The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Now you say you did not do it, so will you tell me who did?

A. It was a fairly long business.

When, in February, 1942, I took over my new office, the
Party was already insisting that Jews who were still working
in armament factories should be removed from them. I
objected at the time and managed to get Bormann to issue a
circular letter to the effect that these Jews should go on
being employed in armament factories and that Party offices
should be prohibited from accusing the heads of these firms
on political grounds because of the Jews working there. It
was the Gauleiter who made such political accusations
against the heads of concerns, and it was mostly in the Gau
of Saxony and in the Gau of Berlin. So, after this the Jews
could remain in these plants.

                                                   [Page 49]

Without having any authority to do so, I had had this
circular letter from the Party published in my news sheet
for heads of factories and had sent it to them so that I
should receive their complaints if Party members should not
obey the instruction.

After that the problem was left alone until September or
October of 1942. At that time a conference with Hitler took
place, at which Sauckel also was present. At this conference
Hitler insisted emphatically that the Jews must now be
removed from the armament firms, and he gave orders for this
to be done - this is to be seen from a Fuehrer protocol
which has been kept.

In spite of this, the Jews managed to get kept on in
factories and it was only in March, 1943, as this letter
shows, that resistance gave way and the Jews finally did
have to get out.

I must point out to you that as far as I can remember it was
not a question yet of the entire Jewish problem, but, in the
years 1941 and 1942, Jews had gone to the armament factories
to do important war work and have an occupation of military
importance, and through this occupation of military
importance they were able to escape the evacuation which at
that time was already in full swing. They were mostly
occupied in the electrical industry, and Geheimrat Buecher
of AEG and Siemens no doubt lent a helping hand in order to
get the Jews taken on there in greater numbers. These Jews
were still completely free and their families were still in
their homes.

The letter you have before you, of course, was not given me
by Gauleiter Sauckel; and Sauckel himself says that he had
not seen it. But it is certainly true that I knew about it
before action was taken; I knew because the question had to
be discussed as to how one should get replacements. It is
equally certain, though, that I also protested at the time
at having experts removed from my armament industries
because, apart from other reasons, it was going to make
things difficult for me.

Q. That is exactly the point that I want to emphasize. As I
understand it, you were struggling to get manpower enough to
produce the armaments to win a war for Germany.

A. Yes.

Q: And this anti-Semitic campaign was so strong that it took
trained technicians away from you, and made your task more
difficult. Now, isn't that the fact?

A. I did not understand the meaning of your question.

Q. Your problem of producing armaments to win the war for
Germany was made very much more difficult by this
anti-Jewish campaign which was being waged by others of your
co-defendants.

A. That is a fact; and it is equally clear that if the Jews
who were evacuated had been allowed to work for me, it would
have been a considerable advantage to me.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, has it been proved who
signed that Document 156-L? It has got a signature
apparently on it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: There is a signature on it. I believe
it is that of the Plenipotentiary General for Manpower.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps the defendant could tell what the
signature is. (A document was submitted to the witness.)

THE WITNESS: I do not know the man. Yes, he must be one of
the minor officials in the offices of the Plenipotentiary
for Manpower, because I knew alt the immediate associates of
Sauckel personally .... No. I beg your pardon, the document
comes from the Regierungs-Praesident in Koblenz, as I see
here. He was an assistant in the Government District of
Koblenz of whom, of course, I did not know.

                                                   [Page 50]

BY MR. JUSTICE JACKSON:

Q. In any event, there is no question about the statement as
you have explained it?

A. No.

Q. Now I want to ask you about the recruiting of forced
labour. As I understand it, you know about the deportation
of 100,000 Jews from Hungary for subterranean aeroplane
factories, and you told us in your interrogation of 15th
October-18th October, 1945, that you made no objection to
it. That is true, is it not?

A. That is true, yes.

Q. And you told us also, quite candidly, on that day, that
it was no secret to you that a good deal of the manpower
brought in by Sauckel was obtained by illegal methods. That
is also true, is it not?

A. I took great care at the time to notice what expression
the interrogating officer used; he used the expression "they
came against their wish"; and that I confirmed.

Q. Did you not say that it was no secret to you that these
workers were brought in in an illegal manner? Did you not
add that yourself?

A. No, no. That was certainly not so.

Q. Well, in any event, you knew that at the Fuehrer
conference in August of 1942 the Fuehrer had approved of all
coercive measures for obtaining workers if they couldn't be
obtained on a voluntary basis, and you knew that that policy
of coercion was carried out. You, as a matter of fact, you
did not give any particular attention to the legal side of
this thing, did you? You were after manpower; is not that
the fact?

A. That is absolutely correct.

Q. And whether legal or illegal means were used did not
worry you?

A. I consider that in the light of the whole war situation
and of our views in general on this question it was
justified.

Q. Yes, it was in accordance with the policy of the
Government, and that satisfied you at the time, did it not?

A. Yes. I am of the opinion that at the time I took over my
office, in February, 1942, all the violations of
International Law, which later ... which are now brought up
against me, had already been committed.

Q. And you do not question that you share a certain
responsibility for that policy, whether it is a legal
responsibility or not, of bringing in workers against their
will? You do not deny that, do you?

A. The workers were brought to Germany largely against their
will, and I had no objection to their being brought to
Germany against their will. On the contrary, during the
first period, until the autumn of 1942, I certainly used all
my energy to see that as many workers as possible should be
brought to Germany in this manner.

Q. You had some participation in the distribution of these
workers, did you not, among different plants, different
industries that were competing for labour?

A. No. That would have to be explained in detail - I do not
quite understand.

Q. Well, you finally entered into an agreement with Sauckel,
did you not, in reference to the distribution of the workers
after they reached the Reich?

A. That was arranged according to the so-called priorities.
I had to tell Sauckel, of course, in relation to my
programme where labour was needed most urgently. But that
sort of thing was dealt with by general instructions.

Q. In other words, you determined the priorities of the
different industries with regard to the distribution of the
workers when they came to the Reich.

A. That was a matter of course; naturally that had to be
done.

Q. Yes. Now, as to the employment of prisoners of war, you -
whatever disagreement there may be about the exact figures,
there is no question, is there, that prisoners of war were
used in the manufacture of armament?

                                                   [Page 51]


A. No, only Russian prisoners of war and Italian military
internees were used for the production of arms. As for the
use of French and other prisoners of war in this production,
I had several conferences with Keitel on the subject. And I
must tell you that Keitel always adopted the view that these
prisoners of war could not be used, as it would mean a
violation of the Geneva Prisoner-of-War Agreement of the
Geneva Convention. I can claim that, on the strength of this
fact, I no longer used my influence to obtain these
prisoners for employment in the armament industries in
violation of the Geneva Convention.

The conception, of course, of the expression "armament
production" is very much open to argument. It depends, it
always depends what position one takes, whether you have a
wide conception of armaments or a narrow one.

Q. Well, you succeeded to Dr. Todt's organization, and you
had all the powers that he had, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And one of his directives was dated 31st October, 1941, a
letter from the OKW, which is in evidence here as Exhibit
214, Document 194-EC, which provides that the deputies of
the Reichsminister for Armament and Munitions are to be
admitted to prisoner-of-war camps for the purpose of
selecting skilled workers. That was among your powers, was
it not?

A. No. That was a special action which Dr. Todt introduced
on the strength of an agreement with the OKW. It was dropped
later, however.

Q. Now, on the 22nd of April, 1943, at the 36th meeting of
this Planning Board, you made this complaint, did you not,
Herr Speer? I quote:

  "There is a statement showing in what sectors the Russian
  PW's have been distributed, and this statement is quite
  interesting. It shows that the armament industry only
  received 30 per cent. I always complained about that."

That is correct, is it not?

A. I believe that has been wrongly translated. It should not
say "ammunitions industry"; it should say, "the armament
industry received 30 per cent."

Q. I said "armament."

A. Yes. But then, this is still no proof that these
prisoners of war were employed in violation of the Geneva
Prisoner-of-War Agreement, because in the sector of the
armament industry there was ample room to use these workers
for producing articles which, in the sense of the Geneva
Prisoner-of-War Agreement, were not armament products. In
spite of that, I believe that in the case of the Russian
prisoners of war there was not the same value attached to a
strict observance of the Geneva Convention as in the case of
prisoners from Western countries.

Q. Is it your contention that the prisoners were not used -
I now speak of French prisoners of war - that French
prisoners of war were not used in the manufacture of
materials which directly contributed to the war, or is it
your contention that although they were used it was legal
under the Geneva Convention?

A. As far as I know, French prisoners of war were not used
contrary to the rules of the Convention. I cannot check
that, because my office was not responsible for controlling
the conditions of their employment. During my numerous
visits to factories, I never noticed that any prisoner of
war from the Western territories was working directly on
armament products.

Q. Just explain exactly what French prisoners of war did do
... by way of manufacture. What were they working on?

A. That I cannot answer. I already explained yesterday that
the allotment of prisoners of war, or foreign workers, or of
German workers to a factory was not a matter for me to
decide. But the allotment was carried out by the Labour
office together with the Stalag (other ranks prisoner-of-war
camps), when it was a question of prisoners of war. I
received only a general survey of the total number of
workers who had gone to the factories and so I could get no
idea as to what type

                                                   [Page 52]

of work they were doing in each individual concern. So I
cannot give a satisfactory answer to your question.

Q. Now let us take the 50,000 skilled workers whom, you said
yesterday, you removed and put to work in a different
location, of which Sauckel complained. What did you put them
to work at?

A. They were not prisoners of war, you know.

Q. Let us take up those workers. What were you doing with
them?

A. Those workers had been working on the Atlantic Wall. From
there they were transferred to the Ruhr to repair the two
dams which had been destroyed by an air attack. I must say
that the transfer of these 50,000 workers took place without
my knowledge, and the consequences of bringing 50,000
workers from the West into Germany were a catastrophe for us
on the Atlantic Wall, because more than a third of all the
workers engaged on the Atlantic Wall went away because they,
too, were afraid they might have to go to Germany. That is
why we rescinded the order as quickly as possible, so that
the French workers on the Atlantic Wall should keep their
confidence in us. This fact will show you that the French
workers we had working for the Todt Organization were not
employed on a coercive basis, otherwise they could not have
left in such numbers when they realised that under certain
circumstances they, too, might be sent to Germany. So that
this taking of the 50,000 workers from the Todt Organization
in France was only a temporary action and was cancelled
later. It was one of those mistakes which can happen if a
minister gives an urgent directive and his subordinates
begin to carry it out by every means at their disposal.

Q. Are you familiar with Document 60-EC, which states that
the Todt Labour Organization had to recruit its manpower by
force?

A. At the moment I cannot recollect it.

Q. I beg your pardon?

A. At this moment I cannot recollect it. Could I see the
document?

Q. Yes, if you would like to. I just remind you that the
evidence is contrary to your testimony on that subject.

Page 42, the paragraph which reads:

  "Unfortunately the assignments for the Todt Organization
  on the basis of Article 52 of the Hague Convention on
  Land Warfare have for some time decreased considerably,
  because the larger part of the manpower allocated does
  not turn up. Consequently further compulsory measures
  must be employed. The Prefect and the French Labour
  Exchanges co-operate quite loyally, it is true, but they
  have not sufficient authority to carry out these
  measures."

A. I think that I have perhaps not been understood
correctly. I do not deny that a large number of the people
working for the Todt Organization in the West had been
called up and came to work because they had to, but we had
no means whatsoever of keeping them by force. So if they did
not want to work, they could leave again, and then they
either joined the resistance movement or went into hiding.

Q. Very well. But this calling-up system was a system of
compulsion, was it not?

A. It was the calling up of French workers for duty in the
Reich or in France. But here again I must add something.
This report is dated June, 1943. In October, 1943, the whole
of the Todt Organization was declared a blocked industry and
thereby received the advantages which other blocked
industries had. I explained that sufficiently yesterday.
Because of this, the Todt Organization made great demands
for workers who went there voluntarily, unless, of course,
you see direct coercion in the pressure arising from their
fear of being transferred to Germany, and which drove them
to the Todt Organization or other blocked industries.

Q. Were they kept in labour camps?

                                                   [Page 53]

A. That was the custom in the case of such building work.
The building sites were far away from any villages, and so
workers' camps were set up to accommodate the German and the
foreign workers. But some of them were also accommodated in
villages as far as it was possible to accommodate them
there. I do not think that on principle they were only meant
to be accommodated in camps, but I cannot tell you that for
certain.

The document -

THE PRESIDENT: Has this been introduced before?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I was just going to give it to you. The
document from which I have quoted is Exhibit USA 892.

BY MR. JUSTICE JACKSON:

Q. Now, leaving the question of the personal participation
in this -

THE PRESIDENT: Is it new, Mr. Justice Jackson?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: No, it has been in.

THE PRESIDENT: It has been in before?


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