The Schenker Crimes (II)

Schenker & Co.: Fencer, Plunderer, Accomplice to Murder. Part two.

(Part two) - In occupied Yugoslavia, Franz Neuhausen, a known pre-war corrupt business swindler, was officiating as the "authorized representative for the production of metal ore in Southeast Europe." The long-time Reichsbahn representative and General Consul was not only an official German state representative in Belgrade, he was also Chair of the Supervisory Board of the "Südost Montan GmbH" in Berlin. Under Neuhausen, private and state forms of appropriation of someone else's property were so entangled that dividing up the spoils among the robbers was growing increasingly complicated. Germany's general representative was plundering Yugoslavia's precious metals as an official act; however he was occasionally siphoning some off for himself and for his political cronies in the Olympus of crime of Berlin's ministries, rather than formally turning them over to the private "Südost Montan." The extent of their looting can be seen by the considerable "urgency" [1] of a trip that "Frau Frieda Neuland," a "Gefolgschaftsmitglied" (allegiance member) of the "Südost Montan" had made from Berlin to Belgrade in January 1944 "to work at one of the affiliated plants," in Belgrade under Neuhausen's control. In the Schenker documents her trip is classified as urgent; it was undertaken during a phase of special demands on the organizational skills of Neuhausen, the Reichsbahn's attaché. The Reichsbahn's shipment of "two wagons of 20 tons of Yugoslav silver coins" was imminent.[2] Destination: refineries in the "Alt Reich."

Bloody Gold

Precious metals from German raids had accumulated to such an extent in 1944 that the largest of the refineries, the DEGUSSA refinery in Frankfurt (Hesse) was able to temporarily refuse additional shipments also from the Deutsche Reichsbahn and Schenker, due to saturation of its operational capacities. It was simply too much, however, not enough to defeat the superior enemy forces. In the economic looting cycle, tons of foreign coins and auriferous objects were arriving in Germany - also from Yugoslav bank vaults that Neuhausen had had looted. The owners were classified as "absent," "whereabouts unknown" or otherwise prevented - in anti-Semitic murder campaigns, they had been liquidated on the spot or deported with the Reichsbahn from Yugoslavia to the death camps.

Plunder Logistics

Schenker and the Deutsche Reichsbahn's partner in Berlin, the Prussian State's Mint, profited from the proceeds of mass murder committed throughout Europe. The mint was capable of melting up to 4 tons of gold per day and of sampling them the following day - for example, old gold, broken gold, or dental gold from the camps. Subsequently, the gold was cast as unsuspicious bullions, with mint stamps simulating a date set prior to 1938, when the great German robberies of gold and other precious metals began following the invasion of Austria. More looting took place during the Reich's Pogrom Night on November 9/10, 1938.[3] The criminal source was supposed to be dissimulated, to be easily able to capitalize the gold bullions in international trade.[4] Functioning like a criminal gang under the direction of Herr Hans Moser, Schenker & Co. handled the Prussian State Mint's distribution logistics. Schenker supplied its "Abnahmebeamte" (acceptance officials) and "Gefolgschaftsmitglieder" for the required trips to the plundered countries.

Valorization Circuit

From there, Herr Moser in Berlin received not only gold teeth and stolen coins, he received orders to return worthless newly minted metal coins, for example to Bulgaria. That these were recoined from the residues of refined loot has not been confirmed. What has been confirmed is the temporal connection between the valorization of the loot in Berlin and the return transport of new coins from the Prussian State's Mint, which Schenker brought by the ton to Bulgaria. On location in Bulgaria, Theodor Dannecker, the German foreign ministry's "Advisor on Jewish Affairs," had just deported the last group of approximately 12,000 despoiled Jews designated for liquidation from Thrakien - including nearly 2,000 children [5] - with the Deutsche Reichsbahn to Treblinka, as Schenker announced to "Dr. Moser, Tel.: 16 31 73" the departure of the freight from the Prussian State Mint in Berlin for Bulgaria. The criminal valorization cycle entered a new round.

"Several Wagons"

"Herr Garski should accompany a cargo of coins to Bulgaria on behalf of the Prussian State's Mint," confirmed Schenker's "Central Management" in Berlin on December 9, 1943. "Experience indicates that the transport will need 4 - 6 weeks." Apparently, due to a query, a handwritten note confirms, there is "nothing to be modified on the duration of the trip, since the cargo and the acceptance can actually take 6 weeks (there are several wagons)." Schenker smuggled these "several" Reichsbahn wagons with coins from Berlin through the "protectorate" (Czechia), "Slovakia; Hungary; Croatia, Serbia," with "occasional" "arrival and departure difficulties in the individual countries," but the valorization cycle still operated reliably. Other Schenker transports from "Dr. Moser's" Berlin's counterfeiting workshop (alias Prussian State's Mint) went "again" to Bulgaria and Romania in the spring of 1944.

"Personnel Screening"

Schenker and the Deutsche Reichsbahn were working in two-way traffic: wagonloads of those robbed and doomed to be murdered were being transported to Treblinka in the East, while other Reichsbahn wagons - with Schenker - were shuttling the looted goods back and forth between the plundered countries and Berlin for processing. The correlation between gang-like transfer of assets and plans for mass murder were immanent. The anti-Semitic/anti-Slavic plunder option was not driven by a surplus of inexplicable affect, even though its affects could distort the plunder by the state. However, bestiality that seemed dispensable and cold-blooded theft by the ruling power and its economic agents whet one another. The plunder option was systemic and Schenker managed it with rationality. Schenker assigned senior management personnel to record the blood lineage as qualification characteristic for its employees in an objective screening process - and to assume the consequences for the purpose of "Aryanization." Even after the turning point of the war in Stalingrad, Schenker sent the "Betriebsführer [head manager] of our company, Herr Gottlieb Kühlmeyer" to Prague for this purpose: "Trip begin: 18.12.43," "Trip Duration: 3 months" "Trip Purpose: Durchkämmung [screening] of personnel of our branches in Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, hiring of new personnel etc."

"Supervisory Committee"

As a result of this "Durchkämmung" by 1941, 464 employees in Schenker's foreign branch offices alone, had been segregated because they were Jewish.[6] If they were unable to flee to safety, they faced isolation, persecution and execution. As assets, they were prey. The foreign ministry's envoy, Edmund Veesenmayer, a member of the Reichsbahn's Supervisory Committee, monitored the "Aryanization Program." This also applied to Schenker. Nearly simultaneously with Schenker's "Betriebsführer's" "Durchkämmung" of its branches in Czechia, Veesenmayer was preparing to load "289,357 Jews into 92 trains each with 45 wagons" of the Deutsche Reichsbahn in neighboring Hungary,[7] destined for Auschwitz. The Reichsbahn's Veesenmayer and Schenker's "manager of our company, Herr Gottlieb Kühlmeyer" were working hand in hand, without having to know of, or having had contact with one another; for the extraction of loot, which in its ultimate stage of undressing, had to eliminate the physical person, his physical body, as the owner of the asset.

Central Labor Camp

Loot was also the issue in Proskurow ("Reichskommissariat Ukraine"), a historical focal point of anti-Semitic mass pogroms.[8] There Schenker was present "for the acceptance, clearance, and monitoring of large tobacco shipments from Ukraine to Germany," wrote Schenker's "Central Management" not without pride. Schenker had installed its "head of Bremen's tobacco department Herr Bever" in Proskurow. The Brinkmann AG (Bremen) - one of the largest tobacco factories in Europe, at the time - was competing with Reemtsma (Hamburg) for the Ukrainian shipments being prepared by Bever. Prisoners from the "Central Labor Camp for Jews" (ZALfJ) were brought in to load the freight and to build the road on the main rail line between Proskurow and Germany.[9]

As if Nothing had Happened

It was "several kilometers" from the "Central Labor Camp for Jews" (ZALfJ) to work in Proskurow,[10] recalls Etia Tselavich, a survivor. Dressed in rags and "shabby" footwear, prisoners ran "through a mixture of mud and snow." Attempts to escape were punished by hostage killings: for each escapee, ten bystanders came before a German firing squad. In December 1942, the Police Security Detachment (for the Main Highway IV) liquidated the camp. At the same time, the occupying forces liquidated the local ghetto. Several thousand people were killed in the German police hail of bullets; exactly how many remains unknown. At Schenker's loading platform in Proskurow, the "large shipments of tobacco from Ukraine to Germany" continued, as if nothing had happened. In December 1943, "Herr Bever" was relieved in Proskurow. Schenker's "Gefolgschaftsmitglied, Herr Johannes Wolters, residence in Bremen, Langenstr. 104," took over.

Mass Registration

The murder campaigns integrated into the system of plunder were intensified as soon as enemy lines drew nearer and the continued access to goods and people began coming under threat, as was also the case in Greece. Franz Neuhausen, the long-time Reichsbahn representative - and in Belgrade the "authorized representative for the production of metal ore in Southeast Europe" - was in Greece to extract the country's natural resources. Beginning in July 1942, forced laborers were brought in to mine chromium, in the vicinity of Thessaloniki, in northern Greece. During a public mass registration in the town's main square, the German occupiers had had several thousand Jewish men between the ages of 18 and 45 "registered." Those not having to work in the mines were obliged to expand the railroad network. Thessaloniki, a railroad junction, was indispensable for shipping the loot to the "Reich" in northern Europe. Schenker handled the logistics.

"Larger Truck Fleet"

One of Schenker's largest regional branches was in Thessaloniki, whose workload had considerably increased since July 1942. Following the forced labor and ghettoization of Thessaloniki's Jewish inhabitants, the comprehensive plunder of their property began. More than 50,000 people were gradually submitted to the plundering procedure, which ultimately included their physical bodies. After the first freight wagons, loaded with Jewish prisoners, departed from Thessaloniki on their way to Auschwitz, the vacated apartments were cleared of their belongings and their valuables were confiscated. The looting dragged on for five months, because it had to be coordinated with the Reichsbahn's timetable orders, which had scheduled 19 mass transports, smuggling more than 48,000 people to the death camps. Schenker's rush hours were during those periods between the 19 Reichsbahn departures, so that the other apartments of those new victims herded to the station could be emptied. It is no longer possible to reconstruct which portions of the loot were immediately used and which were successively shipped to Germany. The registration and logistical distribution of the loot continued beyond August 1943, when the majority of the deported Greeks had already been killed in Auschwitz. Schenker's "Central Management" complained of a lack of personnel because of the heavy workload in Thessaloniki. "Our sister company in Saloniki has extremely important strategic tasks to fulfill and employs a fleet of trucks," it was noted January 10, 1944, concerning the regional branch's workload. A typist is "urgently needed. Fräulein Wolff has been designated for this position and should come to Saloniki as soon as possible."

Constantly Increasing Volume

Because the deportation of additional Greek Jews from the small town of Ioannina was impending in February 1944, and the threat of an invasion by the Western Allies appeared imminent, Schenker's need for personnel grew even more urgent. "Because the volume of strategic duties of our branch office in Saloniki is constantly increasing and our local office continues to suffer under a severe shortage of personnel," Schenker complained again, "we have hired two more employees for Saloniki, of whom Frau Kleiss should be leaving immediately." The lack of personnel was probably still considerable, as the Jewish community of Ioannina was rounded up on March 25, 1944, and deported to Thessaloniki via Larissa. The Deutsche Reichsbahn smuggled them on to Auschwitz over those tracks that their fellow victims from Thessaloniki had expanded a few months earlier.

Never Repaid a Single Cent

In view of the tense general situation, Schenker's authorized representative, Fritz Doehring, traveled to Budapest on March 28, 1944. "Trip Reason: balance sheet talks" and "meeting in Budapest with the director of the Greek organization. "Greater Europe" was drawing to a close; however, its results had been impressive. As in Thessaloniki, in Warsaw and Prague, in Antwerp, Amsterdam or Copenhagen, Schenker and its state-owned mother company, the Deutsche Reichsbahn, had not only raked in loot, but had also made provisions for the post-war period. The "share certificates" [11] that had been secured, including the entire working capital are worth billions in today's currency.[12] When the Schenker culprits sat down with their Greek collaborators, two years after the war was over, for a confidential meeting in Vienna, the survivors of Treblinka, Auschwitz or Theresienstadt were still wandering around Europe. The national assets of their homelands had been ravished; the victorious nations of Europe were, without exception, indebted. But, in 1947, the surviving culprits at Schenker had assured themselves in Vienna that things could seamlessly continue: they were "fully back in business" [13] - with their base capital from robbery, plunder, and complicity in murder. The resurgence that had begun back then, had allowed the DB Schenker and its mother company, the state-owned Deutsche Bahn AG, to become Europe's largest logistics companies and one of the top addresses worldwide. Of the wholesale robbery, which had made their rise possible, they have repaid nothing, never a single cent.


Please read also part one: The Schenker Crimes.


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


[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] Unless otherwise indicated, the 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.

[3] Ralf Banken: The Development of the German Precious Metal Sector and the Nazi Robbery of Precious Metals, 1933-1945. Berlin 2009. See also Raul Hilberg: The Destruction of the European Jews. New Haven/London 2003. 1028 f.

[4] The precious metals looted following the November pogroms, both in the "Alt Reich" and in annexed Austria, including sacred gold and "Jews' Silver," were, because of the amount, occasionally shoveled onto open trucks to transfer the loot from Berlin's main depot to DEGUSSA in Berlin's Reinickendorf district. See Ralf Banken: "The Development of the German Precious Metal Sector". ibid.

[5] Ibid

[6] From the municipality of Štip, in today's Northern Macedonia alone, more than 500 residents of all ages were deported to Treblinka by the Deutsche Reichsbahn and murdered. Entire family groups, such as the Sion (187 names,) and Levi (124), Levy or Lavy (39) had been liquidated.

[7] Herbert Matis, Dieter Stiefel: Unlimited. The History of the International Forwarding Company Schenker 1931 to 1990. Vienna 2002.

[8] Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Frankfurt a.M. 2005. 63.

[9] February 15, 1919, Ukrainian nationalists committed an anti-Semitic pogrom in Proskurow, killing around 1,500 of the town's Jewish resident.

[10] Alexander Kruglov, Martin Dean: Proskurow and Lesnewo Forced Labor Camps for Jews. In: The USHMM Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos 1933-1945, vol. V, Ind. University Press, i.V.

[11] Ibid.

[12] The Schenker Papers, May 08, 2016.

[13] Herbert Matis, Dieter Stiefel: Unlimited. Ibid.