The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-17/tgmwc-17-159.07

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-17/tgmwc-17-159.07
Last-Modified: 2000/06/29

Q. And did you prevent them?

A. The Commander-in-Chief of the West was responsible for
carrying out this decree, since these orders were to be
carried out in his operational zone. But I informed him
that, as far as I was concerned, this destruction had no
sense and no purpose, and that I, in my capacity of Armament
Minister, did not consider this destruction necessary.
Thereupon no order to destroy these things was given.

Q. When was that?

A. By this, of course, I made myself responsible to Hitler
for the fact that no destruction took place.

Q. When was that?

A. About the beginning of July, 1944.

Q. How could you justify your position?

A. All the military leaders whom I knew said at that time
that the war was bound to end in October or November, since
the invasion had been successful.

I myself was of the same opinion in view of the fuel
situation. This may be clearly seen from the memorandum
which I sent to Hitler on 30th August, in which I told him
that in view of this development in the fuel situation, no
operational actions by the troops would be possible by
October or November. The fact that the war lasted longer
than that can be ascribed only to the halt of the enemy
offensive in 1944. This made it possible to decrease our
fuel consumption and to give the Western Front new. supplies
of tanks and ammunition. In these circumstances I was
perfectly willing to accept responsibility for abandoning
the industries in the Western countries to the enemy in an
undamaged condition, for they could be of no use to them for
at least nine months, the transport system having been
destroyed beforehand. This memorandum coincides with the
protection of the unemployed workers in the blocked
industries - a matter which I dealt with this morning.

Q. Did Hitler sanction these measures?

A. He could not sanction these measures for he knew nothing
about them. It was a period of such hectic activity at
Headquarters that he never thought of checking up on the
measures taken for destruction. Later, in January, 1945,
reports appeared in the French Press on the rapid
reconstruction of their undestroyed industries. Then, of
course, serious charges were raised against me.

Q. The French prosecution has submitted a document, RF-132.
This is a report by the Field Economic Officer attached to
the Wehrmacht Commander for the Netherlands. According to
this report, a decree by the Commander-in

                                                   [Page 28]

Chief for the West was still in existence in September,
1944. This said that destructive measures were to be taken
only in the coastal towns and nowhere else, and the Field
Economic Officer for the Netherlands stated, as may be seen
from the document, that the order issued by the
Commander-in-Chief for the West was obsolete, and that he
himself had therefore decreed, on his own initiative, that
the industries in Holland should be destroyed. How was this
possible and what did you do about it?

A. As a matter of fact, over-enthusiasm on the part of some
of the junior officers caused the basic decrees not to
destroy in the West to be ignored. Our means of ensuring
that orders were carried out had been destroyed through
bombing attacks. Seyss-Inquart had drawn my attention to the
fact that destruction was to take place in Holland. He has
already testified that I authorized him not to take
destructive measures. This was in September, 1944. In
addition, in order to prevent such destruction on 5th
September, 1944, acting on my own initiative, I directed the
managers of the coal and iron production and the chief of
the civilian administration in Luxembourg to prevent
destruction in the Minette ore mines, in the Saar coal
mines, and the coal mines of Belgium and Holland, etc. In
view of the hopeless war situation at that time, I, as the
person responsible for supplying electric current, continued
to furnish current to the undertakings on the other side of
the front so that the pumping stations in the coal mines
would not have to stop working, because, if these pumping
stations had stopped, the mines would have been flooded.

DR. FLAECHSNER: In this connection, I am submitting a copy
of a letter from Speer to Gauleiter Simon at Koblenz. This
is Speer Exhibit 16 - Page 57 of the English text in my
Document Book.


Q. Herr Speer, with regard to the other occupied countries -
those outside France, Belgium and Holland - did you use your
influence to prevent destruction?

A. From August, 1944, in the industrial installations in the
General Government, the ore works in the Balkans, the nickel
works in Finland; from September, 1944, the industrial
installations in Upper Italy; beginning with February, 1945,
in the oil fields in Hungary and the industries of
Czechoslovakia. I should like to emphasize in this
connection that I was supported to a great extent by General
Jodl, who quietly tolerated this policy of non-destruction.

Q. What were Hitler's intentions with regard to the
preservation of industry and means of existence for the
German population at the beginning of September, 1944, when
enemy troops approached the frontiers of the Greater German
Reich from all sides?

A. He had absolutely no intention of preserving industry. On
the contrary, he ordered the scorched earth policy with
special application to Germany. That meant the ruthless
destruction of all installations on the approach of the
enemy. This policy was backed by Bormann, Ley and Goebbels,
while the various branches of the Wehrmacht and the
competent Ministries opposed it.

DR. FLAECHSNER: As these efforts by Speer to prevent the
application of destructive measures - measures which had
been considerably intensified - also applied to areas then
considered part of the German Reich - such as Polish Upper
Silesia, Alsace and Lorraine, Austria, Poland, the
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia - I should like to have
this matter admitted as part of my evidence.


Q. Herr Speer, did the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army in
the greater German Reich, in the areas that I have just
defined, have executive powers to carry out orders of

A. No. As far as industries were concerned, those executive
powers were vested in me. Bridges, locks, railway
installations, etc., were the affair of the Wehrmacht.

                                                   [Page 29]

Q. In your measures for the protection of industry, did you
differentiate between the territories of the so-called old
Reich and those which were added after 1933?

A. No. The industrial region of Upper Silesia, the remaining
districts of Poland, Bohemia and Moravia, Alsace Lorraine
and Austria, of course, were protected against destruction
in the same way as the German areas. I made the necessary
arrangements by personal directives on the spot-particularly
in the Eastern territories.

Q. What steps did you take against the "scorched earth"

A. I returned from a trip to the Western Front on 14th
September, 1944, and found the decree awaiting me that
everything was to be destroyed ruthlessly. I immediately
issued a counter-decree officially prescribing the
protection of all industrial installations. At that time, I
was very much upset about the fact that industries were now
to be destroyed in Germany, especially as the war situation
was hopeless, and I was all the more upset because I thought
I had succeeded in saving the industries in the occupied
Western countries from destruction.

DR. FLAECHSNER: I should like to submit a document in this
connection - a decree by Speer dated 14th September, 1944,
for the protection of industries. It is on Page 58 of the
English text of my Document Book - Exhibit 17.


Q. Herr Speer, did you succeed in getting this order carried

THE PRESIDENT: What is the date of it? The 14th of
September, did you say?

DR. FLAECHSNER: 14th September, Mr. President, 1944.

THE PRESIDENT: What page is it?

DR. FLAECHSNER: It is Page 58 of the English text.


Q. Did you succeed in carrying out this order of yours, Herr

A. The scorched earth policy was officially proclaimed in
the Volkischer Beobachter at the same time, in an official
article by the Reich Press Chief, so that I realised quite
clearly that my counter-decree could not be effective for
any length of time. In this connection I used a method which
is, perhaps, typical of the means employed by members of
Hitler's immediate circle. In order to dissuade him from the
"scorched earth" policy, I made use of the faith which he
instilled into all his co-workers, that the lost territories
would be recaptured. I made him decide between the two
situations: firstly, if these industrial areas were lost, my
armament production would drop if they were not recaptured;
and secondly, if they were recaptured, they would be of
value to us only if we had not destroyed the factories and
other industrial installations.

Q. You thereupon addressed a letter to Bormann.

DR. FLAECHSNER: I should like to submit this letter as
Exhibit 18, Mr. President - Page 59 of the English text of
the Document Book. This teleprint -

WITNESS: I think we can dispense with the quotation.


Q. Yes. You sent this teleprint message to Bormann before
you discussed the contents with Hitler?

A. Yes. I should like to summarize

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Would you give the French page
as well so that the French members may have it.

DR. FLAECHSNER: It is Page 56 of the French text of the
Document Book.

A. (continuing): Hitler approved of the text which I
suggested to him, in which I gave him alternatives, either
of considering the war as lost or of leaving the areas
intact. For the time being, there was in any case no danger,

                                                   [Page 30]
the fronts remained stable. Hitler demanded the destruction
of the Monet mines in France, but in this case too, I was
successful, as may be seen from the document, in preventing
the destruction of these mines - again by exploiting
Hitler's hopes of a successful counter attack.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, the document to which the
defendant has just referred is an extract from the Fuehrer
decree of 18th-20th August, 1944, and I submit it as Speer
Exhibit 19. It is reproduced in the supplement of my
Document Book - Page 101.


Q. Herr Speer, how did this order originate?

A. I have already told you.

Q. The term "paralysis" frequently occurs in your document
in connection with industrial installations, etc. Will you
tell the Tribunal just what you mean by the use of this

A. I can only say briefly that this concerns the removal of
essential parts, which put the plant temporarily out of
commission; but these parts were not destroyed, they were
merely concealed.

Q. You emphasized a few minutes ago that, up to January,
1945, you tried to achieve the highest possible degree of
armament. What were your reasons for giving up the idea
after January, 1945?

A. From January, 1945, onward, a very unpleasant chapter
begins, namely, the last phase of the war, and the
realization that Hitler had identified the fate of the
German people with his own. From March, 1945, onward, I
further realised that Hitler intended deliberately to
destroy the means of life for his own people if the war were
lost. I have no intention of using my actions during that
phase of the war to help me in my personal defence, but this
is a matter of honour which must be defended, and for that
reason I should like to tell you briefly about this period
of time.

Q. Herr Speer, what was the production situation in the
various areas under your jurisdiction at the end of January,

A. The fuel production had been quite inadequate since the
beginning of the attacks on fuel plants in May, 1944, and
the situation did not improve afterwards. The bombing of our
transportation centres had eliminated the Ruhr area as a
source of raw material for Germany as early as November,
1944, and with the successful Soviet offensive in the coal
areas of Upper Silesia, most of our supply of coal from that
region had been cut off since the middle of January, 1945.

Thus we could calculate precisely when the economic set-up
must collapse. We had reached a point at which, even if
there were a complete cessation of operations on the part of
the enemy, the war would soon be lost, since the Reich,
because of its lack of coal, was on the verge of an economic

DR. FLAECHSNER: In this connection, I submit a memorandum
which Hitler received from Speer on 11th December, 1944. Mr.
President, you will find an extract on Page 64 of the
English Document Book - Page 61 of the German and French
books. It states:

  "In view of the whole structure of the Reich economy, it
  is obvious that the loss of the Rhenish-Westphalian
  industrial area will, in the long run, spell ruin for the
  whole German economy, and of any chance of further
  successful prosecution of the war. This would mean, in
  fact, the total loss of the Ruhr territory as far as the
  German economy is concerned. It is superfluous to discuss
  the consequences resulting for the whole German Reich if
  it is deprived of the Ruhr territory."

On 15th December, 1944, in connection with the Ardennes
offensive which was then imminent, Speer pointed out to
Hitler in detail the consequences entailed by a possible
loss of Upper Silesia.

In this connection I submit Speer's memorandum - Page 102 of
the supplementary volume of my Document Book, English text,
and the same page in the French

                                                   [Page 31]

text. This is an extract from a memorandum addressed to the
Chief of the Army General Staff, dated 15th December, 1944 -
Exhibit 21.

THE WITNESS: This memorandum was addressed to Hitler as

DR. FLAECHSNER: It is not necessary to quote from this
memorandum. It points out that a possible loss of Upper
Silesia would make fighting impossible even after a few
weeks and that the armed forces could in no way be supplied
with armaments. A large part of Upper Silesia was actually
lost shortly afterwards. On 30th January, 1945, Speer again
sent a memorandum to Hitler - Page 67 of the English text of
the Document Book - Page 64 in the French text. I submit
this document as Exhibit 22, and I quote only the following:

  "After the loss of Upper Silesia, the German armament
  production will no longer be in a position to cover even
  a fraction of the requirements of the front as regards
  munitions, weapons and tanks, losses on the front and
  equipment needed for new formations."

By way of special emphasis, there follows this sentence:

  "The material superiority of the enemy can therefore no
  longer be counterbalanced, even by the bravery of our


Q. Herr Speer, what did you mean by the last sentence I

A. At that time Hitler issued the slogan that in defence of
the Fatherland the soldiers' bravery would increase
tremendously, and that - vice versa - the Allied troops,
after the liberation of the occupied territories, would have
less will to fight. That was also the main argument employed
by Goebbels and Bormann to justify the use of all means to
intensify the war.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.