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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th July to 27th July 1946

One Hundred and Eighty-First Day: Thursday, 18th July, 1946
(Part 7 of 10)

[DR. SERVATIUS continues.]

[Page 106]

Where, in spite of these regulations, the old methods were applied by the police, Sauckel always intervened when he heard of such occurrences. This has been confirmed repeatedly by witnesses. I refer particularly to Exhibit Sauckel 10, the statement by the witness Gotz.

Another controversial point was the marking of workers with the badge "OST", which was maintained until the year 1944 and was then replaced by a national insignia. This marking of the Eastern workers who were allowed to move freely among the population was one of the police security measures. This cannot be considered ill-treatment. The objection to this sign by the Eastern workers was based in the first place on the defamation of this badge by propaganda, and the defendant Sauckel always tried to change this insignia and to replace it by a national insignia such as the other workers wore voluntarily. He finally prevailed on this question also against Himmler. Document RF 810, Page 12.

There must on principle also be equality between a nation's own workers and foreign workers with regard to the rules concerning maintenance of discipline.

With all belligerent States the war has raised the same problem of how to deal with workers who are slackers, shirkers and saboteurs. The practice of discharge, common in peace time, is ineffective during war; but deserters from work cannot be tolerated today by any belligerent. In cases amounting to sabotage, police and penal measures had therefore to be taken, the most important of which was the short transfer to a labour training camp; in special extreme cases, imprisonment in a concentration-camp was inflicted.

The Document 1063-PS/RF 345 reveals the similarity in the applications of the regulations to Germans and foreigners.

Such police measures which are necessitated by the disloyal conduct of the worker are justifiable measures. The Wartburg Document RF 810 shows in the report of the expert Dr. Sturm that such measures were carried out in a very moderate manner, and that only 0.1 to 0.2 per thousand were thus punished.

Hence it follows that issuing of regulations concerning, the maintenance of discipline is in itself not yet an "ill- treatment" which could be the basis for a crime against humanity. Such an ill-treatment however can consist of excesses which occurred outside the competence of the defendant Sauckel. He can only be held responsible for those if he himself knew of such excesses and approved of them although he could have prevented them.

In summing up one can say that the "regulated utilization of labour" is permissible in International Law and that restrictions imposed on workers within the limits of necessity must be permitted for reasons of State security.

On the other hand, excesses in carrying out the regulations have to be regarded as ill-treatment and could mean crimes against humanity. For these, only those are responsible who have instigated them or who, within the sphere of their competence, did not prevent them.

Should the extensive scale of the charges brought against defendant Sauckel be measured by the standard of the above- stated legal considerations, it is necessary

[Page 107]

first of all to single out those fields in which the evidence reveals him to be absolutely free from responsibility. In the first place, it is not proved that defendant Sauckel can be connected with the biological extermination of the population. His whole interest, as has been shown, was directed in the opposite direction, since his purpose was to obtain people as labourers. With the migration measures and methods used in this respect he had nothing to do.

Work in concentration camps was just as far removed from defendant Sauckel's responsibility. Himmler's Posen speech in October, 1943 (Document 1919-PS, Page 21), reveals that the SS had erected gigantic armament plants of their own. We know that Himmler covered his extensive labour requirements by despotic, arbitrary arrests of persons in occupied territories. In Germany itself he had workers, engaged in regular employment, arrested on insignificant pretexts and brought into concentration camps, fraudulently using the regular labour offices.

This is clearly shown in Document 063-PS, containing a letter dated 17th December, 1942, as well as a letter dated 25th June, 1943, in which alone a requirement of 35,000 prisoners is mentioned. Moreover, any correspondence exchanged with reference to concentration camp labour never passed through Sauckel's offices. As an example, I refer to Document 1584-PS, containing some correspondence with Himmler's department. Defendant Sauckel's name is never mentioned with reference to a conscription of prisoners, and the witnesses have unanimously stated that defendant Sauckel had no connection with these matters. This is also confirmed by the statement of the Director of the Armament Ministry's Labour Office, Schmelter, who received the required prisoners direct from Himmler.

Another field which must be eliminated is the conscription of Jews for labour. This labour conscription is a part of labour conscription of concentration camp prisoners; it was Himmler's own personal secret sphere. This is revealed, for instance, by Document R-91, in which Himmler's office orders the arrest of 45,000 Jews as concentration camp prisoners.

By the production of a document, L-61, the prosecution has attempted to prove the complicity of Sauckel in this field. This document is a letter dated 26th November, 1942, from Sauckel's office to the President of the National Labour Office, stating that in agreement with the Chief of the Security Police and Security Department, Jewish workers remaining in the plants must be withdrawn and evacuated to Poland. As a matter of fact, this letter actually confirms that Sauckel had nothing to do with Jewish labour in the concentration camps, since Jewish workers were actually withdrawn from his department under the false pretence of evacuation. The measure is indeed solely concerned with the purely technical purpose of releasing the Jewish labourers and replacing them by Poles, an operation which could not have been carried out without the participation of Sauckel's office.

This letter is the sequel to a correspondence which can be traced back to the period prior to Sauckel's assumption of office, and Document L-156 is subsequently concerned with the same technical operation. The unimportant character of the matter is attested by the fact that these letters were not written at defendant Sauckel's headquarters in the "Thuringenhaus" but in an auxiliary office in the Saarlandstrasse. Defendant Sauckel disclaims knowledge of these operations and points out that the letters do not bear his original signature but were, according to the routine of his service, made out in his name precisely because they were of minor importance. The fact that the letters begin with the routine business term of "in agreement with", and not "in accordance with" the orders of the Chief of Security Police and SD, does not mean that they refer to an agreement reached, but merely to orders received from the authoritative headquarters.

Next, reference has been made to "extermination by over- working". But Documents 682-PS and 654-PS, dated September, 1942, clearly show that a secret

[Page 108]

manoeuvre of Himmler and Goebbels in co-operation with Reich Minister of Justice Thierack is here involved. Defendant Sauckel is not concerned.

Neither was the drafting of workers into the Organization Todt under Sauckel's responsibility. The accusations proceeding from Document UK 56 in this respect, bearing upon the methods of labour conscription in the Channel Islands, do not therefore concern him. The documents do not show that defendant Sauckel was aware of these proceedings or that he could have prevented them. This separation between defendant Sauckel's labour jurisdiction and the Organization Todt is confirmed in Document L-191, i.e., the report of the International Labour Office in Montreal.

A special development was the apprehension of labour forces by civil and military departments, which, to some extent, resulted in brutal conscription and was, kept secret from defendant Sauckel because he opposed it and wished to prevent it by every means. To a certain degree his objections were overridden by higher authority. Under this category comes the labour conscription by the SS, the Reichsbahn, Air Force Construction Battalions, Speer's Transport and Traffic Units; Fortification and Engineering Staffs and other services. The exclusion of these bodies from the accusations relative to these particular cases must especially exculpate Sauckel, since in these cases Sauckel's orders were not authoritative.

Document 204-PS illustrates in this respect the circumstances in which transport assistants were procured in White Russia.

Document 334-PS shows the same with regard to the execution of an independent drive for Air Force assistants, which can cast no guilt upon Sauckel. The commitment of adolescents, which is known as "Heuaktion" under Document 031-PS of 14th June, 1944, as a point of the charge, lay outside of Sauckel's jurisdiction and activities, as is shown specifically by this document. The Ninth Army together with the East Ministry were the originators.

A letter of the co-defendant Rosenberg to Reich Minister Lammers, of 20th July, 1944 (Document 345-PS), refers falsely to the "consent" of the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Commitment; it states, however, that the defendant Sauckel was not connected with an SS Helper Action and that he refused co-operation in this affair.

According to this, as stated by Document 1137-PS, of 19th October, 1944, a special office in the Rosenberg Ministry with its own personnel takes care of the seizure of youth. Ignoring the defendant Sauckel's agency, labour was supplied direct to the armament industry.

Circumventing defendant Sauckel's agency, measures were initiated by Hitler for direct commitment orders to the local offices of the Wehrmacht and of the civil administration, such as, for example, the labour commitment ordered in the occupied territories for the fortification of the Crimea. Document UK 68. The seizure of workers in Holland which was carried out by the Wehrmacht under protest of the labour service offices is another one of these cases; this is shown in Document 3303-PS, in Lt. Haupt's report, and confirmed by the defendant Seyss-Inquart.

An important sector, which is beyond the defendant Sauckel's responsibility, refers to all the actions executed as punitive measures against partisans and resistance groups. These are independent measures of the police; I already spoke about their judicial evaluation. Whether they were admissible and could be approved depends on the circumstances. For, example, measures against the resistance movement in France as described in Document UK 78 (French Government Report) are excluded here. Therefore, a direct responsibility of defendant Sauckel is out of the question.

Therefore, the very incriminating occurrences which are enumerated in Count III, paragraph VIII of the Indictment under "Deportation", the destina-

[Page 109]

tions of which were the concentration camps, are not within the responsibility of the defendant Sauckel.

Furthermore, the deportations for political and racial reasons which are also mentioned under VIII B of the Indictment, as the deportation of French people into concentration camps, are also not within the responsibility of the defendant Sauckel. Furthermore, the resettlement of Slovenes and Yugoslavs described under B (2) also must be excluded.

According to the Indictment, under VIII, H 2, only a part of the additionally mentioned approximate five million Soviet citizens are mentioned as having been seized for labour commitment, the others were removed by other means to which the regulations of the defendant Sauckel did not apply. This is not of such importance on account of the number of people, but because the presumed bad conditions could have prevailed just in that sector, since there the danger of improper treatment was greater.

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to break off?

(A recess was taken.)

DR. SERVATIUS: The prisoners of war also are exempted from the field of responsibility of the defendant Sauckel. These labour forces did not have to be conscripted but were only directed. This was done by means of special labour offices, which worked independently of the usual procedure in connection with the prisoner camps and collaborated exclusively with the armed forces. The task consisted only of using the prisoners of war where they were needed.

The defendant Sauckel could only request a shifting of the prisoners of war. This is referred to by the prosecution, Document 1296-PS, of 27th July, 1943, which mentions under III the increase in the use of prisoners of war in collaboration with the Army High Command.

The assignment of prisoners of war to plants took place only under the supervision of the Wehrmacht, which at the same time watched over the observance of the Geneva Convention. Sauckel is not in any way connected with the death of hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war of the Soviet Union in 1941, of whom Himmler speaks in his Posen speech, Document 1919-PS, and for whose replacement workers had to be brought in.

If, in spite of this, because of Document USSR 415 - the official Soviet report about the Lamsdorf camp - the defendant Sauckel is considered to have been connected with the alleged ill-treatment of prisoners, then this is only on the basis of the claim that the number of personnel in the camp was reported to him in the ordinary course of official procedure. The charge cannot be maintained. The document, moreover, is not sufficiently chronological after the year 1941.

The defendant Sauckel, although personally he was not competent, intervened in excess of his official duties for the care of the prisoners of war because he was interested in their willingness to work. He issued general decrees. In this way Document Sauckel 36 shows that he demanded a sufficient balanced food supply, and Document 39 shows that he demanded the same working hours as for German workers; he also pointed out here the prohibition of disciplinary punishment by the factory authorities.

A further division of the accusations raised must be made according to the time of the incidents. The defendant Sauckel took over his office only on 21st March, 1942. His measures, therefore, could have had an effect only some time later.

How conditions were previous to that is shown in some documents from the year 1941. In Document 1206-PS, feeding with horse and cat meat is suggested by leading authorities, and in Document USSR 177 the production of bread of a very inferior quality is suggested. Just a short time before the defendant Sauckel's taking office, Himmler in a harsh decree ordered the confinement of the

[Page 110]

workers behind barbed wire. It can be said that a low level in the treatment of the foreign workers at that time in the Reich had been reached. The idea which prevailed of the simplicity and the efficiency of the Russians is tragic.

With the taking over of office by the defendant Sauckel, a fundamental change took place which led to a constantly increasing improvement of the situation. The credit for having established a change here is due, according to the following documents, solely to the defendant Sauckel. This is shown in particular by Document EC-318, which is a record of 15th April, 1942, about the first meeting of the defendant Sauckel with Reich Minister Seldte and his specialist staff on the occasion of his taking office. It has been recorded there that it was the defendant Sauckel who made the taking over of his office dependent on the condition that the food supply for the foreigners must be the same as for the Germans and that the fulfilment of his demand was assured by Hitler, Goering, the Food Minister Darre, and his Secretary of State, Backe. It furthermore has been recorded there that the defendant Sauckel demanded the removal of the barbed wire and succeeded in this, and finally that he immediately took steps to increase the wages of the Eastern workers. The fulfilment of his fundamental demands was immediately pressed with tenacity by the defendant Sauckel against the resistance of all authorities.

The programme of the labour commitment of 20th April, 1942 - Document 016-PS - accordingly initiated immediate steps against cruelties and chicaneries and demanded that foreign workers should be correctly and humanely treated; the hope is even expressed that a propaganda effect in Germany's favour would be achieved by the way in which the labour commitment was carried out. This idea was frequently reiterated later.

An economical commitment of workers was urged in order to counteract the waste which was occurring on the part of influential agencies.

A year later, on 20th April, 1943, the defendant Sauckel again addressed a declaration regarding the procedure to be followed by all persons concerned with labour commitment. This is the repeatedly mentioned "Manifesto of Labour Commitment", Sauckel Document No. 84, which was issued as a warning and an appeal addressed to all agencies which opposed the serious responsibility of the defendant Sauckel. Goebbels opposed it under the pretence that the title was too presumptuous and the propaganda feature of the document essentially too weak. Other agencies just disregarded the copies sent to them and did not forward them, whereupon copies were sent directly to the industries concerned. How this manifesto was handled by the reluctant agencies is shown by its designation, "notorious manifesto", which was unanimously adopted for it in a session of the Central Planning Board on 1st March, 1944, Document R 124, Page 1779a.

Defendant Sauckel was reproached with being over-zealous. I refer to a remark made by General Milch who was interrogated before the Tribunal, in which he refers to the Central Planning Board and criticises the allegedly too lenient treatment of loafers and declares that if anything was undertaken against them, agencies were immediately to be found in Germany which would protect the "poor man" and would intercede for the human rights of others. This is Document R 124, Page 1913.

The attitude of defendant Sauckel was generally known and has been confirmed by various documents. Thus agencies approached him with regard to complaints and deficiencies, not in order to make the defendant Sauckel responsible for them but to solicit his help, because everybody knew how seriously and eagerly he advocated improvements.

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