The Holocaust Historiography Project

Translation of document 3700-PS

                            At present Lindow — Mark, 3.11.

Dear Reich Marshal,

By way of inter-office communication I received for
cognizance the draft of your decree concerning the
conscription of 15-yearold students for the Auxiliary War
Service. As you know, since the end of 1937, I have been
only nominally a Reich minister without portfolio. There
have been no cabinet meetings since 1938. I have no longer
been invited to any meetings of ministers. I live in the
country, and in complete retirement. For several months, I
have even been expressly forbidden to listen to foreign
broadcasts, so that my entire knowledge of the military,
economic and political situation comes from no other source
than that available to any other thinking German, whose
number, however, should not be underestimated, even in the
so-called rank and file. Since I am not a member of the
Reich Defense Council, I am under no obligation to
participate in the compilation of this draft. Although I am
absolutely free of any responsibility, my conscience and the
wish not to be guilty of any negligence are driving me to
write these lines.

May I say in advance that I have always maintained before
responsible authorities that we were not sufficiently
prepared economically for a long war. But anybody familiar
with the Anglo-Saxon mentality was bound to know that the
war would be a long one, after England made known her
decision to regard a German attack upon Poland as a casus
belli. In the beginning of 1940, I proposed to the Fuehrer
that I go to the United States in order to attempt to slow
down America’s assistance to England in the matter of
armaments, and in order, if possible, to prevent America
becoming involved in the war more deeply. The Minister of
Foreign Affairs refused this offer, which the Fuehrer viewed
sympathetically. A further suggestion which I made to the
Fuehrer in the fall of 1941, the high point of our
successes, was without effect.

It may be militarily necessary to conscript the 15-year-
olds, but it  ill be a heavy burden on the fighting morale
of the German people. The facts, as the German people see
them, are as follows:

1. The original promise of a short war has not been

2. The promised quick victory over England by the Air Force
did not materialize.

3. The public statement that Germany would remain free of
enemy air raids has not been fulfilled.

4. The repeated announcements that the Russian resistance
was definitely broken have been proved to be untrue.

5. Allied supplies of arms to Russia and the manpower
reserves of Russia have, on the contrary, been sufficient to
bring continuous heavy counter-attacks against our Eastern

6. The original victorious advance into Egypt has been
halted after repeated attempts.

7. The landing of the Allies in North and West Africa,
declared impossible, has nevertheless been accomplished.

8. The extremely large amount of shipping space which was
required for this landing has shown that our U-boats, in
spite of their great successes, did not suffice to prevent
this movement.

In addition, any person of German extraction can see the
reductions in the civilian supplies, in the traffic, in
armaments, and in the availability of manpower. The
conscription of the 15-year-olds will increase the doubts
concerning the termination of this war.

I am taking the precaution of forwarding this letter through
Councillor Gritzbach, under seal, in order to prevent

                                                Heil Hitler!

                               [signed] Dr. Hjalmar Schacht.