The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter X
The Special Responsibility of Speer
(Part 1 of 2)

The use of prisoners of war in the manufacture of arms and munitions, allocated thereto by Sauckel, was confirmed by Speer. Speer stated in an interrogation under oath on 18 October 1945 that 40% of all prisoners of war were employed in the production of weapons and munitions and in subsidiary industries:

"*** A. In the last phase of production, that is, in the year 1944 when everything collapsed, I had 40% of all

[Page 934]

prisoners of war employed in the production. I wanted to have this percentage increased.

"Q. And when you say employed in the production, you mean in these subsidiary industries that you have discussed and also in the production of weapons and munitions, is that right ?

"A. Yes. That is the total extent of my task." (3720-PS)

The minutes of the 36th Meeting of the Central Planning Board, of 22 April 1943, report Speer's statement that:

"*** 90,000 Russian prisoners of war employed in the whole of the armament industry are for the greatest part skilled men." (R-124)

Speer actively participated in the planning and execution of the vast program of forcible deportation and enslavement of the citizens of the occupied countries. As Reich Minister of Armaments and Munitions and Chief of the Organization Todt, both of which positions he acquired on 15 February 1942, and by virtue of his later acquisition of control over the armament offices of the Army, Navy and Airforce and the production offices of the Ministry of Economics, Speer was responsible for the entire war production of the Reich, as well as for the construction of fortifications and installations for the Wehrmacht. Proof of the positions held by Speer is supplied by his signed statement. (2980-PS)

The industries under Speer's control were the most important users of manpower in Germany. According to Sauckel, Speer's labor requirements received unconditional priority over all other demands for labor. In an interrogation under oath on 22 September 1945, Sauckel stated:

"The others I only got whatever was left. Because Speer told me once in the presence of the Fuehrer that I am here to work for Speer and that mainly I am his man." (3721-PS)

Speer has admitted under oath that he participated in the discussions during which the decision to use foreign forced labor was made, that he concurred in the decision, and that it was the basis for the program of bringing foreign workers into Germany by compulsion. The transcript of the interrogation under oath of Speer, on 18 October 1945, contains the following colloquy:

"Q. But is it clear to you Mr. Speer, that in 1942 when the decisions were being taken concerning the use of forced foreign labor that you participated in the discussions yourself?

"A. Yes.

"Q. So that I take it that the execution of the program of

[Page 935]

bringing foreign workers into Germany by compulsion under Sauckel was based on earlier decisions that had been taken with your agreement?

"A. Yes, but I must point out that only a very small part of the manpower that Sauckel brought into Germany was made available to me; a far larger part of it was allocated to other departments that demanded them." (720-PS)

This admission is confirmed by minutes of Speer's conferences with Hitler on 10, 11, and 12 August 1942 (R- 124). In these meetings Speer related the outcome of negotiations concerning the forcible recruitment of a million Russian laborers for the German armaments industry, and stated that Hitler would agree to any necessary compulsion.

The use of force was again discussed by Hitler and Speer on 4 January 1943. It was decided that stronger measures were to be used to accelerate the conscription of French civilian workers. (556-13-PS).

Speer demanded foreign workers for the industries under his control and used these workers with the knowledge that they had been deported by force and were being compelled to work. Speer has stated under oath, in an interrogation on 18 October 1945 that:

"I do not wish to give the impression that I want to deny the fact that I demanded manpower and foreign manpower from Sauckel very energetically." (3720-PS)

Speer also admitted, in the course of the same interrogation, that he knew he was obtaining foreign labor, a large part of which was forced labor:

"Q. So that during the period when you were asking for labor, it seems clear, does it not, that you knew that you were obtaining foreign labor as well- as domestic labor in response to your requests and that a large part of the foreign labor was forced labor.

"A. Yes.

"Q. So that, simply by way of illustration, suppose that on 1 January 1944 you required 50,000 workers for a given purpose, would you put in a requisition for 50,000 workers, knowing that in that 50,000 there would be forced foreign workers ?

"A. Yes." (720-PS)

Speer has furthermore stated under oath that he knew at least as early as September 1942 that workers from the Ukraine were being forcibly deported for labor in Germany. He also knew that the great majority of the workers of the Western occupied

[Page 936]

countries were slave laborers forced against their will to come to Germany. These facts are revealed in his interrogation under oath on 18 October 1945:

"Q. When did you first find out then that some of the manpower from the Ukraine was not coming voluntarily?

"A. It is rather difficult to answer this here, that is, to name a certain date to you. However, it is certain that I knew that at some particular point of time that the manpower from the Ukraine did not come voluntarily.

"Q. And does that apply also to the manpower from other occupied countries, that is, did there come a time when you knew that they were not coming voluntarily?

"A. Yes.

"Q. When, in general, would you say that time was, without placing a particular month of the year?

"A. As far as the Ukraine situation goes, I believe that they did not come voluntarily any more after a few months, because immense mistakes were made in their treatment by us. I should say offhand that this time was either in July, August or September of 1942.


"Q. But many workers did come from the West, did they not, to Germany?

"A. Yes.

"Q. That means then that the great majority of the workers that came from the Western countries, the Western occupied countries, came against their will to Germany.

"A. Yes." (3720-PS)

This admission is borne out by other evidence. In April 1943 Speer was informed at a meeting of the Central Planning Board, that in all countries conscription for work in Germany could be carried out only with the active assistance of the police, and that the prevailing methods of recruitment had provoked such violence that many German recruiting agents had been killed (R-124). Again, at a meeting with Hitler to discuss overall manpower requirements for 1944, Speer was informed by Sauckel that labor requirements for the German war economy (including Speer's requirements of 1,300,000 additional laborers) could be met only if German enforcement agents were furnished to carry out the enslavement program in the occupied countries. (1292-PS)

Notwithstanding his knowledge that foreign workers were being conscripted and deported for use as slave laborers in Germany, Speer formulated requirements for the foreign workers and requested their allocation to industries subject to his control.

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