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-Fourth Day: Tuesday, 23rd July, 1946
(Part 5 of 12)

[Page 249]

DR. FLAECHSER, Continued:

The defendant Speer was already at that time on bad terms with Sauckel. The order issued to Speer in the minutes of the Fuehrer conference, with reference to the control of the French armament industry, gave him a pretext for the establish-

[Page 250]

ment of blocked industries. For all practical purposes the termination of labour commitments from France was thereby achieved, just the opposite, therefore, of what the prosecution would like to prove. Reference must be made in this connection to Document 22-RF. There it is asserted that owing to the Speer-Bichelonne agreement, labour, commitments to Germany from October, 1943, onwards were one-tenth less (compare Page 41 of my document book).

In weighing the question as to what extent this exonerates the defendant, it is of no importance whether he acted in such a way for reasons of expediency or because he considered the other procedure as illegal. The only thing that matters in this case is the result, which actually put a practical stop to the transfer of workers to Germany, as is evident from the document quoted, 22-RF.

It is finally clear from the Fuehrer minutes of 19th to 22nd June, 1944 (Speer Exhibit 12, Page 19 of the Speer Document Book), and from the testimony of Seyss-Inquart (11th June, 1946) that in spite of the loss of industry in the western territories and the intention of other departments to bring the unemployed workers to Germany, Speer succeeded in maintaining his blocked industries, and thus the plan to commit more foreign workers to Germany finally collapsed. In the case of the defendant Speer we cannot say that it was his duty to examine how far Sauckel's measures were admissible from the point of view of International Law, and this for the following reasons:

When he took over his post in the year 1942, the transfer of foreign workers to Reich territory had already been in operation for some time. Speer relied on the assumption that the legal foundations for these measures had been examined before their introduction. It was not his duty, in the eyes of the law, to examine them independently; he could be sure that the offices which handled the mobilization of labour commitment had examined the legal basis of their activity. During his years of office, the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour had repeatedly confirmed the fact that the transfer of workers to the Reich was carried out strictly within legal limits. He could depend on it that the authorities who were entrusted by the State with the tasks of labour procurement would on their side examine the measures they took in order to carry out these tasks, from the point of view of their legal admissibility. The activity of the defendant within the framework of the Government could, if transferred to the sector of civil law, be compared with that of the technical works manager of a factory, and in this case Sauckel's position would correspond to that of a director of the personnel office. In such a case the technical works manager's duty is not to examine if and to what extent the employment contracts concluded with the individual workers conform to legal regulations. He has only to see that the manpower he is given to carry out his tasks is employed in the right place and in the right manner. This cannot be countered with the argument that the defendant Sauckel merely considered himself as the deputy of the defendant Speer. This would not present a fair picture of the way in which the different tasks had been distributed between the two co-defendants by the heads of the State. The fact cannot be overlooked that of all the sectors of economy which sent in their requests to the defendant Sauckel, those presented by the defendant Speer were the most important for the conduct of the war and therefore had priority over the others. This does not mean, however, that it was Sauckel's duty to satisfy all the demands of the department represented by Speer before all the others. He did not do so, as can be seen from the evidence, in particular from the testimonies of the witnesses Schieber (Document Book II, Page 114) and Kehrl (Document Book I, Page 106), and could not even do so, as the demands of the other branches of economy, which were all known as consuming agents, "Bedarfstrager," were very often equally urgent, and the labour potential at hand was not sufficient to fulfil all the demands to the same extent. Had Sauckel not been more than a "deputy of Speer," a mere tool who had only to carry out the instructions of Speer, the profound differences between the two could never have come into existence.

[Page 251]

It has been emphasized by the prosecution that the appointment of the defendant Sauckel as Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour was only made possible through the intervention of the defendant Speer, and that this gave reason to believe that Sauckel had been more or less a tool of the defendant Speer or depended on him to a large extent. This assumption does not correspond with the actual facts.

When he took over his office as Armament Minister, the defendant Speer soon discovered that the supplying of workers to plants had been carried out until then by the Ministry of Labour, which could not cope with the demands made on it. Within the field of work of the Ministry of Labour, this activity represented only a small fraction of its overall functions.

The defendant Speer declared, in the course of his interrogation, that the Ministry of Labour could not overcome sufficiently the obstructive tactics of the different Gauleiter in their districts, because it was the ambition of every Gauleiter to do everything within his power to prevent the transfer of workers from his Gau to another. The department of the Ministry of Labour, which was organized on purely bureaucratic lines, did not seem to the defendant Speer to be equal to its task, and the suggestion was made to the State leadership that a Gauleiter should be entrusted with this charge. When Speer's suggestion was followed up by the request that a Gauleiter charged with the procurement of labour should be put under him, it was not granted by the State leadership because of other existing competencies. The person proposed by Speer was also turned down, and the defendant Sauckel was appointed instead. So that in Speer's endeavours to create a Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour the reasons involved were merely of an organisational nature, with the purpose of overcoming the above-mentioned opposition, which was directed against the activity of the Labour Procurement Office in the Ministry of Labour. But to draw from these facts the conclusion that the defendant Speer was responsible for all the measures ordered by the defendant Sauckel would be erroneous.

The fact that the defendant, as a member of the Central Planning Board, participated in sessions at which the problem of the procurement of labour was discussed, cannot be used to support the claim of the prosecution. The prosecution attempts to prove from the sessions of the Central Planning Board that the defendant Speer played a leading part in the procurement of labour from foreign countries. In reply to this the following must be stated: The prosecution has only submitted the text of the minutes of a session, but not the decisions which were made on the basis of this session. And yet it is exactly these that are decisive. Since all the defendant Speer's reports, including also the notes on the decisions of the Central Planning Board, were placed by him at the disposal of the Allied authorities, it would have been easy for the prosecution to have presented such decisions, which would have shown the decisive co-operation of the defendant in the procurement of labour. But such conclusions do not exist and, therefore, the fact that at the conferences of the Central Planning Board questions of labour mobilisations were mentioned should not lead to the conclusion that the Central Planning Board had taken this point over in its sphere of activity.

The decree regarding the establishment of the Central Planning Board is given under No. 42 in Exhibit Speer 7. The scope of the Central Planning Board in labour questions is clearly outlined, and it is stated that the procurement and distribution of labour need not be included in the sphere of competence of the Central Planning Board, as the new office of the Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour has been specially created for it. It is clear also from the testimony that when the co-defendant Sauckel discussed questions concerning the policy of labour commitment before the Central Planning Board, he underlined sharply his independence of the Central Planning Board, and stressed the fact that when he made his decisions he was responsible only to the Fuehrer in the last instance, and was independent of the Central Planning Board. For this I refer to the testimonies

[Page 252]

of the witness Kehrl and the witness Schieber (Speer Exhibits 36 and 37). This does not mean that no attempts were made in the Central Planning Board to exert an influence in the sphere of the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour. These attempts, however, did not have any results.

In principle we must take the stand that the responsibility of the defendant Speer for the transportation of labour from the occupied territories to the Reich cannot be deduced from his activity within the Central Planning Board.

If the prosecution charges the defendant with the fact that he knew that a great portion of the workers made available to him by Sauckel had been brought to Germany against their will and that he used these workers in the industry which was under his control, this conclusion is open to legal criticism. If and in so far as the removal of workers to the Reich was a violation of International Law, this crime would be limited at the most to the removal of workers to the Reich. The fact that the persons removed into Reich territory were assigned to work is, legally speaking, a new fact to which the prosecution applies the concept of "slave labour."

In this connection the following should be considered: By reason of the Reich Service Law and the decree which enforced it there existed for every German an obligation to contribute his services to the war effort. Through the Labour Office as the highest authority, the leaders of the State could assign the labour of every State national to any purpose they considered appropriate, and they did so.

Foreign workers who were removed to Germany likewise became subject to this regulation. We on our part do not deny that the Hague Convention on Land Warfare itself contains no provision which would support the extension of compulsory labour service from German nationals to the inhabitants of the occupied territories. Since the Hague Convention on Land Warfare reflects the influence of a different concept of warfare, it is impossible that it should have taken into consideration conditions produced by economic warfare. Yes, it is not possible to answer in the affirmative the question of whether the Hague Convention on Land Warfare finally and definitely regulates all the powers of an occupation authority. Such an answer is contradicted by the practice of all the nations which participated in this war. But here too we can resort to the above-mentioned concept of "national emergency" to obtain a correct evaluation and appreciation of the case. It should be admitted that the prosecution is right in that this extension of liability to compulsory labour can be justified from that point of view only.

If we accept the prosecution's contention that there is no legal justification for the extension of liability to compulsory labour to foreign nationals of occupied territories, we are still obliged to check the extent to which the defendant Speer has made himself guilty of the employment of labour subject to such compulsion. In this connection we may refer to what was said earlier about deportation. That the defendant Speer, although he was not responsible for this, still attempted to mitigate the living conditions of these workers, and that he also took steps to correct bad conditions - in so far as these came to his attention - is shown by Exhibits 3, 4 and 5 of the Speer Document Book (Pages 7, 8, 9 of the Speer Document Book). Reference must also be made to the testimony of the defendant himself, in direct examination as well as in cross- examination, where he described his activity in that field.

Justice Jackson, the American Chief Prosecutor, when placing before the defendant Speer during his cross-examination a series of documents intended to demonstrate the bad treatment of foreign workers by the firm of Krupp in Essen, himself stated that he did not intend to hold the defendant Speer responsible for such individual incidents.

The documents involved were Dr. Jager's affidavit - Document 288-D - discussed by Dr. Servatius; and a letter of the Locomotive Manufacturing Department of the firm of Krupp, dated February, 1942, shortly after the defendant

[Page 253]

Speer's appointment as Reich Minister. The conditions described therein had caused Speer to intervene with Hitler in March, 1942 (Speer Exhibit 3, Page 7 of the Speer Document Book). A further document submitted - 321-D - describes the conditions under which Russian workers came to Essen in 1941, that is, before the defendant Speer took office. Document 258-D, Exhibit USA 896, which was submitted during cross-examination, as stated by Justice Jackson, was not produced in order to incriminate the defendant, and may therefore be passed over.

Further documents submitted all deal with incidents in the Krupp Works. As far as he was able to do so, the defendant explained all of them. These documents show that abuses of a general nature, for which the firm of Krupp might be held responsible, were caused by air bombardments and the resulting demolition of living quarters. But even if the incidents cited had actually occurred on the premises of that firm - which the defence is not in a position to verify - these incidents would not supply adequate ground for the assumption that the conditions under which foreign labourers worked in armament industries were the same everywhere. No conclusions may be drawn as to a whole system simply by selecting and investigating one firm. Only evidence showing the general prevalence of such conditions would be relevant.

It is true that this activity of the defendant Speer would not affect the criminal evaluation of his actions in principle, but it would be of decisive import in establishing the degree to which he participated.

When the defendant took office, the practice of employing foreign workers and prisoners of war was already in existence. Thus he cannot be considered as the originator of this policy, which fact must also be taken into consideration when passing judgement; for it appeared impossible to depart from the established practice. The employment of foreign workers in German economy was nothing unusual. Many foreign labourers were employed in agriculture, mining and surface and underground construction in peace time as well.

During the war many foreign labourers from both East and West had already been brought to Germany before the defendant Speer took office, and only part of these belonged to the sector under Speer's control.

In order to define the spheres of responsibility of the two defendants Sauckel and Speer, it will be shown below how the assignment and distribution of workers were handled in the establishments last controlled by the defendant Speer. Acting as organs of the Speer Ministry, commissions and pools assigned certain production tasks to individual establishments as part of the armament programme. The factory then calculated the number of workers needed. This was reported simultaneously to the Armament Command and to the Labour Office, where the labour requirements of all employers in need of workers were recorded. The Armament Commands examined all requests received from plants under their jurisdiction and passed them on to the Armament Production Office. Labour requirements reported to the Labour Offices were forwarded by these in turn to the Gau Labour Offices. Armament Inspection Offices collected the requests and forwarded them to the Speer Ministry, Labour Mobilization Division. The Gau Labour Offices directed applications which they received to the General Commissioner for the Mobilization of Labour. It must be noted in this connection that in 1942 the Speer Ministry controlled only construction work and ground forces armament. Navy and air armament made their requests for labour independently. In the spring of 1943, Navy armament was assigned to the Speer Ministry, and from that time on, labour requisitions for this purpose were handled through the Labour Mobilization Division. In the autumn of 1943 the rest of production was added, while aircraft armament continued to handle its requisitions independently through the General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour until August, 1944.

An account of these details is indispensable to disprove the prosecution's assumption that Speer was the main beneficiary of Sauckel's mobilization of

[Page 254]

labour. The fact that alongside of the Speer Ministry there existed essential consuming agencies of equal importance, as, for instance, the Wehrmacht Administration, the Transport System and so forth, need be mentioned only incidentally, but has also been, confirmed by the testimony of witnesses. The General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour distributed the labour at his disposal among the various consuming agencies and assigned the required labour to the Gau Labour Office; who in turn referred them to the local labour offices where workers were assigned to individual establishments on the strength of applications previously examined by the Armament Offices. An exception to this cumbersome procedure was made .by the introduction of the so-called "red-slip process" which was used in the case of exceptionally urgent production assignments (I refer to Page 120 of my document book). A certain number of red slips were issued monthly by the General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour and placed at the disposal of the Armaments Ministry for distribution by the latter to the plants under its supervision through the industry's administrative agencies. The plant itself then presented these red slips to the Labour Office, which had to satisfy these "red-slip" requests for workers regardless of the requirements of other consuming agencies. Not until this had been done could allocations be made to other establishments. General requests for labour were involved in all instances. The allocations were exclusively in the hands of labour authorities directed by the defendant Sauckel, so that neither the individual factory nor the offices of the defendant Speer nor the defendant Speer himself had any influence on the distribution. The question of whether local, foreign or prisoner-of-war labour should be used to satisfy requisitions was left for the Labour Authorities to decide (Document Book, Pages 8 and 9).

In concluding the presentation of evidence, the prosecution submitted the decree of 1st December, 1942 (Document 4006- PS), issued jointly by Speer and Sauckel. The prosecution contends that this document and the decree of 22nd June, 1944, submitted at the same time, furnish a basis for appraisal of the power ratio between Speer and Sauckel. Some comment on this is therefore appropriate.

The decree of 1st December, 1942, leaves no doubt that the General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour was authorized to examine requests for labour submitted to him which came from the armaments industry. Thus, when a factory asked for additional labourers in order to carry out the production job assigned to it, the General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour reserved to himself the right to examine the requests submitted with a view to determining whether they were necessary. The intention was to make each factory practise the greatest possible economy in the use of labour within its own precincts. Another purpose of these commissions was to determine the extent to which an establishment might be able to release its own labour for work in other plants, without prejudice to the task assigned to it. It was the task of the Armaments Ministry and of the agencies subordinate to it to determine the sequence of priority of requests for labour received by establishments under its jurisdiction. They also had to determine which of the plants was in a position to release workers for other plants manufacturing similar products for similar Wehrmacht requirements. To give an example: The supply programme of a plant manufacturing component parts for vehicles was modified: then it was left to the Armaments Commands to decide that the labour power thus set free should be assigned to another factory in the same line of production. In general, the allotment of labour remained in the hands of the General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour. The agencies of Speer's Ministry were merely concerned with directing the labour already available in this economic branch which had been procured and assigned to these establishments by the General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour. The procurement of other labour remained in the hands of the General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour; and the

[Page 255]

General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour participated authoritatively in the examination of the question as to what extent plants could release labour in order to make it available to others. (The so-called combing- out action.) The authority of the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour was therefore not limited to any extent through this mutual agreement between him and the Reich Minister for Armament and War Production. His task, now as before, was merely to procure labour for the plants; he was even given a considerable amount of authority in labour questions, to look over the armament plants under the control of the defendant Speer, and to examine if and to what extent these plants could release workers for other plants. The decree of 22nd June, 1944, ordained that labour which was already available was to be used in accordance with the directives of the Central authorities or according to the orders of the Chairman of the Armament Commission. It must also be noted in this respect that it was not a matter of using new labour which was unskilled in armament work and which was still procured through the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour, but solely of so-called transfer actions from one armament plant to another. Therefore the Sauckel agencies, in accordance with this decree, could no longer check the demands for labour made by the plants which were controlled by the Speer Ministry, if the Chairman of the Armament Commission had recognized these demands. This decree did not bring any change in the basic distribution of authority, according to which the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour had to procure the required workers and to handle the whole allocation of labour. If the agencies of the General Plenipotentiary allocated labour in response to demands which had been checked, then it was left to their judgement as to what type of labour, whether native or foreign, etc., was to be furnished: The authority of the agencies of the Minister for Armament in questions of the commitment of labour was limited to a large extent to the execution of so-called transfer actions, i.e., the assignment of labour from one armament plant to another. It would be wrong to try to conclude from these decrees that there was a considerable limitation of the authority of the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour and a fundamental expansion of authority on the side of Speer. It would be just as wrong to conclude from this that the influence of the Armament Ministry had been increased over other authorities of the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour.

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