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-Second Day: Thursday, 30th May, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[Page 149]


Q. Since you still deny the pressure that you exerted on the French Government, I will submit to you Document 1342-PS.

[Ernst Friedrich Christoph Sauckle] A. I think that an error in translation has been made here. I understood that you said did I deny that I was putting pressure on the French Government. I respected this government much too much to try to exert pressure upon it. You see, I understood you asked me whether I denied that I exerted pressure on the Government, and, of course, that question I had to answer with "no."

Q. I said to you, since you deny that you exerted pressure on the French authorities, I will submit to you a new document. It is Document 1342-PS which has already been submitted to the Tribunal under Exhibit RF 63. This document represents the minutes of a meeting which you held on 11th January, 1943 in Paris with various German occupation authorities. Do you remember that on this occasion you made a declaration concerning your relations with the Vichy Government? I will read this declaration to you. It is on Page 4 of the French and German texts.

A. Unfortunately, I am not able to find it.

Q. I will read the declaration:

"The French Government - " It is the last paragraph but one before the end of Page 4.

"The French Government is composed of nothing but adepts in temporisation. If the first 250,000 workers had arrived in time, that is to say, before the

[Page 150]

autumn, in Germany, after the negotiations with the French Government had already begun in the preceding spring, we might perhaps have been able to get key men into the Reich earlier and set up new divisions, and it might not have come to the sealing off of Stalingrad, In any case, the Fuehrer is now absolutely decided to rule in France, if need be even without a French Government."
When you made this declaration, did it not reflect the pressure which you were exerting on the French Government.

A. This is not a conference with the French Government. This is a statement of facts.

Q. I did not say that it was a conversation with the French Government. I asked you what you meant when you stated that the Fuehrer was determined to rule in France, even without the French Government. Was that not pressure?

A. That was a straightforward decision and a statement from the Fuehrer, for which I am not responsible. I merely repeated it, and in any case it was never realised.

Q. Why did you transmit it to the occupation authorities in France in the course of a conference that you were holding with them concerning the recruitment of labour?

A. Because it was my duty to give a description of the situation as I saw it at the time.

Q. But do you not think that in expressing to them this declaration of the Fuehrer, you were using it to exert pressure?

A. I could not exert any pressure by that, because this was merely transmitting the state of affairs. I did not tell the French Government that the Fuehrer would remove them and that therefore they would have to do such and such a thing. I did not behave like that.

Q. But you did state, and I ask you to confirm it, you did state in the course of that conference that the Fuehrer was decided to rule in France, even without a French Government? Did you say that? I ask that you answer me "Yes" or "No."

A. Yes, I repeated that, but not with the intention of doing that -

Q. Do you remember the discussion which you had on 14th January, 1944, in Paris with various German personalities?

A. Yes, it is possible that I had a discussion there at that time but I cannot remember at the moment what it was about.

Q. You do not remember a discussion which you had on 14th January, and you do not remember the German personalities who were present at this meeting?

A. Probably there were several conversations, but I cannot tell you now which one you are talking about. Neither do I remember, of course, what the actual subjects of the conversation were.

Q. On 14th January, 1944, you had a conversation in Paris with Abetz, von Stulpnagel, Oberg and Blumentritt. Do you remember that in the course of that discussion you submitted to your listeners the draft of a law which you had drawn up and which you wanted to impose on the French authorities?

A. I was not trying to impose it. I was trying to discuss it. I was negotiating. I was not trying to impose it upon them. The wording of the record shows that quite clearly.

Q. Do you contest the fact that you yourself drafted a law which you transmitted to the French Government?

A. That I do not deny. That I submitted such a draft law and that I drafted it, that is something I do not deny.

Q. You do admit then that you yourself drafted the text?

A. Yes, but I cannot tell you which one you mean.

Q. I submit to you French Document 813, which I put in as Exhibit RF 1512. It represents the minutes of this meeting of 14th January, 1944, and it is Document 813.

[Page 151]

These minutes are signed by Abetz, Oberg, von Stuelpnagel, Blumentritt, and yourself.

I read from III under heading: "The German delegate (GBA-General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour)" - which was you - "elaborated a draft law for the French Government."

Do you still contest the fact that you yourself elaborated draft laws which you submitted to the French Government?

A. That I do not deny; I had to submit a proposal. However, it was based on mutual negotiations.

Do you contest the fact that you imposed this law by pressure?

A. That I imposed this law by pressure - that I deny. I negotiated about it.

Q. Do you not remember that you gave an account to the Fuehrer of the mission which you carried out in Paris in January, 1944?

A. It was my duty to report when I made such journeys for I was carrying out the Fuehrer's orders.

Q. I submit to you this report, Document 556-PS, which was brought before the Tribunal as Exhibit RF-70. Twice in the course of this report you speak of German demands. Do you not think that to give an account to the Fuehrer of German demands having been accepted is to give an account to him of the success of the pressure which you exerted?

A. I cannot conceive in what other way a basis for negotiations could be found. The German Government made demands; because of those demands there were negotiations with the French Government which were considered by me to be legal.

Q. Do you admit, therefore, that the German Government, and you who were its agent, were making demands? Please answer "Yes" or "No."

A. The German Government was making demands; yes, that is true.

Q. And those demands, did they not, at times, take the form of a veritable ultimatum?

A. I am not aware of that. I can only say that I was very polite and accommodating when talking to the French Premier and that our negotiations ran very smoothly. He often mentioned that and it is in the record.

Q. When you took action concerning the mobilization of the 1944 class, do you not remember that you demanded this mobilization in a veritable ultimatum. Answer "Yes" or "No."

A. I cannot say so from memory.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Herzog, I think you might put to him the last sentence in the letter of 25th January, 1944, 556-PS.


Q. "I have, however, left no doubts concerning the rigour of the measures which will be taken should the demands for the transfer of workers not be met."

A. Yes, I probably said that though not in the form in which it is put down in this document.

Q. Do you remember that on 6th June, 1944, the day of the dawn of our liberation, you addressed a letter to Ambassador Abetz?

A. I cannot tell you that from memory.

Q. Well, I am going to produce this letter. It is French Document 822, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF-1513.

"6th June, 1944. Paris.

Your Excellency the Ambassador, and my dear Party Comrade Abetz:

The invasion which has been long expected has finally begun. Thus ends the period of waiting also for the Arbeitseinsatz (Employment of Labour), which was used as an unspoken pretext that the sending of workers into the Reich was impossible, owing to the political atmosphere reigning in the country."

[Page 152]

I omit a few lines and I quote again:
"Now that the German soldier must again fight and bleed on the Channel Coast, now that the struggle can extend, any hour, to many other parts of France, any call or any words from Laval can have no weight whatsoever. The only language which can now be understood is that of the German soldier.

I beg you, therefore, in these decisive hours to ask Premier Laval at last to do something which will certainly be very difficult for him; that is to say, that he should at last sign the order for the calling up of the 1944 class.

I do not wish to be kept waiting any longer. Neither do I wish to leave with an opinion which might be unjust, but which, at the same time, will force itself upon me, concerning the temporising tactics of the French Government.

I beg you, therefore, most urgently, to obtain by tomorrow morning, 10 a.m., the signature of the French Premier to the decree for the calling up of the 1944 class, or else to inform me quite clearly should Laval answer with a categorical 'no.' I will not accept any dilatory excuses, since all technical preparations regarding the division of the departements, as well as the arrangements for transport, have either been made or are now about to be made, thanks to the joint discussions which have been going on."

Do you not call this a veritable ultimatum?

A. It is only an ultimatum in so far as my departure was in question, and nothing else. I could not exert any pressure on Laval or use any threats.

Q. What did you mean when you said, "I beg you, therefore, most urgently to obtain by tomorrow morning, 10 a.m., the signature of the French Premier to the decree for the calling up of the 1944 class, or else to inform me quite clearly should Laval answer with a categorical 'no.' I will not accept any dilatory excuses."

Is that not an ultimatum?

A. It is only an ultimatum in so far as I could not wait any longer. I had to leave, because I had orders to leave. I was trying to get a decision, a "yes" or "no," nothing else.

Q. And to demand an answer "yes" or "no" - you do not consider that an ultimatum, defendant Sauckel?

A. I had to leave, and I wanted a decision as to whether the French Premier would sign it or not.

Q. Thank you. The Tribunal will I am sure note your answer.

Do you know how many French workers were deported to Germany as a result of your various actions?

A. So far as I can remember - I cannot say exactly offhand - there were 700,000 to 800,000 French workers used in Germany. However, I cannot tell you exactly without any documents.

Q. Is it correct that in Belgium and in the North of France the deportation of workers for forced labour was regulated by the legislation of the army of occupation?

A. I do not know about the legislation of the occupation army; the Administration of Labour did that.

Q. Is it correct that it was the decree of 6th October, 1942, which instituted forced labour in Belgium and in the North of France?

A. We called it "Compulsory Labour Service" in accordance with German law. That is correct.

Q. Is it correct that General von Falkenhausen, the German Military Commander in Belgium and in the North of France, who signed the order of 6th October, 1942, did so under pressure from you?

A. No, he did not sign it under pressure from me, because I talked to him about it and there was not any argument. This happened at the request of the Reich Government and the Fuehrer.

[Page 153]

Q. I submit to you the interrogatory of General von Falkenhausen who testified before a French Magistrate on 27th November, 1945. I submitted this interrogatory under No. RF-15 in the course of my presentation in January. I read from Page 1. Question 3:
"Question: Will you swear that you will say, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

"Answer: I swear.

"Question: On 6th October, 1942, there appeared an order which instituted compulsory labour service in Belgium and in the departments of the North of France ...."

I omit two lines.
"Answer: I was Commander-in-Chief for the North of France and Belgium.

"Question: Does the witness remember having promulgated this order?

"Answer: I do not remember exactly the text of this order, because it was issued after a long struggle with Sauckel, the Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour.

"Question: Did you have any difficulties with Sauckel?

"Answer: I was fundamentally opposed to the institution of compulsory labour service, and it was only after having received orders that I consented to promulgate the order."

Do you still deny that General von Falkenhausen issued this order under pressure from you?

A. I deny the version as it is put before me now, emphatically.

Q. You dispute the testimony of General von Falkenhausen?

A. In this version, yes; because -

Q. This statement was given under oath, and your testimony today is given under oath. The Tribunal will take note of it.

A. I say in all conscience that to the best of my recollection this version is not completely correct. Legislation regarding labour in occupied territories was not carried out on my order but on the order of the Fuehrer, and I did not have any discussion about it with General von Falkenhausen. We discussed it in a friendly way and he introduced the law. I do not remember that I had any difficulties in this connection. And in another paragraph he states that at that time he gave all his instructions on Hitler's orders. I myself had neither arguments nor difficulties with him.

Q. Is it correct that in Holland the deportation of Dutch workers for forced labour was under the jurisdiction of the Reichskommissariat?

A. Please, will you hear the defendant Seyss-Inquart about that? The expression jurisdiction is entirely new to me. In France, Belgium and Holland this matter was dealt with only through the administration of the labour departments, that is to say

Q. Who signed the orders concerning forced labour in Holland?

A. I assume that Seyss-Inquart did.

Q. Is it correct that the orders signed by the defendant Seyss-Inquart constituted a local application of the general programme which you were charged with carrying out?

A. A local application in Holland. I do not quite understand it the way it is put in German.

Q. Is it not correct that by signing the orders concerning forced labour in Holland the defendant Seyss-Inquart was implementing your programme of forced labour?

A. It was an implementation of the Fuehrer's labour programme as he, the Fuehrer, had ordered it.

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