The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-17/tgmwc-17-159.09


Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-17/tgmwc-17-159.09
Last-Modified: 2000/06/29

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, may I in this connection
submit as a "Speer document" the destruction order of
Hitler, dated 19th March, 1945, which the Tribunal will find
on Page 73 of the French and Page 76 of the English text of
the Document Book.

I also submit to the Tribunal the order for the traffic and
communication systems which you will find on Page 78 of the
English text, and Page 75 of the French text. They become
Speer Exhibit 26.

Then there is the order for destruction and evacuation by
Bormann dated 23rd March, 1945, which is contained on Page
102 of my Document Book. The latter document is Speer
Exhibit 27.

BY DR. FLAECHSNER:

Q. Herr Speer, since these are orders with technical
expressions, will you please summarize the contents briefly
for the Tribunal?

THE PRESIDENT: You said that last one was at Page 102 of the
second volume. In my copy that is a document of General
Guderian of December 13, 1944.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, I beg to apologise, I have
made a mistake.

It is not Page 102, it is Pages 93 and 94. I beg to
apologise. I have only just received the document today.

BY DR. FLAECHSNER

Q. Herr Speer, will you briefly elucidate these orders?

A. I can summarize them very briefly. They gave the order to
the Gauleiter to carry out the destruction of all industrial
plants, all important electrical facilities, water works,
gas works, and so on, and also the destruction of all food
and clothing stores. My jurisdiction had specifically been
excluded, by means of that order, and all my orders for the
maintenance of industry had been cancelled.

The military authorities had been given the order to destroy
all bridges, all railway installations, postal systems,
communication systems in the German railway, also the
waterways, all ships, all freight cars and all locomotives.

The target was, as is stated in one of the decrees, the
creation of a traffic desert.

The Bormann decree aimed at bringing the population to the
centre of the Reich, both from the West and the East, and
the foreign workers and prisoners of war were to be
included. These millions of people were to be sent upon
their trek on foot. No provisions for their existence had
been made, nor was it possible to do so in view of the
situation.

The carrying out of these orders alone would have resulted
in an unimaginable hunger catastrophe. Add to this that on
the 19th of March, 1945, there was a strict order from
Hitler to all army groups and all Gauleiter, that the battle
should be conducted without consideration for our own
population.

With the carrying out of these orders, Hitler's pledge of
the 18th of March would be kept, namely, that it would not
be necessary to consider the basis which the nation would
need to continue its existence, even on a most primitive
scale, on the contrary, it would be better to destroy these
things ourselves. Considering the discipline which existed
in Germany in connection with every order, no matter what
its contents, it was to be expected that these orders would
be carried out. These orders also applied to those
territories which had been included in the Greater German
Reich.

Now, during journeys into the most endangered territories,
and by means of discussions with my associates, I quite
openly tried to stop the carrying out of these orders. I
ordered that the high explosives which were still available
in the Ruhr should be dropped down the mines, and that the
stores of high explosives which were on the building sites
should be hidden.

We distributed automatic pistols to the staffs of the most
important plants so that they could fight against
destruction. All this, I know, sounds somewhat theatrical,
but the situation at the time was such that if a Gauleiter
had dared to approach the coal mines in the Ruhr and there
had been a single automatic pistol available, then it would
have been fired.

                                                   [Page 37]

I tried to convince the local army commanders of the
nonsensical character of the task of destroying bridges
which had been given to them, and furthermore, by talking to
the local authorities, I succeeded in stopping most of the
evacuation which had been ordered. In this connection the
secretary of the Party Chancellery, Klopper, deserves credit
in that he held up the evacuation orders which were to be
sent to Gauleiter.

When I came back from this journey, I was called before
Hitler at once. This was on the 29th of March, 1945. I had
intentionally resisted his orders so openly, and I had
discussed the lost war with so many of his Gauleiter that my
insubordination must have become known to him. With regard
to this period, witnesses are available who know that this
is what I wanted to achieve.

I did not want to betray him behind his back. I wanted to
put the alternative before him. At the beginning of the
conference, he stated that he had had reports from Bormann
to the effect that I considered the war as lost, and that I
had openly expressed this view contrary to his prohibition.
He demanded that I should make a statement to the effect
that I did not consider the war lost, and I replied, "The
war is lost." He gave me twenty-four hours to think, and it
was during those twenty-four hours that the letter was
written from which the extract has been quoted, and which
has been submitted to the Tribunal in full.

After this period of reflection, I intended to hand him this
letter as my reply. But he refused to accept it. Thereupon,
I declared to him that he could rely on me in the future,
and in that way I was able to get him to hand over to me
once more the carrying out of the destruction work.

DR. FLAECHSNER: In this connection, may I submit Hitler's
order dated 30th March, 1945, which the Tribunal will find
on Pages 83 of the English text and 79 of the French text in
the Document Book? It will be Exhibit 28.

BY DR. FLAECHSNER:

Q. Then, what did you do on the strength of this new order
which you had?

A. I had the text of it drawn up and it gave me the
possibility of circumventing the destruction which had been
ordered. I issued an order at once re-establishing all my
old orders for the protection of industry. In this
connection, I did not submit this new order of mine for
Hitler's approval, although he had expressly made this
proviso in his order.

Contrary to the promise which I had given him, namely, that
I would stand behind him unconditionally, I left the
following day to see Seyss-Inquart, who has testified to
that here, and two Gauleiter to tell them, too, that the war
was lost, and to discuss the consequences with them.

On that occasion I found Seyss-Inquart very understanding.
Both my decrees for the prevention of destruction, as well
as my discussion, were contrary to the promise I had given
Hitler on the 21st of March. I considered that this was my
natural duty.

DR. FLAECHSNER: I submit as Speer Exhibit 29 the
instructions issued by Speer on the 30th of March for
carrying out the order which has already been mentioned. In
the French and German texts of the Document Book they appear
on Page 81, and in the English Document Book on Page 85.

THE WITNESS: In spite of this, the orders for the
destruction of bridges still remained in force, and
everywhere in Germany, Austria and Poland and elsewhere you
can see the result today. I made numerous journeys to the
front, and had many conferences with the commanders of the
front-line troops. Perhaps that may have brought about
relief in some form or other. Finally, I succeeded in
persuading the Commander-in-Chief of the Corps of Signals,
on the 3rd of April, 1945 to forbid at least the destruction
of the signals, postal, railway and wireless installations
by means of a new order.

Finally, on the 5th of April, I issued six OKW orders under
the name of General Winter, who has been a witness in this
courtroom. These orders were to ensure the preservation of
important railway lines. The orders are still in existence.

                                                   [Page 38]

I issued these orders through my command channels and the
channels of the Reich railways, and considering the
tremendous confusion of orders at the time, such orders,
which I was not empowered to give, had at least a
distracting effect.

BY DR. FLAECHSNER:

Q. Herr Speer, a number of attempts on your part to shorten
the war became known to the Press. Could you please describe
summarily to the Tribunal the problem which has been hinted
at in the Press.

A. I do not want to spend too much time on things which did
not succeed. I tried repeatedly to exclude Himmler and
others from the Government and to force them to make
themselves responsible for their deeds. To carry that and
other plans out, eight officers from the front joined me,
all of whom had received high decorations. Among them were
the two best-known pilots in Germany, Galland and Baumbach.
The Secretary of State of the Propaganda Ministry made it
possible for me on the 9th of April to speak briefly over
the entire German radio system. All preparations were made,
and at the last moment Goebbels heard about it and demanded
that Hitler should approve of the text of my speech. I
submitted to him a very modified text. But he forbade the
broadcasting even of this very modified version.

On the 21st of April, 1945, an opportunity was offered me to
record a speech at the broadcasting station at Hamburg. This
was to be broadcast as the instructions for the final phase.
The recording officials, however, demanded that this speech
should be broadcast only after Hitler's death, which would
relieve them of their oath of allegiance to him.

Furthermore, I was in contact with the chief of staff of an
army group in the East, the Army Group Weichsel. We were
both aware that a fight for Berlin ought not to take place,
and that contrary to their orders the armies should by-pass
Berlin. To begin with, this was carried out, but later there
were several persons empowered with special authority by
Hitler and sent outside Berlin who succeeded in leading some
divisions into Berlin. The original intention, however, that
entire armies should be led into Berlin, was, therefore, not
carried through. The Chief of Staff with whom I had these
conferences was General Kinsler.

Q. Were these attempts still of any avail at the beginning
of April, and later on?

A. Yes. We expected that the war would last longer, because
Churchill, too, predicted at the time that the end of the
war would come at the end of July, 1945

Q. You have described here how much you did to preserve
industrial plants and other economic installations. Did you
also act on behalf of the foreign workers?

A. My responsibility was the industrial sector. I felt it my
duty, therefore, to hand over my sector undamaged. As
regards the foreign workers in Germany, several of my
actions were in their favour. For example, these foreign
workers and prisoners of war, through the steps which I had
taken to secure the food situation, were quite obviously the
beneficiaries of my work during the last phase.

Secondly, through local discussions, I prevented a certain
amount of destruction, contrary to the evacuation orders
which had been received from the Party. I also made it
possible for the foreign workers and prisoners to remain
where they were. Such discussions took place on the 18th of
March in the Saar district, and on the 28th of March in the
Ruhr district. At the beginning of March, I made the
proposal that five hundred thousand foreigners should be
transferred from the Reich to the territories which we still
held; that is to say, the Dutch to Holland, the Czechs to
Czechoslovakia. The railways, however, refused to take
responsibility for their transportation, since the traffic
system had already been so destroyed that the carrying out
of this plan was no longer possible. Finally, in the speech
I intended to deliver over the German broadcasting system on
the 9th of April, and in the one I had hoped to broadcast
from Hamburg on the gist of April, I pointed out the duties
which we had towards the foreigners, the prisoners of war
and the prisoners from concentration camps during this last
phase.

                                                   [Page 39]

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, may I draw your attention to
Page 88 of the English text in this connection; it is Page
84 of the French and I submit it as Speer Exhibit 30.

BY DR. FLAECHSNER:

Q. Herr Speer, you have described to us how much during the
last phase of the war you were opposed to Hitler and his
policies. Why did you not resign?

A. I had the possibility to resign on three occasions; once
in April, 1944, when my powers were considerably limited;
the second time in September, 1944, when Bormann and
Goebbels were in favour of my resignation; and the third
time on the 29th of March, 1945, when Hitler himself
demanded that I should go on permanent leave, which was
equivalent to resignation. I turned down all these
possibilities because, from July, 1944, I thought it was my
duty to remain at my post.

Q. There has been testimony in this courtroom to the effect
that the last phase of the war, that is, from January, 1945,
was tactically justified from the point of view that the
nation was, in reality, spared unnecessary sacrifices. Were
you of that same opinion?

A. No. It was said that military protection in the East was
necessary to protect great numbers of refugees until they
reached Germany. In reality, until the middle of April,
1945, the bulk of our last reserves of armoured vehicles and
munitions was used for the fight against the West. The
tactical principle, therefore, was different from the one it
would have been if the fight had been carried on with those
aims which have been stated here. The destruction of bridges
in the West and the destruction orders against the
foundations of life of the nation show the opposite. The
sacrifices which were made on both sides after January,
1945, were senseless. The dead of this period will be the
accusers of the man responsible for the continuation of that
fight, Adolf Hitler, and the ruined cities which, in this
last phase, lost tremendous cultural values and in which a
colossal number of dwellings were destroyed. Many of the
difficulties under which the German nation is suffering
today are due to the ruthless destruction of bridges,
traffic installations, trucks, locomotives and ships. The
German people remained faithful to Adolf Hitler until the
end. He betrayed them knowingly. He finally tried to throw
them into the abyss. Only after the 1st of May, 1945, did
Donitz try to act with reason, but it was too late.

DR. FLAECHSNER: I have one last question.

BY DR. FLAECHSNER:

Q. Was it possible for you to reconcile your actions during
the last phase of the war with your oath and your conception
of loyalty to Adolf Hitler?

A. There is one loyalty which everyone must always keep and
that is loyalty towards one's own people. That duty comes
before everything. If I am in a leading position and if I
see that acts are being committed against the interests of
the nation, I must oppose them. That Hitler had broken faith
with the nation must have been clear to every intelligent
member of his circle, certainly at the latest in January or
February, 1945. Hitler had been given his mission by the
people; but he had no right to gamble away the destiny of
the people with his own. Therefore, I fulfilled my natural
duty as a German. I did not succeed in every way, but I am
proud today that with my achievements I was able to render
one more service to the workers in Germany and the Occupied
Territories.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, I have now reached the end of
my examination of the defendant Speer.

May I perhaps draw the attention of the Tribunal to the fact
that statements have been made on the theme which was the
subject of this afternoon's session, by the witness Kehrl in
his interrogatory under 10 and 12; Rohland under 5, 6, and
8; witness Schieber under 25; witness Guderian under 1 to 3,
7 to 9, and on point 6; the witness named by Speer, Stahl
under points 1 and 2 of his testimony; the witness Kempf
under 10 of her testimony.

                                                   [Page 40]

Still outstanding are the interrogatories of the witness,
Malzacher, and, which is most important to the defence, of
the witness von Poser, since he was the liaison officer
between the General Staff of the Army and Speer's Ministry.
These will be handed in when received. Furthermore, still
outstanding is the interrogatory of General Buhle, who was
the Chief of the Army Staff, and that of Colonel Baumbach,
who was the commander of a bomber wing. The remaining
documents I shall submit to the Tribunal at the end of the
final examination of the defendant Speer.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the other defendants' counsel want
to ask any questions?

DR. SERVATIUS: Dr. Servatius, counsel for Sauckel.

BY DR. SERVATIUS:

Q. Witness, during the negotiations which Sauckel had in
1943 and 1944 with Laval in Paris, were there
representatives present who came from your department and
did they support Sauckel's demands?

A. During these conferences, representatives from my
departments were sometimes present. They were present for
the purpose of protecting the blocked industries, and also
to see to it that there were no encroachments on the
production interests for which I had provided protection.

Q. So that these representatives were therefore not acting
to support Sauckel's demands, but they were against them?

A. It was not the task of these representatives to act for
or against Sauckel's demands because Sauckel stated his
demands in such definite language that a smaller official
was not in a position to speak either for or against these
demands in any way. This would have been a task which I
would have had to carry out myself.



Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.