The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th February to 11th March, 1946

Seventy-Eighth Day: Monday, 11th March, 1946
(Part 8 of 12)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of General Field-Marshal Milch]

[Page 288]

Q. Well, you have no knowledge of the methods by which the SS would be able to speed up production by prisoners of war. That is the way you want that to stand?

A. No, that is not the way I want it to stand. I have to think this point over for a moment. I believe the point was whether or not prisoners of war should be made available. It was not a question of prisoners of war working for the SS, but of their being made available for work. That, I take it, was the point.

Q. Put at the disposal of the SS, you mean?

Well, let us go on to the 33rd Conference by the Central Planning Board, held on 16th February, 1943, at which Speer and Sauckel among others, appear to have been present. The English translation is on Page 28; the German, Page 2276 to 2307. There was at this meeting, to summarize, considerable discussion of the labour situation, first a report from Schreiber, and then Timm gave a general account of the labour situation, and I call your attention to your contribution on Page 2298 at the top.

A. Yes, I have just read it.

Q. It is as follows:

"Milch: We have demanded that in the anti-aircraft artillery a certain percentage of personnel should consist of Russians. Fifty thousand in all should be brought in. Thirty thousand are already employed as gunners. This is an amusing thing that Russians must work the guns."
What was amusing about making the Russian prisoners of war work the guns?

A. The words "We have demanded," do not mean the Central Planning Board, but that Hitler made this demand.

Q. "We" means Hitler?

A. Yes, the German Government.

And I myself find it strange that prisoners of war should be made to shoot at the planes of their allies. We did not like it because it meant that these men could no longer work for us. We were opposed to their being used in the anti-aircraft artillery.

Q. You said: "This is an amusing thing that the Russians must work the guns."

What was amusing about it?

A. What is meant by amusing? . . . peculiar, strange. I cannot say, however, whether this word was actually used. I have not seen the minutes.

Q. Now, I call your attention to the rest of your contribution.

"20,000 are still needed. Yesterday, I received a letter from the Army High Command, stating: We cannot release any more men, we have not enough ourselves. Thus there is no prospect for us."
Whom does "for us" refer to, if not to your industrial requirements?

A. I consider these minutes incorrect. It has never been discussed in this manner, it must be wrong. I cannot accept the minutes as they stand.

To clarify this matter I may say that the proposal was to take people out of the armament industry and put them into anti-aircraft defence. We who were concerned with armament did not want to release these men and were opposed to it. That was the idea of the whole thing, and the OKH declared that they did not have enough people.

Q. I understand the sense of this to be that you applied for certain workmen for the armament industry and that the Army High Command refused to give you the men, saying that they are already employed making guns and on other work. Now, is that the sense of that or is it not?

[Page 289]

A. No, not quite.

Q. Now, just tell me what the sense of it is.

A. As far as I remember, the armament industry was to release 50,000 Russian prisoners of war to the Air Force for anti-aircraft defence, and that the armament industry could not spare these people.

THE PRESIDENT: I am afraid we must adjourn due to some technical difficulty.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, it may be convenient to you to know that we are going to rise at 4.30 today.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I hope to have finished before then.

Q. I will call your attention to Page 2297, in the English translation about Page 28, to your contributions, which reads as follows:-

"Milch: There is, of course, a front also somewhere in the East. This front will be held for a certain time. The only useful thing the Russians will find in an area evacuated by us is people. The question is whether the people should not generally be taken back as far as 100 kms. behind the front line. The whole civilian population goes 100 kms. behind the front."
Do you find that?

A. Yes, I have found it.

Q. I understood you this morning to state that it was a rule promulgated in your book that the civilian population should not be interfered with.

A. From the last paragraph, according to which people were no longer to be employed on digging trenches, it appears that these people were last employed on this work. I cannot say what kind of people these were, only that they were already employed somewhere.

Q. And you knew that. You knew that they were being used for that kind of work?

A. So it says here. I do not remember it any more. It has been recorded in the minutes, provided they are correct.

Q. And you knew they were being used, the civilian population was being forced to dig trenches for your troops.

A. Today I cannot remember any more, but at that time it was discussed according to the minutes.

Q. Now, I will call your attention to the minutes of Conference No. 11 of the Central Planning Board, held on 22nd July, 1942; German, Page 3062; English translation, 38.

First let me call your attention to the fact that at that meeting it appears that among those present were Speer, yourself, Koerner - did Koerner represent the Reichsmarshal?

A. Yes, for the Four Year Plan; he was the representative for the Four Year Plan.

Q. At all meetings of this Board Koerner represented the Reichsmarshal, did he not?

A. Yes. He represented him as regards the Four Year Plan.

Q. And Sauckel was present, and representatives from the Iron Association, the Coal Association, and the Ministry for Armament and Munitions.

A. Yes.

Q. There was considerable discussion of the labour problem, and the requirements of those industries. On Page 3062 I call your attention to this entry:

"General Field-Marshal Milch undertakes to accelerate the procuring of the Russian prisoners of war from the camps."
I ask you what measures you expected to take to accelerate procuring prisoners of war from the camps?

A. Since I was a soldier, I undertook to submit this question to the OKW, which was in charge of prisoners of war.

[Page 290]

Q. You did not personally deal with the prisoners of war, but you undertook to obtain them from the OKW?

A. The Government had put these prisoners of war at our disposal for work. The transfer was very slow and as we had to deal with the OKW in this matter, I was asked and I undertook to request the OKW to speed up the transfer.

Q. Now let us turn to Conference No. 36, dated 22nd April, 1943; the English translation, Page 13; German 2125. There again I call your attention to the fact that Speer, yourself, Sauckel, and Koerner were among those present. There again you discussed the labour problem, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And Koerner reported as follows:-

"On the 1st of April agriculture was still in need of about 600,000 workers. To cover this, labour from the East, mainly women, should be brought in. This labour must be supplied before we take other workers away from agriculture. We are now approaching a very busy season in work on the land which requires many workers." - and considerably more, which I will not take the time to quote.
I call your attention to Page 2128, your contribution to that discussion, which reads as follows:-
"If you do what I proposed and what has also been agreed to by Timm, no harm can be done. It should definitely be done. Moreover, I am also of the opinion that in any circumstances we have to bring in workers for coal mining. The bulk of the labour we are going to receive from the East, will be women. The women from the East are, however, accustomed to agricultural work, particularly to the kind of work which will have to be done during the next few weeks - e.g., hoeing and planting of root crops, etc. We can use women quite well for this. Only one thing has to be kept in mind: agriculture must get the women before the men are taken away. It would be wrong to take the men away and to leave the farmers without labour for four to six weeks. If the women came after that, it will be too late."
I ask you how many women were transported to agriculture as a result of this conference?

A. As a result of this conference, none at all, as only suggestions were put forward by us for an arrangement between industry and agriculture to procure the necessary labour for the former. Without the necessary labour in the coal-mining industry the war could not be carried on. Therefore, labour had to be found, and in this respect a suggestion was made for an exchange, namely to replace men engaged in agriculture by women, who, of course, could not be put to work in the mines.

Q. To whom did you make these suggestions? You say they were not decisions but just suggestions.

A. The suggestions were made to representatives of the Ministry of Labour or to the Labour Employment Office. I see Timm is mentioned. He was one of the higher officials in this ministry.

Q. And Sauckel?

A. I do not know whether Sauckel attended that conference. I only see Timm's name.

Q. It appears from the minutes that he was there, but whether he was or not, you made suggestions to Sauckel as to the needs for labour, did you not, and called upon him to supply them?

A. Yes, it was necessary to get workers for coal-mining. New workers could not be found, thus there was no alternative but to make an exchange.

Q. We understand you. You will save a great deal of our time if you will just answer the questions.

Now I call your attention to Conference No. 54 of the Central Planning Board, held on 1st March, 1944, English translation Page 1, German Page 1762.

[Page 291]

At this conference I remind you that it appears that Sauckel, Milch, Schreiber, and Turner were among those present. It was held at the Ministry for Air Transport, and you discussed the desirability of draining off young men from France so that they would not be available to act as partisans in case there was an invasion by the Allies of French territory.

Do you recall such a meeting?

A. I cannot remember details. In the course of other interrogations here in Nuremberg and in England, I already stated that it is impossible to remember all these matters in detail, which were heaped upon us, especially as my memory has suffered, because at the time of my capture I received heavy blows on the head.

Q. It will help you if you will refer to Page 1799, opposite the name "Milch," and read the entry, as follows:

"Milch: If landings take place in France and more or less succeed, we will have in France a partisan uprising, such as we never had in the Balkans or in the East, not because the people there are particularly able to carry it through, but because we allow them to do so by failing to deal with them in the right manner. Four entire age groups have grown up in France, men between 18 and 23, that is, of an age when young people, for patriotic reasons or because they have been stirred up, are prepared to do anything to satisfy personal hatred - and it is only natural that they do hate us. These young men should have been registered according to age groups, and brought to us, as they constitute the greatest danger in the event of a landing.

I am firmly convinced, and have said so several times: If and when the invasion starts, acts of sabotage to railways, works and supply bases will be a daily occurrence. The Wehrmacht, however, will then no longer be able to deal with this internal situation, as it will have to fight at the front and will have in its rear a very dangerous enemy who will threaten supplies, etc. Therefore, if severe executive measures are taken, all would be as quiet as the grave behind the front when things are about to happen. I have drawn attention to this several times, but I am afraid nothing is being done. When we have to start shooting these people it will already be too late. We shall no longer have the men to polish off the partisans."

You then go on to state that you think the Army should handle the executive action required in rounding up these people.

Does that refresh your recollection?

A. Yes, that was roughly what I meant to say, but I cannot say whether I used these very words. In this life and death struggle of our country we had to ensure that we were not suddenly stabbed in the back by a secret army, as unfortunately happened later on.

Q. And you proposed to eliminate the population behind the lines insofar as they might constitute a menace to your operations in this invasion?

A. No, it was proposed to send these people to work in Germany, as had been promised by the French Government. That was my view. It was necessary that these people should come to work in Germany, as the French Government had promised in its agreement with the German Government, instead of allowing these people to join the Maquis and commit sabotage, which would necessitate shootings as a counter- measure.

Q. You did not confine your use of forced labour to your enemies; it was also applied against your own allies, was it not? For example, turn to Page 1814, and did you not contribute to this discussion?

"Milch: Would not the S-factories (i.e., protected factories) be better protected if we handle the whole problem of feeding the Italians and tell them: 'You will get your grub only if you work in S-factories or come to Germany.'"
A. That was after a part of Italy had broken away, and it applied to Italian soldiers who had declared themselves against Mussolini. These people remained

[Page 292]

behind the front, did not want to work, and committed sabotage against the German Armed Forces. Thus it was proposed to say to these people, "You will get your food and everything else provided, but you will have to work somewhere, either in Italy in the iron ore mines or in Germany."

Q. I think you said in your direct examination, or perhaps earlier in your cross-examination, that you did not know about any forced labour from occupied territory, you had no knowledge of that. Is that still your statement?

A. I have not quite understood that. Forced labour?

[ 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.