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 4 of 10)

[DR. FLAECHSNER continues his direct examination of Albert Speer]

[Page 14]

Q. And what action did you take after that?

A. Contrary to the Fuehrer's decision during that meeting, I informed the military commander of the way I wanted it so that, in connection with the expected order from the High Command of the Armed Forces, the military commander would have two interpretations of the result of the meeting in his hands. Since the military commander was agreeable to my interpretation, it could be expected that he would follow my wish.

DR. FLAECHSNER: In this connection, may I present a document which is on Page 29 of the English text of my document book, Page 26 of the German and French texts. This is a teletype message from Speer to General Studt in Paris. It will be Exhibit 10. Two things appear from this letter. One, Speer wrote, and I quote:

"Gauleiter Sauckel will start negotiations with the appropriate agencies with regard to the occupied Western territories, in order to achieve clarity on the manner and possibility of the execution - "
THE PRESIDENT: What is the point in reading that, Dr. Flaechsner?

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, the prosecution has submitted this document, 1292-PS, to prove -

THE PRESIDENT: The defendant just told us what is in the document. He has told us the substance of the whole affair. We quite understand what the difference of opinion between Sauckel and Speer was.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Very well. This document shows the reaction on the part of the defendant, namely, what he did so that Hitler's decision, as such, would be nullified or at least modified. In this letter the defendant said to General Studt -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Flaechsner, the Tribunal has given you the clearest possible indication of the view which they take about these matters of different plans and differences of view between Sauckel and Speer. Why do you not pass on to some other part of your case if there is any other part of it?

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, I do not wish to discuss the argument between these two. I am trying to show the actions taken by Speer so as to put his point of view into practice. This is not referring to -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but that is irrelevant. As I said just now, the defendant has told us what he did. It is not necessary to read it all out to us again.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Very well. In that case, may I go on to present a document which is on Page 30 of the English text of my document book, Page 27 of the German and French texts. It is a letter from Speer to Sauckel, dated 6th January, 1944, and it is shown in this letter that, for the French industrial firms working in France, 400,000 workers were to be reserved at once and another 400,000 workers during the following months, who, therefore, would not be deported.

[Page 15]


Q. What results did these two letters have, Herr Speer, with reference to Hitler's order that one million workers should be taken from France to Germany?

A. I should like to summarize the entire subject and say a few words about it. We had a system of dealing with inconvenient orders from Hitler which enabled us to by-pass them. Jodl has already said in his testimony that he had developed such a technique, too. And so, of course, the letters which are being submitted here are only clear to the expert, as to their meaning and the results they would produce.

From the document which is being presented now, from Sauckel's speech on 1st March, 1944, it is evident, too, what the results were in regard to the labour assignment in the occupied territories. The result is clear and I have already described it here, and I think we can therefore pass to Page 49.

Q. Herr Speer, can you give me a description of the results of the air attacks on the occupied Western territories?

A. Yes. In this connection I should again like to summarize a few points.

The invasion was preceded by heavy air attacks on the transport system in the occupied Western territories. As a result of that, beginning with May and June, 1944 production in France was paralysed and one million workers were unemployed. With that, the idea of shifting production (Verlagerung) had collapsed as far as I was concerned, and according to normal expectations of the French officials, too, the impression was general that a large-scale attack on Germany would now commence.

I gave the order that in spite of this shutting down of the entire French industry, the blocked industries should be kept up, although I knew as an expert that their rehabilitation, considering the damage to the transport system, would not be possible in less than nine to twelve months, even if the air attacks should cease. I was, therefore, acting against my own interests here.

The French prosecution has confirmed this in Document RF 22. The corresponding passages are indicated in the document book.

Between 19th and 22nd June I had a conference with Hitler and I obtained a decree according to which the workers in the occupied territories had to remain on the spot no matter what happened. Seyss-Inquart has already testified that a similar decision was applied to Holland. Upon my orders, the workers in these blocked industries even continued to receive their wages.

DR. FLAECHSNER: In this connection I submit Speer Exhibit 12. It is an extract from the Fuehrer conference from 19th to 22nd June, 1944, and I beg the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it. The document is on Page 22 of the English text of my document book.


Q. Herr Speer, you must have been aware of the fact that, because of this decision of yours, at least one million workers would be unemployed in all the Western territories and be unproductive for quite a long time. How could you justify such a decision?

A. I have to admit quite frankly that this was my first decision which I considered justified by the war situation which had deteriorated so catastrophically. The invasion was a success. The heavy air attacks on production were showing decisive results. An early end of the war was foreseeable and all this altered the situation as far as I was concerned. How the consequences arising from this situation affected me will become apparent through various other examples which I shall put forward in the course of the trial.

Of course, Hitler was not of the same opinion during that period. On the contrary, he believed that everything ought to be done in order to utilize the last reserves of manpower.

[Page 16]

Q. Please describe briefly your attitude towards the meeting of 11th July, 1944, to which we have already referred once before. This was Document 3819-PS. Please be very brief.

A. During this meeting of 11th July, I maintained my point of view. Once again I pointed to Germany's reserves, as is shown in the minutes, and I announced that the transport difficulties should not be allowed to influence production, and that the blocked industries were to be kept up in these territories. Both I and the military commanders of the occupied territories were perfectly aware of the fact that with this, the well-known consequences for these blocked industries would be the same as before, that is, the transfer of labour assignment from the occupied Western territories to Germany would continue.

Q. The French prosecution has presented a certain order, Document 833. It presented it during the session of 30th May, if I remember correctly. It came up during the cross-examination of co-defendant Sauckel.

According to this order, troops were to round up workers in the West. Please give a brief statement on that. So as to refresh your memory, I want to say that reference is made in this telegram to the meeting of 11th July.

A. The minutes of the meeting show, as I said before, that I opposed the measures of coercion. I did not see Keitel's actual order.

Q. No. 1824 is another document submitted by the French prosecution on the same subject. It is a document of General von Kluge's, dated 25th July, 1944. It refers to the telegram from Keitel which has been previously mentioned. Do you know anything about it, whether that order was ever actually carried out?

A. I know that the order was not carried out. To understand the situation, it is necessary to become familiar with the atmosphere prevailing during the time around the 20th July. At that time, not every order of the Fuehrer was carried out. As the investigations after the 20th July proved, even at that time in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief in the West, Kluge was planning negotiations with the Western enemies for a capitulation and, probably, he made his initial attempts at that time. That, incidentally, was the reason for his suicide after the attempt of the 20th July had failed. It is out of the question -

THE PRESIDENT: You gave the number 1824. What does that mean?

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, 824 is the number which the French prosecution has given to this Document. That is the number under which it has submitted it. Unfortunately, I cannot ascertain the exhibit number. I have made inquiries, but I have not had an answer yet.

I am just given to understand that it is Exhibit RF 1515.


A. (continuing): It is out of the question that Field-Marshal Kluge, in the military situation in which he found himself and considering his views, should have given orders for raids and measures of coercion at that moment. The release of the Sauckel-Laval agreement, which was mentioned in this document, has no practical significance, since the blocked industries were kept up, and thus this agreement could not become effective.

This was well known to the officials in France, and the best proof for this fact, namely that the order was not carried out, is Document RF 22 of the French prosecution, which shows that in July, 1944, only 3,000 workers came to Germany from France. If the military authorities had used measures of coercion, it would have been a simple matter to send a very much larger number of workers than these 3,000 from France to Germany.

Q. Did you use your influence to stop completely the allocation of labour from occupied territories to Germany?

A. No. I have to tell you quite frankly that although I did use my influence to reduce the recruitment of labour or to put an end to measures of force and raids, I did not use it to stop the assignment of labour completely.

Q. I shall now pass to another problem.

[Page 17]

The prosecution has touched- upon and mentioned the Organization Todt. Can you briefly explain the tasks of the Organization Todt to the Tribunal?

A. Here, again, I shall give a little summary. The tasks of the Organization Todt were exclusively technical ones, that is to say, they had to carry out technical construction work; in the East mainly road and rail construction, and in the West, the construction of concrete dug-outs which became known as the so-called Atlantic Wall. For this purpose the Organization Todt used foreign workers to a disproportionate degree. In the West there were about twenty foreigners to one German worker; in Russia there were about four Russians to one German. This could only be carried out in the West if the Organization Todt could use local construction firms and their work-yards to a considerable extent. They supplied the technical staffs and recruited their own workers, it being obvious that these firms had no possibility to recruit by force.

Accordingly a large number of workers of the Todt Organization were volunteers. But it is clear that constantly a certain percentage was working in the Todt organization under the calling-up system.

The Organization Todt has been described here as part of the armed forces, and it is merely necessary to state in this connection that foreign workers did not, of course, belong to it, but only German workers who, of course, in occupied territories, had to become members of the armed forces in some way or other. The prosecution holds a different opinion on this matter.

Apart from the Organization Todt, there were certain transport units attached to my Ministry which were working in occupied territories, and, for a certain reason, I am anxious to state that they were principally recruited as volunteers. The prosecution has alleged that the Organization Todt was the comprehensive organization for all military construction work in the occupied territories. That is not the case. They only had to carry out one quarter to one fifth of the construction programme.

In May, 1944, the Organization Todt was taken over by the Reich and from that time was made responsible for some of the large-scale construction programmes and for the management of the organization of the General Plenipotentiary for construction work in the Four-Year Plan. This General Plenipotentiary for construction work distributed the contingents coming from the Central Planning Board and he was responsible for other directive tasks, but he was not responsible for the carrying out, and for the supervision of, the construction work itself. For these purposes there were the different state authorities in the Reich, and in particular the SS Building Administration who had their own responsibility for the building programmes which they carried out.

Q. The prosecution has alleged that you had caused the employment of concentration camp inmates in the armament industry and has submitted Document RF 24, Exhibit USA 179.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, this document is on Page 47 of the English text in my document book. It is about a conference with Hitler in September, 1942.


Q. How did that conference come about, Herr Speer?

A. When in February, 1942, I took over the armament department of the armed forces, there were demands for considerable increases in production and, to meet them, it was necessary to construct numerous new factories. For this purpose Himmler offered his concentration camps, both to Hitler and to me. It was his plan that some of these necessary new constructions with the requisite machinery should be erected within the concentration camps and be operated there under the supervision of the SS. The chief of the armament department of the armed forces, General Fromm, was against this plan, and so was I. Apart from general reasons for this, the first point was that uncontrolled arms production on the part of the SS should be prevented. Secondly, this would certainly entail

[Page 18]

my being deprived of the technical management in these industries. For these reasons, when planning the large extension programme of armament production in the spring of 1942, I ignored these demands by the SS. Himmler went to see Hitler and the minutes of this conference, which are available here, show the objections to my plans which Hitler put to me upon Himmler's suggestions.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, in this connection I should like to draw your attention to Page 44 of the German text, which is Page 47 of the English text. It is point 36 of a Fuehrer protocol. There it says

THE PRESIDENT: It is Page 47 of the English text.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Yes, that is correct.

There it says, and I quote:

" ... beyond a small number of workers it will not be possible to organize armament production in the concentration camps."
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Flaechsner, the witness has just given us the substance of it, has he not?


Q. Herr Speer, according to this document you proposed that factories should be staffed entirely with internees from concentration camps. Did you carry that out?

A. No, this proposal was not carried out in full because it soon became clear that it was Himmler's intention to exercise his influence over these industries and in some way or other he would undoubtedly have succeeded in getting these industries under his control. For that reason, as a basic principle, only a part of the industrial staff consisted of internees from concentration camps, so as to counteract Himmler's efforts. And so it happened that the labour camps were attached to the armament industries. But Himmler never received his share of five to eight per cent of arms which had been decided upon. This was prevented due to an agreement with the general of the Army Staff in the High Command of the Armed Forces, General Buhle.

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