The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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This state of affairs results from the fact that the Germans
directed the products in the process of manufacture, in
theory reserved for the French population, into finishing
industries which had priority, that is to say, whose
production was reserved for them.

Finally, through their purchases on the black market, the
Germans procured an enormous quantity of textiles, machine
tools, leather, perfume, and so forth. The French population
was almost completely deprived of textiles during the
occupation. That is also true for leather.

Now, I reach Section 4, the removal of industrial tools. I
shall not impose on your time; this question has already
been treated as far as the other occupied  countries are
concerned. I would merely point out that in France it was
the object of statistical estimates which I submit to you as
Exhibit RF 251. These statistical estimates show that the
value of the material which was removed from the various
French factories under private or public enterprise exceeds
the sum of 9,000,000,000 francs.

It was observed that for many of the machines which were
removed, the Germans merely indicated the inventory value
after reduction due to depreciation, and not the replacement
value of the machines.

I now come to Section 5: Securities and Foreign Investments,
in document EC 57 which I submitted as Exhibit RF 105 at the
beginning of my presentation,

                                                   [Page 69]

I had indicated that the defendant Goering himself had
informed you of the aims of the German economic policy, and
that he ventured to say that the extension of German
influence over foreign enterprises was one of the purposes
of that policy.

These directives were to be expressed much more precisely in
the document of the 12 August, 1940, which I submit as
Exhibit RF 252, and from which I shall read a short extract.

   "Since "-as the document says-" the principal economic
   enterprises are in the form of stock companies, it is
   first of all indispensable to secure the ownership of
   securities in France."

Further on it says:

   "the exertion of influence by way of directives..."

Then the document indicates all the means to be employed to
achieve this, in particular this passage concerning
International Law :

   "According to Article 46 of the Hague Convention,
   concerning land warfare, private property cannot be
   confiscated. Therefore the confiscation of securities is
   to be avoided in so far as it does not concern
   securities belonging to the State. According to Article
   42 and following of the Hague Convention concerning land
   warfare, the authority exercising power in the occupied
   enemy territory must restrict itself in principle to
   utilising measures which are necessary to re-establish
   or maintain order and public life; to conform to
   International Law it is forbidden in principle to
   eliminate the still existing boards of companies and to
   replace them by 'Kommissars.' Such a measure would, from
   the point of view of International Law, probably not be
   considered as efficacious. Consequently, we must strive
   to force the various boards of companies to work for the
   German economy, but not dismiss these persons..."

Further on :

   "If these boards refuse to be directed, we must dissolve
   them and replace them by others of which we can make

We will briefly consider the three categories of seizure of
financial investments, which were the purpose of German
spoliation during the occupation, and first of all the
seizure of financial investments in companies whose
interests were abroad.

On the 14 August, 1940, an ordinance was published in
V.O.B.I.F., Page 67, forbidding any negotiations regarding
credits or foreign securities. But mere freezing of
securities did not satisfy the occupying power; it was
necessary for them to become outwardly the owners of the
securities in order to be able if necessary, to negotiate
with them in neutral countries.

They had some agents who purchased foreign securities from
private citizens who needed money, but above all, they put
pressure on the Vichy Government to hand over the principal
French investments in foreign countries.

That is why, in particular, after long discussions, in the
course of which the German pressure was very great,
considerable surrenders of investments were made to the

It is not possible for me to submit to the Tribunal the
numerous documents concerning the surrender of these
investments, the minutes, the correspondence, the survey.
They would, without exaggeration, take up several cubic
metres. I shall merely quote several passages as examples.

Concerning the Bor Mines Company, the copper mines in
Yugoslavia, of which the greatest part of the capital was in
French hands, the Germans appointed on 26 July 1940, an
administrative Commissar for these branches of the company
situated in Yugoslavia. I submit this to the Tribunal as

                                                   [Page 70]

Exhibit RF 254. The administrative Commissar was Herr
Neuhausen the German Consul General for Yugoslavia and

In the course of the discussions of the Armistice Commission
Hemmen declared - and this is found in an extract from the
minutes of 27 September 1940 which I submit to the Tribunal
as Exhibit RF 255:

   "Germany wishes to acquire the shares of the company,
   without concern for the juridical objections made by the
   French. Germany obeys, in fact, the imperative
   consideration of the economic order. She suspects that
   the Bor Mines are still delivering copper to England,
   and she has definitely decided to take possession of
   these mines... "

I now submit to the Tribunal, as Exhibit RF 256, an extract
from the minutes of a meeting held on 4 October, 1940, which
Hemmen faced with the refusal of the French delegates,

   "I regret to have to transmit such a reply to my
   Government. See if the French Government cannot
   reconsider its attitude. If not, our relations will
   become very difficult. My Government is anxious to bring
   this matter to a close. If you refuse, the consequences
   will be extremely grave."

M. de Boisanger, the French Delegate, replied:

   "I will therefore put that question once more."

And Hemmen replied:

   "I shall expect your reply by to-morrow. If it does not
   come, I shall transmit the negative reply which you have
   just given."

Then, in the course of a meeting on 9 January 1941, Hemmen
stated - and I submit again an extract from the minutes,
which will be Exhibit RF 257:

   "I had, from the beginning, been entrusted with this
   affair at Wiesbaden. Then it was discussed by the Consul
   General Neuhausen, on behalf of a very high-ranking
   personage, (Marshal Goering) and it was handled directly
   in Paris with M. Laval and M. Abetz."

As far as French investments in petroleum companies in
Roumania are concerned, the pressure was no less. In the
course of the meeting of 10 October 1940, of the Armistice
Commission, the same Hemmen stated - and I submit this as
Exhibit RF 258, an extract from the minutes of the meeting:

   "Moreover, we shall be satisfied with the majority of
   the shares. We will leave in your hands anything which
   we do not need for this purpose. Can you accept on this
   point in principle? The matter is urgent. As for the Bor
   Mines, we want all."

On 29 of November 1940, Hemmen stated again - and I submit
this extract of the minutes of the Armistice Commission
meeting as Exhibit RF 259:

   "We are still at war and we must exert immediate
   influence over petroleum production in Roumania.
   Therefore we cannot wait for the peace treaty."

When the French Delegates asked that the surrender should at
least be made in exchange for material compensation, Hemmen
   "Impossible. The sums which you are to receive from us
   will be taken out of the occupation costs. This will
   save you from using the printing-press. This kind of
   participation will be generalised on the German side
   when the collaboration policy has been defined."

We might present quotations of this kind indefinitely, and
many even much more serious from the point of view of the
violation of the provisions of the Hague Convention.

All these concessions, apparently agreed to by the French,
were only accepted under German pressure.

                                                   [Page 71]

Scrutiny of the contracts agreed upon shows great losses to
those who handed over their property, and enormous profits
for those who acquired it, without the latter having
furnished any real compensation.The Germans thus obtained
French investments in the Roumanian petroleum companies, in
the enterprises of Central Europe, Norway and the Balkans,
and especially those of the Bor Mines Company which I

These surrenders, paid by francs coming from occupation
costs, rose to rather more than 2 billion francs. The others
were paid by the floating of French loans abroad, notably in
Holland, and through clearing.

Having given you a brief summary of the seizure of French
business investments abroad, I shall examine rapidly the
German seizure of the registered capital of French
industrial companies.

Shortly after the Armistice, in conformity with the
directives of the defendant Goering, a great number of
French industries were the object of proposals on the part
of German groups, anxious to acquire all or part of the
assets of these companies.

Acquisition was facilitated by the fact that the Germans, as
I have had the honour of pointing out to you, were, in
reality, in control of industry, and had taken over the
direction of production, particularly by the system of
"Patenfirmen." Long discussions took place between the
occupying power and the French Minister of Finance, whose
department strove, without success, to limit to 30 per cent
the maximum of German investments.

It is not possible for me to enter into details of the
seizure of these investments. I shall point out, however,
that the Finance Minister handed to us a list of the most
important ones, which are reproduced in a chart appended to
the French document book, and which will be Exhibit RF 260.

The result was that the seizure of investments, fictitiously
paid through clearing, rose to the sum of 307,436,000
francs; through occupation costs to 160 millions, through
foreign stocks, to a sum which we have not been able to
determine; and finally, through various or unknown means to
28,718,000 francs.

We shall conclude the paragraph of this fifth section by
quoting part of the Hemmen report relative to these
questions, Page 63 of the original and 142 of the French
translation. Here is what Hemmen writes, in Salzburg in
January 1944, concerning this subject:

   "The fifth report upon the activity of the delegation is
   devoted to the difficulty of future seizures of
   investments in France, in the face of the strongly
   accusing attitude of the French Government concerning
   the surrender of valuable domestic and foreign property.
   This opposition increased, during the period covered by
   the report, to such an extent that the French Government
   was no longer disposed to give any approval to the
   transfer of investments even if economic compensations
   were offered."

Further on, Page 104 in the second paragraph:

   "During the four years of the occupation of France the
   Armistice Delegation transferred stocks representing
   altogether about RM 121 million from French to German
   ownership, among them investments in enterprises
   important to the war in other countries, as well as in
   Germany and France. Details of this are found in the
   earlier reports of the activities of the Delegation. For
   about half of these transfers, the Germans gave economic
   compensation by delivery of French foreign shares
   acquired in Holland and in Belgium, while the rest of
   the amount was paid by way of clearing or occupation
   costs. The fact of giving payment in French shares in
   foreign countries caused the differences, as far as the
   shares were concerned, between the German purchasing
   price and the French rates, and the result was that the
   Germans achieved gains of a sum of about seven million
   Reichsmark, which were delivered to the Reich."

                                                   [Page 72]

One should emphasise that the profit derived by Germany,
merely from the financial point of view, is not 7 million
Reichsmark, or 140 million francs, according to Hemmen, but
much greater. In fact, Germany paid principally for her
acquisition by way of occupation costs, and by clearing and
French loans issued in Holland or in Belgium, the
appropriation of which by Germany amounted to spoliation of
these countries and could not constitute a real compensation
for France.

These surrenders of investments, carried out under the cloak
of legality, moved the United Nations to lay down, in their
declarations made in London, on 5 January 1943, the
principle that such surrenders should be declared null and
void, even when carried out with the apparent consent of
those who made them.

I submit, as Exhibit RF 261, the solemn statement signed in
London, on 5 January 1943, which was published in the French
Official Journal on 15 August 1944 at the time of the
liberation. I might add that all these surrenders are the
subject of indictments before the French Courts of "high
treason against Frenchman who surrendered their investments
to the Germans," even though undeniable pressure was brought
to bear upon them.

I shall conclude this chapter with one last observation: the
German seizure of real estate in France. It is still
difficult to give at this time a precise account of this
subject, for these operations were nearly always made
through an intermediary with an assumed name. The most
striking is that of a certain Skolnikoff, who during the
occupation was able to invest nearly 2 billion francs in the
purchase of real estate.

It is true that this individual, of indeterminate
nationality, who lived in poverty before the war, enriched
himself in a scandalous fashion, thanks to his connection
with the Gestapo and his operations on the black market in
co-operation with the occupying power. But, whatever may
have been the profits he derived from his dishonest
activities, he could not personally have acquired almost 2
billions worth of real estate in France.

I submit, as Exhibit RF 262, a copy of a police report
concerning him. It is not possible for me to read this to
the Tribunal in its entirety, but it contains the list of
the buildings and real estate companies acquired by him.
These are without question choice buildings of great value.
It is evident that Skolnikoff, an agent for the Gestapo, was
an assumed name for certain Germans whose identity has not
been discovered up to the present.

Now I shall take up Section 6 - the levy of transportation
and communication material. A report from the French
administration gives us statistics which are reproduced in a
very complete chart, which I shall not read to the Tribunal.
I shall merely point out to the Tribunal that most of the
locomotives and rolling stock in good shape were removed,
and that the total sum of the levies on transportation
material reached the figure of 188,450,000,000 francs.

I shall now take up levies in the departments of Haut-Rhin,
Bas-Rhin and Moselle. From the beginning of the invasion the
Germans incorporated these departments into the Reich. This
question will be presented subsequently by the French
Prosecution when they discuss the question of Germanisation.
From the point of view of economic spoliation it must be
stressed that the Germans sought to derive a maximum from
these three departments. Though they paid in marks for a
certain number of products, they made no settlement whatever
for the principal products, especially coal, iron, crude
oil, potassium, industrial material, furniture, and
agricultural machinery.

The information relating to this is given by the French
administration in a chart which I shall summarise briefly,
and which I submit as Exhibit RF 264.

The value of the levies in the three French departments of
the East, levies not paid for by the Germans, reached the
sum of 27,315,000,000 francs.

To conclude the question of the departments in the East, I
should like to

                                                   [Page 73]

point out to the Tribunal that my colleague, who will
discuss the question of Germanisation, will show how the
firm, Herman Goering Werke, in which the defendant Goering
had considerable interests, appropriated equipment from the
mines of the large French company called the "Petits-Fils de
Francois de Wendel et Cie."

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