“People are swept along by events. Some people use events to their advantage.”
Albert Speer was appointed Speer Reich Minister of Armaments and Munitions in February 1942, being the successor to Fritz Todt after his death. Speer's success as Armaments Minister can largely be attributed to the use of forced labour and the exploitation of foreign workers and prisoners of war. Speer claimed that the responsibility for the 'attaining' and distribution of munitions workers was the responsibility of his deputy, Fritz Sauckel. Saukel was tried, found guilty and executed.
Speer also took success in the diverting the some of the six million workers who were engaged in producing consumer items to war production despite the resistance of other Nazi officials. The German government had no hesitation in using and relocating the huge numbers of foreign workers and prisoners, who were then set to work as forced labour in German industry and war production. The registration of all men and women under the age of 50 years for compulsory labour added another 1.3 million to the workforce by 1943.
The bulk of the labour used for German war industry after 1943 came from able-bodies workers conscripted from the occupied countries. By September 1944, when war production reached its peak, there were over seven million foreign labourers and 400 000 prisoners of war working as slave labourers, about 20% of the total workforce. Another seven million worked for the German war effort in their own countries. The 1939 Nuremburg Laws outlined the tenancy agreements between Jews and landlords. The agreement enabled landlords to evict Jews if subsequent accommodation was available. By 1941 there were still 60-70 000 Jews still living in Berlin when the bombing of Berlin escalated. Accommodation was desperately needed for thousands of Germans. The remaining Jews were deported to ghettos and ultimately to execution camps.
Speer's knowledge of the deportation of Jews became an important...