The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Walter Funk

(Part 6 of 9)

[Page 727]


Funk was vested with, and carried out, major responsibilities in connection with the planning and execution of the Nazi program of economic mobilization for aggression. Thus, in 1938 he succeeded Schacht as Minister of Economics (3533-PS).

Immediately before Funk actually took over the Reich Ministry of Economics there was a major reorganization of its functions, which integrated the Ministry with the Four Year Plan as the Supreme Command of the German military economy. The reorganization was accomplished by Goering, in his capacity as Commissar for the Four Year Plan, by a decree dated 4 February 1938 ("The Four Year Plan" (Der Verjahresplan) official monthly bulletin, issued by Goering, Vol. II, 1938, p. 105). Under this decree, the jurisdiction of the Economics Ministry was defined as covering the following fields of Germany's economy: German raw and working materials, mining, iron industry, power industry, handicrafts, finance and credit, foreign trade, devisen, and exports. As a result of this decree, sectors of the German economy which were strategic in the organization of war and armaments economy were placed under the immediate control of Funk.

Furthermore the Reich Office for Economic Development, charged by the decree, with "research, planning and execution of the Four Year Plan", was incorporated into the Reich Ministry

[Page 728]

of Economics. Similarly, the Reich Office for Soil Research and the Office of the Reich Commissar for the exploitation of Scrap Materials were made subject to that Ministry. Thus, it is clear that the reorganization decree concentrated significant responsibilities in the hands of Funk and thereby made him one of the chief agents of economic mobilization during a decisive period.

Subsequently, Funk was, by a secret law, expressly charged with the task of mobilizing the German economy for war. On 4 September 1938, while the conspirators were engaged in intensive planning for aggression against Czechoslovakia, Hitler signed a revision of the so-called Reich Defense Law (2194-PS). This law conferred upon Funk substantially the same authority which had been vested in Schacht by the Reich Defense Law of 21 May 1935 (2261-PS). The law of 4 September 1938 provided in part:

"It is the task of the GBW [Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics] to put all economic forces into the service of the Reich defense, and to safeguard economically the life of the German nation. To him are subordinate: the Reich Minister of Economics, the Reich Minister of Nutrition and Agriculture, the Reich Minister of Work, the Reich Chief of Forestry, the Reich Commissar for Price Control. He is furthermore responsible for directing the financing of the Reich defense within the realm of the Reich Finance Ministry and the Reich Bank.

"The GBW must carry out the demands of the OKW which are of considerable importance for the armed forces; and he must insure the economic conditions for the production of the armament industry directed immediately by the OKW according to its demands. If the demands of the armed forces cannot be brought into accord with the affairs of economy, then the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor decides.

"The GBW has the right within his sphere to issue laws with the consent of the OKW and GBV which differ from the existing laws."

The law of 4 September 1938, which at the specific direction of Hitler was not made public, was signed by Hitler and by Funk, among others, as "Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics" (2194-PS).

Funk, in a speech which he delivered on 14 October 1939, explained how he, as Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics, had, for a year and a half prior to the launching of the aggression against Poland, advanced Germany's economic preparation for war. He stated:

[Page 729]

"Although all the economic and financial departments were harnessed in the tasks and work of the Four Year Plan under the leadership of Generalfeldmarschall Goering, the war economic preparation of Germany has also been advanced in secret in another sector for well over a year, namely, by means of the formation of a national guiding apparatus for the special war economic tasks, which had to be mastered at that moment, when the condition of war became a fact. For this work as well all economic departments were combined into one administrative authority, namely under the General Plenipotentiary for Economy, to which position the Fuehrer appointed me one and a half years ago." (3324- PS)

In his dual capacity of Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics and Minister of Economics, Funk naturally was advised of the requirements which the conspirators' program of aggression imposed on the economy. Thus, during a conference in the Reich Aviation Ministry on 14 October 1938 under the chairmanship of Goering, Goering referred to Hitler's orders for an abnormal increase of armament, particularly weapons for attack, and directed the Ministry of Economics to submit suggestions on how to finance this rearmament by increasing exports.

The report of Goering's remarks states in part:

"General Field Marshal Goering opened the session by declaring that he intended to give directives about the work for the next months. Everybody knows from the press what the world situation looks like and therefore the Fuehrer has issued an order to him to carry out a gigantic program compared to which previous achievements are insignificant. There are difficulties in the way which he will overcome with utmost energy and ruthlessness.

"The amount of foreign exchange has completely dwindled on account of the preparation for the Czech Enterprise and this makes it necessary that it should be strongly increased immediately. Furthermore, the foreign credits have been greatly overdrawn and thus the strongest export activity stronger than up to nowis in the foreground. For the -next weeks an increased export was first priority in order to improve the foreign exchange situation. The Reich Ministry for Economy should make a plan about raising the export activity by pushing aside the current difficulties which prevent export.

"These gains made through the export are to be used for

[Page 730]

increased armament. The armament should not be curtailed by the export activity. He received the order from the Fuehrer to increase the armament to an abnormal extent, the air force having first priority. Within the shortest time the air force is to be increased five fold, also the navy should get armed more rapidly and the army should procure large amounts of offensive weapons at a faster rate, particularly heavy artillery pieces and heavy tanks. Along with this manufactured armaments must go; especially fuel, powder and explosives are moved into the foreground. It should be coupled with the accelerated construction of highways, canals, and particularly of the railroads." (1301-PS).

Goering's words were the words of one already at war. And the emphasis on quintupling the Air Force and accelerating weapon manufacture for attack, were the words of a man waging aggressive war.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

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.