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 2 of 10)

[MR. DODD continues his cross examination of WALTER FUNK]

[Page 160]


Q. Now, Witness, having heard this affidavit from your close associate and your brother director of the Board of Directors of the Reichsbank, and the man who, you admitted yesterday, was a credible and truthful man, what do you now say to this Tribunal about your knowledge of what was going on between your bank and the SS?

A. I declare that this affidavit by Herr Puhl is not true. I spoke to Herr Puhl about the entire question of these gold deposits, as I have repeatedly stated, three times at most, but I believe it was only twice. I never exchanged a word with Puhl regarding precious stones and jewellery. It is incredible to me that a man who most certainly also carried out certain functions in his agreements with the SS - that is, with Herr Pohl - now tries to put the blame on me. On no account will I take this responsibility, and I request that Herr Puhl be called here, and that in my presence he may declare in all detail when, where, and how he has spoken to me about these different items, and to what extent I told him what to do.

I repeat my statement, that I knew nothing about jewellery and other deliveries from concentration camps, that I have never spoken to Herr Puhl about these things. I can only say again what I said at the beginning, that Herr Puhl once told me that a gold deposit had arrived from the SS. I remember it now, I had forgotten, as I did not pay too much attention to the whole question. I remember that, urged by him, I spoke to the Reichsfuehrer as to whether the Reichsbank could utilize these items. He said yes. But at no time did I speak to the Reichsfuehrer about jewellery and precious stones and watches and such things. I only spoke of gold. Concerning what Puhl states about a financing - I believe that goes back a number of years - I know Herr Puhl came to me one day and said that he was supposed to give a credit for certain factories of the SS and somebody was negotiating with him about the matter. I asked him, "Is this credit secure? Do we get interest?" He said, "Yes, up till now they have had a credit from the Dresdner Bank, and it must now be repaid." I said, "Very well, do that." After that I never heard anything more about this matter. It is news to me that this credit is so large, that it was made by the Golddiscont Bank. I don't remember it, but it is quite possible. However, I never heard any more about this credit, which Herr Puhl had given to certain factories. He always spoke about factories, about businesses, it was a bank credit which had previously been given by a private bank. I remember I asked him once, "Has this credit been repaid?" That was some considerable time later - . He said, "No, it has not been repaid yet." That is all I know about these matters.

Q. All right. Now, what do you know about this - one part of the affidavit you have not covered. What do you know about the last part that says you established a fund for the SS for the building of factories near the concentration camps? Do you remember that? I read it to you. Puhl says: "The Reichsbank, at the direction of Funk, established a fund which finally reached ten to twelve million Reichsmark 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." Do you admit that you did that?

[Page 161]

A. Yes, that is what I just mentioned, that Herr Puhl told me one day, I believe in 1939 or 1940, that some gentlemen from the economic section of the SS had spoken to him regarding a credit, which until that time had been granted by the Dresdner Bank and which they would now like to have from the Reichsbank. I asked Herr Puhl, "Will we get interest, is the credit secure?" He said "Yes." So I said "Give them this credit," and later on I said just what I said before - that's all I know about the matter. I know nothing more.

Q. Now, you also got a fee for handling these materials that you saw in the film, didn't you, from the SS? The bank was paid for carrying on its part of this operation?

A. I did not understand that.

Q. I say, is it not a fact that you received payment over this period of more than three years from the SS, for handling these materials which they turned over to you?

A. I do not know about that.

Q. Well, you would know, would you not, as President of the Bank, if you did receive payment? How could you help not knowing?

A. These were probably such small payments that no one ever reported them to me. I do not know anything about any payment from the SS.

Q. What would you say if I tell you that Herr Puhl said that the Bank did receive payment during these years, and that there were altogether some 77 shipments of materials such as you saw here this morning? Do you say that is untrue, or do you agree with it?

A. That might be quite true, but I was never informed about these things. I know nothing about it.

Q. Is it conceivable that you, as President of the Reichsbank, could not know about 77 such shipments and about a transaction that you were being paid to handle? Do you think that is a likely story?

A. If the Board of Directors did not report to me about these things, I cannot have known about them, and I declare again, quite definitely, that I was not informed about these details. On one occasion I was told about a gold deposit of the SS which was brought to us. Later on it transpired that it was a delivery from the SS. And then I knew about this credit transaction. That is all I know about these matters.

Q. Now, let me tell you something that may help you a little. As a matter of fact, your Bank sent memoranda to people concerning this material from time to time, and I think you know about it, don't you? You wrote memoranda stating what you had on hand and whom you were transferring it to. Are you familiar with any such memoranda?

A. No.

Q. Well, then you had better look at a document 3948-PS, Exhibit USA 847, and see if it refreshes your memory. That is Document 3948-PS.

Now, this document is a memorandum apparently addressed to the Municipal Pawn Broker in Berlin, and it is dated 15th September, 1942. Now, I am not going to read all of it, although it is a very interesting document, but as you can see, the memorandum says "We submit to you the following valuables with the request for the best possible utilization." Then you list 247 platinum and silver rings, 154 gold watches, 207 ear-rings, 1,601 gold ear-rings, 13 brooches with stones. I am just giving a few items. I am not reading all of them. 324 silver wrist watches, 12 silver candlesticks, goblets, spoons, forks and knives, and then, further on, diverse pieces of jewellery and watch casings, 187 pearls, four stones said to be diamonds. And that is signed "Deutsche Reichsbank, Hauptkasse," and the signature is illegible. Perhaps, if you look at the original, you might tell us who signed that.

A. No, I do not know who signed it.

Q. You have the original?

A. I do not know.

[Page 162]

Q. Well, look at the signature there and see if you recognize it as the signature of one of your staff.

A. It says ... somebody from our cashier's office signed it. I do not know the signature.

Q. Somebody from your Bank, was it not?

A. Yes, from the cashier's department. I don't know the signature.

Q. Do you want this Tribunal to believe that employees and people in your Bank were sending lists out to municipal pawnbrokers without it ever coming to your attention?

A. I know nothing at all about these events. They can only be explained in this manner, that things were apparently delivered to the Reichsbank which they were not supposed to keep. That is obvious.

Q. Well, I would also like you to look at Document 3949-PS, which is dated four days later, 19th September, 1942, Exhibit USA 848. Now, you will see this is a memorandum concerning the conversion of notes, gold, silver and jewellery, in favour of the Reich Minister of Finance, and it also says that it is "a partial statement" of valuables received by our "Precious Metal" (Edelmetall) Department. Again I think it is unnecessary to read it all. You can look at it and read it, but the last two paragraphs, after specifying what the shipments contained as they arrived on 26th of August, 1942, the last two paragraphs say:

"Before we remit the total proceeds, to date RM 1,184,345.59 to the Reichshauptkasse for account of the Reich Minister of Finance, we beg to be informed under what reference number this amount and subsequent proceeds should be transferred.

"It might further be of advantage to call the attention of the responsible office of the Reich Ministry of Finance in good time to the amounts to be transferred from the Deutsche Reichsbank."

And again that is signed "Deutsche Reichsbank, Hauptkasse," and there is a stamp on there that says, "Paid by cheque, Berlin, October 27, 1942, Hauptkasse."

A. For this document, that is, this advice to the Reich Finance Minister, I believe I am able to give an explanation, and that is on the basis of testimony given here by witnesses who came from concentration camps. The witness Ohlendorf, if I remember correctly, and another one, have testified that the valuables which had been taken from the inmates of concentration camps had to be turned over and were delivered to the Reich Finance Minister. Now, I assume that the technical procedure was that these things were first brought to the Reichsbank by mistake. The Reichsbank, however, and I keep repeating it, could do nothing with the pearls, jewellery, and similar items which are mentioned here, and therefore turned over these items to the Reich Finance Minister or they were used for the account of the Reich Finance Minister. That is apparent from this document. In other words, this merely is a statement of account sent by the Reichsbank for the Reich Finance Minister. That is, I believe, the meaning of this document.

Q. Well, indeed, you did hear Ohlendorf say that these unfortunate people who were exterminated in these camps had their possessions turned over to the Reich Finance Minister. I believe he testified to that effect here. Now, you also -

A. That is what I heard here. These things were news to me. However, I did not know that the Reichsbank -

Q. You have told us that twice already.

A. - that the Reichsbank dealt with these matters in such detail.

Q. Are you telling us that you did not know they dealt with them in such detail, or you did not know they dealt with them at all? I think that is important. What is your answer, that you didn't know they went into them in such detail or that you didn't know anything about it?

A. I personally had nothing to do with it at all.

Q. Did you know about it?

[Page 163]

A. No.

Q. You never heard of it?

A. I did not know at all that any jewellery, watches, cigarette-cases and so on, were delivered to the Reichsbank, that is news to me.

Q. Did you know that anything came from concentration camps to the Reichsbank? Anything at all?

A. Yes, the gold, of course. I already said that.

Q. Gold teeth?

A. I have said that - No.

Q. What gold from the concentration camps?

A. The gold about which Herr Puhl had reported to me, and I assumed that these were coins and other gold which had to be deposited at the Reichsbank anyway, and which the Reichsbank could utilize according to the legal regulations. Otherwise, I know nothing about it.

Q. Just what did Himmler say to you and what did you say to Himmler when you had this conversation, as you tell us, about this gold from the concentration camp victims? I think the Tribunal might be interested in that conversation. What did he say, and what did you say, and where was the conversation held?

A. I do not remember now where the conversation was held. I saw Himmler very rarely, perhaps once or twice. I assume that it was on the occasion of a visit in the field quarters of Lammers, where Himmler's field quarters were also located. It must have been there. On that occasion we spoke very, very briefly.

Q. Wait just a minute. Will you also tell us when it was?

A. Possibly during the year 1943; it might have been 1944, I don't remember.

Q. All right.

A. I attached no importance whatsoever to this matter. In the course of the conversation I put the question, "There is a gold deposit from you, from the SS, which we have at the Reichsbank. The members of the Board of Directors have asked me whether the Reichsbank can utilize that." And he said "Yes." I did not say a word about jewellery or things of that kind, or gold teeth or anything of that sort. The entire conversation referred only very briefly to this thing.

Q. Do you mean to tell us that an arrangement was made with your Bank independently of you and Himmler, but by somebody in the SS and somebody in your Bank; that you were not the original person who arranged the matter?

A. That is right. It wasn't I.

Q. Who in your Bank made that arrangement?

A. Possibly it was Herr Puhl or maybe somebody else from the Reichsbank directorate who made the arrangement with one of the gentlemen of the Economic Section in the SS. And I was only informed of it by Herr Puhl very briefly.

Q. Did you know Herr Pohl, P-o-h-l, of the SS?

A. I imagine it was he. Herr Pohl never spoke to me about it.

Q. You don't know the man?

A. I must certainly have seen him at some time, but Herr Pohl never spoke to me about these matters, I never spoke to him.

Q. Where did you see him, in the Bank?

A. Yes, I saw him once in the bank when he spoke to Puhl and other gentlemen of the Board of Directors during a luncheon. I walked through the room and I saw him sitting there, but I personally never spoke with Herr Pohl about these questions. This is all news to me, the whole matter.

Q. Well, do you recall the testimony of the witness Hoess in this Court Room not so long ago? You remember the man? He sat where you are sitting now. He said that he exterminated between 2 1/2 and 3 million Jews and other people at Auschwitz. Now, before I ask you the next question I want you to recall that testimony and I will point something out to you about it that may help you. You recall that he said that Himmler sent for him in June, 1941, and that Himmler told him, the final solution of the Jewish problem was at hand, and that he was to conduct these exterminations.

[Page 164]

Do you recall that he went back and looked over the facilities in one camp in Poland and found it wasn't big enough to kill the number of people involved, and he had to construct gas chambers that would hold 2,000 people at a time, and so his extermination programme could not have fully operated until pretty late in '41, and you observe that your assistant and credible friend Puhl says it was in 1942 that these shipments began to arrive from the SS?

A. No, I know nothing about the date. I don't know when these things happened. I had nothing to do with them. It is all news to me, that the Reichsbank was concerned with these things to this extent.

Q. Then I take it, you want to stand on an absolute denial that at any time you had any knowledge of any kind about these transactions with the SS or their relationship to the victims of the concentration camps. After seeing this film, after hearing Puhl's affidavit, you absolutely deny any knowledge at all.

A. Only as far as I have mentioned it here.

Q. I understand that there was some deposit of gold made once, but no more than that. That is your statement. Let me ask you something, Dr. Funk -

A. Yes. That these things happened consistently is all news to me.

Q. All right. You know you did on one occasion at least, and possibly two, break down and weep when you were being interrogated, you recall, and you did say you were a guilty man; and you gave an explanation of that yesterday. You remember those tears. I am just asking you now, I am sure you do. I am just trying to establish the basis here for another question. You remember that happened?

A. Yes.

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