The Holocaust Historiography Project

Partial translation of document 3766-PS

[Report prepared by tne German army in France, 1942, concerning removal
of French art objects through the German Embassy and the Einsatzstab
Rosenberg in France.]

(Pages 28-48)

     "In the Jeu de Paume seven exhibits in all were arranged in order
     to give Reich Marshal Goering and Reichsleiter Rosenberg a general
     survey of the especially valuable objects."

On the occasion of one of these visits (report on the situation by the
deputy of the Reich Marshal, Dr. Bunjes of 20 November 1940, "protection
of art treasures" files) Goering issued an order on the future fate of
the art treasures. As far as the author of this report recalls he
(Goering) dictated this report to Dr. Bunjes to the typewriter. It is
dated 5 November 1940 and reads as follows:

     "In continuance of the measures adopted heretofore for the
     safekeeping of Jewish art property by the Chief of the Paris
     Military Administration and the Einsatzstab Rosenberg (Chief of the
     Wehrmacht High Command 2 f 28. 14 WX No. 3812/40 g) the art objects
     brought to the Louvre will be dealt with in the following manner:

     1. those art objects concerning the further disposition of which
     the Fuehrer will reserve for himself the right of decision;

     2. those art objects which will be used to complete the collections
     of the Reich Marshal;

     3. those objects of art and library contents, the use of which
     seems appropriate in the building of the High School j Hohe Schulel
     and in the sphere of activity of Reichsleiter Rosenberg;

     4. those objects of art which are suitable for transfer to German
     Museums, will without delay be subjected to an orderly inventory by
     the Einsatzstab Rosenberg packed, and brought to Germany with the
     assistance of the Luftwaffe;

     5. those objects of art which are suitable to be passed on to
     French museums and the German and French art market will be sold at
     auction at a time to be determined, and the proceeds will be turned
     over to the French state for the benefit of dependents of French
     soldiers killed in the war.

     6. The further seizing of Jewish art property in France continues,
     in the manner which has proved satisfactory up to now, by the
     Einsatzstab Rosenberg in coordination with the Chief of the
     Military Administration Paris.

     Paris, 5 November 1940."

To the order the following handwritten supplement was added:

     "I shall submit this proposition to the Fuehrer. Until his decision
     this regulation is valid.
                                                        signed: Goering"

The supreme decision was made in favor of Goering's proposal, as was to
be expected. In his report on the situation [Lagebericht] of 20 November
1940 (files protection of art) Dr. Bunjes, deputy of the Reich Marshal,

     "This regulation was submitted to the Fuehrer by Reich Marshal
     Goering on 14 November 1940. The Fuehrer approved these suggestions
     and commissioned Reich Marshal Goering to have the objects
     mentioned under points 1-4 brought to the cellars of the Reich
     Chancellery in a special train as soon as possible."

A report by the Chief of the Military Administrative District Paris (Dr.
Medicus) of 9 February 1941 (files protection of art) .shows that the
transport to Gerniany was now beginning:

     "Re: Secured Jewish art property in the Jeu de Paume.

     On 5 February 1941 Reich Marshal Goering gave orders that a
     nunihei. of art objects which the Fuehrer wishes to acquire and
     those objects of art which are to become the property of the Reich
     Marshal are to be brought to Germany immediately in the special
     train of the Reich Marshal.

     Payment for those works of art removed will be made according to
     the estimates of a French expert.<1>


<1> No payments were made for Jewish property — it was regarded as
"ownerless" — whether payment was made for other property is an open


The fate of these and in part of other Rothschild assets I can be seen
from the following report of the head of the foreign currency protection
command [Devisenschutzkommando] of 8 December 1941 (Files Justice, Vju
864 b. 2282.41 secret):

                   Strictly confidential!

The Reich Marshal of the greater German Reich on 3 December 1941, on the
occasion of his Paris, made decisions on the assets of the
Rothschild family. These decisions the Reich Marshal has entered in my

1. There is a further list, no less extensive, on table silver, knives,
forks and spoons, dishes. It is in the archives of the economic division
of the military administration.

                                                              [Page 648]

1. 52 packages with objects of art and jewelry from the property of the
various members of the Rothschild family.

a. 2I packages are to be turned over to the Einsatzstab Rosenberg.

b. 3I packages are to remain until sent for by the Reich Marshal under
lock and key of the foreign currency protection command. The Reich
Marshal will send for the packages after having conferred with the Reich
Minister of Finance about the evaluation of the pieces.

2. 22 large boxes and three baskets with table silver and knives, forks
and spoons from the property of the various members of the Rothschild

as 1b.

3. Pictures and objects of art which were found in a cupboard in the
house of the Jewess Alexandrine Rothschild, Paris, 2 rue Leonardo da
Vinci: These paintings and objects of art are to be turned over to the
Einsatzstab Rosenberg. The delivery took place on 5 December 1941.

4. Jewelry found by the office of the general of the Luftwaffe Paris in
the house of Bernhard Rotlischild and turned over to the foreign
currency protection command France. The foreign currency protection
command France has to report to the Reich Minister of Finance, so that
he may be able to decide on the disposal of this jewelry. This jewelry,
or rather its counter-value shall, in the opinion of the Reich Marshal,
be put at the disposal of the German Reichskasse."

Mr. von Behr in this connection showed me a part of the files concerning
the securing of the art values of the House of Rothschild with the
personal notation of Reich Marshal Goering that the securing is to take
place without delay.

Mr. von Behr gave me the opportunity to view the exhibition of art
values from Jewish possession in the pavillion "Jeu de Paume" which was
prepared for the visit of Reich Marshal Goering.

b. Toward evening of the 14th of this month, two trucks appeared with
French workers who declared that they were to fetch sixteen boxes of
Jewish art values.

c. About half past seven, a Dr. Schilde appeared, who without  delay
caused the loading of the sixteen boxes and immediately departed for

d. The curator pointed out at that time that in his opinion it was
doubtful whether all the boxes contained Jewish art values: they were
art goods of a Jewish art dealer's and according to ex-

                                                              [Page 649]

perience it is possible that they might be purely Aryan art possessions
which were offered for sale at the art dealer's in question.

e. I told the curator that the confiscation had been carried out without
the consent of my general.

When the cellars were inspected on the following day Mrs. Gould's
statements were found to be true. No trace of weapons! A valuable
tryptich and two precious single pieces were, however, found; everything
very old, carved in ivory. An agent of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg had
already taken possession of these three pieces.

Mrs. Gould declared on the spot that she wanted to contribut the entire
stock of wine for the soldiers on the eastern front; all the copper and
brass, which filled an enormous cellar room, was to go to German war
industry. As far as the three objects of art were concerned, which had
apparently been stored in the cellar without her knowledge by an
overzealous employee at the beginning of the occupation, she reserved

A few days later conference with Mr. von Behr, as the head of the
Einsatzstab Rosenberg. Although Mrs. Gould was not obligated in any way
and although the Einsatzstab on the other hand had no right to seize
this private property of an American citizen, the following was agreed

a. Mrs. Gould will dedicate the tryptich to the Reich Marshal. The Reich
Marshal will present the tryptich to the Cluny Museum in Paris, to which
the Gould family had intended to will it.

b. As a sign of Mrs. Gould's gratitude for the Reich Marshal's
presentation of the objects to the Cluny Museum, the two single pieces
were then to be given to the Reich Marshal as his private property.

Many weeks passed. I contacted von Behr many times in regard to the
Reich Marshal's decisions. After a few months I received the following

"It had finally been possible to show the three pieces to the Reich
Marshal; he was informed of the above offer by Mr. von Behr. The Reich
Marshal, however, liked all three pieces and ordered that all three were
to be brought to Germany.

I had the impression that Mr. von Behr did not use his influence to
bring about this decision. Von Behr also asserted that he had pointed
out to the Reich Marshal the obvious legal argument — Private Property!
-- but had found no understanding for this.

                                                              [Page 650]

After that I frequently talked with Mrs. Gould and her lawyer. They
beseeched me to refrain from any further undertaking ill the matter in
order to avoid any difficulties for Mrs. Gould, (American citizens were
for the most part interested!) such as the possibility of her being sent
to a concentration camp.

Nevertheless, whenever I could I brought this case up for discussion and
asked that the Reich Marshal be informed, since I had to assume that the
entire action was due only to the fact that the Reich Marshal was
wrongly informed. Everywhere I met with a regretful shrug of the

8. Wildenstein collection. The collection of the Jewish art dealer
Wildenstein, consisting in part of goods oil commission of non-Jewish
owners. was looted by an unknown party during the night from 2 to 3
August 1941, at Castle * * * where it had been sent for safe-keeping.
Thirty-eight of the 129 pictures stored there were taken, including "The
Washerwomen" by Fragonard. Thus a notation of the group for protection
of art [Gruppe Kunstschutz] (KVR Dr. Pfitzner) of 29 May 1941 (Files
Kunstschutz, supplement) reads as follows: "In part of this castle was
quartered a unit commanded by a first lieutenant, who was unable to
prevent the gentlemen so instructed from forcing their way into the
sealed room, since they claimed to be acting on higher orders. The mayor
of the nearby town of Coulombieres, who was called to the scene, was
given a kind of receipt .  . ." The receipt bore the signature "Bruno
Berger 2 S.D. / 2 Group: GFP for special use'." Dr. Pfitzner's notation
continues: "My office, which wanted to act immediately to recover the
pictures, was cautioned by a higher authority against doing anything
further in the matter." At the instance of the Gruppe Kunstschutz, the
rest of the collection was thereupon taken to Castle Sourches.

On 12 May 1941 the Reich Chancellery (Art dealer Haberstock) informed
the Gruppe Kunstschutz by telephone that the Wildenstein collection was
soon going to be removed from Sourches. At that time the Einsatzstab
Rosenberg had also stated that it wished to remove the collection.

On 13 May 1941 Captain von Poellnitz (Luftgau Ill), all agent of
Haberstock, pointed out by means of a French letter, dated 24 April 194I
and written by or to a certain Hugo Engel, that the collection had
meanwhile been transferred to Aryan hands

1. It is possible that the action was undertaken by the German Embassy,
which felt at that time that it was acting under orders of the Fuehrer
to seize Jewish art property (See above II 4).

                                                              [Page 651]

and that the new owner desirect its removal to Germany. Thereupon the
shipment had to be approved. Commission goods belonging to others were
sorted out previously.

The occurrences are revealed by a note of Dr. Pfitzner (Gruppe
Kunstschutz) of 15 May 1941 (Kunstschutz files, Supplement). Obviously
Dr. Pfitzner, was advised to observe the strictest secrecy. Nevertheless
there is no doubt that the pictures were intended for the highest plaes.
A copy of the note went with a communication of 17 May 1941 to SA Major
General [Gruppenfuehrer] Albert Bormann, Reich Chancellery, Berlin,
another, with a communication of 15 May 1941, to General Hanesse, Paris,
for "forwarding to the office of Reich Marshal Goering, Berlin, W 8"
(Kunstschutz files, Supplement).


The military commander, however, considered it necessary to repeat his
verbal request impressively in written form. Special significance
attaches to his letter to this effect addressed to the commander in
chief of the Army dated 31 January 1941 (von Stuelpnagel files 1941), as
testimony to the legality and national responsibility. It reads:

"Dear General Fieldmarshal:

In response to the communication of the Quartermaster General [Gen. Qu]
section K.V. No. 2/597/4 of 17 January, in which the Gen. Qu. on your
behalf asks my position on the question of the use of the confiscated
Jewish art property, I have presented my legal standpoint in a
communication of 26 January. I was in agreement with the Gen. Qu. that
neither you as the commander in chief of the Army nor I as the military
commander have anything more to do with this question.

I may remark, however, that I do not, as I have already verbally
declared, deem as very fortunate the Reich Marshal's order of 5
November, which, as I probably not unrightly suspect, was instigated by
another source, and that I am afraid that it may later be of
considerable disadvantage for the esteem of the state and the
responsible directing figures in the judgment of the world and also of
the public at home, as the eGnfiscatioii of the entire Jewish art
property itself may be. I do not in fact know how these transactions can
be justified on the basis of international or domestic law at all. From
many personalities and also from the mass of the people I have heard
very bitter condemnation.


1. later died in battle. therefore no longer available for purposes of

                                                              [Page 652]

I myself, on taking over my office, sharply refused to concern myself in
any way with this question, much less to make myself coresponsible
through any action. My entire inner feeling, my juristic thinking and my
conception of the necessary bearing of the conqueror in the occupied
territory are against it.

As regards the order of the Reich Marshal dated 5 November, I do not
regard the character of the collections referred to in No. 2. The
wording, at any rate, certainly seems to me unfortunate.

At any rate, the text in No. 6 of the order: 'in cooperation with the
Chief of the Military Administration Paris' (it probably ought to read
'Chief of the Military Administrative District Paris') ought not to
mean, in my opinion, that this 'cooperation' with an office subordinate
to me and to you should lead again to a certain co-responsibility.

The whole question of the confiscation has already stirred up plenty of
dust. I myself am of the opinion that it ought to stop now, and that any
further seizure ought to be refrained from.

I direct this communication privately to you, General Fieldmarshal, in
supplement to my official opinion, in the hope that you will rightly
grasp and understand my representations, which stem from the purest
patriotic sentiments.

                                                With obedient greetings,
                                                Yours very respectfully,
                                               Signed: von Stuelpnagel."