My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIFTY-NINE
The Nürnberg Tribunal--II

IN order even to begin to understand the methods resorted to by Mr. Jackson, the American Chief Prosecutor, when he started to deal with me after that ten-minute break, it is essential to bear in mind the international political situation in 1946. The Allies had won the war; they were very proud of it, and rightly so, for it had been a long and terrible struggle. Into this mighty fact of world history there intruded--now that it was all over--a lot of petty human elements. Who had personally won this war? As always, world opinion on this question picked on the names of great statesmen and generals. But there were many small-part people and "supers" who wanted to snatch a leaf from the huge laurel wreath suspended above the heads of the Great Ones, that they too might go down in history. The Americans, above all, mistook temporary fame for historical immortality, and I fear that at the time Mr. Jackson also succumbed to this error. That he did so is excusable, for the big American newspapers featured "The Nürnberg Trial" as front-page news. They made much of their compatriot, Mr. Jackson. For a time he embodied in his person the American Public who wanted to see the "war criminals" hang. Mr. Jackson was going to help them realize their wish. He was popular over there so long as the Nürnberg trial lasted. When it was over the Americans had other fish to fry and Mr. Jackson was forgotten.

In May 1946 however, in the full glare of publicity, Jackson understood well enough that he owed the American Press something and conducted himself accordingly. He must do more than just prove the accused guilty: he must keep an eye open for news items and show what a smart, capable fellow he was. Only so could he bolster up and add to his reputation. Inspired by such considerations he proceeded to the attack.

The first question was very telling. He wanted to know whether, in 1938, I had or had not said to my neighbour at a dinner party: "My dear lady, we have fallen into the hands of criminals." How could I have foreseen that?

Yes, I certainly had said so.

16*

-481-

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