The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/03/14

Q. You did not want to discuss this matter on the telephone
with Pohl of the SS, did you? You asked him to come to your
office rather than talk about it on the telephone?

A. Yes.

Q. Why was that, if it was just an ordinary business

A. Because one never knew to what extent the telephone was
being tapped, and thus the transaction might have become
known to others.

Q. Well, you did not talk to anybody much on the telephone;
is that right? You were a man that never used the Reichsbank
telephone to speak to people outside? Now, I think you
realize full well that there was a special reason in this
case for not wanting to talk on the telephone and I think
you should tell the Tribunal what it was.

A. Yes; the reason was, as I have said repeatedly, that from
the beginning special secrecy was desired, this desire was
respected and adhered to everywhere, also in my telephone

Q. And you are still insisting that this transaction was not
a special secret transaction or that you told Dr. Kempner it
was "Schweineri". Do you know what that word means?

A. Yes.

Q. What does it mean? It means it smelled badly, does it

A. That we should not have done it.

Q. Now, you called up Toms on more than one occasion to ask
him how the deposits from the SS were coming in, did you

A. No, I hardly ever saw Toms, often not for months, as he
could hardly come to my office.

Q. I did not ask you if you saw him often. I asked you if
you did not call him on the telephone and ask him how the
deposits were coming along?

A. No, I took no further interest in the conduct of this
particular transaction. Moreover, the requesting of a report
from the cashier would have been the proper procedure.

Q. Did you tell him to get in touch with Brigadefuehrer
Frank or Gruppenfuehrer or Obergruppenfuehrer Wolff of the
SS? Did you tell that to Toms?

A. Yes, I repeat what I said earlier; when Pohl was in my
office he told me that he would appoint two people to
negotiate the transaction with the Reichsbank, and they were
the two people just mentioned; I passed on their names to
the cashier's office.

Q. What was the name under which these deposits were known
in the Reichsbank?

A. I heard of the name under which these deposits were known
in the Reichsbank for the first time in Frankfurt, when I
saw it in the files.

Q. Do you not know the name Melmer, M-e-l-m-e-r?

A. Yes, from my time in Frankfurt.

                                                   [Page 54]

Did you not on one occasion call Herr Toms on the telephone
and ask him how the Melmer deposits were coming along?

A. I am afraid, I did not quite understand.

Q. Well, I say did you not on one occasion at least call
Herr Toms on the telephone in the Reichsbank and ask him how
the "Melmer" deposits were coming along?

A. No, I could not have put that question because I did not
know the word "Melmer".

Q. You did not know that Melmer was the name of an SS man?
You did not know that?

A. No, I did not know that.

Q. I want you to look at an affidavit by Herr Toms, executed
the 8th day of May, 1946. You have seen this before, by the
way, have you not, you saw it yesterday? Answer that
question, will you please, witness. You saw this affidavit
yesterday, the one I just sent up to you? You saw that
yesterday,  did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. You will observe in paragraph 5 that Toms, who executed
this affidavit, said that he went to see you and that you
told him that the Reichsbank was going to act as custodian
for the SS and the receipt and disposition of deposits, and
that the SS would deliver the property, namely gold, silver
and foreign currency, and you also explained that the SS
intended to deliver numerous other kinds of property such as
jewellery, and "we must find a way to dispose of it", and
that he suggested to you, Herr Puhl, that "we transmit the
items to the Reichshauptkasse, as we did in the case of
Wehrmacht booty, or that the items could be given by the
Reichsfuehrer SS directly to the pawnshop for disposition,
so that the Reichsbank had no more to do with it than it did
in the case of confiscated Jewish property." He added that
Puhl told him that it was out of the question, and that it
was necessary that a procedure should be arranged for
handling this unusual property in order to hold the whole
business secret.

Then he goes on to say:

  "This conversation with Puhl occurred just a short time,
  approximately two weeks, before the first delivery, which
  occurred on 26th August, 1942. The conversation was in
  Herr Puhl's office; nobody else was present. And Puhl
  said it was very important not to discuss this with
  anybody, that it was to be highly secret, that it was a
  special transaction, and if anybody asked about it that I
  was to say I was forbidden to speak about it."

And on the next page you find in paragraph 8 Herr Toms

  "I was told by Herr Puhl that if I had any questions on
  this matter I was to get in touch with Brigadefuehrer
  Frank or with Gruppenfuehrer or Obergruppenfuehrer Wolff
  of the SS. I remember getting the telephone number of
  this office, and I think I recall it being given to me by
  Herr Puhl. I called Brigadefuehrer Frank about this, and
  he stated that the deliveries would be made by truck and
  would be in charge of an SS man by the name of Melmer.
  The question was discussed whether Melmer should appear
  in uniform or civilian clothes, and Frank decided it was
  better that Melmer appear out of uniform." And so on.

Then, moving on down, he says in paragraph 10:-

  "When the first delivery was made, however, although
  Melmer appeared in civilian clothes, one or two SS men in
  uniform were on guard, and after one or two deliveries,
  most of the people in the Hauptkasse and almost everybody
  in my office knew all about the SS deliveries."

Then, further on, paragraph 12:-

  "Included in the first statement sent by the Reichsbank
  and signed by me, to Melmer, was a question concerning
  the name of the account to which the proceeds should be
  credited. In answer to that I was orally advised by
  Melmer that the proceeds should be credited to the
  account of 'Max Heiliger'. I

                                                   [Page 55]

  confirmed this on the telephone with the Ministry of
  Finance, and in my second statement to Melmer, dated 16th
  November, 1942, I confirmed the oral conversation."

Now the next paragraph is 13:-

  "After a few months, Puhl called me and asked me how the
  Melmer deliveries were going along, and suggested that
  perhaps they would soon be over. I told Puhl that the way
  the deliveries were coming in it looked as though they
  were growing."

And then I call your attention to the next paragraph:-

  "One of the first hints of the sources of these items
  occurred when it was noticed that a packet of bills was
  stamped with a rubber stamp 'Lublin'. This occurred some
  time early in 1943. Another hint came when some items
  bore the stamp 'Auschwitz'. We all knew that these places
  were the sites of concentration camps. It was in the
  tenth delivery in November 1942, that dental gold
  appeared for the first time, and soon its quantity became
  unusually great."

Now, there is another paragraph, but I particularly want to
call your attention to the fact that Toms says you called
him and asked him how the Melmer deliveries were going, and
also to the fact that you, as he states, again impressed
upon him the need for absolute secrecy.

And now, I want to ask you, after having seen that affidavit
again - and you will recall that you told our people
yesterday that the affidavit, in so far as your knowledge
was concerned, was absolutely true - now I am going to ask
you if it is not a fact that there was a very special reason
for keeping this transaction secret.

A. In reading this statement, it is obvious that the desire
for secrecy came from the SS; and this tallies exactly with
what I said before, namely, that the SS emphasized that the
desire for secrecy originated with them. And as we heard,
they went so far as to invent an account - a "Max Heiliger"
- which was obviously, as is also clear from the statement,
an account for the Reich Ministry of Finance. In other
words, this tallies with what I have been saying, namely,
that the obligation to keep the matter secret, this special
obligation, was desired by the SS and was carried out; and
it applied even to the transfer of the equivalent value. As
regards the second point, that I am supposed to have talked
to Toms, I already stated yesterday that I do not remember
such a conversation among the very great number of
conversations which I had at the bank daily. Nor can I
imagine that I went to see him. That would have been a very
unusual procedure.

I do not recall the expression "Melmer deliveries" in that
connection, but I suggest that it is used in this statement
for simplicity's sake, just to refer briefly to the subject
under discussion.

Q. It is not very important, but of course he says you
called him on the telephone, that you did not go to see him.
However, I offer this as Exhibit USA 850.

THE PRESIDENT: This statement we have before us does not
appear to be sworn.

MR. DODD: Well, the witness is here in Nuremberg. I will
withdraw it and have it sworn to and submitted at a later
date. I was not aware that it was not sworn. He is here and
available. I had him brought here in case any question was
raised about him.


Q. Now, the defendant Goering knew something about these
deposits, too, did he not? Now that we are discussing this
matter fully, what about that?

A. I was not aware that Herr Goering knew anything about
these things.

Q. I show you a document that was found in the files of the
Reich Treasury, the Reichsbank rather. It is 3947-PS, and it
is a new document. You have not seen this, by the way.

                                                   [Page 56]

Now, this is a memorandum in the files, dated 31st March,
1944, and it says, its subject is:-

  "Utilization of jewels, and so forth, which have been
  acquired by official agencies in favour of the Reich.
  "According to an oral confidential agreement between the
  vice-president Herr Puhl and the chief of one of Berlin's
  public offices, the Reichsbank has taken over the
  converting of domestic and foreign monies, gold and
  silver coins, precious metals, securities, jewels,
  watches, diamonds and other valuable articles. These
  deposits will be processed under the code name 'MELMER.
  The large amounts of jewellery, and so forth, acquired
  hereby have previously been turned over - after checking
  the number of pieces and, in so far as they had not been
  melted down, the approximate weights given - to the
  Municipal Pawn Shop, Division III Main Office Berlin N4,
  Elsasserstrasse 74, for the best possible realization of

I am not going to read all of it. It goes on with more
material about the pawnshop, but I want to call your
attention to the paragraph beginning:-

  "The Reichsmarschall of the Greater German Reich, the
  Commissioner for the Four-Year Plan, informs the
  Reichsbank, in his letter of 19th March, 1944, copy of
  which is enclosed, that the considerable amounts of gold
  and silver objects, jewels, and so forth, at the Main
  Office of Trustees for the East (Haupttreuhanderstelle
  Ost) are to be delivered to the Reichsbank according to
  an order issued by Reichsminister Funk and Graf Schwerin
  von Krosigk. The converting of these objects must be
  accomplished in the same way as the 'Melmer' deliveries.
  At the same time the Reichsmarschall instructs us on the
  converting of objects of the same kind, which have been
  acquired in the occupied Western territories. We do not
  know to which office these objects have been delivered
  and how they are dealt with."

Then there is more about an inquiry and more about this
whole business, the pawnshops, and so on. But, first of all,
I want to ask von: In the first paragraph it says:
"according to a confidential oral agreement between you and
the chief of one of Berlin's public offices" - who was this
chief of the Berlin public office who had a confidential
agreement about this business with you?

A. That was Herr Pohl, This is the agreement of which we
spoke this morning.

Q. That was Herr Pohl of the SS, was it not?

A. Yes.

Q. And that was this whole transaction; this whole SS
transaction that this memorandum is about?

A. This is a report from our cashier, and in keeping with
the demands of secrecy the words "SS Economic Department"
have been avoided and the more general term "the head of a
Berlin public office" is used.

Q. And later on in the paragraph it refers to the incoming
objects to be processed under the code name 'Melmer', M-e-l-
m-e-r. That is the name I asked you a few minutes ago if you
recognized, is it not?

A. I did not understand the question.

Q. Well, the last sentence in this paragraph says: "All
incoming deposits will be processed under the code name
'Melmer'". M-e-l-m-e-r. That is the name I asked you about a
few minutes ago, and you said you did not know it.

A. Yes, and this statement also shows that I could not have
known it, because only now, in this statement, is it
disclosed that the name "Melmer" was used.

Q. I think if you will read it you will see that it shows
just the opposite. It says, according to the oral
confidential agreement between you and Pohl of the SS, that
the Reichsbank took over the selling, and so on, of gold,
silver coins, and so forth. "All incoming deposits will be
processed under the code name 'MELMER'."

You are not telling this Tribunal that a transaction like
this was going on under a code name, in the bank of which
you were vice-president and that you did not

                                                   [Page 57]

know it, - you - the man who was dealing directly with the
SS man. Are you seriously saying that to this Tribunal?

A. Yes. The word "Melmer" was never used in my presence. Our
treasury directors could use code words for the accounts of
clients who preferred not to give their own names and the
names of their institutions; and the treasury made use of a
code word in this case too.

Q. You will observe that this is the second time this
morning that we have run across the name Melmer. Herr Toms
says you used that term in talking to him, and now we find
it in one of your own bank memoranda, which is a captured
document. Are you still saying that you do not know the

A. This memorandum was not made for me, but for the
responsible treasury official; and specifically, in order to
acquaint him with the arrangements made by the treasury, the
memorandum states under what code name this transaction will
be carried out.

Q. Herr Puhl, look up at me a minute, will you. Did you not
tell Lt. Meltzer, Lt. Margolis, and Dr. Kempner, when they
were all together with you, that all this business with the
SS was common gossip in the Reichsbank? These gentlemen who
are sitting right here, two of them at the United States
table and one up here. You know them. Now I want you to
think a minute before you answer that question.

A. We talked of the fact that the secret was not kept, and
how in the long run it is not possible to keep a permanent
secret in a bank, but that has nothing to do with it. What
we were speaking of just now were the technical details, how
this sort of transaction was carried out. The details did
not become general knowledge. What naturally could not be
avoided was the transaction as such becoming known.

Q. Now, in case you do not understand me, we are not talking
about that. I think you cannot help remembering, because
this was only a day or so ago, and in this building, having
a conversation with these gentlemen, didn't you? And I am
now asking you if it is not a fact that you told them that
this whole SS transaction with the bank was common gossip in
the bank.

A. There was a general whisper in the bank about this
transaction, but details were, of course, not known.

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