Fritz Sauckel’s (party number 1395) delicate defence when the horror scroll of forced slave labour atrocities was read out to him by the prosecution at Nuremberg (and much of it on his personal orders) was simply: “I’m a sailor, not a politician.” Well maybe this nautical nazi had once sailed the seven seas but much later street politics and especially the bullyboy nazi variety had somehow appealed to his youthful ego.
Sauckel was born in 1894 and later as a young man he signed up for the merchant navy. Somehow during the first days of the 1914-18 War, the allies seized his ship and the crew-no trench warfare for him it seems. He would then be later interned in France for the duration of the War. In fact, he wasn’t released until 1919. (Rather like Charles John Cobb a First World War English Conscientious Objector.)
When Fritz Sauckel, by now an unemployed sailor, returned to a defeated Germany; it was in turmoil with communists fighting the demobilized army (fried corn) for control of the country. Then in those post War day’s people would simply queue all day for apples or potatoes and much of it still rationed. But revolution was in the air, but not all welcomed this period of political turmoil.
Disillusioned soldiers, many on the right of politics and others who would later become the stormtroopers, had also returned to a country they didn’t recognise and many would be attracted to the expanding Nazi party. Later on the streets and in the beer halls, they would become the fist of the coming movement. All of this bravado must have appealed to Sauckel because he approved of was happening on the streets and quickly bought the Nazi package. Then after signing up to the Aryan cause, he would be given party card number 1,395. By now his fate was sealed. It seems he even cultivated a short Hitler moustache, maybe just to look like his hero and Fuhrer Adolph Hitler.
Then He would through those pre-war years hoist his way up the greasy Nazi pole-as well as serving in the Reichstag parliament. I rather suspect he had sharpened his organizing skills in those days as well as always looking the other way whilst the death camps flourished with new prisoners being brought in who dared defy Nazi rule.
By 1942 Martin Bornmann had recommended Sauckel to Hitler to head a department to execute plans for labour under the forced recruitment scheme. In fact, Sauckel was just the man for this job-seems he did not decline his Fuhrer’s tempting offer of power.
Now we have to examine two giant Nazi organizations and very dangerous ones at that! The first is I.G. Farben as well as the notorious: “Organization Todt.” (In photos of Albert Speer you can clearly see this infamous badge of honour on the left arm of his uniform.)
Farben’s’ death factories produced assorted materials for the German war programme and with the mass of poor wretches labouring in their factories for twelve hours a day, and maybe longer, life was always going to expand under the Third Reich. Sadly so many had been press-ganged from conquered nazi countries to toil in Germany. Through Messer’s Todt and Farben millions would now perish under these two factories of death and Fritz Sauckel was the elected slave master of this crime. Of this period in his life, he would write: “The labour commitment during the war was a task which I could neither decline nor question.” And of its atrocities, he naturally swore he knew nothing about any of it.
Incidentally that title “slave driver” was awarded to him was from the American prosecutor Robert Jackson, who at Nuremberg remarked of Sauckel that he was: “The greatest and cruellest slave driver since the Pharaohs of Egypt.”
Now, of course, the Jewish race, God’s chosen people, were slaves of the Egyptians, many building and dying through the construction of the pyramids under Egyptian overseers (and it’s popular today to falsely suggest that the Hebrews did not assist in building the pyramids. The Jews were slaves to tyrants and what else would their captors have used them for-but for cheap labour. By the way, there was an old joke in Ireland years ago that suggested perhaps tongue in cheek that the Irish had built the pyramids because here in England most of the main roads and motorways had been worked on and finished by them), even the mighty Roman empire used slaves. Many later would marvellously convert to early Christianity. In conclusion, the sordid fact is that all previous civilisations that exploited slaves to further their evil empire have long perished. However, God’s divine scheme for Israel is another matter and has yet to be fulfilled in the future.
Now as Sauckel and Speer desperately tried to increase the efficiency in the slave markets, the ultimate collapse of the Third Reich was apparent. Sauckel may not have seen the coming demise of the Nazi pack of cards but certainly, Speer did.
By Wars end the bells of Nuremberg had summoned Fritz Sauckel along with other Nazis to answer to the allies for their hideous crimes against foreign workers and millions of other innocent people in a time of war.
At his trial, he was quoted as saying: “Hitler, Bormann and Gobbles were probably bad fellows.” Even then it seems he could not condemn these men for their vile deeds in scarring most of Europe through the war that they had started. The denial of sin is never easy to erase it seems.
Now alone in his cell at Nuremberg, he had time to think of his family and of the ten children he would soon leave as orphans.
But from Pastor Gerecke comes this rather touching account about Fritz Sauckel when he visited him in prison: “Unafraid and unashamed he prayed with me at his bedside, generously ending our prayer by saying….God be merciful to me a sinner.” In the afternoon before his death, he again with penitent tears confessed his faith in the all-redeeming love of God in Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour.”
Now the slave master would have a rendezvous with a higher power. But for Fritz Sauckel his whipping days were finally over.
Now at 2.26 am on 16th October, with the words of the tribunal still in his ear: “Tod durch den strang” or death by the rope, Sauckel was hanged. Later from photos of the body after death, it revels another amateur hanging by the American executioner. And should Speer have taken the rope instead of being given a long prison term. Many would say an emphatic yes.
Before death the prison doctor had observed of Sauckel’s personality: “An unimpressive, naive realist whose conventional sense of values was distorted by his blind faith in Hitler…”
Each of us is searching for perfection, maybe in men maybe in ourself. However, all of us will fail miserably. Or as somebody once remarked: “Maybe death is the only peace”…. Yes but only if you have truly believed on the Lord can you have perfection in your salvation.
Finally, the forcible use of slave labour in sundry ways involved many Nazis. We could quote at the top of the Nazi pile both Goering and Speer as the devious architects always willing to quickly enslave millions of men, women and children. However Sauckel by his pitiless actions was but a mere pen pusher in this tragedy, but from his Nazi pen flowed not ink but the blood of millions of innocent people who screamed for justice in that Nuremberg courtroom.
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”
Spandau, Jack Fishman
The Infamous of Nuremberg, Col. Burton C. Andrus
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