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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th June to 19th June 1946

One Hundred and Fifty-Third Day: Wednesday, 12th June, 1946
(Part 1 of 12)

[Page 143]

MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, the report is made that defendants Hess and Jodl are absent.




Q. Defendant, you agree that very important stocks were sent to Germany?

A. Yes, that is quite true.

Q. Concerning another system used in the Netherlands for pillage, I would like to submit to you a document which indicates moreover that you were not the only one to participate in this pillage, but Goering and the OKW are involved too. This is Document 868-F, which becomes 1530-PS. It concerns a teletype message which is addressed to you by the OKW and which is signed Reinecke. This teletype message is dated 5th December, 1940 and begins as follows:

"Meeting at the office of the Marshal of the German Reich on 7th October, 1940. Regulation concerning the dispatch or the taking of merchandise from Holland by members of the Wehrmacht or of the units attached to it.

In agreement with the Reichsmarschall and the Reich Commissar for the Occupied Netherlands territories, the regulations in force up to now concerning the dispatch and the taking of merchandise out of Holland are rescinded. Members of the Wehrmacht and of the units and organizations attached to it-" then follow the designations of these organizations-" as well as the officials of the services employed in Holland, can, within the means at their disposal, send home by the military post packages of a maximum weight of 1,000 grams, without any limit on their number. If the parcels weigh more than 250 grams" - I will not read what follows; it deals with a question of postal rates - "The taking of merchandise across the frontier when going on leave, or for any other reason, is not subject to any restriction."

This regulation was drawn up with your consent, was it not?

A. "Consent" is putting it a little strongly in this case. An authority for confiscation is not concerned here but rather only instructions for transport. These things had to be bought in some manner. They could not be confiscated. The Reichsmarschall decreed this and I put it into force. That was the so-called "Schlepp Erlass," meaning that any soldier who returned from the Netherlands could bring with him as much as he could carry of any of the things he had bought. And I then gave this order for civilians in accordance with the military decree. I believe this decree was rescinded after two years, for the fact was constantly brought up that it particularly promoted the black market.

Q. I did not say that it concerned requisitions. Yesterday I said to you that there had been mass requisitions and you answered that this was correct. Today I tell you, and I submit this document in order to demonstrate the fact to you, that there was also another way of pillaging the products of the Netherlands.

A. But previously you did mention confiscation. I only wanted to correct that point.

[Page 144]

Q. I merely spoke yesterday of it. Let us go on. Will you tell me what was the task of the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan?

A. I do not recall the wording of this decree. I believe it has been read here. At all events it dealt with the organising of the entire economic wealth within the German sphere of interests in favour of the policy carried on by Germany, and during the war, in favour of the war economy, of course.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, the translation came through to me that this document would become 1530-PS. I suppose that was a mistake. It must have been.

M. DEBENEST: I beg your pardon, Mr. President. It is RF-1530.


Q. Who ordered the liquidation of the property of the Freemasons?

A. I must admit that I really do not know that. My attention was called to the case after the property had been confiscated. I assume that this emanated from Himmler by way of Heydrich.

Q. Well, I will refresh your memory. I will have handed to you Document 865-F which becomes Exhibit RF 1537. It concerns a letter which comes from you, does it not? It is dated 11th March, 1944. It is signed by you, is it not?

A. Yes.

Q. Good. You express yourself as follows in this letter:

"Dear Dr. Lammers

I have had the property of the Freemasons in the Netherlands liquidated. As the liquidation took place through me, that is to say, through a Government Office, unlike the liquidation in other areas, it is for the Reich Finance Minister to decide on the further utilization thereof.

I have written a letter today to the Reich Finance Minister, and I enclose a copy of it for you. I beg you to support my suggestion."

You therefore did not hear of this liquidation until after it had been effected, although you yourself had undertaken it, is that not true?

A. I still entirely uphold my first assertion. The question was who decreed this, I understood you to ask me who was the person in the Reich who demanded this. It is a fact that I did not hear about this whole matter until a few months had passed. Then I took over this liquidation and had it carried through to the end through my offices and then I wrote this letter. Thus the execution rested with me.

Q. You said just now - and I understood the translation very clearly - that you heard of it only after it had been done. You contradict your own declaration, as I was able to note yesterday on several occasions, when the documents are submitted to you.

A. I did not understand that. Is that a question to me?

Q. I am simply making a remark.

Was this liquidation of the property of the Freemasons a big undertaking?

A. Yes, certainly. I should like to say that it was started by another office. The property was confiscated, then I took over this task and had it carried through by my competent offices.

Q. Did you make arrangements for the utilization of the funds which this liquidation produced?

A. I made the proposal that this money be given to the Party.

Q. You discussed this beforehand?

A. I wrote a letter as well. I believe the enclosure to my letter to the Finance Minister which was mentioned just now contains the proposal that this property be given to the Party.

Q. Did you not threaten to let the people of the Netherlands starve as a result of the railway strike in September 1944?

A. You can look upon it as a threat, but in any event I described it as very probable.

[Page 145]

Q. You asked the General Secretaries to stop this strike?

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, the Tribunal would like to have further investigation as to who ordered the confiscation of the Freemasons' property.

Defendant, do you know who ordered the confiscation?

THE WITNESS: Yes, I do. The confiscation was ordered by Heydrich and was set in motion by the police. Then a Trustee of the Party started the actual liquidation and at that stage I took it over and transmitted it to my offices.


Q. At what date was this liquidation ordered?

A. In the first few months. The whole affair was handled very rapidly. It was only a matter of weeks.


Q. Was any reason given for it?

A. The Freemasons were declared to be enemies of the Reich according to the decree authorising the taking over of the property of those who were inimical to the State.

Q. Was the order of Heydrich in writing?

A. That I cannot say. It went to the Security Police, and the order of the Security Police ensured its execution. I assume that it was a teletype message, although this entire action might have been planned in advance.

Q. Well, do you mean that you carried it out without having any order in writing about it at all?

A. I received a message from the Security Police - it may have been in writing, or it may have been oral - that this confiscation was being carried through by the RSHA, and I took over the matter at this stage.

Q. What was the amount involved by the confiscation?

A. I believe the final amount of the liquidation was more than eight or nine million guilders.

Q. And then I think you said that you proposed that it should be handed over to the Party.

A. Yes, I proposed that these nine million guilders be turned over to the Party.

Q. And were they?

A. No, I received no decision. This property must have remained in the Netherlands in some form of securities - probably in treasury bonds.

Q. You were the Reich Commissar for the Netherlands, were you not? What happened to the money?

A. The money was deposited in a bank account, and perhaps Dutch treasury bonds were bought. It was treated as a separate fund, and it was not used.

Q. But this was all in 1940, was it not?

A. I estimate that the liquidation continued until the year 1942, and from that period on the money remained in this bank account.

Q. What was the bank? A. That I cannot tell you, Mr. President. But there is no doubt that the Dutch have ascertained this.

Q. And when you said it was confiscated in the first few months, you meant in 1940, did you?

A. Yes, immediately after the invasion.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, M. Debenest.


Q. Were the funds from this liquidation utilised in the same way as the money from the liquidation of Jewish property?

A. For the most part the proceeds from the liquidation of Jewish property were transferred to the Property and Revenue Office (Verwaltungs and Rentenanstalt). The funds were not absorbed, but certain expenditures were met from them. For instance, the erection of Vught camp was paid for from these proceeds.

[Page 146]

The funds derived from the liquidation of Jewish property amounted to perhaps 400 million guilders or slightly more. However, they were not taken over.

Q. How were the funds actually used? Were they used for the purposes of the German Government or for other purposes?

A. The Jewish property, first of all, was confiscated. Then, as far as possible, it was liquidated, and we called that "aryanization." The proceeds of the aryanization were pooled in the Property and Revenue Office, but as a whole were not -

Q. (Interposing.) Pardon me, but will you answer more directly without recounting to us how this liquidation was effected. I asked you about the utilization of the funds.

A. The majority of the proceeds was not used at all. The idea was to have the 400 million guilders on deposit in the Property and Revenue Office of the Netherlands, partly in Dutch treasury bonds and partly in the original securities. They had to be there. Only relatively small amounts were used for certain purposes. I believe the largest amount was fourteen million guilders which was used for the erection of Vught camp.

I called the attention of the Reich Finance Minister -

Q. Excuse me. I asked you a question. Were the funds from this liquidation used for the benefit of the Reich? Yes or no?

A. No, unless you call the erection of the Vught camp using the proceeds for the Reich; but the funds were used because Vught camp was to be a Jewish assembly camp.

Q. So you consider that the building of the Vught camp was in the interest of the Dutch?

A. Most certainly it was. The cost of Vught camp, so I was informed, was covered out of this property - I believe fourteen million guilders were spent - because this camp was to be a Jewish assembly camp. It was only later that Himmler transformed this into a concentration camp.

Q. That is an opinion, and the Tribunal will decide about it. But regarding the property of the Freemasons and what was done with the sums realised by this liquidation, exactly how were they utilised - for the Reich, or also for the construction of concentration camps in the Netherlands?

A. Neither the one nor the other.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, he has said already, has he not - I thought he said quite clearly - it was deposited in some unknown bank, and that there were about four hundred million which came from the Jews.

THE WITNESS: Mr. President, I know the bank. It is deposited in the Verwaltungs and Rentenanstalt.


Q. Well, I am now going to submit to you Document 864-F, which is a letter, and which becomes Exhibit RF-I532. This document states exactly the destination of the property which was thus liquidated. First, you indicate, at the beginning of the letter, that the total resulting from the liquidation amounted, as you say, to 6,134,662 florins up to that date, and you indicate that this sum is located in the Reich Foundation (Reichsstiftung) of the Netherlands. This is a German organization, and not a Dutch organization as far as I understand. You indicate further on how the various sums were to be allocated.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you do not need to trouble about the details of where it is. He says it is there in the bank.

M. DEBENEST: Exactly, Mr. President. I would merely like to read the few lines at the end where he states exactly the purpose of the allocation of various sums.

"I believe I am complying with your intentions if I assume, with reference to this liquidated Freemason property, that it too, as we discussed with reference to Jewish property, should be used for specific purposes within the Netherlands, according to an agreement to be reached between us."

[Page 147]

Consequently, your intention was to use the sums in the same manner as the Jewish fortunes, was it not?

A. It does not say that at all.

Q. We have it in writing. That is still better.

A. Its utilization is perfectly clear. The Reich Minister of Finance wanted to exercise control over Jewish fortunes and I called his attention to the fact that it had not been called in and I suggested to him not to call this money into the Reich but to wait and see what the course of events would be.

Q. Were you not proposing to him here, that they should be utilised for the same purpose?

A. I suggested to him to use them for certain purposes in the Netherlands, that is, not to send this money into the Reich, but to leave it in the Netherlands; but the use to which it was to be put was left entirely open. He wanted to bring it to the Reich.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, I think you can pass on.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.