The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Twenty-Second Day: Tuesday, 18th December, 1945
(Part 2 of 8)

[COLONEL STOREY continues]

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I next turn to the responsibility of the Leadership Corps for the destruction of Free Trade Unions and the imposition of the conspiratorial control over the productive labour capacity of the German nation.

The evidence relating to the responsibility of the Nazi Conspirators for the destruction of the independent trade unions has been previously introduced in evidence in the USA Exhibit G, which was the document book containing the evidentiary materials relating to the destruction of the trade unions. The brief evidence, which I shall now present, is offered to prove the responsibility of the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party for the smashing of the independent unions and the imposition of conspiratorial control over the productive labour capacity of the German nation.

Soon after the seizure of power prominent members of the Leadership Corps participated in the smashing and dissolution of the independent trade unions of Germany. The defendant Robert Ley, by direct virtue of his office as Reich Organisation Leader and Reichsleiter in the Leadership Corps, was directed by Hitler, in mid-April, 1939, to smash the independent unions.

I will pass on now to Document 392, Exhibit USA 326, and I quote, beginning at the top of Page 1 of the English translation:

"On Tuesday, 2nd May, 1933, the co-ordination action of the Free Trade Unions began.

The essential part of the action is to be directed against the General

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German Trade Union Federation and the General Independent Employees' Federation.

Anything beyond that which is dependent upon the Free Trade Unions is left to the discretion of the Gauleiter's judgment. The Gauleiter are responsible for the execution of the co-ordination action in the individual areas. Supporters of the action should be members of the National Socialist Factory Cell Organisations.

The Gauleiter is to proceed with his measures on the basis of the closest agreement with competent Gau or regional factory cell directors.

In the Reich, the following will be occupied:

The directing offices of the unions...."

Then it lists a number of offices, and I previously quoted who was to be taken into protective custody.

The next provision:

"Exceptions are granted only with the permission of the Gauleiter.

It is understood that this action is to proceed in a strongly disciplined fashion. The Gauleiter are responsible in this respect. They are to hold the direction of the action firmly in hand.

Heil Hitler!
(signed) Dr. Robert Ley."
The defendant Ley's order for the dissolution of the independent trade unions was carried out as planned and directed. Trade union premises all over Germany were occupied by the S.A. and the unions dissolved. On the 2nd May, 1933, the official N.S.D.A.P. Press Service reported that the National Socialist Factory Cell Organisation (N.S.B.O.) had "eliminated the old leadership of Free Trade Unions" and taken over their leadership.

I now offer in evidence Document 2224-PS, Exhibit USA 364, which are Pages 1 and 2 of the 2nd May, 1933, issues of the National Socialist Party Press Agency. I quote from Paragraph 5 of Page 1 of the English translation:

"National Socialism, which today has assumed leadership of the German working class, can no longer bear the responsibility for leaving the men and women of the German working class, the members of the largest trade organisation in the world, the German Trade Union Movement, in the hands of people who do not know a fatherland that is called Germany. Because of that, the National Socialist Factory Cell Organisation (N.S.B.O.) has taken over the leadership of the trade unions. The N.S.B.O. has eliminated the former leadership of the trade unions of the General German Trade Unions Federation, and of the General Independent Employees' Federation...

On 2nd May, 1933, the National Socialist Factory Cell Organisation (N.S.B.O.) took over the leadership of all trade unions; all trade union buildings were occupied and most stringent control has been exercised over financial and personnel matters of the organisations."

As shown by this evidence, the assault on the independent unions as directed by the defendant Ley, in his capacity as Reichsleiter in charge of Party Organisation, assisted by the Gauleiter and Party Formations, and included the seizure of trade union funds and property. In this connection I offer in evidence Document 1678-PS, exhibit Number USA 365. This document is a report of a speech by Reichsleiter Ley on the 11th September, 1937, to

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the fifth annual session of the German Labour Front. In this speech Ley shamelessly corroborates the confiscation of the trade union funds. I quote from Paragraph 4 of Page 1 of the English translation:
"Once I said to the Fuehrer: 'My Fuehrer, actually I am standing with one foot in gaol, for today I am still the trustee of the comrades "Leipart" and "Imbusch," and should they some day ask me to return their money, then it will be found that I have spent it, either by building things, or otherwise. But they will never again find their property in the condition in which they handed it over to me. Therefore I would have to be convicted.'

The Fuehrer laughed and remarked that apparently I felt extremely well in this condition.

It was very difficult for us all. Today we laugh about it..."

The plan of the Nazi conspirators to eliminate the Free Trade Unions was advanced by the enactment, on 19th May, 1933, of a law which abolished collective bargaining between workers and employers and replaced it with a regulation of working conditions by Labour Trustees appointed by Hitler. I refer to Document 405-PS, which is the text of the law, 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt Vol. I, 285. After providing in Section 1 for the appointment by Hitler of trustees of labour, this law provides, and I quote from Section 2 of the English translation of Document 405-PS:
"Until a new revision of the social constitution, the trustees are to regulate the conditions for the conclusion of labour contracts. This practice is to be legally binding for all persons, and replaces the system founded on combinations of workers, of individual employers or of combinations of employers..."
Having destroyed the independent unions and collective bargaining, the next step of the Nazi conspirators was to secure the Nazification in the field of industrial relations. I refer to Document 1861-PS, which is the text of the law of 20th January, 1931, 1934, Reichsgesetzblatt Vol. I, 45. This law was entitled the "Law Regulating National Labor," and it imposed the leadership principle upon industrial enterprisers and provided, in Section I, paragraph 1, that the enterpriser should be the leader of the plant and the workers would "constitute his followers." I now quote from Section I, paragraph 2, of the first page of Document 1861-PS:
"The leader of the plant makes the decisions for the employees and labourers in all matters concerning the enterprise, as far as they are regulated by this law. He is responsible for the well-being of the employees and labourers. The employees owe him faithfulness according to the principles of factory community."
The Trade Unions having been dissolved and the leadership principle superimposed upon the relationship of management and labour, the members of the Leadership Corps joined in and directed measures designed to replace the independent unions by the German Labour Front, the D.A.F., an affiliated Party organisation. On the very day the Nazi conspirators seized and dissolved the free trade unions, the 2nd May, 1933, they publicly proclaimed that a "united front of German workers" would be formed, with Hitler as honourary patron, at a workers' congress on the 10th May, 1933. I quote from the next to the last paragraph of Page 2 of Document 2224-PS, which was a release of the Nazi Party Press Agency:
"The National Socialist Party Press Agency is informed that a

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great Workers' Congress will take place on Wednesday, 10th May, in the Prussian House of Lords in Berlin. The United Front of German Workers will be formed there. Adolf Hitler will be asked to assume the position of Honourary Patron."
The Nazi conspirators employed the German Labour Front, the D.A.F., as an instrument for propagandising its millions of compulsory members with Nazi ideology. The control of the Leadership Corps over the German Labour Front was assured not only by the designation of Reichsleiter of the Party Organisation Ley as head of the D.A.F., but by the employment of a large number of `Politische Leiter,' or Political Leaders, charged with disseminating and imposing Nazi ideology upon the large membership of the D.A.F. I now cite Document 2271-PS, Exhibit USA 328, which is the Party Organisation Book referred to yesterday, Pages 185-187; and I quote from the first page of the English translation, the first paragraph:
"The National Socialist Factory Cell Organisation (N.S.B.O.) is a union of the Political Leaders of the N.S.D.A.P. in the German Labour Front.

The N.S.B.O. is to undertake the organisation of the German Labour Front.

The duties and responsibilities of the N.S.B.O. have passed over to the D.A.F.

The Political Leaders who have been transferred from the N.S.B.O. to the German Labour Front guarantee the ideological education of the D.A.F. in the spirit of the National Socialistic idea."

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