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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
20th June to 1st July 1946

One Hundred and Fifty-Ninth Day: Thursday, 20th June, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page 1]

THE PRESIDENT: I have an announcement to make. In the first place, supplementary witnesses will be heard at the end of the case for the defendants.

Secondly, interrogatories and other documents received by that time must be offered in evidence then. Thirdly, interrogatories and other documents allowed before the end of the evidence, but received at a later date, will be received and considered by the Tribunal up to the end of the trial. That is all.




Q. Yesterday we finished talking about the utilization of labour in industry, and now we shall turn to the question of how industry was supplied with manpower: that is to say, the question of special demands made for workers.

Herr Speer, you stated in your testimony of 18th October, 1945, first that you demanded further supplies of labour from Sauckel, and secondly, that you knew that among these workers there would be foreigners; thirdly, that you had known that some of these foreign workers were working in Germany against their will. Please comment on this statement.

A. This voluntary statement is quite correct. During the war I was very grateful to Sauckel for every labourer I got through him. Many a time I held him responsible for the fact that through lack of workers the armament industry did not achieve the results it might have done, but I always emphasized the credit due to him because of his activity on behalf of the armament industry.

Q. Now, when, in your testimony of 18th October, 1945, and in your testimony here, you refer to workers, do you mean all labour in general, including German workers, foreigners from occupied countries, and foreigners from friendly or annexed States, and also prisoners of war?

A. Yes. Beginning with the middle of 1943, I was in disagreement with Sauckel over questions of production and about the insufficient availability of reserves of German labour. But that has nothing to do with my fundamental attitude toward Sauckel's work.

Q. What percentage of the total number of assigned workers was Sauckel obliged to furnish upon your demands?

A. You mean of the total labour supply, not foreigners?

Q. Yes.

A. Up to August, 1944 - that is, up till the time when I took over the air armament as well - perhaps thirty to forty per cent of all workers who were at our disposal. Of course, the largest number of them were German workers. When, in August, 1944, I took over the air armament I had no appreciable demand for workers because the bomber attacks on the transportation system in the Reich resulted in a steady decline of armament production.

Q. Was your need for labour excessive?

A. No. The volume of armament production, and also of our entire production with a corresponding need for labour, was governed by our raw material supply.

[Page 2]

Q. That means, your need was restricted by the amount of raw materials available?

A. My need for labour was limited by the amount of raw materials.

Q. You achieved a marked increase in production figures for armament. In order to achieve this increase, did the workers employed increase proportionally?

A. No. Comparison with the 1942 figures of production shows that in 1944 seven times as many weapons were manufactured, five and a half times as many armoured vehicles, and six times as much ammunition, yet the number of workers in these branches had increased by only thirty per cent. This success was not brought about through a higher exploitation of labour, but rather through the abolition of obsolete methods of production and through an improved system of controlling the production of armaments.

Q. What do you mean by the term "war production," "Kriegsproduktion"?

A. The term which is frequently used here, "war production," is nothing else but the ordinary term: production. It comprises everything which is manufactured industrially, including essential things for civilians.

Q. What did you mean in Germany by the term "armaments"? What did that include?

A. The term "armaments" was in no way limited to that meaning laid down in the Geneva Prisoner-of-War Agreement. The modern concept of "armaments" is a much more comprehensive one. It includes a much wider sphere of activity. In our concept of armaments, we were guided by no basic principles. The characteristic of an armament factory was that the Armament Inspectorate took care of it and watched over it. In Germany, for instance, the entire production of raw steel belonged to armament, all rolling- mills, foundries and forges; the production of aluminium and modern synthetic materials, the chemical production of nitrogen or fuel or synthetic rubber, the production of synthetic wool, the manufacture of individual items, the use of which in armament cannot be predicted at the time of their manufacture, such as ball-bearings, gears, valves, engine pistons and so forth; or the production of tool machinery; the setting up of chain production systems; similarly the manufacture of motor cars and the construction of locomotives, of commercial ships; also the output of textile concerns, and concerns manufacturing leather goods and so on.

In the interrogatories which I sent to my witnesses, I tried to obtain estimates as to what percentage of the German armament industries produced armaments as defined by the Geneva Convention, and I should like to give you the figures. My co-workers agree unanimously that between 14 and 20 per cent. of our armament programme was concerned with the production of weapons, armoured cars, planes or warships or the general equipment which the various branches of the Wehrmacht required. The bulk of the material, therefore, was not armament production in the sense of the Geneva Convention. The reason for the expansion of the term armament to cover a wider field of production was the preferential treatment given to armament industries, a treatment which resulted in numerous industries pressing to be called armament industries.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, in the questionnaires which have not yet been submitted to the Tribunal because the document book is not yet ready, the witness Sauer, under figures 7 and 10, the witness Schieber under figures 6 to 9, and the witness Kehrl under figures 4 to 7, concern themselves with the definition of the meaning of the term "armament."

THE PRESIDENT: What was the last name?



Q. Herr Speer, by way of example, you know the works of Krupp at Essen. How far did this concern produce armament equipment in the sense of the Geneva Prisoner-of-War Agreement, that is, weapons, munitions, and objects which are necessary for the direct conduct of war?

[Page 3]

A. The Krupp concern is an excellent example of the fact that an armament firm often only devotes a fraction of its productive capacity to war equipment. Of course, I must point out the fact that the Krupp organization was one of those armament firms which, amongst others, was responsible for the smallest production of armaments, on a percentage basis.

The Krupp concern was mainly interested in mining and with three large works producing highly tempered steel. The manufacture of locomotives and products for the chemical industry were specialities of Krupp's.

On the other hand, the actual armament speciality of Krupp's - the construction of armoured turrets for warships, and special guns of large calibre - was not at all exploited during this war. Only in 1944 did Krupp erect the first big factory for the production of guns near Breslau. Up to that time, Krupp was mainly concerned with the invention of new weapons, and then, for this production other firms were licensed.

All in all, one can say that at Krupp's 10 to 15 per cent of the personnel were engaged in armament equipment in the sense of the Geneva Prisoner-of-War Agreement, even though the entire works were classified as armament works.

Q. What did you and your Ministry have to say as to whether an industry should be supplied with German or foreign workers?

A. My Ministry had no influence in that direction at all. The need for workers was reported to my Ministry by the industries which were subordinate to me. They reported a total figure of workers needed, and there were no specifications as to whether foreign workers, prisoners of war, or German workers were wanted. This total figure was forwarded to the General Plenipotentiary for Labour. Sauckel refused to accept detailed demands, and he was quite right in this respect, for he could not issue detailed directives to the offices subordinate to him concerning the percentage of German or foreign workers who were to be allocated locally to the various industries.

The ultimate distribution of workers to industries was taken care of by the labour offices without any intervention of my offices or agencies. Therefore, here, too, we did not exert influence as to whether Germans, foreigners or prisoners of war were to be allocated to any industry. The industry then had to report back to us about the number of workers newly received. In this report only a lump figure was given, so that I could not tell whether any or what number of foreign workers or prisoners of war were included in the total figure. Of course, I knew that foreigners worked on armament equipment, and I quite agreed to that.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, to facilitate matters for the Tribunal, I would like to remark that figures 7 and 17 of the questionnaire of the witness Schmelte, and also figures 1 and 8 of the same questionnaire deal with this matter; and in the questionnaire of Schieber, numbers 10, 11, 30 and 31. Furthermore, in the questionnaire of Kehrl relevant material is contained in the answers to questions 8 and 9.


Q. Herr Speer, who sent in to the Plenipotentiary General for Labour Commitment the demands for manpower needed for armament production?

A. The demands for workers were placed by various sectors, according to the different economic branches. There were approximately 15 different sectors which placed their demands. I placed demands for army and navy armament and for construction, and beginning with September of 1943, for the sectors chemistry, mining, and other production. Air armament had its special labour assignment department, and their demands were made by the Reich Air Ministry.

DR. FLAECHSNER: In their questionnaires, the witness Schmelte has dealt with this matter in his answer to question 2; the witness Schieber in his answers to 2, 3, and 5, and the witness Kehrl to 2 and 3.

[Page 4]


Q. Weren't the demands for labour for the three branches of the Wehrmacht centralised in your Ministry?

A. No. Of course, beginning with March, 1942, I had nominally taken over the Armament Office under General Thomas from the German High Command, and this armament office was a joint office of all three Wehrmacht branches where labour assignment problems were discussed, too. Through an agreement between Goering and me, it was decided that air armament, independently of me, should look after its own interests.

This agreement was necessary since first of all I, as Minister for Armament, had a biased interest, and, therefore, did not want to make decisions regarding the demands for labour of a unit that was not subordinate to me.

Q. To what extent were you responsible for the employment of prisoners of war in armament production in contravention of the Geneva Convention?

A. I did not exert my influence to have prisoners of war employed contrary to the directives given out by the German High Command. I knew the point of view held by the German High Command according to which the Geneva regulations were to be strictly observed. Of course, I knew as well, that these Geneva regulations did not apply to Russian prisoners of war and Italian military internees. I could not exert any influence on the allocation of prisoners of war to the various industries. This allocation was determined by the Labour Office in conjunction with the officials of the Chief Office for Prisoner-of-War Affairs.

Q. In this connection I should like to refer to the questionnaire of the witness Schmelte, to his reply to question 14.

Herr Speer, who was the competent officer of the lower level under the OWK?

A. The supervision of the proper assignment of prisoners of war was carried out through the military economy officer (Wehrwirtschaftsoffizier) as the intermediary authority. He was incorporated into the organization of the military area commander who was under the jurisdiction of the army.

Q. The prosecution has submitted an affidavit by Mr. Deuss, who is an American statistics expert. This is Document 2520-PS.

According to this affidavit, four hundred thousand prisoners of war were employed in the production of war equipment. These figures are supposed to originate from statistics in your Ministry. Will you comment on this figure?

A. The figures are well known to me through my activity as a Minister and they are correct. This figure of four hundred thousand prisoners of war covers the total number of them employed in armament production.

A wrong conclusion is drawn from this affidavit if it is assumed that all these prisoners of war were connected with the production of armament equipment as specified in the Geneva Convention. Statistics of the number of prisoners of war employed in those industries which produced armaments according to the meaning of the term in the Geneva Prisoners-of-War Agreement were not kept by us, and therefore no such figure can be compiled from my documents.

Apart from that, in this figure of four hundred thousand prisoners of war, two to three hundred thousand Italian military internees are included, all of whom were brought into my production field at that time. This affidavit does not prove, therefore, that prisoners of war were employed in the production of armaments in contravention of the Geneva agreement.

Q. The Central Planning Board has been mentioned here frequently. You were a member of this Board. Can you describe in detail the origin of the Central Planning Board and its sphere of activity?

A. When in 1942 I assumed my office, it was urgently necessary to centralise the allocation and distribution of various materials to the three branches of the Wehrmacht and to guarantee the proper direction of the war economy for a long time to come. Up to that time this matter had been taken care of by the Ministry of Economics and partly by the German High Command. Both these agencies were much too weak to prevail against the three Wehrmacht branches.

[Page 5]

On my suggestion, in March, 1942, the Central Planning Board was established by the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan. Its three members, Milch, Koerner and myself, were entitled to make decisions joint decisions only which, however, could always be reached without any difficulty. It is obvious that, through my predominant position, I was the decisive factor in this Central Planning Board.

The tasks of the Central Planning Board were clearly outlined and laid down in Goering's decree which I had drafted.

To make statistics of the demands for labour or of the allocation of workers was not a matter which was laid down in this decree. This activity was not carried out systematically by the Central Planning Board, in spite of the evidence of documents presented here. As far as decisions regarding demands and allocation of labour were concerned, I tried to have them made by the Central Planning Board since this was an essential factor in the directing of the entire economy. This, however, always met with Sauckel's refusal because he considered it as interfering with his rights.

DR. FLAECHSNER: I submit the decree of Goering regarding the establishment of a Central Planning Board. It was published on 25th April, 1942, and this will be Speer Document 42, Exhibit 7.

Mr. President, the text may be found on Page 17 of the English document book.

The sphere of activity of the Central Planning Board -

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute. What number are you giving to it? On the document here it has got Speer 142.

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