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 5 of 12)

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

[Page 60]

Q. Well, now, I call your attention to a new document which is 361-D, and is Exhibit USA 893, a document signed by the office chief of the Locomotive Construction Works, describing conditions of his labour supply, foreign workers.

And I am not suggesting - I repeat I am not suggesting that this was your responsibility. I am suggesting it is the responsibility of the regime. I should like to read this despite its considerable length. "I received - " This is dated at the Boiler Making Shop, the 25th of February, 1942, addressed to Hupe by way of Winters and Schmidt.

"I received the enclosed letter of the 18th of this month from the German Labour Front, sent to my private address, inviting me to the office of the German Labour Front" - giving its address and date. "I tried to find out

[Page 61]

by telephoning the reason for the request. The answer from the German Labour Front was that the matter was very important and demanded my personal appearance. Thereupon I asked Herr Jungerich of the Department for Social Labour Matters whether I had better go. He answered, 'You probably don't have to, but it would be better if you went.' About 9.50 I went round to Room 20 at this place and met Herr Prior.

The following event provided the cause for this conversation, which Herr Prior carried on in a very lively manner, and which lasted about half an hour:

On the 16th, 23 Russian prisoners of war were assigned to No. 23 Boiler Shop. The people came in the morning without bread and tools. During both breaks the prisoners of war crept up to the German workers and begged for bread, pitifully pointing out their hunger. At the first midday break, the workers had the opportunity of distributing the food which remained over from the French prisoners of war amongst the Russians. In order to alleviate these conditions, I went to the Weidkamp kitchen on the 17th, on instructions from Herr Theile, and talked to the head of the kitchen, Fraulein Block, about the provision of the midday meal. Fraulein Block promised me the food immediately and also lent me the 22 sets of eating utensils which I asked for.

At the same time I asked Fraulein Block to give any food left over by the 800 Dutchmen messing there to our Russian prisoners of war at midday until further notice. Fraulein Block promised to do this, too, and the following midday she sent down a container of milk soup as an extra. The following midday the ration was short in quantity. Since a few Russians had collapsed already, I telephoned Fraulein Block and asked for an increase in the food as the special ration had ceased from the second day onwards. As my telephone conversation was unsuccessful, I again visited Fraulein Block personally. Fraulein Block refused in a very abrupt manner to give any further special ration.

Now, regarding the discussion in detail, Herr Prior, two other gentlemen of the DAF and Fraulein Block, head of the Weidkamp kitchen, were present in the room. Herr Prior started by accusing me, gesticulating in a very insulting manner, of openly taking the part of the Bolsheviks. He referred to the laws of the Reich Government forbidding this. I was unfortunately not clear about the legal position, otherwise I would have left the conference room immediately. I then tried to make it clear to Herr Prior, with special emphasis, that the Russian prisoners of war were assigned to us as workers and not as Bolsheviks; the people were starved and not in a position to perform the heavy work with us in boiler making which they were required to do; and that sick people were a liability to us and not a help to production. To this remark Herr Prior stated that if one was worth nothing, then another was; that the Bolsheviks were a soulless people, and if 100,000 of them died, another 100,000 would replace them. On my remarking that, with such a coming and going, we would not attain our goal, namely the delivery of locomotives to the Reich railways, which were continually cutting down the time limit for delivery, Herr Prior said, 'Deliveries are only of secondary importance in this case.'

My attempts to get Herr Prior to understand our economic needs were not successful. In closing, I can only say that as a German I know our relations to the Russian prisoners of war exactly, and in this case I acted only on behalf of my superiors and with the object of increasing the production which is demanded of us."

It is signed, "Soehling, Office Chief, Locomotive Construction Works." And there is added this letter as a part of the communication, signed by Theile:
"I have the following to add to the above letter: After the Russian prisoners of war had been assigned to us on the 16th of this month by Labour Supply, I got into touch with Dr. Lehmann immediately about their food.

[Page 62]

I learned from him that the prisoners received 300 gr. of bread each between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. I pointed out that it was impossible to last until 1800 hours on this ration of bread, whereupon Dr. Lehmann said that the Russians must not be allowed to get used to the Western European feeding. I replied that the prisoners of war could not do the work required of them in the Boiler Construction Shop on that food, and that it was not practical for us to have these people in the works any longer under such conditions. At the same time I demanded that if the Russians continued to be employed, they should be given a hot midday meal and that, if possible, the bread ration should be split so that one half was distributed early in the morning and the second half during our breakfast break. My suggestion has already been carried out by us with the French prisoners of war and has proved to be very practical and good.

Unfortunately, however, Dr. Lehmann took no notice of my suggestion and, on this account, I naturally had to take matters into my own hands and therefore told Herr Soehling to get the feeding of the Russian prisoners of war organized on exactly the same lines as the French, so that the Russians could, as soon as possible, carry out the work they were supposed to do. For the whole thing concerns an increase in production such as is demanded from us by the Minister of Armament and Munitions and by the DAF."

Now, I ask you, if the action of the Chief of the locomotive construction works was not entirely a necessary action in the interests of production?

A. It is clear that a worker who has not enough food cannot achieve a good output. I said yesterday that every head of a plant, and I too at the top, was naturally interested in having well-fed and satisfied workers, because badly fed, dissatisfied workers make more mistakes and produce poor results.

I should like to comment on this document. The document is dated 25th February, 1942. At that time there were official instructions that the Russian prisoners of war and also the Russian civilian workers who came to the Reich should be treated worse than the Western prisoners of war and the Western civilian workers. I learned of this through complaints from the heads of concerns. In my document book which dates from the middle of March, 1942 - that is three or four weeks after this document - there is a Fuehrer protocol, resulting from my calling Hitler's attention to the fact that the feeding both of Russian prisoners of war and of Russian workers was absolutely inadequate and that they would have to be given an adequate diet and that, moreover, the Russian workers were being kept behind barbed wire like prisoners of war and that that would have to be stopped also. The protocol shows that in both cases I succeeded in getting Hitler to agree that conditions should be changed and they were changed.

I must say furthermore that it was a real service on the part of Sauckel that he now fought against this policy and did everything he could to have the foreign workers and prisoners of war treated better and given adequate food.

Q. Well, we will deal with the conditions later. Because I am going to ask you, if you were not responsible and Sauckel was not responsible, who was responsible for these conditions, and you can keep it in mind that that is the question I am leading up to.

I will show you a new document, 398-D, Exhibit USA 894A, a statement taken by the British-American representatives during their investigation of this labour camp at Krupp's.

Well, Document 321-D. I can use that just as well. We will use Document 321-D, which becomes Exhibit USA 894.

THE PRESIDENT: 894 was the last number you gave us. What number is this document that you are now offering?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Document 398 was Exhibit 894. 321 will be 895.

[Page 63]


Q. Now, this relates to an employee of the Reich Railways. None of our investigation, I may say, is based upon the statements of the prisoners themselves.

"I, the undersigned, Adam Schmidt, employed as Betriebswart on the Essen West Railway Station and residing - " stating his residence - "make the following statement voluntarily and on oath:

I have been employed by the Reich Railway since 1918 and have been at Essen West Station since 1935. In the middle of 1941 the first workers arrived from Poland, Galicia and Polish Ukraine. They came to Essen in goods wagons in which potatoes, building materials and also cattle had been transported, and were brought to work at Krupp's. The trucks were crammed full with people. My personal view was that it was inhuman to transport people in such a manner. The people were squashed closely together and they had no room for free movement. The Krupp overseers prided themselves on the speed with which the slave workers were got in and out of the trucks. It was enraging for every decent German who had to watch this, to see how the people were beaten and kicked and generally maltreated in a brutal manner. In the very beginning when the first transports arrived we could see how inhumanly these people were treated. Every truck was so overcrowded that it was incredible that such a number of people could be crammed into one. I could see with my own eyes that sick people who could scarcely walk (they were mostly people with foot trouble, or with injuries and people with internal trouble) were nevertheless taken to work. One could see that it was sometimes difficult for them to move. The same can be said of the Eastern workers and prisoners of war who came to Essen in the middle of 1942."

He then describes their clothing and their food. In the interest of time, I will not attempt to read the entire thing.

Do you consider that that, too, is an exaggerated statement?

A. When the workers came to Germany from the East, their clothing was no doubt bad, but I know from Sauckel that whilst he was in office a lot was done to get them better clothes, and in Germany many of the Russian workers experienced much better conditions than they had previously known in Russia. The Russian workers were quite satisfied in Germany. If they arrived here in rags, that does not mean that that was our fault. We could not use ragged workers with poor shoes in our industry, so conditions were improved.

Q. Well, now, I would like to call your attention to Document 398-D.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, before you pass from that, what do you say about the conditions of the transports? The question you were asked was whether this was an exaggerated account. You have not answered that except in reference to clothing.

THE WITNESS: Mr. President, I cannot give any information about this transport matter. I received no reports about it.


Q. Well, I will ask you about Document 398-D, which becomes Exhibit USA 894. This is a statement by Hofer, living in Essen. He says:

"From April, 1943, I worked with Lowenkamp every day in the armour building shop No. 4. Lowenkamp was very brutal to the foreigners. He confiscated food which belonged to the prisoners of war and took it home. Every day he mishandled Eastern workers, Russian prisoners of war, French, Italian, and other foreign civilians. He had a steel box built which was so small that one could hardly stand init. He locked up foreigners in the box, women too, for 48 hours at a time without giving the people food.

They were not released even to relieve nature. It was forbidden for other people to give any help to the persons locked in, or to release them.

[Page 64]

Whilst clearing an unofficial camp, he fired on escaping Russian civilians without hitting any of them.

One day, whilst distributing food, I saw how he hit a French civilian in the face with a ladle and made his face bleed. Further, when Russian girls gave birth he never bothered about the babies. There was never any milk for them so the Russians had to feed the children with sugar water. When Lowenkamp was arrested he wrote two letters and sent them to me through his wife. He tried to make out that he never hit people ...."

There is a good deal more of this, but I will not bother to put it into the record.

Is it your view that this is exaggerated?

A. I consider this affidavit a lie. I should like to say that among German people such things do not happen, and if such individual cases occurred they were punished. It is not possible to drag the German people in the dirt in such a way. The heads of concerns were decent people too and took interest in their workers. If the head of the Krupp plant heard about such things, he certainly took steps immediately to put a stop to them.

Q. Well, what about the steel boxes? Or do you not believe the steel-box story?

A. No, I do not believe it, I do not believe it is true. After the collapse in 1945 a lot of affidavits were drawn up, which certainly do not correspond to the truth. That is not your fault. It is the fault of ... well, after a defeat, it is quite possible that people do make false statements like that.

Q. Well, I would like to have you examine Document 258 and I attach importance to this as establishing the SS as being the guards:

"The camp inmates were mostly Jewish women and girls from Hungary and Roumania. The camp inmates were brought to Essen at the beginning of 1944 and were put to work at Krupp's. The accommodation and feeding of the camp prisoners were of a low standard. At first the prisoners were accommodated in simple wooden huts. These huts were burned down during an air raid and from that time on the prisoners had to sleep in a damp cellar. Their beds were made on the floor and each consisted of a straw-filled sack and two blankets. In most cases it was not possible for the prisoners to wash themselves daily, as there was no water. There was no possibility of having a bath.

I could often observe from the Krupp factory, during the lunch break, how the prisoners boiled their underclothing in an old bucket or container over a wood fire, and cleaned themselves. A trench served as an air-raid shelter, whilst the SS guards went to the Humboldt shelter, which was bomb-proof.

Reveille was at 5 a.m. There was no coffee or any food served in the morning. They marched off to the factory at 5.15 a.m. They marched for three-quarters of an hour to the factory, poorly clothed and badly shod, some without shoes, and covered with a blanket, in rain or snow. Work began at 6 a.m. The lunch break was from 12 to 12.30. Only during the break was it at all possible for the prisoners to cook something for themselves from potato peelings and other garbage.

The daily working period was one of ten to eleven hours. Although the prisoners were completely undernourished, their work was very heavy physically. The prisoners were often ill-treated at their work benches by Nazi overseers and female SS guards. At 5 or 6 in the afternoon they were marched back to camp. The accompanying guards consisted of female SS who, in spite of protests from the civilian population, often ill-treated the prisoners on the way back, kicking and hitting them and abusing them in foul language. If often happened that individual women or girls had to be carried back to the camp by their comrades owing to exhaustion. At 6 or 7 p.m. these exhausted people arrived back in camp. Then the real midday meal was distributed. This consisted of cabbage soup. This was followed

[Page 65]

by the evening meal of watery soup and a piece of bread which was for the following day. Occasionally the food on Sundays was better. As long as it existed there was never any inspection of the camp by members of the firm of Krupp. On 13th March, 1945, the camp prisoners were brought to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, from there some were sent to work. The camp commandant was SS Oberscharfuehrer Rick."
The rest of it does not matter. In your estimation that, I suppose, is also an exaggeration?

THE WITNESS From the document -

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: May I hear the answer. I thought the defendant said something.

DR. FLAECHSNER: May I call the attention of the Tribunal to the document itself, of which I have only a copy? It is headed "Before a Military Court, under oath," and there is an ordinary signature under it. It does not say that it is an affidavit or a statement in lieu of oath, or any other such thing, it says only "Further inquiries must be made," and it is signed by Hubert Karden. That is apparently the name of the man who was making the statement.

Then there is another signature, "Kriminalassistent on probation." That is a police official who may later have the chance of becoming a candidate for the criminal service. He has signed it. Then there is another signature, "C.E. Long, Major President."

There is not a word in this document to the effect that any of these three people want to vouch for the contents of this as an affidavit. I do not believe this document can be considered an affidavit in that sense, or can be used as such.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Mr. Justice Jackson? Do you wish to say anything?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The document speaks for itself. As I have pointed out to this witness, I am giving him the result of an investigation. I am not accusing him of personal responsibility for these conditions. I intend to ask him some questions about responsibility for conditions in the camp.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, there is a statement at the top of the copy that I have got, "Sworn on oath before a Military Court."

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes, it was taken in Essen during this investigation. And of course, if I was charging this particular defendant with the responsibility there might be some argument about it. It comes under the provision of the Charter which authorises the receipt here of proceedings of other courts.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got the original document here?


(A document was submitted to the Tribunal.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal sees no objection to the document being used in cross-examination.

Did you give it an exhibit number?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I should have; it is Exhibit USA 896.



Q. I now want to call your attention to Document 382-D.

A. I wanted to comment on the document.

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