The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/10/08

DR. SAUTER, Coninued:

The defendant Sauckel could with good reason refer to the
consequence of the counter-propaganda land of the
deteriorated war situation as causing the necessity for
using coercion; he could not, however, on the basis of the
evidence to which he had access, be convinced that the
exhaustion of the countries was so great that nothing more
could be extracted from them without the use of inhuman
methods. The defendant Sauckel believed he could obtain his
object, not by using violence but rather by creating special
working conditions.

As example, I refer to the promise which Sauckel himself
gave on 3rd May, 1943, in Riga, Document 2228-PS.

Apart from this there is still another field of labour
procurement which must be put in a different category. This
is the release of prisoners of war on condition that labour
forces be made available for Germany by "releve" or

The French governmental report RF 22 declares both methods
of recruiting labour forces as inadmissible. It is pointed
out in the report that the exchange on the basis of "releve"
is equal to the enslavement of about triple the number of
French workers. Against this it must be stated that the
replacement workers came only for half a year for voluntary
work and in succession. After a year and a half all the
workers were free; the prisoner was free immediately.

Coercion for the execution of the "releve" did not exist.
From a legal point of view it was not assailable. Captivity
can be terminated any time; release can also be made subject
to a condition. The French report exaggerated the moral
indignation in quoting a phrase of the President of the News
Agency of the United States; this phrase speaks of the
"abominable choice" of either to work for the hereditary
enemy or to rob a son of his country of the possibility of
release from captivity. To refute this, I refer to the
healthy sentiment according to which in the older Russian
literature such a change was praised as a patriotic and
magnanimous deed during the Northern War. Neither the King
of Sweden nor Peter the Great have therefore considered the
exchange as replacement by a substitute slave.

The "Erleichterte Statut" ("Transformation") is contained in
Document Sauckel 101. It is the release of a Frenchman from
captivity against the acceptance

                                                  [Page 116]

of other work under the condition that another French worker
comes to Germany according to the "releve" regulations.

No prisoner of war was forced to change his legal position,
but whole camps volunteered for it. If a prisoner made use
of the possibility offered, he forfeited thereby the
juridical special labour protection of the Geneva
Convention; but this was done in agreement with his
Government. This does not constitute a violation of
International Law.

The furlough home connected with the change-over was
discontinued because people who were granted these furloughs
did not return. The French report, Exhibit RF 22, itself
states on Page 69 that of the 8,000 people of one leave
convoy, 2,000 did not return. The report states that the
"unfortunate people" were confronted with the alternative:
"Either you return, or your brothers must die." This
consideration, however, did not impress them. Even their
promise did not prevent them from immediately joining the

The abolition of these furloughs home does not therefore
constitute an arbitrary act in slave labour. The reading of
the French report can only emphasize this view. It follows
therefore that, in this special field also, no seizure of
workers which violates the laws of war or which was carried
out in an inhuman manner has been effected by the defendant

I now come to the question: treatment of the workers.

In order to facilitate a proper judgement, a distinction
between the different bearers of responsibility must be made
here. The works manager was responsible for the general
labour conditions in the works. The general conditions of
life outside the works was the competence of the German
Labour Front.

These spheres of responsibility become conspicuous through
the fact that two special representatives for them are
mentioned in the Indictment, namely Krupp and Dr. Ley.

The defendant Sauckel can be held responsible for what
happened in these spheres only in so far as it was due to
his decrees, or if, contrary to his duty, he did not
intervene by direct supervision.

The defendant Sauckel was directly responsible for the
wages. When he tool office, he found a schedule of wages
which he could not alter on his own responsibility; to do
this he had to apply for the authorisation of his superior
office which was the Four-Year Plan and for the consent of
the competent Reich Minister The legal regulations summed up
in the chapter on wages of my Document Book FI show that the
basic decrees are not issued by the defendant Sauckel, but
by the Cabinet Council for the Defence of the Reich (see
Documents Sauckel Nos. 50, 17 and 58) or by the Reich
Minister of Economics (Document 51) and the Reich Minister
of Finance (Document Sauckel 52). The defendant Sauckel
could schedule wages and determine piece-wages only within
this framework fixed for him, and in so doing he had to
consider the interests of the Ministries in question.

So far as it was really possible for the defendant Sauckel
to do so, he introduce improvements; thus a series of his
decrees show that he granted privileges such as premiums,
compensatory payments and the like (compare Documents
Sauckel Nos. 54 and 58a).

The defendant Sauckel's activity, however, aims on the whole
at increasing wages by influencing the competent
authorities. This is shown in Document 021-PS of 2nd April,
1943. Therein we find as appendix a treatise with statistic
material on the proposition for g basic improvement of wages
for Eastern workers. From a study of the wage sheets
covering different periods, it is obvious that the wages of
Eastern workers were raised several times during defendant
Sauckel term of office.

It was for the defendant Sauckel to regulate the working
hours, but only within the framework of the superior
competence of the Reich Minister of Labour Seldte. This is
shown by Document Sauckel 67, where Seldte regulates the
working hours for Eastern workers in par. 3 of the decree of
25th January, 1944.

                                                  [Page 117]

The working hours were on principle the same as for the
German workers, corresponding to the tempo of the work in
the factories.

This is also admitted by the French Government report,
Document UK 78-3; the cases enumerated there on Page 580 of
excessive working hours were contrary to the orders of the
defendant Sauckel.

Since they do not specify the years, it cannot be
ascertained if they deal only with temporary measures or
with permanent conditions. The same lack of clarity exists
in the French report, Document RF 22m, Page 101; there the
minimum working time has been listed as 72 hours, which was
increased to 100 hours. This may be referring to the work of
concentration camp inmates, which has been left abstruse and

The working hours were then changed by Goebbels, who on the
strength of his plenipotentiary powers for the waging of
total war introduced the 10-hour day for Germans and
foreigners, although in practice this could not be carried
out generally. An unreasonably high working time cannot be
maintained and leads to setbacks. I should like to add that
Sauckel was responsible for the fact that these extra hours
were paid for, or compensated for, on the basis of overtime
work. Special attention has been paid by the prosecution to
the regulation of the working hours of female domestic
workers from the East, of whom, instead of the 400,000-
500,000 girls originally demanded by Hitler, only 13,000
came to Germany.

The prosecution has presented the memorandum for the
employment of these female domestic workers as Exhibit USSR
383. There it is stated under No. 9 that no demand for time
off can be made. The purpose of the regulation was to leave
the settlement of the time off to the household according to
its requirements. Any other interpretation of the regulation
is hardly imaginable, because after all it was intended to
permanently take these female domestic workers into the
families, and to give them the opportunity to remain in
Germany. They had been selected as girls who were considered
particularly dependable, and had reported voluntarily for
domestic work. In accordance with the general practice the
order was amended by a subsequent decree (Document Sauckel
26) simultaneously with the rescinding of all remaining

The regulation of the working hours for children came within
the scope of the German legislation on Protection of Labour.
In this case it deals with children who, contrary to the
decrees of the defendant Sauckel, had come to Germany with
their parents in an unregulated manner.

Their work could only be of an agricultural nature, as was
customary for German children too. With regard to this, it
is pointed out that during the war the schoolchildren in
Germany from their tenth year upward could be employed,
according to the decree of the Reich Youth Leader of 11th
April, 1942 (Document Sauckel 67a).

A summarising discussion by Dr. Blumensaat in the complete
Document Sauckel 89 gives the best information about the
whole question of wages and working hours, as it was finally
regulated by law.

This immediate responsibility alone, however, cannot serve
the defendant Sauckel as an excuse if he knew and tolerated
those things which, according to the prosecution's
assertion, branded with infamy the transport to and the life
in the camps and factories. It was his duty to superintend,
even there where he was not directly responsible. Such
sphere of activity as the accommodating and feeding of the
workers was the responsibility of the industries.

As regards the installations of the camps for foreigners,
the same regulations as for the camps for German workers
were applied by virtue of decrees of the competent Reich
Minister of Labour, Seldte (Documents Sauckel Nos. 42, 43
and 44).

It is indisputable that the accommodation suffered from war
exigencies, in particular from the effects of air warfare.
The abuses, however, were eliminated

                                                  [Page 118]

as far as possible. The condition of the foreign workers was
not different from that of the German civilian population.

The food supply suffered because of the blockade and the
damaged transportation system. The established rations,
contrary to the notorious statements on the feeding of the
Russians, amounted to 2,540 calories for the Soviet
prisoners of war according to the schedule of 24th November,
1941, in Exhibit USSR 117. A further schedule has been
submitted with the affidavit of the witness Hahn as Exhibit
Sauckel 11. According to this the ration in the Krupp works
amounted to 2,156 calories for the ordinary Eastern worker
and 2,615 calories for those doing heavy work. Supervision
ensured a careful distribution. The Reich Food Ministry was
responsible for the supply of food. Grave accusations have
been made by the prosecution with regard to both points.
These, however; are only justified if the existing
regulations were not observed. It is quite likely that
mistakes were made in this large sphere of activity in the
course of years, but the general picture is not only
composed of mistakes, and a judgement cannot be based
thereon. The actual conditions have not been clarified in
this procedure to the extent that one could say the abuses
were so general and obvious that the defendant Sauckel must
have known them or did know them.

Contrary to the uncertain statements of the witness Dr.
Jaeger is the affidavit of the witness Hahn which refutes
the former to a large extent. The affidavits of the
witnesses Dr. Scharmann and Dr. Voss (Exhibits Sauckel Nos.
17 and 18) confirm that no serious abuses existed in their
spheres of activity.

In addition to the obligation of the works managers, the
German Labour  Front had to care for the foreign workers
(Document Sauckel 16). Its tasks among others included
transport and the supervision of medical care, as well as
welfare in general. The extensive activity which this very
large organization developed has not been described in these
proceedings. The basic principles of the German Labour Front
can be seen from Document Sauckel 27, which is a regulation
of the German Labour Front regarding the status of foreign
workers in the plants. The aim is emphasized as follows:
Maintenance of the willingness to work by observing
conditions of contracts, absolutely fair treatment and
comprehensive care and attention.

The German Labour Front was also responsible for transport
according to Regulation No. 4 (Document Sauckel 15).
Sauckel's instructions are contained therein. This task
included transport to the places of work. The witnesses
Timm, Stothfang and Hildebrandt have testified about this
and did not report anything about bad conditions.

The descriptions in the Molotov Report (Exhibit USSR 51)
cannot refer to transports which were carried out under co-
ordinated direction, but only to so-called "wild" convoys.
The same applies to convoys, the destination of which,
according to the Indictment, was the concentration camps.
The amount of attention which the defendant Sauckel gave
from the very beginning to transport problems is
particularly shown by Document 2241-PS submitted by the
prosecution. It contains a decree in which careful
directives for the prevention of the utilization of
unsuitable trains are given.

Mistakes occurred, such as the incident mentioned in
Document 054-PS in connection with a return transport of
workers. These had been brought into the Reich before
Sauckel's time in violation of his basic principles. This
was an isolated incident, and the necessary steps were
immediately taken. The return journey of sick persons in
conditions which did not permit them to travel in convoys
was prohibited, and Bad Frankenhausen was placed at their
disposal. This was followed by the order specifying the
accompanying of such transports by male and female
assistants of the Red Cross (Document Sauckel 99).

The carefully and thoroughly organized system of medical.
care which worked under the collaboration of the Association
of Panel Doctors did not break down,

                                                  [Page 119]

in spite of the greatest difficulties, resulting in the
great achievement that no epidemics and serious diseases
broke out.

The cases presented by the prosecution from individual camps
of the 60 camps of the Krupp firm can only have arisen owing
to an unusual concatenation of circumstances. They cannot
prove that generally bad conditions, of which these examples
are typical, existed.

Another document, RF 91, has also been presented, i.e., the
medical report of Dr. Fevrier of the French Delegation of
the German Labour Front, which was compiled after the
beginning of the invasion on 15th June, 1944. Besides faults
which it is intended to correct, the report also points out
good things. It speaks, with particular acknowledgement to
leaders of youth camps, of the systematic X-ray
examinations, and of the support given by the district
administrations, and similar things. A real overall picture
of conditions could only be obtained by the study of the
medical reports of the Health Offices of the German Labour
Front established everywhere.

For the defence of the defendant Sauckel, may I say here
that being a distant onlooker he could not have a clear
picture of bad conditions. The sanctioning of such bad
conditions would have been in complete contrast to the
actions and declarations of Sauckel. The defendant Sauckel
did not acquiesce if a Gauleiter possibly said: "If somebody
has to freeze, then first of all the Russians." He
intervened here, and he stood up against it publicly in his
official Handbook of the Commitment of Labour (Document
Sauckel 19). The defendant Sauckel also tried to improve the
food even though this was outside of his competence. This
has been confirmed by several witnesses, amongst others the
witness Gotz (Exhibit Sauckel 10). It is also shown by the
record of the Central Planning Board (Document R 124, Page
1783). The defendant Sauckel did not let matters drift, but
he established his own personal staff, whose members
travelled around the camps and corrected bad conditions on
the spot. He also attempted to obtain clothing, and made
factories work to a large extent for supplying the Eastern
workers. All witnesses who have been heard regarding this
problem have again and again unanimously confirmed the
basically benevolent attitude of the defendant Sauckel.

I refer to the announcements and speeches of the defendant
Sauckel, which always advocate good treatment. I do not wish
to enumerate the documents in detail, and shall only mention
in particular the "Manifesto" on the commitment of labour,
Document Sauckel 84, in which he refers to his binding basic
principles, and demands that these be recalled constantly
and with emphasis. I also refer to the speeches to the
Presidents of the District Employment Offices of 24th
August, 1943 (Document Sauckel 86), and of 17th January,
1944 (Document Sauckel 88). The defendant Sauckel finally so
prevailed that even Himmler, Goebbels and Bormann
acknowledged his ideas as correct. This is shown by Document
205-PS of 5th May, 1943. This is a memorandum regarding the
general basic principles for the treatment of foreign
workers. There the basic principles of a regulated
commitment of labour are accepted.

How do the statements of the prosecution on the ill-
treatment of workers as though they were slaves correspond
with this? It will be necessary to examine closely whether
the cases referred to involve real abuses affecting workers
in the process of normal mobilization, or abuses involved in
the deportation of prisoners and in their work. Then one
should investigate exaggerations and distortions which can
be explained by human weakness and peculiarities. In my
opinion no adequate clarification of this subject has so far
been obtained, and reports in the Press have already begun
to appear which are bound to strengthen doubts as to the
traditional standard of living of foreign workers.

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