The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. I now turn to a different point raised by the
prosecution. You are accused of having, as Reich Minister of
Economics, committed punishable acts in connection

                                                  [Page 122]

with the criminal plan to persecute the Jews and to
eliminate them from economic life. These are the happenings
of November, 1938. Will you, therefore, now describe your
activity in this respect.

A. May I ask the Tribunal to give me time for a rather
detailed account of this matter. Then the points which we
will deal with later, can be dealt with much more briefly.
This is the charge of the prosecution which really affects
me gravely.

When I took over the Ministry of Economics in February,
1938, I very soon received demands from the Party, and
especially from Goebbels and Ley, to eliminate the Jews from
economic life, as they could not be tolerated. I was told
that people were still buying in Jewish stores, and that the
Party could not permit its members to buy in such stores;
the Party also took offence at the fact that some high State
officials, and in particular their wives, were still
shopping in such stores. The sectional managers of the
Labour Front refused to work with Jewish managers. There
were constant clashes, I was told, and there would be no
peace if the measures, which had already been introduced
here and there, were not extended gradually to eliminate the
Jews completely from economic life.

The Law for the Organization of National Labour, which was
decreed under my predecessors, and which was also carried
through by them in agreement with the German Labour Front,
had assigned political and Party functions also to domestic
economy. The sectional manager was also responsible to the
Party and above all to the State.

Some Jewish managers readily succumbed to the pressure and
sold their businesses and enterprises to people, and at
prices of which we did not approve at all. I had made
private agreements with individual Jewish leading men in
banking, heavy industry and the big stores, and had thus
brought about their withdrawal from positions in economic
life. There was no peace, and we had to try, within a
certain time and in line with certain legal decrees, to
force back and gradually eliminate Jewish influence from
economic life. In this connection, I personally always
represented the view that, first of all the process, should
be carried out slowly, at intervals of time; secondly, that
the Jews should be given adequate compensation, and thirdly,
that one might leave certain economic interests in their
hands, especially their security holdings; and I
particularly emphasized this in the meeting with Goering
which has been mentioned here so frequently.

Now, while these developments were taking shape, the
terrible happenings of the night of 9th-10th November, 1938,
originating in Munich, burst upon us, and affected me
personally very deeply. When I drove to my Ministry on the
morning of 10th November, I saw, on the streets and in the
windows of the stores, the devastation which had taken
place, and I heard further details from my officials in the
Ministry. I tried to get into touch with Goering, Goebbels,
and I think Himmler, but all were still travelling from
Munich. Finally, I succeeded in contacting Goebbels. I told
him that this outrage was an affront against me personally,
that through it, valuable goods which could not be replaced
had been destroyed, and that our relations with foreign
countries, upon which we were particularly dependent at this
time, would now be disturbed noticeably.

Goebbels told me that I, personally, was responsible for
this state of affairs, that I should have eliminated the
Jews from economic life long age, and that the Fuehrer would
issue an order to Reichsmarshal Goering, according to which,
the Jews would have to be completely eliminated from
economic life; I would receive further details from the
Reichsmarshal. This telephone conversation with Goebbels.
was confirmed by him later, and witnesses will verify this.

The next day, 11th November, I was informed that there was
to be a meeting on the 12th, with Goering in his capacity as
Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan, for the purpose of
settling the Jewish problem. The Plenipotentiary for the
Four-Year Plan had given instructions to the Ministry to
prepare a draft for a decree which was to be the basis of
laws for the elimination of the Jews from economic life.

                                                  [Page 123]

On the 12th, this meeting, which has been discussed here
frequently, took place. There was a discussion with the
Reichsmarshal in the morning at which the gauleiters were
present. The Reichsmarshal was highly excited, he said that
he would not tolerate this outrage, and that he would hold
the various gauleiters responsible for what had happened in
their gaus.

After this meeting, I was, therefore, comparatively
relieved, but at the meeting, of which the record has been
read here several times, Goebbels very soon produced his
very radical demands, and thereby dominated the whole of the
proceedings.

The Reichsmarshal became increasingly angry, and in this
mood he made the statements noted in the record.
Incidentally, the record has many gaps and is very
incomplete. After this meeting, it was clear to me that now,
indeed, the Jews would have to be eliminated from economic
life, and that in order to protect the Jews from complete
loss of their rights, from further outrageous attacks and
exploitation, legal measures would have to be decreed. I
made provisions, and so did the Minister of Finance, the
Minister of Interior, the Minister of Justice, and so on for
the execution of the original decree of the Plenipotentiary
for the Four-Year Plan, in which the transfer of Jewish
businesses and Jewish shares to trustees was stipulated. The
Jews were compensated by three per cent bonds, and I always
saw to it that as far as the Ministry of Economics was
involved in this, this decision was carried out faithfully
and according to the law, and that the Jews did not suffer
further injustice. There was at that time certainly no talk
of an extermination of the Jews. However, a plan for the
organized emigration of the Jews was briefly discussed at
that meeting. I, personally, did not participate in any way
in the terroristic, violent measures against Jews. I
regretted them profoundly, and sharply condemned them. But I
had to authorize the measures for the execution of those
laws in order to protect the Jews against a complete loss of
rights, and to carry through in an orderly manner the legal
stipulations which were made at that time.

THE PRESIDENT: We had better adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

Q. Witness, before the adjournment, we spoke of your
activity concerning the decrees for the exclusion of Jews
from economic life, and you told us about the minutes of the
session with Goering on 12th November, 1938. That is,
Document 1816-PS.

You have already mentioned that the minutes of that
conference were poorly edited, and are full of omissions,
but we can see from these minutes that you openly and
definitely exerted a restraining influence, and that you
tried to save one thing or another for the Jews. I see, for
instance, from the minutes, that during the conference, you
repeatedly maintained that the Jewish stores should be
reopened again speedily. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. You also pleaded, according to the minutes, that the Jews
should be allowed to keep their shares and interests. That
is shown in a question which you put. Is that correct?

A. I have already said that I had thought, up to the time of
that conference, that the Jews could keep their securities,
and in the course of the conference, I said that it was
quite new to me that the Jews should also surrender the
securities they possessed. Ultimately, they got three per
cent. government bonds in settlement, but they had to hand
over all their shares and other interests.

I was also against a ruling of that kind, because the
government would then take over a huge number of securities,
and the conversion of such securities was, of course,
difficult.

Q. From the minutes it also appears that Heydrich was in
favour of placing the Jews in ghettoes, and you recall that
the prosecution has already mentioned that here. What was
your attitude to Heydrich's proposal?

                                                  [Page 124]

A. I was against Ghettoes, for the simple reason that I
considered a Ghetto a terrible thing. I did not know any
Ghettoes, but I said that three million Jews can surely live
among 70 million Germans without Ghettoes.

Of course, I said that the Jews would have to live together
more closely, and one would have to stand by the other, for
it was clear to me, and I also said so during the
conference, that the individual Jew could not exist under
the conditions which were now being created for him.

Q. In that connection, Mr. President, may I be permitted to
point out two affidavits which I included in the Funk
Document Book under No. 16 and No. 3, and may I ask you to
take official notice of their complete contents as evidence?

Affidavit No. 3 in the Document Book, on Page 12 of the
text, is one of the defendant's wife, signed by her about
the beginning of the trial, on 5th November, 1945. From that
affidavit, of which I shall read the essential passages, we
can see that at the time of the excesses against the Jews in
November, 1938, the defendant, together with his wife and
his niece, was in Berlin, and therefore not in Munich, where
the so-called "Old Fighters" were assembled and where
Minister Dr. Goebbels quite suddenly and to the surprise of
everyone, gave the order for these Jewish pogroms.

Frau Funk confirms in her affidavit that her husband, as
soon as he heard of these excesses, called Dr. Goebbels over
the telephone in great excitement and asked him:

  "Have you gone crazy, Goebbels, to commit such outrages?
  It makes one ashamed to be a German. Our whole prestige
  abroad is being jeopardised. I am trying day and night to
  preserve the national patrimony, and you throw it
  recklessly away, discard it. If this beastly business
  does not stop immediately, I will relinquish everything."

And that literally was the telephone conversation which at
that time the defendant conducted from Berlin with Dr.
Goebbels. And the remaining contents of that affidavit are
concerned with intercessions which the defendant made for
individual Jewish acquaintances. And, gentlemen, there is a
similar vein in the affidavit by Heinz Kallus, who was
Ministerial Counsellor in the Ministry of Economics under
the defendant Funk.

I have submitted this affidavit as No. 15 of the Funk
Document Book. It is dated 9th December, 1945, and this
witness also confirms that Funk was of course, extremely
surprised by these excesses, and that he thereupon
immediately got in touch with the competent authorities in
order to prevent further outrages.

Thus, these affidavits largely confirm the account which the
defendant Funk himself has given. In connection with this
affair concerning the Jews, I should like to return to
Document 3498-PS; I repeat, Document 3498-PS, which can be
found on Page 19 of the trial brief against Funk. That is a
circular letter by Funk of 6th February, 1939, published in
the official gazette of the Reich Ministry of Economics, and
from it I quote:-

  "To what extent and rate the authority of the Four-Year
  Plan is to be used depends on instructions given by me in
  accordance with the directives of the Plenipotentiary for
  the Four-Year Plan."

I quote this because, here again, in an official publication
of that time, the defendant Funk expresses clearly that,
also in this field, he bad merely to obey and to execute the
directives of the Four-Year Plan. Is that correct, Dr. Funk?

A. Yes.

Q. Dr. Funk, you said earlier that, in keeping with your
entire past and your basic principles, and in keeping with
your entire philosophy, you considered as particularly
severe the charge concerning the elimination of Jews from
economic life. And in this connection I want to put it to
you that, during an interrogation in Nuremberg on 22nd
October, 1945, you finally broke into tears and told the
interrogating officer: "At that time I should have resigned.
I am guilty." And this was quoted literally on one occasion
in the course of the proceedings. Perhaps you can tell us
how that breakdown on your part arose, and that remark which
I read from the record.

                                                  [Page 125]

A. I had just been brought from hospital into prison.

Q. Dr. Funk, one question ...

A. I did not know before that I had been accused of being a
murderer and a thief, and I do not know what else. I was
sick for nine or ten weeks, and from the hospital bed I was
brought here during the night. During those days my
interrogations here started immediately. I must admit that
the American officer who interrogated me, Colonel Murrey
Gurfein, conducted the interrogation with extreme
consideration and forbearance, and again and again called a
halt when I was unable to go on. And when I was confronted
with these measures of terror and violence against the Jews,
I suffered a spiritual breakdown, because at that moment it
came to my mind with all clearness that the catastrophe took
its course from here on down to the horrible and dreadful
things of which we have heard here and of which I knew, in
part at least, from the time of my captivity. I felt a deep
sense of shame and of personal guilt at that moment, and I
feel it also today. But that I issued directives for the
execution of the basic orders and laws which were made, that
is no crime against humanity. In this matter I placed the
will of the State before my conscience and my inner sense of
duty because, after all, I was the servant of the State. I
also considered myself obliged to act according to the will
of the Fuehrer, the supreme head of the State, especially
since these measures were necessary for the protection of
the Jews, in order to save them from absolute lack of legal
protection, from further arbitrary acts and violence.
Besides, they were compensated, and, as can be seen from the
circular letter which you have just quoted, I gave strict
instructions to my officials to carry out these legal
directives in a correct and just way.

It is terribly tragic indeed that I have been charged with
these things. I have said already, that I took no part in
these excesses against the Jews. From the first moment I
disapproved and condemned them very strongly, and they
affected me personally very profoundly. I did everything, as
much as was within my power, to continue helping the Jews. I
never thought of an extermination of the Jews, and I did not
participate in these things in any way.

Q. Dr. Funk, as you are just speaking of the fact that you
did not think of an extermination, an annihilation of the
Jews, I want to refer to a document which has been quoted
before, Document 354S-PS; it was submitted by the
prosecution. As you may recall, this is the photostat of the
Frankfurter Zeitung of 17th November, 1938, an issue which
appeared only a few days after the incidents with which we
are now concerned. In that issue of the Frankfurter Zeitung,
a speech of yours was published in which you dealt with the
legal measures for the exclusion of Jews from German
economic life, and you will recall that the Prosecutor, in
his speech of 11th January, 1946, charged you, and I quote:

  " ... that the programme of economic persecution of the
  Jews was only part of a larger programme for their
  extermination."

And that is in conformity with a phrase in your trial brief,
which says that it was merely a part of, literally, "a
larger programme for the extermination of the Jews." Now, in
all the statements which you made during that time, I
nowhere find an indication that you favoured an
extermination, an annihilation of the Jews, or that you had
demanded it. What can you say about that view of the
prosecution?

A. Never in all my life, orally or in writing, have I
demanded an extermination or annihilation of the Jews, or
made any statement to that effect. Apparently this is an
expression of the Prosecutor, which, in my opinion, is based
only on imagination or the state of mind in which he has
viewed the things from the beginning. I, myself, have never
advocated the extermination of the Jews, and I did not know
anything of the terrible happenings which have been
described here. I did not know anything. I had nothing to do
with them; and afterwards as far as I recall, I never took
part in any measures against the Jews, as these matters were
no longer dealt with in my departments. With the exception
of these legal measures, these executive orders, I do not
believe that within my departments I ever again authorized
anything further connected with Jewish affairs.

                                                  [Page 126]

Q. Is it correct, Dr. Funk, that in connection with the
carrying out of these directives which you had to issue, you
yourself intervened on behalf of a large number of
individuals who had to suffer under these directives, and
who approached you personally for aid, and that you did this
in order to modify the effect of these decrees?

A. I saw to it that these directives were carried out in a
fair way and according to the laws. However, the carrying
out of these decrees was the responsibility not of the
Ministry, but of the District President, and of the offices
dependent on the Gauleiter in the Reich. Many complaints
reached me about the manner in which aryanization was
carried out, and my assistants will confirm that I
intervened in every case when I was informed of such abuses.
I even dismissed an official of that department when I heard
of incorrect behaviour; later I also dismissed the
departmental head.

Q. Why?

A. Because these abuses had occurred. Just as previously I
had done everything in my power to aid the Jews to emigrate
by making foreign currency available to them, so now, in
carrying out these directives, I did everything in my power
within the scope of possibility to make things bearable for
the Jews.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, this question as to what Funk's
attitude was in practice toward the carrying out of these
decrees which he himself as an official had to issue - this
question I also dealt with in an interrogatory approved by
you and submitted to the former State Secretary Landfried.
That interrogatory was returned some time ago, but it was
discovered that a wrong interrogatory had been sent out by
the office, and the correct answer was received only on
Saturday. It is now being. translated, and I assume that
this correct answer, this testimony of State Secretary
Landfried, will be submitted to you in the course of the
day, and that it can then be entered in the appendix as
Document No. 16. I presume, nevertheless, that there will no
be objection to my reading the short answer of the witness
Landfried in connection with this matter. Landfried was from
1939 to 1943, State Secretary -

THE PRESIDENT: Has the prosecution seen the document?

DR. SAUTER: Yes, the prosecution has the document.

MR. DODD: We have not seen this document. We have seen the
German text. I do not read German, and I have not had an
opportunity to read it. It has not been translated.

THE PRESIDENT: The document can be submitted after the
prosecution has seen it. You need not submit it at this
moment. Have you any other witnesses or not?

DR. SAUTER: Not in connection with this matter.


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