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 10 of 10)

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

[Page 40]

Q. So that these representatives did not fulfil any task?

A. My representatives were the representatives from the armament, from the heavy armament and war production in the Occupied Territories and as such, they had their special tasks.

Q. Witness, did you in 1943, acting independently and without consultation with Sauckel, transfer fifty thousand French OT (Organization Todt) workers to the Ruhr district?

A. Yes, that is true. After the attack on the Mone Dam and the Eder Dam in April-May, 1943, I went there and during that visit I ordered that a special group from the Todt Organization should take over the restoration of these plants. I did this because I wanted the necessary machinery and technical staff at once. This special group of the Todt Organization, without consulting me, brought the French workers along. This had tremendous repercussions for us in the West, because the workers on the building sites on the Atlantic Wall, who had up to that time felt safe from Sauckel's reach -

Q. Witness, we are not interested in hearing what was done. I am only interested in the fact that these 50,000 OT workers were obtained without Sauckel's agreement and by yourself independently, and that you have confirmed, have you not?

A. Yes, that is true.

Q. Sauckel was responsible for the ruling on working hours in these plants. Do you know that the ten-hour day was later on ordered by Goebbels in his capacity as Plenipotentiary for Total Warfare, applicable to both Germans and foreign workers?

A. That is probably true. I do not directly recollect it, but I assume it is right.

Q. Then you have stated that the Geneva Convention was not applied to Soviet prisoners of war and Italian civilian internees?

A. Yes.

[Page 41]

Q. Do you know that the Geneva Convention, although it was not recognized for Soviet prisoners of war, was nevertheless applied as far as its regulations were concerned and that there were orders to that effect?

A. I cannot give you any information about that because that was too much of a detail and was dealt with by my department directly. I should like to confirm it for you.

DR. SERVATIUS: I shall later on submit to the Tribunal a document which confirms this.


Q. Do you know that Italian civilian internees, that is, those who came from the Italian Armed Forces, were transferred to free working conditions and therefore did not come under the Convention?

A. Yes, that is true and it was done on Sauckel's request.

Q. The factory managers were responsible for carrying out Sauckel's orders in the firms. Is that right?

A. As far as they could be carried out, yes.

Q. And you have said that if, on account of special events, such as air attacks, it was not possible to carry them out, the supreme authorities in the Reich took them over?

A. Yes.

Q. Which authorities in the Reich do you mean?

A. The General Plenipotentiary for Labour.

Q. That would be Sauckel?

A. Yes. And the German Labour Front, which was responsible for accommodations and working conditions.

Q. Which organization did Sauckel have at his disposal to stop abuses? After all, this was a matter for co-operative assistance then, was it not?

A. No, I think you have misunderstood me. The catastrophic conditions were conditions which were brought about by bombing. Nobody could remedy them, with the best will in the world, because every day there were new air attacks. But, as Sauckel has testified, one cannot blame the factory manager either for the fact that these conditions could not be alleviated. I wanted to indicate that in such emergencies, all the leaders had to get together and decide whether conditions were still bearable or not. In that connection, it was the special duty of Sauckel, as the official who made the reports and gave the orders, to recommend such meetings.

Q. To whom then was he supposed to make such recommendations?

A. To the Fuehrer.

Q. Witness, you have explained your own administrative organization and you have said that you were an opponent of a bureaucratic administration. You introduced self-administration for the firms, and on the professional side you formed agencies and above them committees, directed by you?

A. Yes.

Q. And it was a closed administration which could not be penetrated from the outside by other authorities?

A. Yes, I would not have allowed that.

Q. Then you were actually the representative of these firms to the higher authorities.

A. Only as far as the technical tasks were concerned, as I have stated here.

Q. You limited yourself to the technical tasks, is that correct?

A. Well, otherwise I would have been responsible for food conditions or health conditions or matters which affected the police, but that was expecting too much.

Q. Witness, did you not refer earlier to the fact that, particularly as far as food was concerned, you had given instructions which would benefit the workers, and are you not in that way confirming my view, that you bore the entire responsibility for that sector?

[Page 42]

A. Not in the least. I believe that I took such action during the last phase within my general responsibility, but not as the individual responsible for that sector.

Q. Then, witness, you spoke about the responsibility of the Gauleiter as Reich Defence Commissioners with reference to the armament industries. Could you describe in more detail the scope of that responsibility, because I did not understand it.

A. From 1942, responsibility was transferred to the Gauleiter as Reich Defence Commissioners to an ever-increasing degree. This was mostly the effort of Bormann -

Q. What tasks did they have.

A. Just a minute - who desired the centralisation of all the forces of the State and the Party in the Gauleiter. This state of centralisation had almost been achieved in full after 1943, the only exception which still existed being my armament offices, the so-called Armament Inspectorates. These, since they had previously come under the OKW, were military establishments which were staffed by officers, and that made it possible for me to remain outside the jurisdiction of the Gauleiter. But the Gauleiter was the centre of authority in his Gau and he assumed the right to give orders though he did not have the right. The situation in our case was, as you very well know, that it did not make much difference who had the powers; it was a question of who assumed the right to give orders. In this case, most Gauleiter did assume all the rights, by which means they became the responsible and centralised departments.

Q. What do you mean by "centralised departments"?

Perhaps I may put something to you: The Gauleiter, as Reich Defence Commissioner, only had the task of centralising the offices if a decision was necessary in the Gau. For instance, after an air attack, regarding the removal of the damaged parts, construction of a new plant, necessitating that representatives from various departments should be brought to one conference table; but he did not have the authority to give orders or make decisions. Is that right?

A. No; I should like to recommend to you that you should talk to a few Gauleiter who will tell you how it was.

Q. In that case, I will drop the question. You then went on to say, witness, that during a certain period there was a surplus of labour in Germany. Was this due to the fact that Sauckel had brought too many foreign workers into Germany?

A. There may be an error here. My defence counsel has referred to two documents, according to which, during the time from April, 1942, until April, 1943, Sauckel had supplied more labour to the armament sector than armament had requested. I do not know if that is the passage you mean.

Q. I can only remember that you said that there had been more workers than were required.

A. Yes.

Q. You do not want to say, therefore, that this had been caused by the fact that Sauckel had brought too many workers in from foreign countries?

A. No. I wanted to prove by that answer that, even according to Sauckel's opinion, at the time it was not necessary to try to bring the maximum numbers of workers from France to Germany because of the demands for labour. For if, in a report to Hitler, he asserts that he brought more workers to the armament sector than I demanded, which is what you can see from the letter, then it is clear that he did more than I asked him to do. Actually, it was quite different. In actual fact, he did not supply these workers at all, and we had a heated argument because it was my opinion that he had supplied a far smaller number than the figure given in his report to Hitler.

Q. You have just pointed out also that there was an argument between you and Sauckel as to whether there were sufficient labour reserves in Germany, and if I have understood you rightly, you said that if workers had been brought to

[Page 43]

work in the manner used by England and the Soviet Union, one would not have needed any foreign workers at all. Is that true?

A. No, I did not say that.

Q. Well, then, how am I to understand it?

A. I have expressed quite clearly enough that I considered Sauckel's labour policy of bringing foreigners into Germany to be correct. I did not try to dodge that responsibility, but there were considerable reserves of German labour, and that again is only proof of the fact that I was not responsible for the demands which were made, and that was all I wanted to prove.

Q. Are the laws known to you according to which German women and youth were used to a very considerable degree?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you also know that officers' wives or the wives of high officials also worked in factories?

A. Yes, beginning in August, 1944.

Q. Well, then, where were these labour reserves of which you are speaking?

A. I was talking about the period 1943. In 1943 I demanded, in the Central Planning Board, that the German labour reserves should be drawn upon, and in 1944 during the conversation of the 4th of January with Hitler, I urged the same thing. Sauckel at that time stated - and that can be seen from his speech of the 1st of March, 1944, which has been submitted as a document - that there were no longer any reserves of German workers.

Q. Yes.

A. But at the same time he also testified here that he had succeeded, in 1944, in mobilising a further 2,000,000 workers from Germany, but at a conference with Hitler on the 1st of January, 1944, he considered that to be completely impossible. He himself has proved here that at a time when I desired the use of internal labour, he did not think there was any, but that he was later forced, through circumstances, to mobilize these workers in Germany after all; therefore my statement at the time was right.

Q. Witness, these two million workers you have mentioned, were they people who could be employed in industry?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. Were they employed directly as skilled workers in industry?

A. No, they had to be trained first.

Q. Did they first of all have to go through complicated transfers to be released from one firm to another?

A. Only partly, because we were able to use them in the fine mechanical industry and other kinds of work, because, as everyone who is familiar with American and British industry knows, these modern machines are perfectly suitable to be worked by women, even for difficult work.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal is not interested in all these details, Dr. Servatius.

DR. SERVATIUS: Mr. President, I am very interested in the basic question, whether workers were obtained from foreign countries in superfluous numbers and if, therefore, there was no necessity for the State to have them. That question is of the greatest importance from the point of view of International Law, especially with regard to the point whether foreign workers can be recruited. That is what I wish to clarify.

I have two more questions, and perhaps I may put them now.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you can put two more questions, but not on those details.

DR. SERVATIUS: No, they are questions on other points.

[Page 44]


Witness, you have stated that your attempt to subordinate yourself to Sauckel failed. Did you not achieve that subordination in practice by the fact that in the final test of authority, Sauckel's Gau labour exchanges had to do what your armament commissions ordered?

A. No. That is a matter into which I shall have to go in greater detail. If you want an explanation ...

Q. But you have said no

A. Yes. But these are entirely new conceptions which should first be explained to the Tribunal, but if "no" is sufficient for you

Q. There is no need for any lengthy statement, because if you clearly say no, the matter is settled.

Witness, one last question. You said that Sauckel decided the question of distributing labour with his staff.

A. Yes.

Q. He himself says that the Fuehrer made certain decisions. In this connection, must not one differentiate between the long-term planning of the programme for the distribution of labour and the distribution which was carried out currently, according to the needs of the programme?

A. According to my recollection, and also from having read the records I received of the conferences which I had with the Fuehrer, there are two phases to be differentiated. The first one ending October, 1942, during which there were frequent joint conferences with Sauckel which I attended. During these conferences, the distribution of labour for the following months was discussed in detail. After that time, there were no longer any conferences with Hitler at which I was present dealing with such details. I only know of the conferences of January, 1944; and then there was another conference in April or May, 1944, which has not yet been mentioned here. During those conferences, there was only a general discussion and the distribution was then carried out in accordance with directives, as Sauckel says.

Q. But that is just what I am asking you. These were general demands based on a programme, concerning which decisions of policy were made. Two million workers were to be obtained from foreign countries, and the subsequent distribution was carried out by Sauckel.

A. Yes, that's right, and I can confirm Sauckel's testimony, that he always got his orders from Hitler with reference to the occupied territories, since he needed Hitler's authority to assert himself in foreign countries.

DR. SERVATIUS: In that case, Mr. President, I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 21st June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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