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-Third Day: Friday, 31st May, 1946
(Part 4 of 13)

[Page 188]

THE PRESIDENT: What was your question, General, simply whether this was a telegram sent to Hitler?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: I asked about the telegram, from which I have read one sentence into the record, in order to obtain an affirmation from the defendant Sauckel that this telegram had been sent. I was not interested in anything else.


Q. The next document is 1292-PS. Have you got this document?

[Sauckel] A. No.

Q. You have already been shown the passage I am about to read. Your statement reads as follows: "GBA Sauckel declared that he would, with fanatical will, attempt to secure this manpower."

You were, at that time, speaking of the mobilization of four million workers. It says further: "He would do everything in his power to obtain the manpower desired for 1944".

Did you say that? Is the statement correctly rendered in the minutes of the report?

[Page 189]

A. I did say that, and I am asking to be allowed to acid the following to my affirmative reply. I knew that the German people, and they were my people - were in dire... (Interruption by General Alexandrov.) May I add an explanation to my clear reply, stating why I answered as I did. I am entitled to it.

Q. You accompany every answer you give with lengthy supplementary explanations. You are merely delaying the interrogation. I am quite satisfied with your reply, what you have told me is perfectly sufficient.

THE PRESIDENT: General, he has given a perfectly clear answer that he did say it and I think he is entitled to give some word of explanation. It is perfectly true that his explanations are intolerably long, but he is entitled to give some explanation.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Mr. President, if every answer is to be accompanied by such extensive explanations -

THE PRESIDENT: General Alexandrov, I have said that he is entitled to give some explanation. Now then: please make it short.

THE WITNESS: I knew that the German people were engaged in their most bitter struggle. It was my duty to carry on with my task with all my strength -that is what I understood by "fanaticism". I further explained, in another sentence, that I could not accomplish my task in that year. In so far as my task was accomplished in 1944, it was carried out with two-thirds German workers, not with a majority of foreigners, but more than two-thirds were Germans, and I was fanatically trying to put them to work, even to the last German woman, to the extent that she was capable of working, namely, in 1944, over two million.

Q. In April 1943, in order to accelerate the deportation of manpower to Germany from the Occupied Territories, you visited Rovno, Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozjie, Simferopol, Minsk and Riga. In June you visited Prague, Kiev, Cracow, Zaporozhjie and Melitopol. Is that correct?

A. That is true, and during those journeys I personally satisfied myself that my departments were working properly. That was the object of my journey.

Q. Thus you personally organized the deportation into slavery of the peaceful population of the Occupied Territories. Is that correct too?

A. I must protest against that statement most strongly.

Q. Then why did you go to all these towns and inhabited places? Did you not do so in order to enforce the deportation of the people in the Occupied Territories?

A. I visited these areas to satisfy myself personally as to how my offices in these cities - I should not say "my", but the Labour Offices in the local administrations - were working, whether they were conscientiously carrying out their obligations towards the workers, whether they were attending to medical examinations, card indexing, etc., according to my instructions. That is why I went to those towns. I negotiated with the chiefs on the matter of quotas, that is quite true, since it was my task to recruit workers and to screen the quotas, but during my visits to these cities I inspected the offices personally to satisfy myself that they were functioning properly.

Q. And also to insure the speedy deportation of manpower to Germany? Is that correct?

A. To employ the best possible methods for the purpose in mind. That is indisputably stated in my orders and the manifesto which has been submitted to the Tribunal was written on this very journey which you have just mentioned.

Q. You specially visited these cities in order to improve recruitment methods? Have I understood you correctly?

A. I went to these places to satisfy myself if the methods were correct or not and to discuss them with the Departments. That is true, for I did not have to visit Kharkov, Kiev or any other town to discuss my task in terms of figures.

[Page 190]

I would only have had to talk to the Section Chief for Eastern Affairs (Ost-Berichterstatter) and he was in Berlin, or else with the Reich Commissioner, whom I could not contact since he was in Rovno.

Q. In your statements to your Defence Counsel you declared that no question of criminal or illegal methods of recruitment had ever arisen. Then what was the reason for such extensive trips to the Occupied Territories? Does it mean that some indications had already reached you that large-scale, illegal practices were taking place in the process of labour recruitment? Was that the reason for your journeys? You visited over ten cities.

A. May I inform you, General while we are on this subject, that my Defence Counsel has already asked me that question, that I have answered it with the one word, "yes", and that, generally speaking, whenever complaints reached me I discussed them with Rosenberg and that wherever a wrong could be righted it was so righted. Please hear my Defence Counsel and my witnesses in this connection -

Q. The witnesses will be called on the decision of the Tribunal. I should now like to ascertain if you took those trips in order to improve methods of recruitment. I have come to the logical conclusion that in all these towns, prior to your arrival, a certain lawlessness, certain crimes, had prevailed during the recruiting of manpower. Is that what we are speaking about? And will you give a direct answer as to why you visited these places?

A. I have already answered that question in every respect. However, I would add that I assume that you, General, have yourself had sufficient administrative experience to realize that in every department, in every country of the world, it is also natural for administrative orders to be checked. It is not at all necessary to know that mistakes are made in human life, and in every human organization, in spite of this, they are subject to control.

Q. If you deny that you went there in order to improve conditions and to suppress the crimes perpetrated in the course of labour recruitment, then you must have gone there to accelerate the deportation of manpower into Germany. It is one thing or the other. Choose for yourself.

A. No, I must emphatically deny that. I undertook these journeys in order to satisfy myself within the scope of my duties, as to how this task was being carried out, to stop defects which were reported to me, as for instance, as I once told my Defence Counsel during my interrogation, I had also been asked to do by Field Marshal Kluge, but also to inform myself carefully and give appropriate warnings and instructions to the Departments. For this purpose the manifesto produced during this journey is my best evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: General Alexandrov; can you tell the Tribunal how much longer you will be?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: I am afraid I cannot make an exact statement, but I should imagine about two more hours.

THE PRESIDENT: You are not losing sight of the fact, are you, that we have already had a thorough cross-examination by the French Prosecutor?


THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal hopes that you will try to make your cross-examination as short as possible, and the Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. Defendant Sauckel, tell us what attitude you, as Plenipotentiary General, adopted towards the employment of Soviet prisoners of war in the German industries? And who were your collaborators?

A. I must reply to your question by saying that I had no collaborators in the employment of prisoners of war, since I did not employ prisoners of war.

Q. And you never saw to their mobilization, you never registered them?

[Page 191]

A. As the authorized, mediating agency I had to have the administrative measures carried out through the Labour Offices or the Gau labour offices, which served as intermediaries between the plants and the camps, that is, between the Generals in charge of the prisoner-of-war establishments who, in their turn, supplied prisoners-of-war for the plants.

O. And what were these establishments? What kind of organizations were they?

A. These were either the commanders in charge of prisoner-of-war establishments in the military districts (Wehrkreisen) or the organization of the factories, or the factories themselves which worked through either the Reich Food ministry, in which the majority of the prisoners were lodged with farmers for labour, or in the industrial war economy.

Q. In other words, you had nothing to do with it? I would remind you -

A. I had to include the Labour Offices and the Gau Labour Offices in so far as they had undertaken to act officially as intermediaries, but only so long as they did not act directly between the factories and the camps.

Q. I shall now quote an excerpt from your report to Hitler on 27th July, 1943. It is Document 1296-PS, 5. In this report, Part 3, there is a particular section. It is entitled -

A. Two or three, please?

Q. Three. It is entitled "Employment of Soviet Russian Prisoners-of-War". You state there:

"In addition to the employment of civilian manpower, I have increased the employment of Soviet prisoners-of-war, according to plan, with the assistance of the Prisoner-of-War Department of the OKW."
And further on:
"I particularly stress the importance of an increased and expedited deportation of the maximum number of prisoners of war possible from the front to work within the Reich."
Is this correct?

A. That is correct and it conforms exactly to the story I have told you.

Q. It does not altogether agree.

A. But it does.

Q. You mentioned that you did not have anything to do with the employment of prisoners of war in the German industries and now, in your report, you make perfectly different statements. So I am asking you, in connection with what I have read into the record: Did you plan in advance the exploitation of Soviet prisoners of war as workers in the industries? Was that so or was it not?

A. I must point out one fundamental error on your part. Labour procurement, the whole world over, whether operated by the State or private individuals, is not an organization or institution which exploits workers, but rather which procures workers. I must establish this fundamental error. It was my duty to provide the necessary connection, so that prisoners of war in camps in the Occupied Territories - let us say in the Government General - could be registered by commanders in charge of local prisoner-of-war establishments, for work in certain sectors, and then assigned accordingly. Employment for labour in the factories was not under my supervision and had nothing to do with me.

Q. In other words - you participated in supplying Soviet prisoners of war for utilization in German industry. Is that correct?

A. That is not correct, according to my use of the German language, as I understand you, but rather procurement (Vermittlung) is something quite different from exploitation, on this, other gentlemen would have to comment. I can only speak about the procurement. In Germany this was State-operated. In other countries it is managed privately. That is the difference, but I have never exploited anybody. As Plenipotentiary General for Employment of Labour (GBA) I did not employ a single worker.

[Page 192]

Q.. Did you know that the Soviet prisoners of war were being employed in the armament industries in Germany?

A. It was known to me that Soviet prisoners of war were being employed in the German war industry, for this industry is vast and far-reaching and embraces the most widely diverse activities.

Q. Were you acquainted, in particular, with the directive of defendant Keitel regarding the employment of Soviet prisoners of war in the mining industry? This directive is dated 8th January, 1943. Do you know anything at all about this directive?

A. I cannot recollect it in detail. I have not got it. Will you be good enough to put it before me?

(The witness is handed the document.)

Q. Have you read it?

A. I have read it.

Q. It clearly mentions the employment of Soviet prisoners of war in the mining industry for military purposes and in military interests. Is that correct?

A. It refers to the employment of prisoners of war in the mining industry in Germany.

Q. For what purpose? It is clearly stated in this document.

A. For employment in the mining industry.

Q. But for what purpose? What purpose was it to serve? It is clearly stated here.

A. For work, I presume.

Q. In the interest of the war?

A. Well, as a matter of fact, the German mining industry did not only work in the interest of the war: Germany also supplied quite a lot of coal to neutral countries. It varied according to circumstances.

Q. Follow this document, read after me:

"For the execution of the expanded iron and steel programme the Fuehrer, on 7th July, ordered the absolute guarantee..."
A. I have not been given the part you are reading.
Q. "For the execution of the expanded iron and steel programme, the Fuehrer, on 7th July, ordered the complete guarantee of the coal and means of production needed for this purpose. For this purpose he has also ordered that the necessary manpower be replaced by prisoners of war".
Q. Now, have you found the place?

A. Yes, indeed. I have read it.

Q. Thus the Soviet prisoners of war were to be employed in the mining industry in the interest and for the conduct of the war. Is that right? The fact is definitely established by this document.

A. Yes, it says so - I might point out that this document is not addressed to me.

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