Fritz Sauckel

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Fritz Sauckel during the Nuremberg Trial
Villa Sauckel in Weimar, street side
Villa Sauckel in Weimar, garden side
Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel, May 15, 1942 in Wehrmacht-occupied Paris at the opening of an Arno Breker exhibition
Eight of the defendants in Nuremberg (front row from left to right: Hermann Göring , Rudolf Heß , Joachim von Ribbentrop , Wilhelm Keitel , behind: Karl Dönitz , Erich Raeder , Baldur von Schirach , Fritz Sauckel )
Appeal of the Gauleiter Sauckel to the Hitler salute as a sign of gratitude (ca.1934)

Ernst Friedrich Christoph Sauckel (* 27. October 1894 in Hassfurt , Lower Franconia , †  16th October 1946 in Nuremberg ) was since 1927 NSDAP - Gauleiter in Thuringia and from 1942 to 1945 Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labor . As such, he was responsible for workers hired from abroad and thus also for forced labor under National Socialism .

Sauckel was among the 24 persons accused in the Nuremberg Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal and was found guilty on October 1, 1946 in two of four charges to death by the strand tried and executed.


Fritz Sauckel was born in Haßfurt am Main in 1894 as the only son of a postal worker and a seamstress. At the age of 15 he left high school without a qualification and went to sea with the Norwegian, Swedish and German merchant navy. At the beginning of the First World War , he was on a German ship en route to Australia, was captured and was in a French internment camp until 1919 . There he began to orientate himself politically and especially anti-Semitic . Sauckel was a Freikorps comrade of Karl Astel , who in 1933, sponsored by Sauckel, took over the newly founded "Thuringian State Office for Racial Affairs" in Weimar.

After the war, Sauckel initially lived very poorly as a laborer. He adopted the Nazi ideology , according to which the Jews were to blame for his situation, and believed in the need to combat " world Jewry ". In the early 1920s Sauckel was the district leader of Lower Franconia in the German National Guard and Trutzbund . In 1923 he became a member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, a little later he was elected local group leader in Ilmenau and district leader of the party in Thuringia . After the failed Hitler-Ludendorff putsch in 1923, he tried to keep party support in Thuringia together.

In 1924 he founded the völkische Kampfzeitung Der Deutsche Aar , in 1925 he became managing director of the National Association of Thuringia of the NSDAP ( membership number 1,395) and in 1927, after the overthrow of the previous incumbent Artur Dinter , Gauleiter of the NSDAP district of Thuringia, which he organized. During this time, the Gau developed into the so-called "Trutzgau" of the empire .

With the election successes of the NSDAP in 1929, Sauckel moved into the Thuringian state parliament and became parliamentary group leader under the Baum-Frick government , in which the NSDAP was involved for the first time in a German state government, but on April 1, 1931, through a vote of no confidence was excluded. After the election victory in July 1932, the NSDAP, together with the Thuringian Land Federation, formed the government with 42.5% of the vote , and the VI. Thuringian state parliament elected Sauckel as Minister of State for the Interior on August 26, 1932. He also took over the chairmanship of the state government. After the Reichstag election in March 1933 , he became Reich Governor in Thuringia on May 5 ; on May 8, he was followed by Willy Marschler, who was under his dependency, as Prime Minister of Thuringia. On November 12, 1933 Sauckel became a member of the Reichstag and in 1934 was appointed SS-Gruppenführer (SS-Nr. 254.890) honorary and in 1942 SS-Obergruppenführer .

He had been married to Elisabeth Wetzel since 1924, with whom he had ten children. In Weimar he lived in the Villa Sauckel .

On May 27, 1936, he founded the Wilhelm Gustloff Foundation in Weimar and was appointed head of the foundation of this armaments company by Adolf Hitler. On September 1, 1939, he became Reich Defense Commissioner for Military District IX in Kassel.

On March 21, 1942, Sauckel became a general representative for labor operations (GBA). As such, he was responsible for the deportation and organization of around 7.5 million foreign workers to Germany who had to do forced labor for German industry and agriculture . The large number of these people who were forcibly brought into the empire came from Poland and the Soviet Union.

In Belgium by 1942 over 300,000 workers had been recruited for service in the Reich on a voluntary basis; Sauckel pushed through against the resistance of General Alexander von Falkenhausen (military commander in Belgium and northern France) that they were then forcibly recruited. At the beginning of 1944, Falkenhausen decidedly refused the unified deployment of the 1925 class requested by Sauckel; Sauckel declared Falkenhausen his personal enemy and had him removed from his position four days later. In 1944 Sauckel oversaw the construction of an underground aircraft factory in a former kaolin mine in Thuringia, REIMAHG , for the construction of jet jets , the Messerschmitt Me 262 .

Sauckel and the Nuremberg Trial

In the Nuremberg war crimes trial Sauckel stood out for his strong Franconian accent , so that both the interpreters and the judges often asked him to speak more intelligibly. Sauckel's defense lawyer Robert Servatius tried to prove that the deportation of more than five million foreign workers to the Reich was neither illegal nor inhuman under often appalling conditions. It was alleged that Sauckel had no absolute authority to handle this program, that he was by no means cruel by nature and that he “only did his duty”.

In the preliminary discussion, the representatives of the Soviet Union pleaded guilty on all four counts. With two votes against, Sauckel was found innocent according to items I and II (joint plan or conspiracy and crimes against peace) , but unanimously guilty according to III and IV ( war crimes and crimes against humanity due to the kidnapping of millions of people) and therefore to Sentenced to death by hanging . Sauckel did not expect a death sentence, burst into tears and considered translation errors of his statements to be the cause. He himself was never a cruel person. His last written testimony, entitled "My legacy for the German people", shows a complete lack of understanding of the death sentence.

Sauckel could not believe that the co-accused Reich Minister for Armaments and War Production Albert Speer , at whose request Sauckel had always delivered new batches of forced laborers, only got away with a prison sentence. Sauckel received two longer biographical letters of justification from his imprisonment. In one of them he denies anti-Semitic sentiments, although "numerous sprinkles in his remarks reduce this to absurdity". In his self-portrayal, he paints a picture of himself as a national socialist and idealist who loves his fatherland; the good idea was badly carried out by a few misguided people. His belief in his “Führer” was unbroken: Without Goebbels , Himmler and Bormann , Hitler would have become the “most luminous figure in German history”.

Sauckel was executed in the Nuremberg judicial prison on October 16, 1946 , the body cremated one day later in the municipal crematorium in Munich's east cemetery and the ashes scattered in the Wenzbach , a tributary of the Isar .


Hitler's decree of March 21, 1942 on the appointment of a plenipotentiary for labor deployment initiated the mass and, in some cases, previously practiced forced deportation of millions of European workers for use in the German armaments industry:

"Securing the manpower required for the entire war economy, especially for armaments, requires a uniform control of the use of all available workers, including the recruited foreigners and prisoners of war, and the mobilization of all still unused workers in the Greater German Reich including the Protectorate as well as in the General Government and in the occupied territories. This task will be carried out by Reichsstatthalter and Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel as authorized representative for the work within the framework of the four-year plan . In this capacity, he reports directly to the four-year plan officer . The responsible departments III (wages) and V (labor) of the Reich Ministry of Labor and its subordinate departments are available to the authorized representative for labor deployment to carry out his tasks . "


  • Fight and victory in Thuringia. 1934.
  • Combat speeches. Documents from the time of the turnaround and the construction. Selected and edited by Fritz Fink . Fink, Weimar 1934.
  • The Wilhelm Gustloff Foundation. A factual and accountability report on socialism, convictions and deeds in a National Socialist model enterprise in the Thuringia district of the NSDAP. Weimar, January 30, 1938. Published by the head of the foundation Fritz Sauckel. Weber, Leipzig / Berlin 1938.
  • Confession to the wealth of children of the able. Speech by Gauleiter and Reich Governor Fritz Sauckel on June 26, 1938 in Weimar. Regional Organization Office of the NSDAP, Weimar 1938.

See also



  • Fritz Sauckel: Hitler's husband in Thuringia. Documentation. Germany, 2009, 45 min., Author: Winifred König, director: Dirk Otto, consultant: Steffen Raßloff , production: MDR , first broadcast: August 16, 2009 ( information about the film )
  • Resumes. Fritz Sauckel - Gauleiter of the NSDAP in Thuringia. The greatest slave owner since the pharaohs. Documentation. Germany, 2007, 45 min., Script and direction: Ernst-Michael Brandt, production: MDR, first broadcast: November 4, 2007, summary ( memento of December 9, 2003 in the Internet Archive ) from MDR

Web links

Commons : Fritz Sauckel  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ute Felbor: Racial Biology and Hereditary Science in the Medical Faculty of the University of Würzburg 1937–1945. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1995, ISBN 3-88479-932-0 (= Würzburg medical-historical research. Supplement 3.) Also: Dissertation Würzburg 1995), p. 60.
  2. Uwe Lohalm: Völkischer Radikalismus. The history of the Deutschvölkischer Schutz- und Trutz-Bund. 1919-1923. Leibniz-Verlag, Hamburg 1970, p. 311, ISBN 3-87473-000-X .
  3. ^ Frank Boblenz: On the regional division of Thuringia in the Nazi era. In: Frank Boblenz, Bernhard Post: The takeover of power in Thuringia 1932/32. In: Thuringia yesterday & today. 37. State Center for Civic Education in Thuringia, Erfurt 2013, ISBN 978-3-943588-19-4 , pp. 55-109.
  4. SS Personnel Office: List of seniority of the NSDAP Schutzstaffel, as of December 1, 1937, serial no.36.
  5. Alexander von Falkenhausen: What I thought and what I did. In: The time . May 4, 1950 (last paragraph).
  6. See Adam Tooze : Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy. Penguin, London / New York 2006, p. 515. German: Economy of Destruction. The history of the economy under National Socialism. Translated from the English by Yvonne Badal. Siedler Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-88680-857-1 .
  7. Stephen and Kurt Lehnstaedt: Fritz Sauckel Nuremberg records - documents. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte . 57 (2009), p. 128.
  8. Stephen and Kurt Lehnstaedt: Fritz Sauckel Nuremberg records - documents. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte. 57 (2009), p. 123; see also Steffen Raßloff: Fritz Sauckel. Hitler's "model Gauleiter" and "slave owner". 3. Edition. Erfurt 2008, pp. 119-133. Online see literature.
  9. Stephen and Kurt Lehnstaedt: Fritz Sauckel Nuremberg records. Documents. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte. 57 (2009), p. 126.
  10. Steffen Raßloff: Fritz Sauckel. Hitler's "model Gauleiter" and "slave owner" . State Center for Political Education Thuringia, Erfurt 2008, p. 117. Online see literature.
  11. ^ Reichsgesetzblatt I / 1942, p. 179.