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 3 of 8)

[L. R. SHENIN continues]

[Page 146]

The situation was the same in all the other provinces of Yugoslavia, and only the methods of plundering varied according to local conditions.

(c) Confiscations:

Confiscations were one of the most widespread and effective means of plundering Yugoslavia.

Before the occupation of Yugoslavia was completed in 1941, a decree on confiscation was issued by the Germans in the combat zone. Pursuant to this decree the Germans confiscated enormous quantities of agricultural produce, raw materials semi-manufactured and other goods.

I submit to the Tribunal a certified copy of the above- mentioned decree as Exhibit USSR 206.

Immediately after the occupation of the country, the German occupation authorities introduced, by means of numerous decrees, the system of confiscation of private and public property.

In order to save time, I omit a part of this section of the document, which quotes concrete examples of the confiscation of property belonging to the Yugoslav

[Page 146]

population, and I pass on to the next count, which is entitled "Other Methods of Plunder." The members of the Tribunal will find this section on Page 52.

Together with the aforesaid methods of plunder, which were carried out on the basis of various decrees, laws and regulations, more primitive methods of looting were practised throughout the Yugoslav territory. They were not sporadic incidents, but constituted a part of the German system for enslavement and exploitation.

The Germans plundered everything from industrial and economic undertakings, down to cattle, food and even the simplest objects for personal use.

I will cite a few examples:-

1. Immediately after their entry into Yugoslavia, the Germans looted all the bigger firms and storehouses. They generally engaged in this form of looting at night, after the so-called "curfew hours".

2. The order of Major General Kabler, which has already been submitted to the Tribunal by the Soviet Prosecution as Exhibit USSR 132 contains the following passage:-

"Troops must treat those members of the population who maintain an unfriendly attitude towards the occupation forces in a brutal and ruthless manner, depriving the enemy of every means of existence by the destruction of localities which have been abandoned and by seizing all available stocks."
On the basis of this and similar orders, the Germans ceaselessly looted the country under the pretext of so- called "control of existing stocks", using the opportunities afforded by the "destruction of localities which had been abandoned".

3. Punitive expeditions, which became an everyday event during the occupation, were, naturally, always accompanied by the looting of the victims' property. In the same way they robbed their prisoners and the bodies of those who had fallen fighting in the Free National Army, as well as the hundreds of thousands of internees in the concentration camps.

4. Not even churches were spared. Thus, for example, the German unit "Konrad-Einheit," which operated in the vicinity of Sibenik, looted the Church of St. Ivan in Zablantz. There are numerous examples of the same kind.

During the four years of occupation, the whole of Yugoslavia was systematically looted. This looting was carried out either through numerous so-called "legal measures", or through mass looting on the part of the Germans. The Nazi occupation forces showed great inventive ability and applied to Yugoslavia the experience which they had gained in other occupied countries.

These criminal measures damaged the Yugoslav State economy to such an extent that one can consider them simply as economic destruction of the country.

From this, your Honours may see that the plunder of public and private property in Yugoslavia was carried out by the Hitlerites according to a preconceived plan, that it affected every class and every branch of the country's economy, and caused enormous material loss to the Yugoslav State and to its citizens.

THE PRESIDENT: I believe this would be a convenient time to break off.

(A recess was taken.)

L. R. SHENIN: The plunder of Greece.

After the invasion of Greece, the Hitlerite conspirators pursued their policy of merciless despoliation of the occupied countries and immediately began to plunder her national property. The official report of the Greek Government on the crimes committed by the Hitlerites has already been submitted to the Tribunal.

The appropriate section of this report entitled "Exploitation," gives the concrete facts of the plunder of public and private property in Greece. I quote the

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following excerpts from the part "Exploitation" from the report of the Greek Government, which will be found on Page 59 of the document book:-
"Owing to her geographical position, Greece was used by the Germans as a base of operations for the war in North Africa. They also used Greece as a rest centre for thousands of their troops from the North African and Eastern fronts. Thus, they concentrated in Greece much larger forces than were actually necessary for occupation purposes.

A large part of the local supplies of fruit, vegetables, potatoes, olive oil, meat and dairy products were confiscated to supply these forces. As current production was not sufficient for these needs, they resorted to the requisitioning of livestock on a large scale, with the result that the country's livestock became seriously depleted."

In addition to requisitioning supplies for their armies, the Hitlerite conspirators exacted enormous sums of money from Greece to cover the so-called cost of occupation. In the report of the Greek Government, the following remark is made on the subject:

This is on Page 60 in the document book.

"Between August, 1941, and December, 1941, the sum of 2,206,085,000 drachmas was paid to the Germans, representing a sum of 6o per cent. more than the estimated national income during the same period. In fact, according to the estimates of two Axis experts, Dr. Barberine from Germany and Dr. Bertoni, an Italian, the national income for that year amounted to only 23,000,000,000 drachmas. In the following year, as the national income decreased, this money was taken from national funds."
Other methods of plundering Greece, which the Hitlerites applied on a vast scale, were the requisitions and confiscations. In order to save time, I shall, with the permission of the Tribunal, merely read into the record a brief excerpt from the Greek report dealing with this question:-
"One of the enemy's first measures on occupying Greece was to seize all the existing stocks in the country by requisitioning or open confiscation. Among other goods, they requisitioned from the wholesale and retail trade 71,000 tons of currants and 10,000 tons of olive oil; they confiscated 1435 tons of coffee, 1,143 tons of sugar, 2,520 tons of rice, and a whole shipload of wheat to the value of $530,000."
As the country was divided among three occupying powers, the Hitlerites blockaded that part of Greece which was occupied by their own troops and forbade the export of food supplies from that zone. The Hitlerites began to confiscate all existing stocks of food and other goods, a measure which reduced the population to a state of extreme misery and starvation. This plundering had such catastrophic consequences for the Greek nation that finally even the Germans themselves were forced to realise that they had gone too far. The practical result of this was that towards the end of 1942 the German authorities promised the International Commission of the Red Cross that they would return to the population all the local products confiscated and exported by the armies of occupation. The Germans also undertook to replace them by the importation of products of the same calorific value. This pledge was not fulfilled.

As in all the occupied countries, the Germans issued and put into circulation an unlimited amount of currency. It should be noted that this currency represented the so-called occupation marks without any security. I quote an excerpt from this report, which the members of the Tribunal will find on Page 63 in the document book.

"From the very first the Germans put into circulation ten billion occupation marks, a sum equal to half the money in circulation at that date. By April, 1944, the monetary circulation had reached 14 million drachmas, that is, it had increased 700 per cent. since the beginning of the occupation."

[Page 148]

The Germans, after causing great inflation in that way, purchased all goods at prices fixed before the occupation. All goods purchased, as well as valuables, articles of gold, furniture, and so forth, were shipped by the Germans to Germany.

Finally, as in every country they occupied, the Hitlerites put into operation in Greece also the so-called "clearing system". Under this system, all goods earmarked for export were first confiscated or put under embargo by the military authorities. Then they were "bought up" by German firms at arbitrarily fixed prices. The price of the goods established in this one-sided way was then credited to Greece. The prices for merchandise imported from Germany were fixed at from 200 to 500 per cent. higher than their normal value. Finally, Greece was also debited with the price of merchandise imported from Germany for the needs of the occupation forces.

The Germans called this cynical method of plundering "clearing".

I quote a short excerpt from the report of the Greek Government which the members of the Tribunal will find on Page 64 of the document book.

"In consequence, notwithstanding the fact that Greece exported the whole of her available resources to Germany, the clearing account showed a credit balance of 264 billion marks in favour of Germany when the Germans left. At the time of their arrival the credit balance in favour of Greece was 4,353,44000 marks."
In this way, your Honours, the Hitlerites plundered the Greek people.


May it please your Honours, I pass on to the statement of the facts of the monstrous plunder and pillage to which private, public and State property was subjected by the Hitlerite usurpers in the temporarily occupied territories of the Soviet Union. The irrefutable original documents which I shall have the honour to present for your consideration will prove that long before their attack on the USSR, the fascist conspirators had conceived and prepared their criminal plans for the plunder and spoliation of its riches and of its national wealth.

Like all other crimes committed by the Hitlerites in countries occupied by them, the plunder and pillage of these territories was planned and organised beforehand by the major war criminals, whom the determination and valour of the Allied Nations have brought to justice.

The crimes committed by those who carried out the conspirators' criminal plans over wide areas of the Soviet land, on the fertile steppes of the Ukraine, in the fields and forests of Bielorussia, in the rich cornfields of the Kuban and the Don, in the snowy expanses of the North, in the blossoming gardens of the Crimea, in the approaches to Leningrad and to the Soviet Baltic States-all these monstrous crimes, all this mass plunder and wholesale pillage of the sacred wealth created by the peaceable and honest work of the Soviet peoples, Russian, Ukrainian, Bielorussian and others, all these crimes, were directly planned, designed, prepared and organised by the criminal Hitlerite Government and the Supreme Command of the German Army - the major war criminals, now occupying the dock.

I shall begin with evidence as to the premeditated nature of the crimes committed on USSR territory. I shall prove that the wholesale indiscriminate pillage of private, public and State property committed by the German Fascist usurpers was not an isolated occurrence, not a local phenomenon. It was not the result of the disintegration or the thefts of individual army units but was, on the contrary, an essential and indissoluble part of the general plan of attack on the USSR, and represented, moreover, the fundamental purpose, the chief motive underlying this criminal aggression.

May I beg the indulgence of the Tribunal if, in stating the facts connected with the preparations for these types of crimes, I am obliged to refer very briefly also to the several of the documents already submitted to the Tribunal by my American

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colleagues. I shall try, however, to avoid repetitions, and will mainly quote such extracts from these documents as have not been previously read into the record.

It is known that simultaneously with the elaboration of Plan "Barbarossa," which provided for all strategic questions connected with the attack on the USSR, purely economic problems arising from the plan were elaborated.

In the document known under the title "Conference of 29 April, 1941, with Branches of the Armed Forces" and presented to the Tribunal by the American prosecution on 10th December as Exhibit USA 141, we read:-

"Purpose of the conference: Explanation of the administrative organisation of the economic section of undertaking 'Barbarossa-Oldenburg'..."
Further on in this document, it is indicated that "the Fuehrer", contrary to previous practice in the preparatory measures envisaged, ordered that all economic questions were to be worked out by one centre and that this centre was to be "The special Purpose Economic Staff 'Oldenburg' under the direction of Lt.-General Schubert," and that it was to be under the Reich Marshal, i.e., Goering.

Thus, as early as April, 1941, the defendant Goering was in charge of all preparations for plundering the USSR.

To finish with this document, I should like to recall that provision is made in it, even at that early date, for the organisation of special economic inspectorates and commands at Leningrad, Murmansk, Riga, Minsk, Moscow, Tula, Gorki, Kiev, Baku, Yaroslavl, and many other Soviet industrial towns.

The document points out that the tasks of these inspectorates and commands included "the economic utilisation of suitable territory", i.e., as is explained below, "all questions of food supply and agriculture, industry, including raw materials and manufacture forestry, finance and banking, museums, commerce and trade and man- power".

As your Honours can see, the tasks were extremely wide and extraordinarily definite.

The plan "Barbarossa-Oldenburg" was further developed in the so-called "Directives for Economic Management of the Newly Occupied Eastern Territories" (the Green File), which were also elaborated and issued secretly before the attack on the USSR. Before passing on to the "Green File", I would like to present to the Tribunal and read out in part another document-the so-called "File of the District Agricultural Leader", which was submitted to the Tribunal by my colleague Colonel Smirnov as Exhibit USSR 89.

These very detailed instructions for future "district agricultural leaders" which were also worked out and published in advance bore the title of "District Agricultural Leaders' File" and was dated 1 June, 1941. Naturally this document too is marked "Most Secret".

Instructions begin: "Twelve Commandments for the Behaviour of Germans in the East and Their Attitude Towards Russians". My colleague, Colonel Smirnov, read into the record only one of those commandments, and I, with the Tribunal's permission, will read into the record the others. The first "commandment" reads: (the members of the Tribunal will find it on Page 69 of the document book):-

"Those of you who are sent to work in the East must adopt as your guiding principle the rule that output alone is decisive. I must ask you to devote your best and most unsparing efforts to this end".

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