The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th July to 27th July 1946

One Hundred and Eighty-First Day: Thursday, 18th July, 1946
(Part 10 of 10)

[DR. SERVATIUS continues.]

[Page 119]

The chart submitted as Exhibit Sauckel 3 shows the numerous offices for checking and inspection relative to the question of labourers. They did not report any particular abuses to the offices of the defendant Sauckel. Perhaps the

[Page 120]

fact that offices were so numerous points to a weakness: it is quite possible that each governmental department kept silent about mistakes made in its own jurisdiction, to avoid their coming to the attention of the defendant Sauckel, because as a rule the controlling agencies were on a higher level than the defendant Sauckel. This, should particularly be considered with regard to relations between the most important agency, the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front), under the leadership of Reich Leader Dr. Ley, and Gauleiter Sauckel.

On closer examination of the document submitted as 1903-PS, an agreement on the creation of "central inspection offices charged with the care and control of foreign labour", it appears to be a carefully set-up "screen" against the defendant Sauckel. The document was devised by Dr. Ley and signed on 2nd June, 1943, then submitted to the defendant Sauckel for signature. He did not approve and announce it until 20th September, 1943. One is justified in thinking that Dr. Ley did not wish to invite criticism. On the other hand, there is also little likelihood that the abuses were general and evident, otherwise they would obviously have become known to the defendant Sauckel through his own control agencies.

In addition to his own staff, the defendant Sauckel on 6th April, 1942, appointed the Gauleiter as "Commissioners for the Mobilization of Labour", impressing upon them as their foremost duty the supervision needed for enforcement of his orders. This becomes apparent from Document Sauckel 9, item 5; the same holds true for Document 633-PS of 14th March, 1943. Several Gauleiter were examined by the Tribunal as witnesses, and they have confirmed that the supervision was carried out as ordered and that Sauckel checked it through members of his staff. No abuses were reported.

After due consideration of the matter, whom should one believe? Are we concerned here only with exaggerated complaints? Does evidence of a contrary nature deserve credit? There is no testimony by the French who, according to Document UK 78-3, IIId, were taken to the real slave centres; there is no testimony by the Russians who, according to Document USSR 51, were sold for 10 to 15 Reichsmark.

In any case one fact speaks in favour of the defendant Sauckel, namely the fact, which has consistently been confirmed by competent witnesses, that the workers were willing and industrious and when the collapse came there was no uprising of the workers against the alleged "slave owners", on whom they would naturally have been expected to vent their wrath.

I have summarised actual happenings and have appraised them juridically. All this, however, may appear to be juridical trifling where a higher responsibility is, concerned.

It has been voiced here that it will not do to let thein [sic] significant works managers take the blame, but that the moral responsibility must go to the highest Reich Government offices; of their own volition, they should have introduced improvements on a larger scale to cope with difficulties inherent in the circumstances of that time. This might apply to offices which had the power and the means to bring about improvement. The defendant Sauckel and his small personal staff had merely, been incorporated in a Ministry already in existence and he did not have such means at his disposal. His authority consisted of a narrowly circumscribedpower to give directives on the mobilization of labour, and he untiringly made use of this authority.

The works managers of the armament industry were formed into an independentadministration and separated from so-called bureaucrats. The duty of self-preservation corresponds to this administrative independence. Consequently, if something was to be done to improve the safety of foreign workers, or their, situation in armaments works, it would have been the duty of such establishments and of the Armaments Ministry, under whose supervision they operated, to deal with the matter. It was not the duty of the office of the defendant Sauckel to intervene in these matters, as it was the concern of the Armaments Ministry.

[Page 121]

This is clearly evident from Document 4006-PS with the decree of 22nd June, 1944. This is borne out by the most intimate personal relation between the Armaments Minister and Hitler which made the former the most influential man in the economic sphere. If higher responsibility existed for mistakes made in the factories, such responsibility can be placed only on those who had knowledge of such conditions and the power to correct them.

There is still a legal question to be considered with regard to the Indictment; namely, whether the position of the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Commitment is determined by Article 7 or Article 8 of the Charter, i.e., whether the defendant Sauckel was an independent Government official or whether he had to carry out orders. The recruitment of labour took place from time to time upon Hitler's special orders, as part of the general programme, and the subsequent distribution alone was left to Sauckel. This is also confirmed by the fact that the defendant Sauckel always refers to Hitler's "Orders and Commands", as in the Manifestos of the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Commitment (GBA) (Document Sauckel 83) and others. From this also results the fact that defendant Sauckel from time to time specially reports execution of the orders, as well as the beginning and end of his official trips, Document 556-PS of 10th January, 1944, and 28th July, 1943.

Another piece of evidence that he was not an independent Government official is that, according to the appointment decree, the defendant Sauckel was immediately subordinate to the Four-Year Plan and attached to the Reich Ministry for Labour which had been preserved with its State secretaries. Only two departments were placed at his disposal. If the kind of responsibility is to be determined, it can be only within the limits of Article 8 of the Charter.

Herewith I conclude my exposition regarding the special field of labour commitment.

The defendant Sauckel is accused on all counts of the Indictment over and beyond labour commitment. Particular isolated acts are, however, not charged against him as active agent. A closer characterisation of the accusation has been effected in the course of the proceedings only in regard to the concentration camps. In this connection, however, it has been proved by a sworn statement by witness Falkenhorst (Exhibit 23) and an affidavit by witness Dieter Sauckel (Exhibit 9) that no order for the evacuation of the Buchenwald camp upon the approach of American troops was given. Knowledge and approval of conditions at the camp cannot be deduced from two visits to the camp before 1939, as the excesses submitted by the prosecution had not occurred. Nor did the local proximity of the camp to the Gauleitung of the defendant Sauckel bring about any close connection with the SS staff, as its headquarters were in Kassel and Magdeburg.

Finally must be added the innermost convictions of the defendant Sauckel which resulted from his previous career, and which were irreconcilable with Himmler's point of view.

What part can defendant Sauckel have played in the conspiracy? He was Gauleiter in Thuringia and did not rise above the other Gauleiter. His activities and his aims can be deduced from his fighting speeches, which have been submitted as Document Sauckel 95. These persistently show the fight for "liberty and bread" and the desire for real peace.

During an activity of many years in the Party, the Party programme was authoritative for defendant Sauckel; the aims and desires contained therein required neither war nor the extermination of the Jews. The practical realization of the programme alone could disclose the reality. For the convinced Party member, however, the official explanation of an event was authoritative and it met with no doubts. Up to his appointment as the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Commitment in March 1942, defendant Sauckel did not belong to the small circle of those who had access to Hitler's plans. He had to rely upon the Press and the broadcasts like everybody else. He had no contact with the leading men.

[Page 122]

This is shown somewhat tragically by his action, so often laughed at, in boarding a submarine as an ordinary seaman for a raid into enemy waters. That is not the way to participate in conspiracies.

As a faithful follower of Hitler, defendant Sauckel remains alone in the circle of the initiated. It is understandable if the extremists avoided him owing to his well-known opinions. Also he was not initiated into the secrets of people who at the same time wished to be both Hitler's friends and murderers, and he was not advised by the group of people who were Hitler's enemies, but who kept their views secret with a negative kind of courage. Faithful to the end, defendant Sauckel cannot to this day understand what has happened. Must he, like a heretic, recant his error in order to find grace? He lacks the contact with reality which would make understanding possible.

Does the sentence depend on his having unknowingly served a good or a bad cause? Nothing is by itself good or bad, only the underlying intention. One thing, however, is always and under all circumstances good, and that is good intention. This good intention was shown by the defendant Sauckel. Therefore, I ask that he be acquitted.

THE PRESIDENT: I call on Dr. Exner for defendant Jodl.

DR. EXNER (counsel for defendant Jodl): May it please the Tribunal, in this unique trial the discovery of the truth is confronted with difficulties of an exceptional nature. At a time when the wounds of the war are still bleeding, when the excitement of the events of the last few years is still felt, at a time when the archives of one side are still shut, a just verdict should be given with dispassionate neutrality. Material for the trial has been spread out before us which covers a quarter of a century of world history and events from the four corners of the globe.

On the basis of this tremendous material, we see 22 men being accused simultaneously. That makes it terribly difficult to keep one's eye clear for the guilt and the responsibility of each individual, for inhumanities of an almost unimaginable vastness have come to light here, and the danger exists that the deep shadow which falls on some of the defendants may also darken the others. Some of them appear, I fear, in a different light because of the company in which they are here than they would have appeared if they had been alone in the defendant's dock.

The prosecutors have increased this danger still more by repeatedly making joint accusations, mixing legal and moral reproaches. They said that all of the defendants had enriched themselves from the occupied territories, that there was not one who did not shout, "Die, Judah", and so forth. No attempt to prove this in the case of each individual was made, but the statement alone creates an atmosphere inimical to all of them.

One fact due to the attitude of the prosecution, which renders elucidation of the question of individual guilt more difficult, is that the defendants Keitel and Jodl are treated as inseparable twins: one common plea against them by the British Prosecutor, one common trial brief by the French, prosecution, and finally the Soviet prosecution spoke very little about the individual defendants but, rather, heaped reproach after reproach upon all of the defendants.

All of this is clearly intended to shorten the trial, but it hardly serves to clear up the question of individual responsibility. Indeed, the Indictment goes still farther. It stretches beyond these 22 defendants and affects the fate of millions - this through the prosecution of the organizations, which, taken in conjunction with Law No. 10, has as its result that one can be punished for the guilt of other persons.

And finally, a thing that is more important at the moment is a further form of summary treatment of the defendants. The prosecution is bringing in the conception of a "conspiracy" to reach the result again that persons can be made individually responsible for something wrong that others did. I must go into this point in greater detail, as it concerns my client as well.

[Page 123]

It is actually clear, I think, from the previous speakers' statements that a conspiracy to commit crimes against the peace, the laws of war and of humanity did not in fact exist. Therefore, I shall show only one thing: if such a conspiracy did actually exist, Jodl, at least, did not belong to it.

The prosecution has admitted that Jodl's participation in the conspiracy before 1933 could not be proved. In fact, anyone whose attitude toward the whole National Socialist movement was so mistrustful and who spoke with such scepticism about its seizure of power did not conspire to help Hitler take over the reins. But the prosecution seems to think that Jodl joined the alleged conspiracy in the period before 1939.

In fact, during this time, too, nothing essential changed for him. True, his attitude toward Hitler was now an entirely loyal one. But it was Jodl's respected Field- Marshal von Hindenburg who had called Hitler into the Government; and the German people had confirmed this decision with more than 90 per cent of its votes.

Added to this was the fact that in Jodl's eyes - and not alone in his - Hitler's authority was bound to rise immeasurably in view of his marvellous successes at home and abroad, successes which now followed one after another in quick succession, but personally Jodl remained without any connection with Hitler. He did not participate in any of the big meetings at which Hitler developed his programme. He had only read extracts of Hitler's book Mein Kampf - the Bible of National Socialism. Jodl remained just an unpolitical man, quite in accordance with his personal inclinations which were away from party politics and in accordance with the traditions of the old family of officers from which he sprang. Of liberal leanings, he had little sympathy for National Socialism; as an officer he was forbidden to belong to the Party, and he had no right to vote or be politically active.

If, as the prosecution says, the Party held the conspiracy together and was the "instrument of cohesion" between the defendants, then one asks in vain what cohesion actually existed between Jodl and, let us say, Sauckel, or between Jodl and Streicher. Of all the defendants, the only one he knew before the war, apart from the officers, was Frick, whom he met at one or two official conferences in the Ministry of the Interior. He kept out of the NSDAP, and his attitude towards its organizations was even, in some sense, inimical. His greatest worry during these years, as later right to the end, was the danger of Party influence on the armed forces.

Jodl did what lay in his power to prevent the SS from being developed into a subsidiary Wehrmacht, to prevent the handing over of the Customs Frontier Guards to Himmler, and he notes triumphantly in his diary that after the resignation of General von Fritsch, Hitler did not, as was feared, make General von Reichenau, who had Party ties, Commander-in-Chief of the Army but the unpolitical General von Brauchitsch, and so forth.

If Jodl had conspired for National Socialism in any way, his attitude would have been the contrary on each of these points.

Jodl was also not present at any of the so-called meetings of the conspirators - not on 5th November, 1937 - Hitler's testament remained unknown to him - nor at Obersalzberg in February, 1938, nor at the meetings on 23rd May, 1939, and 22nd August, 1939.

No wonder. Jodl was, after all, at that time still much too insignificant to be permitted to participate in conferences and meetings which were of such decisive importance to the State. People do not conspire with lieutenant-colonels or colonels on the General Staff. They simply tell them what to do, and that settles the matter.

However, the most incontrovertible proof of the fact that Jodl can have belonged to no conspiracy to wage aggressive war is his absence of ten months' duration just before the beginning of the war. Jodl had left the OKW in October, 1938,

[Page 124]

and was sent to Vienna as artillery commander. At that time there was in his mind so little probability of war that, before leaving Berlin, he drafted on his own initiative a plan of deployment in all directions for security purposes. In this he moved the mass of the German forces to the centre of the Reich because le could not see any definite opponent against whom a deployment plan would have to be prepared.

Exactly a year before the beginning of the attack, this alleged conspirator for aggressive wars drew up a purely defensive General Staff plan, and, although he knew definitely that in case of war he would have to return to Berlin, this possibility seemed so distant that he moved to Vienna, taking along all his furniture.

Besides, as he wished to finally get away from office work again, he had the Mountain Division at Reichenhall promised him for 1st October, 1939. Lastly, as late as July he procured shipping tickets for a sea trip planned to last several weeks and which would have begun in September - so sure was he of a further peaceful development during these ten months.

Up to the time he was called to Berlin shortly before the outbreak of the war, Jodl had no official or private connections with the OKW. The only letter he got from them of that time was the one which promised him his transfer to Reichenhall on 1st October.

Note that at that most critical time - at the very time when the alleged conspirators were discussing and working out the Polish plan - Jodl was out of all contact for ten months with the authoritative persons and knew no more of what was happening than one of his second lieutenants.

When the Fuehrer came to Vienna during the summer, it did not even seem worth while to Keitel to introduce Jodl to him, although Jodl, as the supreme commander's strategic adviser, was called upon in the event of war to carry out the allegedly common aggressive plan.

One can imagine how astonished Jodl was to read in the Indictment that he had been a member of the conspiracy to launch the war.

Mr. President, I have reached the end of a paragraph, and this perhaps might be an appropriate moment to recess.


(The Tribunal adjourned until 19th July, 1946, at 1000 hours).

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