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 7 of 11)

[DR. SIEMERS continues his direct examination of Erich Raeder]

[Page 65]

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, in this connection may I submit Exhibit Raeder-3, a short excerpt from the Constitution of the German Reich. It is in Document Book 1 on Page 9. Article 47 reads:

[Page 66]

"The Reich President has the supreme command of all the armed forces of the Reich."
I also submit the Reich Defence Law, as Exhibit Raeder-4, Document Book 1, Page 11, I have to return to it later, but now I refer to Article 8 of the Reich Defence Law, which reads as follows:-
"The command is exclusively in the hands of the lawful superior.

"The Reich President is the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces. Under him, the Reich Minister for Defence has authoritative powers over all the armed forces. At the head of the Reich Army is a General, as Chief of the Army Command; at the head of the Reich Navy, an Admiral, as Chief of the Naval Command."

These paragraphs remained in full effect under the National Socialist regime. I refer to them only because they confirm what the witness has said. In regard to naval reconstruction, he was thus third in authority: Reich President, Reich Minister of Defence, and then the heads of the branches of the Wehrmacht.

BY DR. SIEMERS: Grand Admiral, the prosecution accuses you of building up the Navy:-

1. in violation of the Versailles Treaty,
2. behind the back of the Reichstag and the Reich Government, and
3. with the intention of waging aggressive wars.

I should like to ask you now whether the reconstruction of the Navy was undertaken for aggressive or defensive purposes. Make a chronological distinction, however, and speak first about the period overshadowed by the Versailles Treaty, that is, from 1928 until the Naval Agreement with England on 18th July, 1935.

My question is: Did the reconstruction of the Navy in this period take place for purposes of aggression as the prosecution has asserted?

A. The reconstruction of the Navy did not in any respect take place for the purposes of aggressive war, though no doubt it constituted some evasion of the Versailles Treaty. Before I go into details, I should like to ask permission to read a few short quotations from a speech which I made in 1928 in Kiel and Stralsund, the two largest garrisons of my naval station. This speech was delivered before the citizens during a week devoted to an historical anniversary, and when I took up my duties in Berlin, it was handed as my programme to Minister Severing, who regarded me with some suspicion at that time. That is the -

DR. SIEMERS: One moment. Raeder's statements in the year 1928 show his attitude of that time much more clearly than his present recollections, and for that reason I think the Tribunal will agree that I submit this speech as Exhibit Raeder-6, Document Book 1, Page 15. The speech itself begins on Page 17. I shall read ...


DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, it would take five or ten minutes, so may I ask whether this is a proper time to adjourn? I am willing to continue, however.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

DR. SERVATIUS (Counsel for defendant Sauckel):

Mr. President, will you please grant permission for the defendant Sauckel to be absent from the courtroom from 16th to 18th May inclusive so that he may prepare his defence?

THE PRESIDENT: In order to prepare his defence? Yes, certainly.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I would like to suggest that before the witness Puhl is recalled, the witness Toms be called, I think it will save some of the Tribunal's time. I think, from what I know of the prospective testimony, there may be questions that will arise in the mind of the Tribunal which it would like to put to the witness Puhl after having heard the witness Toms.

[Page 67]

And also I would ask, so as to be absolutely fair to all concerned, that the witness Puhl be in the courtroom when the witness Toms testifies. I think he should have that opportunity.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you any objections, Dr. Sauter?

DR. SAUTER: No, I have no objection.

MR. DODD: May we call the witness Toms?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, call Toms, and have Puhl somewhere in the courtroom where he can hear.

ALBERT TOMS, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Albert Toms.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath).

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I am aware that he has been called for cross-examination. However, there are one or two matters, now material, which were not included in the affidavit, and to save time I would like to bring those out before the cross-examination takes place.




Q. Herr Toms, you executed a statement on the 8th day of May, 1946. Is that so?

A. Yes.

Q. And you signed it?

A. Yes.

Q. And everything in it was true?

A. Yes.

Q. And is true now, of course?

A. Yes.

Q. I wish you would just look at it for the purposes of certainty and identify it now. Is that the statement that you signed, Herr Toms?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. Now, I have one or two questions to ask you about it.

MR. DODD: I wish to offer it, Mr. President, as Exhibit USA- 852.

Q. (Continuing) You know this gentleman sitting to your left, do you not?

A. Yes.

Q. That is Herr Puhl, is it not

A. Yes.

Q. He was the Vice-President of the Reichsbank when you were employed there.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, did you ever have a conversation with Herr Puhl about any special deposit which was coming to the Reichsbank and about which you should maintain the utmost secrecy?

A. Yes.

Q. Tell us when that conversation took place, what was said, and if anyone else was present at the time.

[Page 68]

A. This conversation took place in the summer of 1942. I was called to President Puhl's office by Herr Frommknecht, a Treasury official. Herr Frommknecht took me to Herr Puhl, and there Herr Puhl disclosed the fact that a special transaction with the office of the Reichsleader SS was to be undertaken. Do you want me to explain it in detail?

Q. Tell us everything that he said to you.

A. Herr Puhl told me that the affair was to be kept absolutely secret and confidential. Not only would articles be delivered which would be automatically taken over in the ordinary course of business of the Reichsbank, but also the realization of jewellery and other articles would have to be effected. Upon my objection that we had no expert men for such matters he replied that we would have to find a way to convert these articles. First I made the suggestion that these special articles should be sent then to the Reich Main Treasury - that is, the Main Treasury of the Reich Government - which also held all booty of the Army. However, Herr Puhl thought this matter should not go through the Reich Main Treasury, but should be handled by the Reichsbank in some other way. Thereupon I suggested that these articles could be sent to the Municipal Pawnbroker's Office in Berlin, exactly as the deliveries from the confiscated Jewish property had been dealt with before. Herr Puhl agreed to this suggestion.

Q. Now, when did the first of these shipments arrive?

A. The first delivery came to the Reichsbank during the month of August, as far as I can remember.

Q. 1942?

A. Yes, 1942.

Q. Does the name "Melmer" mean anything to you?

A. "Melmer" was the name of the SS man who subsequently brought these valuables to the Reichsbank. Under this code word all deliveries of the SS were later entered in the books of the bank.

Q. Did you ever mention the name or the word "Melmer" to Puhl, and did he ever mention it to you?

A. The name "Melmer" was not mentioned by Puhl to me, but was mentioned by me to Puhl, as I had to inform him about the start of the entire transaction and particularly about the carrying out of the transaction regarding the conversion of the valuables. In accordance with the suggestion of the office of the Reichsleader SS, the money equivalent was transferred to the Reich Ministry of Finance into an account which was given the name "Max Heiliger". I duly informed President Puhl briefly about these facts.

Q. Did you ever tell Puhl the nature of the material that you were receiving in the SS shipments?

A. After some months Puhl asked me how the Melmer affair was getting along. I explained to him that, contrary to the expectation that there would really be very few deliveries, deliveries were increasing, and that apart from gold and silver coins they contained, in particular, a great deal of jewellery, gold rings, wedding rings, gold and silver fragments, dental gold, and all sorts of gold and silver articles.

Q. What did he say when you told him there were jewels and silver and dental gold and other articles?

A. May I first of all add a few things. I drew his attention especially to the fact that on one occasion something like twelve kilogrammes of jewels had been collected and that I had never before seen such an unusual amount in all my life.

Q. Wait a minute! What did it consist of?

A. They were pearls and pearl necklaces.

Q. Did you tell him you were receiving a quantity of eye- glass rims?

A. I cannot swear to that at the moment, but I described the general character of these deliveries to him. Therefore, I think, I probably used the word "spectacles", but I would not like to state it on my oath.

Q. Was Puhl ever in the vaults when this material was being looked through?

[Page 69]

A. On several occasions he visited the strong rooms of the bank to inspect the gold stored there and particularly to inform himself about the type of stores. The deliveries of the Melmer transactions were kept in a special part of one of the main safes, so that on those occasions Herr Puhl must also have seen the boxes and sacks full of those deliveries. Nearby in the corridor of the vault the articles of the Melmer deliveries were being dealt with.

I am firmly convinced that when he walked through the strong rooms, Herr Puhl must have seen these objects, as they were lying quite openly on the table and everyone who visited the strong room could see them.

Q. There were about twenty-five or thirty people that sorted this stuff out, were there not, before it was shipped away for melting and for sale in the pawn-shops?

A. I would not say that there were twenty-five to thirty people who sorted these things - in the course of a day perhaps twenty-five to thirty people would visit the strong rooms to carry out some official business there. For the particular business of sorting and getting these things ready some four or five officials were employed.

Q. And everyone under your supervision was sworn to secrecy? They did not talk about this business; they were forbidden to do so, were they not?

A. There were strict instructions in the bank that secret matters must not be discussed, not even with a colleague of one's own department if that colleague did not himself also work at the same job. So that -

Q. Well, this was a super-secret matter, was it not? It was not the ordinary secrecy. Was there not a special secrecy surrounding these deliveries?

A. Quite right. It was quite an exceptional affair and it had to be kept especially secret. I would say that it went beyond the limits of top secrecy. Even I had been strictly forbidden to talk to anybody about it, but I said at the time, when I left Vice-President Puhl, after the first conversation, that I would inform the leading officials in the treasury, because ultimately my superiors must be informed about this business.

Q. Was there a written report made about these Melmer deposits to the Directorate?

A. No. The matter was treated in verbal form. It was an exceptional case, and there was merely an account kept of the deliveries made; this was called the "Melmer account". It was produced by the head office of the foreign exchange department which, in turn, had to take further steps with the Directorate of the Reichsbank.

Q. Well, the Directorate had to approve the handling of this type of thing, did it not? You were not allowed to handle materials like this without the approval of the bank Directorate?

A. In matters concerning gold particularly, instructions had to be given and approved respectively by the Board of Directors.

I could therefore never act independently. Generally the instructions were given to the Treasury in writing and they were signed by at least two officials and one member of the Board of Directors. So that it was quite unique that in this case instructions were given in a verbal form.

Q. By the way, Herr Toms, you have seen the film this morning? We have shown you a film, have we not?

A. Yes.

Q. After seeing that film, are you able to say whether or not that gives a fair picture of the appearance of some of the shipments that were received by the Reichsbank from the SS?

A. I may say that this film and the pictures which I have seen in it were typical of the Melmer deliveries. Perhaps I should qualify that by saying that the quantities as shown in this film did not represent the same quantity of dental gold and particularly jewellery which came with the first deliveries. Only later did these

[Page 70]

amounts increase, so that the quantities which we have seen in this film had actually not yet been seen by the Reichsbank because they were contained in boxes or trunks which until then had remained locked. But generally the material which I have seen in that film is typical of the Melmer deliveries.

Q. All right, sir. Now, approximately - I don't expect a completely accurate answer, but approximately how many shipments did you receive of this stuff from the SS?

A. As nearly as I can remember at the moment, there must have been more than seventy deliveries, possibly seventy-six or seventy-seven. I cannot tell you exactly at the moment, but that must be about the right figure.

Q. Very well. I have no further questions.



Q. Witness, what is your occupation?

A. A councillor of the Reichsbank.

Q. Where did you live?

A. Berlin- Steglitz. Then I - after my home was bombed I lived at Potsdam, Neu-Fahrland.

Q. Did you volunteer for examination by the prosecution or how did you happen to be interrogated -

A. I was -

Q. Please, will you wait until I have finished my question, so that the interpreters can keep up with us? Will you please make a pause between question and answer.

A. I was ordered here.

Q. By whom?

A. By the prosecution.

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