The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th May to 24th May, 1946

One Hundred and Thirtieth Day: Wednesday, 15th May, 1946
(Part 1 of 11)

[Page 41]

EMIL JOHANN RUDOLF PUHL, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Emil Johann Rudolf Puhl.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me

I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient that I will speak the pure truth and withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.


BY DR. SAUTER (for the defendant Funk):

Q. Witness Puhl, you were formerly vice-president of the Reichsbank?

A. Yes.

Q. If I am correctly informed, you were a member of the directorate of the Reichsbank already at the time of Dr. Schacht?

A. Yes.

Q. When Dr. Schacht left, you were one of the few gentlemen who remained in the Reichsbank?

A. Yes.

Q. You were then named by Hitler, on the suggestion of the defendant Funk, to be acting vice-president of the Reichsbank?

A. Yes.

Q. When was that?

A. During the year 1939.

Q. During the year 1939. You have said that you were acting vice-president, and I presume this was due to the fact that banking was not the special field of the defendant Funk while you were a banking expert, and that Funk in addition had charge of the Reich Ministry of Economics. Is that correct?

A. Yes, but there was another reason, namely the division of authority between official business on one side, and the handling of personnel on the other.

Q. The actual conduct of business was apparently your responsibility?

A. Yes.

Q. Hence, the title Acting Vice-President?

A. Yes. May I make a few comments on this?

Q. Only if it is necessary in the interests of the case.

A. Yes. The business of the directorate of the Reichsbank was divided among a number of members of the directorate. Every member had full responsibility for his own sphere. The vice-president was the primus inter pares, his main task was to act as chairman at meetings, to represent the president in the outside world and to deal with problems of general economic and banking policy.

[Page 42]

Q. Witness, the defendant Funk referred to you as a witness as early as December. You know that, do you not? And accordingly, you were interrogated at the camp where you are now accommodated, I believe in Baden-Baden -

A. Near Baden-Baden.

Q. - interrogated on 1st May?

A. Yes.

Q. Two days later you were again interrogated?

A. Yes.

Q. On 3rd May?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know why the matters on which you were interrogated on 3rd May were not dealt with during the interrogation on 1st May?

A. I have before me the affidavit dated 3rd May.

Q. 3rd May. That deals with business affairs with the SS.

A. Yes. But I was questioned on this subject as early as 1st May, only very briefly, and on 3rd May there was a second interrogation for the purpose of discussing it in more detail.

Q. Did you not mention these business affairs of the Reichsbank with the SS during your interrogation on 1st May?

A. Yes.

Q. You did mention them?

A. A short statement was made.

Q. During the interrogation of 1st May?

A. Yes. At any rate, the statement on 3rd May made during the interrogation was only a more detailed record of what had already been briefly discussed before.

Q. I have the record of your interrogatory on 1st May before me; I read through it again today. But as far as I can see, it contains no mention at all of business affairs with the SS. You must be speaking now of another interrogatory?

A. Yes.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I think perhaps I can be helpful in this apparent confusion. The interrogatory which was authorized by the Tribunal was taken on the 1st May, but on that same day, quite apart from that interrogatory, a member of our staff also interviewed this witness. But it was a separate interview. It was not related to the interrogatory, and I think that is the source of the confusion.



Q. Were you interrogated twice about these transactions with the SS?

A. Yes, twice during the days around 1st May, that is correct.

Q. Do you still remember the affidavit which you signed on 3rd May?

A. On 3rd May, yes.

Q. It is the affidavit which deals with these transactions with the SS. Are your statements in this affidavit correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Witness, have you been interrogated on these matters again since that time, since 3rd May?

A. Yes.

Q. When?

A. Here in Nuremberg.

Q. When were you interrogated?

A. During the last few days.

Q. I see. Today is Wednesday, when was it?

A. Friday, Monday, Tuesday.

Q. Yesterday?

A. Yes.

[Page 43]

Q. On this matter?

A. Yes.

Q. Was a film also shown to you here?

A. Yes.

Q. Once or twice?

A. Once.

Q. Had you seen this film before?

A. No.

Q. Did you recognize clearly what was presented in the film?

A. Yes.

Q. I ask because, as you know, the film runs very quickly and is very short; the prosecution showed it twice in the courtroom so that one could follow it easily Did one showing suffice to make clear to you what the film contained?

A. Yes.

Q. Then will you tell me what you saw in it, only what you saw in the film, or what you think you saw.

A. Yes. The film was taken in front of the safes of our bank at Frankfurt-on-Main, the usual safes with glass doors, behind which one could see the locked cases and containers, which had apparently been deposited there. It was the usual picture presented by such strong-rooms. In front of these safes were several containers which had been opened so that their contents could be seen - coins, jewellery, pearls, bank-notes, clocks.

Q. What sort of clocks?

A. Large alarm clocks.

Q. Nothing else? Did you not see anything else in the film?

A. Apart from these objects?

Q. Apart from these - shall we say - valuables, did you not see anything else that is alleged to have been kept there?

A. No, no.

Q. Only these valuables? Please go on.

A. I noticed that among these valuables there were coins, apparently silver coins, and also bank-notes, obviously American bank-notes.

Q. Correct.

A. It was astonishing that these things were given to us for safe-keeping, because if they had come to the knowledge of our officials then no doubt -

Q. Speak slowly, please.

A. - no doubt the bank-notes would have been delivered immediately to the foreign exchange department, since, as is known, a general order existed for the turning in of foreign bank-notes, these being particularly in demand.

Much the same remark applies to the coins. These, too, ought to have been transferred to the treasury in accordance with the regulations and routine of business, that is to say, they should have been purchased for the accounts of the Reich.

Q. That is what you noticed in the film?

A. Yes.

Q. Nothing else?

A. No.

Q. Witness, valuable articles entrusted to the Reichsbank for safe-keeping were supposed to have been kept in the Reichsbank in that way. Now I have been asking myself whether your Reichsbank really stored the valuables entrusted to it in the manner apparent from the film and I therefore want to ask this question of you: Do you, as acting vice-president of the Reichsbank, know how valuables which were handed over for safe-keeping in the strong-rooms, were kept; for instance, in Berlin or, in Frankfurt, where this film was taken?

A. Yes.

Q. Please tell the Tribunal.

A. The outer appearance of the safe installations in Berlin was somewhat similar to that in Frankfurt, and probably the same as in any other large bank.

[Page 44]

These things were known to us as "closed deposits", a banking term, and were kept, as the name indicates, in closed containers. Space for these was provided by us and paid for by the depositors, according to the size in each case.

Q. Were these things kept - for instance, in Berlin or in Frankfurt - exactly as shown in the film?

A. Well, I had the impression that the things, of which we are now talking, had been put there expressly for the purpose of taking the film.

Q. For the film. Do you recollect seeing a sack which I think was shown in the film, with the label "Reichsbank Frankfurt"?

A. Yes, I saw a sack labelled Reichsbank I cannot say whether "Reichsbank Frankfurt".

Q. As far as I know, it had "Reichsbank Frankfurt" on it. For that reason we assumed that the film was taken at Frankfurt, and the prosecution confirmed that.

M R. DODD: I do not like to interrupt but I think we should be careful about this statement. There have been two mistakes of some slight importance already. We did not show the film twice before this Tribunal. and that bag does not bear the legend, "Frankfurt". It simply says, "Reichsbank". And it was the Schacht film that was shown twice here because it moved rather quickly.

Q. Witness, will you continue with your reply to the question. I can put it in this way: Did the Reichsbank keep gold articles and the like in such sacks?

A. If I understand you correctly, you are asking this: When valuables were deposited with us, were they deposited in open sacks? Is that correct?

Q. I do not know what procedure you had.

A. At any rate, we had closed deposits, and as the name implies ... Of course, it may be a sack, which is closed; that is quite possible.

Q. So far as I saw in banks at Munich, the things which were deposited there in increased measure during the war were without exception deposited in closed boxes or cases and the like, so that generally the bank did not know at all what was contained in the cases or boxes. Did you in the Reichsbank follow a different procedure?

A. No, it was exactly the same. And the noticeable thing about this sack as has been said, is the label, "Reichsbank". Obviously it is a sack belonging to us and not to any private person.

Q. Then you too, if I may repeat this, to avoid any doubt, you too kept in a closed container the valuables, which had been deposited as "closed deposits".

A. Yes.

Q. Or they went to the strong boxes?

A. The word "deposits" might be misleading. The closed containers went to the "Tresor" (the strong-room), I use our word. The "Tresor" consisted of strong boxes, where these cases or containers were deposited. Quite independent of that arrangement, we had the "open deposits".

Open deposits are those which by agreement are administered openly from the first. The strong-rooms for these were located in quite a different part of the building from the so-called main strong-room.

Q. But, of course, we are not concerned here with these open deposits?

A. No.

Q. Now, witness, I come to the deposits of the SS. These deposits were not in Frankfurt but presumably in Berlin in the central bank.

A. Yes.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.