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 8 of 9)

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

[Page 123]

Q. During the course of the war did these prisoners of war obtain the status of free labourers?

A. Yes. As far as French workers were concerned, I was instrumental in seeing that they were employed only by agreement with the French Government. These agreements were concluded under the sponsorship of the German Ambassador in Paris. The quotas were negotiated in accordance with instructions given me by the Fuehrer and by the Reichsmarschall. The first quota was 250,000 French workers and 150,000 skilled workers.

As a compensation for the use of these voluntary workers - and I emphasize voluntary - 50,000 French prisoners of war who were peasants were to be, and actually were, returned to the French Government in order to improve the cultivation of French farmland.

That was the first agreement.

Q. What was the "releve"?

A. The "releve" was an agreement between the French Government and my office according to which, for every three French workers who came to Germany, one French prisoner of war was released and sent back home by the Fuehrer.

Q. And who brought about this agreement?

A. This agreement was concluded on the basis of a discussion between the French Premier and myself. I was much in favour of this agreement, because I myself spent five years behind barbed wire during the first world war.

Q. Did it make it easier for the prisoners? Did they return home?

A. Yes, they returned home.

Q. And how did the civilian population react to that? Above all, how did the workers feel who had to go to Germany?

A. This was an act of comradeship and according to the reports I received, the feeling was favourable.

Q. Then in reality instead of one prisoner of war there were three workers imprisoned?

A. No. These workers could move about freely in Germany the same as the other French workers, and the same as the German population.

Q. Did they have to come to Germany for an indefinite period of time?

A. No, they stayed according to the length of their contract, just like the other workers.

Q. What was the average duration of a contract?

A. Nine months.

Q. Then the result was that after nine months the prisoners of war, as well as the other workers, could return home?

A. Yes; this continual exchange necessitated new quotas and new agreements with the French Government; for there always had to be replacements.

[Page 124]

Q. Were these negotiations carried on under a certain pressure?

A. No; I wish that you would hear witnesses on this. They were carried out on a free diplomatic basis.

Q. To what extent was this "releve" carried through? Was it on a very large or only on a small scale?

A. It was carried out on the basis of 250,000 workers who were to go to Germany.

Q. The French Prosecution in their government report said that only weak and ill people were sent back who could not work anyway. What have you to say to that?

A. As far as I know French soldiers who were prisoners of war were sent back. The return and the selection of the soldiers was not my task but that of the General in charge of Prisoner-of-War Affairs. I consider it possible that sick soldiers were also sent back to their home country in this way if they wished it. But certainly it was not the intention to send only sick or elderly soldiers, but soldiers in general. That was the basis of the agreement.

Q. There was a second course which was followed-the improved status which the French called "Transformation"; what kind of settlement was that?

A. The improved status was a third agreement, with the following provisions: In Germany French prisoners of war were given the same contracts and the same status as all the other French civilian workers.

Q. When a new French worker came to Germany? The ratio therefore was 1:1?

A. 1:1.

Q. Did these French workers have to bind themselves indefinitely or was the time limited here, too?

A. The same applied as to the "releve."

Q. Was this improvement in status welcomed by the French soldiers or did they disapprove of it?

A. They did not disapprove of it, but welcomed it, depending on the attitude of the individual soldier. A large number rejected it, others accepted it gladly, for by this measure the workers received high wages and considerable liberty outside the barbed wire and the like. I myself saw how an entire camp hailed and accepted this new status. They had been told that the gates and barbed wire had been done away with, the prisoner regulations discontinued, and the surveillance abolished.

Q. Could these prisoners who had been turned into workers go home?

A. My documents show that they were allowed to go home.

Q. Did they receive any furlough?

A. Yes, they did. Many of them returned and an equally large number did not return from their leaves.

Q. I should like to refer to Document RF 22, German text, Page 70, of the French Government report. This document shows and admits that the prisoners received leave to go home at the beginning of this transformation, and I quote:

"The unfortunate men did not return, however, and therefore this procedure was discontinued."
Have you heard of the idea, "Indirect Forced Labour"?

A. No. Please explain it to me.

Q. The French report contains the argument that those workers who worked in France in armament industries did so for the benefit of Germany. Sauckel was not connected with this in any way. This French report, which deals at length with the economic side of manpower mobilization, says that they worked according to a flexible system and at first negotiations were friendly. The measures then became harsher in accordance with the circumstances.

Was there a definite plan? Did you have to carry through certain directives? Tell us what system you adopted.

A. I should like to be allowed to explain this. A plan of the sort you have just outlined never existed. The only thing to which I worked was my programme

[Page 125]

which I drew up and which is in the possession of the Tribunal, a programme which I admit and for which I take all the consequences and responsibility, also for my subordinates. This programme was carried out through my decrees which are also available in full. The development of this war did not permit me to make a definite plan as it might be construed post facto. We ourselves stood in the ebb and flow of this war and did not have time to ponder over such matters.

Q. What were the blocked and the special industries in France?

A. The "Sperrbetriebe " (blocked works) which were the result of an agreement between the Reich Minister, Speer, and, I believe, the French Minister of Economics, Bichelonne, worked partly for German armaments, partly for German civilian requirements, and did not come under my offices.

Q. What was the number of workers who were brought to Germany from foreign countries?

A. The number of workers brought from foreign countries to Germany, according to careful estimates and records of the statistical department in the Reich Labour Ministry, could be said to be about 5,000,000; that is a rough figure.

Q. Did you determine how far these labourers were to be used and how many were to be brought in?

A. No, I could not determine that, as I did not represent the German economy, and I myself could not fix the extent of the German armament and agricultural programmes.

Q. Apart from the current demands which you had to supply, there were certain so-called "programme demands" made by the Fuehrer. Is that true?

A. Yes, because the Fuehrer drew up the armament programme, as far as I know.

Q. You have told me of four programmes. I shall read the figures and perhaps you can confirm them.

The first programme in April 1942: the demand was for 1.6 million workers; 1.6 million were supplied, the entire figure being made up of foreigners.

The second programme in September 1942: two million; and two million were supplied, of which one million, that is, one half, were foreigners.

In 1943, the demand was for one million, and one million were supplied, the entire figure being made up of foreign workers.

For the last programme on 4th January, 1944, the Fuehrer demanded four million, and the demand met with 0.9 million.

A. Allow me to correct you. The figure should read, demand met with three million.

Q. Demand four million; demand met with three million; and how many were foreigners?

A. 0.9 million.

Q. 0.9 million foreigners. How many workers came from the East, how many from the West, and how many from other regions?

A. I naturally cannot give you the exact figures here without data or statistics, but on the average I can say that the figure for each group might be about thirty per cent; the percentage of workers from the East was certainly somewhat higher.

Q. And how were the demands communicated?

A. The demands were made through the "Bedarfstrager."

Q. And what were the " Bedarfstrager"?

A. The "Bedarfstrager" were the Economic Ministry, the Armament Ministry, the Agricultural Ministry, the various trades, the State Railways, mines, etc.; all of them big concerns.

Q. And to whom did they present their demands?

A. Usually the demand was made simultaneously to the Fuehrer and to me or to the Assembling Agencies ("Sammelstellen") provided for by the Four-Year Plan.

Q. They were the reduced requirements, if their demands were to be checked, or were these the original demands?

[Page 126]

A. I have just said that it varied. The demands were sent in to me, and at the same time they were almost always sent to the Fuehrer because he had to approve these demands.

Q. And what was the position of the Central Planning Board?

A. The Central Planning Board was an agency, and as far as I know one of its main tasks was to fix the raw material quotas, but it also discussed work to be done and manpower.

Q. Could you receive orders from the Central Planning Board?

A. Yes, the demands which were put to me I had to consider as orders, for the Fuehrer had ordered me to meet the demands of the war economy.

Q. Did you belong to the Central Planning Board yourself?

A. No, I was only called in when there were to be debates on the use of manpower.

Q. What was the relationship between your office and the office of Speer?

A. My office had to meet the demands put by Speer.

Q. Did Speer have his own organization for labour commitment?

A. Yes, he had to have that in his ministry, and he did have it. That was essential.

Q. Could you meet all the demands put to you?

A. No.

Q. Were your labour reserves exhausted?

A. According to my conviction, yes, for already in 1943 - and it was one of the purposes of my manifesto - I pointed out that the economic problems of the occupied countries were very serious, and had to be regulated and settled so as to avoid confusion.

Q. What labour reserves were still left in Germany?

A. In Germany after 1943, there were no more really usable manpower reserves left. Many discussions took place on this problem, but the chief demand for workers was in the field of skilled labour, mining and in the heavy industries.

Q. And what manpower reserves were there in France which it was intended to use?

A. I must say that from our point of view and in the light of our economic and labour problems, there was a great deal of manpower and very extensive reserves in the occupied territories.

Q. Do you mean that in comparison the economic forces of Germany were far more exhausted than those of the occupied countries?

A. Perhaps I can show it by a comparison with the first world war. In the first world war ten to twelve million Germans were mobilised for labour. In this war, about twenty-five million German men and women were used, and more than half were women. I must add that all the women who did Red Cross or other welfare work in Germany were not included in my statistics; they were included in other countries.

Q. I have a concluding question: If you view your activity as Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour today, what would you say about the use of foreign labour in general?

A. It is very hard for me to answer this question. I myself and the entire German people were of the opinion, and had to be, that this war was neither willed nor brought about by the German people - and in order to be truthful I have to include the Party. We took the stand that we had to do our duty to our people.

Q. It is not intended that you should give an explanation in the wider sense, but that you should limit yourself to the main aspects of the question of labour commitment and tell us whether today you consider your activity justified or not.

A. From the point of view of the war situation and of the German economy, and as I saw and tried to carry out my manpower mobilization, I considered it justified and, above all, inevitable; for Germany and the countries which we occupied were an economic whole that could not be separated. Without such an exchange of Eastern and Western workers, Germany could not have existed for

[Page 127]

even one day. The German people themselves were working to the extreme limit of their capacity.

DR. SERVATIUS: I have concluded my questioning of the defendant.

BY DR. THOMA (Counsel for defendant Rosenberg).

Q. Witness, did the Ministry for the Eastern Occupied Territories often try to cut down the labour quotas demanded by you?

A. Not only the Ministry for the Eastern Occupied Territories tried to do that but I myself tried very hard to do so by intervening with the Fuehrer and the requirements boards.

Q. I should like to put several questions to you with regard to Document 054-PS which describes the abuses in the recruiting and transporting of Eastern workers. Did you personally take steps to put an end to the abuses which are listed here?

A. Yes, of course. Please interrogate my witnesses on this.

Q. Did you notice that this report deals with the city and the region of Kharkov in the Ukraine, and do you know that this entire district was never under the civilian administration of the Ministry for the Eastern Occupied Territories?

A. Yes, I know that, and I testified that this report was not sent to me but to an army office. This army office had its own employment department which was directly subordinate to it.

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