The evidence introduced against Speer under Counts Three and Four relates entirely to his participation in the slave labour programme.
Speer himself had no direct administrative responsibility for this programme.
Although he had advocated the appointment of a General Plenipotentiary
for the Utilisation of Labour because he wanted one central authority
with whom he could deal on labour matters, he did not obtain administrative
control over Sauckel. Sauckel was appointed directly by Hitler under
the decree of 21st March, 1942, which provided that he should be directly
responsible to Goering,
as Plenipotentiary of the Four-Year Plan.
As Reich Minister for Armaments and Munitions and General
Plenipotentiary for Armaments under the Four-Year Plan, Speer had extensive
authority over production. His original authority was over construction
and production of arms for the OKH. This was progressively expanded
to include naval armaments, civilian production and finally, on 1st
August, 1944, air armament. As the dominant member of the Central Planning
Board, which had supreme authority for the scheduling of German production
and the allocation and development of raw materials, Speer took the
position that the Board had authority to instruct Sauckel to provide labourers for industries under its control and succeeded
in sustaining this position over the objection of Sauckel. The practice
was developed under which Speer transmitted to Sauckel an estimate of
the total number of workers needed. Sauckel obtained the labour and
allocated it to the various industries in accordance with instructions
supplied by Speer.
Speer knew when he made his demands on Sauckel that
they would be supplied by foreign labourers serving under compulsion.
He participated in conferences involving the extension of the slave
labour programme for the purpose of satisfying his demands. He was present
at a conference held during 10th August and 12th August, 1942, with
Hitler and Sauckel at which it was agreed that Sauckel should bring
labourers by force from occupied territories where this was necessary
to satisfy the labour needs of the industries under Speer's control.
Speer also attended a conference in Hitler's headquarters on 4th January, 1944, at which
the decision was made that Sauckel should obtain " at least 4 million
new workers from occupied territories " in order to satisfy the
demands for labour made by Speer, although Sauckel indicated that he
could do this only with help from Himmler.
Sauckel continually informed Speer and his representatives
that foreign labourers were being obtained by force. At a meeting on
1st March, 1944, Speer's deputy questioned Sauckel very closely about
his failure to live up to the obligation to supply four million workers
from occupied territories. In some cases Speer demanded labourers from
specific foreign countries. Thus, at the conference 10th-12th August,
1942, Sauckel was instructed to supply Speer with "a further million
Russian labourers for the German armament industry up to and including
October, 1942." At a meeting of the Central Planning Board on 22nd
April, 1943, Speer discussed plans to obtain Russian labourers for use
in the coal mines, and flatly vetoed the suggestion that this labour
deficit should be made up by German labour.
Speer has argued that he advocated the reorganisation
of the labour programme to place a greater emphasis on utilisation of
German labour in war production in Germany and on the use of labour
in occupied countries in local production of consumer goods formerly
produced in Germany. Speer took steps in this direction by establishing
the so-called " blocked industries " in the occupied territories
which were used to produce goods to be shipped to Germany. Employees
of these industries were immune from deportation to Germany as slave
labourers and any worker who had been ordered to go to Germany could
avoid deportation if he were to work for a blocked industry. This system,
although somewhat less inhumane than deportation to Germany, was still
illegal. The system of blocked industries played only a small part in
the over-all slave labour programme knowing the way in which it was
actually being administered. In an official sense, he was its principal
beneficiary and he constantly urged its extension.
Speer was also directly involved in the utilisation
of forced labour as Chief of the Organisation Todt. The Organisation
Todt functioned principally in the occupied areas on such projects as
the Atlantic Wall and the construction of military highways, and Speer
has admitted that he relied on compulsory service to keep it adequately
staffed. He also used concentration camp labour in the industries under
his control. He originally arranged to tap this source of labour for
use in small out of the way factories; and later, fearful of Himmler's
jurisdictional ambitions, attempted to use as few concentration camp
workers as possible.
Speer was also involved in the use of prisoners of
war in armament industries but contends that he only utilised Soviet
prisoners of war in industries covered by the Geneva Convention.
Speer's position was such that he was not directly
concerned with the cruelty in the administration of the slave labour
programme, although he was aware of its existence. For example, at meetings
of the Central Planning Board he was informed that his demands for labour
were so large as to necessitate violent methods in recruiting. At a
meeting of the Central Planning Board on 30th October, 1942, Speer voiced
his opinion that many slave labourers who claimed to be sick were malingerers
and stated: " There is nothing to be said against SS and Police taking drastic steps and putting those known as slackers
into concentration camps." Speer, however, insisted that the slave
labourers be given adequate food and working conditions so that they
could work efficiently.
In mitigation it must be recognised that Speer's establishment
of blocked industries did keep many labourers in their homes and that
in the closing stages of the war he was one of the few men who had the
courage to tell Hitler that the war was lost and to take steps to prevent
the senseless destruction of production facilities, both in occupied
territories and in Germany. He carried out his opposition to Hitler's
scorched earth programme in some of the Western countries and in Germany
by deliberately sabotaging it at considerable personal risk.