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 11 of 13)

[Mr. Biddle continues his examination of Ernst Friedrich Christoph Sauckel]

[Page 217]

Q. That is all right.

A. But that was -

Q. (Interposing.) No, that is all right.

Now I would like to know a little bit about what you call this private recruitment. Who appointed the agents who were to do private recruiting? Who appointed them? Did the employers hire agents to get workmen for them?

(No response.)

Q. Do you know what I mean by "private recruiting"?

A. Yes.

Q. That was done by agents, was it not?

A. Only in one case in the year 1944 in France and in part in Belgium, by way of exception, I permitted agents to act on the basis of agreements with these French organizations.

Q. Again, Witness, I did not ask you that at all. You do not listen. I said: Who appointed these agents that worked as private recruiting agents? Who appointed them?

A. In these countries, the commissioner for labour mobilization appointed them - I myself could not appoint them - together with the French organizations. That was an understanding, not a set appointment -

Q. (Interposing.) I see. And they would be paid on, I think you said, a commission basis; is that right? They would be paid, in other words, so much per workman? Every workman they brought in, they would get a fee for that; is that right?

A. Yes. I do not know the details myself, but for the most part that is correct.

Q. Now, I take it when you used the word "shanghai", which you referred to and explained, that simply means private recruiting with force. That is all it means, is it not?

(No response.)

Q. That is all it means, is it not? Private recruiting with force?

A. No -

Q. Now, wait a minute. Can you shanghai a man without using force? You do not mean that you shanghai them by persuasion? Do you?

A. Yes, for I wanted to recruit these French organizations in just this voluntary, friendly way over a glass of beer or wine in a cafe and not in the regular office. I do not mean "shanghai" in the bad sense, as I recall it being used from my sailor days. This was a rather drastic expression but not a concrete representation of the actual procedure. Never, your Honour, in France or anywhere else, did I order shanghaiing, but rather -

Q. Oh, I know you did not order it. That was not my question. You mean "shanghai" just meant that you had a friendly glass of wine with a workman and then he joined up? Was that what you meant?

A. I understood it in that way, as I described it to the Central Planning Board, but in somewhat drastic form, in order to answer the demands made of me with some plausible counter-arguments as to the efforts I was making.

Q. Why did you object to this private recruitment? What was the objection to it?

A. In this case I did not object, but it was contrary to German ideas about the recruiting of labour. According to the German principles and

[Page 218]

Q. Was it contrary to German law?

A. It was against my conviction and contrary to German laws.

Q. I did not ask you that. I am not interested for the moment in your convictions. I said, was it contrary to German law? It was, was it not, against law?

A. It was, in general, contrary to the German labour laws. As far as possible no private recruitment was to take place. But may I say as an explanation, your Honour, that after the labourer had been won over, he nevertheless entered into an obligation, on the basis of a State contract. Thus it is not to be understood to mean that the worker in question came into the Reich without a contract approved by the State. That contract was granted to him as it was to all others.

Q. You mean, a labourer who was "shanghaied" by private agents had the same rights, once he was in the employment, as anyone else; is that what you mean?

A. The same rights and assurances that everyone else had.

Q. That is right. Now I am going to come to another subject for a moment.

I simply want to understand your defence and what your point of view is. Now see if this is correct. You did no recruiting yourself. The police did no recruiting. Your main job was, in the first place, to see that everything was done lawfully and legally. Was not that right? That was your important function?

A. That was my endeavour.

Q. In order to do that you had to arrange to have the proper laws passed so as to have the recruiting done under the law; that is right, is it not? That was your job?

A. Yes.

Q. Yes. And very often those laws By the way, those laws were simply decrees, of course. They were just orders that were signed by the Fuehrer or by you or by some of the ministers. When you say "laws" you mean, of course, decrees?

A. The laws in the Occupied Territories for the recruitment of manpower had to be decreed by the Fuehrer and issued by the chiefs in the territories.

Q. What I mean is, in order to make this use of foreign labour lawful, you simply had to get certain decrees signed; that was part of your duty, to get them signed? Now -

A. I did not sign these decrees -

Q. I understand that. I did not say you signed them. I understand that. You have explained that in great detail. Now let us see where the police came in. They had nothing to do with the recruiting. Once a decree was signed, it became law, did it not? When a decree was signed it was law?

A. Yes.

Q. And if any man resisted being brought in as a workman or did not register or did not live up to his contract, he became a criminal; that is right, is it not?

A. In this case he violated the law. We did not call it a crime, but rather an offence.

Q. But he broke the law?

A. Yes.

Q. You mean he did not commit a crime. Did he or did he not commit a crime? Supposing a man failed to register when he was told to register for work, was that a crime?

A. No, that was not a crime. We called that an offence in Germany.

Q. And then when he committed this he was turned over to the police; is that right?

A. Not immediately; in the preliminary proceedings he was told by the local Labour Office to appear and to report and -

Q. Well, you explained all that. He got three or four days and then if he did not finally register, for the offence he was turned over to the police; is that right?

[Page 219]

A. How that was actually handled in the various territories I cannot say. It differed greatly and was in part very lax.

Q. You have told us already in your cross-examination that if a man broke the law that was when the police came in. The police were there simply to see that the law was not broken; that is right, is it not? That was their function?

A. No, that was not my task; that was the task of the service authorities.

Q. Well, why do you always say, "it was not my task"? I did not ask you if it was your task. I am just talking about the police; I am not talking about you. Now when those labour decrees were violated, then it was, at a certain time, the police began to function; is that not right?

A. That would have been the normal way, the correct way.

Q. Good. Or after the men, let us say in Paris, were rounded up, if they offered physical resistance, then the police had to be called in, did they not? If there was physical resistance you had to call in the police, did you not?

A. Yes, but I can say that that was hardly ever reported to me. Mostly it was not done. It can be clearly seen from the lists of the workers' transports, for instance, in the year 1944, that of a large programme not even ten per cent. came to Germany. Then nothing was left for us to do but to "shanghai".

Q. Please do not go on. You have given all that evidence before. I just want to get a picture of the whole system. Now the army: I think you said, the role the army played was where there had been sabotage or resistance in the Occupied Territories; the army would have to clean that up so that the labour administration could work. That would be right, would it not?

A. In so-called resistance areas in which the administration was handicapped by resistance movements, not only in the field of labour mobilization but also in other functions, and in which the public safety of German troops could no longer be guaranteed.

Q. I am not interested in other functions. I am interested particularly in the field of manpower at this time. So that, for instance, in Poland or Russia, where it was impossible to recruit people on account of the resistance to the recruiting or the resistance to the army, the army would go in and help with the recruiting. It would not be unfair to say that, would it?

A. One can say that.

Q. That is right. Now, by the way, these workmen who resisted or who broke the law or who did not register after three days, were they ever tried by a court or were they simply handled by the police if necessary? They were never tried by court, were they?

A. That I cannot tell you in detail or in general. Probably there were various ways of handling that. I do not know the details.

Q. Well, let us get that clear in particular. Did any of your decrees provide for trial by a court of such persons?

A. No, my decrees did not do that, and I was not authorized to issue such decrees within the territories in regard to court proceedings because I was not the competent authority in the territory.

Q. All right. I am not very clear on this picture of camps. Let us look at that for a moment. There were what you called, I think, distribution or transit camps, were there not?

A. Yes.

Q. How many?

A. That I cannot tell you from memory.

Q. No, of course not, but do, you think there were more than a hundred?

A. No, I do not believe that.

Q. Hardly. But perhaps nearly a hundred?

A. No, I do not believe that is quite correct either.

Q. You could give no figure on that?

[Page 220]

A. I assume that perhaps in the Reich there were thirty or forty transit camps.

Q. In the Reich?

A. In the Reich.

Q. And were those transit camps also in the Occupied Territories, or in France?

A. In the Occupied Territories? Whether there were any transit camps in France, and, if so, how many, that I cannot say. There were in the West, along the border, reception stations, and in the East, along the border, there were transit camps, which had as their purpose an additional physical examination, delousing of clothing and -

Q. I think that is enough. I think you have answered that sufficiently. Now there were also what you called the labour training camps. Do you remember, you said there were also labour training camps?

A. These training camps

Q. Can you not say "yes" or "no"?

A. No.

Q. How many?

A. Of that I have no idea -

Q. So you have no idea of that. Maybe fifty or a hundred?

A. No. I cannot tell you even approximately how many because I have never received a list. They were not under me.

Q. Whom were they subordinate to?

A. They were subordinate exclusively to the police, that is as far as I know, to Gruppenfuehrer Muller.

Q. And I presume that they were staffed and officered by the SS as were the other concentration camps?

A. I have to assume that also, but I cannot say definitely because I have never seen any such camp.

Q. But that would not be improbable, would it?

A. No. These camps were subordinate exclusively to the police.

Q. To the police. Now who went to the labour training camps, who was sent to them?

A. According to my knowledge - I heard very little about that - people were sent there who in a number of cases had committed violations of the labour regulations or of discipline in the industries and so on.

Q. That is right. That is fine. Thank you very much. That is all I want to know about that point. In other words, people who did not turn up for registration or who broke their contracts were sent for training. Now what was the training? What does that mean, "training"?

A. That I cannot tell you. I assume that they had to work. A period of time was provided of about eight days to fifty-six days, I believe; I cannot say exactly. I also heard about that in this courtroom for the first time.

Q. Well, let us get a little more light on that subject. You see, you were after all, were you not, Plenipotentiary, so you must have known something about these matters. There were labour camps as well as labour training camps, were there not?

A. Yes, and I want to distinguish between them

Q. I will distinguish. Let me ask you the question. The labour camps were camps where workmen were sent and housed who were working in industry; is that not right? They were simply camps where workmen were housed and lived; is that right?

A. They were camps where workers were lodged, where they lived.

Q. That is right; and the labour training camps were different from the labour camps, were they not?

A. They were basically different. The labour training camps were an institution of the Reichsfuehrer SS; the labour camps in which they lived were set up by the factory or group of factories where the workers were employed.

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