The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
12th March to 22nd March, 1946

Eighty-Third Day: Saturday, 16th March, 1946
(Part 4 of 5)

[DR. SAUTER continues his direct examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING]

[Page 162]

Q. The consequence was, if I may draw, this conclusion - and I ask you to state this - that Dr. Funk, in his capacity as Plenipotentiary-General for Economics as well as President of the Reichsbank, was entirely subordinate to your directives as head of the Four-Year Plan. Is that correct?

A. Naturally, according to the Plenipotentiary powers that were given me, he had to comply with my economic directives as far as the Ministry of Economics and the Reichsbank were concerned. That was a reason for the change, because I could not follow this procedure with Schacht; but from the beginning, Funk held a good attitude toward me in this respect. The directions or the economic policy which the Reich Minister of Economics and Reichsbank President, Funk, carried out are fully and entirely my exclusive responsibility.

Q. Perhaps you remember a birthday letter which the defendant Funk wrote to Hitler about a week before the Polish campaign, I believe on 25th August, in which he thanked the Fuehrer for something or other. In this letter Funk stated that he had prepared and executed certain measures which in the case of a war would be necessary in the field of civilian economy and finance. You will remember this letter, and it has been read already.

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember when you gave Funk these special duties? The letter is dated, I believe, 25th August, 1939, if I may mention this again. When did you give this task and these directions to the defendant Funk?

A. Just as military mobilisation, or better, the mobilisation preparations, have to be kept current and have to keep pace with the political situation - whether it be tense or relaxed or when it changes - economic matters also, as I mentioned in my concluding remarks yesterday, have to keep pace in the same way.

Thus, I ordered thorough preparations for mobilisation in this field also. In the matters of foreign exchange and finance it was the duty of the Reichsbank president, as of the Reich Economics Ministry in economic matters, to make all preparations which would put me in the position, in the event of war, of having the utmost security for the German people in the economic field as well. At what time exactly I ordered this I cannot tell you, for it was a general basic directive which was always in effect.

Q. What powers did Funk have in the issuing of regulations, etc., for the economic administration in the occupied territories?

A. I can no longer remember in detail now. The general directive he received from me. How far and to whom he, proceeding from this directive, issued departmental instructions in his special field in the occupied territory, I cannot say in detail. But they always originated from my personal responsibility.

Q. Is it correct that the Four-Year Plan in the occupied territories had special plenipotentiaries and agencies to the exclusion of Funk for carrying out your directives?

[Page 163]

A. In some areas of the occupied territory this was the case. In other areas I made use of the agencies existing there, and if I considered it necessary I gave directives to the Economics Ministry also to have this or that done with regard to the occupied territories.

Q. Then during the war the Ministry of Armaments was created, I believe in the spring of 1940. Is it correct that in the course of the war, to an ever-increasing degree, the authority of the Reich Ministry of Economics and, at the end, the entire civilian production also, were transferred to that Ministry, so that finally the Ministry of Economics remained as a commerce Ministry only?

A. On my suggestion, on my urgent suggestion, the Fuehrer created a Ministry of Munitions under the then Minister Todt. This strictly munitions Ministry became, in the course of further developments, the Armaments Ministry under Minister Speer, and gradually more and more tasks were transferred to it. As armament was the focus of the whole economy, and everything else in the economy had to be brought exclusively into this focus, a number of tasks of the Ministry of Economics were transferred to the Ministry of Armaments; in particular, the entire production. It is correct that in the end the Ministry of Economics, by and large, was left a hollow shell retaining only very subordinate departments.

Q. Now, I have a final question regarding the defendant Funk. It is a question in connection with the matter of central planning, that is, concerning the matter of foreign workers. I would be interested to learn whether you know, witness, that Funk was called to attend the meetings of this Central Planning Board for the first time at the end of November, 1943, and never before that time? Is that known to you?

A. I know of the Central Planning Board. I never interfered in their internal matters. I cannot state exactly when Funk was called to this board. With the recruiting of foreign workers, however, he had nothing to do.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, if you will permit me, I have a few brief questions on behalf of the defendant Schirach.

Q. Do you know whether the so-called "Flying H.J." that is, a subdivision of the Hitlerjugend, ever received flying training?

A. The "Flying H.J." pursued the sport of gliding exclusively. After this training was completed these men were taken into the National Socialist Flyer Corps, the former Reichsluftsportverband, and there continued their training in aircraft flying.

Q. Then another question: Did any conferences take place between you and the defendant Schirach, especially while he was Reich Youth Leader, which concerned themselves with the question of military training, or pre-military training of the youth in flying? Did such conferences take place or not?

A. Whether we discussed these matters occasionally I do not know. There was no need for official conferences, because the situation was entirely clear. The "Flying Hitler Youth" were interested in gliding, and after they had received preliminary training they were taken into the Flying Corps.

Q. Do you recall the chart we were shown on the wall representing the organisation of the Reich Cabinet? In the lower part below the remark "other participants in Cabinet meetings" this chart showed the name of the defendant Schirach along with Bohle, Popitz, Dietrich, and Gerecke. For that reason I would like now to put the following question to you: Was Schirach ever a member of the Reich Cabinet, or what functions or rights did he have in this connection?

A. The Reich Cabinet as such consisted solely of the Reich Ministers. We differentiated between the two kinds of sessions, Cabinet sessions and Ministerial Council sessions.

The Cabinet sessions were normally attended by the Ministers and their State secretaries. In some cases when special subjects were to be discussed, ministerial

[Page 164]

directors or higher officials of the Ministries concerned could be called in for a short report. Then there were the so-called Top Reich agencies. The Reich Youth Leadership was also one of these. If, therefore, legislation affecting, the Reich Youth Leadership was to be discussed by the Cabinet, and Schirach learned about it, he could, by virtue of his position as Reich Youth Leader, request to be called to this meeting. On the same basis the Chief of the Reich Chancellery could order him to attend such a meeting. These representatives never attended the other regular Cabinet sessions. I believe I attended almost all sessions and, as far as I know, Schirach was never present. In contrast to that were the Ministerial Council sessions to which only Reich Ministers were. admitted and no one else.

Q. I come now to the period after the fall of Mussolini, when Badoglio took over the Government in Italy. Do you recall, witness, that at that time the defendant von Schirach sent a wire with certain suggestions to you?

A. Yes.

Q. What did he suggest and what did he want to accomplish?

A. He suggested that I tell the Fuehrer to make a change in the Foreign Office immediately and to replace Ribbentrop by von Papen.

Q. Then, a last question on behalf of the defendant Schirach. Do you recall another letter which the defendant Schirach wrote, as far as I know, in the spring of 1943? This was a letter occasioned by one from Bormann and, so that you will know just which letter I mean, I shall briefly explain the connection. Bormann at that time dispatched letters, as a formality, to all Gauleiters, according to which the Gauleiters were to report whether they had any ties with foreign countries. Schirach was well aware at the time that this letter was meant solely for him, for the other Gauleiters had no relatives in foreign countries. Schirach wrote a letter which, as far as I know, you read. And thereupon you are supposed to have intervened on behalf of Schirach. Please tell us what kind of letter it was, what was the danger that was threatening Schirach, and what you and others did to avert this danger?

A. I must correct that, and I am fully acquainted with this incident. This letter of Bormann was not directed to the Gauleiters to establish whether they personally had connections abroad. Bormann directed, by order of the Fuehrer, a letter to all Gauleiters, and it was not a pro forma letter intended solely for Gauleiter Schirach, but was intended for all. They were to check the political leaders within their jurisdiction to establish whether any of their co-workers or any political leader subordinate to them had family ties or connections abroad, especially in enemy countries, whereby the individuals affected might, in some circumstances, have a conflict of conscience or might be of questionable reliability. That was a general directive of the Fuehrer which also applied to the Officer Corps and not solely to the case of Schirach. I was at headquarters when Schirach's letter arrived and Bormann gave it to the Fuehrer. Schirach replied that, before he could take any steps in this matter with regard to his collaborators or subordinates, he would have to clarify his own position to the Fuehrer, and went on to describe in brief in his letter his family ties in the United States of America, on his mother's side, and also mentioned in this letter that his connection with his relatives abroad was a very cordial one and asked whether, under these circumstances, it was still possible for the Fuehrer to retain him in his position as Gauleiter. At that time the Fuehrer had not been kindly disposed to von Schirach for several months, and had repeatedly considered retiring him from office. He said on this occasion - and that is how I came into possession of this letter, for he handed it to me: "Schirach seems to plan for his future protection. I have a certain suspicion." Then, in the presence of Bormann, I told the Fuehrer very clearly and definitely that this was entirely unfounded, that I could not understand his attitude toward Schirach, and that Schirach had done the only possible

[Page 165]

and decent thing when, before dismissing any of his collaborators or subordinates for such reasons, he demanded the clarification of his own position, since his connections were known, and that, in my opinion, this letter had no other purpose.

Q. Then, however, in connection with this letter, a rather strange suggestion seems to have been made by someone for further action against Schirach?

A. I know that Bormann and Himmler were opposed to Schirach. Whether they wanted to give this letter an entirely different interpretation in order to induce the Fuehrer to call in Schirach and eliminate him, and how far Himmler's suggestion went, whether protective custody was considered, I do not know. But I heard about these things from other sources later on.

DR. SAUTER: Your Honour, I have no further questions.

DR. KRANZBUEHLER (counsel for defendant Donitz):

Q. Reichsmarschall, when did you become acquainted with Admiral Donitz?

A. I met Grand Admiral Donitz for the first time in his capacity as Admiral and Commander of U-boats during the war, as far as I remember in 1940, at a conference in my special train, I believe, in France.

Q. Was the conference concerned with military or political questions?

A. Purely military questions, namely as to how far now and in the future the Luftwaffe could provide reconnaissance for U-boats in the Atlantic. The then Admiral Donitz complained that the reconnaissance was too weak, and urgently requested me to strengthen it and, as far as I remember, to have it extended to as far as 30 degrees.

Q. Did you have further conferences with Admiral Donitz before his promotion to Commander-in-Chief in 1943?

A. No.

Q. Did you, as Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, use so- called emergency seaplanes for the rescue of flyers shot down in the Channel?

A. There were several squadrons of emergency seaplanes assigned to the Channel for the rescue of flyers shot down, both German and enemy flyers, as the order clearly proves.

Q. What did these planes look like?

A. These planes were, as far as I remember, marked with the Red Cross.

Q. Were they armed?

A. Not at first.

Q. And how were these emergency planes treated by the British?

A. There were some instances where they were not molested, but there were a number of cases in which they were shot down while they were engaged in rescue actions. Since these cases became predominant, I said it would be more expedient not to use the Red Cross markings any longer, to have these planes armed and thus try to rescue our comrades from the sea. We had tremendous losses in these emergency sea squadrons.

Q. Did you have lifebuoys anchored in the Channel for shot down flyers?

A. Quite a number of lifebuoys were anchored, to which ropes were attached and to which flyers who had been shot down could cling. The lifebuoys were also equipped with foodstuff, drinking water, swim-vests, lifebelts, and the like. Besides these small lifebuoys there were larger ones in the form of small rafts which the flyers could board. There also they found food, drink, first-aid kits, blankets and the like.

Q. How were these lifebuoys treated by the British?

A. In different ways. Some remained; others were destroyed.

DR. KRANZBUEHLER: I have no further questions.

DR. EXNER (counsel for defendant Jodl):

Q. Is it known to you that, particularly in 1942, a severe conflict arose between the Fuehrer and Colonel-General Jodl?

A. Yes.

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