The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Recourse to war implies preparation and decision; it would
be futile to prohibit it, if one intended to inflict no
chastisement upon those who knowingly took recourse to it,
though they had the power of choosing a different path. They
must, indeed, be considered the direct instigators of the
acts qualified as crimes.

It seems to us that it is evident from all this that the
statute of 8th August only established a jurisdiction to
judge what was already an international crime, not only
before the conscience of humanity but also according to
International Law, even before the Tribunal was established.

If it is not contested that a crime has really been
committed, is it possible to contest the competence of the
International Tribunal to judge it?

There can, indeed, be no doubt that the States bound by the
treaty of 1928 had assumed international responsibilities
towards the co-signatories, should they act in a way
contrary to the agreements undertaken.

International responsibility normally involves the
collective State as such, without in principle exposing the
individuals who have been the perpetrators of an illegal
act. It is within the framework of the State, with which an
international responsibility rests, that as a general rule
the conduct of the men who are responsible for this
violation of International Law may be appraised. They are
subject, as the case may be, to political responsibility or
to penal responsibility before the assemblies or the
competent jurisdictions.

The reason for this is that normally the framework of the
State comprises the nationals: the order of the State
assumes the exercise of justice over a given territory and
with regard to the individuals whom it includes, and the
failure of the State in the exercise of this essential
mission is followed by the reaction and the protests of
third Powers, notably when their own nationals are involved.

But in the present situation there is no German State.

Since the surrender declaration of 5th June, 1945, and until
the day when a Government shall have been established by the
agreement of the Four Occupying Powers, there will be no
organ representing the German State. Under these conditions,
it cannot be considered that there exists a German State
juridical order, capable of bringing the consequences,
arising from a recognition of the responsibility of the
Reich for the violation of the Briand-Kellogg Pact, to bear
upon those individuals who are, in fact, the perpetrators of
this violation in their capacity as organs of the Reich.

To-day supreme authority is being exercised over the whole
German territory, in regard to the entire German population,
by the Four Powers acting jointly. It must, therefore, be
allowed that the States which exercise supreme authority
over the territory and population of Germany can submit this
guilt to a Court's jurisdiction. Otherwise, the proclamation
that Germany has violated the solemn convenant, which it has
undertaken, becomes meaningless.

There is involved a penal responsibility incurred for a
series of acts, qualified as crimes which were committed
against subjects of the United Nations. These acts, which
are not juridicially acts of war but which have been
committed as such upon the instigation of those who bear the
responsibility for the launching of the so-called war, who
have committed aggression upon the lives and the

                                                  [Page 353]

property of subjects of the United Nations, may, by virtue
of the territorial principle, as we have shown above, be
brought before a jurisdiction constituted to this effect by
the United Nations, even as war crimes, properly speaking,
are now being brought before the tribunals of each country
whose nationals have been victims thereof.

Crimes committed by the Nazis in the course of the war, like
the war of aggression itself, will be, as Mr. Justice
Jackson has demonstrated to you, the manifestation of a
concerted and methodically executed plan.

These crimes flow directly, like the war itself, from the
National Socialist doctrine. This doctrine is indifferent to
the moral choice of means to attain a final success, and for
this doctrine the aim of war is pillage, destruction and

To-day war, totalitarian war in its methods and its aims, is
dictated by the primacy of the German race and the negation
of any other value. The Nazi conception maintains selection
as a natural principle. The man who does not belong to the
superior race counts for nothing. Human life and liberty,
personality, the dignity of man, have no importance when an
adversary of the German community is involved. It is truly
"the return to barbarism" with all its consequences.
Logically consistent, National Socialism goes to the length
of assuming the right, either to exterminate totally races
judged hostile or decadent, or to subjugate or put to use
individuals and groups capable of resistance in these races.
Does not the idea of totalitarian war imply the annihilation
of any eventual resistance? All those who in any way may be
capable of opposing the New Order and the German hegemony
will be liquidated. It thus becomes possible to assure an
absolute domination over a neighbouring people that has been
reduced to impotence and to utilise, for the benefit of the
Reich, the resources and the human material of these people
reduced to slavery.

All the moral conceptions which tended to make war more
humane are obviously outdated, and still more so all
international conventions which bad undertaken to bring some
extenuation of the evils of war.

The conquered peoples must concur willingly or by force in
the German victory, by their material resources, as well as
by their labour potential. Means will be found to subject

The treatment to which the occupied countries will be
subjected is likewise related to this war aim. As one could
read in "Deutsche Volkskraft " of 13th June,1935:

   "The totalitarian war will end in a totalitarian
   victory. 'Totalitarian' signifies the entire destruction
   of the conquered nation and its complete and final
   disappearance from the historic scene."

Among the conquered peoples distinctions can be made
according to whether or not the National Socialists consider
them as belonging to the Master Race. For the former, an
effort is made to integrate them into the German Reich
against their will. For the latter, there is applied a
policy of weakening them and bringing about their extinction
by every means, from that of appropriation of their property
to extermination of their persons. In regard to both groups,
the Nazi rulers assault not only property and physical
persons, but also the spirits and souls. They seek to align
the populations according to the Nazi dogma and behaviour,
when they wish to integrate them in the German community;
they apply themselves at least to rooting out whatever
conceptions are irreconcilable with the Nazi universe; they
aim to reduce to the mentality and status of slaves, those
men whose nationality they wish to eradicate for the benefit
of the German race.

Inspired by these general conceptions as to the conduct to
be observed in occupied countries, the defendants gave
special orders or general directives, or deliberately
identified themselves with such. Their responsibility is
that of

                                                  [Page 354]

perpetrators, co-perpetrators or accomplices in the War
Crimes systematically committed between 1st September, 1939,
and 8th May, 1945, by Germany at war. They deliberately
willed, premeditated and ordered these crimes, or knowingly
associated themselves with this policy of organised

We shall expose the various aspects of this policy of
criminality as it was pursued in the occupied countries of
Western Europe, by dealing successively with Forced Labour,
Economic Looting, Crimes against Persons, and Crimes against

The conception of total war, which gave rise to all the
crimes which were to be perpetrated by the Nazi Germans in
the occupied countries, was the basis for the Forced Labour
Service. Through this institution, Germany proposed to
utilise to the maximum the labour potential of the enslaved
populations, in order to maintain the German war production
at the necessary level. Moreover, there can be no doubt that
this institution was linked with the German plan of
"extermination through labour" of the populations adjoining
Germany which she regarded as dangerous or inferior.

A document of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces of
Germany, dated 1st October, 1938, provided for the forced
employment of prisoners and civilians for war labour. Hitler
in his speech of 9th November, 1941, "did not doubt for a
moment that, in the occupied territories which we control at
present, we shall make the last man work for us."

From 1942 on, it is under the admitted responsibility of the
defendant Sauckel, acting together with the defendant Speer,
under the control of the defendant Goering, General
Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan, that compulsory
foreign labour, for the benefit of the war conducted by
Germany, was developed to the full.

The most various methods of constraint were utilised
simultaneously or successively:

First: Requisition of services under conditions incompatible
with Article 52 of The Hague Convention.

Second: So-called voluntary labour, which consisted of
bringing a worker under pressure to sign a contract to work
in Germany.

Third: Conscription for compulsory labour.

Fourth: The forcing of war prisoners to work for the German
war production and their transformation in certain cases
into so-called free workers.

Fifth: The enrolling of certain foreign workers, notably
French (Alsatian, people of Lorraine) and Luxembourgers in
the German Labour Front.

All these procedures constitute crimes contrary to
International Law and in violation of Article 52 of The
Hague Convention.

These services requisitions were made under threat of death.
Voluntary labour recruiting was accompanied by individual
measures of constraint, obliging the workers of occupied
territories to sign contracts. The duration of these pseudo-
contracts was subsequently prolonged unilaterally and
illegally by the German authorities.

The failure of these measures of requisition or the
voluntary recruitment of labour led the German authorities
everywhere to have recourse to conscription. Hitler declared
on 19th August, 1942, in a conference on the Four Year Plan,
which was reported by the defendant Speer, that Germany "had
to proceed to forced recruiting if sufficient labour were
not obtained on a voluntary basis." On 7th November, 1943,
the defendant Jodl declared in the course of a speech given
in Munich before the Gauleiters:

   "In my opinion the time has come to take vigorous,
   resolute, and unscrupulous measures in Denmark, in
   Holland, in France and in Belgium in order to force
   thousands of idle men to carry out this most important
   work of fortification."

                                                  [Page 355]

Having accepted the principle of force, the Germans made use
of two complementary methods: legal constraint, consisting
of promulgating laws regulating obligatory labour; and
restraint in fact, consisting of taking necessary measures
to oblige workers under penalty of grave sanctions to
conform to the issued legislation.

The basis of the legislation on forced labour is the decree
of 22nd August, 1942, of the defendant Sauckel, who
formulated the charter of forced recruiting in all the
occupied countries.

In France, Sauckel got the so-called Government of Vichy to
publish the law of 4th September, 1942. This law effected
the freezing of all manpower in industries and anticipated
the possibility of a requisition of all Frenchmen who might
be employed in any work useful to the enemy. All Frenchmen
from 18 to 50 years of age, who did not have a job which
occupied them more than thirty hours a week, had to prove
that they were usefully employed to meet the needs of the
country. A decree of 19th September, 1942, and an enabling
directive of 24th September regulated the various provisions
of this announcement. The law of 4th September, 1942, had
been published by the so-called Government of Vichy,
following strong pressure exercised by the occupation
authorities. Specifically, Dr. Michel, Chief of the
Administrative Staff of the German Military Command in
France, wrote on 26th August, 1942, a threatening letter to
the Delegate General for Franco-German Economic Relations,
requesting him that the law be published.

In 1943, Sauckel obtained from the defacto authority a
directive under date of 2nd February, stipulating a census
of all male Frenchmen born between 1st January, 1912, and
31st December, 1921. He also obtained the passing of the law
of 16th February, establishing the Bureau of Compulsory
Labour for all young men from 20 to 22 years of age. On 9th
April, 1943, Gauleiter Sauckel requested the deportation of
120,000 workers for the month of May and another 100,000 for
the month of June. To accomplish this, the so-called
Government of Vichy proceeded to mobilise the entire
military conscription class of 1942. On 15th January, 1944,
Sauckel requested the defacto French authorities to deliver
one million men for the first six months of the year, and he
caused the adoption of the regulation designated as the law
of 1st February, 1944, which extended the possibility of
impressing all men from 16 to 60 years of age and women from
the age of 18 to 45 for forced labour.

Similar measures were taken in all occupied countries.

In Norway, the German authorities imposed on the so-called
Government of Quisling the publication of a law dated 3rd
February, 1943, which established the compulsory
registration of Norwegian citizens and prescribed their
forced enrolment. In Belgium and in Holland, the Bureau of
Compulsory Labour was organised directly by ordinances of
the occupying Power. In Belgium the ordinances were
promulgated by the military command, and in Holland by the
defendant Seyss-Inquart, who was Reich Commissar for the
occupied Netherland territories. In both of these countries
the development of a compulsory labour policy followed the
same pattern. Compulsory labour was at first required only
within the occupied territories. It was soon extended in
order to permit the deportation of workers to Germany. This
was achieved, in the case of Holland, by the ordinance of
28th February, 1941, and in Belgium by the ordinance of 6th
March, 1942, which established the principle of forced
labour. The principle of deportation was formulated in
Belgium by means of the ordinance of 6th October, 1942, and
in Holland by the ordinance of 23rd March, 1942.

In order to ensure the efficiency of these legal provisions,
brutal compulsion was exercised in all countries, numerous
round-ups in all large cities. For example, 50,000 persons
were arrested in Rotterdam on 10th and 11th November, 1944.

                                                  [Page 356]

Even more serious than the forced labour of civilian
population was the incorporation of labourers from occupied
countries in the service of the Reich. This incorporation
was not merely the conscription of labourers but meant, in
fact, the application of German legislation to the nationals
of occupied countries.

In the face of the patriotic resistance of the workers of
the different occupied countries, the important results
which the German Labour Office had anticipated were far from
being fulfilled. However, a large number of workers from the
occupied countries were forced to work for the German war

With regard to the Todt Organisation, the labourers who were
employed in the West in the construction of the Atlantic
Wall totalled 248,000 at the end of March, 1943. In the year
1942, 3,300,000 workers from occupied countries worked for
Germany in their own country. 300,000 of these were in
Norway, 249,000 in Holland, 650,000 in France. The number of
workers deported to Germany and coming from the occupied
territories in the West increased in 1942 to the figure of
131,000 Belgians, 135,000 Frenchmen, 154,000 Dutchmen. On
30th April, 1943, 1,293,000 workmen, of whom 269,000 were
women from the occupied territories in the West were working
for the German War Economy. On 7th July, 1944, Sauckel
stated that the number of workers deported to Germany during
these first six months of 1944 reached a total of 537,000,
of which 33,000 were Frenchmen. On 1st March, 1944, he
acknowledged during a conference, held by the Central Office
of the Four Year Plan, that there were in Germany, 5,000,000
foreign workers, of whom 200,000 were actually volunteers.

The report of the French Ministry for prisoners of war,
deportees and refugees, gives the figure of 715,000 for the
total number of men and women who had been deported.

It should be added that, contrary to International Law, the
workers who were transported to Germany had to work under
labour conditions and living conditions that were
incompatible with the most rudimentary regard for human
dignity. The defendant Sauckel has himself stated that
foreign workers, who could achieve substantial production
should be fed so that they could be exploited as completely
as possible with the minimum of expense, adding that they
should receive less food the moment their production began
to decrease, and that no concern should be given to the fate
of those whose production capacity no longer presented any
interest. Special reprisal camps were organised for those
who sought to avoid the compulsion imposed on them. An order
of 21st December, 1942, stipulated, that unwilling workers
should be sent, without trial, to such camps. In 1943,
Sauckel, during an inter-ministerial conference, stated that
the co-operation of the S.S. was essential to him in order
to fulfil the task with which he had been entrusted. Thus,
the crime of forced labour and of deportation gave rise to a
whole series of additional crimes, against persons.

The work required of war prisoners did not remain within the
legal limits authorised by International Law any more than
did that of the civilian labourers. National Socialist
Germany obliged prisoners of war to work for the German war
production, in violation of Articles 31 and 32 of the Geneva

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