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 May to 6th June, 1946

One Hundred and Thirty-Ninth Day: Monday, 27th May, 1946
(Part 9 of 11)

[DR. SAUTER continues his direct examination of Hartmann Lauterbacher]

[Page 35]

Q. I have another question, witness: Do you know whether yon Schirach actually tried to bring about an understanding between the Hitler Youth, of which he was the leader, and the youth of other countries, and can you tell us, for instance, what he did and what steps he took to that end?

A. The establishment of a cordial understanding between German youth and world youth, generally, was undoubtedly one of those tasks the importance of which Schirach constantly emphasized to his Youth Leaders, and I always had the impression that this task was, as I might almost say, his own particular passion. I myself at his order - and perhaps I am a cardinal witness on precisely this point - visited the various European countries, from 1935 onwards, at least once a year and sometimes even twice or three times in the year, so that I could get in touch with

[Page 36]

existing youth organizations and with organizations of combatants of the First World War, in order to establish contact with them.

Q. Which countries?

A. It can truthfully be said that the Hitler Youth sought contacts with all the countries of Europe; and I myself, at the direct order of von Schirach, visited England several times. There I met the leader of the British Boy Scouts and his colleague, but also -

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think those facts are in dispute. It is merely the inference that is to be drawn from the facts that the prosecution will rely upon. Therefore it is not necessary for you to go into the facts again, as to the connection of the Hitler Youth with the foreign youth.

DR. SAUTER: Yes, Mr. President.

Q. Witness, you have just heard that these facts are not in dispute. We can therefore turn to another topic: You were the "Stabsfuehrer" of the Hitler Youth in the Reich Youth Leadership. Do you know whether the Leadership of the Hitler Youth maintained spies or agents abroad, or whether it trained people for the so-called Fifth Column - and I take it you know what that is - in other countries or whether it brought young people over to be trained as parachutists in Germany and then sent them back to their own countries. During your whole period of office as "Stabsfuehrer," did you ever learn of anything like that?

A. The Hitler Youth did not have spies, agents or parachutists to operate in any country in Europe. I would have been bound to learn of such a fact or such an arrangement in any circumstances.

Q. Even if Schirach had made such an arrangement behind your back, do you believe that you would have been bound to learn of it in all circumstances through the channels of reports from District Leaders and similar channels?

A. I would in all circumstances have learned of this or have observed it in these districts on some of my many official trips.

Q. Then, witness, I should like to turn to another topic. The other day you told me about a discussion: after the Polish campaign - that would be, presumably, at the end of September or beginning of October, 1939 - and before the actual campaign in France you had a meeting with the defendant von Schirach in your residence in Berlin-Dahlem, on which occasion the defendant von Schirach voiced his attitude to the war. Will you describe this conversation briefly to the Tribunal?

A. Yes. Von Schirach came to see me at the end of September or beginning of October, 1939. He visited me in the house which I occupied at the time in Berlin. The conversation very quickly turned to war, and Schirach said that, in his opinion, this war should have been prevented. He held the Foreign Minister of that time responsible for having given Hitler inadequate or false information. He regretted the fact that Hitler and the leading men of the State and Party knew nothing about Europe and the world generally and had steered Germany into this war without having any idea of the consequences.

At that time he was of the opinion that if the war could not be brought to an end in the shortest possible time, we should lose it. In this connection he referred to the enormous war potential of the United States and England. He said - and I remember the expression very well - that this war was an unholy one and that if the German people were not to be plunged into disaster as a result of it, the Fuehrer must be informed of the danger which would arise for Germany if America were to intervene, either through deliveries of goods or through actual entry into the war. We considered at the time who would inform Hitler, who, in fact, could even obtain access to him.

Schirach at that time suggested trying in some way to introduce Colin Ross into Adolf Hitler's presence. Colin Ross was to call Hitler's attention to the threatened catastrophe and to inform Hitler of the facts. This was to be done outside the competency of the Foreign Minister and without the Foreign Minister

[Page 37]

being present. At that time, Colin Ross was not yet in Germany. I remember that when he returned he was introduced into Hitler's presence by Schirach.

Q. Witness, will you tell us more about the discussion which you mentioned as having taken place in 1939. I should like you to answer this question: How did he come to choose Dr. Colin Ross in particular? How did you happen to think of him?

A. I have already mentioned that the leaders of the National Socialist State and of the Party were almost totally lacking in knowledge of the world and foreign countries generally, and had consequently hit upon this man, who had seen so much of the world. Colin Ross had occasionally attended meetings of the Hitler Youth Leaders before 1939 and had addressed them -

Q. What about?

A. - and thus he was known to Schirach and the Hitler Youth.

Q. What were the topics he discussed before the Hitler Youth?

A. Colin Ross spoke of his experiences in other countries.

Q. How did Colin Ross become known to the Hitler Youth? On this occasion did you also speak of whether an attempt should be made to find a solution of the Jewish problem, so that it would be easier to reach an understanding with other countries, and if so, on what basis?

A. Yes. In the course of this conversation, Schirach referred to the excesses of 9th November, 1938, and to the speech he made immediately afterwards; and said that in the circumstances it would, naturally, be extremely difficult to start discussions, with America; that we might have to try beforehand - if circumstances permitted, and he wished to suggest this to Hitler during an interview -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, the Tribunal does not think it is really sufficiently important to go into Schirach's private discussions with this witness. If he can say anything as to what Schirach did, it may be different, but now the witness is simply reciting the discussions which he had with Schirach, nothing more than private discussion.


Q. Witness, what steps did Schirach actually take towards peace or to shorten the war as a result of these discussions with you? Did he take any steps; and what were these steps?

A. Yes, as he told me at a later discussion, Schirach made use of every opportunity at the beginning of the war to convince Hitler of the need for discussions with America, and with this purpose in view, he actually brought Colin Ross to Hitler, as he told me later. Colin Ross was with Hitler for several hours. When Colin Ross visited me at Hanover, he told me about this discussion, and on this occasion he said that Hitler was very thoughtful. He did also say, however, that a second discussion which had been planned with Hitler had not materialised, for, according to his version, the Foreign Office had protested against this kind of information.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, the Tribunal thinks that this witness is dealing in great detail with matters which are of very little importance and the Tribunal wishes you to bring his attention to something which is of real importance.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, I have in any case only one more question.


Q. One last question, witness. You have not been with Schirach since 1940. I believe you became a Gauleiter.

A. Yes.

[Page 38]

Q. Schirach went to Vienna. But in 1943 you again had a long talk with him, mainly about why Schirach did not resign from his post. My reason for putting this question to you is that one member of the prosecution has already discussed the question today. Will you tell us briefly what reasons Schirach gave at the time for retaining his office or why he did not resign and what his views on the war were in 1943 -at that time, I mean?

A. In March, 1943, when I made an unofficial visit to Vienna, a very long conversation took place between von Schirach and myself. At that time, von Schirach talked very pessimistically about the prospects of the war and told me that we should soon be fighting outside Vienna, in the Alps and along the Rhine. On that occasion he said that he had not been able to see Adolf Hitler for a very long time; that he had had no further opportunity of reporting to him, as had formerly been the case; and that the Chief of the Party Chancellery, Bormann, had consistently prevented him from seeing the Fuehrer and talking to him alone; and that he therefore no longer had any opportunity whatsoever of discussing Viennese questions or general questions with Hitler. In this connection he also stated that Bormann came to him with objections and complaints every day, cancelling orders and directives he had issued in his capacity of "Gauleiter" in Vienna, and that in view of all this, it was no longer possible for him to remain in office and to shoulder the responsibility.

At a later stage of that conversation, in the course of which we considered all kinds of possibilities, he said, that, as he had sworn an oath of allegiance to Hitler, he felt bound to remain in office whatever happened and that, above all, he could not take the responsibility in the present military situation for abandoning the population over which he had been appointed "Gauleiter."

He saw the catastrophe coming but said that even his resignation or any action that he might take would have no influence on the leaders of the State or on Hitler himself and that he would, therefore, remain true to his oath, as a soldier would, and retain his appointment.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, that concludes my examination of this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other Defence Counsel want to ask him any questions?

DR. SERVATIUS (Defence Counsel for Sauckel):

Q. Witness, were you "Gauleiter" in Hanover from 1940?

A. Yes, from December, 1940.

Q. You were also Plenipotentiary for Labour in that capacity?

A. Yes.

Q. Were there many foreign labourers in your "Gau"?

A. Yes, there were a great many foreign labourers in my district. This was mainly due to the "Reichswerks Hermann Goering,'' which had been established near Braunschweig.

Q. Did you have to look after them?

A. Yes, my assignments as Plenipotentiary for Labour were confined to looking after foreign civilian workers.

Q. Did you receive instructions from Sauckel on that point?

A. I, like all other "Gauleiter" of the NSDAP, constantly received instructions from Sauckel with regard to the recruitment of labour; that is to say, regarding the welfare of these civilian workers.

Q. What type of instructions were they?

A. The instructions which I received as Gauleiter, consisted almost exclusively of repeated demands to do everything to satisfy the foreign workers in matters of accommodation, food, clothing and cultural welfare.

Q. Was that carried out in practice?

A. It was naturally carried out within the limits of existing possibilities.

Q. Did you inspect camps or factories where these workers were employed?

[Page 39]

A. Yes. I, myself inspected such camps and, especially, such factories on my official trips. Apart from that, I had, as my Gau Supervisor of the German Labour Front, a man who assisted me in this task on such occasions.

Q. Did you or your Gau Supervisor establish the existence of catastrophic conditions?

A. Yes. After the air raids from which Hanover and Braunschweig suffered particularly badly from 1943 onwards, I found conditions in foreign civilian labour camps just as I did in the living quarters of German people - which I would call, perhaps not catastrophic, but certainly very serious; and after that I tried as far as possible to have these destroyed dwellings repaired, for instance, or to have new ones built.

Q. Did you see any abuses for which these industrial enterprises or the supervisory agencies were directly responsible?

A. Yes, I do remember two such cases.

Several firms in Hanover had formed a kind of industrial association - a kind of union - and had established a camp for their foreign civilian workers. The trustees of these firms were responsible for this camp. One day, the Gau Supervisor of the German Labour Front reported to me that living conditions did not comply with instructions received and asked my permission to intervene - that is to say - to be allowed to assume responsibility through the German Labour Front for that collective camp. I gave him this assignment; and some time afterwards, he reported that these difficulties had been eliminated.

The "Reichswerke Herman Goering" constitute another example of this kind. Since I am speaking under oath here, I must mention the fact that that firm disregarded Sauckel's instructions in many respects. On one occasion they recruited workers independently, outside the jurisdiction of the Labour Administration through their branches in the Ukraine and other countries. These labourers came to Watenstedt, in the area supervised by the Executive Board of the Party, outside the quota fixed by the Plenipotentiary for Labour, and consequently outside of his jurisdiction.

I myself had very considerable difficulty in obtaining admission to the work and the camp. For as Gauleiter and Plenipotentiary, I was not by any means in a position simply to -

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute. What has this got to do with the defendant Sauckel?

DR. SERVATIUS: I asked him about any abuses which he had found, for, as Plenipotentiary for the recruitment of foreign workers, it was his duty to ascertain whether such bad conditions existed and to report them so that they would finally be brought to Sauckel's notice. He has digressed rather widely and has just been describing the Hermann Goering Works.

THE PRESIDENT: You should stop him, Dr. Servatius. You know the question you were asking.


Q. Witness, did you establish the existence of abuses in the camp?

A. I was unable to enter the camp, because entry was forbidden.

Q. Did Sauckel himself address the workers in your Gau?

A. No, not during my period of office. But he frequently sent representatives.

DR. SERVATIUS: I have now some questions to put on behalf of the political leaders, whom I represent.


Q. Did you receive special instructions from the Fuehrer on your appointment as Gauleiter?

A. No. When I was appointed Gauleiter, I was merely introduced by Herr Hess as "Gauleiter," during an assembly of Gauleiter. But I received no special instructions on the occasion of that meeting and during my -

[Page 40]

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, the answer was "no" and you did not need to add to it at all.


Q. Did you talk to the Fuehrer later on? Did you receive any special or secret instructions?

A. I only sat the Fuehrer one and again at Gauleiter's meetings and I never had any official discussions with him.

Q. Do you know anything about the activities of Block Leaders (Blockleiter)? In particular, I want to ask you: Were they used as spies?

A. No.

Q. But there seems to be a widespread belief that in fact Block Leaders did act as spies and informers and that has been brought up by the prosecution. Perhaps the SD used Block Leaders for this purpose?

A. The SD had its own agents, its own trusted men who were not known to the Party. At any rate, the Block Leaders had no instructions to work for the SD.

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