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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
9th August to 21st August 1946

Two Hundred and Fifth Day: Friday, 16th August, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[DR. SAUTER continues his direct examination of Walther Emanuel Funk]

[Page 229]

THE PRESIDENT: That is going into arguments rather than giving testimony of facts.

A. In any case, I deny most emphatically that Pohl made such a statement to me. I call it a lie, a libel. Up to the day of this trial, no one told me anything, not a soul told me that Jews were being murdered in concentration camps.

Q. Witness, that is one point on which I wanted to question you.

A. I would not have allowed a report like that to rest. I would have applied immediately to my superior, the Plenipotentiary of the Four-Year Plan, and I would have told him about it.

Q. That is one point, witness. I believe it has been cleared up sufficiently with your testimony. Now I would like to turn to the second point. And I ask you again to be brief so that we will be finished by one o'clock if possible.

In your testimony, in May, I believe on 6th May, you testified that you met SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl once at lunch at the Reichsbank, in the canteen of the Bank, and the witness Pohl, in his affidavit, 4045-PS, refers to this conversation and he says - I will omit everything else - that he spoke with Puhl, your Vice-President. You know nothing about that and it would only be a waste of time to ask you that. I will read to you what he says about you. In the transcript of 5th August, he says:

"After we, that is, Gruppenfuehrer Pohl and Vice- President of the Bank Puhl, and several others, had inspected the various valuables in the Reichsbank vaults, we went to a room to have lunch with the Reichsbank President, Funk. It had been arranged to serve lunch after the inspection. In addition to Funk and Puhl" - that is your Vice-President - "several other gentlemen of my staff were there. About 10 or 12 people were present.

I sat next to Funk" - please note this particularly, witness - "and we discussed, among other things, the valuables which I had seen in his vaults - "he means the vaults of the Reichsbank.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, we have all heard this evidence the other day. Can you not put the circumstances of it to him and ask him whether it is true? I mean, it is not necessary to read it all?

[Page 230]

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, I am only reading the two sentences which apply to the defendant. There are only two sentences and I am omitting everything else, but naturally I have to read these two sentences to him so that he might know exactly what Pohl said: What I have read up to now is the first sentence, Mr. President. And now, the second sentence follows, which is very brief. It reads as follows:
"On this occasion it was clearly mentioned that a part of the valuables which we had inspected had come from concentration camps."
That is the end of quotation, and the end of the second sentence.


Q. Witness, you have heard what Pohl, the Gruppenfuehrer, asserts in his affidavit. Is it correct or is it not correct? You can answer the question with yes or no, and if it is no, then you may give a brief explanation.

A. That he talked with me at this lunch, that I do recall. That he discussed with me the valuables deposited by the SS, that I do not recall. But I know with certainty that he did not talk with me about these valuables about which I knew nothing, that is, about that part of the things which had been brought in by the SS which were not to be converted by the Reichsbank, but which were to be converted by the Reich Finance Ministry, that is gold, jewellery, and what other things there may have been. I never knew about these things, I never saw these things, and Pohl did not talk to me about these things, because if he had, I would have known about them and would have inquired about them. It is, therefore, quite out of the question that Pohl should have stated in the presence of twelve other persons, among whom there were perhaps three or four or five directors of the Reichsbank, and m the presence of the servants that things like that had come from concentration camps and from Jews who had been murdered. The fact that the SS deposited gold, foreign exchange, notes and bonds and that such things also came from the concentration camps, that I did know, and I discussed these matters with Pohl. That was how this terrible thing started - by Himmler asking me to put vault space at his disposal in the Reichsbank for these confiscated objects, and I asked Himmler myself to be allowed to prepare this for the legal Reichsbank business, but I did not know anything about the other things, I did not know anything about the nature and size of them and nothing at all about their origin.

Q. Witness, I should like to put one final question to you so that everything will be entirely clear. When did you learn, for instance, that such things as the rims of glasses, gold teeth, and such-like, in addition to gold coins and foreign exchange, that such gruesome things had come to your Reichsbank? When did you learn that for the first time? Tell me under oath.

A. Here, during this trial.

Q. Yes. Can you swear that with a clear conscience?

A. I can swear to that. Dr. Sauter, I must add -

THE PRESIDENT: He has already given this evidence.

DR. SAUTER: It was just a very brief question.

THE WITNESS: Of course, what was in the SS deposits, that I did not know. I never saw that. That other things besides foreign exchange, gold and securities could have been in them, that was clear to me

DR. SAUTER: You have already explained that. Thank you very much, Mr. President. I have no further questions.



You now tell us that you did know about the gold deposits and the jewellery coming in from the concentration camps, is that so?

[Page 231]

A. I did not know anything about it.

Q. You did not know anything about it? I must have misunderstood you. I thought you just told the Tribunal that you did know that this gold and these semi-precious stones and jewellery and other things were turned over to you through Himmler?

A. No, I did not know anything about that. I said only that what was contained in the deposits made by the SS; that the SS did have such deposits in the Reichsbank I did know, but what was contained in them I did not know, for I never saw them and no one ever told me about the nature and the origin and the size of these things.

Q. Well, you recall when you testified here before the Tribunal, on 7th May, that I asked you if you knew anything about the gold deposits from the concentration camps, and this testimony is present on Page 9104 of the record. You said, at that time, that Herr Puhl told you that the SS had delivered a gold deposit and "He also told me, and he said this somewhat ironically, 'It would be best if we don't try to ascertain what this deposit is'." This was your own testimony, in this very courtroom, in the same chair that you are sitting in now before the same Tribunal, just a month or two or three ago. Now, you had some knowledge certainly that there was something sinister about these deposits - did you not - when Director Puhl told you it would be best if you did not ascertain or learn too much about the nature of the deposit. What do you say to that this morning? What is the fact of the matter?

A. This testimony was already corrected by me in so far as when the first discussion between Himmler and myself took place, Himmler told me that the SS had confiscated considerable valuables in the East and that among them there were assets such as gold, foreign coins, foreign banknotes, bonds, other foreign exchange.

Whereupon I asked him - and I testified to this as well - to appoint someone to discuss this matter with Vice-President Puhl. Himmler then sent Pohl to see Puhl after I had told Puhl about my conversation with Himmler. When these things arrived, when the first deposits arrived and were put in the vaults, Puhl said to me: "The SS deliveries are now being deposited," and on that occasion he perhaps made a sarcastic remark, "Who knows what is contained in them?" and that is approximately what I have testified to here.

Q. You also told us, on that same day, and in the next answer to the very next question, you made this statement before the Tribunal, "And I personally assumed, since they are always speaking about a gold deposit, that this gold consisted of coins or other foreign currency or possibly small bars of gold or something similar which had been brought in from the inmates of the concentration camps." Well, then, you had some knowledge of the source and the origin of these deposits, had you not? You knew where they were coming from, and that is all we want to establish here; you had a pretty good idea, to put it mildly.

A. These items did not necessarily come from the concentration camps only. But that the inmates of the concentration camps

Q. Now, just a moment. There is no sense in arguing about it at all. All I am trying to establish here is the fact that you told the Tribunal yourself that you assumed it came from the inmates of the concentration camps. Now, this is your own testimony of 7th May.

A. Not only the gold, but also the foreign exchange, the banknotes, and everything which would come under the heading of legal transactions of the Reichsbank. That these things could come from the concentration camps as well, that was clear to me, for these things had to be taken from the inmates of the concentration camps just as from every other person. That was clear to me. It was about the other things that I did not know anything; I did not know about the agreements between the Finance Ministry and the SS.

[Page 232]

Q. Let us see whether you did know or not. You were in the courtroom when Mr. Elwyn Jones of the British Prosecution Staff offered Document 4042-PS, which told about the action "Reinhardt." You heard that document discussed here, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. That document is before the Tribunal, and in that one action - and we do not even know if that is all of it - Reichsmark to the total value of 100,047,000 were deposited either in the Reichsbank or in the Ministry of Economics just from this action alone. Are you telling the Tribunal that you as a head of the Reichsbank would not know that in one year - 100 million Reichsmark were deposited in your bank, or credits to that amount were placed in the deposit of your bank? You would have to know that, would you not?

A. Will you please repeat the sum. It does not appear to have been translated correctly.

Q. We do not need to get it down to the pfennig, it was over a hundred million Reichsmark.

A. One million?

Q. No, no, a hundred million.

A. A hundred million marks in foreign exchange? That is quite impossible. It is absurd.

Q. But the document here shows it.

A. Where would these 100,000,000 marks come from? That is absurd.

Q. I am glad you are enjoying this, but let us get on with a little more. This document of the SS men further says that it was a sum of 500,000 American dollars. Would you not have to know about that money being deposited in your bank or at your disposal? That is quite a lot of money too, in dollars, in Germany in 1943, I assume.

A. Certainly, but I do not recall that I was ever informed of these 500,000 dollars. That is a sum which could have been discussed with me, I admit, but it was not discussed with me.

Q. You know, this document goes on, and there is currency from practically every country in the world in very great amounts. You know that, do you not? You know this money was being turned over to your bank by the SS in very large sums - five hundred thousand American dollars, thousands of British pounds, francs, all kinds of money. Now, you certainly had to know that it was coming into your bank in 1934, and in such an amount that you must have known whence it came. What do you say about that?

A. That the SS, on the strength of the action mentioned here, deposited foreign exchange and banknotes and gold coins and whatever else there might have been in the Reichsbank, that I knew. The size of these deliveries was not reported to me. At any rate, I do not remember it and I do not know the total sum. And I am quite surprised that the amount is so high.

Q. Yes, so are we. The astonishing thing is that as the head of that bank, witness, you do not agree that it is impossible that you would not know about these sums of money? You were something more than an ornament there, surely. And this by itself is a reason for this Tribunal and anybody else to believe that you would know about deposits in these great amounts, particularly in a foreign currency. And I do not think that you have given any kind of satisfactory answer yet. Is your answer that you do not remember, or is your answer that you absolutely did not know? Or is it both?

A. The amount mentioned first of a hundred million marks, that I consider absolutely absurd. The second sum of 500,000 dollars, that I consider possible. It is quite within the realm of possibility that such sums were taken away from people in these actions - for instance, from people who were taken into concentration camps, and also in other actions -

[Page 233]

Q. But - I am not asking you if it is possible they were taken away, we know they were taken away.

A. I knew they would have to be taken away in the normal manner, but the amount was not mentioned to me. I did not know the amount. I did not know about it.

Q. I am not going through these documents, but you have probably read of all the items listed, thousands of alarm clocks, and fountain pens? You knew about them, as a Minister of Economics, did you not?

A. I knew nothing about that.

Q. Would you know that the 1,000,000 wagons of textiles that these SS men said had been shipped or warehoused were composed of the clothing of the dead Jews and other people in concentration camps who had been exterminated? You had to know something about this as Minister of Economics?

A. No, I did not know anything about these things. I explained this before this Tribunal when I said that these things went to the Reich Commissioner for the utilization of old material and were sent directly from the collection camps to the various factories. Not a single person told me anything about confiscated textiles from concentration camps.

Q. Well -

A. May I say one more word in connection with something which is quite a Reichsbank matter. I myself am confronted here with, I would almost say, an incomprehensible puzzle. The fact that I was not informed of these deliveries of valuables, pearls and so forth, is probably due to the fact that these things were not deposited for the use of the Reichsbank; the Reichsbank was only a clearing house and for that reason no one told me any of the details. But I, as President, bear the responsibility for everything that happened in the Reichsbank, together with the directors. If, however, officials were suspicious that things were happening which were the result of criminal acts, then it was their duty to tell me quite clearly and frankly and not say as I now remember Herr Wilhelm did once in a conversation, that it was a serious responsibility for the officials, a heavy onus - he used some expression like this - for the officials. How could I who at that time knew nothing about these matters have inferred from this that it was a heavy onus.

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