The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. KUBUSCHOK, Continued: 

The defendant Speer was already at that time on bad terms
with Sauckel. The order issued to Speer in the minutes of
the Fuehrer conference, with reference to the control of the
French armament industry, gave him a pretext for the

                                                  [Page 250]

ment of blocked industries. For all practical purposes the
termination of labour commitments from France was thereby
achieved, just the opposite, therefore, of what the
prosecution would like to prove. Reference must be made in
this connection to Document 22-RF. There it is asserted that
owing to the Speer-Bichelonne agreement, labour, commitments
to Germany from October, 1943, onwards were one-tenth less
(compare Page 41 of my document book).

In weighing the question as to what extent this exonerates
the defendant, it is of no importance whether he acted in
such a way for reasons of expediency or because he
considered the other procedure as illegal. The only thing
that matters in this case is the result, which actually put
a practical stop to the transfer of workers to Germany, as
is evident from the document quoted, 22-RF.

It is finally clear from the Fuehrer minutes of 19th to 22nd
June, 1944 (Speer Exhibit 12, Page 19 of the Speer Document
Book), and from the testimony of Seyss-Inquart (11th June,
1946) that in spite of the loss of industry in the western
territories and the intention of other departments to bring
the unemployed workers to Germany, Speer succeeded in
maintaining his blocked industries, and thus the plan to
commit more foreign workers to Germany finally collapsed. In
the case of the defendant Speer we cannot say that it was
his duty to examine how far Sauckel's measures were
admissible from the point of view of International Law, and
this for the following reasons:

When he took over his post in the year 1942, the transfer of
foreign workers to Reich territory had already been in
operation for some time. Speer relied on the assumption that
the legal foundations for these measures had been examined
before their introduction. It was not his duty, in the eyes
of the law, to examine them independently; he could be sure
that the offices which handled the mobilization of labour
commitment had examined the legal basis of their activity.
During his years of office, the General Plenipotentiary for
the Employment of Labour had repeatedly confirmed the fact
that the transfer of workers to the Reich was carried out
strictly within legal limits. He could depend on it that the
authorities who were entrusted by the State with the tasks
of labour procurement would on their side examine the
measures they took in order to carry out these tasks, from
the point of view of their legal admissibility. The activity
of the defendant within the framework of the Government
could, if transferred to the sector of civil law, be
compared with that of the technical works manager of a
factory, and in this case Sauckel's position would
correspond to that of a director of the personnel office. In
such a case the technical works manager's duty is not to
examine if and to what extent the employment contracts
concluded with the individual workers conform to legal
regulations. He has only to see that the manpower he is
given to carry out his tasks is employed in the right place
and in the right manner. This cannot be countered with the
argument that the defendant Sauckel merely considered
himself as the deputy of the defendant Speer. This would not
present a fair picture of the way in which the different
tasks had been distributed between the two co-defendants by
the heads of the State. The fact cannot be overlooked that
of all the sectors of economy which sent in their requests
to the defendant Sauckel, those presented by the defendant
Speer were the most important for the conduct of the war and
therefore had priority over the others. This does not mean,
however, that it was Sauckel's duty to satisfy all the
demands of the department represented by Speer before all
the others. He did not do so, as can be seen from the
evidence, in particular from the testimonies of the
witnesses Schieber (Document Book II, Page 114) and Kehrl
(Document Book I, Page 106), and could not even do so, as
the demands of the other branches of economy, which were all
known as consuming agents, "Bedarfstrager," were very often
equally urgent, and the labour potential at hand was not
sufficient to fulfil all the demands to the same extent. Had
Sauckel not been more than a "deputy of Speer," a mere tool
who had only to carry out the instructions of Speer, the
profound differences between the two could never have come
into existence.

                                                  [Page 251]

It has been emphasized by the prosecution that the
appointment of the defendant Sauckel as Plenipotentiary for
the Employment of Labour was only made possible through the
intervention of the defendant Speer, and that this gave
reason to believe that Sauckel had been more or less a tool
of the defendant Speer or depended on him to a large extent.
This assumption does not correspond with the actual facts.

When he took over his office as Armament Minister, the
defendant Speer soon discovered that the supplying of
workers to plants had been carried out until then by the
Ministry of Labour, which could not cope with the demands
made on it. Within the field of work of the Ministry of
Labour, this activity represented only a small fraction of
its overall functions.

The defendant Speer declared, in the course of his
interrogation, that the Ministry of Labour could not
overcome sufficiently the obstructive tactics of the
different Gauleiter in their districts, because it was the
ambition of every Gauleiter to do everything within his
power to prevent the transfer of workers from his Gau to
another. The department of the Ministry of Labour, which was
organized on purely bureaucratic lines, did not seem to the
defendant Speer to be equal to its task, and the suggestion
was made to the State leadership that a Gauleiter should be
entrusted with this charge. When Speer's suggestion was
followed up by the request that a Gauleiter charged with the
procurement of labour should be put under him, it was not
granted by the State leadership because of other existing
competencies. The person proposed by Speer was also turned
down, and the defendant Sauckel was appointed instead. So
that in Speer's endeavours to create a Plenipotentiary for
the Employment of Labour the reasons involved were merely of
an organisational nature, with the purpose of overcoming the
above-mentioned opposition, which was directed against the
activity of the Labour Procurement Office in the Ministry of
Labour. But to draw from these facts the conclusion that the
defendant Speer was responsible for all the measures ordered
by the defendant Sauckel would be erroneous.

The fact that the defendant, as a member of the Central
Planning Board, participated in sessions at which the
problem of the procurement of labour was discussed, cannot
be used to support the claim of the prosecution. The
prosecution attempts to prove from the sessions of the
Central Planning Board that the defendant Speer played a
leading part in the procurement of labour from foreign
countries. In reply to this the following must be stated:
The prosecution has only submitted the text of the minutes
of a session, but not the decisions which were made on the
basis of this session. And yet it is exactly these that are
decisive. Since all the defendant Speer's reports, including
also the notes on the decisions of the Central Planning
Board, were placed by him at the disposal of the Allied
authorities, it would have been easy for the prosecution to
have presented such decisions, which would have shown the
decisive co-operation of the defendant in the procurement of
labour. But such conclusions do not exist and, therefore,
the fact that at the conferences of the Central Planning
Board questions of labour mobilisations were mentioned
should not lead to the conclusion that the Central Planning
Board had taken this point over in its sphere of activity.

The decree regarding the establishment of the Central
Planning Board is given under No. 42 in Exhibit Speer 7. The
scope of the Central Planning Board in labour questions is
clearly outlined, and it is stated that the procurement and
distribution of labour need not be included in the sphere of
competence of the Central Planning Board, as the new office
of the Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour has been
specially created for it. It is clear also from the
testimony that when the co-defendant Sauckel discussed
questions concerning the policy of labour commitment before
the Central Planning Board, he underlined sharply his
independence of the Central Planning Board, and stressed the
fact that when he made his decisions he was responsible only
to the Fuehrer in the last instance, and was independent of
the Central Planning Board. For this I refer to the

                                                  [Page 252]

of the witness Kehrl and the witness Schieber (Speer
Exhibits 36 and 37). This does not mean that no attempts
were made in the Central Planning Board to exert an
influence in the sphere of the General Plenipotentiary for
the Employment of Labour. These attempts, however, did not
have any results.

In principle we must take the stand that the responsibility
of the defendant Speer for the transportation of labour from
the occupied territories to the Reich cannot be deduced from
his activity within the Central Planning Board.

If the prosecution charges the defendant with the fact that
he knew that a great portion of the workers made available
to him by Sauckel had been brought to Germany against their
will and that he used these workers in the industry which
was under his control, this conclusion is open to legal
criticism. If and in so far as the removal of workers to the
Reich was a violation of International Law, this crime would
be limited at the most to the removal of workers to the
Reich. The fact that the persons removed into Reich
territory were assigned to work is, legally speaking, a new
fact to which the prosecution applies the concept of "slave

In this connection the following should be considered: By
reason of the Reich Service Law and the decree which
enforced it there existed for every German an obligation to
contribute his services to the war effort. Through the
Labour Office as the highest authority, the leaders of the
State could assign the labour of every State national to any
purpose they considered appropriate, and they did so.

Foreign workers who were removed to Germany likewise became
subject to this regulation. We on our part do not deny that
the Hague Convention on Land Warfare itself contains no
provision which would support the extension of compulsory
labour service from German nationals to the inhabitants of
the occupied territories. Since the Hague Convention on Land
Warfare reflects the influence of a different concept of
warfare, it is impossible that it should have taken into
consideration conditions produced by economic warfare. Yes,
it is not possible to answer in the affirmative the question
of whether the Hague Convention on Land Warfare finally and
definitely regulates all the powers of an occupation
authority. Such an answer is contradicted by the practice of
all the nations which participated in this war. But here too
we can resort to the above-mentioned concept of "national
emergency" to obtain a correct evaluation and appreciation
of the case. It should be admitted that the prosecution is
right in that this extension of liability to compulsory
labour can be justified from that point of view only.

If we accept the prosecution's contention that there is no
legal justification for the extension of liability to
compulsory labour to foreign nationals of occupied
territories, we are still obliged to check the extent to
which the defendant Speer has made himself guilty of the
employment of labour subject to such compulsion. In this
connection we may refer to what was said earlier about
deportation. That the defendant Speer, although he was not
responsible for this, still attempted to mitigate the living
conditions of these workers, and that he also took steps to
correct bad conditions - in so far as these came to his
attention - is shown by Exhibits 3, 4 and 5 of the Speer
Document Book (Pages 7, 8, 9 of the Speer Document Book).
Reference must also be made to the testimony of the
defendant himself, in direct examination as well as in cross-
examination, where he described his activity in that field.

Justice Jackson, the American Chief Prosecutor, when placing
before the defendant Speer during his cross-examination a
series of documents intended to demonstrate the bad
treatment of foreign workers by the firm of Krupp in Essen,
himself stated that he did not intend to hold the defendant
Speer responsible for such individual incidents.

The documents involved were Dr. Jager's affidavit - Document
288-D - discussed by Dr. Servatius; and a letter of the
Locomotive Manufacturing Department of the firm of Krupp,
dated February, 1942, shortly after the defendant

                                                  [Page 253]

Speer's appointment as Reich Minister. The conditions
described therein had caused Speer to intervene with Hitler
in March, 1942 (Speer Exhibit 3, Page 7 of the Speer
Document Book). A further document submitted - 321-D -
describes the conditions under which Russian workers came to
Essen in 1941, that is, before the defendant Speer took
office. Document 258-D, Exhibit USA 896, which was submitted
during cross-examination, as stated by Justice Jackson, was
not produced in order to incriminate the defendant, and may
therefore be passed over.

Further documents submitted all deal with incidents in the
Krupp Works. As far as he was able to do so, the defendant
explained all of them. These documents show that abuses of a
general nature, for which the firm of Krupp might be held
responsible, were caused by air bombardments and the
resulting demolition of living quarters. But even if the
incidents cited had actually occurred on the premises of
that firm - which the defence is not in a position to verify
- these incidents would not supply adequate ground for the
assumption that the conditions under which foreign labourers
worked in armament industries were the same everywhere. No
conclusions may be drawn as to a whole system simply by
selecting and investigating one firm. Only evidence showing
the general prevalence of such conditions would be relevant.

It is true that this activity of the defendant Speer would
not affect the criminal evaluation of his actions in
principle, but it would be of decisive import in
establishing the degree to which he participated.

When the defendant took office, the practice of employing
foreign workers and prisoners of war was already in
existence. Thus he cannot be considered as the originator of
this policy, which fact must also be taken into
consideration when passing judgement; for it appeared
impossible to depart from the established practice. The
employment of foreign workers in German economy was nothing
unusual. Many foreign labourers were employed in
agriculture, mining and surface and underground construction
in peace time as well.

During the war many foreign labourers from both East and
West had already been brought to Germany before the
defendant Speer took office, and only part of these belonged
to the sector under Speer's control.

In order to define the spheres of responsibility of the two
defendants Sauckel and Speer, it will be shown below how the
assignment and distribution of workers were handled in the
establishments last controlled by the defendant Speer.
Acting as organs of the Speer Ministry, commissions and
pools assigned certain production tasks to individual
establishments as part of the armament programme. The
factory then calculated the number of workers needed. This
was reported simultaneously to the Armament Command and to
the Labour Office, where the labour requirements of all
employers in need of workers were recorded. The Armament
Commands examined all requests received from plants under
their jurisdiction and passed them on to the Armament
Production Office. Labour requirements reported to the
Labour Offices were forwarded by these in turn to the Gau
Labour Offices. Armament Inspection Offices collected the
requests and forwarded them to the Speer Ministry, Labour
Mobilization Division. The Gau Labour Offices directed
applications which they received to the General Commissioner
for the Mobilization of Labour. It must be noted in this
connection that in 1942 the Speer Ministry controlled only
construction work and ground forces armament. Navy and air
armament made their requests for labour independently. In
the spring of 1943, Navy armament was assigned to the Speer
Ministry, and from that time on, labour requisitions for
this purpose were handled through the Labour Mobilization
Division. In the autumn of 1943 the rest of production was
added, while aircraft armament continued to handle its
requisitions independently through the General
Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour until August,

An account of these details is indispensable to disprove the
prosecution's assumption that Speer was the main beneficiary
of Sauckel's mobilization of

                                                  [Page 254]

labour. The fact that alongside of the Speer Ministry there
existed essential consuming agencies of equal importance,
as, for instance, the Wehrmacht Administration, the
Transport System and so forth, need be mentioned only
incidentally, but has also been, confirmed by the testimony
of witnesses. The General Plenipotentiary for the
Mobilization of Labour distributed the labour at his
disposal among the various consuming agencies and assigned
the required labour to the Gau Labour Office; who in turn
referred them to the local labour offices where workers were
assigned to individual establishments on the strength of
applications previously examined by the Armament Offices. An
exception to this cumbersome procedure was made .by the
introduction of the so-called "red-slip process" which was
used in the case of exceptionally urgent production
assignments (I refer to Page 120 of my document book). A
certain number of red slips were issued monthly by the
General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour and
placed at the disposal of the Armaments Ministry for
distribution by the latter to the plants under its
supervision through the industry's administrative agencies.
The plant itself then presented these red slips to the
Labour Office, which had to satisfy these "red-slip"
requests for workers regardless of the requirements of other
consuming agencies. Not until this had been done could
allocations be made to other establishments. General
requests for labour were involved in all instances. The
allocations were exclusively in the hands of labour
authorities directed by the defendant Sauckel, so that
neither the individual factory nor the offices of the
defendant Speer nor the defendant Speer himself had any
influence on the distribution. The question of whether
local, foreign or prisoner-of-war labour should be used to
satisfy requisitions was left for the Labour Authorities to
decide (Document Book, Pages 8 and 9).

In concluding the presentation of evidence, the prosecution
submitted the decree of 1st December, 1942 (Document 4006-
PS), issued jointly by Speer and Sauckel. The prosecution
contends that this document and the decree of 22nd June,
1944, submitted at the same time, furnish a basis for
appraisal of the power ratio between Speer and Sauckel. Some
comment on this is therefore appropriate.

The decree of 1st December, 1942, leaves no doubt that the
General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour was
authorized to examine requests for labour submitted to him
which came from the armaments industry. Thus, when a factory
asked for additional labourers in order to carry out the
production job assigned to it, the General Plenipotentiary
for the Mobilization of Labour reserved to himself the right
to examine the requests submitted with a view to determining
whether they were necessary. The intention was to make each
factory practise the greatest possible economy in the use of
labour within its own precincts. Another purpose of these
commissions was to determine the extent to which an
establishment might be able to release its own labour for
work in other plants, without prejudice to the task assigned
to it. It was the task of the Armaments Ministry and of the
agencies subordinate to it to determine the sequence of
priority of requests for labour received by establishments
under its jurisdiction. They also had to determine which of
the plants was in a position to release workers for other
plants manufacturing similar products for similar Wehrmacht
requirements. To give an example: The supply programme of a
plant manufacturing component parts for vehicles was
modified: then it was left to the Armaments Commands to
decide that the labour power thus set free should be
assigned to another factory in the same line of production.
In general, the allotment of labour remained in the hands of
the General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour.
The agencies of Speer's Ministry were merely concerned with
directing the labour already available in this economic
branch which had been procured and assigned to these
establishments by the General Plenipotentiary for the
Mobilization of Labour. The procurement of other labour
remained in the hands of the General Plenipotentiary for the
Mobilization of Labour; and the

                                                  [Page 255]

General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour
participated authoritatively in the examination of the
question as to what extent plants could release labour in
order to make it available to others. (The so-called combing-
out action.) The authority of the General Plenipotentiary
for the Employment of Labour was therefore not limited to
any extent through this mutual agreement between him and the
Reich Minister for Armament and War Production. His task,
now as before, was merely to procure labour for the plants;
he was even given a considerable amount of authority in
labour questions, to look over the armament plants under the
control of the defendant Speer, and to examine if and to
what extent these plants could release workers for other
plants. The decree of 22nd June, 1944, ordained that labour
which was already available was to be used in accordance
with the directives of the Central authorities or according
to the orders of the Chairman of the Armament Commission. It
must also be noted in this respect that it was not a matter
of using new labour which was unskilled in armament work and
which was still procured through the General Plenipotentiary
for the Employment of Labour, but solely of so-called
transfer actions from one armament plant to another.
Therefore the Sauckel agencies, in accordance with this
decree, could no longer check the demands for labour made by
the plants which were controlled by the Speer Ministry, if
the Chairman of the Armament Commission had recognized these
demands. This decree did not bring any change in the basic
distribution of authority, according to which the General
Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour had to procure
the required workers and to handle the whole allocation of
labour. If the agencies of the General Plenipotentiary
allocated labour in response to demands which had been
checked, then it was left to their judgement as to what type
of labour, whether native or foreign, etc., was to be
furnished: The authority of the agencies of the Minister for
Armament in questions of the commitment of labour was
limited to a large extent to the execution of so-called
transfer actions, i.e., the assignment of labour from one
armament plant to another. It would be wrong to try to
conclude from these decrees that there was a considerable
limitation of the authority of the General Plenipotentiary
for the Employment of Labour and a fundamental expansion of
authority on the side of Speer. It would be just as wrong to
conclude from this that the influence of the Armament
Ministry had been increased over other authorities of the
General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour.

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