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 2 of 12)

[DR. FLAECHSNER continues his direct examination of General Field-Marshal Milch]

[Page 265]

Q. Witness, motor transport was a particularly difficult problem at the time. Were the number of trucks and the quantity of fuel to drive them cut down when transport was allocated to the armaments industry, and what orders regarding trucks did Speer issue in mid-February? Do you know?

A. I know that trucks were always in such short supply in the armament industry, that not even essential orders could be filled. All kinds of alternative transport had to be found, such as electric trams, a great number of horse-carts and other vehicles. But as far as my knowledge goes, here too, Speer used this means of transport for the benefit of the German population, in order to maintain some sort of food distributing organization.

Q. Fuel was, at that time, one of the most serious bottle- necks, was it not?

A. It was in fact the most serious bottle-neck of all.

Q. Witness, do you happen to know that after February 1945, Speer granted priority to repair work on nitrogen factories producing fertilizers for agriculture, which meant that repairs to fuel producing plants had to take second place, and that at a most critical time?

A. Yes, I do know, because Speer discussed with me in great detail the emergency measures to be taken, now that we were faced with imminent and inevitable collapse. He was of the opinion that first and foremost, everything that was still possible should be done to help the German people to get through the very hard times which would follow the collapse. These first measures dealt with food supplies, salvage of food supplies and transport for distribution.

Secondly, he sought to avoid the destruction of those German factories still in our possession, which was in direct opposition to Hitler's "scorched earth" tactics.

Thirdly, he discussed the switch-over from war to peace-time production of those factories which might still be standing. First of all he had in mind agricultural machinery and spare parts, and banked upon the assumption that, if once the orders were placed, they would be carried out in spite of the upheaval; for instance, even if some German factories passed into enemy hands, or when, the fighting, having ceased, the government armament contracts would automatically fizzle out.

Q. Witness, we have now connected up an entire series of questions and I am most grateful to you. I should, however, like to ask you one more question: Could you give us any further details about the prevention of destruction?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Flaechsner, will you explain to me why this evidence that you are calling now is relevant and to what charge it is relevant?

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, the defendant Speer is charged with participating in the conspiracy and in the common plan for waging aggressive warfare until 7th May, 1945. If I can now prove that his activities, at least for some time before that date, were incompatible with such common plan, then this item of evidence would be relevant to the question, whether this charge of the Indictment is justified or not.

THE PRESIDENT: All the evidence that you have been giving for the last fifteen minutes was related to 1943 and 1944, and to conferences with reference to the erection of factories for the production of bombers and the fact that - as far as I have understood it - the fact that Speer was engaged more on attempting to feed the German people than on building armament factories. What that has to do with it, I have no idea.

DR. FLAECHSNER: The first point referred to Document 1584- PS, which the prosecution submitted as incriminating my client; the document says that, at a conference on the Obersalzberg, the construction of certain factories was ordered, and that 100,000 Hungarian Jews were employed on this construction. The purpose of the interrogation of this witness was to establish that the defendant Speer

[Page 266]

could not be held responsible for this construction, since Hitler had given the order for this work directly to somebody else, and to eliminate this particular point, submitted by the prosecution in support of their charge. That was the purpose of the first question. The purpose of the second question, concerning the avoidance of destruction and the safeguarding of agricultural produce and the food supply of the German people, refers to the accusation of participating in a conspiracy for the execution of a common plan, whereas all the activities, just confirmed by the witness, were bent toward an entirely different aim and had no place in the common plan, as alleged by the prosecution: They did not serve the war effort but were directed towards peace-time economy.

THE PRESIDENT: There is no charge against Speer on the ground that he attempted to feed the German people during the war. The prosecution have not laid that against him as a charge.

DR. FLAECHSNER: But, Mr. President, I never said that the prosecution had raised this charge against him. There must have been a mistake in the transmission.

Q. One last question, witness. Can you tell us to what extent Speer informed the Fuehrer at a later date of the results of the heavy air raids on Hamburg and other cities?

A. He gave the Fuehrer the fullest information, and repeatedly drew his attention to the difficulties.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Thank you.

DR. ROBERT SERVATIUS (counsel for the defendant Sauckel):

Q. Witness, did the Central Planning Board also concern itself with labour problems?

A. Yes.

Q. Were the manpower requirements fixed?

A. They were fixed by the respective industries and reported through the Labour Exchanges. We also submitted figures on the shortages of manpower in the armament industry.

Q. May I interrupt you? What did you do, once the requirements were established? And what was the purpose of establishing them?

A. They showed the shortages in manpower caused by the continual calling-up of the workers for war service.

Q. Was this not done in order to bring in more workers?

A. The request for more workers came from the factories. We sided with the factories in their negotiations with Sauckel by telling him that an industry had applied for so many workers. We told him, for instance, which of their figures were too high, according to our calculations.

Q. Did the figures represent the sum total of the workers needed?

A. No. It was a general figure according to the statistics supplied by Sauckel's labour exchanges.

Q. Who fixed the requirements, Sauckel, or the applicants for labour?

A. The factories did.

Q. What was the Central Planning Board's task in connection with labour problems?

A. The Central Planning Board dealt with the distribution of raw materials. It also had to see that raw materials were made available . . .

Q. My question concerns the workers and not raw materials.

A. Please wait until I have finished what I want to say. You will then understand what I mean. The raw materials had to be produced and their production called for workers. For instance, in the mining industry and the aluminium factories . . .

Q. Witness, may I interrupt you? It is clear that workers are essential for production, but what I want to know is who made the request for labour, and who, in the last analysis, established the numbers of workers required?

[Page 267]

A. The factories made the request and Sauckel established the figures; he placed at their disposal as many workers as he could get, but the numbers were always below the figure requested.

Q. In this connection did he have a free hand, or did the Fuehrer make the decisions?

A. As far as I know, the Fuehrer intervened very frequently and Sauckel was often summoned to confer with Hitler.

Q. Were there not discussions at the Fuehrer's quarters on all essential programmes, especially those involving manpower?

A. No, not all programmes, but occasionally these matters were discussed. However, the discussions with the Fuehrer about labour problems were mostly very brief. He did not wish to discuss the wider issues of this matter.

Q. What had the Four-Year Plan to do with the matter?

A. The Four-Year Plan, as far as I know, also dealt with these problems. But I rather think that in this respect it served as an auxiliary organization for Hitler, who did not wish to discuss these matters in detail.

Q. Do you know that according to the rules Sauckel had to subordinate himself to the Four-Year Plan-i.e., to Goering, and that he had to receive orders from him?

A. I do not exactly know how matters stood.

Q. One more question. How did the workers, the foreign workers, behave; were they willing and hard working?

A. The majority were excellent workers.

Q. How do you account for that?

A. In the first years the workers were pleased to be able to get work and food. We treated them well, as far as I can judge, and their rations were larger than those of the German population. They received extra rations on the same scale as the German workers, for work in the heavy and medium heavy industries, also for overtime. The French and Russian workers worked exceptionally well. I occasionally heard complaints about the Dutch workers.

Q. Are you familiar with Sauckel's regulations concerning the welfare of the foreign workers?

A. I remember that on one occasion Sauckel spoke to us on this subject at the headquarters of the Central Planning Board.

Q. Did he show a humane or a severe attitude?

A. His intentions were entirely humane. Sauckel had been set a very difficult task by Hitler. As far as I know, he had been a working man himself and, as a seaman, had worked very hard in his time; consequently, he was kindly disposed towards the workers.

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

DR. JAHRREISS (counsel for the defendant Jodl):

Q. Witness! did you take part in the 1937 Wehrmacht manoeuvres?

A. In Mecklenburg, I believe.

Q. Yes, that is so. Do you remember if any foreign officers were present as guests?

A. Yes. I know that a large British military mission was present and a general, who later was appointed Governor of Gibraltar.

Q. General Ironside?

A. Yes, Ironside. I spoke to him personally and also welcomed some of the gentlemen of his staff. There were also Italian officers and officers from many other countries. At the moment I cannot say what countries they were, because I have forgotten.

Q. Was there by any chance a French military mission as well?

A. I think so, but I cannot say for certain - I cannot remember so far back. But I did speak to General Ironside.

[Page 268]

Q. Witness, do you know if at that time these foreign officers were also shown the most up-to-date German armament equipment?

A. Yes.

Q. Was all the equipment demonstrated in action?

A. Everything was demonstrated in action, with the exception of a new aeroplane not yet in commission, but even this was shown in the unfinished stage.

Q. Do you know if we, that is, Germany, also allowed foreign powers to inspect our air raid precautions equipment?

A. Yes, on many occasions. A Mr. Fraser came to see me from England together with Lord Trenchard. Mr. Fraser was interested in air-raid precautions equipment, and was immediately shown the latest developments.

Q. When was that, please?

A. I think it was in 1937 or 1938, but I will see if I can find the date. It was on the 1st of July, 1937.

Q. Do you remember if anybody else came from England at a later date?

A. It was later followed by a personal interchange between our services and the British, I myself, having brought them together, took no further part in the matter.

Q. Thank you. One more question. Do you remember the conflict which arose over the re-occupation of the Rhineland?

A. Yes.

Q. You also know how great was the excitement it caused.

A. Yes.

Q. Did the Luftwaffe also take part in the re-occupation of the Rhineland; to be precise - of the left bank of the Rhine?

A. I cannot, at the moment, answer this question. The re- occupation of the Rhineland was so sudden that I was taken unawares while on leave. When I returned, the occupation was well under way. I know that Dusseldorf had been occupied and that the Luftwaffe had taken part. I myself went there a few days later.

Q. But that is on the right bank of the Rhine?

A. That is on the right bank.

Q. Then you know nothing about the left bank of the Rhine?

A. No. I cannot say anything about it at the moment. I do not believe there was an airfield there, anyhow I cannot remember exactly.

Q. You say that the re-occupation of the Rhineland was very sudden. But had nothing been arranged beforehand by the Luftwaffe to provide for such an event?

A. The decision was made when I was on leave and everything we had was naturally used for this purpose, but we did not have very much.

Q. Quite so, but let us get it quite clear. Was the Luftwaffe warned for the first time while you were on leave?

A. Yes, definitely; otherwise I would not have gone on leave.

Q. What was the earliest date on which the Luftwaffe was warned before the re-occupation?

A. It might have been a matter of fourteen to sixteen days. That would be the maximum.

Q. Witness, on Friday you made a statement about the part played by the Luftwaffe in the military operations for the completion of the "Anschluss" policy in March 1938. On what day did the preparations begin?

A. The preparations began less than forty-eight hours beforehand.

Q. And when did you first learn that military preparations were to be made for the solution of this problem?

A. About thirty-six hours before the march into Austria.

DR. JAHRREISS: Thank you.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.