The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/10/01

The working conditions of workers deported to Germany
provided the first evidence of the determination of the
defendants to exploit the human potential of the occupied
territories to the extreme limit of its strength.

First, I call the attention of the Tribunal to the working
hours imposed on foreign workers. The working hours were
legally set at 54 hours per week by Sauckel's decree of 22nd
August, 1942. Actually, most foreign workers were subjected
to still longer working hours. Rush work, which necessitated
overtime, was mostly assigned to foreign workers. It was not
unusual for the latter to be forced to work 11 hours a day -
that is, 66 hours a week - provided they had one day off per

For this purpose, I quote the report of the Minister for
Prisoners, Deportees and Refugees, Document U.K. 783, which
I submit as Exhibit RF 87:

   "Working Hours." I quote paragraph 2:
   The average number of working hours was 11 and sometimes
   13 a day in certain factories, e.g. Maschinenfabrik,
   Berlin 31. In Berlin-Spandau, the Alkett factory,
   imposed 10 1/4 hours' work on dayshift and 12 hours on
   nightshift. At Konigsberg, the caterpillar treads
   factory, Krupp, imposed 12 hours a day."

The work of foreign workers was remunerated by wages
identical with those of the German workers.

I call the attention of the Tribunal to the illusory
character of this equality. The policy of freezing wages was
a permanent element of the wage and price policy pursued by
the National Socialist Government; consequently, the wages
of the workers employed in Germany remained limited. They
were, moreover, heavily burdened with rates and taxes.
Finally, they were encroached upon by fines which the German
employers had the right to impose upon their workers. These
fines could reach the amount of the weekly wage for slight
breaches of discipline.

I submit in evidence Document D-182. These are two drafts of
speeches to foreign civilian workers. One of them is
intended for Russian and Polish

                                                  [Page 437]

workers. I leave this to be dealt with by my Soviet
colleagues. I submit the other to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF
88, and I quote:

   "Draft of an address to foreign civilian workers:
   Maintenance of Labour Discipline, January, 1944.
   I must inform you of the following:
   The increase in lack of punctuality and in absenteeism
   has caused the competent authorities to issue stricter
   regulations to ensure labour discipline, whereby the
   competence of the employers to impose penalties has been
   extended. Violations of labour discipline, such as
   repeated unpunctuality, being absent without cause or
   excuse, leaving a job without authorisation, will in
   future be punished by fines up to the average daily
   wage. In more serious cases - e.g., repeated absences
   without cause or excuse, or insubordination, fines up to
   the average weekly salary will be imposed. In such
   cases, moreover, the additional ration cards may be
   taken away for a period up to four weeks.... "

The precariousness of wages, which, after these various
cuts, were actually received by the foreign workers, did not
allow them to raise their standard of living in the places
to which they had been deported. I maintain that this
standard was insufficient, and that the attitude of the
Arbeitseinsatz in this matter constitutes a characteristic
violation of the elementary principles of the rights of man.
I will confirm this by submitting to the Tribunal proof of
the inadequacy of food and medical care to which the foreign
workers were entitled.

The German Propaganda Services issued, in France,
illustrated pamphlets in which the accommodation for foreign
workers were represented as being comfortable. It was quite
different in reality.

I will not dwell on this point. Mr. Dodd, my American
colleague, has already submitted and commented upon Document
D-288, an affidavit by Dr. Jaeger, chief medical officer in
charge of the working camps in the Krupp factories. I will
not read this document again to the Tribunal, but I would
like to repeat that in it Dr. Jaeger stated that French
prisoners of war working in the Krupp factories had been
billeted for more than half a year in kennels, urinals,
unused ovens; the kennels were three feet high, nine feet
long and six feet wide, and the men had to sleep there, five
in a kennel. I submit this document, in support of my
argument, as Exhibit RF 89.

Often to this unsanitary accommodation, inadequate food was
added. In this respect I wish to explain the following to
the Tribunal:

I do not claim that the foreign workers deported to Germany
were systematically exposed to starvation; but I do maintain
that the leading principle of National Socialism found its
expression in the food regulations for foreign workers. They
were decently fed only in so far as the "Manpower
Utilisation" wished to maintain or to increase their
capacity for work. They were put on a starvation diet the
moment when, for any reason whatsoever, their industrial
output diminished. They then entered that category of
unproductive forces, which National Socialism sought to

On 10th September, 1942, the defendant Sauckel declared, to
the First Congress of the Labour Administration of Greater
Germany: "Food and remuneration of foreign workers should be
in proportion to their output and their good will." He
developed this point of view in documents which I am
offering in evidence to the Tribunal.

I refer, in the first place, to the letter from Sauckel to
Rosenberg, which is Document 016-PS, and which I shall not
read since it has already been read to the Tribunal by my
American colleagues. I wish, however, to draw the Tribunal's
attention to the second paragraph, Page 20 of this document,
which concerns the work of prisoners of war and foreign

   "All these people must be fed, lodged and treated in
   such a way that they may be exploited to the maximum
   with a minimum of expense."

                                                  [Page 438]

I ask the Tribunal to remember this formula. The aim to
exploit the foreign manpower to the maximum at a minimum of
expense. It is the same concept which I find in a letter of
Sauckel of 14th March, 1943, addressed to all Gauleiter. It
is Document 633-PS, which I submit to the Tribunal as
Exhibit RF 90.

   "Subject: Treatment and Care of Foreign Labour.
   Not only our honour and reputation and, still more than
   that, our National Socialist ideology, which is opposed
   to the methods of plutocrats and Bolshevists, but also
   cool common sense in the first place demand proper
   treatment of foreign labour, including even Soviet-
   Russians. Slaves who are underfed, diseased, resentful,
   despairing and filled with hate, will never yield that
   maximum of output, which they might achieve under normal

I pass now to the next to the last paragraph:

   "But since we will need foreign labour for many years,
   and the possibility of replacing it is very limited, I
   cannot exploit them on a short-term policy nor can I
   waste their working capacity."

The criminal concept revealed by these documents is
particularly manifest in the establishment of the food
sanctions which were inflicted on the deported workers. I
refer to Document D-182, which I have just submitted as
Exhibit RF 88, and I remind the Tribunal that it provides
the possibility of inflicting on recalcitrant workers the
penalty of a partial suppression of food rations. Moreover,
the foreign workers, who were all the more exposed to
diseases and epidemics, since they were poorly lodged and
fed, did not enjoy proper medical care.

I submit in evidence a report made on 15th June, 1944, by
Dr. Fevrier, Head of the Health Service of the French
Delegation with the German Labour Front. It is Document 536.
I submit it as Exhibit RF 91, and I quote from Page 15 of
the French original, Page 13 of the German translation, the
last paragraph at Page 15 of the French original:

   "At Auschwitz, in a very fine camp of 2,000 workers, we
   find, going about free, tubercular people, who were
   recognised as such by the local German doctor of the
   Arbeitsamt, but this doctor, out of hostile
   indifference, neglects to repatriate them. I am now
   taking steps to obtain their repatriation.
   In Berlin, in a clean hospital, well lighted and
   ventilated, where the chief doctor, a German, makes the
   rounds only once in three weeks, and a female Russian
   doctor every morning distributes uniformly the same
   calming drops to every patient, I have seen a dozen
   tuberculars, three of them transformed prisoners. All of
   them except one have passed beyond the extreme limit at
   which treatment might still have had some chance of
   proving effective."

No statistics have been made of foreign workers who died
during their deportation. Professor Henri Desaille, Medical
Inspector General of the Labour Ministry, estimates that
25,000 French workers died in Germany during their
deportation. But not all of them died of diseases. To slow
extermination was added swift extermination in concentration

The disciplinary regime over the foreign workers was, in
fact, of a severity contrary to the rights of man. I have
already given some examples of penalties to which the
deported workers were exposed. There were still more. The
workers who were deemed recalcitrant by their supervisors
were sent to special reprisal camps, the "Straflager"; some
disappeared in political concentration camps.

I remind the Tribunal that I have already, indirectly,
proved this fact. In the course of my presentation I
submitted as Exhibit RF 44, the ordinance of Sauckel of 22nd
March, 1943, which extends the term of the labour contracts
by the length of time which the workers spent in prison or
in internment camps.

                                                  [Page 439]

I will not dwell on this point. Mr. Dodd, my American
colleague, has submitted to the Tribunal the documents which
prove the shipment of labour deportees to concentration
camps. For the rest, I take the liberty of referring the
Tribunal to the presentation which M. Dubost will deliver to
the Tribunal within a few days.

I emphasise, however, the significance of this persecution
of foreign workers. It completes the crime of their
deportation and renders proof of the coherence of the German
policy of extermination.

I have already reported to the Tribunal the events which
marked the civilian mobilisation of foreign workers for the
service of National Socialist Germany. I have shown how the
device of compulsory labour was inserted into the general
framework of the policy of German domination. I have
denounced the methods employed by the defendants to enforce
the recruitment of foreign manpower. I have emphasised the
importance of the deportations undertaken by the
Arbeitseinsatz, and I have recalled how the deported workers
were treated and ill-treated.

The policy of compulsory labour encompasses all the
infractions under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal:
Violation of international conventions, violation of the
rights of man and crimes against Common Law.

All the defendants bear official responsibility for these
infractions. It was the Reich Cabinet which set up the
principles of the policy of enforced recruitment; the High
Command of the German Armed Forces tried to carry them out
in the workshops of the Wehrmacht, the Navy, and the Air
Force; the civilian administration made use of it to support
the German War production.

I recall more particularly the guilt of certain of the
defendants: Goering, Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan,
co-ordinated the planning and the execution of the plans for
the recruitment of foreign workers. Keitel, Commander-in-
Chief of the Armed Forces, co-signatory of Hitler's decrees,
integrated compulsory labour with his manpower policy. Funk,
Reich Minister of Economics, and Speer, Minister of
Armament, based their programme of war production on
compulsory labour. Sauckel, finally, Plenipotentiary General
for the Utilisation of Manpower, proved to be the resolute
and fanatical agent - to use his own words - of the policy
of compulsory enrolment which, in Holland, was promoted and
carried out by Seyss-Inquart.

The Tribunal will appreciate their respective
responsibility; I demand the Tribunal to condemn the crime
of mobilisation of foreign workers. I ask the Tribunal to
restore the dignity of human labour which the defendants
have attempted to destroy.

M. GERTHOFER: Mr. President, your Honours. The French
Prosecution is in charge of that part of the Indictment
concerning the deeds charged to the defendants which were
perpetrated in the countries of Western Europe, as provided
for by Article 6 (b) of the Charter of 8th August, 1945.

This article provides for violations of the laws and customs
of war which concern, on the one hand persons, and on the
other hand, private and public property.

The part of the Indictment concerning persons - i.e., ill-
treatment inflicted on prisoners of war and on civilians,
torture, murder, deportation as well as devastations not
justified by military exigencies - were presented to you,
and will be presented to you by my colleagues. M. Delpech
and I will have the honour to present to you the pillage of
private and public property.

The Tribunal will have to be informed of the most and part
of the presentation of the French Prosecution. We shall
strive to present it as briefly as possible, to shorten the
quotation of the numerous documents submitted to the
Tribunal, and to avoid, whenever possible, statistical
material in order to bring only the principal facts to
light. Nevertheless, sometimes we will go into detail in

                                                  [Page 440]

that the Tribunal may appreciate certain characteristic
facts now charged to the defendants, facts which are
customarily designated as "economic looting."

Before approaching this subject, I should like to ask the
Tribunal's permission to express the sincere gratitude of
the Prosecutors of the Economic Section of the French
Delegation to their colleagues of the other Allied
Delegations, and particularly to those of the American
Section of the Economic Case, who have been kind enough to
put at our disposal a great number of German documents
discovered by the United States Army, and considerable
material means for their reproduction in a sufficient number
of copies.

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