The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-12/tgmwc-12-111.03

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-12/tgmwc-12-111.03
Last-Modified: 2000/01/23

Q. Which policy did you pursue for the recruiting of
labourers for the Reich in your capacity as Governor

A. The policy is laid down in my decrees. No doubt they will
be held against me by the prosecution, and I consider it
will save time if I answer that question later, with the
permission of the Tribunal.

Q. Witness, did Hitler give you any instructions as to how
you should carry out your administration as Governor

A. During the first ten minutes of the audience in his
special train Adolf Hitler gave me the instruction that I
should see to it that this territory, which had been utterly
devastated, where all bridges had been blown up, where the
railways were not running and the population completely
displaced, was put into order somehow, and that I should see
to it that this territory should become a factor which would
contribute to the improvement of the terribly difficult
economic and war situation of the German Reich.

Q. Did Adolf Hitler support you in your work as Governor

A. All my complaints, everything I reported to him, were,
unfortunately, dropped into the wastepaper basket by him. I
did not send in my resignation fourteen times for nothing.
It was not for nothing that I tried to join my brave troops
as an officer. In his heart he was always opposed to
lawyers, and that was one of the most serious shortcomings
of this outstandingly great man. He did not want to assume
formal responsibility, and that, unfortunately, applies to
his policy too. As I have found out now, every lawyer to him
was a disturbing element working against his power. All I
can say, therefore, is that, by supporting Himmler's and
Bormann's aims to the extreme, he has permanently
jeopardised any attempt to find a form of government worthy
of the German name.

Q. Witness, which departments of the Reich gave instructions
to you regarding the administration of the Government

A. In order to expedite the proceedings I should like to
suggest that the witness Buehler give the whole list.

Q. Witness, did you ever loot art treasures?

A. This accusation, which is one that touches my private
life, and affects me most deeply, is that I am supposed to
have enriched myself by the art treasures of the country
entrusted to me. I did not collect pictures and I did not
find time during the war to appropriate art treasures. I
took care to see that all the art treasures of the country
entrusted to me were officially registered and I had that
official register incorporated in a document which was
widely distributed; and, above all, I saw to it, that these
art treasures remained in the country right to the very end.
In spite of that, art treasures were removed from the
Government General. Some were taken away before my

                                                  [Page 110]

was established. Experience show that one cannot talk of
responsibility for an administration until some time after
it has been functioning, namely, when the administration has
been built up from the bottom. So that from the outbreak of
the war, 1 September, 1939, until this point, which was
about the end of 1939, I am sure that art treasures were
stolen to a considerable extent either as booty of war or
under some other pretext. During the registration of the art
treasures, Adolf Hitler gave the order that the Veit Stoss
altar should be removed from St. Mary's Church in Cracow and
taken to the Reich. In September, 1939, the Mayor Liebel
came from Nuremberg to Cracow for that purpose with a group
of S.S. men and removed this altar. A third instance was the
removal of the Durer etchings in Lemberg by a special deputy
before my administration was established there. In 1944,
shortly before the collapse, art treasures were removed to
the Reich for storage. In the Castle of Seichau, in Silesia,
there was a collection of art treasures which had been
brought there by Professor Kneisl for this purpose. One last
group of art treasures was handed over to the Americans by
me personally.

Q. Witness, did you introduce ghettos, i.e., Jewish quarters
in the Government General?

A. I issued an instruction regarding the setting up of
Jewish quarters.

I do not remember the date. As to the reasons and the
necessity for that I shall have to answer the prosecutors

Q. Did you introduce badges to mark the Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you yourself introduce forced labour in the
Government General?

A. Forced labour and compulsion to work was introduced by me
in one of the first decrees, but it is quite clear from all
the decrees and their wording that I only had in mind a
labour service within the country for repairing the damage
caused by the war, and for carrying out the community work
necessary for the country itself, as was, of course, done by
labour service in the Reich.

Q. Did you, as was stated by the prosecution, plunder
libraries in the Government General?

A. I can answer that question emphatically with no. The
largest and most valuable library which we found, the
Jagellonian University Library in Cracow, which, thank God,
was not destroyed, was transferred to a new library building
on my own personal orders, and its entire collection,
including the most ancient documents, was looked after with
great care.

Q. Witness, did you as Governor General close down the
universities in the Government General?

A. The universities in the Government General were closed
when we arrived because of the war. The re-opening of the
universities was prohibited by order of Adolf Hitler. I
supplied the needs of the Polish and Ukrainian population by
introducing courses of instruction for Polish and Ukrainian
students which were, in fact, on a university level, which
scheme the Reich Authorities did not criticise. The fact
that there was an urgent need for native university trained
men, particularly doctors, technicians, lawyers, teachers,
etc., was the best guarantee that the Poles and Ukrainians
would be allowed to continue university teaching to the
extent which war conditions would allow.

Q. Witness, we were last speaking of the universities. Did
you yourself, as Governor General, close the secondary

A. My suggestion to re-open the high schools and secondary
schools was rejected by Adolf Hitler. We helped to solve the
problem by permitting secondary school education in a large
number of private schools.

Q. Now, a basic question.

The prosecution accuses you of having plundered the country
ruled by you as Governor General. What do you have to say to

A. Well, evidently that accusation embraces everything that
happened in the

                                                  [Page 111]

economic sphere in that country as a result of the
arrangements between the German Reich and the Government
General. First, I would like to emphasise that the
Government General had to start with a balance sheet which
revealed a frightful economic situation. The country had
approximately twelve million inhabitants. The area of the
Government General was the least fertile part of the former
Poland. Moreover, the boundary between the Soviet Union as
well as the boundary between the German Reich and the
Government General had been drawn in such a way that the
most essential elements which were indispensable for the
economic life were left outside. The frontiers between the
Soviet Union and the German Reich were immediately closed
and so right from the start we had to make something out of

Galicia, the most important area in the Republic of Poland
from the viewpoint of food supplies, was given to the Soviet
Union. The province of Posen belonged to the German Reich.
The coal and industrial areas of Upper Silesia were within
the German Reich. The frontier to Germany was drawn in such
a way that the iron works in Czenstochowa remained with the
Government General, whereas the iron-ore mines, which were
ten kilometres from Czenstochowa, were incorporated into the
German Reich.

The town of Lodz, the textile centre of Poland, came within
the German Reich. The city of Warsaw, with a population of
several millions, became a frontier town because the German
border came as close as fifteen kilometres to Warsaw, and
the result was that the entire agricultural hinterland was
no longer at the disposal of that city. A great many more
facts could be mentioned, but dealing with them would
probably take us too far afield. The first thing we had to
do was to set things going again somehow. During the first
weeks the population of Warsaw could only be fed with the
aid of German institutions and supplies for mass feeding.
The German Reich at that time sera six hundred thousand tons
of grain, as a loan, of course, and that created a heavy
indebtedness for me.

I started the financial economy with twenty million zloti
which had been advanced to me by the Reich. We started with
a completely impoverished economy due to the devastation
caused by the war and, by 1 January, 1944, the savings bank
accounts of the native population had reached the amount of
eleven and a half billions of zloti, and we bad succeeded by
then in improving the feeding of the population to a certain
extent. Furthermore at that time the factories and
industrial centres had been reconstructed, to which
reconstruction the Reich Authorities had made outstanding
contributions - especially Reich Marshal Goring and Minister
Speer deserve great credit for the help given in reviving
the industries of the country. More than two million fully
paid workers were employed; the harvest had increased to 1.6
million tons in a year; the yearly budget had increased from
twenty mi1lion zloti in the year 1939 to 1.7 billion zloti.
All this is only just a sketch which I submit here to
describe the general development.

Q. Witness, in your capacity as Governor General did you
persecute churches and religion in the areas which you had
under your administration?

A. I was in constant personal contact with the Archbishop,
now Cardinal Sabieha in Cracow. He told me of all his
sufferings and worries and they were not few. I myself had
to rescue the Bishop of Lublin from the hands of Herr
Globocnik in order to save his life.

Q. You mean the S. S. Gruppenfuehrer Globocnik?

A. Yes, that is the one I mean.

But I may summarise the situation by quoting the letter
which Archbishop Sabieha sent to me in 1942 in which, to use
his own words, he thanked me for my tireless efforts to
protect the life of the church. We reconstructed seminaries
for priests and we investigated every case of arrest of a
priest as far as that was humanly possible. The tragic
incident of the shooting of two assistants of the Archbishop
Sabieha, which has been mentioned here by the

                                                  [Page 112]

prosecution, stirred me very deeply. I cannot say any more.
The churches were open, the seminaries were educating
priests, the priests were in no way prevented from carrying
out their functions. The Monastery at Czenstochowa was under
my personal protection. The Cracow monastery of the
Camedulians, which is a religious order, was also under my
personal protection. There were large posters around the
monastery indicating that these monasteries were protected
by me personally.

Q. Witness, when did you hear for the first time about the
concentration camp at Maidanek?

A. I heard the name Maidanek for the first time in 1944 from
foreign reports. But for years there had been wild rumours
about the camp near Lublin or in the Lublin district, if I
may express myself in such a general way. Governor Zoerner
once told me, I believe in 1941, that the S.S. intended to
build a large concentration camp near Lublin and had applied
for large quantities of building materials, etc. At that
time I charged State Secretary Buehler to investigate the
matter immediately, and I was told, and also received a
report in writing from Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler, that he
had to build a large camp for the Waffen S.S. who were going
to manufacture clothes, footwear and underwear in large S.S.
workshops. This camp went under the name oil "S.S. Works" or
something similar.

Now, I wish to point out that I was in a position to get
some information, whereas the witnesses who have testified
so far have said under oath that in the circles of the
Fuehrer nobody knew anything about all these things. We out
there were more independent, and I heard quite a lot through
enemy broadcasts and enemy and neutral papers. In answer to
my repeated questions as to what happened to the Jews who
were deported, I was always told they were to be sent to the
East and put to work there. But the stench of the rumours
seemed to penetrate the walls of secrecy and therefore I
persisted in my investigations as to what was going on. Once
a report came to me that there was something going on near
Belsak. I went to Belsak the next day. Globocnik showed me
an enormous ditch which he was having made as a protective
wall and on which many thousands of workers, apparently
Jews, were engaged. I spoke to some of them, asked them
where they came from, how long they had been there and he
told me, that is, Globocnik: They work here now and when
they are through - they come from the Reich or somewhere in
France - they will be sent further to the East." I did not
make any further observations in that area.

The rumour, however, that the Jews were being killed in the
manner which is now known to the entire world could not be
silenced. When I expressed the wish to visit the S.S.
workshop near Lublin in order to get some idea of the value
of the work that was being done, I was told that special
permission from Heinrich Himmler was required.

I asked Heinrich Himmler for this special permission. He
said that he would urge me not to go to the camp. Again some
time passed. On 7 February, 1944, I succeeded in being
received by Adolf Hitler personally - I might add that
throughout the war he only received me three times. In the
presence of Bormann I put the question to him: "My Fuehrer,
rumours persist about the extermination of the Jews. One
hears them everywhere and we are prevented from making any
investigations. Once I paid a surprise visit to Auschwitz in
order to see the camp but I was told that there was an
epidemic in the camp and my car was diverted before I got
there. Tell me, my Fuehrer, is there anything in it?" The
Fuehrer said, "You can very well imagine that there are
executions going on - of insurgents. Apart from that I do
not know anything. Why don't you speak to Heinrich Himmler
about it?" And I said, "Well, Himmler has made a speech to
us in Cracow and declared in front of all the people whom I
had officially called to the meeting that these rumours
about the systematic extermination of the Jews were false
the Jews were

                                                  [Page 113]

merely being brought to the East." Thereupon the Fuehrer
said, "Then you have to believe that."

When, in 1944, I got the first details from the foreign
Press about the things which were going on, my first remark
to the S.S. Obergruppenfuehrer Kopps, who had replaced
Krueger, was: "Now we know," I said, "you will not be able
to deny that." And he said that nothing was known to him
about these things; apparently it was a matter between
Heinrich Himmler and the camp office. "But," I said, "as
early as 1941 I heard about such plans and I have spoken
about them." So he said, "Well, that is your business," and
that he could not worry about it.

The Maidanek Camp must have been run solely by the S.S. in
the way I have mentioned, and, apparently, in the same
manner as stated by the witness Hoess.

That is the only explanation that I can give.

Q. Therefore you did not know of the conditions in
Treblinka, Auschwitz and other camps?

A. Did Treblinka belong to Maidanek - I do not know that -
or is that a separate camp?

Q. I don't know; it seems to be a separate camp. Auschwitz
was not in the area of the Government General.

A. I was never in Maidanek nor in Treblinka, nor in

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.