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 7 of 10)

[COLONEL SMIRNOV continues his cross examination of Joseph Buehler]

[Page 168]

Q. Would you please wait one minute. Just before this you read Koppe's report on the shooting of the hostages, Page 180. And after that the Governor General expressed his approval. This means that it was precisely this activity of Koppe's that the Governor General had approved?

A. Well, this was not the only statement made by Koppe. The statement of the Governor General was in reference to all the statements made by Koppe, and not only to that one singled out portion.

Q. Very well. In that case he also approved among other things, this report and this statement.

A. But I know that the Governor General, like myself, was exerting pressure on Koppe in order to stop the shooting of hostages.

Q. Will you kindly inform me who, while Kruger was still chief of police, issued instructions for the shooting of one male inhabitant from each house which displayed a poster announcing a Polish national holiday?

A. That is unknown to me.

Q. I ask to have the corresponding document submitted. The quotation is in the document book and on Page 1, paragraph 7 of our document.

"The Governor General received District Chief Dr. Waechter, who reported on the appearance in some districts of inflammatory posters on the occasion of the 11 November (Polish day of liberation). The Governor General ordered that in every house where a poster remained exhibited one male inhabitant should be shot. This order is to be carried out by the Chief of Police. Dr. Waechter has taken 120 hostages in Cracow as a precautionary measure."
Do you remember that? Who then introduced this criminal practice of taking hostages?

A. Are you trying to say that I was present during that conference?

Q. I should like to ask you about something else.

A. Please, will you answer my question? Was I there or was I not?

Q. No, I am not obliged to answer your question. It is you, Witness, who have to answer mine. It is I who am interrogating you, not you who are examining me. Kindly answer the next question. You resided in Cracow. By order of the Obergruppenfuehrer, Dr. Waechter - as a precautionary measure - detained 120 hostages. Would you like to say that you knew nothing about this either?

A. I knew nothing about this measure, nor is it known to me that hostages were shot.

Q. Please answer the following question. Have I understood you correctly, did you state today that there was no famine in Poland?

A. Yes, there was no famine in Poland.

Q. I am asking you to be shown the speech of Dr. Buehler, Secretary of State - (that obviously means you) - at a meeting on 31 May, 1943, in Cracow. I begin the quotation:

"... The Government of the Government General has for a long time been clear on the point that the scale of food rations allowed to non-Germans cannot be continued any longer without the population taking things into its own hands or being driven to insurrection ... The difficulties of the food situation, which, naturally, have a bad effect on the morale of the population, the enormous rise in prices, the in some cases overdone and narrow-minded salary and wage policy, has led to a part of the Polish population being driven to despair."
Did you say that?

A. I could follow the first part, but I couldn't find the last sentences.

Q. Would you kindly follow the text. In the text you will find both the first part and the last sentence. "Part of the Polish population has, by this time, been driven to despair." Please study the text.

[Page 169]

A. Where does it say so, please? Would you show it to me?

(The text was indicated to the witness.)

A. (Continuing) I made these statements, and -

Q. Then I also have the following question to ask you. Do you not think that your announcement, in 1943, testifies to the fact that you have today testified falsely before the Tribunal?

A. No; no. What I meant by my statement was that the population would take things into its own hands. When for instance a worker remained away from his place of work for three days to go in search of food, this was considered by me to be a desperate step on the part of the worker.

However, I said this morning that it was very difficult for the population to obtain the necessary food supplies but that it was not impossible, so that I did not notice any actual famine.

And please may I ask you to consider that 80 per cent. of the population of the Government General were country people, so that there could be no famine on a large scale unless the country side had been completely despoiled, and that was not the case.

Q. You stated that as a result of the food quotas established in the Government General a revolt might arise, and you said that the population was driven to despair by hunger. Is that not evidence that a famine was raging in the country?

A. By "revolt" I meant "unrest," not an armed uprising. It is quite clear that morale and the will to work did suffer by reason of the insufficient rations. I stated this morning how it was that adequate provisioning of the Poles couldn't be carried out. On the other hand, however, there was such a widespread free market and black market that even the worker, if he had sufficient time, could obtain food, and if he didn't have time, he took it. That was what I meant.

Q. Please, answer this question. Were only such educational possibilities left to the Poles as would - according to the plan of Frank and Goebbels - merely emphasize the hopeless destiny of their nation?

A. Efforts to keep down the level of education of the Polish population were noticeable. These tendencies originated from Himmler in Berlin.

Q. I would like you to answer: What was done with the Polish universities?

A. They were closed and they were not reopened. However, technical courses were arranged in Warsaw and in Lemberg, in which these people received university education; but it appears that these courses were closed by demand from the Reich.

Q. Perhaps you will recollect under whose signature the decree was issued to close the universities. Perhaps you will recognise this signature? It is an official report.

A. The decree regarding the appointment of university curators was signed by the Governor General in November, 1940.

Q. Will you please tell me, were only industrial schools left in Poland?

A. Not only industrial schools remained open, but there were, for instance, commercial schools, and the attendance there was very big. Apart from that, there were trade schools and elementary schools, which were set up on a large scale.

Q. In other words, only those schools were left which trained artisans and petty commercial clerks?

A. Who attended them I don't know, but at any rate commercial schools were permitted.

Q. I should like to know on whose initiative the royal palace at Warsaw was destroyed?

A. I don't know for certain. I heard once that it had been the Fuehrer's wish that the castle in Warsaw, which was heavily damaged, should be razed to the ground.

[Page 170]

Q. And by whose personal order was this castle, the royal palace of Warsaw, destroyed?

A. I don't know whether it was blown up; that I don't know.

Q. Yes. It was destroyed. Who ordered it to be destroyed, do you know?

A. I do not know.

Q. You do not know?

A. No.

Q. The quotation which I want to read to you is on Page 1 of the translation of the document submitted by us to the Tribunal. It is a very short quotation. I shall proceed to read it into the record:

"The Fuehrer discussed the general situation with the Governor General and he approved of his work in Poland, especially the destruction of the palace at Warsaw and the intention not to reconstruct the city."
Was it not true that the palace of Warsaw was destroyed by order of Frank?

A. It is not known to me that the castle was destroyed. As far as I know there was at one time a project to do this, but the plan was abandoned.

Q. Tell me, please, was it not in your presence that the defendant Frank, on 21 April, 1940, issued an order to apply police measures during the so-called recruitment of manpower?

A. I should have to see the minutes. I can't remember it offhand.

Q. If you please (handing papers to the witness). The place which I should like to quote is on Page 46 of the document, the last paragraph.

"Discussion with Secretary of State Dr. Buehler, S.S. Obergruppenfuehrer Kruger and Dr. Frauendorfer, in the presence of Reich Minister Dr. Seyss-Inquart."

Subject of discussion is the deportation of workers, especially agricultural workers, to the Reich.

"The Governor General stated that, since all methods in the way of appeals, etc., had been unsuccessful, one had now to come to the conclusion that the Poles evaded this duty to work either out of malice or with the intention of doing Germany indirect harm by not placing themselves at her disposal. He therefore asked Dr. Frauendorfer whether there were any measures left which had not yet been taken in order to win the Poles over voluntarily.

Reichshauptamtsleiter (chief of a Reich main office) Dr. Frauendorfer answered this question in the negative.

The Governor General stated emphatically that a final decision was now required of him. The question now was whether one would not have to resort to some form of coercive measure."

Was that not an order to apply coercive measures when recruiting manpower?

A. I will not contradict the statement, since I have seen the minutes. It is one of the utterances of the Governor General which, I believe, were not altogether made voluntarily, but which in no way altered the course which I took on this question.

Q. Please, answer the following question: Were you present at a discussion with Sauckel on 18 August, 1942, and was it in your presence that Frank told Sauckel that he "joyfully informed him of the shipping of fresh convoys of workers to the Reich with the help of the police."

A. Together with the heads of my sub-departments who dealt with the recruiting of workers I had a conference with Reich Commissioner Sauckel before the visit to the Governor General took place. I cannot now remember whether I was present when Reich Commissioner Sauckel visited the Governor General. I ask to see the minutes.

Q. Please show the witness the passage.

(Papers were handed to the witness.)

[Page 171]

I will now read into the record two short passages on Pages 918 and 920.
"Doctor Frank: 'I am very glad that I can inform you officially that up to this date we have sent to Germany over 800,000 workers. Only a short time ago you asked for another 140,000. I am happy to inform you officially that, in accordance with our agreement of yesterday, 60 per cent. of these newly requested workers will be sent by the end of October, and the other 40 per cent. will be despatched to the Reich by the end of the year.'"
Then I will ask you to pass on to Page 120. There is only one other sentence I want to quote:
"Besides the 140,000, you can count on further numbers of workers from the Government General during the coming year, for we will use the police to get them."
Does that not imply the use of Draconian police methods in the so-called recruiting of manpower?

A. I don't recollect that I was present on that occasion, so I can in no way confirm that was said in this way.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I have no more questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you want to re-examine?

DR. SEIDL: I have a few more questions to ask the witness.

First of all, I should like to clarify a misunderstanding which seems to have arisen. The question which I put to the witness in connection with Exhibit USSR 93 referred only to Appendix 1, which has the title "Cultural Life in Poland." That appendix deals with directives regarding cultural policies which the administration of the Government General was supposed to have issued, and the way I understood the witness was that he only wanted to answer that particular question, and not refer to the other appendices, such as, for instance, those dealing with confiscated art treasures.

Perhaps it would have been better if he had not used the word "forged." At any rate, he wanted to say that he didn't know the directives in question.


Q. Witness, is it correct that by far the greater number of Polish workers who were brought to the Reich were volunteers?

A. May 1, first of all, say that I by no means wished to accuse the prosecution of committing a forgery. I merely wanted to point out that possibly they were using a forged document. I didn't want to accuse the prosecution itself of a forgery.

Now, regarding the question put by defendant's counsel, I want to say that according to my observations, by far the greater number of all the workers from the Government General went to the Reich voluntarily.

Q. So as to refresh your memory, I am going to read a short quotation from the diary, which deals with the recruiting of workers.

On 4 March, 1940, the Governor General addressed a meeting of the town mayors of the Lublin district and stated the following regarding the recruitment of workers:

"He turned down the issuance of a new decree as demanded by Berlin containing particular coercive measures and threats of punishment. Measures which attract attention abroad would have to be avoided. The forcible transport of people had every argument against it."
Does the conception reflect the true views of the Governor General?

A. I was not present during that conference, so I didn't hear that utterance by the Governor General, but it does tally with those instructions and principles which the Governor General gave to me and which I have always had carried out.

Q. Were you present during a conference on 14 January, 1944? - I see you

[Page 172]

were there - it was a conference with the Secretary of State Dr. Buehler, Dr. Koppe and several others. I quote from it:-
"The Governor General resolutely opposes the employment of police forces for the carrying out of such measures. Such a task is not a matter for the police."
Is it correct that the Governor General repeatedly opposed the use of police in connection with the recruiting of workers?

A. That wasn't the only occasion. The deputy of Reich Commissioner Sauckel was often attacked by him during public meetings when he was talking about raids for the recruiting of workers; but I must state that Sauckel's deputy always declared that it was not he who had given instructions for these raids for the rounding up of workers.

Q. The first quotation which the prosecutor put to you was an entry dated 25 January, 1943. He asked you whether you regarded yourself as a war criminal. I shall now put to you another passage from that conference, during which you yourself were present. I quote from Page 7 of that entry in the diary. The Governor General stated:-

"State Secretary Kruger, you know that orders of the Reichsfuehrer S.S. can only be carried out by you after first hearing me. This procedure was omitted in this instance. I express my regret that you have carried out an order from the Reichsfuehrer without first informing me, in accordance with the order of the Fuehrer. According to that order, instructions of the Reichsfuehrer S.S. may only be carried out here in the Government General after I have previously stated my agreement. I hope that this is the last time that that will occur; because I do not want to bother the Fuehrer in every single case of this kind."
I shall omit a sentence and continue to quote:-
"It is impossible that we can disregard Fuehrer orders, and it is out of the question that in the sphere of police and security, direct orders from the Reichsfuehrer should be carried out over the head of the man who has been appointed for that purpose by the Fuehrer. Otherwise I should be completely superfluous."
I now ask you, is it correct that there were very frequently such arguments between the Governor General and the higher S.S. Police Leader Kruger, and that the Governor General terminated these arguments by asking for co-operation, so that some sort of administration could function in this territory?

A. Yes, that is correct, such discussions were our daily bread.

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