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Part Government Manipulation and the Big Lie

On only one occasion, following a suggestion of his Vice President Puhl, he asked Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler-this was during his second conversation with him-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 his 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 had to be turned in to the Reichsbank as a matter of course 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 remarkable objects 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 might excite a certain amount of suspicion, Your Honors, was the question of preserving secrecy, which in fact played a very important part indeed in the examination 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 insistent manner and declared under oath that he never talked to Puhl at all about any such secrecy. Thus at the very beginning, here in the courtroom, we had one statement pitted against another, oath against oath.

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 supposedly spoken about preserving secrecy.

When, however, the affidavit of the witness Thoms of 8 May was read and pointed out to the witness Puhl, the latter finally stated here under oath on 15 May 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 imposition of secrecy. This was the literal conclusion of the witness Puhl's sworn statement and at the end of it he again confirmed that the obligation for 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, Your Honors, in favor 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 anything secret and that he had never spoken of any such secrecy to Puhl, either. Moreover, there was absolutely no reason for Funk to say anything to Puhl about any special secrecy, since Funk was obviously of the opinion that the valuables involved were only of the kind which had to be turned in and confiscated, and which came within the regular lawful business of the Reichsbank and need not be kept secret, regardless of whether these things which had to be turned in were the property of a prisoner in a concentration camp or the property of a free individual.

It was never made clear by the evidence submitted why the SS on 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 secrecy evidently did not strike Vice President Puhl as unusual any more than it did the witness Thoms who had nothing at all to do with the matter but who confirmed the fact that this secrecy was nothing unusual.

But nevertheless, Your Honors, one thing is still a fact, namely, that nothing was kept secret from the numerous employees of the Reichsbank about exactly what kinds of objects were involved. On the contrary, the Reichsbank personnel was even entrusted by Vice President Puhl with the task of sorting the valuables delivered and converting them into cash at the pawn shop. Dozens of Reichsbank officials who regularly entered the vaults could see the various articles every day, and the Reichshauptkasse, an institution entirely separate from the Reichsbank, from time to time settled accounts for the conversion of valuables into cash with the Reich Ministry of Finance in a quite open and thoroughly routine way.

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 did not concern him.

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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 at the time, and that even Vice President Puhl and Reichsbank Councillor Thorns did not think there was anything bad connected with the things, although Thoms, at least, had seen of what the deposits actually consisted. For this reason there is no longer any 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 skepticism from the very beginning.

Puhl apparently had the understandable desire at least by his written affidavit to shift responsibility from himself to the shoulders of his President Funk in order to free himself of his own responsibility for the unpleasant facts of the case when he was told during his imprisonment that the gold articles of the SS consisted mostly of spectacle frames and gold teeth and had been taken from victims of concentration camps.

At the beginning, even Puhl apparently did not see anything 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.

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Gentlemen, whatever one may judge the responsibility of Vice President Puhl to be, at all events these things lie outside the responsibility of the Defendant Funk who is the only one with whom you are concerned in connection with this point here. In the period after this time Funk had only two or three very brief and unimportant conversations with Puhl regarding these gold deposits with a view to converting into cash gold coins and foreign currency delivered in the regular way. Outside of 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 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 from concentration camp victims under criminal circumstances by the SS.

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If Vice President Puhl did not know that and could not have guessed it, then Funk could have known even less about it, and Puhl's initial statement which was to the effect that-as he said at the time-"the gold articles had been accepted by the Reichsbank with Funk's knowledge and agreement and had been converted into cash with the assistance of the Reichsbank personnel," was a grossly misleading statement to the Prosecution. Subsequently during his imprisonment when Puhl first learned of the true circumstances, he surely must have.

In conclusion, Puhl declared here under oath that he would not have tolerated such transactions either, and that he would have brought the matter to the attention of the Directorate of the Reichsbank as well as to that of President Funk if he had known that the valuables were taken from victims of concentration camps and had been informed about the nature of these valuables. In connection with this topic, therefore, I come to the following conclusion: The Reichsbank certainly transacted business for the account of the Reich, the subject matter of which was derived from criminal acts of the SS; but the Defendant Funk knew nothing of this.

He would not have tolerated such transactions had he known the true circumstances. Therefore, he cannot be made criminally responsible for this. The same is true, Your Honors, with regard to Reichsbank credits for the business agencies of the SS, concerning which I shall limit myself to a few sentences.

In his written affidavit of 3 May the witness Puhl has given a completely misleading account of this matter also. For he stated originally that credits of 10 to 12 million Reichsmark furnished by the Gold Discount Bank upon the instruction of the Defendant Funk were used-and I am now quoting literally: "for financing production in SS factories by workers from concentration camps. In his oral examination as a witness, Puhl then was asked whether Funk had any knowledge that persons from concentration camps were employed in these factories at all.

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In reply to this, Puhl declared literally: "I am inclined to assume this, but I am not in a position to know it. In contrast to this, Funk's own statement in regard to this matter is quite clear and convincing. It was to the effect that he knew, indeed, about the request for credit by the SS, and that he even granted it, but that he knew nothing about the nature of the SS enterprises concerned and about the people who were employed in them. Funk stated this under oath. Accordingly, this credit transaction, which moreover occurred about 2 years before the affair of the SS gold deposits, that is, prior to , incriminates neither the Defendant Funk nor the witness Vice President Puhl.

At that time, in , neither of them was acquainted with the conditions in the concentration camps. They only learned about them much later, that is, in the course of this Trial.

Nor did the Defendant Funk know that persons from the concentration camps were working in the afore-mentioned SS factories for which the credit was intended. Gentlemen, in this connection it appears necessary to devote a few more sentences to a discussion of the question whether Funk ever visited a concentration camp. The witness Dr. Blaha, who was examined here, stated that Dr.

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Funk was once in Dachau in the first half of This visit was supposed to have occurred as a sequel to a conference of the Finance Ministers at Berchtesgaden, or in some other place in this region, in which Funk is said to have participated. Yet, Gentlemen, when he was examined here, the witness Dr. Blaha was unable to say that he had personally seen the Defendant Funk in Dachau, but had only heard from camp inmates at Dachau-that is, from other persons-that the Reich Minister of Economics, Funk, was with many other visitors allegedly present.

He did not see him; nor would he have known him if he had. From the very beginning Funk himself has flatly denied this visit to Dachau. He also stated this under oath, and the affidavit made by his constant companion Dr. Schwedler contained in the Funk document book under Number 13 submitted to you proves beyond a doubt that Funk never was in a concentration camp, Dr.

Schwedler is in a position to know this, as at that time he was the constant companion of the defendant and knew where Funk was from day to day. Moreover, Funk was never a Finance Minister, as the witness Dr. Blaha assumed, and never took part in a conference of Finance Ministers. Therefore, it appears beyond any doubt that what the witness Dr. Blaha stated here purely from hearsay is based on false information, or he has confused Funk with another visitor, which was very easily possible since the Defendant Funk was comparatively unknown to the public.

The conclusion, therefore, is that Funk never visited a concentration camp and never personally became aware of the conditions prevailing in such camps. Now, by this assertion Funk by no means wishes to allege that he knew nothing at all about the existence of concentration camps. Funk was naturally cognizant of the fact, just as almost any other German, that there were concentration camps in Germany after ; just as he knew that there were and still are penitentiaries, prisons, and other penal institutions in Germany.

But what he did not know, and what I want to stress here, was the very large number of such concentration camps and the hundreds of thousands, even millions, of their inmates. Equally unknown to him were the countless atrocities committed in these camps, which first became known only in this Trial. In particular it was only during this Trial that Funk learned that there were extermination camps which murdered millions of Jews. Funk had no knowledge of this; he has stated this under oath and it also appears absolutely credible, for one of the most important results of this.

Trial, in the opinion of the Defense, consists in providing proof of the fact that the German people in general knew nothing about the large number of concentration camps or the conditions within them, but that on the contrary those conditions were kept secret in such a cunning and cruel way that even the highest officials of the Reich including the very ministers knew nothing about them. Your Honors, the Defense have now presented their views on that part of the Indictment which, had it been true, would have tragically incriminated the man Funk.

One may think as one pleases about acts of violence during a political and economic struggle, especially in stormy revolutionary periods, but in the opinion of the Defendant Funk himself there can be no disagreement on one point, namely, with regard to the concentration camp atrocities committed for years, especially against the Jewish population. Anyone who participated in such unheard-of atrocities should be made to atone for them in the severest way, according to the opinion of the entire German people.

That is also the point of view of the Defendant Funk, which he expressed here on 6 May when he replied to the American prosecutor from the witness stand that as a man and as a German he felt deeply guilty and shamed for the crimes which Germans committed against millions of poor people. Gentlemen, I have now reached the end of my consideration of the Funk case as far as criminal law is concerned, And that is the duty of the Defense in this Trial.

The examination of the evidence with regard to the Funk case has, in the opinion of the defendant, produced proof that a legal guilt, a criminal guilt, on his part does not exist, and that he can ask you for his acquittal with a clear conscience because he has never committed any criminal acts in his life.

Your task as judges will now be to find a just verdict for the Defendant Funk, a verdict which will not make him atone for the crimes of others, crimes he could not prevent and which he may not even have known about, but a verdict which only establishes the degree of his own guilt and not the degree of his political guilt, but of his criminal guilt which is the sole object of these proceedings. This verdict should be valid not only for today but also recognized as just in the future when we shall view these terrible events in the proper perspective and dispassionately as we would ancient history; a verdict, Your Honors, which will not only satisfy the nations which you represent, but which will also be recognized as just and wise by the German people as a whole; a verdict, finally, which is not only destructive, retaliatory, and which will sow hatred for the future, but one which will make it possible for the.

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German people to move forward toward a happier future of human dignity and charity, of equality and peace. Dodd, will you or Sir David deal with this. Sir David, I have got a document drawn up by the General Secretary which shows in the first place, in the case of the Defendant Goering, that there are four interrogatories which have been submitted, and to which the Prosecution has not objected. Is that right? Then, with reference to the Defendant Ribbentrop, there are two affidavits to which there is no objection, and there are three further affidavits which have not been received, I understand.

Horn for what he has got to say about those three, because as far as I can see, there are only these three documents and an affidavit for Seyss-Inquart from a man called Erwin Schotter, and another from a man called Adalbert Joppich, which have not yet been received. Now, with reference to the rest, so far as the Prosecution are concerned, what are the objections, if any? Servatius for the Defendant Sauckel. These documents "A" to "I," were they applied for after the case had been closed? That would be after the case had been closed.

My Lord, I am sorry, but the case was not technically closed, for that day was open for any defendant to put in. My Lord, I have just been having a word with Dr.

Servatius and he says that the one to which he attac0hes the greatest importance is "A," the decree by the Defendant Sauckel as to return transportation of sick foreign workers. My Lord, I am quite prepared on that assurance by Dr. Servatius not to make any objection to number "A," and Dr.