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 6 of 10)

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

[Page 23]

Q. Please go ahead.

A. Arrangements for transport trains were made by Sauckel and his staff. It is possible that air raids or a sudden change in the production programme made it necessary for my office to ask for transport trains to be re-routed; but the responsibility for that always rested with the General Plenipotentiary for Manpower.

Sauckel also testified here that, after Stalingrad, Goebbels and I started on the total war effort. But that is not correct in this form. Stalingrad was January, 1943, and Goebbels started on his total war effort in August, 1944. After Stalingrad, a great re-organization programme was to be carried out in Germany in order to free German workers. I myself was one of those who demanded this. Neither Goebbels nor I, however, were able to carry out this plan. A committee of three, Lammers, Keitel and Bormann, was formed; but, owing to their lack of technical knowledge, they were unable to carry out this task.

My manpower department was mentioned by Sauckel in his testimony. This worked as follows: Every large factory and every employer of labour had a manpower department, which, naturally came under mine, and did not encroach in the slightest degree on Sauckel's interests. Their sphere of activity was not very great, as may be seen from the fact that my manpower department was one of 50 or 60 departments coming under my office. If I had attached very much importance to it, it would have been one of my six or eight special branches.

Sauckel further mentioned the Stabsleiter discussions which took place in his office. A representative of my manpower department for military and naval armament and for building attended these conferences. At these meetings which were attended by about fifteen people who were in need of labour, the question of priority was settled on the basis of Sauckel's information as to the state of economy generally.

This was the function erroneously ascribed here to the Central Planning Board.

In addition, it was asserted that I promoted the transport of foreign workers to Germany in April, 1942; and that I was responsible for the fact that foreign workers were brought to Germany at all. That, however, is not true. I did not need to use any influence on Sauckel to attain that. In any case, it is evident from a document in my possession - a Fuehrer decree of 4th May, 1943 - that the introduction of compulsory labour in the Western region was approved by the Fuehrer at Sauckel's suggestion.

I can further quote a speech which I delivered on 18th April, 1942, showing that at that period I was still of the opinion that the German building industry, which employed approximately 1,800,000 workmen, should be reduced considerably so that workers could be diverted to the production of armaments. This speech which I made to my staff, in which I explained my principles and also discussed the question of manpower, does not contain any mention of the planning of a foreign labour draft. If I had been the active instigator of such a plan, surely I would have mentioned the subject in this speech.

Finally, in connection with Sauckel's testimony, I must correct the chart of the organization submitted here. It is not correct in that the separate sectors enumerated in it are classified under various Ministries. In reality, these sectors of employers of labour were classified under various economic branches, independently of the Ministries. Only in the case of my own Ministry and that. of the Air Ministry were sectors concerned classified under their relative Ministry.

[Page 24]

The chart is also incorrect in stating that the building industry was represented in the Ministry of Economics. That came under my jurisdiction. From 1943 on, the chemical and mining industries, both of which are listed under the Ministry of Economics, were under my jurisdiction. To my knowledge, these branches were represented through plenipotentiaries in the Four-Year Plan, even prior to September, 1943, and stated their requirements to Sauckel direct, independently of the Ministry of Economics.

This chart is further incorrect in stating that the demands of these workers and individual employers went directly to Hitler. It would have been impossible for Hitler to settle disputes between 15 employers. As I have already said, the latter attended the Stabsleiter conferences, over which Sauckel presided.

Q. Herr Speer, what did you do with your documents at the end of the war?

A. I felt bound to preserve my documents so that the necessary transition measures could be taken during reconstruction. I refused to allow these documents even to be looked at. They were turned over in their entirety to the Allied authorities, here in Nuremberg, where I had a branch archive. I handed them over when I was still at liberty in the Flensburg Zone. The prosecution is thus in possession of all my documents to the number of several thousands, as well as all public speeches, Gauleiter speeches, and other speeches dealing with armament and industry; some 4,000 Fuehrer decisions, 5,000 pages of stenographic records of the Central Planning Board, memoranda and so forth. I mention this only because these documents show conclusively to what extent my task was a technical and economic one.

Q. In your documents, as far as you remember, did you ever make statements regarding ideology, anti-Semitism, etc.?

A. No; I never made any statements of the kind, either in speeches or memoranda. I assume that otherwise the pro secution would be in a position to produce some evidence of such statements.

Q. Herr Speer, your name appears as Armament Minister on the list of members of the new Government drawn up by the men responsible for the Putsch of 20th July. Did you participate in the attempted assassination of 20th July?

A. I neither participated in it, nor was I informed of it in advance. At that time I was against assassinating Hitler.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, this point is mentioned in interrogatories by the witness Kempf (Point 9) and the witness Stahl (Point 1).


What was the reason why you - as the only Minister from the National Socialist regime - were on the opposition list?

A. At that period, I was working in collaboration with Army experts of the General Staff and the Commander-in-Chief of the home defence forces. Both staffs were the nucleus of those involved in the attempt of 20th July.

I had particularly close relations with General Fromm, the leader of the home defence forces, and also with General Zeitzler, the chief of the Army General Staff. After 20th July, Fromm was hanged and Zeitzler was dismissed from the Army. A close contact developed through this collaboration, and these circles recognized my technical achievements. I assumed at that time that that was why they wanted to retain me.

Q. So political reasons did not play any part in that connection?

A. Certainly not directly. Of course, it was well known that for a long time I had spoken my mind emphatically and in public regarding the abuses of power by members of Hitler's immediate circle. As I found out later, I shared the opinions of the men of 20th July on many points of principle.

Q. What were your relations with Hitler in regard to your work?

A. My closest contact with him, in my capacity of architect, was probably during the period from 1937 to September, 1939; after that, the relationship was no longer so close, on account of the circumstances of the war. After I was

[Page 25]

appointed successor to Todt, a closer but much more official working relationship was established. Because of the heavy demands made upon me by industry, I had very little opportunity to go to headquarters. I only visited the Fuehrer's headquarters about once in two or three weeks. My four months' illness in spring, 1944, was exploited by many people interested in weakening my position, and after 20th July, the fact that I had been nominated for the Ministry undoubtedly occasioned a shock to Hitler - a fact which Bormann and Goebbels used to stress in their open fight against me. The details are shown by a letter which I sent to Hitler on 20th December, 1944, and which has been submitted as a document.

Q. Were you able to carry on political discussions with Hitler?

A. No, he regarded me as a purely technical Minister. Attempts to discuss political or personal problems with him always failed because of the fact that he was unapproachable. From 1944 on, he was so averse to general discussions, and particularly discussions of the war situation, that I set down my ideas in memorandum form, which I handed to him. Hitler knew how to confine every man to his own speciality. He himself was therefore the only co-ordinating factor. This was far beyond his strength and also his capacity. A unified political leadership was lacking in consequence. So also was an expert military office for making decisions.

Q. Then, as an expert Minister, do you wish to limit your responsibility to your sphere of work?

A. No, I should like to say something of fundamental importance here. This war has brought inconceivable catastrophe to the German people and has started a world catastrophe. Therefore, it is my unquestionable duty to assume my share of responsibility for this misfortune before the German people. This is all the more my obligation, all the more my responsibility since the head of the late government has evaded responsibility before the German people and before the world. I, as an important member of the leadership of the Reich, therefore share in the total responsibility, beginning with 1942. I will state my arguments in this connection in my final remarks.

Q. Do you assume responsibility for the affairs covered by the extensive sphere of your assignments?

A. Of course, as far as is possible according to the principles generally applied and with regard to actions taken according to my directives.

Q. Do you wish to refer to Fuehrer decrees in this connection?

A. No. In so far as Hitler gave me orders and I carried them out, I assume the responsibility for them. I did not, of course, carry out all the orders which he gave me.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, I turn now to a second part of my evidence in the case of the defendant. This presentation is not meant to exonerate the defendant from those charges brought against him by the prosecution which apply to his actual sphere of activity.

This part concerns itself with those accusations raised by the prosecution against the defendant as a member of the so-called joint conspiracy. This second part is relatively brief, and I assume that I shall be able to conclude my entire presentation of evidence within an hour.

In this matter, we are concerned with Speer's activity in his attempts to prevent Hitler's destructive intentions in Germany and the occupied countries, and with the measures he took and the attempts he made to shorten a war which he believed already lost.

I assume that the High Tribunal will agree to my presentation.


Q. Herr Speer, up to what time did you devote all your powers to obtaining the strongest possible armament and thus continuing the war?

A. Up to the middle of January, 1945.

Q. Had not the war been lost before that?

[Page 26]

A. From a military point of view, and as far as the general situation was concerned, it was certainly lost before that. It is difficult, however, to consider a war as lost and personally come to final decisions if one is faced with unconditional surrender.

Q. Long before that, did not considerations arising out of the production situation, of which you were in a position to have a comprehensive view, force you to regard the war as lost?

A. From the armament point of view, not until the autumn of 1944, for I succeeded up to that time, in spite of bombing attacks, in maintaining a constant rise in production. If I may express it in figures, this was so great that in the year 1944 I could completely re-equip 130 infantry divisions and 40 armoured divisions. That involved new equipment for two million men. This figure would have been thirty per cent higher had it not been for the bombing attacks. We reached our production peak for the entire war in August, 1944, for munitions; in September, 1944, for aircraft; and in December, 1944, for ordnance and the new U-boats. The new weapons were to be put into use a few months later, probably in February or March of 1945. For example, the jet planes which had already been announced in the Press, the new U-boats and the new anti-aircraft installations, etc. Here, too, however, bombing attacks retarded the mass production of these new weapons, which in the last phase of the war might have changed the situation to a great extent, so that they could not be used against the enemy in large numbers. All attempts at mass attacks were fruitless, however, since from 12th May, 1944, on, our fuel plants became targets for concentrated attacks from the air.

This was catastrophic. Ninety per centum of the fuel was lost to us from that time on. The success of these attacks meant the loss of the war as far as production was concerned, for our new tanks and jet planes were of no use without fuel.

Q. Did you tell Hitler about the effect on production of the bombing attacks?

A. Yes, I told him of this in great detail, both orally and in writing. Between June and December, 1944, I sent him twelve memoranda, all with catastrophic news.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, in this connection, I should like to submit to the Tribunal a document which deals with a memorandum sent by Speer on 30th June, 1944. It is reproduced on Page 56 of the English Document Book and will be Exhibit 14. I should like to quote from this. Speer writes to Hitler:

"But in September of this year the quantities required to cover the most urgent needs of the Wehrmacht cannot possibly be supplied any longer, which means that from that time on there will be a deficiency which cannot be made good and which must lead to tragic consequences."
Speer informed Hitler in another memorandum, dated 30th August, 1944, on the situation in the chemical industry and the fuel production industry. This is on Page 62 of the English text, Exhibit 15. I quote only one sentence:
"So that these are shortages in important categories of those materials necessary for the conduct of modern warfare."

Q. Herr Speer, how was it possible that you and the other co-workers of Hitler, despite your realization of the situation, still tried to do everything possible to continue the war?

A. In this phase of the war, Hitler deceived all of us. From summer of 1944 on, he circulated through his agent, Hebel, of the Foreign Office, definite statements to the effect that discussions connected with foreign policy had been started. General Jodl has confirmed this to me here in Court. In this way, for instance, the fact that several visits were paid to Hitler by the Japanese Ambassador was interpreted to mean that through Japan we were carrying on conversations with Moscow; or else Ambassador Neubacher, who was here as a witness, was reported to have initiated conversations in the Balkans with the United States; or else

[Page 27]

the former Soviet Minister in Berlin was alleged to have been in Stockholm for the purpose of initiating conversations.

In this way he raised hopes that, like Japan, we would start negotiations in this hopeless situation, so that the people would be saved from the worst consequences. To do this, however, it was necessary to stiffen resistance as much as possible. He deceived all of us by holding out to the military leaders false hopes as to the success of diplomatic moves, promising the political leaders new victories through the use of new troops and new weapons; and systematically spreading rumours to encourage the people to believe in the appearance of a miracle weapon - all for the purpose of keeping up resistance. I can prove by a speech I made during this period and from letters which I wrote to Hitler and Goebbels how unedifying and disastrous I considered this policy of deceiving the people by promising them a miracle weapon.

Q. Herr Speer, were orders given to destroy industry in Belgium, Holland and France?

A. Yes. In case of occupation by the Allies, Hitler had ordered a far-reaching system of destruction of war industries in all these countries; according to planned preparations, coal and mineral mines, power plants and industrial premises were to be destroyed.

Q. Did you take any steps to prevent the execution of these orders?

A. Yes.

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