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-Eighthth Day: Saturday, 27th July, 1946
(Part 3 of 8)


[Page 445]

I turn now to yet another war crime - the use of slave labour. Its importance for the German war machine had been appreciated by these defendants long before the outbreak of war. Hitler had mentioned it in Mein Kampf and emphasized it at the meeting in May, 1939. A few weeks later in June the Reich Defence Council, Goering, Frick, Funk and Raeder, and representatives of every other Ministry of State were planning to employ 20,000 concentration camp inmates and hundreds of thousands of workers from the Protectorate in the coming war.

Hitler's plan for Poland, revealed to Schirach and Frank, was as follows: I quote:

"The ideal picture is this - a Pole may possess only small holdings in the Government General which will to a certain extent provide him and his family with food. The money required by him for clothes, etc., he must earn in Germany by work. The Government General must become a centre for supplying unskilled labour, particularly agricultural labour. The subsistence of these workmen will be fully guaranteed because they can always be made use of for cheap labour."
That policy, of course, was a short-term policy, the real aim being the elimination of the Eastern peoples. Sauckel was appointed Plenipotentiary with the task of replacing two million German workers who had been called to service with the Wehrmacht, and he himself says that after Hitler had emphasized that it was a war necessity he had no scruples and within a month of his appointment he had sent his first labour mobilization programme to Rosenberg:
"Should we not succeed in obtaining the necessary labour on a voluntary basis we must immediately institute conscription of forced labour ... a gigantic number of new foreign slave workers ... men and women ... an indisputable necessity."
This programme he was to carry out:
"With every possible pressure and a ruthless commitment of all our resources."

[Page 446]

It is unnecessary to refer to the voluminous evidence of the execution of this policy for the recruitment of workers. It is sufficient to quote Sauckel again addressing the Central Planning Board in March of 1944:
"Trained male and female agents who shanghaied men for labour it Germany ... Out of five million foreign workers who arrived in Germany not even 200,000 came voluntarily."
The methods employed in their forced deportations are hideous in their brutality and must have been known to every one of these defendants. In April of 1941 Himmler was addressing the officers of the SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler: I quote:
"Very frequently a member of the Waffen SS thinks about the deportation of this people, here. These thoughts come to me today watching the very difficult work performed by the Security Police and supported by your men who help them a great deal. Exactly the same thing happened in Poland in weather forty degrees below zero where we had to haul away thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands."
And again:
"Whether 10,000 Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an anti-tank ditch interests me only in so far as the anti-tank ditch for Germany is finished .... When somebody comes to me and says, 'I can't dig the antitank ditch with women and children, it is inhuman, for it would kill them, then I have to say that you are a murderer of your own blood because if the anti-tank ditch is not dug, German soldiers will die and they are the sons of German mothers .... We must realize that we have six or seven million foreigners in Germany .... Perhaps it is even eight millions now we have prisoners in Germany. They are none of them dangerous so long as we take severe measures for the merest trifle."
By August, 1943, the need for workers was even greater. Himmler ordered:
"That all young female persons capable of work are to be sent to Germany for work through the agency of Reich Commissioner Sauckel. Children, old women and men are to be collected and employed in women's and children's camps."
The orders issued to Group Leaders of the SD, active in the Ukraine, showed the same urgency. I quote:
"The activity of the Labour Office ... is to be supported to the greatest extent possible. It will not be possible always to refrain from using force .... When searching villages, especially when it has become necessary to burn down a village, the whole population will be put at the disposal of the Commissioner by force. As a rule, no more children will be shot .... If we limit our harsh measures through the above orders for the time being, it is only done for the following reason: the most important thing is the recruitment of workers."
Speer admitted - how could he deny it - the knowledge and approval of the way the workers were enrolled and brought to Germany against their will; there was Kaltenbrunner's letter to his friend Blaschke:
"For several reasons I have in the meantime given orders to ship several evacuation transports to Vienna, at. present four shipments with approximately 12,000 Jews are pending. They should reach Vienna within the next few days. Women unable to work and children of those Jews who are all kept in readiness for special action, and therefore one day will be removed again, have to stay in the guarded camp also during the day."
That sinister phrase again - the meaning of which they all knew so well - "special treatment", "special action". Murder remains murder by whatever euphemism murderers may seek to describe it.

[Page 447]

The need for labour became so urgent that not only were even Jews spared the gas chambers so long as they were fit for employment, but children were seized and put to work.

So much for their deportation to Germany. What was to be their lot on their arrival? As early as March, 1941, instructions had been issued to the Kreis Farmers' Association on the treatment Polish farm workers were to receive. They were to have no right to complain. They were forbidden, this religious people, to visit churches; all forms of entertainment and public transport were barred. Their employers were given the right to inflict corporal punishment and were "not to be held accountable in any case by any official agency". And lastly, it was ordered:

"Farm workers of Polish nationality should if possible be removed from the community of the home, they can be quartered in stables, etc. No remorse whatever should restrict such action."
The treatment of those employed in industry was even worse. You will remember the affidavit of the Polish doctor in Essen who did his best to attend to the Russian prisoners of war:
"The men were thrown together in such a catastrophic manner that no medical treatment was possible .... It seemed to me unworthy of human beings that people should find themselves in such a position .... Every day at least ten men were brought to me whose bodies were covered with bruises on account of the continual beatings with rubber tubes, steel switches or sticks. The people were often writhing with agony and it was impossible for me to give them even a little medical aid .... It was difficult for me to watch how much-suffering people could be directed to do heavy work .... Dead people often lay for two or three days on the palliasses until their bodies stank so badly that fellow-prisoners took them outside and buried them somewhere .... I was a witness during a conversation with some Russian women, who told me personally that they were employed in Krupps' factory and that they were beaten daily in a most bestial manner .... Beating was the order of the day."
By the end of 1943 more than five million men, women and children were working in the Reich, and if we include prisoners of war the total of those working in Germany was at this date just under 7,000,000. To these must be added the hundreds of thousands brought in during 1944. Millions of men and women taken from their homes by the most brutal methods, transported in all weathers in cattle-trucks from every quarter of Europe, employed on farms and in factories throughout the Reich, frequently under abominable conditions. Children taken from their parents, many to remain, for their lives, orphans, not knowing their identity or true names; taken away before they were old enough to remember the place from which they came. What is the measure of this crime? No man in that dock can dispute his knowledge or his complicity. The minutes of the Central Planning Board must have been read in every department of the State. You have seen the mass of evidence connecting the military leaders and every other branch of the Government with this colossal programme of slavery. None of these men can be acquitted of this crime. None of them can have been ignorant of the scale and brutality with which it was perpetrated.

I pass now to a connected matter, but one even more terrible. The general manner in which the defendants conducted the belligerent occupation of the territories which they had overrun.

The evidence that these territories were the scene of murder, slavery, terrorism and spoliation on a scale without precedent in history, in breach of the most elementary rules as to belligerent occupation, has not really been seriously challenged. These crimes were in no sense sporadic or isolated, depending on the sadism of a Koch here or cruelty by a Frank there. They were part and parcel of a deliberate and systematic plan of which their action in regard to slave labour

[Page 448]

was just a symptom. In order to establish the "1,000-year Reich", they set out to accomplish the extermination or permanent weakening of the racial and national groups of Europe or of those sections, such as the intelligentsia, on which the survival of those groups must largely depend.

The origin of this terrible attempt upon the existence of free and ancient nations goes back to the whole Nazi doctrine of total war which rejected war as being merely against States and their armies, as International Law provides. Nazi total war was also a war against civilian populations, against whole peoples. Hitler told Keitel at the end of the Polish campaign:

"Shrewdness and severity must be the maxims in this racial struggle in order to spare us from going to battle on account of Poland again."
The aims of genocide were formulated by Hitler in the following words in his conversation with Hermann Rauschning:
"The French complained after the war that there were twenty million Germans too many. We accept the criticism. We favour the planned control of population movements. But our friends will have to excuse us if we subtract the twenty millions elsewhere. After all these centuries of whining about the protection of the poor and lowly, it is about time we decided to protect the strong against the inferior. It will be one of the chief tasks of German statesmanship for all time to prevent, by every means in our power, the increase of the Slav races. Natural instincts bid all living beings not merely to conquer their enemies, but also destroy them. In former days it was the victor's prerogative to destroy entire tribes, entire peoples. By doing this gradually and without bloodshed, we demonstrate our humanity."
Himmler's vision was similar. I quote:
"For us the end of this war will mean an open road to the East, the creation of the Germanic Reich in this way or that - the fetching home of thirty million human beings of our blood, so that still during our lifetime we shall be a people of 120 million Germanic souls. That means that we shall be the sole decisive power in Europe. That means that we shall then be able to tackle the peace, during which we shall be willing for the first twenty years to rebuild and spread out our villages and towns, and that we shall push the borders of our German race 500 kilometres farther out to the east."
Their aims went beyond mere Germanisation, the imposition of the German cultural pattern upon other peoples. Hitler was not only resolved to expel non-Germans from the soil he required, but also from that they owned, and colonise it by Germans. This is plainly stated in Mein Kampf. I quote:
" ... The Polish policy in the sense of a Germanisation of the East, demanded by so many, was rooted unfortunately almost always in the same wrong conclusion. Here too it was believed that one could bring about a Germanisation of the Polish element by a purely linguistic integration into the German nationality. Here too the result would have been an unfortunate one; people of an alien race, expressing its alien thought in the German language, compromising the height and dignity of our own nationality by its own inferiority."
Himmler put it even more clearly:
"It is not our task to Germanise the East in the old sense, that is to teach the people there the German language and the German law, but to see to it that only people of purely Germanic blood live in the East."
The defendants were careful to conceal their true aims from their victims. In January, 1940, a captured report reads:
"In order to relieve the living-space of Poles in the Government General as well as in the liberated East, one should remove cheap labour temporarily by hundreds of thousands, employ them for a few years in the old Reich, and thereby hamper their native biological propagation."

[Page 449]

And it concludes:
"Strictest care is to be taken that secret circulars, memoranda and official correspondence which contain instructions detrimental to the Poles are kept rigidly under lock and key so that they will not some day fill the White Books printed in Paris or the U.S.A."
Again, the day before the appointment of Rosenberg as Minister for the East, Hitler told him in the presence of Keitel, Goering and Bormann, I quote:
"We ought to act here in exactly the same way as we did in the case of Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium. In these cases too we did not publish our aims and it is only sensible to continue in the same way. Therefore we shall emphasize again that we were forced to occupy, administer or secure a certain area. It was in the interests of the inhabitants that we provided order, food, communications, etc. Hence our measures. Nobody shall be able to recognize that it initiates a final settlement. This should not prevent our taking all necessary measures - shooting at sight, etc. - and we shall take them."
Having given these words of caution to his confederates, you will remember how Hitler went on to elaborate his plans for the destruction of the Soviet peoples. The Crimea, he said, must be evacuated of all foreigners and settled by Germans only.
"We now have to face the task of cutting up the giant cake according to our needs in order to be able -

Firstly, to dominate it,

Secondly, to administer it,

Thirdly, to exploit it."

The pattern was exemplified in the infamous plan of Neurath and Frank for Bohemia and Moravia - the same Neurath whose counsel the day before yesterday asked you to respect the holiness of the individual.

The pattern, I say, was exemplified in their plan for Bohemia and Moravia. No more terrible document has been put in evidence in this trial nor one which more completely exposes the falsity of the slogan "Lebensraum", which constituted the excuse for the rape of Czechoslovakia. That plan required the elimination of the intelligentsia, the bearers of Czechoslovakian history and tradition, and since the long-term solution of evacuating all Czechs completely from the country and replacing them by Germans could not be effected immediately because of shortage of Germans, a short- term solution of Germanising the remainder of the population was introduced. This was to be done by rendering their language a dialect, by abolition of higher education, by instituting a stringent marriage policy after various racial examinations. You will remember Frank's summary, I quote:

"Apart from the continuance of the propaganda for Germanisation and the granting of advantages as an inducement, severest police methods with exile and special treatment for all saboteurs. Principle: 'Pastry and Whip '."
You will remember too the plan for Poland discussed in Hitler's train on the 12th of September, 1939, by Ribbentrop, Keitel and Jodl as described in the evidence of the witness Lahousen and the discussion between Hitler, Schirach and Frank three weeks later after dinner in the Fuehrer's apartment:
"There should be one master only for the Poles - the German: two masters side by side cannot and must not exist, and therefore all representatives of Polish intelligentsia are to be exterminated. This sounds cruel but such is the law of life."

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