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 2 of 9)

[M. HERZOG continues]

[Page 387]

I read the passage which deals with the forced labour of civilians and prisoners of war, which is found on Page 6 of the German original, Page 7 of the French translation, the document which is referred to in my document book as Exhibit RF-7.

I read at the bottom of Page 7 of the French translation:

"Compulsory use of prisoners of war and civilians for war work, construction of roads, digging trenches, munition work, transport."
Second column:
"Captured Czech soldiers and civilians are detailed to construct roads and to load munitions."
Third column:
"Article 31 of an agreement signed 27th July, 1929, concerning the treatment of prisoners of war engaged on work which is directly connected with the War to force them to do such work is in any case contrary to International Law; prisoners of war and civilians can be used on highway construction but not on munition work."
Last column:
"The use of such measures can be justified by the necessity of war or by the assertion that the enemy acted in the same way first."
The compulsory recruitment of foreign workers is thus in accordance with National Socialist doctrine, one of the elements of the policy of German domination. Hitler himself recognised this on several occasions. I quote in this connection his speech of 9th November, 1941, which was printed in the "Volkischer Beobachter" of 10th November, 1941, No. 314, Page 4, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 8. I read the extract of this speech, columns 1 and 2 and the first paragraph below, in the German original.

THE PRESIDENT: Exhibit RF 8, is it not?

M. HERZOG: Yes, your Honour.

"The territory which now works for us contains more than 250,000,000 men, but the territory in Europe which works indirectly for this struggle now includes more than 350,000,000.

[Page 388]

In so far as German territory is concerned, occupied territory, the domain which we have taken under our administration, it is certain that we shall succeed in harnessing the very last man to this work."
The recruitment of foreign workers thus proceeds in a systematic manner. It constitutes the putting into practice of the political principles applied to all the territories occupied by Germany. These principles, the concrete development of which in other departments of German criminal activity will be pointed out to you by my colleagues, are materially of two kinds: employment of all active forces of the occupied or dominated territories; extermination of all their non-productive forces.

These are the two justifications which the defendants have given for the establishment of the recruitment of foreign workers. There are many documents to this effect; I confine myself to the most explicit.

The justification for the recruitment of foreign workers, because of the necessity of associating the enslaved peoples with the German war effort, is primarily a result of the exposition of the motives of the decree of 21st March, 1942.

DR. STAHMER (Counsel for defendant Goering): Mr. President, I should like to point out that the translation into German is faulty. Whole sentences are omitted. This is apparently the result of the fact that the prosecutor is speaking too rapidly.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you go a little more slowly?


The justification for the recruitment of foreign workers, on account of the necessity for associating the enslaved peoples with the German war effort, is primarily a result of the exposition of the motives of the decree of 21st March, 1942, appointing the defendant Sauckel as plenipotentiary for the employment of labour. The decree was published in the "Reichsgesetzblatt," 1942, Part 1, Page 179. I submit it and will read its complete text to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 9.

"The decree of the Fuehrer concerning the creation of a plenipotentiary for the employment of labour, dated 21st March, 1942.

To assure to the whole of the war economy, and, in particular, the armament industry, necessary labour, it is important to establish a unified direction, which answers the needs of the war economy for the use of available labour, including hired foreigners and war prisoners, as well as the mobilisation of all labour still unemployed in the Greater German Reich, including the Protectorate as well as the Government General and the other occupied regions. This mission will be accomplished by Reichsstatthalter and Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel, in the capacity of general plenipotentiary for the employment of labour in the framework of the Four Year Plan. In this capacity he is directly responsible for the Four Year Plan."

I would like to point out here that the defendant Sauckel developed the same theme at the Congress of Gauleiter and Reichsleiter, held on 5th and 6th February, 1943, at Posen. He expressed himself in plain terms: he justified compulsory recruitment on the basis of National Socialist philosophy, and on the basis of the necessity of associating all the European peoples in the struggle carried on by Germany. His speech constitutes Document 1739-PS. I submit it as Exhibit RF 10, and I request the Court to accept the following passages in evidence against the defendant Sauckel. At first, Page 5 of the German text, fourth paragraph - this is found in the first page of the French translation:
"The unprecedented violence of the war has forced me to mobilise in the name of the Fuehrer a great number of foreigners for labour in the domain of the German war economy, and to force them to large-scale production.

[Page 389]

The purpose of this is to insure in the labour domain the material means required by war in the struggle for the preservation of the life and liberty, in the first place, of our people, and also for the preservation of our Western culture for those peoples who, in contrast to the parasitical Jews and plutocrats, lead a life of work and endeavour and are honest and strong.

Such is the enormous difference between, on the one hand, the work which was demanded at one period by the power and authority of the Jews in the Treaty of Versailles and the Dawes and Young Plans, work which took the form of slavery and tributary efforts, and, on the other' hand, the utilisation of labour which, in my capacity as a National Socialist, I have the honour to prefer and to carry out, and which represents a participation in the struggle by Germany for the liberty of Germany and for the liberty of friendly nations."

The compulsory recruitment of foreign workers did not have as its only object the maintenance of the level of German industrial production. There was also the conscious desire to weaken the human potential of the occupied countries.

The idea of extermination by work was familiar to the theorists of National Socialism and to the leaders of Germany; it constituted one of the bases of the policy of domination of the invaded territories. I lay before the Court the proof that the National Socialist conspirators envisaged the destruction by work of whole ethnical groups. A discussion which took place on 14th September, 1942, between Goebbels and Thierack is significant. It constitutes Document 682-PS, which I file with the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 11, from which I take the following passage:

"Concerning the extermination of the social elements, Doctor Goebbels is of the opinion that the following groups must be exterminated: Jews and Gypsies, without discrimination; Poles who have still to serve three or four years' sentence; Czechoslovakians and Germans who have been condemned to death or to penal servitude for life or have been placed in protective custody for life. The idea to exterminate them by work is best."
The idea of extermination by work was not applied to ethnical groups alone, the disappearance of which was desired by the defendants; it also led to the employment of foreign manual labour in the German war industry to the extreme limit of the individual's strength. I will revert to this aspect of the policy of forced labour when I lay before the Tribunal the treatment of foreign workers in Germany: the cruelties to which they were subjected sprang from this main conception of National Socialism, that the human forces of the occupied countries must be utilised to the limit of extermination, which is the final goal.

The defendants have not only admitted the principle of compulsory recruitment of foreign workers; they have followed a consistent policy of putting their principle into practice, applying it in the same concrete manner in the various occupied territories. To do this they resorted to identical methods of recruitment; they set up everywhere the same recruitment administration and promulgated the same orders.

In the first place, it was a question of urging the foreign workers to work in their own countries for the Army of Occupation and the services connected with it. The German military and civil authorities organised workyards in order to carry out on the spot work useful to their war policy. The workyards or shops of the Todt organisation, which, after the death of their founder, were under the direction of the defendant Speer, and those of the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine and the N.S.K.K. organisation, employed numerous foreign workers in all areas of Western Europe.

But the essential undertaking of the German labour services was the deportation of foreign workers to the munition factories of the Reich. The most

[Page 390]

varied means were used to this end. They were built up into a recruiting policy which can be analysed as follows:

In the beginning, this policy took on the cloak of legality. The use of labour took the form of requisition under the terms of Article 52 of the Appendix to the Fourth Hague Convention; it was also effected by means of voluntary recruitment of workers, to whom the German recruiting offices offered labour contracts.

I shall provide the Tribunal with proof that the labour requisitions effected by the National Socialist authorities were a deliberate misinterpretation of the letter and spirit of the international convention by virtue of which they were carried out. I shall show that the voluntary character of the recruitment of certain foreign workers was entirely fictitious; in reality their work contracts were made under the pressure which the occupation authorities brought to bear on their will.

The defendants lost no time in flinging aside their mask of legality. They compelled the prisoners of war to do work forbidden by international conventions. I shall show how the work of prisoners of war was incorporated in the general plan for the employment of labour from the occupied areas.

It was finally by force that the defendants brought to fruition their recruitment plans. They did not hesitate to resort to violent methods. Thus they established the compulsory labour service in the areas which they occupied. Sometimes they directly promulgated orders bearing the signature of military commanders or Reich Commissars; this is the case with Belgium and Holland. Sometimes they forced the de facto authorities themselves, whom they had set up in the occupied areas, to take legislative measures; this is particularly the case with France and Norway; sometimes they simply took direct action, that is, they transferred foreign workers to factories in Germany without providing a written order for this; this happened in Denmark. Finally in certain occupied areas where they began to carry out Germanisation, the defendants made the inhabitants of these territories a part of the labour service of the Reich. This was the case in the French provinces of Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin and Moselle, and in Luxembourg.

The policy of compulsory labour was asserted and systematised from the day when the defendant Sauckel was appointed General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour.

Member of the National Socialist Party since its formation, member of the Diet of Thuringia and member of the Reichstag, Obergruppenfuehrer of the criminal organisations S.S. and S.A., the defendant Sauckel was Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter of Thuringia. On 21st March, 1942, he was appointed General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour by a decree of the Fuehrer. This decree was countersigned by Lammers, in his capacity as Reich Minister and Chief of the Chancellery and by the defendant Keitel; the responsibility of these latter is confirmed by this countersignature. The defendant Keitel has associated himself, by appointing Sauckel, with the policy of compulsory labour, the principle and the method of which he has approved.

I have already read this decree nominating Sauckel to the Tribunal. I would remind you that it placed Sauckel, in his capacity as General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour, under the immediate orders of the Trustee for the Four Year Plan, the defendant Goering. The latter bears a direct responsibility in pursuing the plan for recruitment of compulsory labour. I shall produce numerous proofs of this. I ask the Tribunal to authorise me to produce, as first proof, the decree signed by the defendant Goering the day after the appointment of the defendant Sauckel. This decree, dated 27th March, 1942, was published in the "Reichsgesetzblatt," 1942, Part 1, Page 180. I file it with the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 12. Goering by this decree did away with all the administrative offices of the Four Year Plan which had been charged with the

[Page 391]

recruitment of labour, he transmitted their powers to Sauckel's department, thus confirming his appointment.

The powers of Sauckel between 1942 and 1944 were considerably reinforced by decrees of Hitler and Goering. These decrees gave full significance to the defendant Sauckel's title of Plenipotentiary. They gave him administrative autonomy and even legislative competency such as he could not aspire to, had he confined himself to executive tasks. The importance of the political part which he played during the last two years of the war increases in this measure the weight of the responsibility devolving upon him.

I would particularly draw the attention of the Tribunal to the decrees of the Fuehrer of 30th September, 1942, and of 14th March, 1943, and to the decree of the defendant Goering, of 25th May, 1942.

I will not read these decrees, which have been commented on by my American colleague, Mr. Dodd. I submit them in support of my contention.

I will first refer to the decree of the defendant Goering of 25th May, 1942. It was published in the "Reichsgesetzblatt," 1942, Part 1, Page 347. He delegates to Sauckel part of the powers relating to labour held by the Minister of Labour. I submit it to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 13.

Hitler's decree of 30th September, 1942, gave Sauckel considerable power over the civil and military authorities of the territories occupied by the German Armed Forces. It made it possible for the defendant to introduce into the staffs of the occupying authorities personal representatives, to whom he gave his orders directly. The decree is countersigned by Lammers and by the defendant Keitel, and this appears in the collection of the directive decrees of 1942, second volume, Page 510, and I submit it as Exhibit RF 14.

In the carrying out of this decree representatives of Sauckel's department were in fact introduced into the Headquarters Staffs of the military commands. The interrogation of General von Falkenhausen, Military Governor of Belgium and Northern France, gives, in this connection, a proof which I would ask the Tribunal to be good enough to remember. General von Falkenhausen was interrogated on 27th November, 1945, by the head of the Investigation Section of the French delegation. I submit his evidence to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 15. I read the following extract (Page 2, the seventh paragraph, of the French translation, and Page 2, the fifth paragraph, of the German translation):

"Q. Can the witness tell us what was the line of demarcation between his own powers and the powers of the Arbeitseinsatz?

A. Up to a certain time there existed in my department a labour service which dealt with the hiring of voluntary workers.

I no longer remember the exact date - perhaps autumn 1942-when this labour service was placed under the order of Sauckel, and the only thing I had to do was to carry out the orders which came through this way.

I do not remember, but Raeder, who is also in prison" - Raeder was a civilian official in the staff of General von Falkenhausen - "is very well informed about the dates and can undoubtedly give them better than I can.

Q. Before the question of labour was entirely entrusted to Sauckel's organisation, did there exist in the General Staff or in its services an officer who was in charge of this question? Afterwards, was there a delegate from Sauckel's service in this department?

A. Until Sauckel came into power there was, in my service, Raeder, who directed the Bureau of Labour in my office. This labour office functioned as an employment office in Germany, that is to say, it concerned itself with the requests for labour which would naturally be voluntary.

Q. What took place when this change happened?

A. After this change the office continued to exist, but the orders were given directly by Sauckel to the Arbeitseinsatz and passed through my office."

[Page 392]

THE PRESIDENT: Would this be a convenient time to break off for 10 minutes?

Before the Tribunal adjourns I want to announce that the Tribunal will sit to-morrow, Saturday, until 1 o'clock.

(A recess was taken.)

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