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-Fourth Day: Saturday, 1st June, 1946
(Part 5 of 7)

[DR. SERVATIUS continues his examination of Hubert Hildebrandt]

[Page 243]

Q. You were probably in Paris, also, and you spoke to the German agencies there, is that right?

A. Yes. Every time I was in Paris, I took the opportunity to talk to members of the agencies about current events.

Q. Did they not tell you about things which must have surprised you?

A. With each major task we carried out we had some difficulties, of course, and certain excesses. Once it was reported to me among other things that there were impossible conditions in the "Pipiniere" of a camp, a kind of transient camp for people who were about to leave. These conditions were reported immediately to the commandant of Paris, who sent help. Then there were irregularities in the recruiting in Marseille, in which the recruiting officers used blackmail. This was also stopped immediately.

Beyond that, a fairly large number of individual cases were brought to me. There were minor difficulties about vacations, salaries, and so forth, which I transmitted each time to the competent offices for further action.

Q. Was it part of your official duties, to follow these things up?

A. As far as they came within my sphere, I took the necessary steps immediately. As far as it was the business of other departments, I immediately transmitted them to these departments for further attention.

Q. Witness, I did not ask what you did, but whether it was your official duty to look after these things.

A. The general problems of recruiting and statistical checking of programmes came within my field of duty. Questions of housing, pay and transport were

[Page 244]

dealt with by other departments. Of course, when I found out about bad conditions, it was my duty to investigate them at once, if only in the interests of further recruiting.

We considered it of the greatest importance that every abuse should be stopped immediately, because it was only in this way that further recruiting of volunteers could be guaranteed. Compulsory labour conscription was therefore considered as a last resort.

Q. Witness, I would like to know whether it was your official duty or your moral duty to look after these things?

A. In this case, it was my moral duty as well as my official duty.

Q. As regards the way transports were effected, I have one question. Mention has been made of irregularities on transports. That is why I would like you to tell us what steps you took to have the transports that came from France supervised and directed. Can you describe that briefly?

A. A Special Department was created with the Military Commander in France for the carrying out of transports. For each man who went to Germany, it was already settled to what firm he was to be sent, because the recruiting was done on the basis of planned contracts and regularised labour conditions, so that the route to be taken was known. Transports were assembled in such a way as to include as many as possible, so that a definite number of workers would go in the same direction and to the same firm.

Q. Witness, these details are of less interest to me than the question of how you conducted these transports and kept a check on them when something irregular happened on the way.

A. In giving a few details, I only wanted to indicate that a detailed check was made of every person intended for Germany. For each transport there was an exact list of persons and of the firms to which they were sent. The transports were given guides who brought them to their destination, and there they were turned over to the presidents of the provincial labour offices whose duty was to take further care of them.

Q. I should like to put a concrete case to you. A case has been reported here of a transport train which got stuck in the Saar, and when it was opened after a few days, most of the people had been frozen to death. Did you have any control of such trains? Should that have been reported to you? Could that train have been sent upon your orders? How do you explain that?

A. Such an incident would have become known to us immediately. Since the movement of transports was reported beforehand to the presidents of the provincial labour offices, we were informed immediately when they did not arrive. That happened frequently, namely, when difficulties arose because of some emergency on the way and a transport was held up - for instance, in the last days of the war in clearing up bomb damage, traffic obstructions and so on - so that we could immediately search for the transports, and that was always done.

I know nothing of the case which you have just mentioned.

Q. Witness, you must speak more slowly. The interpreters cannot possibly follow.

Will you state your position as to the incident which I have described of the train with the people who froze to death in the Saar.

A. The incident could not possibly have occurred on transports of labour recruits. These transports were well organized.

Q. You have said that before.

A. Yes.

Q. How do you explain, then, the case of that transport?

A. I learned for the first time through the Press during the last few months, that the SS also conducted transports to Germany and that conditions such as you have just described are said to have prevailed on them.

Q. Witness, were you present during the negotiations between Sauckel and Laval?

[Page 245]

A. Yes, I was frequently present.

In what kind of atmosphere were these negotiations conducted?

A. These negotiations were conducted in a very friendly manner, but occasionally, especially when promises on the part of the French Government had not been kept, quite violent disputes occurred. But real difficulties did not as a rule arise during these negotiations. Arrangements were made concerning the number of people who were to be sent to Germany, for as a matter of principle, Laval was always willing to put manpower at the disposal of Germany.

Q. And what, in particular, were the relations between Laval and Sauckel? Did Laval speak well of Sauckel?

A. M. Laval expressed his gratitude from time to time for the way in which things had been made easier for France. For instance, as regards the status of French prisoners of war, the permission given to the wives of French workmen to visit their husbands and, the taking over of welfare work in aid of the relatives of the French workmen in Germany. All these things, as I have said, took the form of agreements whereby one party put labour at the disposal of the other party, and this party, in turn, gave back manpower or granted other advantages. Laval stated repeatedly the urgent wish to do more for Germany if he could only be given political advantages for it. Therefore, he asked the German plenipotentiary repeatedly to make it possible for him to have discussions with the Fuehrer in order to create a favourable atmosphere in France for further efforts.

Q. Did these friendly relations prevail until the end?

A. Until the last negotiation, which I think took place at the end of 1944.

DR. SERVATIUS: Mr. President, I believe the question of the "Releve" and "Transformation" has been clarified sufficiently, so that I need not question the witness about it again.


Q. Witness, in what manner did the negotiations with the German commander take place? Did Sauckel give orders there? Was he the highest authority or was it the Military Commander?

A. The negotiations were never carried out in the form of a transmission of orders: the General Plenipotentiary described the situation in Germany and what needs

Q. Witness, you can be very brief.

A. I only want to say the following: Of course, the military commanders, just like the civil administration in Holland, were more interested in giving orders to be carried out than in sending manpower to Germany, and that led to conflicts. The offices had to be convinced each time that manpower had to be sent to Germany, for agriculture for example, the full needs of which could not be met in Holland, and similarly for a number of branches of the German armaments industry.

Q. Witness, a few questions concerning Belgium and Northern France: was the attitude of Sauckel to the chief authorities there the same as in France on the whole, and was everything conducted similarly, or were there any differences?

A. No, the conditions were the same as in France, only that the deputies of the General Plenipotentiary were already incorporated into the military administration.

Q. Did you receive any reports or discover anything yourself about irregularities in that territory?

A. Yes. There were isolated cases of irregularities. For instance, I was informed one day that reprisals were to be taken against relatives of members of age groups who had not appeared when they were called up. We stopped that immediately by discussing the matter with the representatives of the military commander.

Q. And how did Sauckel negotiate with the military commander?

[Page 246]

A. He also presented his demands to von Falkenhausen, who, of course, was interested in the first place in having orders for the German armaments industry carried out in Belgium; but later agreed to manpower being sent to Germany. At the same time Sauckel was concerned about the protection of students, school children, and members of younger age-groups in special cases.

Q. Witness, I will show you the minutes of an interrogation of General von Falkenhausen on 27th November, 1945. I want you to look at a few sentences. If you take Page 2, you find there, in the middle of the page, the question: "Is the witness in a position - "

THE PRESIDENT: What is the number of the document?

DR. SERVATIUS: It is Exhibit RF-15.


Q. It is the following question: "Is the witness in a position to define the limitations of his powers and the competence of the Administration for the Employment of Labour". Answer by General von Falkenhausen:

"Up to a certain time there was a labour office in my territory which was concerned with the recruiting of voluntary workers. I cannot remember the exact date any longer. It may have been in the autumn of 1942 - when the labour office was put under Sauckel; and from then on I had only to carry out the orders I received from him."
Is this attitude of the military commander von Falkenhausen to Sauckel correct?

A. It is incorrect in several paints. In Belgium there was not just one labour office, but a number of labour offices which looked after the recruiting of volunteer and also a number of recruiting offices which worked alongside of them. But from the very beginning, these labour organizations worked under the supervision of the field commanders in Belgium. These field commanders' offices were offices of the Military Commander. There was no question of the General Plenipotentiary taking over the work; on the contrary, before he appointed his deputies, he could only send his requests directly to the military administration, to General von Falkenhausen, but not directly to a labour office.

Q. What were the conditions in Holland? Who was the competent district head there?

A. It was the Reich Commissioner.

Q. And was there a deputy of Sauckel's with him?

A. Yes, a deputy was appointed there too, who was a member of the administration of the Reich Commissioner.

Q. Who issued the labour service decrees there?

A. The Reich Commissioner.

Q. And who carried out the recruiting, German or Dutch offices?

A. As far as I remember there were Dutch offices. The heads of these offices were Germans; the rest of the personnel was mainly Dutch. These offices took the necessary steps for the allocation of labour.

Q. Now, I have one more question concerning Germany. The metal industries came into your field, did they not?

A. Yes.

Q. Krupp, for instance?

A. Yes.

Q. What kind of reports did you receive about the conditions in the Krupp works as far as the care of the workmen was concerned?

A. I had no unfavourable reports about Krupp. The personal adviser of the General Plenipotentiary, Landrat Berg, visited the Krupp Works frequently, and reported to me on requests made by the firm and on the impressions he had received, but he never said that proper care was not taken of foreign workmen. I myself never visited the Krupp firm during the war.

DR. SERVATIUS: I have no more questions, Witness.

[Page 247]

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the German Counsel want to ask questions?


M. HERZOG: Mr. President, we have the same problems here. The Tribunal has already heard explanations on these points. The Tribunal is in possession of the documents which I have submitted, and I have, therefore, no questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. SERVATIUS: Then with the permission of the Tribunal, I will call the witness Stothfang.

WALTER STOTHFANG, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Would you state your full name?

A. Walter Stothfang.

Q. Will you repeat these words after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

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