The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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These various measures did not satisfy the occupying
authorities, so they ran a certain number of salvage
campaigns which were called "special actions"
(Sonderaktionen) in accordance with the method they applied
in all the territories of Western Europe. I shall not go
into the details of these actions, which are described on
Page 63 and following of the report; that is the salvage
campaign for bells, printing lead, lead and copper.
According to the information given by the Belgian
Government, -  which will be Exhibit RF 146, Page 65 of the
report, - in other fields, but without admitting it, the
Germans pursued a policy intended to eliminate or to
restrict Belgian competition, so that in case of a German
victory the economic branches concerned would have had to
restrict themselves to the Belgian market, which would then
have remained wide open to German business. These attempts
at immediate or future suppression of competition were
clearly evident in certain industrial sectors casting and
smelting, metal ware, textile construction work, car
assembling, construction of material for narrow-gauge
railroads, and especially the shoe-manufacturing industry,
for which reconstruction of destroyed factories was
systematically prohibited.

But in addition, in the textile industry as well as in
numerous sectors, es-

                                                   [Page 46]

pecially in the metal industry, the weakening of the economy
cannot be measured only by the size of the compulsory
deliveries, but is in relation to the policy practices by
the occupier, Belgian industry, especially coal and iron,
suffered considerable losses as a result of directives
imposed to finance the war needs.

I shall pass over the question of prices of coal. The
control of the coal industry was assured by the appointment
of a plenipotentiary for coal, and by centralisation of all
sales in the hands of a single organ, the "single seller,"
under Belgian direction but with a German commissioner, I am
referring to the Belgian coal office, single seller for a
single purchaser, Rheinisch Westphalisches Kohlensyndikat,
which ordered deliveries to be made to the Reich, to Alsace-
Lorraine and Luxembourg.

According to the same German report, Page 67 for the
interpreters, in spite of the rise in the price of coal
agreed to on the 20 August, 1940, 1 January 1941, and I
January 1943, the coal industry showed in the course of the
occupation years considerable losses. In February 1943, the
coal office having agreed to an increase of the sales price,
the price per ton was higher than on the German domestic
market. The German commissioner for the mining industry
forced the Belgian industry to pay the difference in rate
when exporting to the Reich by means of compensating

From the figures indicated in Exhibits RF 176 and 178, Page
69, the Tribunal may gather information as to the financial
losses caused by exploitation. The report of the military
administration gives, in its eleventh section, details
regarding the metal industry: it suffered as greatly as had
the coal industry during the occupation. In the metal
industry, the Thomas works in particular, the losses
resulted from the increase in the cost price and from price
fluctuations in respect to certain elements pertaining to
the manufacture.

In this one sector, according to the memorandum of the
Belgian Government, the respective losses may be assessed at
three billion Belgian francs. Still according to the same
report, out of a total production of 1,400,000 tons,
1,300,000 tons of various products were exported to Germany,
not including the metal delivered to Belgian factories
working exclusively for Germany.

According to information furnished by the Belgian
Government, the Germans removed in bulk and transported to
Germany material of very great value: the total industrial
spoliation is estimated by the Belgian Government at a sum
of two billion Belgian francs, at the 1940 rate, of course.

These removals constitute a real material loss, and from the
fragmentary indications given to the Tribunal this sum of
two billion francs is the figure of which I ask the Tribunal
to take note.

In view of the information available at present it is not
easy to estimate the extent of the levies made on industry;
it is even more difficult to evaluate it in the agricultural
sector, which I shall briefly present.

Apart from the admissible needs of the occupation troops,
the German authorities made an effort to obtain a supplement
to the food levies in Belgium, for the purpose of increasing
the food of the Reich and other territories occupied by its
troops. After having employed direct methods of levying, the
Germans used the services of unscrupulous agents whose job
it was to purchase at any price on the secret markets, and
the black market in this field took on such proportions that
the occupying authorities became concerned on several
occasions and, in the course of 1943, had to suppress it.

Apart from the damage to livestock, the damage to the woods
and forests - which play an important role in Belgium, -
resulting from abnormal cutting in the forests, brought
about an excess in deforestation, and reaching a figure of
2,000,000 tons, the damage to capital caused by this
premature cutting can be estimated at about 200 million

The military operations proper caused damage to an extent of
one hundred


million Belgian francs, and according to the memorandum of
the Belgian Government the total damage caused to forestry
reaches a figure of 460 million Belgian francs. Taking into
account the damage caused by abnormal cutting in the forests
and by the establishment of airfields, the Belgian
Government estimates at approximately one billion Belgian
francs the losses suffered by its agriculture during the

It must be noted, without going further into this subject,
that these are net losses in capital, constituting a
veritable exhaustion of substance, and a consequent
reduction and real consumption of the nation's resources.
With this I conclude my presentation of agriculture.

Transportation: The conduct of war led the Germans to
utilise to the fullest the railroad network and the canal
and river system of Belgium; the result was that the
railroads and river fleet are included in those sectors of
Belgian economy which suffered most from the occupation and
the hostilities which took place on Belgian soil. German
traffic was at the same time a traffic of personnel as
demanded by military operations, and a traffic of
merchandise, coal, minerals, woods, food stuffs, not to
speak of the considerable quantities of construction
material required for the fortification of the coast of the
North Sea.

Railroads: The report of the Belgian Government shows that
the damage suffered by the railroads consisted of losses in
capital as well as in revenue. Losses in capital resulted
first and principally from requisitions and removals, to
which the Germans proceeded in a wholesale fashion from the
moment of their entry into Belgium. Thus, in particular,
they immediately drained the stock of locomotives under the
pretext of recovering German locomotives surrendered to
Belgium after the war of 1914-1918 as a means of reparation.

In addition to seizures of locomotives, the National Society
of Railroads was subjected to numerous requisitions of
material, sometimes under the form of rental; these
requisitions are estimated at four and a half billion francs
at the 1940 value.

As against the losses in capital, losses in revenue resulted
principally from the free transportation service required by
the Wehrmacht, also from the price policy pursued by the
occupying power. These levies and these exceptional costs
could be borne by the organisations concerned, only by
making large drains on the treasury.

Regarding automobiles, I shall say almost nothing (Page 79).
The losses amount to about 3,111 million Belgian francs, out
of which individuals received as compensation for
requisition approximately one billion only.

We come now to river transportation. The carrying out of the
plan for economic spoliation of Belgium presented the
occupying power with serious transportation problems, to
which I have already called attention. In this sphere the
German military administration imposed upon Belgian river
shipping very heavy burdens.
According to the report of the Belgian Government, the
losses suffered by the Belgian river fleet took three forms:

1. Requisitions and removals by the Germans;

2. Partial or total damage through military operations,

3. Excessive deterioration of material.

These three forms of damage amount to half a billion francs,
of which only one hundred million are represented in the
clearing. Damage to waterways (Page 81), rivers, streams and
canals, can be evaluated at between one and a half and two
billion francs of 1940 value, especially by reason of
requisitions and removals of public or private port

Fishing boats were requisitioned for marking the river
Scheldt, and then disappeared without leaving any trace.
Others suffered damage through requisitions or rental for
military manoeuvres.

                                                   [Page 48]

Before closing this chapter, concerned with levies in kind,
the question of removal of industrial material may briefly
be mentioned. (Page 82).

It has already been pointed out that the policy of
production and reorganisation in the industrial sphere, as
pursued by the military administration, had as a result the
closing of numerous enterprises; enabling the Germans, as a
counter-measure, to seize a great number of machines under
the pretext that they had become useless.

There were no branches of industry which were not despoiled
in this way. The metal industry seems to be one of those
that suffered most. Though we do not wish to try the
patience of the Tribunal, it seems particularly pertinent to
draw its attention briefly to the technique used in the
organisation of the levies; details of which were decided
upon even before the entry of German troops into the
territories of Western Europe. There were organisations
which introduced military detachments - organisations
emanating from the economy bureau of the General Staff of
the Army and under the defendant Keitel, as Chief of the

The existence of these military detachments, veritable
pillaging detachments, is proved by various German
documents. Under the name of economic detachments,
"Wirtschaftstruppen," or special commandos, these pillaging
crews carried out nefarious and illegal activities in all
the countries of Western Europe.

The secret instructions for the "economic detachment J,"
stationed at Antwerp are found in the file as Exhibit RF
183. They constitute a very important document, irrefutable
for the German intention to pillage and an additional proof
of the contempt of the National Socialist leaders for the
rules of International Law.

These instructions are dated from the last days of May 1940.
I should like to read a few excerpts of these instructions
to the Tribunal (Exhibit RF 183, Page 1).
   "The economic detachments are formed by the office for
   economic armament of the High Command of the Wehrmacht.
   They are placed at the disposal of the High Command of
   the Army for employment in the countries to be

I shall skip to the bottom of Page 1 of the German document.

   "It is their mission to reconnoitre quickly and
   completely in their districts the scarce and rationed
   goods (raw materials, semi-finished products, etc.) and
   machines of most vital importance for the purposes of
   national defence; and to make a correct inventory of
   these stocks.
   In the case of machines the requisition will be made
   effective by a label in the case of scarce and rationed
   goods, it will be secured both by labelling and by
   Furthermore, the economic detachments have the mission
   to prepare and, by order of the Army Group, to carry out
   the removal of scarce and rationed goods, of mineral
   oils and the most important machines. These missions are
   the exclusive responsibility of the economic
   The economic detachments are to begin their activities
   in newly occupied territories as early as the battle
   situation permits."

Machines and raw materials having thus been found and
identified, the new organisations went into action to
dismantle and to put these machines and raw materials to use
in Germany.

The above quoted document, which is Exhibit RF 183, gives
precise and very interesting information on the direction
and the strength of detachment J at Antwerp. The eight
officers are all reserve officers, engineers, wholesale
dealers, directors of mines, importers of raw materials,
engineering consultants. Their names and their professions
are mentioned in the document. These

                                                   [Page 49]

men are, therefore, all specialists in commerce and
industry. The choice of these technicians cannot be
attributed to mere chance.

According to the above instructions, and more especially to
the instructions found under date of May 10, 1940, coming
from General Hannecke, which will be Exhibit RF 184, once
the machines or the stocks have been identified, the offices
go to work: the R.O.G.E.S. on the one hand, and the
compensation bureaux on the other hand; to whose activities
attention has already been called in connection with the
pillage of non-ferrous metals of Holland and of the Belgian

Another document, which is likewise presented as Exhibit RF
184, shows that the very composition of the economic
detachments emanates from the High Command. Quoting from
Page 6:

   "The economic detachments already mentioned in Section
   1, which are composed of experts in the branches of
   industry existent in the respective areas, shall
   reconnoitre and secure stocks of raw materials and
   special machinery for the production of ammunition and
   war equipment which are at present important."

THE PRESIDENT: Is that quotation set out in your dossier?

M. DELPECH: The quotation is on Page 84, bis.

THE PRESIDENT : Would this be a convenient time to break

(A recess was taken)

M. DELPECH: Besides the economic detachments to which I have
just drawn the attention of the Tribunal, detailed to remove
and re-distribute machinery, either to factories working in
the occupied country on behalf of the occupier, or to
factories in Germany, the Machine Pool Office also directed
these operations. Such offices were set up in all the
occupied territories of Western Europe during the last
months of 1942, upon the order of the Minister for
Armaments, i.e. the defendant Speer, and the Office of the
Four Year Plan, i.e. the defendant Goering.

The Machine Pool Office for Belgium and Northern France was
set up upon the decision of the Chief of the Military
Economic Section in Brussels under date of February 18th,
1943. Its activity has already been outlined to the Tribunal
in connection with the despoiling of non-ferrous metal
industries. Its activity did not stop there, it is found in
all branches of industry. Exhibit RF 185 can give figures on
its activity. This activity continued to the very last days
of the occupation. Levies on machinery and instruments were
not limited to industry: Exhibits RF 193 and 194 show the
extent of levies on scientific instruments.

I have finished with the levies on industrial material.

I shall present briefly in the fourth chapter the question
of services, first of all billeting of troops.

1. By an ordinance dated the 17 December, 1940, Page 88, the
Germans imposed the costs of billeting their troops upon
Belgium. Having done this, the occupation authorities
justified themselves by a rather liberal interpretation of
Article 52 of the Hague Convention, according to the
provisions of which the occupying power may require levies
in kind and in services.

The Wetter report - Exhibit RF 186 - wrongly contends that
the Convention does not specify by whom the settlement
should be made; Article 49 gives the right to make the
occupied country defray the expenses.

Therefore Belgium had to undergo expenses to the amount of
5,900,000,000 francs for billeting costs, equipment and
furniture. The payments of the Belgian treasury for the
billeting is estimated in the report of the Belgian Military
Administration at 5,423,000,000 francs.

                                                   [Page 50]

It is evident that under the pretext of billeting costs,
other expenses were entered to the detriment of the Belgian
economy, notably - as in other occupied countries - the
purchases of furniture which was to be sent to Germany.

2. Transportation and Communications.

To insure transportation and communications, the Belgian
treasury had to advance a total of 8,000,000,000 francs. As
already pointed out to the Tribunal the seizure by the
occupation authorities covered even the river fleet, to the
same extent as the transportation plan restricted the use of
rail to the operation troops.

According to Article 53 of the Hague Convention, the
occupying army has the right to seize the means of
transportation and communications, provided that it returns
them and pays indemnity. This army, however, does not
possess the right to make the occupied country pay the costs
of transportation put at the army's disposal.

But that is what the German Army did in Belgium.

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