The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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As far as the methods which were used to seize these works
of art were concerned, I submit to the Tribunal a document
which is a letter of the Secretary of French Finance, dated
25th October, 1941. I offer it in evidence as Exhibit RF
1315; and so as not to waste the Tribunal's time I shall
merely deposit this document since it is quite probable that
my colleague, who is concerned with individual culpability,
will refer to it in his turn. Page 24 of the written report.

THE PRESIDENT: How do you prove that the greater part of the
Rothschild, Kahn, Weil-Picard and Wildenstein collections
was confiscated in the middle of November, 1940? What is the
evidence of this?

M. GERTHOFFER: General information furnished by the Fine
Arts Department.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you put in a report of a Government
committee which states that?

M. GERTHOFFER: No, Mr. President, I have not got the report
in my dossier. I did not believe it was necessary to put it
in evidence, because I thought that it was admitted that
nearly all the Rothschild collections were seized at this

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think we can take judicial notice of
it in the absence of some Government report, and simply upon
the statement.

M. GERTHOFFER: I think the question is not of great

                                                  [Page 106]
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal cannot take any notice of
statements which are not supported by evidence; therefore we
shall disregard that statement. We must have the evidence

M. GERTHOFFER: I consider that the question is not of
interest, since the Tribunal will soon see the enormous
quantities of works of art which were removed by the
Germans, and I thought it would be useless to mention the
individual owners by name.

THE PRESIDENT: I see that in the Document 1015-PS, which is
in your second document book, the facts are stated. I do not
know whether you are going to make use of that document.

M. GERTHOFFER: That document is the report of Dr. Scholz on
the activities of "Stab Rosenberg." This report contains
details of quantities of works of art which were seized. I
will quote this document later on.

THE PRESIDENT: It includes the dates October, 1940, to July,
1944, and also the Rothschild collection. I do not know
whether it refers also to the other collections which are
mentioned in your expose.

M. GERTHOFFER: I will cite this document a little later on.
The report in question was also quoted on 18th December by
Colonel Storey.

THE PRESIDENT: I intervened only for the purpose of saying
that we cannot take any notice of statements of facts unless
there is some evidence to support them.

M. GERTHOFFER: After the seizures had been effected, the
Germans carried out the work of listing, cataloging and
preparing for the presentation of the works of art which had
been confiscated. This was a very great task indeed,
rendered excessively long and complicated by lack of order
and method. Works of art were brought to the museum of Jeu
de Paume and to the Louvre; they mostly arrived in one lot
and from various sources -- hence the impossibility of
drawing up an inventory. The vast quantity of material was
classified as "unknown" in so far as its origin was
concerned. Nevertheless, in a report of "Stab Rosenberg" of
15th April, 1942, discovered by the U.S. Army and registered
under No. 172-PS, a copy of which I submit as Exhibit RF
1316, we find the passage which deals with a detailed study
of the material confiscated, and is an accurate statement of
the whole operation of confiscation, from a financial point
of view. The preparatory work was carried out in such a way
that the statement can be considered the incontestable
record of the seizure and cataloging of these art treasures,
a record unique in history.
I come to Page 26 of my brief. Certain of these works of art
were considered by the Germans as degenerate, and their
admittance into National Socialist territory was forbidden.
Theoretically speaking, they should have been destroyed, but
within the scope of total war economy these paintings,
although condemned, were none the less of commercial value
and as a means of barter their value was both definite and
great. So these paintings, carefully selected from among the
great public and private collections, were confiscated and,
as already provided for in Section 5 of the decree of 5th
November, 1940, put in the French and German art markets.

In addition to these condemned paintings, others were set
aside as being of lesser interest for official collections.
They formed the object of numerous fraudulent transactions.
We now come to the traffic in works of art. We are not, in
this case, dealing with secret and unlawful operations --
the personal acts of such-and-such a member of the Rosenberg
service; we are dealing with official operations.

Two kinds of operations were currently carried out by the
"Einsatzstab," i.e., exchanges and sales.

                                                  [Page 107]
Exchanges. On this subject we have, by way of an example,
the evidence of M. Gustav Rochlitz, received by the
examining judge, M. Marcel Frapier, in Paris on 8th January,
1946. I submit the evidence as Exhibit RF 1317 and shall
read a passage to the Tribunal.

     "During the years 1941 and 1942 I exchanged various old
     paintings for 80 modern ones, delivered by Lohse, who
     always told me that these exchanges were carried out on
     Goering's order, and that the paintings received had
     been intended for Goering. I have since learned that
     all the paintings given in exchange are contained in
     the Goering collection. I delivered in exchange about
     35 paintings, possibly more."

These facts are confirmed by the defendant Rosenberg himself
in the last lines of his report of 15th April, 1943, filed
under No. 172-PS already quoted, of which I have submitted a
copy as Exhibit RF 1316. Here is an interesting passage of
the report:

     "On the order of the Reich Marshal a certain number of
     these products of modern and degenerate French art were
     bartered on the Paris art market for paintings of a
     recognized artic [sic] value. Under these very
     interesting conditions, 87 works of old Italian, Dutch,
     and German masters, of high and recognized value, were
Numerous works of art, books, and especially paintings, were
sold by representatives of "Stab Rosenberg." Some were sold
in France, others in Germany or Switzerland. The fact that
this was a calculated procedure is evident if we consider
that the value of these paintings, confiscated under the
legally fallacious pretext of keeping them in safe custody,
could be realised if they were sold on neutral markets and
paid for in foreign currency.

I now consider that I should give you some brief
explanations of the justifications offered by the Germans
concerning their confiscations. Primarily, these
justifications are mere quibbles relating to the nature of
the seizures. The seizures were only "temporary and
preservative measures for the safe-keeping of the art
treasures." Count Metternich, Chief of the Department for
the Protection of Works of Art in France from July, 1940 to
1942, made this point quite clear in a report, a copy of
which has been discovered in France and which I submit as
Exhibit RF 1318. Here are some brief excerpts from this

     "As soon as I arrived in Paris, I realised that various
     departments which did not belong to the military
     administration were interested in removable works of
And further on, in the same paragraph:

     "It has been said that there was no intention of
     expropriation, but that these times were to be
     considered as pawns, to be used in future peace
No detailed instructions were given as to how the operations
should be carried out and, in particular, no interpretation
was given of the term "custody."

The vague expression "in custody" has been subjected to
every variety of interpretation. According to some, the
seizure was only a temporary measure, although the question
of definite appropriation remained unsettled. For the
defendant Rosenberg the solution was simple; he expresses it
in a letter, previously quoted, of 18th June, 1942,
addressed to Goering, which I have just submitted as Exhibit
RF 1314. This is the relevant passage:

     "I therefore believe you will be in agreement with me
     on this point, namely, that art objects forming a part
     of Jewish property, when taken into custody, should be
     considered as seized for the benefit of the N.S.D.A.P.
     As to material suitable for research work, the Fuehrer
     has already decided that these treasures, now in the
     custody of the `Einsatzstab,'
                                                  [Page 108]
     shall become the property of the `Hohe Schule.' It is
     be only just and fair that the great art treasures now
     in custody should one day become the property of the
     N.S.D.A.P. Needless to say, the decision of this
     question rests with the Fuehrer. However, since the
     N.S.D.A.P. has for 20 years financed a war against
     Jewry, such a decision would appear permissible."
And we are justified in saying that these confiscations are
now no longer measures of preservation or requisition, but a
species of booty which perforce must fall into the hands of
a German people triumphing over the Jewish race whom they
have outlawed.

In a report justifying their action, demanded by the Army
Commander and drawn up on the order of the defendant
Rosenberg by the Chief of the "Einsatzstab," Utikal, in
November, 1941, the latter went so far s to state (I submit
this report as Exhibits RF 1319, 1320, and 1321, from the
attached supplement No. 1321, Page 31):

     "The German measures of reprisal against the Jews are
     likewise justified by International Law. It is a
     recognized principle of International Law that, in war,
     reprisals may be taken by resorting to the same
     procedures and the same concepts as primarily used by
     the enemy. From time immemorial the Jews have, in their
     Jewish laws, codified in the Talmud and the Schulchan
     Aruch, applied the principle that all non-Jews are to
     be considered as so much cattle, i.e., as without any
     rights; and that the property of non-Jews should be
     dealt with as a thing which has been abandoned, that is
     to say, as derelict property."
Thus, Gentlemen the confiscations of the "Einsatzstab" were
sheltered by this strange interpretation of International
Law. It seems useless to discuss the validity of this
argument before the Tribunal. The Belgian, Dutch and French
authorities made frequent protests based on the most
elementary principles of International Law, but always met
with refuals [sic] (Page 32 of the brief).

It would at any rate be fitting to define the extent of
these seizures.

It is difficult to give a total estimate, although Rosenberg
himself, on several occasions, made an estimate of his
booty, especially in a letter to the treasurer of the Party,
Schwarz, 14th November, 1940, a document discovered by the
U.S. Army and bearing the number 1736-PS, a copy of which I
offer in evidence as Exhibit RF 1322. At that date Rosenberg
already considered that the booty amounted to half a million

The documents of the "Einsatzstab" are sufficiently numerous
and precise to allow us to establish certain quantitative
data. First -- the seizures by the General Staff for Art
Treasures. The fundamental document is a report of Dr.
Scholz, dated 14th July, 1944, which we have just mentioned.
This is Document 1015-PS, which was presented in part to the
Court by Colonel Storey, and which I offer in evidence as
Exhibit RF 1323. From this report I shall extract only some
very brief details on the quantities of art objects carried

According to this report, 21,903 objects taken from 203
private collections were removed, notably from the
Rothschild, Alphons Kann, David Weil, Levy de Benzion, and
the Seligmann brothers' collections. According to the same
report there were "all told, 29 transports, 137 trucks, and
4,174 cases."

I shall not quote any further from this report, because I
think that my colleague, also entrusted with preferring the
charges, will refer to it.

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to break off?

                    (A recess was taken.)

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