My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIFTY-SEVEN
The Prisoners

ON the 20th October 1945, the Bill of Indictment was handed to me by an American major. From it I ascertained that the indictment was divided into four headings; the first being "Taking part in the Conspiracy to bring about the War", the second "Taking part in Measures preparatory to the said War", the third "Perpetration of Crimes during the War", and the fourth "Crimes against Humanity".

From this indictment I learnt for the first time of the monstrous crimes committed against humanity, above all against the Jews, by Hitler himself and by his orders.

The indictment was not merely a general one: it was also drawn up in detail for each of the accused, informing him on which of the four counts he was charged. Most of them were arraigned on all four counts. Numbers three and four--"War Crimes" and "Crimes against Humanity"--did not apply in my case. I was charged only with "War Conspiracy" and "Preparations for War."

To both charges I could reply with a clear conscience. I knew that innumerable proofs existed that I had neither planned nor prepared for war but, on the contrary, had striven to prevent it. From that moment I knew that, provided judgment were given according to law and justice and not according to hatred and passion, the whole of the Nürnberg proceedings must result in my being acquitted. Fortunately, my faith was justified.

Among the accused were several whom I knew to be my avowed enemies. But there were also others of whom I knew that, though they had been weak, they were inwardly opposed to the Hitler régime and could be regarded as thoroughly decent people in ordinary life.

In the eleven months of the trial I had ample opportunity for speech with my fellow-prisoners in the dock in intervals between cross-examinations, as well as at midday dinner and during the daily walks--except for two months when exercise in the yard was prohibited. With those whom I knew to be not merely guilty but also inimically disposed towards me I never exchanged a single word during the whole of those eleven months. I maintained contact with Frick, Dönitz, von Neurath, Fritzsche, Raeder, von

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