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 5 of 9)

[M. HERZOG continues]

[Page 401]

I now go to Page 2:
"26th of February, 1942. Secret note on the organisation of the recruitment in France of workers for German industry. Excellent source: 1.Organisation of the recruitment of workers in France. One of the main organisations for the recruitment of workers in France for Germany was the Mechanical Society of the Seine, whose seat is in Puteaux, Seine, at 8 Quai Nationale, which was also known as A.M.S.

This society was to function under the secret control of the Kommandantur, and of three engineers; one would have the capacity of chief engineer and the other two would be M. Meyer and M. Schronner. In addition to the work which it was to carry out, this society is particularly entrusted with the re-education of workers recruited in France and sent to Germany at the request of German industrial houses on premium payments. The A.M.S. society is assisted in these operations in the occupied zone by three centres of recruiting which function in Paris and are: the centre of Porte De Vincennes, the centre of Courbevoie, 200 Boulevard St. Denis and the centre of Avenue des Tourelles. These centres are also charged to co-operate with the operations of recruitment in the non-occupied zone. For this zone, the two principal centres are in Marseilles and Toulouse. A third centre will be at Tarbes.

(a) The centre at Marseilles is entrusted with the recruitment in the Mediterranean zone, under the direction of M. Meyer, who is mentioned above. The address of this engineer is not known, but one can get information about him in No. 24 Avenue Kleber, Paris, at the Militarbefehlshaber's.

At Marseilles the A.M.S. office is situated at 85 Rue de Silvabelle. In his task M. Meyer is assisted by M. Ringo, residing in Madrague-Ville, 5 bis Boulevard Bernabo, near the slaughter house."

[Page 402]

I here end my quotation. I submit to the Tribunal the correspondence exchanged between the months of December, 1941, and January, 1942, between the Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes and the authorities of the Vichy Government. This is Document 528,, which I file with the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 29. This correspondence emphasises the activity of the German agents in the clandestine recruiting, and particularly of M. Meyer, to whom the report of Commander Fontaine, which I just read, applies. I quote first the letter of the 10th December, 1941, in which the Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes confirmed the report which he had previously made on this question. It is the letter which is on the 5th page of the French text and the 7th page of the German text:

"Nice, 10th December, 1941: The State Counsellor, Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes, to his Honour, the State Secretary of the Interior, General Secretariat of the Police Directorate for Home and Foreign Police. Object: The activity of foreign agents, attending to the enticing away of specialised workers.

Reference: Your telegrams 12,402, and 12,426, of 28th November, 1941. My reports 955 and 986 of 24th November, 1941, and the 6th December, 1941. In my reports referred to I pointed out to you the activity of recruiting agents, who sought to have specialised workers discharged for the benefit of Germany.

I have the honour of giving you, below, some additional information gathered on this subject.

The German engineer Meyer and the French subject, M. Bentz, stopped on the 1st December, 1941, at the Hotel Splendid in Nice, coming from Marseilles."

Now, I go to the third paragraph before the end:
"I permit myself to draw your attention particularly to the fact that in Paris they hired workers to be sent to Germany."
Here I end the quotation.

These documents attest to the activity which the clandestine recruiting offices developed. I am not satisfied merely to point out their existence. I wish to show that these offices functioned under the initiative of the official administration and of the German Office for Labour.

The proof is furnished by a statement which the defendant Sauckel made on the first of March 1944, during the 54th conference of the central office for the Four Year Plan. The stenographic transcript of these conferences has been found. It forms Document R-124, to which my American colleagues have already referred. I submit it again to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 30, and I shall read from an extract of the transcript of the session of the 1st March, 1944. This is Exhibit RF 30, in the French text, Page 2, second paragraph; in the German text, Pages 1770 and 1771. I quote the page numbers which are at the bottom and on the right of the German original. I read:

"The most abominable thing done by my adversaries" - this is a declaration of the defendant Sauckel - "is that they pretend that no executive measure has been foreseen in these sectors to recruit in a rational manner the French, the Belgians, and the Italians, and to send them to work. I therefore had begun to employ and train a whole group of French male and female agents who, for adequate remuneration, just as it was done in older times in Shanghai, would hunt for men, using liquor and persuasion...."
THE PRESIDENT: I am told that this has been read before by the Prosecutor of the United States.

M. HERZOG: I will not insist on it, Mr. President. I go on:

The propaganda of the official offices and that of the clandestine recruiting offices proved to be inefficacious. The National Socialist authorities then had to resort to methods of economic pressure. They tried to give to the workers,

[Page 403]

who were to go to Germany, the hope of material advantages. I cite in this respect an ordinance of the General Military Commandant in Belgium and in the North of France, which I submit to the Tribunal. It is an ordinance of 20th July, 1942, which appeared in the "Verordnungsblatt" of Belgium. It exempts from tax Belgian workers who work in German factories. I submit it to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 31.

On the other hand, the occupation authorities sought to lower the living standard of workers who remained in the occupied territories. I said that they had made poverty a factor in their recruiting policy. I am going to prove it by showing how they went about creating artificial unemployment in the occupation zones and deteriorating the material situation of the unemployed.

I wish to recall that the German authorities also practised a policy of freezing salaries. This measure aided the recruiting campaign for labour to go to Germany and had also an economic bearing, and I would like to refer the Tribunal to the explanations which will be given it on this point by M. Gerthoffer.

Unemployment was produced by two complementary measures:

The first was the regulation of the legal length of work;

The second was the concentration and, if need be, the closing of industrial enterprises.

From 1940 the local Feldkommandanten concerned themselves with increasing the duration of work in their administrative zones. In France, initiative taken by the local authorities brought about reactions. The problem became general and was solved on a national plane. Long negotiations were imposed on the representatives of the pseudo-Government of Vichy.

Finally an ordinance of 22nd April, 1942, from the military command in France, reserved for the occupation authorities the right of fixing the duration of work in industrial enterprises. This ordinance appeared in their Verordnungsblatt for France, 1942. I submit it to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 32 and I quote the first paragraph. First part:

"For establishments and enterprises of all kinds, a minimum of working hours may be imposed. This minimum of the length of work will be decreed for a whole economic region, or for certain economic fields, or for individual enterprises."
In Belgium the length of work was fixed by an ordinance, by a directive, on the 6th October, 1942, which appeared in the "Verordnungsblatt" of Belgium. I submit this ordinance to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 33. The regulation of the duration of work had not released a sufficient number of workers for the German factories; that is why the National Socialist authorities used a second method: under the pretext of rationalising production, they brought about a concentration of industrial and commercial enterprises, certain of which were closed at their instigation.

I cite in this relation the provisions which were taken or imposed by the Germans in France, in Belgium and in Holland. In France I would like to refer to two texts:

The first is the law of the Vichy Government of 17th December, 1941, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 34;

The second text to which I wish to draw the attention of the Tribunal is the ordinance of 25th February, 1942, issued by the Military Commandant in France. This ordinance appeared in the "Verordnungsblatt des Militarbefehlshabers" in France. I shall read from it to the Tribunal, because this ordinance seems particularly important, as the principle of compulsorily closing certain French enterprises is established by a legislative text of the occupying power. I shall read the first and second paragraphs. The first paragraph:

[Page 404]

"If the economic situation, notably the use of raw materials and secondary materials requires it, establishments and economic enterprises may be partly or completely closed."
Second paragraph:
"The closing of these enterprises will be pronounced by the Feldkommandantur by means of a written notification addressed to the establishment or to the industrial enterprise."
THE PRESIDENT: That was Exhibit RF 35, was it not?

M. HERZOG: Yes, Mr. President.

In Belgium I refer to the ordinance of the Military Commandant, 30th March and 3rd October, 1942, which appeared in the "Verordnungsblatt" in Belgium. I submit to the Tribunal the ordinance of 30th March as Exhibit RF 36.

In Holland the regulating provisions of the occupying authorities were more stringent than elsewhere. I present an ordinance of the Reich Commissar for the territories of occupied Holland, 15th March, 1943.submit it to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 37.

This ordinance presents a double interest: First it offers precise information which emphasises the method with which the German services executed their recruiting plan. It constitutes, on the other hand, the first document which I shall submit to the Tribunal, accusing the defendant Seyss- Inquart. The policy of Sauckel was carried out in Holland with the collaboration of Reich Commissar Seyss-Inquart. The ordinances regarding compulsory labour in Holland were all issued at the responsibility of Seyss-Inquart, whether they bear, directly or not, his signature. I ask the Tribunal to note this.

The increase of the legal length of work and the closing of industrial enterprises deprived thousands of workers of their jobs. The defendants did not hesitate to use material constraint to incite the unemployed to work on behalf of Germany. They threatened the unemployed that they would do away with their unemployment compensation. This threat was made on several occasions by the local Feldkommandants in Occupied France. I find proof in the protest made 8th March, 1941, by General Doyen, representing the French authorities with the German armistice commission. The document is 282, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 38.

I read the first page, third paragraph of the letter:

"Moreover, the occupation authorities foresee that the workers who refuse the work offered them will see their right to unemployment compensation denied, and may be prosecuted by the war tribunal for sabotage of Franco- German collaboration."
Far from disavowing the initiative of their local authorities, the central office for labour gave them instructions to continue this policy. The proof is furnished by the directive of Dr. Mansfeld, dated 29th January, 1942, which I have just submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 26, in which instructions were given that the discontinuation of unemployment compensation should be utilised as a means of pressure against workers in foreign countries. The directive of Dr. Mansfeld shows that the blackmail by the National Socialist leaders was exercised not only over the control of unemployment compensation, but also in the issuing of ration cards.

Moreover, the defendants tried to force the inhabitants of the occupied territories to leave for Germany by increasing their difficulties in finding food. The proof of this desire is given in the transcript of the session of 1st March, 1944, of the Conference of the Four Year Plan. This document I referred to a short time ago as Exhibit RF 30. This is a passage which has not yet been read, which the Tribunal will please permit me to read. It is on Page 5 of the French translation.


[Page 405]

M. HERZOG: Yes, Pages 1814, 1815 and 1816 of the German text. The page numbers are at the bottom and on the right. I read on top of Page 5 of the French text. It should be Milch. It is General Milch.
"Milch: 'Would not the following method be better? The German administration should concern itself with the feeding of Italians and say to them: " No one shall receive food unless he works in a protected factory or leaves for Germany."'

Sauckel: 'It is true that the French workman in France is better fed than the German workman. The Italian workman, even if he does not work at all, is better fed in the part of Italy which we occupy than if he worked in Germany.'"

I end the quotation here.

I have shown the Tribunal that these measures were measures of an economic order - economic-social - which the National Socialist authorities took, to force workers in the occupied territory to accept labour contracts offered by the German authorities.

This indirect duress was strengthened by direct pressure which was simultaneously put on the local governments and the employers and on the workers themselves.

The National Socialist leaders knew that their recruiting policy could be facilitated by the local authorities. That is why they tried to make the pseudo-governments of the occupied territories guarantee or endorse the fiction of voluntary enrolments. I submit to the Tribunal an example of the pressure which the German Services placed on the Vichy Government for that purpose. They first arranged that the State Secretariat of Labour should issue a directive to all Prefects. It is the directive of 29th March, 1941. The German authorities were not satisfied with this directive; they were conscious of the illegality of their recruiting methods and they wished to justify them by an agreement with the de facto government of France. They required that this agreement be made known by public statement. The negotiations were carried out for this purpose in 1941 and 1942. The violence of the German pressure is substantiated by the letters concerning it addressed by Dr. Michel of the Administrative Staff to the General Delegate for Franco- German Economic Relations.

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