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 May to 24th May, 1946

One Hundred and Thirtieth Day: Wednesday, 15th May, 1946
(Part 3 of 11)

[DR. SAUTER continues his direct examination of Emil Johann Rudolf Puhl]

[Page 48]

Q. Now I have one more question on this subject. And I would like to know if there is not perhaps a misunderstanding in this case too. You say in the affidavit

[Page 49]

that Funk told you that this matter should be kept absolutely secret; that is the wording. You did not mention this point at all today, although we have the affidavit in front of us. Will you say now whether this is true or whether it is a misunderstanding?

A. Of course this matter was to be kept secret, but then everything that happens in a bank must be kept secret.

Q. Witness, this statement cannot, of course, satisfy us. Did you, during your interrogation of 3rd May, say what is contained in this document, namely that the matter was to be kept absolutely secret, or did you express yourself in different words?

A. No, the wording of the affidavit is correct; the matter was to be kept absolutely secret.

Q. Why?

A. Why? Because, plainly, such matters are usually kept secret and are not publicised; furthermore, these things came from the East. I repeat what I said before that our attitude towards confiscated articles was to try to avoid them.

Q. Did it strike you as unusual that the defendant Funk spoke of keeping the matter secret?

A. No, it was merely decided when Funk and I discussed the matter that since we were accepting the confiscated articles of the foreign exchange department and the customs offices against our will, we should, naturally, insist on secrecy.

Q. Yes. But from your account of the matter, it appears that, on one hand, you considered the business to be perfectly legal, and you yourself say that it was perfectly legal; on the other hand, secrecy was for you, as an old banking expert, a matter of course. Now the question arises, why then was the subject of keeping the matter secret discussed at all?

A. Herr Funk had been asked to keep the matter as secret as possible, and he passed on that request.

Q. When did Funk tell you that he had been asked to keep it secret?

A. I do not remember that.

Q. Did you not ask him why it should be kept secret, absolutely secret, as you say? I do not know whether you still maintain "absolutely secret"?

A. Yes, yes, a special duty of observing secrecy was to be imposed on the officials.

Q. Well, what did you, as vice-president, as acting vice- president, say to that?

A. I did not say anything because, if it had been agreed upon, this wish would have to be followed.

Q. But you do not know whether it had been agreed upon?

A. Well, I assume that it was agreed upon.

Q. You consider it possible?

A. Yes.

Q. And - to repeat this - you did not see anything of the articles which arrived?

A. No, nothing.

Q. And probably you do not know how many there were?

A. No, I do not know that either; and, as I said before, I never saw an account that was in conformity with our procedure, as individual transactions were not submitted to the members of the Directorate.

Q. I ask, because recently when this case was discussed, it was asserted that whole truckloads of such articles, whole truckloads had arrived.

A. Whole truckloads?

Q. You are already laughing and you will laugh more when I tell you that 47 truckloads of gold were said to have arrived at your bank; and you knew nothing about them?

A. I have never heard of that.

Q. You heard nothing about that? - Witness, we will leave this point, and turn to the second point in your affidavit of 3rd May, with which we can deal very briefly.

[Page 50]

I think you already knew Herr Pohl, SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl, of whom you spoke just now, in 1942?

A. Yes, but none the less this was the first occasion on which Pohl came to my office.

Q. This is no reproach, I just wanted to establish a fact. You knew him, as a result of this first credit transaction, which took place at an earlier time.

A. Yes, that may be.

Q. The defendant Funk says, you see, that as far as he can remember this credit matter - and he did not attach any special significance to it at the time - was negotiated about 1940, some time before the other transaction. Can that be true? Approximately?

A. I can neither deny nor confirm that; I no longer recall the date of the credit.

Q. Well, in your affidavit you state, with reference to this credit, that the Reichsbank had granted a credit of Rm. 12,000,000 to the SS, I believe to pay off a loan which the SS had taken up with another bank. And you say that this credit was used for financing production in factories directed by the SS, where workers from concentration camps were employed.

Witness, I am not primarily interested in this credit as such, because it was, of course, part of your business as a bank and the figure of, I think, Rm. 10,000,000 to Rm. 12,000,000 was also not unusual. But I am interested in how you knew that this money was to be used for SS factories in which workers from concentration camps were employed. How did you know that?

A. The application for credit came from the Economic Department of the SS which I have mentioned before. This department was directing a number of factories in Germany, and needed money for that purpose. The Gold Discount Bank was prepared to give this credit, but only in the form of regular business credits. In other words, the debtor had to submit a balance sheet to us, and at regular intervals had to report on his production, his general financial position, his plans for the immediate future, in short, all matters on which a debtor is bound to inform his creditor.

The board of directors of the Gold Discount Bank conducted these negotiations, in which the representatives of the Economic Department who submitted the balance sheets naturally discussed their production programme, which was remarkable in so far as -

Q. Slowly, please, witness.

A. - which was remarkable in so far as the wage figures affecting the balance were comparatively low. So the natural question arose: Why is your wage account so low? The director of the Gold Discount Bank reported on this subject during a board meeting.

Q. You always refer to the Gold Discount Bank. The Tribunal would be interested to know whether the Gold Discount Bank is identical with the Reichsbank; whether it was also under the jurisdiction of the defendant Funk and your own; what was its position?

A. The Gold Discount Bank was subsidiary to the Reichsbank; it was founded in the twenties for various purposes, not only for the promotion of exports, but also for the increase of production. The capital structure -

Q. No, we are not interested in that.

A. - practically all the shares were in the hands of the Reichsbank. The Gold Discount Bank had a board of directors always headed by the President of the Reichsbank; it also had a deputy chairman who was the second vice-president of the Reichsbank, and the board of directors itself included a number of members of the directorate of the Reichsbank, and also the State Secretary of the Ministry of Economics and of the Ministry of Finance.

THE PRESIDENT: It is not interesting to us to know who the exact directors of the Gold Discount Bank were.

[Page 51]


Q. Witness, I wanted, in fact, to interrupt you earlier, and tell you that what you have just related is without significance for the trial. To me and to the Tribunal it is only of interest to hear whether the defendant Funk, as far as you definitely remember, had knowledge of these matters, of the purpose of this credit, and whether he knew that in these factories people from the concentration camps were employed? Do you, or do you not know?

A. I might assume that, but I cannot be sure of it. At any rate, it was known that the credit was destined for these factories.

Q. Witness, I can't be satisfied with that answer, because the SS, as you have probably heard in the meantime, directed various undertakings in which no concentration camp inmates were employed. To my knowledge, for example, the porcelain factory at Allach, did not apparently employ concentration camp inmates. Then for example, the entire personnel at the health springs -

MR. DODD: I object to testimony by counsel. He is practically giving the answer to this witness before he asks the question.


Q. Do you know whether the SS had undertakings in which no concentration camp inmates were employed?

A. I did not, of course, know every individual business run by the SS, nor could I know in each case whether prisoners were or were not employed.

Q. Was the defendant Funk present at all during the meeting at which this credit was discussed?

A. No, he was not present, the records of the proceedings were submitted we always adopted that procedure.

Q. Then did the defendant Funk talk at all with the people who had given information on the unusual figures of the wage account?

A. No, that was done by the board of directors of the Gold Discount Bank.

Q. That was done by the board of the Gold Discount Bank, not by the defendant Funk?

DR. SAUTER: Then, Mr. President, I have no further questions for the witness.

MR. DODD: I have just a few questions to ask, your Honour.



Q. To whom have you talked besides representatives of the prosecution, since you have arrived here in Nuremberg? Did you look at any paper? I say, whom have you talked to besides representatives of the prosecution since you have arrived here in Nuremberg?

A. I do not know all their names, I believe a Mr. Kempner, Mr. Margolis -

Q. I am not asking you about the members of the prosecution. I am asking you whom else you have talked to, if anybody, since you arrived here in Nuremberg. That does not require very much thought. Have you talked to anybody else since you arrived here or not?

A. Only to the other prisoners in the corridor of our prison.

Q. To no one else?

A. No one else.

Q. Now, are you absolutely sure about that?

A. Yes, absolutely.

Q. Did you talk to Dr. Stuckart over in the witness wing, about your testimony that you were going to give here this morning? Answer that question.

A. Dr. Stuckart is one of the prisoners in the corridor of our witness wing.

[Page 52]

Q. I did not ask you that. I asked you if you did not talk to him a day or two ago about your testimony in this case?

A. No.

Q. Now, I think it is awfully important to you that I remind you that you are under oath here. I am going to ask you again if you did not talk to Dr. Stuckart over in this witness wing about your testimony or about the facts concerning Funk in this case?

A. No, I talked about all sorts of general matters.

Q. You did not talk to four or five of those other people over there, either about your testimony or about the facts here?

A. No, absolutely not.

Q. All right. You know a man by the name of Toms, T-o-m-s?

A. T-o-m-s? He was an official of the Reichsbank who worked in the vaults of the Reichsbank in Berlin.

Q. You know the man, you do know him?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, you talked to him about these deposits put in by the SS, did you not, Herr Puhl?

A. To Herr Toms, no.

Q. You did not talk to him?

A. No, I have not seen Herr Toms at all in Nuremberg, and only from a distance in Frankfurt.

Q. I am not referring to Nuremberg now. We will get away from that for a minute. I mean during the time that these deposits were being made in the Reichsbank. Did you not talk to Herr Toms about the deposits?

A. Yes, as has been stated here in the affidavit.

Q. Well, never mind the affidavit for a few minutes. I have a few questions I want to ask you. I am particularly interested in this matter of secrecy. What did you tell Toms about the requirement of secrecy with respect to these SS deposits? Did you tell Toms about the requirement of secrecy with respect to these SS deposits?

A. I must state that I really talked with Herr Tonetti because be was the person responsible, and Herr Toms was only called in. I told both gentlemen that it was desired that the matter be kept secret.

Q. Did you say that it had to be kept a secret and that they must not discuss it with anybody else; that it was highly secret, a special transaction, and if anybody asked him about it, he was to say that he was forbidden to speak about it? Did you tell that to Herr Toms in the Reichsbank?

A. Yes, that was the sense of what I said.

Q. Well, that is what I am asking you. Why did you tell Toms that he was not to speak about it; that it was absolutely forbidden; that it was highly secret, if it was just the ordinary confidence reposed in bank officials attached to a business relationship?

A. Because the Reichsbank president Funk personally conveyed this wish to me.

Q. Well, now, I think perhaps there is some confusion in our minds. You see, I clearly understood, and I expect others as well as the Tribunal may have understood in the courtroom this morning, that you were telling counsel for Funk that the secrecy attached to these transactions was not extraordinary but just the ordinary secrecy or confidence that banking people attach to their relationship with customers. Now, of course, that was not so, was it?

A. The position, as I explained it earlier, is this: These confiscated valuables were usually rejected by us, when brought to the bank, and if an exception was now being made, then it was a matter of course, that a greater amount of secrecy, a special obligation to maintain secrecy, should be observed.

[Page 53]

Q. I wish you would answer this question very directly. Was there not a special reason for special secrecy with respect to these deposits by the SS? You can answer that yes or no.

A. No, I did not perceive a special reason.

Q. Then why were you telling Toms that was highly secret and he was to tell anybody who asked him about it that he was forbidden to speak about it? You did not ordinarily instruct your people to that effect, did you?

A. Because I myself had received this instruction.

Q. That may be so, but that was a special secrecy, was not it? That was not your ordinary and customary way of doing business.

A. The confiscated articles were usually rejected when they reached us; if the exception which we made in this case became known, then it would immediately have provided an example for others; and that we wanted to avoid under all circumstances.

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