The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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THE PRESIDENT: Do you not think you might omit further
references to these articles as we have already had them
fully covered by your colleague?

M. DELPECH: As a consequence, the Germans exacted a monthly
indemnity of 1,000,000,000 Belgian francs up to August 1941.
On that date the indemnity was increased to 1,500,000,000
Belgian francs per month. By 20th August 1944, the payments
under that designation totalled 67,000,000,000 Belgian
francs. This number cannot be contested by the defence,
seeing that in the report quoted, Pages 103 and following,
M. Wetter wrote in June 1944: The total sum of Belgian
francs paid for the army of occupation was 64,181,000,000.
(This is deposed under Exhibit RF 147).

This sum of 64,000,000,000 was completely disproportionate
to the needs of the occupying army. This is notably manifest
in the report of Wetter, in a passage that I submit as
Exhibit RF 148. On Page 245 of this report it is said that
on 17 January 1941 the general who was commander in chief in
Belgium had asked the High Command of the Army if the
indemnity covered only the expenses of occupation. This
point of view was not accepted by the commanding general,
who, by decree of the 21 October 1941, specified that

                                                   [Page 36]

the indemnity of occupation was to be used not only for the
needs of the occupying army but also for those of the
operating armies. Moreover, on Page 11 of the original
German text of the same report it is written - and I shall
read to the Tribunal an excerpt which will be found in the
book of documents, and will be Exhibit RF 149, the second
paragraph :

    "The increase in the expenses of the Wehrmacht made it
    clear that it would be impossible to make ends meet.
    The military administration demanded that the
    calculation of the occupation costs be straightened out
    by cancelling all expenses foreign to the occupation
    itself, from this account. This concerned especially
    the larger purchases of all kinds which the military
    services made in Belgium, such as horses, motor
    vehicles, equipment, all of which was designated for
    other territories, and were written off as occupation
    By decree of the Delegate of the Four Year Plan, dated
    the 11th of June 1941, the financing of the expenses
    other than occupation costs was to be met by the
    clearing. To comply with this decree, beginning in June
    1941, the administration of the military commander
    ordered a monthly report to be rendered of all expenses
    other than those required for the occupation, but which
    had been paid under the account of occupation costs, in
    order to have these expenses refunded through the
    Thanks to this, large sums could be recovered and put
    to the account of occupation costs."

Before concluding the examination of this point concerning
war tribute, called "occupation costs," it is necessary to
point out that the Germans had already demanded, by the
order of 17 December, 1940, submitted as Exhibit RF 150,
that the costs of billeting their troops should be charged
to Belgium. Owing to this, the country had to meet expenses
totalling 5,900,000,000 francs, which went for billeting
German troops, costs of installation, and furniture.

In his report, Wetter writes an Page 104, - an excerpt
submitted as Exhibit RF 147 - that at the end of June, 1944,
the Belgian payments for billeting troops totalled
5,423,000,000 francs.

We now come to the third element of German plundering, the
clearing. The issuance of occupation marks and the war
tribute, called occupation costs, were not sufficient for
Germany. Her leaders created a system of clearing which
enabled them to procure improperly, the means of payment
totalling 62,200,000,000 Belgian francs.

As soon as they arrived in Belgium, by the decrees of 10
July, 7 August and 7 December, 1940, which will be Exhibits
RF 151, 152 and 153, the Germans promulgated:

(1) That all payments on debts of people living in Belgium
to their creditors in Germany had to be paid into an account
called the "Deutsche Verrechnungskasse, Berlin," an open
account on the books of the National Bank of Belgium in
Brussels, an account carried in belgas due to the
prohibition re devices of 17 June 1940, the prohibition to
which I have already referred concerning the blocking of the
means of payment in the country.

By decision of 4 August 1940, it was moreover prescribed
that the carrying out of the clearing would be henceforth
entrusted no longer to the National Bank of Belgium but to
the Bank of Issue in Brussels, which, as I have already had
the honour of pointing out, had been established by, and was
under the absolute control of, the occupant.

(2) The Germans laid down a second measure whereby all
debtors living in the Reich should pay their Belgian
creditors, by means of the open account in the Bank of Issue
in Brussels, at the following rate of exchange, one hundred
belgas to 40 marks, that is to say one mark for 12.50
Belgian francs.

These decrees moreover were extended to the countries
occupied by Germany,

                                                   [Page 37]

with a view to facilitating their operations in these
countries; they were even extended to certain neutral
countries by various analogous decrees appearing in the Book
of Ordinances.

The mission of the Bank of Issue in Brussels consisted,
therefore, on the one hand of receiving payments from all
persons or agencies established in Belgium, which carried on
foreign transactions, and on the other hand, to pay those
persons or agencies established in Belgium, which had
foreign credit.

In other words, every time an exporter delivered goods to an
importer of another country, a member of the clearing, it
was the Bank of Issue which settled the invoice and which
inscribed as equivalent, in the ledgers, a corresponding
credit on the "Deutsche Verrechnungskasse in Berlin," the
German Clearing Institute in Berlin. Imports were handled by
the same procedures inversely.

In fact, under the German direction, this system functioned
to the detriment of the Belgian community which, at the
moment of the liberation, was creditor in the clearing to
the extent of 62,665,000,000 Belgian francs.

It was the National Bank of Belgium which had been forced to
make advances to the Bank of Issue to balance the account of
the German Clearing Institute.

A large number of operations made through the clearing had
no commercial character whatever, but were purely and simply
military and political expenses.

From information given by the Belgian Government, the
clearing operations could be resumed in the following manner
- and I draw my conclusions from a report of the Belgian
Government previously cited, which has been presented as
Exhibit RF 146 - of the total transactions, 93 per cent.
corresponds to Belgo-German clearing; merchandise exchanges
amounted to 93 per cent., and service 91 per cent.

If one considers the part taken respectively by merchandise,
services or capital, one arrives at, as a balance, two quite
significant tables: the entire clearing of Belgium with
foreign countries, totalled on 2 September 1944, the sum of
61,636,000,000 Belgian francs of which 57,298,000,000 were
for Belgo-German operations; 4 billion only with France; 1
billion with the Netherlands, and 929,000,000  with other

It is only in the sector of goods and services that the
unbalance is apparent, an unbalance due in large measure, to
requisitions of property and services made by Germany for
her own account.

It is known that the so-called exports affected especially
metals and metal products, machines and textile products,
nine tenths of which were seized by the Reich, which made
itself, thereby, guilty of real spoliation.

Concerning the transfer of capital, which, during the first
period of the occupation, was in an active state of flux, it
is a question of the forced realisation of the participation
of Belgian capital in foreign countries, as well as the
forced cession to German groups of Belgian assets blocked in
Germany. No effective compensation was given in exchange.

The transfer pertaining to services belonged primarily to
the payments made for the use of the Belgian labour in
foreign countries.

The creditors' balance of these services on 2 September 1944
is as follows: in millions of Belgian francs: Total clearing
dealing with services - 20,016,000,000, that is to say, for
paying labour, 73 per cent of the total; for Germany alone,
18,227,000,000, that is to say, 72 per cent of the total
amount for France only 1,600,000 Belgian francs, that is to
say, a very small part.

Not content with requisitioning workers for forced labour in
Germany or in the occupied territories, the Germans
compelled Belgium to bear the financial burden, and imposed
it either through the liquidation of the transferred sums in
the clearing, or by the remittance of Belgian notes to the
Directorate of the Reich Bank in Berlin, for payment of
workers in national currency.

                                                   [Page 38]

THE PRESIDENT: Do you think it is necessary to go into these
clearing operations again? In each case of the various
countries which have been dealt with, the same clearing
operations have taken place, have they not? Then perhaps it
is really unnecessary to do it over again for Belgium.

M. DELPECH: Very well, I will continue without insisting on

At all events, the Germans recognised the fact, and the
figures taken from the reports previously cited can only
support the conclusions of our statement.

Before ending this chapter concerning the seizure of all the
means of payment, it is fitting that the attention of the
Tribunal be brought to the Germans' order of 22 July 1940,
by which the rate of the Belgian franc was fixed at 8
Reichspfennig, that is to say, 12.50 francs per mark; and in
the formentioned report, Wetter writes concerning this
matter, on Pages 37 and 38 - a passage which I ask the
Tribunal's permission to read, and which is in the document
book as Exhibit RF 158.

    "The de facto maintenance of the pre-war parity was of
    considerable political importance, because a large
    group of the population would have had the impression
    that a sharp devaluation or a repeated change of parity
    was a manoeuvre of exploitation."

The following observation in connection with this conception
must be made the occupants had no need in Belgium to decree,
with the view of promoting their economic exploitation, that
the Belgian franc should have a lesser value when, as a
matter of fact, contrary to what occurred in France, they
had, at the moment they entered Belgium, instituted new
currency over which they had the control.

Lastly, let us just mention that Germany forced the Vichy
Government to deliver 221,730 kilos of gold, amounting at
the 1939 valuation to 9,500,000,000 francs; but as France
had restored this gold to the Bank of Belgium, this question
will be treated under the economic exploitation of France.

To sum up, the means of payment seized by the army of
occupation, amounted to the following figures:

Occupation marks        3,567,000,000
Various bills and accounts on the books of the Reich Credit
Bank                      656,000,000
War tribute under the pretext of occupation costs

To which may be added the credit balance of clearing

Total (in Belgian francs)  133,888,000,000

The Germans seized no less than 130,000,000,000 Belgian
francs, which they used for outwardly regular purchases, for
payment of their requisitions, and to make clandestine
purchases on the black market.

These so-called purchases and requisitions will be treated
in the following chapters.

CHAPTER II: Clandestine Purchases, Black Market. As in all
the other occupied territories, the Germans organised a
black market in Belgium as early as October 1941.

According to a secret report on the black market, called
"Final Report of the Office of the Supervisor" of the
military governor in Belgium and in the North of France,
concerning the legal abolishment of the black market in
Belgium and in the North of France, a report covering the
period from the 13 March 1942 to the 31 May 1943, Exhibit RF
159 in the book of documents, the reasons given by the
Germans for this organisation of the black market are three:

(1) To check competition on the black market between various
German buyers.

                                                   [Page 39]

(2) To make the best use of the Belgian resources for the
economic goals of the German war.

(3) To do away with the pressure exercised on the general
standard of prices, and by this to avoid all danger of
inflation which would end up by endangering the German

This same report tells us, Pages 3 and following, that an
actual administrative organisation was set up by the Germans
for carrying out this policy.

The bookkeeping was assured by the Clearing Institute of the
Wehrmacht, which centralised all operations in its books.

The direction of the purchases was assured by a central
organisation, the name of which changed in the course of the
years, and which had a certain number of organisations
subordinate to it, notably a whole series of purchasing

The central organisation was set up in accordance with the
decree of the Military Governor of Belgium, of 20 February
1942. It was formed on the 13th of the following March, and
as soon as it was created it received special directives
from the delegate of the Reich Marshal, defendant Goering.
This delegate was Lt. Col. Veltjens, of whom we spoke this

This organisation was only established to co-ordinate the
legalisation and direction of the black market, as had been
determined upon and planned, following conferences of the
General Intendant and the Military Governor of Belgium with
the chief of the Armament Inspection. According to the terms
of that agreement under date of the 16th of February 1942,
coming from the Reich Minister for Economics, the aim was to
drain the black market, and to do so in accordance with
directives, in a legal form; with the idea of complying with
the supply requirements of the German Reich.

This organisation had its offices in Brussels. The purchases
themselves were secured by a certain number of specialised
offices, the list of which is given on Page 5 of the
forementioned report.

These organisations received their orders from the
'Rohstoffhandelsgesellschaft,' which has been already
mentioned in the beginning of the statement on the economic
exploitation of Western Europe.

The role of the R 0 G E S was very important in the
organisation of the black market. In effect it was fourfold:

(1) The purchasing directives, once the authorisation had
been given by the central office in Brussels, were
transmitted by the R O G E S to the proper purchasing

(2) The delivery of goods bought and marked for the Reich
were made through the R O G E S, which took charge of their
distribution in Germany.

(3) The R O G E S financed the operations.

(4) It was the R O G E S which was entrusted with paying the
difference between the rate of purchase, generally very high
because of the black market rate, and the fixed official
rate of sale on the German domestic market. The difference
was covered by an equalising fund, supplied from the
occupation costs' account, on which the Reich Minister of
Finance put sums at the disposal of the R O G E S through
the channel of the Ministry of Economics.

The aforementioned report furnishes a complete series of
interesting particulars on the functioning of even the
central organisation. It is interesting to note that the
central office in Brussels was instructed by order of the
Military Governor of Belgium, dated 3 November 1942, to have
a branch at Lille set up for the North of France. At the
same time, the Brussels office was authorised to instruct
its branch office at Lille. In the book of documents under
Exhibit RF 160 is mentioned a final report of the Lille
office. This report, made out 20 May, 1943, gives a whole
series of interesting particulars on the functioning of this

                                                   [Page 40]

THE PRESIDENT: It is 5 o'clock now. Perhaps, M. Delpech, I
think it would be the wish of the Tribunal, if it were
possible for you to omit any parts of this document which
are on precisely the same principles with those which have
already been submitted to us in connection with the other
countries. If you could, I think that would be for the
convenience of the Tribunal. Of course, if there are any
essential differences in the treatment of Belgium then, no
doubt, you would draw our attention to them.

M. DELPECH: Certainly, your Honour.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 22 January 1946, at 1000

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