The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/23

Q. Witness, the prosecution presented as Exhibit USA-275 the
report of the S.S. Brigadefuehrer Strub on the extermination
of the Warsaw Ghetto. Before that action was initiated, did
you know anything about it and did you ever come across this

A. I was surprised when the American Chief Prosecutor said
in his opening speech, while submitting a document here with
pictures about the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, that
that report had been made to me. But that has been clarified
in the meantime. The report was never made for me and was
never sent to me in that form. And, thank heavens, during
the last few days it has been made clear by several
witnesses and affidavits that this destruction of the Warsaw
Ghetto was carried out upon direct orders of Himmler and
over the heads of all competent authorities of the
Government General. When in our meetings anybody spoke about
this Ghetto, they always said that was the revolt in the
Warsaw Ghetto which we had to quell with artillery; any
reports that were made on it never seemed to me to be

Q. What measures did you take to see that the population in
the Government General was fed?

A. Well, most of the measures that were taken were directed
to getting agriculture going, such as importing machinery,
teaching farmers improved farming methods, building up co-
operative associations for self-help, distributing seeds in
the usual way.

Q. That I will ask the witness Buehler later.

A. Moreover the Reich helped a great deal in that respect.
The Reich sent seeds to the value of many millions of marks,
agricultural experts, breeding cattle, machines, etc.

Q. Witness, you have told us what you did for the welfare of
the population of the Government General; but the
prosecution has put to you a number of statements which they
found in your own diary and which seem to contradict that.
How can you explain that contradiction?

A. One has to take the diary as a whole. You can't go
through forty-three volumes and pick out single sentences
and separate them from their context. I would like to say
here that I do not want to argue or quibble about individual
phrases. It was a wild and stormy period filled with
terrible passions and when

                                                  [Page 114]

a whole country is on fire and a life or death struggle is
going on, such words may easily be used.

Q. Witness -

A. Some of the words are terrible. I myself must admit that
I was shocked at many of the words which I had used.

Q. Witness, the prosecution submitted a document, Exhibit
USA-297, which deals with a conference which you apparently
had in 1939 or 1940 with an officer, the Supreme Chief of
the Administration Ober-Ost. I shall have the document
handed to you and ask you to tell me whether the report of
that man as it is contained in the document agrees with what
you have said. It is on Page 1, at the bottom, the second
paragraph. That is a shortened summary of a speech.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the PS number?

DR. SEIDL: Dr. Frank, what is the number?

THE WITNESS: 297, I believe.

DR. SEIDL: No, on the cover, please.

THE WITNESS: On the cover it says 244. I will return the
document to you. Would you kindly ask me about individual
phrases. It is impossible for me to read all of its

DR. SEIDL: The number of 297, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it is Exhibit USA-297. It is Document EC-
344, 16, 17, is that right?



Q. It says here: During the first conversation which the
Chief of the
Central Department had with the Reich Minister Dr. Frank on
3 October, 1939, in Posen, the latter explained the task
which had been given him by the Fuehrer and the economic-
political principles on which he intended to base his
administration of Poland. This could only be done by
ruthless exploitation of the country. Therefore, it would be
necessary to recruit manpower to be used in the Reich, and
so on.

I have summarised it, Mr. President.

A. I am sure that these utterances were not made in the way
they are put down here.

Q. But you do not want to say that you have never spoken
with that man?

A. I cannot remember it at all.

Q. Then, I come to the next question.

A. Incidentally, what actually happened seems to me to be
more important than what was said at the time.

Q. Is it correct that your actions as Governor General and
many excesses by the police and the S.D. were due to the
activities of guerrilla bands?

A. Guerrilla bands? It can be said that it was the
resistance movement which started from the very first day
and was supported by our enemies which presented the most
difficult problem with which I had to cope during all these
years. For this resistance movement supplied the police and
the S.S. with pretexts and excuses for all those measures
which, from the view point of an orderly administration,
were very regrettable. In fact, I would not like to describe
that resistance movement as "bands," groups of bandits,
because if a nation has them that is something entirely
different, but the methods of the resistance movement
departed to a large extent from the methods of a heroic
struggle of resistance.

German women and children were slaughtered under the most
atrocious circumstances. German officials were shot; trains
were derailed; dairies were destroyed; and all measures
taken to bring about the recovery of the country were
systematically undermined.

And it is against the background of these incidents, which
occurred day after

                                                  [Page 115]

day incessantly, during practically the entire period of my
activity, that the events in that country must be
considered. That is all I have to say to that.

Q. Witness, in the year 1944 a revolt broke out in Warsaw
under the  leadership of General Bor. What part did the
administration of the Government General have, and what part
did you have, in putting down that revolt?

A. That revolt broke out when the Soviet Russian Army had
advanced to within about 30 kilometres of Warsaw on the
Eastern bank of the Vistula. It was a sort of combined
operation, and, as it seems to me, also a national Polish
action, as the Poles at the last moment wanted to carry out
the liberation of their capital themselves and did not want
to owe it to the Soviet Russians. They probably were
thinking of how, in Paris, at the last moment the Resistance
Movement, even before the Allies had approached, had carried
out the liberation of the city.

The operation was a strictly military one. As Senior
Commander of the German troops which were used to fight the
revolt, I believe they appointed S.S. General von dem Bach-
Zelewski. The civilian administration, therefore, did not
have any part in the fighting. The part played by the
civilian administration began only after the capitulation of
General Bor, when the most atrocious orders for vengeance
came from the Reich.

I received a letter in which Hitler demanded the deportation
of the entire population of Warsaw into German concentration
camps. It took a struggle of three weeks, from which I
emerged victorious, to avert that act of insanity and to
succeed in having the population of Warsaw, which had had no
part in the revolt, distributed throughout the Government

During that revolt, unfortunately, the city of Warsaw was
very seriously damaged. Everything which had taken several
years to rebuild was burned down in a few weeks. However,
State Secretary Buehler will probably be in a better
position to give us more details.

Q. Witness, you are also accused of having suppressed the
cultural life of the population of the Government General,
especially as regards the theatre, broadcasting, films -
what have you to say about that?

A. The Government General presented the same picture as
every occupied country. We do not have to look far from this
court room to see what cultural life is like in an occupied

We had broadcasting in the Polish language under German
supervision. We had a Polish Press which was supervised by
Germans, and we had a Polish school system, that is,
elementary schools and high schools, in which, at the end,
80,000 teachers taught in the service of the Government
General. As far as it was possible Polish theatres were re-
opened in the large cities and where German theatres were
established we made sure that there was also a Polish
theatre at the same time.

We had the absurd situation, that after the proclamation of
the so-called total war in August, 1944, the German theatre
in Cracow was closed, because all German theatres were
closed at that time, whereas the Polish theatres remained

I myself selected composers and virtuosi from a group of the
most well-known musicians of Poland which I found there in
1939, and founded the Philharmonic Orchestra of the
Government General. This was in being until the end and
played an important part in the cultural life of Poland. I
established a Chopin museum in Cracow, and from all over
Europe I collected relics of Chopin.

Q. I believe that is sufficient. Witness, you deny,
therefore having taken any measures which aimed at
exterminating Polish and Ukrainian culture.

A. Culture cannot be exterminated. Any measures taken with
that intention would be sheer nonsense.

Q. Is it correct that as far as it was in your power you did
everything to avoid epidemics and to improve the health of
the population?

                                                  [Page 116]

A. That State Secretary Buehler will be able to confirm in
detail. I can say that everything humanly possible was done.

Q. Witness, the prosecution, under Exhibit USSR-223, has
submitted an excerpt from a diary, which deals with the
report about a police conference of 30 May, 1940, and we
find here in Pages 33 to 38 the following -

A. (Interposing) Unless the Court order it, it is not
necessary to read that.

Q. No, I only want to read one sentence, which refers to the
Cracow professors. Apparently, if the diary is correct, you
said -

A. (Interposing) May I say something about the Cracow
professors right away?

Q. Yes.

A. On 7 November, 1939, I came to Cracow. On 5 November,
1939, before my arrival, the S.S. and police, as I found out
later, called the Cracow professors to a meeting. They
thereupon arrested the men, among them, distinguished old
professors and took them to some concentration camp. I
believe it was Oranienburg. I found that report when I
arrived and against everything which may be found there in
my diary, I want to emphasise here under oath that I did not
cease in my attempts to get every one of the professors whom
I could find, released in March, 1940. That is all I have to
say to this.

Q. The same police meeting of 30 May, 1940, also dealt with
the so-called A.B. Action, that is, with the Extraordinary
Pacification Action. Before I put to you the question which
is concerned with it, I would like to read to you two
entries in the diary. One is dated 16 May, 1940, and here,
after describing the extraordinary tension that then
existed, you stated the following:-

That, first of all, an action for pacification would have to
be started, and then you said:-

  "Any arbitrary actions must be avoided; in all cases the
  safe-guarding of the authority of the Fuehrer and of the
  Reich has to be kept in the foreground."

I omit several sentences and quote the end:

  "The action is timed for 15 June."

On 12 July a conference took place with the Ministerialrat
Wille, who was the chief of the Main Department of Justice,
and there you said in your own words:

  "Regarding the question as to what should happen to the
  political criminals who had been arrested during the A.B.
  Action, there is to be a conference with State Secretary
  Buehler, Obergruppenfuehrer Krueger, Brigadefuehrer
  Streckenbach and Ministerialrat Wille."

End of the quotation.

What actually happened during that A.B. Action?

A. I cannot say any more or any less than what is contained
in the diary. The situation was extremely tense. Month after
month assassinations increased. The encouragement and
support given by the rest of the world to the Resistance
Movement to undermine all our efforts to pacify the country
had succeeded to an alarming degree and this led to this
general pacification action, not only in the Government
General but also in other areas; which I believe was ordered
by the Fuehrer.

My efforts were directed to limiting the number and nature
of the actions and in this I was successful. Moreover I
should like to point out that I also made it clear that I
intended to exercise the right of reprieve in each
individual case, and to that end I wanted to have the police
and S.S. verdicts which sentenced to shooting submitted to a
reprieve committee which I had formed in that connection. I
believe that can be seen from the diary also.

Q. Probably the witness Buehler knows something about it.

A. In spite of all that, I would like to say that the method
used at that time was a tremendous mistake.

                                                  [Page 117]

Q. Witness, have you at any time recognised the principle
introduced by the S.D. and S.S. of the collective
responsibility of the kinship?

A. No, on the contrary. When I received the first reports
about it, I complained in writing to Reich Minister Lammers
about that peculiar development of the law.

Q. The first S.S. and Police Leader Ost was
Obergruppenfuehrer Krueger. When was this S.S. leader
recalled and how did it come about?

A. The relations between him and myself became quite
impossible. He wanted a peculiar kind of a S.S. and police
regime entirely repugnant to me and this state of affairs
could only be solved in one way - either he or I had to go.
I think that at the last moment, by the intervention of
Kaltenbrunner, if I remember correctly, and of Bach-
Zelewski, this objectionable fellow was removed.

Q. The prosecution once mentioned that it was more a
personal struggle for power. But is it more correct to say
that there were differences of opinion on basic questions?

A. Of course it was a struggle for power. I wanted to
establish a rule on the lines of my memoranda to the
Fuehrer, and I had to fight ruthlessly for power to
establish the rule. Our personal viewpoints differed

Q. The successor of S.S. Obergruppenfuehrer Krueger was S.S.
Obergruppenfuehrer Koppe. Was his basic attitude different?

A. Yes. I had that impression, and I am thinking
particularly of him when I say that even in the S.S. there
were many decent men who also had a sense of what was right.

Q. Were there Polish and Ukrainian police in the Government

A. Yes, there were 25,000 Poles and about 5,000 Ukrainians
in the police forces and they were, of course, under the
German police chief.

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