The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Is that Page 89 of the Document Book?

THE PRESIDENT: What is that? September, 1942?

THE WITNESS: 30 September, 1942.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I have got that. What about the one of
October, 1941? Where is that?

THE WITNESS: October, 1941?

                                                   [Page 10]

THE PRESIDENT: October, 1941.

THE WITNESS: That is 3 October, 1941.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you know where it is, Dr. Thoma?

DR. THOMA: It is contained in Document 1015-PS, Exhibit USA
85, but it may be that this document is not listed in this
particular index. In my document I cannot locate it at the
moment, but it belongs to Document 1015-PS and was submitted
in its entirety.

THE WITNESS: And the order of the Army High Command of
September, 1942, says, under 1:

  "Except for special cases, in which the safeguarding of
  endangered works of culture is urgent, efforts will be
  made to leave them in their present location for the time
  being. For this purpose, according to a mutual agreement
  between the Quartermaster General, Army General Staff,
  Army High Command, and the Special Purpose Staff of Reich
  Leader Rosenberg, the following authority has been
  granted to the latter:
  (c) In order to safeguard against damage or destruction
  in the operational area of the East also such works of
  culture which do not fall under paragraph b - especially
  museum pieces - to protect and/or place them in security.

At the end of this directive, it says, under IV:

  "Independent of the missions of the Special Purpose Staff
  of Reich Leader Rosenberg according to Section 1, a, b,
  c, the troops and all military offices located in the
  operational area are instructed now as before to preserve
  valuable art objects if possible and to protect them from
  destruction or damage."

I feel bound to prove, at least very briefly, that my
Special Purpose Staff, as well as the military offices,
issued unequivocal directives and orders for the protection,
even during these bitter battles, of art treasures of the
Russian, Ukrainian, and White Ruthenian people.

Q. Herr Rosenberg, you know that Hitler and Goering diverted
some of the art treasures which were confiscated in France.
What part did you play in this matter?

A. As a basic principle the Fuehrer specified, as can be
seen from information given by the then Field Marshal upon
order of the Fuehrer, that he reserved for himself the
disposing of these works and any decision relating to them.

I do not wish to dispute in any way that I had the hope that
at least a large part of these art treasures would remain in
Germany, particularly since, in the course of time, many
German cultural works were destroyed by extremely severe
bombing attacks in the West. These works of art were to be a
sort of security for later negotiations. When Reich Marshal
Goering, who by directive of the Fuehrer supported this work
of the Special Purpose Staff, earmarked a number of these
works of art for his collection, I was, I must say frankly -
as the record states - a little uneasy because with this
task I had taken on the responsibility in my name for the
sum total of the confiscated cultural and art treasures, and
I was therefore obliged to catalogue them in their entirety
and to keep them available for any negotiations or
decisions. Therefore, I directed my deputy to make as
complete a list as possible of those things which the Reich
Marshal, with the approval of the Fuehrer, was diverting to
his collection.

I knew that Reich Marshal Goering intended later to give
this collection to the German Reich and not to retain it for

In the interrogation record which was produced and read on
this point by the French Prosecution there is also a
regrettable error to be found. It says that I had been
uneasy because Reich Marshal Goering had misappropriated
these works of art. In German, the term "entwendet" means
"took illegally" (to embezzle). However, what I said was
"verwendet," which means utilised, and gives a different

                                                   [Page 11]

DR. THOMA: Mr. President, I would like to point out in this
connection the fact that the French used the word
"detourne," which means divert.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. I now turn to the furniture affair in France, and for
that purpose I am showing the defendant Document 001-PS,
also Volume 2 of the French Document Book, and I am asking
the defendant to state his views with respect to it.

(The document was submitted to the witness.)

A. Document 001-PS contains, at the beginning, information
to the effect that, as in the East accommodation conditions
were dreadful, I proposed that furniture and equipment of
unoccupied Jewish homes in France should be made available
to ameliorate these conditions. This suggestion was approved
in a decree issued by order of the Fuehrer through the Reich
Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery on 31 September,

In the course of the ever-increasing bombardment in Germany
I considered that I no longer could take responsibility for
this, and so I made a suggestion that this furniture should
be placed at the disposal of victims of bombing in Germany -
which amounted to more than 100,000 people on certain nights
- so that emergency aid would be given to them.

In the report of the French Document Book is stated in the
7th paragraph, how the confiscation was carried out; that
these deserted apartments were sealed; that they remained
sealed for a lengthy period of time to allow of possible
claims, and that, no claims being forthcoming, the contents
were then shipped to Germany.

I am aware that this, no doubt, was a serious encroachment
on private property, but here again, though fully conscious
of the implications of this action, I was influenced to take
this course by the fact of the millions of homeless Germans.
I want to emphasise in this connection that I had an
extensive catalogue made in which were recorded in detail
the homes, their owners, and the main contents in the way of
furniture, so that there would be a basis for eventual
negotiations as regards compensation at a later date.

In Germany the matter was so arranged that those people who
suffered damage through bombing paid for these furnishings
and household goods which were placed at their disposal, and
these deliveries made to them were deducted from the claims
which they had against the State. That money was paid into a
special fund administered by the Minister of Finance.

The document - 001-PS - contains under No. 2 a suggestion
which I myself consider a serious charge against me. This is
a suggestion that in view of many murders of Germans in
France, not only Frenchmen held as hostages should be shot,
but that Jewish citizens also should be called to account. I
should like to say that I considered these shootings of
hostages, since they were announced publicly, as a
permissible measure under special circumstances in war-time.
As the Armed Forces were carrying out such measures, I took
it for granted that they were the result of proper
investigations and were all the more permissible when the
murder of Germans were taking place in the territory of a
State with which the German Reich had signed an armistice.

Secondly, this happened during a period of excitement, due
to the war which had just broken out with the United States
of America, and while bearing in mind the report from the
Polish Ambassador, Count Potowski, dated 30 January, 1939,
which the Tribunal has forbidden to be read.

In spite of everything I must say that I consider this
suggestion as a personal injustice. Looking at it from the
legal side I would like to point out that in Document 1015-
PS, under letter Y, there is a letter from the Reich

                                                   [Page 12]

and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, which is dated 31
December, 1941, and in which it says:

  "Your memorandum dated 18 December, 1941, has been
  submitted to the Fuehrer. The Fuehrer has agreed in
  principle with the suggestion under 1. A copy of that
  part of the memorandum which deals with the use of Jewish
  household goods has been transmitted to the Commander-in-
  Chief of the Armed Forces and the Reich Commissar for the
  occupied Netherlands together with a letter of which a
  copy is attached hereto."

In this manner point I was accepted, and tacitly though just
as emphatically, point 2, which deals with this suggestion,
was turned down. This suggestion therefore had no legal
consequences. Later on I never referred to this suggestion,
and I must say that I had forgotten all about it until it
was again put before me here.

Q. I now turn to the subject "Minister for the Occupied
Eastern Territories."

The defendant is anxious to express his opinion with regard
to Molotov's note that he, the defendant, was a Czarist spy,
since this affects his personal character. I therefore ask
the defendant whether he at any time had connections with
the Czarist police.

A. No.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, the Indictment which has
been presented to the defendant Rosenberg at no point
charges him with having been a Czarist spy. Therefore, we
consider that this question is irrelevant.

DR. THOMA: The Molotov Notes have been submitted to the
Tribunal, and so have been put in evidence. Consequently, I
think that I may be permitted to put that question.

THE PRESIDENT: He has answered in the negative already, so
you can pass from it, can't you? It has formed no part of
the Indictment.



Q. When did you learn that you were proposed for the
position of Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories,
and for what reason was the task involved given to you?

A. May I state with regard to this that at the very
beginning of April - as far as I can remember it was 2
April, 1941 - the Fuehrer summoned me in the morning and
explained to me that he regarded a military clash with the
Soviet Union as inevitable. The reasons he quoted were
twofold: firstly, the military occupation of Roumanian
territory - that is to say, Bessarabia and North Bukovina;
secondly, the continual reinforcing for a long time and on a
great scale of the Red Army along the line of demarcation
and in Soviet territory as a whole. These facts were so
striking that he had already given the corresponding
military and other orders and had decided to make of me a
political adviser in a decisive capacity. Thus I was facing
an accomplished fact, and an attempt even to discuss the
matter was countered by the Fuehrer with the remark that the
orders had been given and that scarcely anything could be
altered in the matter, so I consequently told the Fuehrer
that of course I wished the, best of luck to the German
Armed Forces and I was at his disposal for the political
advice which he desired.

Immediately afterwards I called a meeting of my closest
assistants, since I didn't know whether the military
operations would be starting very soon or later on. We made
a number of drafts concerning the possible treatment of
political problems and possible measures to be taken in the
territories to be occupied in the East. These drafts have
been submitted here. On 20 April I received a preliminary
task, which was to form a central department for the
treatment of Eastern questions and to get in touch with the
leading departments in the Reich concerned in the matter.

Q. I should like to submit them to the defendant, the
instructions which he

                                                   [Page 13]

drafted after his appointment. And I have yet another
request to the Tribunal. These instructions appear in the
photostatic copy crossed out and bearing a variety of
remarks; and I request, therefore, that the Tribunal would
take personal cognisance of the photostatic copies so that
they can see how these instructions have been crossed out.
The actual documents have already been submitted to the
Tribunal as numbered exhibits.

A. May I refer to these documents - 1017, 1028, 1029 and
1030 -

THE PRESIDENT: They have already been put in evidence?

DR. THOMA: Yes, they have been put in.

Q. May I ask you to state the exhibit numbers?

A. I have just mentioned the exhibit numbers.

Q. What are the USA exhibit numbers?

A. No. 1028 had USA number 273; 1030 has USA number 144. On
the others I do not find any USA numbers.

DR. THOMA: Document 1017 is Exhibit USA 142; No. 1028 is
Exhibit USA 273; No. 1029 is Exhibit USA 145; No. 1030 is
Exhibit USA 144. They are contained in the special document
book for the defendant Rosenberg. I state in this connection
that these are provisional drafts with notations by the
secretary, from the end of April and the beginning of May.
These provisional drafts were not released but, as can be
seen, were crossed out and supplemented with written remarks
in the margin, and in addition they contain viewpoints which
later on were not approved by the Fuehrer, for which reason
alone, as far as the Ukraine is concerned, they couldn't
have been used at all.

The written instructions which went out to the Reich
Commissars for the East and the Ukraine, after the Ministry
for the Occupied Eastern Territories had been formed, were
unfortunately not found, so that I cannot refer to them.

Q. On June, 1941, that is to say, one day before the
outbreak of the war against Russia, did you make a speech to
everybody concerned with the Eastern affairs regarding those
Eastern problems? The document concerned here is Exhibit USA
147, from which the prosecution quoted the same paragraph
several times.

A. This is a fairly long impromptu speech made before those
who were concerned with and assigned to Eastern problems,
and I state in that connection, that it was my obvious duty
to consider which political measures would have to be taken
so as to avoid a situation in which the German Reich would
have to fight every twenty-five years for its existence in
the East, and I should like to emphasise that what I said in
this confidential speech does not correspond in any way with
the Soviet accusation that I was in favour of a systematic
extermination of the Slavic peoples.

I do not wish to occupy the Tribunal's time by reading very
much here but nevertheless I would like to read a few
paragraphs to justify myself. It says in paragraph 2:

  "Originally, Russian history was a purely Continental
  affair. For 200 years Moscow-Russia lived under the
  Tartar yoke and its face was predominantly turned to the
  East. The Russian traders and hunters opened up the East
  as far as the Urals; some Cossack tribes went to Siberia
  and the colonisation of Siberia is no doubt one of the
  great accomplishments of history."

I think that this expresses my attitude of respect towards
that historic achievement. The next paragraph states:

  "From this it follows that Germany's aim is the freedom
  of the Ukrainian people. This must be made a point of our
  political programme. In what form and to what extent a
  Ukrainian State can be formed later, that is something
  which one cannot discuss now ... One must proceed
  cautiously in this direction. Literature dealing with the
  Ukrainian struggles must be disseminated so that the
  Ukrainian people's historical
                                                   [Page 14]
  consciousness can be revived. A university could be
  founded in Kiev technical colleges should be built. The
  Ukrainian language should be cultivated, etc."

I have quoted this as documentary evidence of the fact that
it was not my intention to destroy the culture of the
peoples of the East.

In the following paragraph I pointed out that it was
important to acquire in the course of time the voluntary co-
operation of the 40 millions of people in the Ukraine.

In the following paragraph I refer to the eventual
occupation of the Caucasian territories as follows:

  "Here the aim will not be to found a Caucasian National
  State, but to find a solution on federal lines in
  association with Germany, which might lead these people
  to ask Germany to protect their cultural and national

Here, too, there is no question of a desire to exterminate.

Now comes a matter which has been described by the American
Prosecution as a particularly serious incriminating factor.
It treats with the so-called colonisation of, and the German
national property in, the East. This paragraph states as

  "Quite apart from all these problems there is a question
  which is of an equally general nature and which we must
  all ponder upon: namely, the question of German national
  property. German people have worked in this immense
  territory for centuries. The result of that work, among
  other things, was the acquisition of a great amount of
  land. The property confiscated in the Baltic countries
  can be compared in size with East-Prussia; the area of
  the land in the Black Sea was as great as Wurttemberg,
  Baden and Alsace put together. In the Black Sea area more
  land was cultivated than is ploughed in Great Britain.
  These comparisons of size must make it clear to us that
  the Germans there did not idly exploit or plunder the
  people but that they did constructive and creative work.
  And the outcome of that work is German national property,
  irrespective of earlier individual owners. Just how we
  may one day be adequately compensated cannot yet be
  considered. But a ... legal basis can be created by us."

I wished to quote this so that I can refer to it later on,
when we deal with the agrarian problem, particularly in the
Reich Commissariat East, where the 700-year-old German
property was not restored but handed over to the Esthonians,
Latvians and Lithuanians by law, as has been proved.

In a later paragraph it states:

  "We must declare in this connection that even now we are
  not enemies of the Russian people ..."

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