The Schenker Crimes

Schenker & Co.: Fencer, Plunderer, Accomplice in Murder.

The DB AG's globally operating logistics company Schenker, a Deutsche Bahn subsidiary, is the state-owned successor of a criminal organization. This has been confirmed by new documents accessed in German archives by the "Train of Commemoration" on tips by British historians. According to these documents, Schenker had organized for the "Reichsgruppe Industrie" (Nazi state-controlled industrial business association) [1] the transfer of loot to Germany, plundered Europe-wide from countries under Nazi Wehrmacht occupation. Particularly during the last years of the war (1943-45), Schenker was involved in wide-ranging plunder raids stretching from Athens in the south, through the Balkans, from Lisbon in the west, Oslo in the north and in the east from Warsaw to within the Soviet Union. The spoils flowed into the coffers of the German state, which then shared them with such companies as Mannesmann, Rheinmetall, Siemens or AEG. However, even seemingly harmless family enterprises were having Schenker & Co. - in cooperation with the Deutsche Reichsbahn (German railroad) - deliver deported laborers and spoils from Eastern Europe.

After unloading on the territory of the German Reich, on its return trips to the front, Schenker transported voluminous arsenals to militarily secure Germany's large-scale plunder economy in its "New Europe." As the documents show, Schenker's criminal gang-like business dealings included transports of valuables of the Prussian State Mint, which, on behalf of the Reichsbank, had remolded looted gold into bullions, providing them with a counterfeit minting date. The objective was to dissimulate the origin (including from anti-Semitic massacres), so that the expropriated precious metals or those that had been torn from corpses could - undetected - be capitalized on the international market.

Neither Schenker & Co.'s successor (Deutsche Bahn subsidiary DB Schenker) nor the former and current owner of Schenker (the German state) seems to show interest in a thorough investigation of Schenker's crimes. For understandable reasons. Berlin has never restituted the assets it had obtained through fencing, plunder and complicity in murder. Clarification becomes all the more pressing with the suspicion growing that DB Schenker and its parent company's global economic expansion are driving Berlin's "Weltpolitik" ("global policy"). That is nothing new. Already before World War II, Schenker was considered the economic vanguard of Germany's great power subversion; Schenker branch offices were considered a hub of spies. In London, Schenker's regional branch office was set afire; in Eastern Europe warnings of Berlin's gaining a European monopoly in the logistics branch were raised.

With Schenker against China

These warnings came too late.[2] Although in Austria, Schenker was considered the "fifth column" [3] of German foreign policy and the social democratic journal "Rudé právo" in Prague had accused Schenker of bribing Czech politicians, to use them as German influence agents,[4] Schenker's determination behind its dealings remained obscured. The innocently sounding mandate to "register European traffic at its sources" and "to provide the desired orientation,"[5] was preparation for war. Since 1937, at the latest, Schenker had become an indispensable instrument of German overt and covert aggression - directed not only at neighboring countries on the continent.

A large portion of Germany's weapons trade preparing the European war on international fronts had been carried out by Schenker. Up to 1937, China alone, had received 50 percent of these exports, arming Chiang Kai-shek's troops – under German commanders – against the Red Army. Schenker expanded its Asian subsidiaries and extended to Japan, which became a permanent logistical base for Berlin's war policy.

"Export Association for War Material"

In Europe Schenker was in operation on the Iberian Peninsula, bringing weapons into position against the democratically elected Spanish government on behalf of the putschist Franco. The deliveries were sent from the "Reichsgruppe Industrie" whose armaments cartel was in nearly daily contact with Schenker. Schenker had not only provided secure transport routes. The state-owned enterprise provided "Abnahmebeamte" (acceptance officials), [6] who smuggled German war material through foreign customs controls and were in charge of the clandestine delivery at the destination. Bribery at foreign borders was run-of-the-mill. Hans Eltze, the official representative of the department "Ausfuhrgemeinschaft für Kriegsgerät" (AGEKA/Export Association for War Material) [7] of the "Reichsgruppe Industrie" had experience in this field and was on post in Spain. Working under the acronym of "AGEKA" the export cartel consolidated the arms shipments implemented by Schenker & Co. Following the successful putsch in Spain and the crushing of the International Brigades with the German weapons provided by Schenker, Eltze relocated to Portugal. For "AGEKA," and therefore, for Schenker, Portugal became a camouflage country for imports of material and natural resources (including Tungsten), which had become indispensable, since the invasion of Poland at the latest. Schenker's "Abnahmebeamte," who had come to Lisbon via Madrid as official representatives, were certified by "Dr. Mörner, Berlin-Wannsee, Drei Lindenstrasse," Managing Director of "AGEKA."

Password "Bear"

With the increased losses of material and demands for re-supplies for the war effort at the eastern front, the Schenker operation also grew. The orders were now coming in from the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW). For the purpose of deploying his "Abnahmebeamte" beyond the Perl Border Station in Saarland, Schenker noted: "On behalf of the OKW, Herr Kuralt must accompany and take charge of several war material transports from Perl under the codename 'Bear,' as well as provide clearance for them at the Spanish border [...]. Informed about the trip, OKW Captain Flues." Regarding other arms deliveries, Schenker noted elsewhere, "We currently have large shipments in Portugal of major importance to the war, which due to their extraordinary significance, must be executed with the greatest of diligence and expertise."

"Extremely Urgent"

Preoccupied with resupplying the front with weaponry following the defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad, the Army High Command (OKH) called on Schenker to "escort and control war material transports." For the recurring deliveries to so-called "Generalgouvernement" (German-occupied Polish territories), Schenker made "our Gefolgschaftsmitglied" (allegiance member) Gustav Hamann available "for a period of 3 months," "Dr. Mörner" from the "AGEKA" was informed. Also as a result of the Stalingrad battle defeat, Schenker sent large-scale "war material shipments" via Slovakia to Romania. Two Romanian armies allied with the German Wehrmacht had been annihilated in Stalingrad (1942); the others were to continue fighting. "Since this pertains to a large number of transports," Schenker announced "the multiple entries and exits" of its official smugglers to the Reich Ministry of Economics in February/March 1943. However, Romania's collapse was unavoidable. Thus, Berlin ordered the reinforcement of military forces in Romania's neighboring Slovakia under fascist-rule. Schenker was present and already prepared. "Since the matter is extremely urgent," Schenker's "central management" noted, "war material shipments destined for the Slovak Wehrmacht must be loaded in Antwerp on Monday, Nov. 28 (1944) and on Tuesday the 29, in Amsterdam." The sealing was carried out by a Schenker "Gefolgschaftsmitglied" from Aachen.

Multiple Uses

Within a few days, the Reichsbahn wagons succeeded in transporting Schenker's cargo - tons of weapons - including Schenker's "Gefolgschaftsmitglieder" from the West to the eastern front: a logistical achievement. Recipient: the OKH "Field Equipment Inspectorate" at the Slovak-Polish border. Apprehensions expressed by international observers during the pre-war period that Schenker was in fact serving as a "fifth column" of Berlin's "Europe" policy had been outdone. In alliance with the Reichsbahn, Schenker had proven that its constantly expanding logistical network and its corporate social partnership structures of its "Gefolgschaftsregime" (allegiance system) had multiple applications: in peacetime, as a potential source of strength for economically widening across-border access to the market as far as possible without internal friction, and in times of crisis and war, to violently facilitate opening the market to radical methods of assets transfer. The logistical achievement proved to be a showpiece of criminal calculation. Once this stage was reached, the camouflage obscuring Germany's expansionist policy as a union for a "greater Europe" disintegrated. Resistance grew.

Wholesale Predatory Economy

In its "Greater Europe," Berlin then operated on the basis of extortion and gang violence: a wholesale predatory economy. Whereas Schenker had maintained its front and engaged in price negotiations, in the countries under German occupation, the Schenker importers then began becoming more explicit, as the military situation spurred value creation. In December 1943 - supplying the eastern front became more difficult and the caloric value was dropping on the home front - Schenker had to dispatch his "director of the meat sector [...] for larger livestock and meat transports to the Reich" to German-occupied Denmark to initiate "negotiations" with the "companies Bacen Udvalg" in Copenhagen and with "C Clausen" in Svensborg. Of course, Schenker did not conduct these negotiations on a basis of equal footing. Since August 1943, the Danish economy had been under SS Brig. Gen. Werner Best's command and Danish social life under German military jurisdiction and the Danish currency was devaluated.

"Warsaw Office"

It was senseless to attempt negotiating anything in "Generalgouvernement" (German-occupied Polish territories), because Schenker could seize Polish property with brute force. Negotiations were merely between the different levels of the occupation forces over the preferable distribution of the spoils. It was urgent. In January 1944 Schenker noted: "We have to see to it that livestock is brought from Generalgouvernement and its adjacent regions to Germany, as quickly as possible. Herr M. is designated as transport escort and must bring the shipments to Germany, to return as soon as possible to take over other shipments [...]. Trip begin: immediately. Duration of trip: 3 months." Schenker also allotted 3 months to plunder Polish grain and dispatched "Herr Leander Maes" also in January 1944 to Krasne in "Generalgouvernement". The haste being shown by Schenker & Co. was for a specific reason: The Soviet Army was approaching. "Due to the circumstances, we must immediately send reliable personnel to prepare transports of livestock from the endangered areas," according to a January 12, 1944 Schenker document pertaining to the massive plunder of Poland. The removal of Polish livestock to the "Reich" had to be accomplished with "several trips."

Post-War Provisions

A few days later, on January 19, Schenker announced the need for additional typists, to register the amount of German spoils stocked in Warsaw: "Due to the large number of shipping orders, our Warsaw branch office urgently needs more perfect stenographer/typists," evidently to list the freight the Warsaw "office" will be shipping to Berlin with the Reichsbahn. The rumor was spreading among the Warsaw underground, well-informed about the logistical activities of the German occupiers, that the collapse of the German eastern front was possibly imminent. This hope was premature, but it strengthened the resolve of the Polish resistance fighters.

Shares in Prague

Before the German "Unification work" for the "reorganization of Europe" drew to a close, not only in Poland, Schenker was participating throughout "Greater Europe," as an accomplice and as a culprit to complete the plunder and secure foreign economic assets for the post-war period. On January 11, 1944, Schenker's "central management" sent "our Gefolgschaftsmitglied Frau Helene Rex" from Berlin to Prague - "Reason for Trip: ensure the placement of our share certificates [...] Duration of Trip: 14 Days (repeated) (courier)." Since January 18, Schenker's Managing Director "Herr Dr. Fritz Rapmund" supported the courier activity and traveled also to Prague: "He was in charge of handling the administrative and financial affairs of the company as a whole," it was noted in connection with the technical preparations for an eventual collapse of the German extensive predatory economy in Czechoslovakia. "Various issues being raised by our branch companies in Prague require on-the-spot clarification." The "shares certificates" repatriation to Berlin should substantiate an asset claim, in reference to Schenker's appropriated sub- or sister companies and their assets - spoils stolen from the occupied nation's national wealth, whose losses and hardships Schenker sought to dissipate in shares certificates.

Tons of Silver

In occupied Yugoslavia, "General Commissioner for the Economy" Franz Neuhausen - who, prior to the war had been representative for the Deutsche Reichsbahn and Consul General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - was also in the exit mood in early 1944. To the East, Soviet military divisions were advancing, to the West, the Allies were liberating Italy, and essential portions of Yugoslavia's opposite shores were under the control of their Partisan Army allies under Marshal Tito. Neuhausen, a well-known pre-war corrupt business swindler, gathered up the private wealth, he had accumulated in Belgrade, while simultaneously taking care of the interests of the Reichsbahn and therefore also Schenker & Co. Schenker provided the logistics for Yugoslavia's copper ore and precious metals, plundered by Neuhausen, to be shipped to Germany by truck and train - including tons of silver.


© "Train of Commemoration" Reg. Civ Org. All rights reserved 2021 Zug der Erinnerung e.V.


Part Two:

Plunder logistics in southeast Europe * Bloody Gold * The Prussian State Mint - a counterfeiting shop * "Personnel Screening" * Spoils in Ukraine * Central Labor Camp * Plunder in Thessaloniki *


[1] Specific terms used in the militarized Nazi terminology have been left in the original German in italics, followed by an English translation in parentheses.

[2] See The Schenker Papers. "Train of Commemoration" 2015/ May 08, 2016.

[3], [4], [5] Herbert Matis, Dieter Stiefel "Unlimited. The History of the International Forwarding Company Schenker 1931 to 1990." Vienna 2002.

[6] Unless otherwise indicated, quotations are from the dossiers "Files relating to information, etc., about Schenker & Co. GmbH. Company with limited liability. Central direction" in the archives of the "Train of Commemoration". Emphasis in the original quotes.

[7] Wilhelm Zangen, General Director of Mannesmann Tube Factory (Düsseldorf), a Nazi "Wehrwirtschaftsführer" (Director of War Industry) served as chairman of the "Ausfuhrgemeinschaft für Kriegsgerät" (AGEKA/Export Association for War Material). His deputy, Hans Eltze, had worked in collaboration with other known arms dealers since he began his professional career at Rheinmetall after 1918. Eltze worked for Rheinmetall in Switzerland, where he founded the Solothurn weapons factory and clandestinely promoted Germany's rearmament even earlier than 1933. Eltze joined the NSDAP in 1933 and worked with Waldemar Pabst, an arms dealer with a criminal record, the officer responsible for the assassinations of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Eltze's career then took him to Austria, where he became general manager of the Steyr arms factory, from where he again moved, first to Spain, and later to Portugal, where he took care of the business of the "AGEKA" cartel.