The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th June to 19th June 1946

One Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Day: Wednesday, 19th June, 1946
(Part 10 of 11)

[DR. FLAECHSNER continues his direct examination of Albert Speer]

[Page 387]

THE PRESIDENT: If you will give us the reference - Give us the names of the witnesses. We can take notice of them afterwards. What are their names?

DR. FLAECHSNER: The witness Sauer, and we are dealing with his, answers to Points 4, 5 and 8 of the interrogatory; the witness Schieber gives a statement regarding this matter under Point 12 of his interrogatory.

Now I should like to submit the speech given by Speer on 9th June, 1944, as Exhibit No. 2. It confirms the testimony which the defendant has made about the organization of his ministry and the staffing of it with honorary industrial co-workers. I shall quote it. I am sorry to say that this speech is also not contained in your Honour's supplementary volume. I am very sorry. I will just have to read it, and I quote:

"These honorary co-workers drawn from industry - "
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Flaechsner, it is a little bit inconvenient to the Tribunal not to have these documents before them. You could not possibly postpone dealing with the particular documents that you have not got here until tomorrow morning? Shall we have the supplementary volume then?

DR. FLAECHSNER: The promise was given me that it would be at my disposal by this afternoon.

[Page 388]

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, well, then, would it be convenient to leave those parts which are contained in the supplementary volume over until tomorrow?

DR. FLAECHSNER: In the supplementary volume No. 5 we find a document, very short in part, with which I shall not concern myself today. Only this one speech which I am mentioning now is -



"These honorary co-workers, drawn from industry, carry the responsibility to the last detail for what is manufactured in the various enterprises and industries and for how it is manufactured."
Then a few lines farther down:
"Among your main tasks, next to the assigning of contracts to these industries, is to supervise the restriction of the types and specialisation of these industries; under certain circumstances, to close certain enterprises, to further rationalisation from the point of view of raw materials, construction and production, as well as unconditional exchange of experience, without regard to 'Schutzrechte' (patents)."
From various passages of this document it can be seen clearly that Speer considered his office an improvised instrument which made use of the existing authorities of the Reich for the fulfilment of his tasks without burdening his office with administrative duties. The decree of 10th August, which is mentioned in the speech of Speer, shows that he expressly prohibited his offices from turning into administrative offices. The defendant did not want the bureaucratic system in his ministry.

THE PRESIDENT: What speech of Speer are you referring to? You said the decree of 10th August.

DR. FLAECHSNER: It is still the same speech, Mr. President, which I just mentioned.

The decree is mentioned therein.

THE PRESIDENT: I did not get what the year was when you began. What was the year?

DR. FLAECHSNER: The year was 1942, 10th August, and the speech was given in, the year 1944. Therefore, he was referring to a decree which had been in force for some time.

Just how important it was to the defendant to have non-bureaucratic new forces in his ministry is shown in a passage from his speech which I would like to quote now:

"Any organization which is to last for some period of time and which exceeds a certain size has a tendency to become bureaucratic. Even though, in one of the first large attacks on Berlin, large numbers of the current files of the ministry were burned and therefore, for some time, we were lucky enough to have unnecessary ballast taken from us, we cannot expect occurrences of that sort will continuously bring new vigour into our work."

Q. Herr Speer, so far as the Tribunal wishes, will you please briefly supplement these statements about the tasks of your ministry from the technical point of view?

[Albert Speer] A. I shall try to be very brief.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you, Dr. Flaechsner, you read us the speech.

DR. FLAECHSNER: The speech, yes -

THE PRESIDENT: It seems to be very remote to every issue, even as it is, and why you should want to supplement it, I do not know.

DR. FLAECHSNER: I thought it might be of interest to the High Tribunal to hear about the sphere of activity which the defendant had in his capacity as a minister. This speech was made to experts and is, therefore, really only of interest

[Page 389]

to an expert. I assumed that the High Tribunal would wish to know just what the task of the production ministry of Herr Speer was. I am under the impression that the prosecution thinks its sphere of activity to have been considerably greater than it actually was.

THE PRESIDENT: If you want to know what he says about the tasks of his ministry, you can ask him. But you have just been reading his speech, and we do not want to -

DR. FLAECHSNER (interposing): No, no, I do not want that either. He is just going to give us briefly some of the technical tasks of his ministry. That is what I wanted to know.

THE PRESIDENT: You do not seem to be hearing me accurately. Would it not be better if you put your earphones on?

What I said was that you had read the speech and we did not want to hear any more argument upon the speech from the defendant. If you want to ask the defendant what the tasks of his ministry were, ask him. What you asked him was: "Do you wish to supplement the speech?"


Q. Herr Speer, will you please tell us what the tasks were which your ministry had to carry out, and please do not refer to the things that I mentioned in the speech.

A. I believe the tasks of a production ministry are well known in all industrial States. I just wanted to summarize briefly which functions I had to concern myself with in detail in this ministry.

For one, we had to surmount the deficiency in raw materials, metals and steel. Then, through an introduction of the Fliessbandarbeiten (assembly line work), which is customary in the United States, but was not yet very current in Germany, the work was systematized and thus machinery and space were used to the utmost. Also, it was necessary to amplify the production programme, for example, for fine steel, aluminium, and for individual parts like ball bearings and cog-wheels.

One of the most important tasks was the development of new weapons and their mass production; and then, beginning with 1943, repairing of the damage caused by the extraordinarily rapid bombing attacks, which forced us to work with improvised means and methods.

Q. What was the importance of this activity in the sphere of your ministry?

A. It is to be taken as a matter of course that this sphere of activity was the most important in our country, if only because it included providing equipment for the army. I claimed that during the war the rest of the economy would have to be regulated according to the exigencies of armament. In times of war, at home, there are only two tasks which count: Furnishing soldiers for the front, and supplying weapons.

Q. Why was the task of your ministry purely a war function?

A. Because during peace-time the giving of orders is normally regulated according to supply and demand, but in war time this regulating factor is lacking.

Q. Therefore it was one of the main tasks of your ministry to exercise a State control over the distribution of orders?

A. Yes.

Q. Then, at first, you had responsibility only for armament production for the army, but at the end of 1944 you were responsible for the entire field of armament and war production. Can you briefly tell me the stages of this development, and how thereby the extent of your task grew?

A. It would be best for me to tell you about the development by dealing with the number of workers I had.

In 1942 I took over the armament and construction programmes with altogether 2,600,000 workers. In the spring of 1943, Donitz gave me the responsibility for naval armament as well, and at this period I had 3,200,000 workers. In September

[Page 390]

of 1943, through an agreement with the Minister of Economics, Herr Funk, the production task of the Ministry of Economics was transferred to me. With that I had 12,000,000 workers working for me.

Finally, I took over the air armament from Goering on 1st August, 1944. With that the total production was marshalled under me with 14,000,000 workers. The number of workers applies to the Greater German Reich, not including the occupied countries.

Q. How was it possible to have a task of that magnitude directed by a ministry that consisted almost exclusively of honorary members who, moreover, had no practical routine experience in purely administrative matters?

A. The administrative departments in the various armament offices retained their tasks. In that way, for example, in the army, the Heereswaffenamt - the Army Weapon Office - with a staff of several thousands, gave the orders, supervised the carrying out of these orders, and saw to it that delivery of the orders and payments were carried out in a proper manner. Only in that way did I succeed in having the entire armament production - which amounted to three to four billion marks a month - carried through with an honorary co-worker staff of six thousand people.

Q. Were all armament enterprises subordinate to you?

A. No. There was a small group of enterprises, which were run directly by the Wehrmacht branches with their own workers, not controlled by me; and also the enterprises of the SS were excluded from my domain as well.

Q. The prosecution makes the charge that you shared the responsibility for the recruiting of foreign workers and prisoners of war, and took manpower from concentration camps. What do you say to this?

A. In this connection, neither I nor the ministry were responsible for this. The ministry was a new establishment, which had a technical problem to deal with. It took no competence in any field away from an existing authority. The conditions of work were still handled through the old existing authorities. The Food Ministry, and the various offices connected with it, were responsible for the food supply, and the trade supervising agencies in the Reich Ministry were responsible for the maintenance of safe, liveable conditions at the places of work; the Trustees of Labour, working under the Plenipotentiary for Labour Commitment, were responsible for the salaries and the quality and quantity of work done; and the Health Office of the Reich Ministry of the Interior was responsible for health conditions. The Justice Department and the Police Department dealt with violations against labour discipline, and finally, the German Labour Front was responsible for representing the interests of the workers.

The centralisation of all of these authorities lay in the bands of the Gauleiter as Reich Defence Commissioner. The fact that the SS put itself and its concentration camp internees outside the control of State departments was not a matter with which I or my ministry were concerned.

Q. Your co-defendant Sauckel testified to the effect that with the carrying out of the recruiting of workers for the industries his task was finished. Is that correct in your opinion?

A. Yes, certainly, as far as the recruiting of workers is concerned, for one of the subjects of dissension between Sauckel and me was that the suitable employment of workers in the industry itself was a matter for the judgement of the man in charge of the industry, and that this could not be influenced by the Labour Office. It applied, however, only to the recruitment of labour, and not to the observing of conditions of labour. In this latter connection, the office of Sauckel was partly responsible as supervising authority.

Q. To what extent could the works manager carry out the decrees of Sauckel as to labour conditions, etc.?

A. The decrees issued by Sauckel were unobjectionable, but the works managers did not always find it possible to carry out the orders for reasons which were

[Page 391]

beyond their control. The bombing attacks brought about difficulties, such as disorganised transportation or destroyed living quarters. It is not possible to make the managers responsible for the observing of these decrees under circumstances which often took on catastrophic proportions after the summer of 1944. These were times of crises, and it was a matter for the Reich authorities to determine just how far it was possible to carry through these decrees, and it was not right to push this responsibility on to the shoulders of the works manager.

Q. How far was the factory manager responsible to your ministry in this regard?

A. Within the framework of the above-mentioned responsibility which industry enjoyed, the armament factory managers had received an equal State responsibility from me. This, of course, applied only to technical tasks.

Q. Were there any industries making secret items which were not permitted to be inspected by the Gauleiters? I recall evidence given here where this, was reported.

A. There were some industries which concerned themselves with secret matters, but in such cases the sectional manager of the Labour Front was represented, and the representative could report to the Gauleiter on conditions in the factory through the Gauobmann (Chief of the Labour Front of a Gau).

Q. Did you approve of the punishment of people who were unwilling to work?

A. Yes, I considered it right that workers who violated labour discipline should be punished, but I did not demand supplementary measures in this regard. As a matter of principle, I represented the view that a satisfactory output on the part of fourteen million workers could be achieved in the long run only through the good will of the workers themselves. This is a bit of experience which applies generally, causing every employer in the world to do all in his power to make his workers satisfied.

Q. Did you support the efforts made by Sauckel to improve the social conditions of the workers, and if so, why?

A. Naturally I supported them, even though I did not have any jurisdiction in that sphere, for the reasons which I have just mentioned. For our experience proved that when labour was content and satisfied, there was much less loss in materials. This for me was very important, because of our deficiency in raw materials. Moreover it is obvious that the better quality which is produced by satisfied labourers is of special importance in time of war.

Q. In the records of your discussions with Hitler, there are various directives made by Hitler dealing with the care and the treatment of foreign workers. Did you cause Hitler to give these directives?

A. Yes.

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