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-Eighth Day: Saturday, January 19th, 1946
(Part 1 of 5)

[Page 423]



M. HERZOG: Mr. President, your Honours.

At the end of yesterday's session I was expounding to the Tribunal the conditions under which the Compulsory Labour Service was progressively imposed in France. I reached the second action of the defendant Sauckel as set out in the laws of 16th February, 1943.

Sauckel's second action precipitated the enforced enrolment of Frenchmen during the months of February and March, 1943. Several tens of thousands of young men of the 1940 and 1942 classes were deported to Germany by the application of the law of 16th February. The tempo of these deportations slowed down in the month of April, but the Arbeitseinsatz immediately formulated fresh requirements. On 9th April, 1943, the defendant Sauckel asked the French authorities to furnish him with 120,000 workers during the month of May, and 100,000 during the month of June. In June he made it known that he wished to effect the transfer of 500,000 workers up to 31st December.

Sauckel's third action was about to begin. It was to be marked, on 5th June, 1943, by the total mobilisation of the 1942 class. All exemptions provided by the law of 16th February and subsequent texts were withdrawn, and the young men of the 1942 class were hunted all through France.

In reality, Sauckel's third action was especially manifested by a violent pressure on the part of the defendant, envisaging wholesale deportation by forced recruiting. I offer in evidence three documents, which testify to the action taken by Sauckel in the summer of 1943.

The first document is a letter from Sauckel to Hitler, dated 27th June, 1943. Drafted by the defendant upon his return from a trip to France, it contains an outlined plan for the recruiting of French workers for the second half of 1943. Its object was, on the one hand, to secure that one million workers be assigned, in France, to French armament factories and, on the other hand, that 500,000 French workers be deported to Germany. This letter constitutes Document 556-PS- 39, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 65. I quote:

"Weimar, 27th June, 1943.

My Fuehrer:

With your permission I beg to report my return from my official trip to France.

Inasmuch as the free labour reserves in the territories occupied by the German Armed Forces have been, numerically, absorbed to saturation point, I am now carefully examining the possibilities of mobilising additional labour reserves in the Reich and the occupied territories to work on German war production.

In my reports of 20th April, I was allowed to point out that intensive and careful utilisation must be made of European labour forces in territories submitted to direct German influence.

It was the precise purpose of my recent stay in Paris to investigate the possibilities still existing in France for the recruitment of labour (Arbeitseinsatz). My task was accomplished by extensive conferences and my own personal investigation. On the basis of a carefully established balance sheet I have come to the following decision:

[Page 424]

(1) Assuming that war economy measures in France are carried out which would at least prove partially effective, or approximately approach, in efficacy, the measures carried out in Germany, then - until the 31st of December, 1943 - a further million workers, both men and women, could be assigned to the French war and armament industries for work on German orders and assignments. In this case it should prove possible to place additional German orders in France.

(2) In consideration of these measures, and given a careful study of the subject, together with the co- operation of our German Armament Services and the German Labour Recruiting Offices, it should be possible to transfer a further 500,000 workers, both men and women, from France to the Reich between now and the end of the year.

The prerequisites which I have established for the realisation of this programme are as follows:

(1) Closest possible collaboration between all German agencies, especially in dealing with the French agencies.

(2) A constant check on French economy by joint commissions, as already agreed upon by the Reich Minister of Armaments and Munitions, Party Member Speer and myself.

(3) Constant, skilful and successful propaganda against the cliques of de Gaulle and Giraud.

(4) The guarantee of adequate food supplies to the French population working for Germany.

(5) An emphatic insistence on this urgency before the French Government, in particular before Marshal Petain, who still represents the main obstacle to the further recruiting of French women for compulsory labour (Arbeitseinsatz).

(6) A pronounced increase in the programme which I have already introduced in France, for re-education in trades essential to war production."

I omit the next and read the last paragraph:
"I consequently beg you, my Fuehrer, to approve my suggestion of freeing one million Frenchmen and Frenchwomen for German war production in France proper, in the second half of 1943, and, in addition, of transferring 500,000 Frenchmen and Frenchwomen to the Reich before the end of the current year.

Yours faithfully and obediently,

(Signed) Fritz Sauckel."

The document to which I would now like to call the Tribunal's attention proves that the Fuehrer gave his approval to Sauckel's programme. A note drawn up on 28th July, 1943, by Dr. Stothfang, under the letter-heading of the Plenipotentiary General for Manpower Utilisation (Arbeitseinsatz), gives a report on a discussion between Sauckel and the Fuehrer. It is Document 556-PS-41, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 66. I shall limit myself to reading the last paragraph.
"(d) The transfer envisaged for the end of the year of 1,000,000 French workers to the war industries in France, and the transportation of 500,000 other French workers to the interior of the Reich has been approved by the Fuehrer."
A document finally establishes that the defendant Sauckel, on the strength of Hitler's approval, attempted to realise his programme by working on the French Government. This document is a letter from Sauckel to Hitler. It is dated 13th August, 1943, upon the defendant's return from a trip to France, Belgium and Holland. It is Document 556-PS-43. I shall read it to the Tribunal. It is Exhibit RF 67:

[Page 425]

"Weimar, 13th August, 1943.

My Fuehrer:

With your permission I beg to report my return from my official trip to France, Belgium and Holland. In the course of tough, difficult and tedious negotiations, I have imposed upon the occupied Western territories, for the last five months of 1943, the programme set forth below, and have prepared very detailed measures for realising it: in France - with the Military Commander, the German Embassy and the French Government; in Belgium - with the Military Commander, and in Holland with the offices of the Reich Commissar.

The programme provides:

(1) In France, the transfer of one million French workers, both men and women, from the civilian to the German war industries in France. This measure should render possible a new important shifting of work on German orders to France.

(2) Soliciting and recruiting of 500,000 French workers for work in Germany. This figure should not be made public abroad.

(3) In order to render void any passive resistance from large groups of French officials, I have ordered, in agreement with the Military Commander in France, the introduction of labour recruiting commissions for each two French departments, and placed them under the supervision and direction of the German Gau offices. Only in this manner can the complete recruitment of the French labour potential and its intensive utilisation be made possible. The French Government has given its approval."

If the Tribunal will allow me, I shall quote the rest of this letter; the following paragraphs concern Belgium and Holland. It will allow me to refer to this document later without reading it again.
"(4) A programme was secured in Belgium for the employment of 150,000 workers in the Reich, and with the approval of the Military Commander in Belgium an organisation for compulsory labour, corresponding to that in France, has been established."
I pass to the fifth paragraph.
"(5) A programme has likewise been prepared for Holland, providing for the transfer of 150,000 workers to Germany and of 100,000 workers, men and women, from Dutch civilian industries to German war production."
Such was Sauckel's programme in 1943. His plan was partly thwarted by the resistance of officials and patriotic workers. Proof of this is furnished by a statement of the defendant. I am referring to the report on a conference of the Central Office for the Four Year Plan held on 1st March, 1944. I submitted this document to the Tribunal yesterday as Exhibit RF 30. I shall read from the first page of the French translation, second paragraph-German text 1768-1769.
"Last autumn, as far as foreign manpower is concerned, the labour recruiting programme has been severely battered. I do not wish to elaborate the reasons here. They have been discussed at length; all I have to say is: the programme has been wrecked."
Sauckel, however, was not discouraged by the difficulties encountered in 1943. In 1944 he attempted to realise a new programme by the trick of the fourth action. The National Socialist authorities decided to secure, in 1944, the transfer of four million foreign workers to Germany. This decision was made on 4th January, 1944, during a conference at the Headquarters of the Fuehrer and in

[Page 426]

his presence. The report on this conference constitutes Document 1292-PS. I submit it herewith to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 68, and I read from Page 3 of the French translation - Page 6 of the German original, last paragraph:
"Final results of the conference:

(1)The Plenipotentiary General for Manpower Utilisation shall produce at least four million new workers from the occupied territories."

The details concerning the contingents demanded from each occupied territory must have been determined on 16th February, 1944, during a conference of the Central Office for the Four Year Plan. Yesterday I submitted the report of this session at the outset of my explanations, under Exhibit RF 20. I am quoting the conclusions to-day. They will be found on the first page of the translation, second page of the German original:
"Results of the 53rd session of the Office for Central Planning."

Labour recruiting (Arbeitseinsatz) in 1944.

(1) About 500,000 new workers can be mobilised from among the German home reserves."

I omit the rest.
(2) Recruiting of Italian labour to the number of 1,500,000; of these - 1,000,000 at the rate of 250,000 per month from January to April and 500,000 from May to December.

(3) Recruiting of 1,000,000 French workers at equal monthly rates from 1st February to 31st December, 1944 (approximately 9 1,000 per month).

(4) Recruiting of 250,000 workers from Belgium.

(5) Recruiting of 250,000 workers from the Netherlands."

I abstain from quoting further, since the other paragraphs concern the Eastern European countries.

The Tribunal has seen that France was called upon to furnish a large contingent of workers. After the 15th of January Sauckel went to Paris to inflict his demands on the French authorities.

The fourth Sauckel action consisted of two distinct measures: the adoption of the procedure known as the combing of industries, and the publication of the law of 1st February, 1944, which widened the sphere of application of compulsory labour. The system of combing the industries led the labour administration to carry out direct recruiting in the industrial enterprises. Mixed Franco-German commissions were set up in each department. They determined the percentage of workers to be deported. They proceeded to requisition and transfer them.

The practice of combing the industries represents the realisation of the projects elaborated by defendant Sauckel since 1943. In the documents which I have read to the Tribunal Sauckel announced, in fact, his intention of creating mixed labour commissions.

The law of 1st February, 1944, marked the culminating point of Sauckel's actions in the field of legislation. It extends the scope of application of the law of 4th September, 1942. As from February, 1944, all men between the ages of 16 and 60, and all women between the ages of 18 and 45 were subject to compulsory labour.

I submit to the Tribunal the law of 1st February, 1944, as Exhibit RF 69, with the request to take judicial note of it.

The proof of the pressure that Sauckel exerted on the French authorities in order to impose on them the publication of this law is furnished by a report of the defendant to Hitler. This report is dated the 25th of January, 1944. It was, therefore, drafted during the negotiations which characterised the fourth Sauckel action. It constituted Document 556-PS-55, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 70. I shall read this document:

[Page 427]

"My Fuehrer:

On the 22nd of January, 1944, the French Government, together with Marshal Petain, accepted the majority of my demands for increasing the working week from 40 to 48 hours, as well as for extending the compulsory labour law in France and utilising French manpower in Germany.

The Marshal did not agree to the compulsory work of women in the Reich, but he did agree to the compulsory work of women inside France, to be limited to women between the ages of 26 and 45. Women between 15 and 25 are to be employed only at their place of residence.

Since this, nevertheless, represents appreciable progress in comparison with the extremely difficult negotiations which I had to conduct in Paris, I approved this law, in order to save further loss of time, on condition that the German demands were energetically met and carried out.

The French Government likewise accepted my demand that French officials sabotaging the enforcement of the Compulsory Labour Law should be punished by severe penalties, including the death penalty. I have left them in no doubt that further and more rigid measures would be adopted, should the demands for the manpower required not be fulfilled.

Your ever obedient and faithful, Fritz Sauckel."

I draw the attention of the Tribunal to the problem of compulsory labour of women, referred to in the two preceding documents. For a long time the French authorities categorically opposed the introduction of female labour. The defendant Sauckel did not cease to exercise violent activity.

On the 27th June, 1943, in a letter to Hitler, he suggested that an energetic statement of German interests be made before the French Government. I have already quoted this letter to the Tribunal, Exhibit RF 65. I shall not revert to it, but I emphasise the fact that the law of 1st February did not satisfy Sauckel and did not in the least appease his demands. His dissatisfaction and his determination to pursue his policy of compulsion become apparent from a report of 26th April, 1944, bearing his signature; that the report was forwarded is certified by Berk, one of his assistants.

This report - there actually were four reports submitted jointly - constitutes Document 1289-PS. I submit them to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 71, and I quote from the second page:

"France (1). The problem of women.

At the time of the promulgation of the French Compulsory Labour Law, the French authorities (Marshal Petain in particular) have urgently desired that women be exempted from performing compulsory labour in Germany. In spite of serious objections the G.B.A. approved of this exemption. The reservation was made, however, that the approval was given on condition that the contingencies imposed were met; or else the G.B.A. would retain the right of taking further measures. Inasmuch as the contingencies are far from being met, the demand must be addressed to the French Government of extending the compulsory labour service to women also."

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