The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-05/tgmwc-05-40.01

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-05/tgmwc-05-40.01
Last-Modified: 1999/10/05

                                                   [Page 41]


M.MOUNTER: The representative of the French prosecution is
here. He will appear before the Tribunal and take the floor.

M. HENRI DELPECH: Mr. President, Your Honours: I had the
honour yesterday of beginning to explain before the Tribunal
the methods of economic spoliation of Belgium by the Germans
in the course of their occupation of the country.

Coming back to what was said in the course of the general
considerations on economic pillage, and on the behaviour of
the Germans in Norway and Denmark and in Holland, I have
been able to show that in all places the determination to
economic domination of National Socialism had manifested
itself. The methods were the same everywhere, at least in
their broad outlines. Therefore, in immediate response to
the wish expressed yesterday by the Tribunal, and in order
to fulfil the mission entrusted to the French prosecution by
the Belgian Government to plead its case before your high
jurisdiction, I shall confine myself to the main outlines of
the development. and I shall take the liberty of referring
for the details of the German seizure of Belgian
productivity to the text of the report submitted to the
Tribunal, and to the numerous documents which are quoted

I have had the honour of calling your attention once before
to the existence of the black market in Belgium, its
organisation by the occupation troops, and their final
decision to suppress this black market. One may, in this
regard, conclude, as has already been indicated in the
course of the general observations, that, in spite of their
claims, it was not in order to avoid inflation in Belgium,
that the German authorities led a campaign against the black

The day the Germans decided to suppress the black market,
they loudly proclaimed their anxiety to spare the Belgian
economy and the Belgian population the very serious
consequences of the threatening inflation. In reality, the
German authorities intervened against the black market,
daily increasing in scope, in order to prevent it from
further extension to the point where, in the end, it would
absorb all the available merchandise and completely strangle
the official market. In a word, the survival of the official
market, with its lower prices, was finally much more
profitable for the army of occupation.

I now come, gentlemen, to Page 46 of my presentation, to the
third chapter; the acquisitions, which were regular in
appearance, had only one aim, namely the subjugation of
Belgian productive power.

Applying their programme of domination of the countries of
Western Europe as it had been established even before 1939,
the Germans, from the moment they entered Belgium in May
1940, took all the measures which seemed to them appropriate
in order to assure the subjugation of Belgian productivity.

No sector of the Belgian economy was to be spared. If the
pillaging seems more striking in the economic domain, this
is only the consequence of the very marked industrial
character of the Belgian economy.

The sectors of agriculture and of transportation were not to
escape the German hold, and I propose to discuss first the
levies in kind on industry.

The Belgian industry was the first to be attacked. Thus, the
military commander in Belgium, in agreement with the various
offices of the Reich for raw materials, in agreement with
the Office of the Four Year Plan and the Ministry of
Economics, established a whole programme whose effect was to

                                                   [Page 42]

almost the entire Belgian productivity to the bellicose ends
of the Reich.

As early as 13 December 1940 he could make known to the
higher authorities a series of plans established for iron,
coal, textiles, and copper. I submit Exhibit RF 162 in
support of this statement.

Also a report by Lt. Col. Helder, entitled "Change in
Economic Orientation" points out that from 14 September 1940
the Army Ordinance Branch was sending to its subordinate
formations the following instructions to be found in the
document book under Exhibit RF 163. I read the last
paragraph of Page 41 of the German text:

   "I attach the greatest importance to the fact that the
   factories in the occupied territories, Holland, Belgium,
   and France, be as much as possible utilised to lighten
   the burden of the German armament production, and to
   increase the war potential. Enterprises located in
   Denmark are also to be employed to an increasing extent
   as sub-contractors. Hereby the regulations for the
   execution of the ordinance of the Reich Marshal, as well
   as the ordinances concerning the economy of raw
   materials in the occupied territories are to be strictly

All these arrangements soon enabled the Germans to control
and to direct Belgium's whole production and distribution
facilities towards the German war effort.

The decree of 27 May 1940, V.O.B.E.L No. 2, submitted as
Exhibit RF 164, established commodity control offices whose
task was - and I quote from the third paragraph -

   "to issue, in accordance with Army Group directives,
   general regulations and special ordinances to
   enterprises producing, dealing with and consuming
   controlled commodities, in order to direct production
   and ensure a just distribution and rational utilisation,
   whereby working places should, as far as possible, be

Article 4 of the same text indicated in detail the powers of
these commodity control offices, and in particular they were
given the right:

   "to force enterprises to sell their products to given
   purchasers; and to forbid or require the utilisation of
   certain raw materials. Every sale or purchase of
   commodities was subject to their approval."

To better conceal their real objective, the Germans gave
these commodity control offices independence, and the status
of a corporation. Thus, there were set up 11 commodity
control offices which embraced the whole economy except
coal, whose direction was left under the Belgian Office of
Coal. Exhibit RF 165 gives proof of this.

The execution of the regulations was ensured by a series of
texts promulgated by the Belgian authorities in Brussels.
They issued in particular, a decree dated 3 September 1940,
by virtue of which Belgian organisations took back the
offices which the Germans had given up.

The functions of these offices were to have different fates:
although originating from the Belgian Ministry of Economics
they were closely controlled by the German military command.
In this direction, the seizure of Belgian production was
completed by the appointment of "Commissioners of
Exploitation," under the ordinance of 29 April 1941,
submitted as Exhibit RF 166. Article 2 of this text defines
the powers of the Commissioners.

   " ... The duty of the Commissioner is to make or to keep
   going the enterprise under his charge, to ensure the
   fulfilment of orders according to plan, and to take all
   measures which increase the output of the enterprise."

The decline of the commodity control offices began with an
ordinance dated 6 August 1942, establishing the principle
providing for the prohibition of manufacturing certain
products, or for ordering the use of certain raw materials.
This ordinance is to be found in the document book as
Exhibit RF 167. Super-

                                                   [Page 43]

vision of the commodity control offices was soon organised
by the appointment to each of them of a German Commissioner,
selected by the competent Reichs-stelle.

From the last months of 1943 on, the Rustungsobmann Office
of the Armament Ministry, under Minister Speer, acquired the
habit of passing its orders directly, without having
recourse to the channel of the commodity control offices.

Even before this date measures had been taken to prevent any
initiative that was not in accord with the German war aims.
Furthermore, even before the above ordinance of 6 August
1942, it is proper to mention the ordinance of 30 March
1942, making the establishment or extension of commercial
enterprises subject to previous authorisation by the
military commander.

In the report of the military administration in Belgium that
has already been cited, the Chief of the General Staff,
Raeder, specifies that for the period of January to March
1943 alone, out of 2,000 iron mills, 400 were closed down
for working irrationally or being useless to the war aims.
The closing of these factories seems to have been caused
less by the concern for a rationalised production than by
the vicious desire to obtain cheaply, valuable tools and

In this connection, it is appropriate to point to the
establishment of Machine Pool Office. The above quoted
report of the military administration in Belgium, in its
11th section, Pages 56 and following, is particularly
significant in this respect. Here is an extract from the
German text, the last paragraph of Page 56 in the French
translation, the last lines of Page 56.

THE PRESIDENT: That passage you read about the defendant
Raeder, was that from Exhibit RF 169 or 170?

M. DELPECH: Mr. President, I spoke yesterday of the chief of
the administration section, Raeder. He was section chief in
Brussels. He has no connection with the defendant here.

THE PRESIDENT: I see, very well.

M. DELPECH: Exhibit RF 171, second paragraph of the French
text. The paragraph concerns: the Machine Pool transactions.

   "Proof is established by a rapid glance at the pool
   operations which have been considered and those which
   have been carried out. Five hundred and sixty-seven
   demands have been dealt with to a total value of 4.5
   million Reichsmark."

Raeder furnished a number of figures.

I shall pass over these and I come to the end of the first
paragraph, Page 57 in the German text.

   "The legal basis for the requisition of these machines
   was the Hague Convention of 1907, Articles 52 and 53.
   The wording of the Hague Convention, which provides for
   requisitions only for the benefit and the needs of the
   occupying power, applied to the circumstances of the
   year 1907, that is, to a time when war actions were
   contained within narrowly defined areas in practice, and
   the military front alone had to sustain war operations.
   In view of the special limitations of war, it was
   evident that the provisions of the Hague Convention
   stipulating that requisitions be made solely for the
   needs of the occupying power were sufficient for the
   requirements of warfare. Modern war, however, which, by
   its expansion to total war, no longer has spacial
   limitations, but rather has become a war of peoples and
   economic spaces struggling against each other, requires
   that the regulations of the Hague Convention be
   maintained and its principles analogously interpreted
   according to the necessities of modern warfare."

I pass to the end of this quotation:

                                                   [Page 44]

   "Whenever, in requisitioning, reference was made to the
   ordinance of the military commander of 6th August 1942,
   this was done in order to make known to the Belgian
   population the necessary analogous interpretation of the
   regulations of the Hague Convention on which the
   requisition was based."

Such an interpretation may leave jurists wondering, if they
have not been trained in the school of National Socialism.
It may in any case justify the pillage of industry and the
subjugation of Belgian production.

These few considerations show how subtle and varied were the
methods employed by the Germans to attain their aims in the
economic sphere. In the same way as the preceding statements
on clearing operations and the utilisation of occupation
costs, they make it possible to specify the methods employed
for exacting heavy levies from the Belgian economy.

Whereas in certain sectors, as in agriculture and
transportation, it has been possible to assess the extent of
economic pillage with a certain exactitude, there are, on
the other hand, numerous industrial sectors where
assessments cannot yet be made. It is true that a
considerable part of the industrial losses corresponds to
the clearing operations, notably through requisition of
supplies. It will therefore be necessary to confine
ourselves to the directives of the policy practised by the

We may examine briefly the way in which the economic
spoliation took place in three sectors: industry,
agriculture, and transportation.

First the industrial sector: The statistics of the clearing
in the first place furnish indications on the total
obligations imposed upon the various industrial branches.

On its part, the report of the military administration in
Belgium, to which I shall refer again and again, gives the
following details, briefly summarised. From the very
beginning of the occupation the Germans required an
inventory of supplies on which they were to impose
considerable levies, notably textiles and non-ferrous

I shall confine myself to some brief remarks on textiles and
non-ferrous  metals. The example of the textiles industry is
particularly revealing: On the eve of the invasion, the
Belgian textile industry, with its 165,000 workers, was the
second most important in the country after that of the metal
industry. Under the pretext of avoiding the exhaustion of
the very important supplies then still available, an
ordinance of 27 July 1940 prohibited the textile industry to
work at more than thirty percent of its 1938 capacity. For
the period from May to December 1940 alone, requisitions
were not less than one billion Belgian francs; particularly
they notably affected nearly half of the wool stock
available in the country on 10 May, 1940, and nearly one-
third of the stock of raw cotton.

On the other hand, the forced closing down of factories
constituted for the Germans an excellent excuse for taking
away, under pretext of rental contracts, unused equipment;
or else it was requisitioned at a low price. The ordinance
of 7 September 1942, which is to be found in the document
book and is Exhibit RF 174, laid down the manner in which
factories were to be closed in execution of the right
accorded to the occupation authorities; and it also gave the
right to dissolve certain business and industrial groups and
to order their liquidation. Consolidation of enterprises was
the pretext given. In the month of January 1944 sixty-five
per cent of the textile factories had been stopped.

I shall not go into the details of this operation, and I
pass to Page 58 of the report. The report of the German
military administration quoted above gives particularly
significant figures as to production. Of a total output of
the wool industry of 72,000 tons for the period May 1940 to
the end of June 1944, representing a value of 397 million
Reichsmark, the division of the deliveries between the
German and Belgian markets is the following

                                                   [Page 45]

   The German market, 64,700 tons - 314 million Reichsmark.
   Belgian market, 7,700 tons - 83 million Reichsmark.

The whole spoliation of the textile industry is contained in
these figures.

The Belgian consumption obviously suffered a great deal from
the German policy of directing the textile market. The same
report of the military administration furnishes other
details, stating that in 1938 the needs in textile products
amounted in Belgium to a monthly average of 12 kilos. The
respective figures for the occupation years are the

   1940 to 1941 - 2.1 kilos per head
   1941 to 1942 - 1.4
   1942 to 1943 - 1.4
   1943 to 1944 - 0.7

The exhaustion of Belgian consumption under the Germans is
contained in these two figures: 12 kilos per head in 1938;
0.7 kilos at the end of the occupation.

From another angle the Belgian Government gives the
following details on the pillage of this production.
Compulsory deliveries to Germany during the occupation

   Cotton thread, about 40 per cent of the production.
   Linen, 75 per cent.
   Rayon, 15 per cent.

Finally, out of the textile stocks remaining in Belgium, a
great percentage was still taken away by the Germans through
purchases on the Belgian market, purchases of finished or
manufactured products. The equivalent of these forced
deliveries can generally be found in the clearing
statistics, unless it corresponds to misrepresented
occupation costs.

I have finished with textiles. As to the non-ferrous metal
industry, Belgium was in 1939 the largest producer in Europe
of non-ferrous metals, of copper, lead, zinc, and tin. The
statistics included in the report of the military command,
which are to be found in Exhibit RF 173, will furnish the
evidence for the Tribunal.

On 18 February 1941, in connection with the Four Year Plan,
the Reich Metal Office and the Supreme Command of the Army
worked out a metal plan which provided for

   Belgian consumption;
   Carrying out of German orders;
   Exports to the Reich.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.