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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
20th June to 1st July 1946

One Hundred and Fifty-Ninth Day: Thursday, 20th June, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[Page 18]

DR. FLAECHSNER: In that case may I further draw your attention to Document 1584-PS, on Page 418 of the English text in my document book. It is Exhibit USA 221, and it is a letter from Himmler to Goering, dated 9th March, 1944. Himmler is emphasizing the fact that, if his responsibility, that is to say, that of the SS, was extended, a speeding up and an increase in production could be expected. The accompanying letter from Pohl to Himmler shows that it was proposed to supervise and control the employment of concentration camp inmates and even to use the SS as responsible works managers. According to his experience and knowledge, it would not be sufficient merely to assign the internees to other industries. The SS, therefore, wished to supervise and control the workers in these industries.

This document also confirms the statement of the defendant Speer that inmates of concentration camps were paid premiums if they proved themselves particularly useful; furthermore, it shows on the last page that on average the working hours of all internees were 240 hours per month, which would correspond to sixty working hours per week.

I also refer to a document which has already been mentioned yesterday, it is number 44, and has already been submitted by me as Exhibit 6; it is in the second volume of my document book. Mr. President, it is the first document book in the appendix volume.

This document shows clearly how much the extension of the SS industries was a matter determined by the ambition of Himmler and Pohl. The document also states, and I quote:

[Page 19]

"The monthly working hours contributed by concentration camp inmates did not even amount to 8,000,000 hours, so that most certainly not more than about 32,000 men and women from concentration camps can be working in our armaments industries. This number is constantly diminishing."
Mr. President, this sentence is on Page 90, at the bottom. You will find it there in the English text.

The letter also shows that the author computes nearly the same number of working hours as is mentioned by Pohl in his letter; namely, 250 hours per month, which is approximately 63 hours per week.


Q. Herr Speer, through this letter you got knowledge of the fact that workers, particularly foreigners, were not returned to their old places of work when, for certain acts, they fell into the hands of the police, but that they were taken to concentration camps. What steps did you take then?

[Albert Speer] A. Here again I should like to summarize several points. I received the letter on or about 15th May, in Berlin, when I returned after my illness. Its contents greatly upset me because, after all, this was nothing else but kidnapping. I had an estimate submitted to me about the number of people' thus being removed from the economic system. The number, quoted without guarantee of accuracy, was 30,000 to 40,000 per month.

The result was I got in touch with the Central Planning Board on 22nd May, 1944, and demanded that these workers should be returned to their old industries at once. This demand was not practical, but I wished to express through it that workers had to be returned to their own places of work. This demand to the Central Planning Board has been submitted by the prosecution.

Immediately after the meeting of the Central Planning Board I went to see Hitler, and there I had a conference on 5th June, 1944. The minutes of the Fuehrer conference are available. I stated that I would not stand for any such procedure, and I cited many arguments based entirely on reason, since no other arguments would have been effective. Hitler declared, as the minutes show, that these workers had to be returned to their former work at once, and that, after a conference between Himmler and myself, he would once again communicate this decision of his to Himmler.

DR. FLAECHSNER: I submit Exhibit 13, which is an extract from the Fuehrer conference of 3rd and 5th June, 1944; you will find this document on Page 92 of the document book.

THE WITNESS: Immediately after this conference I went to see Himmler and communicated to him Hitler's decision. He told me that no such number had ever been arrested by the police. But he promised me that he would immediately issue a decree which would correspond to Hitler's demands; namely, that the SS would no longer be permitted to detain these workers.

I informed Hitler of this result, and I asked him once more to get in touch with Himmler about it. In those days I had no reason to suspect Himmler's promise, because, after all, it is not customary for Reich Ministers to distrust each other so much. But anyhow, I did not have any further complaints from my assistants concerning this affair. I must emphasize that the settling of the entire matter was not really my affair, but the information appeared so incredible to me that I intervened at once.

Had I known that already eighteen months before Himmler had started a very similar action, and that in this letter - a letter which has been submitted here -

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, this is Document 1063-PS, and it is Exhibit USA 219. It is on Page 51 of the English text of my document book. That is the document to which the witness is now referring.

[Page 20]


How far did your efforts go to get workers for the armaments industry from concentration camps?

A. I want to make a brief statement to the document.

Had I known of this letter, I would never have had enough confidence in Himmler to expect that he would correctly execute the order as given by Hitler. For this letter shows quite clearly that this action was to be kept secret from other offices. These other offices could only be the office of the General Plenipotentiary for Labour or my own office.

Finally, I want to say in connection with this problem that it was my duty as Minister for Armament to use as many workers as were possibly available for armaments production or for any other production. I considered it proper, therefore, that workers from concentration camps, too, should work in war production or armament industries.

The main accusation by the prosecution, however, that I deliberately increased the number of concentration camps or caused them to be increased is by no means correct. On the contrary, I wanted just the opposite, regarding the matter from the point of view of production.

DR. FLAECHSNER: May I refer in this connection to the answers of the witness Schmelte to questions 9 and 35 in the questionnaire which was submitted to him, and to the answer of the witness Schieber to No. 20.


Q. Herr Speer, Document R-124, Exhibit USA 179, which was submitted by the prosecution, contains several remarks you made during the meetings of the Central Planning Board.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, may I draw your attention to Page 53 of the English text of my document book.


Q. Herr Speer, what do you want to say about your remark concerning "idler" in the meeting of 30th October, 1942?

A. I made the remark as reproduced by the stenographic record. However, I have had here an opportunity to read all the shorthand notes of the Central Planning Board and I see that this remark was not followed up in any way and that no measures were demanded of me.

DR. FLAECHSNER: On the same page of the document book, Mr. President, there is a statement from a meeting on 22nd April, 1943.


Q. Herr Speer, what do you have to say in connection with that remark regarding Russian prisoners of war?

A. It can be elucidated very briefly. This is proof of the fact that the conception of armaments must be understood in the way I have explained, because of the 90,000 Russians employed in armaments according to this document, 29,000 were employed in the iron, steel and metal industries and 63,000 in the industries constructing engines, boilers, vehicles and apparatus of all sorts.

Q. Herr Speer, the prosecution has also mentioned a remark made by you on 25th May, 1944. That, too, can be found on Page 53 of the English text of the document book. There you said at a conference with Keitel and Zeitzler that, in accordance with Hitler's instructions, the groups of auxiliary volunteers were to be dissolved and that you would effect the transfer of the Russians from the lines-of-communications area.

A. In this case also I have read through the shorthand notes. The matter can be explained briefly. The "HIWI" mentioned in the document are the so-called auxiliary volunteers who had joined the troops fighting in Russia. As the months went by, they had grown to a great number, and during the retreat

[Page 21]

they kept with the troops, as they would probably have been treated as traitors in their own country. These volunteers, however, were not, as I desired it, put into industry, since the conference which was planned did not take place.

Q. Please make a brief statement concerning Sauckel's memorandum, Document 556-PS, submitted by the prosecution, concerning a telephone call on 4th January, 1943, which refers to labour commitment.

A. After this telephone call, further measures were to be taken in France to increase the number of workers available for assignment. Minutes of a Fuehrer conference which I found recently, namely, those of the meeting of 3th [sic] to 5th January, 1943, show that, at that time, Hitler's statement of opinion referred to increased employment of French people in France for the local industry and economy.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, I shall submit this document later because up to now I have not yet had the opportunity to -

THE PRESIDENT: Can you tell the Tribunal how long you are going to be, Dr. Flaechsner?

DR. FLAECHSNER: I hope, Mr. President, that I shall be through before five o'clock this afternoon.

THE PRESIDENT: You will not lose sight of what I have said to you already about the relevance of the argument and evidence you have been adducing up to date?

DR. FLAECHSNER: Very well, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)


Herr Speer, this morning we stopped at a discussion of Sauckel's telephone message of 4th January, 1943, regarding the matter of labour commitments. As you have already stated, the Fuehrer protocol of 3rd to 5th January, which I shall submit to the Tribunal later on, is connected with this. Will you please make a brief statement on the subject of that discussion?

A. As the record shows, measures were to be taken to raise economy in France to a higher level. It contains stern injunctions from Hitler concerning the ways and means that were to be used to this end. It states that acts of sabotage were to be punished in the most rigorous manner and that humanitarian considerations were not to be tolerated.

This record also shows that at that time I asked Hitler to transfer the control of production questions in France to me, a step which was actually taken several months later.

I mention this only for the purpose of making it clear, while I am still in a position to testify as a witness, that I did not carry out Hitler's policy of abandoning all humanitarianism in France.

My attention was drawn to one case in which ten hostages were to be shot as a reprisal for acts of industrial sabotage committed in the Meurthe-et-Moselle district. At that time I managed to prevent the sentence from being carried out. Rochling, who was in charge of iron production in the occupied Western regions, is my witness in this case.

That is the only case in which I was informed that hostages were to be shot on account of sabotage in production.

I can also prove that, through a decision by Hitler dated September, 1943, I was responsible for providing a supplementary meal, in addition to the existing rations, for factory workers employed in France. In a letter which I sent to the General Plenipotentiary for Manpower in December, 1943, I strongly urged the necessity, not only of paying wages to the workers in the occupied Western regions, but also of making available to them a corresponding quantity of consumer goods

[Page 22]

a line of policy which doubtless does not accord with the policy of plundering the Western regions, on which so much stress has been laid by the French prosecution.

All three documents are in my possession and they can be produced.

I only mention these facts to show that I neither approved of nor followed the very harsh policy laid down by Hitler in the records of 3rd to 5th January.

Q. I now turn to another point, Herr Speer; what did you produce in France, that is, on the basis of your programme?

A. We have already discussed this at sufficient length. No armaments were manufactured; only spare parts and consumer goods.

Q. Very well. I merely wanted to get that clear.

The prosecution has submitted to you a Fuehrer protocol, Document 124-R, dated March, 1944, and containing a statement that you discussed with Hitler the Reichsmarschall's proposal to deliver prisoners of war to France.

What can you say to that?

A. This record dates back to 3rd March, 1944. From January until May, 1944, I was seriously ill, and the discussion took place without me. A member of my staff was in charge of this discussion-a man who enjoyed the confidence of Hitler to an unusually high degree. In any case, the proposal was not carried out.

Q. Herr Speer, you attended the session of 30th May, at which the question of how the office of General Plenipotentiary for Manpower came to be established was discussed. Will you comment briefly on that point?

A. I should like to say briefly that I wanted a delegate to deal with all labour problems connected with my task of military armament production. My chief concern in the commitment problem, at the beginning of my term of office, was with the Gauleiter, who carried on a policy of Gau preferentialism. The non-political offices of the Labour Ministry could not proceed against the Gauleiter and the result was that manpower inside Germany was frozen. I suggested to Hitler that I should have a Gauleiter whom I knew for this delegate - a man named Hancke. Goering, by the way, had already supported the suggestion. Hitler agreed.

Two days later, Bormann made the suggestion that Sauckel be chosen.

I did not know Sauckel well, but I was quite ready to accept the choice. It is quite possible that Sauckel did not know anything about the affair, and that he assumed - as he was entitled to do - that he was chosen at my suggestion.

The office of the Plenipotentiary for Labour was created in the following way:

Lammers declared that he could not issue special authority for a partial labour sector, as that would be a doubtful procedure from an administrative point of view, and for that reason the whole question of manpower would have to be put into the hands of a plenipotentiary. At first it was contemplated to do this by a Fuehrer decree. Goering protested on the grounds that it was his task under the Four-Year Plan. A compromise was made, therefore, in accordance with which Sauckel was to be the General Plenipotentiary within the framework of the Four-Year Plan, but that he would be appointed by Hitler.

This was the only arrangement of the kind under the Four-Year Plan. In that way, Sauckel was in effect subordinated to Hitler; and he always looked upon it in that way.

Q. You have heard that Sauckel, in giving his testimony on 30th May, said that Goering participated in the meetings of the Central Planning Board. Is that true?

A. No, that is in no way correct. I would not have had any use for him, for after all, we had to carry out practical work.

Q. The prosecution has submitted a statement by Sauckel dated 8th October, 1945, according to which arrangements for his deputies to function in the occupied territories were supposed to have been made by you. Is that true?

A. No. In 1941 I had not yet anything to do with armaments, and even later, during the period of Sauckel's activity, I did not employ these deputies and did

[Page 23]

not do much to promote their activities. That was a matter for Sauckel to handle; it was within his jurisdiction.

Q. The French prosecution quoted from the record of Sauckel's preliminary interrogation on 27th September, 1945, and according to this quotation, you gave a special order for transport trains carrying foreign workers.

A. I believe it would be to the purpose to deal at the same time with all the statements made by Sauckel which apply to me, that will save time.

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