1947.09.20.De Worms et Cie.Statement relating to the war time activities of the firm.Original


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Paris, September 20, 1947

Statement prepared by Worms & Cie relating to its wartime history
and the French judicial proceedings which ensued.

Worms & Cie, founded in 1848, is a French partnership established in Paris with a present capital of 40,000,000 francs. Its activities comprise four principal branches: coal, shipping, naval construction and banking. Each of these four departments has its own management. In September, 1939 the partners of the Firm were, with the exception of M. Jacques Barnaud, descendants of the founder of the firm, Hypolite Worms and of Henri Goudchaux, one of the early partners of the firm. The participations were entirely held by grandchildren and great grandchildren of the original Hypolite Worms, by the children of Henri Goudchaux and by Jacques Barnaud. Barnaud's interest in the firm amounted to less than five per cent, consisting of 1,846,153 francs out of the total capital of 40,000,000 francs.

Activities of the Firm.

(a) Coal. Worms & Cie was for generations among the largest importers and distributors of foreign coal, mostly British, in France. In June, 1940, and during the four years of occupation, their coal activities, through lack of imports, came practically to a standstill. In order to keep employment for their staff and to prevent their deportation to Germany, Worms & Cie endeavored to enter into alternate activities, such as the production of charcoal, peat, wood and timber for local French consumption.
(b) Shipping. Worms & Cie, before the war, owned twenty-four ships engaged in coastal and short sea trade. Moreover, it controlled la Nouvelle Compagnie péninsulaire de navigation and owned a large interest in la Société française de transports pétroliers. The entire French mercantile fleet was requisitioned by the French Government on September 1, 1939, and owners were paid the requisition charter hire. Later, notwithstanding the conditions of the Armistice, approximately one-half of the tonnage owned directly or indirectly by Worms & Cie was put at the disposition of the Allied Forces. It is pertinent to note in this regard that Hypolite Worms, who at the time of the French Armistice in 1940 was Chief of the French Delegation on the Anglo French Executive Shipping Committee, negotiated an agreement known as the "Accord Worms" by which approximately 2,000,000 tons of Allied and neutral shipping, previously allocated to France, were turned over to the British Government for the duration of the war. (See Exhibit A - Statement dated April 8, 1946, of M. Emmanuel Monick, now Governor of the Bank of France.) This agreement was negotiated after the signing of the Armistice between France and Germany and was in direct violation of a provision in the Armistice that the French Government should not have any dealings with nations hostile to Germany. When M. Worms returned to Paris after effecting this agreement, it was at great risk to himself, and in September of 1940 the German dominated Paris-Soir launched a newspaper campaign against him, describing him as "the converted Jew who turned our shipping over to Great Britain".
(c) Naval Construction. When the Armistice was signed in 1940, the shipping yards of Worms & Cie had on their slips, building for the French Admiralty exclusively, four submarines and three tankers. In addition, they had on order four submarines. The Germans occupied the yards and seized the ships in the course of construction as war prizes. They ordered Worms & Cie to resume work on the ships. The Firm refused to obey. An agreement was thereupon entered into between the French and German Governments providing that two submarines and one tanker would be abandoned to the Germans and two tankers kept for France[1]. The French Government accordingly gave Worms & Cie instructions to proceed with the work. As a result of constant sabotage encouraged by the managers of the Firm, the first submarine, "La Favorite", which should have been delivered in November, 1940, was not finished until 1942, and then she had no torpedo tubes. The second submarine "L'Africaine", which would normally have been ready to be launched in June, 1941, was still in her berth in September, 1944, and was sabotaged by the Germans. The vessel was refitted by Worms & Cie and delivered to the French Government in 1947 as one of the first units of the new French Navy. The tanker, "La Charente", was eventually delivered to the Germans in September, 1943, at least two years later than scheduled and after the Firm had exhausted every means of obstruction and delay. One lighter of 200 tons was delivered to the Germans in March, 1944, having taken three and one-half years to build. No repair work of any kind was done on German ships.
(d) Banking. The banking that Worms & Cie did during the war with the Germans was restricted to ordinary current banking business, such as payment of checks and documentary credits on goods imported or exported. Although the Bank has been classified among the most important private banking houses in France, the percentage of its turnover with Germany during the occupation as compared to the total of financial transactions between Germany and the French banking system was less than one per cent. Furthermore while Worms & Cie accounted for 3% of the total clearing operations on the Paris market, it had only 1.47% of the total clearings between the Paris market and Germany, and this despite the fact that Worms & Cie had forced on it a German supervisory Commissioner.

French Judicial Proceedings.

In view of the above facts it is not strange that attacks were made upon the Firm during the occupation of France, by the German controlled press. What is not understandable is thai attacks should also have been made in the press of certain other countries. Because of such attacks, and owing, also, to their importance in business circles, Worms & Cie, M. Hypolite Worms, and certain of the managers of the Firm were summoned before the judicial authorities of the three special courts instituted in France after the liberation, namely, La Cour de Justice, Le Comité de Confiscation des Profits illicites and La Commission nationale interprofessionnelle d'Epuration. These three courts were called upon to review different phases of the activities of persons and institutions in France during the occupation; the first as to whether there was any criminal liability for collaboration with the enemy, the second as to whether any improper profite had been realized and the third as to whether there had been any conduct of an unprofessional nature. The judicial authorities of all three courts, one after the other, following their examination of the activities of Worms & Cie during the occupation, concluded that the conduct of the Firm and of its partners and managers had been above reproach. La Cour de Justice rendered its decision to this effect on October 25, 1946, Le Comité de Confiscation on November 28, 1946, and La Commission nationale d'Epuration on February 10, 1947. These decisions are discussed briefly below.
These courts took up their work at a time when passions were running high, when the scales were weighted against the accused and when, on account of the social and political conditions then prevailing in France, there was every tendency to satisfy popular passion by rendering judgment against banking and propertied interests. Notwithstanding these abnormal conditions and the rumors, fed by German intrigue, which had been spread against Worms & Cie, not one of the three courts which examined in minute detail all phases of the wartime activities of the Firm was able to adduce any grounds of criticism whatever of the activities of Worms & Cie during the difficult period of the occupation. Either one must conclude that three French courts were totally in error in their judgments and conclusions, or one must admit that the stories which have been spread with respect to Worms & Cie are the outgrowth of inaccurate information, of which so much was produced during a period when the true facts of what was happening in German occupied France between 1940 and 1944 were not available to the outside world.

Proceedings against Hypoiite Worms
and Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie before La Cour de Justice.

Jacques Baraduc, Avocat à la Cour, in two letters dated October 26, 1946, confirmed that an order closing the proceedings had been entered in favor of the defendants (Exhibit B). The Court acted pursuant to the report of its expert, Gaston Bernard, who was delegated to report on the activity of Worms & Cie and who submitted his findings in a document of over 700 pages in support of his conclusion that neither Hypolite Worms nor Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie could justly be accused of any charges of collaborationism. His conclusions (Exhibit C) may be briefly summarized as follows:
The business operations of Worms & Cie were under the closest supervision by the German authorities because a part of the Firm's capital was held by Jewish interests. The occupying authorities required the French Government to place commissioners in Jewish firms, and one Olivier de Sèze was appointed by the French Minister of Finance as Commissioner for Worms & Cie. This, however, did not satisfy the Germans, who also appointed a German Commissioner, first M. von Ziegesar and, later, M. von Falkenhausen. Despite all supervision and control, however, and despite German threats, M. Bernard Ends that the Firm confined their commercial dealings with the Germans to an absolute minimum. He states that this lack of cooperation was attributable directly to the attitude of the managers of the Firm. Banking operations with the Germans were similarly kept down, and M. Bernard particularly comments in this respect on the good work of M. Le Roy Ladurie. With regard to the enterprises which the Firm controlled, he finds no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Worms & Cie either oriented their activity into commercial relations with Germany or ceded any part of their control to German groups. Nor was any evidence found to show that Worms & Cie inspired any pro-German dealings in any of the other companies in which it had a substantial interest.

Proceedings against Worms & Cie
before Le Comité départmental de Confiscation des Profits illicites.

This Committee rendered its decision on November 28, 1946 affirming that neither Worms
& Cie nor M. Hypolite Worms had realized any profits subject to confiscation under French law. (Exhibit D)
It might be added that the Committee has the reputation of extreme severity in its dealings with firms which derived any profit through commercial dealings with the enemy during the occupation.

Proceedings against Hypolite Worms and Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie
before La Commission nationale interprofessionnelle d'Epuration.

Letters were addressed to Hypolite Worms and Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie by a member of the above Commission, dated February 10, 1947, advising them that the proceedings against them had been discontinued. (Exhibit E.) This decision was made after the Commission's examination of the report of MM. Pradelle and Zacarie, dated February 6, 1947. (Exhibit F)
This report, like the report of M. Gaston Bernard, gives MM. Worms and Le Roy Ladurie a complete clearance. It emphasizes the excellent work done by Hypolite Worms in effecting the Worms Accord with Great Britain on his own initiative and at his own personal risk, and speaks in high terms of his assistance to members of the French resistance, financial and otherwise. It further points out the extraordinary difficulties with which Worms & Cie had to contend during the occupation, when it was the only French Bank, except Bank of France, which had to operate under the thumb of a German Commissioner. The report indicates that Hypolite Worms adopted a policy of instructing his employees to give in to Germany only in little things in order to be able to concentrate their energies in opposing the Germans on major issues.
Also submitted to the above Commission was the deposition of Olivier de Sèze (Exhibit G), who, as mentioned above, in October, 1940, was appointed French Commissioner of Worms & Cie by the French Minister of Finance. M. de Sèze reports that he realized in his first interview with Hypolite Worms that M. Worms agreed with him on every point and was confident of Allied victory. He says that M. Worms managed to delay production of submarines and that M. Le Roy Ladurie was able to outwit the Germans at every point to prevent the transfer of the interests of the Goudehaux family into German hands. When M. de Sèze decided to go to North Africa in 1942 to rejoin the French Army there, M. Worms cooperated with him in every respect to assist him in getting away from France.

Statements in "Our Vichy Gamble".

In the spring of 1947 Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. of New York published a book by William L. Langer entitled "Our Vichy Gamble." The author, who is professor of history at Harvard University, served during the war as chief of the Research and Analysis Branch of the Office of Strategic Services.
The author had access to many war-time reports and other official papers in the files of the American Government and wrote a detailed account of the United States policy toward France from 1940 to 1942 including the story of the North African invasion. As a background to this account Professor Langer dealt with the situation in Vichy France and in this connection made certain statements concerning the firm of Worms & Cie which Professor Langer now recognises were based on reports "which appeared reliable at the time" but which in the light of subsequent evidence proved to be unfounded. In view of Professor Langer's important standing and the wide publicity the book has received the firm of Worms & Cie desires that the true facts as to each of these statements should be made clear.
On pages 168 and 169 the statement is made that the Banque Worms was particularly identified with the Darlan regime. "To realize the extent to which members of the Banque Worms group had been taken into the government by the autumn of 1941", it is said, "a brief survey of the council and of the Secretaries of State will be most profitable." The author then proceeds to enumerate the following as members of the "Worms clique"; Pierre Pucheu, Yves Bouthillier, General Bergeret, Jacques Barnaud, Jerome Carpopino, Serge Huard, Admiral Platon, René Belin, François Lehideux, Jean Berthelot and Paul Charbin. Of the individuals thus named only one had had any direct association with Worms & Cie, and one other a very remote association with the Firm. Their association may be described as follows:
Jacques Barnaud had been a high official of the French Finance Ministry and was Inspector of Finance and Director of the Mouvements de Fonds until 1928 when he entered the Firm of Worms & Cie, first as general manager and later as partner with a participation of less than 5% as above described. In 1939 at the declaration of war he was called back to the Ministry of Finance to resume his former functions. After the Armistice he stayed at the Ministry to take part in the economic negotiations with the German Authorities and kept this office until the end of 1942 when he resigned following the German occupation of Southern France. He rejoined Worms & Cie in 1943 and retired in September, 1944. His case, like that of all others who held office under the Vichy Government, is now before the French High Court of Justice. He had nothing to do with Worms & Cie during the period covered by Mr. Langer's book. This is confirmed by the decision of La Commission nationale interprofessionnelle d'Epuration (see Exhibit F).
Pierre Pucheu was never directly associated with Worms & Cie, but he was in 1939 President of Les Établissements Japy, a business in which Worms & Cie owned a large minority interest. When named Secretary of State for Industrial Production in March, 1941, he resigned from Les Établissements Japy and did not resume his functions there even after he left the Government in April, 1942.
The others, listed above as "members of the Worms group" had no connection with Worms & Cie whatsoever:
1. Yves Bouthillier has spent all his life as an official in the Ministry of Finance. M. Worms was in London in June, 1940, when he was made Minister of Finance and only met him twice in his official capacities.
2. General Bergeret is an army career man whom M. Worms has never even seen.
3. Jerome Carpopino is a professor of ancient history at the College of France, a scholar who has had no connection whatever with Worms & Cie M. Worms has never met him.
4. Serge Huard was an eminent Paris surgeon who has never been identified with business affairs. M. Worms does not know him.
5. Admiral Platon was a professional navy man chosen by Admiral Darlan. He has never had any contacts with Worms & Cie.
6. René Belin is a former official of the Postal Department and was General Secretary of the C.G.T. (trade unions). M. Worms does not know him.
7. François Lehideux, nephew of M. Louis Renault, was associated with the Renault concern which had no affiliations with Worms & Cie.
8. Jean Berthelot, an official of the Ministry of Public Works, was Director General of the French State Railways. He had no connection with Worms & Cie.
9. Paul Charbin is an industrialist from Lyon where Worms & Cie has never had any interests or industrial branch. There has never been any connection between Charbin and Worms
& Cie. M. Worms does not know him.
As to the ten subordinate officials described as being of the "Worms group": Lamirand, Borotra, Bivalland, Bichelonne, Lafond, Million, Deroy, Filippi, Schwartz and Billiet, not one has ever had the slightest connection with Worms & Cie.
On page 170, it is stated that the Banque Worms owned "extensive mines, shipping lines and commercial companies in North Africa". Mr. Langer goes on to state that the Banque Worms "and others like it" rapidly drained North Africa of such resources as could be made available to the Germans and estimates that during 1941 some 5 million tons of goods were landed at French Mediterranean ports, mostly from North Africa, sixty to eighty per cent of which probably went to the Germans. He states that the banks were permitted by the Germans to transfer their "huge profits" to their North African branches and that 25 billion francs were transferred in this way.
Worms & Cie had an interest in a single North African mine, where molybdenum was mined, and which had a production of 70 tons a year. By disregard of German and Vichy orders and by tactics of delay and frustration it was possible for the molybdenum company to restrict deliveries to the Germans to only 25 tons during the entire period of German occupation. As to the "extensive shipping lines", it can only be repeated that the French Government had taken over all French shipping throughout the world, and that Worms & Cie then had no effective control over its vessels. The "huge profits" of Worms & Cie simply did not exist. During the four years of occupation the Firm, including all its departments, realized a net loss of 7,988,845.73 francs[2]. These facts appear in the above cited report of Gaston Bernard at page 573, and are further substantiated by the decision of Le Comité de Confiscation des Profits illicites. Worms & Cie had no commercial company in North Africa. It only had a shipping agency there, and in April, 1942, a small banking branch was opened in Algiers. Prior to the invasion, the total deposits of the clients of Worms & Cie in this Branch did not exceed 110,000,000 francs and the interest of Worms & Cie in the Branch was only 20,000,000 francs capital. Worms & Cie transferred no "profits" to North Africa. It had no part in draining North Africa of any resources.

On page 191, the statement appears that in the autumn of 1941, Admiral Darlan had "taken the Banque Worms group into his fold". M. Hypolite Worms met Admiral Darlan twice in his life, namely when in 1940 he reported on his London mission. He never saw him again and had no dealings of any nature with him. M. Hypolite Worms left Vichy about September, 1940 and never returned there except on one or two occasions at the end of 1940 or early 1941 to see the shipping section of the Ministry over business matters. The Firm had no activity there. It only kept a clerk and a typist in a small office in order to keep contact with the Office des Changes of the French Government, as did all other banks. The Firm had no branch there.
On page 201, the statement appears that the "real dyed-in-the-wool collaborationists of the Banque Worms type were drifting away from Darlan and attempting to strike a new bargain with the Germans, a process which was finally to result in the return of Laval". This is a statement of the utmost gravity against which the Firm wishes to protest most emphatically. All the evidence shows the facts to be otherwise. Indeed, the only official of the Vichy Government who at any time had any affiliation with Worms & Cie, Jacques Barnaud, actually resigned shortly after the return of Laval to power.
On page 229, the statement appears that Jacques Lemaigre-Dubreuil (then follow certain allegations which we are unwilling to repeat) became a partner of the Banque Worms and a close associate of Le Roy Ladurie. Lemaigre-Dubreuil was not only never a partner, but never had any affiliation whatever with the Firm or any close association with Le Roy Ladurie. M. Worms has never even seen him in his life.
On page 385 the following statement appears:
"Really about the only sincere collaborationists in France were the industrial interests like the Banque Worms group. They not only accepted collaboration - they yearned for it and worked for it. As a matter of fact, they did a thriving business and came off extremely well."
As to this the best evidence is in the Ending of the three French Tribunals. After an exhaustive research into the facts, they arrived at three independent conclusions, all to the effect that Worms & Cie and its managers played a proper and patriotic role during the war; they did not do a "thriving business"; they had losses rather than profits as proved by the findings of Le Comité de Confiscation des Profits illicites.
The firm of Worms & Cie has been in existence for close on to a century. During this whole period the major part of its activities with foreign countries has been based on trade with Great Britain or British controlled territories. The head of the Firm, who bears its name, is married to an English woman; his only child, a daughter, is married to the son of a former British Ambassador; his three grandchildren are British subjects. It is inconceivable that this man, who controlled the Firm and assumes full responsibility for its activities during the war, could have betrayed his firm and his family for some temporary satisfaction, political or mercenary. The French Courts have given their answer with compelling finality, and confirmed the loyalty of the Firm and its partners[3].

Worms & Cie

A full statement with respect to the war-time activities of the firm of Worms & Cie, together with the findings and decisions of the three French courts which made an examination of all phases of these activities, was submitted to Professor William L. Langer in July 1947, who, under date of September 18, 1947, wrote the Firm the letter which is reproduced on the following page.

Harvard University
Department of History - Cambridge, Mass.
1306 Massachusetts Avenue, S. 209

September 18, 1947
Worms & Cie, 45, boulevard Haussmann,
Paris IXe, France.

Dears Sirs:
When M. Meynial was here in the United States in July last, I had the opportunity of discussing with him certain references in my book "Our Vichy Gamble" regarding the war-time activities of your firm. Since then I have had an opportunity to examine the detailed memorandum prepared by your firm, together with the findings and decisions of the three French courts which made an examination into all phases of these activities.
As a professor of history my only interest is in getting at the truth of matters about which I may be writing. I frankly recognize that under the stress of war conditions reports which appeared reliable and trustworthy at the time have, in the light of fuller and calmer evidence, proved to be unfounded. I further recognize that the decisions of the competent French courts in the matter of the war-time activities of Worms & Oie. represent the best and to me the acceptable evidence as to the facts.
Since both the information you have submitted and the findings of the French courts are inconsistent with the statements in my book "Our Vichy Gamble" with respect to the firm of Worms & Cie, I am glad to advise you that all references to the firm will be eliminated from any editions of my book which may hereafter appear in France, England or elsewhere or in any future American edition.
I wish also to add my expression of regret that the evidence now submitted to me was not available at the time I wrote "Our Vichy Gamble."
Very truly yours

(sgd) William L. Langer

Exhibit A.

M. Hypolite Worms
4, avenue Emile Deschanel

I, the undersigned, Emmanuel Monick, Governor of the Bank of France, declare:
I. As financial attache in London at the beginning of the war, I repeatedly had occasion to meet M. Hypolite Worms who was at that time the representative in Great Britain of the Ministry of the Merchant Marine.
Being familiar with his patriotic sentiments, I did not hesitate to inform him of my intention to leave for Bordeaux on June 18, 1940, where I wished to call the attention of the French Government, which had just requested the Armistice, to the gravity of such a step, to affirm the intention of the London Cabinet to continue the struggle and to set forth the advantages to us of remaining on the side of England.
M. Hypolite Worms asked me to tell all his friends in France that he shared my point of view completely; he even entrusted a letter to me, which he asked me to use for this purpose, and in which he confirmed in the most formal manner his belief as to the necessity of continuing the war in accord with our British Ally.
II. Subsequently, on my own authority, I was led to suggest to the British Treasury a financial agreement dealing with the opening of reciprocal credits for the purpose of liquidating and discharging war accounts. M. Hypolite Worms, for his part, took exactly the same position as I. Also on his own initiative, he negotiated the transfer, in favor of the British Government, of all charter contracts signed before the Armistice by the Merchant Marine Mission for the account of the French Government. I had occasion to assist in the financial side of these negotiations. I can say that M. Worms conducted them in the spirit of complete support of our British Ally.

Emm. Monick Washington,
April 8, 1946

Exhibit B (1).

Paris, October 26, 1946.
M. Hypolite Worms
4, avenue Emile Deschanel

Dear Sir:
I take pleasure in advising you that the Government Prosecutor of the Court of Justice has just notified me that on October 25th he rendered an order of dismissal in the prosecution commenced against you and M. G. Le Roy Ladurie.
I am also advising M. Ls Roy Ladurie of this as neither you nor he will be otherwise notified of the decision, which is only served upon your counsel.
It is needless to tell you of my satisfaction at this result. With my heartiest congratulations, I beg to remain,

Jacques Baraduc,
Attorney-at-Law Admitted to Practice
Before the Court of Appeals.

Exhibit B (2).

Paris, October 26, 1946
M. Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie
5, avenue F. Roosevelt

Dear Sir:
I take pleasure in advising you that the Government Commissioner of the Court of Justice has just notified me that on October 25th he rendered an order of dismissal in the prosecution commenced against you and M. H. Worms.
With my heartiest congratulations, I beg to remain,

Jacques Baraduc,
Attorney-at-Law Admitted to Practice Before the Court of Appeals.

Exhibit C.

To the Report of M. Gaston Bernard, Certified Accountant[4].

Summarizing and subject to your opinion, M. le juge d'instruction:
It appears to begin with that the activity as a whole of the firm Worms & Cie, and more especially the business operations entered into by it with the Germans, were marked by a general coercion resulting from the presence at the head of the firm of Worms & Cie during the occupation, of two German Managing Commissioners, successively appointed to this position by the German Military Authorities because of the Jewish or semi-Jewish status of two of the managers, M. M. Goudchaux and M. H. Worms, and also, perhaps, because of the latter's British affiliations.
These two Commissioners had most extensive powers, and the first of them, M. von Ziegesar, made it clear, as early as October, 1940, in a speech made when assuming office, that he would not hesitate to "remove all those who should fail to give satisfaction in their work or who should engage in intrigue".
This coercion was further intensified by the presence on the premises of the firm of Worms
& Cie, for eighteen months, of German experts of the Treuhand-Gesellschaft (German Trustee Office) who had been entrusted by the National Socialist Party and the Ministry of German National Economy with the task of preparing a detailed report on the activities of the said Firm.
Under the control of the German Commissioners, placed near them and even above them, the executives of the firm Worms & Cie, and especially M. H. Worms, appear to have made it their policy to apply to the Firm's activities as a whole the directives which they had received from the Ministry of Industrial Production and Labor on September 21, 1940 covering particularly the department "Navy Yards".
These directives provided that it was advisable "to obey the orders or demands of the occupying authorities but to limit their execution to tasks strictly necessary to avoid serious trouble."
The application of these directives appears especially in the case of the Department "Coal".
As this Department was not required to become a member of the Group of German Coal Importers, it simply refrained from taking any initiative at all. It limited itself to satisfying only a part of the requisitions and demands of the Germans, which, in addition, were of relative importance only with respect to charcoal and gas generator wood.
The Department of Maritime Services had very little to do with the Germans. Its fleet was requisitioned by the French Government as early as 1939, except for a single unit, the smallest that it owned, which was taken from it later by enemy requisition.
Furthermore, it appears from documents compiled that in 1914 (Translator's note: This should obviously read 1941) and 1942, the firm of Worms & Cie did its utmost to arrange that those of its vessels which had been requisitioned by the Germans from the French Government should be placed at the French Government's disposal and sent to the Mediterranean, which was then free from German control.
At a later date M. H. Worms went so far as to order the scuttling of a vessel if this was necessary to prevent it from returning to a German occupied port.
With regard to the only two operations effected by the branches of the Department "Maritime Services" (the unloading of ore in Bordeaux and repair work done by the German Navy in Le Havre), they were done, the first upon the order of German Commissioner von Falkenhausen and completed by requisition, the second upon the order of the local German authorities and under such conditions that the latter, dissatisfied with the result obtained, proceeded to a definitive requisition.
In the case of the Department "Naval Construction" the Management of the firm Worms
& Cie appears to have gone beyond its slowdown orders from the Ministry of Industrial Production and practiced a certain obstruction. It not only did not seek German orders, but in general confined itself to accepting only those which it was forced to accept. As early as July, 1940, and in the presence of a German officer it expressed the desire to be released from an order for four lighters of 700 tons.
On the other hand, it was only upon the express order of the French Government, acting pursuant to the Wiesbaden agreements of October, 1941, and under the pressure and sometimes the threat of the Germans, that the Navy Yards of Le Trait continued, on German account, a part of the construction work which had been started prior to June 25, 1940.
They did so only after their Management had called the attention of the French Government to the serious aspects of a delivery of war equipment to the occupying authorities and after they had, in certain cases, refused to assume responsibility for any sabotage which might occur.
Even after orders were accepted in principle they were not always executed promptly. This was particularly the case with "L'Africaine".
Furthermore, the accounting examination showed that the construction facilities of the Navy Yards of Le Trait were very slightly used during the occupation and that the hourly yield per ton completed during the same period showed a considerable reduction as compared with the prewar period.
From declarations made by almost all of the working personnel and foremen, who were heard during the examination, it appears that this reduction in yield was due in particular to the fact that the Management did nothing at all to encourage the personnel to increase production.
The coercion in the banking division, managed by M. G. Le Roy Ladurie, appears to have been at the same time more subtle and more constant.
It was in fact exercised essentially by the continuous presence of the two successive German Commissioners, both bankers by profession, who installed their ofnces on the premises of the Banque Worms. This helps to explain the German atmosphere of the bank during the occupation.
A constant liaison, generally speaking, thus existed between the German Commissioner, on the one hand, and the executive officers of the bank, on the other, and the orders and requests of the German Commissioners were, for the most part, given orally.
In a certain number of cases there were written confirmations originating from German organizations.
Be this as it may, no trace was found of any document which would make it possible to believe that M. G. Le Roy Ladurie had at any time given of his own free will instructions to his departments with the object of effectuating transactions with the Germans or with their French sources of supply.
The transactions carried out within the German Zone by the Firm's Navy Yards gave rise to a net operating loss of 23,236,327.27 francs. Taking into account the provisions for war damage and those necessitated by the interruption of the German work and by the corresponding loss of claims, this net loss is increased to 34,188,558.87 francs.
With respect to the Department "Maritimes Services":
The only services which this Department may have furnished to the Germans consisted of:
On the one hand, the use made by the latter of the cargo boat, "La Mailleraye", requisitioned from Worms & Cie.
On the other hand the two transactions of minor importance carried out by order or requisition by two of the branches of the Department "Maritime Services" : unloading of ore and repair of vessels.
It is not possible to give an accurate percentage showing the relative importance of these operations with respect to the total of operations. However, an examination of the accounts shows that they resulted in a total net loss of 5,908,015 francs for the entire occupation period.
With respect to the Department "Coal":
The tonnages delivered to the Germans by way of coal, charcoal, gas-producing wood, peat or lignite were insignificant and less than 1% of the total quantity handled by this Department throughout the occupation.
These deliveries resulted in a total net loss of 2,577,702 francs.
With respect to the Department "Banking":
The operations carried out by this Department within the German Zone consisted, principally, of the following:
Opening deposit accounts in the name of German nationals of which only one had any importance.
Opening credits and discounting invoices in favor of German suppliers to the German Navy.
Opening documentary credits in connection with exports to Germany.
Guarantees for French customers to deal with the German administration.
The scope of these transactions was important principally to those to whom credit was extended. In fact the total of the transfers effected by the Franco-German clearing amounted to 161,670,000 francs, but this figure constitutes only an insignificant proportion of the total transactions cleared.
On the other hand, of all the operations carried out by banks of the Paris market, the percentage attributable to the Banque Worms is only 1.47%, while its activity constitutes 3% of the total activity of the Paris market.
It thus appears that the credits extended by the Banque Worms were proportionately less than half that of the average of other Paris banks.
In general the transactions carried out by the Banque Worms in the German Zone represented a coefficient of activity of 9.8% of its total transactions, but taking into account the particular losses which it suffered, its net profit allocable to the Zone for the entire period of occupation is brought down to 941,392 francs, or only 3.8% of the total net profit of the Banking Department during the same period.
The above is characteristic of the internal activity of Worms & Cie during the occupation, but it is established on the other hand that due to certain of the one hundred seventeen participations it owns, this Firm exercises a wide influence outside of its own four departments.
The Firm did not own one hundred seventeen participations at the beginning of the occupation, but the purchases of securities it made between the years 1940 and 1944, were carried out, not with profits resulting from activity in the German Zone (as on the contrary such activity showed a loss) but with the funds made available to the Banque Worms by the increase of French deposits with it during the same period.
As it holds the majority of the capital of a certain number of companies, and as it has seats on their Boards of Directors, the Worms firm can either exercise an absolute control over their activities or direct their general and financial policy.
It is established, and M. Worms does not deny it, that this absolute control extends over twenty-four companies, the characteristic features of which appear on pages 415 to 428 of the present report[5].
With respect to these twenty-four companies controlled by the firm Worms & Cie, no information has been obtained, nor trace of any documents or papers found, of such a nature as to indicate that the influence of Worms & Cie resulted in either the orienting of the activity of these companies into business relations with the enemy, or the transfer of assets to German groups.
On the contrary, from the documents submitted during the examination and the investigation, it appears that the firm of Worms & Cie was often compelled to protect the assets of the companies it controlled against the demands of German groups. It was always successful, except in a single case (that of the Wester Financiering), where the Germans, on their own authority, took over a building located in Danzig.
In addition to the twenty-four companies over which it has an absolute control, Worms & Cie influences the policy of twenty-nine other companies.
Among these there are four which actually devoted a part of their activities to German deliveries during the occupation.
In general, however, it does not appear that these companies took any initiative, and on the contrary the deliveries to the Germans were made upon express demand, order or requisition.
Furthermore, Worms & Cie did not have absolute control over the companies in this category, but was simply in a position more or less to inspire their general policy.
On the basis of the information obtained and of the documents submitted, it is impossible to say that it has at any time made use of its influence for pro-German purposes.
As to the sixty-four other participations of Worms & Cie they are of a purely speculative or investment character.

For Worms & Cie, the occupation period meant neither a general increase in activity nor an increase in its profits.
While it realized a net profit of almost 15,000,000 francs in 1938 and of about 7,000,000 francs in 1939, its profit never reached as high as 9,000,000 francs during the fiscal years from 1941 to 1943, and the fiscal year 1944 showed a net loss of more than 30,000,000 francs as a result of the liquidation during that year of German operations showing a deficit.
The total of operations in the German Zone which, as above stated, showed a profit only in the Banking Department, resulted in an over-all net loss according to the books, as of the end of 1944, of 6,807,241.87 francs and, taking into account data not yet entered in the books as of December 31, 1944, of 39,673,183.87 francs.
Operations in the French Zone, which showed large profits as before the war, largely compensated for the loss suffered in the German Zone, reducing the general loss to 8,836,193.46 francs.
M. Worms, having returned to France in August, 1940, after the conclusion of the "Worms" agreements with England was practically the sole manager of Worms & Cie, from 1940 to 1943. He was subsequently assisted by M. J. Barnaud. In this capacity M. Worms assumed the general management of the firm under the supervision of the German Commissioner and directed its policy described previously, taking into account the instructions which he himself and his heads of departments received from the said Commissioner or from the German military authorities.
He delegated his powers with regard to relations with the German Managing Commissioner and the German authorities generally to M. G. Le Roy Ladurie.
M. G. Le Roy Ladurie combined this task with his functions as Manager of the Banking Department, and in this capacity it was he who had to resist the attempts made by German groups either to obtain participation in Worms & Cie itself or to obtain the transfer to them of assets of the companies controlled by the Firm.
From the documents obtained, it does not appear that the relations between M. G. Le Roy Ladurie and the Germans resulted either in increasing Firm business in the German Zone or in harming French nationals.
On the contrary, it appears from the study made that he endeavored to slow down the production of the enterprises which were obliged to yield to German demands (as in the case of the Japy company and of the molybdenum company) and to oppose the transfer of assets to Germans.
M. J. Barnaud resigned from the Firm in 1940 when he was appointed a public official by the de facto authority of the so-called Government of the French State. He left this job in 1943 and then resumed his position as co-manager with M. Worms.
On the basis of documents submitted and of information obtained, no specific fact appears to characterize the position of M. J. Barnaud which fits purely and simply into the outline of the general policy of the Firm.
As the operations in the German Zone resulted in a very large net loss, it could not have been out of such operations that the salaries and participations of the executives of the Firm were paid.
They could have been paid just as well out of the French Zone operations alone which showed profits.
These are, Your Honor, the results of the mission which you were good enough to entrust to me.
Respectfully submitted,

Paris, December 31, 1945.

Exhibit D (1).

Ministry of Finance
First Committee of Confiscation of the Department of the Seine.
Case No. 249.

Confiscation of Unlawful Profits
(Ordinance of October 18, 1944 as amended)

Decision of November 28, 1946, concerning:
Worms & Cie. Limited partnership, a bank, 45, boulevard Haussmann, Paris, (9e).
The Departmental Confiscation Committee, acting by virtue of the powers conferred upon it by the Ordinance of October 18, 1944 as amended,
There being present: M. Perrot, Chairman, and MM. Jeangirard, Mallard, Brenon, Fabre, Chardac, Lesne and Fichard;
Whereas the person in question is domiciled in Paris and therefore the Committee has jurisdiction based on domicile to take cognizance of the applicability of the Ordinance of October 18, 1944 to such person;
Whereas the party was summoned to appear before the Committee upon designation of the Ministry of National Economy and Finance;
That this summons was duly made by registered letter of December 26, 1945, return receipt requested;
Whereas it results from the examination of the matter for which the said party was summoned to appear that Worms & Cie did not realize profits contemplated in Article 1 of the Ordinance;
The Committee, ruling after examination of the situation of Worms & Cie with the majority stipulated in Art. 14 of the Ordinance of October 18, 1944,


Article 1.- No confiscation of profits is chargeable against the firm of Worms & Cie as a result of the above-mentioned summons.
Article 2.- The present decision is effective immediately notwithstanding any appeals.
Note: The present notification replaces orders and any other notifications or services prior to the order (Law of April 5, 1946 - Article 3).

Done in Paris on November 28, 1946.
The Chairman of the Committee:

Certified true copy.
The Secretary

Exhibit D (2).

Ministry of Finance
First Committee of Confiscation of the Department of the Seine.
Case No. 250/249.

Confiscation of Unlawful Profits
(Ordinance of Oct. 18, 1944 as amended.)

Decision of November 28, 1946 concerning:
M. Hypolite Worms, of Paris, 4, rue Emile Deschanel
The Departmental Confiscation Committee, acting by virtue of the powers conferred upon it by the Ordinance of October 18, 1944, as amended,
There being present:
M. Perrot, Chairman, and MM. Leroi, Jeangirard, Mallard, Brenon, Fabre, Chardac, Lesne, and Fichard, Members of the Committee;
Whereas the person in question is domiciled in Paris and the Committee thus has jurisdiction based on domicile to take cognizance of the applicability of the Ordinance of October 18, 1944 to him;
Whereas the said party was summoned to appear before the Committee by application of the provisions of Art. 7 of the Ordinance;
That this summons was duly made by registered letter on December 26, 1945, return receipt requested;
Whereas it results from the examination of the case in connection with which he was summoned to appear that M. Hypolite Worms did not realize any profits as contemplated in Article 1 of the above mentioned Ordinance and that there is no ground for the application of the provisions of Art. 7 of the said Ordinance as no confiscation was pronounced against the limited partnership Worms & Cie, 45 bd. Haussmann, Paris;
The Committee, ruling after examination of the situation of the limited partnership Worms
& Cie and of M. Hypolite Worms, with the majority stipulated in Art. 14 of the Ordinance of October 18, 1944,


Article 1. - M. Hypolite Worms is released from any joint liability with respect to the limited partnership Worms & Cie as a result of the above-mentioned summons of December 26, 1945.
Article 2. - The present decision is effective immediately notwithstanding any appeal.
Note: The present notification takes the place of orders and of all other notifications or services prior to the order (Law of April 5, 1946 - Article 3).

Done in Paris on November 28, 1946.
The Chairman of the Committee:

Certified true copy.
The Secretary

Exhibit E (1).

Commission nationale interprofessionnelle d'Epuration
47, rue Dumont-d'Urville,
Paris, France

Paris, February 10, 1947

Dear Sir:
I beg to advise you that la Commission nationale interprofessionnelle d'Epuration at its meeting of February 10, 1947, ruling on the matter of Hypolite Worms, partner-manager of the Bank Worms & Cie, 45, bd Haussmann, Paris, decided, in accordance with the report of the Sous-Commission d'instruction (Sub-Commission for Examining Cases), that there was no cause for continuing with the matter.

Judge of Appeal of The Court of Cassation.
Government Commissioner.

M. Hypolite Worms
4, av. Emile Deschanel

Exhibit E (2).

Commission nationale interprofessionnelle d'Epuration
47, rue Dumont-d'Urville,
Paris, France

Paris, February 10, 1947

Dear Sir:
I beg to advise you that la Commission nationale interprofessionnelle d'Epuration at its meeting of February 10, 1947, ruling on the matter of Le Roy Ladurie, Gabriel, partner-manager of the Bank Worms & Cie, 45, bd Haussmann, Paris, decided, in accordance with the report of the Sous-Commission d'Instruction (Sub-Commission for Examining Cases), that there was no cause for continuing with the matter.

The Judge of Appeal of the Court of Cassation.
Government Commissioner.

M. Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie
45, bd Haussmann

Exhibit F.

Paris, March 5, 1947.
11, Avenue Elisée Reclaus, VIle.

M. Hypolite Worms
4, avenue Emile Deschanel
Dear Sir:
As you requested of me, I was able to find out at La Commission nationale d'Epuration about the report which had been filed by MM. Pradelle and Zacarie on February 6th.
You will find below the full text of this report:
Re: Worms & Cie
M. Hypolite Worms
The limited partnership Worms & Cie, established in 1874, has 4 branches of activity :
1) The importation of coal,
2) Shipping (maritime lines),
3) Naval construction,
4) Banking services.

Administration of the Firm.

Before June 10, 1940, the managing partners were:
1. M. Hypolite Worms,
2. M. Michel Goudchaux,
3. M. Jacques Barnaud.
M. Goudchaux, being a Jew, voluntarily withdrew as manager on October 16, 1940, and his share in the Firm capital was transferred to his three daughters, who became limited partners.
M. Barnaud did not act as manager from July, 1940, to the end of 1942, as during this period he was the general delegate in connection with Franco-German economic relations.
M. Barnaud resigned in September, 1944, and remains merely a limited partner.
M. Robert Labbé replaced him as managing partner and M. Meynial, assistant manager, became co-manager but not a partner.
At the beginning of the war, M. Hypolite Worms was in Great Britain, representative of the Minister of the French Merchant Marine. It was in this capacity that he negotiated with the English Government, when the firmistice between France and Germany was signed, the agreements which bear his name. On his own initiative and in violation of the clauses accepted by Pétain prohibiting France from dealing or even negotiating with foreign powers at war with Germany, M. H. Worms - in full agreement with M. Monick, then Financial Attaché at the French Embassy (see affidavit of M. Monick: Exhibits[6] Nos. 15 and 16) - negotiating the transfer in favor of the British Government of all the charter contracts signed before the Armistice by the Merchant Marine Mission for the account of the French Government.
Through this transfer the entire merchant fleet in the service of France passed into the service of England, which took over from us at cost price the cargoes, especially of war equipment, which were on board these vessels. England took over all French obligations relating to Allied or neutral merchant tonnage.
M. Worms gave instructions to direct to Liverpool the steamers "Dalcross" and "Tilsington Court", the loading of which (shells, rifles and machine guns) was to be completed and which were destined for French ports.
It can be understood that such a service rendered to the Allied cause subjected M. Worms (who was married to an English woman and whose only daughter had married an Englishman, and who was therefore suspected, with good reason, of being an Anglophile) to many attacks on the part of the newspapers paid by Germany which appeared in the Occupied Zone (Paris-Soir of October 24, 1940), the more so as M. Worms, who had returned to France to resume the management of his firm in Paris, appeared to defy his adversaries.
The firm of Worms & Cie was the only French bank, together with the Banque de France to which there was designated a German Commissioner in the person of M. von Ziegesar, a subordinate manager of the Commerzbank Branch in Cottbus.
The French Government succeeded in having a French Commissioner admitted to act with this German Commissioner. This mission was entrusted in October, 1940, to M. de Sèze, whose deposition we have obtained.
M. de Sèze declares under oath that the conversations which he had at that time with M. H. Worms enabled him to see that the latter shared his belief that the victory of the Anglo-Saxon Coalition was certain. M. H. Worms, who was returning from England where he had occupied high positions on behalf of the Merchant Marine, had dependable data on which to base such an opinion.
Furthermore, the entire history of the firm of Worms & Cie, the oldest import of which was British coal, acted as an inducement to its executives to help Franco-British collaboration.
It was under these conditions that M. de Sèze was able to carry out his mission successfully, which consisted in restraining German demands. As a matter of fact, the incapacity of M. von Ziegesar and of his successor M. von Falkenhausen facilitated matters.
When in November, 1942, M. de Sèze, a Captain in the Reserve of the Foreign Legion, decided to rejoin the Army of North Africa, and when he told M. Worms of this project, the latter very readily approved his plans. To avoid German reactions, M. de Sèze arranged that the Ministry of Finance should officially relieve him of his functions as Assistant Commissioner.
M. de Sèze recalls in his deposition of August 7, 1945 to M. Thirion, Examining Magistrate who had been entrusted after the Liberation with investigating the activities of the firm of Worms & Cie under the Occupation, that two of the oldest and most important departments, coal and shipping, had, as a result of the stoppage of importations of coal from England and of the transfer of the merchant fleet to the English for practical purposes, ceased to function.
As to the naval constructions, the yards of Le Trait (between Rouen and Le Havre), which specialized in the construction of oil tankers and submarines, acting under the instructions from the Management of the firm of Worms & Cie, delayed the completion of the units under construction to such an extent that in spite of considerable German pressure, only a single submarine was delivered to the Germans by the end of 1942, and this should have been finished in 1940.
With respect to the banking services, M. Le Roy Ladurie, Manager of these services, who spoke German very well, centralized all dealings with the Germans and was successful enough, thanks to the incapacity of the German Commissioner, in keeping the Germans from exercising too much control over the Firm and the enterprises which it controlled. In spite of the repeated attempts, there was no assignment of any participation.
M. de Sèze declares that banking relations with the Germans were negligible and that, in any event, the operations ordered by the various commissioners could not be refused and that he even advised undertaking them in order not to jeopardize opportunities of resisting in more important matters. He mentions in this connection certain mining enterprises (tungsten deposits in the center of France and molybdenum deposits in Morocco) where it was found possible to evade the German demands.
These declarations of M. Olivier de Sèze are entirely confirmed by:
1 ) The reports of the experts appointed by the Examining Magistrate (Exhibits 5 and 6).
2) The depositions of the Engineers of the Technical Departments of the National Navy entrusted with the supervision of the French Navy Yards (Exhibit 7).
3) The decisions of Le Comité de Confiscation des Profits illicites, rendered on November 28, 1946, which show that there were no such profits allocable either to M. H. Worms or to the firm of Worms & Cie, and which do not order any confiscation against the Company (Exhibits 3 and 4).
4) The report of the Liaison with the Committee for the Study of the Activities of Banks during the Occupation (Exhibit 1) which holds, after a detailed examination of all the operations carried out by the firm of Worms & Cie, during that period, that these operations resulted in appreciable losses and finally, that these operations, which furthermore had been carried out under coercion exercised by a German Commissioner permanently installed, represented only 1.47% of the entire operations of a similar nature carried out by the other banks.
We wish to add that when the Examining Magistrate, enlightened by the reports of the experts above, acknowledged that there was no charge against the firm of Woorms & Cie, and M. H. Worms and proposed that the case be filed away as completely disposed of, the Prosecutor agreed with him.
Therefore, nothing can be held by the Committee against M. H. Worms in whose favor it must be considered that not only did the agreements bearing his name constitute a service of considerable importance to the Allied cause, but also the assistance contributed by the firm of Worms & Cie, on his instructions, to the French resistance in all its forms : financial assistance, assistance to resisters and escaped persons, sabotage of naval constructions, etc. (Exhibits Nos. 17 and 18).

The Reporters
February 6, 1947.

The report concerning M. Le Roy Ladurie is drawn up as follows:
Re: Le Roy Ladurie
Manager of the Banking Service of the firm of Worms & Cie
M. Le Roy Ladurie always acted in full agreement with M. Hypolite Worms, and all that has been established in the investigation of M. Worms' case shows that nothing can be held against him either. On the contrary, one must recognize his efforts, made under conditions rendered difficult by the presence of the German Commissioner, to reduce to a minimum the German control over the firm.
As to his sentiments toward the Germans, it can be noted that he was arrested by them in 1944 and interned in Fresnes. Refer to the declarations in his favor of MM. Lepercq, du Champ de Boishebert, Mme de Voguë, née d'Endeville, Monod (called Vox), colonel Michel and colonel Navarre.

The Reporters.
February 6, 1947.

Yours very truly,

Jacques Baraduc,
Attorney-at-law admitted to practice before the Court of Appeals.

Exhibit G.
Deposition of Olivier de Sèze
submitted to la Commission nationale interprofessionnelle d'Epuration

As I was recently demobilized in the middle of July, 1945, after an absence of two and a half years, and as I have not yet been able to recover my papers which I put in a safe place when I left Paris in February, 1943, it is possible that some of my dates and details fail in precision, which fault it would be easy to correct, if necessary, during the coming weeks.
If I remember correctly, it was during the last days of October, 1940, that the Ministry of Finance requested me to accept the functions of Commissioner of Worms & Cie, for which the German Government required a Commissioner in accordance with a German Ordinance of May, 1940, stipulating such an appointment for all Jewish enterprises in the occupied nations.
As my accepting such a request depended on the manner in which this role was to be carried out, I inquired at the Bank of France and found to my satisfaction that the Commissioners were simply requested to prevent the squandering of French assets and to oppose by all means that the German Economy replace French enterprises.
I was strongly urged to accept the position and given to realize that the press campaign gave reason to anticipate a special hostility on the part of the Germans towards Worms & Cie, and to anticipate that the importance and variety of the Firm's activities would give rise, particularly in the shipping and maritime construction business, to demands which should not be granted under any pretext.
During the following days I visited M. Hypolite Worms, whom I had never previously met, to ascertain whether the spirit in which I intended to carry out my mission was compatible with his own beliefs. A short conversation made me realize that I could have the fullest confidence in him and that he, like myself, believed in the certain victory of the Anglo-Saxon Coalition. At the time he had just come back from England where he had occupied a high position for the French Merchant Marine, and had been dealing with matters of the first importance.
The day after this interview I was advised that my appointment was to be made more difficult because the Germans demanded the appointment of a German Commissioner. As a result of negotiations in which I took no part, the Ministry of Finance, though compelled to yield to this demand, nevertheless succeeded in having me appointed as Assistant Commissioner.
The Commissioners took office sometime during the last days of October, 1940.
My own position lasted until November 8, 1942, when I decided, with several of my brothers, to join the Army in North Africa.
I advised M. Worms of my plans. During the two years that I had to observe German control and despite the many and strong complaints which they made, they were never able to obtain anything to their real advantage, and although I was sure that this situation would continue, I hesitated to risk anything by leaving and possibly bringing about the very situation that I had been sent to avoid.
M. Worms easily agreed with my plans, and it was decided between us that to avoid reactions in the event that my departure should be noticed, I should try to be omcially relieved of this office.
Steps taken with the Ministry of Finance resulted, one month later, in the cessation of my duties.

Two of the oldest and most important Departments, coal and shipping, had actually ceased all activity since October, 1940.
Since its creation the Coal Department had imported British coal for distribution. The state of war had automatically put an end to this traffic.
Similarly what remained of the fleet which had belonged to the Firm was requisitioned by the Government, and the Firm no longer exercised any managing function.
Such being the case, no further mention of it will be made in the rest of this document.
Naval construction was undertaken, so far as I can remember, during the War of 1914-1918 in the ship yards of Le Trait, which specialized in the construction of oil tankers and submarines.
In October, 1940, a certain number of vessels which were being completed at Le Trait were seized by the Germans and declared to be war prizes. The German Navy made the French Government order the completion of part of them.
Although I cannot exactly remember the details, I nevertheless remember that M. Hypolite Worms did his utmost to slow down such operations.
It seems to me that a completion of a part of the vessels which had been started was interrupted.
With respect to the others, and although the German pressure was continuous and violent, only a single submarine had been delivered at the time of my departure. I learned at that time that a part of its armament was missing.
During the lengthy and frequent conversations which I had with the executives of the Firm and the management at Le Trait, I found that they were preoccupied with one thing: to delay as much as possible and by every means the departure of those vessels which, at least so far as the above described submarine was concerned, should have been ready during the last months of 1940.
As far as I know, this was the sole preoccupation of M. Worms and of his managers of the ship construction yards during the time that I was in contact with them.
With respect to the Banking Department, which, because of my profession, I was in a better position to study, during the twenty-six months that I was there I never saw the Germans obtain any satisfaction in connection with any of the demands that they made, some of which could have had serious consequences.
M. Le Roy Ladurie, Manager of the Banking Department, who, because of his knowledge of the German language, held most of the discussions with two successive German Commissioners, M. von Ziegesar and M. von Falkenhausen, was able to manage them very skillfully, and he never satisfied any demand which would have resulted in the introducing of German control into a French enterprise.
During the last months of 1940, M. Goudchaux, a partner, had to resign in order to clear the Firm of its Jewish character. He was the only partner who could be considered Jewish by French or German Law.
M. von Ziegezar, the sub-manager of the Commerzbank in Cott-bus, had hoped to gain favor with its management by suggesting to its president and general manager, one Hettlage, that he should be made a partner in place of M. Goudchaux whose gift of shares to his children could not be recognized by the German authorities.
I was able to follow the remarkable efforts of M. Le Roy Ladurie at the time in opposing this project, the success of which might have had the most serious consequences: in such event, there is no question in my mind, German control from its inception would have been considerable and everything which had been concealed or minimized would have become known and therefore have been made use of for the German war machine.
It must not be forgotten that the text of German regulations gave the most extensive powers to the Commissioners. However, from the beginning I was able to adopt a modus vivendi which, thanks to the very narrow opinion which M. von Ziegezar had of his own role, limited the exercise of German control to the communication of a certain number of daily documents which presented very little danger from the French point of view.
The provisions of this "modus vivendi" have been summarized in a memorandum which it should be easy to find at Worms & Cie.
The only internal relations between Germany and the Banking Department were of little importance such as current accounts and small clearing operations. These were ordered by the Commissioners and could not be ignored. I advised carrying them out so as not to jeopardize opportunities of resisting in cases of greater importance.
Among the enterprises in which the Firm was interested, I remember particularly certain mining interests. In one, which involved deposits of tungsten in the central part of France, the slow-down of operations was such, at the time that I left France, that there did not seem to be any risk of the metal ever going to Germany.
As to the other (molybdenum in Morocco), I remember very clearly the efforts which the Firm made to prevent this ore, so precious to war industries, from leaving Morocco. When I arrived in this country, I found confirmation that only a very small quantity, compared with the production and particularly as compared with the production potential, had been shipped to France, on orders from the French Government.
Of course, I am at the entire disposal of the Court authorities to complete and elaborate upon these brief notes which I have given from memory.

August 7, 1945.

Exhibit H.

M. Hypolite Worms
45, boulevard Haussmann

September 20, 1947

Dear M. Worms,
I have examined the statement dated September 20, 1947, relating to the activities of the firm of Worms & Cie, and of its partners and managers during World War II, and I am familiar with the French judicial proceedings which are referred to therein. I am glad to assure you that the statements in this memorandum conform to the decisions and findings of the three French judicial authorities which have examined into the affairs of Worms & Cie.
I have further examined the translations of Exhibits B, C, D, E, F and G, and certify that these translations accurately present the decisions and findings of the three French judicial authorities and of the various reports submitted to these authorities to which the respective Exhibits relate.
Faithfully yours,

Jacques Baraduc - Avocat à la Cour d'Appel de Paris

[1] Moreover two submarines were to be dismantled and the order for the four remaining submarines cancelled.

[2] A figure which does not take into account substantial war damages, namely one-half of the prewar fleet of Worms & Cie and very extensive destruction to shipyards and harbor installations.

[3] For evidence that the statements herein contained conform to the decisions and findings of the French Courts, see statement of Jacques Baradue, avocat de !a Cour d'appe! de Paris, Exhibit H.

[4] This report, a document of over 700 pages, covers exhaustively the history and structure of the Firm and ail its departments during the German occupation. Only the brief conclusions are given here.

[5] See footnote 4.

[6] The Exhibits referred to in this report are mot the exhibits to the foregoing statement prepared by Worms & Cie.

Retour aux archives de 1947