The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter X
Use of Slave Labor in German War Industries
(Part 1 of 2)

[Page 909]

The primary purpose of the slave labor program was to compel the people of the occupied countries to work for the German war economy. The decree appointing Sauckel Plenipotentiary- General for Manpower declares the purpose of the appointment to be to facilitate acquisition of the manpower required for German war industries, and in particular the armaments industry, by centralizing under Sauckel responsibility for the recruitment and allocation of foreign labor and prisoners of war in these industries (1666-PS). This decree, signed by Hitler, Lammers and Keitel, and dated 21 March 1942, provides:

"In order to secure the manpower requisite for the war industries as a whole, and particularly for armaments, it is necessary that the utilization of all available manpower, including that of workers recruited (angeworbenen) abroad and of prisoners of war, should be subject to a uniform control, directed in a manner appropriate to the requirements of war industry, and further that all still incompletely utilized manpower in the Greater German Reich, including the Protectorate, and in the General Government and in the occupied territories should be mobilized.

"Reichsstatthalter and Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel will carry out this task within the framework of the Four Year Plan, as Plenipotentiary General, for the utilization of labor. In that capacity he will be directly responsible to the Commissioner for the Four Year Plan.

"Section III (Wages) and Section V (Utilization of labor) of the Reich Labor Ministry, together with their subordinate authorities, will be placed at the disposal of the Plenipotentiary General for the accomplishment of his task." (1666-PS)

Sauckel's success can be gauged from a letter he wrote to Hitler on 15 April 1943, containing a report on one year's activities: "1. After one year's activity as Plenipotentiary for the Direction of Labor, I can report that 3,638,056 new foreign workers were given to the German war economy from 1 April of last year to 31 March this year.

"2. The 3,638,056 are distributed amongst the following branches of the German war economy

Armament -- 1,568,801." (407-VI-PS)

[Page 910]

Further evidence of this use of enslaved foreign labor is found in a report of a meeting of the Central Planning Board on 16 February 1944, during which Field Marshal Milch stated:

"The armament industry employs foreign workmen to a large extent; according to the latest figures 40 percent." (R-124)

Moreover, according to tabulations of Speer's Ministry, as of 11 February 1944 approximately two million civilian foreign workers were employed directly in the manufacture of armaments and munitions (end products or components). (2520-PS)

Sauckel, Speer, and Keitel also succeeded in forcing foreign labor to construct military fortifications. Thus, citizens of France, Holland, and Belgium were compelled against their will to engage in the construction of the "Atlantic Wall". Hitler, in an order dated 8 September 1942, initialed by Keitel, decreed that:

"The extensive coastal fortifications which I have ordered to be erected in the area of Army Group West make it necessary that in the occupied territory all available workers should be committed and should give the fullest extent of their productive capacities. The previous allotment of domestic workers is insufficient. In order to increase it, I order the introduction of compulsory labor and the prohibition of changing the place of employment without permission of the authorities in the occupied territories. Furthermore, the distribution of food and clothing ration cards to those subject to labor draft should in the future depend on the possession of a certificate of employment. Refusal to accept an assigned job, as well as abandoning the place of work without the consent of the authorities in charge, will result in the withdrawal of the food and clothing ration cards. The GBA (Deputy General for Arbeitseinsatz) in agreement with the military commander as well as the Reich Commissar, will issue the corresponding decrees for execution." (556-2-PS)

Sauckel boasted to Hitler concerning the contribution of the forced labor program to the construction of the Atlantic Wall by Speer's Organization Todt (OT). In a letter to Hitler dated 17 May 1943, Sauckel wrote:

"*** In addition to the labor allotted to the total German economy by the Arbeitseinsatz since I took office, the Organization Todt was supplied with new labor continually. ***

"Thus, the Arbeitseinsatz has done everything to help make possible the completion of the Atlantic Wall." (407-VIII-PS)

Similarly, Russian civilians were forced into labor battalions

[Page 911]

and compelled to build fortifications to be used against their own countrymen. A memorandum of the Rosenberg Ministry states that:

"*** men and women in the theaters of operations have been and will be conscripted into labor battalions to be used in the construction of fortifications ***." (031-PS)

In addition, the Nazi conspirators compelled Prisoners of War to engage in operations of war against their own country and its Allies. At a meeting of the Central Planning Board held on 19 February 1943, attended by Speer, Sauckel, and Field Marshal Milch, the following conversation occurred:

"Sauckel: If any prisoners are taken, there, they will be needed.

"Milch: We have made a request for an order that a certain percentage of men in the antiaircraft artillery must be Russians. 50,000 will be taken altogether; 30,000 are already employed as gunners. This is an amusing thing that Russians must work the guns." (R-124)

(At this point a series of official German Army photographs were offered in evidence. The first one shows Russian Prisoners of War acting as ammunition bearers during the attack upon Tschudowo. The second group consists of a series of official German Army photographs taken in July and August 1941 showing Russian prisoners of war in Latvia and the Ukraine being compelled to load and unload ammunition trains and trucks and being required to stack ammunition.)

This use of prisoners of war was in flagrant disregard of the rules of international law, particularly Article 6 of the Regulations annexed to Hague Convention Number 4 of 1907, which provides that the tasks of prisoners of war shall have no connection with the operations of war.

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