The Holocaust Historiography Project

Translation of document 071-PS

23 April 1941 4609/R/MA

To Reich Director Bormann at present at Fuehrer's Headquarters

Dear party member Bormann:

I cannot agree with your letter of the 19th inst., since some misunderstandings occurred therein.

1. The clause concerning confiscations to be undertaken in Reich territory is doubtless a regulation which has not yet been introduced, and directly because of this I have asked you to propose such a regulation to the Fuehrer. The proposal originated in a decree of the Fuehrer relative to the work of the higher institutes of learning whereby the question of research institutes and library were given priority and the official bureaus of the Party and the state were instructed to support me in this work. Now it is clear that the philosophical opponents of the regime (this is especially true in the case of the recently confiscated religious archives) are concealing a quantity of the things which are of priceless, perhaps of irreplaceable, value for the later research of the higher institutes of learning. Because an actual necessity seems to be present, I wish to make the already cited proposal. It is understood that the confiscations are not executed by the regional authorities [Gauleitungen] but that this is conducted by the Security Service [SD] as well as by the police. Scientific work can only be done of course after the confiscation by the police, but here-and this is decisive-all must decide what is necessary for police compilations (actual correspondence with philosophical opponents and other material) and what does not fall under the competency of the police, but under the research work done by seminary, that is the Reich direction [Reichsleiter] of the Nazi Party. The taking of an office by Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich is only to be considered as much, not as a binding engagement. I therefore have decided on this proposal because it has been communicated to me in writing by a Gauleiter, that the Chief Office of the Reich Security [Reichssicherheitshauptamt] of the SS has claimed the following from the library of a monastery: The Catholic Handbook, Albertus Magnus; Edition of the Church Fathers; History of the Papacy by L. V. Pastor and other works. That means that already historical sources and works are being claimed for the Police from the monastery libraries of the districts [Gaue] which must remain reserved uniquely for the work of the Reich direction [Reichsleitung] of the Nazi Party respectively the state research places. These aspects have already been discussed thoroughly in the question of confiscated property in occupied areas. I have transmitted to you a photocopy of my convention with the Security Service [SD] which was reached with the express approval of Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich. I would like also to mention that this work has been executed in accordance with the agreement and always in a loyal fashion (with the exception of a case in Holland which I hope will be likewise solved in the same way). Photocopies and written copies should be made available to me of all material which the police has rightly confiscated for their political police purposes, but which according to its nature, must also be appropriated for a later research value. In my view there exists in itself no fundamental difficulty if both sides adopt the viewpoint of being loyal on their own and to the missions of the Partner. I request once more special efforts to prevent that valuable writings are arbitrarily extracted from the libraries in various districts by the Chief Office of Reich Security [Reichssicherheitshauptamt] or other police service offices. On this account I propose the regulation that all confiscations remain under the full powers [Oberhoheit] of the district leader and be examined by my deputies in case later research value in the respective district itself appears possible.

2. There is a great misunderstanding with respect to what is involved in the question of the south-east and the employment of my administrative staff; art objects have always been treated as a second line problem. In the first line an order of the chief of the high command of the Armed Forces [OKW] on the instance of the Fuehrer has gone twice to the occupied territories of the west to place all scientific and archive materials of ideological opponents of the regime [Weltanschaulicher Gegner] at my disposal for research purposes. That has resulted also in close cooperation on the widest scale with the Security Service [SD] and the military commanders, and I believe that I have secured priceless research pieces for the Reich directorate [Reichsleitung] of the Nazi party and its higher institutes of learning. I wish to inform you especially that as many as 7000 crates have been brought be Germany up to the present moment. In the course of these confiscations we have found according to the nature of the case other valuable cultural objects including very valuable works of art. And in order that these things should not be dispersed and that they be secured for the Fuehrer, the Chief of the high command of the armed forces (OKW) on my request and on the instance of the Fuehrer has ordered that these art objects should be catalogued by me. I ask you that if necessary it should be established for the benefit of the Reich Marshal that my working staff has executed these tasks in a correct fashion and in an objective blameless form. Art objects generally do not come into question as far as the Balkans are concerned although there are Free-Masonry archives and Jewish libraries and other relevant research objects. In my opinion only the same attitude as that prevailing in occupied French territory can be taken and what I requested, was really only an expansion of an already existing regulation. For General Field Marshal List, and likewise for the General Quartermaster of the Army the work has already begun and my men are at work with these circles in Belgrade. By command of General Field Marshal List as well as of his deputy general, these men will also be employed in closest relationship with the Security Service in Salonika. As you know, Salonika is one of the largest Jewish centers.

I should like to remark in this connection that this affair has already been executed on our side with the Security Service in the most loyal fashion. One of our collaborators who also belongs to the Security Service, had his duty-obligation countermanded by the Security Service, whereupon it was impressed upon him that the Security Service cooperates with my administrative staff in a most loyal fashion. The position is thus clarified in a practical fashion and the work has taken its course. What I asked was only a confirmation that the already pronounced decisions for the West should also have validity under the given circumstances for other occupied or to be occupied areas. Finally the representative of the Fuehrer has expressly ordered that the appropriate party members in this question should be placed, so as not to permit this unique opportunity for an inquiry in the Jewish and Masonic lodge question to be lost. The agreement on this matter is thus general.

I trust that this letter has cleared up the resulting misunderstandings.

Heil Hitler!