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Toepfer Foundation
Internal Leadership

(Own report) - A new scholarly study has provoked discussion about the network of former Nazi war criminals, which was formed after 1945 by the Hamburg-based Toepfer Foundation. The network included the agricultural expert Hans-Joachim Riecke, according to historian Wigbert Benz in Karlsruhe. Riecke had organized the large-scale theft of food from the territory of the Soviet Union under Wehrmacht occupation in WW II, to deliberately starve millions of people to death. In 1951, the agronomist Riecke became head of the economic department of Alfred C. Toepfer's agricultural trade company and a few years later rose to become a board member of the Alfred C. Toepfer Foundation, which exists still today. In this function, Riecke also accorded the 25,000 DM-doted "Freiherr vom Stein Foundation Award" to the Bundeswehr generals Wolf Graf von Baudissin, Ulrich de Maizière and Johann Adolf Graf von Kielmansegg, who, during WW II, had been members of the Nazi Wehrmacht's general staff. Kielmansegg prided himself with having marched "forward over graves" in France and Poland.

In his recently published scholarly study, historian Wigbert Benz, from Karlsruhe, writes that Alfred C. Toepfer, an agricultural businessman and founder of the still existing "Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S.," has been promoting the formation of a network of Nazi war criminals since 1945. Benz names the former SS General and state secretary in the Nazi Agricultural Ministry Hans-Joachim Riecke, as his key witness. According to Riecke, in the 1950s, Toepfer preferred to employ "fellow WW I soldiers," former members of right-wing "Freikorps" and "Third Reich losers," who had not been treated "sufficiently well" in the Federal Republic of Germany. Without demanding to see his denazification certificate, Toepfer recruited also Riecke into his company's management. In his unpublished memoirs, the former Nazi state secretary wrote that his future boss hat told him in 1950 that "I could start working at any time, regardless of the verdict of the proceedings of the denazification tribunal."[1]

Rieckes's Starvation Plan
In 1951, the agronomist Riecke was named head of the economic department of Alfred C. Toepfer's grain trade company, the largest German company of its kind, at the time. It is yet unclear, whether Riecke and Toepfer - who both had had a close relationship with the political elite of the "Third Reich," with the SS, in particular[2] had known each other already from the Nazi period. In any case, both had had "contact with each other because of their functions," writes Wigbert Benz. During WW II, Toepfer was seeking to expand his company to the territory of the Soviet Union under the occupation of German troops, to ensure - according to his company - a good position "in the Russian grain trade, after the war." To accomplish this, he dispatched his General Manager Wilhelm Hochgrassl to the semi-governmental Central Trading Company East (ZHO). Acting on the orders of Hermann Göring, the ZHO set out to "ensure a central registration of all agricultural products in the occupied eastern territories" and to ensure that these products be used exclusively in the service of German interests. The ZHO, in turn, had to comply with Riecke's instructions. Riecke was in charge of the Department of Food and Agriculture in the Wehrmacht's "Economic Staff East" (Wi Stab Ost) and in the "Reich's Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories" (RMfdbO), headed by the NSDAP's chief ideologue Alfred Rosenberg. In this function, Riecke pursued a full-fledged plan to starve Soviet citizens, living under German occupation. The "Guidelines of Economic Policy" issued by his apparatus to plunder the Soviet Union, state verbatim: "Many tens of millions of people will become superfluous in these territories and will have to die or emigrate to Siberia. Attempts to save this population from death by starvation could only be made at the expense of Europe's supply. They would undermine Germany's perseverance in the war, as well as Germany and Europe's blockade strength."

"EEC or Kolkhoz"
In the 1950s, Riecke, parallel to his leadership function in Toepfer's agricultural business company, began to also appear as a publicist and a lecturer on agricultural issues. For example, in 1953, he wrote a paper for inclusion in the "Appraisal of the Second World War" anthology, to which numerous other members of the "Third Reich's" military and political elite had contributed texts. In his article, Riecke explains that "although the removal of food from the occupied countries" created "great hardships" for local populations, however, that was "tolerable," since at least a portion of that food would be used in Germany for "alien laborers and prisoners of war." A year later, Riecke provided the preface to the German translation of a book written by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and General Director of the United Nations' FAO, John Boyd Orr. Reflecting Orr's own viewpoint, Riecke expressed the opinion that the "countries of the White race" should "use a portion of their financial and material means," that, "today, is flowing into armaments" to enhance agricultural production. The objective must be to "win" the countries of the southern hemisphere as "markets" for agricultural over-production of the western metropolitan nations. Riecke continued by saying that such an economic political strategy would be of practical advantage to Germany, given the fact that "we no longer have colonies or large property holdings in underdeveloped countries that could be lost." Then, 1958, in Hamburg at the Regional Association of Agronomists and Agricultural Journalists, Riecke declared that the reinforcement of the European Economic Community (EEC) was a "necessity." If the "integration of the western agricultural economy" does not succeed, there is "only the kolkhoz" as an alternative.

In the Company's Interests
For the grain dealer, Toepfer, his manager, Riecke's public appearances and publicist activities must have been of inestimable value as company PR. In his study, Wigbert Benz goes straight to the heart of this context: "The main thing is that the agricultural policy serves to nourish the German population and the European Community, provided that [Germany] is the core nation and tacitly, the leading power of that community. If that is possible without occupying other countries, freed of a colonial past and if it can be coupled with and ultimately serve the interests of the multi-billion grain business company, whose management board one is a member, then all the better."

"Forward Over Graves"
Toward the end of the 1950s, in addition to his managerial post, Riecke was named to the board of the "Alfred Toepfer Foundation F.V.S." This institution, founded by Toepfer back in 1931, functioned, according to Benz, as the "essential investor" of Toepfer's enterprises. Still today, it bestows numerous "Euro-Political" scholarships and cultural awards. In 1964, the "Freiherr vom Stein Award" was accorded three Bundeswehr Generals Wolf Graf von Baudissin, Ulrich de Maizière and Johan Adolf Graf von Kielmansegg, all had served on the General Staff of the Nazi Wehrmacht during the Second World War. In February 1945, de Maizière was summoned back to Berlin to the bunker of the Fuhrer, to organize the work of the command post beleaguered by the Red Army.[3] His comrade, Kielmannsegg prided himself with having marched "forward over graves" in France and Poland. He had written the numerous reports stamped "Secret Command Document" of the Wehrmacht's human rights violations committed against the civilian populations of the occupied countries under guise of the "anti-partisan counterinsurgency."[4]

"Internal Leadership" in Freikorps
The Toepfer Foundation's "Freiherr vom Stein Award" was accorded the three generals for having developed the concept of "internal leadership," which Riecke considered a "timely social program." As he confided in his memoires - which Wigbert Benz was the first to analyze - he first encountered "internal leadership" as a member of the rightwing extremist "Freikorps," which, after World War I, was hunting down communists in the Baltic. His division commander, at the time, had implemented so-called company courts to judge misconduct, which no longer were comprised solely of officers, but included also men from the ranks. This method "forged tighter unity." Those networks, which had been created back then, like the ideology on which they are based, evidently show proof of decades of perseverance - not least of all, thanks also to their promotion by Afred Toepfer and his foundation.

Other reports and background information on the Toepfer Foundation can be found here: European Values and Greywashed.

[1] Siehe dazu und im Folgenden, soweit nicht anders angegeben: Wigbert Benz: Hans-Joachim Riecke, NS-Staatssekretär. Vom Hungerplaner vor, zum "Welternährer" nach 1945. Berlin 2014.
[2] See Weiß gewaschen, Nicht philanthropisch and Bedingungslos zur Verfügung.
[3] See 50 Jahre Deutsches Heer.
[4] Nationalrat der Nationalen Front des demokratischen Deutschland/Dokumentationszentrum der Staatlichen Archivverwaltung der DDR (Hg.): Braunbuch. Kriegs- und Naziverbrecher in der Bundesrepublik, Berlin (DDR) 1965.


(Own report) - With the support of German state institutions, the notorious "Alfred Toepfer Stiftung, F.V.S." is once again planning to make an appearance in France, after numerous attempts. The Hamburg based foundation is organizing a vernissage at the Maison Heinrich Heine in the Cité internationale universitaire in Paris on November 7. By appearing as patron of the arts, the foundation is seeking to cover up its eponym, Alfred Toepfer's, shady past and is encountering heavy French resistance. The critics are pointing to the Nazi activities of the Hamburg merchant and founding father of the foundation, Alfred Toepfer, who had had close ties to the SS and high ranking Nazi officials. During World War II, Toepfer had worked also for the German administration in charge of occupied Paris ("Sabotage and Subversion in Enemy States"). His activities were inimical to France. He had promoted an ethnically oriented "new order" for Europe under German hegemony. The critics in the French capital are outraged, because the vernissage will have as its motto, Toepfer's battle cry "Europe".

Alfred Toepfer's Nazi activities, which are the focus of the protests, have been sufficiently known for some time ( has reported extensively).[1] Toepfer had close contacts with known Nazis and had the status of "SS promoter". During World War II, he became "Counterespionage officer", in occupied Paris in charge of "sabotage and subversion" and later for "the clandestine procurement of goods" for the German Reich - in other words the arbitrary plunder of the occupied territory. His business enterprises maintained their profit-making throughout World War II. One of Toepfer's companies supplied slaked lime to the Ghetto administration in Łódź to cover the cadavers. After the war, Toepfer employed several Nazi criminals in his companies, among them Edmund Veesenmeyer and Hans-Joachim Riecke. Edmund Veesenmeyer worked with Adolf Eichmann in the mass deportation of approximately 400.000 Hungarian Jews to the German extermination camps. Hans-Joachim Riecke was implicated in the wholesale slaughter of several hundred thousand Soviet prisoners of war. Up to the beginning of the 1970s, Toepfer financed a leading German neo-Nazi, who later produced the pamphlet "The Auschwitz-Lie".

Carte Blanche
At the beginning of this year, the "Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S." [2], considered Germany's largest private foundation, was able to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Since the mid 1990s, this foundation has come under sharp criticism, particularly from France, because of the Nazi role of its founder. Two years ago, the French theater directrice Ariane Mnouchkine refused the German foundation's highly remunerated "Hanseatic Goethe-Award". For years, the foundation has been trying to neutralize its critics, which is why in the late 1990s, it convened a commission of historians to examine Toepfer's biography. In spite of the Hamburg merchant's obvious and uncontested Nazi activities, these experts, financed by the Toepfer Foundation, concluded, that "in any case it would be wrong to directly or indirectly implicate him in the Nazi regime's crimes."[3] The commission "issued the foundation a very unconvincing carte blanche," commented the historian Michael Fahlbusch.[4]

The foundation's argumentation was focused on Toepfer's "Europe" orientation. According to the former head of the historian commission, Hans Mommsen, Toepfer had before 1945, already "argued for a European solution" thereby clearly distancing himself "from the main Nazi line."[5] But in reality, one of the main lines of the Nazi's propaganda on the continent was to mask German hegemony as "European". "Europe" is still the focus of the foundation's activities. According to its statutes, the foundation is committed "to promoting European unification and ensuring cultural diversity".[6]

Ethnic Groups
"Europe" structured in accordance with its "ethnic political diversity," is an important element in Toepfer's ideology. "Our cradle is and remains Europe. It is the cradle of the white race," the Hamburg merchant declared at the Foundations 1938 "Mozart Prize" Awards.[7] Two years later, in May 1940, he published his thoughts on the structure of Europe, entitled "Westschau".[8] According to Toepfer, a "European economic realm" should permit the economic permeation of the continent. Simultaneously he was developing plans to secure the German Reich's absolute hegemony. Throughout Europe "ethnic groups" should be allowed to "freely develop," which, for example, would decompose France into numerous "ethnic" regions. He was particularly concerned that "German ethnic groups" be liberated from eastern Belgium and France (Alsace, Lorraine).

Following the invasion of Belgium and France, Toepfer participated in the practical implementation of his "Europe" concept - applying his liberation of "ethnic groups" ideas. "In Alsace-Lorraine Toepfer organized networks of spies for the Wehrmacht's counterespionage", recounts the historian Karl-Heinz Roth. "In Belgium and the Western French provinces he participated, until the summer of 1942, in the recruitment and organizing of autonomy movements (...) to politically assure the Wehrmacht's strategic bases at the Channel coast, 'along ethnic lines,' with the aid of Flemish, Brittany, 'Celtic' and Basque collaborators."[9] The plan was "to consolidate the achievements of the Blitzkrieg offensive against Western Europe, to 'ethnically' encircle France, the 'archenemy,' from all sides and to abandon, in accordance with Werner Best, head of the military administration, what was left - the center of France - to its fate, within the framework of a 'designated collaborator administration'." A newly "ordered" Europe - under German leadership.

Not only the fact that the vernissage on November 7 is to be held under the banner "European values", has particularly angered the critics of the Toepfer Foundation, but also by the choice of location for the event, the Maison Heinrich Heine in Paris. Heinrich Heine had left Germany in 1831 for exile in the French capital. While Alfred Toepfer was promoting the "new European order" on behalf of the German occupiers in Paris and while his foundation was busy awarding "Mozart-" and "Eichendorff prizes [10], the works of Heinrich Heine had been outlawed in Germany; Heine monuments had been destroyed and his books had been burned in May 1933.

Please read also a French dossier about Toepfer Foundation.

[1] see also Widerstand gegen deutsche "Mäzenaten", "Goethe" in Colmar, Gau Oberrhein, Human Rights, Ethnically Pure, Wille und Vorstellung, Gesamteuropäische Perspektive, Nicht verstrickt, Kriegstreiber, Blut und Boden and Persilschein
[2] Was "F.V.S.", ein von Alfred Toepfer gewähltes Kürzel, bedeuten soll, hat der Stiftungsgründer nie geklärt; es steht entweder für "Friedrich von Schiller" oder für "Freiherr vom Stein".
[3] "Es drängte Toepfer nie zur NSDAP"; Die Welt 19.04.2005
[4] see also Persilschein
[5] Interview mit Prof. Hans Mommsen; See also Wille und Vorstellung
[6] Profil;
[7], [8] Qu'y a-t-il derrière le masque "européen" de "La figure du grand négociant et grand mécène Alfred Toepfer"? Communiqué, Paris, 04.11.2007
[9] Die vollständige Studie von Karl-Heinz Roth finden Sie hier.
[10] see also Blut und Boden

(Own report) - 65 years after Europe's liberation from Nazi fascism, the debate around one of the influential supporters of German expansion still continues: the businessman from Hamburg, Alfred Toepfer who died in 1993 and the foundation he created, the Alfred Toepfer Foundation FVS. In the 1930s, this foundation sought to enhance Nazi Germany's influence with cultural policy throughout Europe. Protests are growing louder in Great Britain against this foundation and its activities. Oxford University is discussing whether, in light of new information about Toepfer's post-war activities, the Toepfer sponsored scholarships for British students going to Germany, should continue to be accepted. According to new research by the historian Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, in the aftermath of World War II, Toepfer had supported Nazi war criminals to a much larger extent than had been previously known. The Foundation and the German media are taking Toepfer's defense against Pinto-Duschinsky's accusations. Since the 1990s, critics have been complaining that it is unacceptable that a foundation whose founder supported Nazi expansion is again in his name engaged in cultural lobbying in those countries that were invaded by Germany.
The current dispute around Alfred Toepfer and the Alfred Toepfer Foundation FVS [1] was provoked by the historian Michael Pinto-Duschinsky's long cover story article, published in April by the British "Standpoint" magazine. The article describes important episodes in Toepfer's Nazi past and his post-war support for Nazi criminals. Pinto-Duschinsky also describes how, already back in the 1930s, Toepfer began awarding prizes and scholarships to recipients in Great Britain - with the objective of reinforcing the influence of those who were cooperative with the Nazi Reich. He also reported how Toepfer again awarded prizes and scholarships to recipients in Great Britain in the aftermath of World War II to promote European unity. Prominent personalities in the British cultural scene were honored with Toepfer's "Shakespeare Prize", including Graham Greene, Harold Pinter and Doris Lessing. The exclusive prominence of the laureates, of whom "Standpoint" says, they had been fooled about Toepfer's Nazi past, lends particular brisance to Pinto-Duschinsky's research into the sponsor of the award.

Deportation of Hungarian Jews
Pinto-Duschinsky especially provides new information concerning Toepfer's post-war support for Nazi criminals. According to his research Toepfer's intervention on behalf of the former assistant of Edmund Veesenmayer, who had also organized with Adolf Eichmann, the deportation of Hungarian Jews, was much more engaged than had been previously known. In his enterprise, alongside Veesenmayers earlier advisor, Kurt Haller, who had helped the Arrow Cross Party come to power in Hungary, Toepfer had also employed Veesenmayer's former secretary, Barbara Hacke. Hacke was also involved when, in 1951, Toepfer's daughter, Gerda, sought to establish contact for a British historian, known to be an open anti-Semite, to Veesenmayer, who at the time was in prison. Veesenmayer himself, who, soon afterwards, was released from prison, came to realize that he too was back on Toepfer's payroll. Toepfer had also helped the former member of the SS, Hermann Bickler, while he was fleeing. Bickler had been condemned to death in France. Toepfer also aided the former SS officer, Hartmann Lauterbacher, to flee to South America.[2]

Pinto-Duschinsky considers that the Toepfer foundation must take the practical consequences of its founding father's Nazi involvement and support for Nazi criminals in the aftermath of World War II. At least his heirs and his foundation should make an unconditional apology.[3] But the foundation feels this is unnecessary. They insist that they have nothing to do with their founder's earlier denial, concealment and justification of Nazi activities and in the meantime have accepted "the necessity of a comprehensive confrontation with the past" as well as "the responsibility for their sponsor's involvement during the Nazi period."[4] Whereas critics have been saying, for years, that this responsibility can only be recognized when the Toepfer Foundation ends its cultural influence work in the European countries that had been attacked by Germany, the representatives of the foundation maintain that it suffices to inform each of the award laureates of the foundation's founding father's earlier involvement with the Nazis.[5] The idea of using the foundation's resources, not in the name of the sponsor of German overseas cultural influence, but rather to use the finances to support victims of the Nazi expansion promoted by Toepfer, does not figure among the plans of the foundation.

The dispute is currently being accentuated. Pinto-Duschinsky accuses the foundation of portraying Alfred Toepfer as "ambivalent", someone who had not participated in the Nazi crimes against humanity and whose Nazi "ties" had been redeemed though his European engagement. Pinto-Duschinsky calls this counter-balancing of the Nazi past with a later, positive activity, a "greywashing" and finds it much more dangerous than plain "whitewashing" and the denial of Nazi involvement. Not only the press [6] but also the prominent historian, Hans Mommsen, have been repeatedly taking the foundation's defense. For years, Mommsen has been defending this organization from criticism from elsewhere in Europe. Mommsen claims that, to judge Topfer's activities, including the supplying of slaked lime to the "Litzmannstadt" Ghetto to cover cadavers, Pinto-Duschinsky makes "generalized accusations and condemnations of guilt that span generations"[7].

Research Financiers
The constellation of those engaged in the conflict on the evaluation of German history is not new. They are known exponents of the German historian profession. In a sensational newspaper article back in 1999, Michael Pinto-Duschinsky sharply criticized the common practice in Germany, of companies financing scholars to do research into their Nazi pasts. The British historian simply expressed the opinion that finances create dependency, which impedes objectivity. This was refuted at the time, as it still is today, by Hans Mommsen. Mommsen had previously been financed by the Volkswagen Corp. to research the company's history. Critics saw his work as a very conciliatory handling of the carmaker's Nazi past. Mommsen complained that Pinto-Duschinsky's thesis of financial dependence engendering a content-related dependence, places the scholarly quality of his work on the history of Volkswagen into question.

Scholarship Program
Persisting in his thesis, Pinto-Duschinsky is apprehensive about research at Oxford University that benefits from the Alfred Toepfer Foundation scholarship program. At the moment, a committee has been formed at Oxford to decide whether scholarships should continue to be accepted, in light of Toepfer's Nazi past and Pinto-Duschinsky's research into Toepfer's post-war support for Nazi criminals. A meeting is scheduled for June 14, where a representative of the foundation has been invited to appear along with Pinto-Duschinsky. Oxford University media reminds that since the 1990s, Toepfer Foundation awards have had to be cancelled on various occasions in other European countries because of strong objections to the sponsor's Nazi activities.[8]

[1] see also European Values
[2], [3] The prize lies of a Nazi tycoon; Standpoint April 2010. Der Artikel ist im Internet einsehbar unter
[4], [5] Skandalisierung fördert verantwortlichen Umgang mit Geschichte nicht - Stiftung stellt Mittel für weitere Forschung bereit;
[6] Gutes Geld, dunkle Absichten? Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07.04.2010. Toepfer-Stiftung: Streit um NS-Verstrickungen; Hamburger Abendblatt 08.04.2010
[7] Keine Säuberung der Toepfer-Archive; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27.04.2010
[8] see also Widerstand gegen deutsche "Mäzenaten" and Wille und Vorstellung
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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