Goering: Trade Unions

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 81, defendant Hermann Goering is given vast latitude by the Tribunal to tell his life story. He will be at it for the next few days. No other defendant will be given so much virtually uninterrupted time.

Dr Stahmer: To what extent after the seizure of power was property of political opponents confiscated?

Goering: Laws were issued which decreed confiscation of the property of people hostile to the State, that is, the Property of parties we declared to be hostile to the State. The party property of the Communist Party and its associated units, and the property of the Social Democratic Party was partly confiscated--but not, and I want to emphasize that, the private property of the members or even of the leaders of these parties. On the contrary, a number of leading Social Democrats who had been ministers or civil servants were still paid their full pension. In fact, later on it was increased.

Dr Stahmer: How do you explain the actions against the trade unions? How do you explain the actions against free workers' associations?

Goering: First of all, the trade unions: Trade unions in Germany were for the most part, or the most important of them, very closely connected with the Social Democratic Party, and also to an increasing extent, due to the influence and the activity of the Communists, with the Communist Party. They were in fact, if not formally so, organs, indeed very active organs, of these parties, and here I am not talking about the masses of the members of the trade unions, but about the leaders of the trade unions. In addition there was also a smaller Christian trade union, an organ of the Center Party. These trade unions, because of their leaders and the close connection of these leaders with those parties that we regarded as our opponents, agreed with our opponents to such an extent that they did not in any way fit into our new State.

Consequently the organization of trade unions was dissolved, and for the workers the organization of the German Labor Front was created. This did not result in the destruction of the liberty of the German worker, in my opinion. On the contrary, I am convinced that we were the ones to give the German workers real freedom, for it consisted first of all in the fact that we made his right to have work secure, and laid particular stress on his position in the State. We did, of course, do away with two things that perhaps must be regarded as two characteristics of a freedom that I do not understand: strikes on one side and lockouts on the other. These could not be made consistent with the right to have work, nor with the duties which every citizen has towards the greatness of his nation. These two disquieting elements, which also contributed to the great number of unemployed, we removed and replaced with an enormous labor program.

Creation of work was another essential point of our social program and has also been adopted by others, though under a different name. I do not propose to elaborate on this social program. It was, however, the first time that the worker had a right to a vacation, a paid vacation, this I only add as an aside. Great recreation centers were created for the workers. Enormous sums were invested in new housing projects for workers. The whole standard of living for the worker was raised. Up to that time the worker had been used and exploited. He hardly had any property of his own because, during years of unemployment, he had to sell everything or pawn it. Thus, without going into detail, I should like to say in conclusion that we did not enslave free workers, but rather we liberated the worker from the misery of unemployment.
The Nuremberg Tribunal Biographies
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