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-Third Day: Tuesday, 7th May, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page 156]

WALTER FUNK - Resumed.



Q. Witness, you had a conference with Dr. Sauter last night after the Tribunal adjourned, did you not, for about an hour?

A. Yes.

Q. Now we were talking yesterday when the Tribunal rose, about the gold deposits in the Reichsbank, and I had asked you when you started to do business with the SS, and, as I recall, you said you did not do any business with the SS. And then we went along a little further and you said that the SS did deposit some materials, some property belonging to people in concentration camps. Do I properly understand your testimony to have been, in substance, as I have stated it?

A. No. I said that Herr Puhl - I do not remember in what year - told me one day that a gold deposit had arrived from the SS, and he also told me - and he said it somewhat ironically - it would be better not to try to ascertain what this deposit was. As I said yesterday, it was impossible in any case, to ascertain what was deposited. When something was deposited, the Reichsbank had no right to enquire as to its nature. Only later, when Herr Puhl made another report to me, I did realize that when he used the word "deposit," it was a wrong term; it was not a deposit, but it was a delivery of gold. There is of course a great difference. I personally assumed that it concerned a gold deposit, that this gold consisted of gold coins or other foreign currency or small bars of gold, or something similar, which had been collected from the inmates of the concentration camps - everybody in Germany had to hand such things over - and that it was being handed to the Reichsbank, which would use it. Since you mentioned this matter, I remember another fact of which I was not aware until now. I was asked about it during my interrogation, and during this interrogation I could not say yes to it because at that time I did not remember it. I was asked during my interrogation whether I had the agreement of the Fuehrer of the Reich, that the gold which was delivered to the Reichsbank should be utilised by the Reichsbank. I said I did not remember. However, if Herr Puhl makes such a statement under oath, I will not and cannot dispute it. It is an understood thing that, if gold is delivered which belongs to the Reichsbank, then the Reichsbank had the right to utilize such gold. I certainly never spoke more than twice or, at most, three times to Herr Puhl about this matter. What these deposits or these deliveries consisted of and what was done with these deliveries, how they were utilised, I do not know. Herr Puhl never informed me about that either.

Q. You were not ordinarily in the habit, in the Reichsbank, of accepting jewels, eye-glasses, spectacles, watches, cigarette cases, pearls, diamonds, gold dentures, were you? You ordinarily accepted that sort of material for deposit in your bank?

[Page 157]

A. No; there could be no question, in my opinion, whether the bank had a right to do that, because these things were supposed to be delivered to an entirely different place. If I am correctly informed about the legal position, these things were supposed to be delivered to the Office for Precious Metals, and not to the Reichsbank. Diamonds, jewels and precious stones were not the concern of the Reichsbank, because it was not a place of sale for these things. And in my opinion, if the Reichsbank did that, then it was unlawful.

Q. That is exactly right.

A. If that happened, then the Reichsbank committed an illegal act. The Reichsbank was not authorized to do that.

Q. And is it your statement that if it was done you did not know anything about it?

A. No.

Q. You did not know?

A. No.

Q. You were frequently in the vaults of the Reichsbank, weren't you? As a matter of fact, you liked to take visitors through there. I say, you were frequently in the vaults of the bank yourself?

A. Yes, I was, where the gold bars were kept.

Q. I will come to the gold bars in a minute. I just want to establish that you were in the vaults frequently, and your answer, as I understand it, is yes, that you were?

A. It was the usual thing if someone came to visit us, particularly foreign visitors, to show them the rooms where the gold was kept, and we always showed them the gold bars, and there was always the usual joke as to whether one could lift a gold bar or not. But I never saw anything else there than gold bars.

Q. How heavy were these gold bars that you had in the vaults?

A. They were the usual gold bars which were used in commerce between banks. I think they varied in weight. I think the gold bars weighed about 20 kilograms. Of course, you can figure it out. If one -

Q. That is satisfactory. When you were in the vaults you never saw any of the materials that I mentioned a few minutes ago - jewels, cigarette-cases, watches, etc.

A. Never, never. I was in the vaults, at the most, four or five times, and then only to show this very interesting spectacle to visitors.

Q. Only four or five times from 1941 to 1945?

A. I assume so. It wasn't more often. I only went down there with visitors, particularly foreign visitors.

Q. Are you telling the Tribunal that as head of the Reichsbank you never made an inspection, so to speak, of the vaults, never took a look at the security? Didn't you ever make an inspection before you made your certifications as to what was on hand? Certainly every responsible banker does that regularly, doesn't he? What is your answer?

A. No, never. The business of the Reichsbank was not conducted by the President. It was conducted by the Directorate. I never bothered about individual transactions, not even gold transactions, or even about slight variations in the individual gold reserves, etc. If large deliveries of gold were expected, the Directorate reported to me. The Directorate conducted the business, and I believe the detailed transactions were probably known only to the director responsible for that particular department.

Q. Now, did you ever do any business with pawnshops?

A. With what?

Q. Pawnshops. Don't you know what a pawnshop is? There must be a German word for that.

A. Pfandleihe.

Q. Whatever it is, you know what they are, don't you?

A. Where you pawn something?

[Page 158]

Q. Yes.

A. No, I never did any -

Q. All right, we will get to that a little later, too.

Since you don't seem to recall that you ever had any or saw any such materials as I have described in your vaults, I ask that we have an opportunity to show you a film which was taken of some materials in your vaults when the Allied Forces arrived there.

(To the President) I would ask, Mr. President, that the defendant be permitted to step down, where he can watch the film, so that his memory will be properly refreshed.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you may have him brought down.

(The defendant Funk was led to a seat near his Counsel, Dr. Sauter. The film was shown, after which the defendant Funk resumed his regular seat in the witness-box.)

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dodd, at some stage, I take it, you will offer evidence as to where that film was made.

MR. DODD: Yes, I will. There will be an affidavit as to the circumstances under which the film was made, who was present, and why; but, for the information of the Tribunal, it was taken in Frankfurt when the Allied Forces captured that city and went into the Reichsbank vaults.


Q. Now, witness, having seen this film of materials that were found in your Reichsbank vaults a year ago, or a little earlier than a year ago, you now recall that you did have such material on hand over a period of four or five years, three or four years, three years - I think actually a little more than three years?

A. I have never seen anything of this sort. I also have the impression that a large part of these things which were shown in the film came from deposits, because people, thousands of them, had locked deposits which they delivered to the Reichsbank, in which they put their jewels and other valuables, such as we have just seen. Probably some were hidden valuables, which they should have given up, such as foreign money, foreign exchange, gold coins, etc. As far as I know, we had thousands of closed deposits into which the Reichsbank could not look. I never saw a single item such as these shown in the film, and I cannot imagine where these things came from, to whom they belonged, and to what use they were put.

Q. Well, that's an interesting answer. I asked you yesterday, and I ask you again, did you ever hear of anybody depositing his gold dentures in a bank for safe keeping?

A. (No response.)

Q. You saw that film, and you saw the gold dental plates, did you not, and the other dental work? Certainly nobody ever deposited that with a bank. Isn't that a fact?

A. As far as the teeth are concerned, this is a special case. Where these teeth came from I do not know. It was not reported to me, nor do I know what was done with those teeth. I am convinced that items of this sort, when they were delivered to the Reichsbank, had to be turned over to the Office for Precious Metals, for the Reichsbank was not a place where such gold was handled. Neither do I know whether the Reichsbank even had the technical facilities for handing this metal. I don't know about that.

Q. And not only did people not deposit gold teeth, but they never deposited eyeglass rims, did they, such as you saw in the film?

A. That is right. These things are of course no regular deposits. That goes without saying.

[Page 159]

Q. And you saw there were some objects that obviously were in the process of being melted down. Practically the last scene in that film showed something that looked as if it had been in the process of being melted, did it not? You saw it? Well, will you answer me, please, yes or no? Did you see it?

A. I cannot say that exactly. I do not know whether they were melting it down. I have no knowledge of these technical matters. Certainly, I see quite clearly what was not known to me until now, that the Reichsbank did the technical work of melting down gold articles.

Q. Well, now, let us see what your assistant, Herr Puhl, says about that, the man who you told us yesterday was a credible gentleman, and whom you asked the Tribunal to call as a witness on your behalf. I am holding in my hand an affidavit executed by him on the 3rd May, 1946, at Baden- Baden, Germany. Emil Puhl, being duly sworn, deposes and says:-

"(1) My name is Emil Puhl. I was born on28th August, 1889, in Berlin, Germany. I was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of the Reichsbank in 1935, and Vice- President of the Reichsbank in 1939, and served in these positions continually until the surrender of Germany.

"(2) In the summer of 1942,Walter Funk, President of the Reichsbank and Reich Minister of Economics, had a conversation with me and later with Herr Friedrich Wilhelm, who was a member of the Board of Directors of the Reichsbank. Funk told me that he had arranged with Reichsfuehrer Himmler to have the Reichsbank receive in safe custody, gold and jewels for the SS. Funk directed that I should work out the arrangements with Pohl who, as head of the Economic Section of the SS, administered the Economic side of the concentration camps.

"(3) I asked Funk what the source was of the gold, jewels, banknotes and other articles to be delivered by the SS. Funk replied that it was confiscated property from the Eastern Occupied Territories, and that I should ask no further questions. I protested against the Reichsbank handling this material. Funk stated that we were to go ahead with the arrangements for handling the material, and that we were to keep the matter absolutely secret.

"(4) I then made the necessary arrangements with one of the responsible officials in charge of the cash and safes department for receiving the material, and reported the matter to the Board of Directors of the Reichsbank at its next meeting. On the same day, Pohl, of the Economic Section of the SS, telephoned me and asked if I had been advised of the matter. I said I would not discuss it by telephone. He then came to see me and reported that the SS had some jewellery for delivery to the Reichsbank for safe keeping. I arranged with him for delivery and, from then on, deliveries were made from time to time, from August, 1942, throughout the following years.

"(5) The material deposited by the SS included jewellery, watches, eye-glass frames, dental gold and other gold articles in large quantities, taken by the SS from Jews, concentration camp victims and other persons. This was brought to our knowledge by SS personnel who attempted to convert this material into cash, and who were helped in this by the Reichsbank personnel with Funk's approval and knowledge. In addition to jewels and gold and other such items, the SS also delivered banknotes, foreign currency and securities to the Reichsbank, to be handled by the usual legal procedure established for such items. As far as the jewellery and gold were concerned, Funk told me that Himmler and von Krosigk, the Reich Minister of Finance, had reached an agreement according to which the gold and similar articles were on deposit for the account of the State, and that the proceeds resulting from the sale thereof would be credited to the Reich Treasury.

"(6) From time to time, in the course of my duties, I visited the vaults of the Reichsbank and observed what was in storage. Funk also visited the vaults from time to time.

[Page 160]

"(7) The Golddiscont Bank, at the direction of Funk, also established a fund which finally reached 10 to 12 million Reichsmarks for the use of the Economic Section of the SS to finance production of materials by concentration camp labour in factories run by the SS.

"I am conversant with the English language, and declare that the statements made herein are true to the best of my knowledge and belief."

Document No- 3944-PS.

It is signed by Emil Puhl and duly witnessed.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I would like to offer this affidavit as Exhibit USA 846, and the film as Exhibit USA 845.

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