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 4 of 12)

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

[Page 57]

Q. There were more plots than you have told us about, were there not?

A. During that time it was extremely easy to start a plot. One could accost practically any man in the street and tell him what the situation was, and get him to say, that is insane; and if he had any courage he would place himself at your disposal. Unfortunately, I had no organization behind me which I could call upon and give orders to do this or that. That is why I had to depend on personal conversations to put me in contact with all kinds of people. But I do want to say that it was not as dangerous as it looks here because, actually, the unreasonable people who were still left only amounted perhaps to a few dozens. The remaining eighty millions were perfectly sensible as soon as they knew what the situation really was.

Q. Perhaps you had a sense of responsibility for having put the eighty millions completely in the power of the Fuehrer principle. Did that occur to you, or does it now as you look back on it?

A. May I have the question repeated, because I didn't understand its sense.

Q. You have eighty million sane and sensible people facing destruction; you have a dozen people driving them on to destruction and they, the eighty million, are unable to stop it. And I ask if you have a feeling of responsibility for having established the Fuehrer principle, which Goring has so well described to us, in Germany?

A. I, personally, when I became minister in February, 1942, placed myself at the disposal of this Fuehrer principle. But I admit that in my organization I soon saw that the Fuehrer principle was in many ways defective and so I tried to weaken its effect. The tremendous danger of the totalitarian system, however, only became really clear at the moment when we were approaching the end. It was then that one could see what the principle really meant, namely, that every order should be carried out without criticism. Everything that has become

[Page 58]

known during this trial, especially with regard to orders which were carried out without any consideration, has proved how evil it was in the end. In such cases for example as the carrying out of the order to destroy the bridges in our own country, a mistake or consequence of this totalitarian system. Quite apart from the personality of Hitler, on the collapse of the totalitarian system in Germany, it became clear what tremendous dangers there are in a system of that kind. The combination of Hitler and this system has brought about these tremendous catastrophes in the world.

Q. Well, now - Hitler is dead - I assume you accept that? - and we ought to give the devil his due. Is it not a fact that in the circle around Hitler there was almost no one who would stand up and tell him that the war was lost except yourself?

A. That is correct to a certain extent. Amongst the military leaders there were many who, each in his own sphere, told Hitler quite clearly what the situation was. Many commanders of army groups, for instance, made it clear to him how catastrophic developments were, and there were often fierce arguments during the discussions on the situation. Men like Guderian and Jodl, for instance, often talked quite openly about their sectors in my presence, and Hitler could see quite well what the general situation was like. But I never observed that those who were actually responsible in the group around Hitler ever went to him and said: "The war is lost." Nor did I ever see these people who had responsibility attempt to join together to undertake some joint step against Hitler. I did not attempt it either because it would have been useless. During this particular phase, Hitler had so terrified his closest associates that they no longer had any will of their own.

Q. Well, let us take the number two man who has told us that he was in favour of fighting to the very finish. Were you present at a conversation between Goering and General Galland in which Goering, in substance, forbade Galland to report the disaster that was overtaking Germany?

A. No, in that form, that is not correct. That was another conference.

Q. Well, tell us what you know about General Galland's conversation with Goering.

A. It was at the Fuehrer headquarters in East Prussia in front of Goering's train. Galland had reported to Hitler that the enemy fighter planes were already accompanying bombing squadrons as far as Luttich and it was to be expected that in the future the bombing units would travel still farther from their bases accompanied by fighters. After a discussion with Hitler on the military situation, Goering upbraided Galland and told him with some excitement that this could not possibly be true, that the fighters could not go as far as Luttich. He said that from his experience as an old fighter pilot he knew this perfectly well. Thereupon Galland replied that the fighters were being shot down, and were lying on the ground near Luttich. Goering, would not believe that this was true. Galland was an outspoken man who told Goring his opinion quite clearly and refused to allow Goering's excitement to influence him. Finally, Goering, as Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, expressly forbade Galland to make any further reports on this matter. It was impossible, he said, that enemy fighters could penetrate so deeply into Germany, and so he ordered him to accept that as being true. I continued to discuss the matter afterwards with Galland, who was later relieved of his duties as a General of the Fighter Command by Goering, Up to that time Galland had been in charge of all the fighter units in Germany. He was the General in charge of all the fighters within the High Command of the Air Force.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the date of that?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I was going to ask.

THE WITNESS: It must have been towards the end of 1943.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, perhaps we had better adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

[Page 59]

Q. Was it known, in the days when you were struggling to obtain adequate manpower to make armaments for Germany, that Goering was using manpower to collect and transport art treasures for himself. Was that known to you at the time?

A. He did not need any workers for that purpose.

Q. Well, even a few were very valuable, were they not?

A. The art treasures were valuable, not the workers.

Q. To him?

A. Yes.

Q. Well, let me ask you about your efforts in producing, and see how much difficulty you were having. Krupp's was a big factor in the German armament production, was it not?

A. Yes.

Q. The biggest single unit, would not you say?

A. Yes, to the extent I said yesterday. It produced few guns and armaments, but it was a big concern, one of the most respected ones in the armament industry.

Q. But you had prevented, as far as possible, the use of resources and manpower for the production of things that were not useful for the war, is not that true?

A. That is true.

Q. And the things which were being created, being built by the Krupp company whether they were guns or other objects, were things which were essential for carrying on the national economy or for conducting the war? That would be true, would it not?

A. Generally speaking one can say that, in the end, every article which in war time is produced in the home country, whether it is a pair of shoes for the workers, or clothing or coal, is helping the war effort. That has nothing to do with the old conception, which has long since died out, and which we find in the Geneva Prisoner-of-War Agreement.

Q. Well, at the moment I am not concerned with the question of the application of the Geneva Convention. I want to ask you some questions about your efforts to produce essential goods, whether they were armament or not armament, and the conditions that this regime was imposing upon labour and adding, as I think, to your problem of production. I think you can give us some information about this. You were frequently at the Krupp plant, were you not?

A. I was at the Krupp plant five or six times.

Q. You were well informed as to the progress of production in the Krupp plant as well as others?

A. Yes, when I went to visit these plants, it was mostly after air raids, and then I got full information of the production. As I worked hard, I knew a lot about these problems, right down to the details.

Q. Krupp also had several labour camps, did they not?

A. Of course Krupp had labour camps.

Q. Krupp was a very large user of both foreign labour and prisoners of war.

A. I cannot give the percentage, but no doubt Krupp did employ foreign workers and prisoners of war.

Q. Well, I may say to you that we have investigated the Krupp labour camps, and from Krupp's own charts it appears that in 1943 they had 39,245 foreign workers and 11,234 prisoners of war, and that these numbers steadily increased until in September, 1944, Krupp had 54,990 foreign workers and 18,902 prisoners of war.

Now, would that be somewhere near what you could expect from your knowledge of the industry?

A. I do not know the details. I do not know the figures of how many workers Krupp employed at all. I am not familiar with them at the moment. But I believe that the percentage of foreign workers at Krupp's was about the same as in other plants and in other armament concerns.

Q. And what would you say that percentage was?

[Page 60]

A. That varied a great deal. The older industries which had their old regular personnel had a much lower percentage of foreign workers than the new industries, which had just grown up and which had no old regular personnel. The reason for this was that the young age groups were drafted into the Wehrmacht and, therefore, the concerns which had a personnel of older workers still kept a large percentage of the older workers. Therefore the percentage of foreign workers in the general armament industry, if you take it as a whole and as one of the older industries, was lower than the percentage of foreign workers in the air armament industry because that was a completely new industry which had not old workers. However, I cannot give you the percentage.

Q. Now, the foreign workers who were assigned to Krupp - let us use Krupp as an example - foreign workers that were assigned to Krupp were housed in labour camps and under guard, were they not?

A. I do not believe that they were under guard, but I cannot say. I do not want to avoid giving information here, but I had no time to worry about such things on my visits. The things I was concerned about when I went to a factory were in an entirely different sphere. In all my activities as Armament Minister I never once visited a labour camp, and cannot, therefore, give any information about them.

Q. Well, now, I am going to give you some information about the conditions in the labour camp at Krupp's, and then I am going to ask you some questions about them. I am not attempting to say that you were personally responsible for these conditions. I merely give you the indications as to what the regime was doing and I am going to ask you certain questions as to the effect of this sort of thing on your work of production.

Are you familiar with Document 288-D, which is Exhibit USA 202, the affidavit of Dr. Jaeger who was brought here as a witness?

A. Yes, but I considered that somewhat exaggerated.

Q. You do not accept that?

A. No.

Q. Well, you have no personal knowledge of the conditions. What is the basis of your information that Dr. Jaeger's statement is exaggerated?

A. If such conditions had existed, I should probably have heard of them, as when I visited plants the head of the plant naturally came to me with his biggest troubles. These troubles occurred primarily after air raids when, for example, both the German workers and foreign workers had no longer any proper shelter. This state of affairs was described to me, so that I know that what is stated in the Jaeger affidavit cannot have been a permanent condition. It can only have been a condition caused temporarily by air raids, for a week or a fortnight, and which was improved later on. It is well known that after a severe air raid on a city, all the sanitary installations, the water supply, gas supply, electricity, and so on, were often put out of order and severely damaged so that temporarily there were very difficult conditions.

Q. I remind you that Dr. Jaeger's affidavit relates to the time of October, 1942, and that he was a witness here. And, of course, you are familiar with his testimony.

A. Yes.

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