly emerging from the mist in which it was hidden until now.
I believed in Hitler's assurances of a sincere desire for peace. Therefore I strengthened the trust of the German people in them.
I believed in the official German denials of all foreign reports of German atrocities. And with my belief I strengthened the belief of the German people in the uprightness of the German state leadership.
That is my guilt, no more, no less.
The prosecutors have expressed the horror of their nations at the atrocities which occurred. They did not expect any good from Hitler, and they are shattered by the extent of what really happened. But try for a moment to understand the indignation of those who expected good from Hitler and who then saw how their trust, their good will and their idealism were misused. I find myself in the position of a man who has been deceived, together with many, many other Germans of whom the Prosecution says that they could have recognized all that happened from the smoke rising from the chimneys of the concentration camps, or from the mere sight of the prisoners and so forth.
I feel that it is a great misfortune that the Prosecution has pictured these matters in such a way as if all of Germany had been a tremendous den of iniquity. It is a misfortune that the Prosecution is generalizing the extent of the crimes which are in themselves horrible enough. As against this I must say that if anyone once believeld in Hitler during the years of peaceful reconstruction, he only needed to be loyal, courageous and self-sacrificing to go on believing in him until, by the discovery of carefully hidden secrets, he could recognize the devil in him. That is the only explanation for the struggle which Germany carried on for 68 months. Such a willingness to sacrifice does not grow from crime, but only from idealism and good faith, and from clever and apparently honest organization.
I regret that the Prosecution has undertaken to generalize the crimes, because it is bound to add still more to the mountain of hatred which lies upon the world. But the time has come to interrupt the perpetual cycle of hatred which has dominated the world up to now. It is high time to call a halt to the alternate sowing and reaping of new harvests of hatred. The murder of five million people is an awful warning and today humanity possesses the technical means for its own destruction. Therefore in my judgment, the Prosecution should not replace one hatred by another.
I have a right to say this before my conscience, because I have not preached hatred, as the Prosecution asserted, nor have I closed the door to pity. On the contrary, many times, even in the middle of the bitterest struggle, I have raised the voice of humanity. This is proved by the vast majority of my speeches, which one can compare at any time with the statements of my enemies. Even if my addresses could not be submitted here before the Tribunal, they cannot have simply vanished from this earth.
It is perfectly possible, perhaps even understandable, that the storm of indignation which swept the world because of the atrocities which were committed should obliterate the borders of individual responsibility. If that happens, if collective responsibility is to be attached even to those who were misused in good faith, Your Honors, I beg you to hold me responsible. As my defense counsel has emphasized, I do not hide behind the millions who acted in good faith and were misused. I will place myself before those for whom my good faith was once an additional guarantee of the purity of purpose of the system. But this responsibility of mine only applies to those who acted in good faith, not for those who originated, assited in, or knew of these atrocities, beginning with murder and ending with the selection of living human beings for anatomical collections.
Between these criminals and myself there is only one connection: they merely misused me in a different way than they misused those who became their physical victims.
It may be difficult to separate German crime from German idealism. It is not impossible. If this distinction is made, much suffering will be avoided for Germany and for the worid.

See also: Verdict Fritzsche


An object filled with explosives, equipped with detonator which is activated by either remote control or by colliding with the targeted object. Mines are intended to destroy of damage vehicles, aircrafts or vessels, or to injure, kill or otherwise putting staff out of action. It is also possible to deny enemy access of a specific area by laying mines.
Often misleading information used to gain support among supporters or to gain support. Often used to accomplish ideas and political goals.


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