The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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

[Page 937]

At another meeting of the Central Planning Board, Speer stated:

"Speer: Now, the labor problem in Germany. I believe it is still possible-to transfer some from the western territories. The Fuehrer stated only recently he wishes to dissolve these foreign volunteers as he had the impression that the army groups were carting around with them a lot of ballast. Therefore, if we cannot settle this matter ourselves, we shall have to call a meeting with the Fuehrer to clear up the coal situation. Keitel and Zeitzler will be invited to attend in order to determine the number of Russians from the rear army territories who can be sent to us. However, I see another possibility; we might organize another drive to screen out workers for the mines from the Russian Ps/W in the Reich But this possibility is none too promising." (R-124)

At another meeting of the Central Planning Board, Speer rejected a suggestion that labor for industries under his control be furnished from German sources instead of from foreign countries, for these reasons:

"Speer: We do it that way: Kehrl collects the demands for labor necessary to complete the coal-and-iron-plan and communicates the numbers to Sauckel. Probably there will be a conference at the Reich Marshal's in the next week, and an answer from Sauckel should have arrived by then. The question of recruitment for the armaments industry will be solved together with Weger.

"Kehrl: I wish to urge that the allotments to the mines should not be made dependent on the recruitment of men abroad. We were completely frustrated these last three months because this principle had been applied. We ended December with a deficit of 25,000 and we never get replacements. The number must be made up by men from Germany.

"Speer: No, nothing doing!" (R-124)

Speer also advocated terror and brutality as a means of maximizing production by slave laborers who worked in the industries under his control. In the course of a discussion concerning the supply and exploitation of labor, Speer stated:

"Speer: We must also discuss the slackers. Ley has ascertained that the sick list decreased to one fourth or one fifth in factories where doctors are on the staff who are examining the sick men. There is nothing to be said against SS and Police taking drastic steps and putting those known as slackers into concentration camps. There is no alternative. Let it happen several times and the news will soon go round." (R-124)

[Page 938]

Speer is also guilty of compelling Allied nationals and prisoners of war to engage not only in the production of armaments and munitions, but also in direct military operations, against their own country and its actively resisting allies. Speer, as Chief of the Organization Todt, is accountable for its policies which were in direct conflict with the laws of war. The Organization Todt, in violation of the laws of war, impressed allied nationals into its service. Proof of its activity is furnished by an International Labor Office Study of Exploitation of Foreign Labor by Germany:

"The methods used for the recruitment of foreign workers who were destined for employment in the Organization did not greatly differ from the methods used for the recruitment of foreigners for deportation to Germany. The main difference was that, since the principal activities of the Organization lay outside the frontiers of Germany, foreigners were not transported to Germany, but had either to work in their own country or in some other occupied territory.

"In the recruitment drives for foreign workers for the Organization methods of compulsion as well as methods of persuasion were used, the latter usually with very little result ***." (L-191)

Similar violations of the laws of warfare are disclosed in (407-VIII-PS).

As Chief of German war production, Speer sponsored and approved the use of prisoners of war in the production of armaments and munitions which were used against their own country and its actively resisting allies. This fact has been demonstrated by the evidence already discussed. To recapitulate:

1. After Speer assumed responsibility for armament production, his primary concern in his discussions with his co-conspirators was to secure a larger allocation of prisoners of war for his armament factories. In a meeting of the Central Planning Board on 22 April 1943, Speer complained that only 30% of the Russian prisoners of war were engaged in the armament industry. (R-124)

2. In an earlier speech, Speer stated that 10,000 prisoners of war were put at the disposal of the armaments industry upon his orders. (1435-PS)

3. Finally, Speer advocated returning escaped prisoners of war to factories as convicts. He said, at a meeting of the Central Planning Board:

"We have to come to an arrangement with the Reichsfuehrer SS as soon as possible so that prisoners of war he picks up

[Page 939]

are made available for our purposes. The Reichsfuehrer SS gets from 30 to 40,000 men per month. First of all they have to be divided up. From what classes do these people come, anyhow? There certainly is a certain percentage of miners among these people who are picked up. These few thousand men have to go to the mines automatically. Certainly, some educational work has to be done. The men should be put into the factories as convicts. But they have to return to the factories where they were before ***." (R-124)

Speer is also guilty of having approved and sponsored the program for using concentration camp labor in Nazi armament factories, which was part of the larger program of extermination through work. The proof of this activity may be summarized and supplemented as follows:

1. Speer proposed measures for the exploitation of the concentration camp labor in armament factories under his- jurisdiction. At a meeting with Hitler Speer proposed and Hitler agreed that armament production should not be established within concentration camps but that concentration camp labor should be made available to established armament factories. (R-124)

2. Speer, by arranging for the use of concentration camp laborers in factories under his control, created an increasing demand for such labor. This demand was filled in part by placing in concentration camps persons who would not ordinarily have been sent there. (1063-D-PS)

3. Speer participated in the exploitation of the victims of the Nazi program of extermination through work. He personally selected sites for subsidiary concentration camps which were established near factories in Upper Austria, and knew and approved of the general practice of locating concentration camps near industrial plants which they supplied with labor (Speer's interrogation under oath on 18 October 1945. (3720-PS)

Speer visited the concentration camp Mauthaussen and factories such as those of Krupp, where concentration camp labor was exploited under barbarous conditions. Despite personal and first-hand knowledge of these conditions, Speer continued to direct the use of concentration camp labor in factories under his jurisdiction. In Speer's interrogation under oath on 18 October 1945, he stated:

"Q. But, in general, the use of concentration camp labor was known to you and approved by you as a source of labor?

"A. Yes.

"Q. And you knew also, I take it, that among the inmates of the concentration camps there were both Germans and foreigners?

[Page 940]

"A. I didn't think about it at that time.

"Q. As a matter of fact you visited the Austrian concentration camp personally, did you not?"

"A. I didn't-well I was in Mauthaussen once but at that time I was not told just to what categories the inmates of the concentration camps belonged.

"Q. But in general everybody knew, did they not, that foreigners who were taken away by the Gestapo, or arrested by the Gestapo, as well as Germans, found their way into the concentration camps?

"A. Of course, yes. I didn't mean to imply anything like that."


"Q. Did you ever discuss, by the way, the requirements of Krupp for foreign labor?

"A. It is certain that it was reported to me what Krupp had in foreign workers.

"Q. Did you ever discuss it with any of the members of the Krupp first?

"A. I cannot say that exactly, but during the time of my activities I visited the Krupp factory more than once and it is certain that this was discussed, that is, the lack of manpower." (3720-PS)

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