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-Fifth Day: Friday, 14th June, 1946
(Part 3 of 9)

[Page 243]

Q. Did you not learn from any other source what Funk's point of view was on the action to be taken in regard to the clearing debts?

A. I know from various reports and from publications during that time that the Germans represented these clearing debts as actual debts. We Dutch, however, never believed this; and if one observed the development, when this central clearing was organized during the war, as an expert on national economy, one could realize without difficulty that these debts could not represent any de facto value. In the course of the war they rose to more than 42,000,000,000 marks. When the president of the Dutch Bank, who was appointed by Seyss-Inquart, compared the Reichsmark to the pound sterling in his annual reports, we in Holland laughed at it.

Q. Dr. Hirschfeld, you just spoke of a president of the Dutch State Bank who was appointed by Seyss-Inquart. I believe that was Mr. Rost van Tonningen?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know that the defendant Funk, who was the president of the German Reichsbank at that time, endeavoured to prevent the appointment of this Rost van Tonningen and wanted Mr. Trip to remain in office as president of the Dutch State Bank?

THE PRESIDENT: That is the same question again, is it not? That is practically the same question as we have already said we did not want to hear about, about Funk's support for Mr. Trip?

DR. SAUTER: If I may say so, Mr. President, the first time I wanted to ask whether Funk tried to have Mr. Trip retained on the administrative council of the International Bank in Basle although he was actually no longer competent to represent Dutch interests. You said that that question was immaterial. The present question refers to whether Dr. Funk endeavoured to have the Dutchman, Mr. Trip, retained as president of the Dutch Bank. That is the last question which I have to ask, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, do you know?

[Page 244]

THE WITNESS: Yes. I should like to explain this a little. To understand this matter it is necessary -

THE PRESIDENT: Please be very short about it then.

THE WITNESS: It is necessary to know that the Reich Commissioner and Dr. Fischbock were in favour of Rost van Tonningen, although it was known that we in the Netherlands considered Rost van Tonningen a traitor. When Trip was forced to resign, Wohltat, the German Reichsbank Commissioner, told me that this matter was discussed in Berlin, and the basis of this information -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but I think what you were asked was whether Funk tried to get Trip appointed to the presidency of the Dutch Bank when this other man was appointed by Seyss-Inquart. Do you knew whether Funk -

THE WITNESS: I only know from Wohltat that Funk attempted to do so and that Goering reversed the decision at the suggestion of the Reich Commissioner and Dr. Fischbock.


Q. Anyway, you confirm that Funk attempted to have the Dutchman, Mr. Trip, retained as president of the Dutch State Bank?

A. I confirm that, having been told so by Wohltat.

DR. SAUTER: I have no more questions, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Is there any cross-examination?



Q. Of what nature were the orders given to you by the Dutch Government when it left for England?

A. There were written instructions by the Dutch Government for all Netherland officials of the administration. These instructions were based on The Hague Regulations for Land Warfare.

Q. These orders, therefore, did not imperil the German Army?

A. No.

Q. Will you than please explain, if you are capable of doing so, why Holland had an exceptional regime, since she was the only country in the West to have a Gauleiter immediately after the invasion?

THE PRESIDENT: Would you please repeat the question again, the interpreter did not get it.

Q. Explain, please, why, immediately after the invasion, Holland had a Gauleiter; it was the only Western country in which this was the case.

A. We considered the appointment of a Reich Commissioner, who was chief of the civilian administration in the Netherlands, as an indication that the German Government had political intentions in the Netherlands and not purely the intentions of an occupying power.

Q. In your opinion, therefore, Seyss-Inquart was appointed the day after the invasion had started because the German Government had the intention of modifying the Dutch national institutions in spite of common law?

A. We were convinced - and this was confirmed by experience - that all possible forms of National Socialist institutions would be introduced in the Netherlands, and that an attempt would be made to force them upon the Netherlands.

Q. This attempt was made?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that during the occupation a great number of the members of the Dutch National Socialist Party were at the head of the police and carried out German orders to arrest Jews or members of the resistance movement or to take hostages?

A. Yes.

[Page 245]

Q. When the Dutch police itself became involved in these arrests, did it make them only because it was forced to do so?

A. The conditions were such that old Netherlands policemen, if they ever took part in such matters, did so because they were forced to; but there were Dutch policemen who had been appointed by the German authorities. They were, in general, members of the NSB, and they, in part, volunteered for such distasteful tasks.

Q. Is it true that the wives and children of those members of the Dutch police who refused to carry out German orders were taken as hostages?

A. I know that in various cases the families were taken as hostages when police officials refused to carry out orders. It is further known that this did not happen only in the case of the police, but also in other cases.

Q. It has been alleged here that the diamonds taken at Arnhem had all been found in Holland. Does that agree with the facts?

A. What was stolen at Arnhem?

Q. Diamonds.

A. Diamonds. The diamonds affair is a typical example of how they wanted to deal with Dutch property. These diamonds were in a bank safe in Arnhem. After the invasion of Normandy attempts were made by the Germans to seize these diamonds. The director of the Netherlands agency which is concerned with diamonds and later I, myself, were asked for the keys to the bank safe.

We refused. And then on the day of the airborne landings at Arnhem, the German Wehrmacht blew up this safe. Apparently only half of the diamonds were found and they were sent to the Reichsbank in Berlin.

When I protested, Fischbock said that they had only been put in the custody of the Reichsbank in Berlin. Then I demanded that these diamonds should be given back. Meanwhile, it was learned that half of the diamonds were still in Arnhem. The Currency Protection Command (Devisenschutkommando) again demanded the keys which were in my personal possession. I refused and had another discussion with Fischbock. The matter was obviously distasteful to him, but he agreed to this concession that the remaining diamonds, which we later found in Arnhem, be returned to the owner. But they were willing to give back the half which had been sent to Berlin only if they could be placed under German custody in a bank in the Eastern Netherlands. I demanded from Fischbock that they be turned over without restrictions. Apparently Fischbock could not agree, and for this reason, after the liberation of the Netherlands, these diamonds were not given back and as far as I know they have not yet been returned.

Q. Did Seyss-Inquart return the property of the 1,000 Jews who were deported to Theresienstadt?

A. As to the Jews who were deported to Theresienstadt, I know that these people, on the basis of a promise given to my colleague Frederiks, were to be given special treatment, but that their property had been given back is not known to me and I do not believe it.

Q. Was that property returned to them?

A. It was confiscated. I did not hear that it was returned to them.

Q. Seyss-Inquart said that in February, 1941, 400 Jews had been transported from Amsterdam to Mauthausen as a measure of reprisal for the fact that a member of the NSB was supposedly murdered at Amsterdam by Jews. What do you know about this?

A. I know that in February, 1941, there were two difficult situations in Amsterdam. One referred to shipyard workers. I believe 3,000 of them were to be forcibly sent to Germany. I intervened with Seyss-Inquart and succeeded in preventing this. There was, however, unrest in Amsterdam on this subject. In the second place, Jews were already being arrested in Amsterdam, which was the occasion for a strike. The incident of these 400 Jews of whom you speak took place after this strike in Amsterdam as far as I recall, because they wanted to make

[Page 246]

the Jews responsible for the strike. Fischbock told me so himself, and I said that I did not believe it and that this was only a pretext.

Q. If I have understood you correctly, these Jews were arrested because the population in Amsterdam was opposed to their deportation. There were demonstrations and riots during which several members of the NSB were killed. These Jews were therefore not deported in reprisal for the murder of the members of the NSB; on the contrary, the men of the NSB were killed at the time when they were going to arrest the Jews, before there was any idea of reprisal.

A. I recall that in these days the Amsterdam workers resisted when the Jews were being arrested, and this led to upheaval in Amsterdam and to the strike. Exactly what happened I do not know from my own experience.

Q. Did Seyss-Inquart prohibit ration cards to be given to workers who evaded deportation to Germany?

A. When in May, 1943, the so-called age groups were called up for labour commitment in Germany, instructions were sent on the 6th of May to the competent Netherlands authorities to the effect that workers who were called in these age groups could no longer receive any food cards. That was a decree of the 6th of May, 1943, signed by an official of the Reich Commissariat by the name of Eftger. We received this instruction, and although it reached us when martial law was in force, the instruction was not carried out by the Netherlands authorities. What the German authorities argued, in effect, was, "Whoever does not work for Germany gets nothing to eat."

Q. Seyss-Inquart claimed that the Dutch people who left to work in Germany up to 1942 were all volunteers. Is that correct?

A. No, they could not all be volunteers. The unemployed in the Netherlands received unemployment benefit, and shortly after the occupation a directive was issued that people who were suitable for work in Germany and refused to volunteer for this work were no longer entitled to receive unemployment benefit. Thus, they were under economic pressure.

Q. Much has been said here as to whether Rauter was subordinate to Seyss-Inquart. Could you inform us on this?

A. So far as we in the occupied territories knew, Rauter was appointed by Seyss-Inquart at the beginning of June, 1940, as General Commissioner for Security. No order which was then known indicated that Rauter had any kind of special position. The decree of the German Reich Chancellor of the 18th of May, 1940, made it clear to us Dutch that the Reich Commissioner was the only responsible man in the Netherlands for the occupying power within the civilian sphere. Much later, from talks, I and perhaps others who were better informed realised that Rauter received direct orders from Himmler or from the Reich Security Main Office. But the population of the Netherlands could not know this.

Q. Perhaps you know the result of the abolition of the monetary bar and its repercussion on life in Holland.

A. Yes. I will try to describe this matter in a few words. At the outbreak of war there was a clearing agreement between the Netherlands and Germany. Thus we Netherlands officials, at the beginning of the occupation, were able to exercise special control for deliveries of goods to Germany, because there was not only frontier control by customs officials, but we could also control payment. It was particularly disagreeable to Fischbock that Dutch authorities could still refuse anything, and this was a cause for friction. He attempted to remove this clearing, and on the 1st of April, 1941, the foreign currency bar was removed. This made it possible for all goods to be bought in the Netherlands for Reichsmarks, and they could be taken to Germany under the protection of the German authorities. I will give an example: According to an investigation which I ordered at that time, there were a few hundred buyers of jewellery and gold and silver articles in the Netherlands. These articles are easy to carry with one. If there had been control of payment, it would not have been possible that in 1942 alone, according to our estimate, 80 to 100 million guilder worth of such goods was taken away at

[Page 247]

high prices to Germany. The important point was that by lifting this control of currency, one could operate more freely. Furthermore, there was a possibility of buying Dutch securities on the Amsterdam stock exchange. For one of the German aims at that time was to combine Dutch and German economy. The easiest way to do this was to lift the currency bar or, more exactly, the currency control between the occupied territories and Germany, and thus Netherlands interests were prejudiced more severely than those of other occupied territories where this currency control was maintained.

I should like to add that of course even there ways of carrying out this exploitation were found. The lifting of the currency control made the German policy in this connection much easier. This was clearly shown by an order of Hermann Goering of 1942, in which the control of the Dutch-German frontier was abolished and the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan could write that there could be no control at the frontier when price regulations or rationing regulations were broken. That was what Hermann Goering added.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, the Tribunal thinks that this should be shortened, this discussion of the question of the abolition of the frontier policy for money.

M. DUBOST: I have no more questions on this point, Mr. President.


Q. What amount of money did Holland pay Germany for the cost of occupation?

A. The total sum which was paid at the end of the occupation was 8 1/2 billion guilders.

Q. In what form were these payments demanded?

A. This 8 1/2 billion guilders consisted of credits which the Wehrmacht demanded for the direct occupation costs in the Netherlands; furthermore, for the costs of the machinery of the Reich Commissariat, and third, payments which were imposed on the Netherlands under the expression which was used at first, "outside occupation costs," that is, costs which the Wehrmacht incurred in Germany in the interest of the occupation forces in the Netherlands. The form in which it was paid, as far as it concerned payments in the Netherlands, was in Dutch money. Payments in Germany made in gold, which were demanded from the Netherlands Bank, and payments from the account which the Netherlands Bank had with the Reichsbank.

Q. Were these payments the result of one of the conditions of capitulation?

A. I know the capitulation conditions of 14th May, 1940, which do not mention anything about occupation costs.

Q. What is the damage sustained by Holland in other ways as a result of the looting of the means of construction, machinery, stocks, ships, and so forth.

A. It is extremely difficult to give an exact figure because it could not be estimated during the occupation. But, after the German capitulation, the Netherlands Government reported the sum of about 25,000,000,000 guilders to the Reparation Committee in Paris as damages by occupation. This would include the 8,500,000,000 occupational costs which I just mentioned.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, is not this all contained in the Dutch report?

M. DUBOST: Oh no, Mr. President, certainly not.

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