The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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The last source of manpower had not been tapped. To Jews,
deportees, women and children, there was added the
productive power of prisoners of war. Naturally enough it
was through the SS that the conspirators squeezed the last
drop of labor from such prisoners. Speer's minutes of his
conference with the Fuehrer on March 1944, state:

                                                  [Page 208]
     "Told the Fuehrer of the Reichs Marshal's wish for
     further utilization of the production power of
     prisoners of war by giving the direction of the Stalag
     to the SS with the exception of the English and
     Americans. The Fuehrer considers the proposal good and
     has asked Colonel von Below to arrange matters
     accordingly." (R-124)

That matters were soon arranged is shown by Speer's
statement made at the 58th discussion of the Central
Planning Board on 25 May 1944 (R-124):

     "Speer: We have come to an arrangement with the
     Reichsfuehrer SS as soon as possible so that PW's he
     picks up are made available for our purposes. The
     Reichsfuehrer SS gets from 30 to 40 thousand men per
     month." (R-124)

Finally, in order to insure SS control over the labor of
prisoners of war, the Reichsfuehrer SS was appointed by
Hitler as head of all prisoner of war camps on 25 September
1944. A circular letter from the Director of the Party
Chancellery, 30 September 1944 and signed by M. Bormann,

     "1. The Fuehrer has ordered under the date 25 September
     1944: The custody of all prisoners of war and interned
     persons, as well as prisoner of war camps, and
     institutions with guards are transferred to the
     commander of the Reserve Army from 1 October 1944.


     "2. The Reichsfuehrer SS has commanded:
     "a. In my capacity as Commander of the Reserve Army, I
     transfer the affairs of prisoners of war to Gottleb
     Berger, SS-Lieut. General (SS-Obergruppenfuehrer and
     General der Waffen-SS) Chief of Staff of the


     "c. The mobilization of labor of the prisoners of war
     will be organized with the present labor mobilization
     office in joint action between SS-Lieut. General Berger
     (SS-Obergruppenfuehrer) and SS-Lieut. General Pohl.

     "The strengthening of security in the field of prisoner
     of war affairs is to be accomplished between SS-Lieut.
     General Berger and the Chief of the Security Police, SS-
     Lieut. Gen. Dr. Kaltenbrunner."  (058-PS)

So impressive were the results obtained from SS
concentration camp labor that Goering on 14 February 1944
called on Himmler for more inmates for use in the aircraft
industry (1584-I-PS). Himmler's reply to that request reads,
in part, as follows:

     "Most Honored Reichsmarshal:
     "Following my teletype letter of the 18 Feb. 1944 I
                                                  [Page 209]
     transmit a survey on the employment of prisoners in the
     aviation industry.
     "This survey indicates that at the present time about
     6,000 prisoners are employed for the purposes of the
     air force. An increase to a total of 90,000 prisoners
     is contemplated.
     "The production is being discussed, established, and
     executed between the Reich Ministry of aviation and the
     chief of my economic-administrative main office, SS-
     Obergruppenfuehrer and General of the Waffen-SS, Pohl
     "We assist with all forces at our disposal.
     "The task of my economic-administrative main office,
     however, is not solely fulfilled with the delivery of
     the prisoners to the aviation industry as SS-
     Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl and his assistants take care of
     the required working speed thru constant and
     supervision of the work-groups [Kommandos] and
     therefore have some influence on the results of
     production. In this respect I may suggest consideration
     of the fact that in enlarging our responsibility thru a
     speeding up of the total work, better results can
     definitely be expected.
     "We also have for some time adjusted our own stone-
     quarries to production for the airforce. For instance
     in Flossenbuerg near Weiden the prisoners employed
     previously in the quarry are working now in the fighter
     plane program for the Messerschmitt corporation
     Regensburg, which saw in the availability of our stone-
     mason shops and labor forces after the attack on
     Regensburg at that time a favorable opportunity for the
     immediate partial transfer of their production.
     Altogether 4,000 prisoners will work there after the
     expansion. We produce now with 2,000 men 900 sets of
     engine cowlings and radiator covers as well as 120,000
     single parts of various kinds for the fighter ME 109.
     "In Oranienburg we are employing 6,000 prisoners at the
     Heinkel works now for construction of the HE 177. With
     that we have supplied 60% of the total crew of the


     "The movement of manufacturing plants of the aviation
     industry to subterranean locations requires further
     employment of about 100,000 prisoners. The plans for
     this employment on the basis of your letter of 14
     February 1944 are already under way.
     "I shall keep you, most honored Reichsmarshal,
     currently informed on this subject.
                        "Heil Hitler
               "[initialled] HH" (1584-III-PS)
                                                  [Page 210]
Inclosed with that letter was a report in tabular form of
the number of prisoners being used in each of the
concentration camps, the total man-hours for the month of
January 1944, and the type of production in which such
prisoners were engaged. That report is signed by Pohl, the
Chief of WVHA (1584-III-PS). The total appearing under the
column "Number of prisoners planned" is 90,786; under the
column "Number of prisoners used," 35,839; and under the
column "Man-hours -- January," 8,733,495. (1584-III-PS)

The extent to which the number of prisoners was increased
through SS efforts is illustrated by a report from Office
Group D of WVHA, 15 August 1944:

     "Subject: Report of the number of prisoners and Survey
     of prisoners clothing type G and Z and the supply of G
     "Reference: Telephone call by SS-Sturmbannfuehrer
     Waschkau on 15 August 1944."
     "With reference to the above-mentioned telephone call,
     I am sending herewith a report on the actual number of
     prisoners for 1 August 1944 and of the new arrivals
     already announced, as well as the clothing report for
     15 August 44.
     "(1). The actual number on 1 August 1944, consisted of:
     a. Male prisoners    379,167
     b. Female prisoners  145,119
     "In addition, there are the following new arrivals:

     1. From the Hungary program (anti-Jewish action)  90,000
     2. From Litzmannstadt (Police prison and Ghetto)  60,000
     3. Poles from the General Government              15,000
     4. Convicts from the Eastern Territories          10,000
     5. Former Polish officers                         17,000
     6. From Warsaw (Poles)                           400,000
     7. Continued arrivals from France approx.  15,000-20,000

     "Most of the prisoners are already on the way and will
     be received into the Concentration Camps within the
     next few days." (1166-PS)

(d) SS control of concentration camps and the ill treatment
and murder of inmates. The intensive drive for manpower to
some extent interfered with the program already undertaken
by WVHA to exterminate certain classes of individuals in the
camps. This is shown by a letter from WVHA, Department D
Concentration Camps, 28 March 1942, addressed to a number of

                                                  [Page 211]
tion camp commandants and signed Leibenhenschel, SS

     "It became known through a report of a Camp Commandant
     that 42 prisoners out of 51 which were mustered out for
     the special treatment 14 of 13 again became capable of
     work after a period of time and therefore do not have
     to be directed to the special treatment. From this it
     appears that the selection of the prisoners is not
     being handled according to given directives. Only those
     prisoners are allowed to be directed the examination
     commission who fulfill the given stipulations and who
     above all are no longer capable of work.

     "In order to be able to fulfill the designated missions
     of the concentration camps, the working capabilities of
     every prisoner must be retained for the camp. The camp
     commandants of the concentration camps are requested to
     especially make this their aim." (1151-P-PS)

Another letter from WVHA, Department D Concentration Camps,
27 April 1943, addressed to a number of concentration camp
commanders, signed by Gluecks, SS Brigade Fuehrer and Major
General of the Waffen SS, deals with the same point:

     "The Reich Fuehrer-SS and Chief of German Police has
     decided, after consultation, that in the future only
     mentally sick (geisteskranke) prisoners may be selected
     for action 4 F 13 by the medical commissions appointed
     for this purpose.

     "All other prisoners incapable of working (tubercular
     cases, bedridden cripples, etc.) are to be basically
     excepted from this action. Bedridden prisoners are to
     be drafted for suitable work which they can perform in
     "The order of the Reich Fuehrer SS is to be obeyed
     strictly in the future.
     "Requests for fuel for this purpose, therefore, do not
     take place." (1933-PS)

The SS, however, was to some degree enabled to achieve both
that of increased production and of elimination of
undesirable individuals, as shown by the agreement between
Minister of Justice Thierack and Himmler on 18 September
1942 (654-PS). That agreement provided for the delivery of
antisocial elements after the execution of their sentences
to the Reichsfuehrer SS "to be worked to death."

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