The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
21st January to 1st February, 1946

Thirty-Ninth Day: Monday, 21st January, 1946
(Part 5 of 9)

[M. GERTHOFER continues]

[Page 18]

All the Norwegian protestations were vain, in the face of German exigencies. The constant threat of the new issuing of notes of the Reichskreditkasse as instruments of obligatory payment next to the Norwegian currency, obliged the local financial authorities to accept the system of levies in account without actual counter value, which was less dangerous than the issuing of paper money, over the circulation of which the Norwegian administration had no power of control.

This is most clearly shown by the secret letter sent on 17th June 1941 by General von Falkenhorst, commander in Norway, to the commander of the Reich, Reichsleiter Terboven, a copy of which was found not so long ago in Norway and which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 119.

In this document, after having stated that one could not reduce the expenses of the Wehrmacht in Norway, von Falkenhorst writes:

"I am nevertheless of the opinion that the problem cannot at all be solved in this manner. The only remedy is to abandon completely the

[Page 19]

actual monetary system; that is to say, to introduce Reich currency. But, of course, this does not belong to my domain. That is why I also regret not being able to offer you any other remedies, even though I am perfectly conscious of the seriousness of the situation in which you find yourself."
To the indemnities for the pretended maintenance of the army of occupation must be added a sum of 360,000,000 crowns paid by the Norwegian Treasury for the billeting of the German troops. This information comes to us from a report from the Norwegian Government, which I submit as Exhibit RF 120.

From the sum of approximately 12,000,000 crowns levied for the pretended maintenance of the occupation troops, a great part was used for other things; notably, for the expenses of the police and propaganda the occupant spent 900,000,000 crowns.

This comes from a second report of the Norwegian Government, which I submit as Exhibit RF 121.

Second: Clearing:

The clearing agreement of 1937 for the barter of goods between Norway and Germany remained in force during the occupation, but it was the Bank of Norway which had to advance the necessary funds for the Norwegian exporters.

The Germans also concluded clearing agreements in the name of Norway with other occupied countries, neutral countries, and with Italy.

At the liberation, the creditor balance of the Norwegian clearing amounted to 90,000,000 crowns, but this balance does not show up the actual situation, for:

1. The imports destined to the German military needs in Norway were handled through the clearing in a very abusive manner;

2. For certain goods-skins, furs, and fish, the Germans had decided that the exportation should be made into the Reich. Then they sold these products in other countries, especially Italy as far as the fish was concerned;

3. The Germans, who were the masters, and upon whom depended the fixing of prices, systematically raised the price of all raw products imported into Norway, and these were used for the great part for the military needs of the occupiers. On the other hand, they systematically drove down the prices of the products exported from Norway.

In spite of all their efforts and all of their sacrifices, and owing to the fraudulent operations of the occupiers, the Norwegian authorities could not hinder a very dangerous inflation.

From the report of the Norwegian Government, which I submitted as Exhibit RF 120 a few moments ago, it is seen that the fiscal circulation, which in April 1940 amounted to 712,000,000 crowns, rose progressively to reach, on 7th May 1945, 3,039,000,000 crowns. An inflation of this extent, which is the consequence of the activities of the occupiers, enables us to measure the impoverishment of this country.

The same report indicates that the Germans did not manage to seize the gold of the Norwegian Bank, as this had been hidden in good time.

Let us now, gentlemen, examine the levies in detail.

The Germans proceeded in Norway to numerous requisitions which were or were not followed by so-called regular payments.

According to the report of the Norwegian Government, here is the list of requisitioned goods

Meat................................................30,000 tons
Milk, eggs, etc...............................61,000 tons
Fish.................................................26,000 tons
Fruit and vegetables.....................68,000 tons
Potatoes.......................................500,000 tons
Vinegar and allied products ....112,000 tons

[Page 20]

Fats............................................... 10,000 tons
Wheat, flour....................................3,000 tons
Other items.....................................5,000 tons
Hay and straw.............................30,000 tons
Other articles of same nature ..13,000 tons
Soap.................................................8,000 tons
But this statement which I have just read to the Tribunal only includes the official purchases which were made with Norwegian currency or which were paid for through clearing; it does not include the secret purchases. It is not yet possible to determine or to appreciate the total extent of these. We can, however say that the export of fish, which went to Germany, in the majority of cases, for one year only (1942) came to about 202,400 tons, whereas the official requisitions during the whole occupation did not go beyond 26,000 tons.

As in other occupied territories, the Germans forced the continuance of work under threat of arrest.

The greatest part of the fleet was hidden from the Germans; nevertheless they requisitioned all ships which they could, notably, the majority of the fishing fleet.

If the occupier could not seize all railway rolling stock, tramways were transported to Germany, as well as about 30,000 motor cars.

If we refer to the report of 10th October 1944 of the German Economic Services, which I submitted as Exhibit RF 116, we will see that the writer of the report himself estimates that the effort demanded from Norway was above her possibilities, and he writes:

"The Norwegian economy is seriously undermined by the exactions of the occupiers. It is for this reason that we had to limit the cost of occupation to part only of the expenses of the Wehrmacht."
After having mentioned that the cost of occupation which had been calculated to January 1943 amounted to 7,535,000,000 crowns, which corroborates the data given by the Norwegian Government, the writer of the German report says:
"This sum of over Rm 5,000,000,000 is very high for Norway. Much richer countries, as for example, Belgium, pay expenses which are hardly higher, and Denmark does not furnish even half of this sum. These huge levies are only made possible through advances which were consented to by Germany. It is, therefore not surprising that the exterior German-Norwegian commerce should have a very active character for Germany. That is to say, that it consists of advances. Norway, owing to her very small population, can hardly put labour at the disposal of the German war economy. She is therefore one of the few countries which are our debtors in the clearing."
Further on the writer adds:
"If we can deduct from these Rm 140,000,000 - the expenses of occupation and various credits calculated for after - we arrive at a very high figure for Norwegian levies; that is to say, approximately 4,900,000,00 Rm."
THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps that would be a good time to break off.

(A recess was taken).

M. GERTHOFFER: We continue with the expose of economic pillage in Norway. I had the honour, this morning, of relating to you how the occupants were able to exact great quantities of means of payment from Norway. We shall now see, from the first data which has been given us, the use to which the occupants put these payments. The Germans seized, as in the other occupied countries, considerable private

[Page 21]

property, on some pretext or other-that it was property belonging to Jews, Freemasons, Scout associations, et cetera. It has been impossible, thus far, to establish a very direct evaluation of these spoliations. We can give some indications of them, at this time, only from memory. According to the report of the Norwegian Government, in 1941 the Germans seized all the radio sets...

THE PRESIDENT: Have you any evidence to support the facts you are stating now?

M. GERTHOFFER: They are based on indications contained in the report of the Norwegian Government which I have submitted as Exhibit RF 121.


M. GERTHOFFER: According to the same report, in 1941 the Germans seized almost all the radios belonging to private individuals. The value of these radio sets was approximately 120,000,000 kronen. The Germans imposed heavy fines on the Norwegian communities under the most varied pretexts, notably Allied bombing raids and acts of sabotage.

In their report the Norwegian Government gives two or three examples of these collective fines: On March 4th, 1941, after a raid on Lofoten, the population of the small community of Ostvagey had to pay 100,000 kronen. Communities also had to support German families and families of Quisling supporters.

On 25 September 1942, after a British raid on Oslo, one hundred citizens were obliged to pay 3,500,000 kronen.

In January 1941, Trondheim, Stavanger and Vest-Opland had to pay 60,000 50,000 and 100,000 kronen, respectively.

In September 1941, the municipality of Stavanger was obliged to pay 2 million kronen for an alleged sabotage of telegraph lines.

In August 1941, Rogaland had to pay 500,000 kronen, and Alesund 100,000 kronen.

It can thus be stated as a fact that, by various procedures which differed hardly from those employed in other countries, the Germans, during the occupation of Norway, not only exhausted all the financial resources of that country but placed it considerably in debt.

It has not been possible to furnish a detailed account of German exactions be they made after requisitions which were followed or not followed by indemnities, or be they made by purchase, apparently conducted by mutual agreement, fictitiously regulated by those very means of payments extorted from Norway.

In the report which I have submitted as Exhibit RF 121, the Norwegian Government tabulated the damages and losses suffered by its country. I shall give a summary of this report to the Tribunal.

The Norwegian Government estimates that the damage and losses undergone by industry and commerce amounted to a total of 440 million kronen, of which the Germans have made settlement, fictitiously to be sure, only up to 7 million kronen.

Other losses were:

merchant vessels, having a value of 1 billion 773 million kronen, for which the German Government has made no settlement;

on ports and installations the sum is 74 million kronen, for which the German Government has fictitiously settled only to the extent of 1 million;

on railroads, canals, airports, and other installations the spoliation can be represented by the sum of 947 million kronen, for which Germany has fictitiously settled with 490 million kronen;

roads and bridges, 199 million kronen, for which the settlement amounts to 67 million.

Spoliation of agriculture reached 242 million kronen, for which settlement amounts to only 46 million;

personal property, 239 million for which no settlement has been made.

[Page 22]

Various requisitions, not included in the preceding categories, amount to 1 billion, 566 million kronen, for which the occupant, fictitiously, has settled to the amount of 1 billion, 154 million kronen.

The Norwegian Government estimates that the years of man- labour applied to the German war effort represent a sum of 226 million kronen. It estimates, on the other hand, that the years of man-labour lost to the national economy by deportation to Germany and forced labour on the order of Germany amounts to 3 billion, 122 million kronen.

Forced payments to German institutions amount to 11 billion, 54 million kronen, for which Germany has made no settlement whatsoever. The grand total, according to the Norwegian Government, is 21 billion kronen, which represents more than 4 billion 700 million dollars.

Norway suffered in particular during the German occupation. Indeed, though its resources are considerable, notably the timber of its forests, minerals, such as nickel, wolfram, molybdenum, zinc, copper and aluminium, nevertheless, it must import consumer goods of prime necessity for feeding its population.

As the Germans had absolute control over maritime traffic, nothing could come into Norway without their consent. They could therefore, by pressure, as they had to do in France by means of the line of demarcation between the two zones, impose their exactions more easily. The rations, as fixed by the occupiers, were insufficient to ensure the subsistence of the Norwegian population. The continued undernourishment over a period of years entailed the most malignant consequences: disease multiplied, mortality likewise increased, and the future of the population has been compromised by the physical deficiencies which its younger elements had to endure.

These are the few observations which I had to make on the subject of Norway. I shall, if the Tribunal will permit, now deal with the aspect of the subject which relates to the Netherlands.

Economic pillage of the Netherlands:

In invading the Netherlands in contravention of all the principles of the law of nations, the Germans installed themselves in a country abundantly provided with the most varied wealth, in a country in which the inhabitants were the best nourished of Europe, and which, in proportion to the population, was one of the wealthiest in the world. The gold reserve of Holland exceeded the amount of bills in circulation. Four years later, when the Allies liberated this country, they found the population afflicted by a veritable famine, and apart from the destructions consequent to military operations, a country almost entirely ruined by the spoliations of the occupants.

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