The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter XIV
The Plunder of Art Treasures
Einsatz Rosenberg
(Part 1 of 3)

[Page 1097]

A. Formation, Purpose, Powers.

On 29 January 1940 Hitler issued a decree in the following terms:

"The 'Hohe Schule' is supposed to become the center for national-socialistic ideological and educational research. It will be established after the conclusion of the war. I order that the already initiated preparations be continued by Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg, especially in the way of research and the setting up of the library.

"All sections of Party and State are requested to cooperate with him in this task." (136-PS)

What began as a project for the establishment of a research library developed into a project for the seizure of cultural treasures. (141-PS)

On 1 March 1942 Hitler issued a decree in which he asserted that Jews, Freemasons, and affiliated opponents of National Socialism are the authors of the War against the Reich, and that a systematic spiritual battle against them is a military necessity. The decree thereupon authorized Rosenberg to search libraries, archives, lodges, and cultural establishments, to seize relevant material from these establishments as well as cultural treasures which were the property or in the possession of Jews, which were ownerless, or the origin of which could not be clearly established. The decree directed the cooperation of the Wehrmacht High Command and indicated that Rosenberg's activities in the West were to be conducted in his capacity as Reichsleiter and in the East in his capacity as Reichsminister. (149-PS)

This decree was implemented by a letter from Dr. Lammers, Reichsminister and Chief of Chancellory, directed to the "Highest Reich Authorities and the Services directly subordinate to the Fuehrer." The letter reiterated the terms of the Hitler decree and requested support of the Reich authorities in Rosenberg's fulfillment of his task. (154-PS)

B. Scope of Activities.

Rosenberg's activities in fulfillment of the above decrees were extended, in the West, to France (138-PS), Belgium (139- PS), the Netherlands (140-PS), Luxembourg (137-PS), and Norway and Denmark. (159-PS)

[Page 1098]

In the East activities were carried out throughout the Occupied Eastern Territories (153-PS), including the Baltic states and the Ukraine (151-PS), as well as in Hungary (158- PS), Greece (171-PS), and Yugoslavia. (071-PS)

The function of the Rosenberg Organization included not only the seizure of books and scientific materials specified in the original Hitler Order (171-PS), but the seizure of private art treasures (1015-B-PS), public art treasures (055-PS), and household furnishings. (L-188)

C. Cooperating Agencies.

On 5 July 1940 Keitel (Chief of the OKW) informed the Chief of the Army High Command (OKH) and the Chief of the Armed Forces in The Netherlands that the Fuehrer had ordered that Rosenberg's suggestion be followed, to the effect that certain libraries and archives, chancelleries of high church authorities, and lodges be searched for documents valuable to Germany or indicating political maneuvers directed against Germany, and that such material be seized. The letter further stated that Hitler had ordered the support of the Gestapo and that the Chief of the Sipo (Security Police), SS-Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich, had been informed and would communicate with the competent military commanders. (137-PS)

Keitel issued a further order to the Chief of the OKH, France, on 17 September 1940, providing:

"The ownership status before the war in France, prior to the declaration of war on 1 September 1939, shall be the criterion.

"Ownership transfers to the French state or similar transfers completed after this date are irrelevant and legally invalid (for example, Polish and Slovak libraries in Paris, possessions of the Palais Rothschild or other ownerless Jewish possessions). Reservations regarding search, seizure and transportation to Germany on the basis of the above reasons will not be recognized.

"Reichsleiter Rosenberg and/or his deputy Reichshauptstellenleiter Ebert has received clear instructions from the Fuehrer personally governing the right of seizure; he is entitled to transport to Germany cultural goods which appear valuable to him and to safeguard them there. The Fuehrer has reserved for himself the decision as to their use.

"It is requested that the services in question be informed correspondingly." (138-PS)

The above order was extended to Belgium on 10 October 1940

[Page 1099]

(139-PS), and an identical order was issued by the Chief of the OKH to the Armed Forces Commander in The Netherlands on 17 September 1940. (140-PS)

Hitler's order of 1 March 1942 stated:

"Directions for carrying out this order in cooperation with the Wehrmacht will be issued by the Chief of the Wehrmacht High Command in agreement with Reichsleiter Rosenberg." (149-PS)

Dr. Lammers' order of 5 July 1942 declared that the Chief of the OKH, in agreement with Keitel, would issue regulations governing the cooperation with the Wehrmacht and the Police Services for assistance in making seizures. (154-PS)

An official of the Rosenberg Ministry for the Occupied East declared the Wehrmacht to be one of the primary agencies engaged in removing art treasures from Russia. (1107-PS)

Cooperation of the SS and the SD was indicated by Rosenberg in a letter to Bormann on 23 April 1941:

"*** It is understood that the confiscations are not executed by the regional authorities but that this is conducted by the Security Service as well as by the police. *** it has been communicated to me in writing by a Gauleiter, that the chief office of the Reich Security (RSHA) of the SS has claimed the following from the library of a monastery: **." (071-PS)

The above letter also points out that there has been

"*** close cooperation on the widest scale with the Security Service and the military commanders. ***

"This affair (Operations in Salonika) has already been executed on our side with the Security Service (SD) in the most loyal fashion." (071-PS)

The National Socialist Party financed the operations of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg. (090-PS; 145-PS)

In a letter to Goering, 18 June 1942, Rosenberg voiced the opinion that all art objects and other confiscated items should belong to the National Socialist Party because the Party has been bearing the brunt of the battle against the persons and forces from whom this property was taken. (1118- PS)

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