The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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I shall have the honour of presenting in succession to the

   (1) General remarks on the economic looting of the
   occupied countries of Western Europe;
   (2) the special case of Denmark;
   (3) that of Norway;
   (4) that of Holland.

My colleague, M. Delpech, will present a fifth part covering
Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. I shall have the
honour of presenting to you the sixth part relating to
France, and also the conclusion. Finally, M. Delpech, in a
special presentation, will give you specific information on
the looting of works of art in the occupied countries of
Western Europe.

In the course of the presentation, we shall submit a certain
number of documents. We shall quote only the passages which
seem to us the most important. When the same document
relates to several different questions, we shall quote those
excerpts concerning each question when it is presented,
indicating each time the reference in the document book,
since it is impossible to make known to you all the excerpts
at the same time, because of the complexity of facts.

In his speeches and in his writings, Hitler never concealed
the economic aims of the aggression of which Germany was to
become guilty. The theories of race and living space
increased the envy of the Germans at the same time as they
stimulated their belligerent instincts.

After having conquered Austria and Czechoslovakia without
bloodshed, they turned against Poland, and prepared to
attack the countries of Western Europe, where they hoped to
find what was lacking to assure their hegemony.

This fact is revealed in particular by Document EC-606,
discovered by the United States Army, which I submit to the
Tribunal as Exhibit RF 92. This is the minutes of a
conference held by the defendant Goering on 30th January,
1940, with Lieutenant-Colonel Conrath and Director Lange of
the Machine Constructing Group attending. The following is
the principal passage of the minutes:

   "Field Marshal Goering told me at the beginning that he
   had to inform me of the intentions of the Fuehrer and of
   the economic measures resulting therefrom.
   He stated:
   The Fuehrer is firmly convinced that it would be
   possible to bring the war to a decisive conclusion by
   making a great attack in the West in 1940. He assumes
   that Belgium, Holland and Northern France will fall into
   our possession; he, the Fuehrer, forms his opinion on
   the calculation that the industrial areas of Douai and
   Lens, of Luxembourg, of Longwy and Briey might, as far
   as raw materials are concerned, replace the deliveries
   from Sweden.
   Therefore, the Fuehrer has decided, regardless of the
   future, to utilise fully our reserves of raw materials,
   at the expense of possible later years of war. He feels
   that this decision is justified, since it is supported
   by the view that the best stocks are not stocks of raw
   materials but stocks of finished war materials.
   Moreover, when the aerial war begins, it must be taken
   into account that our finishing factories may be
   destroyed. The
                                                  [Page 441]
   Fuehrer is also of the opinion that the maximum output
   must be achieved in 1940, and consequently that long-
   range production programmes should be put aside, in
   order to accelerate those which can be terminated in

When the invasion of the countries of Western Europe began
there was an abundance of products of every kind; but after
four years of the methodical looting and the enslavement of
production, these countries were ruined, and their entire
population was physically weakened as the result of rigorous

To achieve these results, the Germans used every method,
particularly violence, trickery and blackmail.

The purpose of the present statement will be to specify the
main spoliations ordered by the German leaders in the
countries of Western Europe, and to show that they
constitute, as far as these countries are concerned, War
Crimes which come under the jurisdiction of the
International Military Tribunal for Major War Criminals.

It is not possible to draw an exact balance sheet of the
German looting and the profit derived by them as a result of
the enslavement of production in the occupied countries. On
the one hand, we have not enough time. On the other hand, we
find ourselves faced with actual impotence, resulting from
the secret nature of certain operations and the destruction
of archives through acts of war, or deliberate destruction
at the time of the German rout.

Nevertheless, the documents now collected and the
information gathered make it possible to give a minimum
estimate of the extent of spoliation. However, I shall ask
the Tribunal's permission to make three preliminary remarks:

(1) The numerous acts of individual looting committed by the
Germans will not be referred to in this presentation, since
they come under the competence of a different jurisdiction.

(2) We shall only mention for the record the incalculable
economic results of German atrocities; for instance, the
financial loss experienced by the immediate relatives of
breadwinners murdered, or the loss suffered by certain
victims of ill-treatment, who are totally or partially,
temporarily or permanently incapacitated for work; or the
damage resulting from the destruction of localities or
buildings for the purpose of vengeance or intimidation.

(3) Finally, gentlemen, we shall not discuss the damage
resulting from purely military operations, which cannot be
considered as economic results of war crimes. When damage
caused by military operations is referred to, some
discussion will be necessary.

With the permission of the Tribunal, I shall make a few
general remarks on the economic looting of Western Europe.
Economic looting is to be understood as the removal of
wealth of every kind, as well as the enslavement of the
production of the various countries.

To reach such results in countries which were generally
highly industrialised, and where numerous stocks of
manufactured products and abundant reserves of agricultural
products existed, the German project was faced with real

At first, although the Germans had used this procedure to
its maximum extent, requisitions were not adequate. In fact,
they had to find the opportunities for ferreting out all
sorts of things, which were sometimes hidden by the
inhabitants and, on the other hand, they had to maintain,
for their own profit, the economic activity of these

The simplest way of becoming masters of the distribution of
existing products and of production was to take possession
of almost all means of payment, and, if necessary, to
enforce their distribution in exchange for products or
services, at the same time combating the rise of prices.

Faced with starvation, the populations were thus, naturally,
forced to work, directly or indirectly, for the benefit of

                                                  [Page 442]

The first part of this presentation will be divided into
five chapters:

(1)Seizure of currency by the Germans;
(2)Enslavement of the production of the occupied
(3)Individual purchases, which should not be confused with
individual acts of looting;
(4)The black market, organised by and for the profit of
(5)Examination of the question of economic looting from the
view point of International Law and in particular of The
Hague Convention;

First chapter, seizure of currency by the Germans.

To have at their disposal all means of payment, the Germans
used almost identical methods in the various occupied
countries. First, they took two principal measures. One was
the issue of paper money, by ordinance of 9th May, 1940,
published in the "Verordnungsblatt fur die besetzten
franzosischen Gebiete," official German gazette, which will
subsequently be referred to by its official abbreviation
V.O.B.I.F., which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 93;
this ordinance concerned Denmark and Norway, and on 19th
May, 1940, was rendered applicable to the occupied
territories of Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and France. The
Germans proceeded to issue bank notes of the
Reichskreditkasse, which were legal tender only in the
respective occupied countries.

The Germans then took a second measure: the blocking of
existing currency within the occupied countries as a result
of the ordinance of 10th May, 1940, published in V.O.B.I.F.,
Page 38, which I submit as Exhibit RF 94. In regard to
Holland these ordinances are those of 24th June, 7th August,
16th August and 17th September, 1940, which have been
submitted as Exhibits RF 95, 96, 97 and 98; in regard to
Belgium, these ordinances are those of 17th June and 2nd
July, 1940, submitted as Exhibits RF 99 and 100.

These measures, notably the issuing of paper money, left
exclusively to the whim of the Germans, without any possible
control on the part of the financial administration of the
occupied countries, were to serve, as we shall see, as
powerful means of pressure to impose the payment of enormous
war tributes under the pretext of maintaining occupation
troops, as well as alleged payment agreements known as
"clearings," which functioned almost exclusively to the
benefit of the Occupying Power.

The latter thus procured for itself, under false pretences,
means of payment from which it profited by realising
considerable sums for its sole benefit.

All agricultural and industrial products, raw materials,
goods of every kind, or services, for which Germany
apparently made regular payment by means of either notes of
the Reichskreditkasse or by so-called clearing agreements,
or by war tributes known as indemnities for the maintenance
of occupation troops, were exacted with full knowledge that
no consideration would be forthcoming. Thus we can be sure
that, as a rule, such regulations were purely fictitious and
were the most used fraudulent procedure to effect the
economic looting of the occupied countries of Western

These questions will be examined in a more exact manner
later on. I shall limit myself for the moment to pointing
out to the Tribunal that, to effect the economic looting of
occupied countries with their own money, it was necessary
that this money should preserve an appreciable purchasing
power. Therefore, the efforts of the Germans were directed
toward stabilisation of prices. A severe regulation
prohibiting rises in prices was subsequently promulgated by
several decrees - V.O.B.I.F., Pages 8, 60 and 535, submitted
as Exhibit RF 101. Nevertheless, the application of such
measures could not prevent economic laws from acting. The
payment of tributes, which were excessive, considering the
resources of the invaded countries and the mass purchases
made in these countries by the Occupying Power, could not
but have as their principal result a continuous rise of
prices. The leaders of the Reich

                                                  [Page 443]

were perfectly aware of the situation, and watched very
attentively this rise in prices, which they were attempting
to moderate.

This we know principally from the secret reports of Hemmen,
President of the Armistice Commission for German economic
questions; which we will discuss when we examine the
particular case of France.

Chapter 2, Enslavement of the production of the occupied

When the Germans invaded the countries of Western Europe,
great disorder was created as the result. The population
fled before the advance of the enemy. Industries were at a
standstill. German troops guarded the factories and
prevented anyone from entering.

I am not able to give you a list of the factories affected
by this situation, since there was almost no exception.

Nevertheless, as an example, we will present to the Tribunal
the original of one of the numerous posters exhibited in
industrial plants in France. I submit this poster as Exhibit
RF 102. It is dated Paris, 28th June, 1940. One text is in
German, and the other is in French. Here is the French text:

"By an order of General Field Marshal Goering of 28th June,
1940, the Generalluftzeugmeister took possession of this
factory as trustee. Only persons having special permits from
the Generalluftzeugmeister, Verbindungsstelle, Paris, may

Hardly had the factories been occupied by the military, when
German technicians, at the heel of the troops, proceeded
methodically to remove the best machines.

This is revealed by a secret report of Colonel Helder, dated
December, 1940, and emanating from the Economic Section of
the O.K.W., Pages 77 and 78, that the removal of thousands
of machines from the occupied territories was to be
organised, in violation of the terms of Article 53 of The
Hague Convention.

This document is submitted as Exhibit RF 103.

On the other hand, immediately after the invasion, the
working population - their resources being exhausted -
naturally gravitated around these factories in the hope of
securing a means of subsistence. Problems of an identical
nature arose in all the occupied countries: to stop the
looting of machinery, which was taking place at an alarming
rate, and to keep the workers employed.

The Germans for their part forced the factories to resume
work under the pretext of assuring subsistence to the
population. The ordinance of 20th May, 1940, published in
the V.O.B.I.F., Page 31, which we submit as Exhibit RF 104,
applicable to the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and
France, orders that work should be resumed in all stores and
industries of food supply or agriculture. The same text
provided for the appointment of temporary administrators, in
case of absence of the directors or in other cases of

(The Tribunal adjourned until 21st January, 1946, at 10.00

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