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 6 of 12)

[Page 66]

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, there are some photographs which have been put before us. Are they identified and do they form part of an exhibit?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: They form part of the exhibit which I am now offering.


[Page 66]

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But the witness desires to comment on the last document, and I will listen to that before we go ahead.


Q. Yes.

[Albert Speer] A. First I should like to say, as you have so often mentioned my non-responsibility, that if in general these conditions had been true, on the basis of my statement yesterday I should consider myself responsible. I do not want to evade responsibility. But the conditions were not what they are said to have been here. These are only individual cases which are quoted.

As for this document, I should only like to say from what I have seen of it that it seems to be a question of a concentration camp, one of the small concentration camps near the factories. The factories could not inspect these camps. That is why the sentence is quite true where it says that no factory representative ever saw the camp.

The fact that there were SS guards also shows that it was a concentration camp.

If the question which you asked me before, as to whether the labour camps were guarded - those for foreign workers - if that refers to this document, then your conclusion was wrong. As far as I know, the other labour camps were not guarded by SS or by any other organizations. My position is such that I feel it is my duty to protect the heads of plants from any injustice which might be done them. The head of a concern could not bother about the conditions in such a camp.

I cannot say whether conditions were as described in this camp. We have seen so much material on conditions in concentration camps during the trial.

Q. Now I will ask to have you shown Exhibit 382-D - I should say Document 382-D - which will be Exhibit USA 897. Now that is the statement of several as to one of those steel boxes which stood in the foreign workers' camp in the grounds of No. 4 Armour Shop, and of those in the Russian camp. I do not think that it is necessary to read the complete descriptions.

Is that merely an individual instance, or what is your view of that circumstance?

A. What is pictured here is quite a normal locker as was used in every factory. These photographs have no value as evidence.

Q. Very well. I will ask to have you shown Document 230-D which is an inter-office record of the steel switches, and the steel switches which have been found in the camp will be shown to you, 80 of them, distributed according to the reports.

A. Shall I comment on this?

Q. If you wish.

A. Yes. Those are nothing but replacements for rubber truncheons. We had no rubber; and for that reason, the guards probably had something like this


Q. That is the same inference that I drew from the document.

A. Yes, but the guards did not immediately use these steel switches any more than your police use their rubber truncheons. But they had to have something in their hands. It is the same thing, all over the world.

Q. Well, we will not argue that point.

A. I am not an expert. I only assume that that was the case. I cannot testify on oath that that was the case. That was only an argument.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you give an exhibit number to that?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Exhibit USA 898, your Honour.


Q. Now, Exhibit 899 would be our Document 283, which is a 1943 report from the Krupp hospitals taken from the files of Krupp's. The subject:

"Cases of Deaths of Eastern Workers."

"Fifty-four Eastern workers have died in the hospital in Lazarettstrasse, four of them as a result of external causes and fifty as a result of illnesses.

[Page 67]

The causes of death in the case of these fifty Eastern workers who died of illnesses were the following:

Tuberculosis ....................38
Malnutrition .........................2
Internal haemorrhage .......1
Disease of the bowels .....2
Typhus .................................1
Pneumonia .........................3
Appendicitis ........................1
Liver trouble ........................1
Abscess of the brain .........1

This list therefore shows that four-fifths died of tuberculosis and malnutrition."

Now, did you have any reports from time to time as to the health conditions of the workers who were engaged on your production programme?

A. First I should like to comment on the document. The document does not show the total number of workers employed when these people died, so that one cannot say whether that is an unnaturally high proportion of illness. In an account of a session of the Central Planning Board which I read here, I observed it was said that amongst the Russian workers there was a high rate of tuberculosis. I do not know whether you mean that. That was a remark which Weiger made to me. But presumably through the health offices we tried to alleviate these conditions.

Q. There was an abnormally high rate of deaths from tuberculosis; there is no doubt about that, is there?

A. I do not know whether that was an abnormal death rate. But there was an abnormally high rate of tuberculosis at times.

Q. Well, the exhibit does not show whether the death rate itself was abnormally high, but it shows an abnormal proportion of deaths from tuberculosis among the total deaths, does it not? Eighty per cent deaths from tuberculosis is a very high percentage, is it not?

A. That may be. I cannot say from my own knowledge.

Q. Now I would like to have you shown -

THE PRESIDENT: Did you give that an exhibit number? That would be 899, would it not?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: 899, your Honour.


Q. Now, let me ask you to be shown Document 335. This is a report from the files of Krupp dated at Essen, the 12th of June, 1944, directed to the "Gau Camp Doctor Herr Dr. Jaeger," and signed by Stinnesbeck:

"In the middle of May I took over the medical supervision of the P.O.W. Camp 1420 in the Noggerathstrasse. The camp contains 644 French P.O.W.s. During the air raid on 27th April of this year most of the camp was destroyed and at the moment conditions are intolerable.

315 prisoners are still accommodated in the camp. 170 of these are no longer in huts but in the tunnel in Grunertstrasse on the Essen-Muhlheim railway line. This tunnel is damp and is not suitable for accommodation of human beings. The rest of the prisoners are accommodated in ten different factories in Krupp's works.

Medical attention is given by a French military doctor who takes great pains with his fellow-countrymen. Sick people from Krupp's factories must be brought to the sick parade, too. This parade is held in the lavatory of a burned-out public-house outside the camp. The sleeping accommodation of the four French medical orderlies is in what was the urinal. There is a double tier wooden bed available for sick bay patients. In general, treatment takes place in the open. In rainy weather it has to be held in the small room.

[Page 68]

These are insufferable conditions. There are no chairs, tables, cupboards or water. The keeping of a register of sick people is impossible. Bandages and medical supplies are very scarce, although people badly hurt in the works are often brought here for first aid and have to be bandaged before being taken to the hospital. There are many strong complaints about food, too, which the guard personnel confirm as being justified.

Illness and loss of manpower result from these conditions.

The construction of huts for the accommodation of the prisoners and the building of sick quarters for the proper treatment of patients is urgently necessary.

Please take the necessary steps.

(Signed) Stinnesbeck."

A. That is a document which shows what conditions can be after a severe air raid. The conditions were the same in these cases for German and foreign workers. There were no beds, no cupboards, and so forth. That was because the camp in which these things had been provided had been burned down. That the food supply was often inadequate in the Ruhr district during this period was due to the fact that attacks from the air were centred on communication lines, so that food transport could not be brought into the Ruhr to the necessary extent. These were temporary conditions which we were able to improve when the air raids ceased for a time. When conditions became even worse after September or October of 1944, or rather after November of 1944, we made every effort to give food supplies the priority for the first time over armament needs, so that in spite of these disasters the workers would be fed.

Q. Well, then, you did make it your business to get food for and concern yourself about the conditions of these workers? Do I understand that you did it, that you took steps?

A. It is true that I did so and I am glad that I did even if I am to be reproached for it now. For it is a universal human obligation when one hears of such conditions to try to alleviate them, even if it is somebody else's responsibility. But the witness Riecke testified here that the whole of the food question was under the direction of the Food Ministry.

Q. And it was an essential part of production, was it not, to keep workers in proper condition to produce? That is elementary, is it not?

A. No. That is wrongly formulated.

Q. Well, you formulate it for me as to what the relation is between the nourishment and production of workers.

A. I said yesterday that the responsibility for labour conditions was divided between the Food Ministry, the Health Office in the Reich Ministry of the Interior and the labour trustee in the office of the Plenipotentiary for Labour Employment and so on. There was no comprehensive authority in my hands. In the Reich, because of the way in which our State machine was built up, we lacked a comprehensive authority in the form of a Reich Chancellor, with power to convene conferences of the heads of departments for joint discussions.

But I, as the man responsible for production, had no responsibility in these matters. However, when I heard complaints from factory heads or from my deputies, I did everything to remove the cause of the complaints.

Q. The Krupp works -

THE PRESIDENT: Shall we break off now?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Any time you say, sir.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal wishes to hear from defendants' counsel what arrangements they have found it possible to make with reference to the apportionment of time for their speeches.

[Page 69]

DR. NELTE: I should like first of all to point out that the defendants' counsel, with whom the Tribunal discussed the question of final defence speeches during an earlier closed session, did not inform the other defendants' counsel, since they were under the impression that the Tribunal would not impose any restrictions on the defence in this respect. I personally, when I raised my objections, had no knowledge of this discussion, as my colleagues, who conferred with you earlier, have authorized me to explain.

On the suggestion of the Tribunal, counsel for the individual defendants have discussed the decision announced in the session on 13th June, 1946, and I am now, submitting to the Tribunal the outcome of the discussion; in doing so, however, I shall have to make certain qualifications, since some of my colleagues are either not present or differ in their opinion on the apportionment of time.

The defendants' counsel are of the opinion that only the conscientious sense of duty of each counsel can determine the form and length of the final defence pleas in this unusual trial. Their view does not affect the generally recognized right of the Tribunal, as part of its responsibility for controlling the proceedings, to prevent a possible misuse of the freedom of speech. They also believe that, in view of this fundamental consideration and in view of the usual practice of international courts, the Tribunal will understand and approve that the defendants' counsel voice their objections to a measure for restriction of the just right of freedom of speech, for a misuse on their part must not be taken as a foregone conclusion. This fundamental attitude is, of course, in accord with the readiness of the defence to comply with the directives and the wishes of the Tribunal as far as is reconcilable with a proper and right conception of the defence in each case. The individual defendants' counsel have been asked to make their own estimates of the probable duration of their final pleas. The result of these estimates shows that, despite the limitations counsel have imposed upon themselves, and with due respect to the wishes of the High Tribunal, a total duration of approximately twenty full days in court is required by the defence.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, the Tribunal asked defence counsel for an apportionment of the fourteen days between them.

DR. NELTE: I believe, Mr. President, my statement makes clear that it appears impossible to accept that limitation. If the Tribunal considers that the apportionment of fourteen full days is indisputable, then the entire defence will submit to that decision. But so far as I know, it will be quite impossible, under such circumstances, to obtain agreement among the defence counsel, and considerable danger therefore exists that counsel who make their pleas later will be handicapped in their defence by lack of adequate time.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think the Tribunal probably fully understands that you think 14 days - you and your colleagues consider that 14 days is too short, but, as I say, what the Tribunal asked for was an apportionment of the time, and there is nothing in what you have said to indicate that you have made any apportionment at all, either of the fourteen days or of the twenty days which you propose.

DR. NELTE: The period of twenty days was arrived at when each defendant's counsel had stated the duration of his speech. It would, therefore, be perfectly possible to say that, if the Tribunal would approve the duration of twenty days, then we could agree on the apportionment of time for the individual speeches. But it is impracticable to apportion the time if the total number of days is only fourteen. You can rest assured, Mr. President, that we have all gone into the question conscientiously and that we have also decided on the manner in which individual subjects can be divided among defendants' counsel; but the total number of about twenty days appears to us,, without wanting to quote a maximum or minimum figure, to be absolutely essential for an apportionment. It is perfectly possible, Mr. President, that in the course of the speeches

[Page 70]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, as I have indicated to you, what the Tribunal wanted to know was the apportionment, and presumably you have some apportionment which adds up to the twenty days which you say is required, and the Tribunal would like, if you have such an apportionment, that you should let them see it, or if you have no such apportionment, then they would wish to hear from each individual counsel how long he thinks he is going to take. If you have got a list, it seems to the Tribunal that you could hand it in.

DR. NELTE: The figures are available and they will be handed to the Tribunal, but some of my colleagues have said that their estimates are only valid on the assumption that only a specific number of days is to be granted. That is the point of view to which I referred earlier as being slightly at variance with mine, but we all thought that the decision of the Tribunal was only a suggestion and not a maximum to be apportioned. I hope, Mr. President, that your words now are also to be understood in that way, and that the Tribunal will still consider whether the proposed period of fourteen days could not be extended to correspond with the time which we consider necessary.

THE PRESIDENT: What the Tribunal wants is an apportionment of the time as between the various counsel.

[ 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.