The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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I refer especially to his letters of 3rd March, 1942, and
15th May, 1942, which constitute Exhibits RF 39 and 40. I
read first to the Tribunal the letter of 15th May, which is
RF 40:

   "Paris, 15th May, 1942.
   Purpose: The Recruiting of French Labour for Germany.
   As the result of the conversations of 24th January,
   1942, and after repeated appeals, the first draft of
   declarations of the French Government concerning
   recruiting was presented on the 27th; on the German side
   it was accepted with slight modifications and in written
   form on 3rd March, on the condition that attention
   should be directed, at the time of its transmission to
   the organisational committees, to the fact that the
   French Government approved expressly the acceptance of
   labour in Germany.
   On 19th March it was recalled that a draft for a
   memorandum to the organisation committees should be
   submitted. The draft was afterwards submitted on 27th
   March. On the 30th March a proposal for modification was
   delivered to M. Terray, who should take it up with M.

I omit the two following paragraphs, and I will read the
last paragraph:

   "Although no reason appears which explains the
   unaccustomed and incomprehensible delay, the draft was
   not presented until this day. More than two months
   having passed since the first request for the
                                                  [Page 406]
   of the memorandum, it is requested that this document be
   edited anew and presented on 19th May.
   For the Military Commandant, Chief of the Administrative
   Signed: Michel."

The Tribunal undoubtedly has observed that Dr. Michel
demanded not only the circulation of a public declaration,
but also required that the text of this statement be
officially transmitted to the organisational committees. The
pressure which occupation authorities put upon French
industrial enterprises, to stimulate them to facilitate the
departure of their workers to Germany, was brought about in
fact through the medium of the organisational committees.
The German offices for labour acted directly upon the
organisational committees. They ordered conferences, in the
course of which they dictated their will to the leaders of
these committees. They also required that the organisational
committees be informed of all the measures which the French
authorities were led to take.

The committees might then be associated with these measures
in the interests of German policy. The correspondence of Dr.
Michel offers numerous examples of the constant efforts of
the German authorities to act upon the organisational

I have just offered an example of this to the Tribunal in
the document which I read. I now offer another one.

In 1941 the Germans requested especially that circulars,
especially the directive of 29th March, 1942, addressed to
the Prefects, regarding the recruiting of labourers for
Germany, should be officially transmitted to the
organisational committees. The occupation authorities
obtained satisfaction through a circular of 25th April,
which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 41.

But the terms of this circular did not receive the approval
of the German authorities, and on 28th May, 1941, Dr. Michel
protested in violent terms to the General Delegate for
Franco-German Economic Relations. This protest constitutes
Document 522 in the French Archives. I submit it to the
Tribunal as Exhibit RF 42, and I shall read:

   "Paris, 28th May, 1941.
   Purpose: Recruiting of Workers for Germany.
   Reference: Your letter No. 192 of 29th April, 1941.
   From your explanations I gather that even before my
   letter of the 23rd April was received, a circular for
   the organisational committees had been drafted and sent
   on 25th April.
   This circular, nevertheless, does not seem to me
   adequate to support, in an efficacious manner, the
   recruiting of workers carried out by Germany. That is
   why I consider that it is necessary that, in another
   directive, attention may be drawn to the points which
   were particularly mentioned by me on 23rd April, and
   request that you submit to me as soon as possible the
   appropriate draft.
   On the German side an impressive contribution toward the
   creating of a favourable atmosphere has been made by
   means of the intended release of an additional large
   number of prisoners of war, which was considered by you
   at the time of our conversation of 24th May as a
   necessary condition for the success of a reinforced
   recruiting of workers for Germany.
   I therefore am probably not wrong in expecting that you
   will send to the economic organisations a communication
   so designed that the attitude of waiting, maintained by
   French economy up to now, will develop also, in the
   field of the release of labour, into a constructive co-
   operation. I then expect that you will submit to me your
   proposals with all possible promptness."

                                                  [Page 407]

And, finally, the German Services placed direct pressure
upon the workers themselves.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you reading from the document now?

M. HERZOG: No. I am resuming the text of the brief.

Moral pressure at first, the "operation de la releve"
(prisoner exchange plan), tried in France in the Spring of
1942, is characteristic. The occupation authorities promised
to compensate for the sending of French workers to Germany
by a liberation of prisoners of war. The return of a
prisoner was to take place upon the departure of a worker.
This promise was fallacious, and reality was quite

I quote in this connection the report on compulsory labour
and the deportation of workers, which I submitted this
morning to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 42.

I quote Page 51, both in the French original and in the
German translation. In the French original it is the third
paragraph of Page 51 and in the German translation the first

   "If the Press, inspired by the occupying power, pretends
   in its commentaries to applaud the replacement plan of
   one prisoner for one worker, it is undoubtedly done upon
   order and based on calculation. Also this is the case,
   it seems, because until 20th June, 1942, two days before
   the speech cited before" - it was a speech of the chief
   of the de facto government of France - "it was indeed
   this proportion which the Germans Michel and Ritter had
   pretended to accept in their reports to the French
   administrative services.
   The proportion, in fact, of one to five, appears to have
   been a last minute surprise of which the Press never

Here I end my quotation.

The pressure of which foreign workers were the victims was
also a material pressure. I said that the fiction of
voluntary enrolment could not hold water in view of the
arrests. I wish to submit a document to the Tribunal which
furnished a characteristic example of the German mentality
and of the methods utilised by the National Socialist
administrations. This is a document which in the French
Archives is No. 527, which I submit to the Tribunal as
Exhibit RF 43. This is a letter from the delegate of the
Reich Labour Minister in the French department of Pas de
Calais. This official enjoins a young French workman to
depart for Germany as a free agent, under threat of
unfavourable consequences. I read the document; this is
Exhibit RF 43, third page:

   The 26th of March last, in Marquise, I ordered, you to
   go to work in Germany in your profession. You were to
   leave with the convoy of the 1st of April for Germany.
   You took no notice of this summons. I warn you that you
   must present yourself, furnished with your baggage, next
   Monday, 28th April, before 19.00 hours, at 51, Rue de la
   Pomme d'Or in Calais. I call your attention to the fact
   that you leave for Germany as a free worker, that you
   will work there under the same conditions, and that you
   will earn there the same wages as German workers.
   In the event of your not presenting yourself, I must
   tell you that unfavourable consequences may very well
   Delegate for the Labour Ministry of the Reich:
   Signed: Hannerann."

The proof of the constraint which the German authorities
exercised on the workers of the occupied territories, to
bring about their allegedly voluntary enrolment, may be
continued. The National Socialist authorities did not merely
impose labour contracts tainted with violence on foreign
workers. They themselves deliberately failed to honour these

                                                  [Page 408]

I find proof of this in the fact that they unilaterally
prolonged the duration of the enrolments made by foreign
workers. This proof is based on several documents. Some
ordinances were issued by the defendant Goering in his
capacity as Delegate for the Four Year Plan, others by the
defendant Sauckel.

I now call the attention of the Tribunal to an order of
Sauckel's, dated 22nd March, 1943, which I submit to the
Tribunal as Exhibit RF 44. It is an extract from the volume
of decrees, Vol. V, Page 203:

   "Extension of work contracts, fixed for a period of
   time, of foreign workers, who during the time of their
   contract have absented themselves from their work
   without proper excuse.
   The General Plenipotentiary for Employment of Labour
   decrees: 'The regular carrying out of the clauses of a
   contract for a fixed period of time, concluded by a
   foreign worker, necessitates that the worker should put
   all his energy at the disposal of the enterprise for the
   whole duration of the contract.
   Nevertheless, it happens that foreign workers, as the
   result of slackness, delay in their return to work from
   visits to their homes' - and I draw the Tribunal's
   attention to the following words - 'serving of prison
   terms, internment in a camp of correction ..."

THE PRESIDENT: Will you read that again?


   "The regular carrying out of the clauses of a contract
   for a fixed period of time concluded by a foreign
   worker, necessitates that the worker should put all his
   energy at the disposal of the enterprise for the whole
   duration of the contract. Nevertheless, it happens that
   foreign workers as a result of idleness, delay in their
   return to work from visits to their homes, serving of
   prison terms, internment in a camp of correction, or for
   other reasons, remain absent from their work without
   just cause, for a longer or shorter period of time. In
   such cases the foreign workers cannot be authorised to
   return to their country when the period of time, for
   which they agreed to work voluntarily in Germany, has
   Such a procedure would not correspond to the spirit of a
   work contract for a fixed period of time, whose object
   is not only the presence of the foreign worker, but also
   the work accomplished by him."

Kept by force in the German factories which they had entered
under force, the foreign workers were neither voluntary nor
free workers. The expose of the methods of German recruiting
will suffice to show the Tribunal the fictitious character
of the voluntary enrolment, on which it was supposed to be
based. The foreign workers who agreed to work in the
factories of the National Socialist war industry did not act
through free will. Their number, however, remained limited.
The workers of the occupied territories had the physical
courage, the ethical courage, to resist German pressure.
This is proved in an admission of the defendant Sauckel,
which I take from the minutes of the meeting of 3rd March,
1944, of the conference of the Four Year Plan.

This is from an extract which has already been read by my
American colleague, Mr. Dodd, so I will not read it again to
the Tribunal. I merely wish to recall that the defendant
Sauckel admitted that, out of five million foreign workers
who came to Germany, there were not even two hundred
thousand who came voluntarily. The resistance of the foreign
workers surprised the defendant Sauckel as much as it
irritated him. One day he expressed his surprise to a German
general, who replied:

   "Our difficulties come from the fact that you address
   yourself to patriots who do not share our ideals."

Indeed, only force could constrain the patriots of the
occupied territories to work on behalf of the enemy. The
National Socialist authorities resorted to force.

                                                  [Page 409]

The Germans had, from the first, the possibility of imposing
their policy of force on that kind of labour whose
particular status guaranteed recruitment and apparent
submission: the prisoners of war.

From 1940 on, the German military authorities organised
labour Commandos in prison camps. They constantly increased
the importance of these Commandos, who were put at the
disposal of agricultural economy and the war industry.

The importance of the work required from war prisoners is
substantiated by the Report on Forced Labour and the
Deportation of Workers which I have filed with the Tribunal
as Exhibit RF 22. We find on Page 68 of the French and
German texts the following estimates:

There were, at the end of 1942, 1,036,319 French prisoners
of war in Germany, 987,687 had been assigned to the work
Commandos. Only the surplus, that is, 48,632 prisoners,
remained unemployed.

The utilisation of prisoners of war in German factories does
not constitute a distinct phenomenon which can be
disassociated from the general plan for the recruiting of
foreign workers; it is, on the contrary, an integral part of
this plan.

The National Socialists have always considered that the
obligation to work applied as much to war prisoners as to
the civilian workers of the occupied territories. They have
on many occasions expressed such a belief. I refer
especially to two documents.

The first is the decree of the appointment of the defendant
Sauckel, which I have filed with the Tribunal at the
beginning of my explanatory remarks.

The second document to which I wish to draw the attention of
the Tribunal is the tenth decree of Sauckel, which I
submitted sometime ago as Exhibit RF 17. This decree
formulates the principle of the obligation to work and
applies to war prisoners, according to the terms of its
Article 8.

Finally, Sauckel had, in another document, affirmed that the
prisoners of war were to be subject to work to the same
degree as civilian workers. This is found in the letter
which he wrote to the defendant Rosenberg on 24th April,
1942, some days after his appointment, to explain his
project to the latter. This is Document 016-PS, which my
American colleague, Mr. Dodd, has already submitted to the
Tribunal. I present it as Exhibit RF 45. I shall not read
from it, but I call to mind that on Page 11 of the German
text the problem of compulsory labour is treated in the
general heading, entitled: "Prisoners of War and Foreign

These documents bring a double proof to the Tribunal. First
of all, they reveal the willingness of the National
Socialists to force prisoners to work on behalf of the
German war economy, within the general frame of their
recruiting policy. In the second place, these documents
establish that the utilisation of prisoners of war was not
undertaken only by military authorities; this utilisation
was ordered and systematised by a civilian organisation,
that of the Arbeitseinsatz. As well as the responsibility of
the defendants Sauckel and Keitel, it entails also that of
the German leaders who conducted the labour policy: the
defendant Sauckel, the defendant Speer, and the defendant

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