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 May to 13th May, 1946

One Hundred and Twenty-First Day: Saturday, 4th May, 1946
(Part 2 of 3)

[DR. SAUTER continues his direct examination of WALTER EMANUEL FUNK]

[Page 103]

Q. But - can you perhaps tell us in a few words?

[Page 104]

A. First of all, work was difficult to find. It was absolutely necessary to have an extensive road-building programme in Germany; it was necessary to revitalise the engineering industry, especially the automobile industry, which, of course, had to be appropriately protected. An extensive programme was needed; hundreds of thousands of houses were required -

Q. In short -

A. Agriculture required to be put on a technical and mechanised basis. I should like to give here, however, only two examples which throw light on the whole situation. Up to the war two-thirds of Germany's total production went for private consumption and only one-third for public needs. Up to that point, therefore, the armament industry did not play a decisive role.

Q. Dr. Funk, now we will turn to another chapter.

You will remember that the prosecution contended in their trial brief that the evidence against you was largely circumstantial. I assume, therefore, that it was based upon your functions rather than your actions. For this reason I should be interested to know which Party offices you held during the period that followed.

A. At only one time, in the year 1932 -

Q. (interposing). Party offices, not government offices.

A. I understand. Only in the year 1932, and then for only a few months, did I receive Party assignments; because Gregor Strasser wanted to set up for me an office of my own for private economy. This office, however, was dissolved a few months later when he himself resigned from the Party and from his offices. Then in December, 1932, I was instructed to take charge of a commission for economy.

Q. In December, 1932?

A. Yes. And in February, 1933, that is, two months afterwards, I gave up this office, too. Both assignments were trivial and never really got going in the short time they lasted. All the gentlemen in the dock who were in leading positions in the Party at that time can confirm this. I never had any other Party office so that after 1933 I received no further assignments from the Party; and no Party office either.

Q. Then this so-called Office for Private Economy (Amt fur Privatwirtschaft), if I understood you correctly, existed for just a few months in the year 1932, but did not actually function. You were made head of the other, the Commission for Economic Policy, in December, 1932. Then a month later, in January, 1933 -

A. February, 1933 -

Q. February, 1933, shortly after the seizure of power, you gave up this so-called office. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Now for your connection with the Party. Were you a member of any organization of the Party - SA, SS, or any other affiliation of the Party?

A. I never belonged to any organization of the Party, neither SA nor SS, nor any other organization, and, as I have already said, I did not belong to the Corps of Political Leaders.

Q. You did not belong to the Corps of Political Leaders?

A. No.

Q. You know, Dr. Funk, that the Party functionaries, that is the Old Guard, and so forth, met annually in November at Munich. You have yourself seen a film showing these functions. Were you ever invited to these gatherings on 8th and 9th November?

A. I do not know if I was invited. It is possible. But I was never present at such a gathering, for these gatherings were specially intended for old Party members and the Old Guard. They were in memory of the March on the Feldherrnhalle. I never attended these gatherings. I did not attend large gatherings willingly in any case. During the whole of this period, I only attended a Party

[Page 105]

rally once and went to one or two functions. Mass gatherings always caused me physical pain.

Q. Defendant, did you receive the Party Golden Emblem, when you became Minister for Economics?

A. No; I received that when I was Press chief under the Reich government.

Q. You did not get it as Minister?

A. No.

Q. How long had you been a National Socialist deputy of the Reichstag?

A. For just a few months.

Q. From when and to when?

A. From July, 1932, to February, 1933, I was not re-elected, for the Chairman of the Reichstag Organization, Dr. Frick, said that in accordance with a directive of the Fuehrer, only the old Party members would receive mandates; and in the meantime I had received a State position.

Q. Then with regard to these laws, the laws which are especially important in this trial, such as the Enabling Act (Ermachtigungsgesetz) which for all practical purposes eliminated the Reichstag, or the law forbidding political parties, or the law for the unity of party and State - as regards all the laws which were in preparation for later developments, were you still a member of the Reichstag at that time, or had you already ceased to be one?

A. I was no longer a Reichstag deputy. But even so, I considered these laws necessary.

Q. That is another question. But you were no longer a Reichstag deputy?

A. No; and I was not a member of the Cabinet, either.

Q. Dr. Funk, we have frequently seen and heard of an affidavit by the American Consul-General, Messersmith, dated 28th August, 1945, Document 176o-PS. He says in the passage which concerns you: "Funk was on the editorial staff of one of the leading Berlin financial papers before it was taken over by the Nazis, and showed very little open sympathy for them"-that is, the Nazis - "while they were in power."

He goes on to say: "Later on, he became an enthusiastic National Socialist and one of the most effective tools of the Party on account of his undoubted capabilities in various spheres."

That is what the American Consul-General, Messersmith, says about you. I should like to remind you of another passage from the book by Dr. Ostreich, which I have already mentioned and which has the title "Walter Funk, A life for Economy." That is Document 3505-PS, which has already been used and submitted in these proceedings.

In this book the author says that the assignments given you by the Party, even if they covered a period of a few months only, might be regarded as having special importance.

What can you tell us about these two quotations?

A. I have already stated that I declared myself on the side of the Party and took up my Party work with enthusiasm. I never belonged to the propaganda organizations, as asserted by Mr. Messersmith. I cannot remember that I ever knew Mr. Messersmith at all. I do not remember discussing Austria with him, as he also asserts.

Q. Nor the annexation of Austria by Germany?

A. I cannot remember that, although of course I considered the union of Germany and Austria necessary; but I do not recall discussing it with Mr. Messersmith.

As far as Dr. Paul Ostreich's book is concerned, I am sorry that the prosecution has used this book as a source of information. Mistakes have arisen which could have been avoided and which I would not have to refute here and now.

Ostreich was a man who was quite outside the Party.

[Page 106]

Q. What was he?

A. He owned a German newspaper in Chile, and for some years he was political editor of the Berliner Borsenzeitung.

Q. Political editor?

A. First of all, he naturally wanted to secure a market for his book, and for that reason he exaggerated the importance of my position in the Party; he may have thought that in this way he would do me a particular favour. In any case, he does not give an accurate description in his book.

Q. Defendant, in Document 3S63-PS, submitted by the prosecution there is a statement to the effect, that you, Dr. Funk, were described in several publications as Hitler's economic and political adviser; and in another passage you are said to be Hitler's "Wirtschaftsbeauftragter " (Economic Plenipotentiary). Was this a Party office, or what precisely was meant by this term? What functions is it supposed to indicate?

A. It was neither a Party office nor a Party title. The Press frequently gave me this title, on account of my activity on behalf of the Party in 1932, and it was obviously adopted by writers from the newspapers. But it was neither an office nor a title. It seems to me nonsensical to make out that these activities were of such importance; for if they had really been of importance I should certainly have retained those offices, when the Party came to power.

The Reich Minister of Food was also a Reichsleiter; State Secretary Reinhardt, of the Finance Ministry, was the head of the Department for Financial Policy in the Reichsleitung, etc. But there never was a Reich Leader for Economy (Reichsleiter fur die Wirtschaft). When the Party came to power I left the Reichstag and all Party organizations.

Q. Dr. Funk, a Reich Economic Council of the Party (Reichswirtschaftsrat der Partei) - I repeat the term: Reich Economic Council of the Party - has been mentioned once or twice in the course of this trial. What do you know about your relationship to this Party instrument?

A. I had to think for a long time before I could remember this group at all, especially as neither Hess, Rosenberg nor Frank remembered anything of the kind. Dr. Gottfried Feder had a circle of people whom he used to call in for consultation and to which he gave the rather pompous name of "Reich Economic Council of the Party " (Reichswirtschaftsrat der Partei). When the Party came into power this group ceased to exist. I never attended any of the sessions, and I was very much surprised to learn from the indictment that I was supposed to have been the Deputy Chairman of this group. This group was of no importance whatsoever.

Q. You mentioned Gottfried Feder.

A. He was responsible for the economic programme and creed of the Party from its establishment until it came to power.

Q. So he was the economic theorist of the Party from its establishment until it came to power?

A. Yes. Dr. Wagner, and Keppler overshadowed him later on. Keppler was always given the title of "Economic Counsellor to the Fuehrer" (Wirtschaftsberater des Fuehrers) in public.

Q. Dr. Funk, if I understood you correctly, the personalities which you mentioned just now are those who might be described as the economic advisers of Hitler?

A. No, that is wrong.

Q. Well?

A. Hitler did not allow anyone to advise him, especially in economic matters. These were the men who dealt with problems of economic policy in the Party leadership, both before and after my time.

Q. Also from the publicity angle, like Dr. Feder?

A. He did a good deal of writing; he dealt with the problem of the lowering of the rate of interest, for example, in great detail.

[Page 107]

Q. Dr. Funk, those were your real or supposed Party offices. Now I turn to your State offices.

After the assumption of power - that is, at the end of January, 1933 - you became Press Chief under the Reich Government. In March, 1933, when the Propaganda Ministry was created - that being a State Ministry - you became Secretary in this Propaganda Ministry under Minister Goebbels. How did that come about?

A. May I give a short connected account of these matters?

Q. One moment.

A. It would be much quicker than if you asked each question separately.

Q. Then I would ask you to consider at the same time the question of why you entered the Propaganda Ministry and were made Press Chief under the Reich Government, although you had otherwise always dealt with economic questions.

A. The Reichsmarschall has already stated in his testimony; firstly, that he never knew that I had been active in the Party at all before 1933, and secondly, that, as he himself believed - correctly - my appointment as Chief under the Reich Government came as a complete surprise to me.

On 29th January, 1933, the Fuehrer told me that lie had no one among the old Party members with a good knowledge of the Press, and that he, therefore, wanted to ask me to take over the position of Press Chief, especially as this appointment involved regular interviews with the Reich President. The Reich President knew me and, as I may mention again later on, very much liked me. I was often a guest at his home and was on friendly terms with his family.

Q. That is, Hindenburg?

A. Yes, Hindenburg.

These were the reasons which prompted Hitler to make me Press Chief under the Reich Government. The Press Chief under the Reich Government was also a ministerial director in the Reich Chancellery, and I did not like the idea of suddenly becoming a civil servant, for I had no ambitions in that direction. But I accepted the appointment, influenced by the universal enthusiasm of that period and in obedience to the Fuehrer's summons.

I had regular Press interviews with him, in the presence of Lammers. These conferences went on for only a year and a half, until the death of the Reich President, after which they stopped. The Fuehrer issued instructions to the Press through the Reich Press Chief of the Party, Dr. Dietrich, who was later also made a State Secretary in the Propaganda Ministry.

When the Propaganda Ministry was founded the Fuehrer asked me to organize this ministry, so that Goebbels would not have to deal with problems of administration, organization and finance. Then the Press Department of the Reich Government, of which I had so far been in charge, was incorporated in the Propaganda Ministry and placed under the direct control of Goebbels. It also had its own special chief.

From that time on - i.e., after only six weeks activity as Press Chief of the Reich Government - my activities of informing and instructing the Press came to an end. Goebbels himself looked after that. Generally speaking, he set himself to draw a sharp dividing line between the political and administrative tasks of the Ministry; he brought with him his old collaborators from the propaganda leadership of the Party to look after propaganda.

My services were not required for political propaganda. Goebbels took care of it through the Party organization, of which I was not a member. I bad, for instance, as Chairman of the Supervisory Council, to be responsible for the finances of the German Broadcasting Corporation (Relchsrundftinkgesellschaft) - a matter of a hundred million - but I never broadcast propaganda speeches. Nor did I speak at any of the big State or Party rallies. Naturally, I fully appreciated the importance of propaganda for State leadership and admired the absolute genius

[Page 108]

with which Goebbels conducted his propaganda; but I myself played no part in active propaganda.

Q. Then, if I understood you correctly, your functions in the Propaganda Ministry, which was, of course, a State ministry, were of a purely administrative and organisational nature; and you left the actual propaganda to the Minister, Dr. Goebbels, and the people he brought into the Ministry from the Party propaganda organization. Is that correct?

A. Yes. Goebbels naturally claimed the exclusive right of disposal over all propaganda material. I did not compare with him in the field of propaganda at all; and other considerable restrictions were imposed on my position as State Secretary by the fact that many assignments, looked after in other ministries by the State Secretary, were in this case taken care of by Goebbels' expert, Hancke, who was later made State Secretary and Gauleiter.

Q. Hancke?

A. Yes. I do not believe that during the entire period of my activity in the Propaganda Ministry I signed even three times as Goebbels' deputy. One of these signatures has been brought in by the prosecution. It is a signature appended to an order for the execution of a directive, and fixing the date on which it is to come into force.

Q. What kind of directive was that?

A. The law in connection with the Reich Chamber of Culture (Reichskulturekammer). The Reich Cabinet decreed legislation in connection with the Reich Chamber of Culture. I was not a member of the Reich Cabinet, but as State Secretary to the Propaganda Ministry, I was, of course, formally responsible, and naturally I promoted propaganda, as did everyone else who occupied a leading position in the official or the intellectual life of Germany. The entire cultural life of the nation was permeated with this propaganda in a measure appropriate to the overwhelming, fundamental significance which was rightly attached to propaganda in the National- Socialist State.

Q. Dr. Funk, the prosecution has held you responsible for laws decreed during your term of office as Press Chief under the Reichsregierung. I refer, for instance, to the laws submitted under Documents 2962 and 2963. These are the laws well known to you and which concern the abolition of civil rights in Germany and the abolition of the parliamentary form of government. What did you have to do with these laws? Did you as Press Chief under the Reich Government, have any influence on the contents and promulgation of these laws?

A. No. This question has already been answered in the negative by both the Reichsmarschall and Dr. Lammers. All I had to do was to pass on the contents of these laws to the Press, in accordance with instructions given me by the Fuehrer.

Q. So you were present at the sessions of the Reich Cabinet?

A. Yes.

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