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 11 of 12)

[GENERAL RAGINSKY continues his cross examination of Albert Speer]

[Page 86]

Q. Defendant Speer, did you know that, in the factories of which you were in charge, some of the forced labourers were convicts whose prison terms had already expired? Did you know that?

A. During my period of office I did not know it; I learned of it here from a document.

Q. You claim that you did not know it?

[Page 87]

A. I know what you mean; it is mentioned in the Schieber letter of 4th May, 1944, which is in my document book, but I could not possibly remember all these details.

Q. You cannot remember, but Schieber, on 4th May, 1944, in a special letter addressed to you personally, wrote to you about it and you could not possibly have not known it. The fact that this letter is included in your document book does not change the situation.

A. On the receipt of this letter I then wrote to Himmler with regard to the workers who had served their prison sentences. I can submit this letter at any time, I left it out to avoid making the document book too long. This letter shows that I asked Himmler to let these workers, who had served their sentences, remain free. Himmler's point of view was that these workers should remain in custody.

Q. Do you remember the letter from the OKW of 8th July, 1943, on the subject of manpower for mining? Do you remember that letter and its contents?

A. No.

Q. I shall remind you.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: This document was submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USA 455 and has been quoted here several times. I think, therefore, that it is not necessary to read all of it into the record, but I will read just a few basic points.


Q. The Fuehrer's order to assign 300,000 Russian prisoners of war to coal mining is mentioned in this letter. Do you remember this order?

A. I should like to see it.

Q. You will be given a chance to see it. In paragraph a of this document it is mentioned that all prisoners of war taken in the East after 5th July, 1943, are to be brought to the camps of the OKW and turned over to the Plenipotentiary for Labour Mobilization for employment in the coal mining industry.

In paragraph 4 of this document it states:

"All male prisoners, from 16 to 55 years of age, captured in guerrilla fighting in the operational army area of the Eastern commissariats, the Government General and the Balkans, will in the future be considered prisoners of war. The same applies to males in the newly conquered regions of the East. They are to be sent to prisoner-of-war camps, and are to be brought from there for labour commitment in the Reich."
This letter was also sent to you and therefore you knew what kind of methods were used to obtain workers for your coal industry. Do you admit that?

A. No, I do not admit it.

Q. All right.

A. I do not know whether you mean that the prisoners who were taken in the fighting against partisans in the operational area were to be sent to the mines. I assumed at the time that they were taken prisoner in battle, and a partisan captured in battle is, of course, a prisoner of war. Here the assertion was made that in particular the prisoners taken in the partisan areas were not treated as prisoners of war. But this document seems to me to be evidence to the contrary. It shows that prisoners taken in the partisan areas were treated as prisoners of war.

Q. I am definitely not interested in your comments on this document. I asked you whether you knew in what particular way, and through what particular methods, you were receiving workers for your coal industry, and you answered that you did not admit knowledge of it; I think that covers the question with regard to the document. We will pass on to the next document.

On 4th January, 1944 you participated in a meeting which took place in Hitler's headquarters and at which the question of utilization of manpower for 1944 was. discussed. You stated that you would have to have an additional 1,300,000 workers. During this meeting it was decided that Sauckel would furnish not less than 4,000,000 workers from occupied territories in 1944, and that Himmler

[Page 88]

would help him to supply this number. The minutes of the meeting, signed by Lammers, stated that the decision of all participants in the meeting was unanimous. Do you acknowledge that, as a participant in this meeting and as a Reich Minister, you are among those responsible for the forced deportation to Germany of a few million workers?

A. But this programme was not carried out.

Q. Defendant Speer, if you do not answer my questions, we shall lose too much time.

THE PRESIDENT: But, General Raginsky, from the outset of this defendant's evidence, if I understand it, he has admitted that he knows that prisoners of war and other workers were brought to Germany forcibly, against their will. He has never denied it.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: Yes, Mr. President, he admitted it. But the question now is whether he admits that he himself is responsible for the decision taken at this meeting which he attended on 4th January. He did not answer that and I am asking him again.


Q. I shall repeat my question. I am not asking you whether Sauckel really carried through this programme. I am asking you whether on 4th January you participated in a decision taken at Hitler's headquarters that Sauckel, with the assistance of Himmler, should forcibly deport 4,000,000 people from occupied territories. You participated in that decision, did you not? It is obvious from the minutes which state that the decision was unanimous. Now, do you accept responsibility for this decision?

A. As far as my responsibility is concerned I assume the Tribunal will decide the extent of it. I cannot establish it myself.

Q. Now, I shall read to you an excerpt from a document presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USA 184. This document mentions a decision of Sauckel to the effect that mobilization and drafting of two age groups - 1926 and 1927 - will be carried through in all newly occupied Eastern territories. This document also states that "the Reich Minister of Armament and Munitions approved this order," and the document ends with the following sentence:

"Mobilization and selection must be speeded up and carried through with the greatest energy and all appropriate measures must be applied."
Do you remember this order?

A. I have read this document here; it is correct.

Q. Now we shall pass on to the next question. You stated here that you were highly critical of Hitler's entourage. Will you please name the persons whom you criticized?

A. No, I will not name them.

Q. You will not name these persons because you did not criticise anybody, am I to understand you in that way?

A. I did criticise them, but I do not consider it right to name them here.

Q. Well, I will not insist on an answer to this question.

You had some differences with Hitler. Tell us, did they begin after you had convinced yourself that Germany had lost the war?

A. I made clear statements on this point yesterday.

Q. You spoke here quite extensively about your opposition to the destruction of industries in the Western areas of the Reich before the withdrawal of the German armed forces. But did you not do that only because you counted upon the reoccupation of these regions in the near future, and because you wanted to save these industries for your own use?

A. No, that was not the reason. I explained in detail yesterday that this reason served as my pretext to prevent the destruction. If, for instance, you look at my memorandum dealing with the motor fuel situation, it is obvious that I did not believe a reoccupation was possible, and I do not think that any military

[Page 89]

leader in 1944 considered a re-occupation of France, Belgium or Holland possible. That also applies to the Eastern territories, of course.

Q. I think it would be better if we referred to the document. That is the right way of doing it and it would save time. It is a draft of a telegram which you prepared for Gauleiter Buerkel, Wagner and others. I shall read from Page 56 of your document book.

"The Fuehrer has stated that he can in a short time accomplish the reoccupation of the territories which are at present lost to us, since in continuing the war the Western areas are of great importance for armament and war-production."
What you stated in your testimony is quite different from what you wrote to the Gauleiter.

A. No, my counsel quoted and explained all this yesterday. I should like to see the document again. I do not know whether it is necessary to repeat this whole explanation, it was given yesterday and lasted about ten minutes. Either my explanation of yesterday is believed or not.

Q. I do not want you to repeat what you said yesterday; if you do not want to answer me I prefer to pass on to the next question.

THE PRESIDENT: General Raginsky, if you asked him a question which was asked yesterday, he must give the same answer if he wants to give a consistent answer.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: Mr. President, I am asking him this question again because in my view he answered it very wrongly yesterday. But to repeat yesterday's answer would be an absolute waste of time. If he does nor want to answer truthfully, then I shall pass on to the next question.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness says: "I did answer the question truthfully yesterday, but if you want me to repeat it again, I will do it but it will take ten minutes to do it." That is what he said and it is a perfectly proper answer.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: I prefer to pass on to the next question.


Q. Tell us why you sent this telegram about the destruction of industries to the Gauleiter.

A. It was not sent only to the Gauleiter, it was sent to my representatives as well as to the Gauleiter. The Gauleiter had to be informed, because they could, on their own initiative, have ordered destruction to be carried out, and, since they were not subordinate to me but to Bormann, I had to send this teletype message which I had drafted to Bormann with the request to forward it to the Gauleiter.

Q. You stated that the supporters of Hitler's "scorched earth" policy were Ley, Goebbels and Bormann. Now, what about those who are alive today, those who are now sitting in the dock. Did not any of them support Hitler in this policy?

A. As far as I recall, none of those now in the dock were in favour of the "scorched earth" policy. On the contrary, Funk, for example, was one of those who opposed it very strongly.

Q. This policy was advocated only by people who are now dead?

A. Yes, and probably they killed themselves because they advocated this policy and did other such things.

Q. Your defence counsel has submitted to the Tribunal several letters addressed to Hitler, dated March, 1945. Tell us, did Hitler, after receiving these letters, lose confidence in you?

A. I said yesterday that violent disputes followed these letters, and that Hitler wanted me to go on leave, on permanent leave, that is; in effect he wanted to dismiss me. But I did not want to go.

[Page 90]

I have heard this before. But nevertheless, Hitler appointed you, Speer, on 3rd March, 1945, to be in charge of the total destruction of all industries.

A. Yes, that is, I was competent for the destruction or non-destruction of industry in Germany until 19th March, 1945. Then a Hitler decree, which has also been submitted, took away from me this power to carry out destruction, but Hitler's decree of 30th March, 1945, which I drew up, returned this power to me. The main thing, however, is that I have also submitted the orders which I issued on the strength of this power; they show clearly that I prohibited the carrying out of destruction, and thereby my purpose was achieved. Not Hitler's decree, but my executive order was decisive. That order is also among the documents.

Q. In spite of the fact that Hitler received such letters from you, he did not regard you as a man opposing him?

A. Hitler said, in the talk which I had with him at that time, that both for domestic and for foreign political reasons he could not dispense with my services. That was his explanation. I believe that already then his confidence in me was shaken, since in his testament he named another as my successor.

Q. And the last question. In April, 1945, you wrote, in the Hamburg radio studio, a speech which you intended to deliver if Berlin fell. In this speech, which was not delivered, you advocated the banning of a Werewolf organization. Tell us, who was in charge of the Werewolves.

A. Reichsleiter Bormann was in charge of the Werewolves.

Q. And besides Bormann, who?

A. No, just Bormann. As far as I know - I am not quite certain - the Werewolf organization was subordinate to Bormann.

Q. That is understood. If Bormann were still alive, then you would have said that Himmler was the leader of this organization. One could hardly expect another answer.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: I have no more questions of the defendant.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Servatius, did you want to ask something which arises out of the cross-examination?

DR. SERVATIUS: I have only a few questions on the cross-examination.


Q. Witness, you stated that after air raids, deficiencies arising in the concerns were reported by you to the DAF or to Sauckel. That is correct, is it not?

A. No, not quite in this form. I was asked whether I received occasional reports on such conditions. I said yes, I passed them on to Sauckel or to the DAF because they were the competent authorities.

Q. What did these reports which were sent to Sauckel contain?

A. As far as I remember, I said in the examination that I did not exactly recall receiving such reports. In any case, the question was only a theoretical one: what would I have done if I had received such reports. I thought that reports had certainly reached me, but I can no longer recall their specific contents.

Q. What was Sauckel to do?

A. Against the air raids Sauckel could not do anything either.

Q. If you sent the reports to him, it meant that he was to provide help?

A. Yes, or that he, as the competent authority, would have precise information on conditions in his field of work, even if he could not help.

Q. His field was the recruiting of manpower.

A. Yes, also labour conditions.

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