The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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By DR. HANNS MARX, Continued:

It seems to be established, however, that the German people
and this defendant were never in agreement on this essential
question. The German people always disapproved of the aims
of this defendant as expressed in his publications and
retained its own opinion of and attitude towards the Jews.

The prosecution's assumption that the tendentious articles
in Der Sturmer found an echo or a ready acceptance among the
German population or even produced an attitude which would
readily accept criminal measures is herewith fully refuted.

The overwhelming majority of the German nation preserved
their common sense and showed themselves disinclined toward
all acts of violence. They may, therefore claim to be
declared free of all moral complicity in and co-
responsibility for those crimes before the tribunal of the
world, and will again take their place in the ranks of the

I leave the decision on the guilt or innocence of this
defendant in the hands the High Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: I call on Dr. Sauter for the defendant Funk.

DR. SAUTER (for the defendant, Walter Funk): Gentlemen of
the Tribunal, I have the task of examining the case of the
defendant Walter Funk. That is to say, I am to deal with a
topic which unfortunately is especially dry and prosaic. May
I first make a short statement.

I shall on principle refrain from making any statements on
legal, political, historical, or psychological matters which
may be too general, although the temptation to make such
general statements, particularly within the framework of the
proceedings, may be considerable. General statements of the
kind have already been made in abundance by other defence
counsel and will probably be still fu supplemented.
Therefore, I shall limit myself to examining and presenting
you, from the point of view of the defence, the picture
which the evidence in this trial shows of the personality of
the defendant Funk, his actions and their underlying

Gentlemen of the Tribunal, the entire course of this trial
and the particular evidence offered in his own case have
shown that the defendant Funk did not play a decisive part
in the National Socialist regime at any time and in any of
the cases indicted here.

Funk's authority of decision was always limited by the
superior powers of others. The defendant's statement - made
during his personal examination - that he was allowed to
proceed to the door, but was never permitted to enter, has
been showed by the evidence to be quite correct.

Funk was entrusted with tasks by the Party - as distinct
from the State - only during the last year prior to the
seizure of power, that is in 1932. These, however were of no
practical significance, as they were of very short duration.
Funk never appointed to any Party office after the seizure
of power. He was never a member of any Party organization -
SS, SA or corps of political leaders. Funk was a member of
the Reichstag for only a little more than six months shortly
before the seizure of power. Consequently he was not a
member of the Reichstag when the fundamental laws for the
consolidation of National Socialist power were passed. The
Reich Cabinet accepted the laws for which Funk is held
responsible - in particular the Enabling Act - at a time
when Funk had not yet been made a member of the Cabinet. As
is well known, he did not become a member until the close of
1937, by virtue of his appointment as Minister of Economics
(Reichswirtschaftsminister), that is, at a time when no
further Cabinet sessions were held. As

                                                  [Page 337]

Press chief of the Reich Cabinet, Funk had neither a seat
nor a vote in the Cabinet and could exert no influence
whatsoever upon the contents of the bills drafted. I refer
to Lammers's statement in this connection. The same applies
to the racial laws, the so-called Nuremberg laws.

Funk's relations with the Fuehrer only became closer for a
period of one and a half years, during which he had to give
regular Press reports to Hitler in his capacity as Press
chief of the Reich Cabinet, i.e. from February, 1933, to
August, 1934, up to the death of Reich President von
Hindenburg. Later, Funk only reported to Hitler on very rare
occasions. In this connection the witness Dr. Lammers makes
the following statement:

  "Later he (Funk) only visited Hitler in his capacity of
  Reich Minister of Economics on very rare occasions. He
  was frequently not invited to attend conferences - even
  those conferences to which he should have been invited.
  He complained to me about this frequently. The Fuehrer
  often raised objections, saying that there were various
  reasons against Funk and that he himself viewed Funk
  sceptically and did not want him."

(That is the testimony given by Dr. Lammers on 8th April,
1946.) When asked whether Funk had often complained to him
about his unsatisfactory position as Reich Minister of
Economics and about the anxiety caused him by conditions
generally, Dr. Lammers replied:

  "I know that Funk was very much worried and that he
  wanted an opportunity to discuss his anxieties with the
  Fuehrer. He was extremely anxious for an opportunity of
  reporting to the Fuehrer in order to obtain some
  information, at least, about the war situation." (That
  was in 1943 and 1944.) And Lammers continues: "With the
  best will in the world, Funk could not obtain an audience
  from the Fuehrer and I was unable to get him to the

Funk, explains the striking fact that he was invited to
attend only four or five Fuehrer conferences during the
whole of his ministerial activity by saying that Hitler did
not need him. Up to 1942, Hitler issued his instructions in
economic affairs to Goering, who, in his capacity of
Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan, was responsible for
the entire economy. From the beginning of 1942 he also
issued instructions to Speer, who as Armament Minister had
special authority to issue directives to all branches of
production and who from 1943 personally directed the entire

Funk, therefore, never played the main part in the economy
of the National Socialist Reich but always a subordinate

This was specifically confirmed by his co-defendant Goering
in his statement made on 16th March:

  "Naturally, in view of the special powers delegated to me
  (Goering) he had to follow my directives in the field of
  economy and the Reichsbank. The responsibility for the
  directives and policy of the Minister of Economics and
  President of the Reichsbank Funk is entirely mine."

In the session of 20th June even the defendant Speer
testified that in his capacity as Armament Minister he
reserved to himself from the very beginning any authority of
decision in the most important economic spheres such as
coal, iron and steel, metal, aluminium and the production of
machinery. Prior to Speer's commission at the beginning of
1942, electric power and building were entirely under the
jurisdiction of Armament Minister Todt.

For the greater part, the evidence submitted by the
prosecution in the case of the defendant Funk does not
relate to acts personally committed by Funk or instructions
issued by him, but rather on the various and widely
differing positions which he occupied. On Page 29 of the
trial brief the prosecutor himself declares that the
argument offered against Funk may be described as
inferential. The prosecution starts from the assumption that
judging by the positions which he had held, Funk must have
had knowledge of the various events which form the subject
of the accusation. Generally speaking, the indictment refers
to instructions and directives issued by Funk personally
only in the case of the decrees which he issued

                                                  [Page 338]

in November, 1938 - in connection with the Four-Year Plan -
for the elimination of Jews from economic life. I shall deal
with this chapter separately at a later stage.

Finally, Funk was not invited to attend political and
military conferences. His position resembled that of a
ministerial expert with very limited powers.

As Reich Minister of Economics Funk was subordinated to the
Four-Year Plan, that is, to Goering. Later on, the Armament
Minister had more extensive powers. And finally, as was
shown by the testimony of Goering, Lammers and Nayler, the
Ministry of Economics became a regular Ministry of Commerce,
which dealt mainly with the distribution of consumer goods
and with the technicalities of foreign trade. Similarly, the
Four-Year Plan determined the use of gold and foreign
currency in the Reichsbank. The Reichsbank was deprived of
its right to decide on the credits to be granted to the
Reich for the internal financing of the war when Funk took
over office as its president. Funk is thereby exonerated of
any responsibility for the financing of the war. The
responsible agency so far had always been the Reich Finance
Minister - in other words, not Funk. Finally, as General
Plenipotentiary for Economy, Funk's sole task in August,
1938, was to, co-ordinate the civil economic resources for
such measures as would guarantee a smooth conversion from
peace to war-time economy. These consultations resulted in
the proposals presented by Funk to Hitler on 25th August,
1939, in the letter which has been several times quoted
under 699-PS. At his examination Funk stated that this
letter did not portray matters with complete accuracy, since
it was a purely private letter, a letter of thanks for
birthday congratulations he had received from Hitler. This
point will have to be taken up again later, as the
prosecution particularly emphasized Funk's position as
General Plenipotentiary for Economy. The evidence shows that
his position as General Plenipotentiary was Funk's most
disputed position, but also his weakest.

With regard to the occupied territories Funk had no decisive
authority whatsoever. All the witnesses interrogated on the
point testified to this. But all witnesses also confirmed
that Funk always opposed the pillage of the occupied
territories. He fought against German purchases in the black
markets, he opposed the abolition of the foreign exchange
relations with Holland, a measure intended to facilitate
German purchases in Holland, and, as we have heard from the
witness Neubacher, he organized exports to Greece from
Germany and the Eastern European States and even sent gold
there. He also repeatedly opposed the financial
overburdening of the occupied territories, especially in
1942 and 1944, and the raising of the occupation costs in
France. He defended the currency of the occupied countries
against reported attempts at devaluation. In the case of
Denmark he even succeeded in raising the value of the
currency, in spite of all opposition. Furthermore, Funk
fought against the arbitrary stabilisation of exchange when
currency arrangements were made with occupied countries.
Germany's clearing debt was always recognized by Funk as a
true commercial debt even with regard to the occupied
countries. This is shown especially by his proposal
mentioned here to commercialise this clearing debt by a loan
to be issued by Germany for subscription in all European
countries. Funk was also opposed to the overworking and
especially to the compulsory employment of foreign labour in

The defendant Sauckel has already testified to this at his
interrogation here. All those facts, favourably affecting
the occupied countries, were confirmed by the witnesses
Hayler, Landfried, Puhl and Neubacher, and the co-defendant
Seyss Inquart has confirmed these measures taken by Funk
with favourable results for the occupied countries.

According to these statements Funk always strove to keep
order in the economic and social life of the occupied
territories and to preserve it as far as possible from
disintegration. He always disapproved and opposed radical
and arbitrary measures and favoured agreements and
compromises. Even during the war Funk was always thinking of
the peace. This statement was made by the witnesses
Landfried and

                                                  [Page 339]

Hayler, who added that Funk was repeatedly reproached for
his attitude by the leading State and Party offices. The
defendant Speer also testified at his interrogation that
during the war Funk had employed too many workers in the
manufacture of consumer goods and that it was for this
reason that Funk had to hand over the management of the
consumer goods production in 1943.

That Funk revolted against the horrible "scorched earth"
policy just as Speer did, has been proved to the Tribunal by
Speer himself, as well as by the witness Hayler on 7th May,
1946. This witness declared that he had seldom seen Funk so
much upset as he was when informed of this order for
destruction. Hayler testified that Funk, in his capacity of
Reich Minister of Economics and President of the Reichsbank
gave orders that existing stockpiles should be protected
from the destruction decreed, in order to assure a supply of
consumer goods necessary for the population and to safeguard
currency transactions in the German territory which had been

The aim of Funk's economic policy - one might call it the
mainspring of his life's work - was the formation of a
European economic community based on a just and natural
balance of interest of the sovereign States. Even during the
war, he relentlessly pursued this goal, although the
exigencies of war and the restraints imposed on development
by the war naturally impeded these efforts at every turn.
Funk has given a graphic description of the economic Europe
which he envisaged and strove to attain, in some major
speeches on economic policy. Extracts from some of these
speeches, many of which received notice even in neutral and
enemy countries, are included in the document book.

In judging the acts of the defendant Funk, his whole
personality must naturally be taken into consideration to
some extent in investigating the motives from which he
acted. Funk was never looked upon by the German people - as
far as he was known at all - as a Party man capable of
participating in brutal outrages, using methods of violence
and terror or amassing fortunes at the expense of others. He
inclined rather towards art and literature, which preference
he shared with - for instance - his friend Baldur von
Schirach. Originally, you have been told, he wanted to study
music and in later years he preferred to have poets and
artists in his house rather than men of the Party and the
State. In professional circles he was known and respected as
an economist and a man with a wide theoretical and
historical knowledge, who had risen from journalism and had
been a brilliant stylist. His position as chief editor of
the distinguished Berliner Boersen Zeitung was on a sound
economic basis. By accepting the office of Press chief in
the Reich Cabinet at the beginning of 1933, after Hitler's
assumption of power, he even incurred a financial loss.
Therefore, he was not one of those desperadoes who were glad
to get into a well-paid position through Hitler. On the
contrary, he made a financial sacrifice when he took over
the State office offered him, and it therefore seems
perfectly credible that he did this out of patriotism, out
of a sense of duty toward his people, and in order to put
himself at the service of his country during the hard times
of distress.

In judging the personality and character of the defendant
Funk, it is also significant that he never held or tried to
obtain any rank in the Party. Other people who took over
high State offices in the Third Reich were given the title
of SS-Gruppenfuehrer, or were given, for instance, the rank
of SA-Obergruppenfuehrer. Funk, on the contrary, was only a
plain Party member from 1931 until the end of the Third
Reich, who carried out his State functions conscientiously
but made no effort to obtain any honours within the Party.

The only incident with which the defendant Funk was
reproached in this connection was the fact that he accepted
an endowment in 1940, on his fiftieth birthday. In itself,
of course, that is not a punishable act; but the Tribunal
evidently evaluated it as a moral charge against the
defendant. Therefore, we shall briefly define our position
with regard to this. We remember how this endowment came
about: The President and Board of the Reich Chamber of
Economy.(Reichswirtschaftskammer), as the highest
representatives of German

                                                  [Page 340]

economic life, presented him on his fiftieth birthday with a
farmhouse in Upper Bavaria and about fifty-five hectares of
ground. This farmhouse, of course, existed for the time
being only on the paper of the presentation document and had
still to be built. This presentation was expressly approved
by the head of the State, Adolf Hitler, therefore it was not
made secretly to the Reich Minister of Economics, but quite
officially, without any suppression or secrecy in the
matter. The gift turned out later on to be an unfortunate
one for Funk as the building proved much more expensive than
had been expected and Funk was required to pay a very high
gift tax. Funk, who, up to that time, had never incurred
debts and whose finances had always been well regulated, now
found himself plunged into debt through this "gift" of a
farmhouse. Goering heard of it and came to Funk's assistance
with a generous sum. Hitler, who heard of Funk's financial
difficulties through Minister Lammers, had had the cash
necessary to re-establish his financial soundness
transferred to him in the form of a gift.

With this Funk was able to pay his taxes and his debts. He
used the balance to create two public endowments, one for
dependants of officials of the Reichsbank killed in action,
the other for the staff of the Ministry of Economics, for
the same purpose. The farm was also to become an endowment,
at some later date. Funk's treatment of the matter shows his
fine feeling in this respect too. Even though such an
endowment could not be legally disputed, he felt that it was
better to avoid such endowments and to make them over to the
public, since he could not refuse to accept a gift from the
head of the State.

Mr. President, I now turn to a new subject. I would propose
to have a recess now.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours).

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal proposes to go on until 4
o'clock without a break, if that is convenient.

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