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5 December 1998
For immediate release
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The International Conference on "Nazi Gold" Problems
On December 3, 1998 in Washington at the International Conference on "Nazi Gold" Problems the Ukrainian Delegation presented an Information prepared by an experts group on the "Nazi Gold" problem established in Ukraine a year ago.
Its primary goal was to examine all available sources of information in Ukraine and abroad. With the active assistance of local archivists, members of the group have studied documents in the state archives of Ukraine, in the archives of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, in 19 regional archives, in the state archives of the Russian Federation (Moscow), in the Central Repository of Historical-Documentary Collections (Moscow), in the Federal Archives in Berlin – altogether some 500 archival collections have been accessed and more than 500,000 pages of documents checked.
What were the venues of the Ukrainian share in the Third Reich’s capital formation?
Financial policies of the occupiers, compulsory payments, functioning of the banking system:
The Nazis worked vigorously and broadly. The collection of precious metals and currencies was carried out by forcing the inhabitants of Ukraine to sell these at a very low fixed rate. (An order to this effect was issued in August, 1942).
Earlier, in June, 1942, a new monetary unit – the karbovanets – was introduced in Ukraine. By April, 1943, more than 2,000 million Soviet rubles were exchanged for the karbovantsi. This was equal to 200 million Reichsmarks. All payments for forcibly bought precious metals and currencies were made in karbovantsi.
The exchange operations for the Soviet rubles were done at extortionate rates – much lower than the rate in use by the German Reichsbank at the time.
Sale of government bonds was widespread and residents were forced to buy these bonds. In Bukovyna, for example (then under Romanian occupation) state obligations were sold beginning in 1941. The archives contain lists of inhabitants compelled to buy these bonds.
One should also note such measures of capital formation as taxes, penalties, contributions and other compulsory payments. Preliminary data we have gathered shows that the population of Ukraine made payments in excess of 2,500 thousand rubles; Ukrainian government data show that these payments amounted to 2,600 thousand rubles, about 46 million Reichsmarks, 195 million karbovantsi, 14.4 million zlotys.
The functioning of the bank system:
Analysis of the operations of banks and other financial structures and organizations within the Reichscommisariat of Ukraine shows an increase in the volume of financial activity. We have data on account balances in the Central Economic Bank during the final stages of occupation. The liabilities of this bank were not paid to the creditors. As a result, there was a windfall of 7,290 million karbovantsi. More than 5,500 million karbovantsi or 550 million Reichsmarks were not paid to the creditors of the Economic Bank network.
Ukrainian Slave Laborers in Germany:
One should not overlook the use of the banking system for the so-called "savings" of the slave laborers from Ukraine, who were compelled to transfer home some of their earnings made in the Reich. What were the practical results of this? The Central Economic Bank of Ukraine, which operated in the Reichscommissariat of Ukraine, received 191.1 million karbovantsi or 19.11 million Reichsmarks in deposits, or money withheld from the Ukrainian slave laborers. This amount should be added to the money removed from inhabitants of the territories that constitute present-day Ukraine.
While the amounts transferred from the meager earnings of individual people in penal servitude were insignificant (they were receiving inadequate payment for their hard labor), the total sum is impressive. We have no right to disregard it.
Also worthy of note should be the accumulation of Nazi assets through obligatory insurance of workers. The Reich minister of labor issued an order in April, 1942, that business owners should make monthly contributions of 4 Reichsmarks to local hospitals or treasuries for every employee’s health care. We estimate that the total paid for every Ukrainian slave laborer amounted to 200 million Reichsmarks. Since these amounts were taken out of the earnings of the slave laborers working under intolerable conditions, they should be included in the compensatory requirements for Nazi victims
Robberies during arrests, executions and various retaliatory actions:
Capital formation in the form of gold and precious metals was done not only through "spontaneous" robbery, but also in the process of "scheduled" robbery during arrests, executions, removal to concentration camps and other retaliatory actions. The valuables thus confiscated were registered at the trophies reception posts of the Reich Treasury. They came from German army units and from detention camps on the territory of occupied countries, including the Soviet Union.
To date we have studied trophies records from the USSR and from camps in Poland, Germany and other occupied territories where our citizens were interned. The money and gold were transferred to the German Reichsbank whose records also were examined. These records provide concrete data on the Ukrainian share of the "Nazi gold." Currencies were recorded in Reichsmarks, but the value of jewelry was not estimated. It was recorded as so many pieces or so many kilograms of jewelry, and not specified whether the pieces were made of gold or silver or some other precious metal.
The total amount of currencies and gold coins taken from the Soviet Union was more than 1,800 million Reichsmarks. In addition, the records show more than 1,210 kilograms of jewelry, made up of 1,123,525 individual items. The significant part of these came from Ukraine. Almost 70,000 gold rubles and coins of other currencies were registered with indications of their Ukrainian origin. Similarly, some 7,000 valuable items, separately recorded 588 gold items and about 110 kilograms of jewelry suggest that they came from Ukraine. But we are convinced that the share of valuables confiscated in Ukraine is much higher, as numerous records don’t show where the items originated.
Clearly, not all the stolen valuables reached the Reich Treasury. But the analysis of the trophies reception post records is very important for the establishment of appropriate parameters. Research in the archives of the trophies reception post of the Reich Treasury (Bundesarchives in Berlin) will continue.
Research in Ukraine
We continue to examine affidavits gathered by local assistance groups of the State Emergency Commission, which would provide data on property confiscation and on the suffering of Ukrainian population during the German occupation.
Plans call for a compilation of a list of citizens who have had their jewelry confiscated by the Nazis. Also, testimony and interrogation records of persons who returned from slave labor camps and prisoner of war camps about living conditions in Germany -- some 1,300,000 pages -- is available in the State archives. This material came from the Security Service, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Conclusions and Proposals
- Ukraine, where more than 600,000 Nazi victims still live, supports the world community with regard to a fair distribution of Nazi assets gained during the Holocaust era among the survivors of that era. We would like to see the creation of a fund as suggested by the United States and Great Britain for the support of the victims of Nazi persecution until the end of their days, and wish to note that the people characterized at the London conference as "double victims" tend to die sooner. It is our view that this problem is complex and requires a complex solution, rather than one-time humanitarian assistance.
- The most urgent task for the benefit of Nazi victims – citizens of Ukraine and other new independent states on the territory of the former USSR – is the establishment of fair compensatory payments to them by the Federal Republic of Germany, the successor state of the Third Reich. This we emphatically reiterate. The payments should be made on a non-discriminatory basis not just to one category of persons (industrial slave laborers, for example), but to all categories of victims of the National-Socialist persecution, including inmates of concentration camps, Gestapo prisoners, inhabitants of ghettos, and persons compelled to work in hard-labor factories. To accomplish this, negotiations have to be undertaken with Germany and appropriate agreements concluded. In this respect we look for the attention and understanding of the new German government.
- From Ukraine’s point of view, "Nazi Gold" should not be defined only as stolen gold and other precious metals, but as a concept that in a broad sense characterizes the process of the Reich’s capital formation during the SecondWorld War. We thus take into consideration not only direct confiscation of valuables, but also the systematic fiscal policy in occupied territories, use of compulsory labor and removal of Ukraine’s material resources. This approach corresponds with the orientation of the present conference. When we speak of "Nazi Gold" we mean Nazi assets gained during the Holocaust.
- Our approach to this problem may differ from those of other European nations, but there is a reason: Ukraine had existed within the totalitarian system of the Soviet Union. Under conditions of this system, inhabitants of the greater part of Ukraine, on the eve of Nazi occupation, had no property rights, no bank accounts, no assets in bank safe deposit boxes. The only thing they were allowed to have were personal belongings and modest savings. We should remember, however, that during the Second World War millions of small streams of fine jewelry, ornaments, rings, watches, crosses, tooth caps merged into a mighty river of gold that became the Nazi assets of the Third Reich. The western lands of Ukraine, on the other hand, which became a part of the Soviet Union in 1939-40, did have the attributes of countries under whose rule these lands existed until that time. It is our position, therefore, that inhabitants of Eastern Halychyna, Bukovyna and Transnistria who survived the war and Holocaust should be compensated the same way as those of other European countries for their losses of bank savings, insurance, property and the like.
- We confirm our readiness to cooperate with the world community in a full information exchange. Based on the principles of open society, we will make available all the materials in our archives that had been inaccessible before Ukraine’s independence not only to foreign, but even domestic experts.
- We support the idea of establishing an international archival directory on problems of Nazi assets and we stand ready to participate in planning such data base. This directory, accessible through a world computer network would be a worthy representation of the world community’s unity on the threshold of the third millennium. Moreover, it would have not only practical significance, but also serve as a memorial to the victims of the Nazis and to remind future generations of the Nazi horrors.
- Ukraine supports the creation of a permanent advisory body made up of various experts, who would work on problems of Nazi assets.
The delegation of Ukraine has come to the Washington conference with a fervent desire to promote practical achievements in its work, first and foremost – a fair division of Nazi assets, and fair compensatory payments to the victims of Nazi persecution.
Archives of the invaders authority
Having the greatest research value for studding occupation policy.
It the documentary materials of the ruling government bodies such as:
Reich safety services
Reich commissariat of Ukraine, Halychina district
Local and regional authorities
Material of banks, police and other organizations
Reich Head Monetary Department
German Reichs bank
Economic banks in Ukraine
Reich Society of the eastern Soviet Union
Material of concentrating camps