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 8 of 11)

[DR. SAUTER continues his cross examination of Albert Toms]

[Page 70]

Q. Are you a free man?

A. Yes, I am free.

Q. Did you receive the summons in writing?

A. No. I was asked verbally yesterday in Frankfurt to come to Nuremberg.

Q. Frankfurt? Are you living in Frankfurt at the moment?

A. Yes.

Q. Herr Toms, where were you living on the 8th of May? That is a week ago today?

A. On the 8th of May this year?

Q. You are Herr Toms, are you not?

A. Yes.

Q. Yes, on the 8th of May, a week ago today.

A. In Frankfurt.

Q. You were interrogated there were you not?

A. That is quite right. I was interrogated at Frankfurt.

Q. That is the affidavit which the prosecutor has just put to you?

A. Yes.

Q. How did you come to make the affidavit? Did you volunteer as a witness, or how did this happen?

A. I want to point out to you that even a year ago when I was working at Frankfurt, I voluntarily gave the American officials the details of the transactions which were known to me in the matter of the gold of the Reichsbank.

Q. I see. So as early as last year you offered yourself as a witness?

A. I would not say as a witness in this matter. I merely placed myself at their disposal for the clarification of Reichsbank affairs for American purposes.

Q. Yes. Did you ever discuss this matter with the President of the Reichsbank, Funk?

[Page 71]

A. No. During my length of service, I never had an opportunity of talking to Minister Funk.

Q. Have you any positive knowledge, perhaps from some other source, as to whether President of the Reichsbank Funk had exact knowledge of these things, or is that also unknown to you?

A. I cannot say anything about that either, because these matters happened on a higher level, on which I could not give an opinion of any value.

Q. Then I would be interested in hearing something about this deposit, or whatever you call it, which was under the name "Melmer".

A. I want to point out that this was not a deposit, but that these were things which were delivered under the name "Melmer". In so far as the transactions were those which the Reichsbank had to deal with, the Reichsbank took over these deliveries directly, and in so far as it was a question of matters not pertaining to the bank, the Reichsbank to a certain extent was the Trustee for their conversion.

Q. More slowly, more slowly. Why was this matter, whether we call it a deposit or anything else, not dealt with under the name "SS", why was it given the name "MELMER"? Did you ask anybody about that, Witness?

A. I have already mentioned at the beginning of the examination that this was a particularly secret affair in connection with which the name of the depositor was not to appear. In this case, therefore, it was Vice-President Puhl who had to decide the way this affair was to be dealt with, and he wished and ordered this secrecy.

Q. Did only officials of the Reichsbank come to the strongroom, where these things were kept, or did other persons also have access to it, for instance, people who had a safe in the strongroom?

A. The Reichsbank did not have any private depositors, that is to say, we did not have any locked deposits which belonged to customers of the Reichsbank - at least not in those vaults. Deposits from private customers were in another vault so that there was no contact between the deposits of the bank and the deposits of the customers.

Q. But quite a number of officials went down there. You have already said that.

There is one thing I am not clear about: On the one hand you have told us that these articles were lying about openly on tables so that everybody could see them, and on the other hand, you said previously towards the end of your statement that these things were kept locked in boxes and trunks. How does that tally?

A. I have stated that these things were delivered in closed boxes and trunks, and stored in them. When from time to time the deliveries were inventoried, the delivery which was to be dealt with naturally had to be opened, and the contents counted, examined and re-weighed. That, of course, could only be done by spreading out the contents, counting them, checking the weight and then locking them in new containers.

Q. Did you perhaps, on your own initiative tell Herr Puhl - after all, you are a bank councillor, therefore a high official - that you had misgivings about the whole business? Please think over the question and give your answer very carefully, because you are under oath.

A. First of all, I have to say that I belonged to the group of officials of middle rank, but that is quite in passing. Then, of course - or let me put it this way: If an official has worked for thirty years or longer for a concern, and if throughout the long years of his career he has always had the feeling that the directors were irreproachable, then, I believe, he could have no misgivings if in a special case he is instructed to keep silent about a certain transaction. He would not object to carrying out this order. I have already said that the term "booty" was not unknown to us officials in the Reichsbank, because there was the order that all booty which came in from the Army was to be delivered directly to the Treasury, that is the Treasury of the Reich Government, and we in the Bank thought of course, that the booty from the SS troops was to go through the Reichsbank. An official of the Reichsbank cannot very well oppose such an order. If the Directors

[Page 72]

of the Bank give him instructions, then he has to carry them out, because of the oath which he has sworn.

Q. So that, witness, if I understand you correctly, you are telling us that at the beginning, at any rate, you considered that the matter was in order, and there was nothing wrong with it?

A. At the beginning? As a matter of fact, I considered it correct that it should be carried right through.

Q. Did you ever have any doubts that this might be, let us say, criminal?

A. Certainly I would have had doubts if I had had the knowledge and experience then, which I have today.

Q. This is the same with everyone.

A. Yes, quite right.

As far as that is concerned, I must suppress any doubts; I cannot admit any doubts, because the affair was not known only to me, it was known to the Reichsbank Directorate and in the administration office of the Main Treasury. The valuables in the strong-room were checked every night by a deputy director of the Main Treasury, so that I was responsible only for the technical carrying out of this business, and the responsibility for the correctness of this transaction was not within my competence.

Q. I do not know about responsibility, but, witness, I asked you, did you ever have any doubts, and at what precise moment did you consider the whole affair criminal? Did you consider it criminal?

A. We assumed that these were goods which the SS - after they had partly burned down towns in the East, particularly in the battle for Warsaw - we thought that these were goods which they had looted from the houses after the battle and then delivered to our Bank.

Q. As booty?

A. Yes. If a military department delivers booty it does not follow that an official, who is entrusted with the handling of, these things, would have to consider these deliveries as being criminal.

Q. When taking over these articles, did you think, or did the Vice-president Puhl tell you, or at least hint to you, that these gold articles might have been taken from victims in concentration camps?

A. No.

Q. You did not think of that, did you?

A. No.

Q. Not at all?

A. Once we saw the name "Auschwitz", and another time the name "Lublin", on some slip's of paper which we found. I said that in connection with Lublin we found this inscription on some packets of banknotes which came in to be dealt with, and which were then returned to the Polish Bank to be cashed. Strangely enough, the same packets came back later after they had been dealt with by the bank. Consequently, here the explanation was that these could not be deliveries from a concentration camp, since they had come to us through official bank channels. As regards the camp at Auschwitz - well, I cannot say today with what sort of deliveries these slips of paper were found, but it is possible that they were slips attached to some notes, and perhaps they may have been deliveries of foreign banknotes from the concentration camps. But then there were arrangements according to which prisoners of war, or other prisoners, could exchange their notes for other money in the camp, so that such deliveries could have been made through legal channels.

Q. If I understand you correctly, witness, then, the meaning of what you have just told us is that you still considered the matter legal or lawful even when in 1943 you saw the inscription "Auschwitz" and "Lublin" on some items. Even then you considered the matter legal, did you not?

A. Yes.

[Page 73]

Q. Well, then, why did you in your affidavit of the 8th of May, 1946 it is true it is not a sworn affidavit - tell the story somewhat differently? Perhaps I can read the sentence to you

A. Please, do.

Q. - and you can then tell me if I misunderstood you or whether the official took it down incorrectly. It says there, after first of all saying that you considered the matter to be legal:

"One of the first indications of the origin of these articles was when it was noticed that a packet of bills, presumably bonds" -
A. No, they were bank-notes.

Q. " - were stamped 'Lublin.'"

A. This occurred early in 1943

Q. "Another indication was the fact that some articles bore the stamp 'Auschwitz'. We all knew these places were the sites of concentration camps. In connection with the tenth delivery in November, 1942" - that is, previously - "gold teeth appeared, and the quantity of gold teeth grew to an unusual extent."

So much for the quotation from your unsworn statement of the 8th of May, 1946. Now, will you please tell us: Does that mean tile same as you said a little earlier, or does it mean something different in your opinion?

A. That in my opinion tallies with my statement. We could not assume that deliveries which came through the concentration camp had to be absolutely illegal. We only observed that gradually these deliveries became larger. A delivery of notes from a concentration camp need not necessarily be illegal. It might have been an official calling in; especially as we did not know the regulations applicable to concentration camps. It would be perfectly possible that these people had the right to sell the articles in their possession or give them in payment.

Q. The dollar notes which you have also seen in that film would hardly be sold by anybody.

A. May I point out to you that I was not of the opinion that these notes necessarily came from concentration camps. I merely said that the word "Lublin" was on some of the packets of bank notes. That might have pointed to their having come from a concentration camp, but it did not necessarily mean that these particular notes came from that concentration camp, and the same applies to Auschwitz. The name Auschwitz cropped up. There may have been a certain suspicion, but we had not any proof, and we did not feel that we were in anyway called upon to object to these deliveries of the SS.

Q. Consequently, witness, apparently because you put this construction on it, you did not use occasion to make a report to Vice-president Puhl or the directorate, or to voice any doubts; you did not feel there was any cause for that?

A. I called Vice-President Puhl's attention to the composition of these deliveries as early as a few months after the arrival of the first one. Therefore, the general character of these deliveries was known to Herr Puhl. If any objections were to be raised in connection with these deliveries, then they should have come from President Puhl. He knew the contents.

Q. But you told us earlier that the character of these deliveries did not seem peculiar to you. You considered that it was booty. And now you want to say that you called Vice- President Puhl's attention to it and that he must have noticed something peculiar.

A. I did not say that. I did not say that Herr Puhl I must have noticed something peculiar. I merely said that, if any objections were to be raised, then they would have to come from Herr Puhl, since he was as well aware of the character of these deliveries as I was. And, if there was any suspicion, then Herr Puhl's suspicion would probably have been aroused more strongly than mine.

Q. Witness, you told us earlier that special secrecy was ordered in this connection, but at the same time you mentioned that quite apart from this SS affair, there were also other business matters which apparently had to be handled with special secrecy. Is that true?

[Page 74]

A. Yes.

Q. You need not give us any names, but I would only like to know what the other affairs were?

A. These were matters which had to do with the conduct of the war. There were transactions in gold, and perhaps also in foreign currency, etc.

Q. They were not criminal affairs, therefore?

A. No, not criminal.

Q. Then, witness -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, the Tribunal thinks that this is getting too far away from the point really to ask him about other deliveries.

DR. SAUTER: Yes, but the question is already answered, Mr. President.


Q. Witness, because of this secrecy in connection with the SS deliveries which reached the Reichsbank, I should be interested in knowing, in so far as they were realised by the Reichsbank, whether any accounts were rendered, as I assume to be the case from the documents before us?

A. Yes.

Q. By your Main Treasury?

A. Yes.

Q. To whom were these accounts sent?

A. They were sent to the Reichsfuehrer SS office direct; that is to say, they were collected by Melmer directly from the bank.

Q. Did they not go to any other offices?

A. And then they were officially passed on to the foreign currency department.

Q. To the foreign currency department, that is, to a State Department?

A. No, that is a department of the Reichsbank which in turn is the link with the directorate.

Q. Were not these accounts also transmitted or did not they go to the Reich Ministry of Finance?

A. The liaison man, Melmer, always received two accounts, that is, in duplicate. Whether the Reichsfuehrer's office sent one copy to the Reich Ministry of Finance, I do not know.

Q. Were these accounts really treated confidentially, that is, kept secret?

A.. Yes.

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