The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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I cite a passage of the report of the French Economic
Control which I have just put into evidence as Exhibit RF
107 and which gives an idea of the disorder

                                                   [Page 10]

that was created by the German actions and which shows the
reasons why the Reich authorities officially suspended the
black market (page 21 of the French text):

   "There was the period when the champagne, the cognac and
   the benedictine were handled by lots of 10 to 50,000
   bottles and the pat6 de fois gras by the ton.
   
   From the beginning the general corruption had gained the
   support of a great number of Wehrmacht officers, who
   were tempted by the good life which surrounded them.
   Indeed it so thoroughly extended to the German military
   groups that, from mess sergeants to high ranking
   officers, all had dealings with the worst types of
   operators, and expected commissions from every market. A
   clandestine sale of wool thread took place, at one time,
   in the presence of a general of the Air Force.
   
   Around them congregated all the bad elements of France,
   the industrial adventurers and others who had already
   served their terms. Then came a horde of commercial
   operators, dressmakers, unofficial agents without
   special employment, general intermediaries or associates
   of slight consequence." (Page 22 of the French Document
   107).
   
   "We understand that in such an environment, composed of
   unknown people and those one cannot lay one's hands on,
   black market business, which was transacted in cash, and
   without bills or receipts, except those of the German
   offices, can today no longer be appraised or evaluated.
   
   Originating in the course of the year 1941, the
   commercial activity of these Parisian purchasing bureaus
   continued in this manner for about twenty months. But
   after having reached its zenith at the end of 1942, this
   activity had to come to an abrupt end in March 1943; a
   victim of its own excesses.
   
   In effect, during the entire occupation, production
   prices were strictly limited by the French services, and
   even more so by the German economic services, which were
   systematically opposed to any rise in critical prices,
   anxious above all to maintain large purchasing power in
   the French capital at their disposal.
   
   But, since the stipulated merchandise for the enemy's
   uses was being paid for at prices hardly better than the
   legal prices, the clandestine purchasing agencies
   accepted at the same time rates several times higher for
   the same products.
   
   In production, the slipping of the merchandise toward
   the German black market thus occurred more frequently
   while, at the same time, the secret production
   increased. The disorder grew so rapidly that in certain
   branches of industry, deliveries according to contract
   could not be assured, except with great delay, in spite
   of the menacing protests of the Germans.
   
   Completely swamped, the French Ministry of Industrial
   Production had to inform the German authorities that the
   national production would soon no longer be able to meet
   its obligations.
   
   This irremediable situation, together with the necessity
   of putting an end to the incredible corruption provoked
   by the black market in the Wehrmacht, led the Reich
   Government, if not to suppress the black market
   altogether, at least to envisage a closing of the Paris
   purchasing bureaus.
   
   This measure was made effective on the 13th March 1943,
   following the agreement Bichelonne-General Michel.
   
   However - and this is very significant - the German
   economic services did not fail to request in
   compensation a considerable rise in quotas according to
   the agreements. Thus, for the Kehrl Plan alone, this
   rise amounted to 60,000 tons of textiles.
   
                                                   [Page 11]
   
   Only few bureaus were able to retain some of their
   activities until the Liberation, either by trying to
   deal with the R.O.G.E.S. (d'Humieres, Economic Union,
   etc.) or with military services buying quartermaster
   supplies or with the bureaus of the German Air Force or
   Navy."

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken).

M. GERTHOFFER: In the course of my explanations I shall come
back to the case of every particular country, in connection
with black market operations, so as to be able to give a
measure of their extent. But I think that it is established
by the Veltjens report as well as by the passages from the
French Economic Control Report, which I had the honour to
read to the Tribunal, that the black market was organised by
the leaders of the Reich, and notably by the defendant
Goering.

To finish the general observation concerning the economic
looting, I shall ask the Tribunal's permission to give a few
explanations from the judicial point of view. They are
treated in chapter five of the first part.

From a juridical point of view, it is not contestable that
organised looting of the countries invaded by Germany is
prohibited by the International Hague Convention, signed by
Germany but deliberately violated by her, even though her
leaders never failed to invoke this Convention every time
they tried to benefit by it.

Section three of the Hague Convention - "The Military
Authority over the Territory of the Enemy Government" -
relates to the economic questions. These clauses are very
clear and do not have to be discussed; if the Tribunal will
allow me to recall them. Here is section three of the Hague
Convention, which I put into the book of documents as Number
114, and which is called "The Military Authority over the
Territory of the Enemy Government.":

   Article 42: The territory is considered as being
   occupied when it is placed in effect under the authority
   of the hostile army. This occupation extends only to
   territory where such authority has been established and
   can be exercised.
   
   Article 43: The authority of the legitimate power having
   in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the
   latter ...

THE PRESIDENT: I think we can take judicial notice of these
articles from the Convention.

M. GERTHOFFER: I shall, then, not read this article, since
the Tribunal knows the Convention, and shall simply limit
myself to certain juridical remarks. These articles of the
Hague Convention show in a very clear way that the Germans
could commandeer in occupied territories only what was
necessary for the maintenance of such troops as were
indispensable. All items which were levied beyond these
limits were so levied in violation of the articles which you
know, and consequently, were "looted " items.

Counsel for the defence may contend that all these
prohibitions must be put aside, because Germany had given
herself the aim of concluding the war against Britain and
then against the USSR and the United States of America.
Defence may pretend that, because of this, Germany was in a
very needy state which had to checkmate the prohibitions of
the Hague Convention and try to incorporate Article 23-G,
which allows one to destroy or to seize even private
property.

I shall immediately answer that this article does not lay
down rules relating to the conduct of the occupant in enemy
territory - these last rules are contained, I repeat, in
Articles 42 to 56-they are relevant to the conduct which the
belligerents must maintain in the course of the war.

The word "seizure" in the expression "No seizure of enemy
property except in cases where these seizures are absolutely
ordered by military necessity"

                                                   [Page 12]

 - and no discussion as to translation can be referred to
because actually the French text is binding - the word
"seizure" means, not to appropriate a thing, but to put it
under the protection of justice with a view to leaving it
unused, in the same condition, and to keep it for its true
owner or for any person who can show a right to it.

Such a seizure permits the military authority, during
hostilities, to prevent the owner from using the property
against the troops, but it does not authorise the military
authority, under any circumstances, to appropriate it for
itself.

The facts of economic looting are all contrary to the
principle of International Law and are formally provided for
by Article 68 of the Charter of the United Nations of the
8th of August 1945.

These constant violations of the Hague Convention did, as a
consequence, enrich Germany and permitted her to continue
the war against Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United
States, while they ruined the invaded countries, the
populations of which, subjected to a regime of slow famine,
were actually physically weakened and, without the victory
of the Allies, would be on the road to progressive
extermination.

This inhuman conduct constitutes, therefore, War Crimes
which come within the competency of this International
Military Tribunal, as far as the leaders of the Reich are
concerned.

Before finishing this rapid summary of juridical questions,
the Tribunal will permit me to refute in advance an argument
which will certainly be presented by the defence, notably so
far as economic plundering is concerned. They will pretend
that juridical jurisdiction did not exist, that the
International Penal Law had not yet been formulated in any
text at the time when the defendants perpetrated the acts
which they were actually charged with, and that therefore by
virtue of the principle of non-retroactivity of penal laws,
they could not be condemned to any sentence whatsoever.

Why, gentlemen, is this principle adopted by modern
legislation? It is indisputably in order that any person
whatsoever, who is conscious of never having violated any
prescribed law, could not be condemned because of acts which
were committed in such conditions. For example, somebody
issues a check without funds before his country had adopted
a penalty against such an offence.

In this case the facts are quite different. The defendants
cannot pretend that they were not conscious of having
violated legislation of any kind. First of all, they
violated international conventions: the Hague Convention of
1907, and the Briand-Kellogg Pact of the 27th of August
1938; then they violated the penal laws of all the invaded
countries.

How shall, in this legislation, the economic looting be
qualified-theft, swindling, blackmail, and even, I will add,
murder-since, in order to attain their aims, the Germans
have premeditated and committed numerous murders which
enabled them to intimidate the population in order better to
plunder them?

According to domestic law, these acts. certainly fall under
the application of Article 295 and the following articles of
the French Penal Law, and notably of Article 303, which
stipulates as guilty of murder all offenders, of whatever
category, who, to execute crimes, resorted to torture or
perpetrated barbarous acts. I will add that the defendants
violated even the German Penal Law, notably Articles 249 and
following.

Counsel for the defence will certainly stress that certain
of the leaders of the invaded countries were in agreement
with the Reich Government as to the economic collaboration,
and that consequently these governments cannot be charged
with acts which derive from these agreements.

Such arguments must be refuted:

I. If, in all the invaded countries, patriots resisted with
more or less courage,

                                                   [Page 13]

it is certain that some of them out of inertia, fear, or
disinterest turned traitor to their country. They have been
or will be condemned. But the crimes committed by certain of
them cannot be exonerating or even extenuating circumstances
in favour of the defendants, especially since the latter had
very often put these traitors in to manage the occupied
countries. On the contrary, the fact of having brought
people to turn traitor to their country only aggravates the
heavy charges against the defendants.

II. These so-called agreements had all been obtained by
pressure or by threat. The concluding contracts show that
these contracts are solely in favour of Germany, who also,
as a matter of fact, never brought any compensation, but
merely illusory benefits. More often the burdensome contract
resulted from the mere reading of these contracts, as I will
have the honour to show in certain particular cases.

With these explanations my general observations on the
economic pillaging are concluded, and if the Tribunal is
willing we can examine the particular case of Denmark.

When the Germans, contrary to all the precepts of the Law of
Nations and to their engagements, invaded Denmark they were
not certain of rapidly dominating Western Europe. At first
they laid down the principle of not taking anything from the
country. After their success of May 1940, their attitude
changed. As a matter of fact, little by little they treated
Denmark more or less like the other occupied countries.

Nevertheless, they sought to arrive at an annexation pure
and simple, and took rigorous measures against the
population only in the course of 1942, when they saw that
they would not be able to win Denmark over. From the
economic point of view, and to assure their domination, they
tried to obtain control of most of the Danish means of
payment, and they used, to this effect, two methods which to
a great extent were used by them in other countries:

1. The levying of a veritable tribute of war, under the
pretext of maintaining their army of occupation.

2. The functioning of the so-called clearing agreement to
their almost exclusive benefit. These two methods should be
studied in chapter one of this statement.

FIRST CHAPTER: GERMAN SEIZURE OF THE MEANS OF PAYMENT

1. Expenses of occupation.

Article 49 of the Hague Convention stipulated that, if the
occupant levies a contribution, this money will only be for
the army of occupation or for the administration of the
country.

The occupant can therefore levy a contribution for the
maintenance of the army, but this contribution must not
exceed the sum strictly necessary for the needs of the army
of occupation without expense to armament and equipment,
that is: merely the expenses for board and lodging and the
pay of the soldiers - I mean normal expenses, from which, of
course, luxury expenses are excluded.

Article 52 authorises the occupying power to exact
requisitions in, kind and service from the communes of the
inhabitants for the needs of the army, with the express
condition that they should be proportionate to the resources
of the country, and it amounts to this: that they should not
force the population to take part in operations against
their own country.

The same Article 52 stipulates that levies in kind shall be
paid so far as possible in cash; otherwise they will have to
be established in receipts and the paying in of sums as soon
as possible.

In other words, the Hague Convention allows the occupying
army to levy

                                                   [Page 14]

in occupied territories, as much as is necessary for the
maintenance of the troops, but under two conditions, apart
from contributions in kind.

(a) That the levies and the service should be proportionate
to the resources of the country, that is to say, that cash
should be left over for the inhabitants, at least enough to
enable them to live.
(b) That the levies be paid as soon as possible.

This does not mean a fictitious payment made with the funds
extorted from occupied countries, but real payments, which
imply furnishing of effective compensation.

Article 53 of the Convention of the Hague permits the
occupying powers to seize everything which could be used
against them - and, in particular, cash, funds, securities
of all kinds belonging to the State of the occupied country
- but does not authorise the occupying power to appropriate
them.

According to information furnished by the Danish Government,
when the Germans entered Denmark they declared that they
would not demand anything from the country, but that the
German Army would be supplied by convoys coming from the
Reich.

Nevertheless, instead of buying Danish crowns to permit
their troops to spend money in Denmark, as early as 9 May
1940 they imposed the circulation of notes of the
Reichskreditkasse - which is shown in Number 26 of the
Vobid, which I have already submitted as Exhibit RF 93.

Upon the protest of the National Danish Bank against the
issuing of foreign paper money, the Germans withdrew those
notes from circulation, but demanded the opening of an
account at the National Bank, promising to draw upon it
solely for sums which were indispensable for the maintenance
of the Army in Denmark and for these sums only.


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