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Walther Funk

The International Military Tribunal trials at Nuremberg [Nuernberg] in 1946 charged the defendants with four crimes. Count One charged all of the defendants with being "leaders, organizers, instigators, or accomplices in the formation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit, or which involved the commission of, Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity." Count Two charged the defendants with crimes against peace by their participation "in the planning, preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression." Count Three charged the defendants with war crimes. Count Four charged the defendants with crimes against humanity. Funk was indicted under all four counts.

Funk, who had previously been a financial journalist, joined the Nazi Party in 1931, and shortly thereafter became one of Hitler's personal economic advisers. On January 30, 1933, Funk was made press chief in the Reich Government, and on March 11, 1933, became Under Secretary in the Ministry of Propaganda and shortly thereafter a leading figure in the various Nazi organizations which were used to control the press, films, music, and publishing houses. He took office as Minister of Economics and Plenipotentiary General for War Economy in early 1938 and as president of the Reichsbank in January 1930. He succeeded Schacht in all three of these positions. He was made a member of the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich in August 1939, and a member of the Central Planning Board in September 1943.

Funk became active in the economic field after the Nazi plans to wage aggressive mar had been clearly defined. One of his representatives attended a conference on October 14, 1938, at which Goering announced a gigantic increase in armaments and instructed the Ministry of Economics to increase exports to obtain the necessary exchange. On January 28, 1939, one of Funk's subordinates sent a memorandum to the OKW on the use of prisoners of war to make up labor deficiencies which would arise in case of mobilization. On May 30, 1939, the Under Secretary of the Ministry of Economics attended a meeting at which detailed plans were made for the financing of the war.

On August 25, 1939, Funk wrote a letter to Hitler expressing his gratitude that he had been able to participate in such world shaking events; that his plans for the "financing of the war," for the control of wage and price conditions and for the strengthening of the Reichsbank hacI been completed; and that he had inconspicuously transferred into gold all foreign exchange resources available to Germany. On October 14, 1939, after the war had begun, he made a speech in which he stated that the economic and financial departments of Germany working under the 4-year plan had been engaged in the secret economic preparation for war for over a year.

Funk participated in the economic planning which preceded the attack on the USSR. His deputy held daily conferences with Rosenberg on the economic problems which would arise in the occupation of Soviet territory. Funk himself participated in planning for the printing of ruble notes in Germany prior to the attack to serve as occupation currency in the USSR. After the attack he made a speech in which Be described plans he hnd made for the economic exploitation of the "vast territories of the Soviet Union" which were to be used as a source of raw material for Europe.

Funk was not one of the leading figures in originating the Nazi plans for aggressive war. His activity in the econonlic sphere was under the snpervision of Goering as Plenipotentiary General of the 4-year plan. He did, however, participate in the economic preparation for certain of the aggressive wars, notably those against Poland and the Soviet Union.

In his capacity as Under Secretary in the Ministry of Propaganda and Vice Chairman of the Reichs Chamber of Culture, Punk had participated in the early Nazi program of economic discrimination against the Jews. On November 12, 1938, after the pogroms of November, he attended a meeting held under the chairmanship of Goering to discuss the solution of the Jewish problem and proposed a decree providing for the banning of Jews from all business activities, which Goering issued the same day under the authority of the 4-year plan. Funk later testified at Nuermberg that he mas shocked at the outbreaks of November 10, but on November 15 he made a speech describing these outbreaks as s "violent explosion of the disgust of the German people, because of a criminal Jewish attack against the German people," and saying that the elimination of the Jews from economic life followed logically their elimination from political life.

In 1942 Funk entered into an agreement with Himnller under which the Reichsbank was to receive certain gold and jewels and currency from the SS and instructed his subordinates, who were to work out the details, not to ask too many questions. As a result of this agreement the SS sent to the Reichsbank the personal belongings taken from the victims who had been exterminated in the concentration camps. The Reichsbank kept the coins and bank notes and sent the jewels, watches, and personal belongings to Berlin municipal pawn shops. The gold from the eyeglasses and gold teeth and fillings was stored in the Reichsbank vaults. Funk protested at Nuermberg that he did not know that the Reichsbank was receiving articles of this kind. The Tribunal was of the opinion that Funk either new what was being received or was deliberately closing his eyes to what was being done.

As Minister of Economics and President of the Eeichsbank, Funk participated in the economic exploitation of occupied territories. He was President of the Continental Oil Co. which was charged with the exploitation of the oil resources of occupied territories in the east. He was responsible for the seizure of the gold reserves of the Czechoslovakian National Bank and for the liquidation of the Yugoslavian National Bank. On June 6, 1942, his deputy sent a letter to the OKW requesting that funds from the French occupation cost fund be made available for black market purchases. Funk's knowledge of German occupation policies was shown by his presence at the meeting of August 8, 1942, at which Goering addressed the various German occupation chiefs, told them of the products required from their territories, and added: "It makes no difference to me in this connection if you say that your people will starve."

In the fall of 1943, Funk was a member of the Central Planning Board which deterininecl the total number of laborers needed for German industry, and required Sauckel to produce them, usually by deportation from occupied territories. Funk did not appear to be particularly interested in this aspect of the forced labor program, and usually sent a deputy to attend the meetings, often SS General Ohlendorf, the former chief of the SD inside of Germany and the former commander of Einsatzgruppe D. But Funk mas aware that the board of which he was a member mas demanding the importation of slave laborers, and allocating them to the various industries under its control. As president of the Reichsbank, Funk was also indirectly involved in the utilization of concentration camp labor. Under his direction the Reichsbank set up a revolving fund of 12,000,000 R~ichsmarks to the credit of the SS for the construction of factories to use concentration camp laborers.

In spite of the fact that he occupied important official positions, Funk was never a dominant figure in the various programs in which he participated. This is a mitigating fact of which the Tribunal took notice.

The Tribunal found that Funk was not guilty on count one but was guilty under counts two, three, and four.



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