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 Sixtieth Day: Friday, 21st June, 1946
(Part 10 of 12)

[Page 82]


Q. You maintained that your obligations and duties as a Minister included only production. Did I understand you correctly?

[Albert Speer] A. Yes, armaments and war production.

Q. And the supply of industry with raw materials, was not that included in your duties?

A. No, that was my task from September, 1943, onwards, when I took over the whole of production. That is true, then I was in charge of the whole of production, from raw materials to the finished products.

[Page 83]

Q. In the book Germany at War, which was published in November, 1943 - you will be given this volume now - and I submit this document to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 480 - in this book it says:
"On the basis of the Fuehrer decree of 2nd September, 1943, relative to the concentration of war economy, and of the decree of the Reichsmarschall of the Greater German Reich and the Plenipotentiary of the Four-Year Plan for Central Planning of 4th September, 1943, Reich Minister Speer will now direct the entire war economic production in his capacity as Reich Minister for Armaments and War Production. He alone is competent and responsible for guiding, directing, and controlling the industrial war economy."
Is this correct? I ask you to answer briefly, is it correct or not?

A. This is expressed rather unprofessionally, because the term "industrial war economy" does not quite cover the concept "armament and war production." This was not drawn up by an expert but otherwise it agrees with what I have testified. I said that war production embraced the whole of production.

Q. Yes, but after September, 1943, you were responsible not only for war industry but also for the whole war economy as well, and those are two different things.

A. No, that is the mistake. It says here "industrial war economy," which means something like production, war economy or production in trade and industry, with that qualification; and when it says earlier "the entire economic production," the person who wrote this also meant production. But the concept -

Q. You mentioned here already that having accepted the post of Minister in 1942, you inherited a great and heavy task. Tell us briefly, please, what was the situation with regard to essential raw materials and, in particular, with regard to metals used in the war industry?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, General Raginsky, is it necessary for us to go into details? Is it not obvious that a man who was controlling many millions of workers had a large task? What is this directed to?

GENERAL RAGINSKY: Mr. President, the question is preparatory, it leads to another question and inasmuch as it is connected -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but what is the ultimate object of the cross-examination? You say it is leading to something else. What is it leading to?

GENERAL RAGINSKY: The object is to prove that the defendant Speer participated in the economic plundering and looting of occupied territories.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, then ask him directly about that.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: I am just coming to that now.


Do you acknowledge the fact that you participated in economic plundering of occupied territories?

A. I participated in the economic exploitation of the occupied countries, yes; but I do not believe the term "plundering" is very clearly defined. I do not know what is meant by "plundering of an occupied territory."

Q. To make up the deficit of essential raw materials, did you not export metals for the war industry from Belgium, France and other occupied territories?

A. Of course I did not export them myself, but certainly I participated in some way. I was not responsible for it, but certainly I urged strongly that we should obtain as much metal from there as possible.

Q. I am satisfied with your answer and the Tribunal will draw its conclusions.

Do you remember Hitler's order about concentration of war economy, published on 2nd September? You will be given a copy of this order at once. This document is being submitted as Exhibit USSR 482. I do not intend to read all of this as it will take too much time, but I would like to read into the record a few paragraphs of this order, which begins:

[Page 84]

"Taking into consideration the stricter mobilization and uniform commitment of all economic forces required by the exigencies of war, I order the following":
Paragraph 2:
"The powers of the Reich Minister of Economics in the sphere of raw materials and production in industry and trade are given to the Reich Minister for Armament and Munitions. The Reich Minister for Armament and Munitions, in view of the extended scope of his tasks, will be known as Reich Minister for Armament and War Production."
Did you see this decree?

A. Yes, I know it.

Q. Will you, in connection with this order, tell us briefly and concisely how the functions between you and Funk were divided?

A. Well, that is shown in the text. I was in charge of all production, from raw materials to the final product, and Funk was in charge of all general economic questions, primarily the questions of financial transactions, securities, commerce, foreign trade, and so forth. This, however, is not exhaustive, but broadly describes the division.

Q. That answer satisfies me. In connection with this order, did you receive plenipotentiary powers for the regulation of exchanging of goods and goods traffic?

A. I do not quite understand what you mean.

Q. All right. So as not to lose any time, you will be given a document signed by you and Funk, and dated 6th September, 1943. This document I present to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 483. I shall read the first sentence of the first paragraph:

"In so far as existing laws prescribe the authority of the Reich Minister of Economics in the regulation of goods traffic, this authority for the period of the war will be exercised by the Minister for Armament and War Production."
In this way your role in the war effort of Germany, your role as head of the German war economy during the period of the war, was much wider in scope than that which you have described here to the Tribunal, is not that so?

A. No, I did not try to picture the situation differently, and I said that in time of war the Armament Minister holds the most important position of all in the Reich; and that everyone has to work for him. I do not believe that I could have given a more comprehensive description of my task. This matter of the goods traffic is of quite subordinate significance. I cannot even say what is meant here by "goods traffic." It is a technical term which I do not quite understand.

Q. Yes, but this document is signed by you and now you do not know exactly what is meant by it. You signed it together with Funk.

A. Of course.

Q. Tell us, how was contact between your Ministry and the German Labour Front maintained, and was there co-operation between the two organizations?

A. There was a liaison man between the German Labour Front and my office, just as between all other important offices in the Reich.

Q. Will you not name that officer?

A. It was my witness Hupfauer who later was chief of the central office under me.

Q. You testified that a number of concerns, engaged in producing textiles and processing of aluminium and lumber, etc., should not be included in the list of war economy concerns. Did I understand you correctly? Did you maintain that?

A. No, that is a mistake. That must have been wrongly translated.

Q. What is the correct interpretation?

A. I think there are two mistakes here in the translation. In the first place, I did not speak of war economy in my testimony, but I used the term "armament." I said that this term "armament" included textile concerns and wood and leather

[Page 85]

processing concerns. But armament and war economy are two entirely different terms.

Q. And the textile industry is wholly excluded from the term "armament"?

A. I said that various textile concerns were incorporated in armament industry, although they did not produce armaments in the strict sense of the word.

Q. Did not the textile industry manufacture parachute equipment for the Air Force?

A. Yes, but if you consult the Geneva Prisoner-of-War Agreement you will see that it is not forbidden to manufacture that ... for prisoners of war to manufacture that. I have the text here, I can read it to you.

Q. And do you want us seriously to accept that powder can be manufactured without cellulose, and are you for that reason narrowing down the conceptions of war industry and war production?

A. No, you have misunderstood me completely. I wanted to make the concept "armament industry" as broad as possible in order to prove that this modern conception of armament industry is something entirely different from the industries producing armaments in the sense of the Geneva Convention.

Q, All right. You spoke of your objection to using foreign workers, and your reasons for this objection were indicated by Schmelter in his testimony. He was in charge of labour in your Ministry. This testimony was presented by your defence counsel; I shall read only one paragraph and will you please confirm whether it is correct or not:

"In so far as he - Speer - repeatedly mentioned to us that utilization of foreign workers would create great difficulties for the Reich with regard to the food supply for these workers ..."
Were these the reasons for your objection?

A. The translation must be incorrect here. I know exactly how the text reads and what the sense of this statement is. The sense is entirely correct. The question was this: If we brought new workers to Germany we had first of all to make available to them the basic calories necessary to sustain adequately a human being. But the German labourers still working in Germany had to receive these basic calories in any case. Therefore, food was saved if I employed German workers in Germany, and the additional calories for persons doing heavy work and working long hours could again have been increased. That was the sense of Schmelter's statement.

Q. Defendant Speer, you digressed from a direct answer to my question -

A. I would gladly -

Q. You are now going into details which are of no interest to me. I asked you whether this particular passage which I read from the testimony of Schmelter was correct or not.

A. No, it was falsely translated. I should like to have the original in German.

Q. The original is in your document book and you can read it. I will pass to the next question.

A. Yes, but it is necessary to show it to me now. In cross-examination by the Soviet prosecutor I do not have to take my document book to the stand with me.

THE PRESIDENT: You must give him the document if you have got the document.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: Mr. President, this document is contained in the document book presented by the defence counsel. The Tribunal has the original, I only have the Russian translation. Schmelter's affidavit was submitted to the Tribunal yesterday.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got it, Dr. Flaechsner?

DR. FLAECHSNER: Yes. (The document is handed to the witness.)


[Page 86]

THE WITNESS: On what page, approximately?

GENERAL RAGINSKY: It is Page 129 in the Russian translation, answer to Question No. 13, the last paragraph.

THE WITNESS: Yes. It says in the German text:

"He" - that is, Speer - "referred repeatedly to the fact that the employment of foreign workers would cause greater difficulties in production and would depend on whether the Reich would supply additional food."
I explained that. I explained the reasons for that; I think, if you are not convinced, that this explanation of mine is also mentioned later in the affidavit.


Your deputy, Schieber, in reply to the question whether Speer knew that the workers which he requested from Sauckel were brought from occupied territories, answered:

"Well, that was the great debatable question. We always said that Sauckel would only create partisans if he brought workers to Germany against their will."
In connection with this, I am saying that you not only knew that the people who were working in your industries were enslaved workers, but that you also knew of the methods which Sauckel used. Do you confirm that?

A. I knew that some of the workers were brought to Germany against their will. I have already said so. I also said that I considered this compulsory recruitment wrong and disastrous for production in the occupied territories. This is a repetition of my testimony.

Q. It is of no use to repeat your testimony. Tell us, did you not insist that Sauckel should supply you with forcibly recruited workers beyond the demands which you had already made? I will remind you of your letter to Sauckel, this will expedite the proceedings. On 6th January, 1944, you wrote to Sauckel:

"Dear Party-Comrade Sauckel; I ask you, in accordance with your promise to the Fuehrer, to assign these workers so that the orders issued to me by the Fuehrer, may be carried out on time. In addition there is an immediate need of 70,000 workers for the Todt Organization to meet the time limit set on the Atlantic Wall by the Fuehrer in Order No. 51; notification of the need for this labour was given more than six months ago, but it has not yet been complied with."
Did you write this letter? Do you confirm it?

A. Yes. I even admit that I included this letter in my document book, and for the following reasons: The conference, at which Hitler ordered that one million workers were to be brought from France to Germany, took place on the 4th of January, 1944. On the same day I told General Studt, my representative in France, that the requirements for reserved industries in France were to be given priority over the requirements for Germany. Two days later I told Sauckel, in the letter which you now have in your hand, that my need in France amounted to 800,000 workers for French factories and that requirements for workers on the Atlantic Wall had not yet been fully met, that they should therefore be provided first, before the one million workers were sent to Germany. I said yesterday that through these two letters the programme which had been ordered by Hitler was rendered abortive, and that it was the purpose to inform the military commander, who also received this letter, that the workers were to be used first in France; that information was very valuable to the military commander.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.