The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/05

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, was this camp that you
are referring to a concentration camp?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Well, it was, as I understand it, a
prisoner-of-war and a labour camp. There were labour camps
and prisoner-of-war camps at Essen. I had not understood
that it was a concentration camp, but I admit the
distinction is a little thin at times.

This document reads:

  "I, the undersigned, Dr. Apolinary Gotowicki, a doctor in
  the Polish Army, was taken prisoner by the Germans on 3rd
  January, 1941, and remained as such until the entry of
  the Americans. I gave medical attention to the Russian,
  Polish and French prisoners of war who were forced to
  work in various places of Krupp's factories. I personally
  visited the Russian P.O.W. camp in the Raumstrasse in
  Essen, which contained about 1,800 men. There was a big
  hall in the camp which could accommodate about 200 men
  comfortably in which 300 to 400 men were crowded together
  in such a manner that proper medical treatment was not
  possible. The floor was cement and the palliasses on
  which the people slept were full of lice and bugs. Even
  on cold days the room was never heated, and it seemed to
  me as a doctor monstrous that human beings, should be
  forced to live in such conditions. It was impossible to
  keep the place clean because of the overcrowding of these
  men who had hardly room to move about normally. Every day
  at least ten
  
                                                   [Page 74]
  
  people were brought to me whose bodies were covered with
  bruises on account of the continual beatings with rubber
  tubes, steel switches or sticks.
  
  The people were often writhing with agony and it was
  impossible for me to give them even a little medical aid.
  In spite of the fact that I protested, made complaints
  and petitions, it was impossible for me to protect the
  people or see that they got a day off from work. It was
  hard for me to have to watch such suffering people being
  forced to do heavy work. I visited personally, at risk of
  danger to myself, gentlemen of the Krupp Administration
  as well as gentlemen from the Krupp Directorate to try to
  get help. It was strictly forbidden, as the camp was
  under the direction of the SS and Gestapo, and according
  to well-known directives, I had to keep silent, otherwise
  I could have been sent to a concentration camp. I have
  brought my own bread innumerable times to the camp in
  order to give it to the prisoners as far as it was
  possible, although bread was very scarce for me. From the
  beginning of 1941 conditions did not get better but
  worse. The food consisted of a watery soup which was
  dirty and sandy, and often the prisoners of war had to
  eat cabbage which was bad and stank. I saw people daily
  who, on account of hunger or ill-treatment, were slowly
  dying. Dead people often lay for two or three days on the
  beds until their bodies stank so badly that prisoners
  took them outside and buried them somewhere. The dishes
  out of which they ate were also used as toilets because
  they were too tired or too weak from hunger to get up and
  go outside. At 3 o'clock, they were wakened. The same
  dishes were then used to wash in and later for eating out
  of. This matter was generally known. In spite of this it
  was impossible for me to get even elementary help or
  facilities for getting rid of epidemics or for treating
  cases of illnesses or starvation. There was no proper
  medical aid for the prisoners. I never received any
  medical supplies myself. In 1941 I alone had to look
  after these people, but it is quite understandable that
  it was impossible for me, as the only doctor, to look
  after all of these people, and apart from that I had
  scarcely any medical supplies. I could not think what to
  do with the large numbers who came to me daily crying and
  complaining. I myself often collapsed and, in spite of
  this, I had to take everything upon myself and watch
  people perish and die. A report was never made as to how
  the prisoners of war died.
  
  I have seen with my own eyes the prisoners coming back
  from Krupp's and how they collapsed on the march and had
  to be wheeled back on barrows or carried by their
  comrades. It was in such a manner that the people came
  back to the camp. The work which they had to perform was
  very heavy and dangerous and many cases happened where
  people had cut their fingers, hands or legs. These
  accidents were very serious and the people came to me and
  asked for medical help. But it was not even possible for
  me to keep them from work for a day or two, although I
  had been to the Krupp directorate and asked for
  permission to do so. At the end of 1941, two people died
  daily, and in 1942 the deaths increased to three and
  four. I was under Dr. May and I was often successful in
  getting him to come to the camp to see the terrible
  conditions and listen to the complaints, but it was not
  possible for him to get medical aid from the Medical
  Department of the Wehrmacht or Krupp's, or to get better
  conditions, treatment or food.
  
  I was a witness during a conversation with some Russian
  women who told me personally that they were employed in
  Krupp's factory and that they were beaten daily in the
  most bestial manner. The food consisted of watery soup
  which was dirty and unfit for consumption; and its
  terrible smell could be noticed from a distance. The
  clothing of these people was ragged and torn and on their
  feet they had rags and wooden shoes. Their treatment, as
  far as I could make out, was the same as that of the
  prisoners of war.
  
  Beating was the order of the day. The conditions lasted
  for years, from the very beginning until the day the
  American troops entered. The people lived
  
                                                   [Page 75]
  
  under great fear and it was dangerous for them to
  describe to anyone anywhere the conditions which existed
  in their camps. The position was such that any discovered
  doing so, could be murdered with impunity by members of
  the guards, the SS or Gestapo. It was possible for me as
  a doctor to talk to these people; they trusted me and
  knew that I was a Pole, and would never betray them to
  anyone.
  
  (Signed) Dr. Apolinary Gotowicki."

BY MR. JUSTICE JACKSON

Q. Now, you have explained that some of these conditions
were due, in your judgement, to the fact that bombing took
place and the billets of the prisoners and workers were
destroyed.

A. That is true, but it does not mean that such conditions,
if they really existed, could be considered as general.

Q. I'm sorry. Would you please repeat your answer

A. That is true, but I should like to point out that the
conditions described in this affidavit cannot be considered
as general; apart from that, I do not believe that this
description is correct, but I cannot speak about these
things since you, will not expect me to be intimately
acquainted with what happened in the camps of the Krupp
plant.

Q. Well, in the first place, was it considered proper by you
to billet forced workers and prisoners of war so close to
military targets as these prisoners were?

A. I would rather not tell you here things which every
German has at heart. Military targets! The distinction
between military and other targets no longer existed, and
the camps, therefore, could not be near military targets.

Q. You would not consider the Krupp plants proper targets?

A. The camps were not in the Krupp works, they were near the
city of Essen. On principle, we did not construct camps near
the works which we expected would be bombed; and we did not
want the camps to be destroyed.

Q. Did you notice that one of the photographs in evidence
shows the plant - the camp directly against the works?

A. May I see it again, please?

(The photograph was shown to the defendant.)

A. Some large factory is recognizable in the background of
this photograph, but that does not alter my statement, that
in almost all cases we constructed the camps outside the
cities. I do not know why this particular instance is
different, and I cannot even say whether this is a camp or
just a barracks for changing clothes, or anything which had
to be near the camp. I still believe that these cupboards
were cupboards for clothes, and this is one of the many
barracks which were necessary so that the workers could
change clothes before and after their work. Any expert in
Germany can tell you that these are wardrobes and not some
special cupboards, because they are mass-produced articles;
this is also confirmed by the fact that there are air vents
at the top, for every wardrobe has these ventilation holes
at the top and bottom.

Q. As Production Minister, you were vitally interested in
reducing the sickness rate among workers, were you not?

A. I was interested in a high output of work, that is
obvious; and in addition, in special cases ...

Q. Well, special cases - Part of production is in all cases,
is it not, dependent upon the health of your labour force,
and is it not a fact, as a man engaged in production, that
the two greatest problems in manpower and production are the
health of the workers and rapid turnover, and that those
factors influence production?

A. These two factors troubled us, but not as extensively as
your words might suggest. Cases of sickness which, in my
opinion, were normal, accounted for a very small percentage
of loss in production. However, propaganda pamphlets

                                                   [Page 76]

dropped from aircraft were telling the workers to feign
illness, and detailed instructions were given to them on how
to do it. And to prevent that, the authorities concerned
introduced certain measures which I considered proper.

Q. What were those measures?

A. I cannot tell you in detail, because I myself did not
institute these penalties, nor did I have the power to do
so; but as far as I know, they were ordered by the
Plenipotentiary for Manpower Mobilization in collaboration
with the police or State authorities; but the jurisdiction
in this connection was with the authorities responsible for
legal action.

Q. Now, if you did not know what they were, how can you tell
us that you approved of them? We always get to this blank
wall that nobody knew what was being done. You knew that
they were at least penalties of great severity, did you not?

A. When I say that I approved, I am only expressing my wish
not to dodge my responsibility in this respect. But you must
understand that a minister of production, particularly in
view of the air attacks, had a tremendous task before him,
and that I could only take care of matters outside my own
field if some particularly important factor forced me to do
so. Otherwise, I was glad if I could finish my own work,
and, after all, my task was by no means a small one.

I think that if during the German air attacks on England you
had asked the British Minister of Munitions whether he
shared the worries of the Minister of Labour and whether he
was dealing with them, then he would with justification have
told you that he had something else to do at that time, that
he had to keep up his production and that he expected the
Minister of Labour to manage affairs in his sector; and no
one would have raised a direct accusation against the
British Minister of Munitions on that account.

Q. Well, production was your enterprise, and do you mean to
tell me that you did not have any records or reports on the
condition of the workers who were engaged in production,
which would tell you if there was anything wrong in the sick
rate or anything wrong in the general conditions of labour?

A. What I knew is contained in the reports of meetings of
the Central Planning Board; there you will get a picture of
what I was told. There were many other meetings but I cannot
remember in detail all I knew, because there were many
things outside my sphere of activity. Naturally, it is a
matter of course that anyone closely concerned with the
affairs of State will also hear of matters not immediately
connected with his own sphere, such as of unsatisfactory
conditions existing in other sectors; but one not having to
deal with these matters later on does not remember about
them in detail. You cannot expect that of me. But if you
have any particular matter in mind I shall be glad to give
you information on it if I can.

Q. All right; assume that these conditions had been called
to your attention and that they existed. With whom would you
have taken it up to have them corrected? What officer of the
Government?

A. Normally, a minister would send a document to the
Government authorities responsible for such conditions. I
must claim for myself that when I heard of such
deficiencies, I tried to remedy them by establishing direct
contact with the authority responsible, in some cases the
German Labour Front, where I had a liaison officer, or in
other cases my letter was transmitted to Sauckel through my
Office of Manpower Deployment. My practice in this respect
was that, if I did not receive a reply, I considered the
matter settled; for I could not in such a case pursue the
matter further and make additional inquiries whether it had
been dealt with or not.

Q. With Krupp's, then, you would not have taken it up? You
think they had no responsibility for these conditions?

A. During visits to Krupp's discussions certainly took place
on the conditions which generally existed for workers after
air attacks; this was a matter of great worry for us,
particularly with regard to Krupp's. I cannot remember ever
being

                                                   [Page 77]

told that foreign workers or prisoners of war employed at
the Krupp factories were in a particularly bad condition.
Temporarily they all lived under very primitive conditions;
German workers lived in cellars during those days, and six
or eight people were often quartered in a small cellar room.

Q. In a statement some time ago you said you had a certain
responsibility as a minister of the Government for the
conditions. I should like you
to explain what responsibility you referred to when you say
you assume a responsibility as a member of the Government.

A. Do you mean the declaration I made yesterday that I -

Q. Your common responsibility, what do you mean by your
common responsibility, along with others?

A. Oh, yes. In my opinion, a State functionary has two types
of responsibility. One is the responsibility for his own
sector and for that, of course, he is fully responsible. But
above that, I think that in decisive matters there is and
must be, among the leaders, a joint responsibility, for who
is to take responsibility for general developments if not
the close associates of the head of State?

This joint responsibility, however, can only be applied to
fundamental matters, it cannot be applied to details
connected with other ministries or other responsible
departments, for otherwise the entire discipline in the
life of the State would be quite confused, and no one would
ever know who is individually responsible in a particular
sphere. This individual responsibility in one's own sphere
must, at all events, be kept clear and distinct.

Q. Well, your point is, I take it, that you as a member of
the Government, and a leader during this period of time,
acknowledge a responsibility for its broad policies, but
not for all the details that occurred in their execution.
Is that a fair statement of your position?

A. Yes, indeed.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think that concludes the
cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the other prosecutors wish to
cross-examine?

BY GENERAL RAGINSKY:

Q. Defendant Speer, when you told your life story to the
Tribunal and answered the questions of Justice Jackson, I
think you omitted some substantial matters. I would like to
ask you a few questions.

A. I left out such points as I did not wish to contest,
since they are, at any rate, contained here in the
documents; I would have a tremendous task if I were to go
into all these points in detail.

Q. I would like to recall these points, and I would like to
ask you to answer them briefly.

Did I understand you correctly that, in addition to your
ministerial position, you were also the personal architect
of Hitler after the death of Professor Todt? Did you hold
this position?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you General Inspector of Roads?

A. Only after Dr. Todt's death.

Q. Yes, of course. Were you General Inspector of Waterpower
and Power Plants?

A. Yes.

Q. General Plenipotentiary for Building in the Central
Administration of the Four-Year Plan?

A. Yes.

Q. Director of the Todt Organization?

A. Yes.

Q. You were associated with the technological department of
the National Socialist Party? You were the leader of the
Union of National Socialist Technicians?

A. Yes.

                                                   [Page 78]

Q. And in addition to these posts, did you have any other
leading positions?

A. Oh, I had ten or twelve positions. I cannot give you a
list of them all now.

Q. Were you not one of the leaders of the Reich League of
Culture?

A. No, no, that is not correct. I cannot tell you for
certain, but I think I was a senator or something like that.

Q. Were you a member of the Committee of the Academy of
Culture? Were you a member of the Committee of the Academy
of Arts?

A. Yes, that also.

Q. I shall not mention the other posts you have held, in
order to shorten the cross-examination. Do you remember your
statements during the interrogation by Colonel Rosenblith on
14th November, 1945?

A. No, not in detail.

Q. I will remind you of one question, and will you tell me
whether or not your answer was put down correctly. It was
the question whether you acknowledged that in his book Mein
Kampf Hitler stated bluntly his aggressive plans for the
countries of the East and West and, in particular, for the
Soviet Union. You answered, "Yes, I acknowledge it." Do you
remember that?

A. Yes, that is perfectly possible.

Q. And do you confirm that now?

A. No.

Q. You do not confirm that now?

A. I must explain that at the time I was ashamed to say that
I had not read the whole of Mein Kampf. I thought that would
sound rather absurd.

Q. All right, we shall not waste time. You were ashamed to
admit that, or are you ashamed now? Let us go on to another
question.

A. Yes, I cheated at that time.

Q. You cheated at that time; maybe you are cheating now?

A. No.

Q. It does not matter. You worked on the staff of Hess, did
you not?

A. Yes.

Q. You worked with Ley?

A. Yes, in the Labour Front.

Q. Yes, the German Labour Front. You had a high rank in the
Nazi Party, as you stated here today; you said that today in
Court, did you not?

A. No, it was not a high rank; it did not in any way
correspond to the position which I occupied in the State.


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