The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/23

Q. Does this mean that you deny participation in rendering
that cruel decree effective?

A. Yes, the decree comes from the police.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: The passage I should like to quote, Mr.
President, is on Page 35, of our document book, and in
paragraph 4 of the English translation.

Q. Did you not, together with Dr. Web, at a time when even
Frank was undecided about signing, succeed in persuading him
to do so and bring into force a decree of a frankly
terrorist nature to legalise mob-law by the police?

I quote Page 142 of the minutes on the conference with State
Secretary Dr. Buehler (he evidently means you) and with Dr.
Weh, concerning the order issued by Dr. Weh for combating
attacks on the German work of reconstruction in the
Government General:-

  "After some brief statements by the State Secretary Dr.
  Buehler and Dr. Weh the Governor General withdraws his
  objections and signs the drafted decree."

Was it not you?

A. I request the interpreter to repeat the question.

Q. I am asking you: was it you who persuaded Frank to sign
that decree as quickly as possible?

A. No.

Q. Does that mean that the entry is false?

A. No.

Q. In that case, how am I to understand you, if you answer
"no" to both questions?

A. I can explain that to you quite clearly. The draft for
this decree had been submitted to the Governor General by
S.S. Oberfuehrer Bierkamp, who had recently been assigned to
the Government General.

The Governor General ...

Q. (Interposing) I must ask you to excuse me ...

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing) He is in the middle of his
answer. You must let the man answer. What were you saying?
You were saying the draft had been made by somebody?

THE WITNESS: This draft had been submitted to the Governor
General by Bierkamp who had just recently come to the
Government General. The Governor General returned this draft
and had it revised in the legislative,

                                                  [Page 160]

department. When it was presented to the Governor General,
the objections of the Governor General were as to whether
the legislative department had revised it or not. I do not
assume material responsibility for this draft, and I did not
have to.


Q. You simply explained to Frank that the project of the
decree had been sufficiently worked on by the competent
technical department?

A. Yes, by the legislative department.

Q. And after that the Governor General signed the decree?

A. Obviously.

Q. Were you not the person who, at the meeting of 23
October, 1943, when a letter from Count Ronokier, a person
evidently known to you, was discussed, referred to the
practical interpretation of this cruel decree of 2 October
and stated that the application of the decree would, in the
future, allow the camouflaging of the murder of hostages by
giving the shootings of hostages the semblance of a legal
sentence? Were you that person?

A. I ask that the question be repeated. I understood only
part of it.

Q. Were you the person who, at the meeting of 23 October,
1943, stated that the application of the decree of 2 October
would, in the future, allow the camouflaging of the shooting
of hostages, since it would give them the semblance of a
legal sentence?

A. It is not quite clear to me. May I repeat what I

Q. If you please.

A. You want to ask me whether I was the one who, on the
occasion of a conference on 23 October, 1944 ...

Q. 1943.

A. 1943 - who, on the occasion of a conference on 23
October, 1943, stated - stated what?

Q. You stated that the application of the decree of 2
October would help to camouflage the shooting of hostages.

A. No.

Q. The part which I wish to quote now, your Honours, is on
Page 26 of the English translation of Exhibit USSR-223,
paragraph 4. I shall now quote your own words to you:-

  "State Secretary Dr. Buehler considers it advisable that
  all those Poles who are to be shot shall first be tried
  by drumhead court-martial. In the future one should also
  refrain from referring to such Poles as hostages for the
  shooting of hostages is always a deplorable event and
  merely provides foreign countries with evidence against
  the German leadership in the Government General."

A. I said that, and thus in this way I objected to the
shooting of hostages and to executions without drumhead

Q. So you consider that a court consisting of high ranking
police officials represents justice and is not a travesty of
the very idea of justice?

A. Which court do you refer to? I pleaded for drumhead

Q. That is the very court I am talking about, the
"Standgericht" or drum-head court-martial, composed of
Gestapo officials centralised in the Government General,
according to the decree of 2 October.

A. I can give you information about the reasons which may
have led to this aggravation of the drumhead court-martial
order of 2 October, so you can understand how,
psychologically, such a decree came about.

Q. I am not interested in psychology. I am interested in
knowing if a court, composed of secret police officials and
considered to be a court, is not in fact sheer mockery at
the very idea of a court of justice?

A. The drumhead courts-martial had to be composed exactly
according to the decree. I am not of the opinion that a
drumhead court-martial, simply because

                                                  [Page 161]

it is staffed exclusively by police people, cannot be
considered a court. But I did not make these statements,
which you have held against me now, in reference to this
decree of 2 October; rather I demanded, in general,
sentences by drumhead courts-martial and termed the shooting
of hostages a regrettable fact.

Q. You are not giving me a direct answer to my question.
Perhaps you will remember paragraph 3 of the decree, which
stipulates how these courts were to be composed. Show the
defendant paragraphs 3 and 4. I am reading paragraph 4 into
the record:-

  "Drumhead courts-martial of the Security Police are to be
  composed of one S.S. Fuehrer of the office of the
  Commander, of the Security Police and the S.D., and of
  two members of these organisations."

Would a court of this composition not determine, a priori,
the perfectly definite nature of the sentence which it would

A. You are asking me whether I consider a drumhead court-
martial a court? I think you are asking me about things
which have nothing to do with my field of activity. I do not
know what reasons were given for composing these courts in
this fashion. I cannot therefore say anything about it.

Q. Perhaps you will look at the signature to that decree. It
is signed by Frank, and it was you who persuaded Frank to
sign it.

A. I thought that I had corrected that error before. I did
not persuade Herr Frank to sign that order. Rather, I told
him that that order had been worked out in the legislative
department. As before I must now deny any responsibility for
this order, because it did not belong to my sphere of

Q. I shall pass on to another series of questions. Do you
recollect the following sub-paragraph of that decree,
particularly the report of Obergruppenfuehrer Bierkamp at
the conference of 27 October, 1943, in Cracow?

A. I cannot remember without any notes.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Please show him the passage which I wish to

The passage I wish to quote, your Honours, is on Page 26 of
our document, last paragraph of the text. It reads:

   "Pursuant to the decree of the same date the Security
   Police has detained many people who since 10 October
   have committed criminal acts. They have been condemned
   to death and will be shot as an expiation for their
   crimes. Their names will be made known to the population
   by means of posters, and the population will be told
   that such and such people might expect a pardon,
   provided there are no further murders of Germans. For
   every murdered German 10 Poles will be executed ..."

Does it not testify to the fact that from the very first
days of the enforcing of Frank's decree, it merely served to
camouflage the mass executions of hostages?

A. No.

Q. Then what does it testify to if for each slain German 10
Poles, entirely unconnected with the crime, were to be
executed, in accordance with these so-called "verdicts"?

A. In my opinion it testifies that 10 Poles would be shot
who had committed crimes punishable by death and who had
been sentenced to death.

Q. For each German killed?

A. It is possible that these Poles were called hostages.
That is possible.

Q. That means that the decree camouflaged the system of
taking hostages?

A. No, it was rather that real shootings of hostages did not
occur any more. Real shootings of hostages occur when people
who are not criminals, who are innocent, are shot because of
an act committed by someone else.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you think this will be a convenient time
to break off?

(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)

                                                  [Page 162]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has heard with the deepest
regret of the death of Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone, of the
Supreme Court of the United States of America. His loss will
be most deeply felt in America, where he had proved himself
to be a great public servant. It is fitting that this
Tribunal, upon which the representatives of the United
States sit, should express its sympathy with the American
people in their great loss.

After serving as Dean of the Law School of Columbia
University he was appointed Attorney General of the United
States in 1923 and two years later he became Associate
Justice of the Supreme Court. In 1941 he became Chief
Justice and discharged the duties of that high office with
great ability and in accordance with the highest traditions.

The Tribunal desires that I should express its sympathy in
acknowledgement of the great loss the American people have

Mr. Justice Jackson, the Chief Prosecutor of the United
States, is a member of the Supreme Court over which the
Chief Justice presided and perhaps he would like to add a
few words.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: May it please the Tribunal:

It is not only because he was the head of the judicial
system of the United States that the news of the passing of
Chief Justice Stone brings sadness to every American heart
in Nuremberg, but because he was the personal friend of so
many of us. He had a rare capacity for personal friendship.
No one was more kind to and thoughtful of the younger men
who from time to time came to Washington and they found in
him a guide, philosopher and friend.

Now, I know that not only do I feel the loss of a personal
friend but that the American representatives on the
Tribunal, Mr. Biddle and Judge Parker, feel the same way,
and many of the younger men on the staff had intimate
contact with the Chief Justice, which you might not expect
if you had not known Harlan Stone.

As Attorney General he took over the Department of Justice
at one of its most difficult periods and imparted to it the
impress of his integrity, an impress which stayed with it
and was traditional in the department, as we well know.

As a Justice of the Court he was a far-seeing man, open-
minded, always patient to hear the arguments of both sides
and to arrive at his decision with that complete
disinterestedness and detachment which is characteristic of
the just judge. He presided with great fairness and with
kindness to his associates and to those who appeared before

It is the passing of a man who exemplified in public life
those sturdy qualities which we have come to associate with
the New Englander.

The consolation of his friends lies in this: He died exactly
as he would have chosen to die, in full possession of his
faculties and in the discharge of his duties.

I express great appreciation that this Tribunal has seen fit
to take note of his passing and to allow us to record on
behalf of the American Bar our appreciation of his talents
and character.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Mr. President, before proceeding to a
further examination of the witness, I feel that I ought to
make the following statement:

During the examination of the witness by counsel for the
defence, Dr. Seidl, it was stated that the document which is
an official appendix to the report of the Government of the
Polish Republic, was a forgery. This document sets out the
losses suffered by the Polish Republic in Cultural
valuables. The Soviet Prosecution does not wish to enter
into any controversies on the subject, but it does request
the Tribunal to note that this is an official appendix to
the report of the Government of the Polish Republic, and
that it considers the statement of the witness as libellous.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you say anything then?

                                                  [Page 163]

WITNESS BUEHLER: I was going to ask something. Was it a
document that contained a list of art treasures?

THE PRESIDENT: Is that the document, Colonel Smirnov, a
document which contains a list of art treasures?

WITNESS BUEHLER: No, I do not mean that.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: No, Mr. President. It is a list of losses
in cultural treasures. It is a list of libraries and of the
losses suffered by these libraries during the reign of the
Germans in Poland.

THE PRESIDENT: It is Exhibit USSR-93, is it not, the
document you are referring to?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: It is an appendix to that Exhibit, an
official report by the Polish Government.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it deals with certain directives. That
was the evidence that was given this morning.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: No, Mr. President. This is a list of losses
sustained. It is an official appendix to the report of the
Polish Government. It contains no directives, but it does
state the sum total of the losses sustained by the public
libraries in Poland.

THE PRESIDENT: Is there anything you want to say about it?

WITNESS BUEHLER: Yes. I do not think the description just
given applies to the document which I had in mind. The
document which I question contains directives regarding
German cultural policy in the Government General. It does
not concern itself with art treasures or a listing of
library property.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. What I took down that you said this
morning was that the directives which you thought were
referred to in the document did not appear to have been
made, or at any rate you had not heard of them, and you
thought they might be forgeries.

WITNESS BUEHLER: I questioned the document.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider the document.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: May I proceed to the next question?





Q. You state that you personally, and the Administration of
the Government General had no close connection with the
activities of the police. Have I understood you correctly?

A. May I hear that question again, please.

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