Goering's food conference 6 Aug 1942

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Goering's food conference 6 Aug 1942

Post by David Thompson » 12 Dec 2004 04:53

Extracts from Goering's conference of 6 August 1942, with the Reich Commissioners and Military Commanders from the German Occupied Territories on delivery of food and other products for Germany and the German armed forces, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 13: United States of America v. Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al. (Case 11: 'Ministries Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1952. pp. 799-807.
Partial Translation of Document NI-10105, Prosecution Exhibit 3429.

The Reich Marshal for the Greater German Reich Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan.
The State Secretary [Koerner]
received: 10 August 1942

Stenographic transcript of the Conference of Reich Marshal Goering with the Reich Commissioners for the Occupied Territories and the Military Commanders on the food situation held on Thursday, 6 August 1942, 4.00 PM in the Hermann Goering Hall of the Reich Aviation Ministry.

To the files 6 August 1942
Dr. Papendieck Hm: [Initials] KL [Klare]
2 October 1942.

Reich Marshal Goering: Yesterday the Gauleiter expressed opinions here. Although there may have been variations in emphasis and demeanor, it was evident that they all feel that the German people have too little to eat. Gentlemen, the Fuehrer has given me general powers exceeding any hitherto granted within the Four Year Plan. He gave me additional authorities, pertaining even to the remotest links of our economic structure, whether they be within the State, the Party, or the Wehrmacht. I am, therefore, at this moment shouldering the final responsibility toward the Fuehrer and the nation for the food situation; the mere thought that the German workers are bound to slacken in their output, that above all, German mothers and German women are already showing critical symptoms, is a challenge to my full sense of responsibility.

There are two more things to be taken into consideration. The Fuehrer repeatedly said, and I repeated after him: If any one has to go hungry, it shall not be the Germans, but other peoples. The second thing is--as I have already said yesterday--Germany at present commands the richest granaries that ever existed in the European area, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Volga and the Caucasus; lands more highly developed and fruitful than ever before, even if there are certain countries included which cannot be regarded as granaries. I need only to refer to the fabulous fertility of the Netherlands, the unique paradise that is France; Belgium too is extraordinarily fruitful, as is also the province of Poznan. Then, above all, what is to a large extent Europe's storehouse of rye and other grains, the Government General, to which are attached such tremendously fruitful regions as Lvov and Galicia where the harvest is exceptionally good. Then there comes Russia, the black earth of the Ukraine on either side of the Dnepr, the area of the Don-bend, with its remarkably fertile and only slightly damaged districts. Our troops have now already occupied, or are in the process of occupying, the excessively fertile districts between the Don and the Caucasus. Also in the East we are controlling some fertile regions; and in the presence of all these facts, the German people are starving. These are regions, gentlemen, such as we never had during the last World War, and yet I have to give a bread ration to the German people, which is no longer to be justified. I have had foreign workers brought to Germany from all regions, and these foreign workers, regardless of where they come from, declared that they had better food at home than here in Germany. This proves to me, that even in the occupied regions, the official rations on paper do not provide the basis of the nutrition, but rather the black market [Schiebung]. In every one of the occupied territories, I see the people fed to bursting point [vollgefressen] and among our own people there is starvation. God knows, you are not sent out there to work for the welfare of the people in your charge, but to get the utmost out of them, so that the German people can live. That is what I expect of your exertions. This everlasting concern about foreign peoples must cease now, once and for all.

I have here before me reports on what you are expected to deliver. It is nothing at all when I consider your territories. It makes no difference to me in this connection if you say that your people will starve. Let them do so, as long as no German collapses from hunger. If you had been present when the Gauleiter spoke here, you would understand my boundless anger over the fact that we conquered such enormous [unerhoerte] territories through the valor of our troops, and yet our people have really almost been forced down to the miserable rations of WWI.

In the Ruhr region, German cities have been raided very heavily. The people have suffered enormously. At the gates of the Ruhr district lies wealthy Holland. It could send much more vegetables into this stricken area than it has done up to now. What the Dutchmen think about it is all the same to me. It would not be quite without advantage, if the Dutch population were considerably weakened in their powers of resistance; they are, after all, nothing but one whole nation of traitors to our cause; I don't hold that against them; maybe I would not act differently myself. But it is not our job to feed a people which is against us at heart [das uns innerlich ablehnt, auch mitzuernaehren]. If this people is so weak that it can no longer raise its hand, if we do not need its labor, so much the better. Once it is weak, it will also not revolt against us at the time when we might be threatened from the back. In general, I am interested only in those people in the occupied regions who work in armament and food production. They must receive just enough to enable them to continue working. It is all one to me whether Dutchmen are Germanic or not. If they are, they are only all the greater blockheads, and it has already been demonstrated in the past by greater personages how Germanic numbskulls often have to be treated. Even if you are abused from various quarters, you will have acted right--for it is the Reich alone that counts.

As for Belgium, I'll admit that a great proportion of the Belgian population is working for the German interests. Whether or not they are actually working for German interests everywhere, I shall have checked carefully. For, if for example, a factory produces goods to supply everyday needs which disappear in the Belgian economy, these are not goods produced for Germany. I am interested only in those goods that go from there to Germany.

By the way, is there a representative of the Reich Minister of Finance present?

(Exclamation: Yes, sir, Reinhardt!)

Mr. Reinhardt, abandon your customs controls. They don't interest me any more. The German people have nothing anyhow, therefore, they will not let anything get out of the country. I don't care what comes into the country, whether by smuggling or otherwise. I prefer it, if enormous quantities of goods are being smuggled in, than if nothing comes in through the customs channels.

With regard to France, I maintain that it is still not cultivated to the utmost. France can be cultivated far differently if the peasant there are forced to work in a different manner. Secondly, right in France itself the population is eating so well that it is a dirty shame. I saw villages where columns of people walked with their long loaves of white bread under their arms. In small villages, I saw oranges by the basketful, fresh dates from North Africa. Yesterday someone said: It is true, the normal food in these regions comes from the black market; on their ration card they only draw additional food. That is the only way, how the people in France can be so gay, otherwise they would not be.

I would say nothing at all -- on the contrary, I would think ill of you -- if we didn't have a fabulous restaurant in Paris where we can provide ourselves properly with the best food; but I don't want the French to be able to saunter into it. Maxime's [A well-known Paris restaurant.] must have the best food for us. Three or four absolutely first-class restaurants for German officers, German civilians; but not for the French. They don't need to eat that way. The people who sit there at lunch and dinner time are the black market operators. They are richer than ever because they make us pay through our noses. It is like seeing the Berlin of 1919 rise again before one's eyes. The same types in those few amusement places, while the whole nation outside is starving, the only difference being that the French are not starving.

But we are not concerned with food here. I have expressed myself so many times on the fact that I regard all of France, which is now occupied by us, as conquered territory. In former times the matter appeared to me to be comparatively simpler. Then one called it plundering. It was the right of the person concerned to take away that which was conquered. Well, practices have become more humane. I intend to plunder, nevertheless, and on a large scale; in such a manner that, starting with Holland and Belgium, I shall send a great number of buying agents with extraordinary powers also to France. They will then have time until Christmas to buy up more or less everything which is to be found in the nice stores and warehouses; and this I will display in the store windows here for the German people; for the German people to buy. It is not my concern to see that every French woman runs about like a dressed-up prostitute. They shall not buy anything new for some time to come. They have anyway too many clothes to wear; on the other hand, too little. I shall show them what it means to represent the interests of the German Reich.

Furthermore, we must keep like bloodhounds on the track of anything that German people can still use. That stuff should be brought here out of the warehouses with lightning speed. Whenever I have issued a decree, I stated repeatedly: soldiers may buy as they please, whatever they please, whatever they can carry. But already it is said: in such and such a store one cannot buy, because it is a Jewish-owned business. Formerly that would not have bothered these people. Then it was the Party that kept on the tail of the Jews, not the economic administration. All at once it was twisted around like this. I have stated: this is out of the question. Then someone thought of something else. An order was issued: as much as a soldier can carry and still salute, and similar rubbish. It was said that, for heaven's sake, one could not give the servicemen his monthly pay in cash, etc., otherwise there would be inflation in France. I don't want it otherwise! There shall be such an inflation that everything goes bang ! The franc shall be worth no more than a well-known type of paper used for certain purposes. Only then, perhaps, will France be hit in the way in which we want France to be hit.

Collaboration is a thing which only Mr. Abetz does. [Otto Abetz was the German Ambassador in Paris.] Mind my words; I don't deal in collaboration. I visualize collaboration on the part of the Frenchman [Herren Franzosen] in the following manner only: If they deliver to us until they are exhausted [bis sie selber nicht mehr koennen], if they do this voluntarily, I shall say, I collaborate with them. If they stuff themselves [alles selbst auffressen], then they don't collaborate; that must be clear to France.

Now you will tell me--Laval's foreign policy. Mr. Laval calms down Mr. Abetz, and for all I care Mr. Laval may enter Maxime's although it is off limits. But, as far as everything else is concerned, the French must be taught that very quickly. They show an impudence of which you can have no idea.

For example the scrap metal collection. I just got very interesting comparative figures on this. France has previously by no means been squeezed dry [geschroepft] like the German Reich. You must not forget how many scrap metal collections we have had previously, during the World War and later. A population of 44 millions turned in 11750 tons of copper, 800 tons of tin. That makes 0.28 tons [Handwritten: "kg"] per head of population; Belgium turned in 3400 tons of copper, 28 tons of tin, that makes 0.23 t. [Handwritten "kg"] per head. The Netherlands with 8 millions of inhabitants have delivered 2900 tons of copper. They are a point better than France with 0.8 t [Handwritten "kg"] per head. Take away their old milk pots, they are made from copper. The German Reich delivered 55500 tons of copper, 6000 tons of tin. That makes 0.77 per head. You see it again and again--as long as Germans are concerned, they are squeezed to the utmost, while Frenchmen, etc., are being handled with kid gloves.

I have here the comparative figures for the import and export surpluses in France for 1938. I won't read them to you, gentlemen, for I am not interested in this. I am not a statistician. I soon forget figures. That is not what I am interested in. It is all the same to me, what they imported and exported, for the circumstances were different. The Frenchmen lived like God in France. The only point that interests me is, what can be squeezed out of the territory now under our control, with utmost application and by straining every nerve, and how much of that can be channeled into Germany. I don't give a damn about import and export statistics of former years.

Now as for shipments to the Reich. Last year France shipped 550000 tons of bread grain, and now I demand 1.2 million tons. Two weeks from now a plan will be submitted how it can be handled. There will be no more discussion about it. What happens to the Frenchmen is a matter of indifference to me; 1.2 million tons will be delivered. Feed grain last year 550000; now 1 million. Meat last year, 135000; now 350000. Fats last year, 23000; this year 60000. Cheese--last year they did not deliver anything, so they will supply 25000 this year. Potatoes last year, 125000; this year, 300000. Wine--nothing last year; 6 million hectoliters this year. Vegetables, 15000 last year; this year 150000. Fruit last year 200000; this year 300000. These are the shipments from France.

Now to the Netherlands. Bread grain 40000; grain fodder 45000; meat 35000; fats 20000; potatoes 85000; leguminous vegetables 45000; sugar 30000; cheese 16000; vegetables 1 million; vegetable seeds 10000 -- (Exclamation by Seyss-Inquart.) -- 1 million should be easy for you.
Well, take the entire harvest. You can substitute, after all--a little less vegetables, a little more fats. I don't mind.

Belgium is a poor country. But even so, she is not as poor as you say. She doesn't have to supply bread grains, but because of that she won't receive any either. But in this connection don't forget to supply me with 5000 tons of grain fodder. They won't get any meat, and I don't want any either. Fats they won't get and I don't want any either. I want 20000 tons of sugar, 50000 of potatoes, 15000 tons of fruit. Now for Norway. Here is a question of the fish supply 100000 ton.

Terboven: We shipped more last year!

Reich Marshal Goering: 500000 tons.

Terboven: Then I must ask that the Navy return the fishing boats to me!

Reich Marshal Goering: I know. We must discuss that with the Navy. You must give me some meat. How much?

(Exclamation: None whatever!)

Reich Marshal Goering: Don't you have any grain fodder either?

Exclamation: None either!)

Terboven: The Army, too, is largely being fed by me.

Reich Marshal Goering: In general, that takes care of the West. Concerning the buying agents [Aufkaeufer]: the clothes, shoes, etc., everything there is, buy it up [alles was es ueberhaupt gibt, aufkaufen]--a special order is to be issued.

Now comes the East. Here I agree with the Wehrmacht. The Wehrmacht renounces the requirements it ordered from the home country. What was it for, hay?

Backe: 1.5 million tons; straw over 1 million; oats 1.5 million tons. We can't deliver that (?).

Reich Marshal Goering: Well, there you can take barley after all.

It is a matter of course that the Wehrmacht in France will be supplied with food by France. That is a matter of course, and I did not even mention it before.

But now Russia. About her fertility there is no doubt. I cannot but pay tribute to the fact that in the southern area--so far I have only seen the southern area--it was possible, in spite of enormous difficulties, to cultivate the land in conjunction with the Wehrmacht; one cannot help marveling at it, despite everything. I must say this--for one who is responsible for these things, it is a feeling of elation to drive through the entire area from Vinnitsa up to Poland. There all the crops stand of unimaginable quality, and I should never have thought it possible to cultivate the land so extensively. Also in Wehrmacht circles we agree that all emergency measures must be taken. This is a matter of course, and I should also like to ask you, Riecke, to take all emergency measures so that aid is given even now, and that the matter is perfectly safe, as it would be a crying shame this crop got lost.

In this land of Russia, however, there is an unbelievable quantity of hay. The straw is short, but plentiful.

Backe: But it is still there from the preceding year.

Reich Marshal Goering: Why from the preceding year? Because the straw and hay was taken there from Germany and rotted there. We did not have any trains running regularly. War feeds war! That is now written in capital letters. The Wehrmacht is to be given in addition only what is considered as supplementary matter, chocolate and such things.

Sauckel: I may be permitted to clarify the following for the Reich Marshal and the Reich Commissioner. It is not for fun that I take the people out of these territories, but because a strict and bitter order exists to this effect. German agriculture alone had to be provided with more than 600000 workers--today, the figure is already 700000--because in the last years, more than a million farmers have been called away from German agriculture to the colors.

Reich Marshal Goering: I must say one thing to this. I do not want to praise Gauleiter Sauckel, he does not need that. But what he has accomplished in this short period [In the German original. Reich Commissioner Lohse's statement appears in the beginning of page 145 of the document. The preceding page, 144, was missing from the document offered in evidence. It is therefore not clear to what question this answer by Lohse refers.] -- to get with such rapidity, workers from all of Europe--this is unique. I want to tell this to all gentlemen: if each, in his respective field, would use only one tenth of the energy which Gauleiter Sauckel has used, then it would really be an easy thing to accomplish the tasks requested from you. This is my holy conviction, and not a manner of talking.

Koch: I have sent over half a million. After all, he got the people from me, it was I who gave them to him.

Reich Marshal Goering: But Koch, these are not only Ukrainians. Your ridiculous 500000 people! And how many did he [Sauckel] bring? Almost two million! From where did he get the others?

Lohse: I can also answer this. [Gauleiter Sauckel was appointed Plenipotentiary General for Labor Allocation on 21 March 1942. See Document 1666-PS, Prosecution Exhibit 2605, reproduced later in section XI.] Only a small fraction of Jews are still alive. Many thousands of them are gone [zigtausend sind weg]. I may state however, what the local population gets; they get, according to your instruction, 15% less than the German population.

Reich Marshal Goering: But we don't want to go into this little milk bill. What is on your lists is one thing, and what grub the people get is another.

Now we will see what Russia can deliver. I think, Riecke, we must succeed in obtaining 2 million tons of bread grain and grain fodder from the whole Russian area.

Riecke: They will be obtained. Reich Marshal Goering: We must therefore obtain 3 million apart from the Wehrmacht.

Riecke: No, what is there is only for the Wehrmacht.

Reich Marshal Goering: Then get 2 million.

[Comment missing in my copy -- DT]

Reich Marshal Goering: Then get 1 1/2 million.

Riecke: Yes. All right.

Reich Marshal Goering: Then oilseed, that is quite open.

Riecke: That will improve still more.

Reich Marshal Goering: Meat is improving?

Riecke: Yes.

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