From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I was the only child of the postman Friedrich Sauckel, and was born at Hassfurt on the Main near Bamberg. I attended the elementary school at Schweinfurt (famous for its ball-bearing works) and the secondary school for 5 years. As my father held only a very humble position, it was my mother, a seamstress, who made it possible for me to go to that school. When she became very ill with heart trouble, I saw that it would be impossible for my parents to provide for my studies, and I obtained their permission to go to sea to make a career for myself there.
Note: The source for most items—unless otherwise noted—is the evidence presented to the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at the first Nuremberg Trial, between November 21, 1945 and October 1, 1946. As always, these excerpts from trial testimony should not necessarily be mistaken for fact. It should be kept in mind that they are the sometimes-desperate statements of hard-pressed defendants seeking to avoid culpability and shift responsibility from charges that—should they be found guilty—could possibly be punishable by death.1909: Sauckel joins the merchant marine of Sweden and Norway.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: First of all I joined the Norwegian and Swedish merchant marine so that I could be thoroughly trained in seaman ship on the big sailing vessels and clippers. At that time I was 15 1/2. As a cabin boy on a Norwegian sailing ship I earned 5 kronen in addition to my keep. In the course of my career as a sailor, and during my training which I continued afterwards on German sailing vessels, I sailed on every sea and went to every part of the world. Through the Young Men's Christian Association, principally in Australia and North America, as well as in South America, I came into contact with families of these countries. …
My good parents, who are no longer alive, brought me up in a strictly Christian but also in a very patriotic way. However, when I went to sea, I lived a sailor's life. I loaded saltpeter in Chile. I did heavy lumber work in Canada, in Quebec. I trimmed coal on the equator, and I sailed around Cape Horn several times. All of this was hard work.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: It so happened that I was on a German sailing vessel on the way to Australia when the ship was captured, and on the high seas I was made prisoner by the French for five years, until November 1919. Although I had finished my trading and studies in seamanship required of me, I could not go to sea again and take my examination, since my savings made during those years at sea had become worthless because of the German inflation. There were also few German ships and very many unemployed German seamen, so I decided to take up work in a factory in my home town of Schweinfurt. At first I remained in my home town. I learned to be a turner and engineer in the Fischer ball bearing factory in order to save money so that I later could attend a technical school, an engineering college.
Although as a sailor I despised politics—for I loved my sailor's life and still love it today—conditions forced me to take up a definite attitude towards, political problems. No one in Germany at that time could do otherwise. Many years before I had left a beautiful country and a rich nation and I returned to that country 6 years later to find it fundamentally changed and in a state of upheaval, and in great spiritual and material need. I worked in a factory which people in my home town described as "ultra Red." I worked in the tool shop, and right and left of me Social Democrats, Communists, Socialists, and Anarchists were working-among others my present father law—and during all the rest periods discussions went on, so that whether one wanted to or not one became involved in the social problems of the time.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I joined the Party definitely in 1923 after having already been in sympathy with it before. ...
One of those days I heard a speech of Hitler's. In this speech he said that the German factory worker and the German laborer must make common cause with the German brain worker. The controversies between the proletariat and the middle class must be smoothed out and bridged over by each getting to know and understand the other. Through this a new community of people would grow up, and only such a community, not bound to middle class or proletariat, could overcome the dire needs of those days and the splitting up of the German nation into parties and creeds. This statement took such hold of me and struck me so forcibly, that I dedicated my life to the idea of adjusting what seemed to be almost irreconcilable contrasts. I did that all the more, if I may say so, because I was aware of the fact that there is an inclination to go to extremes in German people, and in the German character generally. I had to examine myself very thoroughly to find the right path for me personally. As I have already said, I had hardly taken any interest in political questions.
From a pre-trial interrogation of Sauckel (3057-PS, USA-223): I have been a convinced National Socialist since 1921 and agreed 100 percent with the program of Adolf Hitler. I worked actively to that end; and during the period from 1921 until the assumption of power I made about 500 speeches, the sense and contents of which represented the National Socialist standpoint. It was for me a particular satisfaction to have raised the Gau of Thuringia to a predominant position with regard to its National Socialist views and convictions. Until the collapse I never doubted Adolf Hitler, but obeyed his orders blindly. ...
After the putting into effect of the Nuremberg Laws, in keeping with my convictions, I saw to it that all these laws were fully carried out in the Gau of Thuringia. ...
With regard to foreign policy I have been of the opinion that the German people has a justified claim for living space in Europe and by reason of their superior racial level have to assume a leading position.... I agreed with all the decisions taken by Hitler and the NSDAP concerning the means to be used and the measures to be taken to obtain these ends, and I collaborated actively in the execution of this plan.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I confirm that my signature is appended to this document (above). I ask the Tribunal's permission to state how that signature came about.
This document was presented to me in its finished form. I asked to be allowed to read and study this document in my cell in Oberursel and decide whether I could sign it. That was denied me. During the conversation an officer was consulted who, I was told, belonged to the Polish or Russian army; and it was made clear to me that if I hesitated too long in signing this document I would be handed over to the Russian authorities. Then this Polish or Russian officer entered and asked, "Where is Sauckel's family? We know Sauckel, of course we will take him with us; but his family will have to be taken into Russian territory as welt" I am the father of 10 children. I did not stop to consider; and thinking of my family, I signed this document.
When I returned to my cell, I sent a written message to the commandant of the camp and asked permission to talk with him alone on this matter. But that was not possible, because shortly afterward I was brought to Nuremberg. These statements are not correct in individual points, and I asked that I might correct these various points; but I was not given the time to do that. On the last morning before I left I was told I could discuss this matter in Nuremberg, and when I was interrogated here I told the American officer about the matter.
I certainly would not have made those statements in the way I did, if I had been able to act freely and according to my own will. May I take this document point by point? I was 100 percent in agreement with the social program, and I told my counsel that when he examined me.
In Paragraph 1, the year 1921 is incorrect. I became a member, as my first membership card shows, only in 1923 or 1925. Before the year 1923 was in sympathy with the Party. As to being 100 percent in agreement with Adolf Hitler's program, I meant 100 percent insofar as the program appeared to me to be justified legally and constitutionally, and according to ethics and morality.
Just how many meetings I conducted I cannot say. My speeches and lectures were based mainly on my life and on my experiences. Those were the only things that I could talk about, and I wanted to reconcile the German social classes and the German professions to National Socialist ideology. In my eyes, all the sentences are wrong. I would not have put them that way if I myself had been able to formulate them. The way they stand, I dispute each and every sentence, for I did not write them and I was not consulted. These sentences were put before me as they are now.
From Schirach's IMT testimony: This Trial has informed me and people of my generation for the first time what Hitler actually wanted. At that time I was not a National Socialist. Together with some boys of my age I joined a youth organization which had the name Knappenschaft. It was in some way connected with the people's movement, but it was not bound to any party. The principles of that organization were simply comradeship, patriotism, and self-control There were about 100 boys from my city in it at the time who, in this youth organization, fought against the shallow tendencies of youth in the postwar period and against the dissipation indulged in by growing youngsters.
In that circle, as a 16-year-old, I first came in contact with socialism, for here I found youths from every level, working boys, craftsmen, young office employees, sons of farmers. But there were some older ones among us too, who were already settled in life, and some also who had been in the World War. From discussions with these comrades I came to grasp for the first time the consequences of the Versailles Treaty in their full import. The situation of the youth at the time was this: The school boy had the prospect of struggling through somehow or other as a working student, and then he would in all probability become a member of the academic proletariat for the possibility of an academic career practically did not exist for him at all. The young worker had no prospect of finding an apprenticeship. For him there was nothing other than the grim misery of unemployment. It was a generation nobody would help unless it helped itself . . . .
In central Germany there were disturbances. I need only mention the name of the Communist bandit leader, Max Holz, to indicate what conditions obtained at the time. And even after outward calm had come, conditions still prevailed that made it impossible to hold patriotic meetings because they were usually broken up by Communists. There came an appeal to us young people to furnish protection for these patriotic meetings, and we did. Some of us were wounded in doing this. One of us, a certain Garschar, was killed by Communists. In that manner a large number of national meetings took place which otherwise could not have been held in the Weimar Republic, National Socialist meetings, too; and to an increasing degree it was exactly such meetings that we had to protect because the Communist terror was directed against them particularly.
Through this protective activity I met leading National Socialists at first as speakers, naturally, not personally. I heard Count Reventlow speak; I think I heard Rosenberg then too; I heard Streicher speak and heard the first oratorical efforts of Sauckel, who soon after became Gauleiter of the National Socialist Party in Thuringia . . . .
I do not know what my comrades read, with the exception of one book which I shall give you directly I know only what I read myself; I was interested at that time in the writings of the Bayreuth thinker, Chamberlain, in The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, in the writings of Adolf Bartels, in his Introduction to World Literature and History of German National Literature. these were works which had no definite anti-Semitic tendencies, but through which anti-Semitism was drawn like a red thread. The decisive anti-Semitic book which I read at that time and the book which influenced my comrades was Henry Ford's book, The International Jew; I read it and became anti-Semitic. In those days this book made such a deep impression on my friends and myself because we saw in Henry Ford the representative of success, also the exponent of a progressive social policy. In the poverty-stricken and wretched Germany of the time, youth looked toward America, and apart from the great benefactor, Herbert Hoover, it was Henry Ford who to us represented America.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: In 1923 I married the daughter of a German workman I had met at that time. I am still happily married to her today and we have 10 children.May 12, 1925: Paul von Hindenburg takes office as the second President of Germany.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: The Führer wrote about living space in his book. How far I agreed or disagreed with him cannot, in my opinion, be dealt with in this Trial, for I had no influence as to how the Führer himself should interpret the word Lebensraum. I am not fully acquainted with the statements made by the Führer about the doctrine of Lebensraum. I should like to emphasize that I never thought of Lebensraum in connection with the carrying out of wars, or wars of aggression; neither did I promote the idea; but the idea of Lebensraum is perhaps best brought home to us by the fact that the population of Europe in the last 100 years has increased threefold, from 150 million to 450 million. I did not agree with the theory of Lebensraum if it had to do with wars of aggression.
I personally have never approved of the statements made by some of the National Socialist speakers about a superior race and a master race. I have never advocated that. As a young man I traveled about the world. I traveled in Australia and in America, and I met families who belong to the happiest memories of my life. But I loved my own people and sought, I admit, equality of rights for them; and I have always stood for that. I have never believed in the superiority of one particular race, but I always held that equality of rights was necessary. I never considered myself to be a politician as regards foreign policy. I entered the Party by quite a different way and for quite different motives.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: From 1925 on I took an active part [in the Nazi Party]. I met [Hitler] briefly in 1925. I was then appointed Gauleiter in Thüringia [by letter] in 1927. As Gauleiter in Thüringia I earned 150 marks. In any other profession I would have had accommodations and earned more money. At that time we were very definitely told that under no circumstances should there be any secret chapters or any other secrecy in the life of the Party, but that everything should be done publicly.
[My predecessor as Thüringian Gauleiter was] Dr. Dinter (Artur Dinter, 6/27/1876-6/21/1948). Dr. Dinter was dismissed because he wanted to found a new religious movement within the Party.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: The province was governed in accordance with the Thüringian constitution [not by a dictator]. I was a member of the Diet as long as it existed, until May 1933. The Diet was dissolved by a Reich Government decree. ...
In 1932, in the month of June, new elections took place for the Thüringian Diet, and the NSDAP obtained 26 out of 60 seats; a government was elected according to parliamentary principles. Together with the bourgeois parties, by an absolute majority, a National Socialist government was elected. I myself became the President and Minister of the Interior in that government; the old officials, without exception, remained in their offices.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I was appointed Reich Regent of Thuringia by Field Marshal Von Hindenburg, who was Reich President at that time. When I took over my office as Reich Regent I received instructions to form a new Thüringian Government, as the Reich Regent was to keep out of the administrative affairs of a German state ... I was given the political task of administering Thuringia as Reich Regent within the existing Reich law and prevailing Constitution, and of guaranteeing the unity of the Reich. Both positions (Gauleiter and Reich Regent) were entirely separate in their organizations. Under the Regent were officials in office, and under the Gauleiter were employees of the Party. Both positions were administered absolutely separately, as is the case in any other state where members of a party are at the same time party officials or leaders and exercise both these functions simultaneously. ...
I myself was never an SA man. I was an honorary Obergruppenführer in the SA. The Führer made me honorary SS Obergruppenführer for no special reason and without functions.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: As I, as a worker, came to know them, the aims of German trade unions were political, and there were a number of different trade unions with varied political views. I considered that a great misfortune. As workman in the workshop I had had experience of the arguments among the trade unionists between the Christian Socialist trade unions and the Red trade unions, between the syndicalist, the anarchist and the communist trade unions. The dissolution of the trade unions was in the air then. The question was discussed in the Party for a long time and there was no agreement at all as to the position trade unions should hold, nor as to their necessity, their usefulness and their nature. But a solution had to be found because the trade unions which we, or the Führer, or Dr. Ley, dissolved all held different political views. From that time on, however, there was only one party in Germany and it was necessary, I fully realize, to come to a definite decision as to the actual duties of the trade unions, the necessary duties indispensable to every calling and to workers everywhere.
I can say in all good conscience that during those years not one of us ever thought about a war at all. We had to overcome such terrible need that we should have been only too glad if German economic life could have been started again in peace and if the German worker, who had suffered the most during that frightful depression, could have had work and food once more.
My own father law, who was a member of a trade union and still is today, and whom I repeatedly asked for information, whom I never persuaded to join the Party—he was a Social Democrat and never joined the Party—confirmed the fact that even when he was getting old and could no longer work, the German Labor Front never denied him the rights due to him as an old trade unionist and by virtue of his long trade union membership, but allowed him full benefits. On the other hand, the German State—since in Germany old age and disability insurance and the accident insurance, et cetera, were paid and organized by the State—the National Socialist State guaranteed him all these rights and made full payment.
In my Gau, as far as I know, only Communists who had actually worked against the State were arrested. The State Police arrested and interrogated them and detained them according to the findings.
The Party's activity was recruiting. Our most intensive work was the winning over of political opponents. I am very proud of the fact that many workers in my Gau, numerous former Communists and Social Democrats, were won over by us and became local group leaders and Party functionaries. One Kreisleiter (County Leader) from the extreme left was appointed. Also, besides a number of other leaders, the Gau sectional manager of the German Labor Front had belonged to the extreme left for a long time. Political opponents who did not work against the State were neither bothered nor harmed in my Gaul. ....
The task of the DAF was to care for German workers and look after their interests. In this capacity [during WW2] it had to concern itself, as a matter of course, with the welfare of foreign workers. That was its ordinary task; and at the same time it had a corrective influence on state labor administration, an influence similar to that exerted by the trade unions on state control, as far as it exists, in other countries. They had the task of regulating the total production of their works; and, of course, they were fully responsible for their workmen and for the foreign workers who had been assigned to them. The employers were primarily responsible, according to the law regulating German labor.
From The Arms of Krupp by William Manchester: Gustav [Krupp] had pledged his wife's fortune and his own sacred honor, and for a busy executive he devoted a remarkable amount of time to strengthening his Nazi ties still further. Some of these activities were essential to the party. Like other industrialists he had to see that each Kruppianer [Krupp workers and managers] was enrolled in the Labor Front and weekly "dues" deducted from pay envelopes. In his role as chairman of the Hitler-Spende he was obliged to keep up a regular correspondence with Martin Ludwig Bormann, the dour convicted murderer who served his Führer as private secretary [from 1943 on], and when manufacturers protested that they couldn't convert to war production without cutting their donations, Krupp had to pass along Bormann's warning that four million Reichsmarks must be contributed immediately, "under compulsion" if it should not be forthcoming voluntarily.
Other gestures were in the tradition of the firm. Like the Great Krupp, Gustav enjoyed sending the chief of state highly polished Gala guns. There were also ceremonial Gusstahlfabrik tours for eminent statesmen—e.g. Bormann, Goebbels, Göring, von Ribbentrop, Himmler, Hess, von Neurath, von Blomberg, Fritsch, Keitel, Raeder, Mackensen, Todt, Speer, Funk, Ley, and Sauckel—and for the leaders of friendly nations: notably Japanese conservatives, and Benito Mussolini, who was first shown around by Hitler himself the last week of September 1937.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I can say in all good conscience that during those years not one of us ever thought about a war at all. We had to overcome such terrible need that we should have been only too glad if German economic life could have been started again in peace and if the German worker, who had suffered the most during that frightful depression, could have had work and food once more.September 15, 1935: Nürnberger Gesetze: The first of a series of Anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws is introduced at the annual Nazi Party Nuremberg Rally: The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor. These measures will succeed in denying citizenship and civil rights to Jews.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I had no influence on legislation such as culminated in the Nuremberg Laws. My conviction is that every nation and every race has the right to exist and to demand respect and protection through itself. What I demand and have demanded for my own people is exactly the same. The Nuremberg Laws could apply to Thüringia only insofar as any authority to appoint or dismiss employees was involved; and, of course, according to German law, it was my duty to carry out the law. The carrying out of this law by me entailed neither ill-usage nor any other inhuman treatment.
From The Third Reich in Power, by Richard J. Evans: At the same time, sporadic local boycotts and attacks continued, most notably in the run-up to Christmas, while laws and regulations promulgated from Berlin made life progressively more difficult for Jewish businesses. Increasingly, forced sales were made at well below the market price and under threat of arrest and imprisonment on trumped-up charges that had nothing to do with the conduct of the business itself. In the town of Suhl, for example, Regional Party Leader Fritz Sauckel arrested the Jewish owner of the arms manufacturing company Simson and put him in prison in 1935 after he had refused to sell his company at a knockdown price; citing Hitler's explicit authorization, he then transferred ownership to a specially created foundation, in the alleged interests of national defense. Supposed debts were given as the reason for denying the owner compensation of any kind. (Evans, V. 2, p. 390)January 3, 1937: Hitler speaks before the Reichstag:
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: The Buchenwald Camp originated in the following manner: The Führer, who came to Weimar quite often because of the theater there, suggested that a battalion of his SS Leibstandarte should be stationed at Weimar. As the Leibstandarte was considered a picked regiment I not only agreed to this but was very pleased, because in a city like Weimar people are glad to have a garrison. So the State of Thuringia, the Thüringian Government, at the request of the Führer, prepared a site in the Ettersburg Forest, north of the incline outside the town.
After some time Himmler informed me, however, that he could not bring a battalion of the SS Leibstandarte to Weimar, as he could not divide up the regiment, but that it would be a newly established Death's Head unit, and Himmler said it would amount to the same thing. It was only some time later, when the site had already been placed at the disposal of the Reich, that Himmler declared that he now had to accommodate a kind of concentration camp with the Death's Head units on this very suitable site. I opposed this to begin with, because I did not consider a concentration camp at ail the right kind of thing for the town of Weimar and its traditions. However, he—I mean Himmler—making use of his position, refused to have any discussion about it. And so the camp was set up neither to my satisfaction nor to that of the population of Weimar.
I never had anything to do with the administration of the camp. The Thüringian Government made an attempt at the time to influence the planning of the building by saying that the building police in Thuringia wished to give the orders for the sanitary arrangements in the camp. Himmler rejected this on the grounds of his position, saying that he had a construction office of his own and the site now belonged to the Reich. As far as I can remember, on one single occasion at the end of 1937 or at the beginning of 1938, I visited and inspected the camp with an Italian commission. I did not find anything wrong. I inspected the accommodations—I myself had been a prisoner for 5 years, and so it interested me. I must admit that at that time there was no cause for any complaint as such. The accommodations had been divided into day and night rooms. The beds were covered with blue and white sheets; the kitchens, washrooms, and latrines were beyond reproach, so that the Italian officer or officers who were inspecting the camp with me said that in Italy they would not accommodate their own soldiers any better. I heard nothing about such events as have been alleged here.
I neither received instructions for the Buchenwald Camp, nor reports. It was not only my personal opinion but it was the opinion of old experienced Gauleiter that it was the greatest misfortune, from the administrative point of view, when Himmler as early as 1934-35 proceeded to separate the executive from the general internal administration. There were continual complaints from many Gauleiter and German provincial administrations. They were unsuccessful, however, because in the end Himmler incorporated even the communal fire brigades into the Reich organization of his Police. I had no personal relations with the SS and the Police at ale I had official relations inasmuch as the trade police and the local police of small boroughs still remained under the internal administration of the State of Thuringia.
It was the ridiculous part of the development at that time that, as I once explained to the Führer, we had been changed from a Party state, and a state made up of provinces, into a departmental state. The Reich ministries had greatly developed, their departments being fairly well defined, and the individual district departments of the various administrations did not agree among one another. Until 1934 Thuringia had its own independent police administration in its Ministry for Home Affairs. But from that time the headquarters of the Higher SS and the Police Leader were transferred to Kassel, so that Himmler, in contrast to the rest of the State and Party organizations, obtained new spheres for his Police. He demonstrated this in Central Germany where for example the Higher SS and Police Leader for Weimar and the State of Thüringia was stationed in Kassel, whereas for the Prussian part of the Gau of Thuringia—that is to say the town of Erfurt which is 20 kilometers away from Weimar-the Higher SS and Police Leader and the provincial administration had their seat in Magdeburg. It is obvious that we, as Gau authorities, did not in any way agree with such a development and that there was great indignation among the experienced administrators.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I cannot recollect in detail the events in Thüringia. As I told you, there were only a few Jews in Thüringia. The Gauleiter were in Munich at the time, and had no influence at all on that development, for it happened during the night, when all the Gauleiter were in Munich. There may have been a few towns in Thuringia where a window was smashed or something of that sort. I cannot tell you in detail. I cannot even tell you where or whether there were synagogues in Thüringia.May 8, 1939: Mauthausen-Gusen camp, a prison camp for common criminals, prostitutes and other categories of 'Incorrigible Law Offenders,' is converted to a labor camp which will be mainly used for the incarceration of political prisoners. The prisoners will be marched daily to the stone-quarries at Gusen.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I was never informed in advance about the start of the war or about foreign political developments. I merely remember that quite suddenly—it may have been during the days between 24 August and the end of August—we were called to a session of the Reichstag in Berlin. This session was canceled at the time, and we were later ordered to go to the Führer, that is, the Gauleiter and Reichsleiter. But a number had already left so that the circle was not complete. The conference, or Hitler's speech, only lasted a short time. He said, roughly, that the meeting of the Reichstag could not take place as things were still in the course of development. He was convinced that there would not be a war. He said he hoped there would be some settlement in a small way and meant by that, as I had to conclude, a solution without the parts of Upper Silesia lost in 1921. He said—and that I remember exactly—that Danzig would become German, and apart from that Germany would be given a railway line with several tracks, like a Reichsautobahn, with a strip of ground to the right and left of it. He told us to go home and prepare for the Reich Party Rally, where we would meet again.September 1, 1939 WW2: German forces invade Poland.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I personally, as far as I know the Führer, had a great deal of admiration for him. But I had no close connection with him that one could describe as personal. I had a number of discussions with him about the administration of my Gau and in particular about the care he wished to be given to cultural buildings in Thuringia-in Weimar, Eisenach, and Meiningen; and later on there were more frequent meetings because of my position as Plenipotentiary General for the Allocation of Labor. My connections with the Reichsleiter (national leader or Reich leader) were no different from my connections with the Führer. They were of an official and Party nature. As regards personal relationships I cannot say that I had any particularly personal intercourse with anyone. My connection with the Reich Ministers was of a purely official nature and was very infrequent.September 1, 1939: Hitler speaks before the Reichstag:
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I could not have the honor of being a German soldier because of my imprisonment in the first World War. And in this World War the Führer refused to allow me to serve as a soldier. I had repeatedly made written requests to the Führer that I might be allowed to join the Wehrmacht as an ordinary soldier. He refused to give me this permission. So I arranged in secret for someone to take my place and went aboard Captain Salmann's submarine with his agreement. As a former sailor and now a politician in a high position I wanted to give these brave submarine men a proof of my comradeship and understanding and of my sense of duty. Apart from that I had 10 children for whom, as their father, I had to do something too.
From The Third Reich At War, by Richard J. Evans: Sauckel's plebeian populism found dramatic expression on the outbreak of war, when, after Hitler had turned down his request to be allowed to serve in the armed forces, he smuggled himself on to a U-boat as a stowaway, only being discovered after the submarine had put to sea. Given his prominence, the head of the U-boat fleet, Admiral Karl Dönitz, recalled the vessel to port, but the episode did Sauckel's reputation no harm. A close ally of Martin Bormann, he seemed both to Bormann and, indeed, to Hitler to possess the qualities of energy and ruthlessness needed to solve the labor problem in 1942. His record as a hardline Nazi would reassure the Party that he was not going to be soft on 'subhuman' Slavs even if their labor was vital to the German war effort. (Evans, V. 3, p. 347)October 26, 1939: A forced labor decree is issued for Polish Jews between the ages of 14 to 60.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: The security measures were the responsibility of the Police, not mine, because the camps came under the various industries and the German Labor Front.
First of all, I should like to point out that this document is dated 6 March 1941—that is, more than a year before I assumed office. Such an absurd and impossible decree never came to my attention during my term of office. But since I am now being confronted with the document and am learning about it, I should like to refer to my own decrees, which I issued entirely independently of what had gone before and which automatically revoked such decrees. In order to prevent these absurd decrees of some agency in the Reich from being effective, I had my decrees collected and published in a handbook in which it says-because of the time factor and out of respect for the Tribunal, I cannot ask the Tribunal to look at all of them; but they are in direct contradiction to such views. I would like to ask that I be permitted to quote just one sentence from the manifesto already referred to, which is directed against such nonsense and against the misuse of manpower. I refer particularly to my directives for fair treatment. The sentence reads as follows:
"These orders and directives, as well as their supplements, are to be brought very forcibly to the attention of works managers and leaders of camps for foreign nationals, as well as their personnel, at least four times a year by the regional labor offices. Actual adherence to them is to be constantly supervised."
That is a paragraph from the manifesto which refers specifically to my orders prescribing just and humane treatment, sufficient food, leisure time, and so forth.
From Max Timm’s IMT Testimony: Various authorities were concerned with supervising the work of foreign workers. These were five or six different offices. There was in particular the German Labor Front, which, on the basis of a so-called Führer decision, claimed for itself the question of the treatment and care of foreign workers. And I may mention in this connection that it repeatedly said this assignment went beyond the order given by the Plenipotentiary General for the Allocation of Labor to the German Labor Front, and that to a certain extent it was bound by a higher authority to carry out this task of welfare and control of treatment, et cetera. On this fundamental question there were repeated conferences between the office of the GBA and the German Labor Front, and these later led to an agreement according to which the GBA also transferred this question to the German Labor Front. To settle these matters, the German Labor Front established a central inspectorate whose mission it was to look after foreign workers throughout the whole Reich. In addition to this central inspectorate, the Office for the Allocation of Labor within the German Labor Front was still functioning.
From Göring: The Iron Man, by R. J. Overy: The needs of the Reich for labor took priority and from 1939 onwards a stream of foreign workers and prisoners-of-war was brought into Germany to make up for the loss of German workers to the armed forces. It is sometimes forgotten that the efforts of Fritz Sauckel after 1942 to recruit labor for the German economy did not initiate the flow of foreign labor, but completed it. Well before March 1942, when Sauckel was given control of labor recruitment, Göring had ordered the mobilization of non-German labor. By 1941 certain sectors of the war economy were already heavily dependent on the use of foreign labor. The Salzgitter works of the Reichswerke employed only 22 per cent Germans by the middle of 1941. The rest of the workforce was made up of foreign workers, with 17 per cent prisoners-of-war. If this proportion was exceptionally high, most other armaments firms and heavy industry relied on a substantial proportion of non-German labor. By the middle of 1940 there were 2.2 million foreign workers and prisoners in Germany, by the end of 1941 3.5 million. Not only did this recruitment of labor fail to alleviate the shortages in the Reich, since demands for labor continued to escalate throughout 1941 and 1942, but it also created acute shortages of workers in the occupied or dependent countries when they were asked to provide a higher level of production to help the German war effort.April 6, 1941: On Palm Sunday, Hitler invades Yugoslavia and Greece.
From Rosenberg's IMT testimony: Reich Commissioner Koch had jurisdiction over the execution of all orders coming from the highest Reich authorities. He was responsible for the execution of all measures within the bounds of the instructions. He had, I now believe, often overstepped the bounds of these instructions and acted on his own initiative in taking, as he thought, exclusively war economic measures. Sometimes I heard of these measures, and often I did not.September 16, 1941: Göring, at a meeting of German military officials concerned with the better exploitation of the occupied territories for the German food economy:
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: I had no knowledge of [the Final Solution of the ‘Jewish Problem’]. It would have made my task much easier and I would have had much less difficulty if all these people (Jews), as far as they were capable of working, had been brought into the labor plan in a more reasonable manner. I knew absolutely nothing about this Final Solution, and it was entirely contrary to my interest.December 7, 1941: Japanese forces attack Pearl Harbor.
From Speer's IMT testimony: I believe the tasks of a production ministry are well known in all industrial states. I just wanted to summarize briefly which functions I had to concern myself with in detail in this Ministry.
For one, we had to surmount the deficiency in raw materials, metals, and steel. Then, by the introduction of assembly-line work, which is customary in the United States but was not yet current in Germany, the work was systematized; and thus machinery and space were utilized to the utmost. Also, it was necessary to amplify the production programs, for example, for fine steel, aluminum, and individual parts like ball bearings and gear wheels.
One of the most important tasks was the development of new weapons and their serial production; and then, beginning with 1943, the reparation of the damage caused by the extraordinarily sudden bombing attacks, which forced us to work with improvised means and methods.
It is to be taken as a matter of course that this sphere of activity was the most important in our country, if only because it included providing equipment for the Army. I claimed that during the war the rest of the economy would have to be regulated according to the exigencies of armament. In times of war, at home, there are only two tasks which count: To furnish soldiers for the front, and to supply weapons. Because during peacetime the giving of orders is normally regulated according to supply and demand, but in wartime this regulating factor is lacking.
In 1942 I took over the armaments and construction programs with altogether 2.6 million workers. In the spring of 1943 Dönitz gave me the responsibility for naval armament as well, and at this point, I had 3.2 million workers. In September of 1943, through an agreement with the Minister of Economy, Herr Funk, the production task of the Ministry of Economy was transferred to me. With that I had 12 million workers working for me.
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, particularly road and rail construction, and in the West the construction of concrete dugouts which became known as the so-called Atlantic Wall. For this purpose the Organization Todt used foreign labor to a disproportionately high degree. In the West there were about 20 foreigners to 1 German worker; in Russia there were about 4 Russians to 1 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 staff and recruited their own workers, it being clear that these firms had no possibility to recruit by coercion. Accordingly a large number of workers of the Organization Todt were volunteers; but naturally a certain percentage always worked in the Organization Todt under the conscription system.
Here the Organization Todt has been described as part of the Armed Forces. As a technical detail it should be stated in this connection that foreign workers did not, of course, belong to it, but only German workers who naturally in occupied territories had to figure as members of the Armed Forces in some way or other. The Prosecution had 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 it is for a certain reason that I am anxious to state that they were on principle 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 program.
In May 1944 the Organization Todt was taken over by the Reich and subsequently made responsible for some of the large-scale construction programs and for the management of the organization of the Plenipotentiary for Control of Building in the Four Year Plan. This Plenipotentiary for Control of Building distributed the contingents coming from the Central Planning Board and was responsible for other directive tasks, but he was not responsible for the carrying out and for the supervision of the construction work itself. There were various official building authorities in the Reich, and in particular the SS Building Administration had their own responsibility for the building programs which they carried out.
From The Devil's Disciples, by Anthony Read: Göring had been at loggerheads with Todt for some time, and had in fact been intriguing for two or three months with Himmler, Heydrich, Goebbels and even Bormann, to oust him from office in a coup reminiscent of the removal of Blomberg and Schacht . . . .
As soon as he (Göring) heard of Todt's death, he rushed to Hitler's HQ, to persuade the Führer to let him take over his responsibilities. But quick as he was, he was too late. He was staggered to find that Hitler had already appointed Albert Speer, who was with him when Göring arrived, as Todt's successor in all his capacities. Speer, who the evening before had accepted Todt's offer of a lift back to Berlin in his plane but had changed his mind at 3 AM, deciding he was too tired after a long session with Hitler, was still coming to terms with his good fortune, not only for his narrow escape but also for his elevation. He had expected to be given Todt's role as construction chief, but was as surprised as Göring when he was given the Armaments Ministry as well.
For all his professed modesty, Speer was in fact intensely ambitious, and was thrilled to find himself raised to cabinet level at the age of thirty-six. As an instinctive politician and a gifted manipulator, his first action was to cover his back by persuading Hitler to make his appointment an order . . . . .
Göring soon discovered that he had met his match, as Speer moved fast and with characteristic skill to outflank him . . . . [There soon were] further blows to Göring's authority. His control of manpower resources was given to Fritz Sauckel, a short, stolid man with a bald head and a minimal toothbrush mustache, who had been Gauleiter of Thüringia since 1926. Speer had wanted Karl Hanke, the man who had given him his first architectural commission for the party in Berlin and who was now Gauleiter of Lower Silesia, to get the job, but this had been blocked by Bormann. Showing his muscle as party boss, he said Hanke had not been a Gauleiter long enough. Hanke's old love affair with Magda Goebbels may have counted against him, but the real reason for his rejection was undoubtedly that he was Speer's friend, and his loyalty would have been to him rather than to Bormann and the party organization. To make doubly sure that Sauckel would not be in Speer's pocket, Bormann persuaded Hitler to make the new commissioner responsible for finding and deploying labor—chiefly from the Ukraine and the Eastern territories—not simply for armaments production but for the whole of German industry.
For the sake of appearances and Göring's battered pride, Sauckel was given the title General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labor within the Four Year Plan, but he was no more answerable to Göring than was Speer: he was directly and only responsible to Hitler, through Bormann. Accepting the situation, Göring wound up his own labor deployment section, for once voluntarily shedding part of his power—though his decision may have been prompted by foreseeing nothing but trouble ahead. Speer had hardly been confirmed in his new post (Armaments Minister) before Keitel demanded the immediate release for front-line duties of a quarter of a million army troops who had been made available for munitions production. "That was the beginning of the struggle for manpower, a struggle that was never to end," Keitel recalled.
From Speer’s Spandau Draft: He [Hitler] had one extraordinary deficiency, if one can call it that. He himself was not really manipulative, not in the accepted sense of the term. After all, he totally dominated his environment—he did not need to manipulate: he ordered. Thus, though he was certainly suspicious of others, he had no understanding of, no feeling for the game of manipulation, indeed no suspicion that anyone could slowly, steadily work on him and manipulate him so cunningly that he would finally be convinced that he, and he alone, had changed a long-held opinion. Göring, Goebbels, Bormann and up to a point Himmler, too, were masters at this game. It was Hitler's lack of awareness of this kind of subtle deception that helped these men to obtain and maintain their position of power.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: The Todt Organization for a long time recruited and used manpower independently in all territories. Workers were employed for local urgent work, of course, by army groups, by construction and fortification battalions, and so on, which I neither knew about nor was in a position to control. Road building... The Reichsbahn repaired its tracks itself and recruited or hired the workers for its requirements whenever it needed them. ...
I myself was not a soldier, and I am not familiar with the detailed organization of the OKW and the OKH. It was often difficult for a layman to make the distinction between these things. It is true that the OKH was competent for the recruitment of workers in occupied countries controlled by army groups. Therefore, labor regulations for the occupied countries which were under the authority of the Army had to be issued through laws or directives by the General Staff. The Quartermaster General was, as far as I know, next to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. [Keitel] had no competence [concerning the procuring, recruiting, and conscripting of manpower in the occupied territories]. I came into contact with Field Marshal Keitel, because the Führer repeatedly instructed me to ask Field Marshal Keitel to transmit his orders to the army groups by telephone or through directives. The workers were used in those economic branches for which they had been demanded, and they had nothing at all to do with the OKW.
From Max Timm’s IMT Testimony: Speer was Plenipotentiary General for Armament while Sauckel was Plenipotentiary General for the Allocation of Labor, and Speer held the point of view that he, as Armament Minister, should have decisive authority in all matters pertaining to the production of armaments, that is raw materials, coal and consequently also the allocation of labor. The two conceptions were opposed. In reality there was always a certain tension between the two men because the Armament Ministry wanted more or less to claim the power to issue instructions. This tension was generally cleared up through talks, or the exchange of letters between the two men. Sometimes it led to what one might call "agreement conferences," headed by Reichsminister Lammers, as he was at that time. These conferences led to agreements which, as far as I remember, were several times taken down in writing, and in my opinion they led to an increasingly strong influence by the Armament Ministry on questions concerning the allocation of labor.
I cannot give the dates of the sessions exactly. I know only that the Plenipotentiary General for the Allocation of Labor several times wished to report these circumstances to the Führer, and that the two men, as far as I can remember, agreed that these questions should be discussed with the Führer. Then, however, in order to avoid always taking things to the Führer they agreed to have matters talked over with Reichsminister Lammers.
From Keitel's IMT testimony: During the winter of 1941-42 the problem of replacing soldiers who had dropped out arose, particularly in the eastern theater of war. Considerable numbers of soldiers fit for active service were needed for the front and the armed services. I remember the figures. The army alone needed replacements numbering from 2 to 2.5 million men every year. Assuming that about 1 million of these would come from normal recruiting and about half a million from rehabilitated men, that is, from sick and wounded men who had recovered, that still left 1.5 million to be replaced every year. These could be withdrawn from the war economy and placed at the disposal of the services, the Armed Forces. From this fact resulted the close correlation between the drawing off of these men from the war economy and their replacement by new workers. This manpower had to be taken from the prisoners of war on the one hand and Plenipotentiary Sauckel, whose functions may be summarized as the task of procuring labor, on the other hand. This connection kept bringing me into these matters, too, since I was responsible for the replacements for all the Wehrmacht—Army, Navy, and Air Force—in other words, for the recruiting system. That is why I was present at discussions between Sauckel and the Führer regarding replacements and how these replacements were to be found. ...
Up to 1942 or thereabouts we had not used prisoners of war in any industry even indirectly connected with armaments. This was due to an express prohibition issued by Hitler, which was made by him because he feared attempts at sabotaging machines, production equipment, et cetera. He regarded things of that kind as probable and dangerous. Not until necessity compelled us to use every worker in some capacity in the home factories did we abandon this principle. It was no longer discussed; and naturally prisoners of war came to be used after that in the general war production, while my view which I, that is the OKW, expressed in my general orders, was that their use in armament factories was forbidden; I thought that it was not permissible to employ prisoners of war in factories which were exclusively making armaments, by which I mean war equipment, weapons, and munitions. For the sake of completeness, perhaps I should add that an order issued by the Führer at a later date decreed further relaxation of the limitations of the existing orders. I think the Prosecution stated that Minister Speer is supposed to have spoken of so many thousands of prisoners of war employed in the war economy.
I may say, however, that many jobs had to be done in the armament industry which had nothing to do with the actual production of arms and ammunition. ...there are documents to show that prisoners of war in whose case the disciplinary powers of the commander were not sufficient were singled out and handed over to the Secret State Police. Finally, I have already mentioned the subject of prisoners who escaped and were recaptured, a considerable number of whom, if not the majority, did not return to their camps. Instructions on the part of the OKW or the Chief of Prisoners of War Organization ordering the surrender of these prisoners to concentration camps are not known to me and have never been issued. But the fact that, when they were handed over to the police, they frequently did end up in the concentration camps has been made known here in various ways, by documents and witnesses. That is my explanation.
From Speer's IMT testimony: If such conditions had existed, I should probably have heard of them, since when I visited plants the head of the plant naturally came to me with his biggest troubles. These troubles occurred primarily after air raids when, for example, both the German workers and foreign workers had no longer any proper shelter. This state of affairs was then described to me, so that I know that what is stated in the Jager affidavit cannot have been a permanent condition. It can only have been a condition caused temporarily by air raids, for a week or a fortnight, and which was improved later on. It is clear that after a severe air raid on a city all the sanitary installations, the water supply, gas supply, electricity, and so on, were out of order and severely damaged, so that temporarily there were very difficult conditions. . . .
It is clear that a worker who has not enough food cannot achieve a good work output. I already said yesterday that every head of a plant, and I too at the top, was naturally interested in having well-fed and satisfied workers, because badly fed, dissatisfied workers make more mistakes and produce poor results.
I should like to comment on this document. The document is dated 25 February 1942. At that time there were official instructions that the Russian workers who came to the Reich should be treated worse than the western prisoners of war and the western workers. I learned of this through complaints from the heads of concerns. In my document book, there is a Führer protocol which dates from the middle of March 1942—that is, 3 or 4 weeks after this document—in which I called Hitler's attention to the fact that the feeding both of Russian prisoners of war and of Russian workers was absolutely insufficient and that they would have to be given an adequate diet, and that moreover the Russian workers were being kept behind barbed wire like prisoners of war and that that would have to be stopped also. The protocol shows that in both cases I succeeded in getting Hitler to agree that conditions should be changed and they were changed.
I must say furthermore that it was really to Sauckel's credit that he fought against a mountain of stupidity and did everything so that foreign workers and prisoners of war should be treated better and receive decent food.
From the affidavit of an employee of the Reich Railways: I, the undersigned, Adam Schmidt, employed as Betriebswart on the Essen-West Railway Station and residing . . . state voluntarily and on oath: I have been employed by the Reich Railways since 1918 and have been at Essen-West Station since 1935. In the middle of 1941 the first workers arrived from Poland, Galicia, and the Polish Ukraine. They came to Essen in trucks in which potatoes, building materials and also cattle had been transported, and were brought to perform work at Krupp's. The trucks were jammed full with people. My personal view was that it was inhuman to transport people in such a manner. The people were packed closely together and they had no room for free movement.
The Krupp overseers laid special value on the speed with which the slave workers got in and out of the trucks. It was enraging for every decent German who had to watch this to see how the people were beaten and kicked and generally maltreated in a brutal manner. In the very beginning when the first transport arrived we could see how inhumanly these people were treated. Every truck was so overfilled that it was incredible that such a number of people could be jammed into one. I could see with my own eyes that sick people who could scarcely walk they were mostly people with foot trouble, or with injuries, and people with internal trouble) were nevertheless taken to work. One could see that it was sometimes difficult for them to move. The same can be said of the Eastern Workers and PW's who came to Essen in the middle of 1942.
From Speer's IMT testimony: When the workers came to Germany from the East, their clothing was no doubt bad, but I know from Sauckel that while he was in office a lot was done to get them better clothes, and in Germany many of the Russian workers were brought to a considerably better condition than they had previously been in in Russia. The Russian workers were quite satisfied in Germany. If they arrived here in rags, that does not mean that that was our fault. We could not use ragged workers with poor shoes in our industry, so conditions were improved. I cannot give any information about this transport matter. I received no reports about it.
From an affidavit by a certain Hofer, who lived in Essen: From April 1943 I worked with Lowenkamp every day in Panzer Shop 4. Lowenkamp was brutal to the foreigners. He confiscated food which belonged to the PW's and took it home. Every day he maltreated Eastern Workers, Russian PW's, French, Italian, and other foreign civilians. He had a steel cabinet built which was so small that one could hardly stand in it. He locked up foreigners in the box, women too, for 48 hours at a time without giving the people food.
They were not released even to relieve nature. It was forbidden for other people, too, to give any help to the persons locked in, or to release them. While clearing a concealed store he fired on escaping Russian civilians without hitting any of them.
One day, while distributing food, I saw how he hit a French civilian in the face with a ladle and made his face bleed. Further, he delivered Russian girls without bothering about the children afterward. There was never any milk for them so the Russians had to nourish the children with sugar water. When Lowenkamp was arrested he wrote two letters and sent them to me through his wife. He tried to make out that he never beat people.
From Speer's IMT testimony: I consider this affidavit a lie. I would say that among German people such things do not exist, and if such individual cases occurred they were punished. It is not possible to drag the German people in the dirt in such a way. The heads of concerns were decent people too, and took an interest in their workers. If the head of the Krupp plant heard about such things, he certainly took steps immediately. No, I do not believe it [the steel-box story]; I mean I do not believe it is true. After the collapse in 1945 a lot of affidavits were certainly drawn up which do not fully correspond to the truth. That is not your fault. It is the fault of ... after a defeat, it is quite possible that people lend themselves to things like that.
From a captured German document headed "Sworn on oath before a military court" signed by Hubert Karden: The camp inmates were mostly Jewish women and girls from Hungary and Romania. The camp inmates were brought to Essen at the beginning of 1944 and were put to work at Krupp's. The accommodation and feeding of the camp prisoners was beneath all dignity. At first the prisoners were accommodated in simple wooden huts. These huts were burned down during an air raid and from that time on the prisoners had to sleep in a damp cellar. Their beds were made on the floor and consisted of a straw-filled sack and two blankets.
In most cases it was not possible for the prisoners to wash themselves daily, as there was no water. There was no possibility of having a bath. I could often observe from the Krupp factory, during the lunch break, how the prisoners boiled their under-clothing in an old bucket or container over a wood fire, and cleaned themselves. An air-raid trench served as shelter, while the SS guards went to the Humboldt shelter, which was bombproof. Reveille was at 5 AM. There was no coffee or any food served in the morning. They marched off to the factory at 5.15 AM. They marched for three-quarters of an hour to the factory, poorly clothed and badly shod, some without shoes, and covered with a blanket, in rain or snow. Work began at 6 AM. The lunch break was from 12 to 12.30. Only during the break was it at all possible for the prisoners to cook something for themselves from potato peelings and other garbage.
The daily working period was one of 10 or 11 hours. Although the prisoners were completely undernourished, their work was very heavy physically. The prisoners were often maltreated at their work benches by Nazi overseers and female SS guards. At 5 or 6 in the afternoon they were marched back to camp. The accompanying guards consisted of female SS who, in spite of protests from the civil population, often maltreated the prisoners on the way back with kicks, blows, and scarcely repeatable words. It often happened that individual women or girls had to be carried back to the camp by their comrades owing to exhaustion. At 6 or 7 p.m. these exhausted people arrived back in camp. Then the real meal was distributed. This consisted of cabbage soup. This was followed by the evening meal of water soup and a piece of bread which was for the following day. Occasionally the food on Sundays was better. As long as it existed there was never any inspection of the camp by the firm of Krupp. On 13 March 1945 the camp prisoners were brought to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, from there some were sent to work. The camp commandant was SS Oberscharführer Rick. His present whereabouts is unknown.
From Speer's IMT testimony: First I should like to say, as you have so often mentioned my non-responsibility, that if in general these conditions had been true ... I should consider myself responsible. I refuse to evade responsibility. But the conditions were not what they are said to have been here. There are only individual cases which are quoted. As for this document I should only like to say from what I have seen of it that this seems to concern a concentration camp, one of the small concentration camps near the factories. The factories could not inspect these camps. That is why the sentence is quite true where it says that no factory representative ever saw the camp. The fact that there were SS guards also shows that it was a concentration camp.
If the question which you asked me before, as to whether the labor camps were guarded—those for foreign workers—if that refers to this document, then your conclusion was wrong. For as far as I know, the other labor camps were not guarded by SS or by any other organizations. My position is such that I feel it is my duty to protect the heads of plants from any injustice which might be done them. The head of a plant could not bother about the conditions in such a camp. I cannot say whether conditions were as described in this camp. We have seen so much material on conditions in concentration camps during the Trial.
From an affidavit executed in Essen, Germany, by Dr. Wilhelm Jager, who was the locomotive plant’s senior camp doctor (D-288, USA-202):
I, Dr. Wilhelm Jager, am a general practitioner in Essen, Germany, and its surroundings. I was born in Germany on 2 December 1888 and now live at Kettwig, Sengenholz 6, Germany.
I make the following statement of my own free will. I have not been threatened in any way and I have not been promised any sort of reward.
On the 1st of October 1942, I became senior camp doctor in the Krupp's workers' camps for foreigners and was generally charged with the medical supervision of all Krupp's workers' camps in Essen. In the course of my duties it was my responsibility to report upon the sanitary and health conditions of the workers' camps to my superiors in the Krupp works.
It was a part of my task to visit every Krupp camp which housed foreign civilian workers, and I am therefore able to make this statement on the basis of my personal knowledge.
My first, official act as senior camp doctor was to make a thorough inspection of the various camps. At that time, in October 1942, I found the following conditions:
The Eastern Workers and Poles who worked in the Krupp works at Essen were kept at camps at Seumannstrasse, Grieperstrasse, Spenlestrasse, Heegstrasse, Germaniastrasse, Kapitan-Lehmannstrasse, Dechenschule, and Kramerplatz. (When the term "Eastern Workers" is hereinafter used, it is to be taken as including Poles.) All of the camps were surrounded by barbed wire and were closely guarded. . .
Conditions in all of these camps were extremely bad. The camps were greatly overcrowded. In some camps there were twice as many people in a barrack as health conditions permitted.
At Kramerplatz the inhabitants slept in treble-tiered bunks, and in the other camps they slept in double-tiered bunks. The health authorities prescribed a minimum space between beds of 50 centimeters, but the bunks in these camps were separated by a maximum of 20 to 30 centimeters.
The diet prescribed for the Eastern Workers was altogether insufficient. They were given 1,000 calories a day less than the minimum prescribed for any German. Moreover, while German workers engaged in the heaviest work received 5,000 calories a day, the Eastern Workers with comparable jobs received only 2,000 calories. The Eastern Workers were given only two meals a day and their bread ration. One of these two meals consisted of a thin, watery soup. I had no assurance that the Eastern Workers, in fact, received the minimum which was prescribed. Subsequently, in 1943, I undertook to inspect the food prepared by the cooks; I discovered a number of instances in which food was withheld from the workers. . .
The plan for food distribution called for a small quantity of meat per week. Only inferior meats rejected by the veterinary, such as horse meat or tuberculin-infested, was permitted for this purpose. This meat was usually cooked into a soup....
The percentage of Eastern Workers who were ill was twice as great as among the Germans. Tuberculosis was particularly widespread among the Eastern Workers. The tuberculosis rate among them was four times the normal rate (Eastern Workers, 2 percent; German, 0.5 percent). At Dechenschule approximately 2.5 percent of the workers suffered from open tuberculosis. The Tartars and Kirghises suffered most; as soon as they were overcome by this disease they collapsed like flies. The cause was bad housing, the poor quality and insufficient quantity of food, overwork, and insufficient rest.
These workers were likewise afflicted with spotted fever. Lice, the carrier of this disease, together with countless fleas, bugs, and other vermin, tortured the inhabitants of these camps. As a result of the filthy conditions of the camps nearly all Eastern Workers were afflicted with skin disease. The shortage of food also caused many cases of Hunger-Oedema, Nephritis and Shiga-Kruse.
It was the general rule that workers were compelled to go to work unless a camp doctor had certified that they were unfit for work. At Seumannstrasse, Grieperstrasse, Germaniastrasse, Kapitan-Lehmannstrasse, and Dechenschule there was no daily sick call. At these camps the doctors did not appear for 2 or 3 days. As a consequence workers were forced to go to work despite illness.
I undertook to improve conditions as much as I could. I insisted upon the erection of some new barracks in order to relieve the overcrowded conditions of the camps. Despite this, the camps were still greatly overcrowded but not as much as before. I tried to alleviate the poor sanitary conditions in Kramerplatz and Dechenschule by having some emergency toilets installed; but the number was insufficient, and the situation was not materially altered....
With the onset of heavy air raids in March 1943, conditions in the camps greatly deteriorated. The problem of housing, feeding, and medical attention became more acute than ever. The workers lived in the ruins of their former barracks. Medical supplies which were used up, lost, or destroyed were difficult to replace. At times the water supply at the camps was completely shut off for periods of 8 to 14 days. We installed a few emergency toilets in the camps, but there were far too few of them to cope with the situation.
During the period immediately following the March 1943 raids many foreign workers were made to sleep at the Krupp factories in the same rooms in which they worked. The day workers slept there at night, and the night workers slept there during the day, despite the noise which constantly prevailed. I believe that this condition continued until the entrance of American troops into Essen.
As the pace of air raids was stepped up, conditions became progressively worse. On 28 July 1944 I reported to my superiors that:
The sick barracks in camp Rabenhorst are in such a bad condition one cannot speak of a sick barracks any more. The rain leaks through in every corner. The housing of the sick is therefore impossible. The necessary labor for production is in danger because those persons who are ill cannot recover.'
At the end of 1943 or the beginning of 1944—I am not completely sure of the exact date—I obtained permission for the first time to visit the prisoner-of-war camps. My inspection revealed that conditions at these camps were worse than those I had found at the camps of the Eastern Workers in 1942. Medical supplies at such camps were virtually nonexistent. In an effort to cure this intolerable situation, I contacted the Wehrmacht authorities whose duty it was to provide medical care for the prisoners of war. My persistent efforts came to nothing. After remonstrating with them over a period of 2 weeks, I was given a total of 100 aspirin tablets for over 3,000 prisoners of war.
The French prisoner-of-war camp in Noggerathstrasse had been destroyed in an air raid attack and its inhabitants were kept for nearly half a year in dog kennels, urinals, and in old bake-houses. The dog kennels were 3 feet high, 9 feet long, and 6 feet wide. Five men slept in each of them. The prisoners had to crawl into these kennels on all fours. The camp contained no tables, chairs, or cupboards. The supply of blankets was inadequate. There was no water in the camp. Such medical treatment as there was, was given in the open. Many of these conditions were reported to me in. a report by Dr. Stinnesbeck, dated 12 June 1944, in which he said: ...
There are still 315 prisoners in the camp. One hundred seventy of these are no longer in barracks but in the tunnel in Grunertstrasse under the Essen-MuIheim railway line. This tunnel is damp and is not suitable for continued accommodation of human beings. The rest of the prisoners are accommodated in 10 different factories in the Krupp works. The medical attention is given by a French military doctor who takes great pains with his fellow countrymen. Sick people from Krupp factories must be brought to sick call. This inspection is held in the lavatory of a burned-out public house outside the camp. The sleeping accommodation of the four French orderlies is in what was the men's room. In the sick bay there is a double-tier wooden bed. In general the treatment takes place in the open. In rainy weather it is held in the above-mentioned small room. These are insufferable conditions. There are no chairs, tables, cupboards, or water. The keeping of a register of sick people is impossible. Bandages and medical supplies are very scarce, although the badly wounded from the factory are very often brought here for first aid and have to be bandaged here before being transported to the hospital. There are many loud and lively complaints about food which the guard personnel confirms as being justified. Illness and loss of manpower must be reckoned with under these conditions....'
In my report to my superiors at Krupps, dated 2 September 1944, I stated....
Camp Humboldtstrasse has been inhabited by Italian military internees. After it had been destroyed by an air raid, the Italians were removed and 600 Jewish females from Buchenwald concentration camp were brought to work at the Krupp factories. Upon my first visit at Camp Humboldtstrasse, I found these persons suffering from open festering wounds and other ailments.
I was the first doctor they had seen for at least a fortnight. There was no doctor in attendance at the camp. There were no medical supplies in the camp. They had no shoes and went about in their bare feet. The sole clothing of each consisted of a sack with holes for their arms and head. Their hair was shorn. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire and closely guarded by SS guards.
The amount of food in the camp was extremely meager and of very poor quality. The houses in which they lived consisted of the ruins of former barracks and they afforded no shelter against rain and other weather conditions. I reported to my superiors that the guards lived and slept outside their barracks as one could not enter them without being attacked by 10, 20, and up to 50 fleas. One camp doctor employed by me refused to enter the camp again after he had been bitten very badly. I visited this camp with Mr. Grone on two occasions and both times we left the camp badly bitten. We had great difficulty in getting rid of the fleas and insects which had attacked us. As a result of this attack by insects of this camp I got large boils on my arms and the rest of my body. I asked my superiors at the Krupp works to undertake the necessary steps to delouse the camp so as to put an end to this unbearable vermin-infested condition. Despite this report, I did not find any improvement in sanitary conditions at the camp on my second visit a fortnight later.
When foreign workers finally became too sick to work or were completely disabled, they were returned to the labor exchange in Essen and from there they were sent to a camp at Friedrichsfeld. Among persons who were returned to the labor exchange were aggravated cases of tuberculosis, malaria, neurosis, cancer which could not be treated by operation, old age, and general feebleness. I know nothing about conditions at this camp because I have never visited it. I only know that it was a place to which workers were sent who were no longer of any use to Krupp.
My colleagues and I reported all of the foregoing matters to Mr. Ihn, director of Friedrich Krupp AG.; Dr. Wiele, personal physician of Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach; senior camp leader Luke; and sometimes to the Essen health department. Moreover, I know that these gentlemen personally visited the camps.-signed-Dr. Wilhelm Jager
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: In Germany the regulations concerning labor discipline was a matter for the factories themselves. Each factory had its regulations which in normal times were agreed to between the management' the foreman, and the workers' council. This council could take disciplinary action in the form of fines. During the war labor discipline had become more strict, because owing to the scarcity of workers it was not possible to maintain the right of the employer or the employee to give notice. So the German worker, and German labor and industry were under wartime decrees and laws. In order to enforce these, I later issued Decree Number 13 at the suggestion of the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich. This decree, which has been submitted, provides, first of all, for varying degrees of punishment within the industries for infractions of labor regulations, tardiness and unexcused absence from work.
From Dr. Wilhelm Jager’s IMT Testimony: I was appointed by the firm of Krupp which employed me when a change in the care of foreign workers was brought about through the public health administration having to take it over. The contract which the firm of Krupp made with me was made through the German Labor Front. I have never felt that I had anything to do with the Labor Front in that respect. I generally sent these reports to the public health authorities and to the firm of Krupp. I reported just a few cases to the health office of the city of Essen, but only in individual cases when it appeared important to me that the health office should be informed.
At the beginning of my activity I depended entirely on myself. There was no camp command. There was nobody else to work with me. The calorie tables as well as the clothing charts were not made until later. The camp management which existed, according to Hahn—if I remember correctly—was only until February or April 1943. The phase which I intended to describe, and have described here, refers strictly to the time when I started my work. At that time the conditions were actually as I have described them, and I had to go by that. That also included clothing, as I have confirmed. These people remained in the same condition as on arrival, as far as clothing was concerned, for quite a while; and as far as I know they did not receive anything at that time. I reported these conditions as soon as possible. I do not remember when. As far as I could see, the intention was to establish tailor shops, shoe repair shops, and other work shops in the camps; and some of them were actually established.
They did not become worse after 1943. After the first heavy air raids, of course, the confusion was always very great. A great deal was destroyed by fire. I recall that during one night 19,000 persons became homeless; and, of course, clothes and underwear were destroyed also It naturally took quite some time to make up these losses. I saw members of the Labor Front only once in a camp. Then that commission did actually criticize conditions. It was in the camp at Kramerplatz, and the firm of Krupp was fined at that time, because of the conditions. But that was the only time that I got in touch at all with the Labor Front. I had no influence in that respect and did not know anything about it, because I had to deal only with medical affairs, and did not participate in meetings of the firm of Krupp or the Labor Front. I could only make reports. ...
That was the case [tuberculosis was especially prevalent; and that the percentage was four times as high among the Eastern Workers as among the Germans] at the beginning when we received workers who had not had any medical examination at all. When I went through the camps, I heard from the camp doctors—and saw for myself on the occasion of inspections—that very many people were sick. The figure was considerably higher than among the Germans, as far as I could see at that time. After we had found out that it was tuberculosis we had to deal with, we made examinations in large numbers, even X-ray examinations. Then those affected with tuberculosis were separated from the others and put into the Krupp hospital for medical treatment. I busied myself with that in particular, as we had about 150 cases. During the entire period from 1942 to 1945.
If I remember correctly, there may have been 23,000 or 24,000; there may have been more. Later, there were about 9,000. But these figures varied. We had no typhus at all among the German population. If among a population of 400,000 or 500,000—such as there was in Essen at that time—there was no typhus at all, and if one then takes an average of 20,000, with 150 cases among the 20,000, then that statement [that typhus was very widespread among the workers] can quite well be made. It was the case in almost all the camps when I began my work. Then a disinfection station was set up by the firm of Krupp, which was hit in an air attack immediately. It was then rebuilt, and then destroyed a second time.
Naturally a worker had to work unless a camp doctor certified he was unfit. It was the same with the German population. I am a panel doctor myself and I know that in many cases a man had to go to work if he did not report himself sick; there was no difference in that respect. But he could go to a doctor. Because there were no doctors there, I purposely arranged that whenever possible people should come to me during my consultation, to me personally. If anyone reported ill he had to be taken to a doctor, or the doctor was notified.
One must define the expression Freibankfleisch." Thai was meat which was not released for general consumption by the veterinary but which, after being treated in a certain way, wet quite fit' for human food. Even in times of peace and afterward, the German population bought this meat. During the war the German population received in return for their coupons a double quantity of Freibankfleisch. Meat which had been condemned at first was released for human consumption after it had been treated in a certain manner and was then not harmful.
From the IMT Testimony of Hubert Hildebrandt (a Sauckel subordinate concerned with labor questions in the Western occupied countries): I had no unfavorable reports about Krupp. The personal adviser of the Plenipotentiary General, Landrat Berk, visited the Krupp works frequently and informed me of the requests made by the firm and of the impressions he had received, but he never said that proper care was not taken of foreign workmen. I myself never visited the Krupp firm during the war.March 1942: After much negotiation Göring, under the Four Year Plan, establishes the office of Plenipotentiary for Armaments and War Production and appoints Speer as minister. This is at best a ruse to allow Göring to save face. While officially putting Speer under Göring, Speer will actually continue to answer only to Hitler.
From Speer's IMT testimony: I am of the opinion that at the time I took over my office, in February 1942, all the violations of international law, which later—which are now brought up against me—had already been committed. The workers were brought to Germany largely against their will, and I had no objection to their being brought to Germany against their will. On the contrary, during the first period, until the autumn of 1942, I certainly also took some pains to see that as many workers as possible should be brought to Germany in this manner. . . . I had to tell Sauckel, of course, in which of my programs labor was needed most urgently. But that sort of thing was dealt with by general instructions. That [establishing the priorities of different industries in their claim for the labor when it came into the Reich] was a matter of course; naturally that had to be done.March 21, 1942: Sauckel is appointed Generalbevollmächtigter für den Arbeitseinsatz (General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labor, GBA) in a decree signed by Hitler, Lammers, and Keitel (1666-PS, USA-208):
From Keitel's IMT testimony: As far as I know, workers came from occupied territories, especially those in the West: Belgium, Holland—I do not know about Holland, but certainly France—to Germany. According to what I heard, I understood at the time that it was done by recruiting volunteers. I think I remember that General von Stulpnagel, the military commander of Paris, told me in Berlin once during a meeting that more than 200,000 had volunteered, but I cannot remember exactly when that was. ...the OKW had nothing to do with it. These questions were handled through the usual channels, the OKH, the Military Commanders in France and in Belgium and Northern France with the competent central authorities of the Reich at home, the OKW never had anything to do with it. ...
In occupied territories with civilian administration, the Wehrmacht was excluded from any executive powers in the administration, so that in these territories the Wehrmacht and its services had certainly nothing to do with it. Only in those territories which were still operational areas for the Army were executive powers given to military troops, high commanders, army commanders, et cetera. The OKW did not come into the official procedure here either. ...
The view held by Plenipotentiary Sauckel can obviously be explained by the fact that he knew neither the official service channels nor the functions of the Wehrmacht, that he saw me at one or two discussions on the furnishing of manpower, and, thirdly, that he sometimes came to see me when he had made his report and received his orders alone. He had probably been given orders to do so, in Hitler's usual way: Go and see the Chief of the OKW; he will do the rest. The OKW had no occasion to do anything. The OKW had no right to give orders, but in Sauckel's case I did take over the job of informing the OKH or the technical departments in the General Quartermaster's office. I have never issued orders or instructions of my own to the military commanders or other services in occupied territories. It was not one of the functions of the OKW.
From Sauckel’s IMT Testimony: The reason why I was chosen for this office was never known to me and I do not know it now. Because of my engineering studies and my occupation I took an interest in questions concerning labor systems, but I do not know whether that was the reason. Reichsleiter Bormann stated that [my appointment was made at Speer's suggestion] in the preamble to his official decree. I do not know the actual circumstances. I should like to add that this appointment came as a complete surprise to me, I did not apply for it in any way. I never applied for any of my offices. The Arbeitseinsatz had been directed by the Four Year Plan before my appointment. A ministerial director, Dr. Mansfeld, held the office then. I only learned here, during these proceedings, that the office was already known before my time as the office of the Plenipotentiary General. I neither saw Dr. Mansfeld nor spoke to him, nor did I take over any records from him.
My office was different to this extent: The department in the Four Year Plan was given up and was no longer used by me. I drew departments of the Reich Labor Ministry more and more closely into this work as they had some of the outstanding experts.
The reason was to be found in the many conflicting interests which had been very prominent up to the third year of the war in the political and state offices, internal administration offices, Party agencies and economic agencies, and which now for territorial considerations opposed the inter-district equalization of the labor potential, which had become urgent. My chief sphere of work was in directing and regulating German labor. I had to replace with suitably skilled workers those men who had to be freed from industry for drafting into the German Wehrmacht, that is, into the different branches of the Wehrmacht. Moreover, I also had to obtain new labor for the new war industries which had been set up for food production as well as for the production of armaments, of course. There were at that time about 23 or 24 million workers to be directed, who were available in the Reich but who had not yet been fully employed for war economy.
I could not consider [the appointment] as permanent because in addition to me the Reich Labor Minister and his state secretaries were in office and at the head of things; and then there was the whole of the Labor Ministry. First, there were the workers who were already present in the Reich from all sorts of callings who, as I have said, had not yet been directed to war economy, not yet completely incorporated in the way that was necessary for the conduct of the war. Then further there were the prisoners of war as far as their labor was made available by the army authorities. First, as I had received no specific instructions I understood my task to mean that I was to fill up the gaps and deficiencies by employing labor in the most rational and economic way. I received the necessary orders only in the course of the development of the war. Labor and economy are fluid, intangible things. However I then received the order that if the war were to continue for some time I was to find replacements in the German labor sector for the Wehrmacht, whose soldiers were the potential of peacetime economy.
From Speer’s IMT Testimony: In March 1942, Göring, giving heed to my proposal, created the office of Plenipotentiary for Armaments and War Production, in the Four Year Plan, and I was appointed to that office. This was purely a matter of form. It was generally known that Göring had quarreled with my predecessor, Todt, since armament problems for the Army had not been put under his control in the Four Year Plan. In assuming this capacity as Plenipotentiary for Armaments and War Production, I had subordinated myself to Göring. In fact, the Plenipotentiary for Armaments and War Production never achieved any influence. I issued no directives whatsoever in that capacity. As Minister I possessed sufficient authority, and it was not necessary that I should use the authority which I had under the Four Year Plan.
I expected Sauckel to meet above all the demands of war production, but it cannot be maintained that he primarily took care of my demands, for beginning with the spring of 1943 I received only part of the workers I needed. If my maximum had been met, I should have received all of them. For this I need cite but one example. During that same period some 200,000 Ukrainian women were made available for housework, and it is quite certain that I was of the opinion that they could be put to better use in armaments production. It is also clear that the German labor reserve had not been fully utilized. In January 1943 these German reserves were still ample. I was interested in having German workers—including, of course, women—and this non-utilization of German reserves also proves that I cannot be held solely responsible for covering the essential needs, that is, for demanding foreign labor.
I needed them [foreign workers] only in part, in view of my requirements for production. For instance, the coal mines could not get along without Russian prisoners of war. It would have been quite impossible to employ German reserves, which consisted mainly of women, in these mines. There were, furthermore, special assignments for which it was desirable to have foreign skilled labor, but the majority of the needs could be met by German workers, even German female workers. The same principle was followed in the armament industries in England and America and certainly in the Soviet Union, too.
From the IMT Testimony of Walter Stothfang (personal adviser to Sauckel): Apparently the appointment of the Plenipotentiary General for the Allocation of Labor was due to a suggestion which Minister Speer had made to the Führer.
From Inside The Third Reich, by Albert Speer: The man I had in mind was my old friend Karl Hanke, longtime state secretary under Goebbels, who since January 1941 had been Gauleiter of Lower Silesia. Hitler proved willing to nominate a commissioner from among the Gauleiters who would be assigned to me. But Bormann was quick to parry. For Hanke was considered one of my adherents. His appointment would have meant not only a reinforcement of my power but also an infringement of Bormann's realm, the party hierarchy.
Two days after my first request, when I again approached Hitler on the matter, he was still acquiescent to the idea, but had objections to my choice. "Hanke hasn't been a Gauleiter long enough and doesn't command the necessary respect. I've talked with Bormann. We'll take Sauckel."
Bormann had not only put in his own candidate but had managed to have him made his, Bormann's, direct subordinate. Göring rightly protested that what was involved was a task hitherto handled within the framework of the Four-Year Plan. With his usual indifference in administrative matters, Hitler thereupon appointed Sauckel "Commissioner General," but placed him in Göring's Four-Year Plan organization. Göring protested once more, since the way the thing was handled seemed to diminish his prestige. The appointment of Sauckel should have come from Göring himself. But Hitler had overlooked that nicety. Once again Bormann had struck a blow at Göring's position.
Sauckel and I were summoned to Hitler's headquarters. In giving us the document authorizing the appointment, Hitler pointed out that basically there could not be any such thing as a labor problem. He repeated, in effect, what he had already stated on November 9, 1941: "The area working directly for us embraces more than two hundred fifty million people. Let no one doubt that we will succeed in involving every one of these millions in the labor process."" The necessary labor force, therefore, was to come from the occupied territories. Hitler instructed Sauckel to bring the needed workers in by any means whatsoever. That order marked the beginning of a fateful segment of my work.
During the early weeks of our association we cooperated smoothly. Sauckel gave us his pledge to eliminate all labor shortages and to provide replacements for specialists drafted into the services. For my part, I helped Sauckel gain authority and supported him wherever I could. Sauckel had promised a great deal, for in every peacetime year the attrition of the labor force by age or death was balanced by the maturing of some six hundred thousand young men. Now, however, not only these men but sizable segments of the industrial working class were being drafted. In 1942, consequently, the war economy was short far more than one million workers.
To put the matter briefly, Sauckel did not meet his commitments. Hitler's fine rhetoric about drawing labor out of a population of two hundred fifty million came to naught, partly because of the ineffectiveness of the German administration in the occupied territories, partly because of the preference of the men involved for taking to the forests and joining the partisans sooner than be dragged off for labor service in Germany.
No sooner had the first foreign workers begun arriving in the factories than I began hearing protests from our Industry Organization. They had a number of objections to make. The first was as follows: The technical specialists now being replaced by foreigners had occupied key posts in vital industries. Any sabotage in these plants would have far-reaching consequences. What was to prevent enemy espionage services from planting agents in Sauckel's contingents?
Another problem was that there were not enough interpreters to handle the various linguistic groups. Without adequate communication, these new workers were as good as useless.
(FN: I must share the responsibility for Sauckel's dire labor policies. Despite differences of opinion on other matters, I was always in basic agreement with his mass deportations of foreign labor to Germany.)
From Göring’s IMT Testimony: I mentioned that in the Four-Year Plan in 1936 there was already a Plenipotentiary General for the Allocation of Labor. In the year 1942, after he had become ill and was being represented by somebody else, I was taken aback by the direct appointment of a new Plenipotentiary General for the Allocation of Labor—an appointment made directly by the Führer, and without my being consulted. But at that time the Führer had already begun to intervene much more strongly and directly in such problems. If he did it here too, he did so because the labor problem became more acute from day to day. It had been suggested to him that he should appoint a new deputy for the time being, perhaps a Gauleiter of a different name, the one from Silesia. But the Führer decided on the Gauleiter from Thüringia, Sauckel, and made him plenipotentiary.
This order was countersigned by Lammers, not by me, but that is of no significance; and it was formally included in the Four-Year Plan, for the Four-Year Plan had general plenary authority for all matters concerning economy. For this reason, up to the end even the appointment of Goebbels as Plenipotentiary General for the total war, which had nothing at all to do with me, was also included in the plenary power of the Four-Year Plan, since otherwise the entire legislative work of the Four-Year Plan, which I had gradually built up with its plenary powers, would have collapsed and we should have had to create entirely new conditions.
If Sauckel from that time on received his orders mainly from the Führer, it was because the Führer now intervened more effectively in all these matters; but I welcomed the appointment of Sauckel, for I considered him one of the calmest and most reliable Gauleiter’s and was also convinced that he would fully dedicate himself to this new task. The connection with the offices of the Four-Year Plan was of course maintained, and in the case of important legislative decrees Sauckel and my offices of the Four-Year Plan worked together, as far as I know. Sauckel himself spoke to me on several occasions after he had been with the Führer, and sent me also a few of the reports that he sent to the Führer. Even if not in full detail I was, on the whole, informed.
From the Pre-trial interrogation of Sauckel:
Q: Was it necessary, in order to accomplish the completion of the quotas given, to have liaison with the OKW?
A: I remember that the Führer had given directives to Marshal Keitel, telling him that my task was a very important one; and I, too, have often conferred with Keitel after such discussions with the Führer, when I asked him for his support.
Q: It was his task to supervise the proper performance of the military commanders in the occupied countries in carrying out their assigned mission, was it not?
A: Yes, the Führer had told me that he would inform the Chief of the OKW and the Chief of the Reich Chancellery as to these matters. The same applies to the Foreign Minister....
Q: For a moment, I want to turn our attention to Holland. It is my understanding that the quotas for the workers from Holland were agreed upon, and then the numbers given to the Reich Commissioner Seyss-Inquart to fulfill, is that correct?
A: Yes, that is correct.
Q: After the quota was given to Seyss-Inquart, it was his mission to fulfill it with the aid of your representatives; was it not?
A: Yes. This was the only possible thing for me to do and the same applied to other countries. ...
Q: Was the same procedure substantially followed of allocating quotas in the Government General of Poland?
A: Yes. I have principally to repeat that the only possibility I had in carrying through these missions was to get in touch with the highest German military authority in the respective country and to transfer to them the orders of the Führer and ask them very urgently, as I have always done, to fulfill these orders.
Q: Such discussions in Poland, of course, were with the Governor General Frank?
A: Yes. I spent a morning and an afternoon in Krakow twice or three times and I personally spoke to Governor General Frank. Naturally, there was also present Secretary Dr. Goebbels...
Q: Except for Speer, they would give the requirements in general for the whole field; but in Speer's work you would get them allocated by industry, and so on-is that right?
A: The others only got whatever was left. Because Speer told me once in the presence of the Führer that I am here to work for Speer and that, mainly, I am his man.
From Speer's IMT testimony: Of course, beginning with March 1942, I had nominally taken over the Armament Office under General Thomas from the OKW, and this Armament Office was a joint office of all three Armed Forces branches, where labor allocation problems were discussed too. Through an agreement between Göring and me it was decided that air armament, independently of me, should look after its own interests. This agreement was necessary since at first, as Minister for Army Armament, I had a biased interest and therefore did not want to make decisions regarding the demands for labor of a unit that was not subordinate to me.
When in 1942 I assumed my office it was imperative to centralize the allocation and distribution of various materials for the three branches of the Armed Forces, and to guarantee the proper direction of war economy for a long time to come. Up to that time this matter had been taken care of in the Ministry of Economy, and partly in the OKW. Both these agencies were much too weak to prevail against the three Armed Forces branches.
In pursuance of my proposal, in March 1942 the Central Planning Board was established by the Delegate for the Four Year Plan. Its three members, Milch, Korner, and myself, were entitled to make 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 Göring's decree, which I had drafted. To make statistics on the demands for labor or on 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 despite the documents presented here. As far as the decisions regarding demands and allocation of labor were concerned, I tried to have this done by the Central Planning Board, since this would have been 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. . . .
No, that is in no way correct [that Göring participated in the meetings of the Central Planning Board]. I would not have had any use for him, for after all, we had to carry out practical work. In 1941 I had not yet anything to do with armament; and even later, during the period of Sauckel's activity, I did not appoint these delegates and did not do much to promote their activities. That was a matter for Sauckel to handle; it was in his jurisdiction.
From the IMT Testimony of Max Timm (an employee of the Reich Labor Ministry in the Allocation of Labor department): I had been in the labor administration for some years before [Sauckel took over]. When Sauckel assumed office, I had the impression of a very energetic, hard-working man, who was inclined to get excited at times, even angry no doubt, and who demanded much of his co-workers, but also made great demands on himself. When he assumed office there was a good deal of confusion in the field of labor allocation. Everybody had something to do with labor allocation. The previous chiefs had not had enough force to push their program through against the opposition of various offices; and Sauckel was the strong man, and particularly the strong political figure, who was to put things in order. He considered his task very much a political task, but he always did his best to handle administrative matters in an orderly way. He was known generally as a Gauleiter who was friendly to the civil servants. Also, in order to instruct all the offices under his administration, he held so-called staff meetings at regular intervals in which the most important things were discussed.
In the Allocation of Labor department I had first a sub-department and later a department. That department had to deal with all questions concerning the assignment of labor, particularly the classification of skilled workers, training of workers, vocational advice, and employment agencies for apprentices. Gauleiter Sauckel at the same time remained Gauleiter in Thüringia and he worked in Berlin in Thuringia House, whereas the special departments put at his disposal remained in the Ministry of Labor.
In Berlin, Sauckel himself worked in Thuringia House, while the special sections made available by the Reich Ministry of Labor were in the building of the Reich Ministry of Labor at Saarlandstrasse 96, and some, after a part of the building had been destroyed, were in alternative quarters near Berlin. The Office at Saarlandstrasse 96 was not a new office; it was the Reich Ministry of Labor. The two sections had been made available by a Führer decree to carry out the tasks of the GBA.
From Speer’s Spandau Draft (an early, more honest draft of Speer’s Inside The Third Reich memoir: And I did everything to support him and his new authority. Of course, he had promised a great deal. Under ordinary peacetime circumstances, every year produces a new generation of six hundred thousand young men to take the place of the old or dead. But now that the Wehrmacht took virtually all of these, and several hundred thousand more every year from the ranks of those in industry who had originally been exempted, we had a quite unbelievable shortfall—of about one million a year . . . which Sauckel unhesitatingly promised to replace.
And to begin with, he was surprisingly successful with volunteers from the Ukraine. I was told that their trains to Germany were decorated with flowers and banners. I didn't see this myself, but it was perfectly possible. People I knew who went East found the population there to have such a low standard of living that the incredible [to them] wealth of our soldiers must have given them an impression of enormous riches in the West. But when the volunteers' trains arrived in Germany they were soon disillusioned: upon the order of the SS, their quarters were like prison camps behind barbed wire . . . to prevent them from spreading communist propaganda. One can easily see why, among the many things forbidden to them, they were also barely allowed to write home!
Sauckel, it has to be said, was appalled by these rules, imposed by others than himself, not to speak of how I felt. I told Hitler as soon as I learned of this, and he did immediately order the removal of the barbed wire. But that wasn't all by any means: when some weeks later I visited the Krupp works in Essen, I found out that the Russian workers' rations were so minimal that they couldn't work properly. Again I told Hitler, who ordered that they were to be better fed. Of course, all this wasn't really my business, but at that point Sauckel was glad to have my help—and I to give it.
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Caution: As always, excerpts from
trial testimony should not necessarily be mistaken for fact. It should be
kept in mind that they are the sometimes-desperate statements of
hard-pressed defendants seeking to avoid culpability and shift
responsibility from charges that, should they be found guilty, can possibly
be punishable by death.
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