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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th May to 6th June, 1946

One Hundred and Fortieth Day: Tuesday, 28th May, 1946
(Part 9 of 10)

[DR. SERVATIUS continues his direct examination of Ernst Friedrich Christoph Sauckel]

[Page 82]

Q. To what extent was your office different from that of the previous General Plenipotentiary?

[Page 83]

A. My office was different to this extent: the department in the Four-Year Plan was given up and was no longer used by me. I drew departments of the Reich Labour Ministry more and more closely into this work as they had some of the outstanding experts.

Q. What was the reason for this reconstruction of the office?

A. The reason was to be found in the many conflicting interests which had been very prominent up to the third year of the war in the political and State offices, internal administration offices, party agencies and economic agencies and which now for territorial considerations opposed the inter-district equalisation of the labour potential, which had become urgent.

Q. Witness, if you would please try to make somewhat shorter sentences, I think the interpreters would be grateful. What sort of task did you have then? What was your sphere of work?

A. My chief sphere of work was in directing and regulating German labour.

Q. What task were you given then?

A. I had to replace with suitably skilled workers those men who had to be freed from industry for drafting into the German Wehrmacht, that is, into the different branches of the Wehrmacht. Moreover, I also had to obtain new labour for the new war industries which had been set up for food production as well as for the production of armaments, of course.

Q. Was your task definitely defined?

A. It was at first in no way definitely defined. There were at that time about 23 or 24 million workers to be directed, who were available in the Reich but who had not yet been fully employed for war economy.

Q. Did you look on your appointment as a permanent one?

A. No. I could not consider it as permanent.

Q. Why not?

A. Because in addition to me the Reich Labour Minister and his State secretaries were in office and at the head of things; and then there was the whole of the Labour Ministry.

Q. What sources were at your disposal to obtain this labour?

A. First, there were the workers who were already present in the Reich from all sorts of callings who, as I have said, had not yet been directed to war economy, not yet completely incorporated in the way that was necessary for the conduct of the war. Then further there were the prisoners of war, as far as their labour was made available by the army authorities.

Q. At first then, if I have understood you correctly, proper distribution, and economic management of German labour?

A. I, when my appointment -

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, I do not understand the German language, but it appears to me that it would be better if you would not make pauses between each word but pause at the end of the sentence. It would be much more convenient for the interpreter. I do not know whether I am right in that. That is what it looks like. You are pausing between each word, and therefore it is difficult, I imagine, to get the sense of the sentence.

THE WITNESS: I beg your pardon, your Lordship.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Servatius.


Q. What did you do to carry out your task?

A. I will repeat. First, as I had received no specific instructions I understood my task to mean that I was to fill up the gaps and deficiencies by employing labour in the most rational and economic way.

Q. What was the order you received? How many people were you to obtain?

A. That question is very difficult to answer for I received the necessary orders only in the course of the development of the war. Labour and economy are fluid,

[Page 84]

fluctuating things. However, I then received the order that, if the war were to continue for some time, I was to find replacements in the German labour sector for the Wehrmacht, whose soldiers were the potential of peace-time economy.

Q. You drew up a programme. What was provided for in your programme?

A. I drew up two programmes, Doctor. At first, when I took up my office, I drew up one programme which included a "levee en masse," so to speak, of German women and young people, and, another, as I already said, for the proper utilization of labour from the economic and technical point of view.

Q. Was the programme accepted?

A. The programme was rejected by the Fuehrer when I submitted it to him and, as was my duty, to the Reich economic authorities and ministries which were interested in the employment of labour.

Q. Why?

A. The Fuehrer sent for me and in a lengthy statement explained the position of the German war production and also the economic situation. He said that he had nothing against my programme as such if he had the time; but that in view of the situation, he could not wait for such German women to become trained and experienced. At that time ten million German women were already employed who had never done industrial or mechanical work. Further, he said that the results of such a rationalisation of working methods as I had suggested, something like a mixture of Ford and Taylor methods -

Q. One moment. The interpreters cannot translate your long sentences properly. You must make short sentences and divide your phrases, otherwise no one can understand you and your defence will suffer a great deal. Will you please be careful about that.

A. In answer to my proposal the Fuehrer said that he could not wait for a rationalisation of the working methods on the lines of the Taylor and Ford systems.

Q. And what did he suggest?

A. May I explain the motives which prompted the Fuehrer's decision. He described the situation at that time, at the end of the winter of 1941-42. Many hundreds of German locomotives, almost all the mechanised armed units, tanks, planes, and mechanical weapons had become useless as a result of the catastrophe of that abnormally hard winter.

Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers had suffered terribly from the cold; many divisions had lost their arms and supplies. The Fuehrer explained to me that if the race with the enemy for new arms, new munitions and new dispositions of forces was not won now, the Soviets would be as far as the Channel by the next winter. Appealing to my sense of duty and asking me to put into it all I could, he gave me the task of obtaining new foreign labour for employment in the German war economy.

Q. Did you have no scruples that this was against International Law?

A. The Fuehrer spoke to me in such detail about this question and he explained the necessity so much as a matter of course, that, after he had withdrawn one suggestion which he had made himself, there could be no misgivings on my part that the employment of foreign workers was against International Law.

Q. You also negotiated with other agencies and there were already workers within the Reich. What were you told about that?

A. None of the higher authorities, either military or civilian, expressed any misgivings. Perhaps I may mention some things which the Fuehrer courteously pointed out to me. On the whole, the Fuehrer always treated me very kindly. On this question, he became very severe and categorical and said that in the West he had left half the French army free and at home, and he had released the greater part of the Belgian army and the whole of the Dutch army from captivity. He told me that under certain circumstances he would have to recall these prisoners of war for military reasons, but that in the interests of the whole of Europe and the Occident, so he expressed himself, only a united Europe and one which was governed in a workmanlike way could hold out in the fight against Bolshevism.

[Page 85]

Q. Did you know the terms of the Hague Land Warfare regulations?

A. During the first World War, I myself was taken prisoner as a sailor. I knew what was required and what was laid down with regard to the treatment and protection of prisoners of war and prisoners generally.

Q. Did foreign authorities - I am thinking of the French - ever raise the objection that what you planned with your Arbeitseinsatz was an infringement of the Hague Land Warfare regulations?

A. No. In France, on questions of the Arbeitseinsatz, I only negotiated with the French Government through the Military Commander and under the presidency of the German ambassador in Paris. I was convinced that as far as the employment of labour in France was concerned, agreements should be made with a proper French Government. I negotiated in a similar manner with the General Secretary in Belgium.

Q. Now a large part - about a third - of the foreign workers were so-called Eastern workers. What were you told about them?

A. With regard to the employment of workers from the East I was told that Russia had not joined the Geneva Convention, and so Germany for her part was not bound by it. And I was further told that in the Balkan countries and in other regions, Soviet Russia had also claimed workers from the population, and that, in addition, about 3,000,000 Chinese were working in Soviet Russia.

Q. And what about Poland?

A. As regards Poland, I had been told, just as in the case of other countries, that it was a case of total capitulation, and that on the grounds of this capitulation Germany was justified in introducing German regulations.

Q. Did you consider the employment of foreign labour justifiable from the general point of view?

A. On account of the necessities which I have mentioned, I considered the employment of foreign workers justifiable according to the principles which I enforced and advocated and to which I also adhered in my field of work. I was after all a German, and I could only feel as a German.

Q. Herr Sauckel, you must formulate your sentences differently, the interpreters cannot translate them. You must not run one sentence into another.

So you considered it justifiable, in view of the principles you wished to apply, and, which as you said, you enforced in your field of work?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you also think of the hardships imposed on the workers and their families through this employment?

A. I knew from my own life that even if one goes to foreign countries voluntarily, a separation is very sad and heartbreaking, and it is very hard for members of a family to be separated from each other. But I also thought of the German families, of the German soldiers, and of the hundreds of thousands of German workers who also had to go away from home.

Q. The suggestion has been made that the work could have been carried out in the occupied territories themselves and it would not then lave been necessary to fetch the workers away. Why was that not done?

A. That is, at first sight, an attractive suggestion. If it had been possible, I would willingly have carried out the suggestion which was made by Funk and other authorities, and later even by Speer. It would have made my life and work much simpler. On the other hand, there were large departments in this ministry which had to provide for and maintain the different branches of German economy and supply them with orders. As the G.B.A. (General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour) I could not have German workers, German farming, German mass-production with the most modern machinery transferred to foreign territories - I had no authority for that - and those offices insisted that I should find replacements for the agricultural and industrial workers and the artisans whose places had become vacant in German agriculture or industry because the men had been called to the forces.

[Page 86]

Q. You said before that the manner in which you had planned the employment of workers was such that it could have been approved. What then were your leading principles in carrying out your scheme for the employment of labour?

A. When the Fuehrer described the situation so drastically, and ordered me to bring foreign workers to Germany, I clearly recognized the difficulties of the task and I asked him to agree to the only way by which I considered it possible to do this, for I had been a worker too.

Q. Was not your principal consideration the economic exploitation of these foreign workers?

A. The Arbeitseinsatz has nothing to do with exploitation. It is an economic process for supplying labour.

Q. You said repeatedly in your speeches and on other occasions that the important thing was to make the best possible economic use of these workers. You speak of a machine which must be properly handled. Did you want to express thereby the thought of economic exploitation?

A. At all times a regime, of no matter what nature, can only be successful in the production of goods if it uses labour economically - not too much and not too little. That alone I consider economically justifiable.

Q. It was stated here in a document which was submitted, the French Document RF-22, a government report, that the intention existed to ruin the democracies, and in other government reports mention is made that one of the aims was the biological destruction of other peoples. What do you say about that?

A. I can say most definitely that biological destruction was never mentioned to me. I was only too happy when I had workers. I suspected the war would last longer than was expected, and the demands upon my office were so urgent and so great that I was glad for people to be alive, not for them to be destroyed.

Q. What was the general attitude toward the question of foreign workers before you took office? What did you find when you came?

A. There was a controversy when I took up my office. There were about two million foreign workers in Germany from neutral and allied States and occupied territories of the East and the West. They had been brought to the Reich without order or system. Many industrial concerns avoided contacting the labour authorities or found them troublesome and bureaucratic. The conflict of interests, as I said before, was very great. The police point of view was most predominating, I think.

Q. And propaganda? What was the propaganda with regard to Eastern workers, for example?

A. Propaganda was adapted to the war in the East. I may point out now - as you interrupted me before when I was speaking of the order given me by the Fuehrer - that I expressly asked the Fuehrer not to let foreign workers working in Germany be treated as enemies any longer, and I tried to influence propaganda to that effect.

Q. What else did you do with regard to the situation which confronted you?

A. I finally received approval from the Fuehrer for my second programme. That programme has been submitted here as a document. I must and will bear responsibility for that programme.

DR. SERVATIUS: It has already been submitted as Document 016-PS. It is the Programme for the Employment of Labour of 20th April 1942, Exhibit USA 768.


Q. In this programme you made fundamental statements. I will hand it to you and I ask you to please comment on the general questions only, not on the individual points.

There is a paragraph added to the last part, "Prisoners of War and Foreign Workers." Have you found the paragraph? "Prisoners of War and Foreign Workers."

A. Yes.

[Page 87]

Q. If you will look at the third paragraph you will find what you want to explain.

A. I should like to say that I drew up and worked out this programme independently in 1942 after I had been given that difficult task by the Fuehrer. It was absolutely clear to me what the conditions would have to be if foreign workers were to be employed in Germany at all. I wrote those sentences at that time and the programme went to all the German authorities which had to deal with the matter. I quote:

"All these people must be so fed, housed, and treated that, with the most economic use imaginable" - I mean here economic according to Taylor and Ford, whom I studied closely - "they may effect the greatest possible production. It has always been natural for all of us Germans to treat a conquered enemy correctly and humanely, even if he was our most cruel and irreconcilable opponent, and to abstain from all cruelty and petty trickery, too, if we are to expect useful work from him."

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