Sauckel's "Exploitation" Speech

Published: 1942-04-20

Translated by Carlos W. Porter


Most Nuremberg Trial documents have never been translated into English in their entirety. Typically, a single paragraph or even sentence is taken out of context, often mistranslated, to offer "proof" of German crimes. The rest of the document is ignored; the correctness of the translation is never questioned.

For example, the following quotations appear in a footnote on p. 948 of William L. Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

"One of his [Sauckel's] first directives laid it down that the foreign workers were 'to be treated in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent at the lowest conceivable degree of expenditure.' He admitted at Nuremberg that of all the millions of foreign workers 'not even 200,000 came voluntarily.'"

Sauckel was, of course, hanged at Nuremberg for his "slave labour policies."

The second quotation comes from an unsigned document (124-R) stating that factory foremen were sent to concentration camps for giving their "slave workers" so much as a box on the ear; the first is a falsified translation of a single sentence, taken out of context, from a speech (016-PS) in which Sauckel is explaining the necessity for labour service by both Germans and foreigners, and is demanding the best possible treatment for his workers, both German and foreign! The verb "exploit" does not even appear in the sentence! The verb is to "bring forth."

The original German reads:

"Alle diese Menschen muessen so ernaehrt, untergebracht und behandelt werden, dass sie bei denkbar sparsamsten Einsatz die groesstmoeglichste Leistung hervorbringen."

A better translation would be:

"All these people must be fed, housed, and treated so as to bring forth the greatest possible production for the most economically conceivable industrial effort."

"Einsatz" includes cost, but is actually much broader: it means the number of men at work. In this document, "eingesetzte Menschen", for example, means "people who have been put to work."

The meaning is to achieve the highest possible production per man with the lowest possible number of workers, a perfectly ordinary sort of concept in any undertaking.

The full text of the document is as follows (the sentence taken out of context has been underlined for emphasis):

Translation of Document 016-PS, Nuremberg Trial Draft directive by Fritz Sauckel

[cover letter to Alfred Rosenberg deleted]

The Commissioner for the Four Year Plan The General Plenipotentiary for the Labour Service.


The Labour Service Programme

On Remembrance Day 1942, the Fuehrer announced to the German people the most gigantic and most difficult German military achievements in history. In addition to the heroic and victorious struggle against an enemy unprecedentedly superior in numbers and materiel, an enemy fighting with the courage of the most extreme desperation and the most bestial cruelty, there has been the endurance of a hard winter, without parallel in the history of the past 140 years, in terms of cold, ice, snows, and storms. Overcoming the unprecedented hardships caused by such a climate, and by such extraordinarily bad weather conditions, has turned our soldiers on the Eastern front, measured against all previous human and military achievements, of all time — we may say without exaggeration — into Supermen.

These soldiers are now entitled to expect the homeland itself to bring forth a comparably powerful concentration of the forces of the nation in order to ensure final, complete, and the earliest possible victory.

All related burdens and other necessary restrictions, even in nourishment, must be borne with proud determination, precisely in view of the example set by our soldiers.

Our Greater German Army has shown an excess of heroism, endurance, and overcoming, on the Eastern front, in Africa, in the air, and on the sea. To ensure their victory under all circumstances, we must now ensure that they are supplied with increasingly better and more numerous weapons, material, and munitions, as the result of an increasingly greater production effort on the part of the entire German people, that is, of all creative workers, both intellect and manual, both men and women, and of all German youth.

In this manner, the German homeland will make a decisive contribution to the destruction of our enemy's every hope of once again staving off total and final defeat.

The purpose of the gigantic new labour service is to make use of all the hugely rich resources which the army, fighting under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, has achieved and consolidated to such a overwhelmingly rich extent, in order to strengthen the Army and feed the homeland. The raw materials and fertility of the conquered territories, and their manpower resources, must be perfectly and conscientiously utilized for the benefit of Germany and our allies through the labour service.

Despite the fact that most able-bodied German people have already put their strength to work for the war economy in a manner worthy of the highest recognition, considerable additional reserves must still be found and made available under all circumstances.

The decisive measure to implement this is the uniformly regulated and controlled labour service of the nation at war.

To achieve this goal, the following principles must be stated and carried out.

  1. All important manufacturing programmes running at the present time must under no circumstances be disrupted, but rather must be further increased.
  2. All orders of the Fuehrer, the Reichsmarshall of the Greater German Reich, and the Minister for Munitions and Armaments must be obeyed as quickly as possible. The labour resources required for this purpose must be released and made available in Germany itself and in the occupied territories .
  3. Equally urgent is the task of ensuring seed and harvest for the German farmers and all European areas under German control with the aim of achieving the highest yield. The agricultural workers required must be made available as quickly as possibly.
  4. A supply programme for the most indispensable commodities must be ensured for the German people.

Implementation of these principles for the labour service requires:

  1. the cooperation of all forces of the Party, the economy, and the state under uniform leadership;
  2. the best will of the German people;
  3. the most extensive measures to ensure that all workers in service, men and women, place their highest trust in the justice of their treatment in terms of their personal fate and remuneration, as well as the best possible care for their health and housing in wartime;
  4. the fastest and best possible solution to the question of service by women and youth.

If the objective set by the Fuehrer is to be achieved, it can only be made possible through the simultaneous and earliest possible implementation of many different measures, all aiming at the same objective. Since, however, none of these measures may disrupt the others — rather, they must complement each other in a sensible way — it is absolutely necessary for all the agencies participating in this decisive task, in any manner — in the Reich, its territories and municipalities, in the Party, state, and economy — to proceed according to uniform guidelines.

Thus, the labour service of the nation will make an extraordinary contribution to the earliest possible victorious conclusion of the war. It will also require the final effort of the German people in the homeland. It is for these German people — for their maintenance, their freedom, their happiness, and for the betterment of their nourishment and the maintenance of their lives — that this war is being fought.

Basic principles:

  1. In the districts, the task of the NSDAP district leaders will consist of propaganda, in the enlightenment of the German people, with regards to the necessity for the labour service, and for the implementation of major steps providing for the youth and women set to work, while taking care of the conditions in camps and lodgings.

    They must also ensure the closest and most comradely cooperation of all participating institutions.

  2. The principal duty of the General Plenipotentiary — in fact, the sole precondition for the success of his task — is to ensure the unreserved cooperation and harmony of all superior agencies — especially the agencies of the Army, whose scope of responsibility extends to the present assignment.
  3. The agreement of all Reichs Leaders of the Party, its organizations, particularly, the cooperation of the German Labour Front and the installations of the economy, is equally indispensable.
  4. The General Plenipotentiary for the Labour Service will therefore — using the smallest possible personal staff of fellow workers of his choice — make exclusive use of the available Party, state and economic agencies, and guarantee the quickest success of their measures through the good will and cooperation of all.
  5. The General Plenipotentiary for the Labour Service has therefore set all district leaders of the Greater German Reich to work as his plenipotentiaries in the German districts of the NSDAP with the approval of the Fuehrer and in harmony with the Reichsmarshal of the Greater German Reich and the leadership of the Party Chancellery.
  6. The Plenipotentiary for the Labour Service will make use of the responsible agencies of the Party in their districts. The leaders of the highest offices of the state and economy responsible for their districts will consult and instruct the district leaders with regards to all important questions of the labour service.

    The following will be especially important for this purpose:

    • the President of the Agricultural Labour Office;
    • the Labour Trustees;
    • the State Agricultural Leaders;
    • the District Economic Advisers;
    • the District Leader of the German Labour Front;
    • the Leaders of the District Women's Organizations;
    • the Regional Leaders of the Hitler Youth;
    • the superior representatives of the Interior and General Administration or Office for the Agricultural Economy.

    (If the region of an Agricultural Labour Office consists of several districts, and if there is no Agricultural Labour Office in the district capital, then the President of the Agricultural Labour Office must make his closest and hardest-working employees available to the district leaders involved, so as to ensure constant instruction of the district leaders on all measures relating to the labour service in that district.)

  7. The principle and most important task of the district leaders of the NSDAP, in their capacity as plenipotentiaries in their districts, is, therefore, to ensure the best possible harmony of all the agencies in their district, in participation in the labour service. The strictest care must be taken, however, to ensure that the superior officers of the party or agencies of the NSDAP, as well as its organizations, branches, and related associations, neither take over functions for which only the authorities of the state, the Army, or institutions of the economy are responsible or may assume responsibility; nor may they arbitrarily interfere in the course of agency matters for which they are not responsible, according to the best will of the Fuehrer.

But if we succeed, with the assistance of the Party in all districts, areas, and municipalities, in convincing all German workers, both the workers of the intellect and the workers of the hand, of the great significance of the labour service in deciding the war; if we succeed in caring for and in strengthening all German men, women, and youth, doing their duty in the labour service under extraordinarily difficult conditions, in the best possible way, with regards to their physical and spiritual powers of endurance; if we furthermore succeed, with the cooperation of the Party, in utilizing the service of prisoners of war and civilian workers, both men and women, of foreign blood, but without harm to our people — yes, even to the greatest benefit of the war effort and the food industry, then the most difficult part of the task of the labour service will have been solved.

The task and its solution

(In accordance with the requirements of secrecy, the following contains no statements in terms of figures. I nevertheless ask you to believe that this is the greatest labour problem of all times, especially in terms of numbers.)

  1. The task:
    1. The war situation has necessitated the callup of new soldiers into all sections of the Army in huge numbers.

      This means:

      1. taking workers out of all commercial enterprises, above all, great numbers of technical workers from armaments factories which are of the utmost importance to the war effort;
      2. taking workers out of the military food industry, although they are indispensable precisely at the present time;
    2. The military situation, however, also requires the implementation of armaments programmes which have been hugely expanded and improved by the Fuehrer in comparison to the previous situation.
    3. The commodities most necessary to the German people must also continue to be produced in the necessary quantities.
    4. German housewives, particularly, agricultural housewives, must, especially as mothers, suffer no harm to their health as a result of the war; they must therefore be relieved, insofar as possible, in whatever way.
  2. The solution:
    1. All technical workers called up for military service from industries important to the war effort must be assigned immediately and absolutely so as to avoid interruptions or drops in the production of equipment of importance to the war effort.

      All labour service authorities are therefore responsible for taking account of these conditions in every case.

      The most suitable manpower must therefore be taken out of reserve, from industries which have been shut down and are less important to the war effort, as well as from agricultural industries which have also been shut down, and be allocated to industries where the manpower has been called up for military service, eight weeks before they are drafted, so that every conscripted technical worker can instruct and teach his replacement.

      Similarly, all other workers released through closure actions and not being utilized in service as replacements for technical workers, must be made available to the armaments industries without delay, especially for work on the night shift.

    2. Male and female workers who have, for example, been released through destruction or damage of their companies by enemy air raids, must be equally quickly retransferred and set to work in the armaments industry.
    3. The challenges in armaments and food now require, however, the importation of foreign manpower as an urgent necessity, in addition to the total utilization of all German manpower.

      I have therefore immediately tripled the transport programme which I found in taking over my job.

      The main bulk of that transport was brought forward in time to the months of May/June, so that the introduction of foreign workers from the occupied territories will still be effective for increased production under all circumstances with regards to coming Army operations, as well as for agricultural work in the sector of the German food economy.

      All prisoners of war who are already in Germany, in either the Western or Eastern territories, must also be imported for German armaments and agriculture without exception, insofar as this has not yet occurred; their production must be brought to the highest conceivable levels.

      It must be emphasized that huge numbers of foreign workers must nevertheless still be brought into the Reich. The largest reservoir for this purpose is the occupied territories in the East.

      It is therefore indispensable that full use be made of the existing human reserves available in the conquered territories. If we do not succeed in winning over the required manpower on a voluntary basis, then steps must be immediately taken to go over to levies or compulsory manpower call-ups.

      In addition to already available prisoners of war who are still in the occupied territories, it is also particularly necessary to mobilize male and female civilian and technical workers from the Soviet territories for the German labour service, from the age of 15 upwards.

      According to the available possibilities, on the other hand, a quarter of the total requirements in terms of foreign workers can be imported from the occupied European territories to the west of Germany. The importation of manpower from sympathetic or even neutral countries will only satisfy a fraction of the total needs. These workers will be principally technical and special workers.

    4. To provide German housewives with a perceptible amelioration of their burdens, particularly for mothers with many children, as well as German agricultural wives, who are already overburdened with responsibilities, and to avoid further endangering their health, the Fuehrer has also ordered me to bring approximately 4 to 500,000 selected healthy, strong girls into the Reich from the occupied territories.
    5. It is also planned to ensure early service by German youth, in the order of school years, together with men and women teachers, on the basis of an agreement with the Reichs Youth Leaders and the responsible superior Reichs authorities. The necessary orders and implementation instructions have already been issued.
    6. Labour service by German women is of very great importance.

      After learning the basic view of the Fuehrer and that of the Reichsmarshals of the Greater German Reich, and having very conscientiously reviewed this very difficult problem in great detail on the basis of my own most meticulous investigations and reports, I must basically dispense with compulsory service for German women and girls by the State for the German war and food economy.

      Even though I myself first believed — and with me, quite the greater proportion of the leaders in the Party and women's organizations on certain grounds — that it would be necessary to introduce compulsory service for women, I must now, however, and so should all responsible men and women of the Party, state, and economy, give way, with the greatest respect as well as the deepest gratitude, before the wisdom of our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, whose greatest concern is for the health of German women and girls, and, at the same time, for the present and future mothers of our people.

      I need not recall here all the reasons that have been decisive in making my decision. I ask you, however, to believe me, as an old and fanatical National Socialist district leader, when I say that, precisely in the last analysis, the decision could not have been otherwise.

      We all completely agreed that this decision apparently, however, entails a very great injustice and hardship with regards to the millions of women who are [already] working under very difficult conditions in war service in the armaments and food economy every day, but we also agree upon this: that one does not improve an evil by generalizing it to the utmost consequence, and conjuring it up onto everybody.

      The only way to eliminate the present hardships and injustices is to win the war; then we will able to take all German women and girls out of all professions which we then consider to be unfeminine and harmful to the health of our women, dangerous to the birth rate of our people, harmful to family life, and to the life of our people.

      It must be further considered that it makes, in fact, a huge difference whether a woman or a girl has already been accustomed to a certain job in a factory or in agriculture from an early age, and whether she has already endured this work or not.

      In addition to physical harm, however, German women and girls must therefore also continue to be protected from harm to their emotional life and spirit under all circumstances, according to the will of the Fuehrer.

      This condition of the Fuehrer could hardly be fulfilled through mass compulsion and mass service. German women cannot be compared to German soldiers in this regard without further consideration. There are inborn differences between men and women which are determined by race and by nature.

      We could not take responsibility before the innumerable men of our people, doing duty at the front as brave soldiers, and particularly before the fallen, for the damage to the entire life of our people which threatens to arise here in the context of women's service.

      All the many millions of women, however, who are truly and conscientiously doing worthwhile work within the German planned economy and especially now in the war, deserve the best care and security conceivable. They deserve the greatest thanks of our nation, just as much as our soldiers and workers. They must be treated in the best manner possible by the Labour Offices and authorities; the most generous possible account must be taken of their economic and health requirements. Both the Fuehrer and the Reichsmarshal of the Greater German Reich place the greatest value on this. It would be totally wrong to use threats, or inflict penalties on women, or even take them to court, for example, for staying home from work prior to maternity leave because of physical complaints related to pregnancy; this has, unfortunately, already occurred. Nevertheless, it will and must be possible to maintain the indispensable working discipline.

    7. A last, but not unconsiderable reserve consists of increasing the possible individual industrial production per German worker. It will be the principle task of the Party and the German Labour Front to attain such increases in production. There is no doubt that the German worker, both skilled and unskilled, wherever he may be employed, can nevertheless do his best, even under the most difficult conditions of our today's food situation.

      This will be an expression of the overwhelming gratitude of German workers in the homeland with regards to the soldiers at the front, who have endured the most fearful suffering, hardships, and deprivation during this hard winter, and nevertheless remained victorious over the enemy.

      In this regard, the cooperation of Party, state, and economy remains reserved, therefore, to take care that the industrial health services, and understanding cooperation on the part of the social security services and doctors of industrial medicine, allow us to lower the sick rate by 1%. This was possible in the district of Thueringen. For the whole Reich, such a general improvement in the sick rate would mean 200,000 new workers.

      Severe measures must obviously be taken against loafing vermin, since loafers cannot be permitted to shirk their duties in this fateful fight for our people at the cost of the decent and hardworking.

Under point B. 1-7, I have attempted to describe the exterior solution of the task of the German labour service under the present war situation.

It is obvious that the possibilities indicated in these points must all be entirely exhausted. The abandonment of general compulsory service for all women and girls in no way means, however, that I have at all abandoned my intention to make able-bodied women and girls available for suitable service, wherever they can be used to the benefit our war economy, without violating the basic principles of the Fuehrer. This will be carried out in the closest cooperation with the agencies of the Party, the state, the army, and the economy, involved for this purpose. The labour service programme established in point 1-7 means quite the most gigantic labour service ever implemented by any people, and even in history.

Adolf Hitler has, however, revealed to us, through the concept of National Socialism, that numbers are not the decisive factor in the life of a people. In addition to the huge numbers of people set to work, there is the productive capacity. This productive capacity is, in turn, dependent, not just on the calories which I make available to them in the form of food, but also upon the inner attitude, the will, as well as the life of the mind and the emotions of the people who have been set to work.

In addition to the huge organizational problems which must be solved in the labour service in this war, there are also, therefore, the questions of food, housing, education, propaganda, and social care.

Social care for German workers men and women

There must be no doubt in the mind of any German person and National Socialist that the working German person, when he is correctly led, and given political and ideological guidance, in his conscientiousness at work, in his readiness to take the greatest efforts on himself, in his ability and his performance, towers high over all the other workers on earth.

The district leaders of Adolf Hitler in the districts of the NSDAP entrusted to them, must therefore guarantee that — with the help of all the installations and organizations of the Party in the now decisive stage of the war — they will give the German working people the best political and ideological guidance which has ever existed in the history of human labour and in times of war.

As the Plenipotentiary for the Labour Service, I am certain that all steps will be taken in this regard by the Party, both outside and inside of industry, through the utilization of all means of propaganda and education, through waves of collections, and through industrial appeals, to maintain the proper attitude and morale of the German worker, in keeping with the dignity of the homeland with regards to the front, in this hour which is to decide our fate, and which is also the sole precondition for meeting this huge challenge and winning the war.

It will be my constant concern to see that the labour service authorities, as well as all industrial leaders, support the Party, and particularly the German Labour Front, which has a decisive and great task, in every way.

Even when workers, men and women, are set to work in armament factories in their own localities, and can sleep and eat in their own homes and sleep with their family, they must be cared for in the most meticulous way. I will mention only: ensuring the coal and potato supply, and considering the approach routes to and from work.

Lack of spring vegetables and other hardships of wartime, which get on people's nerves and harm our people's health, must thereby be equalized, so that all decent people and women may therefore derive all the more strength from realizing the National Socialist principles of the racial community, of social justice, and the necessity for common sacrifices, and faith and trust in the Fuehrer.

The challenge will be, however, much more difficult when it involves caring for those millions of workers, both men and women, rendering services which they are not accustomed to, far from their own homes. This is a necessity of war.

Such service can neither be restricted, nor can the related hardships be eliminated.

Everything must be done for these racial comrades, both men and women, to make their lives more enjoyable and their work easier, insofar as possible. All these German people must be supported so as to be housed in decently furnished quarters under equally decent conditions insofar as possible, to permit them to enjoy comradeship in their leisure time, through the Party and through the Labour Front, and to receive their coupons and so on, at the correct time.

In this regard in particular, the "Politeness" Action of Reichs Leader Dr. Goebbels must be binding on all labour offices and all economic and food offices to the highest degree.

Wherever German working people, whether men or women, are housed in camps, these camps must represent perfect examples of German cleanliness, order, and health care.

German industries and the German economy must spare no sacrifice to make life tolerable for all those racial comrades, both men and women, who are housed in camps far from their own homes and families, on the basis of compulsory service. Just as in the German Army, the German soldier, in his company, considers perfect order with regards to both his outer needs and his character as a German soldier to be a matter of course, in a manner which raises him above the soldiers of all other peoples in his military qualities, this must also be possible for the working German people, in a manner suitably adapted to the labour service.

Care for working German people in the armaments industries, in the war economy and the camps, must therefore be fundamentally guaranteed by German labour front to the most perfect degree.

The more widespread utilization of women and girls outside their localities and away from their families must basically proceed according to the model of the women's labour service with regards to housing and care.

Prisoners of war and foreign workers

The utilization without exception of all prisoners of war, as well as the importation of huge numbers of new foreign civilian workers, both men and women, has become an indisputable necessary in meeting the challenges of the labour service in this war.

All these people must be fed, housed, and treated so as to bring forth the greatest possible production for the most economically conceivable industrial effort.

For the Germans, it always has been a matter of course to treat a defeated enemy — even when he has been our cruellest and most irreconcilable enemy — without any cruelty or cheap trickery, to treat him correctly and humanely, even when we expect useful production from him.

As long as the German armaments industry did not urgently require it, the importation of both Soviet prisoners of war, as well as civilian workers, both men and women, from the Soviet territories, was to be dispensed with under all circumstances. But that is no longer possible now. The manpower of these peoples must be utilized to the greatest extent.

I have therefore, as my first step, regulated the nourishment, housing, and treatment of these foreign working people with the responsible superior authorities of the Reich, and with the approval of the Fuehrer and the Reichsmarshal of the Greater German Reich, so that optimal labour production may be demanded from them, and can also be obtained from them.

Please remember, in so doing, that even a machine can only produce what I make available to it with in terms of fuel, lubricant, and maintenance. How many more requirements must be taken into consideration with a human being, even if he is of a primitive type and race, compared to a machine.

I could not take responsibility before the German people for the importation of huge numbers of such people into Germany if, instead of bringing forth highly necessary and useful production, they one day become the heaviest burden or even become hazardous to the health of the German people, due to failings in nourishment, housing, and treatment.

The most meticulous principles of German cleanliness, order, and hygiene must therefore apply in the Russian camps as well.

Only in this way will it be possible, without all false sentimentality, to ensure the highest benefits from this service as well, in terms of armaments for the fighting front and for the military food economy.

The necessary instructions for the nourishment, housing, and treatment of people from the East have already been issued to the responsible authorities of the police, war economy, and agricultural offices; in addition, I am now requesting the districts of the NSDAP to support me to the utmost in this matter, to avoid everything which may result in harm to the German people from this service.

Members of racially related peoples and [German-] allied and friendly nations working in Germany should be treated and cared for with particular care.

We must avoid everything which could make the stay and the work of foreign men and women doing service in Germany more difficult, or even cause unnecessary suffering, under the restrictions caused by the conditions and hardships of war. We are greatly dependent upon their good will and their manpower.

It is therefore in keeping with the laws of reason to make their stay and their work in Germany as tolerable as possible, without compromising ourselves.

This must, for example, be realized by making concessions to them with regards to their national or racial habits in food, housing, use of their leisure afternoons, etc., insofar as conditions permit, taking the situation of our own people into account.

It is entirely possible that, if the authorities of the labour service, the general and interior administration, Party, and labour front, cooperate closely in the service of foreign men and women workers, with complete understanding and in close cooperation, in addition to the huge benefits which this mass service of millions of prisoners of war and foreign civilian workers may bring forth for the German war effort and the agricultural economy, just as great an advantage may accrue to the propaganda of the National Socialist Greater German Reich and its prestige in the world.

Contrariwise, if the cooperation of all forces is not ensured, and if these problems are not eliminated by all authorities in the most meticulous detail, the greatest harm may result for our war economy.

I therefore ask you, in conclusion, to pay exact attention to the following principles:

  1. all technical matters or procedures relating to the administration of the labour service are the exclusive responsibility and competence of the General Plenipotentiary for the Labour Service, the agricultural offices, and labour offices.
  2. all matters and tasks of propaganda, education, observation of political effects, and care, are the responsibility of:
    1. outside of industry: the Party;
    2. inside commercial industry: the German Labour Front, the agricultural industries, the Office for Agricultural Policy.
  3. The supply of food coupons, clothing ration cards, financial equalization and support, are the exclusive competence of the authorities or institutions responsible for the economy.

    I ask the district leaders of the NSDAP, as my plenipotentiaries, to ensure harmonious methods of procedure, the best conceivable mutual agreement, and the most complete mutual information.

  4. Meeting the challenges of military production is so important to the war effort that no consideration may be given even to the most important local or regional interests, or the most prominent challenges of the peace. Anyone who violates this must take the responsibility upon himself if German soldiers, in the struggle to decide the fate of the life of our people should lack weapons or munitions, synthetic gasoline or rubber, vehicles or airplanes.

I would, therefore, most sincerely as well as most emphatically like to make it a duty for all German men and women wishing to cooperate decisively in the labour service, to take the most heartfelt account of all these necessities, decisions, and measures, according to the old National Socialist principle:

Nothing for ourselves, everything for the Fuehrer and his work, that is, for the future of our people!

Fritz Sauckel

Note: Under the 4th Hague Convention, the Germans were entitled to utilize lower-ranking prisoners of war and resistance members for their labour, and to conscript civilian labour "for the needs of the army of occupation"; what the latter actually means in practice is somewhat unclear. In view of the scope of Allied war crimes and atrocities, it seems frivolous to argue the matter. De minimis non curat lex.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Fritz Sauckel
Title: Sauckel's "Exploitation" Speech
  • Carlos W. Porter: translation, comments
Published: 1942-04-20
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 1996, 7 p.m.
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