The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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3. Labour.

The deportation of labour to Germany and forced labour in
Belgium have already been presented to the Tribunal. It
seems then unnecessary to stress this point. At the most, we
should recall certain consequences unfavourable to the
Belgian economy. The measures pertaining to the deportation
of labour have caused an economic disorganisation and
weakening without precedent.

Furthermore, the departure of workers, and particularly of
specialists inadequately replaced by unskilled people,
women, adolescents and pensioners, brought about a decrease
in production at the same time as an increase in cost
prices, which complicated the problem of the financial
equilibrium of industrial enterprises.

The levy of labour was the cause of political and social
discontent, by reason of the dispersion of families and the
inequities consequent to the requisition of workers.

The workers were required to fill levies in spheres of work
which were not necessarily their own, with a resultant loss
of professional abilities. Personnel were divided and
transferred. The closing of artisan workshops brought about
changes more or less felt in certain branches of production.
The losses thus suffered cannot be measured in terms of
money, but are not less in need of submission to your

I have finished with this subject and will turn to a last
chapter, Chapter 5, the acquisition of Belgian investments
in foreign industrial enterprises, Page 93.

Since 1940, according to their general policy in all
occupied countries of Western Europe, the Germans were
concerned with acquiring investments in Belgian financial
enterprises abroad.

The official German point of view emerges clearly from a
letter dated July 29, 1941, from the Minister of Finance to
the Military Commander in Belgium. I have submitted it as
Exhibit RF 187.

This conception of the right to acquire investments is
certainly very far from the idea as laid down by the Hague
Convention in respect to the right of requisition. It
clearly shows the German leaders' will to enrichment at the
expense of Belgium.

Thus, the Germans, since May 1940 sought to get influence in
Belgian holding companies. Not being able to violate
directly International Law, particularly Article 46 of the
Hague Convention, they strove to influence the members of
the executive boards through persuasion rather than by

In the course of a conference held on May 3, 1940, at the
Reich Ministry of Economics, dealing with those parts of
Belgian and Dutch capital which it would be still possible
to acquire, it was decided that the Military Commander in
Belgium should take all necessary measures to prevent, on
the one hand, the

                                                   [Page 51]

destruction, transfer, sale and illegal holding of all bonds
and stocks of these countries, and, on the other hand, to
induce Belgian capitalists to hand over their foreign
securities to the Germans.The minutes of this conference are
found in the document book and will be submitted as Exhibit
RF 187.

To prevent the flight of any capital, an ordinance of June
17, 1940, was promulgated, subjecting to authorisation any
sending abroad of securities and any acquisition or disposal
of foreign securities.

Since August 2, 1940, the German leaders and the defendant
Goering himself took a definite stand on this point. In the
course of the general remarks on economic exploitation I
have read to you secret directives issued in this respect by
the defendant Goering. It is Exhibit RF 105, Page 97.

In spite of the German assurances and in spite of the wish
of the occupying power to preserve the appearance of
legality, the German desire to absorb certain investments
met with serious resistance. The occupation authorities
several times had to resort to force to conclude sales, in
spite of the rights which they had reserved for themselves
in the above cited decree of August 27, 1940. This was
particularly the case regarding the investments held by the
Belgian Metal Trust, the electrical enterprise of Eastern
Silesia, and, still more clearly regarding the stock of the
Ostrovic Metal Company, which, at that time, were wanted by
the Hermann Goering Werke.

The Belgian ill will increased as the German determination
to pillage became more evident. In his report of December 1,
1942, Exhibit RF 191, the German Kommissar with the National
Bank vehemently denounces this resistance on the part of the
Belgian market. Almost all acquisitions which could have
been realised by the Germans were regulated by means of

The balance of clearing capital credited to Belgium to the
sum of 1 billion Belgian francs on August 31, 1944,
represents the result of borrowing forced upon Belgium
without any legal or logical relation to occupation costs
except the Germans' will to hegemony.

Such a practice, contrary to the principles of International
Law and to the rules of criminal laws of civilised nations,
falls under Article 6B of the Charter of the International
Military Tribunal, and constitutes an act of pillage of
public or private property such as envisaged in the
prementioned text.

Closely allied to the acquisition of investments, and always
within the framework of legality, the levies made by the
German authorities on foreign enemy property and Jewish
property should be presented to the Tribunal.

As to foreign property seized by the Germans, it must be
mentioned that this measure was applied to French capital in
Belgium in spite of numerous protests by the French
Government. As to Jewish property, for the years 1943 and
1944, the figures are presented in Exhibit RF 192.

With this I conclude the presentation of the economic
spoliation of Belgium.

The damage caused to Belgian economy in its principal
sectors has just been submitted to the Tribunal. The
statistical data have been taken either from German reports
or from reports of the Belgian Government. The available
estimates and figures are not yet sufficiently exact to fix
the costs of war, the occupation and the economic spoliation
of Belgium; certain losses and certain damages cannot be
expressed in money. Among them, first of an, we must mention
the privations resulting from German commandeering of a
large part of food supplies and from the particular
situation of billeting and clothing. This purely material
aspect of the question should not let us overlook the
consequences of the occupation upon the public health. For
lack of statistical data, it is difficult to show precisely
the final state of public health resulting from the
particular circumstances.

One fact, however, must be remembered: the considerable
increase in the number of persons who were eligible for
special invalid diets. This number

                                                   [Page 52]

rose from 2,000 a month in 1941 to more than 25,000 a month
in 1944. It has therefore, increased more than ten times, in
spite of rationing measures which became more and more

This increase in nutritional aid given to sick persons
deserves the attention of the Tribunal, less for its
statistical interest, than because it is an indication of
the rise of disease in Belgium. This is itself the result of
the undernourishment of the population during the four years
of occupation.

This deplorable state of affairs, however, had not escaped
the attention of the occupation authorities, as appears from
the letter of the Military Commander in Belgium already
cited, which is found in the document book as Exhibit RF

   "Regarding the food situation in Belgium, neither the
   minimum of existence for the civilian population is
   secured nor the minimum amount necessary for feeding
   heavy workers who are employed solely in the interest of
   the German war economy."

I shall not dwell on this. This undernourishment of the
Belgian population has been the inescapable and the most
serious result of the huge levies made by the occupation
authorities, who wilfully disregarded the elementary
requirements of an occupied country in order to pursue only
the war aims of the Reich.

The lowering of the average standard of health and the rise
in the death rate in Belgium from 1940 to 1945 may therefore
be rightly considered the direct result of the spoliations
committed by the Germans in Belgium in transgression of
International Law.

I have concluded the presentation on Belgium.

I would like to make a few brief remarks on the economic
pillaging of Luxembourg.

Supplementing my presentation on Belgium, it is proper to
present to the Tribunal some details on the conduct of the
Germans in Luxembourg.

The Government of the Grand Duchy has submitted a general
summary of its charges, which has been lodged with the
Tribunal as Exhibit UK 77, and in which an extract covering
the crimes against property, is in the document book under
No. 1.

The Germans shortly after their entry into the Grand Duchy
proceeded to annex it in fact. This attitude, exactly
similar to that adopted towards the inhabitants of the
Departments of Moselle, Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin, requires
some remarks.

As was their wont, one of the first measures was in
connection with the rate of exchange. This they fixed as ten
Luxembourg francs to one mark. It was the subject of the
ordinance of August 26, 1940, to be found in the document
book under Exhibit RF 195. This rate of exchange did not
correspond to the respective purchasing power of the two
currencies. It constituted a considerable levy on the wealth
of the nationals, and especially insured the Germans a
complete seizure of monetary means of payment. It procured
for them a way of seizing a considerable part of the
reserves of raw materials and manufactured goods of the
country. The acquisitions were settled in depreciated marks
on the basis of controlled prices imposed by the Germans.

Finally, by the ordinance of January 29, 1941, the
Reichsmark was introduced as the only legal tender
(ordinance submitted under Exhibit RF 196); the Luxembourg
francs and the occupation marks were taken out of
circulation, as well as Belgian francs, up to then
considered as currency of the Franco-Luxembourg monetary
union; all of these became foreign currency, effective from
February 5, 1941.

I should like to draw the attention of the Tribunal to the
fact that, of all the

                                                   [Page 53]

countries occupied by Germany, Luxembourg, Alsace and
Lorraine were the only ones totally deprived of their
national currency.

Moreover, to procure for the Reich the financial means
necessary for the prosecution of the war, the ordinance of
August 27, 1940 (Exhibit RF 197) required the forced handing
over of gold and foreign currency. In addition, the same
ordinance laid down that foreign shares and bonds had to be
offered for sale to the Reichsbank at rates and under
conditions fixed by the occupying power.

As has already been pointed out, the Germans seized
industrial stocks. In this respect, the report dated May 21,
1940, on the economic situation in Holland, Belgium and
Luxembourg contains information on the stocks found in the

1,600,000,000 tons of iron ore;
      125,000 tons of manganese;
       10,000 tons of crude iron ;
       10,000 tons of ferro-manganese;
       36,000 tons of laminated products and finished
products, and I could continue this enumeration. The German
seizure extended from these stocks to industrial production.

According to the memorandum presented by the Reparations
Commission of the Luxembourg Government, Exhibit RF 198, the
total economic damages amount to 5,800,000,000 Luxembourg
francs at 1938 value.

This figure can be broken down as follows:

  Industry and commerce         1,900,000,000
  Railroads                       207,000,000
  Roads and Highways              100,000,000
  Agriculture                  11,600,000,000
  Damage to property in general 1,900,000,000

From the same official source, the total loss in capital
represents about 33 per cent of the national wealth of
Luxembourg; before the war estimated at approximately
5,000,000,000 Luxembourg francs.

The effect on the financial and monetary situation of the
country was a loss exceeding 6,000,000,000 Luxembourg

These damages particularly figure the increase in
circulation of money and the total amount of forced
investments in Germany - more than 4,800,000,000 Luxembourg
francs - as well as additional contributions imposed upon
the taxpayers of the Grand Duchy following the introduction
of the German fiscal system.

To these burdens must be added the skimming of profits, the
fines and the allegedly voluntary gifts of every kind
imposed upon Luxembourg.

Corresponding to what was done in other countries, the
ordinance of February 21, 1941 (document 199 of the document
book concerning Luxembourg) provided that German managers
might be appointed in large enterprises, particularly
enterprises which - and this is the text of the ordinance -
"which refused to militate in favour of Germanism under any

The mission of the Commissars was to ensure for the Reich,
within the scope of the Four Year Plan, the direction and
control of exploitation in the exclusive interest of the
German war effort.

Thus, on August 2, 1940, the Reichskommissar for the
"Administration of Enemy Property" appointed to the largest
metal company in Luxembourg (Arbed), the United Steel Works
of Burbach-Eich-Dudelange, three German Kommissars, who
secured the total seizure of the company.

Neither did other large companies escape this domination, as
can be seen from the documents submitted to the Tribunal
under Exhibit RF 200.

The spoliation of Luxembourg and foreign interests in the
insurance field,

                                                   [Page 54]

one of the most important sectors of Luxembourg business,
was complete. With the exception of three Swiss companies
and a German company, the Luxembourg companies, whose assets
were transferred to German insurance companies - in an
official way as regards the national companies and secretly
as regards the foreign companies - were prohibited from
carrying on any transactions.

The insurance companies of Luxembourg were deprived of the
premiums from fire insurance by the introduction of
compulsory fire insurance, for which the German companies
were given the monopoly.

Introducing in Luxembourg their racial policy, the National
Socialists seized and confiscated all Jewish property in the
Grand Duchy to the profit of the Verwaltung fur
Judenvermoogen (Administration for Jewish Property).

Also in regard to the Umsiedlungspolitik (resettlement
policy), 1,500 Luxembourg families (that is, roughly, 7000
persons) were deported. The Germans took possession of their
property. A German trust company, incorporated in the German
Office for Colonisation and Germanisation was charged with
the administration of this property, and, in fact, set about
its liquidation. Important assets were thus confiscated and
transferred to the Reich.

Tyrolian Germans were, as has already been pointed out,
installed in the houses, and in the industrial, commercial
and artisan enterprises of the deportees.

That is to say, your Honours, that the Grand Duchy of
Luxembourg was the victim of economic pillage as
systematically organised as that in Belgium.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Delpech, the Tribunal is grateful to you
for the way in which you have performed the task which they
asked you to perform last night, a task which is not
altogether easy, of shortening the address which you had
intended to make. As far as they are able to judge, no
essential parts of your address have been omitted. It is of
great importance that the trial should be conducted, as the
Charter indicates, in an expeditious way, and it was for
this reason that the Tribunal asked you, if you could, to
shorten your address.

M. DELPECH: I thank you, your Honour, for your kindness. (M.
Gerthoffer takes the floor)

THE PRESIDENT Yes, M. Gerthoffer.

M. GERTHOFFER Mr. President, your Honours, I come to the
sixth section of this presentation, which deals with the
economic pillage of France.

When the Germans invaded France, they found there
considerable wealth. They set about with ingenuity to seize
it and also to subjugate the national economy.

When they failed to attain their ends by mere requisitions,
they resorted to devious methods, using simultaneously ruse
and violence, striving to cloak their criminal actions with

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