The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Walter Funk

(Part 2 of 9)

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The Nazis created a vast propaganda machine which they used to proclaim the doctrine of the master race, to inveigh against the Jews, to impose the leadership principle upon the German people, to glorify war as a noble activity, to create the social cohesion necessary for war, and to weaken the capacity and willingness of their intended victims to resist aggression. (See

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Section 9 of Chapter VII on Propaganda, Censorship and Supervision of Cultural Activities.)

The operation of this propaganda machine was principally the responsibility of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Funk played a significant role in the operations that Ministry and in related agencies of the Nazi State. On January 1933, the day on which Hitler became Reich Chancellor, Funk was appointed Press Chief of the Reich Government. that capacity, and even after the establishment of the Ministry Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, he reported regularly to Hitler and President von Hindenburg (3505-PS; 3501-PS).

On 13 March 1933, the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was established with Goebbels as its Chief an d Funk as its under-Secretary 2029-PS; Voelkischer Beobachter 15 March 1933, p. 2. (South German Edition)). In an interview with a reporter from the Voelkischer Beobachter on 30 March 1933, Funk made clear the importance which propaganda was to have in the Nazi State. He stated:

"Propaganda is the most modern instrument of power and fighting weapon of state policy. The establishing of the Propaganda Ministry is vital, for the national political policy of the new State Leadership is to be the general good of the whole people. Therefore, the total political, artistic, cultural and spiritual life of the nation, must be brought on to one level and directed from one central point." (Voelkischer Beobachter, South German Edition, 31 March 1933).

In order to achieve this purpose, the Ministry of Enlightenment and Propaganda was organized so as to reach and control every medium of expression within Germany. In the language of the decree defining the duties of the Minister of Propaganda, he was to have

"*** jurisdiction over the whole field of spiritual indoctrination of the nation, of propagandizing the State, of cultural and economic propaganda, of enlightenment of the public at home and abroad; furthermore, he is in charge of all institutions serving these purposes." (2030-PS).

Under this decree, the Ministry controlled propaganda abroad, propaganda within Germany, the press, music, the theater, films, art, literature, radio and all related institutions.

Funk discharged important responsibilities in the Ministry. As Undersecretary he was Goebbels' chief aide. In this capacity he appears to have been the primary organizer of the machine from which flowed Nazi propaganda. This is made clear by the following excerpt from an affidavit dated 19 December 1945, and

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signed by Max Amann, who held the position of Reich Leader of the Press and President of the Reich Press Chamber.

" *** In carrying out my duties and responsibilities, I became familiar with the operations and the organization of the Reich Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment.

"Walther Funk was the practical Minister of the Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment and managed the Ministry. Funk was the soul of the Ministry, and without him Goebbels could not have built it up. Goebbels once stated to me that Funk was his 'most effective man.' Funk exercised comprehensive control over all the media of expression in Germany: over the press, the theater, radio and music. As Press Chief of the Reich Government and subsequently as Under Secretary of the Ministry, Funk held daily meetings with the Fuehrer and a daily press conference in the course of which he issued the directives governing the materials to be published by the German press". (3501-PS).

A note for the files prepared by one Sigismund, an SS Scharfuehrer, also stresses the important role which Funk played in The Ministry of Propaganda (3566-PS). That note records a discussion between Sigismund and one Weinbrenner, an official of the Ministry of Propaganda, about the selection of a General Manager for the German Radio. The note states:

"Weinbrenner made the following statement: *** it is almost impossible to determine whom the Minister would name General Manager, since Dr. Goebbels reaches most of the important decisions only by agreement with Under Secretary Funk." (3566-PS).

In addition to his position as Undersecretary, Funk had many other important responsibilities in subordinate offices of the Ministry for Propaganda (3533-PS). In 1933, for example, he was appointed Vice President of the Reich Chamber of Culture, whose President was Goebbels (3533-PS; Reichsgesetzblatt, 1933, I, p. 798).

Funk's position as Vice President of the Reich Chamber of Culture was related to his position as Undersecretary of the Ministry, since the Chamber of Culture and the seven subordinate chambers were by law subject to the control of the Ministry of Propaganda (2082-PS). This control was insured in practice by placing officers of the Ministry of Propaganda in the highest positions of the Chambers. Thus, for example, Goebbels was its President and Funk its Vice President. By virtue of his dual position, Funk directly promoted two fundamental and related

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Nazi policies: (1) the regimentation of all creative activities in he interest of Nazi political and military objectives; (2) the elimination of Jews and dissidents from the so-called cultural professions.

The mechanics by which these policies were carried out have been described in Section 9 of Chapter VII on Propaganda, Censorship and Supervision of Cultural Activities. That description will be supplemented here only by reference to the second decree the Execution of the Law of Reich Chamber of Culture, dated 9 November 1933 (2872-PS). This decree, which was signed by Funk, representing Goebbels, fixed the effective date for the entire scheme for the domination and purging of the cultural professions.

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