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-Second Day: Monday, 6th May, 1946
(Part 4 of 10)

[Page 126]

THE PRESIDENT: No, no, but are there any other witnesses at all?

DR. SAUTER: One witness, Dr. Heidler, but for other matters.

THE PRESIDENT: And presumably the defendant will be cross- examined.


THE PRESIDENT: These documents will be translated by then.

DR. SAUTER: Yes, Mr. President, if you so desire, then I will have to submit that document later, separately.



Q. Dr. Funk, I come now to an accusation which, according to my knowledge, has not been mentioned in the trial brief yet; it concerns the problem

[Page 127]

of the occupied territories, that is, the plundering of the occupied territories, costs of occupation, clearing systems, stabilisation of currency and the like. The prosecution asserts that you actively participated in the programme of criminal exploitation in the occupied territories. That can be found on Page 1 of the record of the proceedings on 11 January, 1946. That accusation is not further specified, but in the session of 21 February, Page 4770 of the German transcript, there is a mere reference to a decree of the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, the defendant Rosenberg. That decree was submitted by the prosecution as Document 1015-PS; it is a decree by the Minister for the East, Rosenberg, to the Reich Commissars in the Occupied Eastern Territories. The decree informs the Commissars of the task of "Special Staff Rosenberg" - it has already been mentioned here on several occasions - namely that of safeguarding objects of cultural value. I think I may assume that the Reich Ministry of Economics had nothing to do with art treasures as such. But - and that is very peculiar - it appears from Rosenberg's letter of 7 April, 1942, that a copy of it went not only to various other offices but also to you; that is to say, to the Reich Ministry of Economics. And from that fact - apparently from that fact alone - the Soviet Prosecutor has deduced the charge that you actively participated in the plunder of the occupied territories. I had to explain the connection in such detail in order to show exactly with what we are dealing. Can you speak quite briefly about it?

A. Up to the time of this trial I did not even know what the "Special Staff Rosenberg" was, what its task was, what it was doing. I have no knowledge that the Ministry of Economics had anything at all to do with the safeguarding of art treasures. I cannot say anything about it.

Q. You cannot say anything about this?

A. No, not with regard to the "Special Staff Rosenberg." About the policy in the occupied territories, I can say a great deal.

Q. That does not interest us now.

A. But you will probably want to hear that later.

Q. Then, Dr. Funk, in the interrogatory sent to Dr. Landfried which I have mentioned before, I asked five or six questions concerning your attitude to the economic policies in the occupied territories. I also put questions to him on whether you had given directives to the military commanders or the Reich Commissars for the occupied territories, or the heads of the civil administration in Alsace-Lorraine, and so on. Furthermore, I asked whether it is correct that economic directives also for the occupied territories did not come from you as Reich Minister of Economics but from the Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan. Then I asked about your attitude to the question of exploitation of occupied territories, particularly in the West, the black market, devaluation of currency, and the like.

I cannot read the statements of the witness Landfried at this moment, because, through an error in the office, the answers from Landfried arrived only last Saturday. Since your personal testimony is now being heard, do you yourself wish to add anything to these questions, or would you just like to underline what I shall submit to the Tribunal as soon as I have received the translation?

I put this question because it is practically the last opportunity for you to refer to these subjects.

A. I should like to state my position on various matters, but the details of these problems can naturally be better explained by the State Secretaries than by myself.

Concerning the directives to occupied territories, the Reichsmarshal, as well as Reich Minister Lammers, have stated here that I, as Reich Minister for Economy, had no authority to issue instructions. The Reichsmarshal, during his testimony here, stated - and I marked it down:

[Page 128]

"For the directives and the economic policies carried out by the Minister of Economics and Reichsbank President Funk, the responsibility is fully and exclusively mine."
And concerning the occupied territories, he also said that if I had special instructions in the course of official business between the Ministry and the administrative offices in the occupied territories, then they derived from the general directives of the Reichsmarshal and, as he said, were always based on his personal responsibility.

The position was that directives to the occupied territories, in the economic field, could only be given by the Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan. The carrying out of economic policy was the task of the military commanders or the Reich Commissars who were directly subordinate to the Fuehrer. The military commanders, as well as the Reich Commissars, had under them officials from the various departments, among them, of course, also officials from the Ministry of Economics and the Reichsbank; and even private enterprise was represented. There was, of course, close co- operation between the offices of the military Plenipotentiaries and the Reich Commissars and the representatives of the various home departments, with the exception of occupied territories in Russia, where the Reich Commissars were subordinate to a special minister, that is, the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. This was an exception, but if we as a Ministry wanted to have anything done by the military commanders or the Reich Commissars, we had to make a request, or we had to procure an order from the Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan.

The same applies to the heads of the civil administration in Alsace-Lorraine, and in other territories where a civil administration had been set up. Here also, the numerous departments of the Ministry of Economics and the Reichsbank had no direct authority to issue directives.

However, I emphasize again that of course close official contact existed between the authorities in the occupied territories and the respective departments in Germany.

I myself - and witnesses will confirm this in interrogatories still outstanding, or in person - made the greatest efforts to protect the occupied territories from exploitation. I fought a virtually desperate struggle throughout the years for the maintenance of a stable currency in these territories, because again and again it was suggested to me that I should reduce the exchange rate in the occupied territories so that Germany could buy more easily and more cheaply in these countries; I did everything that could be thought of to maintain economic order in these territories.

In one case, in Denmark, I even succeeded, in the face of opposition from all other departments, in raising the value of the Danish kroner, because the Danish National Bank and the Danish Government requested it for justifiable reasons.

I opposed the increase of the cost of occupation in France in 1942 as well as in 1944. The memorandum of the Reichsbank which I authorized was quoted here by the American Prosecutor.

The occupation costs were determined not by the Minister of Economics and the President of the Reichsbank, but by the Minister of Finance, the Quartermaster General, in other words, by the highest Wehrmacht commands and in the case of France, Denmark and other countries, also the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Therefore, I did whatever I could possibly do - whatever was within my power - to keep the economy of the occupied territories in good order. I was successful, finally, in persuading the Reichsmarshal to issue a decree which prohibited all German personnel from buying on the black market; but that happened only after many abuses in this respect had already occurred.

I want to emphasize also that I considered it necessary, for the maintenance of order in the occupied territories, that the social life there should not be disturbed, and that, therefore, as a matter of principle, I was always against the

[Page 129]

forced or excessive deportation of foreign workers from the occupied territories to Germany.

I also expressed this view in a conference with Lammers, which has been mentioned here. My State Secretaries can confirm that. On the other hand it was naturally clear to me that Sauckel was in a very difficult, indeed desperate, situation: again and again manpower for German economy was demanded of him. But, particularly after I had turned over the entire civil production to Speer and engaged in central planning, it was not only not to my advantage, from the point of view of my work, that manpower was brought to Germany from abroad, but, indeed it was in my interest that the workers should remain in the occupied territories, since the production of consumer goods had been transferred, to a large degree, to these territories; for, as the Minister responsible for providing consumer goods to the population, I had a great interest in seeing that orderly work be done in the occupied territories and that no economic or social disturbances should occur.

I believe, however, that it will be more to the point if my two State Secretaries and the Vice-President of the Reichsbank, the acting director of the Reichsbank, Pohl, make detailed statements on these problems, because they were more closely connected than I with putting matters into practice.

If the accusation is made against me that with the aid of the clearing arrangements we plundered occupied territories and foreign countries, I can only say that the clearing arrangement was not introduced by us at first in our dealings with the occupied territories or during the war, but that it was the normal method of trade between Germany and her business partners; it was a system which had been forced upon us - and that has been pointed out by Schacht - when other nations resorted to using the proceeds of German exports for the payment and amortisation of German debts.

At all times, however, I have emphasized that the clearing debts were real debts for merchandise, and that is important. I have said again and again that this clearing debt is a genuine debt of the Reich and will be repaid at the rate, the purchase value which was in force at the time when we entered into these obligations. I especially stated that, in detail and as clearly as possible, in my last speeches in Vienna, in March, 1944, and in Konigsberg, in July, 1944.

Beyond that, in July, I made the suggestion that after the war the clearing debt should be transformed into a European loan, so that it should not remain on the narrow plain of a bilateral exchange of goods but be effectively commercialised; from this it can be seen distinctly that I always considered that clearing debt a genuine German debt so that the nations in the occupied territories who had such demands on Germany could and would be satisfied after the war, and as I constantly emphasized, at the same rates that existed at the time when the debt was incurred. If, however, the countries would have had to pay reparations on the basis of peace treaties, then these reparations of course, quite reasonably, could only have been paid in goods; and then, equally reasonably, it would have been possible to create a balance between German debts and German demands.

But I never left any doubt about the fact that the clearing debt was to be considered as a true debt. Therefore, I have to reject the accusation that, with the aid of the clearing system, we exploited the occupied territories. And I have to reject even more strongly the accusation that I share responsibility for the burden of unbearable expenses, particularly occupation costs and other outlays of money, which were imposed on the occupied territories. It can be proved that I always objected to excessive financial burdening of the occupied territories. The witnesses will later testify and confirm this.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, the defendant has referred to two speeches which he made in Vienna and in Konigsberg. These are two addresses which deal in part with the subject of clearing debts, and in part also with the defendant's

[Page 130]

favourite subject of a European economic union between Germany and her neighbour nations, that is to say, an economic union on the basis of full equality.

In the interest of time, may I just ask that judicial notice be taken of these speeches, the essential content of which has been stated partly by the defendant and partly by me: The speech of the defendant at Vienna on 10 March, 1944, No. 10 in my Document Book, and the speech in Konigsberg on the occasion of the four hundredth anniversary of the University of his home province, on 7 July, 1944, No. 11 in my Document Book.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, if this Document No. 11 is offered by the defence for the purpose of showing what this defendant's policy was toward the occupied countries, then I think it is proper for me to point out that the speech did not refer to the occupied countries but rather to the satellite States of Germany.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, may I also call attention to Document 3819-PS, which has already been submitted by the prosecution. That is the record, which the defendant has mentioned, of the meeting with Minister Lammers on 11 July, 1944.

According to this record, the defendant Funk was present at that meeting, and mention is made of him in one sentence only; I quote from Page 8 at the bottom:

"Reich Minister Funk expects considerable interruptions of production in non-German territories in case of ruthless raids."
This sentence, if taken from its context, is difficult to understand, but viewed in its proper connection, it makes clear that the defendant Funk wanted to warn against violent action in the recruitment of foreign workers for German production and for German armaments. He warned against any violent measures in making raids, as they are called in the protocol, because thereby, in his opinion, production in the occupied territories would be disturbed.

Then, Mr. President, may I mention another Document: it is Document 2149-PS, and it contains the following:

A statement of the Reichsbank, dated 7 December, 1942, "concerning the question of increasing French contributions to occupation costs."

May I say in advance that the cost of occupation in France was increased, but - not upon the suggestion of the defendant Funk and not with his approval, but in spite of his protest, and this statement to which the defendant Funk has referred, and which I have just quoted - it is dated 11 December, 1942 - lists in detail the reasons why Funk and his Reichsbank very definitely protested against any increase in the cost of occupation.

In this connection, may I be permitted to question the defendant Dr. Funk on the cost of occupation in Greece?


Q. Did you hear the testimony of the witness Dr. Neubacher, who was Ambassador in Rumania and Greece, and who confirmed that there, also, you tried to reduce the cost of occupation?

THE PRESIDENT: Are you going to be much longer?

DR. SAUTER: Yes, I believe, Mr. President, it would be better if we adjourned now. I still have to put a few questions.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

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