The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
21st January to 1st February, 1946

Thirty-Ninth Day: Monday, 21st January, 1946
(Part 6 of 9)

[M. GERTHOFER continues]

[Page 22]

The dishonest intentions of Germany appear in a secret report by Seyss-Inquart on his governorship, a report, discovered by the U.S. Army, dated 29th May to 19th July 1940, which has been registered as Document 997-PS and which I submit before the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 122. These are the chief extracts from this report:

"It was clear that with the occupation of the Netherlands a large number of economic and police measures had to be taken, the first ones of which were to reduce the consumption of the population in order to get supplies for the Reich, on the one hand, and to secure a just distribution of the remaining supplies, on the other hand. In consideration of the assigned task, we had to try to see to it that all these measures carried the signature of Dutchmen. The Reich commissioner therefore authorised the Secretaries-General to take all the necessary measures by means of ordinances. As a matter of fact, up to today, almost all orders concerning the seizure of supplies and their distribution to the population, and decrees about restrictions in the formation of public opinion, which have been issued, as well as agreements concerning the transport of extraordinarily large supplies to the Reich which

[Page 23]

have been made, all bear the signatures of the Dutch Secretaries General or the competent economic leaders, so that all of these measures have the character of being voluntary. It should be mentioned in this connection that the Secretaries General were told in the first conversation, that loyal co-operation was expected of them, but that it would be their privilege to resign if something should be ordered which they felt they could not endorse. Up to date none of the Secretaries General has made use of this privilege, so that one may reasonably conclude that they have complied with all requests of their own free will.

Almost the entire seizure and distribution of food supplies and textiles has been carried out, at least all the respective orders have been issued and are being executed.

A series of instructions concerning the reorientation of agriculture have been issued and are being executed; essentially it is a question of seeing to it that the available fodder is used in such a way that as large a stock as possible of horned cattle is carried over into the next farming period, about 80 per cent, at the expense of the stock of chickens and hogs, which is too high. Rules and restrictions have been introduced in the organisation of traffic, and the principles for the regulation of gasoline, as in the Reich, were carried out here.

Restrictions of the right to quit jobs as well as to cancel leases have been issued, in order to check the liberal- capitalistic customs of the Dutch employers and to avoid unrest. In the same way the periods for repayment of debts have been extended under certain conditions.

Ordinances concerning news service, radio, etc., prohibit listening to foreign radio stations and introduce all other restrictions necessary in this field for defence reasons. The ordinance about registration and control of enemy property, as well as about confiscation of the property of persons who show hostility to the Reich and to Germans was, in this case, issued in the name of the Reich Commissioner. On the basis of this ordinance an administrator for the property of the Royal Family has already been appointed.

The supplies of raw materials have been seized and, with the consent of the General Field Marshal, distributed according to this system: the Dutch keep enough raw materials to maintain their economy for half a year, whereby they receive the same distribution quotas as in the Reich. The same principle of equal treatment is being used in the supply of food, etc. This enabled us to secure considerable supplies of raw materials for the Reich, as for instance 70,000 tons of industrial fats, which is about half the amount which the Reich lacks.

The bank moratorium could be cancelled; bank deposits are increasing the stock exchange has been reopened to a limited extent. Legislation concerning the control of foreign currencies has been introduced according to the standards in the Reich.

Finally it has been arranged that the Dutch Government shall make available, in sufficient quantities, all means needed by the Reich, including the German administration in the Netherlands, so that these expenses do not burden the Reich budget in any way.

Thus, a sum of guilders has been made available to redeem the occupation marks to the amount of about 36 million, an additional 100 million for the purpose of the occupation army, especially the extension of the airports; 50,000,000 for the production of raw materials to be shipped to the Reich, insofar as they are not booty; for unrestricted transfer to guarantee the remittance of the savings of the Dutch workers brought into the Reich to their families, etc. Finally, the rate of exchange of the occupation marks, set at first by the Army High Command as 1 guilder to 1.50 Reichsmark, has been correctly reduced to 1 guilder to 1.33 Reichsmark.

Above all, however, it was possible to get the consent of the President of

[Page 24]

the Bank of the Netherlands, Trip, to a measure suggested by Commissioner General Fischbock and approved by the General Field Marshal, namely the unrestricted mutual obligation of accepting each other's currencies; that means that the Bank of the Netherlands is bound to take over any amount of Reichsmark offered to it by the Reich Bank, and in return to make available Dutch guilders at the rate of 1,33, that is, 1 Reichsmark = 75 cents. Only the Reich Bank has control over this, not the Bank of the Netherlands, which will be notified only about the individual transactions. This ruling goes far beyond all pertinent rulings hitherto made with the political economies of neighbouring countries, including the Protectorate, and actually represents the first step toward a currency union.

In consideration of the significance of this agreement, which already touches the independence of the Dutch State, it is of special weight that the President of the Bank, Trip, who is unusually well-known in Western banking and financial circles, signed this agreement of his own free will in the above sense."

Here ends the quotation from the letter of Seyss-Inquart.

As you will see from the explanations which I shall have the honour of submitting to you, it was chiefly in the Netherlands that the Germans used all their ingenuity in extorting the means of payment. This spoliation will form the subject of the first chapter.

We shall next examine the use made by the occupants of these means of payment; in a second chapter we shall discuss the black market; in a third we shall consider the acquisition made in a manner only outwardly regular; a fourth chapter will be devoted to various kinds of spoliation. Finally, we shall touch upon the chief consequences to the Netherlands of this economic pillage.



I have already had the privilege, gentlemen, of explaining under what conditions and within what limit, by virtue of the Hague Convention, the occupying power may raise contributions in money for the maintenance of its army of occupation.

I shall confine myself to reminding the Tribunal that these expenses which are charged to the occupied countries can include only costs of billeting, feeding, and eventually of paying those soldiers, strictly necessary to the occupation of territories.

The Germans knowingly ignored these principles by imposing upon the Netherlands the payment of an indemnity for the maintenance of their troops which was far out of proportion to their needs.

According to information furnished by the Netherlands Government, (which is contained in three reports: the reports of Trip, Hirchenfeld and the Minister of Finance, which I submit as Exhibit RF 123) the following sums were exacted on the pretext of being indemnity for the maintenance of occupation troops:

1940, (for the duration of seven months) 477,000,000 guilders
1941............................................................ 1,124,000,000 guilders
1942............................................................ 1,181,000,000 guilders
1943............................................................ 1,328,000,000 guilders
1944............................................................ 1,757,000,000 guilders
1945 (for the duration of only 4 months) 489,000,000 guilders

Total ............................................................ 6,356,000,000 guilders

A sum as considerable as this constitutes a veritable war tribute raised on the pretext of the maintenance of an army of occupation.

[Page 25]

Germany thus fraudulently circumvented the regulations of the Hague Convention to seize a considerable amount of means of payment.


In 1931 Germany, which faced economic and financial difficulties, declared a general moratorium on its previous commitments. Nevertheless, in order to be able to continue its foreign commercial operations, it had concluded with most of the other countries, notably with Holland, agreements making possible the regulation, the settling of commercial debts and, to a certain extent, of financial debts, on the basis of the compensation system called "clearing." Before the war there existed on the Netherlands "clearing" an excess of imports from Germany. But after the first months of occupation there was, on the contrary, a considerable excess of exports to Germany, whereas the receipts coming from that country dropped perceptibly.

From the month of June 1940 on, the Germans exacted from the Netherlands declarations of foreign currency, gold, precious metals, valuable papers, and foreign credits, as can be deduced from the Ordinance of 24th June 1940, hereby submitted as Exhibit RF 95. Moreover, the Dutch could, by virtue of the same ordinance, be obliged to sell their stocks to the Bank of the Netherlands. The German Commissar of the Reich, Seyss-Inquart, forced the Bank of the Netherlands to make advances in guilders to assure an equilibrium of the clearing, since Germany could furnish no equivalent in merchandise. On the other hand, it was decided that the clearing system should be utilised for the delivery of merchandise as well as for the payment of any debts.

In point of fact the Germans could, therefore, buy merchandise and titles to movable property in Holland without furnishing any equivalent. The credits, in marks, of the Dutch sellers were blocked in the Bank of the Netherlands which, on its part, had been obliged to make an equivalent advance on the clearing exchange.

To attempt to limit the falling of the Dutch account on the clearing exchange, and to avoid the transfer by this means of guilders or of transferable stock into Germany; on the 8th of October, 1940, the Secretary General of the Netherlands Finance imposed a sizeable tax on the marks that were blocked on the clearing exchange.

However, under date of the 31st of March, 1941, the credit of the Netherlands exceeded 400,000,000 guilders, which in fact had been advanced by the Netherlands Government. At this point the occupant's demanded:

(1) That a sum of 300,000,000 guilders be withdrawn from the balance of 400,000,000 and deposited in the German treasury under the heading of "Military Occupation Costs Incurred. 'Outside' The Netherlands," and this independently of payments already made for the occupation costs that had been paid by this country.

(2) By a decision of the Reich Commissar, under date of 31st March, 1941 (reported in the Verordnungsblatt in France, No. 14, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 124) the payment operations with the Reich were no longer to pass through the clearing exchange, but to be operated directly from bank to bank, which would create direct credits of the Netherlands banks on the German banks at the imposed exchange of 100 Reichsmark for 75.36 guilders.

(3) By a decree of the same date, 31st March 1941, (which I submit as Exhibit RF 125) the tax on blocked marks, created on the 8th of October, 1940, by the Netherlands authorities, was abolished. Faced with this situation, particularly dangerous to the Netherlands treasury, M. Trip resigned his position as Secretary General for Finance and President of the Netherlands Bank. The Reich Commissar replaced him with Rost von Tonningen, a

[Page 26]

notorious collaborator who complied with all the demands of the occupying power.

As the private banks were unwilling to keep credits in marks at a rate very disadvantageous to the real parity of 100 Reichsmark to 75.36 guilders, they transferred their credits in marks to the Bank of the Netherlands. The credit account of the Institute of Exports to Germany, through the operations made with this country, rose considerably; while the credit balance as of 1st April 1941 amounted to 235,000,000 guilders, it was to rise by the 1st of May, 1945, to 4,488,000,000 guilders.

According to information given by the Netherlands Government this credit was accounted for by purchases of all kinds of merchandise made by the Germans in Holland, of transferable stock or other valuable papers, by payment of services imposed upon Dutch businesses, and of wages of workers deported to Germany, and by paying off the debts incurred by the occupant.

Aside from these two procedures, indemnities for the occupation troops, and clearing, the Germans were to procure resources for themselves by another method - by imposing collective fines - and this in violation of the provisions of Article 50 of the Hague Convention.

In the course of the occupation the Germans imposed, under every pretext, by way of reprisal or intimidation, considerable fines upon the municipalities. These fines were to be paid by the inhabitants, with the exception of persons of German nationality, members of pro-Nazi associations (NSV, Waffen SS, NSKK), of the technical aid services of the Dutch-German community, and of persons working for the Germans.

According to information which has been obtained up to the present of only 62 municipalities, the total fines thus imposed mounted to a minimum of 20,243,024 guilders. This is based on testimony of the Netherlands Government, which I submit as Exhibit RF 126.

From the same testimony, in the archives forgotten by the Germans at the Hague, there have been discovered two copies of letters relative to these collective fines.

According to the first of these copies, which is a letter of March 8th, 1941, collective fines amounting to 18,500,000 guilders had been raised at the beginning of the year 1941.

From the second, we learn that Hitler had given the order to employ this sum for National Socialist propaganda in the Netherlands.

The report of the Government of the Netherlands....

THE PRESIDENT: Where are these letters?

M. GERTHOFFER: These letters are in evidence, which I presented as Exhibit RF 126.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you read the passages which you consider material?


"Commissar of the Reich, The Hague, 1808, 8.3.1941.

To Liaison Headquarters, Berlin, 1720 hours.

For immediate transmission to Reichsleiter M. Bormann.

The sum of 18 1/2 million guilders representing the contribution exacted as reprisals from certain Dutch cities, will arrive in the next few days. The Commissar of the Reich asks whether the Fuehrer has earmarked this sum for a special purpose, or if it is to be used for the same purpose as the Fuehrer has previously ordered in the case of confiscation of enemy property. At that time the Fuehrer stipulated that these sums should be spent in the Netherlands for the needs of the community under the proper political considerations.

Heil Hitler
(Signed) Schmidt-Munster
General Commissar."

[Page 27]

This, then, is the translation of the answer.
"Obersalzberg, 19.3.41; 1000 Nr/4

Reichsleiter M. Bormann."

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