The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/05/27

130. We have listened to much evidence on living conditions
in the ghettos in the East. From Lodz to Vilna, Kovno,
Bialystok, Riga in the north, and Cracow, Przemysl, Kolomea
and Lvov in the south, to the largest of them all, the
Warsaw Ghetto, into which some half a million Jews were

The witness Zivia Lubetkin gave a description of the life of
the Jews in this ghetto, which can apply to the other
ghettos as well.  She spoke of the economic decrees
introduced by the Germans already during the first period,
when they entered the city, and of later decrees affecting
cultural and social life, including the prohibition of the
opening of schools and libraries.  She told of how synagogue
services were forbidden and public bodies disbanded; and
continues (Session 25, Vol. I, pp. 398-399):

     "I have already said previously that, in fact, we
     became the objects of anarchy.  And if there had only
     been these laws and these restrictions, which, as we
     saw, were intended to depress us, degrade us, to bring
     us to the ignominy of starvation, we thought that,
     nevertheless, in spite of this, the Jews would somehow
     have been capable of circumventing the restrictions and
     carrying on with their lives.  But life did not turn
     out this way, since, as I have already said, we had
     been placed beyond the law... I recall a day when I
     went out in the morning to attend to certain matters,
     and the streets were full of Jews hastening to their
     work, to seek a source of livelihood. Suddenly, a
     convoy of Germans passed by in a hurry, and for no
     reason at all began shooting in all directions, without
     distinction, and we were left lying prone on that day,
     at that hour, as I saw it, scores of people, women and
     children and men, without knowing for what or why.
     When this happened day after day, we realized that this
     was a way of frightening us, of terrorizing us, so that
     we should be afraid. And indeed, the Jews feared they
     would pay with their lives.
     "The second method, also beyond the scope of any law,
     was the kidnapping for forced labour.  A person would
     leave his house in the morning, and would never know
     when he would return, and if he would return.  Various
     formations of Germans were able to come in during the
     day, in the morning, or towards evening, to close a
     street, and with screams of such a nature, that it
     would be difficult today to describe them as actually
     being human voices, they would first of all collect
     people by shooting, and without regard of age or sex,
     seize people and take them off to work.  Some of them,
     on their return, related that they had never engaged in
     any work... Again it was clear that this was a method
     of torture, of terror, of making our lives worthless."

The witness also gave evidence about the terrible sanitary
conditions resulting from tremendous congestion, the typhus
epidemic which broke out, and the hunger which struck down
hundreds of victims daily.

Such were the conditions of Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto
until the large "actions" which began in July 1942, when
Jews were rounded up en masse and deported to Treblinka for
Dr. Meir Mark Dworzecki and Dr. Aharon Peretz, in their
evidence, spoke about medical aspects of Jewish life in the
ghetto.  The rations given to the Jews had a value of 170-
200 calories per day, whereas a person who is not working
needs 2,300 calories and a working man needs 3,000-5,000
calories.  Dr. Dworzecki carried out research on this
subject and found that, with these rations, all inhabitants
of the Vilna Ghetto would starve to death within a month or
two.  This did not happen, because the ghetto residents
succeeded in smuggling food into the ghetto, sufficient to
provide 800-1,000 calories per soul per day.  He further
calculated that, even with the aid of smuggled food, the
inmates of the Warsaw Ghetto would have died of starvation
to the very last man within eight years.  A passage from the
diary of Hans Frank is worth mentioning here (T/253, p. 44).
It relates to a meeting of the heads of the
Generalgouvernement in Cracow on 24 August 1942, when the
subject on the agenda was "The absorption and feeding plan
for the Generalgouvernement."  The directive of the Main
Department for Nutrition and Agriculture stated there that,

     "The supply of necessities, previously geared to an
     estimated Jewish population of one million, now
     concerns only an estimated number of 300,000 Jews still
     working for the German cause as artisans or in other
     occupations...the remaining Jews, who number 1.2
     million, will not receive any more means of sustenance

Dr. Dworzecki also gave evidence about the diseases and
epidemics raging in the ghettos, owing to poor hygienic
conditions and malnutrition, scurvy, lice, typhus,
tuberculosis and the swelling of the body in the last stages
of starvation, as well as diarrhoea, which took toll of tens
of thousands of victims in the ghettos and the concentration

We heard evidence about children in the ghetto, about the
dashing of a child's head against the pavement before his
mother's eyes (evidence of Noah Zabludowicz, Session 21,
Vol. I, pp. 335); about children torn from their mothers'
arms and taken off for extermination; about the children in
Lodz who were thrown from hospital balconies into trucks
which came to round up the sick and the children, in order
to deport them for extermination (evidence of Henryk Ross,
Session 23, Vol. I, p. 380); about mass kidnapping of
children in the "Children's Action" (evidence of Peretz,
Session 28, Vol. I, p. 479); and about whole orphanages
evacuated from Warsaw, and the children and their teachers
taken to Treblinka (the evidence of Dr. Adolf Berman,
Session 26, Vol. I, p. 426-427).

131. The extermination of the Jews was connected everywhere
with the plunder of their property, down to their clothes
and personal belongings which they brought with them on
their way to extermination, and including all their other
possessions.  And finally, the murderers did not stop short
of violating the corpses by removing the gold teeth from the
victims' mouths.

Enormous quantities of clothing and personal belongings of
the victims were accumulated in Auschwitz in stores known as
"Canada."  The witness Gedalia Ben-Zvi, who worked in those
stores, testified that twenty railway trucks, full of such
articles, were sent every week from Auschwitz to Germany.
This continued during his entire stay there of about one
year (Session 71, Vol. III, pp. xxxx-xxxx).

The seventh count of the indictment lists the objects which
were found in six "Canada" stores, found unburnt when the
camp was liberated: 348,820 men's suits, 836,255 women's
suits, and 38,000 pairs of men's shoes.  These figures were
taken from the official bulletin of the Polish Government
Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes (T/204,
p. 44 in the English translation), which is a reliable
description.  And thus it was in the other extermination
camps.  Kalman Teigman, who worked on the sorting of the
belongings of those killed in Treblinka, stated in evidence
(Session 66, Vol. III, p. 1207):

     "[There was] an enormous quantity.  There were actually
     heaps outside on the ground, several storeys
     high...clothes, personal possessions, children's toys,
     everything... medicines and instruments, everything."
Exhibit T/1385 contains detailed directions about how to use
the property plundered in the district of Lublin and in
Auschwitz, from jewellery to spectacles, fountain pens,
children's clothes and prams - nothing was forgotten.  The
document says that in future all these were to be referred
to as "the property of thieves, receivers of stolen property
and hoarders."

In exhibit T/1387, a letter addressed to Himmler by the
Economic-Administrative Head Office, the destination of each
kind of article is stated.  Money, jewellery, gold teeth,
etc. are to go to the Reichsbank, to the account of the
Economic-Administrative Head Office; articles of clothing
are to be sold to public institutions in Germany; watches to
SS men and submarine crews, etc. (see also T/1386, T/1387).
Exhibit T/1389 is the final report by Globocnik, Commander
of the SS and the Police in the Lublin area, dated 18
January 1944, on "the economic aspect of Reinhard
Operation."  This was the name given to the extermination of
Polish Jewry in the camps of the Lublin area.  We shall
quote from this report only the final figures for textiles,
plundered from the victims: 1901 railway trucks of clothing,
underwear, bed feathers and rags, valued at 26 million
marks; more goods of the same kind in stores were valued at
20 million marks. Industrial property (machines, raw
materials, etc.) was handed over to an institution called
OSTI (Ostindustrie - Industries of the East), set up by the
SS for the management and exploitation of this booty (see
also the declaration by Pohl, Chief of the Economic-
Administrative Head Office - T/1384).
The Activities of the Accused in the East

132. We shall now deal with the question whether, and to
what extent, it has been proved that the Accused was active
in connection with all those crimes committed by the Germans
in eastern Europe.  Certainly, such activity has been proved
in regard to victims from the other countries in Europe who
had been rounded up there and deported to the East by the
Accused and his subordinates, to be killed there immediately
or sometime later - for instance, as regards the Stettin
Jews who were taken to the vicinity of Lublin and there were
mixed with the local population, later to meet the same fate
as their brethren.   Certainly the Accused's activities were
amongst the causes of their death and their suffering before
their death.  The same applies to the Jews sent by the
Accused from the Reich to the Lodz Ghetto, to Nebe and to
Rasch, to Riga, Minsk, etc., and above all, to the masses of
Jews he sent to Auschwitz and to extermination camps in the
Generalgouvernement area.

But what about the crimes perpetrated against the Jews of
the East, in their home towns - their subjection to inhuman
living conditions in camps and in ghettos, the plunder of
their property, and their murder?
To give a precise answer to this question, attention must be
paid to the way the Germans divided the eastern territories
which fell into their hands during the War years.  They
annexed to the Reich vast areas of western and northern
Poland; the areas previously known as the Polish Corridor,
namely western Prussia, the Poznan district and additional
parts of western Poland, including Lodz (Litzmannstadt),
which were known as the Warthe district (Warthegau); and all
the area which was Upper Silesia before World War I.  But,
in addition, they also annexed nearby stretches in western
Poland, so that Auschwitz itself came within the Reich; and
parts of Poland to the north, bordering on East Prussia and
including Zichenau (Ciechanow) and Bialystok and district.
In what was left of Poland up to the demarcation line with
Soviet Russia in the East, the Generalgouvernement district
was set up, under the rule of Hans Frank, who was given
extensive administrative autonomy.  After additional
conquests, which came with the outbreak of the war with
Russia, eastern Galicia and Lvov were annexed to the
Generalgouvernement area.  As for the remaining territories
conquered in the East, to the extent that they were
transferred from military to civilian rule, Rosenberg was
appointed as Reich Minister for the Eastern Occupied
Territories.  His subordinates were Lohse in the north, in
charge of the Reich Ostland Administration (principally in
the Baltic countries), and Koch in the south, in charge of
the Reich Ukrainian Administration.

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