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 February to 26th February, 1946

Sixty-Third Day: Wednesday, 20th February, 1946
(Part 2 of 8)

[L. R. SHENIN continues]

[Page 141]


I will now pass to the reading of the fourth section of the official report of the Polish Government dealing with crimes committed by the Hitlerites in occupied Poland. This report has already been presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 93 and, according to Article 21 of the Charter, constitutes irrefutable evidence. I quote an excerpt from this report which the Tribunal will find on Page 14 of the document book.

"Expropriation and Plunder of Public and Private Property

(a) On 27th September, 1939, the German military authorities issued a decree concerning the sequestration and confiscation of Polish property in the Western Provinces. 'The property of the Polish State, Polish public institutions, municipalities and unions, individuals and corporations can be sequestrated and confiscated,' stated paragraph 1 of the said decree.

(b) The right of the military authorities to dispose of Polish property in the incorporated provinces passed to a special Trustee Board created by Goering on 1st November 1939, with headquarters in Berlin and branch offices in Poland. It was entrusted with the administration of confiscated property of the Polish State, as well as with the economic policy in Poland in accordance with the plan devised by the Reich Government.

(c) By a decree of 15th January, 1940, the entire property of the Polish State was placed under 'protection', which practically meant confiscation of all State property in the incorporated territories. A special decree of 12th February, 1940, dealt with agriculture and forestry, in the same way.

(d) The confiscation of private property in the Western provinces was initiated by a decree of 31st January, 1940. Special permission was required for acquisition of property and transfer of ownership rights in all enterprises in the incorporated territory. By another decree, of 12th June, 1940, Goering authorised the 'Haupttreuhandstelle Ost' to seize and administer not only State property, but also the property of citizens of the 'former Polish State'.

(e) The process of confiscation, however, went further. The property of Polish citizens became liable to seizure and confiscation unless the owner acquired German citizenship in accordance with Hitler's decree of 8th October,1939."

Other decrees dealt with the repayment of debts, because the sequestrators were authorised to repay debts to privileged creditors only. These were members of the "Deutsche Volksliste" so far as war debts were concerned, as well as citizens of the Reich or the free city of Danzig, as regards debts incurred after 1st September, 1939.

I omit two pages of this report enumerating the companies which were specially created for carrying out this plunder and also for plundering the Polish-Jewish population, which as is already known to the Tribunal, was later exterminated. I pass on to the end of the Polish Government report. The Tribunal will find this excerpt on Page 17 of the document book.

[Page 142]

Mere quotations from these and other decrees may create a wrong impression as to the means used by the defendants in the case of the Jewish property in Poland. But it should be pointed out that steps concerning Jewish property were only preliminaries to infinitely greater crimes in the future. At the end of this section of the report is justly stated:-
"Aside from the crimes which have been proved and described here, there are thousands of others which fade into insignificance beside the numberless crimes of mass murder, mass plunder and mass destruction."
It is impossible to enumerate all the crimes committed in Poland under the direct leadership of the defendant Frank, who was the head of all the administration in the so-called Government General.

Frank's diaries, which were found and became part of the evidence in this case, give a clear and concrete idea of the crimes committed by the Hitlerites in Poland under his direction. In these diaries, your Honours, are entries which have a direct bearing on the subject of my presentation.

Therefore, I would like, with your permission, to conclude my presentation of evidence concerning the plunder of Poland with excerpts from one of these diaries, which was submitted to the Tribunal previously as Exhibit USSR 223.

I quote from the volume entitled "Conference of Departmental heads" for 1939-1940, Pages 11 and 12. In your document book, gentlemen, this excerpt is on page 21:-

"My relationship with the Poles resembles that between an ant and a plant louse. When I treat the Poles helpfully, tickle them in a friendly manner, so to speak, I do it in the expectation that I shall profit by their labour output. This is not a political, but a purely tactical and technical problem. In cases where, in spite of all measures, the output does not increase, or where I have the slightest reason to step in, I would not hesitate to take even the most Draconian action."
From the volume entitled "Diary, 1942" I quote:-
"We must remember that notes issued by the Bank of Poland to the value of 540,000,000 zlotys were taken over in occupied Eastern territory by the Governor General without any compensation being made by the Reich. This represents a contribution of more than half a billion exacted from the Government General by Germany, in addition to other payments."
From the same volume, Page 1277 - this concerns the Governor's Conference which took place on 7th December, 1942, in Cracow - measures for increasing production for the years 1942-43 were discussed.

A certain Dr. Fischer stated:

"If the new food scheme is carried out it would mean that in Warsaw and its suburbs alone 500,000 people would be deprived of food."
From the same volume on Page 1331 Frank speaks:
"I shall attempt to squeeze out from the reserves of this province everything that it is still possible to squeeze out. When you recall that I was able to send to Germany 600,000 tons of grain, and that an additional 180,000 tons were reserved for local troops, as well as many thousands of tons of seed, fats, vegetables, besides the export to Germany of 300 million eggs, etc., you will understand the importance of this region for Germany."
This same Frank, on Page 1332, states the following (the Tribunal will find this quotation on Page 27 of the document book):-
"There is, however, one definite drawback to these consignments to the Reich, since the quantities we are responsible for delivering encroach on the actual food supplies required by the region. We now have to face the following problem. Can we, as from 2nd April, cut two million non-German inhabitants of the region out of the general rationing scheme?"

[Page 143]

In the volume entitled "Workers Conference" for 1943, we find an excerpt concerning the conference of 14th April, 1943, which took place in Cracow. On Page 28 of the document book the tribunal will find the excerpt which I wish to read into the record.

President Naumann is speaking, and he quotes the figures estimated for 1943 1944:-

"1,500 tons of sweets for the Germans; 36,000,000 litres of skimmed fresh milk for the Germans; 15,100,000 litres of full-cream milk for the Germans."
On page 24 the same person continues (this total account is on page 28 of the document book).
"Last year more than 20 per cent. of the total amount of livestock in the Government General was requisitioned. Cattle which were really required for the production of milk and butter were slaughtered last year so that the Reich and the armed forces could be supplied and the meat ration maintained to a certain extent. If we want 10.000 tons of meat, we must sacrifice 40 per cent. of the remaining live stock."
And further:
"In answer to a question by the Governor General, President Naumann replied that 383,000 tons of grain were requisitioned in 1940, 685,000 tons in 1941, and 1,500,000 tons in 1942.

It appears from these figures that requisitions have increased from year to year and have steadily approached the limits of possibility. Now they are preparing to increase the requisitions by another 200,000 tons, which will bring them to the extreme bounds of possibility. The Polish peasant cannot be allowed to starve beyond the point where he will still be able to cultivate his fields and carry out any further tasks imposed upon him, such as carting wood for the forestry authorities."

However, the quotation which I have read from Naumann's reply in no way influenced the policy of the merciless plundering of the Polish people, whose fate, to use Frank's own words, interested him from one angle only.

In the volume entitled, "From 1st January to 29th of February, 1944", there is the following statement by Frank, made at the conference of the leaders of German agriculture on the 12th January, 1944. The Tribunal will find this excerpt on page 30:-

"Once we have won the war, the Poles, Ukrainians and all other people living around can be made into mince meat, or anything else, as far as I am concerned."
I believe, your Honours, that after this quotation there is no need for me, as a representative of the Soviet prosecution, to add anything more to that section of my statement which deals with the crimes committed by the Hitlerite criminals on the territory of the Polish State. Indeed, any one of the sentences quoted is more than sufficient to give us an exact picture of the regime in Poland created by Frank, and of Frank himself who created this regime.


Turning now to the plunder and pillage of private and public property by the Hitlerites in Yugoslavia, I must, your Honours, read the appropriate extracts of the official report of the Yugoslav Government, submitted to the International Military Tribunal by the Soviet Prosecution as Exhibit USSR 36. This report, in accordance with Article 21 of the Charter, is submitted as irrefutable evidence.

Count 6 of this report, entitled "Plunder of Public and Private Property reads as follows (this count is on Page 32 of the document book):

"6. Plunder of Public and Private Property:

Along with the exploitation of manpower, the plundering of public and private property was systematically carried out in Yugoslavia. This plunder

[Page 144]

was carried out in various ways and within the scope of the different measures taken. In this way too, Germany succeeded in completely exhausting the economic and financial resources in occupied Yugoslavia, and in destroying her almost completely from the economic point of view."
We will cite here only a few examples of this systematic plunder:

(a) Currency and Credit Measures

Just as in other occupied countries, the Germans, immediately after their entry into Yugoslavia, carried out a series of currency measures which enabled them to take out of Yugoslavia in great quantities goods and other valuables at an insignificant cost. As early as 14th April, 1941 - that is to say, even before the occupation of Yugoslavia was actually completed - the Commander of the German land forces, "on the basis of the authority received from the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the German armed forces", issued the "Proclamation concerning occupied Yugoslav Territory".

Article 9 fixes a compulsory rate of exchange of 20 dinars for one German mark. Thus, the value of the dinar in relation to the Reichsmark was artificially lowered. The real rate of exchange before the war was much more favourable to the Yugoslav currency.

This proves clearly the violation of the appropriate regulations of the Hague Convention, as well as the existence of a plan prepared in advance for the depreciation of Yugoslav currency.

I submit to the Tribunal a certified photographic copy of the aforementioned proclamation as Exhibit USSR 140.

Another predatory measure in the field of currency policy was the introduction of German occupation marks - Reichskreditkassenschein - as an obligatory means of payment in the occupied territory of Yugoslavia. This measure was also mentioned in Article 9 of the "Proclamation" submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 140. These occupation marks, which were without any economic backing and without any value whatsoever in Germany itself, were printed in Yugoslavia in accordance with the needs of the German forces of occupation and authorities, and in this way served as a means for enabling them to make purchases at a very low price.

On 30th June, 1942 - that is to say, more than a year later - these occupation marks were withdrawn. This took place after the Germans had already bought up almost everything that could be purchased in Yugoslavia, and the Yugoslav State Bank had been liquidated and all its assets seized. In its stead the Germans created the so-called Serbian National Bank.

However, so that the Germans would suffer no loss through this measure, the Serbian National Bank was forced to exchange the so-called "occupation marks" for new dinars. The marks thus exchanged were simply withdrawn from the Serbian National Bank by the Germans against receipt. In this way one of the most shameless thefts was carried out, which cost Yugoslavia many thousands of millions of dinars.

I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 194, the German decree of 30th June, 1942, concerning the withdrawal of notes issued by the Reichskreditkasse and also a certified copy of the decree concerning the Serbian National Bank, of 29th May, 1941, as Exhibit USSR 135.

It can be seen from these documents that the German occupation authorities carried out by force the illegal liquidation of the Yugoslav State Bank, under the pretext that Yugoslavia no longer existed, and that they took advantage of this liquidation in order to plunder the country on an enormous scale.

The Germans established the so-called Serbian National Bank exclusively for the purpose of creating an instrument for their predatory economic and currency policy in Serbia. The Bank was administered by officials whom they themselves appointed.

[Page 145]

The measures taken with regard to Yugoslav coinage are also very characteristic. The Yugoslav coinage which contained a certain percentage of silver and brass was withdrawn, and replaced by coins of very poor metal alloy. Naturally the Germans carried to Germany a large quantity of the most valuable Yugoslav coins.

(b) Requisitions and Fines

(The Tribunal will find this excerpt on Page 40 of the document book.)

Reich Minister Speer, head of the Armament Department, declared that fixed prices were the "Magna Carta of the Armament Programme". The defendant Goering, on 26th March, 1943, issued a decree demanding a further decrease in the prices of all goods imported from the occupied countries.

This lowering of prices was attained by means of currency measures as well as by means of requisitioning, confiscation, fines and, in particular, a special price policy.

By means of requisitioning, a policy of fixed low prices, and compulsory sales, the Government of the Reich was enabled to plunder thoroughly the Yugoslav people. This went so far that even the Quisling institutions collaborating with the Germans frequently had to declare that the quotas of goods demanded by the Germans could not be filled.

Thus, a report made by the District Bailiff for the Moravski District (Quisling Administration of Milan Nedic) on 12th February, 1944, stated:-

"1. If they are deprived of so many cattle, the peasants will not be able to cultivate their fields. On the one hand, they are ordered to cultivate every inch of ground, on the other hand their cattle are ruthlessly confiscated.

2. The cattle are purchased at such a low price that the peasants feel that they are hardly compensated at all for their loss."

Similar examples from other regions or districts of Yugoslavia are very numerous.

In order to plunder the country, the Germans often resorted to the systematic imposition of fines. For instance, the fines imposed by the "Feldkommandantur" in Belgrade during 1943 alone amounted to 48,818,068 dinars. In Nish, during the first three and a half months Of 1943, the fines amounted to 5,065,000 dinars.

Finally, we should like to give here a few details regarding the clearing accounts through which the export of Yugoslav goods to Germany was carried out. As early as 1st March, 1943, the clearing balance in favour of Serbia amounted to 219 million Reichsmark, or 4,380,000,000 dinars. By the end of the occupation Germany owed Serbia 10 billion dinars.

The situation was the same in all the other provinces of Yugoslavia, and only the methods of plundering varied according to local conditions.

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