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 July to 15th July 1946

One Hundred and Seventy-Seventh Day: Friday, 12th July, 1946
(Part 6 of 8)

[Page 340]

DR. SAUTER: Gentlemen of the Tribunal, I have so far defined the position of the defendant Funk in general statements; I am now going to deal with the criminal responsibility of the defendant Funk on the separate charges made against him.

The first point of the Indictment deals with the support of the seizure of power by the Party, that is, the defendant Funk's Party activities from 1931 up to the end of 1932.

The defendant Funk is alleged to have helped the conspirators to seize power. This charge deals with the activities of the defendant Funk from the date of his joining the Party in June, 1931, up to the seizure of power on 30th January, 1933. The prosecution maintains that Funk's activities on behalf of the Party during that period furthered the seizure of power by the National Socialists. This is correct. The defendant Funk himself, when interrogated on 4th May, gave a detailed explanation of his reasons for considering the National Socialist seizure of power the only possible way of delivering the German people from the grave intellectual, economic and social distress of that time. The economic programme of the Party was, in his opinion, vague and mainly intended for propaganda. He himself wanted to gain recognition for his own economic principles in the Party, in order to work through the Party for the benefit of the German people. Funk a detailed description of these principles during his examination. They are based on the idea of private property, which is inseparable from the conception of the varying capacity of the human being.

Funk demanded the recognition of private initiative and of the independence of the creative entrepreneur, added to free competition and the levelling of social extremes. He aimed at the elimination of Party and class warfare, at a strong government with full authority and responsibility and at the creation of a uniform political will among the people. His conversations with Adolf Hitler and other Party leaders convinced him that the Party entirely accepted his principles and

[Page 341]

ideas. In Funk's opinion he cannot be blamed for his support of the Party in its struggle for power. Funk believes that the discussions in this trial furnish absolute proof that the Party came to power quite legally. But even the methods used by Funk to assist the Party cannot, in his opinion, be condemned. Certainly, the role attributed to him by the prosecution does not fit the facts. The importance of Funk's activities is at times greatly overestimated by it; and in many cases its judgement of these activities is completely false.

The evidence offered by the prosecution consists mainly of references and extracts from reference books and especially from a book by Dr. Ostreich: Walter Funk, a Life Dedicated to Economics, which was submitted to the Tribunal. The core of this evidence is a "Programme for Economic Reconstruction," by the defendant Funk, which is printed on Page 31 of this book and which the prosecution calls "the official Party declaration in the economic field," and "the economic bible for the Party organization." This so-called "Programme for Economic Reconstruction" forms the basis for the untrue accusation made by the prosecution, and appearing on Page 3 of the Trial Brief, to the effect that the defendant Funk assisted "in formulation of the programme which was publicly proclaimed by the Nazi Party and by Hitler."

This "Programme for Economic Reconstruction," which was read word for word during the hearing of the defendant Funk, actually did not contain anything unusual - let alone revolutionary - or anything which was in any way characteristic of the National Socialist ideology. The programme indicates the need for providing work, creating productive credits without inflationary consequences, balancing the public finances, as well as the need for protective measures for agriculture and urban real estate and new economic relations with foreign countries. It is a programme which, as Funk said in his testimony, might be advocated by any liberal or democratic party and government. The defendant Funk only regrets that the Party did not fully subscribe to these principles. Later on, his economic viewpoint involved him in constant difficulties and disputes with various Party offices, especially with the German Labour Front and the Party Chancellery, and with Himmler and most of the Gauleiter. This is also confirmed by the witness Landfried, who described these differences between Funk and the Party in detail in his interrogatory. Funk had the reputation in the Party of being mainly a liberal and an outsider. During that time - that is, mainly in 1932, he established relations between Hitler and some of the leading personalities of German economic life. He also worked to promote understanding of National Socialist ideas and to gain the support of the Party by the economy. By virtue of these activities he was frequently described as Hitler's economic adviser. But that was not a Party office or a Party title.

In Document EC-440 Funk states that Keppler, who was later appointed Under Secretary, was considered the Fuehrer's economic adviser for many years before himself (Funk). By this reference Funk intended to show that the designation "Economic adviser to the Fuehrer" was given by the public to other persons also.

The period during which Funk was given Party assignments was a very short one. That these activities were never of decisive importance may be deduced from the fact that after the assumption of power Funk's Party activities ceased completely. In other fields, such as food and agriculture, finance, etc., Party office holders who entered the Civil Service as Ministers or Under Secretaries, etc., retained their Party office, which usually acquired greater importance. The elimination of the defendant Funk alone from every Party office as soon as the assumption of power was complete shows clearly that the Party leaders did not attach much value to Funk's work in the Party.

In cross-examining the defendant Funk the Soviet Russian prosecution showed him an article which had appeared in the magazine Das Reich on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday. In this article the author, an economist by the name of Dr. Herle, emphasises that Funk "as intermediary between the Party and economic

[Page 342]

circles had become a pioneer working towards a new spiritual attitude in German economic life."

In this connection we may say that Funk never denied that he regarded it as his task to synthesise an economic system with an obligation toward State and community on the one hand, but based on private ownership and private initiative and responsibility on the other hand.

Funk always acknowledged and adopted the political aims and ideals of National Socialism.

The majority of the German people embraced these aims and ideologies, as was proved by several plebiscites. Funk himself did not suspect that all the good intentions and idealistic aims, so often emphasized by Hitler when he came into power, would later disappear in the blood and smoke of war and in inconceivable inadequacy and inhumanity. Funk testified explicitly that he considered the authoritarian form of government, by which he meant the strong State, a responsible cabinet, the social community and an economic system with social obligations, a prerequisite in order to overcome the grave intellectual and economic crisis through which the German people were then passing. He always clearly emphasized the primary importance of politics over economics.

On 30th January, 1933, as Press Chief of the Reich Government, Funk took up the State office of a Ministerial Director in the Reich Chancellery. Six weeks later, however, the direction of Press policy passed into the hands of Dr. Goebbels when the latter became Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and the Press Department of the Reich Government, which Funk should have directed until that date, was merged in the newly established Ministry of Propaganda. For the time being he retained only the right to make his Press reports personally to Reich President von Hindenburg and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler - until Hindenburg's death. Then this activity also came to a complete standstill, so that the office of Press Chief of the Reich Government existed only on paper. This was expressly confirmed also by the defendant Fritzsche during his examination as a witness on 28th June.

Gentlemen, I now come to the second charge - that is: consolidation of Government and Party control and, in connection with this, the persecution of Jews belonging to the liberal professions. The statements which refer to this point are on Pages 17 to 24 of the brief which is before you.

Gentlemen of the Tribunal, I shall pass over those details of my brief which refer to this particular point and I beg you to take judicial notice of them. I shall merely quote a few sentences.

The guilt of the defendant is inferred mainly from the fact that he was a Secretary of State in the Ministry of Propaganda. The hearing of evidence has shown, however, that as Secretary of State Funk had nothing whatsoever to do with actual propaganda work. He made no radio speeches; nor did he speak at public meetings. Press policy, on the other hand, was dictated by Dr. Goebbels in person.

Even at that time, however, Funk gave particular attention to the wishes anal complaints of the journalists. He protected the Press against misuse by official departments and made every effort to safeguard the individuality of the Press an enable it to work in a responsible manner.

All this has been established by a number of witnesses to whom I refer in Pages 17 to 24; and in particular by the witnesses Amann, Kallus, Fritzsche, Oser, and Rosen. The two latter witnesses have indeed confirmed the fact that Fu as Secretary of State in the Ministry of Propaganda also worked energetically of behalf of Jews and such persons as were oppressed and hindered in their spiritual and artistic work by the legislation and cultural policy of the National Socialists. Funk did so much on behalf of such people that he jeopardised his own official position to such an extent that the Ministry actually considered him politically unreliable.

Now, gentlemen of the Tribunal, I turn to another subject - the charge appearing under point 4 of my brief, Page 24 - namely, that he participated in the preparation

[Page 343]

of wars of aggression; a point which is dealt with by Count 4 of the Indictment. The accusation against the defendant Funk is: "that with full knowledge of the aggressive plans of the conspirators he participated daily in the planning and preparation for aggressive wars." (Pp. 24 to 76.)

As evidence of this, the Indictment first of all points out that Goering's Ministry of Economics was brought under the Four-Year Plan as the "high command of the German war economy," and was placed under Funk's control.

The Indictment also states that according to the Law for the Defence of the Reich of 4th September, 1938, Funk, in his capacity as High Commissioner of Economy, was explicitly charged with the mobilization of the German economy in case of war.

The prosecution's assertion that the Reich Ministry of Economics was brought under the Four-Year Plan before it was handed over by Goering to Funk is quite correct, but the so- called high command of the German economy was not in the hands of the Reich Minister of Economics, Funk, but entirely in those of the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan - i.e. the co- defendant Goering. Goering has confirmed the fact that Funk was obliged to follow his instructions. In addition, the most important branches of production were managed - as we have already shown - by special general commissioners of the Four-Year Plan, who were under the control of Goering and received their instructions from him - and not from Funk. The Reich Ministry of Economics itself was merely the office which carried out the directives of the Four-Year Plan. The defendant Funk has testified that some offices were only formally under his supervision and functioned in reality as autonomous institutions of the Four-Year Plan.

Funk's position as Plenipotentiary for Economy was vigorously disputed from the beginning. When the defendant Funk was cross-examined, a document - EC-255 - was submitted - a letter from the Reich War Minister, von Blomberg, to the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan, Goering, dated 29th November, 1937, wherein Blomberg proposes that the defendant Funk, who had just - on 27th November, 1937 - been appointed Reich Minister of Economics, should also be appointed General Plenipotentiary for War Economics. This was not, however, done.

Goering himself took over the Reich Ministry of Economics to begin with and only handed it over to the defendant Funk in February, 1938, three months afterwards. Then the High Command of the Armed Forces - more especially the Army Economic Staff under General Thomas whose name has been mentioned repeatedly - requested that the Plenipotentiary for War Economics should be bound in future to follow the directives of the High Command in all questions concerning supplies for the armed forces. In this Document, EC-270, the Economic Staff of the High Command of the Armed Forces claims a right to direct the Plenipotentiary for War Economy in nearly all his fields of activity.

The defendant Funk tried, by means of a conversation with Reichsmarschall Goering and a letter to Reich Minister Dr. Lammers, to clarify his position as General Plenipotentiary for War Economics and, as such, claimed to be placed directly under Hitler and not bound to abide by the directives of the High Command of the Wehrmacht. Goering and Lammers agreed with Funk's opinion. It must, however, be emphasized most strongly that this has no connection with Funk's subordination to Goering, for all the other supreme Reich offices and ministers directly subordinate to Hitler's command were also bound by the directives of the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan - i.e., by Goering's directives.

It is, however, remarkable that, according to the Reich Defence Law of 4th September, 1938 - the Second Reich Defence Law - the defendant Funk did not become Plenipotentiary General for War Economics but Plenipotentiary for Economy, without the word "war," and that this act explicitly stated that Funk was bound to fulfil the demands of the OKW. The OKW, therefore, won its battle against Funk in the end.

[Page 344]

But the separate economic departments which, according to the Reich Defence Law, were under the direction of the Plenipotentiary General for Economics for his special assignments were also unwilling to recognize him. In an interrogatory by the former Under Secretary Dr. Hans Posse - Funk's deputy as Plenipotentiary General for Economics - which was produced during the cross-examination of the defendant Funk, Posse states that the Plenipotentiary General for Economics "never really assumed any function." The ministers and under secretaries of the separate economic departments of finance, agriculture, transport, etc., did not, according to Posse, wish to be placed under Funk's control and even protested against it. Posse also mentions the disputes which Funk had with the Trustee for the Four- Year Plan. He calls these conflicts "the struggle for power," which in this connection means nothing more than the authority to make decisions concerning the other economic departments. This was not a dispute between Goering and Funk; that statement is untrue because it was quite evident that Funk, even as Plenipotentiary General for Economics, was subordinated to Goering. Actually, this was a quarrel of under secretaries. The separate economic departments declared that they were subordinated to the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan and refused to recognize the right of the Plenipotentiary General for Economics - Funk - to give them directives, since Funk himself was under the direction of the Four-Year Plan. The under secretaries of the Four-Year Plan supported the departments in their interpretation, and this lack of clarity and the overlapping of competencies caused the authority to issue directives to pass formally from the hands of the Plenipotentiary General for Economics into the hands of the Trustee of the Four-Year Plan a few months after the outbreak of the war.

Questioned by the prosecution as to whether he had been in the habit of discussing important matters with Funk, the above-mentioned Under Secretary Posse replied: "Yes; but these discussions did not produce results." Posse confirms that the authority given to Goering was much more extensive and that Goering finally dissolved the office of the Plenipotentiary General for Economics. According to Funk this happened as early as December, 1939, a few months after the outbreak of the war. Funk retained only the formal right to issue decrees. This has also been confirmed by Lammers. Therefore the co-defendant Goering's statement that he was also of the opinion that Funk's position as Plenipotentiary General for Economics existed only on paper is quite correct.

Then I omit two pages and continue with the second paragraph on Page 29.

Nowhere in the material presented by the prosecution is there a single indication of the fact that the defendant Funk knew anything about military and political conversations and preparations which had as their object the planning of war-in particular, a war of aggression to be waged by Germany. Funk was never invited to take part in any conversations of this kind. He was, in particular, not present at. the well-known discussion with Goering on 14th October, 1938, which was treated exhaustively by the prosecution on Page 24 of the Trial Brief. According to the prosecution, Goering referred during that meeting to an order issued by Hitler for an unusual increase in armaments, especially weapons for an offensive. The Prosecutor declared during the session of 11th January, 1946, that at that meeting, Goering addressed words to Funk which were described as "the words of a man already at war" Several documents included in Document Book Funk and submitted to the Tribunal prove, however, unequivocally that the defendant Funk did not attend that meeting at all, as he was in Sofia at the time in order, to conduct economic negotiations with Bulgaria. This exhibit, which the prosecution obviously intended to use as a main exhibit, is thereby invalidated. On 25th August, 1939, the date of Funk's letter to Hitler, to which I referred this morning, the German and Polish armies were already completely mobilised and stood face to face with each other. He was, therefore, compelled to act in that particular manner, and by that time he was no longer able to cancel any of the preparations. All this is corroborated by the diary kept by the witness Kallus and submitted

[Page 345]

Document Book Funk Number 18. The defendant Funk stated here on the witness stand:
"It was naturally my duty as Plenipotentiary General for Economics to do all I could to prevent the civilian section of the economy from being shattered in the event of war, and it was also my duty as President of the Reichsbank to increase as much as possible the Reichsbank's reserve of gold and foreign currency."
He goes on to say:
"That was necessary on account of the general political tension at the time, and it was also necessary in case war should be avoided and only those economic sanctions imposed in view of the political situation at the time might - and in fact must - be expected."
Funk likewise says:
"It was also my duty as Reich Minister of Economics to increase production."
That is an exact quotation from the defendant Funk's testimony. On this subject the witness Puhl, who was Vice- President of the Reichsbank, states in his interrogatory of 1st May, which is in the hands of the Tribunal, that the position of the Reichsbank in the last seven months of Funk's presidency before the outbreak of the war had not been materially strengthened, and that very little business had been done in the exchange of foreign assets for gold since January, 1939. The Reichsbank's cautious policy in regard to gold and foreign currency, according to this witness, was in line with their customary practice.

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