The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th April to 1st May, 1946

One-Hundred-and-Eleventh Day: Thursday, 18th April, 1946
(Part 4 of 10)

[DR. SEIDL continues his direct examination of Hans Frank]

[Page 113]

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 report?

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 authentic.

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 contents.

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 General.

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 country.

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 open.

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 entirely.

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 General?

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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