The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Thirty-Seventh Day: Friday, January 18th, 1946
(Part 1 of 9)

[Page 383]



M. EDGAR FAURE: Mr. President, your Honours. At yesterday's session I explained to the Tribunal the principles of the provisions made by the Germans to ensure the seizure of raw materials and the control of finance in the occupied countries.

These provisions will be demonstrated by numerous documents, which will be presented to the Tribunal in the course of the presentation of the case on economic spoliation and forced labour. I shall not quote these documents at this moment since, as I pointed out yesterday, the purpose of my introduction is limited to the initial concepts of the Germans in these matters. I shall only cite one document which reveals the true intentions of the Germans in the very first period. This document bears our No. 3-bis, and I offer it in evidence to the Tribunal.

It particularly relates to Norway. It consists of a photostatic copy, certified and authenticated, of a minute of a conference held in Oslo, 21st November, 1940.

THE PRESIDENT: Where shall we find it?

M. FAURE: I have just filed this document with the Tribunal, and in the book which has just been given to you you will find the text of the extract which I am about to quote in French:

"Oslo, 21st November, 1940."
THE PRESIDENT: Are the documents in our books marked in any way?

M. FAURE: As there are only five documents in this book, we have not numbered them. This is the fourth document in the book.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it headed "Conference under the presidency of the Reich Commissar"?

M. FAURE: Yes, that is the one.

THE PRESIDENT: Dated at Oslo the something of November, 1940?

M. FAURE: That is the one, yes, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: One moment. When you file a document as an exhibit, it will be given a number, will it not?

M. FAURE: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: What will be the number of this one?

M. FAURE: No. RF-3-bis.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. What is the date? The date on mine is undecipherable.

M. FAURE: 21st November, 1940.


M. FAURE: This document is the minute of a meeting held in Oslo under the presidency of the Reich Commissar. I would point out to the Tribunal that we file this document as particularly significant, because Norway is a country which was occupied at a very early date by the Germans. The date of 21st November, 1940, which you see, refers to the very earliest period of the German occupation, and moreover, in the text of the conference, there is an allusion to the situation of the seven months preceding.

[Page 384]

You will find there exactly the psychology of the occupation as it existed in the period of April, 1940, to November, 1940, that is to say, at the same time as or even before the time when the Germans, while invading the other countries, made reassuring proclamations which I read to the Tribunal yesterday.

There were 40 personages present at the conference, among whom was the State Secretary, Dr. Landried, representing the Ministry of Reich Economy. The Reich Commissar expresses himself as follows:

"To-day's conference is the continuation of a conference which was held in Berlin. On this occasion I should like, first of all, to stress and state definitely that the collaboration between the Wehrmacht and the Reich Commissar is exemplary. I must protest against the notion that the Wehrmacht carried out its financial task in a confused and irresponsible manner. We must also take into account the particular circumstances which were present in Norway and which are still partially present. Certain tasks were fixed by the Fuehrer which were to be carried out within a given time.

At the time of the Berlin conference, the following points were fixed, which we can take as a guide for the conference of to-day. There is no doubt that the country of Norway has been utilised for the execution of the tasks of the Wehrmacht during the last seven months to such an extent that a further draining of the country without some compensation is no longer possible, if we wish to accomplish the future tasks of the Wehrmacht.

I considered from the beginning that my obvious duty as Reich Commissar lay, first of all, in mobilising all the economic and material forces of the country to serve the cause of the Wehrmacht and not relying on the resources of the Reich, as long as I am in a position to organise the same resources in the country."

I will stop quoting the words of the Reich Commissar at this point, and I shall now cite the terms of the reply of Dr. Landfried, which you will find a little lower down in the document:
"I am very grateful to be able to state that we have succeeded here in Norway in mobilising the economic forces of this country for German needs, and to an extent which it was not possible to attain in all the other occupied countries. I give you my cordial thanks in the name of the Minister of Economy. You have succeeded in getting the Norwegians to make the utmost effort."
I think the Tribunal will have observed the series of expressions which are used in this document and which are quite characteristic. The Reich Commissar says, "From the very beginning, my duty is to mobilise all the economic and material forces of the country for the cause of the Wehrmacht," and Dr. Landfried says, "We succeeded in mobilising the economic forces to an extent which Was not possible to attain in all the other occupied territories."

Thus, we see that Dr. Landfried does not say that the Germans had, in Norway, a particular concept of occupation and that in the other countries they used a different procedure. He says that it was not possible to do as well in the other countries. The only limitation he recognises is a limit of fact and opportunity, which will soon be overcome, but in no wise any limitation of law. The idea of a legal limitation never enters his mind, any more than it enters the mind of any of the 40 personages present.

There is no question here of an opinion or initiative of a regional administrative authority, but rather of the official doctrine of the Reich Cabinet and the High Command, since 40 high officials were present at this conference, and especially the representative of the Minister for Economy.

I should like to stress, at this point, that this German doctrine and these German methods for the mobilisation of the resources of the occupied countries necessarily extend to the labour of the inhabitants.

[Page 385]

I said yesterday that the Germans ensured for themselves, from the very beginning, the two keys of production. By that very fact they had within their power the capital, which was labour. It depended on their decision whether labour worked or should not work, whether there should or should not be unemployment. This explains why, in a general way, the Germans took brutal measures, such as displacement and the mobilisation of workers, only after a certain time.

In the first period, that is to say as long as there existed in the occupied countries stocks and raw materials, it was more in the interests of the Germans to utilise labour locally, at least to a large extent. This labour permitted them to produce for their benefit, with the wealth of these countries, finished products which they seized. Thus, besides the ethical advantage of safeguarding appearances, they avoided the initial transportation of raw materials. The considerations or difficulties of transportation were always very important in the German war economy.

But when after a time - which was more or less long - the occupied countries were impoverished in their raw materials and truly ruined, at that moment the Germans no longer had any interest in permitting labour to work there. They would have had to furnish the raw materials themselves, and consequently that would have involved double transportation, that of raw material in one direction and that of the finished products in the other direction. At that moment it became more advantageous for them to export workmen. This consideration coincided, moreover, with the needs resulting from the economic situation of Germany at that time and with political considerations.

On the question of employment of labour, I shall read to the Tribunal a few sentences of a document which I offer as Exhibit RF-4. It is the same document from which I have just read and in the same document book. The note which you will find in the document book contains the sentence which concerns articles which appeared in the newspaper "Pariser Zeitung" on 17th July, 1942. I offer at the same time to the Tribunal a photostatic copy, which has been authenticated, of the page of the newspaper, from the collection in the Bibliotheque Nationale. This article is signed by Dr. Michel, who was the Chief of the Economic Administration in France. Its title is "Two Years of Directed Economy in France." It concerns an article written for the purpose of German propaganda since it appeared in a German newspaper which was published in Paris with one page in French. Naturally I wish to point out to the Tribunal that we shall in no way accept all the ideas which are presented in this article, but we should like to stress several sentences of Dr. Michel's as revealing the same sort of procedure about which I spoke a short time ago, which consisted of utilising labour first on the spot, as long as there was raw material, and then deporting this labour to Germany.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you given the exhibit a number?

M. FAURE: No. 4. I quote:

"The third phase is characterised by the transfer of orders from the Reich to France, in order to utilise the productive forces of French industry."
THE PRESIDENT: You were reading from "Afin D'utiliser," weren't you?

M. FAURE: Yes, "Afin D'utiliser."

THE PRESIDENT: Very well; I understand. You read another sentence, other than that which is set out in this book.

M. FAURE: Yes, it is a mistake in my brief. The first phrase is of no importance. I begin at:

"In order to utilise the productive forces of French industry, the Reich began by transferring to France its orders for industrial articles which were of use to the war effort. One figure alone is adequate to show the success of the transfer of German orders: The value of the transactions made till

[Page 386]

to-day are expressed by a figure exceeding hundreds of billions of francs. A new blood circulates, flows in the veins of French economy, which works to the very limit of its capacities."
Some sentences which were in the original were omitted here, as they are not of interest, and I would like to read the following one:
"When the stocks of raw materials tended to diminish as the war was prolonged, they began to hire available French labour."
Dr. Michel uses here very elegant formulas which cover the real intent, that is to say, the start of the transfer of women at the very moment when raw material, which the Germans had appropriated from the beginning of occupation, had begun to be exhausted.

The conclusion which I would now like to give to my presentation is the following: that the Germans have always considered labour, human labour, as a tool in their service. This consideration existed even before the official imposition of forced, or compulsory, labour, of which we will speak to you presently.

For Germans, the work of others has always been compulsory and for their profit; on the other hand, I should like to mention now that it was their intention that it should continue to be so even after the end of the war.

This is the last point that I would like to emphasise, but it shows the amplitude and the seriousness of the German conception and of the German projects. I shall quote in relation to this a document, which will be Exhibit RF-5 in our document book. Here is the document, which I file with the Tribunal, a work edited in French in Berlin in 1943, by Doctor Friedrich Didie, entitled " Workers for Europe." It is edited by the Central Publishing House of the National Socialist Party. It begins with a preface by the defendant Sauckel, and is stamped with his signature.

I shall cite to the Tribunal a paragraph from this work, which is the last page of my brief. This is Exhibit RF-5, and this paragraph is found on Page 23, I quote:

"A great percentage of foreign workers will remain on our territory, even after victory and after being readapted to construction work, will complete what the War had prevented them from finishing, and carry out those projects which up to now had been no more than projects."
Thus, in a propaganda work, written consequently with great prudence and with intention to mislead, we find nevertheless this main admission by the Germans that they intended to keep, even after the war, the workmen of other countries, in order to ensure the greatness of Germany, without any limitation in time or objective. This, therefore, amounts to a policy of perpetual exploitation.

If it please the Tribunal, my introduction having come to an end, M. Herzog will present the brief relating to forced labour.

M. HERZOG: Mr. President and your Honours.

The National Socialist doctrine, by the high place which it gives to the idea of the State, by the contempt in which it holds individuals and personal rights, contains a conception of work which agrees with the principles of its general philosophy.

Work is not, in this philosophy, one of the forms of the manifestation of individual personalities, it is a duty imposed by the community on its members.

"The relationship of labour, according to National Socialist ideas," a German writer has said, "is not merely a judicial relationship between the worker and his employer; it is a living phenomenon in which the worker becomes a cog in the National Socialist machine for collective production." The conception of compulsory labour is thus, for National Socialism, necessarily complementary to the conception of work itself.

Compulsory Labour Service was first of all imposed on the German people. German Labour Service was instituted by a law of 26th June, 1935, which

[Page 387]

bears Hitler's signature and that of the defendant Frick, Minister of the Interior. This law was published in the "Reichsgesetzblatt," Part I, Page 769. I submit it to the Tribunal as Document RF-6.

From 1939 the mobilisation of workers was added to the compulsory labour service. Decrees were promulgated to that effect by the defendant Goering in his capacity as Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan. I do not stress this point; it arises from the conspiracy entered into by the accused to commit their Crime against Peace, and of which my American colleagues have already informed the Tribunal. I merely point out that the mobilisation of workers was applicable to foreigners resident in German territory, because I find in this fact the proof that the principle of compulsory recruitment of foreign workers existed prior to the war. Far from being the spontaneous result of the needs of German war industry, the compulsory recruitment of foreign workers is the putting into practice of a concerted policy. I lay before the Tribunal a document which proves this. It is Document 382 of the French classification, which I offer as Exhibit RF 7. This is a memorandum of the High Command of the German Armies of 1st October, 1938; the memorandum, drawn up in anticipation of the invasion of Czechoslovakia, contains a classification of possible violations of International Law; the explanation which the High Command of the Armed Forces thinks it possible to give appears in connection with each violation. The document appears in the form of a list in four columns; in the first is a statement of the violations of International Law; the second gives a concrete example; the third contains the points of view of International Law on the one hand and, on the other hand, the conclusions which can be drawn from them; the fourth column is reserved for the explanation of the Propaganda Ministry.

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