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 9 of 9)

[M. HERZOG continues]

[Page 417]

The first is the decree of Sauckel of 22nd August, 1942, to which I have drawn the attention of the Tribunal on several occasions. This decree prescribes the mobilisation of all civilian workers in the service of the war economy. Article 2 - of which I remind the Tribunal - prescribes that this decree is applicable to occupied territories. This decree of 22nd August, 1942, thus constitutes the legal charter of the civilian mobilisation of foreign workers. This mobilisation was confirmed by an order of the Fuehrer of 8th September, 1942. It is Document 556-PS-2, which I file with the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 55, and from which I shall read:
"The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht. General Headquarters of the Fuehrer, 8th September, 1942.

The extensive coastal fortification, which I have ordered to be erected in the area of Army Group West, makes it necessary that, in the occupied

[Page 418]

territory, all available workers work to the fullest extent of their production capacity. The previous allotment of labour for this work is absolutely insufficient. In order to increase it, I order the introduction of compulsory labour and the prohibition of changing the place of employment without permission of the authorities in the occupied territories.

Furthermore, in the future, the distribution of food and clothing ration cards to those subject to labour draft shall depend on the possession of a certificate of employment. Refusal to accept an assigned job, as well as abandoning the place of work without the consent of the authorities in charge, will result in the withdrawal of the food and clothing ration cards.

The G.B.A., that is, the office of the defendant Sauckel, in agreement with the military commander or the Reich Commissar, will issue the appropriate decrees for execution."

The forced enrolment of foreign workers was preceded by preliminary measures, to which the order of 8th September, 1942, which I just read, refers. I am speaking of the freezing of labour. To carry out the mobilisation of workers it was necessary that the public services exercise strict control over their use in the industrial enterprises of occupied territories. This control had a double purpose: it was to facilitate the census of workers suitable for work in Germany; and also to prevent workers from avoiding the German requisition by alleging a real or fictitious employment.

The National Socialist authorities exercised this control by restricting the liberty of hiring and of discharging, which they had given over to the authorities of the Labour Bureau.

In France, the freezing of labour was brought about by the law of 4th September, 1942.shall shortly expose to the Tribunal the conditions under which, this law was formulated. I shall, for the moment, simply supply it to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 56 and ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it.

In Belgium the freezing of labour was carried out by the ordinance of the military commandant of the 6th of October, 1942.submit to the Tribunal Exhibit RF 57, of which I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice.

Finally, in Holland, where the Bureau of Compulsory Labour was established early in 1941, an ordinance of the Reich Commissar dated 28th February, 1941, which I offer to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 58, organised the freezing of labour.

The immobilisation of labour was brought about under an economic pretext in all countries. In reality it constituted a preliminary measure for the mobilisation of workers, which the National Socialists immediately proceeded to carry out.

In France, the Bureau of Compulsory Labour was established by the legislation of the pseudo-Government of Vichy, but this legislation was imposed upon the de facto French authorities by the defendants, and especially by Sauckel. The action which Sauckel brought against the Government of Vichy, to force it to favour the deportation of workers into Germany, was exercised in four phases: I shall briefly review for the Tribunal the history of these four Sauckel actions.

The first Sauckel action was initiated in the Spring of 1942, soon after the appointment of the defendant as Plenipotentiary for Labour. The German armament industry had an urgent need for workers. The service of the Arbeitseinsatz had decided to recruit 150,000 specialists in France. Sauckel came to Paris in the month of June, 1942. He had several conversations with French ministers. Otto Abetz, German Ambassador in Paris, presided over these meetings. They brought about the following results:

In view of the reluctance of French authorities to establish forced labour it was decided that the recruiting of the 150,000 specialists would be carried

[Page 419]

out by a pseudo-voluntary enrolment. This was the beginning of the so-called exchange operation, to which I have already drawn the attention of the Tribunal.

But the Tribunal knows that the exchange operation was a failure and that, despite an intensification of German propaganda, the number of voluntary enrolments remained at a minimum. The German authorities then put the Vichy Government in a position to proceed to forced enrolment. I offer in evidence the threatening letter of 26th August, 1942, addressed by the German, Dr. Michel, Chief of the Administrative Staff, to the General Delegate for Franco- German economic relations. This is French Document 530, which I shall submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 59:

"Paris, 25th August, 1942.

Military Commandant in France, Economic Section, to M. Barnaud, General Delegate for Franco-German Relations, Paris.

President Laval promised Gauleiter Sauckel, General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour, to make every effort to send to Germany, in order to reinforce the German armament economy, 350,000 workers, among them 150,000 metal workers.

The French Government proposed originally to solve this problem by recruitment, in particular of the 'affectes speciaux.' This method has been abandoned and that of voluntary enrolment has been attempted with a view to the liberation of prisoners. The months which have passed have demonstrated that the end in view cannot be achieved by means of voluntary recruiting.

In France, German armament orders have increased in volume and assumed a more marked and urgent character. Besides, the accomplishment of special tasks has been requested, which can be successfully carried only by having a very considerable number of available workers.

In order to assure the realisation of the tasks for which France is responsible in the domain of labour supply, the French Government must be asked, henceforth, to put into execution the following measures:

(1) The publication of a decree, relative to the change of place of work. By virtue of this decree the place of work cannot be changed and labour cannot be hired without the approval of certain specified services.

(2) The institution of a compulsory registration of all persons out of work, as well as of those who do not work during the whole working day, or are not permanently employed.

This compulsory registration will make it possible to determine, as fully as possible, the reserves that are still available.

(3) The publication of a decree for the mobilisation of workers for important tasks, relating to the policy of State. This decree is to furnish:

(a) the necessary labour for Germany;

(b) the workers necessary in France for the carrying out of orders which have been transferred here for special tasks.

(4) Publication of a decree protecting young specialists. This decree must impose upon French enterprise the obligation of turning out, by means of apprenticeship and systematic education, young workers possessing sufficient qualifications.
For the Military Commandant, the Chief of the Administrative Staff.

(Signed) Dr. Michel."

Dr. Michel's letter forms the basis for the law relative to the utilisation and the orientation of labour. It is the law of 4th September, 1942, which I have filed with the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 56.

[Page 420]

In the application of the law all Frenchmen between 18 and 50, who did not have employment for more than 30 hours a week, were forced to state this at their local city hall. A decree of 19th September, 1942, and an enabling directive of 22nd September, provided regulations for the different phases of the statement.

Sauckel's first action was achieved through a legislative plan; the defendant had merely to dip into the labour resources which were established by it. But the resistance of the French workers caused his recruiting plan to fail. This is why Sauckel undertook his second action, beginning in January, 1943.

The second Sauckel action is marked by the setting up of the Service of Compulsory Labour, properly speaking. Until then workers had been the only victims of the policy of force of the defendants. The latter understood the demagogic argument which they could derive from this de facto situation. They explained that it was inadmissible that the working classes of the occupied territory be the only ones to participate in the German war effort. They required that the basis of forced labour be enlarged by the establishment of the Bureau of Compulsory Labour.

This was established by two measures. A directive of 2nd February, 1943, prescribed a general census of all French of masculine sex born between the 1st of January, 1912, and the 1st of January, 1921. The census took place between the 15th and 23rd of February. It had just been put in force when the law and decree of 16th February, 1943, appeared. These regulations established the Bureau of Compulsory Labour for all young men born between the 1st of January, 1920, and 31st of December, 1922. I file them with the Tribunal as Exhibits RF 60 and RF 61, and I ask the Court to take judicial notice of them.

The action carried out by the defendant, to impose the legislation which was not in the domain of common law, is substantiated by numerous documents. I particularly draw the attention of the Tribunal to four of these, which permit us to retrace the activities of the defendant Sauckel during the months of January and February, 1943. On 5th January, 1943, Sauckel transmitted to the different departments of his administration an order of the Fuehrer which the defendant Speer had communicated to him. This is Document 556-PS-13, which I file with the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 62. I shall read its first paragraph:

"(1) On 4th January, 1943, at 8 o'clock in the evening, Minister Speer telephones from the General Headquarters of the Fuehrer to give the information that, according to a decision of the Fuehrer it will no longer be necessary, when recruiting specialists and assistants in France, to have any particular regard for the French. One may likewise in the said country exercise pressure and use more severe measures to the end of procuring the necessary labour."
On 11th January, 1943, the defendant Sauckel was in Paris. He attended a meeting which brought together, at the Military Commandant's, all responsible officials of the Labour Service. He announced to them that new measures of constraint were to be taken in France. I refer you to the minutes of the meeting which constitutes Document 1342-PS, which I file with the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 63. I shall read from Page 2 of the French translation, Page 1, fourth line of the second paragraph of the German original:
"Gauleiter Sauckel likewise thanks the various services for the successful carrying out of the first action. Now already, at the beginning of the new year, he sees himself obliged to announce new severe measures. There is a great new need of labour for the front as well as for the Reich armament industry."
I pass to the end of the paragraph. I shall read from the next paragraph:
"The situation at the front calls for 700,000 soldiers fit for front line service. The armament industry would have to lose 200,000 key workers

[Page 421]

by the middle of March. I have received an order from the Fuehrer to find 200,000 foreign specialised workers as replacements, and I shall need for this 150,000 French specialists, while the other 50,000 can be drawn from Holland, Belgium and other occupied countries.
In addition, 100,000 unskilled French workers are necessary for the Reich. The second action of recruitment in France makes it necessary that, by the middle of March, 150,000 skilled workers and 100,000 unskilled workers and women be transferred to Germany."

The defendant Sauckel went back to Germany a few days later. On 15th February he was in Berlin at the meeting of the Central Office of the Four Year Plan. He gave a commentary on the law, which was to appear that very day, and revealed that he was the instigator of it.

I refer once more to the minutes of the conference of the Four Year Plan, included under R-124, which I submitted this morning to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 30. I shall read an extract from this document, which my American colleagues have not mentioned. It is Page 7 of the French translation of the document, Pages 284-5 of the German original:

"This is the situation in France. Since my collaborators and I succeeded, after difficult discussions, in persuading Laval to establish the law of compulsory labour, this law has been extended, thanks to our pressure, so successfully, that since yesterday three French age-groups have already been called. This is why we are now legally qualified to recruit in France, with the assistance of the French Government, workers of three age-groups, whom we shall be able to employ henceforth in French factories, but among whom we shall be able to choose some for our own needs in Germany, and send them there."
In fact, the defendant Sauckel returned to France on 24th February. I offer in evidence to the Tribunal the letter which he addressed to Hitler before his departure to inform him of his trip. It proves the continuity of the action of Sauckel. The letter constitutes Document 556-PS-25, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 64, and I shall read it:
"General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour to the Fuehrer General Headquarters of the Fuehrer.

My Fuehrer:

I allow myself herewith to take leave of you before undertaking my official trip to France which has already been arranged. The objective of my trip is:

(1) To put at the disposal of the Reich, within the anticipated time, workers replacing German workers of key industries, for the benefit of the Wehrmacht.

May I add that Marshal Keitel and General von Unruh received a communication from me yesterday to the effect that half of these workers intended to replace German workers in the key industries, that is, 125,000 French qualified specialists, have already arrived in the Reich on 1st January, 1943, and that a corresponding number of soldiers has already been drafted. I shall now make sure, in France, that the second half shall arrive in the Reich by the end of March, or earlier if possible. The first French programme was executed by the end of December.

(2) To assure the necessary labour for the French wharves in order to permit the carrying out of the programme undertaken there by Grand Admiral Donitz and Gauleiter Kauffmann.

(3) To assure the necessary labour for the programme of the Luftwaffe.

[Page 422]

(4) To assure the necessary labour for the other German armament programmes which are in process in France.

(5) To prepare supplementary labour in agreement with State Secretary Backe, in view of intensifying French agricultural production.

(6) To have conversations, if necessary, with the French Government on the subject of the carrying out of the labour service, the calling up of age groups, and so forth, with, a view to activating the recruitment of labour for the benefit of the German war economy."

(The Tribunal adjourned until 19th January, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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