Historians' report on Finance Ministry under Nazis concludes it was key to Hitler's agenda

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Germany's Finance Ministry has released the first part of an independent commission's investigation into its Nazi past, showing civil servants played an important role in Hitler's anti-Semitic agenda.

The book released Monday, "Bureaucracy and Crimes" by historian Christiane Kuller, concludes that the ministry played a key role in stripping Jews of their money and possessions.

In a presentation at the ministry — a Nazi-built building that served as Luftwaffe headquarters — Kuller said after the war the ministry's civil servants claimed they were only following rules and regulations they were given.

But she found the long-term employees used their knowledge with "high efficiency" to apply existing regulations "systematically in a racist way."

Historians began their work on the project in 2009, and more books are expected through 2016.