This Day in Nuremberg: 5/4 Walter Funk on the Stand: Minister of Economics by Sara Harvel

(1) Walter Funk

US Prosecutor Thomas Dodd cross examined Walter Funk, the Minister of Economics, also known as the “Banker of Gold Teeth” for his role in managing Nazi plunder.  In  Letters from Nuremberg, Christopher Dodd recounts an exchange during interrogations between Thomas Dodd and Funk.

Dodd: When did you start doing business with the SS, Mr. Funk?

Funk: Business with the SS? I have never done that.

Dodd: Yes, sir. Business with the SS. Are you sure about that? I ask you again, sir. When did you start doing business with the SS?” 

Funk admitted that he had learned of SS deposits but assumed they were routine. He said he was aware that SS had taken gold watches off concentration camp prisoners and that all Germans were ordered to turn in their gold coins. This, he argued, would have been the essence of what was brought into the vaults. 

My father, having sprung his trap, then produced an affidavit from Funk’s deputy, Emil Puhl, which indicated Funk was entirely aware of all the contents of the SS deposits: The diamonds, the pearls, and the most intimate items stripped from the doomed Jews of Europe. With Funk still desperately clinging to his hopeless defense, my father asked another question: “Just a minute. Were you in the habit of depositing gold teeth in the Reichsbank?”

As the testimony proceeded, as my father produced for the course documentary evidence of Reichsbank deposits, Funk crumbled under the duress. As my father said in one of his last questions, “The trouble is, there was blood on this gold, was there not? And you knew it since 1942?” Funk left the stand a broken man.”

Adolf Hitler poses with members of his first cabinet in the chancellery.

Standing (from left to right): Walther Funk, Hans Heinrich Lammers, Walther Darre, unidentified, unidentified, Wilhelm Frick, unidentified, unidentified. Sitting (left to right): Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler, and Fritz von Papen. (2)

(3) A display of boxes of gold caps and dentures removed from prisoners in Buchenwald and recovered by American troops after the liberation of the concentration camp
(4) Newspaper Clipping from May 8, 1946

 

(1)  Image of Walter Funk: http://hdl.handle.net/11134/20002:860046718

(2) Image of Hitler and his cabinet from: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa9378

(3) Gold Teeth Image from: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1033251

Dodd, Christopher J., and Lary Bloom. Letters from Nuremberg: My Father’s Narrative of a Quest for Justice. Three Rivers Press, 2007.

(4) Newspaper clipping: Permanent Link: http://hdl.handle.net/11134/20002:1585