My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIFTY-EIGHT
The Nürnberg Tribunal--I

ON the morning of the 30th April 1946, the Nürnberg Tribunal began its proceedings against me. Dr. Dix, my counsel, addressed the President in the particular style which the German lawyers were obliged to adopt in this remarkable court:

"I will commence my demonstration with a deposition by Dr. Schacht, and I would beg your Lordship to direct Dr. Schacht to take the stand."

On no other occasion was I so suddenly conscious of the unreality--I might even say the ghostly atmosphere--of this "International Court of Justice" as in those few moments needed to leave the dock and take my place on the witness-stand. The great hall in which the proceedings took place was entirely without natural light. The windows of Nürnberg's former Court of Assizes had been hung with draperies so as to exclude the daylight. Artificial illumination shed a sickly unbroken glare over everything. Despite the fact that for the accused persons it was a matter of life and death, the place vibrated with an unrest reminiscent of an antheap. The Prosecutors of the various nations were surrounded by their respective staffs. Messengers kept arriving with reports and papers. The sight of the American women secretaries at their clattering machines created a kind of optical confusion. To watch them incessantly chewing gum was to feel as though they were chewing on every word. On the Press-stand, immediately opposite the witness-stand, it was not much quieter. Only the few German reporters--the only ones not in uniform and therefore immediately recognizable--remained unobtrusively in the background. The whole effect was something of a nightmare. Many of the accused suffered from overwrought nerves. In the building itself the shrill tones of American light music would frequently blare forth: curiously enough the song-hit of that time was Don't Fence Me In, and the guards played it over and over, day and night.

During the morning and also in the afternoon there would be a short break. Then we were able to go to the lavatories, passing between a cordon of American military police. Sometimes we were stopped in the passage. The military police would be drawn

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