The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
29th July to 8th August 1946

One Hundred and Ninety-Third Day: Friday, 2nd August, 1946
(Part 10 of 10)

[Page 235]



Q. Is it true, Dr. Schlegelberger, that the Reich Ministers, which means the members of the Reich Cabinet, had the highest rank, had the highest responsibility, and the highest pay of all German officials?

[Page 236]

A. Yes.

Q. Is it correct to state that the appointment as a member of the Reich Cabinet was a completely voluntary act?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it correct to state that a member of Hitler's Cabinet had the right to resign if he did not agree with Hitler's policy?

A. I believe not.

Q. Do you ... Do you know any Cabinet members, or State Secretaries like yourself, who resigned?

A. One minister resigned.

Q. What was his name?

A. Eltz von Ruebenach.

Q. Do you know a State Secretary who resigned?

A. I do not remember.

Q. What about yourself, Dr. Schlegelberger, did you not resign?

A. This question is not so easy to answer.

Q. When did you leave your office?

A. In August, 1942, I was dismissed by the Fuehrer.

Q. Is it a correct statement if I say you were dismissed because you did not like the policy of the Fuehrer concerning the judges?

A. Yes, that is true.

Q. Now, you remember that the Minister of Economics, Dr. Kurt Schmidt, resigned?

A. I do not know from my own knowledge whether Dr. Schmidt resigned or whether he was dismissed.

Q. Then I should like to refresh your memory, and I show you an affidavit, a new document, a short one, which I offer to the Tribunal. And this document this document will become Exhibit USA 922.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I should like to object to the admission of this affidavit. It deals with questions, concerning the resignation of the witness, which concern him personally and in which he is greatly interested personally. I believe that if this question, which in my opinion is not relevant, is to be discussed at all, we cannot avoid calling the witness himself; he lives near Munich. I also believe that this affidavit is not suitable to prove the credibility of the witness Schlegelberger in any way. The details of the resignation of another minister need not be known to the State Secretary of another ministry. The witness stated he did not know anything further about it. I believe, therefore, that the examination to test the credibility of this witness is not fulfilled by this document.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kempner, the Tribunal thinks you should submit the facts of the resignation to the witness. Have you heard? That you should submit the facts of the resignation to the witness.

DR. KEMPNER: It did not come through.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you not heard now?


THE PRESIDENT: I said, the Tribunal thinks that you should put the facts of the resignation to the witness.

BY DR. KEMPNER: You know that another minister, Minister Kurt Schmidt, resigned? Do you remember now?

A. Yes, I remember that, of course, but I do not know whether he resigned or whether he was dismissed. That I do not know.

Q. Do you know that Minister Schmidt resigned because he knew that Hitler's policy would lead to war?

[Page 237]

A. That is unknown to me.

Q. Now, another chapter; is it true that the Reich Cabinet became a legislative body of Nazi Germany through the Enabling Act?

A. Yes, through the Enabling Act.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kempner, the Tribunal thinks you could put the first part of the affidavit to the witness.

BY DR. KEMPNER: I come back to the question of the resignation of Minister Schmidt and ask you whether the following is true or not:

"As Minister of Economics I was a member of the Reich Cabinet from June 30th, 1933, until the beginning of January, 1935. I resigned from the Cabinet, technically for reasons of ill health (June 28th, 1934) but factually because of deep differences of opinion with the policy of the Hitler Cabinet."
Were you informed about this, Dr. Schlegelberger?

A. I can only repeat, I only know that Herr Schmidt was Reich Minister of Economics and that he left the Cabinet. In what way he left, whether he was dismissed, whether he wanted to be dismissed, or whether he was dismissed for sickness or differences of opinion, I do not know.

Q. But now you agree with me that you knew two ministers who resigned and who were neither killed nor put in concentration camps?

A. That is certainly true

Q. That is enough, that answers my question. Is it true that the Reich Cabinet exercised its legislative powers continuously?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that the Reich Cabinet had more than a hundred meetings and passed numerous laws. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that the Cabinet continued to pass and promulgate laws even without formal session, by circulating drafts of the laws among the Cabinet members? Is this correct?

A. It is true that when the Cabinet meetings stopped, laws and decrees were issued after being circulated.

Q. Now, do you know how many laws were passed by the Reich Cabinet by means of this circulation method in the year 1939, for instance?

A. No, I cannot answer that.

Q. If I tell you that in the year 1939 alone the Reich Cabinet passed the following laws -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kempner, you can state what the fact is.

DR. KEMPNER: If I tell you that they passed 67 laws, would you say that is the correct statement?

THE WITNESS: If you say that it is true, Dr. Kempner, I accept it as such.


Q. Do you know that the Reich Cabinet had also the duty of approving the Reich budget?

A. Yes.

Q. Would you say that the members of the Reich Cabinet were informed about the things which were going on in Germany because they had to approve the budgets of all ministries?

A. I believe that very much can be determined from the Reich budget, but not necessarily everything.

Q. Do you know -

[Page 238]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kempner, you are asking the next question a little too quickly. We did not hear the answer come through. I think the witness said that important matters were to be derived from the budget or something of that sort.

DR. KEMPNER: Would you repeat the answer, please?

THE WITNESS: I believe that very much can be determined from the Reich budget, but not everything can be gathered from it.


Q. You know that the Reich budget had special provisions about concentration camps?

A. No, I do not know that.

Q. When you were a Minister of Justice, and acting Minister of justice, did you have anything to do with the anti-Jewish legislation?

A. I believe that during the period in which I was active, one law or decree was issued in the year 1941. As far as I can recall, it concerned rent conditions that affected Jews.

Q. Do you remember that you yourself made up proposals, a legislative proposal, together with the defendant Dr. Frick, to sterilise all half-Jews in Germany and the occupied territories?

A. No, I do not recall that.

Q. Now I should like to show you a letter from the official files, which has your signature, and you might remember, you might be able to refresh your memory by reading this letter. This will be my last question.

DR. KEMPNER: And this will become Exhibit USA 923.


Q. Do you remember now that you put your signature under this terrible document?

A. Yes, I remember; yes, I remember it.

Q. You remember that the Party and that the defendant Frick proposed to sterilise all Jews and all half-Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. And you remember that the various Cabinet members, like the defendant Goering, the chief of the Four-Year Plan, that the Reich Minister of the Interior, Dr. Frick (attention of his Secretary of State), that the Foreign Office (attention of Under-Secretary Luther) got copies of this legislative proposal?

A. Yes.

Q. And you remember, on Page I of this document, that this legislative proposal to sterilise all Jews and all half-Jews should be submitted to Hitler?

A. I did not quite understand the question.

Q. You remember that your, and Minister Frick's proposal should be submitted to Hitler?

A. (No response.)

Q. Yes or no?

A. Dr. Kempner, I beg your pardon, I still have not quite understood your question. I do not know what I am to try to remember.

Q. Whether your proposal should be submitted to Hitler?

A. I believe so.

Q. And you remember what Hitler said?

A. No, I do not remember that.

Q. Is it a true statement that your Secretary of State, Freisler, told you: "Hitler does not like this sharp measure of the Reich Cabinet at the present time, he will postpone it until after the war"?

[Page 239]

A. I do not remember that.

Q. You regret deeply your signature under this law?

A. I can say yes. I should like to add only one thing. At that time, there was already a serious struggle to obtain this limitation

Q. And you regret deeply these crimes; is that correct?

A. I regret greatly that I signed this.

DR. KEMPNER: Thank you. That is all.

DR. DIX (counsel for the defendant Schacht): I ask the Tribunal to permit me to ask three questions of the witness, because these questions arise from the cross-examination by Dr. Kempner, because the answers to these questions and the questions themselves concern the interests of the defendant Schacht and his own testimony directly, and because the charge against the Reich Cabinet is now being discussed, and also because Schacht, in the period known to the Tribunal, was a member of the Reich Cabinet. For these reasons, I ask the Tribunal to make an exception and to permit me, after the cross-examination, although I am not a defence counsel for an organization, to ask questions of this witness.




Q. Dr. Schlegelberger, was Hitler's signature necessary for the dismissal of a minister?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you recall that not immediately after 1933, but later, perhaps only during the war, Hitler expressly prohibited Reich Ministers to hand in their resignations?

A. I may say the following: An order was issued changing the German Civil Servant's Law. According to this law, every official had the right to be released from his office. This right was abolished during the war. It was decreed that the release did not have to be granted, and as I recall, Hitler actually did not accept resignations of ministers.

Q. Now, my third and last question: As State Secretary, in answer to Dr. Kempner's question about the departure of the former Minister, Eltz von Ruebenach, you said that he had resigned. To check and assist your memory, may I point out that we heard here from Goering on the witness stand a modified version of this event which agrees with the recollection of the defendant Schacht. Of course, I do not have the transcript of the Goering case before me and therefore I can only give Goering's testimony from memory. But I believe that in essence and effect I present it correctly. According to his testimony, this departure of Eltz developed from the conferring of the Golden Party Badge upon various ministers, including Eltz von Ruebenach. When Hitler, with the idea of pleasing the ministers, had handed him this Golden Party Badge, Eltz started and made some remark to the effect of whether he was thereby incurring any confessional obligations. Hitler was annoyed at this, and the upshot was that Eltz von Ruebenach left the Cabinet, which cannot exactly be termed a resignation on von Ruebenach's own initiative.

I believe that I have at least reproduced the sense of Goering's testimony correctly.

A. I knew these events only from reports which I received from others. I myself was not present at the incident. I have no reason to believe that the defendant Goering, who was present, did not describe the facts as they actually happened.

Q. You say you know the story only from reports; that is, actual reports from Herr Guertner, for example?

A. Yes.

[Page 240]

Do you still recall these reports, more or less? Or is what I have just said the first reminder?

A. No; I recall vaguely that according to Herr Guertner's report, as Dr. Dix just stated, Eltz von Ruebenach had said something about confessional obligations, and that the Fuehrer was annoyed at that and the conflict resulted from that incident. I can only repeat, if it is put to me, I have no reason to deny the correctness of an eye-and-ear-witness.

DR. DIX: Thank you very much. I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: I think we will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until Saturday, 3rd August, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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