The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Third Day: Thursday, 7th February, 1946
(Part 2 of 18)

[M. MOUNIER continues]

If I mention the defendant Goering, it is because a third document proves that this defendant gave the operation his full support, inviting all the organisations of the Party, the State and the Army to afford the fullest possible support and assistance to Reichsleiter Rosenberg and his collaborator Utikal, whom Rosenberg himself appointed Chief of the "Einsatzstab" on 1st April, 1941. This is the order of 1st May, 1941, which we submitted as Exhibit RF 1406. If we examine the text of this decree carefully we cannot fail to be struck by the first paragraph. the Tribunal will surely allow me to re-read it rapidly:

"The struggle against the Jews, the Free Masons and their allies, and against the various powers which uphold a philosophy of life different from ours or opposed to ours, is a pressing task for National Socialism in the course of the war."
Thus, it was enough for one to have a philosophy of life different from that described as "Weltanschauung," to be exposed to the danger of seeing one's cultural property seized and transferred to Germany. But the Tribunal will

[Page 121]

surely remember, from the documents already presented to it, that not only cultural property was involved, but that anything with any kind of value was taken away.

The defendant Rosenberg tried to claim -- without much conviction it seems to me -- in the course of an interrogation by the superior officers in charge of the preliminary investigations, that the cultural property in question was intended solely to adorn the collections of the National Socialist "Hohen Schulen." We shall see presently, in presenting the text of this interrogation, how we may judge this. But it is a fact which I wish to present now that, from the documents which we possess, at least it does not seem that the defendant Rosenberg appropriated works of art, precious stones, or other objects of value for himself, so that as far as the proceedings hitherto are concerned no accusation of this kind can be brought against him. We shall not say as much of the defendant Hermann Goering, of whom we shall speak a little later and who, according to the documents that we possess, may be convicted of having appropriated to his own use part of the objects of art taken from the countries of the West.

I shall not dwell on the discussion which might arise about these appropriations. I shall go straight on to the interrogatory of the defendant Rosenberg. This is the document that was introduced yesterday by the Economic Section of the French Prosecution, which is Document 1330-RF, and which we submit to-day as Exhibit RF 1403. In this interrogation Colonel Hinkel asked the defendant Rosenberg to tell him on what legal grounds such looting could be justified. The defendant Rosenberg first answered that these seizures were justified by the hostility which certain groups had manifested toward the National Socialism ideology.

But a little further on, on Page 4, the defendant Rosenberg made the following verbatim statement:

"I considered them" -- he is referring to the measures which he himself had taken -- "a necessity caused by the war and by the reasons which caused the war."
A few moments later, pressed by Colonel Hinkel, the defendant Rosenberg invoked the necessity of putting into safe-keeping property thus seized -- a necessity which will certainly constitute one of the main points of his defence.

But Colonel Hinkel replied to the defendant Rosenberg:

"You meant to put these into safe-keeping? If that is true, why did you not put everything into safe-keeping? Why did you put into safe-keeping only what you thought should be kept, and abandon the rest?"
On the other hand, with regard to the safe-keeping of the works, there were others at least equal in value to those which had been removed, but to which no one paid any attention.

Finally, the defendant Rosenberg admitted that he had very often given no receipt to those concerned, which in itself precluded any idea of eventually returning the property to the legitimate owners.

The truth of the matter is that these were treasures of very considerable value; and the defendant Rosenberg in the end admitted that he regarded these acquisitions as an accomplished fact. We consider that the fact of having thus removed works of art and objects of value is purely and simply what is known in civil law as theft.

These thefts were made on a vast scale with the extensive means which the Third Reich had at its disposal, means which were further facilitated by the intervention of the Army and the Luftwaffe. But it is none the less true that the criminal character of these appropriations remains, and we urge the Tribunal, when it delivers judgment, to declare that it was by fraudulent

[Page 122]

seizure that the defendant Rosenberg and his co-defendants robbed France and the Western countries of all the objects of value and all the art treasures and cultural treasures.

As to details, Mr. President and your Honours, I would respectfully refer the Tribunal to the report submitted by the Economic Section yesterday, which was made by Dr. Scholz. This report was submitted by the Economic Section as Exhibit RF 1323, and in it the Tribunal will find enumerated everything that the "Einsatzstab" took out of France. In this connection I shall make an incidental remark in answer to the question that the President asked my colleague yesterday about the Rothschild collections. The President asked my colleague, "Have you proof that certain works of art and other objects of value were taken from the Rothschild collection?"

Mr. President, I would like to point out that there are two proofs of this. The first is the immediate result of the Rosenberg interrogation of 23rd September, 1945. I have just spoken to the Tribunal of the all-important questions put to the defendant Rosenberg as to the legitimacy and legal basis of these removals. I beg the Tribunal to refer to Page 5 of these minutes. I read from the text the question asked by the American officer in charge of the interrogation, my eminent friend, Colonel Hinkel.

Question: "How do you justify the confiscation of art treasures belonging to the Rothschild family?" A very precise question. It concerned the art treasures taken from the Rothschild family by Rosenberg's organisation.

Answer: "Still from the same general point of view," which means that the defendant Rosenberg claimed to justify the confiscations made to the detriment of the Rothschild by the reasons which I had the honour of analysing to the Tribunal a few moments ago.

A second consequence: The defendant Rosenberg thus admitted with his own lips that the Rothschild family was among those despoiled. That confession, Mr. President, your Honours, can be considered as one of the proofs, one of the main proofs.

This is the first answer, then, to the question that the President asked yesterday.

The second proof which I wish to present to the Tribunal is the following. I beg the Tribunal to refer to the report by Dr. Scholz produced yesterday in the document book of the Economic Section. This is Exhibit RF 1323.

If the Tribunal will kindly refer to this document, that is to say the report by Dr. Scholz, the second paragraph of Page 1, it will find the following:

"The special staff not only seized a very considerable part of the collection..."
THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): As I said the other day, we cannot keep all the books before us, but it seems to me that, as you have shown that the defendant Rosenberg agreed that this collection had been taken, that is quite sufficient.

M. MOUNIER: Mr. President, I understand perfectly your point of view. I should like respectfully to point out to you that I was to speak immediately after my colleague, and if I had done so you would have had this document book before you. The transmission broke down and we had a delay of one day, and I apologize for not having thought of asking you to bring this document again this morning.

However, I respectfully ask the Tribunal to be good enough to note this reference which it will easily find. It is a very short passage, which I should like to read to the Tribunal. It will not take very much time. This declaration is simply as follows:

"The special staff" -- that is to say, the "Einsatzstab Rosenberg" -- not only seized a very considerable portion of the collection which the Rothschilds had left behind in their Paris mansion..."
I shall not read the rest.

[Page 123]

Here then, Gentlemen, is an official report which cannot be disputed, and which demonstrates, like the previous proof, that the Rothschild collection was among those pillaged.

I do not enlarge on these facts, which are known to you. It seems to me that the two points on which I have just referred suffice to make it clear that illegal seizures, fraudulent seizures, were really made by the defendant Rosenberg to the detriment of France and to the detriment, likewise, of the Western countries.

As for their importance, I do not want to abuse the patience of the Tribunal by quoting statistics. I respectfully ask the Tribunal to refer to the Scholz report which I have twice mentioned in the course of my previous statements.

I would not, however, wish to leave the case of Rosenberg for the time being without quoting to the Tribunal a passage from an article by the French writer Francois Mauriac of the French Academy. Francois Mauriac was present on 7th November, 1945, at the inaugural session of the National Constituent Assembly at the Palais Bourbon (Page 9 of the report). On this occasion Francois Mauriac invoked a memory, which was recalled in "Le Figaro" of 6th November, 1945, in the following terms:

"Five years ago almost to a day, from the height of this rostrum, the most illustrious in Europe, a man spoke to other men dressed in field grey. His name was Alfred Rosenberg. I can testify to the exact date. It was 25th November, 1940.

Rosenberg leaned his elbows on this rostrum, where the voices of Jaures and of Albert de Mun were once heard, and where, on 11th November, 1918, Clemenceau nearly died of joy. Here are his words:

'In one gigantic revolutionary burst' -- he said -- 'the German nation has reaped such a harvest as never before in its history. The French will admit one day, if they are honest, that Germany has freed them from the parasites of which they could not rid themselves unaided.'

And the Nazi philosopher," continues Mauriac, "then proclaimed the victory of Blood. He meant" -- said Mauriac - - "the victory of Race; but it happens that a man may utter prophetic words unwittingly and without realizing the full import of the words which God places upon his lips. As Rosenberg predicted at the Palais Bourbon on 28th November, 1940, it was indeed blood that won the victory. It was the blood of the martyrs which in the end choked the executioners."

[ 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.