My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE
From an Attempted Coup d'Etat to an Attempted Assassination

MY Indian journey had given me a very impressive picture of the material strength of the British Empire. The iron and steel industry had a considerable manufacturing potential. The cotton industry was at its zenith. In many other industries production was increasing steadily. I did not feel justified in withholding my observations from the German Government and therefore I notified Hitler of my return home as well as Goering and Ribbentrop. From the first two I received no reply whatever. Ribbentrop did at any rate acknowledge the receipt of my letter.

The confidential reports I received almost immediately on my return to Berlin were disquieting. My long absence--from the beginning of March to the beginning of August 1939--meant that I had missed much of what had been happening at home in the meantime. The quarrel with Poland, deliberately fanned by Hitler and finally brought to a climax in mid-August according to plan, was bound to lead to armed conflict.

On the 25th August I was informed through the agency of Admiral Canaris, head of the Abwehr, that the attack on Poland was due to be launched at once. Through the good offices of General Oster I immediately sought to push on to Zossen, where the headquarters of the Wehrmacht was stationed. I wanted to give General von Brauchitsch a last-minute warning and try to rouse him to counter-action. I had been working for a considerable period with General Thomas, head of the Wehrwirtschaft, in an endeavour to prevent a war. Through Admiral Canaris he now notified Zossen by phone of my intended visit. The reply came back that Brauchitsch declined to see me and, if I persisted, would arrest me forthwith.

We experienced a temporary relief on learning almost at once that the order to attack had been rescinded. We were the more astounded when, eight days later, the command went forth to march into Poland. In Hitler's challenge to the British and French ultimatum which expired on the 3rd September I saw the downfall

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