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-Eighth Day: Saturday, January 19th, 1946
(Part 4 of 5)

[Page 436]

The working conditions of workers deported to Germany provided the first evidence of the determination of the defendants to exploit the human potential of the occupied territories to the extreme limit of its strength.

First, I call the attention of the Tribunal to the working hours imposed on foreign workers. The working hours were legally set at 54 hours per week by Sauckel's decree of 22nd August, 1942. Actually, most foreign workers were subjected to still longer working hours. Rush work, which necessitated overtime, was mostly assigned to foreign workers. It was not unusual for the latter to be forced to work 11 hours a day - that is, 66 hours a week - provided they had one day off per week.

For this purpose, I quote the report of the Minister for Prisoners, Deportees and Refugees, Document U.K. 783, which I submit as Exhibit RF 87:

"Working Hours." I quote paragraph 2:

The average number of working hours was 11 and sometimes 13 a day in certain factories, e.g. Maschinenfabrik, Berlin 31. In Berlin-Spandau, the Alkett factory, imposed 10 1/4 hours' work on dayshift and 12 hours on nightshift. At Konigsberg, the caterpillar treads factory, Krupp, imposed 12 hours a day."

The work of foreign workers was remunerated by wages identical with those of the German workers.

I call the attention of the Tribunal to the illusory character of this equality. The policy of freezing wages was a permanent element of the wage and price policy pursued by the National Socialist Government; consequently, the wages of the workers employed in Germany remained limited. They were, moreover, heavily burdened with rates and taxes. Finally, they were encroached upon by fines which the German employers had the right to impose upon their workers. These fines could reach the amount of the weekly wage for slight breaches of discipline.

I submit in evidence Document D-182. These are two drafts of speeches to foreign civilian workers. One of them is intended for Russian and Polish

[Page 437]

workers. I leave this to be dealt with by my Soviet colleagues. I submit the other to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 88, and I quote:
"Draft of an address to foreign civilian workers: Maintenance of Labour Discipline, January, 1944. I must inform you of the following: The increase in lack of punctuality and in absenteeism has caused the competent authorities to issue stricter regulations to ensure labour discipline, whereby the competence of the employers to impose penalties has been extended. Violations of labour discipline, such as repeated unpunctuality, being absent without cause or excuse, leaving a job without authorisation, will in future be punished by fines up to the average daily wage. In more serious cases - e.g., repeated absences without cause or excuse, or insubordination, fines up to the average weekly salary will be imposed. In such cases, moreover, the additional ration cards may be taken away for a period up to four weeks.... "
The precariousness of wages, which, after these various cuts, were actually received by the foreign workers, did not allow them to raise their standard of living in the places to which they had been deported. I maintain that this standard was insufficient, and that the attitude of the Arbeitseinsatz in this matter constitutes a characteristic violation of the elementary principles of the rights of man. I will confirm this by submitting to the Tribunal proof of the inadequacy of food and medical care to which the foreign workers were entitled.

The German Propaganda Services issued, in France, illustrated pamphlets in which the accommodation for foreign workers were represented as being comfortable. It was quite different in reality.

I will not dwell on this point. Mr. Dodd, my American colleague, has already submitted and commented upon Document D-288, an affidavit by Dr. Jaeger, chief medical officer in charge of the working camps in the Krupp factories. I will not read this document again to the Tribunal, but I would like to repeat that in it Dr. Jaeger stated that French prisoners of war working in the Krupp factories had been billeted for more than half a year in kennels, urinals, unused ovens; the kennels were three feet high, nine feet long and six feet wide, and the men had to sleep there, five in a kennel. I submit this document, in support of my argument, as Exhibit RF 89.

Often to this unsanitary accommodation, inadequate food was added. In this respect I wish to explain the following to the Tribunal:

I do not claim that the foreign workers deported to Germany were systematically exposed to starvation; but I do maintain that the leading principle of National Socialism found its expression in the food regulations for foreign workers. They were decently fed only in so far as the "Manpower Utilisation" wished to maintain or to increase their capacity for work. They were put on a starvation diet the moment when, for any reason whatsoever, their industrial output diminished. They then entered that category of unproductive forces, which National Socialism sought to destroy.

On 10th September, 1942, the defendant Sauckel declared, to the First Congress of the Labour Administration of Greater Germany: "Food and remuneration of foreign workers should be in proportion to their output and their good will." He developed this point of view in documents which I am offering in evidence to the Tribunal.

I refer, in the first place, to the letter from Sauckel to Rosenberg, which is Document 016-PS, and which I shall not read since it has already been read to the Tribunal by my American colleagues. I wish, however, to draw the Tribunal's attention to the second paragraph, Page 20 of this document, which concerns the work of prisoners of war and foreign workers:

"All these people must be fed, lodged and treated in such a way that they may be exploited to the maximum with a minimum of expense."

[Page 438]

I ask the Tribunal to remember this formula. The aim to exploit the foreign manpower to the maximum at a minimum of expense. It is the same concept which I find in a letter of Sauckel of 14th March, 1943, addressed to all Gauleiter. It is Document 633-PS, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 90.
"Subject: Treatment and Care of Foreign Labour.

Not only our honour and reputation and, still more than that, our National Socialist ideology, which is opposed to the methods of plutocrats and Bolshevists, but also cool common sense in the first place demand proper treatment of foreign labour, including even Soviet- Russians. Slaves who are underfed, diseased, resentful, despairing and filled with hate, will never yield that maximum of output, which they might achieve under normal conditions."

I pass now to the next to the last paragraph:
"But since we will need foreign labour for many years, and the possibility of replacing it is very limited, I cannot exploit them on a short-term policy nor can I waste their working capacity."
The criminal concept revealed by these documents is particularly manifest in the establishment of the food sanctions which were inflicted on the deported workers. I refer to Document D-182, which I have just submitted as Exhibit RF 88, and I remind the Tribunal that it provides the possibility of inflicting on recalcitrant workers the penalty of a partial suppression of food rations. Moreover, the foreign workers, who were all the more exposed to diseases and epidemics, since they were poorly lodged and fed, did not enjoy proper medical care.

I submit in evidence a report made on 15th June, 1944, by Dr. Fevrier, Head of the Health Service of the French Delegation with the German Labour Front. It is Document 536. I submit it as Exhibit RF 91, and I quote from Page 15 of the French original, Page 13 of the German translation, the last paragraph at Page 15 of the French original:

"At Auschwitz, in a very fine camp of 2,000 workers, we find, going about free, tubercular people, who were recognised as such by the local German doctor of the Arbeitsamt, but this doctor, out of hostile indifference, neglects to repatriate them. I am now taking steps to obtain their repatriation.

In Berlin, in a clean hospital, well lighted and ventilated, where the chief doctor, a German, makes the rounds only once in three weeks, and a female Russian doctor every morning distributes uniformly the same calming drops to every patient, I have seen a dozen tuberculars, three of them transformed prisoners. All of them except one have passed beyond the extreme limit at which treatment might still have had some chance of proving effective."

No statistics have been made of foreign workers who died during their deportation. Professor Henri Desaille, Medical Inspector General of the Labour Ministry, estimates that 25,000 French workers died in Germany during their deportation. But not all of them died of diseases. To slow extermination was added swift extermination in concentration camps.

The disciplinary regime over the foreign workers was, in fact, of a severity contrary to the rights of man. I have already given some examples of penalties to which the deported workers were exposed. There were still more. The workers who were deemed recalcitrant by their supervisors were sent to special reprisal camps, the "Straflager"; some disappeared in political concentration camps.

I remind the Tribunal that I have already, indirectly, proved this fact. In the course of my presentation I submitted as Exhibit RF 44, the ordinance of Sauckel of 22nd March, 1943, which extends the term of the labour contracts by the length of time which the workers spent in prison or in internment camps.

[Page 439]

I will not dwell on this point. Mr. Dodd, my American colleague, has submitted to the Tribunal the documents which prove the shipment of labour deportees to concentration camps. For the rest, I take the liberty of referring the Tribunal to the presentation which M. Dubost will deliver to the Tribunal within a few days.

I emphasise, however, the significance of this persecution of foreign workers. It completes the crime of their deportation and renders proof of the coherence of the German policy of extermination.

I have already reported to the Tribunal the events which marked the civilian mobilisation of foreign workers for the service of National Socialist Germany. I have shown how the device of compulsory labour was inserted into the general framework of the policy of German domination. I have denounced the methods employed by the defendants to enforce the recruitment of foreign manpower. I have emphasised the importance of the deportations undertaken by the Arbeitseinsatz, and I have recalled how the deported workers were treated and ill-treated.

The policy of compulsory labour encompasses all the infractions under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal: Violation of international conventions, violation of the rights of man and crimes against Common Law.

All the defendants bear official responsibility for these infractions. It was the Reich Cabinet which set up the principles of the policy of enforced recruitment; the High Command of the German Armed Forces tried to carry them out in the workshops of the Wehrmacht, the Navy, and the Air Force; the civilian administration made use of it to support the German War production.

I recall more particularly the guilt of certain of the defendants: Goering, Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan, co-ordinated the planning and the execution of the plans for the recruitment of foreign workers. Keitel, Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces, co-signatory of Hitler's decrees, integrated compulsory labour with his manpower policy. Funk, Reich Minister of Economics, and Speer, Minister of Armament, based their programme of war production on compulsory labour. Sauckel, finally, Plenipotentiary General for the Utilisation of Manpower, proved to be the resolute and fanatical agent - to use his own words - of the policy of compulsory enrolment which, in Holland, was promoted and carried out by Seyss-Inquart.

The Tribunal will appreciate their respective responsibility; I demand the Tribunal to condemn the crime of mobilisation of foreign workers. I ask the Tribunal to restore the dignity of human labour which the defendants have attempted to destroy.

M. GERTHOFER: Mr. President, your Honours. The French Prosecution is in charge of that part of the Indictment concerning the deeds charged to the defendants which were perpetrated in the countries of Western Europe, as provided for by Article 6 (b) of the Charter of 8th August, 1945.

This article provides for violations of the laws and customs of war which concern, on the one hand persons, and on the other hand, private and public property.

The part of the Indictment concerning persons - i.e., ill- treatment inflicted on prisoners of war and on civilians, torture, murder, deportation as well as devastations not justified by military exigencies - were presented to you, and will be presented to you by my colleagues. M. Delpech and I will have the honour to present to you the pillage of private and public property.

The Tribunal will have to be informed of the most and part of the presentation of the French Prosecution. We shall strive to present it as briefly as possible, to shorten the quotation of the numerous documents submitted to the Tribunal, and to avoid, whenever possible, statistical material in order to bring only the principal facts to light. Nevertheless, sometimes we will go into detail in order

[Page 440]

that the Tribunal may appreciate certain characteristic facts now charged to the defendants, facts which are customarily designated as "economic looting."

Before approaching this subject, I should like to ask the Tribunal's permission to express the sincere gratitude of the Prosecutors of the Economic Section of the French Delegation to their colleagues of the other Allied Delegations, and particularly to those of the American Section of the Economic Case, who have been kind enough to put at our disposal a great number of German documents discovered by the United States Army, and considerable material means for their reproduction in a sufficient number of copies.

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