The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. To what extent was your office different from that of the
previous General Plenipotentiary?

                                                   [Page 83]

 A. My office was different to this extent: the department
in the Four-Year Plan was given up and was no longer used by
me. I drew departments of the Reich Labour Ministry more and
more closely into this work as they had some of the
outstanding experts.

Q. What was the reason for this reconstruction of the

A. The reason was to be found in the many conflicting
interests which had been very prominent up to the third year
of the war in the political and State offices, internal
administration offices, party agencies and economic agencies
and which now for territorial considerations opposed the
inter-district equalisation of the labour potential, which
had become urgent.

Q. Witness, if you would please try to make somewhat shorter
sentences, I think the interpreters would be grateful. What
sort of task did you have then? What was your sphere of

A. My chief sphere of work was in directing and regulating
German labour.

Q. What task were you given then?

A. I had to replace with suitably skilled workers those men
who had to be freed from industry for drafting into the
German Wehrmacht, that is, into the different branches of
the Wehrmacht. Moreover, I also had to obtain new labour for
the new war industries which had been set up for food
production as well as for the production of armaments, of

Q. Was your task definitely defined?

A. It was at first in no way definitely defined. There were
at that time about 23 or 24 million workers to be directed,
who were available in the Reich but who had not yet been
fully employed for war economy.

Q. Did you look on your appointment as a permanent one?

A. No. I could not consider it as permanent.

Q. Why not?

A. Because in addition to me the Reich Labour Minister and
his State secretaries were in office and at the head of
things; and then there was the whole of the Labour Ministry.

Q. What sources were at your disposal to obtain this labour?

A. First, there were the workers who were already present in
the Reich from all sorts of callings who, as I have said,
had not yet been directed to war economy, not yet completely
incorporated in the way that was necessary for the conduct
of the war. Then further there were the prisoners of war, as
far as their labour was made available by the army

Q. At first then, if I have understood you correctly, proper
distribution, and economic management of German labour?

A. I, when my appointment -

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, I do not understand the German
language, but it appears to me that it would be better if
you would not make pauses between each word but pause at the
end of the sentence. It would be much more convenient for
the interpreter. I do not know whether I am right in that.
That is what it looks like. You are pausing between each
word, and therefore it is difficult, I imagine, to get the
sense of the sentence.

THE WITNESS: I beg your pardon, your Lordship.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Servatius.


Q. What did you do to carry out your task?

A. I will repeat. First, as I had received no specific
instructions I understood my task to mean that I was to fill
up the gaps and deficiencies by employing labour in the most
rational and economic way.

Q. What was the order you received? How many people were you
to obtain?

A. That question is very difficult to answer for I received
the necessary orders only in the course of the development
of the war. Labour and economy are fluid,

                                                   [Page 84]

fluctuating things. However, I then received the order that,
if the war were to continue for some time, I was to find
replacements in the German labour sector for the Wehrmacht,
whose soldiers were the potential of peace-time economy.

Q. You drew up a programme. What was provided for in your

A. I drew up two programmes, Doctor. At first, when I took
up my office, I drew up one programme which included a
"levee en masse," so to speak, of German women and young
people, and, another, as I already said, for the proper
utilization of labour from the economic and technical point
of view.

Q. Was the programme accepted?

A. The programme was rejected by the Fuehrer when I
submitted it to him and, as was my duty, to the Reich
economic authorities and ministries which were interested in
the employment of labour.

Q. Why?

A. The Fuehrer sent for me and in a lengthy statement
explained the position of the German war production and also
the economic situation. He said that he had nothing against
my programme as such if he had the time; but that in view of
the situation, he could not wait for such German women to
become trained and experienced. At that time ten million
German women were already employed who had never done
industrial or mechanical work. Further, he said that the
results of such a rationalisation of working methods as I
had suggested, something like a mixture of Ford and Taylor
methods -

Q. One moment. The interpreters cannot translate your long
sentences properly. You must make short sentences and divide
your phrases, otherwise no one can understand you and your
defence will suffer a great deal. Will you please be careful
about that.

A. In answer to my proposal the Fuehrer said that he could
not wait for a rationalisation of the working methods on the
lines of the Taylor and Ford systems.

Q. And what did he suggest?

A. May I explain the motives which prompted the Fuehrer's
decision. He described the situation at that time, at the
end of the winter of 1941-42. Many hundreds of German
locomotives, almost all the mechanised armed units, tanks,
planes, and mechanical weapons had become useless as a
result of the catastrophe of that abnormally hard winter.

Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers had suffered
terribly from the cold; many divisions had lost their arms
and supplies. The Fuehrer explained to me that if the race
with the enemy for new arms, new munitions and new
dispositions of forces was not won now, the Soviets would be
as far as the Channel by the next winter. Appealing to my
sense of duty and asking me to put into it all I could, he
gave me the task of obtaining new foreign labour for
employment in the German war economy.

Q. Did you have no scruples that this was against
International Law?

A. The Fuehrer spoke to me in such detail about this
question and he explained the necessity so much as a matter
of course, that, after he had withdrawn one suggestion which
he had made himself, there could be no misgivings on my part
that the employment of foreign workers was against
International Law.

Q. You also negotiated with other agencies and there were
already workers within the Reich. What were you told about

A. None of the higher authorities, either military or
civilian, expressed any misgivings. Perhaps I may mention
some things which the Fuehrer courteously pointed out to me.
On the whole, the Fuehrer always treated me very kindly. On
this question, he became very severe and categorical and
said that in the West he had left half the French army free
and at home, and he had released the greater part of the
Belgian army and the whole of the Dutch army from captivity.
He told me that under certain circumstances he would have to
recall these prisoners of war for military reasons, but that
in the interests of the whole of Europe and the Occident, so
he expressed himself, only a united Europe and one which was
governed in a workmanlike way could hold out in the fight
against Bolshevism.

                                                   [Page 85]

Q. Did you know the terms of the Hague Land Warfare

A. During the first World War, I myself was taken prisoner
as a sailor. I knew what was required and what was laid down
with regard to the treatment and protection of prisoners of
war and prisoners generally.

Q. Did foreign authorities - I am thinking of the French -
ever raise the objection that what you planned with your
Arbeitseinsatz was an infringement of the Hague Land Warfare

A. No. In France, on questions of the Arbeitseinsatz, I only
negotiated with the French Government through the Military
Commander and under the presidency of the German ambassador
in Paris. I was convinced that as far as the employment of
labour in France was concerned, agreements should be made
with a proper French Government. I negotiated in a similar
manner with the General Secretary in Belgium.

Q. Now a large part - about a third - of the foreign workers
were so-called Eastern workers. What were you told about

A. With regard to the employment of workers from the East I
was told that Russia had not joined the Geneva Convention,
and so Germany for her part was not bound by it. And I was
further told that in the Balkan countries and in other
regions, Soviet Russia had also claimed workers from the
population, and that, in addition, about 3,000,000 Chinese
were working in Soviet Russia.

Q. And what about Poland?

A. As regards Poland, I had been told, just as in the case
of other countries, that it was a case of total
capitulation, and that on the grounds of this capitulation
Germany was justified in introducing German regulations.

Q. Did you consider the employment of foreign labour
justifiable from the general point of view?

A. On account of the necessities which I have mentioned, I
considered the employment of foreign workers justifiable
according to the principles which I enforced and advocated
and to which I also adhered in my field of work. I was after
all a German, and I could only feel as a German.

Q. Herr Sauckel, you must formulate your sentences
differently, the interpreters cannot translate them. You
must not run one sentence into another.

So you considered it justifiable, in view of the principles
you wished to apply, and, which as you said, you enforced in
your field of work?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you also think of the hardships imposed on the
workers and their families through this employment?

A. I knew from my own life that even if one goes to foreign
countries voluntarily, a separation is very sad and
heartbreaking, and it is very hard for members of a family
to be separated from each other. But I also thought of the
German families, of the German soldiers, and of the hundreds
of thousands of German workers who also had to go away from

Q. The suggestion has been made that the work could have
been carried out in the occupied territories themselves and
it would not then lave been necessary to fetch the workers
away. Why was that not done?

A. That is, at first sight, an attractive suggestion. If it
had been possible, I would willingly have carried out the
suggestion which was made by Funk and other authorities, and
later even by Speer. It would have made my life and work
much simpler. On the other hand, there were large
departments in this ministry which had to provide for and
maintain the different branches of German economy and supply
them with orders. As the G.B.A. (General Plenipotentiary for
the Employment of Labour) I could not have German workers,
German farming, German mass-production with the most modern
machinery transferred to foreign territories - I had no
authority for that - and those offices insisted that I
should find replacements for the agricultural and industrial
workers and the artisans whose places had become vacant in
German agriculture or industry because the men had been
called to the forces.

                                                   [Page 86]

Q. You said before that the manner in which you had planned
the employment of workers was such that it could have been
approved. What then were your leading principles in carrying
out your scheme for the employment of labour?

A. When the Fuehrer described the situation so drastically,
and ordered me to bring foreign workers to Germany, I
clearly recognized the difficulties of the task and I asked
him to agree to the only way by which I considered it
possible to do this, for I had been a worker too.

Q. Was not your principal consideration the economic
exploitation of these foreign workers?

A. The Arbeitseinsatz has nothing to do with exploitation.
It is an economic process for supplying labour.

Q. You said repeatedly in your speeches and on other
occasions that the important thing was to make the best
possible economic use of these workers. You speak of a
machine which must be properly handled. Did you want to
express thereby the thought of economic exploitation?

A. At all times a regime, of no matter what nature, can only
be successful in the production of goods if it uses labour
economically - not too much and not too little. That alone I
consider economically justifiable.

Q. It was stated here in a document which was submitted, the
French Document RF-22, a government report, that the
intention existed to ruin the democracies, and in other
government reports mention is made that one of the aims was
the biological destruction of other peoples. What do you say
about that?

A. I can say most definitely that biological destruction was
never mentioned to me. I was only too happy when I had
workers. I suspected the war would last longer than was
expected, and the demands upon my office were so urgent and
so great that I was glad for people to be alive, not for
them to be destroyed.

Q. What was the general attitude toward the question of
foreign workers before you took office? What did you find
when you came?

A. There was a controversy when I took up my office. There
were about two million foreign workers in Germany from
neutral and allied States and occupied territories of the
East and the West. They had been brought to the Reich
without order or system. Many industrial concerns avoided
contacting the labour authorities or found them troublesome
and bureaucratic. The conflict of interests, as I said
before, was very great. The police point of view was most
predominating, I think.

Q. And propaganda? What was the propaganda with regard to
Eastern workers, for example?

A. Propaganda was adapted to the war in the East. I may
point out now - as you interrupted me before when I was
speaking of the order given me by the Fuehrer - that I
expressly asked the Fuehrer not to let foreign workers
working in Germany be treated as enemies any longer, and I
tried to influence propaganda to that effect.

Q. What else did you do with regard to the situation which
confronted you?

A. I finally received approval from the Fuehrer for my
second programme. That programme has been submitted here as
a document. I must and will bear responsibility for that

DR. SERVATIUS: It has already been submitted as Document
016-PS. It is the Programme for the Employment of Labour of
20th April 1942, Exhibit USA 768.


Q. In this programme you made fundamental statements. I will
hand it to you and I ask you to please comment on the
general questions only, not on the individual points.

There is a paragraph added to the last part, "Prisoners of
War and Foreign Workers." Have you found the paragraph?
"Prisoners of War and Foreign Workers."

A. Yes.

                                                   [Page 87]

Q. If you will look at the third paragraph you will find
what you want to explain.

A. I should like to say that I drew up and worked out this
programme independently in 1942 after I had been given that
difficult task by the Fuehrer. It was absolutely clear to me
what the conditions would have to be if foreign workers were
to be employed in Germany at all. I wrote those sentences at
that time and the programme went to all the German
authorities which had to deal with the matter. I quote:

  "All these people must be so fed, housed, and treated
  that, with the most economic use imaginable" - I mean
  here economic according to Taylor and Ford, whom I
  studied closely - "they may effect the greatest possible
  production. It has always been natural for all of us
  Germans to treat a conquered enemy correctly and
  humanely, even if he was our most cruel and
  irreconcilable opponent, and to abstain from all cruelty
  and petty trickery, too, if we are to expect useful work
  from him."

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