Fritzsche is indicted on Counts One, Three, and Four.
He was best known at a radio commentator, discussing once a week the
events of the day on his own programme, " Hans Fritzsche Speaks."
He began broadcasting in September, 1932;
in the same year he was made the head of the Wireless News Service,
a Reich Government agency. When on 1st May, 1933,
this agency was incorporated by the National Socialists into their Reich
Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, Fritzsche became a
member of the Nazi Party and went to that Ministry. In December, 1938,
he became head of the Home Press Division of the Ministry; in October, 1942, he was promoted
to the rank of Ministerial Director. After serving briefly on the Eastern
Front in a propaganda company, he was, in November, 1942, made head
of the Radio Division of the Propaganda Ministry and Plenipotentiary
for the Political Organisation of the Greater German Radio.
Crimes against Peace
As head of the Home Press Division, Fritzsche supervised
the German press of 2,300 daily newspapers. In pursuance of this function
he held daily press conferences to deliver the directives of the Propaganda
Ministry to these papers. He was, however, subordinate to Dietrich,
the Reich Press Chief, who was in turn a subordinate of Goebbels.
It was Dietrich who received the directives to the press of Goebbels
and other Reich ministers, and prepared them as instructions, which
he then handed to Fritzsche for the press.
From time to time, the " Daily Paroles of the
Reich Press Chief " as these instructions were labelled, directed
the press to present to the people certain themes, such as the leadership
principle, the Jewish problem, the problem of living space, or other
standard Nazi ideas. A vigorous propaganda campaign was carried out
before each major act of aggression. While Fritzsche headed the Home
Press Division, he instructed the press how the actions or wars against
Bohemia and Moravia, Poland, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union should
be dealt with. Fritzsche had no control of the formulation of these
propaganda policies. He was merely a conduit to the press of the instructions
handed him by Dietrich. In February, 1939, and before the absorption
of Bohemia and Moravia, for instance, he received Dietrich's order to
bring to the attention of the press Slovakia's efforts for independence,
and the anti-Germanic policies and politics of the existing Prague Government,
This order to Dietrich originated in the Foreign Office.
The Radio Division of which Fritzsche became the head
in November, 1942, was one of the twelve divisions of the Propaganda
Ministry. In the beginning Dietrich and other heads of divisions exerted
influence over the policies to be followed by Radio. Towards the end
of the war, however Fritzsche became the sole authority within the Ministry
for radio activities. In this capacity he formulated and issued daily
radio " paroles " to all Reich Propaganda Offices, according
to the general political policies of the Nazi regime, subject to the
directives of the Radio-Political Division of the Foreign Office, and
the personal supervision of Goebbels.
Fritzsche, with other officials of the Propaganda Ministry,
was present at Goebbels' daily staff conferences. Here they were instructed
in the news and propaganda policies of the day. After 1943 Fritzsche
himself occasionally held these conferences, but only when Goebbels
and his State Secretaries were absent; And even then his only function
was to transmit the Goebbels' directives relayed to him by telephone.
This is the summary of Fritzsche's positions and influence
in the Third Reich. Never did he achieve sufficient stature to attend
the planning conferences which led to aggressive war; indeed according
to his own uncontradicted testimony he never even had a conversation
with Hitler. Nor is
there any showing that he was informed of the decisions taken at these
conferences. His activities cannot be said to be those which fall within
the definition of the common plan to wage aggressive war as already
set forth in this Judgment.
War Crimes and Crimes against
The prosecution has asserted that Fritzsche incited
and encouraged the commission of war crimes, by deliberately falsifying
news to arouse in the German people those passions which led them to
the commission of atrocities under Counts Three and Four. His position
and official duties were not sufficiently important, however, to infer
that he took part in originating or formulating propaganda campaigns.
Excerpts in evidence from his speeches show definite
anti-Semitism on his part. He broadcast, for example, that the war had
been caused by Jews and said their fate had turned out " as unpleasant
as the Fuehrer predicted." But these speeches did not urge persecution
or extermination of Jews. There is no evidence that he was aware of
their extermination in the East. The evidence moreover shows that he
twice attempted to have publication of the anti-Semitic “Der Sturmer”
suppressed, though unsuccessfully.
In these broadcasts Fritzsche sometimes spread false
news, but it was not proved he knew it to be false. For example, he
reported that no German U-boat was in the vicinity of the " Athenia"
when it was sunk. This information was untrue; but Fritzsche, having
received it from the German Navy, had no reason to believe it was untrue.
It appears that Fritzsche sometimes made strong statements
of a propagandistic nature in his broadcasts. But the Tribunal is not
prepared to hold that they were intended to incite the German people
to commit atrocities on conquered peoples, and he cannot be held to
have been a participant in the crimes charged. His aim was rather to
arouse popular sentiment in support of Hitler and the German war effort.
The Tribunal finds that Fritzsche is not guilty under
this Indictment, and directs that he shall be discharged by the Marshal
when the Tribunal presently adjourns.
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