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 9 of 12)

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

[Page 292]

Q. Forced labour, yes.

A. Yes.

Q. You did not know about it?

A. These people were prisoners of war, Italians, who were at our disposal for work according to an agreement with the Italian Government, which we had recognized. Mussolini had expressly put these men at our disposal for this purpose.

Q. Excuse me for interrupting you, but let us not bother with Mussolini here. I ask you whether you still stand by the statement you made, earlier, as I recall it, that you did not know of any forced labour brought in from the occupied countries to Germany. Is that your statement, or isn't it?

A. Insofar as they were free workers and free people, I still maintain this. My point is that these were people who had been placed at our disposal, and, as far as we are concerned, at the time this was said, there was still an Italian Government though this fact is forgotten today; but at that time it still existed.

Q. I call your attention to Page 1827 of the minutes of this meeting at which you were present, and where the discussion you just admitted took place, and I call your attention to the line opposite the name "Sauckel," from which it appears that Sauckel then reported:

"Out of the five million foreign workers who arrived in Germany not even two hundred thousand came voluntarily."
A. No, I cannot remember that at all.

Q. You have no recollection of that?

A. No, I have no recollection of that. Q. Well, we will go on then to Conference No. 23 of the Central Planning Board, held 3rd November, 1942. It is the English translation, Page 27. The German text is on Page 1024, in which it appears that you were present at and participated in the discussion, and I call your attention to Page 1024, Line 10, to these entries of the stenographic minutes:

"Speer: Well, under the pretext of industry we could deceive the French into believing that we would release all prisoners of war who are rollers and smelters if they give us their names.

Roland: We have installed our own office in Paris. I see, you mean the French should give the names of the smelters who are prisoners of war in Germany?

Milch: I would simply say, you get two men in exchange for one.

Speer: The French firms know exactly which prisoner; of war are smelters. Unofficially, you should create the impression that they would be released. They give us the names and then we get them out. Have a try.

Roland: That is an idea."

Now, your purpose was to get two men in place of one; is that right?

A. Yes; that is to say, two people from another trade for one of these particular skilled workers.

Q. That was your entire objective?

A. The entire purpose was to get these people and to give them others in exchange.

Q. Now, let us take up Conference 53 of the Planning Board, held 16th February, 1944; English translation, Page 26, and the German from 1851 on.

[Page 293]

You will find yourself included among those who were present, and it was at the Reich Air Ministry that it was held. I first call your attention to the entry on Page 1863, the words opposite "Milch":-
"The armament industry employs foreign workers in large numbers; according to the latest figures, 40 per cent. The latest allocations from the Plenipotentiary General for Man-power are mostly foreigners and we had to give up many German workers in the combing-out drive. In particular the aircraft industry, which is a young industry, employs a great many young men who should be called up. This will, however, be very difficult, as those working for experimental stations cannot be touched. In mass production, the foreign workers preponderate and in some instances represent 95 per cent. and even more. Eighty-eight per cent. of the workers engaged on the production of our best new engine are Russian prisoners of war, and the 12 percent. are German men and women. On the Ju-52's, which are now regarded as transport planes only, and the monthly production of which is from fifty to sixty machines, only six to eight German workers are engaged; the rest are Ukrainian women who have lowered the record of production of skilled workers."
Do you recall that?

A. Yes, I can remember that distinctly.

Q. And on Page 1873, you come forward with this suggestion:

"Milch: The list of slackers should be handed to Himmler. He will make them work all right. This is of great general educational importance, and has also a deterrent effect on others who would also like to shirk."
A. Yes, this applies again to the slackers in agriculture, as I mentioned this morning.

Q. Among foreign workers, was it not?

A. No, these were Englishmen, the slackers.

Q. Englishmen are foreigners in Germany, are they not? I do not know what you mean, they were not foreigners. They were Englishmen.

A. Englishmen never worked for us. So they cannot have been Englishmen.

Q. What were they? You say they were all German.

A. What we understood as slackers were those people who were compelled to work during the war and normally were not regular workers, but were forcibly made to work during the war.

Q. We will get to that in a minute. First, I want to ask you how Himmler was going to make them work. What did Himmler do, what methods did Himmler use? Why were you making proposals to Himmler in this matter?

A. Because Himmler at a meeting had stated that as regards supplementary rations - the worker in Germany had She same basic rations as the rest of the population - and, apart from this, he received quite considerable additions which, in the case of the heaviest workers, were several times the normal basic rations. The general routine was that these rations were issued by food officers irrespective of where and how the individual was working. The suggestion was made by Himmler that these additions should be made dependent upon the output of the workers. This was possible in the case of those workers who came from concentration camps, etc., and were under Himmler. This procedure could not be applied to free workers, hence the proposal to bring to reason those who sabotaged work in their own country by issuing additional rations as laid down for their type of work only in proportion to their output.

Q. You know the difference between labour camps and concentration camps, do you not?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. And these people who were doing work in these industries were kept mainly in the work camps, were they not, in which their rations were apportioned without Himmler's control?

[Page 294]

A. No, the German workers were not kept in labour camps but they lived at home and, therefore, received their additional rations from the local food offices. I want to stress again that it was the German workers themselves who asked that measures be taken, the factory foremen who were infuriated to see that people who did not do anything, who let their country down in times of stress, received more rations than ordinary civilians.

Q. You still say that all you are talking about were German and never foreign workers. Now, be clear about that?

A. By "slackers" I meant German workers; in my opinion, only these were in question.

Q. I call your attention to Page 1913:-

This is your contribution at that point -
"It is therefore quite impossible to utilize every foreigner to the full, unless we make them do piecework and are in a position to take measures against foreigners who are not doing their bit."
Do you find that entry?

A. Yes.

Q. And then you proceed to complain that:-

"If a foreman lays his hands on a prisoner of war and boxes his ears, there is at once a terrible row; the man is put in prison. There are many officials in Germany who consider it their first duty to stand up for other men's human rights instead of looking after war production. I too am for human rights, but if a Frenchman says 'You fellows will be hanged and the works manager will be the first to have his head cut off,' and then if the boss says 'I'll give him one for that,' then he is in for it. Nobody sides with the manager, but only with the "poor devil" who said that to him."
Did you report that to the meeting?

A. That may well be the case.

Q. What did you suggest?

A. I can remember cases where foreign workers threatened and even assaulted their German foreman and when he defended himself, action was taken against him. I did not think it right.

Q. Now, you provided your own remedy, did you not? In the next line you say:-

"I told my engineers 'if you do not hit a man like this, then I shall punish you. The more you do in this respect, the more I shall think of you; I shall see to it that nothing happens to you.' This has not yet gone round. I cannot talk to every works manager individually. But I should like to see someone try to stop me, as I can deal with anyone who tries it."
Do you find that?

A. I cannot remember the exact words but I stick to the point that it was an impossible situation for a prisoner or foreign worker to be able to say to his German foreman "We will cut your throat," and the foreman . . .

Q. Well, do you mean to say that if a prisoner of war attempted or threatened to cut his employer's throat, that German officers would stand up for him as against the employer? You do not mean that, do you?

A. (No answer.)

Q. Well, we will go on:-

"If the small works' manager - "
I am still quoting from you -
"does that, he is put into a concentration camp . . ."
Do you find that?

A. Yes, I see it here.

Q. ". . . and runs the risk of having his prisoners of war taken from him."

[Page 295]

Now, I am still quoting you and I want you to find the entry,
"In one case, two Russian officers took off with an aeroplane but crashed. I ordered that these two men be hanged at once. They were hanged or shot yesterday. I left that to the SS. I wanted them to be hanged in the factory for the others to see."
Do you find that?

A. I have found it, and I can only say I have never had anybody hanged nor have I even given such an order, I could not possibly have said such a thing. I had nothing to do with this question. Neither do I know of any instance where two Russian officers tried to escape by plane.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say with reference to that entry?

A. No, I have nothing to say. I do not know anything about it and I also do not believe I ever said it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is all that I have to ask at the present time.


Q. Witness, I have some questions on behalf of the British Delegation. My first point is this: You said on Friday that beginning in 1935, an Air Force was built up in Germany for defensive purposes. Do you remember that?

A. Yes, 1935.

Q. And do you say that it remained on a defensive basis up to December 1939?

A. Yes.

Q. You do. I want you to listen to three pieces of evidence - speeches made by your chief, the defendant Goering. I am quoting from the shorthand notes of 8th January, in the afternoon, at Page 67, Part 4. In May 1935, Goering said:-

"I intend to create a Luftwaffe which, if the hour should strike, will burst upon the foe like an avenging host. The enemy must feel that he has lost even before he has started fighting."
Does that sound like a defensive air force?

A. No, that does not sound like it, but one has to distinguish between words and deeds.

Q. I will come to the deeds in a moment.


THE PRESIDENT: If there is any more of this laughter, the court will have to be cleared.


Q. On the 8th of July, 1938, Goering, addressing a number of German aircraft manufacturers, said:-

"War with Czechoslovakia is imminent; the German Air Force is already superior to the English Air Force. If Germany wins the war, she will be the greatest power in the world, she will dominate the world markets, and Germany will be a rich nation. To attain this goal risks must be taken."
Does that sound like a defensive German Air Force? Does it?

A. No, that certainly does not sound like it. I should like to be allowed to say something about that, when you have finished.

Q. Please limit yourself, if you can, in the interest of time, to answering my question, which is very short. Now may I read you one further piece of evidence, the speech made by Goering on 14th October, 1938, that is, less than a month after the Munich Pact:-

"Hitler has ordered me to organize a gigantic armament programme, which would make all previous achievements appear insignificant. I have been ordered to build as rapidly as possible an Air Force five times as large as the present one."
Does that sound like an air force for defensive purposes?

A. This Air Force would have taken many years to build.

[Page 296]

Q. I suggest to you that your evidence on that point was grossly incorrect. I now want to come to my second point. You were present at the conference of Chiefs of the Services in the Chancellery on 23rd May, 1939?

A. What was the date please?

Q. I would like you to see the Document, which is 79-L. You did see it on Friday, I think.

A. On 23rd May, was it not?

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