Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression Volume I Chapter X Use of Slave Labor in German War Industries

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Last-Modified: 1996/06/12

Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume One, Chapter Ten

[Page 909]


The primary purpose of the slave labor program was to compel
the people of the occupied countries to work for the German
war economy. The decree appointing Sauckel Plenipotentiary-
General for Manpower declares the purpose of the appointment
to be to facilitate acquisition of the manpower required for
German war industries, and in particular the armaments
industry, by centralizing under Sauckel responsibility for
the recruitment and allocation of foreign labor and
prisoners of war in these industries (1666-PS). This decree,
signed by Hitler, Lammers and Keitel, and dated 21 March
1942, provides:

“In order to secure the manpower requisite for the war
industries as a whole, and particularly for armaments,
it is necessary that the utilization of all available
manpower, including that of workers recruited
(angeworbenen) abroad and of prisoners of war, should
be subject to a uniform control, directed in a manner
appropriate to the requirements of war industry, and
further that all still incompletely utilized manpower
in the Greater German Reich, including the
Protectorate, and in the General Government and in the
occupied territories should be mobilized.

“Reichsstatthalter and Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel will
carry out this task within the framework of the Four
Year Plan, as Plenipotentiary General, for the
utilization of labor. In that capacity he will be
directly responsible to the Commissioner for the Four
Year Plan.

“Section III (Wages) and Section V (Utilization of
labor) of the Reich Labor Ministry, together with their
subordinate authorities, will be placed at the disposal
of the Plenipotentiary General for the accomplishment
of his task.” (1666-PS)

Sauckel’s success can be gauged from a letter he wrote to
Hitler on 15 April 1943, containing a report on one year’s
activities: “1. After one year’s activity as Plenipotentiary
for the Direction of Labor, I can report that 3,638,056 new
foreign workers were given to the German war economy from 1
April of last year to 31 March this year.

“2. The 3,638,056 are distributed amongst the following
branches of the German war economy

Armament — 1,568,801.” (407-VI-PS)

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Further evidence of this use of enslaved foreign labor is
found in a report of a meeting of the Central Planning Board
on 16 February 1944, during which Field Marshal Milch

“The armament industry employs foreign workmen to a
large extent; according to the latest figures 40
percent.” (R-124)

Moreover, according to tabulations of Speer’s Ministry, as
of 11 February 1944 approximately two million civilian
foreign workers were employed directly in the manufacture of
armaments and munitions (end products or components). (2520-

Sauckel, Speer, and Keitel also succeeded in forcing foreign
labor to construct military fortifications. Thus, citizens
of France, Holland, and Belgium were compelled against their
will to engage in the construction of the “Atlantic Wall”.
Hitler, in an order dated 8 September 1942, initialed by
Keitel, decreed that:

“The extensive coastal fortifications which I have
ordered to be erected in the area of Army Group West
make it necessary that in the occupied territory all
available workers should be committed and should give
the fullest extent of their productive capacities. The
previous allotment of domestic workers is insufficient.
In order to increase it, I order the introduction of
compulsory labor and the prohibition of changing the
place of employment without permission of the
authorities in the occupied territories. Furthermore,
the distribution of food and clothing ration cards to
those subject to labor draft should in the future
depend on the possession of a certificate of
employment. Refusal to accept an assigned job, as well
as abandoning the place of work without the consent of
the authorities in charge, will result in the
withdrawal of the food and clothing ration cards. The
GBA (Deputy General for Arbeitseinsatz) in agreement
with the military commander as well as the Reich
Commissar, will issue the corresponding decrees for
execution.” (556-2-PS)

Sauckel boasted to Hitler concerning the contribution of the
forced labor program to the construction of the Atlantic
Wall by Speer’s Organization Todt (OT). In a letter to
Hitler dated 17 May 1943, Sauckel wrote:

“*** In addition to the labor allotted to the total
German economy by the Arbeitseinsatz since I took
office, the Organization Todt was supplied with new
labor continually. ***

“Thus, the Arbeitseinsatz has done everything to help
make possible the completion of the Atlantic Wall.”

Similarly, Russian civilians were forced into labor

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and compelled to build fortifications to be used against
their own countrymen. A memorandum of the Rosenberg Ministry
states that:

“*** men and women in the theaters of operations have
been and will be conscripted into labor battalions to
be used in the construction of fortifications ***.”

In addition, the Nazi conspirators compelled Prisoners of
War to engage in operations of war against their own country
and its Allies. At a meeting of the Central Planning Board
held on 19 February 1943, attended by Speer, Sauckel, and
Field Marshal Milch, the following conversation occurred:

“Sauckel: If any prisoners are taken, there, they will
be needed.

“Milch: We have made a request for an order that a
certain percentage of men in the antiaircraft artillery
must be Russians. 50,000 will be taken altogether;
30,000 are already employed as gunners. This is an
amusing thing that Russians must work the guns.” (R-

(At this point a series of official German Army photographs
were offered in evidence. The first one shows Russian
Prisoners of War acting as ammunition bearers during the
attack upon Tschudowo. The second group consists of a series
of official German Army photographs taken in July and August
1941 showing Russian prisoners of war in Latvia and the
Ukraine being compelled to load and unload ammunition trains
and trucks and being required to stack ammunition.)

This use of prisoners of war was in flagrant disregard of
the rules of international law, particularly Article 6 of
the Regulations annexed to Hague Convention Number 4 of
1907, which provides that the tasks of prisoners of war
shall have no connection with the operations of war.

The Nazi conspirators made extensive use of prisoners of war
not only in active operations of war but also in the German
armament industry. A secret letter from the Reichsminister
of Labor to the Presidents of the Regional Labor Exchange
Offices refers to an order of Goering to the effect that:

“Upon personal order of the Reich Marshal, 100,000 men
are to be taken from among the French PWs not yet
employed in armament industry, and are to be assigned
to the armament industry (airplanes industry). Gaps in
manpower supply resulting therefrom will be filled by
Soviet PWs. The transfer of the above-named French PWs
is to be accomplished by 1 October.” (3005-PS)

A similar policy was followed with respect to Russian prison-

[Page 912]

ers of war. In a secret memorandum issued from Hitler’s
headquarters on 31 October 1942, Keitel directed the
execution of Hitler’s order to use such prisoners in the
German war economy (EC-194):

“The lack of workers is becoming an increasingly
dangerous hindrance for the future German war and’
armament industry. The expected relief through
discharges from the armed forces is uncertain as o the
extent and date; however, its possible extent will by
no means correspond to expectations and requirements in
view of the great demand.

“The Fuehrer has now ordered that even the working
power of the Russian prisoner of war should be utilized
to a large extent by large scale assignment for the
requirements of the war industry. The prerequisite for
production is adequate nourishment. Also very small
wages are to be planned for the most modest supply with
a few consumers’ goods (Genussmittel) for every day’s
life, eventual rewards for production.”
“II. Construction and Armament Industry.

“a. Work units for constructions of all kind,
particularly for the fortification of coastal defenses
(concrete workers, unloading units for essential war

“b. Suitable armament factories which have to be
selected in such a way that their personnel should
consist in the majority of prisoners of war under
guidance and supervision (eventually after withdrawal
and other employment of the German workers).

“III. Other War Industries. “a. Mining as under II b.

“b. Railroad construction units for building tracks

“c. Agriculture and forestry in closed units. The
utilization of Russian prisoners of war is to be
regulated on the basis of above examples by:

“To I. The armed forces

“To II. The Reich Minister for Arms and Ammunition and
the Inspector General for the German road system in
agreement with the Reich Minister for Labor and Supreme
Commander of the Armed Forces (Wi Rue Amt). Deputies of
the Reich Minister for Arms and Ammunition are to be
admitted to the prisoner of war camps to assist in the
selection of skilled workers.” (EC-194)

Goering, at a conference at the Air Ministry on 7 November
1941, also discussed the use of prisoners of war in the

[Page 913]

industry. The Top Secret notes on Goering’s-instructions as
to the employment and treatment of prisoners of war in many
phases of the German war industry read as follows (106-PS):

“The Fuehrer’s point of view as to employment of
prisoners of war in war industries has changed
basically. So far a total of 6 million prisoners of war
employed so far 2 million.”
“For 4) In the Interior and the Protectorate, it would
be ideal if entire factories could be manned by Russian
PW’s except the employees necessary for direction. For
employment in the Interior and the Protectorate the
following are to have priority:

“a. At the top coal mining industry.

“Order by the Fuehrer to investigate all mines as to
suitability for employment of Russians. At times
manning the entire plant with Russian laborers.

“b. Transportation (construction of locomotives and
cars, repair shops).

“Railroad-repair and industry workers are to be sought
out from the PW’s. Railroad is most important means of
transportation in the East.

“c. Armament industries

“Preferably factories of armor and guns. Possibly also
construction of parts for airplane engines. Suitable
complete sections of factories to be manned exclusively
by Russians. For the remainder employment in columns.
Use in factories of tool machinery, production of farm
tractors, generators, etc. In emergency, erect in
individual places barracks for occasional workers which
are used as unloading details and similar purposes.
(Reich Minister of the Interior through communal

“OKW/AWA is competent for transporting Russian PW’s
employment through “Planning Board for Employment of
all PW’s (Planstelle fuer den Einsatz fuer alle
Kriegsgefangenen). If necessary, offices of Reich

“No employment where danger to men or their supply
exists, i.e. factories exposed to explosives,
waterworks, power-works, etc. No contact with German
population, especially no ‘solidarity.’ German worker
as a rule is foreman of Russians. “Food is a matter of
the Four Years’ Plan. Supply their own food (cats,
horses, etc.)

“Clothes, billeting, messing somewhat better than at
home where part of the people live in caverns.

[Page 914]

“Supply of shoes for Russians as a rule wooden shoes,
if necessary install Russian shoe repair shops.

“Examination of physical fitness, in order to avoid
importation of diseases.

“Clearing of mines as a rule by Russians if possible by
selected Russian engineers.” (1206-PS)

Speer also sponsored and applied the policy of using
prisoners of war in the armament industry. In a speech to
the Nazi Gauleiters on 24 February 1942, Speer said:

“I therefore proposed to the Fuehrer at the end of
December that all my labor force, including specialists
be released for mass employment in the East.
Subsequently the remaining PW’s, about 10,000 were put
at disposal of the armaments industry by me.” (1435-PS)

Speer also reported at the 36th meeting of the Central
Planning Board, held on 22 April 1943, that only 3070
of the Russian prisoners of war were engaged in the
armament industry. This he found unsatisfactory. Speer

“There is a specified statement showing in what sectors
the Russian PW’s have been distributed, and this
statement is quite interesting. It shows that the
armaments industry only received 30. I always
complained about this.”
“The 90,000 Russian PW’s employed in the whole of the
armaments industry are for the greatest part skilled
men.” (R-124)

Sauckel, who was appointed Plenipotentiary General for the
utilization of labor for the express purpose, among others,
of integrating prisoners of war into the German war
industry, made it plain that prisoners of war were to be
compelled to serve the German armament industry. His labor
mobilization program contains the following statement:

“All prisoners of war, from the territories of the West as
well as of the East, actually in Germany, must be completely
incorporated into the German armament and nutrition
industries. Their production must be brought to the highest
possible level.” (016-PS)