The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt//tgmwc/tgmwc-15/tgmwc-15-141.08

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-15/tgmwc-15-141.08
Last-Modified: 2000/03/25

Q. During the course of the war did these prisoners of war
obtain the status of free labourers?

A. Yes. As far as French workers were concerned, I was
instrumental in seeing that they were employed only by
agreement with the French Government. These agreements were
concluded under the sponsorship of the German Ambassador in
Paris. The quotas were negotiated in accordance with
instructions given me by the Fuehrer and by the
Reichsmarschall. The first quota was 250,000 French workers
and 150,000 skilled workers.

As a compensation for the use of these voluntary workers -
and I emphasize voluntary - 50,000 French prisoners of war
who were peasants were to be, and actually were, returned to
the French Government in order to improve the cultivation of
French farmland.

That was the first agreement.

Q. What was the "releve"?

A. The "releve" was an agreement between the French
Government and my office according to which, for every three
French workers who came to Germany, one French prisoner of
war was released and sent back home by the Fuehrer.

Q. And who brought about this agreement?

A. This agreement was concluded on the basis of a discussion
between the French Premier and myself. I was much in favour
of this agreement, because I myself spent five years behind
barbed wire during the first world war.

Q. Did it make it easier for the prisoners? Did they return

A. Yes, they returned home.

Q. And how did the civilian population react to that? Above
all, how did the workers feel who had to go to Germany?

A. This was an act of comradeship and according to the
reports I received, the feeling was favourable.

Q. Then in reality instead of one prisoner of war there were
three workers imprisoned?

A. No. These workers could move about freely in Germany the
same as the other French workers, and the same as the German

Q. Did they have to come to Germany for an indefinite period
of time?

A. No, they stayed according to the length of their
contract, just like the other workers.

Q. What was the average duration of a contract?

A. Nine months.

Q. Then the result was that after nine months the prisoners
of war, as well as the other workers, could return home?

A. Yes; this continual exchange necessitated new quotas and
new agreements with the French Government; for there always
had to be replacements.

                                                  [Page 124]

Q. Were these negotiations carried on under a certain

A. No; I wish that you would hear witnesses on this. They
were carried out on a free diplomatic basis.

Q. To what extent was this "releve" carried through? Was it
on a very large or only on a small scale?

A. It was carried out on the basis of 250,000 workers who
were to go to Germany.

Q. The French Prosecution in their government report said
that only weak and ill people were sent back who could not
work anyway. What have you to say to that?

A. As far as I know French soldiers who were prisoners of
war were sent back. The return and the selection of the
soldiers was not my task but that of the General in charge
of Prisoner-of-War Affairs. I consider it possible that sick
soldiers were also sent back to their home country in this
way if they wished it. But certainly it was not the
intention to send only sick or elderly soldiers, but
soldiers in general. That was the basis of the agreement.

Q. There was a second course which was followed-the improved
status which the French called "Transformation"; what kind
of settlement was that?

A. The improved status was a third agreement, with the
following provisions: In Germany French prisoners of war
were given the same contracts and the same status as all the
other French civilian workers.

Q. When a new French worker came to Germany? The ratio
therefore was 1:1?

A. 1:1.

Q. Did these French workers have to bind themselves
indefinitely or was the time limited here, too?

A. The same applied as to the "releve."

Q. Was this improvement in status welcomed by the French
soldiers or did they disapprove of it?

A. They did not disapprove of it, but welcomed it, depending
on the attitude of the individual soldier. A large number
rejected it, others accepted it gladly, for by this measure
the workers received high wages and considerable liberty
outside the barbed wire and the like. I myself saw how an
entire camp hailed and accepted this new status. They had
been told that the gates and barbed wire had been done away
with, the prisoner regulations discontinued, and the
surveillance abolished.

Q. Could these prisoners who had been turned into workers go

A. My documents show that they were allowed to go home.

Q. Did they receive any furlough?

A. Yes, they did. Many of them returned and an equally large
number did not return from their leaves.

Q. I should like to refer to Document RF 22, German text,
Page 70, of the French Government report. This document
shows and admits that the prisoners received leave to go
home at the beginning of this transformation, and I quote:

  "The unfortunate men did not return, however, and
  therefore this procedure was discontinued."

Have you heard of the idea, "Indirect Forced Labour"?

A. No. Please explain it to me.

Q. The French report contains the argument that those
workers who worked in France in armament industries did so
for the benefit of Germany. Sauckel was not connected with
this in any way. This French report, which deals at length
with the economic side of manpower mobilization, says that
they worked according to a flexible system and at first
negotiations were friendly. The measures then became harsher
in accordance with the circumstances.

Was there a definite plan? Did you have to carry through
certain directives? Tell us what system you adopted.

A. I should like to be allowed to explain this. A plan of
the sort you have just outlined never existed. The only
thing to which I worked was my programme

                                                  [Page 125]

which I drew up and which is in the possession of the
Tribunal, a programme which I admit and for which I take all
the consequences and responsibility, also for my
subordinates. This programme was carried out through my
decrees which are also available in full. The development of
this war did not permit me to make a definite plan as it
might be construed post facto. We ourselves stood in the ebb
and flow of this war and did not have time to ponder over
such matters.

Q. What were the blocked and the special industries in

A. The "Sperrbetriebe " (blocked works) which were the
result of an agreement between the Reich Minister, Speer,
and, I believe, the French Minister of Economics,
Bichelonne, worked partly for German armaments, partly for
German civilian requirements, and did not come under my

Q. What was the number of workers who were brought to
Germany from foreign countries?

A. The number of workers brought from foreign countries to
Germany, according to careful estimates and records of the
statistical department in the Reich Labour Ministry, could
be said to be about 5,000,000; that is a rough figure.

Q. Did you determine how far these labourers were to be used
and how many were to be brought in?

A. No, I could not determine that, as I did not represent
the German economy, and I myself could not fix the extent of
the German armament and agricultural programmes.

Q. Apart from the current demands which you had to supply,
there were certain so-called "programme demands" made by the
Fuehrer. Is that true?

A. Yes, because the Fuehrer drew up the armament programme,
as far as I know.

Q. You have told me of four programmes. I shall read the
figures and perhaps you can confirm them.

The first programme in April 1942: the demand was for 1.6
million workers; 1.6 million were supplied, the entire
figure being made up of foreigners.

The second programme in September 1942: two million; and two
million were supplied, of which one million, that is, one
half, were foreigners.

In 1943, the demand was for one million, and one million
were supplied, the entire figure being made up of foreign

For the last programme on 4th January, 1944, the Fuehrer
demanded four million, and the demand met with 0.9 million.

A. Allow me to correct you. The figure should read, demand
met with three million.

Q. Demand four million; demand met with three million; and
how many were foreigners?

A. 0.9 million.

Q. 0.9 million foreigners. How many workers came from the
East, how many from the West, and how many from other

A. I naturally cannot give you the exact figures here
without data or statistics, but on the average I can say
that the figure for each group might be about thirty per
cent; the percentage of workers from the East was certainly
somewhat higher.

Q. And how were the demands communicated?

A. The demands were made through the "Bedarfstrager."

Q. And what were the " Bedarfstrager"?

A. The "Bedarfstrager" were the Economic Ministry, the
Armament Ministry, the Agricultural Ministry, the various
trades, the State Railways, mines, etc.; all of them big

Q. And to whom did they present their demands?

A. Usually the demand was made simultaneously to the Fuehrer
and to me or to the Assembling Agencies ("Sammelstellen")
provided for by the Four-Year Plan.

Q. They were the reduced requirements, if their demands were
to be checked, or were these the original demands?

                                                  [Page 126]

A. I have just said that it varied. The demands were sent in
to me, and at the same time they were almost always sent to
the Fuehrer because he had to approve these demands.

Q. And what was the position of the Central Planning Board?

A. The Central Planning Board was an agency, and as far as I
know one of its main tasks was to fix the raw material
quotas, but it also discussed work to be done and manpower.

Q. Could you receive orders from the Central Planning Board?

A. Yes, the demands which were put to me I had to consider
as orders, for the Fuehrer had ordered me to meet the
demands of the war economy.

Q. Did you belong to the Central Planning Board yourself?

A. No, I was only called in when there were to be debates on
the use of manpower.

Q. What was the relationship between your office and the
office of Speer?

A. My office had to meet the demands put by Speer.

Q. Did Speer have his own organization for labour

A. Yes, he had to have that in his ministry, and he did have
it. That was essential.

Q. Could you meet all the demands put to you?

A. No.

Q. Were your labour reserves exhausted?

A. According to my conviction, yes, for already in 1943 -
and it was one of the purposes of my manifesto - I pointed
out that the economic problems of the occupied countries
were very serious, and had to be regulated and settled so as
to avoid confusion.

Q. What labour reserves were still left in Germany?

A. In Germany after 1943, there were no more really usable
manpower reserves left. Many discussions took place on this
problem, but the chief demand for workers was in the field
of skilled labour, mining and in the heavy industries.

Q. And what manpower reserves were there in France which it
was intended to use?

A. I must say that from our point of view and in the light
of our economic and labour problems, there was a great deal
of manpower and very extensive reserves in the occupied

Q. Do you mean that in comparison the economic forces of
Germany were far more exhausted than those of the occupied

A. Perhaps I can show it by a comparison with the first
world war. In the first world war ten to twelve million
Germans were mobilised for labour. In this war, about
twenty-five million German men and women were used, and more
than half were women. I must add that all the women who did
Red Cross or other welfare work in Germany were not included
in my statistics; they were included in other countries.

Q. I have a concluding question: If you view your activity
as Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour today, what
would you say about the use of foreign labour in general?

A. It is very hard for me to answer this question. I myself
and the entire German people were of the opinion, and had to
be, that this war was neither willed nor brought about by
the German people - and in order to be truthful I have to
include the Party. We took the stand that we had to do our
duty to our people.

Q. It is not intended that you should give an explanation in
the wider sense, but that you should limit yourself to the
main aspects of the question of labour commitment and tell
us whether today you consider your activity justified or

A. From the point of view of the war situation and of the
German economy, and as I saw and tried to carry out my
manpower mobilization, I considered it justified and, above
all, inevitable; for Germany and the countries which we
occupied were an economic whole that could not be separated.
Without such an exchange of Eastern and Western workers,
Germany could not have existed for

                                                  [Page 127]

even one day. The German people themselves were working to
the extreme limit of their capacity.

DR. SERVATIUS: I have concluded my questioning of the

BY DR. THOMA (Counsel for defendant Rosenberg).

Q. Witness, did the Ministry for the Eastern Occupied
Territories often try to cut down the labour quotas demanded
by you?

A. Not only the Ministry for the Eastern Occupied
Territories tried to do that but I myself tried very hard to
do so by intervening with the Fuehrer and the requirements

Q. I should like to put several questions to you with regard
to Document 054-PS which describes the abuses in the
recruiting and transporting of Eastern workers. Did you
personally take steps to put an end to the abuses which are
listed here?

A. Yes, of course. Please interrogate my witnesses on this.

Q. Did you notice that this report deals with the city and
the region of Kharkov in the Ukraine, and do you know that
this entire district was never under the civilian
administration of the Ministry for the Eastern Occupied

A. Yes, I know that, and I testified that this report was
not sent to me but to an army office. This army office had
its own employment department which was directly subordinate
to it.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.