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 8 of 9)

[M. HERZOG continues]

[Page 413]

I shall omit the rest of the first page and proceed to Page 2 of the French translation:
The Italian internees who, when investigated, do not declare themselves ready to continue the struggle under German command, are put at the disposal of the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour

[Page 414]

who has already given the necessary instructions for their employment, to the Chiefs of the Regional Labour Offices.

It is to be noted that Italian military internees must not be utilised together with the British and American prisoners of war."

The prisoners of war offered passive resistance to German force. The National Socialist authorities intervened again and again, to attempt to increase their output. I refer to Document 233-PS, which I file with the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 53. It is a directive of the O.K.W. of 17th October, 1944. The purpose is to point out to the war prisoner bureaux, measures capable of increasing the productivity of the prisoners. I read from the document:
"Subject: Treatment of War Prisoners - Increase in Production.

The measures taken until now, in regard to the treatment of war prisoners and the increasing of their productivity, have not given the results that had been hoped for. The offices of the Party, and those of economy, continually complain of the poor labour output of all the war prisoners. Therefore the following directives for prisoners of war are made known, in agreement with all interested offices of the Party and State. Accordingly, all guard companies and their auxiliaries are to be given detailed instructions.

Collaboration with the bearers of sovereignty of the N.S.D.A.P. The co-operation of all officers in charge of war prisoners with the bearers of sovereignty of the Party must be strengthened to an even greater extent. To this end the commanders of the war-prisoner camps shall immediately detail, for all the Kreise in their command, an energetic officer acquainted with all questions concerning prisoners of war, to act as liaison officer to the Kreisleiter. This officer shall have the duty of treating in closest collaboration with the Kreisleiter, according to the instructions of the camp commander, all questions concerning prisoners of war which might become public knowledge. The aim of this collaboration should be:

(a)To increase the labour output of war prisoners;

(b)To solve all difficulties quickly and on the spot;

(c)To organise the employment of war prisoners in the Kreise in such a way that it fulfils the political, military and economic requirements.

The Chancellery of the Party will give the necessary orders to the Gauleiter and the Kreisleiter.

(2) Treatment of the prisoners of war. The treatment of prisoners of war shall be dictated within limits compatible with security, with the sole purpose of increasing, as far as possible, the labour output. In addition to just treatment, the providing of the prisoners with the food due to them according to stipulations, and with proper billets, the supervising of the labour output is necessary to achieve the highest possible results.

Available means must be employed with extreme rigour as regards the lazy and the rebellious."

I shall stop my quotation here. The resistance of war prisoners caused the German Labour Bureaux to use a subterfuge to force them to work. I refer to the operation called the transformation of war prisoners into free workers. It consisted in transforming prisoners of war into so-called free workers, to whom a labour contract was offered. The operation was perfected by the defendant Sauckel in the course of one of his trips to Paris on 9th April, 1943. To Germany it offered the advantage of permitting the use of transformed prisoners in armament factories, without directly violating the Geneva Convention. For the prisoners it presented only a seeming advantage, the decrease of the surveillance to which they were subject. In reality the length and the nature of the work imposed upon them was in no way changed; their housing conditions and the quality of their rations

[Page 415]

remained unchanged. Moreover, this operation, presented by German propaganda as a measure favourable to war prisoners, brought about a deterioration of their juridical status.

The prisoners of war were not fooled; in most cases they refused to cooperate with this German manoeuvre; some agreed to do it, but a number of these took advantage of the first leave granted them because of their change in status, and fled. The report of the Statistical Institute on Forced Labour which I submitted to the Tribunal this morning as Exhibit RF 22, gives in this connection the following information. I quote it, Page 70 of the French text, Page 70 of the German translation. I shall read the second paragraph:

"The transformation of prisoners into 'free' workers, which was realised or carried out as the second Sauckel act, and which, because of this fact, must be counted in the present list as dating from the 25th of April, 1942, was decided by Sauckel, in the course of a trip to Paris on 9th April, 1943, It was to involve, after the prisoner had signed his contract as a labourer, a leave to go to France - depending on the return of the men who had gone on leave before. Two attempts were made to carry out this plan. On the 24th of April, 1943, out of 1,000 on leave, 43 did not return. In the month of August following, 2,000 out of 8,000 did not return. A last appeal directed to them was published in the Press of 17th August without result. There is no third experiment, and the transformation in practice limited itself to the removal of sentinels and of camp guards, but did not change either the nature or the duration of the work, or the housing conditions or the rations. On the other hand, it entailed loss of rights to receive packages from the International Red Cross and loss of diplomatic protection for prisoners of war."
The forced utilisation of war prisoners did not permit the German authorities to solve the labour problem of the war economy. That is why they applied their policy of force to the civilian populations of the occupied territories.

The National Socialist authorities systematised their policy of force from 1942 on by establishing the Bureau of Compulsory Labour in the different occupied territories. From the end of 1941 it has been verified, that neither the recruiting of voluntary workers nor the utilisation of prisoners, permitted a solution of the problem of labour required for the war economy. The Germans then decided to proceed to the forced enrolment of civilian workers. They decreed a veritable civilian mobilisation, the execution of which characterises their criminal activity.

I refer to a directive of 29th January, 1942, given by Dr. Mansfeld under authorisation of the defendant Goering. I remind the Tribunal that I have filed this document already as Exhibit RF 26. I read the passage from the document where I stopped this morning, Page 2, last paragraph of the French translation, Page 2, last paragraph also of the German original:

"In order to avoid a damaging of the armament industry, all misgivings must yield to the necessity of filling in, at any rate, the gaps in the labour employment caused by extensive drafting into the Wehrmacht. To this end the forced mobilisation of workers from the occupied territories must not be neglected, if the voluntary recruitment remains unsuccessful. The mere factor of a compulsory mobilisation will, in many cases, make recruiting easier.

Therefore, I ask you to take immediate measures in your district to promote the employment of workers in the German Reich on a voluntary basis. I herewith request you to prepare for publication, regulations making possible the forced mobilisation of labour from your territory for Germany, so that they may be decreed at once in case recruiting on a voluntary basis remains without the success necessary to relieve labour employment in the Reich."

[Page 416]

The appointment of the defendant Sauckel may be considered a preparatory measure for the establishment of the Bureau of Compulsory Labour. It was necessary that a central authority be set up in order to co-ordinate the activity of the different labour departments and in order to proceed to the mobilisation of civilian workers. The terms of the exposition of the motives of the decree of appointment are explicit: the mission of the Plenipotentiary for Labour consists in satisfying the labour needs of the German economy through the recruiting of foreign workers and the utilisation of war prisoners. The decree of Sauckel, dated 22nd August, 1942, which I have filed with the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 17, expresses, moreover, the will of the defendant to go about recruiting by means of coercion.

The institution of the office of compulsory labour represents deliberate violation of international conventions. The deportation of workers is forbidden by several contractual regulations which have the value of positive law. I shall quote, first of all, Article 52 of the Annex to the Fourth Convention of The Hague. I have already given a commentary on it to the Tribunal, to demonstrate that the requisitioning of labour effected by the authorities of the occupation was illegal.

All the more, the institution of compulsory labour was prohibited by Article 52, Compulsory labour was imposed upon foreign workers in the interest of the war economy; it was carried out in armament factories of National Socialist Germany; it deprived the occupied territories of labour necessary for the rational exploitation of their wealth, it therefore is not within the framework of that labour requisition which Article 52 of The Hague Convention authorises.

The prohibition of forced labour is, moreover, affirmed by another international convention. It is a question of the Convention of the 25th of September, 1926, on slavery, of which Germany is a signatory. This treaty makes forced labour equivalent to slavery, in its Article 5.ask the Tribunal to refer to it.

Deportation of workers is the object of a formal prohibition. Forced labour in German war factories was, therefore, instituted in flagrant violation of International Law and of all pledges subscribed to by Germany. The National Socialist authorities transgressed positive International Law; they likewise violated the rights of nations.

The latter guarantees individual liberty, on which the principle of forced recruitment is a characteristic attack.

The violation of treaties and contempt for the rights of individuals are the tenets of National Socialist doctrine. Therefore the defendants proceeded not merely to the mobilisation of foreign workers; they proclaimed the necessity and the legitimacy of forced labour. I shall, first of all, indicate to the Tribunal certain declarations made by the defendants which have the strength of confessions. I shall thereupon indicate how the occupation authorities introduced the service of compulsory work in the different occupied territories. I shall demonstrate, finally, that the Germans took measures of violent coercion in an attempt to assure the execution of the civilian mobilisation, which had been decreed.

The legitimacy of forced enrolment has been upheld by Hitler. The proof of this can be found in the report of the Four Year Plan Conference held on the 10th, 11th and 12th of August, 1942. It is contained in Document R-124, which I presented this morning as Exhibit RF 30.shall not read it to the Tribunal, because my American colleague, Mr. Dodd, has done so during his presentation on forced labour. I recall that the document to which I refer indicates that the Fuehrer agreed to exercise all the necessary constraint in the East as well as in the West, if the question of recruiting foreign labourers could not be regulated on a voluntary basis.

The necessity of the utilisation of compulsory labour was expressed in identical terms by certain of the defendants.

[Page 417]

I shall not stress the numerous statements of the defendant Sauckel to which I have already drawn the attention of the Tribunal. The exposition of the motives of his decree of 22nd August, 1942, the programme included in his letter of 24th April, 1942, and the policy advocated in his speech at Posen in February, 1943, reproduce faithfully the determination of the defendant to justify the principle of forced recruiting. I shall not revert to this. I present to the Tribunal the declaration of the defendant Jodl. This declaration is an extract from a long speech made by Jodl on 7th November, 1943, at Munich, before an audience of Gauleiters. This speech is Document L-172. I offer it in evidence to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 54.I shall read Page 2 of the French translation, second paragraph, Pages 38-39 of the German original:
"This dilemma of manpower shortage has led to the idea of making more thorough use of the manpower reserves in the territories occupied by us. Here, right thinking and wrong thinking are mixed up together. I believe that, in so far as it concerns labour, everything has been done that could be done; but where this is not yet the case, it appeared preferable, from the political point of view, not to have recourse to measures of compulsion, but rather to aim at order and economic relief. In my opinion, however, the time has now come to take steps with remorseless vigour and resolution in Denmark, Holland, France and Belgium, and also to compel thousands of idle persons to carry out the fortification work, which is more important than any other work. The necessary orders for this have already been given."
The German Labour Service had not waited for the appeal of General Jodl to decree the mobilisation of civilian foreign workers. I am going to show the Tribunal how the Bureau of Compulsory Labour was established and organised in France, in Norway, in Belgium, and in Holland.

I should like to remind the Tribunal that in Denmark there was never any legal regulation for forced labour, and that this was carried out as a simple de facto measure.

I also wish to remind the Tribunal that the Bureau of Forced Labour was introduced in a special form in Luxembourg and in the French departments of Alsace and Lorraine. The occupation authorities incorporated the citizens of Luxembourg and the French citizens residing in the departments of Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin and Moselle, in the Labour Service of the Reich. This incorporation was carried out by ordinances of Gauleiter Simon and Gauleiter Wagner. The ordinances constitute an integral part of the Germanisation plan for territories of Luxembourg, Alsace and Lorraine. Their consequences surpass those of the measures of forced enrolment which were taken in other occupied territories. That is why I refer the Tribunal, on this point, to the explanation which will be given in the prosecution brief of M. Edgar Faure.

Two German texts of a general nature serve as a foundation for the legislation on forced labour in the occupied territories of Western Europe.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.