The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Third Day: Thursday, 7th February, 1946
(Part 10 of 18)

[M. QUATRE continues]

[Page 142]

On 7th November, 1943, in the course of the speech to which we have already alluded, the defendant Jodl, speaking of the tasks incumbent upon the populations of German-occupied territories, declared (Exhibit RF 1431, which I quoted some time ago):

"In my opinion the time has come when we must have no scruples in taking stern and resolute measures in Denmark, Holland, France and Belgium in order to force thousands of unemployed to work on fortifications, which is more essential than any other work. The necessary orders have already been given."
Sauckel expresses himself in similar terms. Jodl also champions this requisitioning of services to utilise the potential labour of the Western occupied territories for military purposes in the exclusive interest of Germany. It matters little that Article 52 of the Hague Convention prohibits such procedure.

For him, too, total warfare and the triumph of Germany take precedence over respect for international conventions or the customs of war.


I now come to the responsibility of the defendant Keitel in the sphere of economic spoliation and looting of art treasures. I shall be extremely brief. I point out to the Tribunal three documents which have already been submitted to it. I simply refer to them: Exhibits RF 1441 (1-FA) and RF 1400 (137-PS -- submitted 18th December, 1945, by the American prosecution as Exhibit USA 379), and finally RF 1443 (138-PS), submitted yesterday as Exhibit RF 1310.

Further to this, I shall merely submit to the Tribunal to- day a short letter consisting of five lines, addressed by Keitel to Rosenberg, Chief of the Einsatzstab. This is Exhibit RF 1444, Document 148-PS, which reads as follows:

"Most Honoured Minister.

In reply to your letter of 22nd February, I inform you that I have instructed the High Command of the Army to make the necessary arrangements with your delegate for the work of your operational detachments in the operational area."

It can therefore be said that Rosenberg's activities received the continued support and assistance of the Army from the very first and in this way Keitel also made a personal contribution to the looting of the art treasures of France and the Western countries. These measures were at first invested with an appearance of legal justification. They did not take place, according to Keitel, by virtue of prize court law, but simply as a guarantee for future peace negotiations. But these measures quickly degenerated into a general plundering of the art treasures of all kinds possessed by these Western countries, in violation of the stipulations of Articles 46, 47 and 56 of the Hague Convention, which forbid the confiscation of private property and the pillage or seizure of works of art and science by the members of the occupying army.


I have now reached the last main part of my declaration, which concerns (Page 28) the violations of conventions and laws of war relating to prisoners of war. In this field, in particular, Keitel and Jodl have made themselves guilty of peculiarly unwarrantable measures, contrary to the laws of war.

To begin with, they have violated Article 6 of the Appendix to the Hague Convention, which stipulates that "work carried out by war prisoners shall not be excessive and shall have no connection with war operations."

Now, in a memorandum signed on his behalf, dated 31st October, 1941, Keitel, as Chief of the O.K.W., forces Russian prisoners of war, interned in the Reich, to perform work connected with war operations. This is proved by Exhibit RF 1445, 194-EC, submitted by the American prosecution on 12th December, 1945, as Exhibit USA 214. In this text Keitel expresses himself thus:

[Page 143]

"The Fuehrer has just ordered that even the labour capacity of Russian prisoners of war must be placed at the disposal of the German war economy on a large scale."
That is the signal for the immediate setting up of a programme for incorporating these prisoners into the German war economy. It is true that this document, dating from 1941, concerns only Russian prisoners of war; but from 21st March, 1942, the incorporation of all war prisoners into the German war industry, and more especially the armament industry, is put into practice. The decree signed by Hitler, appointing Sauckel General Plenipotentiary for Labour, to which reference already has been made, provides, likewise, for the use of all prisoners of war in the German armaments industry. This is shown by Exhibit RF 1440, which reveals the violation of Articles 27, 31, 32, and 33 of the Geneva Convention.

One month later, on 20th April, 1942, Sauckel expressed himself thus, in his mobilisation programme for the labour forces Exhibit RF 144, 016-PS, submitted 11th December, 1945, by the American prosecution as Exhibit USA 168:

"It is absolutely necessary to make the fullest possible use of all prisoners of war and to employ the greatest possible number of new civilian workers, both men and women, if the labour programme in this war is to be realised."
In this way Sauckel succeeded in incorporating 1,658,000 prisoners of war into the war economy of the Reich by 6th February, 1943, as he announced in a speech made at Posen. This is shown by Exhibit RF 1447, Document 1739-PS, submitted on 8th January, 1946, by the French prosecution as Exhibit RF 10.

The 1,658,000 prisoners of war were the following:
Belgians French British Yugoslav Poles Russians Others Total
55,000 932,000 45,000 101,000 33,000 488,000 4,000 1,658,000

The fact that such a large contingent was put at the disposal of the German war economy implies perfect collaboration between Sauckel's labour services and Keitel, who, in his capacity as Chief of the High Command, was responsible for this reservoir of manpower and the use to which it was put.

These flagrant violations of the Hague and Geneva Conventions were later accompanied by measures inspired or authorised by the defendants, and which were even more serious because they no longer violated only the war prisoners' rights as such, but also involved physical assaults on their persons, which might even cause their deaths. These violations have a bearing on the following points: first of all, the violation of security (Page 32 of my presentation).

Exhibit RF 1448, 823-PS, submitted 30th January, 1946, as Exhibit RF 359, offers us a report drawn up by the office of the Operations Staff for the Army High Command. --It relates to the establishment of camps for British and American Air Force prisoners in German bombed towns. The Staff of Operations of the Luftwaffe proposed this arrangement so that the presence of these air force prisoners might protect the population of the cities concerned against possible attacks by the British and American Air Forces and in order to transfer all the existing camps for Air Force prisoners to these places.

[Page 144]

Jodl approved this measure on behalf of the General Staff of the High Command, considering that if it was limited to the establishment of new camps, it would not be contrary to International Law.

If we did not know the reason underlying this decision we might believe, like the defendant Jodl, that it does not run counter to International Law. But this measure, as the first lines of this document specify, is above all an indirect means of safeguarding the German urban population. The Allied war prisoners are only a means of warding off possible air attacks; and to attain this end no hesitation is shown in aggravating their condition by exposing them to the dangers of war. This is a grave violation of the obligation regarding the safety of prisoners imposed by Article 9 of the Geneva Convention upon the power detaining prisoners of war.

Keitel writes only two words on the first page of the document -- "No objections" -- and adds his initials.

I now come (Page 34) to the measures taken against escaped prisoners.

The nature of these measures later became particularly serious, as is shown by Exhibit RF 1449 Document 1650-PS, submitted on 13th December, 1945, by the American prosecution as Exhibit USA 246. The Tribunal is sufficiently informed as to this and it is not necessary, I think, for me to read it.

This document reveals the "Kugelaktion " which was designed to put a stop to the escapes of officers and N.C.O.'s.

Its only purpose was to turn escaped prisoners over to police organisations. This is the "Sonderbehandlung" referred to in orders and reports, but this "special treatment," as you know, is nothing more or less than extermination.

Yet, in the terms of Article 47 and succeeding Articles of the Geneva Convention, only disciplinary punishment, in the form of arrest, can be inflicted by the detaining Power on escaped prisoners of war. Keitel did not hesitate to abandon these methods for more radical means.

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