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 8 of 10)

[DR. SERVATIUS continues.]

[Page 110]

Thus Document 0-84-PS, which is a report of Dr. Gutkelch of the Central Agency for Eastern People of the Rosenberg, Ministry, dated 30th September, 1942, emphasises in various parts the influence of defendant Sauckel and recommended getting into closer touch with him.

[Page 111]

Co-defendant Rosenberg also points to Sauckel's strenuous efforts in Document 194-PS, Page 6, a letter of 14th December, 1942, to Koch, Reich Commissioner for the Ukraine.

Co-defendant Frank likewise on 21st November, 1943, asked defendant Sauckel - Document 908-PS - for a basic change of the legal position of Poles inside the Reich.

To what extent do real events correspond with that which has been stated?

The first question to be dealt with is seizure, which is practically identical with deportation. Next is the examination of the treatment of workers which is designated by the words "slave labour".

The evidence has refuted the erroneous view that defendant Sauckel on his own responsibility carried out the commitment and seizure of foreign workers through his own organization. It has been established that the supreme agencies of the occupied territories executed the laws regarding compulsory work, which they had received on Hitler's orders. All these agencies had their own administrative system and guarded their departments against the intrusion of others.

A communication of the Rosenberg Ministry of the East to Koch, the Reich Commissioner for the Ukraine, dated 14th December, 1942, Document 194-PS, Page 7, in which co- defendant Rosenberg particularly refers to the prevailing right of sovereignty in questions of labour commitment, proves that this administrative system had not been eliminated. These supreme agencies had their own labour offices, which were organized in detail from the Ministry down to the local offices. See Document 3012-PS, an ordinance of the Supreme Command of the Army dealing with compulsory work in operational sector East of 6th February, 1943, and Document RF 15, Ordinance of 6th October, 1942.

Only with these agencies could defendant Sauckel place requests for the number of workers he was ordered to send to Germany and only to them could he give the necessary instructions. These were his limitations and he never went beyond them. He took note of the right of execution, as opposed to the right of giving instructions. For these tasks a deputy was appointed for each territory, who in accordance with the ordinance of September, 1942, Exhibit USA 510, was directly subordinate to defendant Sauckel but did not belong to his agency, as he belonged to the territorial agencies. This was expressly confirmed by the witness Beil, appointed by co-defendant Rosenberg as most important deputy in the East, the State Councillor Peukert, who belonged to the Staff of the Ministry East.

State Councillor Peukert was at the same time consultant for the Economic Staff East for the lines of communication area, which was close to the field of the civil administration; he acted unofficially as deputy of the defendant Sauckel for the purpose of establishing liaison between the staffs. This is proved by Document 3012-PS, which is a note on the aforementioned document dealing with a conversation of 10th March, 1943, concerning labour commitment, in which the position of Peukert is noted in the membership list. Through this combination of positions held by one man (Personalunion), created in the interest of the territorial authorities, all unauthorised interference by defendant Sauckel was made impossible.

When co-defendant Rosenberg complains about the methods of labour mobilization in the East as in Document 018-PS, that is, in the letter to defendant Sauckel dated 21st December, 1942, this must be considered as the complaint of a minister who does not consider himself in a position to prevail against his subordinates, and thus turns towards the presumable source of his difficulties. It is true that these difficulties could have been removed immediately if defendant Sauckel had desisted from the execution of his order. But this execution was just his task, which according to the decree of appointment had to be done under all circumstances.

Defendant Sauckel had to fight against opposition arising from weakness and from departmental egotism, and had to see to it that local agencies did not fail to

[Page 112]

supply the required manpower due to need for rest, or that other offices did not hold it back out of selfish interests. "With all means" and "ruthlessly" are recurring expressions which are employed in the fight against these symptoms.

General Falkenhausen, the Military Commander in Belgium and Northern France, during his hearing, mistakenly declared in Document RF 15 that defendant Sauckel forced him to mobilize labour and that through a special "organization" of his own. But he had to admit that this was incorrect when the order signed by him about the introduction of compulsory labour service was put before him.

This is confirmed by the statements of the witnesses Timm and Stothfang.

In France workers were mobilised by the French. administration. The German office above it was not the office of defendant Sauckel but of the Military Commander in France, where Sauckel only had a deputy. The negotiations which defendant Sauckel conducted in Paris and which were the subject of the evidence lie outside of this activity; they are negotiations of a diplomatic nature between the German and French Governments in which Sauckel participated. They were held in the German Embassy.

There were corresponding conditions and circumstances in the other spheres.

Also the Recruiting Commissions which corresponded to the labour commitment staffs in the L. of C. areas and in operational districts were by no means offices of the defendant Sauckel, as co-defendant Rosenberg assumes. These recruiting commissions were in loose contact with the defendant Sauckel only in as far as they were composed of experts who came from the German labour offices, which belonged to Sauckel's department. They received directives only through their superior office in order to guarantee a uniform handling of all recruiting regulations. Regulation No. 4 in Sauckel Document 15 is authoritative on this point.

Before the appointment of the deputies on 30th September, 1942, an order already issued on 7th May, 1942, provided for the sole responsibility of the military and civil authorities of the occupied territories. The deputies mentioned there, to whom were assigned the same functions, are the deputies at the German missions in friendly foreign countries.

This was misunderstood by the prosecution and, therefore, wrong conclusions were arrived at disadvantageous for the defendant Sauckel about the responsibility for recruiting and transport. Also the interpretation of the provision that "all technical and administrative procedures of the labour commitment were exclusively within the competence and responsibility", of defendant Sauckel is incorrect for the occupied territory.

This stipulation refers solely to the functions in the Reich and lays the basis for the competence of the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Commitment of the district labour offices and labour offices generally; this can be seen from Document 016-PS (last paragraph). The defendant Sauckel, therefore is not directly responsible for the seizure of workers. Indirectly, however, responsibility can be charged to him in that, although he was aware of these bad conditions and knew that they could not be stopped, he nevertheless demanded more workers. To this the following must be said: From the defendant Rosenberg's letter of 21st December, 1942 (Document 018-PS), the defendant Sauckel learned for the first time of the recruiting methods which have been designated as mass deportation. At the meeting which followed in the beginning of January, 1943, the defendant Rosenberg declared that he was opposed to this and that he would not tolerate such methods. This is also confirmed by his previous letter of 14th December, 1942, addressed to Koch, Reich Commissioner for the Ukraine (Document 194-PS), in which he clearly calls the latter's attention to his obligations to proceed legally.

Koch's memorandum of 16th March, 1943 (Document RO-13), of which the defendant Sauckel did not learn until here at the trial, gives the explanation that these incidents are exaggerated individual cases, the justification of which is based on the need for measures to be carried out for the restoration of the authority of

[Page 113]

the occupation officials. It is expressly declared in this that the recruitment of workers is to proceed with legal means and that steps will be taken in the event of arbitrary actions (Document RO-13, Pages 11 and 12). It does not seem out of the question that the incidents might have been a matter of propagandistic exaggerations and activities, to which Koch particularly refers. In war such a possibility is likely, and the propagandistic style of the Molotov report (Document USSR 151) only emphasises this.

The defendant Sauckel was also inclined to this view by the result of a "Manhunt" investigation which was reported to him at Minsk by Field-Marshal Kluge; it turned out to be an assembling of workers employed by a labour firm at the time of the retreat.

The Katyn case shows how difficult it is to clarify such events according to the truth when they are made use of in the propaganda battle.

As the witnesses from the defendant Sauckel's office have confirmed, no other incidents involving these abuses have become known. The cases which were reported are notoriously, in part, repetitions of the same happenings, which were reported from different sides.

Can one believe defendant Sauckel when he declares that he did not know about the conditions alleged by the prosecution? What reached him through official channels cannot be considered as proof of cognizance, and the witnesses confirm that the so-called "methods" were unknown.

But we have here documents of the authorities of the occupied countries from which it appears that the Reich Commissioner in the Ukraine ordered the burning down of houses in retaliation for resistance against the administration, and there are orders prevising such measures. Reports made to the Ministry of the East regarding such events did not lead to penal prosecution, but to the suspension of the procedure, e.g., the Raab case (Document 254-PS) and the Muller case (Document 290-PS).

To any doubts the following must be replied: The measures employed were not approved of by the highest levels, and were only secretly made use of by the lower levels. Therefore, they had reason not to let them become known. From the preliminary proceedings of the Raab and Muller cases, it definitely appears that the existing regulations were unknown at the Ministry.

Defendant Sauckel travelled through the Ukraine, but his attention was certainly not called to matters which might have got the local offices into trouble. The views of defendant Sauckel were well known, and on the other hand there existed a violent quarrel between the offices of the Reich Commissioner Koch and the Reich Ministry Rosenberg. When the documents of both offices which have been submitted are read carefully, it can be seen from the file notes that in this struggle both sides had collected arguments but that nobody wished to commit himself. Since the defendant Sauckel himself had not direct authority, it is understandable that the actual conditions remained unknown to him.

Another point of view has to be considered as well: various documents mention that a certain pressure had to be applied in the procurement of workers, and that the workers had to be obtained "under any circumstances".

Does this give a free hand for all methods?

One must see what was actually done as a result of these statements.

The OKH in one case then ordered the increased conscription of workers and permitted collective seizures, but prohibited collective punishments in connection with this. With regard to this, see Document 3012-PS containing a telephone message of the Economy Staff East to General Staff of 11th March, 1943.

The best illustration is given by a file note in the same document, 3012-PS, concerning a discussion of 10th March, 1943. Here General Nagel requests clear guiding principles and State Councillor Peukert wants "reasonable" recruitment methods established by the OKH as the authorized agency. Document 2280-PS is also relevant here, which is the only personal statement of the defendant

[Page 114]

Sauckel concerning this question and which was made in Riga on 3rd May, 1943, There he states that only "all permissible means" are allowed.

Document 3010-PS, Economy Inspection South, should also be noted, in which on 17th August, 1943, the use of "all suitable means" is permitted. Orders are issued which contain severe measures against non-compliance with the duty of compulsory labour, such as deprivation of food and clothing cards. Imprisonment of relatives is threatened, as well as the taking of hostages.

How about the admissibility of such measures?

The deprivation of food cards has today become a generally used means of coercion which is based on the rationing system; and which has its cause in the conditions of the times. It can be handled easily and does not require any special executive force. And it is extremely effective.

Concerning the imprisonment of relatives, severe abuses of imprisonment of individuals can be recorded even today. The Hague Convention on Land Warfare only prohibits collective punishment of the population, but it does not protect the members of a family who may be considered as jointly responsible in the case of a refusal to work. The French law of 11th June, 1943, which was presented as Document RF 80, also provides for such imprisonment only in the case of deliberate co-operation.

There finally remains the "shooting of a prefect" which the defendant Sauckel demanded. Apart from the fact that this statement as such is irrelevant from the point of view of criminal law, because it was not actually carried out, its legal meaning merely amounts to a demand to apply the existing French law. This law has been submitted by the prosecution as Document RF 25; decree of 31st January, 1943, by the military commander in France, Article 2 of which provides for the death penalty.

Also misunderstood by the prosecution is a statement made by the defendant Sauckel that one must handcuff the workers in a polite way. (Document RF 86, Page 10, discussion by Sauckel in Paris on 27th August, 1943.) But as appears from the context, what is in question here is only a comparison of the clumsy manner of the German police with the obliging manner of the French, without handcuffing being especially praised as a method of seizure: Prussian, clean, and correct on the one hand but at the same time obliging and polite on the other, that is how it should be done.

I refer again to the case of the proposal for "shanghai-ing" in Document R-124, Page 1770, which is known to the Tribunal from the proceedings. The statement which the defendant Sauckel has made gives an understandable explanation; according to it, this was a legal preliminary recruitment which was intended to induce the workers to agree to the real obligation later on in the official recruitment offices. These various incidents, shooting of a prefect, handcuffing, and shanghaiing may be explained in various ways, but one can reach a complete understanding of the subjective side only if one considers why these statements were made, and under what conditions. The underlying reason for all these statements was the struggle against resistance and sabotage which in France assumed ever-increasing proportions. Therefore, it is not a question of brutality and cynicism. These statements were intended to counteract the indecision of the authorities.

Another matter which has to be considered in this connection is whether the defendant Sauckel had not exhausted the manpower of the country by his measures to such an extent that more workers could only be obtained by inhuman methods and that the defendant Sauckel must have known this. The important thing here is the figure of the "quotas". It has been established that they were high, but it has also been established that they were not laid down arbitrarily, but only after a careful study by the statistical department.

Only a small percentage of the population was actually seized, and it was not the impossibility of achieving results that was decisive, but rather the will to resist. In the occupied territories of the East there were large reserves of manpower

[Page 115]

available, especially among the adolescents, which were not appropriately utilised. The German troops, their ranks greatly thinned, saw the thickly populated villages during their retreat, and then felt shortly afterwards the effect of the inhabitants as a reinforcement to the enemy's fighting power.

In France there were likewise many people who placed themselves under the protection of the Maquis or the blocked industries (Sperrbetriebe). This is not only confirmed by the French Government report - RF 2a - but it also appears from a remark which Kehrl, as witness for the co-defendant Speer, made in the Central Planning Board on 1st March, 1944 (Document R 124, Page 66). There this witness states that large numbers of workers were available in France.

Also especially conclusive on this point is Document 1764-PS (Page 6), i.e., the report of Ambassador Hemmen of 15th February, 1944, which deals with the "Reconstruction Programme" of Marshal Petain, and which refers to the population as untouched by the war and increasing by 300,000 males every year. If the number of the seized workers is of importance in this connection, it must be compared with the total population figures, and, on the other hand, it must be taken into consideration that Germany did not demand anything which she did not ask of herself to an even higher degree.

The defendant Sauckel was forced to the opinion not that people were unable to work but that they did not want to work.

In order to influence the people, the propaganda campaign was started and threats of punishment were proclaimed by both parties, and this brought the population of the occupied territories into a state of moral conflict, which became the undoing of many.

[ 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.