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 Forty-First Day: Wednesday, 29th May, 1946
(Part 2 of 9)

[DR. SERVATIUS continues his direct examination of Ernst Friedrich Christoph Sauckel]

[Page 96]



Q. How were these laws carried out?

A. The laws were published in the official publications and gazettes and were made known through the Press and through pesters in those territories.

Q. I mean the practical execution. How were the people brought to Germany?

A. They were summoned to the local labour office, which was mostly administered by local authorities. Cases had to be examined individually, according to my directives which have been submitted here. Cases of hardship in which the life of the family was affected or other such cases had to be given special consideration. Then, in the normal manner, as it was done in Germany also, the workers drafted were brought to Germany.

Q. Were you present - did you ever witness the procedure?

A. I observed this procedure personally in a number of cities in Russia, France, and Belgium, and I was satisfied that it was carried through in good order.

[Page 97]

Q. If compulsion was necessary, what measures were taken?

A. At first, such compulsory measures as are justified and necessary in every normal civil administration, were taken.

Q. And if they were not sufficient?

A. Then a request for the arraignment of the person concerned was made.

Q. These were legal measures, were they?

A. According to my conviction, they were legal measures.

Q. You have stated repeatedly in documents, which are available here, that some pressure should be used. What did you mean by that?

A. I believe that every administrative measure taken on the basis of laws or obligations laid down by the State, in one's own nation, or in some other respect, constitutes some form of stress, duty, pressure.

Q. Were not measures used which brought about some sort of collective pressure?

A. I rejected every kind of collective pressure. The refusal to employ collective pressure is also evident from decrees issued by other German offices in the Reich.

Q. Is it not true that in the East the villages were called upon to provide a certain number of people?

A. In the East the administrative procedure was rendered difficult on account of the great distances. In the lower echelons, as far as I know, native mayors were in office in every case. It is possible that a mayor was requested to select a number of workers from his village or town for work in Germany.

Q. And if nobody came; was the entire village punished? Is that the same as collective pressure?

A. Measures of that kind I rejected entirely in my field of activity, because I could not possibly, and did not want to, bring into the German economy workers who had been taken to Germany in such a manner that they would hate domicile and their work in Germany from the very outset.

Q. What police facilities were at your disposal?

A. I had no police facilities at my disposal.

Q. Who exercised the police pressure?

A. Police pressure in the occupied territories coup be exerted on the order or application of the chief of the territory, or of the higher SS and Police Leader, if authorized.

Q. Then it was not within your competence to exert direct pressure?

A. No.

Q. Did you exert indirect pressure by your directives, by cutting off food supplies or similar measures?

A. After the fall of Stalingrad and the proclamation of the state of total war, Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels in Berlin interfered considerably in all these problems. He ordered that in cases of persistent refusal or signs of resistance, compulsion was to be used by way of refusing additional food rations, or even by withdrawal of ration cards. I, personally, rejected measures of that kind very energetically because I knew very well that in the western territories the so-called food ration card played a subordinate role, and that supplies were sent to the resistance movement and its members on such a large scale that such measures would have been quite ineffective; I did not order or suggest them.

Q. At the meeting of the Central Planning Board of 1st March, 1944, you also stated that if the French police were unable to get results, then one might have to put a prefect up against a wall. Do you still consider this to be legally justified pressure?

A. That is a similarly drastic remark of mine an the Central Planning Board, which was never actually followed by an official order and not even by any prompting on my part. It was simply that I had been informed that in several departments in France the prefects or responsible chiefs supported the resistance movement wholeheartedly; railroad tracks had been blown up, bridges had been blown up,

[Page 98]

and that remark was a verbal reaction on my part. I believe, however, I was then only thinking of a legal measure, because there did, in fact, exist a French law which made sabotage an offence punishable by death.

DR. SERVATIUS: May I refer to the document in this connection?

THE PRESIDENT: Is it in R-124?

DR. SERVATIUS: It is on Page 1776, where it says that on the basis of the law it would be necessary to put a mayor up against a wall.


Q. Do you know what laws existed in France compelling co-operation from the French authorities, or whether there were such laws?

A. Yes, such laws existed.

Q. A number of reports which were submitted here concerning the application of measures of compulsion, mentioned abuses and outrageous conditions allegedly caused by recruitment measures. What can you say about that, generally?

A. I did not quite understand your question.

Q. Concerning the use of compulsion a number of reports were brought up here and you have heard them, reports setting forth measures which must surely be generally condemned. You heard of the burning down of villages and the shooting of men. What can you say to that in general?

A. All these measures are clearly in contradiction to the directives and instructions which I issued and which have been submitted here in large numbers, and to these I must refer. These are methods against which, when I heard as much as hints of them, I took very severe measures.

Q. And who bears the immediate responsibility for such incidents?

A. The responsibility for such incidents rests with the local authorities which did these things.

Q. Were there any other offices besides the local authorities which dealt with recruitment of labour?

A. That is exactly what I was fighting for from the very beginning - to eliminate and combat the intricate maze of offices which, without restraint or control, recruited workers by compulsion; that was part of my job.

Q. What kind of offices were they, local offices?

A. They were offices of all kinds. I myself heard about most of them only here.

Q. What was the situation with regard to the "OT"?

A. The "OT" for a long time recruited and used manpower independently in all spheres.

Q. Did the Labour Service have anything to do with that?

A. Do you mean the Labour Service of Labour Leader Hierl?

Q. Yes.

A. That I cannot say; it was a German military organization for training workers.

Q. Were workers taken by the Armed Forces?

A. Workers were of course taken by army groups, by construction and fortification battalions for local projects, which I neither knew nor controlled, and for urgent tasks. Road building -

Q. How about the Reichsbahn?

A. The Reichsbahn repaired its own tracks and recruited or hired as many workers as it needed, whenever it needed them.

Q. These offices were not under your supervision?

A. No.

O. Did they carry out your instructions or were they required to carry them out?

A. They were not required to carry them out and for that very reason I sent out, and in a very emphatic form, that manifesto which was mentioned yesterday; but since I myself had no supervision over the authority charged with execution of the orders, I had to leave it to the various offices to take these instructions into consideration.

[Page 99]

Q. Was the number of workers recruited in the territories in that manner very large?

A. There were certainly very large numbers of them.

Q. There were also Reich offices which dealt with the question of manpower. What about the deportations carried out by Himmler? Did you have any connection with those?

A. With reference to the question of deportations I can only say that I did not have the least thing to do with it. I never agreed, I never could have agreed, in view of my own outlook, my development and my life, I could not have agreed to the use of prisoners or convicts for work in that manner. That was absolutely foreign to my nature. I also have the firm conviction that on account of my out-spoken statements and actions, I was intentionally kept uninformed of the whole matter, because it was quite contrary to my own views on work and on workers. I said very often, and it can he seen in documents here, that I wanted to win the co-operation of the foreign workers for Germany and for the German way of life and I did not want to alienate them.

Q. These then were the various offices which apart from you had to do with recruitment of workers?

A. May I make a short statement in that respect? I heard the word "deportation" a few times in Germany and I always rejected the idea emphatically because I did not know of these things. According to the use of the word in the German language I understand "deportation" to mean the sending away of prisoners and of people who have committed some punishable act against the State. My own views of the ethics of work eliminated all thought of deportations, and I never carried them out. I gave the workers recruited through my office - and that was the point on which I finally obtained Hitler's consent at the beginning of my job, and it was not an easy matter - I gave all foreign workers legal contracts, whether they came voluntarily or on the basis of the German labour draft. They were to receive, they had to receive the same treatment, the same pay and the same food as the German workers. That is why I rejected the concept of deportation in my methods and my programme. I can testify here with a clear conscience that I had nothing at all to do with the deportations, the terrible extent of which I learned only here.

Q. You have pointed out repeatedly that these workers had to be brought to Germany under all circumstances, that one had to proceed ruthlessly, that it was an absolute necessity to get the worker. Does that not show that you agreed to such measures?

A. I should like to point out the following differentiation: My directives and instructions can be seen clearly in numerous documents. I could only issue these because I had no executive power and no machinery of my own: All these directives from the very beginning prescribe legally correct and just treatment. It is true, however, that I used the words "under all circumstances" in my correspondence with German offices - the Fuehrer himself had impressed these words on me - and that I used the word "ruthlessly" in addressing German offices, but not with respect to the treatment of workers but with respect to the many arguments, disputes, arbitrary acts and individual desires which the German offices, with which I had to contend fiercely, had amongst themselves and against me. For the most part they did not understand the meaning of the employment of manpower as an economic measure in time of war. The military, the army commanders very often told me, for instance, it was nonsense to bring these people to Germany; there was the "Vlassov Army" under the Russian general of that name and the military wanted these Russian workers to join the "Vlassov Army." I opposed that, I did not consider it right, nor did I consider it sufficiently reliable. These were the things against which I had to proceed ruthlessly, in my dealings with the German administration in these territories.

Q. Were there other circumstances, too, which led to the transportation of people to Germany?

[Page 100]

A. Yes, there were other circumstances also in connection with the use of manpower, but not directly, only indirectly, and they often, took me by surprise; for example, the evacuation of military zones, which frequently had to be carried through at a moment's notice or after only a short time of preparation. And in connection with such an evacuation, it was the task of the local labour offices to remove the population from evacuated areas to work in areas in the rear, or to bring them to Germany, as far as they could be used there.

This sort of employment of labour brought about considerable difficulties for me. There were families and children among the evacuated people and they, of course, also had to be provided with shelter. It was often the very natural wish of the Russian fathers and mothers to take their children with them. That could not be done, not because I did not want it, but because it could not be managed.

Q. And did you always use this labour, or only occasionally?

A. To a large extent these people were used by the local authorities in these territories, and put into agriculture, industry, railways, bridge building, and so on.

Q. Did you have anything to do with resettlement?

A. I never had anything to do with resettlement. According to a decree of the Fuehrer, that task was expressly delegated to the Reichsfuehrer SS.

Q. Did Rosenberg not report to you about bad conditions which existed in his sphere?

A. Yes. I had about four conversations with Rosenberg, at his request, and he told me about bad conditions. There was no doubt on my part that such conditions were to be utterly condemned.

Q. Did he speak about Koch?

A. The Reich Commissariat was mainly involved. There were considerable differences between the Minister for the Eastern territories, Rosenberg, and the Reich Commissioner, Koch.

Q. Were you in a position to take measures against Koch?

A. Koch was not subordinate to me either directly or indirectly. I could not give him any directives in such matters. I let him know, from the outset, that I could not possibly agree with such methods which I had heard about, to some extent, through Rosenberg, although I could not offer any proof.

Koch was of the opinion - and he explained that in his letters to Rosenberg - that in his territory he was the sole authority. He also pointed that out to me.

Q. Did not Rosenberg think that the cause for these conditions was that your demands were too high?

A. I also spoke to Herr Rosenberg about that. I, personally, was of the opinion that if the demands could be divided up and orderly recruitment and conscription could take place, it was quite possible to fill the quotas. But after all I had orders and directives from the Fuehrer and the Central Planning Board.

Q. Did you ever talk about the methods which should be used?

A. The methods that should be used were not only frequently discussed between us, but I made them very clear in many directives. I even went so far as to issue and distribute my manifesto over the head of this higher authority to the lower-level offices, so that they could be guided by it.

However, I have to point out emphatically that these were incidents which occurred for the most part before my directives came into effect and before my appointment.

Q. I want to refer you to Document 018-PS. That is in the "Slave Labour Brief," Page 10.

THE PRESIDENT: That is not Page 10. It is Number 10.

DR. SERVATIUS: It is Exhibit USA 186. In the English "Slave Labour" book, it is Document 10. That is a letter of 21st December, 1942.

[ 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.