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Walther Funk


In office
January 1938 – April 1945
President Adolf Hitler
Führer
Chancellor Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Hermann Göring
Succeeded by (Third Reich collapse)

In office
1939 – 1945
President Adolf Hitler
Führer
Chancellor Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Hjalmar Schacht
Succeeded by None

Born 18 August 1890 (1890-08-18)
Danzkehmen, Kingdom of Prussia, then German Empire, now Russian Federation
Died 31 May 1960 (1960-06-01) (aged 69)
Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Federal Republic of Germany
Political party National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)
Spouse(s) Luise Schmidt-Sieben
Profession Journalist

Walther Funk (18 August 1890 - 31 May 1960) was a prominent Nazi official. He served as Minister for Economic Affairs in Nazi Germany from 1937 to 1945.

Contents

Early life

Funk was born into a merchant family in Danzkehmen, Kreis Stallupönen, East Prussia. 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 1919 Funk married Luise Schmidt-Sieben. Following the war he worked as a journalist, and in 1922 he became the editor of the center-right financial newspaper the Berliner Börsenzeitung. In 1930 Adolf Hitler appointed him to be one of Germany's members of the board of the newly formed BIS, the Bank of International Settlements.

Political life

Funk, who was a nationalist and anti-Marxist, resigned from the newspaper in the summer of 1931 and joined the Nazi Party, becoming closer to Gregor Strasser who arranged his first meeting with Adolf Hitler. Partially due to 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.
  • In January 1939, Hitler appointed Funk as President of the Reichsbank, again replacing Schacht.
  • He was appointed to the Central Planning Board in September 1943.
  • He was a wartime director of the Bank of International Settlements, based in Switzerland.

Nuremberg

1946-10-08 21 Nazi Chiefs Guilty.ogv
Oct 17, 1946 Newsreel of Nuremberg Trials Sentencing

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. 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, due to ill health. He made a last-minute call on Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer and Baldur von Schirach. He died three years later at Düsseldorf.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

But ignorance of the law is no excuse. A person is guilty even if he breaks the law unknowingly.

Walther Emanuel Funk (August 18, 1890May 31, 1960) was a prominent Nazi official. He served as Minister for Economic Affairs in Nazi Germany from 1937 to 1945. Accused of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war-crimes and crimes against humanity, he was sentences to life imprisonment. Funk was held at Spandau Prison along with other senior Nazis. Released in 1957 due to ill health, he died three years later.

Sourced

  • At that time I believed in the Führer principle because to me it meant that the best one should be the leader. If the leader is good and responsible, then the government is good.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 31, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • Ach! I know. If I were to play the Pathetique or the Moonlight Sonata for the high judges, they would let me off. But my defense unfortunately will not be musical.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 31, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004 - Page 82
  • But ignorance of the law is no excuse. A person is guilty even if he breaks the law unknowingly. I shall be perhaps the first of the defendants to get up on that stand and admit that I am at least partly guilty.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 31, 1946 from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
I can spot a musical type. I can tell by looking at a woman whether she is a contralto or a soprano.
  • I can spot a musical type. I can tell by looking at a woman whether she is a contralto or a soprano.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, April 7, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004 - Page 83
  • I do feel ashamed of having participated to the slightest even as a tool in those dark days. But I was obliged to serve the state to which I had taken an oath. It was a tragic fate.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, April 14, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • I am guilty of one thing - that I should have cleared out and not had anything to do with these criminals in the first place. Later it was too late. I was in up to my neck. But as for the atrocities, I had not a thing to do with them, did not know about them. And as for conspiring against peace, that is false, too. And that is my plain line of defense.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, April 14, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • Those Russians. They did worse things when they entered Pomerania than we ever did in Russia.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, May 11, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • If you follow a certain road for some time, it takes an enormous willpower to leave, although you might recognize that the road was not good. But in my case I believed and was convinced that I was serving and helping the people until the last. However, it is a terrible fate that has befallen me. If I had remained with my writing and my music I would be working now and not a criminal in the Nuremburg prison.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, May 12, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • In world history we have other examples of frightful destruction. There was Alexander the Great and all of the destruction he caused. Napoleon, too, would have destroyed all of Europe. But unfortunately, the Nazi government, the government of which I unfortunately partook, had no Talleyrand, but we had a Ribbentrop. Through Talleyrand's policy France was saved from a catastrophe that Ribbentrop would have brought about.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, May 12, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004

About Funk

As Minister of Economics, Funk accelerated the pace of rearmament and as Reichsbank president banked for the SS the gold teeth fillings of concentration camp victims, probably the most ghoulish collateral in banking history.
  • Funk succeeded me and he could not act individually as I could and did. The Reichsbank could give or deny credit under the rules at its own discretion while I was president of it. The very day I left the Reichsbank, Hitler issued a law which obliged the Reichsbank to give any credit he would ask for. It was under that law that Funk took office. Perhaps in that sense Funk was not responsible, but in another sense, of course, he was responsible because he was a willing tool. If he went so far as to take the post, he was willing to obey.
  • A Reichsbank president who was totally ignorant of what went in and out of the vaults of his bank.
    • Robert H. Jackson
  • As Minister of Economics, Funk accelerated the pace of rearmament and as Reichsbank president banked for the SS the gold teeth fillings of concentration camp victims, probably the most ghoulish collateral in banking history.
    • Robert H. Jackson

External links

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