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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th February to 11th March, 1946

Seventy-Eighth Day: Monday, 11th March, 1946
(Part 1 of 12)

[Page 261]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, had you finished your examination?

DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the OKW and General Staff): I have only a few more questions to ask the witness.

(Witness: General Field-Marshal Milch.)



Q. Witness, I should like to refer again, very briefly, to the extent of the unpreparedness of the Luftwaffe for war in 1939; while on this subject I should like to ask whether the collaboration of the Luftwaffe with the OKW, the Army and the Navy had been secured in 1939?

A. In my opinion, the Luftwaffe was not prepared for a major war in 1939. No mutual agreements of any kind existed with the other branches of the Armed Forces. At any rate, I knew of no such agreements.

Q. Had such agreements with other branches of the Armed Forces existed, would you have known about them?

A. I imagine so, since, at that time I certainly would have been involved in these matters.

Q. What was the co-ordination like between the more important departments of the Luftwaffe?

A. From 1937 - rather loose. The General Staff, the Technical Branch and the Personnel Office were detached; they worked independently and more or less on their own.

Q. Witness, you have just mentioned the General Staff. What do you understand by the German General Staff of the Luftwaffe?

A. General Staff means, in German, leaders' assistants; in other words, junior officers who had been assigned to specialized training, and who acted as assistants to troop commanders, divisional commanders and upward.

Q. Of whom did the General Staff of the Luftwaffe consist?

A. On the one hand, it consisted of those officers in the departments of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe from the Chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe himself down and also, on the other hand, of General Staff officers who had been assigned as staff officers to divisions and corps in the field and to air fleets.

Q. What time limits were set for the formation of new units of the Luftwaffe?

A. The formation of larger units had not yet been ordered, although they had been discussed quite a long time before the outbreak of war. It was intended to create a larger Air Force later, but, as far as I can remember, the plans envisaged were scheduled for completion in six or eight years' time.

Q. In what year would the plans have been completed?

A. I should think about 1944-1946.

THE PRESIDENT: Not only is there some technical fault - we are getting two translations at once - but both the witness and the defence counsel are going too fast.

[Page 262]


Q. Did an organization exist already in 1939 for day- and night-fighter planes?

A. No, it did not exist at that time.

Q. Did an organization exist for bomber warfare?

A. Not to the extent necessary for a war of aggression.

Q. What progress had been made at that time in the building of airfields?

A. Airfields had been built with runways up to 1,000 metres, but these were only suitable for fighter planes and not for loaded heavier bombers.

Q. What was the position of the Luftwaffe Signal Corps network?

A. The operational network, i.e., the cable network for operations did not exist at that time: it had to be improvised and built up later on during the war.

Q. What was the position of the Aircraft Reporting Service?

A. This also had not yet been organized. Reverting to the question of bombers, the most I can add is that, originally, in the early years models of four-engine bombers, which would also have been suitable for night use, were put into production. Although technically perfect, these bombers were abandoned, I believe in 1937; it was thought that the big expense entailed by such heavy bombers should be avoided, since, at that time, nobody was thinking of war. This was at the time when Field-Marshal Kesselring was Chief of the General Staff, and the question was submitted for the decision of the Reichsmarshal who agreed to the discontinuance of these large bombers.

Q. When was that?

A. One moment, I will just look it up. On 29th April, 1937, the Reichsmarshal, acting on the recommendations of the Chief of the General Staff, stopped the production of these long-distance bombers. Therefore, in 1939, there were no night bombers which could in any way compare with English machines of the Lancaster type, etc.

Q. What was the position of the Luftwaffe crews?

A. We had just sufficient personnel replacements for a comparatively small Luftwaffe at that time. The lack of personnel replacement was the greatest handicap of all in building up the Luftwaffe. The whole question of time limits, etc., depended on the training of personnel. It was the personnel question which regulated the pace. It was possible to build planes more rapidly, but it was not possible to expedite the training of the crews. And, as I said on Friday, this was the main consideration when dealing with the question of time limits. Pilots and technical personnel are of no use unless thoroughly trained. It is much worse to have half-trained personnel than no personnel at all.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, I do not want to interrupt your examination but we have been sitting here for nearly twenty minutes now, and all I have got from it is that the Luftwaffe was not ready for war in 1939. It seems to me too much time is being taken up with detail.


Q. I have one more question on this matter: Were there any reserves of aluminium, magnesium and rubber, and did any means exist for producing these materials?

A. Not in sufficient quantities.

Q. And now - one last question: Witness, during your testimony on Friday, you mentioned "Basic Order No. 1". You also gave us the contents of this order. In this connection I would like to ask: Was this order strictly observed or not?

A. Yes, very strictly.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions to ask the witness.

THE PRESIDENT Do any other of the defendants' counsel want to ask the witness any questions?

DR. FLAECHSNER (counsel for the defendant Speer): I request permission to ask the witness a few questions.

[Page 263]


Q. Witness, do you remember when Hitler demanded the construction of bomb-proof aircraft factories in caves or concrete shelters?

A. As far as I remember it was when the British started the heavy raids in 1943.

Q. Do you remember a conference on the Obersalzberg at the beginning of April 1944? What did you tell Hitler at the time about the difficulties in the building industry, and what were the orders issued by Hitler on that occasion?

A. Yes. On that occasion Hitler ordered very solid structures to be built - believe he demanded six large bomb- proof factories, each with 600,000 square metres floor space. Later on, Speer, who had been absent from the April meeting through illness, raised objections to these orders. He considered this construction work to be on far too large a scale and that it was too late to undertake it. Later, he obtained permission for all factories, which by June 1944 were not in a sufficiently advanced stage of construction, i.e., which could not start working by the beginning of 1945, to be discontinued immediately. My first consideration was the question of labour.

Q. I am above all interested in the labour question. At this discussion on the Obersalzberg, did the Fuehrer allocate the requisite labour for the construction of the factories demanded by him?

A. Yes. I think I remember rightly that, in answer to the objection raised by one of the gentlemen present, he said that he himself would see that the labour was made available.

Q. Witness, you said that Herr Speer was opposed to these constructions. What happened then? Speer was not present at that meeting?

A. No, he was ill at the time.

Q. Can you tell us briefly what happened?

A. During Speer's illness, requests reached the Fuehrer from other quarters that Speer should be relieved of construction work. Difficulties arose owing to the fact that, whereas in theory Speer still remained in charge of building, in practice, the work was nearly all taken out of his hands. He was no longer able to have any say in construction work, since it had been decided that the Construction Department of the Organization Todt should receive orders direct from Hitler. Thus, Speer was excluded more and more from this sphere of activity. A great deal was said at that time about large-scale constructions, but very little was done to build them.

Q. Did Hitler give a written order to Herr Dorsch, and did he have it shown to Speer? Do you know anything about it?

A. As far as I can remember, such a written order was given and it was also sent to Speer. I have a vague recollection that Speer once showed me such an order.

Q. One last question on this matter. In this way, Dorsch, who had been directly commissioned by the Fuehrer, took over the responsibility for these buildings and the necessary manpower?

A. Yes.

Q. Witness, you were a member of the Central Planning Board. Can you tell me if the Central Planning Board was authorized to make decisions on the use of foreign or German labour and its allocation?

A. No.

Q. Did the Central Planning Board ever make decisions of this kind?

A. The Central Planning Board had been set up for the distribution of raw materials only; but a certain control over transportation devolved upon it because of the. connection between the two. However, the matter of transportation was independent of any activity concerning allocation of raw material. It had no say in the allocation of labour. If the Central Planning Board attempted to have some say as to the allocation of workers, it was because it was at the same time

[Page 264]

responsible for armaments, and therefore best able to judge the existing requirements; but here, too, considerable difficulties were encountered, and this field of the Central Planning Board's work had to be dropped.

Q. So no decision was ever reached. We have records before us which show that labour problems were frequently discussed by the Central Planning Board.

A. Yes, very frequently, as the armament offices which were represented on the Central Planning Board were greatly concerned with labour problems; but these discussions mostly concerned food supplies and extra rations for the workers.

Q. And now - one last question on the subject. Did the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour in any way look upon the Central Planning Board as authoritative, that is, as the final arbiter in the total plan for the utilization of manpower?

A. No, he could not do that, as he himself represented that authority.

Q. Were there any reserves of German workers in 1943 or 1944, and did Speer request the utilization of this German manpower instead of foreign labour?

A. Yes, again and again Speer made strong representations that any German labour still available, even if difficult to mobilize, should be brought in and put to work. This reserve consisted mostly of female labour, women of professional circles and social station who in war time had nothing to do apart from domestic work.

Q. Witness, you have already told us that the defendant Speer was a sick man in 1944. Could you tell us approximately when his illness began and when it ended?

A. His illness started in February and I think it lasted until about June.

Q. Thank you. Do you know anything about this long illness being exploited in order to undermine severely his influence and authority? Can you tell me who was primarily interested in doing that?

A. His influence was undermined in the above-mentioned building projects. It is very difficult for me to name here the individuals who probably hoped to succeed him.

Q. Did matters improve, or did they become worse after 20th July?

A. Actually, as time went on they became worse; Speer's position became more difficult than ever, as the whole of Speer's views differed more and more from Hitler's official opinion.

Q. Thank you. Now, may I remind you of something else? In February 1945, by a Hitler order, the defendant Speer was entrusted with the distribution of motor vehicles; and you, if I am correctly informed, were appointed as his representative. Can you tell me what the transport situation was like at that time, and to what extent the armaments output depended on the transport situation?

A. In those days, the transport situation was so deplorable, owing to the American daylight raids, that the transport system was no longer able to carry even the most essential commodities and armament materials. Our great industrial centre the Ruhr District, was particularly hard hit, as well as the transport system carrying products from the Ruhr to the finishing industries in Central Germany, Berlin and Saxony. If very stringent measures had not been taken and extraordinary powers granted, the total collapse, due solely to transport difficulties, would have become only a matter of hours. That was the situation at that time.

Q. Could Speer in his position, be expected to give preferential treatment to armaments when available transport was allocated? What did he actually do?

A. No. Speer, like myself, saw quite clearly that the whole armament question could no longer influence the situation at that stage. Therefore, acting on his own initiative, he gave priority to the movement of food supplies for the population. The most urgent job was to remove the foodstuffs from that German territory in danger of being lost to the enemy.

Q. Were these measures only taken to safeguard the current food supply, or were they long-term measures?

[Page 265]

A. The intention was to move all available and transportable food to a place of safety.

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