From Speer's IMT testimony: In this connection I should again like to summarize a few points. The invasion was preceded by heavy air attacks on the transportation system in the occupied western territories. As a result of that, beginning with May and June 1944, production in France was paralyzed and 1 million workers were unemployed. With that, the idea of shifting production had collapsed as far as I was concerned; and according to normal expectations of the French officials, too, the impression was general that a large-scale movement toward Germany would now set in.
I gave the order that in spite of the fact that the entire French industry was paralyzed the blocked factories should be kept up, although I knew as an expert that their rehabilitation, considering the damage to the transportation system, would not be possible in less than 9 or 12 months, even if the air attacks should cease entirely. I was, therefore, acting against my own interests here.
Between 19 and 22 June I had a conference with Hitler and I obtained a decree according to which the workers in the occupied territories, in spite of the difficulties of transport, had to remain on the spot no matter what happened. Seyss-Inquart has already testified that a similar decision applied to Holland. Upon my orders the workers in these blocked factories even continued to receive their wages. I must say quite openly that this was the first decision of mine which had its inner justification in the war situation having deteriorated so disastrously. The invasion was a success. The heavy air attacks on production were showing decisive results. An early end of the war was to be forecast and all this altered the situation as far as I was concerned. The practical conclusions I drew from this situation will become apparent through various other examples which I shall put forward in the course of the Trial. Of course, Hitler was not of the same opinion during that period. On the contrary, he believed that everything ought to be done in order to utilize the last reserves of manpower.
From Speer's IMT testimony: I personally was no expert, and I did not want to act as an expert. Therefore, I selected the best possible experts to be found in Germany as my co-workers. I believed that these men were to be found within industry itself. Therefore, I made up my Ministry of honorary industrial workers. This was done in the United States in a similar way during the war in matters of production. Professional civil servants were lacking in my Ministry, and you cannot really consider my Ministry as one set up along normal lines. In June 1944 I delivered a speech in Essen about the fundamental principles upon which I founded my Ministry and its work, to defend myself against the various attacks against my system in Party circles.June 10, 1944: On their way toward Normandy to combat D-Day invasion forces, troops of the armored SS Division Das Reich slaughter 642 men, women and children in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, France.
From Speer's IMT testimony: That is a document which shows what conditions can be after severe air raids. The conditions were the same in these cases for Germans and foreign workers. There were no beds, no cupboards, and so forth. That was because the camp in which these things had been provided had been burned down. That the food supply was often inadequate in the Ruhr district during this period was due to the fact that attacks from the air were centered on communication lines, so that food transports could not be brought into the Ruhr to the necessary extent. These were temporary conditions which we were able to improve when the air raids ceased for a time. When conditions became even worse after September or October of 1944, or rather after November of 1944, we made every effort to give food supplies the priority for the first time over armament needs, so that in view of these difficulties the workers would be fed first of all, while armaments had to stand back somewhat.
It is true that I did so [made efforts to get food and to see to the conditions of these workers], and I am glad that I did, even if I am to be reproached for it. For it is a universal human obligation when one hears of such conditions to try to alleviate them, even if it is somebody else's responsibility. But the witness Riecke testified here that the whole of the food question was under the direction of the Food Ministry.
I said yesterday that the responsibility for labor conditions was divided up between the Food Ministry, the Health Office in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, the Labor Trustee in the office of the Plenipotentiary General for the Allocation of Labor, and so on. There was no comprehensive authority in my hands. In the Reich, because of the way in which our state machine was built up, we lacked a comprehensive agency in the form of a Reich Chancellor, who would have gathered all these departments together and held joint discussions. But I, as the man responsible for production, had no responsibility in these matters. However, when I heard complaints from factory heads or from my deputies, I did everything to remove the cause of the complaints.
From Speer's IMT testimony: From the point of view of their technical production the rockets were a very expensive affair for us, and their effect compared to the cost of their output was negligible. In consequence we had no particular interest in developing the affair on a bigger scale. The person who kept urging it was Himmler, in this case. He gave one Obergruppenfuehrer Kammler the task of firing off these rockets over England. In Army circles they were of the same opinion as I, namely, that the rockets were too expensive; and in Air Force circles, the opinion was the same, since for the equivalent of one rocket one could almost build a fighter. It is quite clear that it would have been much better for us if we had not gone in for this nonsense.June 18, 1944: Goebbels' Diary:
From Speer's IMT testimony: From a military point of view and as far as the general situation was concerned, it [the war] was certainly lost before that [January 1945]. It is difficult, however, to consider a war as lost and to draw the final conclusions as regards one's own person if one is faced with unconditional surrender.
From the armament point of view [it was] not until the autumn of 1944 [that I was in a position to have a comprehensive view], for I succeeded up to that time, in spite of bombing attacks, in maintaining a constant rise in production. If I may express it in figures, this was so great that in the year 1944 I could completely re-equip 130 infantry divisions and 40 armored divisions. That involved new equipment for 2 million men. This figure would have been 30 percent higher had it not been for the bombing attacks.
We reached our production peak for the entire war in August 1944 for munitions; in September 1944 for aircraft; and in December 1944 for ordnance and the new U-boats. The new weapons were to be put into use a few months later, probably in February or March of 1945. I may mention only the jet planes which had already been announced in the press, the new U-boats, the new antiaircraft installations, et cetera. Here too, however, bombing attacks so retarded the mass production of these new weapons-which in the last phase of the war might have changed the situation-that they could no longer be used against the enemy in large numbers. All of these attempts were fruitless, however, since from 12 May 1944 on our fuel plants became targets for concentrated attacks from the air.
This was catastrophic. 90 percent of the fuel was lost to us from that time on. The success of these attacks meant the loss of the war as far as production was concerned; for our new tanks and jet planes were of no use without fuel. I told him [Hitler] of this in great detail, both orally and in writing. Between June and December 1944 I sent him 12 memoranda, all with catastrophic news.
From Speer's IMT testimony: I was not able to make out from my own direct observations whether gas warfare was to be started, but I knew from various associates of Ley's and Goebbels' that they were discussing the question of using our two new combat gases, Tabun and Sarin. They believed that these gases would be of particular efficacy, and they did in fact produce the most frightful results. We made these observations as early as the autumn of 1944, when the situation had become critical and many people were seriously worried about it.
All I know is that these two gases both had a quite extraordinary effect, and that there was no respirator, and no protection against them that we knew of. So the soldiers would have been unable to protect themselves against this gas in any way. For the manufacture of this gas we had about three factories, all of which were undamaged and which until November 1944 were working at full speed. When rumors reached us that gas might be used, I stopped its production in November 1944. I stopped it by the following means. I blocked the so-called preliminary production, that is, the chemical supplies for the making of gas, so that the gas production, as the Allied authorities themselves ascertained, after the end of December or the beginning of January, actually slowed down and finally came to a standstill. Beginning with a letter which is still in existence and which I wrote to Hitler in October 1944, I tried through legal methods to obtain his permission to have these gas factories stop their production. The reason I gave him was that on account of air raids the preliminary products, primarily cyanide, were needed urgently for other purposes. Hitler informed me that the gas production would have to continue whatever happened, but I gave instructions for the preliminary products not to be supplied any more.
In military circles there was certainly no one in favor of gas warfare. All sensible Army people turned gas warfare down as being utterly insane since, in view of your superiority in the air, it would not be long before it would bring the most terrible catastrophe upon German cities, which were completely unprotected. A certain circle of political people, certainly very limited [were in favor of gas warfare]. It was mostly Ley, Goebbels and Bormann, always the same three, who by every possible means wanted to increase the war effort; and a man like Fegelein certainly belonged to a group like that too. Of Himmler I would not be too sure, for at that time Himmler was a little out of favor with Hitler because he allowed himself the luxury of directing -an army group without being qualified. I must say quite frankly that my reason for these plans was the fear that under certain circumstances gas might be used, and the association of ideas in using it myself led me to make the whole plan. It was because at that stage of the war it was perfectly clear that under no circumstances should any international crimes be committed which could be held against the German people after they had lost the war. That was what decided the issue . . . .
Actually, ordinary gas evaporates at normal atmospheric temperature. This gas would not evaporate until very high temperatures were reached and such very high temperatures could only be produced by an explosion; in other words, when the explosives detonated, a very high temperature set in, as you know, and then the gas evaporated. The solid substance turned into gas, but the effects had nothing to do with the high temperature. Experiments must certainly have been carried out with it...As far as I know it was the research and development department of the OKH in the Army ordnance office. I cannot tell you for certain.
From Sauckel's IMT testimony: I was responsible to the Four Year Plan and to the Fuehrer, and I had instructions from the Fuehrer to meet the requirements of Reich Minister Speer as far as it was possible for me to do so. At all events he agreed, or he demanded, that workers should be put at his disposal. Sometimes, however, we did not entirely agree as to how it should be done; for instance, we did not agree about the protected factories in France. Yes, they [Speer's requirements] had to have priority. It did happen that, contrary to my instructions, labor transports were stopped, or transferred to other regions or to other factories. But whether the order always emanated from Herr Speer, or from an armament commission, or from another office, I do not know. It was not always from the same quarter.
A factory was 'blocked' if it was manufacturing articles which were not essential for war, or if it was a question of so-called luxury articles. Sperrbetriebe were factories which worked for Speer in France, which had been agreed to by the French Minister Bichelonne, and they were blocked as far as labor recruitment was concerned. I asked him [Speer] and I urged him, but I could not succeed in putting an end to the blocking of these factories. I was very insistent with Hitler about it, but I had no success.
I did not ask for a general extension of my powers, but I asked that conditions should be allowed to remain as they had been previously, for--I ask to be permitted to explain this to the Tribunal--my task was to bring workers from France to Germany--may I make this statement: The departments under Speer demanded skilled workers from me. There skilled workers already in the factories which
Speer had blocked. Similar industries in Germany would, of course, be worse off if instead of having skilled French workers they were supplied with unskilled French workers, or men without experience in that particular trade. I had to procure workers in any case, but I considered it wiser for German economy to procure for it the right kind of workers and not workers who were unskilled.
From Speer's IMT testimony: I had no influence on the method by which workers were recruited. If the workers were being brought to Germany against their will that means, as I see it, that they were obliged by law to work for Germany. Whether such laws were justified or not, that was a matter I did not check at the time. Besides, this was no concern of mine. On the other hand, by application of force and terror I understand police measures, such as raids and arrests, and so on. I did not approve of these violent measures, which may be seen from the attitude I took in the discussion I had with Lammers on 11 July 1944. At that time I held the view that neither an increase in police forces, nor raids, nor violent measures were the proper thing. In this document I am, at the same time, referred to as one of those who expressed their objections to the violent measures which had been proposed.
[I was against such violent measures] Because through violent measures of that kind a regular allocation of manpower in the occupied countries would not have been possible in the long run. However, I wanted production to be regulated and orderly in the occupied countries. Measures of violence meant to me a loss of manpower in the occupied countries, because there was the danger that these people would in increasing numbers take to the woods so as not to have to go to Germany, and thus strengthen the lines of the resistance movements. This, in turn, led to increased acts of sabotage and that, in turn, to a decrease of production in the occupied countries.
Therefore, time and again the military commanders, and the commanders of the army groups, as well as myself, protested against large-scale measures of violence as proposed. I was especially interested in labor recruitment from France, Belgium and Holland—that is, countries in the West—and from Italy, because, beginning with the spring of 1943, the Plenipotentiary General for the Allocation of Labor had decreed that mainly workers from these regions were to be assigned for war production. On the other hand, the workers from the East were mainly to be used for agriculture, for forestry, and for the building of railroads. This decree was repeatedly stressed to me by Sauckel, even as late as 1944.
During this meeting of 11 July I maintained my point of view. Once again I pointed to Germany's reserves, as becomes apparent from the minutes, and I announced that the transport difficulties should not be allowed to influence production, and that the blocked factories were to be kept up in those territories. Both I and the military commanders of the occupied territories were perfectly aware of the fact that with this the well-known consequences for these blocked factories would be the same as before, that is, that the transfer of labor from the occupied western territories to Germany would be stopped. The minutes of the meeting show, as I said before, that I opposed measures of coercion. I did not see Keitel's actual order.
From Speer's IMT testimony: The minutes of the meeting show, as I said before, that I opposed measures of coercion. I did not see Keitel's actual order. I know that the order was not carried out. To understand the situation, it is necessary to become familiar with the atmosphere prevailing about 20 July. At that time not every order from headquarters was carried out. As the investigations after 20 July proved, at that time in his capacity as Commander, West, Kluge was already planning negotiations with the western enemies for a capitulation and probably he made his initial attempts at that time. That, incidentally, was the reason for his suicide after the attempt of 20 July had failed.
It is out of the question that Field Marshal Kluge, in the military situation in which he found himself, and considering his views, should have given orders for raids and measures of coercion at that moment. The release of the Sauckel-Laval agreement, which was mentioned in this document, had no practical significance, since the blocked factories were maintained, and thus this agreement could not become effective. This was well known to the officials in France, and the best proof for the fact that the order was not carried out is Document RF-22 of the French Prosecution, which shows that in July 1944 only 3,000 workers came to Germany from France. If the military authorities had used measures of coercion, it would have been a simple matter to send a very much larger number of workers than these 3,000 from France to Germany. I must state quite frankly that although I did use my influence to reduce the recruitment of labor or to put an end to measures of coercion and raids, I did not use it to stop the allocation of labor completely.
From Speer's Spandau Draft: Toward evening new excitement. A tank unit coming from Potsdam stood at the ready [in the center of the city] waiting for orders from Guderian, their chief commander, the only one they would obey.
"And who knows which side he is on?" I say to Goebbels. "He's always been hot-blooded." But I was wrong about that. A colonel well known to me from my work with the Tank Corps people was in command of this unit, and I managed to get in touch with him. The tanks, he told me, were not part of the rebellion, and shortly afterwards he joined us in Goebbels house to be informed about the situation. Meanwhile it had become clear that the center of the rebellion was Bendlerstrasse ... and an action against them was initiated with the tanks.
It was dark outside by the time we received the report that the building had been taken. I drove over with the tank colonel . . . . [Note: In Inside the Third Reich, Speer says he drove over with Major Remer, the leader of the troops loyal to the regime.] At the gate I found Kaltenbrunner [head of the Gestapo] with a number of SS leaders. He told me he thought this was an army matter, to be settled by them, and therefore, as any participation by the SS would only lead to ill-feeling, his people had been forbidden to enter the building. I thought it was a sensible attitude, though as it turned out, it didn't last long. [Note: The full account in the Spandau Draft is quite different in both detail and tone from the later, published version. In the Draft, Speer works closely with Goebbels in mobilizing loyal units. In Inside the Third Reich, he implies between the lines that he was actually somewhat in favor of the attempted coup.] (Sereny)
From Speer's Nuremberg Draft: What clearly emerged [from the interrogations conducted by Kaltenbrunner of the conspirators] was that there was no indication whatever of any connection or communication between the conspirators and the enemy . . . . It was quite clear, that these accused men who were on the Central Staff, or serving members of the Home Army or at the front, in no way forgot or neglected their duty to their country. What emerged was a clear division between their commitment to the coup, and their awareness of their obligation to maintain the army's will to fight . . . . They manifestly intended to continue the war in the East, hopefully in collaboration with the Western Allies with whom they would doubtlessly have negotiated better conditions for peace. It is important to state for posterity that these men were not traitors to their country. (Sereny)
From Speer's IMT testimony: I did not participate, nor was I informed of it [the assassination attempt] in advance. At that time I was against assassinating Hitler. At that period I was working in collaboration with Army experts of the General Staff and the commander of the Home Defense Forces. Both staffs were the nucleus of the attempt of 20 July. I had particularly close relations with Generaloberst Fromm, chief of the Home Defense Forces, and also with Generaloberst Zeitzler, the Chief of the Army General Staff. After 20 July Fromm was hanged and Zeitzler was dismissed from the Army. A close contact developed through this collaboration, and these circles recognized my technical achievements. I assumed at that time that that was why they wanted to retain me. I was well known for the fact that for a long time I had spoken my mind emphatically and in public regarding the abuses which took place in Hitler's immediate circle. As I found out later, I shared the opinions of the men of 20 July in many points of principle . . . .
During that time it was extremely easy to start a plot. One could accost practically any man in the street and tell him what the situation was, and then he would say: "This is insane"; and if he had any courage he would place himself at your disposal. Unfortunately, I had no organization behind me which I could call upon and give orders to, or designate who should have done this or that. That is why I had to depend on personal conversations to contact all kinds of people. But I do want to say that it was not as dangerous as it looks here because actually the unreasonable people who were still left only amounted perhaps to a few dozen. The other 80 million were perfectly sensible as soon as they knew what it was all about.
I, personally, when I became Minister in February 1942, placed myself at the disposal of this Fuehrer Principle. But I admit that in my organization I soon saw that the Fuehrer Principle was full of tremendous mistakes, and so I tried to weaken its effect. The terrible danger of the authoritarian system, however, became really clear only at the moment when we were approaching the end. It was then that one could see what the principle really meant, namely, that every order should be carried out without criticism. Everything that has become known during this Trial in the way of orders carried out without any consideration, finally proved-for example the carrying-out of the order to destroy the bridges in our own country-to be a mistake or a consequence of this authoritarian system. The authoritarian system-or let me put it like this-upon the collapse of the authoritarian system it became clear what tremendous dangers there are in a system of that kind, quite apart from the personality of Hitler. The combination of Hitler and this system, then, brought about these terrible catastrophes in the world.
From Speer's IMT testimony: I took over the air armament from Goering on 1 August 1944. With that the total production was marshaled under me with 14 million workers. The number of workers applies to the Greater German Reich, not including the occupied countries. The administrative sectors in the various armament offices retained their tasks. In that way, for example, in the Army, the Heereswaffenamt--the Army Ordnance Office--which contained several thousand workers, gave the orders, supervised the carrying out of these orders, and saw to it that delivery of the orders and payment were carried out in a proper manner. Only in that way did I succeed in having the entire armament production-which amounted to 3,000 or 4,000 million marks a month-carried through with an honorary co-worker staff of 6,000 people. There actually was a small group of enterprises which were run directly by the Wehrmacht branches with their own workers. These were excepted. They were the munitions plants and similar industries, and also the enterprises of the SS.
Up to August, 1944--that is up till the time when I took over the air armament as well--perhaps 30 or 40 percent of all the workers provided. Of course, by far the majority of them were German workers. When in August 1944 I took over the air armament I had no appreciable demand for workers because the bomber attacks on the transportation system in the Reich resulted in a steady decline of armament production. The volume of armament production and also of our entire production with my corresponding need for labor was governed by our raw material supply. My need for labor was limited by the amount of raw materials.
In 1944, 7 times as many weapons were manufactured as in 1942, 5 times as many armored vehicles, and 6 times as much ammunition. The number of workers in these branches was increased by only 30 percent. This success was not brought about through a greater exploitation of labor but rather through the abolition of obsolete methods of production and through an improved system of controlling the production of armament.
From Speer's IMT testimony: In this phase of the war Hitler deceived all of us. From the summer of 1944 on he circulated, through Ambassador Hewel of the Foreign Office, definite statements to the effect that conversation with foreign powers had been started. Generaloberst Jodl has confirmed this to me here in Court. In this way, for instance, the fact that several visits were paid to Hitler by the Japanese Ambassador was interpreted to mean that through Japan we were carrying on conversations with Moscow; or else Minister Neubacher, who was here as a witness, was reported to have initiated conversations in the Balkans with the United States; or else the former Soviet Ambassador in Berlin was alleged to have been in Stockholm for the purpose of initiating conversations.
In this way he raised hopes that, like Japan, we would start negotiations in this hopeless situation, so that the people would be saved from the worst consequences. To do this, however, it was necessary to stiffen resistance as much as possible. He deceived all of us by holding out to the military leaders false hopes in the success of diplomatic steps and by promising the political leaders fresh victories through the use of new troops and new weapons and by systematically spreading rumors to encourage the people to believe in the appearance of a miracle weapon--all for the purpose of keeping up resistance. I can prove that during this period I made continual reference in my speeches and in my letters, which I wrote to Hitler and Goebbels, as to how dishonest and disastrous I considered this policy of deceiving the people by promising them a miracle weapon. 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 30 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 standstill of the enemy of Pensive in 1944. This made it possible to throttle 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 9 months, the transport system having been destroyed beforehand. This memorandum coincides with the protection of the unemployed workers in the blocked factories--a matter which is dealt with this morning.
From Speer's IMT testimony: No, and I consider it utterly improbable [that a newly invented weapon of destruction eradicated almost instantaneously 20,000 people in an experiment which was carried out near Auschwitz]. If we had had such a weapon under preparation, I should have known about it. But we did not have such a weapon. It is clear that in chemical warfare attempts were made on both sides to carry out research on all the weapons one could think of, because one did not know which party would start chemical warfare first.September 2, 1944: Goebbels’ Diary:
Speer rings from HQ [where Hitler had ordered that all services, including the armaments industry, had to supply men for the army] complaining once again . . . . He tells me the Fuehrer wants 300,000 men at once . . . . Goering will give us 100,000 from the Luftwaffe, Speer says he [can only find] 50,000. But I intend to persuade the Fuehrer not to let Speer pick the raisons out of the cake.September 3, 1944: Goebbels’ Diary: The Fuehrer has decided: Speer has to give us 100,000 men now.
From Speer's IMT testimony: In case of occupation by the Allies, Hitler had ordered a far-reaching system of destruction of war industries in all these countries; according to planned preparations, coal and mineral mines, power plants, and industrial premises were to be destroyed. The Commander, West was responsible for carrying out these orders, since they concerned 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. By this, of course, I made myself responsible to Hitler for the fact that no destruction took place.
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.
As a matter of fact, some overzealous lower officials caused the basic decrees not to destroy in the West to be ignored. Our communications system for orders had been largely 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 5 September 1944, acting without authorization, 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, et cetera. 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 pump stations in the coal mines would not have to stop working, because if these pump stations had stopped the mines would have been flooded.
From Speer's IMT testimony: I returned from a trip to the Western Front on 14 September 1944 and found the decree awaiting me that everything was to be destroyed ruthlessly. I immediately issued a counter-decree officially ordering all industrial installations to be spared. At that time I was very much upset about the fact that industries were now to be destroyed in Germany in the hopeless war situation, and I was all the more upset because I thought I had succeeded in saving the industries in the occupied western territories from destruction.September 14, 1944: Speer to Hitler:
From At Hitler's Side, the memoirs of Nicolaus von Below: There can be no doubt that even though Speer, in his innermost being, had been withdrawn from Hitler and, from the time he returned after his illness, frequently ignored his orders, it was immensely important to him not to lose Hitler's trust. Hitler was aware of the change in Speer--he knew that Speer was no longer convinced of our victory. But, in the many conversations he drew me into, particularly during those comparatively quiet [spring] months ... he said repeatedly that despite Speers diminishing faith in victory, he was the only one capable of understanding the complexity of the armaments sector. "Given our urgent needs now," he said, "Speer is the only one who can deal with it." And the fact is, that once Speer had taken it all in hand again, the close relationship between him and Hitler was quickly restored and there was not a trace of distrust on either side.September 30, 1944: Stalin to Churchill:
From Speer's IMT testimony: From August, or rather June or July 1944 on I very often went to the front. I visited about 40 front-line divisions in their sectors and could not help seeing that the troops, just like the German people, were given hopes about a new weapon coming, new weapons and wonder-weapons which, without requiring the use of soldiers, without military forces, would guarantee victory. In this belief lies the secret why so many people in Germany offered their lives, although common sense told them that the war was over. They believed that within the near future this new weapon would arrive.
I wrote to Hitler about it and also tried in different speeches, even before Goebbels' propaganda leaders, to work against this belief. Both Hitler and Goebbels told me, however, that this was no propaganda of theirs but that it was a belief which had grown up amongst the people. Only in the dock here in Nuremberg, I was told by Fritzsche that this propaganda was spread systematically among the people through some channels or other, and that SS Standartenfuehrer Berg was responsible for it. Many things have become clear to me since, because this man Berg, as a representative of the Ministry of Propaganda, had often taken part in meetings, in big sessions of my Ministry, as he was writing articles about these sessions. There he heard of our future plans and then used this knowledge to tell the people about them with more imagination than truth.
From Speer's IMT testimony: No [I had no political discussions with Hitler], he regarded me as a purely technical minister. Attempts to discuss political or personnel problems with him always failed because of the fact that he was unapproachable. From 1944 on, he was so averse to general discussions and discussions on the war situation that I set down my ideas in memorandum form and handed them to him. Hitler knew how to confine every man to his own specialty. He himself was therefore the only coordinating factor. This was far beyond his strength and also his knowledge. A unified political leadership was lacking in consequence, as was also an expert military office for making decisions.December 12, 1944: 800 bombers of the US 8th Air Force carry out attacks against the synthetic fuel plants at Zeitz, Luetzkendorf, Leuna-Merseburg and Bruex. (Davies)
From Speer's US SBS interview: I remember that once you made an attack on Zeitz that had much more effect than the other attacks on the hydrogenation plants. You must have used a different system, because, while we only need a few weeks to reconstruct the factories, the damage in this case was so great that we did not want to repair the damage at first. It might be of interest to you if you would check on which system was used. (SBS)December 16, 1944 Beleidigender Ardennes: Hitler's big gamble in the West, the Battle of the Bulge, gets underway in Belgium and Luxembourg.
From Speer's US SBS interview: The December offensive was a mistake in its organization. Only a few of the officers were permitted to know about it. Those were listed by name. When, a few days before it started, I checked the spare parts situation for tanks, the responsible men told me 'I have so and so many tanks but they don't roll, therefore I don't need any spare parts.' This ignorance of impending events was in itself an impossible situation. (SBS)December 17, 1944: From a Goebbels article in Das Reich:
From Speer's IMT testimony: This proposal, as I already testified yesterday, came from Dr. Goebbels. It was made after the air attack on Dresden, but before this, from the autumn of 1944 on, Goebbels and Ley had often talked about intensifying the war effort in every possible way, so that I had the impression that Goebbels was using the attack on Dresden and the excitement it created merely as an excuse to renounce the Geneva Convention.January 13, 1945: Speer, in conversation with a group of generals and corps commanders:
From Speer's IMT testimony: Guderian, the Chief of Staff of the Army, reported to Ribbentrop at that time to tell him that the war was lost. Ribbentrop reported this to Hitler. Hitler then told Guderian and myself at the beginning of February that pessimistic statements of the nature of those contained in my memorandum or the step I had taken in regard to the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs would in future be considered as high treason and punished accordingly. In addition, some days later, in a situation conference, he forbade his other close collaborators to make any statements about the hopelessness of the situation. Anyone who disobeyed would be shot without regard for position or rank and his family would be arrested.
The statements which Guderian and I made to Hitler about the hopelessness of the war situation had precisely the opposite effect from that which we desired. Early in February, a few days before the beginning of the Yalta Conference, Hitler sent for his press expert and instructed him, in my presence, to announce in the most uncompromising terms and in the entire German press, the intention of Germany never to capitulate. He declared at the same time that he was doing this so that the German people should in no case receive any offer from the enemy. The language used would have to be so strong that enemy statesmen would lose all desire to drive a wedge between himself and the German people.
At the same time Hitler once again proclaimed to the German people the slogan "Victory or Destruction." All these events took place at a time when it should have been clear to him and every intelligent member of his circle that the only thing that could happen was destruction.
No unified action was taken by the leading men in Hitler's circle. A step like this was quite impossible, for these men considered themselves either as pure specialists or else as people whose job it was to receive orders-or else they resigned' themselves to the situation. No one took over the leadership in this situation for the purpose of bringing about at least a discussion with Hitler on the possibility of avoiding further sacrifices.
On the other side there was an influential group which tried, with all the means at their disposal, to intensify the struggle. That group consisted of Goebbels, Bormann, and Ley, and, as we have said, Fegelein and Burgsdorff. This group was also behind the move to induce Hitler to withdraw from the Geneva Convention. At the beginning of February Dr. Goebbels handed to Hitler a very sharp memorandum demanding our withdrawal from the Geneva Convention. Hitler had already agreed to this proposal, as Naumann, who was State Secretary to Goebbels, told me. This step meant that the struggle was to be carried on with all available means and without regard for international agreements. This was the sense of the memorandum addressed by Goebbels to Hitler.
It must be said that this intention of Hitler and Goebbels failed on account of the unanimous resistance offered by the military leaders, as Naumann also told me later.
From Speer's IMT testimony: From January 1945 onward, a very unpleasant chapter begins: The last phase of the war and the realization that Hitler had identified the fate of the German people with his own; and from March 1945 onward, the realization 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 defense, but this is a matter of honor which must be defended; and for that reason I should like to tell you briefly about this period of time.
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 centers 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 economy 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 collapse.
At that time Hitler issued the slogan that in defense 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.
From Segments of a Life by Rudolf Wolters: His [Speers] plan was to start, together with a small number of the architects of his Baustab, an architectural firm which would introduce prefabricated housing on a large scale. Rather than use our obsolete building industry to produce these prefabs, he planned to turn to experienced airplane manufacturers such as Heinkel and Messerschmitt.
He himself, he said, was unlikely to be available to this future project for the first few months after the war: he was pretty certain the Allies would wish to use his expertise for the country's reconstruction . . . .
He had wanted my friend Schlempp, one of his top Baustab managers, to accompany me on this trip, but as Schlempp was still busy supervising factory construction for the V-2 rockets, he told me to take Schlempp's deputy, a man called Luebke. [Note: Heinrich Luebke is a surveyor who will, fourteen years later, become President of West Germany.]
From Speer's IMT testimony: I can say quite briefly that the preferential food supplies which I finally put into effect were arranged at the time for the purpose of planned re-conversion from war to peace. This was at the expense of armament, which I personally represented. The tremendous number of measures which we introduced would be too extensive to describe here. All of these decrees are still available. It was a question of arranging, contrary to the official policy, that shortly before their occupation large towns should be sufficiently supplied with food and of taking every step to insure that, despite the catastrophe in transportation, the 1945 crop should be insured by sending the seed in good time, which was a burning problem just then. Had the seeds arrived a few weeks too late, then the crops would have been extremely bad. These measures had, of course, a direct, disadvantageous effect on armament production which cannot be measured. But at any rate, armaments were only able to maintain production through reserves until the middle of March, after which there was no armament production worth mentioning. This was due to the fact that we had only 20 to 30 percent of the transportation capacity at our disposal, which necessitated preference for food transports over armaments. Therefore transportation of armaments was, practically speaking, out of the question.March 18, 1945: On a beautiful Sunday morning, 1,250 American bombers with a 700 fighter escort deliver a devastating raid on Berlin. The Luftwaffe sends 28 ME-262 jet fighters into the fray--the first significant number of these jets to see action--and they succeed in shooting down a mere 15 Allied planes. 7 more US planes are brought down by flak. Speer finds himself sharing a shelter from this raid with Dieter Stahl, a 'Dollar-a-Year' industrialist in charge of munitions production. (Read, Sereny, Davies)
From Speer's Spandau Draft: The tension of the raid no doubt contributed to the frankness of our [Speer and Dieter Stahl] conversation about the catastrophic policies pursued by the Reich Chancellory. I asked him whether he thought he could get hold of some of the poison gas Tabun for me and when, not surprisingly, he looked at me questioningly, I told him that I wanted to try to introduce it into the Reich Chancellory bunker. He seemed neither surprised nor alarmed.
A few days later he told me that he had talked to his people and found out that Tabun only became effective on explosion. Although they told him that, if required, it could be introduced into artillery shells which his own factory produced, we both realized that, as this would have shattered the thin air ducts of the bunker, it meant that this method was unsuitable for my purpose. (Sereny)
From the IMT written interrogatory of Dieter Stahl: To my total surprise, I found here for the first time a man in a leading and responsible position who saw the situation realistically, prosaically and clearly, and had not only the courage to initiate such really dangerous conversations, but was determined to act.
From Speer's IMT testimony: I thought there was no other way out [than to assassinate Hitler, Bormann, and Goebbels]. In my despair I wanted to take this step as it had become obvious to me since the beginning of February that Hitler intended to go on with the war at all costs, ruthlessly and without consideration for the German people. It was obvious to me that in the loss of the war he confused his own fate with that of the German people and that in his own end he saw the end of the German people as well. It was also obvious that the war was lost so completely that even unconditional surrender would have to be accepted.
I do not wish to testify to the details here. I could only carry it through personally because from 20 July only a limited circle still had access to Hitler. I met with various technical difficulties . . . . I am most unwilling to describe the details because there is always something repellent about such matters. I do it only because it is the Tribunal's wish.
In those days Hitler, after the military situation conference, often had conversations in his shelter with Ley, Goebbels, and Bormann, who were particularly close to him then because they supported and co-operated in his radical course of action. Since 20 July it was no longer possible even for Hitler's closest associates to enter this shelter without their pockets and briefcases being examined by the SS for explosives. As an architect I knew this shelter intimately. It had an air-conditioning plant similar to the one installed in this courtroom.
It would not be difficult to introduce the gas into the ventilator of the air-conditioning plant, which was in the garden of the Reich Chancellery. It was then bound to circulate through the entire shelter in a very short time. Thereupon, in the middle of February 1945, I sent for Stahl, the head of my main department "Munitions," with whom I had particularly close relations, since I had worked in close co-operation with him during the destruction’s. I frankly told him of my intention, as his testimony shows. I asked him to procure this new poison gas for me from the munitions production. He inquired of one of his associates, Oberstleutnant Soika of the armament of lice of the Army, on how to get hold of this poison gas; it turned out that this new poison gas was only effective when made to explode, as the high temperature necessary for the formation of gas would then be reached. I am not sure whether I am going too much into detail.
An explosion was not possible, however, as this air-conditioning plant was made of thin sheets of tin, which would have been torn to pieces by the explosion. Thereupon I had conferences with Hanschel, the chief engineer of the Chancellery, starting in the middle of March 1945. By these discussions I managed to arrange that the anti-gas filter should no longer be switched on continuously. In this way I would have been able to use the ordinary type of gas. Naturally, Hanschel had no knowledge of the purpose for which I was conducting the talks with him. When the time came, I inspected the ventilator shaft in the garden of the Chancellery along with Hanschel; and there I discovered that on Hitler's personal order this ventilator had recently been surrounded by a chimney 4 meters high. That can still be ascertained today. Due to this it was no longer possible to carry out my plan.
From Speer's IMT testimony: 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 realized 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 Hitler's immediate circle. In order to dissuade him from the scorched earth policy, I made use of the faith which he induced in 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 potential would sink if they were not recaptured; and secondly, if they were recaptured they would be of value to us only if we had not destroyed them.
All these measures were not so difficult; and they were not so dangerous, as one might perhaps imagine, because in those days—after January 1945—any reasonable measure could be carried out in Germany against the official policy. Any reasonable man welcomed such measures and was satisfied if anyone would assume responsibility for them. All of these conferences took place among a large circle of specialists. Every one of these participants knew the meaning of these orders without its ever being said. During those days I also had close contacts with reference to other similar measures with the State Secretaries of the Ministries of Transport, of Food, of Propaganda, and later even with the State Secretary of the Party Chancellery, that is, Bormann himself. They were all old Party members and in spite of that they did their duty to the nation at that time differently from the way in which many leading men in the Party were doing it. I kept them currently informed—in spite of Hitler's prohibition—of the developments in the military situation, and in that manner there was much that we could do jointly to stop the insane orders of those days.
By the middle of March 1945 the enemy troops were once more on the move. It was absolutely clear by then that quite soon those territories which had not yet been occupied would be occupied. That included the territories of Polish Upper Silesia and others outside the borders of the old Reich. The ordered destruction of all bridges during retreat was actually the greatest danger, because a bridge blown up by engineers is much more difficult to repair than a bridge which has been destroyed by an air attack. A planned destruction of bridges amounts to the destruction of the entire life of a modern state.
In addition, beginning with the end of January, radical circles in the Party were making demands for the' destruction of industry; and it was also Hitler's opinion that this should be so. In February 1945 therefore I stopped production and delivery of the so-called industrial dynamiting materials. The intention was that the stocks of explosives in the mines and in private possession should be diminished. As a witness of mine has testified, these orders were actually carried out. In the middle of March Guderian and I tried once more to stop the ordered destruction of bridges or to reduce it to a minimum. An order was submitted to Hitler which he refused bluntly, on the contrary demanding intensified orders for the destruction of bridges.
Simultaneously, on 18 March 1945, he had eight officers shot because they had failed to do their duty in Connection with the destruction of a bridge. He announced this fact in the Armed Forces bulletin so that it should serve as a warning for future cases. Thus it was extremely difficult to disobey orders for the destruction of bridges. In spite of this existing prohibition I sent a new memorandum to Hitler on 18 March 1945, the contents of which were very clear and in which I did not allow him any further excuses for the measures he had planned. The memorandum was brought to the attention of numerous of his associates. This expressed clearly enough something which Hitler must know in any case, because there was no need for much economic insight to realize the results of such destruction for the future of the nation.
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