The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Thirty-Seventh Day: Friday, January 18th, 1946
(Part 4 of 9)

[M. HERZOG continues]

[Page 396]

The occupying authorities, in face of the resistance which they encountered, were anxious that their orders regarding the requisitions of labour should be obeyed. The measures which they took to this end are just as illegal as the measures taken for the requisition itself. The National Socialist authorities in occupied France proceeded by legislative means. They promulgated ordinances by which sentence of death could be pronounced against persons disobeying requisition orders.

[Page 397]

I submit two of these ordinances to the Tribunal as evidence. The first was given in the early months of the occupation, 10th October, 1940. It was published in the "Verordnungsblatt" of France on 17th October, 1940, Page 108.submit it to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 24, and I read it:
"Ordinance relative to protection against acts of sabotage:

By virtue of the powers which have been conferred upon me by the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, I decree the following:

"(1) Whoever intentionally does not fulfil or fulfils inadequately the tasks of supervision which are conferred upon him by the Chief of the Military Administration in France, or by a service undertaken by the latter, shall be condemned to death."

I will read paragraph 3:
"In less serious cases of infringements mentioned in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the present ordinance and in case of neglect, the offenders may be punished by solitary confinement with hard labour or imprisonment."
The second ordinance of the Military Commander in France to which I refer is dated 31st January, 1942. It was published in the "Verordnungsblatt" of France of 3rd February, 1942, Page 338.submit it to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 25, and I read:
"Ordinance of 31st January, 1942, concerning the requisitioning of service and requisitioning in kind.

By virtue of the plenary powers which have been conferred on me by the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, I order the following:

(1) Anyone who does not carry out these services or the requisitions in kind which are imposed upon him by the Military Commander in France or by an authority designated by him, or who performs them in such a manner that the object of the services or requisitions is not fulfilled, shall be punishable by forced labour, imprisonment, or fine. A fine may be fixed in addition to a penalty of forced labour or imprisonment.

(2) In serious cases the death penalty may be inflicted."

These orders called forth a protest by the French authorities. General Doyen protested on several occasions against the first of them, without his protest having any effect.

I refer again to his letter of the 25th May, 1941, which I have just submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 23, and I read on page of the French translation, Page 4 of the German text:

" ... I have been asked to make a formal protest to you against such practices and to beg you to intervene so that an immediate end may be put to them.

From the 16th November, in letter No. 7843/AE, I have already protested against the ordinance that was decreed on the 10th October, 1940, by the Chief of the Military Administration in France, which laid down the death penalty for any person failing to carry out, or carrying out inadequately, the guard duties entrusted to him by the occupation authorities. I protested then that this requirement, as well as its penalty, was contrary to the spirit of the Armistice Convention, having as its object to relieve the French population from any participation in the hostilities.

I had limited myself to this protest in principle because at the time no concrete case of guard duties having been imposed had been called to my attention, but it was not possible to accept, as justifying the ordinance in question, the arguments which you proffered in your letter No. 1361 of 6th March. [Page 398] You pointed out in effect that, at Article 43 of The Hague Convention, the occupying power had the authority to legislate, but the authority to which you refer in this same article is subject to two restrictions: There can be legislation only to establish order, and to make public life secure in as far as possible. On the other hand, the ordinances decreed must" -

THE PRESIDENT: Is it not enough to show that General Doyen protested? It is not necessary to read all the argument which was put forward on the one side or the other.

M. HERZOG: I shall then stop this quotation, Mr. President.

The German ordinances which I have just read to the Tribunal thus contained formal violations of the general principles of the criminal legislation of civilised nations; they were made in contradiction to Article 102 of the Appendix to the Fourth Convention of The Hague and also in contradiction to Article 43, on which they were supposed to be based. They were, therefore, illegal and they were criminal, since they provided death sentences which no International Law or domestic law justifies.

The system of labour requisition furnishes the first example of the criminal character of the methods pursued by the defendants in the execution of their recruiting plan for foreign labour.

The National Socialist authorities then had recourse to a second procedure to give an appearance of legality to the recruiting of foreign workers. They called upon workers who were so-called volunteers. From 1940 on, the occupation authorities opened recruiting offices in all the large cities of the occupied territories. These offices were placed under the control of a special service instituted to this effect within the general staff of the Commanders-in- Chief of the occupation zones.

The Tribunal knows that these services from 1940 to 1942 functioned under the control of the generals. From 1942 on, and, more precisely, from the day when the defendant Sauckel became the Plenipotentiary of Labour they received their orders directly from the latter. General von Falkenhausen, Commander-in-Chief in Belgium and in the North of France, declared in the testimony which I have just read to the Tribunal that, from the summer of 1942 on, he had become the simple intermediary in charge of transmitting the instructions given by Sauckel to the Arbeitseinsatz.

Thus the policy of the German employment offices set up in the occupied areas was carried out on the sole responsibility of the defendant Sauckel from 1942, under the responsibility of the defendant Sauckel and his immediate superior, the Trustee for the Four Year Plan, the defendant Goering. I ask the Tribunal to take note of this.

The task of the employment offices was to organise the recruiting of workers for the factories and workshops set up in Europe by the Todt organisation and by the Wehrmacht, Kriegsmarine, Luftwaffe and other German organisations. It was also their task to obtain for the German munition factories the amount of foreign labour needed. Workers recruited in this way signed a labour contract; thus they had, theoretically, the status of free workers and were apparently volunteers.

The occupation authorities always made a point of the voluntary nature of the recruiting carried out by the employment offices, but the lines taken by their propaganda systematically took no account of what they were actually doing. In fact, the voluntary character of this recruiting was entirely fictitious: the workers of the areas who agreed to sign German labour contracts were subject to physical and moral pressure.

This pressure took several forms: it was sometimes collective and sometimes individual; in all its forms it was heavy enough to deprive the workers who suffered under it of their freedom of choice.

[Page 399]

The nullity of contracts entered into under the reign of violence is a fundamental principle of the common law of civilised nations: it is found just as expressly stated in German law as in the laws of the powers represented in the Court or the States occupied by Germany. The German employment offices forced on the foreign workers labour contracts which had no legal significance, because they were tainted with violence. I make this as a definite statement and I will provide the Court with proof of my assertions.

First of all, I will show that the pressure was premeditated by the Germans. The pressure under which the foreign workers suffered was not the result of sporadic action on the part of subordinate authorities. It came from the deliberate intent, which the National Socialist leaders of Germany formulated into precise instructions.

I submit to the Tribunal Document 1183, which is the Exhibit RF 26; this is a directive dated 29th January, 1942, dealing with the recruiting of foreign workers. This directive comes from a section of the Arbeitseinsatz of the Commissariat for the Four Year Plan. It bears the signature of the Section Chief, Dr. Mansfeld, but it places the executive responsibility directly on the defendant Goering, the Trustee for the Four Year Plan. I read this circular:

"Berlin, S.W. 11, 29th January, 1942.

Saarlandstr. 96.

Subject: Increased mobilisation of manpower for the German Reich from the occupied territories and preparations for mobilisation by force.

The labour shortage which was rendered more acute by the draft for the Wehrmacht and, on the other hand, the increased scope of the armament problem in the German Reich, render it necessary that manpower for service in the Reich be recruited from the occupied territories to a much greater extent than heretofore, in order to relieve the shortage of labour.

Therefore, any and all methods must be adopted which make possible the transportation, without exception and delay, for employment in the Reich of manpower in the occupied territories which is unemployed, or which can be replaced for use in Germany after most careful screening."

I read further on Page 2 of the German text:
"This mobilisation shall as heretofore be carried out on a voluntary basis. For this reason the recruiting effort for employment in the German Reich must be strengthened considerably, but, if satisfactory results are to be obtained, the German authorities who are functioning in the occupied territories must be able to exert any pressure necessary to support the voluntary recruiting of labour for employment in Germany.

Accordingly, to the extent that that may be necessary, the regulations in force in the occupied territories in regard to shifting employment, or concerning the ill will of those refusing work, must be tightened. Supplementary regulations concerning distribution of labour must above all insure that older personnel who are exempt will be exchanged for younger personnel, so that the latter may be made available for the Reich. A far-reaching decrease in the amount of relief granted by public welfare must also be effected, in order to induce labourers to accept employment in the Reich. Unemployment relief must be set so low that the amount in comparison with the average wages in the Reich, and the possibilities there for sending remittances home, may serve as an inducement to the workers to accept employment in Germany. When refusal to accept work in the Reich is not justified, the compensation must be reduced to an amount barely enough for subsistence, or even be cancelled. In this case partial withdrawal of ration cards and an assignment to particularly heavy, obligatory labour may be considered."

I here end the quotation, and. I call to the Tribunal's attention that this circular is addressed to all the services responsible for labour in the occupied

[Page 400]

areas. Its distribution in Western Europe was: the Reich Commissar for the occupied Norwegian Territories, the Reich Commissar for the occupied Dutch territories, the Chief of the Military Administration of Belgium and Northern France, the Chief of the Military Administration of France, the Chief of the Civilian Administration of Luxembourg, the Chief of the Civilian Administration at Metz, and the Chief of the Civilian Administration at Strasbourg.

It is thus proved that a general common plan existed with a view to compelling the workers of the occupied territories to work for Germany.

I have now to show how this plan was put into practice in the different occupation zones. The machinery of pressure which the National Socialist authorities exerted on the foreign workers can be analysed in the following manner: German labour offices organised intense propaganda in favour of the recruitment of foreign workers. This propaganda was intended to deceive the workers of the occupied areas with regard to the material advantage offered them by the German employment courts. It was carried out by the Press, the radio, and by every possible means of publicity.

It was also carried on as a side-line to official administrative duties by secret organisations which had been given the task of enticing foreign workers and thereby exercising illegal pressure.

These measures proved themselves to be insufficient. The occupation authorities then intervened in the social life of the occupied countries: they strove to produce artificial unemployment there, and at the same time they devoted their energies to making living conditions worse for the workers and the unemployed.

In spite of unemployment and the poverty with which they were threatened, the foreign workers showed themselves insensible to German propaganda. This is why the German authorities finally resorted to direct methods of pressure. They exercised pressure on the political authorities of the occupied countries to make them give support to the recruiting campaign. They compelled employers, especially the organisational committees in France, to encourage their workers to accept the labour contracts of the German employment offices. Finally, they took action by way of direct pressure on the workers, and gradually passed from so- called voluntary recruitment to compulsory enrolment.

The fiction of voluntary enrolment was dispelled when the people saw the individual arrests and collective raids of which the workers of the occupied areas rapidly became the victims.

There are innumerable documents capable of providing proof of the facts which I relate. I shall submit the most important of these to the Tribunal.

The documents which bring the proof of the publicity campaigns made in France by the German administration will be submitted to the Tribunal by Mr. Edgar Faure in the course of his brief on Germanisation and Nazification. By way of example I wish to draw upon a document which in the French classification bears the No. RF-516 and which I submit as Exhibit RF 27.

This is a report of the Prefect of the Department of the Nord to the Delegate of the Minister of the Interior in the General Delegation of the French Government in the occupied territories. This report points out that a German publicity car tours through the community of Lille in order to lure French workers to go to Germany. I quote the report:

"Lille, 25th March, 1942. Prefect of the Nord, Prefect of the Lille Region, to the Prefect, Delegate of the Minister of the Interior with the General Delegation of the French Government in the occupied territories.

Subject: German publicity car.

I have the honour of advising you that for some days a publicity car covered with posters urging French workers to sign up and go and work in Germany has been touring in the Lille area, while a loud speaker plays a

[Page 401]

whole repertoire of discs of French music, among which are featured the 'Marche Lorraine,' and the song 'Marchal, nous voila.'"
This is the end of my quotation.

THE PRESIDENT: I think we will adjourn until 2 o'clock.

(A recess was taken.)

M. HERZOG: Mr. President, your Honours. I wish this morning to show what the official propaganda was which was given out by the German offices in France in order to persuade volunteers to work in Germany. The effect of this official propaganda was reinforced by the clandestine bureaux of recruitment. Offices for clandestine recruiting were organised by the occupation authorities, apart from the administrative services, whose activities they completed. These employments bureaus were directed by German agents who often succeeded in acquiring local accomplices. In France these bureaus extended their ramifications in the non- occupied as well as in the occupied zone. Several documents attest to their existence. The first among them is a report transmitted on 7th March, 1942, by the Vice-President of the Council of Ministers of the de facto Government of Vichy, to the General Delegate for Franco-German Economic Relations. It is Document 654 of the French archives.

This report is drawn up under the seal of Vice-President of the Council Darlan. It bears the signature of an officer of the latter's General Staff, Commander de Fontaine. I file this report as Exhibit RF 28 and I read it:

"Vichy, 7th March, 1942. Your Honour, the General Delegate, I have the honour of transmitting to you in this letter, for your information, a report on the organisation of recruitment in France of workers for the German industry."

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