The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter XIII
Germanization & Spoliation
The Western Occupied Countries
(Part 4 of 9)


C. The Nazi Conspirators Acquired Ownership of Belgian, Dutch, and French Participations in European Industries by Means of Governmental Pressure and Through the Use of Funds Unlawfully Exacted from the Occupied Countries and Their Nationals.

The Nazi conspirators were not content with securing for Germany the supplies necessary for the period of the war. They aimed at obtaining permanent ownership and domination of European industry to the fullest extent possible, and embarked on a program to that end even during the progress of the war.

(1) The Nazi conspirators established a program to acquire for German interests ownership of Belgian, Dutch, and French participation during the war. On 23 May 1940, recommendation was made that it would be opportune to secure all Dutch and Belgian stocks "in order, especially in the case of holding companies, to win influence *** over the controlled companies" (EC-41). The memorandum recommended the taking possession of stocks of the dominated companies located in foreign countries and influencing the decisions of members of holding companies located in Holland and Belgium or of other owners of such stock. Because of the provisions of Article 46 of the Hague Regulations prohibiting confiscation of private property, it was deemed more advisable to influence members of holding companies through careful guiding than through plain force. (EC-41)

At a meeting held in the Reich Ministry of Economics on 3 June 1940 on the subject of "Belgian and Dutch capital shares in southeastern European countries," it was decided that regulations should be issued immediately by the Military Commander for Belgium prohibiting the destruction, transfer, or disposition of any bonds or stocks of these countries, and that registration should be required of owners and trustees. (1445-PS)

In a memorandum of 2 August 1940 Goering declared that the goal of the Germans' economic policy was the "increase of German influence with foreign enterprises," that it was "necessary already now that any opportunity is used to make it possible for the German economy to start the penetration even during the war f the interesting objects of the economy of the occupied countries," and directed that the transfer of capital from Germany to

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the occupied countries be facilitated to make possible the immediate purchase of enterprises in the occupied countries. (EC-137)

At a meeting at the Reich Ministry of Economics on 8 August 1940 on the subject of "Acquisition of shares of important foreign enterprises in southeastern Europe," Dr. Schlotterer of the Reich Ministry of Economics commented that "private economical penetration of the Southeast area by German influence is desirable, likewise the supplanting of British and French interests in that territory" (EC-4). The group present, including representatives of the Reich Ministry of Economics and the Reichsbank, agreed that "attempts should be made immediately to acquire shares" and that "in doing so the tendency should be preserved to present a bill for the shares at the peace conference." It was further agreed that "it should be attempted if possible to transfer the shares into private hands" but that "in order to make the right selection it appears necessary to introduce an intermediary stage" in which "first of all, enterprises should be taken over through banks, thereupon the plants should be managed as a matter of trusteeship for the Reich with the aim that the Reich (Reich Marshal Goering)" undertake handing them over to private industry. (EC-43)

(2) The Nazi conspirators carried out this program by compulsory sale where necessary and by purchases financed out of occupation charges and under clearing agreements with the occupied countries.

Belgium

Immediate steps were taken to implement these measures in Belgium. The-annual report of the Commissar at the National Bank from May 1940-41 states:

"According to the directions of the Reichsmarshal Goering as early as September 1940 the first measures for a closer formation of capital ties between the Belgian and German economy were taken. Two different procedures were concerned here:

"1. Direct negotiations between German industrialists and Belgian industrialists, for the purpose of obtaining constructive participations in important Belgian enterprises which offer the basis for collaboration between the two economies even after the war. furthermore, it is desired to transfer to German hands important Belgian participations in foreign - enterprises whose administration is located in Belgium, particularly so far as enterprises are concerned which are lo-

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cated in the Balkans and in which a general German interest exists.

"2. Ties which result from purchases of stock by German parties on the Belgium stock markets. For this purpose the Reich Economic Minister has given general permission to 32 German banks to obtain participation rights, particularly stocks, in a limited quantity in Belgium. Till now use has been made of this permission in the amount of about 25 million RM for the procurement of Belgian participations in Rumania, Bulgaria, and the former Poland." (ECR-24)

In his report for November 1940 the Military Commander for Belgium stated:

"A certain readiness exists on the part of the Belgians to give up investments in stocks in such countries which, at the present time, are being ruled militarily or economically by Germany. Among the important business deals of this kind which have been concluded should be mentioned the taking over of the Kreditanstalt, Wien (Credit Institute, Vienna) of an essential interest in the Allgemeiner Jugoslawischer Bankverein (General Yugoslav Bank Association) from the Societe Generale (capital approximately 1 million RM) and the taking over by the Deutsche Bank of the overwhelming majority [translators note: of shares] of the Banca Commerciala Romana from the Societe Generale (capital approximately 2 million RM). The Deutsche Bank also succeeded in acquiring shares of the Kreditanstalt, Wien, of approximately 800,000 RM nominally from the Societe Generale and one of its subsidiaries. Negotiations between the Deutsche Bank and the Societe Generale on the transfer of approximately 25% of the capital of the Banque Generale du Luxembourg are about to be concluded. Through this deal the Deutsche Bank together with other German groups obtains the absolute majority of the Luxembourger Bank (approximately 70% of the shares). The Deutsche Bank gets the right to acquire another 25% of the shares which for the time being, remained with the Societe Generale." (EC-34)

While the Military Commander of Belgium may have given some assurance that the owners would not be compelled to sell (ECH-22), in at least one instance, purchase could be effected only by military order (EC-335). In this instance the procurement for the Main Branch of Trustees East of shares of the Bel-

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gian "Trust Metallurgique" in electricity and road enterprises of East Silesia and the General Government, as well as purchase of shares in the Iron works Ostrovica for the Reichswerk Hermann Goering had "to be done, at the request of the Reich Ministry fro Economics, forcibly, as an agreement on a financial basis could not be obtained." (EC- 335)

The German acquisition of Belgian stock participations was financed through the Belgium-German clearing. The Belgian clearing balances of 20 March 1940 included an item of 296 million bfrs., which "is explained by out-payment of large clearing transfers resulting from the German capital penetration program precipitated a controversy with the Emission Bank, which was resolved by the Commissars issuance of an order requiring the bank to make payment. (ECR-24). As a sequel, "Capital" payments were separated from those for "goods and services" and financed by a separate "capital" clearing agreement covering purchases of securities and other "capital" transactions (ECR-24). The Belgian clearing "credit" under the capital clearing, as of 31 July 1943, amounted to 1,071,000,000 bfrs (ECR-173). As shown below, (see infra, D, 2) the Belgian credit under the capital clearing traffic represents a forced loan, exacted for a purpose not even remotely related to the needs of the occupation army.

France and Holland

The limited evidence in the presently available German documents indicates that similar methods were employed in French and Dutch participations. The procedure followed in the Netherlands is indicated below in the discussion of the removal of restrictions on the free transfer of Reichsmarks in that country, (See infra, S, 5.) In France, participations of a value of 121,000,000 RM were purchased for German interests, paid for in part out of occupation funds and in part through the clearing. (1991-PS)


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