Dr. Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht (22 January 1877 – 3 June 1970) was a German economist, banker, centre-right politician, and co-founder in 1918 of the German Democratic Party. He served as the Currency Commissioner and President of the Reichsbank under the Weimar Republic. He was a fierce critic of his country's post-World War I reparation obligations. He served in Adolf Hitler's government as President of the National Bank (Reichsbank) 1933–1939 and became Minister of Economics (August 1934 – November 1937). While Schacht was for a time feted for his role in the German "economic miracle", he opposed Hitler's policy of German re-armament insofar as it violated the Treaty of Versailles and (in his view) disrupted the German economy. His views in this regard led Schacht to clash with Hitler and most notably with Hermann Göring. He was dismissed as President of the Reichsbank in January 1939. He remained as a minister without portfolio, and received the same salary, until he was fully dismissed from the government in January 1943.
In 1944, Schacht was arrested by the Gestapo after the assassination attempt on Hitler on 20 July 1944 because he allegedly had contact with the assassins. Subsequently, he was interned until the end of the Third Reich in the concentration camps Ravensbrück and later at Flossenbürg. Schacht was tried at Nuremberg, but was fully acquitted over Soviet objections; later on, a German denazification tribunal sentenced him to eight years' hard labor, which was also overturned on appeal.
- My so-called foreign friends do neither me nor the situation nor themselves any good when they try to bring me into opposition to the allegedly impossible National Socialist economic theories and declare me to some extent the protector of economic reason. I can assure you that everything I say and do has the complete approval of the Fuhrer and that I would not say or do anything that does not have his approval.
- Speech in Leipzig (4 March 1935), as quoted in The Trial of the Germans : An Account of the Twenty-Two Defendants Before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (1997) by Eugene Davidson, p. 234.
- The Jews must realize that their influence in Germany has disappeared for all time. We wish to keep our people and our culture pure and distinctive, just as the Jews have always demanded this of themselves.
- Speech in Koenigsberg (18 August 1935), as quoted in The Trial of the Germans : An Account of the Twenty-Two Defendants Before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (1997) by Eugene Davidson, p. 235.
- It has been shown that, in contrast to everything which classical national economy has hitherto taught, not the producer but the consumer is the ruling factor in economic life.
- As quoted Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (1946) by the United States Department of State, Vol. 2, p. 746.
- The memory of war weighs undiminished upon the people's minds. That is because deeper than material wounds, moral wounds are smarting, inflicted by the so-called peace treaties. … Material loss can be made up through renewed labor, but the moral wrong which has been inflicted upon the conquered peoples, in the peace dictates, leaves a burning scar on the people's conscience. … The Versailles Dictate cannot be an eternal document, because not only its economic, but also its spiritual and moral premises are wrong.
- On the Treaty of Versailles, as quoted in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (1946) by the United States Department of State, Vol. 2, p. 754.
- Colonies are necessary to Germany. We shall get them through negotiation if possible; but if not, we shall take them.
- As quoted in Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (1947) by the International Military Tribunal, Vol. 5, p. 134.
- One thing I fear, that you Americans will do the same thing that you did after the last war. I mean that you will pull out of here and leave Europe, then Russia will have her way. Private enterprise and individual rights will be lost just as much as under a Nazi government. Frightful!
- To Leon Goldensohn (27 January 1946). Quoted in "The Nuremberg Interviews" - by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004.
- There was only the choice between Communism and Hitler, and I will tell you why Hitler won. People will not give up religion, rights, freedom of personality, the opportunity to develop by individual effort - which includes private property. And the other reason for Hitler's winning is that if a whole people is treated as the Germans were, everyone will say, 'Are we worse people than others? Are we of a minor race?' Just as every single individual needs and must have self-respect, just as every family is proud of decent traditions, so every nation wants to maintain her individual manner, culture, language, and customs. It was in these respects that Communism failed. The Communists said that God was nonsense and stupidity and preached internationalism without maintaining the natural national feelings of a nation.
- To Leon Goldensohn (10 March 1946). Quoted in "The Nuremberg Interviews" - by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004.
- I was never in the army - I never had a uniform - I was never a soldier. I detest uniforms because they make one unfree. There is an old quotation that goes something like this: 'Your mind will be trained well, but confined to Spanish boots.' That quotation is very apt. It signifies how narrow the military mind becomes.
- To Leon Goldensohn (18 May 1946). Quoted in "The Nuremberg Interviews" - by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004.
- I have never believed in war. It is a crime against humanity whether you win or lose. I just read an article in this magazine I have in my hands that one day the moon will fall on the earth, but it is my feeling that until then, we should try to make the world a better place to live in.
- To Leon Goldensohn (9 June 1946). Quoted in "The Nuremberg Interviews" - by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004.
Quotes about Schacht
- Schacht is a disappointment because of another thing. If I would have had the terrible secrets of crimes committed by the Nazis in my hands, which Schacht said he possessed, then I would not have participated for ten years in a conspiracy. And I wouldn't participate in an Attentat solely in 1944, which incidentally was to be committed not by Schacht but by others - a cowardly Attentat at that, which meant placing a bomb under Hitler's table and then running off. If Schacht felt as nauseated by the Nazis as he now claims, he would have had to draw a pistol himself and shoot the man responsible for these dastardly actions, I mean Hitler himself. Anything else is unthinkable, with the knowledge that Schacht had.
- Hans Fritzsche to Leon Goldensohn (6 April 1946).
- He seems unable to brook any criticism or challenging of his stories or statements. My comments from time to time, my obvious failure to be convinced of his complete innocence and lack of guile were irritating to him, and his voice reached heights of shrillness at times. As ever, his is still the pose of outraged innocence, and the honest banker indignant.
- Leon Goldensohn (10 March 1946).
- The most dangerous and reprehensible type of all opportunists, someone who would use a Hitler for his own ends, and then claim, after Hitler was defeated, to have been against him all the time. He was part of a movement that he knew was wrong, but was in it just because he saw it was winning.
- It was Schacht, the facade of starched respectability, who in the early days provided the window dressing, the bait for the hesitant, and whose wizardry later made it possible for Hitler to finance the colossal rearmament program and to do it secretly.
- Robert H. Jackson.
- But Schacht was infinitely more reasonable than the Nazis. He was fundamentally a dynamic, changeable person. In the beginning, therefore, it was quite logical that he should be attracted by the dynamic, dramatic, short-term ideas of the Nazis. As I said, Schacht has intelligence, but is not particularly a man of principle, although I think he believes he is. But it is reasonable to assume that later on he differed with the Nazis. He was too intelligent to go along to the extremes, which they pursued in their folly.
- Paul O. Schmidt to Leon Goldensohn (13 March 1946).