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 Sixtieth Day: Friday, 21st June, 1946
(Part 2 of 12)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of Albert Speer]

[Page 48]

Q. Now you say you did not do it, so will you tell me who did? A. It was a fairly long business. When, in February, 1942, I took over my new office, the Party was already insisting that Jews who were still working in armament factories should be removed from them. I objected at the time and managed to get Bormann to issue a circular letter to the effect that these Jews should go on being employed in armament factories and that Party offices should be prohibited from accusing the heads of these firms on political grounds because of the Jews working there. It was the Gauleiter who made such political accusations against the heads of concerns, and it was mostly in the Gau of Saxony and in the Gau of Berlin. So, after this the Jews could remain in these plants.

[Page 49]

Without having any authority to do so, I had had this circular letter from the Party published in my news sheet for heads of factories and had sent it to them so that I should receive their complaints if Party members should not obey the instruction.

After that the problem was left alone until September or October of 1942. At that time a conference with Hitler took place, at which Sauckel also was present. At this conference Hitler insisted emphatically that the Jews must now be removed from the armament firms, and he gave orders for this to be done - this is to be seen from a Fuehrer protocol which has been kept.

In spite of this, the Jews managed to get kept on in factories and it was only in March, 1943, as this letter shows, that resistance gave way and the Jews finally did have to get out.

I must point out to you that as far as I can remember it was not a question yet of the entire Jewish problem, but, in the years 1941 and 1942, Jews had gone to the armament factories to do important war work and have an occupation of military importance, and through this occupation of military importance they were able to escape the evacuation which at that time was already in full swing. They were mostly occupied in the electrical industry, and Geheimrat Buecher of AEG and Siemens no doubt lent a helping hand in order to get the Jews taken on there in greater numbers. These Jews were still completely free and their families were still in their homes.

The letter you have before you, of course, was not given me by Gauleiter Sauckel; and Sauckel himself says that he had not seen it. But it is certainly true that I knew about it before action was taken; I knew because the question had to be discussed as to how one should get replacements. It is equally certain, though, that I also protested at the time at having experts removed from my armament industries because, apart from other reasons, it was going to make things difficult for me.

Q. That is exactly the point that I want to emphasize. As I understand it, you were struggling to get manpower enough to produce the armaments to win a war for Germany.

A. Yes.

Q. And this anti-Semitic campaign was so strong that it took trained technicians away from you, and made your task more difficult. Now, isn't that the fact?

A. I did not understand the meaning of your question.

Q. Your problem of producing armaments to win the war for Germany was made very much more difficult by this anti-Jewish campaign which was being waged by others of your co-defendants.

A. That is a fact; and it is equally clear that if the Jews who were evacuated had been allowed to work for me, it would have been a considerable advantage to me.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, has it been proved who signed that Document 156-L? It has got a signature apparently on it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: There is a signature on it. I believe it is that of the Plenipotentiary General for Manpower.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps the defendant could tell what the signature is. (A document was submitted to the witness.)

THE WITNESS: I do not know the man. Yes, he must be one of the minor officials in the offices of the Plenipotentiary for Manpower, because I knew alt the immediate associates of Sauckel personally .... No. I beg your pardon, the document comes from the Regierungs-Praesident in Koblenz, as I see here. He was an assistant in the Government District of Koblenz of whom, of course, I did not know.

[Page 50]


Q. In any event, there is no question about the statement as you have explained it?

A. No.

Q. Now I want to ask you about the recruiting of forced labour. As I understand it, you know about the deportation of 100,000 Jews from Hungary for subterranean aeroplane factories, and you told us in your interrogation of 15th October-18th October, 1945, that you made no objection to it. That is true, is it not?

A. That is true, yes.

Q. And you told us also, quite candidly, on that day, that it was no secret to you that a good deal of the manpower brought in by Sauckel was obtained by illegal methods. That is also true, is it not?

A. I took great care at the time to notice what expression the interrogating officer used; he used the expression "they came against their wish"; and that I confirmed.

Q. Did you not say that it was no secret to you that these workers were brought in in an illegal manner? Did you not add that yourself?

A. No, no. That was certainly not so.

Q. Well, in any event, you knew that at the Fuehrer conference in August of 1942 the Fuehrer had approved of all coercive measures for obtaining workers if they couldn't be obtained on a voluntary basis, and you knew that that policy of coercion was carried out. You, as a matter of fact, you did not give any particular attention to the legal side of this thing, did you? You were after manpower; is not that the fact?

A. That is absolutely correct.

Q. And whether legal or illegal means were used did not worry you?

A. I consider that in the light of the whole war situation and of our views in general on this question it was justified.

Q. Yes, it was in accordance with the policy of the Government, and that satisfied you at the time, did it not?

A. Yes. I am of the opinion that at the time I took over my office, in February, 1942, all the violations of International Law, which later ... which are now brought up against me, had already been committed.

Q. And you do not question that you share a certain responsibility for that policy, whether it is a legal responsibility or not, of bringing in workers against their will? You do not deny that, do you?

A. The workers were brought to Germany largely against their will, and I had no objection to their being brought to Germany against their will. On the contrary, during the first period, until the autumn of 1942, I certainly used all my energy to see that as many workers as possible should be brought to Germany in this manner.

Q. You had some participation in the distribution of these workers, did you not, among different plants, different industries that were competing for labour?

A. No. That would have to be explained in detail - I do not quite understand.

Q. Well, you finally entered into an agreement with Sauckel, did you not, in reference to the distribution of the workers after they reached the Reich?

A. That was arranged according to the so-called priorities. I had to tell Sauckel, of course, in relation to my programme where labour was needed most urgently. But that sort of thing was dealt with by general instructions.

Q. In other words, you determined the priorities of the different industries with regard to the distribution of the workers when they came to the Reich.

A. That was a matter of course; naturally that had to be done.

Q. Yes. Now, as to the employment of prisoners of war, you - whatever disagreement there may be about the exact figures, there is no question, is there, that prisoners of war were used in the manufacture of armament?

[Page 51]

A. No, only Russian prisoners of war and Italian military internees were used for the production of arms. As for the use of French and other prisoners of war in this production, I had several conferences with Keitel on the subject. And I must tell you that Keitel always adopted the view that these prisoners of war could not be used, as it would mean a violation of the Geneva Prisoner-of-War Agreement of the Geneva Convention. I can claim that, on the strength of this fact, I no longer used my influence to obtain these prisoners for employment in the armament industries in violation of the Geneva Convention.

The conception, of course, of the expression "armament production" is very much open to argument. It depends, it always depends what position one takes, whether you have a wide conception of armaments or a narrow one.

Q. Well, you succeeded to Dr. Todt's organization, and you had all the powers that he had, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And one of his directives was dated 31st October, 1941, a letter from the OKW, which is in evidence here as Exhibit 214, Document 194-EC, which provides that the deputies of the Reichsminister for Armament and Munitions are to be admitted to prisoner-of-war camps for the purpose of selecting skilled workers. That was among your powers, was it not?

A. No. That was a special action which Dr. Todt introduced on the strength of an agreement with the OKW. It was dropped later, however.

Q. Now, on the 22nd of April, 1943, at the 36th meeting of this Planning Board, you made this complaint, did you not, Herr Speer? I quote:

"There is a statement showing in what sectors the Russian PW's have been distributed, and this statement is quite interesting. It shows that the armament industry only received 30 per cent. I always complained about that."
That is correct, is it not?

A. I believe that has been wrongly translated. It should not say "ammunitions industry"; it should say, "the armament industry received 30 per cent."

Q. I said "armament."

A. Yes. But then, this is still no proof that these prisoners of war were employed in violation of the Geneva Prisoner-of-War Agreement, because in the sector of the armament industry there was ample room to use these workers for producing articles which, in the sense of the Geneva Prisoner-of-War Agreement, were not armament products. In spite of that, I believe that in the case of the Russian prisoners of war there was not the same value attached to a strict observance of the Geneva Convention as in the case of prisoners from Western countries.

Q. Is it your contention that the prisoners were not used - I now speak of French prisoners of war - that French prisoners of war were not used in the manufacture of materials which directly contributed to the war, or is it your contention that although they were used it was legal under the Geneva Convention?

A. As far as I know, French prisoners of war were not used contrary to the rules of the Convention. I cannot check that, because my office was not responsible for controlling the conditions of their employment. During my numerous visits to factories, I never noticed that any prisoner of war from the Western territories was working directly on armament products.

Q. Just explain exactly what French prisoners of war did do ... by way of manufacture. What were they working on?

A. That I cannot answer. I already explained yesterday that the allotment of prisoners of war, or foreign workers, or of German workers to a factory was not a matter for me to decide. But the allotment was carried out by the Labour office together with the Stalag (other ranks prisoner-of-war camps), when it was a question of prisoners of war. I received only a general survey of the total number of workers who had gone to the factories and so I could get no idea as to what type

[Page 52]

of work they were doing in each individual concern. So I cannot give a satisfactory answer to your question.

Q. Now let us take the 50,000 skilled workers whom, you said yesterday, you removed and put to work in a different location, of which Sauckel complained. What did you put them to work at?

A. They were not prisoners of war, you know.

Q. Let us take up those workers. What were you doing with them?

A. Those workers had been working on the Atlantic Wall. From there they were transferred to the Ruhr to repair the two dams which had been destroyed by an air attack. I must say that the transfer of these 50,000 workers took place without my knowledge, and the consequences of bringing 50,000 workers from the West into Germany were a catastrophe for us on the Atlantic Wall, because more than a third of all the workers engaged on the Atlantic Wall went away because they, too, were afraid they might have to go to Germany. That is why we rescinded the order as quickly as possible, so that the French workers on the Atlantic Wall should keep their confidence in us. This fact will show you that the French workers we had working for the Todt Organization were not employed on a coercive basis, otherwise they could not have left in such numbers when they realised that under certain circumstances they, too, might be sent to Germany. So that this taking of the 50,000 workers from the Todt Organization in France was only a temporary action and was cancelled later. It was one of those mistakes which can happen if a minister gives an urgent directive and his subordinates begin to carry it out by every means at their disposal.

Q. Are you familiar with Document 60-EC, which states that the Todt Labour Organization had to recruit its manpower by force?

A. At the moment I cannot recollect it.

Q. I beg your pardon?

A. At this moment I cannot recollect it. Could I see the document?

Q. Yes, if you would like to. I just remind you that the evidence is contrary to your testimony on that subject.

Page 42, the paragraph which reads:

"Unfortunately the assignments for the Todt Organization on the basis of Article 52 of the Hague Convention on Land Warfare have for some time decreased considerably, because the larger part of the manpower allocated does not turn up. Consequently further compulsory measures must be employed. The Prefect and the French Labour Exchanges co-operate quite loyally, it is true, but they have not sufficient authority to carry out these measures."
A. I think that I have perhaps not been understood correctly. I do not deny that a large number of the people working for the Todt Organization in the West had been called up and came to work because they had to, but we had no means whatsoever of keeping them by force. So if they did not want to work, they could leave again, and then they either joined the resistance movement or went into hiding.

Q. Very well. But this calling-up system was a system of compulsion, was it not?

A. It was the calling up of French workers for duty in the Reich or in France. But here again I must add something. This report is dated June, 1943. In October, 1943, the whole of the Todt Organization was declared a blocked industry and thereby received the advantages which other blocked industries had. I explained that sufficiently yesterday. Because of this, the Todt Organization made great demands for workers who went there voluntarily, unless, of course, you see direct coercion in the pressure arising from their fear of being transferred to Germany, and which drove them to the Todt Organization or other blocked industries.

Q. Were they kept in labour camps?

[Page 53]

A. That was the custom in the case of such building work. The building sites were far away from any villages, and so workers' camps were set up to accommodate the German and the foreign workers. But some of them were also accommodated in villages as far as it was possible to accommodate them there. I do not think that on principle they were only meant to be accommodated in camps, but I cannot tell you that for certain.

The document -

THE PRESIDENT: Has this been introduced before?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I was just going to give it to you. The document from which I have quoted is Exhibit USA 892.


Q. Now, leaving the question of the personal participation in this -

THE PRESIDENT: Is it new, Mr. Justice Jackson?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: No, it has been in.

THE PRESIDENT: It has been in before?

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.