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-Tenth Day: Wednesday, 17th April, 1946
(Part 2 of 13)

[MR. DODD continues his cross examination of Alfred Rosenberg]

[Page 49]

Q. Very good. I will ask that you be shown Document 3553-PS. That is also, if your Honour please, Exhibit USA 352. It is already in evidence.

Now, you wrote a preface or a little introduction for that edition of the book. It is right there before you. You said in it "To the 150,000th Copy: The Myth has today drawn deep, ineffaceable furrows in the emotional life of the German nation. Every new edition is a clear indication that a decisive turning over of the spiritual soil is growing into a historical event. Many things which in my book seemed to be peculiar ideas have become already realities of State policy. Many other things will yet, I hope, materialise as a further result of this new vigour."

You wrote that?

A. That is certainly entirely correct. This book of 700 pages does not concern only those matters of which I am accused here. This book dealt with a large number of problems, the problem of the peasants, of the world States, of the concept of socialism, of the relation between leadership, industry, and labour, a presentation of the judgement ...

Q. (Interposing) Now, just a minute. I don't think it is necessary for you to give us a list of the table of contents of the book. I simply asked you if you wrote that introduction.

A. Yes, of course.

Q. Now, with respect to the well-known forced labour programme. I think it is perfectly clear to everyone who has been in attendance at these sessions before this Tribunal, and of course to yourself, that there was a forced labour programme in effect, or a so-called slave labour programme, both in the Eastern and in the Western occupied countries. Isn't that a fact?

A. Yes, the law of 21 March is concerned therewith, that workers from the occupied countries were to be taken to Germany. In Germany there was also a compulsory labour law.

Q. Now, there were only two possible offices under the then German State which could by any stretch of the imagination be held responsible either in part or altogether for that forced slave labour programme. Isn't that so? Two principal offices, at least.

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. And they were your own ministry and the office of the defendant Sauckel. That is pretty simple. Is that true or not?

A. It is correct that Gauleiter Sauckel had been given the order, which he was to pass on to me and all the highest Reich authorities. It was my duty to make known and carry through this order in the occupied Eastern Territories according to possibilities and my own judgement and instructions.

Q. Did you carry out the compulsory labour directives? Did your ministry force people to leave their homes and their communities and go to Germany to work for the German State?

A. I fought for about nine months for this recruitment of workers in the East to be put on a voluntary basis. From my record of a discussion with

[Page 50]

Gauleiter Sauckel in the year 1943, it is very evident that I made efforts continuously to do this. I also mentioned how many millions of leaflets, of posters and brochures I distributed in these countries to establish voluntary recruitment of workers. However, when I heard that the number of German workers who had to go to the front could not be replaced and the German Army reserves were at an end, then I could not protest any longer against the compulsory recruitment of certain age-classes, or the use of local authorities and the gendarmerie to assist in this work. Yesterday I ...

Q. What you are telling us is that you tried to get them voluntarily and you found they wouldn't go, so then you forced them to go. Isn't that so?

A. That coercion took place here is true and is not disputed. Where an excess took place-and some terrible excesses took place - did my utmost to prevent it or alleviate it.

Q. All right. You, of course, had promulgated an order in your own ministry concerning compulsory labour, had you not?

A. Yes. In the beginning, a general compulsory labour service law was promulgated ...

Q. (Interposing) That's right, on 19 December, 1941.

A. It may be that it was promulgated about that time.

Q. Well, you can accept that as being so, I think, that that is the date of your decree concerning compulsory labour, the compulsory labour, significantly - I want to make this very clear to you - in the occupied Eastern Territories.

A. Yes.

Q. That order was promulgated by you as the Reich Minister for the occupied Eastern Territories.

A. Yes.

Q. I ask that you be shown Document 1975. It is Exhibit USA 820, already in evidence - not in evidence, I'm sorry. I am now offering it.

I don't care to stress this document too much except to have you verify the fact that this is the order which you promulgated, and, in the first paragraph, with the small figure 1, you stated:

"All inhabitants of the occupied Eastern Territories are subject to the general liability for compulsory labour according to their capacity."
And I wish to couple the paragraph under that small number 1, with the number 3,where you say:
"A special ruling is drawn up for Jews."
That is 19 December, 1941.

A. The document which has been submitted to me is signed by the Reich Kommissar for the Ukraine and is concerned with a skeleton law of the Reich Minister for the occupied Eastern Territories. I ask that I be shown the skeleton law of the Minister for the occupied Eastern Territories in order that I may judge correctly the directive given out by the Reich Kommissar.

Q. Well, we can make that available to you. This is taken from the Official Gazette of the Reich Ministry for the occupied Eastern Territories. You are not disputing, are you, the fact that you promulgated this order and that these two paragraphs I read to you were in it?

A. That I am not disputing.

Q. All right. If you care to took at all the other paragraphs and at other parts, I will see that they are made available to you, but for the present purposes I can assure you there is no trick in connection with this. I want to move on to another document.

A. I would like to refer to just one point. Under paragraph 1, it says expressly that people not completely able to work are to be used according to their capability for work. This shows the state of health has been considered.

Q. Yes, I read that to you.

[Page 51]

Now, you had a permanent State secretary by the name of Alfred Meyer, isn't that so?

A. I do not find anything here regarding the laws about Jews. There was a point mentioned about the directive for Jews, only it is not here.

Q. You will find it just below the sentence to which you made reference a minute ago, two paragraphs below it. There is a figure 3 in parentheses and then this statement:

"A special ruling is drawn up for Jews."
Don't you find that there?

A. I do not find it here - oh, on this page, yes. That refers to another law, yes.

Q. That's all right. I just asked you if it was there, and it is. Let's go on.

I asked you if you had a permanent staff secretary by the name of Meyer, Alfred Meyer, M-e-y-e-r.

A. Yes.

Q. I want to show you Document 580-PS, which will become Exhibit USA 821. Now, this is an order from your Ministry for the occupied Eastern Territories, and it is signed by your permanent staff secretary, Alfred Meyer, and it is addressed to the Reich Commissioner for the Ostland, a man by the name of Lohse, L-o-h-s-e, and also to the Reich Commissioner for the Ukraine, a man by the name of Koch, about whom we have heard a good deal in this trial.

I want to have you agree, if you will, that the order calls for 247,000 industrial workers and 380,000 agricultural workers.

Now, I want you to turn specifically to Page 2 of the English Translation and to Page 2, as well, of the German translation, and line 14 of the English text and line 22 of the German text. The paragraph has before it the figure 6, and it says:

"The workers are to be recruited. Forced enlistment should be avoided; instead, for political reasons, the enlistment should be kept on a voluntary basis. In case the enlistment should not bring the required results and there should be a surplus of workers available, use may be made in extreme cases, and in agreement with the General Commissioner, of the decree dated 19 December, 1941, concerning the introduction of compulsory labour in the occupied Eastern Territories. Promises ... "
So that this order, signed by Meyer of your staff, directing the Reich Commissioners in the Eastern occupied Territories, was founded on your decree of 19 December, 1941, for compulsory labour.

A. Mr. Prosecutor, you read the introduction, and from that we can see that also my deputy was plainly told by me to try in every way to avoid coercion and, as he says, "the enlistment was to be kept on a voluntary basis. " That is proof of what I said yesterday, that Meyer, my permanent deputy, most emphatically tried to work along these lines, and lastly this does not refer to arbitrary measures but rather to a general compulsory labour law in the occupied Eastern Territories which would prevent hundreds of thousands from wandering about idly in the streets unable either to work or study. I would however like to read also the end of the paragraph, and that says:

"Promises which cannot be kept may not be given, neither in writing nor verbally. Therefore, the announcements, posters, and appeals in the Press and over the radio may not contain any untrue information, in order to avoid disappointment among the workers employed in the Reich, and reactions against future recruitment in the occupied Eastern Territories."
Q. Very good. All I am trying to indicate here, and to see if you will not agree with it, is that you, nevertheless, despite these remonstrances and these objections which we do not deny that you made, did authorise your people in the Eastern occupied Territories actually to conscript and force people to come

[Page 52]

to work in Germany, and you did it on the basis of your own decree. That is the point I am trying to make with you.

A. A compulsory labour law was issued by me at the end of 1941 for the territory of the Reichskommissariat concerned, that is, for the Ostland and for the Ukraine. The compulsory recruitment of this manpower for the Reich was not enforced until much later, and compulsory labour service in the occupied countries was, in my opinion, absolutely necessary so that on the one hand no wild-cat recruitments would take place, and also to prevent chaos resulting from the hundreds of thousands loitering in the streets.

THE PRESIDENT: You are not answering the question. You are giving a long paraphrase for the one word "yes," which is the answer you ought to have made.

A. (Continuing) When compulsory labour service was also instituted for the Reich, I said that I was in favour of voluntary enlistment. I could not persist in this attitude for long and therefore, of course, I agreed that compulsory labour laws would have to be instituted; I admitted that three times yesterday, I have not disputed it.

Q. Yes, I know you repeated it three times yesterday and again this morning. In your own defence document - Rosenberg- 11, I think it is - which is the letter that you wrote to Koch on 14 December, 1942 - I don't think it will be necessary to show it to you again; I think you saw it yesterday - you specifically mentioned to Koch the matter of picking up people from queues in front of theatres and off the streets, those people who were attending cinemas or other entertainments. You knew that was going on under your decree of compulsory labour didn't you? You were objecting to it, but you knew it was going on.

A. Excesses are connected with every law, and as soon as I learned of excesses, I did protest against them and try to prevent them.

Q. Very good. Now, finally, with respect to this forced labour, would you say as a matter of fairness and honesty that your Ministry was not very largely responsible for this terrible programme of forcing people from their homes into Germany, or do you say that you had to accept a very considerable responsibility for what happened to these hundreds of thousands of people from the Eastern occupied areas?

A. I, of course, will take the responsibility for these laws which I issued, and for any directives which were issued by my Ministry. The territorial governments were legally responsible for their practical execution. Where they exceeded these measures - they were 1500 km. away from me - I concerned myself with every case. These excesses were exaggerated, but I must admit that terrible things did occur. I tried to intervene by introducing punitive measures, which resulted in a number of German officials being taken to court and sentenced.

Q. Leaving aside the terrible things that happened to people, assuming that no great violence took place, the very fact of forcing them against their wills to leave is something else that you will accept responsibility for, I assume.

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. And you also feel that a considerable part of this -

A. (Interposing) I accept the responsibility due to a State law which empowered Gauleiter Sauckel to give directives to me which I applied in legal form to the Eastern Territories.

Q. Briefly, I want to remind you, while we are on this subject, that you acknowledged yesterday that you did consent to the taking of children as young as 10, 12 and 14 years old and removing them to Germany, and I think you told us that at first it did disturb you, but when you found out there were happy recreational facilities, your mind was eased. Is that a fair statement of your position on forcing those children from the East?

A. No, that is not correct. I do not know just what the translation of the

[Page 53]

reading of the document was, but the opposite was true. I tried to prevent anything from happening in my operational territory which might result in circumstances that would be detrimental to the children. Then, requested by the Middle Army Group, which anyway would have done it on its own, I took over the care of the children on condition that I was allowed to do so with the assistance of the childrens' own mothers, thus ensuring their contact with their parents, and so that they might be returned to their homeland again later on. That is certainly the exact opposite of that which the prosecution has submitted from this document here.

Q. Well, I don't want to dwell much longer on it except to remind you that that document, which you have seen and which you discussed yesterday, shows, among other things, that by removing these children out of the East you were doing more than one thing; you were destroying the biological potentiality of those people in the East. That is what you approved of among other things, isn't it?

A. Yes. That is contained in the first point of the prosecution and it was read. I have made it clear by reading the whole document that my approval did not depend on that point, that when I heard of the idea for the first time I rejected it, but later agreed and found a system for care of the children for which women thanked me, despite the fact that not I but the Hitler Jugend in Dessau and elsewhere deserve the credit for taking care of them in this way.

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