The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Third Day: Thursday, 7th February, 1946
(Part 3 of 18)

[M. MOUNIER continues]

[Page 123]

Mr. President, with the approval of the Court, and with the same brevity as heretofore -- and I hope the Tribunal will appreciate the care I am taking not to abuse its patience -- I should like to say a few words on the individual charge against the defendant Fritz Sauckel.

Your Honours, the Tribunal is already acquainted with the really remarkable work, the genuinely positive work, presented to it some time ago by my colleague and friend, M. Jacques Bernard Herzog. That is why, with your permission, I shall pass over the facts themselves, which are known to you, and limit myself to the part beginning on Page 3 of my exposition, and we shall examine together, it pleases the Tribunal, the grounds for the plea advanced up to now by the defendant Fritz Sauckel.

One question must be asked first of all: Was Fritz Sauckel acting under orders when he carried out this recruiting -- so-called voluntary in part but compulsory in most cases -- this recruiting of laborers destined to meet the needs of the Reich?

According to Sauckel, when he was appointed Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labor on 27th March, 1942, his initial programme did not include the conscription of foreign workers and it is supposed to have been Hitler who then intervened. Now it is striking, your Honours, when you read the minutes of the interrogations, and, I am sure, when the defendants

[Page 124]

speak before the Tribunal, you will see that most of them take refuge behind two great shadows, the shadow of the former Fuehrer and the shadow of his accursed second-in- command, Himmler. Here we can see Hitler intervening to tell Sauckel, according to the latter, that the use of foreign workers in the occupied territories is not contrary to the Hague Convention for two reasons:

"First, the countries involved surrendered unconditionally, and consequently we can impose any kind of labor Conditions on them.

The second reason, which concerns the U.S.S.R., is that Russia was not a signatory to these conventions. Consequently, in the case of Russia, in recruiting labour by force and working the men to death, we are not violating The Hague Convention."

This, your Honours, is the reasoning of the defendant Sauckel on this point, without the addition of a single word. Hitler is supposed to have ordered him to recruit workers, first by using persuasion and then by all the means of compulsion which you already know: withdrawal of ration cards, for instance, which compelled men, who saw their wives and children starving, to volunteer for work which would be used against their own fellow citizens and against the soldiers of the Allied armies, with whom lay all their sympathies.

The Tribunal will know how to deal with such an excuse for, in the first place, Sauckel, by virtue of the powers conferred upon him by his office, enjoyed full authority in regard to everything concerned with the labor necessary for the execution of the Four Year Plan. On the other hand, on taking up his appointment as Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labor, Sauckel knew that he would be unable to carry out his mission without resorting sooner or later to methods of coercion.

In any case, most of the defendants who are before you enjoyed the most extensive powers -- indeed, autonomous power. Consequently, they cannot shelter behind orders received.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Mounier, you must forgive me if I interrupt you, but as I pointed out yesterday, I think we have already had an opening statement which contained argument from the United States, from Great Britain, and from M. Menthon on behalf of France, and we have in the past confined other counsel who have followed them to a presentation of the evidence and have not permitted them to go into an argument.

I am not sure that that rule has been strictly carried out in all cases because it is, perhaps, somewhat difficult to confine the matter, but we have on several occasions pointed out to counsel who have followed the counsel who has made the leading statement that they ought to confine themselves to a presentation of the evidence. I think the Tribunal would wish you, if possible, to adhere to that rule, and therefore not to argue the case but to present the evidence, that is to say, to refer us to the evidence insofar as it has already been put in evidence, to refer us to it by its number, possibly stating what the substance of the evidence is, and, in reference to any document which has not yet been put in evidence, to read such parts of that document as you think necessary.

M. MOUNIER: Very well, Mr. President, to meet the wishes of the Tribunal, I shall limit myself, as concerns the defendant Sauckel, to referring to figures, which, it seems to me, do not admit of argument, since they are the figures given by the defendant Sauckel himself under interrogation. This does not seem to me to infringe the rule which the President has just drawn to my attention.

The figures stated are the following: In 1942 there were already 1,000,000 foreign workers in Germany. In one year Sauckel incorporated into the economy of the Reich some 1,600,000 million war prisoners to meet the needs of war economy.

I beg to refer the Tribunal to the document numbered 1411 in my document book. This is an interrogation of the defendant Speer under the date of 18th October, 1945, which has already been submitted by the United States prosecution on 12th December, 1945, as Exhibit USA 220. In this interrogation the

[Page 125]

defendant Speer states that 40 per cent of all prisoners of war were employed in the production of arms and munitions and in related industries.

I likewise recall, as Exhibit RF 1412, Exhibit USA 225 of 13th December, 1945, a memorandum signed by Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancellery, giving an account of the discussion which occurred at a conference held on 4th January, 1944. On that date, 4th January, 1944, in the course of a conference, at which, in addition to the defendant Sauckel, the Fuehrer himself, Himmler, Speer, Keitel, Field Marshal Milch, and others were present, the number of new workers to be furnished by Sauckel was fixed at 4,000,000.

I must mention in this connection that in the course of this meeting Sauckel, expressed doubts as to the possibility of furnishing this number of workers unless he were given sufficient police forces, was assured by Himmler that he would try to help Sauckel to achieve this objective by means of increased pressure.

Consequently, when the defendant Sauckel claims, as he probably will do, that he had absolutely nothing to do with the institution, now hated by everyone, known as the Gestapo, we may answer him by official German documents showing that for the recruitment of labor he really did employ the police with all the more or less condemned means already pointed out to you.

As for France alone, the demand for workers at the beginning of 1944 amounted to 1,000,000, and this figure was over and above the number of men and women workers already sent to Germany, who in June, 1944, numbered 1,000,000 to 1,500,000.

The defendant Sauckel consequently committed the offenses already known to the Court. We have an old adage, an old slogan we may say, according to which "The Court is the law" and it is proper to present only the facts. I shall, therefore, abstain from reading the passage on Page 9 of my presentation dealing with those articles of the law under which the activities of the accused, Sauckel, are punishable.

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