The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/09/19

DR. SAUTER: Gentlemen of the Tribunal, I have so far defined
the position of the defendant Funk in general statements; I
am now going to deal with the criminal responsibility of the
defendant Funk on the separate charges made against him.

The first point of the Indictment deals with the support of
the seizure of power by the Party, that is, the defendant
Funk's Party activities from 1931 up to the end of 1932.

The defendant Funk is alleged to have helped the
conspirators to seize power. This charge deals with the
activities of the defendant Funk from the date of his
joining the Party in June, 1931, up to the seizure of power
on 30th January, 1933. The prosecution maintains that Funk's
activities on behalf of the Party during that period
furthered the seizure of power by the National Socialists.
This is correct. The defendant Funk himself, when
interrogated on 4th May, gave a detailed explanation of his
reasons for considering the National Socialist seizure of
power the only possible way of delivering the German people
from the grave intellectual, economic and social distress of
that time. The economic programme of the Party was, in his
opinion, vague and mainly intended for propaganda. He
himself wanted to gain recognition for his own economic
principles in the Party, in order to work through the Party
for the benefit of the German people. Funk  a detailed
description of these principles during his examination. They
are based on the idea of private property, which is
inseparable from the conception of the varying capacity of
the human being.

Funk demanded the recognition of private initiative and of
the independence of the creative entrepreneur, added to free
competition and the levelling of social extremes. He aimed
at the elimination of Party and class warfare, at a strong
government with full authority and responsibility and at the
creation of a uniform political will among the people. His
conversations with Adolf Hitler and other Party leaders
convinced him that the Party entirely accepted his
principles and

                                                  [Page 341]

ideas. In Funk's opinion he cannot be blamed for his support
of the Party in its struggle for power. Funk believes that
the discussions in this trial furnish absolute proof that
the Party came to power quite legally. But even the methods
used by Funk to assist the Party cannot, in his opinion, be
condemned. Certainly, the role attributed to him by the
prosecution does not fit the facts. The importance of Funk's
activities is at times greatly overestimated by it; and in
many cases its judgement of these activities is completely

The evidence offered by the prosecution consists mainly of
references and extracts from reference books and especially
from a book by Dr. Ostreich: Walter Funk, a Life Dedicated
to Economics, which was submitted to the Tribunal. The core
of this evidence is a "Programme for Economic
Reconstruction," by the defendant Funk, which is printed on
Page 31 of this book and which the prosecution calls "the
official Party declaration in the economic field," and "the
economic bible for the Party organization." This so-called
"Programme for Economic Reconstruction" forms the basis for
the untrue accusation made by the prosecution, and appearing
on Page 3 of the Trial Brief, to the effect that the
defendant Funk assisted "in formulation of the programme
which was publicly proclaimed by the Nazi Party and by

This "Programme for Economic Reconstruction," which was read
word for word during the hearing of the defendant Funk,
actually did not contain anything unusual - let alone
revolutionary - or anything which was in any way
characteristic of the National Socialist ideology. The
programme indicates the need for providing work, creating
productive credits without inflationary consequences,
balancing the public finances, as well as the need for
protective measures for agriculture and urban real estate
and new economic relations with foreign countries. It is a
programme which, as Funk said in his testimony, might be
advocated by any liberal or democratic party and government.
The defendant Funk only regrets that the Party did not fully
subscribe to these principles. Later on, his economic
viewpoint involved him in constant difficulties and disputes
with various Party offices, especially with the German
Labour Front and the Party Chancellery, and with Himmler and
most of the Gauleiter. This is also confirmed by the witness
Landfried, who described these differences between Funk and
the Party in detail in his interrogatory. Funk had the
reputation in the Party of being mainly a liberal and an
outsider. During that time - that is, mainly in 1932, he
established relations between Hitler and some of the leading
personalities of German economic life. He also worked to
promote understanding of National Socialist ideas and to
gain the support of the Party by the economy. By virtue of
these activities he was frequently described as Hitler's
economic adviser. But that was not a Party office or a Party

In Document EC-440 Funk states that Keppler, who was later
appointed Under Secretary, was considered the Fuehrer's
economic adviser for many years before himself (Funk). By
this reference Funk intended to show that the designation
"Economic adviser to the Fuehrer" was given by the public to
other persons also.

The period during which Funk was given Party assignments was
a very short one. That these activities were never of
decisive importance may be deduced from the fact that after
the assumption of power Funk's Party activities ceased
completely. In other fields, such as food and agriculture,
finance, etc., Party office holders who entered the Civil
Service as Ministers or Under Secretaries, etc., retained
their Party office, which usually acquired greater
importance. The elimination of the defendant Funk alone from
every Party office as soon as the assumption of power was
complete shows clearly that the Party leaders did not attach
much value to Funk's work in the Party.

In cross-examining the defendant Funk the Soviet Russian
prosecution showed him an article which had appeared in the
magazine Das Reich on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday.
In this article the author, an economist by the name of Dr.
Herle, emphasises that Funk "as intermediary between the
Party and economic

                                                  [Page 342]

circles had become a pioneer working towards a new spiritual
attitude in German economic life."

In this connection we may say that Funk never denied that he
regarded it as his task to synthesise an economic system
with an obligation toward State and community on the one
hand, but based on private ownership and private initiative
and responsibility on the other hand.

Funk always acknowledged and adopted the political aims and
ideals of National Socialism.

The majority of the German people embraced these aims and
ideologies, as was proved by several plebiscites. Funk
himself did not suspect that all the good intentions and
idealistic aims, so often emphasized by Hitler when he came
into power, would later disappear in the blood and smoke of
war and in inconceivable inadequacy and inhumanity. Funk
testified explicitly that he considered the authoritarian
form of government, by which he meant the strong State, a
responsible cabinet, the social community and an economic
system with social obligations, a prerequisite in order to
overcome the grave intellectual and economic crisis through
which the German people were then passing. He always clearly
emphasized the primary importance of politics over

On 30th January, 1933, as Press Chief of the Reich
Government, Funk took up the State office of a Ministerial
Director in the Reich Chancellery. Six weeks later, however,
the direction of Press policy passed into the hands of Dr.
Goebbels when the latter became Reich Minister for Public
Enlightenment and Propaganda and the Press Department of the
Reich Government, which Funk should have directed until that
date, was merged in the newly established Ministry of
Propaganda. For the time being he retained only the right to
make his Press reports personally to Reich President von
Hindenburg and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler - until
Hindenburg's death. Then this activity also came to a
complete standstill, so that the office of Press Chief of
the Reich Government existed only on paper. This was
expressly confirmed also by the defendant Fritzsche during
his examination as a witness on 28th June.

Gentlemen, I now come to the second charge - that is:
consolidation of Government and Party control and, in
connection with this, the persecution of Jews  belonging to
the liberal professions. The statements which refer to this
point are on Pages 17 to 24 of the brief which is before

Gentlemen of the Tribunal, I shall pass over those details
of my brief which refer to this particular point and I beg
you to take judicial notice of them. I shall merely quote a
few sentences.

The guilt of the defendant is inferred mainly from the fact
that he was a Secretary of State in the Ministry of
Propaganda. The hearing of evidence has shown, however, that
as Secretary of State Funk had nothing whatsoever to do with
actual propaganda work. He made no radio speeches; nor did
he speak at public meetings. Press policy, on the other
hand, was dictated by Dr. Goebbels in person.

Even at that time, however, Funk gave particular attention
to the wishes anal complaints of the journalists. He
protected the Press against misuse by official departments
and made every effort to safeguard the individuality of the
Press an enable it to work in a responsible manner.

All this has been established by a number of witnesses to
whom I refer in Pages 17 to 24; and in particular by the
witnesses Amann, Kallus, Fritzsche, Oser, and Rosen. The two
latter witnesses have indeed confirmed the fact that Fu as
Secretary of State in the Ministry of Propaganda also worked
energetically of behalf of Jews and such persons as were
oppressed and hindered in their spiritual and artistic work
by the legislation and cultural policy of the National
Socialists. Funk did so much on behalf of such people that
he jeopardised his own official position to such an extent
that the Ministry actually considered him politically

Now, gentlemen of the Tribunal, I turn to another subject -
the charge appearing under point 4 of my brief, Page 24 -
namely, that he participated in the preparation

                                                  [Page 343]

of wars of aggression; a point which is dealt with by Count
4 of the Indictment. The accusation against the defendant
Funk is: "that with full knowledge of the aggressive plans
of the conspirators he participated daily in the planning
and preparation for aggressive wars." (Pp. 24 to 76.)

As evidence of this, the Indictment first of all points out
that Goering's Ministry of Economics was brought under the
Four-Year Plan as the "high command of the German war
economy," and was placed under Funk's control.

The Indictment also states that according to the Law for the
Defence of the Reich of 4th September, 1938, Funk, in his
capacity as High Commissioner of Economy, was explicitly
charged with the mobilization of the German economy in case
of war.

The prosecution's assertion that the Reich Ministry of
Economics was brought under the Four-Year Plan before it was
handed over by Goering to Funk is quite correct, but the so-
called high command of the German economy was not in the
hands of the Reich Minister of Economics, Funk, but entirely
in those of the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan - i.e. the co-
defendant Goering. Goering has confirmed the fact that Funk
was obliged to follow his instructions. In addition, the
most important branches of production were managed - as we
have already shown - by special general commissioners of the
Four-Year Plan, who were under the control of Goering and
received their instructions from him - and not from Funk.
The Reich Ministry of Economics itself was merely the office
which carried out the directives of the Four-Year Plan. The
defendant Funk has testified that some offices were only
formally under his supervision and functioned in reality as
autonomous institutions of the Four-Year Plan.

Funk's position as Plenipotentiary for Economy was
vigorously disputed from the beginning. When the defendant
Funk was cross-examined, a document - EC-255 - was submitted
- a letter from the Reich War Minister, von Blomberg, to the
Trustee for the Four-Year Plan, Goering, dated 29th
November, 1937, wherein Blomberg proposes that the defendant
Funk, who had just - on 27th November, 1937 - been appointed
Reich Minister of Economics, should also be appointed
General Plenipotentiary for War Economics. This was not,
however, done.

Goering himself took over the Reich Ministry of Economics to
begin with and only handed it over to the defendant Funk in
February, 1938, three months afterwards. Then the High
Command of the Armed Forces - more especially the Army
Economic Staff under General Thomas whose name has been
mentioned repeatedly - requested that the Plenipotentiary
for War Economics should be bound in future to follow the
directives of the High Command in all questions concerning
supplies for the armed forces. In this Document, EC-270, the
Economic Staff of the High Command of the Armed Forces
claims a right to direct the Plenipotentiary for War Economy
in nearly all his fields of activity.

The defendant Funk tried, by means of a conversation with
Reichsmarschall Goering and a letter to Reich Minister Dr.
Lammers, to clarify his position as General Plenipotentiary
for War Economics and, as such, claimed to be placed
directly under Hitler and not bound to abide by the
directives of the High Command of the Wehrmacht. Goering and
Lammers agreed with Funk's opinion. It must, however, be
emphasized most strongly that this has no connection with
Funk's subordination to Goering, for all the other supreme
Reich offices and ministers directly subordinate to Hitler's
command were also bound by the directives of the Trustee for
the Four-Year Plan - i.e., by Goering's directives.

It is, however, remarkable that, according to the Reich
Defence Law of 4th September, 1938 - the Second Reich
Defence Law - the defendant Funk did not become
Plenipotentiary General for War Economics but
Plenipotentiary for Economy, without the word "war," and
that this act explicitly stated that Funk was bound to
fulfil the demands of the OKW. The OKW, therefore, won its
battle against Funk in the end.

                                                  [Page 344]

But the separate economic departments which, according to
the Reich Defence Law, were under the direction of the
Plenipotentiary General for Economics for his special
assignments were also unwilling to recognize him. In an
interrogatory by the former Under Secretary Dr. Hans Posse -
Funk's deputy as Plenipotentiary General for Economics -
which was produced during the cross-examination of the
defendant Funk, Posse states that the Plenipotentiary
General for Economics "never really assumed any function."
The ministers and under secretaries of the separate economic
departments of finance, agriculture, transport, etc., did
not, according to Posse, wish to be placed under Funk's
control and even protested against it. Posse also mentions
the disputes which Funk had with the Trustee for the Four-
Year Plan. He calls these conflicts "the struggle for
power," which in this connection means nothing more than the
authority to make decisions concerning the other economic
departments. This was not a dispute between Goering and
Funk; that statement is untrue because it was quite evident
that Funk, even as Plenipotentiary General for Economics,
was subordinated to Goering. Actually, this was a quarrel of
under secretaries. The separate economic departments
declared that they were subordinated to the Trustee for the
Four-Year Plan and refused to recognize the right of the
Plenipotentiary General for Economics - Funk - to give them
directives, since Funk himself was under the direction of
the Four-Year Plan. The under secretaries of the Four-Year
Plan supported the departments in their interpretation, and
this lack of clarity and the overlapping of competencies
caused the authority to issue directives to pass formally
from the hands of the Plenipotentiary General for Economics
into the hands of the Trustee of the Four-Year Plan a few
months after the outbreak of the war.

Questioned by the prosecution as to whether he had been in
the habit of discussing important matters with Funk, the
above-mentioned Under Secretary Posse replied: "Yes; but
these discussions did not produce results." Posse confirms
that the authority given to Goering was much more extensive
and that Goering finally dissolved the office of the
Plenipotentiary General for Economics. According to Funk
this happened as early as December, 1939, a few months after
the outbreak of the war. Funk retained only the formal right
to issue decrees. This has also been confirmed by Lammers.
Therefore the co-defendant Goering's statement that he was
also of the opinion that Funk's position as Plenipotentiary
General for Economics existed only on paper is quite

Then I omit two pages and continue with the second paragraph
on Page 29.

Nowhere in the material presented by the prosecution is
there a single indication of the fact that the defendant
Funk knew anything about military and political
conversations and preparations which had as their object the
planning of war-in particular, a war of aggression to be
waged by Germany. Funk was never invited to take part in any
conversations of this kind. He was, in particular, not
present at. the well-known discussion with Goering on 14th
October, 1938, which was treated exhaustively by the
prosecution on Page 24 of the Trial Brief. According to the
prosecution, Goering referred during that meeting to an
order issued by Hitler for an unusual increase in armaments,
especially weapons for an offensive. The Prosecutor declared
during the session of 11th January, 1946, that at that
meeting, Goering addressed words to Funk which were
described as "the words of a man already at war" Several
documents included in Document Book Funk and submitted to
the Tribunal prove, however, unequivocally that the
defendant Funk did not attend that meeting at all, as he was
in Sofia at the time in order, to conduct economic
negotiations with Bulgaria. This exhibit, which the
prosecution obviously intended to use as a main exhibit, is
thereby invalidated. On 25th August, 1939, the date of
Funk's letter to Hitler, to which I referred this morning,
the German and Polish armies were already completely
mobilised and stood face to face with each other. He was,
therefore, compelled to act in that particular manner, and
by that time he was no longer able to cancel any of the
preparations. All this is corroborated by the diary kept by
the witness Kallus and submitted

                                                  [Page 345]

Document Book Funk Number 18. The defendant Funk stated here
on the witness stand:

  "It was naturally my duty as Plenipotentiary General for
  Economics to do all I could to prevent the civilian
  section of the economy from being shattered in the event
  of war, and it was also my duty as President of the
  Reichsbank to increase as much as possible the
  Reichsbank's reserve of gold and foreign currency."

He goes on to say:

  "That was necessary on account of the general political
  tension at the time, and it was also necessary in case
  war should be avoided and only those economic sanctions
  imposed in view of the political situation at the time
  might - and in fact must - be expected."

Funk likewise says:

  "It was also my duty as Reich Minister of Economics to
  increase production."

That is an exact quotation from the defendant Funk's
testimony. On this subject the witness Puhl, who was Vice-
President of the Reichsbank, states in his interrogatory of
1st May, which is in the hands of the Tribunal, that the
position of the Reichsbank in the last seven months of
Funk's presidency before the outbreak of the war had not
been materially strengthened, and that very little business
had been done in the exchange of foreign assets for gold
since January, 1939. The Reichsbank's cautious policy in
regard to gold and foreign currency, according to this
witness, was in line with their customary practice.

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