War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity; Slave Labor
Count seven charges that defendants von Weizsaecker, Steengracht von Moyland, Woermann, Lammers, Stuckart, Ritter, Veesenmayer, Berger, Darre, Koerner, Pleiger, Kehrl, Puhl, and Rasche committed, during the period from March 1938 to May 1945, war crimes and crimes against humanity, as defined by Article II of Control Council Law No. 10
"* * * in that they participated in enslavement and deportation to slave labor on a gigantic scale of members of the civilian population of countries and territories under the belligerent occupation of, or otherwise controlled by, the Third Reich; enslavement of concentration camp inmates, including German nationals; the use of prisoners of war in war operations and work having a direct relation to war operations; and the ill treatment, terrorization, torture, and murder of enslaved persons, including prisoners of war. The defendants committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, were connected with plans and enterprises involving, and were members of organizations or groups connected with, the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity."
It is further asserted in this count that the acts and conduct above referred to were carried out as part of the slave-labor program of the Third Reich, with the deliberate purpose to maintain German military power and to weaken the countries and territories occupied by Germany.
It is further asserted that the resources and needs of the occupied countries were completely disregarded in the carrying out of such slave-labor programs, as also were the family honor and rights of the civilian populations involved. It is asserted that frequently the work assigned was of a character which required the laborers to assist military operations against their own countries, and prisoners of war were often compelled to work on projects directly related to war operations. It is asserted that, through such slave-labor program, at least 5 million workers were deported to Germany, and that other inhabitants of occupied territories were conscripted and compelled to work in their own countries to assist the German war economy. It is further alleged that, in many cases, labor was secured through fraud or by drastic and vile methods, including systematic impressment in the streets and by police invasions of homes. There are further allegations to the effect that persons deported were transferred under armed guard, often being packed in trains under cruel and degrading conditions, without adequate heat, food, clothing, or sanitation. It is alleged that millions of persons, including women and children, were subjected to such labor under cruel and inhumane conditions, such as lack of adequate food or shelter, which resulted in widespread suffering and many deaths.
It is asserted that the treatment of slave labor and prisoners of war was based on the principle that they were to be fed, sheltered, and treated in such a way as to exploit them to the greatest possible extent at the lowest possible cost.
During the course of the trial, the charges of this count of the indictment were dismissed, insofar as they relate to the defendant Woermann.
In addition to the foregoing general allegations, which are directed against all the defendants who are charged in this count, the count contains further and more specific charges against each individual defendant. Such specific charges will hereinafter be set forth in connection with our consideration of the case of each individual defendant in this count. It is asserted that the said acts and conduct of the defendants hereinbefore set forth were committed unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly, and in violation of international conventions, including the Hague Convention of 1907, the Prisoners-of-War Convention, Geneva, 1929, of the laws and customs of war, and of Article II of Control Council Law No. 10, as well as general principles of criminal law, as derived from the criminal law of all civilized nations, and of the internal penal law of countries in which such crimes were committed.
The provisions of the said Hague Convention and the Prisoners-of-War Convention, Geneva, 1929, and Article II of Control Council Law No. 10 which are here pertinent follow:
Article 52 of the Hague Convention [Annex to Convention No. IV of 18 October 1907] provides in part as follows:
"Requisitions in kind and services shall not be demanded from municipalities or inhabitants except for the needs of the army of occupation. They shall be in proportion to the resources of the country, and of such a nature as not to involve the inhabitants in the obligation of taking part in military operations against their own country."
The Prisoner-of-War Convention, Geneva, 1929, provides in part as follows:
"Article 29. No prisoner of war may be employed at labors for which he is physically unfit.
"Article 30. The length of the day's work of prisoners of war, including therein the trip going and returning, shall not be excessive and must not, in any case, exceed that allowed for the civil workers in the region employed at the same work. Every prisoner shall be allowed a rest of twenty-four consecutive hours every week, preferably on Sunday.
"Article 31. Labor furnished by prisoners of war shall have no direct relation with war operations. It is especially prohibited to use prisoners for manufacturing and transporting arms or munitions of any kind, or for transporting material intended for combatant units.
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"Article 32. It is forbidden to use prisoners of war at unhealthful or dangerous work.
"Any aggravation of the conditions of labor by disciplinary measures is forbidden."
Article II, Control Council Law No. 10, paragraph 1(b) and (c), state:
"(b) War Crimes. Atrocities or offenses against persons or property constituting violations of the laws or customs of war, including but not limited to, murder, ill treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose, of civilian population from occupied territory, murder or ill treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
"(c) Crimes against Humanity. Atrocities and offenses, including but not limited to murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, rape, or other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds whether or not in violation of the domestic laws of the country where perpetrated."
We need not here discuss at length the great mass of evidence which establishes beyond any doubt that, during the times charged in this count, a slave-labor program had been inaugurated and was being carried out during said period, by and under Reich governmental control. A great deal of evidence adduced in this case is corroborative of and amplifies the findings set forth in the IMT Judgment. Inasmuch as it may be helpful in the ensuing treatment of this count, we call attention to the following excerpts from the IMT judgment, with respect to the Reich slave-labor program, which program is involved in this count. [Trial of the Major War Criminals, op. cit., volume I, pages 243-244.]
"The laws relating to forced labor by the inhabitants of occupied territories are found in Article 52 of the Hague Convention, which provides:
'Requisition in kind and services shall not be demanded from municipalities or inhabitants except for the needs of the army of occupation. They shall be in proportion to the resources of the country, and of such a nature as not to involve the inhabitants in the obligation of taking part in military operations against their own country.'
The policy of the German occupation authorities was in flagrant violation of the terms of this convention. Some idea of this policy may be gathered from the statement made by Hitler in a speech on 9 November 1941:
'The territory which now works for us contains more than 250 million men, but the territory which works indirectly for us includes now more than 350 million. In the measure in which it concerns German territory, the domain which we have taken under our administration, it is not doubtful that we shall succeed in harnessing the very last man to this work.'
"The actual results achieved were not so complete as this, but the German occupation authorities did succeed in forcing many of the inhabitants of the occupied territories to work for the German war effort, and in deporting at least 5 million persons to Germany to serve German industry and agriculture.
"In the early stages of the war, manpower in the occupied territories was under the control of various occupation authorities, and the procedure varied from country to country. In all the occupied territories compulsory labor service was promptly instituted. Inhabitants of the occupied countries were conscripted and compelled to work in local occupations, to assist the German war economy. In many cases they were forced to work on German fortifications and military installations. As local supplies of raw materials and local industrial capacity became inadequate to meet the German requirements, the system of deporting laborers to Germany was put into force. By the middle of April 1940 compulsory deportation of laborers to Germany had been ordered in the Government General; and a similar procedure was followed in other eastern territories as they were occupied. A description of this compulsory deportation from Poland was given by Himmler. In an address to SS officers he recalled how in weather 40 degrees below zero they had to
'haul away thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands'. On a later occasion Himmler stated, 'We must realize that we have 6 to 7 million foreigners in Germany * * *. They are none of them dangerous so long as we take severe measures at the merest trifles.'
"During the first two years of the German occupation of France, Belgium, Holland, and Norway, however, an attempt was made to obtain the necessary workers on a voluntary basis. How unsuccessful this was may be seen from the report of the meeting of the Central Planning Board on 1 March 1944."
The report of the meeting of the Central Planning Board of 1 March 1944, above alluded to in the IMT judgment, was also introduced in evidence before this Tribunal.
We quote further from the said IMT judgment, with respect to the slave-labor program [Trial of the Major War Criminals, op. cit., volume I, pp. 244-247.]:
"Committees were set up to encourage recruiting and a vigorous propaganda campaign was begun to induce workers to volunteer for service in Germany. This propaganda campaign included, for example, the promise that a prisoner of war would be returned for every laborer who volunteered to go to Germany. In some cases it was supplemented by withdrawing the ration cards of laborers who refused to go to Germany, or by discharging them from their jobs and denying them unemployment benefit or an opportunity to work elsewhere. In some cases workers and their families were threatened with reprisals by the police if they refused to go to Germany. It was on 21 March 1942 that the defendant Sauckel was appointed Plenipotentiary-General for the Utilization of Labor, with authority over 'all available manpower, including that of workers recruited abroad, and of prisoners of war.'
"The defendant Sauckel was directly under the defendant Goering as Commissioner of the Four Year Plan, and a Goering decree of 27 March 1942 transferred all his authority over manpower to Sauckel. Sauckel's instructions, too, were that foreign labor should be recruited on a voluntary basis, but also provided that 'where, however, in the occupied territories, the appeal for volunteers does not suffice, obligatory service and drafting must under all circumstances be resorted to.' Rules requiring labor service in Germany were published in all the occupied territories. The number of laborers to be supplied was fixed by Sauckel, and the local authorities were instructed to meet these requirements by conscription if necessary. That conscription was the rule rather than the exception is shown by the statement of Sauckel already quoted on 1 March 1944.
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"The resources and needs of the occupied countries were completely disregarded in carrying out this policy. The treatment of the laborers was governed by Sauckel's instructions of 20 April 1942 to the effect that: 'All the men must be fed, sheltered and treated in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent, at the lowest conceivable degree of expenditure.'
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"The general policy underlying the mobilization of slave labor was stated by Sauckel on 20 April 1942. He said,
'The aim of this new gigantic labor mobilization is to use all the rich and tremendous sources conquered and secured for us by our fighting armed forces under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, for the armament of the armed forces, and also for the nutrition of the Homeland. The raw materials, as well as the fertility of the conquered territories and their human labor power, are to be used completely and conscientiously to the profit of Germany and her allies * * *. All prisoners of war from the territories of the West, as well as the East, actually in Germany, must be completely incorporated into the German armament and nutrition industries * * *. Consequently it is an immediate necessity to use the human reserves of the conquered Soviet territory to the fullest extent. Should we not succeed in obtaining the necessary amount of labor on a voluntary basis, we must immediately institute conscription of forced labor * * *. The complete employment of all prisoners of war, as well as the use of a gigantic number of new foreign civilian workers, men and women, has become an indisputable necessity for the solution of the mobilization of the labor program in this war.'
The question requiring our determination is whether the defendants charged under this count, or any of them, were responsible for the formulation, execution, or furtherance of such slave-labor program. We must find the answer to such question by examination and analysis of the evidence adduced by the prosecution to sustain the charges made in this count, and through examination and analysis of the evidence adduced by the defendants in refutation of the charges here made.
We will now proceed to a consideration of the charges and the evidence in this count, as they relate to the individual defendants.