The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1998/07/31

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Now, if your Honour pleases, in addition to the evidence
heretofore presented, the prosecution submits that it is
another evidence of crime that the Leadership Corps of the
N.S.D.A.P. was responsible for the plundering of art
treasures by the defendant Reichsleiter Rosenberg's
"Einsatzstab Rosenberg". The definition of  "Einsatzstab" is
a "special staff," and I am told that the word "Einsatz"
means "to give action to". In other words, it was a task
force, a special staff.

This subject, digressing from the text, had been prepared in
connection with the general subject of "Plundering of Art
Treasures", and I shall now turn to the document books of
the "Plundering of Art Treasures" because the citations now
will be in this small book.

I now pass to your Honour Document Book "W", and, may I say,
digressing from the text, that the trial address, which is
very brief, has, as I have been told by the Translating
Division, been translated into all four languages; and, as I
understand, Colonel Dostert will distribute it to all
parties in their respective languages.

Also, by way of explanation, at the beginning there is one
reference here to the plundering of art treasures in the
occupied portion of Poland, which does not bear directly
upon this subject, but does on the general conspiracy: and I
thought, in the interest of time, that we might follow the
presentation, because it is very brief.

May it please the Tribunal, the sections of the Indictment
which are to be proved at this point are those dealing with
the plunder of public and private property under Count One,
the Common Plan or Conspiracy. It is not my purpose to
explore all phases of the ordinary plunder in which the
Germans engaged. However, I would bring to the attention of
the Tribunal and of the world the defendants' vast,
organised, systematic pro-

                                                   [Page 62]
gramme for the cultural impoverishment of virtually every
community of Europe and for the enrichment of Germany

Special emphasis will be placed on the activities of the
Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg; and the responsibility
of the Leadership Corps in this regard is a responsibility
that is shared by the defendants Rosenberg, Goering and
Keitel, and by the defendant organisations: the General
Staff, High Command, Gestapo, the Security Service, and the

Before I deal with the plunder of the cultural treasures by
the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, I wish to reveal briefly the
independent plundering operations conducted in the
Government General of occupied Poland by authority of the
defendant Goering and under the supervision of the defendant
Frank, the Governor General.

In October, 1939, Goering issued a verbal order to a Dr.
Muehlmann asking him to undertake the immediate securing of
all Polish art treasures. Dr. Muehlmann himself gives
evidence of this order in Document 3042, found in the
document book last introduced as Exhibit USA 375.

THE PRESIDENT: Are the documents in Book W?

COLONEL STOREY: Book W; yes, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: I was asking whether the documents in Book W
are placed in order of number in PS?

COLONEL STOREY: They are; yes, Sir; and the first one is
found on the first page. I beg your pardon; 3042 would be in
numerical order toward the end, your Honour.

THE PRESIDENT: I have it. I was merely asking for general

COLONEL STOREY: These are consecutive. I would like to offer
this affidavit and to read it in full. In short, it was
obtained in Austria.

     Kajetan Muehlmann states under oath:

     "I have been a member of the N.S.D.A.P. since 1st
     April, 1938. I was Brigadier General (Oberfuehrer) in
     the S.S.
     I was never an illegal Nazi.
     I was the special deputy of the Governor General of
     Poland, Hans Frank, for the safeguarding of art
     treasures in the Government General, October, 1939 to
     September, 1943.
     Goering, in his function as chairman of the Reich
     Defence Council, had commissioned me with this duty.
     I confirm that it was the official policy of the
     Governor General Hans Frank, to take into custody all
     important art treasures which belonged to Polish public
     institutions, private collections and the Church. I
     confirm that the art treasures mentioned were actually
     confiscated; and it is clear to me that they would not
     have remained in Poland in case of a German victory,
     but they would have been used to complement German
     artistic property.
     Signed and sworn to by Dr. Muehlmann."

On the 15th November, 1939, Frank issued a decree, which is
published officially in The Law of the Government General,
(Document 1773-PS, Exhibit USA 376). It is E.800, Article 1,
Section 1. It is not in the document book. It is just a
short quotation, of which we ask the Tribunal to take
judicial notice. Quoting:

     "All movable and stationary property of the former
     Polish State
                                                   [Page 63]
     will be sequestered for the purpose of securing all
     manner of public valuables."

In a further decree of 16th December, 1939, appearing at
Page E.810 of the same publication, Frank provided that all
art objects in public possession in the Government General
were to be seized for the fulfillment of public tasks of
common interest, in so far as they had not already been
seized under the decree of 13th November. The decree
provided that, in addition to art collections and art
treasures belonging to the Polish State, there will be
considered as owned by the public those private collections
which have not already been taken under protection by the
Special Commissioner, as well as all ecclesiastical art

On the 24th September, 1940, Frank decreed that all property
seized on the basis of the decree of 15th November, 1939,
would be transferred to the ownership of the Government
General, and this decree is also found at E.810 of the same

It is impossible for me to furnish this Tribunal a complete
Picture of the vastness of the programme for the cultural
impoverishment of Poland carried out pursuant to the
directives, as I cannot read into the record the 500-odd
masterpieces catalogued in Document 1233-PS (Exhibit USA
377) or the many hundreds of additional items catalogued in
Document 1709-PS, Exhibit USA 378. Now Document 1233-PS,
which I hold in my hand, is a finely bound, beautifully
printed catalogue, in which defendant Frank proudly lists
and describes the major works of art which he had seized for
the benefit of the Reich. This volume was captured by the
Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Division of the Third
United States Army and was found in Frank's home near
Munich. The introductory page describes the thoroughness
with which the Government General stripped Poland of its
cultural possessions. That is quoted in Document 1233-PS.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you hand that up?

COLONEL STOREY: I am quoting now from the introductory page,
the English translation, the first paragraph. I might say by
way of explanation, that this book lists the valuable art
treasure by titles. I now quote from the introductory page:

     "By reason of the decree of 16th December, 1939, by the
     Governor General of the Occupied Polish territories,
     the Special Commissioner for securing objects of art
     and culture was able to seize within six months almost
     all of the art objects of the country, with one
     exception: a series of Flemish Gobelins of the Castle
     of Crakow. According to the latest information these
     are now in France, so that subsequent seizure will be

Going through this catalogue page by page we find that it
included references to paintings by German, Italian, Dutch,
French and Spanish masters, rare illustrated books, Indian
and Persian miniatures, wood-cuts, the famous Veit-Stoss
hand-carved altar (created here in Nuremberg and purchased
for use in Poland), handicraft, articles of gold and silver,
antique articles of crystal, glass and porcelain,
tapestries, antique weapons, rare coins and medals. These
articles were seized, as indicated in the catalogue, from
public and private sources, including the National Museums
in Crakow and Warsaw, the cathedrals of Warsaw and Lublin, a
number of churches and

                                                   [Page 64]
monasteries, university libraries, and a great many private
collections of the Polish nobility.

I wish now to offer in evidence the catalogue bearing our
number 1233-PS. It is the one just introduced in evidence,
and is Document 1709-PS. This latter report, in addition to
listing the 521 major items described in the catalogue,
lists many other items, which though generally no less
important from an artistic standpoint, were considered by
the Germans to be of secondary importance from the point of
view of the Reich.

It is interesting to note with what pains the defendant
Frank opted to conceal his real purpose in seizing these
works of art. The cover of the catalogue itself states that
the objects listed were secured and safeguarded. Strangely
enough, it was found necessary to safeguard some of the
objects by transporting them to Berlin and depositing them
in the depot of the Special Deputy or in the safe of the
Deutsche Reichsbank, as is indicated on Page 80 of Document
1709-PS, Exhibit USA 378. The items referred to as having
been transported to Berlin are listed in the catalogue of
treasures safeguarded and their numbers are 4, 17, 27, 35,
and so on. Thirty-one extremely valuable and world-renowned
sketches of Albrecht Duerer, taken from the collection of
Lubomirski in Lemberg, were likewise safeguarded. At Page 68
of this report, Dr. Muehlmann states that he personally
handed these sketches to Goering, who took them to the
Fuehrer at his headquarters.

Numerous objects of art, paintings, tapestries, plates,
dishes, as well as other dinnerware, were also safeguarded
by Frank, who had the Special Deputy to deliver these
objects to an architect for the purpose of furnishing the
castle at Crakow and the Schloss Kressendorf, which were his
residences. It was apparently Frank's belief that these
items would be safer in his possession, used to grace his
table and dazzle his guests, than they would be in the
possession of the rightful owners.

There is no doubt whatever that virtually all the art
treasures of Poland were seized for the use of Germany and
would never have been returned in the event of German
victory. Dr. Muehlmann, a noted German art authority, who
directed the seizure programme for the period of four years
and was endowed by Frank with sufficient authority to
promulgate decrees generally applicable throughout the
territory, has stated the objectives of the programme in no
uncertain terms in the affidavit to which I have just

So much for Poland.

I now direct the attention of the Tribunal to the activities
of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, an organisation which planned
and directed the looting of the cultural treasures of nearly
all Europe. To obtain a full conception of the vastness of
this looting programme, it will be necessary to envision
Europe as a treasure-house in which is stored the major
portion of the artistic and literary product of two thousand
years of Western Civilisation. It will further be necessary
to envision the forcing of this treasure-house by a horde of
vandals, bent on systematically removing to the Reich these
treasures, which are, in a sense, the heritage of all of us,
to keep them there for the enjoyment and enlightenment of
Germans alone. Unique in history, this art seizure programme
staggers one's imagination and challenges one's credulity.
The documents which I am about to offer in evidence will
present undeniable proof of the execution of the policy to
strip the occupied countries of the accumulated product of
centuries of devotion to art and the pursuit of learning.

                                                   [Page 65]

May I digress here a moment and state that we are not going
to offer all the documents and all the details, because our
Soviet and French colleagues will offer a great many of the
detailed documents in support of their case on War Crimes.

I now offer in evidence Document 136-PS as Exhibit USA 367.
That is an order of Hitler dated the 29th January, 1940,
which set into motion the art seizure programme that was to
envelop the continent. I now offer the original. I call your
Honour's attention to this original, being signed by Adolf
Hitler, and I believe it is in the famous Jumbo type. I
quote the order in its entirety. It is very short:

     "The 'Hohe Schule' is to become the Centre for National
     Socialistic ideological and educational research,. It
     will be established after the conclusion of the war. I
     order that the preparations already initiated be
     continued by Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg, especially
     in the way of research and setting up of the library.
     All sections of the Party and State are required to co-
     operate with him in this task."

Although the above order makes no specific mention of the
seizure of art treasures, the programme had extended by the
5th November, 1940, beyond its original scope to include the
seizure of Jewish art collections.

I now offer in evidence Document 141-PS, Exhibit USA 368,
which is a certified copy of an order signed by Goering,
dated 5th November, 1940, in which he states:

     "In conveying the measures taken until now for the
     securing of Jewish art treasures by the Chief of the
     Military Administration, Paris, and the Einsatzstab
     Rosenberg, the art objects brought to the Louvre will
     be disposed of in the following way:
     1. Those about which the Fuehrer has reserved for
     himself the decision as to their use.
     2. Those which serve to complete the Reichsmarshal's
     3. Those library books, the use of which seem useful to
     the establishment of the higher institutes of learning,
     and which come within the jurisdiction of Reichsleiter
     4. Those which are suitable for sending to the German

Thus, early in 1940, eleven months after the initiation of
the programme for establishment of the library for
ideological research, the original purpose had been expanded
so as to include the seizure of works of art, not only for
the benefit of research, but for the delectation of the
Fuehrer and Goering and the enhancement of the collections
of German museums.

Impelled as they were by the perfidious dream of subjugating
a continent, the Nazi conspirators could not content
themselves merely with the exploitation of the cultural
riches of France, but rapidly extended their activities to
the other occupied countries. I now offer in evidence
Document 137-PS as Exhibit USA 379. That is a copy of an
order signed by the defendant Keitel, dated 5th July, 1940,
and I should like to read that brief order in full:

     "To: The Chief of Army High Command,
      Chief of the Armed Forces in the Netherlands.
     Reichsleiter Rosenberg has suggested to the Fuehrer
                                                   [Page 66]
     1. The State libraries and archives be searched for
     documents valuable to Germany.
     2. The Chancelleries of the high church authorities and
     lodges be searched for political maneuvers directed
     against us and that the material in question be seized.
     The Fuehrer has ordered that this suggestion be
     followed and that the Gestapo, supported by the
     archivists of Reichsleiter Rosenberg, be put in charge
     of the researches. The Chief of Security Police, SS
     Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich, has been informed. He will
     communicate with the competent military commanders in
     order to execute this order.
     These measures will be executed in all regions of the
     Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France occupied
     by us.
     It is requested that subordinate services be informed.
          Chief of Army High Command :
                         Signed Keitel."

From the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France the
Einsatzstab's activities ultimately were expanded still
further to Norway and Denmark. I now offer in evidence
Document 159-PS, Exhibit USA 380, which is the copy of an
order signed by Utikal, Chief of the Einsatzstab, dated the
6th June, 1944, from which it is seen that a special mission
of the Einsatzstab was sent to Norway and Denmark.

As the German Army penetrated to the East, the fingers of
the Einsatzstab reached out to seize the cultural riches
thus made available to them, and their activities were
extended to the Occupied Eastern Territories, including the
Baltic States and the Ukraine, as well as to Hungary and
Greece. I now offer in evidence Document 153-PS, Exhibit USA
381, being a certified copy of a letter from Rosenberg to
the Reich Commissioner for the East and Reich Commissioner
for the Ukraine, dated 27th April, 1942. The subject of the
letter is stated to be as follows:

"Formation of a Central Unit for the Seizure and Securing of
Objects of Cultural Value in the Occupied Eastern
Territories." In the last paragraph of that document, I

     "With the Commissioners of the Reich a special
     department within Department II (political) will be set
     up for a limited time for the seizure and securing of
     objects of cultural value. This department is under the
     control of the head of the main group of Einsatzstab of
     Reichsleiter Rosenberg for the occupied territories."'

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps this would be a good time to break
off for ten minutes.

                    (A recess was taken.)

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