The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Did you do that to get work, to earn your living, or for
what reasons?

A. As Gau Manager in Thuringia I earned 150 marks. In any
other profession I would have had accommodation and earned
more money.

Q. When did you make Hitler's acquaintance?

A. I met him cursorily in 1925.

Q. When did you become Gauleiter?

A. I became Gauleiter in 1927.

Q. And how were you appointed?

A. I was appointed by letter.

Q. Did you receive any special instructions which pointed to
secret intentions of the Party?

A. At that time we were very definitely told that under no
circumstances should there be any secret chapters or any
other secrecy in the life of the Party, but that everything
should be done publicly.

Q. Who was your predecessor?

A. Dr. Dinter.

Q. Why was he relieved of his post?

A. Dr. Dinter was dismissed because he wanted to found a new
religious movement within the Party.

Q. In 1929 you became a member of the Thuringian Diet.

A. Yes.

Q. Were you elected to that?

A. I was elected to the Diet in the same way as at every
parliamentary election.

Q. Was dictatorship in power there already at the time?

A. That was not possible; the province was governed in
accordance with the Thuringian constitution.

Q. How long were you a member of the Diet?

A. I was member of the Diet as long as it existed, until May

Q. How was it dissolved?

A. The Diet was dissolved by a Reich Government decree.

Q. Then in 1932, you were a member of the Provincial
Government of Thuringia. How did you get into that position?

A. In 1932, in the month of June, new elections took place
for the Thuringian Diet, and the National Socialist German
Workers' Party obtained 26 out of 60 seats.

Q. Was any mention made of a dictatorship which was to be
aimed at?

A. No, a government was elected according to parliamentary

Q. Well, you had a majority in the Thuringian. Government,
had you not, and you could use your influence?

                                                   [Page 75]

A. The citizen parties, by an absolute majority, elected a
National Socialist Government.

Q. What happened to the old officials? Were they dismissed?

A. I myself became the President and Minister of the
Interior in that government; the old officials, without
exception, remained in their offices.

Q. And with what did that first National Socialist
government concern itself in the field of domestic politics?

A. In the field of domestic politics there was only one
question at that time, and that was the alleviation of an
indescribable distress which is only exceeded today.

DR. SERVATIUS: In this connection, Mr. President, may I
submit two government reports from which I only wish to draw
your attention briefly to two passages. One is the report,
contained in Document No. 96, which shows the activity of
the government and its fight against social distress. What
is particularly important when you run through it, is what
is not mentioned, viz., there is no mention of the question
of war or other such matters, but again and again the
alleviation of distress is mentioned. And important, too, is
the work that was carried out. That is in document No. 97.
In this book, on page 45, there is a statement of the work
undertaken by the government: bridge-building, road-making,
and so on, and in no way had this work anything to do with

Then I am submitting Document No. 95 from the same period.
It is a book called "Sauckel's Fighting Speeches." Here,
too, the book is remarkable for what does not appear in it,
namely, preparations for war. Instead it emphasises the
distress which must be alleviated. It becomes clear from the
individual articles that these are speeches made during a
number of years, and which show in a similar way what the
preoccupations were of the defendant Sauckel. It begins in
1932 with a speech dealing with the misery of the time, and
ends with the final questions where reference is made once
again to the alleviation of social need and the preservation
of peace. The Tribunal will be able to read these articles
in the Document Book.


Q. In 1933 you also became Reich Regent of Thuringia. How
did you achieve that position?

A. I was appointed Reich Regent of Thuringia by
Reichmarschal von Hindenburg who was Reich President at that

Q. What were the instructions you received when you took up
your offices?

A. When I took over my office as Reich Regent I received
instructions to form a new Thuringian government as the
Reich Regent should keep out of the administrative affairs
of a German State ...

Q. You need not tell us these technical details. I mean what
political task were you given?

A. I was given the political task of administering Thuringia
as Reich Regent within the existing Reich law and prevailing
constitution and of guaranteeing the unity of the Reich.

Q. And did the words "guarantee the unity of the Reich" mean
the overpowering of others, in particular the authorities in

A. No, the authorities remained.

Q. Now you held both the position of Gauleiter and that of
Reich Regent. What was the aim of that?

A. Both positions were entirely separate in their
organizations. Under the Regent were officials in office,
and under the Gauleiter were employees of the Party. Both
positions were administered absolutely separately, as is the
case in any other, State where members of a party are at the
same time party officials or leaders and exercise both these
functions simultaneously.

Q. So you received no order that one position should absorb
the other?

A. No, I had no such orders. The tasks were entirely

                                                   [Page 76]

Q. Were you a member of the SA?

A. I was never a member of the SA -

THE PRESIDENT: You are going a little bit too quickly, I
think, for the interpreters.


Q. Were you an SA man?

A. I myself was never an SA man. I was an honorary
Obergruppenfuehrer in the SA.

Q. How did you receive that appointment?

A. I cannot tell you. It was honorary.

Q. Were you appointed SS Obergruppenfuehrer by Himmler?

A. No, the Fuehrer made me honorary SS Obergruppenfuehrer
without either pay or functions.

Q. Were you a member of the Reichstag?

A. Yes, from 1933 on.

Q. As a member of the Reichstag, did you know anything in
advance about the beginning of the war? Were you informed?

A. I was never informed in advance about the start of the
war or about foreign political developments. I merely
remember that quite suddenly - it may have been during the
days between the 24th of August and the end of August - we
were called to a session of the Reichstag in Berlin. This
session was cancelled at the time, and we were later ordered
to go to the Fuehrer, that is the Gauleiter and
Reichsleiter. But a number had already left so that the
circle was not complete. The conference, or Hitler's speech,
only lasted a short time. He said, roughly, that the meeting
of the Reichstag could not take place as things were still
in the course of development. He was convinced that there
Would not be a war. He said he hoped there would be some
settlement in a small way and meant by that, as I had to
conclude, a solution without the 21 lost parts of Upper
Silesia. He said - and that I remember precisely - that
Danzig would become German and, apart from that, Germany
would be given a railway line with several tracks, like a
Reichsautobahn, with a strip of ground to the right and left
of it. He told us to go home and prepare for the Reich Party
Rally, where be would meet us again.

O. Did you have any close connections with the Fuehrer?

A. I personally, as far as I knew the Fuehrer, had a great
deal of admiration for him. But I had no close connections
with him that one could describe as personal. I had a number
of discussions with him about the administration of my Gau
and in particular about the care he wished to be given to
cultural buildings in Thuringia - in Weimar, Eisenach and
Meiningen, and later on there were more frequent meetings
because of my position as General Trustee for the Direction
of Labour.

Q. We shall come to that later. What connections did you
have with the Reichsleiter?

A. My connections with the Reichsleiter were no different
from my connections with the Fuehrer. They were of an
official and Party nature. As regards personal relationships
I cannot say that I had any particularly personal
intercourse with anyone.

Q. What about your connection with the Reich Ministers?

A. My connection with the Reich Ministers was of a purely
official nature and was very infrequent.

Q. What about the Wehrmacht?

A. I could not have the honour of being a German soldier
because of my imprisonment in the First World War. And in
this world war the Fuehrer refuses to allow me to serve as a

Q. Witness, you have held a number of high positions and
offices. You knew the Reich Ministers and Reichleiter. Will
you please explain why you went aboard a submarine at that

                                                   [Page 77]

A. I had repeatedly made written requests to the Fuehrer
that I might be allowed to join the Wehrmacht as an ordinary
soldier. He refused to give me this permission. So I
arranged in secret for someone to take my place and went
aboard Captain Sahrmann's submarine with his agreement. As a
former sailor and now a politician in a high position I
wanted to give these brave submarine men a proof of my
comradeship and understanding and of my sense of duty. Apart
from that I had ten children for whom, as their father, I
had to do something, too.

Q. I should like now, in a number of questions, to refer to
your activities. Were you a member of a trade union?

A. No.

Q. Do you know what the aims of German trade unions were?

A. Yes.

Q. Were they economic or political?

A. As I, as a worker, came to know them, the aims of German
trade unions were political, and there were a number of
various trade unions with varied political views. I
considered that a great misfortune. As a workman in the
workshop I had had experience of the arguments among the
trade unionists - between the Christian Socialist trade
unions and the "Red" trade unions, between the syndicalist,
the anarchist and the communist trade unions.

Q. The trade unions in your Gau were then dissolved. Were
the leaders arrested at the time? '

A. No.

Q. Did you approve of the dissolution of the trade unions?

A. The dissolution of the trade unions was in the air then.
The question was discussed in the Party for a long time and
there was no agreement at all as to the position trade
unions should hold, nor as to their necessity, their
usefulness and their nature. But a solution had to be found
because the trade unions, which we, or the Fuehrer or Dr.
Ley dissolved, all held different political views. From that
time on, however, there was only one party in Germany and it
was necessary, I fully realised, to come to a definite
decision as to the actual duties of the trade unions, the
necessary duties, which are indispensable to every calling
and to workers everywhere.

Q. Was not the purpose of removing the trade unions to
remove any opposition which might stand in the way of an
aggressive war?

A. I can say in all good faith, that during those years not
one of us ever thought about a war at all. We had to
overcome such terrible need that we should have been only
too glad if German economic life could have been started
again in peace and if the German worker, who had suffered
the most during that frightful depression, could have had
work and food once more.

Q. Did members of trade unions suffer economically through
the dissolution?

A. In no way. My own father-in-law who was a member of a
trade union and still is today and whom I repeatedly asked
for information, whom I never persuaded to join the Party -
he was a Social Democrat and never joined the Party - he
confirmed the fact that even when he was getting old and
could no longer work, the German Labour Front on the one
side never denied him the rights due to him as an old trade
unionist and, by virtue of his long trade union membership,
allowed him full benefits. On the other side, the German
State - as in Germany old age and disability insurance and
the accident insurance, etc. were paid and organized by the
State - the National Socialist State - guaranteed him all
these rights and made full payment.

Q. Were all Communist leaders arrested in your Gau after the
Party came to power?

A. No. In my Gau, as far as I know, only Communists who had
actually worked against the State were arrested.

Q. And what happened to them?

                                                   [Page 78]

A. The State Police arrested and interrogated them and
detained them according to the findings.

Q. Did you have Kreisleiter in your Gau who had been members
of a former opposition party?

A. The Party's activity was recruiting. Our most intensive
work was for the winning over of political opponents. I am
very proud of the fact that many workers in my Gau, numerous
former Communists and Social Democrats were won over by us
and became local group leaders and Party functionaries.

Q. But were there not two Kreisleiter from the extreme left
appointed by you?

A. One Kreisleiter from the extreme left was appointed.
Also, besides a number of other leaders, the Gau sectional
manager of the German Labour Front had belonged to the
extreme left for a long time.

Q. How did you personally deal with your political

A. Political opponents who did not work against the State
were neither bothered nor harmed in my Gau.

Q. Do you know the Socialist Deputy Frohlich?

A. The Socialist Deputy August Frohlich was my strongest and
most important opponent. He was the leader of the Thuringian
Social Democrats and was for many years the Social Democrat
Prime Minister of Thuringia. I had great respect for him as
an opponent. He was an honourable and upright man. On 20th
July, 1944, through my own personal initiative, I had him
released from detention. He had been on the list of the
conspirators of 20th July, but I had so much respect for him
personally that, in spite of that, I asked for his release
and obtained it.

Q. Did you treat other opponents similarly?

A. I also had a politician of the Central Party I knew in my
home town, Schweinfurt, released from detention.

Q. The concentration camp of Buchenwald was in your Gau. Did
you establish it?

A. The Buchenwald camp originated in the following manner:
The Fuehrer who came to Weimar quite often because of the
theatre there, suggested that a battalion of his SS
Bodyguard Regiment (Leibstandarte) should be stationed at
Weimar. As the Leibstandarte was considered a picked
regiment I not only agreed to this but was very pleased,
because in a city like Weimar people are glad to have a
garrison. So the State of Thuringia, the Thuringian
Government, at the request of the Fuehrer, prepared a site
in the Eckersburg Forest, north of the hill outside the

After some time Himmler informed me, however, that he could
not bring a battalion of the SS Bodyguard Regiment to
Weimar, as he could not divide up the regiment, but that it
would be a newly established Death's Head Unit, and Himmler
said it would amount to the same thing. It was only some
time later, when the site had already been placed at the
disposal of the Reich, that Himmler declared that he now had
to accommodate a kind of concentration camp with the Death's
Head Units on this very suitable site. I opposed this to
begin with, because I did not consider a concentration camp
at all the right kind of thing for the town of Weimar and
its traditions. However, he - I mean Himmler - making use of
his position, refused to have any discussion about it. And
so the camp was set up neither to my satisfaction nor to
that of the population of Weimar.

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