The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Twenty-Second Day: Tuesday, 18th December, 1945
(Part 3 of 8)

[COLONEL STOREY continues]

[Page 61]

Now, if your Honour pleases, in addition to the evidence heretofore presented, the prosecution submits that it is another evidence of crime that the Leadership Corps of the N.S.D.A.P. was responsible for the plundering of art treasures by the defendant Reichsleiter Rosenberg's "Einsatzstab Rosenberg". The definition of "Einsatzstab" is a "special staff," and I am told that the word "Einsatz" means "to give action to". In other words, it was a task force, a special staff.

This subject, digressing from the text, had been prepared in connection with the general subject of "Plundering of Art Treasures", and I shall now turn to the document books of the "Plundering of Art Treasures" because the citations now will be in this small book.

I now pass to your Honour Document Book "W", and, may I say, digressing from the text, that the trial address, which is very brief, has, as I have been told by the Translating Division, been translated into all four languages; and, as I understand, Colonel Dostert will distribute it to all parties in their respective languages.

Also, by way of explanation, at the beginning there is one reference here to the plundering of art treasures in the occupied portion of Poland, which does not bear directly upon this subject, but does on the general conspiracy: and I thought, in the interest of time, that we might follow the presentation, because it is very brief.

May it please the Tribunal, the sections of the Indictment which are to be proved at this point are those dealing with the plunder of public and private property under Count One, the Common Plan or Conspiracy. It is not my purpose to explore all phases of the ordinary plunder in which the Germans engaged. However, I would bring to the attention of the Tribunal and of the world the defendants' vast, organised, systematic pro-

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gramme for the cultural impoverishment of virtually every community of Europe and for the enrichment of Germany thereby.

Special emphasis will be placed on the activities of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg; and the responsibility of the Leadership Corps in this regard is a responsibility that is shared by the defendants Rosenberg, Goering and Keitel, and by the defendant organisations: the General Staff, High Command, Gestapo, the Security Service, and the S.S.

Before I deal with the plunder of the cultural treasures by the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, I wish to reveal briefly the independent plundering operations conducted in the Government General of occupied Poland by authority of the defendant Goering and under the supervision of the defendant Frank, the Governor General.

In October, 1939, Goering issued a verbal order to a Dr. Muehlmann asking him to undertake the immediate securing of all Polish art treasures. Dr. Muehlmann himself gives evidence of this order in Document 3042, found in the document book last introduced as Exhibit USA 375.

THE PRESIDENT: Are the documents in Book W?

COLONEL STOREY: Book W; yes, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: I was asking whether the documents in Book W are placed in order of number in PS?

COLONEL STOREY: They are; yes, Sir; and the first one is found on the first page. I beg your pardon; 3042 would be in numerical order toward the end, your Honour.

THE PRESIDENT: I have it. I was merely asking for general information.

COLONEL STOREY: These are consecutive. I would like to offer this affidavit and to read it in full. In short, it was obtained in Austria.

Kajetan Muehlmann states under oath:

"I have been a member of the N.S.D.A.P. since 1st April, 1938. I was Brigadier General (Oberfuehrer) in the S.S.

I was never an illegal Nazi.

I was the special deputy of the Governor General of Poland, Hans Frank, for the safeguarding of art treasures in the Government General, October, 1939 to September, 1943.

Goering, in his function as chairman of the Reich Defence Council, had commissioned me with this duty.

I confirm that it was the official policy of the Governor General Hans Frank, to take into custody all important art treasures which belonged to Polish public institutions, private collections and the Church. I confirm that the art treasures mentioned were actually confiscated; and it is clear to me that they would not have remained in Poland in case of a German victory, but they would have been used to complement German artistic property.

Signed and sworn to by Dr. Muehlmann."

On the 15th November, 1939, Frank issued a decree, which is published officially in The Law of the Government General, (Document 1773-PS, Exhibit USA 376). It is E.800, Article 1, Section 1. It is not in the document book. It is just a short quotation, of which we ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice. Quoting:
"All movable and stationary property of the former Polish State

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will be sequestered for the purpose of securing all manner of public valuables."
In a further decree of 16th December, 1939, appearing at Page E.810 of the same publication, Frank provided that all art objects in public possession in the Government General were to be seized for the fulfillment of public tasks of common interest, in so far as they had not already been seized under the decree of 13th November. The decree provided that, in addition to art collections and art treasures belonging to the Polish State, there will be considered as owned by the public those private collections which have not already been taken under protection by the Special Commissioner, as well as all ecclesiastical art property.

On the 24th September, 1940, Frank decreed that all property seized on the basis of the decree of 15th November, 1939, would be transferred to the ownership of the Government General, and this decree is also found at E.810 of the same publication.

It is impossible for me to furnish this Tribunal a complete Picture of the vastness of the programme for the cultural impoverishment of Poland carried out pursuant to the directives, as I cannot read into the record the 500-odd masterpieces catalogued in Document 1233-PS (Exhibit USA 377) or the many hundreds of additional items catalogued in Document 1709-PS, Exhibit USA 378. Now Document 1233-PS, which I hold in my hand, is a finely bound, beautifully printed catalogue, in which defendant Frank proudly lists and describes the major works of art which he had seized for the benefit of the Reich. This volume was captured by the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Division of the Third United States Army and was found in Frank's home near Munich. The introductory page describes the thoroughness with which the Government General stripped Poland of its cultural possessions. That is quoted in Document 1233-PS.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you hand that up?

COLONEL STOREY: I am quoting now from the introductory page, the English translation, the first paragraph. I might say by way of explanation, that this book lists the valuable art treasure by titles. I now quote from the introductory page:

"By reason of the decree of 16th December, 1939, by the Governor General of the Occupied Polish territories, the Special Commissioner for securing objects of art and culture was able to seize within six months almost all of the art objects of the country, with one exception: a series of Flemish Gobelins of the Castle of Crakow. According to the latest information these are now in France, so that subsequent seizure will be possible."
Going through this catalogue page by page we find that it included references to paintings by German, Italian, Dutch, French and Spanish masters, rare illustrated books, Indian and Persian miniatures, wood-cuts, the famous Veit-Stoss hand-carved altar (created here in Nuremberg and purchased for use in Poland), handicraft, articles of gold and silver, antique articles of crystal, glass and porcelain, tapestries, antique weapons, rare coins and medals. These articles were seized, as indicated in the catalogue, from public and private sources, including the National Museums in Crakow and Warsaw, the cathedrals of Warsaw and Lublin, a number of churches and

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monasteries, university libraries, and a great many private collections of the Polish nobility.

I wish now to offer in evidence the catalogue bearing our number 1233-PS. It is the one just introduced in evidence, and is Document 1709-PS. This latter report, in addition to listing the 521 major items described in the catalogue, lists many other items, which though generally no less important from an artistic standpoint, were considered by the Germans to be of secondary importance from the point of view of the Reich.

It is interesting to note with what pains the defendant Frank opted to conceal his real purpose in seizing these works of art. The cover of the catalogue itself states that the objects listed were secured and safeguarded. Strangely enough, it was found necessary to safeguard some of the objects by transporting them to Berlin and depositing them in the depot of the Special Deputy or in the safe of the Deutsche Reichsbank, as is indicated on Page 80 of Document 1709-PS, Exhibit USA 378. The items referred to as having been transported to Berlin are listed in the catalogue of treasures safeguarded and their numbers are 4, 17, 27, 35, and so on. Thirty-one extremely valuable and world-renowned sketches of Albrecht Duerer, taken from the collection of Lubomirski in Lemberg, were likewise safeguarded. At Page 68 of this report, Dr. Muehlmann states that he personally handed these sketches to Goering, who took them to the Fuehrer at his headquarters.

Numerous objects of art, paintings, tapestries, plates, dishes, as well as other dinnerware, were also safeguarded by Frank, who had the Special Deputy to deliver these objects to an architect for the purpose of furnishing the castle at Crakow and the Schloss Kressendorf, which were his residences. It was apparently Frank's belief that these items would be safer in his possession, used to grace his table and dazzle his guests, than they would be in the possession of the rightful owners.

There is no doubt whatever that virtually all the art treasures of Poland were seized for the use of Germany and would never have been returned in the event of German victory. Dr. Muehlmann, a noted German art authority, who directed the seizure programme for the period of four years and was endowed by Frank with sufficient authority to promulgate decrees generally applicable throughout the territory, has stated the objectives of the programme in no uncertain terms in the affidavit to which I have just referred.

So much for Poland.

I now direct the attention of the Tribunal to the activities of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, an organisation which planned and directed the looting of the cultural treasures of nearly all Europe. To obtain a full conception of the vastness of this looting programme, it will be necessary to envision Europe as a treasure-house in which is stored the major portion of the artistic and literary product of two thousand years of Western Civilisation. It will further be necessary to envision the forcing of this treasure-house by a horde of vandals, bent on systematically removing to the Reich these treasures, which are, in a sense, the heritage of all of us, to keep them there for the enjoyment and enlightenment of Germans alone. Unique in history, this art seizure programme staggers one's imagination and challenges one's credulity. The documents which I am about to offer in evidence will present undeniable proof of the execution of the policy to strip the occupied countries of the accumulated product of centuries of devotion to art and the pursuit of learning.

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May I digress here a moment and state that we are not going to offer all the documents and all the details, because our Soviet and French colleagues will offer a great many of the detailed documents in support of their case on War Crimes.

I now offer in evidence Document 136-PS as Exhibit USA 367. That is an order of Hitler dated the 29th January, 1940, which set into motion the art seizure programme that was to envelop the continent. I now offer the original. I call your Honour's attention to this original, being signed by Adolf Hitler, and I believe it is in the famous Jumbo type. I quote the order in its entirety. It is very short:

"The 'Hohe Schule' is to become the Centre for National Socialistic ideological and educational research. It will be established after the conclusion of the war. I order that the preparations already initiated be continued by Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg, especially in the way of research and setting up of the library.

All sections of the Party and State are required to co- operate with him in this task."

Although the above order makes no specific mention of the seizure of art treasures, the programme had extended by the 5th November, 1940, beyond its original scope to include the seizure of Jewish art collections.

I now offer in evidence Document 141-PS, Exhibit USA 368, which is a certified copy of an order signed by Goering, dated 5th November, 1940, in which he states:

"In conveying the measures taken until now for the securing of Jewish art treasures by the Chief of the Military Administration, Paris, and the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, the art objects brought to the Louvre will be disposed of in the following way:

1. Those about which the Fuehrer has reserved for himself the decision as to their use.

2. Those which serve to complete the Reichsmarshal's collection.

3. Those library books, the use of which seem useful to the establishment of the higher institutes of learning, and which come within the jurisdiction of Reichsleiter Rosenberg.

4. Those which are suitable for sending to the German museums."

Thus, early in 1940, eleven months after the initiation of the programme for establishment of the library for ideological research, the original purpose had been expanded so as to include the seizure of works of art, not only for the benefit of research, but for the delectation of the Fuehrer and Goering and the enhancement of the collections of German museums.

Impelled as they were by the perfidious dream of subjugating a continent, the Nazi conspirators could not content themselves merely with the exploitation of the cultural riches of France, but rapidly extended their activities to the other occupied countries. I now offer in evidence Document 137-PS as Exhibit USA 379. That is a copy of an order signed by the defendant Keitel, dated 5th July, 1940, and I should like to read that brief order in full:

"To: The Chief of Army High Command, Chief of the Armed Forces in the Netherlands.

Reichsleiter Rosenberg has suggested to the Fuehrer that:

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1. The State libraries and archives be searched for documents valuable to Germany.

2. The Chancelleries of the high church authorities and lodges be searched for political maneuvers directed against us and that the material in question be seized.

The Fuehrer has ordered that this suggestion be followed and that the Gestapo, supported by the archivists of Reichsleiter Rosenberg, be put in charge of the researches. The Chief of Security Police, SS Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich, has been informed. He will communicate with the competent military commanders in order to execute this order.

These measures will be executed in all regions of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France occupied by us.

It is requested that subordinate services be informed.

Chief of Army High Command :
Signed Keitel."
From the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France the Einsatzstab's activities ultimately were expanded still further to Norway and Denmark. I now offer in evidence Document 159-PS, Exhibit USA 380, which is the copy of an order signed by Utikal, Chief of the Einsatzstab, dated the 6th June, 1944, from which it is seen that a special mission of the Einsatzstab was sent to Norway and Denmark.

As the German Army penetrated to the East, the fingers of the Einsatzstab reached out to seize the cultural riches thus made available to them, and their activities were extended to the Occupied Eastern Territories, including the Baltic States and the Ukraine, as well as to Hungary and Greece. I now offer in evidence Document 153-PS, Exhibit USA 381, being a certified copy of a letter from Rosenberg to the Reich Commissioner for the East and Reich Commissioner for the Ukraine, dated 27th April, 1942. The subject of the letter is stated to be as follows:

"Formation of a Central Unit for the Seizure and Securing of Objects of Cultural Value in the Occupied Eastern Territories." In the last paragraph of that document, I quote:

"With the Commissioners of the Reich a special department within Department II (political) will be set up for a limited time for the seizure and securing of objects of cultural value. This department is under the control of the head of the main group of Einsatzstab of Reichsleiter Rosenberg for the occupied territories."
THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps this would be a good time to break off for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

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