The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Second Day: Wednesday, 6th February, 1946
(Part 2 of 6)

[M. GERTHOFFER continues]

I submit in the document book, as Exhibit RF 1306, a letter of the French Secretary for Finance of 18th December, 1941, containing one of these protests. So as not to waste the time of the Tribunal I shall not quote the document, but shall merely put it in evidence.

No dividing line was drawn between the activities or powers of civil authorities and those of military authorities. There were conflicts and rivalries, but as from March, 1941, "Stab Rosenberg" occupied the foreground; and it is possible to say that from 1940 to 1944 it enjoyed a monopoly in the confiscation of works of art in Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland and France.

[Page 103]

"Stab Rosenberg" originated in the Bureau of Foreign Policy of the Party. Hence the first function, in theory, of "Stab Rosenberg" consisted in gathering political material which could and might be exploited in the struggle against Jewry and Free Masonry by the "Hohe Schule." This is the High College, whose purpose Hitler defined in his order of 29th January, 1940, to be found in the American documentation under No. 136-PS, a copy of which I submit in evidence as Exhibit RF 1308. The document is very brief and I shall read it to the Tribunal:

"The 'Hohe Schule' is some day to become the center for doctrinal research and education. It will be established after the war. However, in order to expedite the preparatory work already initiated, I order that Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg continue this preparatory work, especially in the field of research and the establishment of a library. The offices of the Party and the State organisations are required to support his work in every way.

"Berlin 29th January, 1940.
(signed) Adolf Hitler."
Entrusted with the discovery and seizure of Jewish collections which had been left "ownerless" in the occupied territories, "Stab Rosenberg" did not content itself with looting private houses; its activities also applied to the seizure of many trust funds, especially of those deposited in strong boxes in banks. This is evident from the passage of the document that I submit as Exhibit RF 1307 from which, the Tribunal permitting, I will read a passage. This is on Page 2 of the translation and is also to be found in the brief:
"On 26th September, 1941, Braumueller, acting on Rosenberg's behalf, removed two cases filled with art treasures, which are listed and deposited with the agency of the 'Societe Generale' at Arcachon under the name of the depositor, M. Philippe de Rothschild, who has not yet regained his French nationality."
As a matter of fact, the field of activity of "Stab Rosenberg" was not confined to the pillage of Jewish or Masonic property. It rapidly absorbed all it could of the artistic heritage of the occupied countries, a heritage which "Stab Rosenberg" appropriated by invariably illegal means without distinguishing between private property and public property.

This action of "Stab Rosenberg" was inspired by the orders of the defendant Goering himself. It is thus that I submit as Exhibit RF 1309 a document discovered by the Army of the United States and filed under No. 141-PS, which consists of an order of the defendant Goering, Paris, dated 5th November, 1940, and which extends the activities of "Stab Rosenberg." Here is the order:

"To carry out the present measures for safeguarding Jewish property taken over by the Chief of the Military Administration in Paris and by `Einsatzstab Rosenberg,' the following procedure will be observed in connection with the art treasures deposited at the Louvre:

(1) Those art objects regarding which the Fuehrer has reserved to himself the right of further disposal.

(2) Those which serve to complete the collection of the Reich Marshal.

(3) Art treasures and libraries which appear suitable for equipping the 'Hohe Schule' within Reichsleiter Rosenberg's sphere of duty."

THE PRESIDENT: I think this document has already been read, M. Gerthoffer. I think this document was read by Colonel Storey.

M. GERTHOFFER: I shall omit the quotation, Mr. President.

[Page 104]

I now come to an order, issued by the defendant Keitel, of 17th December, 1940, a copy of which I submit as Exhibit RF 1310, filed in the American documents as 138-PS. Here are the principal passages:

"Implementing the order of the Fuehrer transmitted to Reichsleiter Rosenberg and made known to you at the time, to the effect that the premises of Masonic Lodges, together with libraries and archives in the occupied countries, must be searched for material of value to Germany, and that this material must be safeguarded by the Gestapo, the Fuehrer has made the following decision:

Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or his representative Reichshauptstellenleiter Ebert, has received from the Fuehrer personally unequivocal instructions concerning the right of confiscation. He is authorized to transport to Germany such objects which appear to him of value and to place them here in safe custody. You are requested to inform the competent military commanders or offices."

The activities of "Stab Rosenberg" were manifold. Thus, for instance, on 18th December, 1941, Rosenberg suggested to Hitler the seizure of Jewish furniture in the occupied territories of the West, to serve for the establishments of Party organisations in the regions of the East.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Gerthoffer, it would help us, I think, if you told us, when you are passing on in your expose, that you are passing on to such-and-such a page.

Will you do that?

M. GERTHOFFER: This is Page 14 of the brief, Mr. President.

Here is a copy of the document which was discovered by the Army of the United States, which bears the number 001-PS, a copy of which I include in the document book as Exhibit RF 1311.

"Everywhere in the East the administration found terrible housing conditions, and the possibilities of getting supplies are so limited that it is practically impossible to obtain anything. That is why I request the Fuehrer to authorise that the furniture belonging to Jews who have fled, or those who are leaving Paris, or any of the occupied territories of the West, be confiscated in order to supplement, as far as possible, the furniture for the establishments of the Eastern Administration."
I have reached the bottom of Page 15.

Moreover, the Germans concealed their intentions. This is evident from the letter, dated 28th February, 1942, addressed to the German Armistice Commission by the German Military Commander in France, of which I offer a photograph as Exhibit RF 1312; Page 16. Here are a few extracts from this letter:

"Taking into consideration the special mission entrusted to 'Stab Rosenberg' which consisted in the seizure of art treasures of Jewish ownership, protests by the French Government against the activities of `Stab Rosenberg' have always been forwarded by us to the O.K.W., while we replied to the French Government that the protest has been forwarded to the office in charge in Berlin for investigation and decision."
Further on, in the same letter, we read:
"The mission of 'Stab Rosenberg' must -- as in the past -- be kept secret from the French authorities."
A letter addressed to the Section Chief of the Military Administration in Paris of 7th April, 1942, which I offer in evidence as Exhibit RF 1313, contains the same directives -- here is the relative passage:

[Page 105]

"Furniture belonging to Jews of English or American nationality will not be confiscated for the time being but only the furniture of Jews who are nationals of the Reich or of a country partially or totally occupied by the Reich or of Jews who are 'Stateless.' The confiscated objects become the property of the Reich. No receipt will be given. The right of third parties, especially those of lessors or of owners of store houses, is to be considered as having become void."
Further on in the same instructions, Page 17 of the brief, sub-paragraph 6:
"The operations must be carried out as discreetly as possible. As to general questions by the local French authorities concerning the operations, they must be answered verbally, to the effect that this is a punitive measure ordered by a higher authority. All additional explanations are superfluous."
And further on:
"Explanations in the Press concerning the utilisation of vacant Jewish premises are undesirable for the time being."
I turn to Page 19 in the brief to quote a very short passage of a letter dated 18th June, 1942, signed by Rosenberg and addressed to the defendant Goering. I offer in evidence a copy of this letter as Exhibit RF 1314. Here is the passage which I shall read to the Tribunal. Page 20 of the brief; Page 2 of the document book:
"Some time ago I explicitly approved the instructions given by the Chief of my "Einsatzstab", Stabsfuehrer Party member Utikal, that Party member Dr. Lohse of the 'Plastic Arts' Office be put at your disposal for any purpose you may desire."
On Page 22 of my written report is the following:
"Since the first confiscations were made by the military authorities, the 'Devisenschutzkommando,' the German Embassy and 'Stab Rosenberg' did not appear on the scene until the time when seizures of great collections had already been completed. The greater part of the Rothschild, Kahn, Weil-Picard and Wildenstein collections had been confiscated and they represented three-quarters of the total booty of 'Stab Rosenberg'."

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