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 Forty-First Day: Wednesday, 29th May, 1946
(Part 7 of 9)

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

[Page 118]

Q. Then we have here Document L-61, which has been submitted. That is Exhibit USA-177, in the English Document Book, "Slave Labour," Document No. 6. This document is in the first list of documents which was made available to the defence, and it was listed as an original letter of Sauckel which admitted the deportation of Jews.

Will you please read this letter to yourself and state your position as to how far you had anything to do with the deportation of Jews?

I shall briefly state what the contents are. It says there in that letter of 26th November, 1942:

"By agreement with the Chief of the Security Police and the SD, Jews who are still in employment are from now on also to be evacuated from the territory of the Reich and are to be replaced by Poles who are being deported by the Government General."

[Page 119]

This letter ends, by saying
"I transmit the foregoing copy for your information. In so far as this affects the removal of Jews employed in your area, I request that you take the necessary measures in agreement with the competent offices of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD."
Then it says, "Signed, Fritz Sauckel."

Will you state your position with respect to that letter, please?

A. May I say with respect to this document that it was shown to me already in the preliminary interrogations. I only had it for a short time then and when it was presented to me again in the course of the proceedings, I found that it was not an original document which I had signed. My name is typewritten at the bottom.

Secondly, it appears very peculiar to me that this letter, which I am supposed to have signed, was not dated by my office. My office, as can be seen from numerous documents, was in Berlin, in the Mohrenstrasse. This letter was dated from Saarlandstrasse.

As far as the contents are concerned, I have to state that at no time did I have a personal arrangement or agreement with the SD and Security Police in the sense of that letter. I could not have had any knowledge of that at that time, and I cannot remember it now, either. The only thing in that letter which is correct is that I was obliged to replace the loss of manpower in German industry - whether Jews, soldiers or others - within two weeks. It is possible that this letter came from the Saarlandstrasse, from a subordinate office. I cannot say anything else about it.

Q. How is it, then, that the last phrase "Signed, Fritz Sauckel" is on the letter?

A. I cannot understand that. If it were an authentic copy, it would have had to be signed.

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Have you the original?

DR. SERVATIUS: No, I have not the original. It has been submitted by the prosecution and therefore is in the files of the Tribunal as an exhibit.

THE WITNESS: The appendix deals with matters which also occurred before my time of office; that is, before I came into office these happenings had practically all taken place.


Q. Did you have any knowledge as to what would happen to the Jews?

A. Do you mean ...?

Q. (interposing). The final solution?

A. No, I had no knowledge of that. It would have made my task much easier and I would have had much less difficulty if all these people, as far as they were capable of working, had been brought into the manpower mobilization plan in a more reasonable manner. I knew absolutely nothing about this "final solution," and it was entirely contrary to my interest.

Q. Concerning the question of wages, now, who was responsible for the regulation of wages?

A. I was responsible for the regulation of wages during my term of office.

Q. What kind of wages were paid? Leave out the Eastern people for the moment.

A. In principle, all foreign workers were paid the wages which had been agreed upon by contract with the liaison offices and the governments, and which were in accordance with the wage scales recognized as legal in the different regions in Germany.

Q. What about the so-called Eastern workers?

[Page 120]

A. As far as the Eastern workers are concerned, when I took office I found that under the existing arrangement their wages were heavily taxed in favour of the Reich. This was in accordance with a decree of the Ministerial Council for National Defence.

Q. Were you satisfied with that, or did you take steps to improve conditions?

A. It can be seen from the document - that is to say, from the decrees which I issued during my term of office - that this arrangement, which I considered intolerable, was improved step by step, to the extent that I was able to overcome the opposition, so that in 1944 the Eastern worker stood on the same level as the German worker.

The first improvement was made already in June 1942 when wages were doubled, the second in 1943, and the last in March 7944, by Decree II.

DR. SERVATIUS: I refer here to the following documents which I shall not read: Document S-50, Sauckel 50, in Book 2, Page 134; Document S-77, in Book 2, Page 137.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it Page 17?

DR. SERVATIUS: S-17, Book 2, Page 737.


DR. SERVATIUS: A further Document is S-52, Book 2, Page 143; a further Document, S-58, Book 2, Page 156; and finally, Document S-58 A, Book 2, Page 167. I submit the original in a collection, "Regulations Governing Employment of the Eastern Workers."

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Servatius, I understood the defendant to say just now that that Document L-61 was drawn up before he took charge of the labour commitment.

DR. SERVATIUS: It refers to things which existed before his term of office and were almost completed at the time when that letter was drafted - that is, that state of things already existed.

THE PRESIDENT: There is nothing in the document to show that, is there?

DR. SERVATIUS: It can be seen from the date.

THE PRESIDENT: The date is 26th November, 1942.

DR. SERVATIUS: The appendix refers to a decree of 27th March, 1942. The second appendix, if we go back farther, is an appendix of 21st January, 1942, and both of them deal with that question. What we have quoted here was only the last letter, the final letter.

THE PRESIDENT: I see. We have not the full document before us then.

DR. SERVATIUS: I will submit it.


Q. Regarding the wages of the Eastern workers, did the Eastern workers receive any remuneration besides these wages?

A. The Eastern workers, as a result of my efforts, received remuneration in the form of premiums for good work, Christmas bonuses, in the same way as the German workers, and moreover there was an agreement with the Eastern Ministry according to which the families of Eastern workers were to receive the amount of 730 roubles per month upon request.

DR. SERVATIUS: I refer here to several documents, that is, Document 22 in the English Book Volume I, Page 59, and then a decree, Document 54, concerning premiums, which is in Volume 2, Page 757; then to Document 57 concerning Christmas bonuses, Volume 2, Page 755.


Q. What remained for the Eastern workers in cash wages?

[Page 121]

A. When I started in office, that is, before the regulations introduced by me, the Eastern worker, after his expenses for food and lodging had been deducted, had about four marks sixty pfennigs per week left over, if one takes as an all- round example the rate of sixty pfennigs an hour for an average worker in German industry.

The same worker's balance, or "Freibetrag," as it was called, was increased in June 1942, after I had an opportunity of looking into these things, by about a hundred per cent, that is to marks 9.10

May I state that it would have been quite impossible for a German worker at the same wage level, if one considers his taxes and social dues, his expenses for rent, heating, and food, to have had more left over for saving. That was the line of argument used by the Ministerial Council for Reich Defence for the payment of this labour. I did not will it so. However, as early as March or April 1943, the wage of the Russian worker, again due to my intervention, was increased to about twelve marks, and in the spring of 1944 it was increased to about eighteen marks.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think we need to have all this in detail. There is no particular charge against the defendant that he did not pay any of the workers, is there? I mean, he says he paid them and we do not want the details of the number of marks.

DR. SERVATIUS: Mr. President, the accusation of slave labour has been made, and this as a rule is unpaid labour. The French Report RF 22 has figured a loss of seventy-seven billions which is supposed to have been suffered by France by the use of her workers. It is interesting to hear at least . .

THE PRESIDENT: You do not want exact details of it, do you?


Q. What have you to say about the facilities for transferring these wages?

A. I first had to create the facilities for transferring wages, because the only real attraction for a foreign worker to work in Germany was that he could support his family at home by sending part of his earnings to his native country. That was done on the basis of agreements reached with the President of the German Reichsbank. He himself has testified to that.

DR. SERVATIUS: Concerning the question of wages, I refer to Document 021-PS, which has been submitted as F-44. It is not in either of the Document Books. It is dated 2nd April, 1943. It shows how rates of pay were calculated and deals with the improvement of the wages of Eastern workers. I do not want to quote it in detail, but a study will reveal that serious attempts were made here to bring about an improvement and a compensation.


Q. What was the duration of labour contracts?

A. The duration of labour contracts depended on agreements which had been concluded with the governments in question. For the western and southern countries the contract was for six months, nine months or one year. As for the Eastern countries and the Soviet workers, when I came to office, the existing regulations provided for an indefinite period. As I considered a definite period to be necessary in spite of the greater distances, here, too, I finally succeeded in obtaining a time limit of two years.

Q. Was it intended to continue to use this manpower after the war and were these foreign workers to remain in Germany? I ask that question because the French Prosecution quoted the following passage from the book Europe Works in Germany, RF 5, Page 23:

"After the victory a large percentage of foreign workers will remain in our Gaue in order to be trained for construction work, and to continue and complete the projects interrupted by the war."

[Page 122]

From that, it was concluded that forced labour was to continue even after the war.

A. That was partly or entirely the opinion of the author of that article, but I believe that it was also mentioned that the workers would return home and there use, for the benefit of their own homeland, the knowledge and skill which they had gained on new work in Germany. I had absolutely no intention of keeping foreign workers in Germany after the war and in any case I could not have done so. On the contrary I even ordered that a card index of foreign workers, that is, a central register, should be carefully kept, on the basis of which, in case of a favourable conclusion of the war, it would be possible for me conscientiously to return these workers to their native countries and to keep a record of it.

Q. If I understood you correctly, it was not a question of forcibly retaining the workers, but of keeping them here by recruitment?

A: Yes, it was reported to me that a large number of foreign workers wanted to stay in Germany of their own accord. That is an hypothesis.

Q. What about the forced labour? What was the duration of the contracts?

A. There was no difference made in pay or length of contract between the voluntary workers and the compulsory workers or what we called in the language of the decree "Dienstverpflichtungen." This held true for all countries. If a Frenchman doing compulsory labour had a contract for six or nine months, he had the same right as the voluntary worker to return after nine months. It was possible to extend the period.

Q. In which cases was the contract extended?

A. The contract was extended when the worker wanted of his own free will to continue his services or when there was an emergency or shortage of manpower in the particular factory which justified an extension. Then that had to be arranged with the liaison officers.

Q. Besides civilian workers there were prisoners of war also used in Germany? What did you have to do with that use of manpower?

A. The employment of prisoners of war was quite complicated, because it had to take place in agreement with the General in charge of Prisoner-of-War Affairs. The so-called technique of conversion ("Umsetzung") caused me difficulties. Allow me to explain this: There existed the Geneva Convention and the Hague Treaty, according to which prisoners of war could not be used in armament or ammunition industries. When, however, we used the words "Prisoners of war are being engaged in the armament industry," then that meant that certain numbers of German women or workers were transferred to industries in which the Geneva Convention prohibited the use of prisoners of war, and that prisoners of war were used in their place. That was done in agreement with the offices of the General in charge of Prisoner-of-War Affairs.

Q. And who saw to it that the Geneva Convention was kept?

A. The General in charge of Prisoner-of-War Affairs, we ourselves, or the Administration for the Employment of Labour, adhered to the rules of the Geneva Convention and several times compiled a register of the types of labour for which prisoners of war could be used. Also during my time in 1943 and 1944, a special edition of this register was published, and it can be found in the so-called Blue Book.

Q. Have you known about cases where prisoners-of-war were used contrary to the Geneva Convention?

A. Certain agreements were made with the French Government, as far as volunteers were concerned, and this applied to a certain extent to Eastern workers.

Q. Who was responsible for the lodging and feeding and care of prisoners of war?

A. The offices of the General in charge of Prisoner-of-War Affairs were solely responsible.

Q. Is it known to you that millions of prisoners of war had perished at the time you assumed office?

[Page 123]

A. It became known to me before I assumed office that a great number of prisoners of war perished in the so-called battles of encirclement ("Kesselschlachten") in the East. These battles lasted a long time, and owing to our enormous transport difficulties we could not move the prisoners and they were left on the battlefield in a state of exhaustion. That is all I know about that.

Q. At the beginning of your activities you had to do with prisoners of war, did you not? What did you find out at that time, or what did you do?

A. I found out that some of the Russian prisoners of war were terribly undernourished.

Q. What did you do?

A. Together with the General in charge of Prisoner-of-War Affairs, I saw to it that all these prisoners of war - as far as I know and remember, there were about 70,000 in the Reich at that time - were billeted with German farmers, in order to build up their strength - we called it "aufpappeln." The farmers were obliged to feed these prisoners of war for at least three months, without putting them to work. As compensation, the peasants received the assurance that these prisoners of war would stay with them and work for them until the end of the war.

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