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-Third Day: Tuesday, 7th May, 1946
(Part 6 of 10)

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

[Page 176]

Q. Didn't he ask for it?

A. No, I didn't know anything about that article beforehand. I did not order a birthday article for myself.

[Page 177]

Q. Precisely. So you didn't know anything about that article and therefore, if I understand you correctly, there is no guarantee that what is said in this article is completely true.

A. No. But I find that the tendency of the article is generally very good. The tendency -

Q. Witness, the American Prosecutor confronted you yesterday with the matter of your negotiations with Rosenberg in the spring of 1941, and the fact that at that time, a few months before the march into Russia, you had these negotiations with Rosenberg. He apparently wanted to conclude that you had admitted, or wanted to admit, that you had known about the intention of Hitler to wage an aggressive war against Russia. You did not have a chance to say anything on this yesterday. Therefore I should like to give you another opportunity now, to state very clearly what your belief was at that time concerning the intentions of Hitler in the spring of 1941, when you negotiated with Rosenberg, and what you knew about any eventual causes for war before that time.

A. As to the question of the American Prosecutor, I did not understand it to mean that I know anything about an aggressive war against Russia. The Prosecutor spoke explicitly about preparations for war with Russia. I myself had already made it quite clear that I was completely surprised when the task was assigned to Rosenberg, that the reason for the assignment was that the Fuehrer was expecting a war against Russia, because Russia was deploying large numbers of troops along the entire Eastern frontier, because Russia had entered Bessarabia and Bukovina and because his negotiations with Molotov brought proof that Russia maintained an aggressive policy in the Balkans and the Baltic area and thereby Germany felt herself threatened. Therefore preparations had to be made on the part of Germany for an eventual conflict with Russia. Also, concerning the meeting which the American Prosecutor has mentioned, I said explicitly that the measures concerning currency which were discussed there were approved by me, because we created thereby stable currency conditions in the Eastern Occupied Territory. I was therefore opposed to the idea that the German Reichsmark should be introduced there, which the Russian population would not have accepted because they could not even read it.

Q. Witness, the Soviet Russian Prosecutor has pointed out again and again that you were not only Reichsbank President and Reichsminister of Economics, but also General Plenipotentiary for Economy. You have corrected that already and pointed out that from the very beginning when you were appointed, your authority as General Plenipotentiary for Economy was practically taken over by Goering and that, I believe, in December of 1939, your authority as General Plenipotentiary for Economy was also formally turned over to Goering.

MR. DODD: I wish to enter an objection not only to the form this examination is taking but as to its substance. Counsel is in effect testifying himself, and he is testifying about matters that the witness testified to on direct examination, and it seems clear to us that this cannot be helpful at all to the Tribunal as a matter of re-direct examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, is it really proper for you to make the witness go over again the evidence which he has already given? The only object of re-examination is to elucidate any questions which have not been properly answered in cross-examination. The witness has already dealt with the topics with which you are now dealing, in the same sense which you are now putting to him.

DR. SAUTER: I have repeated the statements only because I want to put a question to the witness now concerning a document which was submitted only yesterday, which had not been submitted until then, and on which I could therefore not have any view. And because the Soviet Russian Prosecutor has again made

[Page 178]

the assertion here that the defendant also during the war was General Plenipotentiary for Economy, although that is not correct. Mr. President-

THE PRESIDENT: I have myself heard the witness say over and over again that he was not the General Plenipotentiary for Economy during the war. He has repeatedly said that.

DR. SAUTER: But it has been repeated from this side. Mr. President, yesterday a document was submitted which bears the number EC-488. On the front page it is marked in large letters "Secret."

THE PRESIDENT: What is the document you want to deal with?

DR. SAUTER: EC-488. It was presented yesterday and is a letter dated 28th January, 1939. Here in the original is the heading, which is in capital letters, and it reads, "The General Plenipotentiary for War Economy." So much for the heading of the letter paper. Then the word "War" is crossed out, so that you can only read, "The General Plenipotentiary for Economy."

Therefore, before 28th January, 1939, the title of General Plenipotentiary for War Economy must have been changed to a new title, "General Plenipotentiary for Economy." I now ask that the defendant -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I see. The copy that we have before us has not got the word "War" in it at all.

DR. SAUTER: It can be seen on my photostat.

THE PRESIDENT: I see it. But what is the question you want to put?

DR. SAUTER: At the time when this letter was written, the General Plenipotentiary was the defendant Funk. I should like to ask to be permitted to put the question to him, how can it be explained that the title of his office - that is, Plenipotentiary for War Economy-was changed. The question would be how it could be explained that the title of his office, "General Plenipotentiary for War Economy," had been changed to the new title, "General Plenipotentiary for Economy."

THE WITNESS: The reason is -


Q. One moment, Dr. Funk, please.

THE PRESIDENT: I did not ask you to stop putting your question. You can put your question. Go on. What is the question?


Q. Go on, Dr. Funk.

A. The reason was that according to the old Reich defence law, Schacht had been appointed General Plenipotentiary for War Economy, and on the basis of this second Reich defence law, which appointed me, I was appointed General Plenipotentiary for Economy, because at that time it was quite clear that the special tasks concerning war economy - that is to say, armament industry, war economy proper - could no longer be the duty of the Plenipotentiary for Economy, but that he had essentially to co-ordinate it with the civilian Economic Department.

DR. SAUTER: In connection with that, Mr. President, may I call your attention to another document which was submitted yesterday. That is Document 3562-PS. Here the heading already has the correct new title, "General Plenipotentiary for Economy." That is no more "General Plenipotentiary for War Economy," and that is also a new document which was only submitted yesterday. Mr. President -

[Page 179]

MR. DODD: Just to have the record correct, Mr. President, that Document 3562-PS is in evidence, and it was submitted by Lieutenant Meltzer, at the time he presented the case against the individual defendant, Funk.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dodd, am I not right in thinking that the defendant Funk stated from the outset in his examination in chief that he was appointed General Plenipotentiary for Economy?

MR. DODD: Yes, indeed, Sir. That is as I thoroughly understand it.

THE PRESIDENT: And you have not challenged that?

MR. DODD: We have not challenged the fact that he said so. But we do challenge the fact that he, in fact, was only for economy. We do maintain that he, in fact, had much to do with the war effort as the Plenipotentiary.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. But he was not to be named that?

MR. DODD: No. And that Document, 488, was not offered, anyway, for that purpose, but rather to show that the defendant was engaged in talking about what prisoners of war would do after an attack.

DR. SAUTER: Yesterday a document was produced about the interrogation of a certain Hans Posse. It is Document 3894- PS. The witness Hans Posse was formerly State Secretary in the Ministry of Economics and as such Deputy Plenipotentiary for Economy. That record has been submitted by the prosecution in order to show that allegedly there was a struggle for power, as it says here, between Funk and Goering.

However, I should like to quote to the witness a few other points from that record so that several other points can also be used as evidence:-

Witness - he says, for instance - and I should like to ask whether this is still your opinion today - State Secretary Hans Posse says... That is Document 3894-PS, Page 2 of the German translation, at the bottom of the page.

He was asked, "How often did you report to Funk in connection with your duties as Deputy Plenipotentiary"?

The witness answered then: "The General Plenipotentiary for Economy really never went into action."

A. I must repeat what I said again and again, and which has been confirmed by everybody who has been heard on that question. That was a post which was merely on paper.


Q. Then the witness was asked with what final purpose you, Dr. Funk, had worked:

It says, "Dr. Posse, is it correct that the office of General Plenipotentiary for Economy was established with the final purpose of uniting all economic functions with a view to the preparation for war"?

Then the witness answered: "The purpose was what I have just said, to co-ordinate the various conflicting economic interests. But there was no talk about the preparation for war."

And on the same Page, on Page 4, at the bottom, the witness says, I quote:-

"It is correct that the aim was to co-ordinate all economic questions, but the purpose was not to prepare for war. Of course, if war preparation should become necessary, it was the task of the Plenipotentiary for Economy to concern himself with these questions and to act as a co-ordinator."
A. Herr Posse was an old, sick man whom I had put in this post. He was formerly State Secretary under Schacht, and when I took over the Ministry,

[Page 180]

I received a new State Secretary through Goering, who, unfortunately, later became temporarily unbalanced. And then State Secretary Dr. Landfried came to me, and Posse, who formally was still in the Ministry of Economics as State Secretary, was without a job. Therefore I made him an executive officer attached to the Plenipotentiary for Economy.

Here, of course, he had constant difficulties from the very beginning. The High Command of the Armed Forces or the War Economy Staff wanted to reduce the authority of the General Plenipotentiary which can be seen from the letter which was presented yesterday. And the civilian Economy Department did not want to follow his directives because they already had been subordinated to and had to follow the directives of the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan. Therefore, as a matter of fact, that unhappy General Plenipotentiary for Economy held a post which to all intents and purposes existed only on paper.

THE PRESIDENT: Would this not be a convenient time to break off now?

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, I have two more questions which I wish to put to the defendant Dr. Funk.


Q. Dr. Funk, before the recess we stopped at Document 3894- PS, the testimony of your State Secretary Posse. I should like to read one passage on Page 7 of the German text and ask you whether you agree with it. The witness Posse was asked by the prosecution whether he, as Deputy General Plenipotentiary for Economy, knew about the international relations, especially about the war situation and so forth, and he says, on Page 7, in the middle:

"We never knew anything about the international situation and we never heard anything about it, and if the international situation was mentioned in our discussions we could only voice merely our personal opinions."
And a few lines further down:
"We" - he means apparently himself and you, Dr. Funk - "We always hoped that there would be no war."
Do you agree with this opinion of your former State Secretary Posse?

A. Yes. I have said repeatedly that until the end I did not believe that there would be a war, and the same is true of my colleagues, and everyone who spoke to me at that time will corroborate this. Herr Posse was, of course, still less informed about political and military events than I was. Consequently, that also applies to him.

Q. Then I have a final question to put, witness. You have seen the film which the prosecution has presented. Now, you were the President of the Reichsbank. Consequently, you are familiar, possibly only superficially, with the conditions in the vaults of the Reichsbank, at least, I assume, in Berlin, if not in Frankfurt, where the film was taken; and you also know how, especially during the war, these items which had been deposited with the Bank were safeguarded. Possibly, Dr. Funk, on the basis of your own knowledge of the conditions you can make a statement regarding this short film which we have seen.

A. I was completely confused by this film and most deeply shocked. Photography, and especially films, are always very dangerous documents because they show many things in a light different to what they really are. I personally have the impression, and I believe the prosecution will probably corroborate this, that all these deposits of valuables and this entire collection of valuable items came from the potassium mines, where, at my instigation, all gold, foreign currency and other valuables of the Reichsbank had been stored away when, because of a terrific bombing attack on Berlin, we were no longer able to work in the Reichsbank. The Reichsbank building alone in this one raid on 3 February, 1945, was hit by twenty-one high explosive bombs, and it was only by a miracle

[Page 181]

that I was able to reach the surface from this deep cellar together with five thousand other people. Foreign currency and all other deposits of valuables were then taken to a potassium mine in Thuringia and from there apparently to Frankfurt, I assume. So this concerns to a large extent normal deposits by customers who had placed their valuables, their property, in these safe deposits which could not be got at by the Reichsbank. Consequently, I cannot tell from this film which of these items were deliveries by the SS and which were genuine deposits. The Prosecutor certainly is correct when he says that no one would deposit gold teeth in a Bank. It is, however, quite possible that certain functionaries of concentration camps made genuine deposits in the Reichsbank which contained such articles, to safeguard them for future use. I think that is possible. However, in conclusion I must say once more that I had no knowledge whatsoever of these things and of the fact that jewellery, diamonds, pearls and other objects were delivered from concentration camps to the Reichsbank to such an extent. I knew nothing about it; it was unknown to me, and I personally am of the opinion that the Reichsbank was not authorised to do this kind of business. It is certainly clear from one document, which contains an account for the Finance Minister, that most likely everything from the concentration camps was first brought to the Reichsbank and then the unfortunate officials of the Reichsbank had to sort it, send it on to the Finance Minister - or rather to the pawnbroker, who was under the Finance Minister - and prepare a statement of account. Therefore, I must request that someone be examined on these matters - first of all Herr Puhl himself, and perhaps someone else who was concerned with these things - in order to explain what actually took place and above all, to show that I, personally, had no knowledge whatsoever of these matters except for the few facts which I myself have described to the Tribunal.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, I have finished my interrogation of the defendant Funk, and I should now like to ask permission to examine the only witness whom I can call at this time, the witness Dr. Heiler.

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