The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                  [Page 261]


MONDAY, 11th MARCH, 1946

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, had you finished your

DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the OKW and General Staff): I
have only a few more questions to ask the witness.

(Witness: General Field-Marshal Milch.)



Q. Witness, I should like to refer again, very briefly, to
the extent of the unpreparedness of the Luftwaffe for war in
1939; while on this subject I should like to ask whether the
collaboration of the Luftwaffe with the OKW, the Army and
the Navy had been secured in 1939?

A. In my opinion, the Luftwaffe was not prepared for a major
war in 1939. No mutual agreements of any kind existed with
the other branches of the Armed Forces. At any rate, I knew
of no such agreements.

Q. Had such agreements with other branches of the Armed
Forces existed, would you have known about them?

A. I imagine so, since, at that time I certainly would have
been involved in these matters.

Q. What was the co-ordination like between the more
important departments of the Luftwaffe?

A. From 1937 - rather loose. The General Staff, the
Technical Branch and the Personnel Office were detached;
they worked independently and more or less on their own.

Q. Witness, you have just mentioned the General Staff. What
do you understand by the German General Staff of the

A. General Staff means, in German, leaders' assistants; in
other words, junior officers who had been assigned to
specialized training, and who acted as assistants to troop
commanders, divisional commanders and upward.

Q. Of whom did the General Staff of the Luftwaffe consist?

A. On the one hand, it consisted of those officers in the
departments of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe from the
Chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe himself down and
also, on the other hand, of General Staff officers who had
been assigned as staff officers to divisions and corps in
the field and to air fleets.

Q. What time limits were set for the formation of new units
of the Luftwaffe?

A. The formation of larger units had not yet been ordered,
although they had been discussed quite a long time before
the outbreak of war. It was intended to create a larger Air
Force later, but, as far as I can remember, the plans
envisaged were scheduled for completion in six or eight
years' time.

Q. In what year would the plans have been completed?

A. I should think about 1944-1946.

THE PRESIDENT: Not only is there some technical fault - we
are getting two translations at once - but both the witness
and the defence counsel are going too fast.

                                                  [Page 262]

Q. Did an organization exist already in 1939 for day- and
night-fighter planes?

A. No, it did not exist at that time.

Q. Did an organization exist for bomber warfare?

A. Not to the extent necessary for a war of aggression.

Q. What progress had been made at that time in the building
of airfields?

A. Airfields had been built with runways up to 1,000 metres,
but these were only suitable for fighter planes and not for
loaded heavier bombers.

Q. What was the position of the Luftwaffe Signal Corps

A. The operational network, i.e., the cable network for
operations did not exist at that time: it had to be
improvised and built up later on during the war.

Q. What was the position of the Aircraft Reporting Service?

A. This also had not yet been organized. Reverting to the
question of bombers, the most I can add is that, originally,
in the early years models of four-engine bombers, which
would also have been suitable for night use, were put into
production. Although technically perfect, these bombers were
abandoned, I believe in 1937; it was thought that the big
expense entailed by such heavy bombers should be avoided,
since, at that time, nobody was thinking of war. This was at
the time when Field-Marshal Kesselring was Chief of the
General Staff, and the question was submitted for the
decision of the Reichsmarshal who agreed to the
discontinuance of these large bombers.

Q. When was that?

A. One moment, I will just look it up. On 29th April, 1937,
the Reichsmarshal, acting on the recommendations of the
Chief of the General Staff, stopped the production of these
long-distance bombers. Therefore, in 1939, there were no
night bombers which could in any way compare with English
machines of the Lancaster type, etc.

Q. What was the position of the Luftwaffe crews?

A. We had just sufficient personnel replacements for a
comparatively small Luftwaffe at that time. The lack of
personnel replacement was the greatest handicap of all in
building up the Luftwaffe. The whole question of time
limits, etc., depended on the training of personnel. It was
the personnel question which regulated the pace. It was
possible to build planes more rapidly, but it was not
possible to expedite the training of the crews. And, as I
said on Friday, this was the main consideration when dealing
with the question of time limits. Pilots and technical
personnel are of no use unless thoroughly trained. It is
much worse to have half-trained personnel than no personnel
at all.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, I do not want to interrupt
your examination but we have been sitting here for nearly
twenty minutes now, and all I have got from it is that the
Luftwaffe was not ready for war in 1939. It seems to me too
much time is being taken up with detail.


Q. I have one more question on this matter: Were there any
reserves of aluminium, magnesium and rubber, and did any
means exist for producing these materials?

A. Not in sufficient quantities.

Q. And now - one last question: Witness, during your
testimony on Friday, you mentioned "Basic Order No. 1". You
also gave us the contents of this order. In this connection
I would like to ask: Was this order strictly observed or

A. Yes, very strictly.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions to ask the

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

DR. FLAECHSNER (counsel for the defendant Speer): I request
permission to ask the witness a few questions.

                                                  [Page 263]


Q. Witness, do you remember when Hitler demanded the
construction of bomb-proof aircraft factories in caves or
concrete shelters?

A. As far as I remember it was when the British started the
heavy raids in 1943.

Q. Do you remember a conference on the Obersalzberg at the
beginning of April 1944? What did you tell Hitler at the
time about the difficulties in the building industry, and
what were the orders issued by Hitler on that occasion?

A. Yes. On that occasion Hitler ordered very solid
structures to be built - believe he demanded six large bomb-
proof factories, each with 600,000 square metres floor
space. Later on, Speer, who had been absent from the April
meeting through illness, raised objections to these orders.
He considered this construction work to be on far too large
a scale and that it was too late to undertake it. Later, he
obtained permission for all factories, which by June 1944
were not in a sufficiently advanced stage of construction,
i.e., which could not start working by the beginning of
1945, to be discontinued immediately. My first consideration
was the question of labour.

Q. I am above all interested in the labour question. At this
discussion on the Obersalzberg, did the Fuehrer allocate the
requisite labour for the construction of the factories
demanded by him?

A. Yes. I think I remember rightly that, in answer to the
objection raised by one of the gentlemen present, he said
that he himself would see that the labour was made

Q. Witness, you said that Herr Speer was opposed to these
constructions. What happened then? Speer was not present at
that meeting?

A. No, he was ill at the time.

Q. Can you tell us briefly what happened?

A. During Speer's illness, requests reached the Fuehrer from
other quarters that Speer should be relieved of construction
work. Difficulties arose owing to the fact that, whereas in
theory Speer still remained in charge of building, in
practice, the work was nearly all taken out of his hands. He
was no longer able to have any say in construction work,
since it had been decided that the Construction Department
of the Organization Todt should receive orders direct from
Hitler. Thus, Speer was excluded more and more from this
sphere of activity. A great deal was said at that time about
large-scale constructions, but very little was done to build

Q. Did Hitler give a written order to Herr Dorsch, and did
he have it shown to Speer? Do you know anything about it?

A. As far as I can remember, such a written order was given
and it was also sent to Speer. I have a vague recollection
that Speer once showed me such an order.

Q. One last question on this matter. In this way, Dorsch,
who had been directly commissioned by the Fuehrer, took over
the responsibility for these buildings and the necessary

A. Yes.

Q. Witness, you were a member of the Central Planning Board.
Can you tell me if the Central Planning Board was authorized
to make decisions on the use of foreign or German labour and
its allocation?

A. No.

Q. Did the Central Planning Board ever make decisions of
this kind?

A. The Central Planning Board had been set up for the
distribution of raw materials only; but a certain control
over transportation devolved upon it because of the.
connection between the two. However, the matter of
transportation was independent of any activity concerning
allocation of raw material. It had no say in the allocation
of labour. If the Central Planning Board attempted to have
some say as to the allocation of workers, it was because it
was at the same time

                                                  [Page 264]

responsible for armaments, and therefore best able to judge
the existing requirements; but here, too, considerable
difficulties were encountered, and this field of the Central
Planning Board's work had to be dropped.

Q. So no decision was ever reached. We have records before
us which show that labour problems were frequently discussed
by the Central Planning Board.

A. Yes, very frequently, as the armament offices which were
represented on the Central Planning Board were greatly
concerned with labour problems; but these discussions mostly
concerned food supplies and extra rations for the workers.

Q. And now - one last question on the subject. Did the
General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour in any
way look upon the Central Planning Board as authoritative,
that is, as the final arbiter in the total plan for the
utilization of manpower?

A. No, he could not do that, as he himself represented that

Q. Were there any reserves of German workers in 1943 or
1944, and did Speer request the utilization of this German
manpower instead of foreign labour?

A. Yes, again and again Speer made strong representations
that any German labour still available, even if difficult to
mobilize, should be brought in and put to work. This reserve
consisted mostly of female labour, women of professional
circles and social station who in war time had nothing to do
apart from domestic work.

Q. Witness, you have already told us that the defendant
Speer was a sick man in 1944. Could you tell us
approximately when his illness began and when it ended?

A. His illness started in February and I think it lasted
until about June.

Q. Thank you. Do you know anything about this long illness
being exploited in order to undermine severely his influence
and authority? Can you tell me who was primarily interested
in doing that?

A. His influence was undermined in the above-mentioned
building projects. It is very difficult for me to name here
the individuals who probably hoped to succeed him.

Q. Did matters improve, or did they become worse after 20th

A. Actually, as time went on they became worse; Speer's
position became more difficult than ever, as the whole of
Speer's views differed more and more from Hitler's official

Q. Thank you. Now, may I remind you of something else? In
February 1945, by a Hitler order, the defendant Speer was
entrusted with the distribution of motor vehicles; and you,
if I am correctly informed, were appointed as his
representative. Can you tell me what the transport situation
was like at that time, and to what extent the armaments
output depended on the transport situation?

A. In those days, the transport situation was so deplorable,
owing to the American daylight raids, that the transport
system was no longer able to carry even the most essential
commodities and armament materials. Our great industrial
centre the Ruhr District, was particularly hard hit, as well
as the transport system carrying products from the Ruhr to
the finishing industries in Central Germany, Berlin and
Saxony. If very stringent measures had not been taken and
extraordinary powers granted, the total collapse, due solely
to transport difficulties, would have become only a matter
of hours. That was the situation at that time.

Q. Could Speer in his position, be expected to give
preferential treatment to armaments when available transport
was allocated? What did he actually do?

A. No. Speer, like myself, saw quite clearly that the whole
armament question could no longer influence the situation at
that stage. Therefore, acting on his own initiative, he gave
priority to the movement of food supplies for the
population. The most urgent job was to remove the foodstuffs
from that German territory in danger of being lost to the

Q. Were these measures only taken to safeguard the current
food supply, or were they long-term measures?

                                                  [Page 265]

A. The intention was to move all available and transportable
food to a place of safety.

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