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-Twelfth Day: Tuesday, 23rd April, 1946
(Part 3 of 10)

[DR. SEIDL continues his direct examination of Joseph Buehler]

[Page 150]

Q. I now turn to another subject.

THE PRESIDENT: We might adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, your Honours, before I continue the interrogation of the witness Dr. Buehler, I should like to inform you that I forgo the interrogation of the witness Helene Kraffezyk; so this witness is going to be the last one.



Q. Witness, the defendant Dr. Frank has been accused by the prosecution of not having done everything within his power to take care of the feeding of the population of the Government General. What can you say about that?

A. The decisive reason why the population in the Government General could not be provided for as efficiently and as satisfactorily as in Germany, was the lack of co-operation on the part of the Polish population to the measures taken by the Germans in order to bring about a just and equal distribution of food quotas. This lack of co-operation was caused by patriotic considerations, the hatred of German domination and the continuous, effective propaganda from the outside. I do not believe that there was a single country in Europe where so much was pillaged, stolen and handed over to the black market, where so much was destroyed, so much sabotaged, in order to sabotage the food programme, as in the Government General.

To give one example: All the dairy machinery, which had been provided with great pains, and the large system of dairies, organised with difficulty, were again and again destroyed, so that even a more or less satisfactory handling of milk and fat could not take place. I estimate that the fat being sold on the free market and the black market was several times the quantity handled and distributed officially. Another decisive reason lies in the fact that the Government General had

[Page 151]

been cut out of a hitherto closed economic and political unit and that no sufficient effort had been made to bring about a proper economic balance.

The large consumer centres in the Government General, that is to say, the cities such as Warsaw, Cracow, later Lemberg, and also the industrial area in the centre of Poland, had previously received their supplies to a very large extent directly from the country through the permanent market. There was a lack of grain in this area, a lack of warehouses, of cold-storage buildings, of a network of dairies, and of store-houses of all kinds - all necessary for a supply economy directed by the State.

The Government General had to construct all these establishments step by step, and therefore the supplying of the population was proportionately difficult. It wasn't intended to supply the population in full at once, the supplies were to be improved gradually. I have always seen to it that the directives issued for combating the black market provided margins for the acquisition of foodstuffs, and that the inhabitants of the cities should be given the opportunity of finding a way to the producer. In 1942 the rations were to be increased; then an order came from the Trustees for the Four-Year Plan which ordered that rations should not be increased and that certain quotas of foodstuffs be sent to the Reich; most of these foodstuffs were not taken from the area, but were used up by the Armed Forces on the spot. The Governor General fought continually against the offices of the Four-Year Plan, in order to achieve an increase and an improvement in the food supplies for the Polish population. That struggle was not without success. In many cases it was possible to increase the rations considerably, especially those of the workers in armament industries and other privileged groups of the working population.

In brief I should like to say that it was not easy for the population of the Government General to get its daily food requirements. On the other hand there were no famines and no hunger epidemics. A Polish and Ukrainian Auxiliary Committee which had delegations in all districts of the Government General cared for the supplying of foodstuffs to those parts of the population in greatest need. I took the stand that this committee should be supplied with the largest possible amounts of foodstuffs, in order to be able to pursue its welfare work most successfully, and it is known to me that that committee took special care of the children of large cities.

Q. Witness, what were the measures that the Governor General took to safeguard art treasures in the areas under his administration?

A. With a decree of 16 December, 1939, the Reich Leader S.S., in his capacity as Reich Commissioner for the strengthening of Germanism, without informing the Governor General, ordered all art treasures of the Government General to be confiscated and transported to the Reich. The Government General was successful in preventing the transport, or most of it.

Then a man arrived in the Government General from the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan, State Secretary Muehlmann, who claimed to have plenary authority from the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan. I asked to see that authorisation. It was signed, not by Goering himself, but by somebody in his circle, Kritzbach. He was charged with the task of safeguarding the art treasures of the Government General in the interest of the Reich. In order to bring this commissioner, provided as he was with plenary authority from the Reich, into line with the Government General, the Governor General entrusted to him, in addition, the task of collecting the art treasures of the Government General. He collected these art treasures and also had catalogues printed, and I know from conferences which took place with the Governor General, that the latter always attached the greatest importance to having these art treasures retained within the area of the Government General.

Q. The prosecution, as Exhibit USA-378 - Document 1709-PS, submitted a report about the investigation of the entire activity of the Special Com-

[Page 152]

missioner for the Collection and Safeguarding of Art and Cultural Treasures in the Government General. Page 6 of that report reads:-
"Reason for investigation: Order from the State Secretary of the Government of the Government General of 30 July, 1942, to investigate the entire activity of the Special Commissioner appointed for the collection and safeguarding of art and cultural treasures in the Government General according to the decree of the Governor General of 16 December, 1939.
I ask you now what caused you in 1942 to give this order for investigation, and did the report lead to serious charges?

A. The investigation was found necessary because of the possible clash of duties in the case of State Secretary Muehlmann - the order given by the Reich and the order given by the Governor General. I had also heard that some museum pieces had not been properly taken care of. The investigation showed that State Secretary Muehlmann could not be blamed in any way.

Q. The prosecution has submitted Document 3042-PS, Exhibit USA-375. It is an affidavit by Doctor Muehlmann, and I quote:-

"I was the Special Commissioner of the Governor General of Poland, Hans Frank, for the safeguarding of art treasures in the Government General from October, 1939, until September, 1943. This task was given me by Goering in his capacity as chairman of the Reich Defence Council.

I confirm that it was the official policy of the Governor General, Hans Frank, to safeguard all important art treasures which belonged to Polish public institutions, private collections and the Church.

I confirm that the art treasures mentioned were actually confiscated, and I am aware that in case of a German victory they would not have remained in Poland, but would have been used for the completion of German art collections."

I ask you now: Is it correct that the Governor General from the very beginning considered all art treasures which had been safeguarded the property of the Government General?

A. In so far as they were State property, yes. In so far as they were private property, they were temporarily confiscated and safeguarded; but never did the Governor General think of transferring them to the Reich. If he had wanted to do that, he could have taken advantage of the war situation itself in order to send these art treasures to Germany. But where the witness got his information as contained in the last sentence of his affidavit, I do not know.

Q. The prosecution submitted Document L-37 as Exhibit USA- 506. It is a letter from the Commander of the Security Police and the S.D. of the District Radom, to the outlying office Tomaszow, of 19 July, 1944. There it says among other things:-

"The Higher S.S. and Police Leader Ost issued the following order on 28 June, 1944:"
I omit a few sentences and then quote:-
"The Reichsfuehrer S.S. had, with the approval of the Governor General, ordered that in all cases where assassinations or attempts at assassination of Germans took place, or where vital installations were destroyed by saboteurs, not only should the culprits caught be shot but, beyond that, all the men of the family likewise should be executed, and the women over sixteen sent to concentration camps."
Is it known to you whether the Governor General ever spoke about this question with the Reichsfuehrer S. S., and whether he had given such an approval?

A. I know nothing about the issuing of an order of that kind. Once during the second half of 1944 an order came through my hands, about the joint responsibility of kin, but I cannot say whether that concerned the Reich or the Government General; it was a police order, I should say. If it had had

[Page 153]

that formula, "with the approval of the Government General," then I should have questioned the Governor General about it.

Q. Would such an approval have been consistent with the fundamental attitude of the Governor General to this question as you knew it?

A. The fundamental attitude of the Governor General was, on the contrary, opposed to all executions without trial and without legal reasons.

Q. Is it correct that from 1940 on the Governor General complained continually to the Fuehrer about the measures taken by the Police and the S.D.?

A. Yes; I myself sent at least half a dozen memoranda of about the size of the one submitted, addressed to the Fuehrer directly or to him through the Chief of the Reich Chancellery. They contained repeated complaints in regard to executions, encroachment in connection with the recruiting of workers, the importation of inhabitants of other regions without the permission of the Governor General, the food situation, and happenings in general which were contrary to the principles of an orderly administration.

Q. The prosecution submitted one of these memoranda under the Exhibit number USA-610. That is a memorandum to the Fuehrer of 19 June, 1943. Is this memorandum essentially different from any previous or later memoranda, and what, basically, was the attitude of the Fuehrer to such complaints and proposals?

A. This memorandum, which has been submitted, is somewhat different from the previous ones. The previous memoranda contained direct accusations in regard to these happenings and the encroachment by the police. When these memoranda remained unsuccessful, I, acting on the order of the Governor General, drew up the complaints contained in this memorandum of June in the form of a political proposal. The complaints listed there were not caused by any action of the government of the Governor General; rather they were complaints about interference on the part of other offices.

Q. In the diary we find, on 26 October, 1943, a long report about the four years of German construction work in the Government General which was made by you yourself. On the basis of what documents did you compile that report?

A. I compiled that report on the basis of the material which the thirteen main departments of the government had given me.

Q. Now a question of principle: What, basically, was the attitude of the Governor General to the Polish and Ukrainian people, as you know it from your five years' activity with the Chief of the government?

A. The first principle was that of keeping peace in this area and of increasing its usefulness by improving the substance, economically speaking. In order to achieve that, decent treatment of the population was necessary; freedom and property should not be infringed on. Those were the principles of policy according to which, acting on the order of the Governor General, I always carried out my functions as State Secretary of the government.

Q. Is it correct that the Governor General also tried within the framework of war-time conditions to grant the population a certain minimum of cultural development?

A. That was the desire of the Governor General, but the realisation of this desire very frequently met with resistance on the part of the Security Police or the Propaganda Ministry of the Reich, or it was made impossible by the conditions themselves. The Governor General did not want basically, to prohibit cultural activity among the Polish and Ukrainian populations.

Q. Is it correct that he tried particularly to revive higher education and that in disregard of directives from the Reich, he instituted so-called trade courses in schools of higher education?

A. Subjects were taught at the trade schools by Polish professors in Warsaw and Lemberg - subjects corresponding to those of a university. As a matter of principle, the Governor General also wanted to open secondary schools and

[Page 154]

seminaries for priests, but always failed in that object because of opposition from the Security Police. Since no agreement could be reached, and acting on the order of the Governor General in October, 1941, I arbitrarily gave promises of the opening of secondary schools, and I believe of seminaries for priests, with a certain amount of advisory autonomy for the Poles. Two days after this announcement it was transmitted to me, as the opinion of the Fuehrer, that I had no authority to announce such measures.

Q. Dr. Frank's diary often mentions the principle of the unity of administration and the fact that the Governor General is the deputy of the Fuehrer in this territory and the deputy representative of the authority of the Reich. Does this conception tally with the facts? What other offices of the Reich and the Party assumed a role in the administration of the Government General?

A. The plenary authority of the Governor General was limited from the very beginning in many important respects. Thus, for instance, before the establishment of the Government General, the Reichsfuehrer S.S. had been invested with plenary power to care for the strengthening of Germanism in all occupied territories. The Trustee for the Four-Year Plan had equal authority and power to issue decrees in the Government General. But many other offices as well, as armaments, post, railways, buildings, and other departments tried, and tried successfully, to take over parts of the administration of the Government General or to gain some influence over them. After the Governor General had lost his office as Reichsleiter in 1942, there was a special rush in this direction. I might almost say that it became a kind of sport to take part in the game.

Q. Who appointed, dismissed and paid the police officials in the Government General and took care of them in other matters according to Civil Service Law.

A. That was done exclusively by Himmler's administrative office in Berlin.

Q. Is it correct that even officials of the administration of the Government General were arrested by Kruger and that it wasn't possible even for the Governor General to effect their release. I remind you of the case of Scipessi.

A. Yes. I can confirm that from my own experience. Even from my own circle people were arrested without my being notified. In one such case I informed the Commander of the Security Police that the official was to be released within a certain space of time. He was not released, and I demanded the recall of the Commander of the Security Police. The result was that Himmler expressed his special confidence in this Commander of the Security Police and the recall was refused.

Q. Witness, how long was the Government General able to work at al under normal conditions?

A. I might almost say, never at any time. The first year called for repairing destruction caused by the war. There were destroyed villages, destroyed cities, destroyed means of transportation; bridges had been blown up in very large numbers. After this destruction, in so far as it was possible under conditions of war, had been repaired, the Government General became again a deployment area for the war against the East, against the Russians, and then a through-area to the front and the rear-front area. It was the great repair shop for the front.

Q. Another question: During the war, Himmler presented to the Reich Government the draft of a law about the treatment of foreign elements. What was the attitude of Dr. Frank towards this draft?

A. As far as I remember ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, the Tribunal thinks that the matters which the witness is going into are really matters of common knowledge. Everyone knows about that. I think you might take the witness over this ground a little bit faster than you are doing.

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