The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Walter Funk

(Part 7 of 9)

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Funk actively participated in the planning of wartime financial measures (1301-PS). This was natural since Funk, after 1938, occupied three positions crucial to finance: Minister of Economics, President of the Reichsbank (to which he was appointed in January 1939), and Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics. Funk's role in war financing is illustrated by a letter, dated 1 June 1939, from the Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics (Funk), signed on his behalf by Dr. Posse (3562-PS). This letter found in the captured files of the Reich Ministry of Economics, transmitted the minutes of a meeting concerning the financing of the war. This meeting had been held under the chairmanship of Dr. Landfried, Funk's Undersecretary in the Reich Ministry of Economics. The document bears a marginal note in the bottom left hand corner, dated 5 June, stating that the document was "to be shown to the Minister" [i.e., Funk]. Only eight copies were made of the Minutes, which were marked "Top Secret". Four of these copies were sent to officials directly subordinate to Funk (two in the Reich Ministry of Economics, one in the Reichsbank, and one in the Office of the Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics). During the course of the meeting, which was attended by twelve officials, five of whom were directly responsible to Funk in his various capacities, the conferees discussed a memorandum regarding war finance which had been prepared by the Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics on 9 May 1939. The minutes of this meeting state:

" *** Then a report was made of the contents of the 'Notes on the Question of Internal Financing of War', of 9 May of this year (appendix to GBW 8/179/39 Top

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Secret), in which the figures given to me by the Reichs Minister of Finance are also discussed. It was pointed out that the General Plenipotentiary for the Economy is primarily interested to introduce into the legislation for war finance, the idea of financing war expenditures by anticipating future revenues, to be expected after the war. ***

"Undersecretary Newman, first, submitted for discussion the question whether the production would be able to meet to the assumed extent, the demands of the Army, especially if the demands of the Army, as stated in the above report, would increase to approximately 14 billions in the first three months of war. He stated that, if the production potential of the present Reich territory is taken as a basis, he doubts the possibility of such a production increase." (3562-PS).

During the course of the meeting one of the representatives of the High Command stated:

"The demands of the Army would probably be higher in the first three months of war than during the further course of the war." (3562-PS).

In the files of the Reich Ministry of Economics there was also found, attached to the above letter and minutes, a Top Secret memorandum entitled "Notes Concerning Financing of War." That memorandum reveals the plans to use the resources of countries to be occupied in the interest of the Nazi war machine.

"*** First, as concerns the scope of the total production, it is clear that the economic power of the Protectorate and of other territories, possibly to be acquired, must of course be completely exhausted for the purposes of the conduct of the war. It is, however, just as clear that these territories cannot obtain any compensation from the economy of Greater Germany for the products which they will have to give us during the war, because their power must be used fully for the war and for supplying the civilian home population."

It is plain that Funk exercised comprehensive authority over large areas of the German economy whose proper organization and direction were critical to effective war preparation. The once powerful German military machine, which rested on the foundation of thorough economic preparation, reflected the contribution which Funk had made to Nazi aggression.

Immediately before this machine was directed against Poland, the final preparatory steps were taken, and the previous appoint-

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ment of Funk as Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics was made public. Thus on 27 August 1939, Funk, in this capacity, issued two decrees, one introducing general rationing of consumers goods, the other setting up regional economic authorities (1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, I, pp. 1495 and 1498).

Finally, on 30 August 1939, Hitler, Goering, and Lammers signed a decree establishing the Ministerial Council for Reich Defense, composed of Goering; Funk, and Hess, among others, to act as a War Cabinet (1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, I, p. 1532).

Funk mobilized the German economy for war with full knowledge of the plans for military aggression. An irresistible inference of such knowledge arises from the combination of several factors: from Funk's long and intimate association with the Nazi inner circle; from the very nature of his official functions; from the war- dominated setting of Nazi Germany; from the fact that force and the threat of force had become the open and primary instruments of Nazi policy; and finally from the fact that at the same time that Funk was making economic preparations, specific plans for aggressionlater to be carried outwere being formulated, plans which could only be effective if they were synchronized with the complementary economic

The inference of Funk's knowledge and intent is reinforced beyond question by considering, in the light of the factors described above, the more specific evidence of Funk's knowledge of aggressive plans. Thus, Funk, at the very beginnings of the Nazi Government, had stated that the absorption of Austria by Germany was a political and economic necessity, and that it would be achieved by whatever means were necessary (1760-PS).

Goering had issued instructions to the Ministry of Economics in the language of a man waging aggressive war (1301-PS). Moreover, Funk and his subordinates in May 1939 were making detailed plans for financing the war, that is, a particular war, the war against Poland. (3562-PS)

In connection with Funk's economic planning for aggression reference should be made to other evidence of the preparatory work which Funk carried on prior to the aggression against Poland. Shortly before the attack on Poland, in a letter to Hitler dated 25 August 1939, Funk expressed his gratification for his role in the "tremendous events" of these days, and his thanks for Hitler's approval of his economic war measures. He concluded by giving Hitler his pledge in that hour (699-PS). The text of the letter is as follows:

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"Reich Minister Walther Funk.

Berlin W. 8, 25 August 1939.
Unter Den Linden 13.

"For the congratulations which you transmitted to me on my birthday, in such extremely friendly and kind fashion, I want to thank you from the depths of my heart. How happy and how grateful we must be to you to be favored to experience these colossal and world- moving times, and that we can contribute to the tremendous events of these days.

"General-Field-Marshal Goering informed me, that last night you -- my Fuehrer -- have approved in principle the measures prepared by me for financing the war, for setting up the wage and price systems and for carrying out the plan for an emergency contribution [Notopfer]. This news has made me deeply happy. I hereby most obediently report to you that I have succeeded, through the provisions made already during the last month, to make the German Reichsbank internally so strong and so safe against attack from without that even the most serious disturbances of the international currency and credit systems would be absolutely unable to affect us.

"In the meantime I have in a wholly inconspicuous manner converted into gold all assets of the Reichsbank and of the German economy abroad on which we could possibly lay hands. With the proposals worked out by me regarding a ruthless choking of any unessential consumption and any public expenditure and project not necessary for war we will be able to meet all financial and economic demands without any serious reverberations.

"In my capacity as General Plenipotentiary for Economics, appointed by you, my Fuehrer, I have regarded it as my duty to give you this report and this pledge in this hour.

"Heil, my Fuehrer
"(signed) Walther Funk". (699-PS) .

Funk both personally and through duly designated representatives also participated in the planning which preceded the aggression against the USSR. Thus, in April 1941, Rosenberg, after he had been appointed deputy for centralized treatment of problems concerning the Eastern Territories, discussed with Funk the economic problems which would be raised when the plans for aggression in the East were carried out (1039-PS). that time Funk appointed Dr. Schlotterer as his deputy to

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work with Rosenberg in connection with the exploitation of the Eastern Territories. Funk's deputy met with Rosenberg almost daily.

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

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