The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/09/19

                                                  [Page 355]


MONDAY, 15th JULY, 1946

THE MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, the defendant
Ribbentrop is absent today.

THE PRESIDENT: Would it be convenient to counsel for the
prosecution and for the defence if at two o'clock today we
were to deal with those interrogatories and affidavits which
have come in since the last applications were made?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it would be perfectly
convenient for the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, do you think it would be
convenient for the defence counsel to deal with those
matters at two o clock?

DR. SAUTER (counsel for the defendant Funk): Certainly.

Mr. President, I will inform the other defence counsel that
these applications will be discussed at two o'clock.

DR. DIX (counsel for the defendant Schacht): I agree with my
colleague, Dr. Sauter, that this should be done. But if this
is done just at two o'clock, it will interrupt my final
speech. I should be very grateful if it could be done
immediately after Dr. Sauter finishes his speech, so that I
could present my plea coherently. It would be very awkward
if I were interrupted.

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly, Dr. Dix. Very well; we will do it
immediately after Dr. Sauter's plea.

DR. SAUTER: May I speak now, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Sauter.

DR. SAUTER: May it please the Tribunal, before the
adjournment on Friday, I explained in conclusion the
position and the attitude of the defendant Funk with respect
to the Jewish question. On this occasion I pointed out that
in connection with the executive decrees of the end of 1938
on the legal exclusion of the Jews from economic life, the
defendant Funk acted only in his capacity as a Reich
official and in the performance of the duties of that

On Friday, I finished my statements in that respect with the words:

  "Gentlemen, accordingly a sense of duty on the one hand
  and human feeling on the other were the motives which
  kept the defendant in office and thus brought him into a
  situation where he is today charged with criminal

Now, gentlemen of the Tribunal, I turn to the last chapter
of my appraisal of the defendant Funk, of his motives and
actions, and consequently I shall deal with the SS gold
deliveries to the Reichsbank and with the relation of the
defendant Funk to the concentration camp question. That is
to say, I am going to start on Page 58 of the written speech
which has been submitted to you.

It is really a terrible tragedy in the life of the defendant
Funk that he was not only condemned by fate, in the year
1938, to implement decrees for laws which he always mentally
condemned and repudiated more than anybody else, but that
once again, in the year 1942, he became involved in a
particularly terrible manner with Jewish persecutions; I am
thinking now of the deposits made by the SS in the
Reichsbank, that is to say, the business shown here in a
film of the steel vault

                                                  [Page 356]

of the Frankfurt branch of the Reichsbank and about which
two witnesses have testified, namely, Vice-President Emil
Puhl and Reichsbank Counsellor Albert Toms.

The defendant Funk had previously been examined about this
matter of the gold deposits at the preliminary proceedings
on 4th June, 1945 (Document 2828-PS); at that time, however,
no details were disclosed to him, and Funk made the same
statement then as he did before this Tribunal, namely, that
he was only briefly occupied with the matter in question on
a few occasions, and that he had not attached any importance
to it at all. That is also the reason why the defendant Funk
could not at first remember those happenings very well
during the proceedings here. Therefore, he did not know
anything more about them than he had already said.

Nevertheless, gentlemen of the Tribunal, Funk had to expect
that this matter would be brought up in the trial, at any
rate in the cross-examination. And this was actually done by
the American prosecution on 7th May, 1946, and the latter
submitted an affidavit by the witness Emil Puhl, Vice-
President of the Reichsbank, in which at first Puhl appeared
to make serious accusations against the defendant Funk. Now
it is remarkable that since the beginning of this trial the
defendant Funk has repeatedly referred to this very witness
Puhl on various points, and that since December, 1945, he
has repeatedly requested that the latter be interrogated.
Measured by ordinary human standards, Funk would certainly
not have done this if he had had a bad conscience and had
reason to expect to be accused in the most damaging way by
his own witness regarding the concentration camp stories.
But the oral examination of the witness Emil Puhl here
before this Tribunal showed beyond a doubt that Puhl could
no longer in any way maintain the originally incriminating
statements in his affidavit, as far as the character of the
defendant Funk and his knowledge of the particulars of the
SS deposits were concerned.

It is true that Funk, as he recalled after Puhl's testimony
(and concerning this I have also submitted a corrected copy
of his sworn testimony), was once asked by Reichsfuehrer SS
Himmler whether articles of value which had been seized by
the SS in the Eastern territories could be deposited in the
treasure vaults of the Reichsbank. Funk answered this
question in the affirmative and told Himmler that he could
delegate somebody to discuss the matter with Vice-President
Puhl and settle it. Himmler at that time told Funk that his
Gruppenfuehrer Pohl could do this and that the latter would
get in touch with Vice-President Puhl. That was all that
Funk, at that time, I believe in 1942, had discussed with
Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler, particulars of which he gave to
his Vice-President Puhl on that occasion, because Puhl was
actually directing the business of the Reichsbank and
therefore was responsible for this affair.

There was nothing extraordinary in this question of
Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler, at least as far as Funk was aware.
For, as far as Funk knew, the SS was at that time in charge
of the entire police service in the occupied territories in
the East. For that reason it often had to confiscate
valuables just as the ordinary police did in the interior,
that is, within Germany. Moreover, all gold coins, foreign
currency, etc., in the occupied territories of the East had
to be turned in according to law, and these deliveries in
the Eastern Territories were naturally made to the SS
because there were no other State offices equipped for that
purpose. Funk also knew that the concentration camps were
under the direction of the SS and thought that the valuables
which were to be given to the Reichsbank by the SS for
safekeeping belonged very properly to that category of
valuables which the entire population was obliged to

Finally, as has been ascertained in the course of this
trial, the SS was constantly just as much engaged in the
fighting in the East as the Wehrmacht, and just like the
latter, the SS had also collected so-called booty in the
abandoned and destroyed towns of the East and delivered it
to the Reich. Therefore, Funk saw nothing at all
extraordinary in the fact that the SS possessed gold and
foreign currency, and brought it in for delivery in the
regular way.

                                                  [Page 357]

Now, the essential point in this whole business is the
question whether the defendant Funk knew or saw that among
the objects delivered by the SS there were unusual
quantities of gold spectacle frames, gold teeth and similar
objects which had not come into the hands of the SS through
legal confiscations, but only in a criminal way.

If, and I emphasize, gentlemen, if it could be proven that
the defendant Funk had seen such objects in the deposits of
the SS, this should naturally have caused him some surprise.
But we heard the witness Puhl say in the most positive way
that the defendant Funk had no knowledge of this, and,
indeed, that Vice-President Puhl himself also did not know
anything more of these details. In any case, Funk never saw
what particular gold objects and what quantities the SS

Now, it has been said against Funk that he himself entered
the vaults of the Berlin Reichsbank several times, and from
this some people have concluded that he must have seen what
objects had been delivered to the Reichsbank by the SS. This
conclusion is obviously wrong, because the evidence shows
that during the entire war Funk went to the vaults of the
Reichsbank only a very few times for the purpose of showing
these vaults and the bullion of the Reichsbank which was
stored there to special visitors, especially foreign guests.
But on those few visits to the vaults he never saw the
deposits of the SS. He never observed what in particular the
SS ha deposited in his bank. This is established beyond
doubt, not only by the sworn statement of the defendant Funk
himself, but also by the oral testimony of Vice-President
Puhl and Counsellor of the Reichsbank Toms here in this
courtroom. This witness for the prosecution, who is
certainly free from suspicion and who by his own admission
volunteered to testify, has declared here under oath that
the valuables were delivered by the SS in locked trunks,
boxes and bags and were stored away in these containers, and
that Funk was never present in the vaults when the contents
of an individual box or trunk were inventoried by the
employees of the, bank. The witness Toms, who was in charge
of these vaults, never saw the defendant Funk there at all.
Therefore, Funk neither knew the extent which the deliveries
of the SS gradually assumed in the course of time, nor did
he know that the deposits contained jewellery, pearls and
precious stones, and spectacle frames and gold teeth. He
never saw any of those things, neither did any of his
officials ever report to him about them.

Now it is the opinion of the prosecution that Funk, as
President of the Reichsbank, surely must have known what was
kept in the vaults of his bank, but this conclusion is also
obviously wrong and does not take into consideration the
actual conditions in a large central bank of issue. Funk,
who was also Reich Minister of Economy, had in his capacity
as President of the Reichsbank no occasion whatever to
bother about an individual deposit of one client, even if he
happened to belong to the SS. As President of the Reichsbank
he did not bother about any deposits of other clients of his
bank, either, as this was not his job. On only one occasion,
following a suggestion of his Vice-President, Puhl, he asked
Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler - this was during his second
conversation with Himmler - whether the valuables deposited
by the SS in the Reichsbank could be converted into cash in
the legal course of business at the Reichsbank. Himmler gave
his permission and Funk passed this information on to Vice-
President Puhl.

But in this matter he was only thinking of gold coins and
foreign currency, that is to say, of those particular
valuables which by law had to be turned in to the Reichsbank
in the German Reich and which could be and had to be
converted into cash by the Reichsbank. The idea never
occurred to Funk that the deposits might contain gold teeth
or other such unusual things which had their origin in
criminal acts in concentration camps. He heard about these
things to his horror for the first time here in the
courtroom during the trial.

The only remaining point in the statement of the witness
Puhl which still seemed to rouse a certain amount of
suspicion was the question of preserving secrecy, which,
indeed, also played a very, very important part in the

                                                  [Page 358]

of the witness. Vice-President Puhl stated here at the
beginning of his testimony that the defendant Funk had told
him that the matter of the SS deposits must be kept
especially secret. Funk, on the other hand, has always
denied this in the most positive way and declared under oath
that he never talked with Puhl at all about any such
preservation of secrecy. Thus at the very beginning here in
the courtroom we had conflicting statements on this point.
Vice-President Puhl's statements regarding this point,
however, seemed somewhat contradictory from the beginning.
For on one occasion Vice-President Puhl said that this
secrecy had not struck him as anything extraordinary, since,
after all, secrecy is preserved about everything that occurs
in a bank. In answer to a special question, Puhl then stated
repeatedly that he did not notice at all that the defendant
Funk had particularly spoken about preserving secrecy.

When, however, the affidavit of the witness Toms was
produced and read to the witness Puhl, the latter finally
stated here under oath on 15th May, 1946, that it was
plainly visible from this affidavit that the desire for
secrecy emanated from the SS. The SS considered it important
that this business should be transacted secretly. The SS, as
Puhl said, had been the ones originally responsible for the
obligation of secrecy. The conclusion of the witness Puhl's
statement read literally like this, and was also sworn to by
him, and at the end of it he again confirmed that the
obligation of secrecy was desired and imposed by the SS.

The initial contradiction regarding this point between the
statements of the defendant Funk and those of the witness
Puhl was hereby completely eliminated, in favour of the
defendant. Puhl himself could no longer maintain his
original assertion that it was Funk who had ordered the SS
deposits to be kept secret Therefore, in arriving at your
verdict, you must proceed from the premise that the
statement of the defendant Funk is correct in this point
also and deserves preference, for he has declared under oath
from the very beginning and with the utmost certainty that
he himself knew nothing about keeping something secret and
that he had never spoken of any such secrecy to Puhl.
Moreover, there was absolutely no reason for Funk to say
anything to Puhl about any special secrecy, since Funs was
obviously of the opinion that the valuables involved were
only of the kind which had to be turned in, and which,
therefore, were to be confiscated, and which came within the
regular, lawful field of business of the Reichsbank and did
not need to be kept secret, regardless of whether these
things which had to b turned in were the property of a
prisoner in a concentration camp or the property of a free

It was never made clear, by the evidence submitted, why the
SS for their part stressed the importance of preserving
secrecy to Vice-President Puhl and why furthermore, the SS
opened the deposit in the name of Melmer instead of in the
name of the SS, and the prosecution for their part did not
attach any importance to clearing up this point. However, in
any case, the demand of the SS for secret evidently did not
strike Vice-President Puhl as unusual, any more than it did
the witness Toms, who had nothing at all to do with the
matter, and who confirm the fact that this secrecy was
nothing unusual. But nevertheless, one thing is still a
fact, namely, that nothing was kept secret from the numerous
personnel of the Reichsbank about exactly what kinds of
objects were involved. On the contrary, personnel of the
Reichsbank were even entrusted by Vice-President Puhl with
the task of sorting the valuables delivered and converting
them into cash at the pawnshop. Dozens of Reichsbank
officials who regularly entered the vaults could see the
individual articles every day, and the Reichshauptkasse, an
institution separate from the Reichsbank, from time to time
settled accounts for the conversion of valuables into cash
with the Reich Ministry of Finance quite openly in the
ordinary routine manner. Naturally, the defendant Funk did
not know, and still does not know today, whether and to what
extent agreements had been reached between the Finance
Minister and Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler for accounting for the
gold articles to the Reich. He was never interested in it,
and, indeed, it d not concern him.

                                                  [Page 359]

From all these facts, as shown by the evidence, one can
readily conclude that Funk himself knew nothing about the
things which were turned over to the Reichsbank in his time,
and that even Vice-President Puhl and Reichsbank Counsellor
Toms did not think there was anything wrong connected with
the procedure, although Toms, at least, had seen of what the
deposits actually consisted.

For this reason, there is no longer need to examine the
obvious question as to whether the initial statements of
Puhl with regard to the deposits of the SS should not have
been received with a certain scepticism from the very
beginning, because Puhl apparently had the understandable
desire, at least in his written affidavit, to shift
responsibility from himself on to the shoulders of his
President, Funk, in order to free himself of his own
responsibility in the matter, when he was told during his
imprisonment that the gold articles of the SS consisted
mostly of spectacle frames and gold teeth which had been
taken away from victims of concentration camps. In the
beginning, even Puhl apparently did not see any thing wrong
in the whole business. For him the matter was an ordinary
business transaction of the Reichsbank for the account of
the Reich, which he dealt with in the same manner as he
dealt with gold articles and foreign currency that had been
confiscated by the Customs Investigation Office or the
Office of Control for Foreign Currency or any other State
authority. Gentlemen, whatever one may judge the
responsibility of Vice-President Puhl to be, at all events
these things lie outside of any responsibility of the
defendant Funk, who is the only one here with whom you are
concerned in connection with this point. 

In the period after
this time Funk had only two or three very brief and
unimportant conversations with Puhl regarding these gold
deposits apropos of converting the gold coins and foreign
currency delivered into cash in the regular way. Apart from
this, Funk did not concern himself at all with this whole
matter any more. He knew even less about the matter than
Puhl, and it is not without significance that Puhl declared
here under oath that he, Puhl, would never have permitted
these gold objects to be deposited in the Reichsbank at all
if he had had the slightest notion that the things had been
taken away from concentration camp victims under criminal
circumstances by the SS. 

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