The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th April to 1st May, 1946

One-Hundred-and-Ninth Day: Tuesday, 16th April, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[Page 18]

DR. THOMA: Herr Rosenberg, I think you should be a little briefer.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, the Tribunal hopes you will.

Q. The most important thing in the whole matter, apart from the jurisdiction of the Police and S.S. Leader, is your relationship to the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Mobilisation. What was the legal relationship and the channel of subordination in this connection? Was Sauckel entitled to give you instructions?

A. The authority which the Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan had received from the Fuehrer is clear-cut; and the Fuehrer decree of 21 March -

THE PRESI DENT: The question was: "Was Sauckel entitled to give you instructions?" Then you begin to tell us about the Four-Year Plan. I am sure you can answer that question directly.

A. The General Plenipotentiary for Labour Mobilisation had the right to give instructions to all top authorities in the Reich, and that included the Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. This was -

Q. That is enough. Were you entitled to tell Reich Commissioner Koch that the quotas of labourers which were required would or could no longer be fulfilled, yes or no?

A. I couldn't do it as simply as that, since the Plenipotentiary for Labour Mobilisation had been given very definite quotas by the Fuehrer, and when these quotas appeared too large to me - and that was always the case - I would call together the General Plenipotentiary and his representatives and the representatives of the Eastern Ministry for a conference, so as to reduce the figures to a more reasonable size; and the reduction of these quotas did, in fact, often result from such conferences, even though they still remained very high. Officially, however, I could do no more than make such representations.

[Page 19]

MR. DODD: This defendant continues to make a speech. The question was very simple. He was asked whether he was entitled to tell the Reich Commissioner Koch that the quotas of labourers which were required could not be filled. He has now had three minutes, and I'm sure that he will take 30 minutes if he's allowed to go on. He should be kept to the limits of the question.


Q. Witness, I must underline Mr. Dodd's suggestion. I have asked you, were you entitled to tell Reich Commissioner Koch that he should not carry out this drafting of labour?

A. I could not do that.

Q. Then the answer is "No. " Did you, nevertheless, do so on one occasion? Did you once tell him that he should make use of his rights and powers and simply not fill these quotas? Yes or No?

A. Yes. I did that expressly in a letter to the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Mobilisation, and the document has been presented in court. It is dated December, 1942, and in that letter I officially drew his attention to many incidents which took place during this labour recruitment drive, and I requested him urgently to help me in putting an end to these unfortunate occurrences which could not be tolerated.

Q. May I ask you to briefly refer to this question of labour mobilisation on the basis of the documents. They are documents which have already been presented by the United States. 016-PS, 017-PS, 018-PS, 054-PS, 084-PS, 204-PS, 265- PS, and 031-PS. I think you can be brief about all these documents since they speak for themselves.

THE PRESIDENT: Are they in the document book?

DR. THOMA: They are partly in the USA Document Book "Alfred Rosenberg." The special document book.

THE WITNESS: Document 016-PS is a letter written to me by the General Plenipotentiary dated 24 April in which he elaborates his programme. It has several times been referred to by the prosecution, and I would like to refer you to two brief points which relate to the Eastern Minister.

On Page 17 of the document under the title "Prisoners-of-war and Foreign Labourers," in paragraph 3 at the end, it states:

"As far as the beaten enemy is concerned, even if he has been our most terrible and implacable opponent, it has always been a matter of course to us Germans to refrain from any cruelty and petty molestations and always treat him correctly and humanely, especially if we expect useful service from him."
And then it says, on Page 18, in paragraph 5:
"Therefore in the Russian camps too the principles of German cleanliness, orderliness and hygiene must be meticulously observed."
That, as far as I was concerned, was the decisive point, and I fully agreed with this principle of the General Plenipotentiary. My letter - Document 018-PS - dated 21 December, 1942, is to be understood on the basis of that agreement.

Q. Document Book Rosenberg, Page 64, Volume 11.

A. May I summarise and explain briefly? I give therein my agreement to the solution of the problem of the Eastern workers and I stated that we, Sauckel and myself, agreed as to guiding principles. That is in reference to the points of Sauckel's programme which have just been quoted.

I further stated that in spite of mutual agreement on principles various unfortunate occurrences caused me to draw attention to methods not to be tolerated. On Page 2 I complained that, in accordance with reports received by the Eastern Ministry, the conditions of various hospital barracks and camps for sick Eastern workers, for their rehabilitation before returning to their own country, were unsatisfactory and that the Eastern Ministry had of its own

[Page 20]

accord put itself in touch with the Reich Commissioner for hospitals and health.

On Page 3 I requested, with reference to the quotas for the Eastern occupied territories, that care should be taken in filling the quotas to avoid using any methods or actions which might, at some future date, result in retributive consequences to myself and my officials.

"In order to achieve this end and to meet the exigencies due to the special political situation in the occupied Eastern Territories with the necessary measures of the commissions and staffs of your agencies, I have empowered the Reich Commissioner for the Ukraine, in so far as necessary, to make use of his authority to eliminate recruiting methods which run contrary to the interest of the conduct of the war and war economy in the occupied Eastern Territories."
Q. Were you aware of the fact that at the same time that these methods were discontinued, the workers demanded could not be supplied?

A. I could not readily assume that, since I knew also that, immediately after the start of the use of propaganda in many regional Commissariats, a large number of volunteers from the country reported; and that legal reasons for the prevention of incidents which had taken place in every camp - as shown in the context of this letter - were given the Reich Commissioner.

May I very briefly refer to the other documents quoted by the prosecution? Document 054-PS is a criticism of abuses which reached me from the liaison officers of the Eastern Ministry in Army Group South. It is severe criticism. I will refer to Page 1 of the telegram where it says, in paragraph 8, that, with few exceptions, the Ukrainians in the Reich who were working on their own in handicrafts, workshops, as farmhands or as household employees, were very satisfied with their conditions, but they complained about the conditions of accommodation in collective camps. This was an attempt to exert by criticism influence over questions and matters regarding treatment of labourers in a region under the authority, not of the civil, but of the military administration with its seat in Kharkov, and to exert influence even in German national territory where I, as Minister for the East, had no right to issue instructions; but wherever possible by means of criticism the lot of all Eastern workers was always improved.

Document 084-PS refers to a number of problems and measures for the improvement of the lot of the workers' families and the energy with which the Eastern Ministry defended a policy of decent treatment of the Eastern peoples, with regard to such matters as pay, the deduction of taxes, etc., but I don't think I need to go into any further detail since the General Plenipotentiary will probably do that himself. I merely refer to my efforts to take action in this direction. I should also like to mention here that later on agreement existed between the General Plenipotentiary and the Eastern Ministry according to which Eastern workers, after returning to their homes, were to receive an allotment of land so that they did not suffer any disadvantage in contrast to those who had remained in their homeland.

Document 204-PS also contains complaints regarding insufficient allowances, to which I need not refer in detail but I merely draw the attention of the Tribunal.

Document 265-PS is a report from the General Commissioner at Zhitomir in the Ukraine, in which he states that the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Mobilisation, after travelling through the Eastern Territories, had personally pointed out the gravity of the whole labour mobilisation programme, and had transmitted the absolute orders of the Fuehrer, that these quotas must be placed at the disposal of the Reich. Also the General Commissioner remarks that after this serious portrayal of the situation he had no other choice, during the calling-up process, than to appoint certain workers to the police executive to aid the local authorities.

[Page 21]

Document 031-PS appears to me personally to be of particular importance since the prosecution, with reference to this document, accuses me of having approved of the planning and carrying out of the biological weakening of the Eastern peoples, basing the accusation on a statement at the end of this document. Only the first and last portions of this document have been quoted, and I must ask that I may inform the Tribunal of the true state of affairs.

At the beginning of the document is the observation that the Minister for Eastern Occupied Territories, after he had once turned down the suggestion that young people should be transferred from Army Group Centre to the Reich, being once more presented with the problem, would once more state his opinion and views and deal with the very special conditions on pre-requisites. In the actual record it states that Army Group Centre had the intention, as a large number of adults were already working here, and young people remained behind without being cared for, of resettling these young people and taking care of them in a proper manner. At the end of Page 1 of this document and at the beginning of Page 2 it states that the Minister was afraid that this action might have very unfavourable political repercussions, that it would be considered as deportation of children, and for these reasons he wanted the action to be considerably limited.

Under point 4 it states that if the Eastern Minister would not support that action and carry it out, then Army Group Centre - which, of course, was in no way subordinate to the Eastern Minister - would carry out the action on its own authority. This Army Group was addressing itself to the Eastern Ministry in particular because, in their opinion - and I am quoting - "the guarantee for correct political and specialised treatment would be assured." The Army Group would like to see this action carried out under the most loyal conditions. These children should be accommodated in villages, in groups, as far as possible or collected in small camps. Later on, from there, they were to be placed at the disposal of handicraft concerns.

Then, later on, it states:-

"In the event of a reoccupation of the territory, the Eastern Ministry can then return these young people, who then, together with their parents, would surely be a positive political factor in the reconstruction of that territory."
At the end it states, that under these conditions the Minister for Eastern Affairs agreed to take care of these youths. I agreed because I was fully conscious of the fact that through the Youth Department of the Eastern Ministry I would be able to guarantee the greatest possible care for these children. I want to add that on one occasion I made a journey to the great works at Dessau, where four and a half thousand youthful workers were employed, and where there was a separate children's camp under the care of White Ruthenian mothers. I saw that these workers were wearing very good clothes, that they were being taught mathematics and languages by Russian teachers, and that the children's camp tended by Russian women had a kindergarten which was looked after by the Hitler Youth. In the evening the White Ruthenian woman who cared for them thanked me, with tears in her eyes, for the humane care being given.

I would like to point out a phonetic error which has appeared in this record. This city, as I said, was Dessau, and not Odessa, as is stated in the record. I never visited Odessa in all my life.

DR. THOMA: Mr. President, we have finished the labour problem, and I am coming to the Reich Commissariat. Perhaps this would be a suitable moment to break off.

THE PRESIDENT: Can you indicate to the Tribunal how long you are likely to be with your examination?

[Page 22]

DR. THOMA: I am of the opinion that we may be through by 3.30. However, the defendant Rosenberg is shaking his head, and therefore I can't tell you for certain.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Court will recess until five minutes past two.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. THOMA: I wish to submit to the Court first as Exhibit 1012, Document 194-PS, the secret order of Rosenberg to Koch of December, 1942, on the fitting treatment of Ukrainian civilians. Dated 14th December, 1942.


Q. Witness, please give us your opinion on this general instruction in connection with your directions in Document 1056-PS.

A. Document 1056-PS is not a direct instruction of the Eastern Ministry, but it was the result of a conversation with various central agencies of the Reich Government officially interested in the East. In this document there are contained directions of the Eastern Ministry itself, also agreements with the various technical agencies, such as the Transportation Ministry, the Post Office Department, and also the Police, so that at least in the East a certain unified civil administration could be shown in document form. For the reasons which I have enumerated at the beginning it was not possible any further, and as far as the other questions of the subordination of the S.S. and Police Fuehrer are concerned, I would like to point out and refer to what I said in the beginning concerning the Occupation and Administration of the Eastern Territories, commencing 17 July, 1941.

However, as far as Document 1056-PS is concerned, I would only like to point out that among the seven points which are especially stressed here, the third point, "Care of the Population," is quite expressly mentioned. Then, further along in the document it is again explained that this care of the population, providing it with foodstuffs and so forth, is, in addition, to be given particular attention, that medical and veterinary supplies are to be given special consideration. Except to that extent I do not wish to go into this document further.

The Document 194-PS is, unfortunately, the only piece of instruction of the Eastern Minister to the Reich Commissioners that could be found. It is an instruction dated 14 December, 1942, in which once again the human and political attitude to be taken is prescribed. It is emphasised in the beginning - I permit myself a few short references - that German behaviour should never give the impression that the Ukraine had no hope at all for the future; that directives of German departments and offices were to be executed but were to be given great thought. It goes on to say:-

"The peoples of the East have at all times regarded Germany as the bearer of a legal order, which, even if combined with harshness, is not an expression of arbitrariness. If one is able to make it clear to the peoples of the East by warranted legal measures that, although the war brings fearful hardness, yet transgressions will be legally investigated and judged, then these peoples will be easier to govern than if the impression of an arbitrary tyranny, such as theirs, be given."
The article further says:-
"The elementary school with its four-year arrangement would be kept completely and should be followed by a proper technical school training for a practical life. The German administration needs men for veterinary work, transportation, farming, and geological research, etc., whom the German population is not in a position to supply. For that purpose, the Ukrainian youth can be taken off the streets and given the opportunity to work in the reconstruction of their country. In doing this, it would be

[Page 23]

improper for German offices to treat the population with contempt. Such an attitude is not worthy of a German."
Then further:-
"Germany became, by means of its armed forces, master over wide regions of the East. It therefore behoves every German in the East to be conscious of the obligation which he takes upon himself in the East as representative of the German Reich and of the German people. By appropriate bearing and deeds one becomes master, but not by insolent, shocking manners. One does not lead people by insolent talk, and one does not gain authority by exhibiting contempt for others."
Then, several other questions are dealt with in this directive, but I do not wish to take up the time of the Tribunal too much with these details. I was interested in showing what I insisted was to be the attitude of the civil administration, and in order not to have this directive remain lying on the desks in the central offices, I decreed that it was to be read in all offices.

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