The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th February to 26th February, 1946

Sixty-Third Day: Wednesday, 20th February, 1946
(Part 1 of 8)

[Page 137]

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, with the permission of the Tribunal, evidence on the count "Despoliation and Plunder of Private, Public and National Property" will be presented by the State Counsellor of Justice, Second Class, L. R. Shenin.

L. R. SHENIN: May it please your Honours:

My task consists in presenting to the Tribunal evidence of the criminal and predatory motives of Hitlerite aggression, and of the monstrous plundering of the peoples of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece and the USSR.

My colleagues have already proved that the attack on the USSR, as well as on other European countries, was planned and prepared beforehand by the criminal Hitlerite Government.

I will submit to the Tribunal a number of the conspirators' original documents, statements and speeches, which, in the aggregate, will prove that the despoliation and plunder of private, public and national property in the occupied territories was also premeditated, planned and prepared on a large scale, and that thus, simultaneously with the development of their purely military and strategic plans of attack, the Hitlerites, with the cold-blooded deliberateness of professional robbers and murderers, also developed and prepared beforehand the plan of organised plunder and marauding, after having minutely and accurately calculated their future profits, their criminal gains, their robbers' spoils.


The official report of the Czechoslovak Government on the crimes committed by the Hitlerites on the territory of Czechoslovakia, the first victim of German aggression, has already been submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 60.

In the third section of this report there is a short extract from an article by Ley, published on 30th January, 1940, in the Angriff.

"It is our destiny to belong to a superior race. An inferior race needs less space, less clothing, less food and less culture than a superior race".
This premise, this programme of action, found its concrete expression in the fact that the Hitlerite conspirators subjected all territories occupied by them to unrestrained plunder, highly varied in form and method, and entirely shameless in its devastating results.

The report of the Czechoslovak Government contains a large number of examples corroborating the corresponding counts of the indictment.

I shall read this section into the record, starting with the first paragraph on Page 72 of the Russian translation.

The German plan of campaign against Czechoslovakia was aimed not only against the Republic as a political and military unit, but also against the very existence of the Czechoslovak people, who were to be robbed not only of all political rights arid cultural life, but of their wealth and their financial and industrial resources. I quote:

"After Munich. Immediate Plunder".
Immediately after Munich the Germans seized all the industrial and commercial concerns belonging to the Czechs and Jews in the seized areas of the Republic; this was done without any compensation. Czechs and Jews were robbed of their property and of their office and plant equipment, usually by violence and bloodshed.

The following characteristic fact is mentioned in the report, namely, the way in which Hitler became acquainted with Czechoslovakia, which he had just seized. I shall read into the record sub-paragraph "b" of this section, entitled:-

[Page 138]

"After the Invasion of March 15th, 1939". The Tribunal will find this excerpt on Pages 3 and 4 of the document book:-
"Hitler entered Prague at nightfall on March 15, 1939, and spent the night there in the famous castle of Hradcany. He left on the following day, taking with him a number of valuable tapestries. We mention this robbery not because of the value of the stolen objects, but as an example set by the head of the Party and of the German State on the very first day of invasion.

The German troops who invaded Prague brought with them a staff of German economic experts, i.e., experts in economic looting.

Everything that could be of some value to Germany was seized, especially large stocks of raw materials, such as copper, tin, iron, cotton wool, great stocks of food, etc.

Rolling stock, carriages, engines and so on were removed to the Reich. All the rails in the Protectorate which were in good condition were lifted and sent to Germany; later they were replaced by old rails brought from Germany. New cars which were on order for the Prague municipal tramways and had just been completed were deflected from their purpose and sent to the Reich.

The vessels belonging to the Czechoslovak Danube Steam Navigation Company (the majority of shares belong to the Czechoslovak State) were divided between the Reich and Hungary.

Valuable pieces of art and furniture disappeared from public buildings, without even an attempt at any legal justification of such robbery; pictures, statues, tapestries were taken to Germany. The Czech National Museum, the Modern Art Gallery and public and private collections were plundered.

The German Reich Commissar of the Czechoslovak National Bank stopped all payments of currency abroad and seized all the gold reserve and foreign currency in the Protectorate. Thus the Germans took 23,000 kilogrammes of gold of a nominal value of 737,000 million crowns (£5,265,000) and transferred the gold from the Bank of International Settlement to the Reichsbank."

One of the methods of thorough, I should say total, plunder was the so-called economic Germanisation. I submit to the Tribunal as evidence of these crimes the following extract from the official Czechoslovak report. This extract the Tribunal will find on Pages 4 and 5 of the document book.


In the areas occupied by the Germany army in October, 1938, Germany began to settle her nationals on all the farms formerly belonging to Czechs or Jews who had fled for political or racial reasons.

The Czechoslovak Land Reform Act of 1919 in so far as it benefited Czech nationals, was declared invalid; Czech farmers were expelled from their land and compelled to abandon their cattle, agricultural implements, and furniture.

On paper, the Czechs received compensation, in fact, however, they were burdened with taxes in order to make good the so-called 'deliberate damage' which they were alleged to have caused by their flight. These taxes far exceeded the compensation.

The large agricultural and government estates of the Czechoslovak Republic automatically became Reich property and came under the jurisdiction of the Reich Ministries concerned."


After the invasion, German managers, supervisors and foremen replaced Czech nationals in State-owned enterprises of the Czechoslovak Republic.

Germanisation of private property began, of course, under the slogan "Aryanisation".

[Page 139]

The Germanisation of rural Bohemia and Moravia was entrusted to a special body called 'Deutsche Siedlungsgesellschaft' (German Settlement Society), located in Prague.

Czech peasants were offered compensation for their food products but at entirely inadequate prices.

Rural Germanisation, apart from Germanisation pure and simple, aimed at pauperising as many well-to-do Czech nationals as possible.

The Nazis did their utmost to squeeze as much as possible out of Czech agriculture. Here, too, their aim was twofold: on the one hand to obtain as much foodstuff as possible, and on the other, to carry the process of Germanisation as far as possible.

Farmers were turned out of their farms to make way for German Settlers - entire agricultural districts were in this way cleared of Czechs. Agricultural co-operative societies in control of production were transformed into auxiliary organisations and were gradually Germanised.

The looting of property and wealth was followed by the pillaging of agricultural produce. Heavy fines and frequently even the death penalty were imposed on Czech peasants for intentional failure to comply with orders regarding production, delivery and rationing.


In Czechoslovakia, industrial undertakings were directly financed by the banks, which often owned or controlled the majority of shares. Having obtained control over the banks, the Nazis thus secured control of industry.


After Munich, two important German banks, the Dresdner Bank and the Deutsche Bank, took over the branches of Prague banks, situated in the ceded territory. Thus among the enterprises taken over by the Dresdner Bank were thirty-two branches of the Bohemian Discount Bank and among those taken over by the Deutsche Bank were twenty-five branches of the Bohemian Union Bank.

As soon as these two German banks obtained control of the branch banks in the Sudetenland they also endeavoured to gain influence over the respective head offices of these banks in Prague.

The Czechoslovak banks were joint stock companies. Every Joint Stock Company with even one Jewish director was considered to be Jewish. In this manner the non-Jewish property was also taken over.


After the invasion several Czechoslovak banks in Bohemia, in consequence of their Aryanisation became the property of the Dresdner Bank. Among other enterprises, this German bank took over the Union Bank of Bohemia. In this way all the financial interests which these banks had in Czech industry, as well as the entire share- capital, fell into German hands.

From that time on German capital began to infiltrate into the Czech banks their expropriation and incorporation into the German bank system began. The Dresdner Bank (the establishment which administered the funds of the National Socialist Party) and the Deutsche Bank were officially entrusted with the task of expropriating the funds belonging to the Czechoslovak banking concerns.

By means of various 'transactions', by gaining influence through the branch banks in the Sudetenland over their respective head offices in Prague, by reducing the share capital, which was later increased with German assistance by appropriating industrial holdings and in this way acquiring influence over the controlling banks

[Page 140]

which were thus deprived of their industrial interests, etc., the two Berlin banks achieved complete control of the banks of the Protectorate. Gestapo terror helped them."
I omit one paragraph of this report and pass on to the next count:
"Destruction of National Industry. Compulsory Organisation.

After the invasion the Germans introduced into the Protectorate the compulsory Organisation of Czech industry on the German model They appointed committees for every new association and all the industrial 'groups' with at least one Nazi as chairman or vice- chairman or just as an ordinary member.

However, all the Czech members actually were mere puppets.
Armament Factories.

The Dresdner Bank acquired the most important armament factories in Czechoslovakia, i.e., the Skoda Works in Pilsen and the Czechoslovak 'Zbrojovka' in Brno. The private shareholders were forced to surrender their shares at prices far below their actual value; the bank paid for these shares with coupons which had been withdrawn from circulation, and confiscated by the Germans in the districts previously ceded in accordance with the Munich agreement.

The 'Hermann Goering' Concern.

The seizure by the Germans of the Czechoslovak banks and thus of the industry, through the big Berlin banks, was accomplished with the help of the gigantic 'Hermann Goering' concern, which seized the greatest Czechoslovak industries, one by one, at the smallest financial cost, that is to say, under the pretext of Aryanisation, by pressure from the Reich, by financial 'measures,' and finally by the threat of the Gestapo and concentration camps.

Finally, all the large Czechoslovak enterprises, factories and armament plants and the coal and iron industries fell into German hands. The huge chemical industry was seized by the German concern, 'I. G. Farben Industrie'".

I omit the paragraph concerning the same methods adopted in the case of the light industry and pass on to the next count of the report:
"Financial Spoliation".

"After the occupation of the territory ceded in accordance with the Munich agreement, the Germans refused to take over part of the Czechoslovak National Debt, although they acquired very valuable State property in the districts taken away from Czechoslovakia. Government bonds of low denominations amounting to a total of 1,600 million crowns were in circulation in the occupied territory. The Germans reserved the light to use these obligations in Czechoslovakia as legal tender."

Gentlemen, further on in this report we find a detailed account of the Hitlerite campaign of spoliation directed against the financial economy of the Czechoslovak Republic. With a view to saving time I shall refrain from quoting this excerpt and shall merely submit a few yearly balances of the Czechoslovak National Bank.

The balance sheet of the Czechoslovak National Bank showed the following figures for "other assets" in millions of crowns.

31st December, 1938 . . . .845

31st December, 1939 . . .3,576

31st December, 1942 . 17,366

I now quote an excerpt from the section entitled "Taxes."
"When war broke out the Nazis fixed the 'war contribution of the Protectorate' at an annual sum of 2,000 million crowns (£14,200,000). The Nazis claimed that they were entitled to this on the grounds that 'the Czechs did not have to fight, because the Germans fought for them'.

Immediately after the occupation the Germans seized the proceeds of various indirect taxes and diverted them into the Reich Treasury."

[Page 141]

Gentlemen, the excerpt which I just read from the report of the Czechoslovak Government gives an adequate picture of the manner in which, after having seized Czechoslovakia, the Hitlerites subjected it to wanton plunder in every field of its economic life - agriculture, industry and finance.

Having seized the entire economic resources of the Czechoslovak Republic, the Hitlerite Government forced this economy to serve their criminal interests, extracting everything possible in order to prepare for further aggression against the peoples of Europe and for new military attacks, with the monstrous aim of achieving world domination by the so-called German "master race."

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