Goering: Slave Labor

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 82, defendant Hermann Goering is given vast latitude by the Tribunal to defend the Third Reich. He will be at it for the next few days. No other defendant will be given so much uninterrupted time.

Dr Stahmer: What was the significance for the Air Force of the work camp Dora, which has been mentioned by the French Prosecution?

Goering: Before I go on to that I must add that the accusation that we destroyed industry everywhere is incorrect, but rather for our own purposes we had to reconstruct a great part of industry. Thus I would like to recall the famous dam of Dniepropetrovsk which was destroyed and which was important for the electricity supply of the entire Ukraine, and even for the Doenitz area. As far as industry and agriculture are concerned, I have spoken of that before and mentioned the scorched earth policy as it was described in the Russian order and as it was carried out. This scorched earth policy, the destruction of all stock, of everything, created a very difficult situation which was hard to overcome.

Therefore, from the economic point of view, we also had much reconstruction to do. As far as destruction of cities is concerned, I would like to add that over and beyond that which was shot to pieces in the course of battle, during the advance or retreat, there were considerable parts and important buildings of cities that had been mined and at the proper time went up in the air, involving, of course, many German victims. I can cite Odessa and Kiev as two main examples.

Now I come to the question of Camp Dora. I also heard about Camp Dora here for the first time. Of course, I knew of the subterranean works which were near Nordhausen, though I never was there myself. But they had been established at a rather early period. Nordhausen produced mainly V-1's and V-2's. With the conditions in Camp Dora, as they have been described, I am not familiar. I also believe that they are exaggerated.

Of course, I knew that subterranean factories were being built. I was also interested in the construction of further plants for the Luftwaffe. I cannot see why the construction of subterranean works should be something particularly wicked or destructive. I had ordered construction of an important subterranean work at Kahla in Thuringia for airplane production in which, to a large extent, German workers and, for the rest, Russian workers and prisoners of war were employed. I personally went there to look over the work being done and on that day found everyone in good spirits. On the occasion of my visit I brought the people some additional rations of beverages, cigarettes, and other things, for Germans and foreigners alike. The other subterranean works for which I requested concentration camp internees were not built any more.

That I requested inmates of concentration camps for the aviation industry is correct, and it is in my opinion quite natural because I was, at that time, not familiar with the details of the concentration camps. I knew only that many Germans also were in concentration camps--people who had refused to join the Army, who were politically unreliable, or who had been punished for other things, as also happens in other countries in time of war. At that time everyone had to work in Germany. Women were taken into the ranks of labor, including those who had never worked before. In my own home parachute production was started, in which everyone had to participate. I could not see why, if the entire people had to take part in work, the inmates of prisons, concentration camps, or wherever they might be, should not also be put to use for work essential to the war.

Moreover I am of the opinion, from what I know today, that it certainly was better for them to work and to be billeted in some plane factory than in their concentration camps. The fact per se that they worked, is to be taken as a matter of course, and also that they worked for war production. But that work meant destruction is a new idea. It is possible that it was strenuous here or there. I for my part was interested that these people should not be destroyed, but that they should work and thereby produce. The work itself was the same as done by German workers--that is, plane and motor production--no destruction was intended thereby.

Dr Stahmer: Under what conditions were prisoners of war used in anti-aircraft operations?

Goering: Prisoners of war were used for anti-aircraft operations mainly for those stationary batteries at home which were for the protection of factories and cities. And indeed these were auxiliary volunteers. They were chiefly Russian prisoners of war, but not entirely as far as I remember. One must not forget that in Russia there were various racial groups who did not think alike and did not all have the same attitude to the system there. Just as there were so-called East Battalions made up of volunteers, so there were also a great number of volunteers who, after the announcement in the camps, reported for service in the anti-aircraft batteries.

We also had an entire company of Russian prisoners of war who volunteered to fight against their own country. I did not think much of these people, but in time of war one takes what one can get. The other side did the same thing. The volunteer auxiliaries liked to go to the anti-aircraft because they had considerably less work there and their food was better as it was soldiers' rations; whatever other reasons they may have had I do not know. However, if one did look at a local German anti-aircraft battery in the year 1944 or 1945 it made, I admit, a rather strange impression. There were German youths from 15 to 16 and old men from 55 to 60, some women and some auxiliary volunteers of all nationalities, I always called them my "gypsy batteries." But they shot, and that was what mattered.

Dr Stahmer: What was Fritz Sauckel's official relation to you?

Goering: 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 Fuehrer, and without my being consulted. But at that time the Fuehrer 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 Fuehrer decided on the Gauleiter from Thuringia, 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 Fuehrer, it was because the Fuehrer 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 Gauleiterís 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 Fuehrer, and sent me also a few of the reports that he sent to the Fuehrer. Even if not in full detail I was, on the whole, informed."

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 86, Hermann Goering is cross-examined by Justice Jackson, the chief US prosecutor.

Mr. Justice Jackson: The labor shortage in the Reich was becoming acute by November of 1941, was it not?

Goering: That is correct.

Mr. Justice Jackson: And you yourself gave the directives for the employment of Russian prisoners of war, did you not?

Goering: Employment for what?

Mr. Justice Jackson: For war industry--tanks, artillery pieces, airplane parts.

Goering: That is correct.

Mr. Justice Jackson: That was at the conference of the 7th of November 1941, that you gave that order, was it not?

Goering: At what conference that was I could not tell you; I issued these directives only in a general way.

Mr. Justice Jackson: And the directive was that Russian prisoners of war should be selected in collecting camps beyond the Reich border, and should be transported as rapidly as possible and employed in the following order of priority: mining, railroad maintenance, war industry--tanks, artillery pieces, airplane parts, agriculture, building industry, et cetera. You gave that order, did you not?

Goering: If I have signed it, the order is from me. I do not remember details.

The President: What was the number of that, Mr. Jackson?

Mr. Justice Jackson: I ask to have you shown Document Number 1193-PS.

Goering: I have not seen it yet. (Document 1193-PS is submitted to the witness.) This document, which you have just mentioned ...

Mr. Justice Jackson: I did not get the answer.

Goering: Excuse me. I have just received a document about the use of Russian troops. Is that the document of which you speak?

Mr. Justice Jackson: That is right. I call your attention to the fact that it is referred to as an annex in the letter signed by Goering.

Goering: I want to point out that this document is not signed by me, but by Korner, which, however, does not diminish my responsibility.

Mr. Justice Jackson: Well, you do not question that on the 7th day of November 1941, you gave the order, as Korner reports it, do you, in the document referred to as 1193-PS?

Goering: I said only that it was not signed by me but by Korner, and here even a still younger official, a Regierungsrat, and I wanted only to explain that this was my field and that therefore I assume responsibility. But I have not read it through yet. This deals with directives and outlines which I gave in general and which were then filled in and revised by the department concerned, whereby naturally not every word or every sentence written here was said or dictated by myself. But that does not alter the fact that I bear the responsibility for it, even if I did not know it in detail, or would have perhaps formulated it differently. But the general directives were given by me and implemented accordingly by the lesser authorities.

Mr. Justice Jackson: You also gave the order, did you not, that 100,000 men were to be taken from among the French prisoners of war not yet employed in armament industry? Gaps in manpower resulting therefrom will be filled by Soviet prisoners of war. The transfer of the above-named French prisoners of war is to be accomplished by October the 1st. You gave the order, did you not?

Goering: That is correct. Here we deal primarily with the fact that a large part of French skilled workers who were prisoners of war were turned into free workers on condition that they worked in the German armament industry. The shortages which occurred at their previous places of work at that time, where they had worked as prisoners of war, were to be remedied by Russian prisoners of war, because I considered it pointless that qualified skilled industrial workers should be employed in agriculture, for instance, or in any other field not corresponding to their abilities. Thus there was an incentive in the fact that these people could become free workers instead of remaining prisoners of war, if they would agree to these conditions. The directives were given by me.

Mr. Justice Jackson: And did you know that there was any forced labor employed in Germany?

Goering: Compulsory labor.

Mr. Justice Jackson: Did you not testify under interrogation on the 3rd of October 1945, that: "I would like to add something to the last question of the interrogation. The Colonel asked me if the forced labor program was effective, and I said 'Yes'. There are two remarks I would like to make to that. "All right. "I must say that in the results as such it was effective. However, a great number of acts of sabotage did occur, and also treason and espionage. "Question: But on the whole you would say it was a successful program from the German point of view? "Answer: Yes. Without this manpower many things could never have been achieved." Did you say that?

Goering: That is obvious, because without workers one cannot do any work.

The President: I do not think you answered the question. The question was if you said the forced labor had been a success. What do you have to say to that? Did you say that?

Goering: I have said what I did in answering the question whether the manpower used was successful; yes, that is correct.."

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 87, Hermann Goering's cross-examination by the prosecution continues.

General Rudenko: I want to draw your attention to your other remarks at the same conference. You will find that on Pages 141 and 142.

Goering: That has already been read to the Tribunal.

General Rudenko: I would like to ask you now if you have found the place?

Goering: I have found it.

General Rudenko: You have found it. You said at this conference: "I do not want to praise Gauleiter Sauckel, he does not need it. But what he has accomplished in such a short time and with such speed for the recruitment of manpower from all over Europe and setting them to work in our industries, is a unique achievement." Further, on Page 142, you say -- you were speaking of Koch: "Koch they are not only Ukrainians. Your ridiculous 500,000 people! How many has he brought in? Nearly two million! Where did he get the others?" Did you find the place?

Goering: Yes; it does not read quite like that here.

General Rudenko: It was not explicit. Make it more precise.

Goering: Koch is trying to assert that he alone supplied all these people for Sauckel. Whereupon, I replied that for the whole Sauckel program 2,000,000 workers had been supplied and that he, Koch, could lay claim to have supplied only 500,000, at most. In other words, Koch was claiming that he himself had supplied the total number.

General Rudenko: Did you think that 500,000 from the Ukraine was a small number?

Goering: No, that is not the point. I have just explained. Of these 2,000,000 which represent the total supplied by Sauckel in the past, 500,000 came from the whole of the Ukraine, so that Koch did not produce the whole number as he was trying to assert. That is the meaning of the quotation.

General Rudenko: But you do not deny the underlying meaning that you were speaking here of millions of people who were carried off forcibly to Germany for slave labor.

Goering: I do not deny that I was speaking of 2,000,000 workers who had been called up, but whether they were all brought to Germany I cannot say at the moment. At any rate, they were used for the German economy.

General Rudenko: You do not deny that this was forced labor, slavery?

Goering: Slavery, that I deny. Forced labor did of course partly come into it, and the reason for that I have already stated.

General Rudenko: But they were forcibly taken out of their countries and sent to Germany?

Goering: To a certain extent deported forcibly, and I have already explained why.

General Rudenko: You heard, Defendant Goering, that a series of German documents have been read which make it clear that these people from the occupied territories were sent forcibly to Germany; that they were rounded up, taken in the street, and from the cinemas, loaded into trains and sent to Germany under military guard. If they refused to go to Germany, or tried to evade mobilization, the peaceful inhabitants were shot and submitted to tortures of various nature. You have heard of these documents which describe these methods.

Goering: Yes, but may I ask you to look at those documents again. These show that recruitment was not ordered, but that registration even for forced labor was regulated by decrees and other orders. If I had been given an absolute guarantee, particularly in the East, that all these people would be peaceful and peace-loving people, that they would never take part in partisan, activities or carry out sabotage, then I probably would have put a larger number to work on the spot. But for security reasons, both in the East and West--particularly in the West--where young age groups were reaching the age of military service--we were compelled to draft these men into labor and bring them to Germany.

General Rudenko: They were taken to Germany only in the interest of security and safety?

Goering: There were two reasons. I have already explained them in detail. Firstly, for security reasons. Secondly, because it was necessary to find labor.

General Rudenko: And for that reason--let us take the second, the necessity of finding labor--people were forcibly taken from their country and sent to slavery in Germany. Is that correct?

Goering: Not to slavery; they were sent to Germany to work, but I must repeat that not all of those who were taken away from the East and are missing there today, were brought in to work. For instance, in the case of Poland already 1,680,000 Poles and Ukrainians had been taken by the Soviet Union from the territory which the Russians occupied at that time, and transported to the East--the Far East.

General Rudenko: I do not think you had better touch on the question of the Soviet territories. Just answer the question that I am asking you, which concerns the deportation to Germany of the peaceful population from the occupied territories. I am asking you once more: You said in answer to Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe's question that of the 5,000,000 persons who were sent to Germany, approximately 200,000 were volunteers, while the rest were taken to Germany forcibly. Is that not so?

Goering: First of all, I must correct that. I did not say that to Sir David at all, but he asked me.

General Rudenko: And you admitted it?

Goering: Just a moment. That is to say, he mentioned the figure 5,000,000 of which he said not more than 200,000 were volunteers. He questioned me on the strength of the minutes of the Central Planning Board, allegedly a statement by Sauckel. I did not agree and answered that the figure of volunteers was much higher, and that there must be a mistake in the figures.

General Rudenko: All right. You affirm that the number of volunteers was considerably larger, but you do not deny the fact that millions were sent to Germany against their will. You do not deny that.

Goering: Without wanting to tie myself down to a figure, the fact that workers were forcibly put to work is something I have never denied, and I answered accordingly.
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