Walther Funk

Walther Funk (18 August 1890 – 31 May 1960) was a German economist and Nazi official who served as Reich Minister for Economic Affairs from 1938 to 1945 and was tried and convicted as a major war criminal by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Sentenced to life in prison, he remained incarcerated until he was released on health grounds in 1957. He died three years later.

Walther Funk
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B21019, Walter Funk
Funk with Golden Party Badge, 1942
Reichsminister of Economics
In office
5 February 1938 – 1 May 1945
PresidentAdolf Hitler
ChancellorAdolf Hitler
Preceded byHermann Göring
Succeeded byPosition abolished
President of the Reichsbank
In office
19 January 1939 – 8 May 1945
Preceded byHjalmar Schacht
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Secretary of State in the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
In office
13 March 1933 – 26 November 1937
Appointed byAdolf Hitler
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byOtto Dietrich
Personal details
Born18 August 1890
Danzkehmen, East Prussia, German Empire
Died31 May 1960 (aged 69)
Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Political partyNazi Party
Spouse(s)Luise Schmidt-Sieben
ProfessionJournalist

Early life

Funk was born into a merchant family in 1890 in Danzkehmen (present-day Sosnowka in the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast) near Trakehnen in East Prussia. He was the only one of the Nuremberg defendants who was born in the former eastern territories of Germany. He was the son of Wiesenbaumeister Walther Funk the elder and his wife Sophie (née Urbschat). He studied law, economics, and philosophy at the Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Leipzig. In World War I, he joined the infantry, but was discharged as unfit for service in 1916. In 1920, Funk married Luise Schmidt-Sieben. Following the end of the First World War, he worked as a journalist, and in 1924 he became the editor of the centre-right financial newspaper the Berliner Börsenzeitung.

Political life

Buchenwald Property 80623
As Minister of Economics, Funk accelerated the pace of rearmament and as Reichsbank president banked for the SS the gold rings of Nazi concentration camp victims
Schachtanlage Merkers
Nazi gold in Merkers Salt Mine
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R69919, KZ Auschwitz, Brillen
Eyeglasses of victims from Auschwitz
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1970-083-42, Magdeburg, zerstörtes jüdisches Geschäft
Kristallnacht of November 1938, smashed window front of Jewish shop

Funk, who was a nationalist and anti-Marxist, resigned from the newspaper in the summer of 1931 and joined the Nazi Party, becoming close to Gregor Strasser, who arranged his first meeting with Adolf Hitler. Partially because of his interest in economic policy, he was elected a Reichstag deputy in July 1932, and within the party, he was made chairman of the Committee on Economic Policy in December 1932, a post that he did not hold for long. After the Nazi Party came to power, he stepped down from his Reichstag position and was made Chief Press Officer of the Third Reich.

Third Reich career

In March 1933, Funk was appointed as a State Secretary (Staatssekretär) at the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda). In 1938, he assumed the title of Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics (Wirtschaftsbeauftragter). He also became Reich Minister of Economics (Reichswirtschaftsminister) in February 1938, replacing Hjalmar Schacht, who had been dropped in November 1937. Schacht had been dismissed in a power struggle with Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, who was quick to tie the ministry more closely to his Four Year Plan Office.

Confiscation of Jewish property

At Nuremberg, Funk was accused by Allied prosecutors of having been closely involved in the State confiscation and disposal of the property of German Jews. He boasted that by 1938, the German state had confiscated Jewish property worth two million marks, using decrees from Hitler and other top Nazis to force German Jews to leave their property and assets to the State if they emigrated, such as the Reich Flight Tax. They were forced by Göring to pay for the damage caused by the Nazis to their own property on Kristallnacht, and increasingly deprived of their personal wealth and assets as the Second World War approached.

Reichsbank

Between April 1938-March 1939 Funk was a Director of the Swiss-based multi-national Bank of International Settlements,[1] and in January 1939, Hitler appointed Funk as President of the Reichsbank, replacing Schacht. He was appointed to the Central Planning Board in September 1943.

Nuremberg

Despite poor health, Funk was tried with other Nazi leaders at the Nuremberg trials. Accused of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes and crimes against humanity, he argued that, despite his titles, he had very little power in the regime. At the Nuremberg trials American Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson labeled Funk as "The Banker of Gold Teeth", referring to the practice of extracting gold teeth from Nazi concentration camp victims, and forwarding the teeth to the Reichsbank for melting down to yield bullion. Many other gold items were stolen from victims, such as jewellery, eyeglasses and finger rings.[2] Göring described Funk as "an insignificant subordinate," but documentary evidence and his wartime biography Walther Funk, A Life for Economy were used against him during the trial, leading to his conviction on counts 2, 3 and 4 of the indictment and his sentence of life imprisonment.

Funk was held at Spandau Prison along with other senior Nazis. He was released on 16 May 1957 because of ill health. He made a last-minute call on Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer and Baldur von Schirach before leaving the prison.[3] He died three years later in Düsseldorf of diabetes.

References

  1. ^ Bank of International Settlements, "Ninth Annual Report: 1 April 1938 – 31 March 1939" p. 135-7
  2. ^ Nuremberg: Tyranny on Trial. History Channel. 1995. Television
  3. ^ Bird, Eugene (1974). The Loneliest Man in the World. London: Secker & Warburg. p. 121. ISBN 0436042908.

External links

1960 in Germany

Events in the year 1960 in Germany.

American Academy in Berlin

The American Academy in Berlin is a research and cultural institution in Berlin whose stated mission is to foster a greater understanding and dialogue between the people of the United States and the people of Germany. The American Academy was founded in September 1994 by a group of prominent Americans and Germans, among them Richard Holbrooke, Henry Kissinger, Richard von Weizsäcker, Fritz Stern, and Otto Graf Lambsdorff. It opened in 1998. The organization is funded by private donations, with support coming from individuals as well as corporations and foundations on both sides of the Atlantic. The German weekly magazine Der Spiegel has called the Academy “the world's most important center for American intellectual life outside the US.”The American Academy in Berlin is located in the Hans Arnhold Center in a villa on the shores of the Wannsee, a lake within the identically-named district in the southwestern part of Berlin. It was the home of banker and cultural leader Hans Arnhold and his family before they were forced to emigrate to the United States in the 1930s. It was then appropriated and occupied by Walther Funk, the Minister of Economics of the Third Reich and later president of the Reichsbank. After the Arnhold family regained ownership, the villa was sold to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1958. Being located in the American Sector of occupied Berlin, after World War II, it had various uses, including as a U.S. Army recreation center until departure of American military forces from reunified Berlin in 1994. The American Academy in Berlin also maintains an office in New York City. Its current president is Terry McCarthy.

The American Academy is a unique mixture of academic research institute and center for public dialogue. Each year, the Academy's independent search committee nominates twelve or more Fellows from among American scholars, who are in residence for four to six months. Each pursues a research project related to the work of the Academy. Each is also expected to present a public lecture on his or her work. The Academy also invites short term distinguished visitors to lecture and engage in dialogue with Berliners. Several hundred fellows have served since the Academy formally opened its doors in 1998.

Eidgenössische Sammlung

Eidgenössische Sammlung (German; literally "Confederate Collection") was a Swiss political party, founded in 1940 by Robert Tobler as a successor to the recently dissolved National Front.The party demanded an adjustment in Swiss policy to favour the Axis powers. This was particularly important as, after June 1940 the country was surrounded by fascist and Nazi states. It was open in its loyalty towards Nazi Germany.The Eidgenössiche Sammlung was closely supervised by the state because of its origins and so could not develop freely. In 1943 the police finally cracked down on the group and it was outlawed along with all of its sub-organisations as part of a wider government initiative against the National Front and its offshoots.

Faith and Beauty Society

The BDM-Werk Glaube und Schönheit (German for BDM Faith and Beauty Society) was founded in 1938 to serve as a tie-in between the work of the League of German Girls (BDM) and that of the National Socialist Women's League. Membership was voluntary and open to girls aged 17 to 21.

Funk (surname)

Funk is a German surname.

Goebbels cabinet

The Josef Goebbels Cabinet was named by Adolf Hitler in his political testament of 30 April 1945. To replace himself, Hitler named Admiral Karl Dönitz as Reichspräsident. The cabinet was shortlived, and was followed on 2 May 1945 by the Flensburg Government. This was caused when Josef Goebbels took his own life on 1 May and Martin Bormann did likewise the following day.

Gottfried Feder

Gottfried Feder (27 January 1883 – 24 September 1941) was a German civil engineer, a self-taught economist and one of the early key members of the Nazi Party. He was their economic theoretician. It was one of his lectures, delivered in 1919, that drew Hitler into the party.

Hirden

Hirden (the hird) was a uniformed paramilitary organisation during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, modelled the same way as the German Sturmabteilungen.

Hitler Cabinet

The Hitler Cabinet de jure formed the government of Nazi Germany between 30 January 1933 and 30 April 1945 upon the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of the German Reich by president Paul von Hindenburg. Contrived by the national conservative politician Franz von Papen, who reserved the office of the Vice-Chancellor for himself. Originally, Hitler's first cabinet was called the Reich Cabinet of National Salvation, which was a coalition of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and the national conservative German National People's Party (DNVP), it became an exclusively Nazi cabinet when the DNVP was intimidated into dissolving itself.

The Enabling Act of 1933, passed two months after Hitler took office, gave the cabinet the power to make laws without legislative consent for four years. In effect, this power was vested in Hitler, and for all intents and purposes it made Hitler a dictator. After the Enabling Act's passage, serious deliberations more or less ended at cabinet meetings. It met only sporadically after 1934, and last met in full on 5 February 1938. Nonetheless, it grew immensely in size on paper, due to the addition of the commanders of the armed services and several ministers without portfolio.

Liechtenstein Homeland Service

Liechtenstein Homeland Service (German: Liechtensteiner Heimatdienst, LHD) was a political party in Liechtenstein that advocated corporate statism and the abolition of party politics.Established in the autumn of 1933, the party's positions began to radicalize and move toward National Socialist ideas within a few months of existence. By December 1933, this radicalization caused some members (such as co-founder Eugen Schafhauser) to abandon the party.LHD merged with the Christian-Social People's Party (VP) in 1936 to form the Patriotic Union (VU).

Max Heiliger

Max Heiliger was a fictional name created during the Nazi era under authority of Reichsbank president Walther Funk in a secret arrangement with leader of the Schutzstaffel, Heinrich Himmler. It was a false identity used to establish bank accounts to launder valuables stolen from those killed in the Nazi system of concentration camps and extermination camps. Stolen banknotes and jewelry along with Holocaust victims' dental gold, wedding rings, and even scrap gold melted down from spectacles-frames flooded into the Max Heiliger accounts, completely filling several bank vaults by 1942. Heiliger accounts were also sometimes used to fence valuables at Berlin's municipal pawn shops.Other code phrases associated with bank-processing of camp victims' property included Melmer, Besitz der umgesiedelten Juden ("property of resettled Jews"), and Reinhardtfonds. The latter was a veiled reference to Aktion Reinhardt. The word umgesiedelten cloaked the true nature of the goods, since victims were usually "resettled" to a Nazi concentration camp or an early grave.

Using the name "Heiliger" was a cynical Nazi joke, since the word means saint, from the word heilig (holy). Such "humor" was not unusual in Nazi circles. For example, the one-way path to the gas chamber at Sobibor extermination camp was called Himmelstrasse, meaning "Heaven Street" –the road to Heaven.

National Union (Switzerland)

The National Union (French: Union Nationale) was a French-speaking fascist political party in Switzerland between 1932 and 1939.

The Union was formed in Geneva in 1932 by Georges Oltramare, a lawyer and writer. Noted for his anti-Semitic writing, Oltramare founded the Order Politique Nationale in 1931 but merged it with the Union de Défense Economique the following year to form the National Union. The group continued under Oltramare's leadership until 1940 when he moved to Paris in order to co-operate more closely with the Nazis. Oltramare spent four years as a member of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland representing the National Union.The Union became notorious for a demonstration in Geneva on November 9, 1932 when their march to the city's Salle Communale was counterdemonstrated by the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland. In the resulting trouble the Swiss army opened fire on the Socialists resulting in 13 deaths.

Nationale Jeugdstorm

The Nationale Jeugdstorm (English: National Youth Storm; NJS) was a Dutch youth movement that existed from 1934 to 1945, organized as the Dutch equivalent of the German Hitlerjugend and as a Nazi counterpart of Scouting Nederland.

Reich Chamber of Culture

The Reich Chamber of Culture (Reichskulturkammer) was a government agency in Nazi Germany. It was established by law on 22 September 1933 in the course of the Gleichschaltung process at the instigation of Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels as a professional organization of all German creative artists. Defying the competing ambitions of the German Labour Front (DAF) under Goebbels' rival Robert Ley, it was meant to gain control over the entire cultural life in Germany creating and promoting Aryan art consistent with Nazi ideals.

Every artist had to apply for membership on presentation of an Aryan certificate. A rejected inscription de facto resulted in an occupational ban.

Reichsbank

The Reichsbank was the central bank of Germany from 1876 until 1945.

SS Education Office

The SS Education Office (SS-Schulungsamt) was one of the Nazi organizations responsible for the ideological indoctrination of members of the SS. The office operated initially under the jurisdiction of the Reich Race and Settlement Office (RuSHA) but was later subordinated to the SS Main Office (SS-Hauptamt).

Spandau Prison

Spandau Prison was located in the borough of Spandau in western Berlin. It was constructed in 1876 and demolished in August 1987 after the death of its last prisoner, Rudolf Hess who had died from a suspected suicide aged 93, to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine. The site was later rebuilt as a shopping centre for the British forces stationed in Germany.

The Immortals (neo-Nazis)

The Immortals (German Die Unsterblichen) was a neo-Nazi organization based in Germany that uses flash mobs to coordinate, gather and demonstrate. The members wear black clothing with white facial masks and carry torches when they march.

Walther

Walther is a masculine given name and a surname. It is a German form of Walter, which is derived from the Old High German Walthari, containing the elements wald "rule" and hari—"army, warrior".

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