Use of Slave Labor in German War Industries (Part 2 of 2)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter X

[Page 909]

The Nazi conspirators made extensive use of prisoners of war not only in active operations of war but also in the German armament industry. A secret letter from the Reichsminister of Labor to the Presidents of the Regional Labor Exchange Offices refers to an order of Goering to the effect that: "Upon personal order of the Reich Marshal, 100,000 men are to be taken from among the French PWs not yet employed in armament industry, and are to be assigned to the armament industry (airplanes industry). Gaps in manpower supply resulting therefrom will be filled by Soviet PWs. The transfer of the above-named French PWs is to be accomplished by 1 October." (3005-PS)

A similar policy was followed with respect to Russian prison- [Page 912] ers of war. In a secret memorandum issued from Hitler's headquarters on 31 October 1942, Keitel directed the execution of Hitler's order to use such prisoners in the German war economy (EC-194): "The lack of workers is becoming an increasingly dangerous hindrance for the future German war and' armament industry. The expected relief through discharges from the armed forces is uncertain as o the extent and date; however, its possible extent will by no means correspond to expectations and requirements in view of the great demand. "The Fuehrer has now ordered that even the working power of the Russian prisoner of war should be utilized to a large extent by large scale assignment for the requirements of the war industry. The prerequisite for production is adequate nourishment. Also very small wages are to be planned for the most modest supply with a few consumers' goods (Genussmittel) for every day's life, eventual rewards for production." *******

"II. Construction and Armament Industry.

"a. Work units for constructions of all kind, particularly for the fortification of coastal defenses (concrete workers, unloading units for essential war plants).

"b. Suitable armament factories which have to be selected in such a way that their personnel should consist in the majority of prisoners of war under guidance and supervision (eventually after withdrawal and other employment of the German workers). "III. Other War Industries. "a. Mining as under II b. "b. Railroad construction units for building tracks etc.

"c. Agriculture and forestry in closed units. The utilization of Russian prisoners of war is to be regulated on the basis of above examples by: "To I. The armed forces "To II. The Reich Minister for Arms and Ammunition and the Inspector General for the German road system in agreement with the Reich Minister for Labor and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (Wi Rue Amt). Deputies of the Reich Minister for Arms and Ammunition are to be admitted to the prisoner of war camps to assist in the selection of skilled workers." (EC-194) Goering, at a conference at the Air Ministry on 7 November 1941, also discussed the use of prisoners of war in the armament [Page 913] industry. The Top Secret notes on Goering's-instructions as to the employment and treatment of prisoners of war in many phases of the German war industry read as follows (106-PS):

"The Fuehrer's point of view as to employment of prisoners of war in war industries has changed basically. So far a total of 6 million prisoners of war employed so far 2 million." *******

"For 4) In the Interior and the Protectorate, it would be ideal if entire factories could be manned by Russian PW's except the employees necessary for direction. For employment in the Interior and the Protectorate the following are to have priority:

"a. At the top coal mining industry. "Order by the Fuehrer to investigate all mines as to suitability for employment of Russians. At times manning the entire plant with Russian laborers.

"b. Transportation (construction of locomotives and cars, repair shops). "Railroad-repair and industry workers are to be sought out from the PW's. Railroad is most important means of transportation in the East.

"c. Armament industries "Preferably factories of armor and guns. Possibly also construction of parts for airplane engines. Suitable complete sections of factories to be manned exclusively by Russians. For the remainder employment in columns. Use in factories of tool machinery, production of farm tractors, generators, etc. In emergency, erect in individual places barracks for occasional workers which are used as unloading details and similar purposes. (Reich Minister of the Interior through communal authorities.) "OKW/AWA is competent for transporting Russian PW's employment through "Planning Board for Employment of all PW's (Planstelle fuer den Einsatz fuer alle Kriegsgefangenen). If necessary, offices of Reich Commissariats. "No employment where danger to men or their supply exists, i.e. factories exposed to explosives, waterworks, power-works, etc. No contact with German population, especially no 'solidarity.' German worker as a rule is foreman of Russians. "Food is a matter of the Four Years' Plan. Supply their own food (cats, horses, etc.) "Clothes, billeting, messing somewhat better than at home where part of the people live in caverns. [Page 914] "Supply of shoes for Russians as a rule wooden shoes, if necessary install Russian shoe repair shops. "Examination of physical fitness, in order to avoid importation of diseases. "Clearing of mines as a rule by Russians if possible by selected Russian engineers." (1206-PS)

Speer also sponsored and applied the policy of using prisoners of war in the armament industry. In a speech to the Nazi Gauleiters on 24 February 1942, Speer said: "I therefore proposed to the Fuehrer at the end of December that all my labor force, including specialists be released for mass employment in the East. Subsequently the remaining PW's, about 10,000 were put at disposal of the armaments industry by me." (1435-PS)

Speer also reported at the 36th meeting of the Central Planning Board, held on 22 April 1943, that only 3070 of the Russian prisoners of war were engaged in the armament industry. This he found unsatisfactory. Speer continued: "There is a specified statement showing in what sectors the Russian PW's have been distributed, and this statement is quite interesting. It shows that the armaments industry only received 30. I always complained about this." ******* "The 90,000 Russian PW's employed in the whole of the armaments industry are for the greatest part skilled men." (R-124) Sauckel, who was appointed Plenipotentiary General for the utilization of labor for the express purpose, among others, of integrating prisoners of war into the German war industry, made it plain that prisoners of war were to be compelled to serve the German armament industry. His labor mobilization program contains the following statement: "All prisoners of war, from the territories of the West as well as of the East, actually in Germany, must be completely incorporated into the German armament and nutrition industries. Their production must be brought to the highest possible level." (016-PS)

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