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 July to 15th July 1946

One Hundred and Seventy-Seventh Day: Friday, 12th July, 1946
(Part 5 of 8)

[Page 336]

By DR. HANNS MARX, Continued:

It seems to be established, however, that the German people and this defendant were never in agreement on this essential question. The German people always disapproved of the aims of this defendant as expressed in his publications and retained its own opinion of and attitude towards the Jews.

The prosecution's assumption that the tendentious articles in Der Sturmer found an echo or a ready acceptance among the German population or even produced an attitude which would readily accept criminal measures is herewith fully refuted.

The overwhelming majority of the German nation preserved their common sense and showed themselves disinclined toward all acts of violence. They may, therefore claim to be declared free of all moral complicity in and co- responsibility for those crimes before the tribunal of the world, and will again take their place in the ranks of the nations.

I leave the decision on the guilt or innocence of this defendant in the hands the High Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: I call on Dr. Sauter for the defendant Funk.

DR. SAUTER (for the defendant, Walter Funk): Gentlemen of the Tribunal, I have the task of examining the case of the defendant Walter Funk. That is to say, I am to deal with a topic which unfortunately is especially dry and prosaic. May I first make a short statement.

I shall on principle refrain from making any statements on legal, political, historical, or psychological matters which may be too general, although the temptation to make such general statements, particularly within the framework of the proceedings, may be considerable. General statements of the kind have already been made in abundance by other defence counsel and will probably be still fu supplemented. Therefore, I shall limit myself to examining and presenting you, from the point of view of the defence, the picture which the evidence in this trial shows of the personality of the defendant Funk, his actions and their underlying motives.

Gentlemen of the Tribunal, the entire course of this trial and the particular evidence offered in his own case have shown that the defendant Funk did not play a decisive part in the National Socialist regime at any time and in any of the cases indicted here.

Funk's authority of decision was always limited by the superior powers of others. The defendant's statement - made during his personal examination - that he was allowed to proceed to the door, but was never permitted to enter, has been showed by the evidence to be quite correct.

Funk was entrusted with tasks by the Party - as distinct from the State - only during the last year prior to the seizure of power, that is in 1932. These, however were of no practical significance, as they were of very short duration. Funk never appointed to any Party office after the seizure of power. He was never a member of any Party organization - SS, SA or corps of political leaders. Funk was a member of the Reichstag for only a little more than six months shortly before the seizure of power. Consequently he was not a member of the Reichstag when the fundamental laws for the consolidation of National Socialist power were passed. The Reich Cabinet accepted the laws for which Funk is held responsible - in particular the Enabling Act - at a time when Funk had not yet been made a member of the Cabinet. As is well known, he did not become a member until the close of 1937, by virtue of his appointment as Minister of Economics (Reichswirtschaftsminister), that is, at a time when no further Cabinet sessions were held. As

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Press chief of the Reich Cabinet, Funk had neither a seat nor a vote in the Cabinet and could exert no influence whatsoever upon the contents of the bills drafted. I refer to Lammers's statement in this connection. The same applies to the racial laws, the so-called Nuremberg laws.

Funk's relations with the Fuehrer only became closer for a period of one and a half years, during which he had to give regular Press reports to Hitler in his capacity as Press chief of the Reich Cabinet, i.e. from February, 1933, to August, 1934, up to the death of Reich President von Hindenburg. Later, Funk only reported to Hitler on very rare occasions. In this connection the witness Dr. Lammers makes the following statement:

"Later he (Funk) only visited Hitler in his capacity of Reich Minister of Economics on very rare occasions. He was frequently not invited to attend conferences - even those conferences to which he should have been invited. He complained to me about this frequently. The Fuehrer often raised objections, saying that there were various reasons against Funk and that he himself viewed Funk sceptically and did not want him."
(That is the testimony given by Dr. Lammers on 8th April, 1946.) When asked whether Funk had often complained to him about his unsatisfactory position as Reich Minister of Economics and about the anxiety caused him by conditions generally, Dr. Lammers replied:
"I know that Funk was very much worried and that he wanted an opportunity to discuss his anxieties with the Fuehrer. He was extremely anxious for an opportunity of reporting to the Fuehrer in order to obtain some information, at least, about the war situation." (That was in 1943 and 1944.) And Lammers continues: "With the best will in the world, Funk could not obtain an audience from the Fuehrer and I was unable to get him to the Fuehrer."
Funk, explains the striking fact that he was invited to attend only four or five Fuehrer conferences during the whole of his ministerial activity by saying that Hitler did not need him. Up to 1942, Hitler issued his instructions in economic affairs to Goering, who, in his capacity of Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan, was responsible for the entire economy. From the beginning of 1942 he also issued instructions to Speer, who as Armament Minister had special authority to issue directives to all branches of production and who from 1943 personally directed the entire production.

Funk, therefore, never played the main part in the economy of the National Socialist Reich but always a subordinate role.

This was specifically confirmed by his co-defendant Goering in his statement made on 16th March:

"Naturally, in view of the special powers delegated to me (Goering) he had to follow my directives in the field of economy and the Reichsbank. The responsibility for the directives and policy of the Minister of Economics and President of the Reichsbank Funk is entirely mine."
In the session of 20th June even the defendant Speer testified that in his capacity as Armament Minister he reserved to himself from the very beginning any authority of decision in the most important economic spheres such as coal, iron and steel, metal, aluminium and the production of machinery. Prior to Speer's commission at the beginning of 1942, electric power and building were entirely under the jurisdiction of Armament Minister Todt.

For the greater part, the evidence submitted by the prosecution in the case of the defendant Funk does not relate to acts personally committed by Funk or instructions issued by him, but rather on the various and widely differing positions which he occupied. On Page 29 of the trial brief the prosecutor himself declares that the argument offered against Funk may be described as inferential. The prosecution starts from the assumption that judging by the positions which he had held, Funk must have had knowledge of the various events which form the subject of the accusation. Generally speaking, the indictment refers to instructions and directives issued by Funk personally only in the case of the decrees which he issued

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in November, 1938 - in connection with the Four-Year Plan - for the elimination of Jews from economic life. I shall deal with this chapter separately at a later stage.

Finally, Funk was not invited to attend political and military conferences. His position resembled that of a ministerial expert with very limited powers.

As Reich Minister of Economics Funk was subordinated to the Four-Year Plan, that is, to Goering. Later on, the Armament Minister had more extensive powers. And finally, as was shown by the testimony of Goering, Lammers and Nayler, the Ministry of Economics became a regular Ministry of Commerce, which dealt mainly with the distribution of consumer goods and with the technicalities of foreign trade. Similarly, the Four-Year Plan determined the use of gold and foreign currency in the Reichsbank. The Reichsbank was deprived of its right to decide on the credits to be granted to the Reich for the internal financing of the war when Funk took over office as its president. Funk is thereby exonerated of any responsibility for the financing of the war. The responsible agency so far had always been the Reich Finance Minister - in other words, not Funk. Finally, as General Plenipotentiary for Economy, Funk's sole task in August, 1938, was to, co-ordinate the civil economic resources for such measures as would guarantee a smooth conversion from peace to war-time economy. These consultations resulted in the proposals presented by Funk to Hitler on 25th August, 1939, in the letter which has been several times quoted under 699-PS. At his examination Funk stated that this letter did not portray matters with complete accuracy, since it was a purely private letter, a letter of thanks for birthday congratulations he had received from Hitler. This point will have to be taken up again later, as the prosecution particularly emphasized Funk's position as General Plenipotentiary for Economy. The evidence shows that his position as General Plenipotentiary was Funk's most disputed position, but also his weakest.

With regard to the occupied territories Funk had no decisive authority whatsoever. All the witnesses interrogated on the point testified to this. But all witnesses also confirmed that Funk always opposed the pillage of the occupied territories. He fought against German purchases in the black markets, he opposed the abolition of the foreign exchange relations with Holland, a measure intended to facilitate German purchases in Holland, and, as we have heard from the witness Neubacher, he organized exports to Greece from Germany and the Eastern European States and even sent gold there. He also repeatedly opposed the financial overburdening of the occupied territories, especially in 1942 and 1944, and the raising of the occupation costs in France. He defended the currency of the occupied countries against reported attempts at devaluation. In the case of Denmark he even succeeded in raising the value of the currency, in spite of all opposition. Furthermore, Funk fought against the arbitrary stabilisation of exchange when currency arrangements were made with occupied countries. Germany's clearing debt was always recognized by Funk as a true commercial debt even with regard to the occupied countries. This is shown especially by his proposal mentioned here to commercialise this clearing debt by a loan to be issued by Germany for subscription in all European countries. Funk was also opposed to the overworking and especially to the compulsory employment of foreign labour in Germany.

The defendant Sauckel has already testified to this at his interrogation here. All those facts, favourably affecting the occupied countries, were confirmed by the witnesses Hayler, Landfried, Puhl and Neubacher, and the co-defendant Seyss Inquart has confirmed these measures taken by Funk with favourable results for the occupied countries.

According to these statements Funk always strove to keep order in the economic and social life of the occupied territories and to preserve it as far as possible from disintegration. He always disapproved and opposed radical and arbitrary measures and favoured agreements and compromises. Even during the war Funk was always thinking of the peace. This statement was made by the witnesses Landfried and

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Hayler, who added that Funk was repeatedly reproached for his attitude by the leading State and Party offices. The defendant Speer also testified at his interrogation that during the war Funk had employed too many workers in the manufacture of consumer goods and that it was for this reason that Funk had to hand over the management of the consumer goods production in 1943.

That Funk revolted against the horrible "scorched earth" policy just as Speer did, has been proved to the Tribunal by Speer himself, as well as by the witness Hayler on 7th May, 1946. This witness declared that he had seldom seen Funk so much upset as he was when informed of this order for destruction. Hayler testified that Funk, in his capacity of Reich Minister of Economics and President of the Reichsbank gave orders that existing stockpiles should be protected from the destruction decreed, in order to assure a supply of consumer goods necessary for the population and to safeguard currency transactions in the German territory which had been abandoned.

The aim of Funk's economic policy - one might call it the mainspring of his life's work - was the formation of a European economic community based on a just and natural balance of interest of the sovereign States. Even during the war, he relentlessly pursued this goal, although the exigencies of war and the restraints imposed on development by the war naturally impeded these efforts at every turn. Funk has given a graphic description of the economic Europe which he envisaged and strove to attain, in some major speeches on economic policy. Extracts from some of these speeches, many of which received notice even in neutral and enemy countries, are included in the document book.

In judging the acts of the defendant Funk, his whole personality must naturally be taken into consideration to some extent in investigating the motives from which he acted. Funk was never looked upon by the German people - as far as he was known at all - as a Party man capable of participating in brutal outrages, using methods of violence and terror or amassing fortunes at the expense of others. He inclined rather towards art and literature, which preference he shared with - for instance - his friend Baldur von Schirach. Originally, you have been told, he wanted to study music and in later years he preferred to have poets and artists in his house rather than men of the Party and the State. In professional circles he was known and respected as an economist and a man with a wide theoretical and historical knowledge, who had risen from journalism and had been a brilliant stylist. His position as chief editor of the distinguished Berliner Boersen Zeitung was on a sound economic basis. By accepting the office of Press chief in the Reich Cabinet at the beginning of 1933, after Hitler's assumption of power, he even incurred a financial loss. Therefore, he was not one of those desperadoes who were glad to get into a well-paid position through Hitler. On the contrary, he made a financial sacrifice when he took over the State office offered him, and it therefore seems perfectly credible that he did this out of patriotism, out of a sense of duty toward his people, and in order to put himself at the service of his country during the hard times of distress.

In judging the personality and character of the defendant Funk, it is also significant that he never held or tried to obtain any rank in the Party. Other people who took over high State offices in the Third Reich were given the title of SS-Gruppenfuehrer, or were given, for instance, the rank of SA-Obergruppenfuehrer. Funk, on the contrary, was only a plain Party member from 1931 until the end of the Third Reich, who carried out his State functions conscientiously but made no effort to obtain any honours within the Party.

The only incident with which the defendant Funk was reproached in this connection was the fact that he accepted an endowment in 1940, on his fiftieth birthday. In itself, of course, that is not a punishable act; but the Tribunal evidently evaluated it as a moral charge against the defendant. Therefore, we shall briefly define our position with regard to this. We remember how this endowment came about: The President and Board of the Reich Chamber of Economy.(Reichswirtschaftskammer), as the highest representatives of German

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economic life, presented him on his fiftieth birthday with a farmhouse in Upper Bavaria and about fifty-five hectares of ground. This farmhouse, of course, existed for the time being only on the paper of the presentation document and had still to be built. This presentation was expressly approved by the head of the State, Adolf Hitler, therefore it was not made secretly to the Reich Minister of Economics, but quite officially, without any suppression or secrecy in the matter. The gift turned out later on to be an unfortunate one for Funk as the building proved much more expensive than had been expected and Funk was required to pay a very high gift tax. Funk, who, up to that time, had never incurred debts and whose finances had always been well regulated, now found himself plunged into debt through this "gift" of a farmhouse. Goering heard of it and came to Funk's assistance with a generous sum. Hitler, who heard of Funk's financial difficulties through Minister Lammers, had had the cash necessary to re-establish his financial soundness transferred to him in the form of a gift.

With this Funk was able to pay his taxes and his debts. He used the balance to create two public endowments, one for dependants of officials of the Reichsbank killed in action, the other for the staff of the Ministry of Economics, for the same purpose. The farm was also to become an endowment, at some later date. Funk's treatment of the matter shows his fine feeling in this respect too. Even though such an endowment could not be legally disputed, he felt that it was better to avoid such endowments and to make them over to the public, since he could not refuse to accept a gift from the head of the State.

Mr. President, I now turn to a new subject. I would propose to have a recess now.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours).

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal proposes to go on until 4 o'clock without a break, if that is convenient.

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