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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd May to 13th May, 1946

One Hundred and Twenty-First Day: Saturday, 4th May, 1946
(Part 3 of 3)

[DR. SAUTER continues his direct examination of WALTER EMANUEL FUNK]

[Page 108]

Q. And you were informed as to the proceedings and decisions of the Reich Cabinet?

A. Yes.

Q. That was that the reason of your presence there, but your sole assignment - and please tell me if I am correct - was to inform the Press, after the Cabinet sessions, of the decisions made?

A. Yes.

Q. So you had no influence on the drafting or on the contents of the laws, nor on the voting?

A. Yes, that is right. I had neither a seat nor a vote in the Cabinet.

Q. Were you responsible for the Press policy of the Reich Government - and I stress: the Reich Government and not the Party?

A. I have already said that I received my instructions for the Press from the Fuehrer; that went on for six weeks. Then Dr. Goebbels took charge of Press policy.

[Page 109]

Q. You have already said that the Press conferences with Reich President Hindenburg ended with his death in August, 1934.

A. Yes.

Q. And also your Press conferences with Hitler, who was then Reich Chancellor - from the same date?

A. Yes, that is correct. Reich President Hindenburg had died in the meantime.

Q. And afterwards the Reich Press Chief and Party official, Dr. Dietrich, tended more and more to occupy your place?

A. Yes, Dr. Dietrich was one of the Fuehrer's closest collaborators; and through him the Fuehrer gave his instructions to the Press.

Q. Dr. Funk, the book by Dr. Ostreich, Documents 3505-PS, Exhibit USA 653 - which we have already dealt with, contains the following quotation on your Press policy, and I quote:

"Many of the journalists who worked in Berlin and the provinces are grateful to Funk for the trouble he took about their wishes and their complaints, especially during the transition period.

Funk is responsible for the much-quoted saying that the Press must not be a barrel organ. He attacked the uniformity and standardisation of the Press and demanded individuality. But he also protected the Press from efforts made by various offices to further their own ends."

A. Yes, I probably did write that; and that was my opinion. So far as lay within my power, I tried to protect the Press from standardisation and arbitrary treatment, especially at the hands of the government offices.

Q. You have already said, I believe, that you took no part in the political leadership of the Propaganda Ministry - I stress: the political leadership of the Propaganda Ministry - or in the actual work of propaganda. Is that correct?

A. Yes, that is correct.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, I turn now to a new complex. Do you wish to have the recess now, your Honour?

THE PRESIDENT: I think we will go straight on. We are going to adjourn at 12 o'clock.

Q. Defendant, I come now to your attitude to the question of anti-Semitism. I do so because you are held more or less responsible, along with others, for the excesses committed against the Jews. Will you tell us on what principles your attitude was based?

A. I was never anti-Semitic on the basis of racial principles. At first I thought that the anti-Semitic demands of the Party programme were a matter of propaganda. At that time the Jews, in many respects, held a dominant position in widely different and important fields of German life, and I myself knew many very wise Jews who did not think that it was in the interest of the Jews that they should dominate cultural life, the legal profession, science and commerce to the extent that they did at the time ...

The people had a tendency to anti-Semitism at that time.

The Jews had a particularly strong influence on cultural life, and their influence seemed to me particularly dangerous in this sphere because tendencies which I felt to be definitely un-German and inartistic, appeared as a result of Jewish influence, especially in the spheres of painting and music. The Reich Chamber of Culture Law (Reichskulturkammergesetz) was created, radically excluding the Jews from German cultural life, but with the possibility of making exceptions. I applied these exceptions whenever I was in a position to do so. The law, as I have stated, was decreed by the Reich Cabinet, which bears the responsibility for it. I was at that time not a member of the Cabinet, so during the period of my activities in the Propaganda Ministry, I did what I could to help the Jews, and people with other views generally, in cultural life.

[Page 110]

Everyone who knows me from my activities during that period can and must testify to that.

DR. SAUTER: I have submitted two affidavits in my Document Book, Nos. 1 and 2. The first was made by the editor of the Frankfurter Zeitung, Albert Oser, and the second by a lawyer, Dr. Rosen. I ask you to take judicial notice of both these documents. The first affidavit proves that the defendant Funk took a great deal of trouble to protect the interests of the above-mentioned Albert Oser, the editor of the Frankfurter Zeitung, and those of a number of members of the staff of the newspaper, although by doing so he was endangering his own position. In particular, he persisted in retaining members of the staff who were not of Aryan descent, and who, therefore, in accordance with the intentions of the Party, should no longer have been employed.

A. It was not in accordance with the intentions of the Party, but in accordance with the law passed for the Chamber of Culture that they were no longer to be employed.

DR. SAUTER: In accordance with the law passed for the Chamber of Culture, also.

Then Document No. 2 of the Document Book, an affidavit made by Dr. Rosen, confirms that the defendant Funk also intervened, for instance, on behalf of the family of the composer, Dr. Richard Strauss and his non-Aryan grandchildren, and by so doing incurred certain dangers on his own account. These are just a few examples; but the defendant can probably tell you of other cases in which he looked after people's interests.

THE PRESIDENT: What exhibit number are you offering those as?

DR. SAUTER: Nos. 1 and 2 in the Document Book. I have submitted the originals.


DR. SAUTER: I and 2.

Q. Dr. Funk, I have just said that perhaps you could - quite briefly - give us some more examples of cases where you used your official position to protect the interests of intellectuals and artists, whose views had got them into difficulties.

A. Richard Strauss is a special case. That remarkable composer found himself in great difficulties on account of a libretto written by the Jew Stefan Zweig.

I succeeded in having Richard Strauss again received by the Fuehrer, and the whole affair was dismissed.

Dr. Wilhelm Furtwangler found himself in similar difficulties because he wrote an article praising the composer Hindemith and composers with Jewish wives, such as Lehar, Kuenneke and others who were always in difficulties with their efforts to evade the ban placed on the performance of their works. I always succeeded in getting permission for these composers to have their works performed.

THE PRESIDENT: The defendant can say that he helped hundreds of Jews, but that does not really destroy the fact that he may have acted hostilely by signing decrees against the Jewish race - his helping a few Jewish friends. Anyhow, I do not think that it need be gone into in any detail.

DR. SAUTER: We are of the opinion, Mr. President, that in order to judge the character and personality of the defendant, it may be important to know whether he signed decrees which were in any way anti-Semitic because, as an official, he considered himself bound by his oath to carry out the law of the land, or whether he signed them because he himself was an anti-Semite who wished to persecute Jewish citizens and to deprive them of their rights, and for this reason only -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, the Tribunal thinks that you have made the point quite clearly that he helped Jewish friends, but it is not a question which need be gone into in detail.

[Page 111]

DR. SAUTER: I come now, in any case, Mr. President, to another point. I want to ask the defendant how his activities in the Propaganda Ministry developed in later years.

A. In exactly the same direction that I have described here. By decrees I came to be in charge of a large cultural economic concern, film companies, broadcasting corporations, theatres and orchestras. I was director and chairman of the board of trustees of the Philharmonic Orchestra, and of the Council of German Economy which dealt collectively with the economic activities in the entire economic field at home and abroad with the active participation of the economy itself. Those were the main parts of my work.

Q. Defendant, the prosecution has submitted under Document 3501-PS an affidavit by the former Reich Chief of the Press - I believe - Max Amann in regard to your activities in the Propaganda Ministry. I want to refer to this now. In that affidavit, we find the statement that you, Dr. Funk - and I quote literally "Were to all intents and purposes Minister in the Propaganda Ministry ..." And it says further on - and I quote again: "Funk exerted complete control over all means of expression in Germany: Press, theatre, radio and music."

Now, I ask you to comment on that; but you can do so quite briefly because I have already submitted an affidavit by Max Amann to the contrary to which I will refer later. Reply in one sentence, please.

A. Amann knew the Ministry only from the outside; and therefore he had no exact knowledge of its internal affairs. My work was done in the manner I have described. It is completely absurd to assert that under a minister such as Dr. Goebbels, the Ministry could have been led by someone else who was not the Minister.

Dr. Goebbels assumed such exclusive and all-embracing functions in the field of propaganda that he dwarfed everyone else.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, I have submitted an affidavit by that same former Reichsleiter Amann, dealing with the same subject, in the Appendix to the Funk Document Book, under No. 14 - that will be Exhibit No. 3 - and I ask you to take judicial notice of this affidavit. I do not think I have to read it. I administered that affidavit in the presence of and with the co-operation of a member of the prosecution. The essential part of this affidavit of 17th April, 1946, is that Reichsleiter Max Amann also admits that Funk had nothing to do with propaganda as such. That is to say, he did no broadcasting and indulged in no propaganda speeches, but was mainly concerned with the organization and administration of the Ministry. Now, Mr. President, I come to the defendant's position as Minister of Economics.


Q. Dr. Funk, you were State Secretary in the Propaganda Ministry until 1937. At the end of November, 1937, you became Reich Minister of Economics, after your predecessor, Dr. Schacht, had left that post. Can you tell us with the necessary brevity - of course - how that change took place and why you were called to that post?

A. That took me completely by surprise, too. During a performance at the opera, the Fuehrer, who was present, took me aside in the vestibule during an interval, and told me that the disputes between Schacht and Goering could no longer be bridged, and that he was therefore compelled to dismiss Schacht from his office as Minister of Economics, and was asking me to take over the post of Minister of Economics, as he was very well acquainted with my knowledge and experience in the field of economics. He also asked me to contact Reichsmarschall Goering who would explain everything else. That was the only conversation which I had with the Fuehrer on the subject.

Q. And then you spoke to Goering himself? Will you tell us about that.

[Page 112]

A. The Reichsmarschall told me that he had really only intended to put a State Secretary in charge of the Reich Ministry of Economics, but that later he decided that the extensive machinery of the Four-Year Plan should be merged with the machinery of the Ministry of Economics, but that the Minister would have to work in accordance with his directives, and in particular that the General Plenipotentiaries for the various decisive branches of economy would be maintained and would receive their directives immediately from the General Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan.

In order to proceed with the necessary reorganisation, the Reichsmarschall himself took over the leadership of the Reich Economic Ministry; and in February, 193S, he transferred it to me.

Q. So Goering himself was to all intents and purposes the head of the Reich Ministry for Economics for a period of about three months.

A. The reorganisation was effected under his control. The control of economic policy was in his hands then as well as later.

The main control offices under the Four-Year Plan were maintained; for instance, the Foreign Currency Control Office which gave directives to the Reichsbank there was the Food Control Office which gave directives to the Food Ministry the Manpower Control Office, which gave directives to the Labour Ministry and also the General Plenipotentiaries for the separate branches of economics coal, iron, chemicals, etc., which were under the direct orders of the Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan. Some offices were also transferred in this way to the Ministry of Economics from the Four-Year Plan which continued to function quite independently. They included the Reich Office for Economic Research, which was under the direction of Professor Strauch, and the Reich Office for Soil Research, directed by State Secretary Kempner, mentioned here in connection with Slovakia and Austria.

I tried to get these offices disestablished again. I am still in ignorance of what these offices did. In any case, they thought themselves responsible to the Four-Year Plan rather than to the Economic Minister.

Q. Dr. Funk, the essential point of what you have just said, seems to me to be that you received the title of Minister, but that in reality you were not the Minister, but might have had the position of a State Secretary, and that your so- called Ministry of Economics was completely subordinated to the directives of the Four-Year Plan-your co-defendant, Goering, in other words-and was compelled to follow these directives.

Did I understand it correctly?

A. The latter point is correct. The Reichsmarschall has expressed, explained and thus confirmed that himself. But the first statement is not correct because formally, at least, I held the position of Minister, which involved far- reaching administrative responsibility which the Reichsmarschall, of course, could not undertake. The whole point of the reorganisation was that the Reichsmarschall still had charge and control of economic policy in the most important and decisive matters, and gave me corresponding directives, but the execution of these was naturally in the hands of the Ministry and its organizations. But it is true that the position of Minister in the usual meaning of the term, did not exist. There was, so to speak, a higher ministry. But that has happened to me all my life. I arrived at the threshold, so to speak; but I was never permitted to cross it.

Q. Dr. Funk, the prosecution asserts that although you were not really a Minister with the usual responsibility and independence of a Minister, you, as Dr. Funk, Reich Economic Minister, still exercised supervision over those parts of the German economy which were grouped under war and armaments industry, that is, in particular, raw materials and materials for labour, as well as mining, the iron industry, power stations, handicrafts, finance and credit, foreign trade and foreign currency. I refer you, Dr. Funk, to the statements on Page 22 of the German translation of the trial brief, which I discussed with you several days ago.

[Page 113]

A. That is formally correct. But I have already explained how matters stood in reality. I had nothing to do with the armament industry. The armament industry was at first under the High Command of the Armed Forces, under the Chief of the Armament Office, General Thomas, who was a member of Schacht's conspiracy of which you have heard here. The armament minister Todt, who was appointed in 1940, at once took over from me the entire power economy, and later on I turned over all the civilian production to Armament Minister Speer.

Q. What do you mean by civilian production?

A. Coal, chemicals, consumer and other goods. The main production branches in that field already mentioned here were, as I said before, under the General Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan. Thus it came about that the Ministry of Economics gradually became a new Ministry of Commerce, which dealt only with the distribution of consumer goods.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, perhaps we might let him go on for a little while longer; because I would then come, shortly, to the subject of the Reichsbank President.


Q. Will you please continue briefly? You stopped ... I believe you wanted to say more about manpower, gold and foreign currency - about the competent authorities there.

A. The head of the Foreign Currency Control Office under the Four Year Plan was the competent authority for that; and the Reichsbank had to act in accordance with his directives - in my time, at least.

Q. And the direction of foreign trade?

A. That was in the hands of the Foreign Office. The Minister for Foreign Affairs obstinately laid claim to that.

Q. And what did the Ministry of Economics do?

A. The Ministry of Economics and the Reichsbank attended to the technical side in this sphere - i.e., the technical execution of clearing agreements, balances, etc.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, I come now to a separate theme. I should like now to discuss his position as President of the Reichsbank. I believe it might be a good moment to adjourn.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 6 May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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