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-Third Day: Friday, 31st May, 1946
(Part 2 of 13)

[GENERAL ALEXANDROV continues his cross examination of Ernst Friedrich Christoph Sauckel]

[Page 180]

THE WITNESS: No, I only want to read two more sentences, your Lordship.
"The worker's life is so varied that it cannot be recorded even in many volumes. But every human being harbours a feeling which tells him: here you have been treated with kindness and justice - "
THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, that is enough. We have heard enough of that.


Q. Defendant Sauckel, in July 1944 a conference was held at Hitler's Headquarters to deal with the question of the treatment of foreign workers in case of a further successful advance of the Allied Armies. Do you know anything of this conference or not?

A. May I ask once more - what was the date?

Q. I am asking you about the conference which was held at Hitler's Headquarters in July 1944. Do you know anything about this conference or do you not?

A. I cannot remember for certain. I must ask you to place some document before me. I cannot remember any meeting in July because, as from 20th June, 1944, or thereabouts, I was no longer admitted to the Fuehrer for any discussions.

Q. That is enough for me. That means that you do not know anything at all about this conference?

Tell me, for what purpose, for what kind of work were the foreign labourers who had been imported into Germany employed? Is it correct to state that they were primarily employed in the armament and munition industries?

A. Workers were brought to Germany for employment in the armament industry. Armament industry is a very far-reaching concept and is not identical with the manufacture of arms and munitions. The armament industry includes all such products - from matches to cannon - as may have anything to do with supplying the Army. It is, therefore, necessary, within this broad, far-reaching concept, to limit or isolate the manufacture of arms and munitions.

Moreover, workers were brought to Germany for all other branches of civil economy, essential to the war effort, such as agriculture, mining, skilled trades and so forth. We made three distinctions:

War economy, which meant the entire German economy in wartime.

Armament economy meant -

THE PRESIDENT: Well, defendant, we do not want a lecture upon that, you know. All you were asked was whether they were brought there for work in the armament industry.

[Page 181]

THE WITNESS: A part of them.


Q. I should like you to answer whether the workers brought to Germany were primarily employed in Germany's war industries and for military purposes? Is that right or not? I mean - in the broad sense of the word.

A. In the broad sense of the word, yes, including the entire economy in wartime.

Q. Then the utilization of imported manpower was subordinated entirely and fully to the conduct of the war of aggression by Germany? Do you admit that?

A. That is stretching the concept too far. My own views, according to which I acted, and only could act at the time, excluded the word "aggressive".

Q. Please answer briefly if it appears to go too far. Tell me, do you admit it or do you not?

A. I have already answered.

Q. Your part as organiser of the mass drive into slavery of the peaceful population of the occupied territories is sufficiently clear. I should now like to pass over to the elucidation of the part played by the individual ministries in this matter. Please enumerate the ministries and other governmental organizations which directly participated in carrying out the requisite measures for the mobilization and utilization of foreign manpower. Mention has already been made of the Ministry of the Occupied Territories, of the Armaments Ministry and of the OKW, so that it is not necessary to speak about them again. Kindly enumerate the others.

A. The chart which has also been submitted to your Delegation, General, contains small inaccuracies, inaccuracies made by the compiler. I have not seen the completed lay-out, but I take it for granted that the original, as submitted to me, was correctly made by the compiler. These small inaccuracies and deviations can be rectified, and the chart will then be unequivocal and offer the soundest explanation.

Q. Your Defence Counsel has stated here that this chart is not sufficiently accurate. It is precisely for that reason that I ask you this question and request you to elucidate which ministries and other governmental agencies played an immediate part in the mobilization and utilization of foreign manpower, over and above those which I have already indicated?

THE PRESIDENT: General, he says that it is substantially correct, and that there was only one minor alteration suggested in it. Surely that is sufficient for us.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Mr. President, Sauckel's Defence Counsel has himself stated that there are a number of inaccuracies in the chart. I will, however, endeavour to facilitate this task. Please tell me, how was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs connected with this matter?

A. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs was connected with this matter as follows:

It had to establish connections in such countries where Embassies, Ministries or German Delegations were acting. Negotiations would then take place at times under the chairmanship of the head of that Embassy or Delegation. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs always made every effort to conduct these negotiations in a suitable form and in a proper manner.

Q. On 4th January, 1944, a meeting was held at Hitler's head office. This is Document 1292-PS. It is written, in sub-paragraph 4 of the minutes of this meeting, that "the Plenipotentiary General for the Employment of Labour must, before taking his measures, contact the Ministry for Foreign Affairs." What did that mean in this particular case?

A. In this case it meant that if I had to negotiate with the French or the Italian Governments, I would first have to get in touch with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

[Page 182]

Q. After this meeting, which was held on 4th January, 1944 - on 5th January, 1944, to be precise - you sent a letter to Lammers, in which you raised the question regarding the necessity for issuing a special directive as a result of this meeting, in order that all aid be given you by the following agencies - I shall enumerate them: The Reichsfuehrer SS, the Minister of the Interior, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Field Marshal Keitel, the Minister for the Occupied Territories in the East, Rosenberg, the Governor General and others. Do you remember this letter?

A. I remember that letter; will you be kind enough to put it before me? I cannot, of course, remember the contents in detail.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the number of that document, General?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: That is number 1292-PS, Page 6 of the Russian text,

Q. Have you found the passage?

A. Yes. It is on the last page? May I ask if this is correct?

Q. This means you considered that all these organizations were to participate, one way or the other, in the execution of measures for the recruitment and utilization of manpower. Is that correct?

A. That is correct and I ask permission in this connection to give the following explanation. It is obvious that I myself, in my office, could not do certain things without informing the high-ranking authorities of the Reich. It merely proves that I was attempting to work correctly and not wildly within the Reich, or to interfere with other administrative departments.

Q. I would like you to explain the following: when the Hitlerite Government resorted to these criminal measures for driving off the population in the occupied territories into slavery, did practically all the Government organizations of Hitlerite Germany - besides yourself - and the Party machinery of the NSDAP participate in these activities? Would it be correct to say so?

A. I protest against the words "driving off"; I want to hear my Defence Counsel on the subject in rebuttal.

Q. It is not a question of the word used. Answer me - is it correct or not?

A. The word is extremely important.

Q. Did the entire machinery of State participate in this matter or not?

A. In this form I must answer your question in the negative; it -

Q. No other reply is demanded of you.

A. In the - I might explain this. In the collection of workers, that is, in their engagement according to German orders, it was the chief, duly authorized and appointed for this purpose at the time, of a territorial government, a Reich commissariat, or the like, who participated, for I emphasize that I was unable to issue any laws in that field and was not allowed to, so I could not interfere in any government department; that is impossible in any government system in the world.

Q. Yes. But you were obliged to co-ordinate the activities of all these representative organizations in Germany. That was the task assigned to you.

A. Not to co-ordinate, but to instruct them, and to ask for their co-operation, as the case might arise, if it fell within their jurisdiction.

Q. That is not quite so. I did not wish to touch on this question. But I must revert to it, here and now, since you have slightly minimised your part in this matter.

A. I request permission to reply to the word "minimise". The distribution and direction of manpower in the Reich was my principal task. Including the German workers, it covered 30,000,000 persons. I do not wish to minimise this task, for I did my best to introduce order in this mass of workers, as dictated by my sense of duty. I do not wish to minimise anything. It was my task and my duty towards my people.

[Page 183]

Q. We need not argue on this subject. It would be much simpler to consult the document. An order by Goering will be handed to you in a moment.

A. I wish - I must apologise to you if you have misunderstood me.

I - I have no intention of arguing. I am only asking for permission to clarify my conception of duty with regard to this task, since it was the most personal task I had.

Q. That is quite apparent in this order by Goering of 27th March, 1942. It is Exhibit USSR 365. It will be handed to you in a minute. I will read a brief excerpt from it, showing the powers you were vested with.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the number of it?


THE PRESIDENT: Has it a PS number?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: No. This is a Soviet exhibit.

Q. Please read sub-paragraph 4, which clearly states:

"The Plenipotentiary General for the Employment of Manpower has at his disposal, for the execution of his task, the following power assigned to him, by the Fuehrer, to issue directives to the highest authorities of the Reich, as well as to the Party, the Party organizations and branch offices, the Reich Protector, the Governor General, the Army Chiefs and the Heads of the Civil Services."
That is what we read in sub-paragraph 4 of this order. I believe, therefore, that on the strength of this order you were appointed Plenipotentiary General with extraordinary powers for the employment of manpower. Is that correct or not?

A. That is correct. I should like to add that this authority was limited to my own professional sphere, and take the liberty of reading the following sentence:

"Orders and directives of fundamental importance are to be submitted to me in advance."
And I might point out that my deputies received restrictive orders later in the autumn. There is a witness who can make a statement to that effect.

Q. I am not talking about your deputies. Your powers are only too clearly defined in sub-paragraph 4 of Goering's order.

Now will you enumerate which of the defendants, at the same time as yourself, directly and in his own sphere of action, participated in the execution of measures for the mass deportation into slavery of the population of the Occupied Territories, and of their employment in Germany. Name them in succession. Defendant Goering participated in all these crimes, as your immediate chief and leader?

A. I want to point out, most emphatically, that I could not possibly have been aware that entire populations had been carried off, in view of lawful recruitments and of service engagements based on legal decrees. I deny this. I had nothing to do with measures concerning prisoners, etc., but -

THE PRESIDENT (Interrupting): The question was, did the defendant Goering participate with you in the bringing in of foreign workers into Germany? You do not seem to me really to be answering it at all.

A. I was directly subordinate to the Reichsmarschall of the Greater German Reich in the question of the introduction of foreign manpower.

THE PRESIDENT: Then why do you not say so?


Q. So the defendant Goering participated in the execution of these criminal measures?

THE PRESIDENT: General Alexandrov, when you want to ask a question of that sort, I think it would be much better that you should not allege the fact

[Page 184]

that it is a crime. If you want to know whether the defendant Goering took part with this defendant in the work that he was doing, you can refer to that without calling it a crime; and then he perhaps will answer you more easily.



Q. Did the defendant von Ribbentrop participate in carrying out these measures on diplomatic lines, and did he sanction the violation of international treaties and conventions where the utilization of foreign workers and prisoners of war in the German industries was concerned?

THE PRESIDENT (Interrupting): Well, there again, these defendants are saying that there was no violation of international law; so the question you should put to him is: did von Ribbentrop participate with him in these measures as far as diplomacy was concerned?

Q. I am now asking you what was the connection between the defendant von Ribbentrop and the mobilization of manpower, and I would like to receive an answer to this question.

A. The part played by defendant Ribbentrop consisted in holding conferences with foreign statesmen or foreign Government Departments in the occupied territories, as well as in neutral and friendly countries abroad, and he considered it highly important that they should be carried out correctly and aim at the best possible conditions for the foreign workers.

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