My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

Introduction

THE 2nd September 1948 was a particularly sultry day. Somewhat ill at ease in my fur coat I stood at the exit of Ludwigsburg Internment Camp waiting for the turnkey to come and open the door for me. My wife was waiting outside with my lawyer; plucky Manci, who for years had been fighting a desperate battle against every kind of obstruction, in order to have me released. Now, at last it had happened. She had come to fetch me in Dr. Schwamberger's car. Now and again she would raise her hand and signal unobtrusively, which meant: "Only a few minutes more, and you'll be free!"

Seconds passed. Two young Press photographers had taken up their stand beside the gateway ready to record on their film my first step into freedom. I waited. The photographers grinned. They were obviously already looking forward to the caption: "Wearing a fur coat in a temperature of 77°, the former President of the Reichsbank is released from Ludwigsburg." There would be no point in trying to explain to them about the coat. What did they know of four years' imprisonment under the Gestapo, of American and German Denazification Tribunals? How could they tell the condition of the clothes I wore under that coat?

A couple of workmen came by and, attracted by the interesting drama, stopped to light cigarettes. I could hear their conversation.

"That's Schacht," said one. "They acquitted him yesterday."

"Think they'll let him go?" the other asked. He wore a pair of blue dungarees, and from the waist up was clad only in his own sunburnt skin.

"No," said the first man slowly. "I don't believe they will. They'll find some reason or other to pop him back in jug!"

They spat into their hands, picked up their tools and departed. Their talk could not be described as encouraging. Vox populi, I thought.

The turnkey arrived, rattled his keys and solemnly opened the great gate. The cameras clicked; someone asked me a question. Manci cut him short and led me to the car. I sank into the back seat next to the man who for months past had conducted my defence.

"Let's get away," said Manci, "away from this place."

1*

-1-

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