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-Second Day: Monday, 6th May, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

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

[Page 118]

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, as proof of the fact that the defendant Funk was not in Germany at the time of this discussion with Goering on 14th October, 1938 I have submitted several documents in the Document Book Funk, they are extracts from the Volkischer Beobachter, Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Funk Document Book. These documents are submitted chiefly because they show that, in fact, from 13th October, 1938 until 15th October, 1938 Funk was at Sofia, in Bulgaria and, therefore, could not have been present at the Goering meeting on 14th October, 1938.

What Funk said in Bulgaria about economic relations I need not read in detail. But I would like to refer especially to his speech of 15th October, 1938, Funk Document Book Number 7, in which the defendant Funk, particularly in the first paragraph, declared publicly that the thought of an economic union between the German economy and the south-eastern European economy was in his mind and in which Funk, quite definitely, rejected a one-sided dependence of the economy of the South Eastern States on the economic system of Germany.

Therefore I beg the Tribunal to take judicial notice of these documents as evidence, and in order to save time I will not go into them further.

Q. Witness, under Document 3562-PS the prosecution has submitted a document dealing with a conference on 1st June, 1939, you, yourself, did not attend this meeting, but according to the list of those present several representatives of your Ministry were there, as well as the representative of the Reichsbank. At this meeting the probable financial needs of the Reich in case of a war, the productive capacity of the German economy and that of the Protectorate in case of a war were discussed. There is a marginal note in this record which says that the record was to be submitted to you. Can you state very briefly whether this was actually done?

A. No, it was not done. I have the document here.

Q. Please go slowly.

A. If this document had been submitted to me I would have affixed my initials "W.F." to it. Besides, this document deals with the continuous discussions, which I have already mentioned, about the financing of the war, and the measures to be taken in the field of civilian economy in case of a war. The decisive measures, for finance, were naturally prepared by the Reich Minister of Finance, and these measures were discussed at length at this conference, at which the question of meeting the expense through taxes was one of the chief topics. In any event, a variety of such discussions was carried on continuously at that time among the representatives of the various departments, and they took place in the office of the executive council of the Plenipotentiary for Economy. By accident I have now found this name which earlier I could not remember: this was the institution - the committee - which was founded in the days of Schacht and was later continued.

Q. Dr. Funk, on 30th March, 1939 you made a statement of your programme in a speech before the Central Committee of the Reichsbank. (I have included those excerpts from the speech which have a bearing on this trial in the Funk Document Book, under No. 9. I am reverting to this speech because it was delivered before the Central Committee shortly after the defendant assumed his office as President of the Reichsbank, and represents his programme as president of the Reichsbank in connection with various matters which have played a part here.)

Dr. Funk, perhaps with just a few brief words you might give us the essential relevant points of your speech.

A. I do not believe I need do that. I briefly mentioned a while ago that in these months I carried on international discussions about the necessity for a new order in international economic relations, and that I also pointed out Germany's readiness to play a positive part. Therefore, I do not think I need read anything

[Page 119]

more from this speech; it is only meant to show that at that time I did not work on preparations for war but endeavoured to bring about international economic understanding, and that my efforts were recognized publicly in foreign countries, especially in England.

Q. This intention to establish favourable and confident relations with foreign countries, that is with their financial and economic circles, was, I am sure, a deciding factor in a later measure to which you already referred a little while ago, namely that compensation to foreign shareholders in the Reichsbank, who, I believe, were chiefly in England, Holland and Switzerland, was assessed and paid in a particularly loyal manner.

A. Yes, I have stated that already.

Q. Dr. Funk, you mentioned earlier a letter which you wrote to Hitler. This letter would be interesting to me in so far as I would like to know just why you wrote it, and why in it you spoke of your proposals, even though in the main they were concerned with things which did not actually originate with you. Perhaps you will explain, in a few words, this letter.

A. The tone and contents of this letter can be explained from the general mood which existed everywhere in Germany at that time. Beyond that it is a purely personal letter to the Fuehrer: in it I thanked him for his birthday wishes. For this reason the letter is a little emphatic in its style. When I spoke of "my proposals," this may be traced back to the fact that I personally, some time before, had explained to the Fuehrer what measures would be necessary if a war broke out. And, in the main, those were the measures which were adopted later as a result of conferences with the other economic offices, and to which I referred in this letter. Thus it was not quite correct for me to say "my proposals." I should really have said, "The proposals worked out, together with the chiefs of the economic offices."

Q. Dr. Funk, have you concluded?

A. No. I would like to explain this whole letter in just a few words, since it is apparently one of the pillars of the prosecution's case against me.

As I have said, it was the time when the two mobilised armies faced each other. It was the time when the entire German people were in a state of great excitement because of the constant provocations in Poland, and the ill-treatment of the German population in Poland. I personally did not believe that we would actually have war, for I was of the opinion that diplomatic negotiations could again be successful in preventing the threat of war and indeed in avoiding war itself. After the Fuehrer's almost miraculous successes in foreign policy, the heart of every true German beat faster in the expectation that in the East also Germany's wishes would be fulfilled: that is, that my separated home province of East Prussia would be reunited with the Reich, that the old German city of Danzig would again belong to the Reich, and that the problem of the Corridor would be solved.

The overwhelming majority of the German people - and I too - did not believe that this question would end in war. We were rather convinced that England would be successful in exerting pressure on Poland so that Poland would acquiesce in the German demands on Danzig and the corridor and would not enter into a war. The testimony of the witness Gisevius must have made clear to everyone in the world that England did nothing at that time to exert a soothing and conciliatory influence on Poland. For if the British Government knew that a conspiracy existed in Germany in which the Chief of the General Staff, the Chief of the OKW, the Chief of German Armament and other leading military personalities and generals were involved, and that an overthrow had been prepared for the event of war, then the British Government would have been foolish indeed if it had done anything to assuage and conciliate Poland. The British Government must have been convinced that if Hitler should go to war, a coup d'etat, a revolution, an overthrow would take place, and that, in the first place, there would be no war and, secondly, that the hateful Hitler regime would be removed. Nobody could hope for more.

[Page 120]

Q. Dr. Funk, we do not want to talk politics, but rather return to this letter of 25th August, 1939. I would like to refer again to Document 699-PS. Let us at present deal only with this letter. If I understood you correctly, I can summarize your testimony as follows: this rather enthusiastic letter to Hitler was written because you were hopeful that Hitler would succeed in reuniting your home province East Prussia with the Reich, and would now finally settle the corridor problem without a war. Did I understand you correctly?

A. Yes, but at the same time I feel I must state that I, for my part, did everything to ensure that in the event of war the peace economy would, without disturbance, be converted into a war economy. But this was the only time at which, as Plenipotentiary for Economy, I was active at all with regard to the other economic departments and the fact that I referred to my position in this letter may be explained quite naturally, because I was proud that I had for once done something in this official position - for every man likes to be successful.

Q. Dr. Funk, we are still concerned with the question of whether you knew of Hitler's intent to bring about a war, especially to wage aggressive war, and to make conquests through aggressive wars. I would like to put to you a few questions which, for the sake of simplicity, you can answer with yes or no; I would like to know only whether your knowledge and your surmises agree with the statements made by a few witnesses and some co-defendants.

For example, Reich Minister Lammers testified that you found it especially difficult to see Hitler at all, that an audience was granted you only rarely, and that even on one occasion I believe you waited for days with Lammers at headquarters for the promised audience, and that you had to leave again without having gained admittance. Is that correct?

A. Yes, I am sorry to say.

Q. Now a further question: We have been confronted with several documents which say explicitly - I believe they are records of Lammers - that the Reich Minister of Economics, and at one time also the Reich Foreign Minister, had requested to be called in to these discussions, that Minister Lammers did his best to bring this about, but that Hitler did not allow it, that he expressly barred you and the Reich Foreign Minister from attending these discussions, even though you pointed out that important matters of your department were being dealt with. Is that correct? Perhaps you can answer with just yes or no.

A. The meeting which you are mentioning was concerned with the deployment of labour. I myself had no direct connection with that, and the Foreign Minister probably did not have any marked interest in it either. So I assume that for these reasons the Fuehrer did not need me, for, as I said yesterday, his directives for the conduct of economy were given, up to the year 1942, to the Reichsmarshal, as the man responsible for that activity, and after 1942 the directives were given to Speer, because from that date on armaments dominated the entire economic life, and all economic decisions, by express order of the Fuehrer, had to give way to armament needs.

Q. Dr. Lammers, in his testimony on 8th April, stated, I quote:

"The Fuehrer objected many times, namely, to Funk. There were various reasons for objecting to Funk. Hitler was sceptically inclined towards Funk and did not want him."
Thus far the testimony of the witness Dr. Lammers. Can you explain why Hitler was disinclined towards you?

A. No, only by the objective explanation that he did not need me.

Q. In other words, he considered any discussions with you superfluous.

A. Yes.

Q. Witness, in connection with the topic "Aggressive Wars," I would be interested in the following: In the indictment, on Page 30, of the German trial brief it is set forth that you personally, and through your official representatives, participated in the preparation for the aggressive war against Russia, and as the sole proof for this, Document 1039-PS, Exhibit USA 146, is submitted. I repeat,

[Page 121]

Document 1039-PS, Exhibit USA 146. From this document it appears that you, defendant, at the end of April, 1941, had allegedly a discussion with Rosenberg - who was responsible for the Eastern Territories - about the economic questions which would arise if the plans for attack in the East were to be carried through. I ask you, Dr. Funk, to note the date of this discussion: the end of April, 1941, just a short time before the beginning of the war against Russia; and in order to refresh your memory I want to point out that at that time, that is, before the war against Russia, Rosenberg had already been nominated as Hitler's Plenipotentiary for the uniform handling of problems in the Eastern Territories. I am asking you now to define your position, and to say whether it can be deduced from this discussion that you participated in an aggressive war against Russia or its planning and preparation, and if you did participate, how?

A. I knew nothing about an aggressive war against Russia. I was very much surprised when I learned from Lammers that the Fuehrer had made Rosenberg Plenipotentiary for Eastern European problems. Lammers stated here that I was advised of this nomination for personal reasons, because he knew that I was very much interested in economic relations with Russia. Indeed, our mutual efforts, Russia's as well as Germany's had succeeded in considerably expanding our trade relations; for in earlier times, that is, before the first World War, German trade with Russia had been the decisive factor in the balance of German trade, and had amounted to several billion gold marks. The Russians, I must say this here, delivered to us, grain, manganese ore and oil very promptly, while our deliveries of machines lagged behind for the natural reason that the machines had first to be produced, because the Russian orders were mainly for specialized machines. To what extent army supplies were sent to Russia, I do not know, as I did not deal with these. And so I was surprised by the appointment of Rosenberg. He called on me for a short discussion, in which he told me that the task given to him by the Fuehrer also included the handling of economic problems. Thereupon I placed a ministerial director in my ministry, Dr. Schlotterer, at Rosenberg's disposal to work on these problems. And when the Ministry for Eastern Affairs was founded, as far as I know, in July, Dr. Schlotterer, with some of his colleagues, took over the direction of the economic department in Rosenberg's ministry. And, simultaneously, as far as I remember, Dr. Schlotterer became a member of the Economic Operational Staff, East. This was the institution of the Four-Year Plan, which has been mentioned repeatedly here during the proceedings, and which dealt with all economic problems in the Occupied Eastern Territories.

Beyond that, I had nothing to do with these matters. Naturally, I asked Lammers as well as Rosenberg, just what this signified, and both of them told me that the Fuehrer was of the opinion that a war with Russia would become unavoidable, that along the entire Eastern Front the Russians had concentrated large reinforcements, that the discussions with Molotov, in which I had no part at all, had been unsatisfactory, that the Russians were making demands regarding the Baltic, the Balkan regions, and the Dardanelles, which could not be satisfied by Germany, by the Fuehrer. At any rate, this affair was as complete a surprise to me as to the German people, and I am convinced that this war was a great shock to the German people.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness spoke of July. Did he mean July, 1940?

DR. SAUTER: As far as I know, July, 1941 -

THE PRESIDENT: You mean July, 1941? That was after the war with Russia had begun. The witness can answer for himself, I suppose, can he not?

Did you mean July, 1940?

A. The discussion with Rosenberg was at the end of April or the beginning of May, 1941, and the Rosenberg Ministry was founded in July, 1941.

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