Session 006-007-008-06, Eichmann Adolf

The Extermination in Poland

Poland was the first country to savour the bitter taste of
the German Blitzkrieg, when a million and a half soldiers,
armed with a range of destructive weapons, protected by a
gigantic umbrella of fighter-planes and equipped with all
modern instruments of communication, swept into the country
at the outbreak of World War II. Poland had always been
especially hated by the Nazis: it was the offspring of the
Versailles Peace Treaty, which they regarded as an insult to
the German people; it separated East and West Prussia; and
it controlled Danzig. These facts were featured in the
campaign of incitement conducted by the Nazis, while they
were fighting for power, against the idea that Germany might
accept the consequences of her defeat in World War I.

After coming to power, Hitler succeeded in misleading the
Polish statesmen of the day, who fell unsuspectingly into
his trap. As far back as 1934, he managed to drive a wedge
between Poland and France by enticing the Poles to sign a
non-aggression treaty, and while he was busy making
conquests without war in other places, he led them to
believe that he sought peace. This situation did not last
long, however, and the Teutonic fury was directed against
Poland in the lightening invasion of 1 September 1939.

Nazi race doctrines regarded the Slav people as inferior
beings, whose historic destiny it was to serve “higher” and
“nobler” peoples. It was therefore, the declared aim of Nazi
policy to subjugate the Polish people and never to allow it
to recover. Thus, after the conquest, Hitler told Frank, the
Reich Governor General of Poland:

“The Generalgouvernement will serve only as a reservoir
of manual labour. Workers required by the Reich will be
brought from the Generalgouvernement…There will be
only one master for the Poles – the Germans…and
therefore all the representatives of the Polish
intelligentsia are to be destroyed…

“We shall see to it that the Poles do not die of hunger
and so forth, but they must not reach any higher
level…If once the Poles reach a higher level of
development, they will cease to be the manpower
reservoir which we need…The humblest German worker or
farmer must always be at least ten per cent higher than
any Pole.”

If this was the attitude of the Germans to the Poles, their
attitude to the Jews of Poland was immeasurably worse. They
were simply abandoned to their fate. Insofar as there were
any divisions of opinion between the Generalgouvernement and
the RSHA on the attitude to be adopted towards the Polish
Jews, they relate solely to the choice of the appropriate
date for their extermination. While Frank tried to carry out
his mission of Governor of the “Corridor to the Reich” by
supplying labour, manufacturing ammunition, food and other
commodities and destroying the Jews only after they had
contributed their sweat and manpower to German industry,
orders came from Berlin to exterminate them, and besides,
the Gestapo machine acted on its own responsibility, without
coordination with, or regard for, the Generalgouvernement.

This aroused Frank’s anger to fever pitch. We have in our
posSession Frank’s diary, which contains minutes of meetings
of his administration and notes from his speeches. I shall
quote a few extracts from this document.

At a meeting held on 3 December 1942, Frank complained that
the Jewish labour force was being taken away from him.

“It is obvious that they are making our work very
difficult if in the middle of this war work an order
comes to send all the Jews for extermination. The
responsibility for this does not rest on the
administration of the General_gouvernement. The order
to exterminate the Jews comes from higher
levels…Taking the Jews away has caused immense
difficulties in the labour field…Now the order comes
to take the Jews out of the munitions factories.”

Let us not delude ourselves that Frank wanted to save the
Jews from their doom. A year earlier he had said at a
meeting of his government:

“As far as the Jews are concerned – this I must say
frankly – they must be finished off in one way or

“There is criticism of many measures at present being
employed in the Reich against the Jews. There is talk of
atrocities, brutalities, etc.

“I must ask you first to agree with me before I go any
further on one formula: We shall have sympathy for the
German people alone, and not for any one else in the

“As a veteran National Socialist, I have to say that if
the Jewish community in Europe survives the War, after
we have sacrificed our dearest blood to hold Europe,
then we shall have achieved only partial success in
this war. I have, therefore, basically only one
expectation of the Jews – that they shall disappear!”

There were, however, differences of opinion as to the method
of their “disappearance.” From time to time, Frank asked the
Gestapo to leave him at least the skilled workers and not to
send them off to be killed, but generally the Gestapo paid
no attention to his requests and the Accused and his
accomplices went ahead with the destruction of the Jewish
community in Eastern Europe.

Frank complained bitterly that the Gestapo was acting
independently in the area under his rule and creating a
state within a state: “We have established in the Reich a
plethora of authorities which are actively engaged in
warring one against the other.” The quarrel reached the
point where Frank submitted his resignation in May, 1943,
but Hitler did not accept it. By then the greater part of
Polish Jewry had been destroyed, and internal Nazi power
struggles brought no deliverance whatsoever to the Jews. And
when the ashes of the last of the Polish Jews were heaped up
in the sandhills of Auschwitz, Frank said: “We started here
with three and a half million Jews of whom only a few labour
companies are left. All the rest have – let us say –
emigrated.” The minutes add that amongst those present there
was a general atmosphere of joy at hearing this description
of the extermination process. the extermination of the Jews
was not the work of Frank. We have already heard Buehler,
the head of his government, announcing at the Wannsee
conference that this matter belongs to the RSHA, namely to
the Accused. Nor were the death camps under Frank’s control,
and this too was stated explicitly at those
meetings:”…These camps were set up directly by the SS from
Berlin, whence they were administered, and for everything
which takes place in those camps, the Centre in Berlin is
responsible.” So in fact it was, and we shall receive
evidence of this from others also.

In Poland, Jewish suffering began with the entry of the
German army. Pogroms, brutality, degradation, the burning of
synagogues, the plunder of property – collective fines all
this immediately became the lot of the Jews in occupied
Poland. Thousands fell victim in the very first weeks and
were killed in a variety of ways. The Jews of Jaroslav were
brought to the banks of the river San and drowned in their
hundreds, and the Jews of Bydgoszcz (Bromberg) were
butchered. In Lodz a pogrom was held in honour of Goebbels’
visit. Atrocities against the Jews were the order of the
day. Their beards were forcibly torn out with the skin.
Synagogues were set on fire and often, as in Wloclawek, the
Jewish leaders were arrested and forced to sign a
declaration that they had been the incendiaries – in fact,
on the basis of this declaration the Jews of the city were
fined 100,000 zlotys on account of the fire. In the space of
a few weeks, hundreds of synagogues were burned down, blown
up or converted into prisons, and public lavatories. The
Jews were ordered to clean the streets with their prayer
shawls, to burn holy books and to dance around the bonfires,
all these spectacles being photographed for publication in
the Stuermer and other Nazi newspapers. Simultaneously, the
Nazis began the systematic plunder of Jewish property by
various methods, including collective fines, confiscation of
houses and their contents, and at times straightforward
theft – on the pretext of searching for weapons, valuables
could be seized and carried away.

Jews were kidnapped and carried off for forced labour.
Passers-by were seized in the streets. A man would go out in
the morning and not know whether he would come home in the
evening. Some would return with “labour cards” in their
possession. Others did not return at all; the Germans
explained that they had been sent off to work “outside the
city,” and they were never seen again. SS men would burst
into the ghettoes and, with blows, force the Jews to come
out and perform duties designed to degrade them: digging
open pits and then closing them up, moving mounds of stones
and putting them back again, and the like. The Jews were
transformed into a herd of terrified, degraded and depressed
beings, lacking all human rights. Their synagogues were
close; their public life came to a standstill; their sources
of livelihood dwindled.

This, however, was for the time the period of “minor
terror.” The tragedy and destruction of Polish Jewry was yet
to come.

Heydrich’s instructions of 21 September 1939, with regard to
the treatment of the Jews have already been mentioned in
connection with the planning of the Holocaust. The first
part of these instructions – given in cooperation with the
Accused, to Einsatzgruppen – involved the identification and
concentration of the Jews as intermediate steps towards the
final solution. This concentration was not very difficult to
carry out on Poland as the majority of the Jewish population
in any case lived in cities and townlets. It was immediately
ordered that every Jew must wear the Jewish badge, and
anyone who violated the instruction was put to death.

Hitler, Goering and Keitel issued orders on 7 October 1939
for the establishment of settlement areas for Germans in the
East, from which other ethnic groups were to be removed.
Himmler was given almost unlimited powers. The
implementation of this programme devolved on the Security
Police, whose chief, Heydrich, gave the following order on
12 December 1939:

“Important reasons make the central handling of all
police and security matters connected with the
execution of the evacuation in the Eastern areas

“I have, therefore, appointed SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer
Eichmann (deputizing for SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Guenther)
as my special representative in the
Reichssicherheitshauptamt, Bureau IV03.”

The objectives of this action were defined in a detailed
document describing the aims of German policy in the areas
of Poland annexed to the Reich. These aims included the
deportation of all the populations which could not be
restored to the bosom of the German people by a process of
“Germanization” and the resettlement of the whole area by
Germans. The Jews were to be deported as swiftly as possible
and all their rights cancelled.

The task of making the detailed plan and carrying out the
deportations devolved upon the Accused. It was also
thenceforth his function, inter alia, to carry out Himmler’s
orders for the deportation of all the Jews from what was
called the Ostraum. From then on, Eichmann operated in the
East in the name of the Reichsfuerer himself and with his

In September 1939, orders were also carried out with regard
to organized plunder of Jewish property, confiscation of
their factories and warehouses and, after that, pillage of
whatever came to hand. In addition, they began to impose
financial levies on the Jewish communities, simply according
to whim. In October, 1939, an Eastern Trustees Authority
(Treuhandstelle Ost) was set up to handle the plundered
property, with a head office in Berlin and branches in a
number of leading Polish cities. Himmler issued regulations
for cooperation with this authority which was given
unlimited rights to confiscate Polish and Jewish property.

In January, 1940, we already find a representative of the
Treuhandstelle Ost present at a meeting to deal with the
deportations, presided over by Eichmann. In this meeting,
there was a discussion on the methods used so far to carry
out the deportations to the area of the Generalgouvernement
and it was reported that in one transport a hundred men had
frozen to death. It was decided that at an early date about
three hundred and fifty thousand Jews would be deported from
the Warthegau area which included Lodz and Poznan to the
Generalgouvernement in coordination with Frank’s government.
The only property which a Jews would be allowed to take with
him would be 100 Polish zlotys. Reports on each transport
were to be submitted to police headquarters in Cracow and to
Adolf Eichmann.

At a meeting of the administration of the
Generalgouvernement this movement was described as a “modern
migration of peoples,” and two years later Frank was to
describe this operation as follows:

“…Then came the fantastic tranfer of hundreds of
thousands of Jews and Poles to the Generalgouvernement.
You will recall the terrible months during which
freight trains fully loaded with people rolled in day
by day; there were trucks filled to overflowing with
corpses. This was a terrible time, when every district
chief, every local and municipal officer had to chase
around from morning to night to get rid of the influx
of these elements who had become unwanted in the Reich,
and whom they had suddenly decided to shift…All this
we had to endure.”

What the victims of the dreadful journey had to endure, what
suffering and torment, how they fell by the wayside with
their little ones, how they dragged through the mud and snow
– of all of this, of course, Frank had nothing to say. This
deportation encompassed about half a million people and was
carried out by the special RSHA Department, IVD4, headed by
Adolf Eichmann. Included also in this deportation programme
were the Jews of East Prussia.

Finally, in view of Frank’s protests that the transports
gave him and his assistants too heavy a load of work,
Goering ordered, on 23 March 1940, that there should be no
more deportations to the area of the Generalgouvernement
without Frank’s prior consent.

In the meantime, the concentration of the Jews in Poland and
the plunder of their property continued, in accordance with
the master plan of 1939. Ghettoes were established in the
worst districts of the cities, where it was quite impossible
to maintain hygiene. The inhuman overcrowding and filth soon
produced severe epidemics. To leave the ghetto meant public
execution. The ghetto itself became an instrument of
extermination. Let us listen to an authentic description:

“…On Yom Kippur, 1940, the radio announced the German
order for the setting up of a Jewish quarter in the
city of Warsaw. Within a few days the Jews had to leave
their homes outside and enter the quarter without being
told into which part they were to go. Thus about one
hundred thousand Jews entered the Jewish quarter, which
was already overcrowded. They became refugees, carrying
their worldly goods by hand or on a cart, wandering
through the streets, stopping at a house, standing
confused, not knowing where to go. At that time the
Ghetto was still open and there was contact with the
outside world. It was still possible to go to work
outside the Jewish quarter.

“After a short while, and without previous notice, the
Jewish quarter was isolated and walled off and German
and Polish police stationed at every gate or exit. All
at once the Ghetto was cut off from its sources of
livelihood, from places of work and from all
possibility of obtaining essential commodities, and its
inhabitants felt that prison walls had closed in upon

“During that period, tens of thousands of Jews were
brought into the Warsaw Ghetto from nearby provincial
towns. These people were told to wind up their affairs
at two hours’ notice, to take with them what they could
carry in their hands and on their backs, and they were
all brought on foot into the Warsaw Ghetto. Generally,
anyone who faltered or stumbled, who stopped for a
moment with a groan, was shot dead. Once again, a
stream of refugees came into the Ghetto, once again
people were seen standing or sitting in the Ghetto
streets without roof or food, waiting for salvation.
Life in this ghetto became an unbearable hell. There
was frightful overcrowding – with tens of people to a
room. The sanitary conditions were appalling, which led
to epidemics and disease.

“Since it was impossible to find work, except in the
German slave enterprises, or to obtain food, starvation
soon followed. Entire Jewish families – men, women and
children – could be seen sitting on the pavements,
swollen with hunger. During the curfew hours, when it
was quiet in the streets, the voices of little children
could be heard on all sides, begging for a piece of
bread (“a shtickele broit”) but all they could get were
a few crumbs from Jews who had pity upon them. In the
morning, corpses – especially of children – were found
on the pavements near the gates, covered with paper –
for during the night even their clothing had been

“Of course the most difficult plight was that of the
refugees who had come in from the neighbouring towns,
as it was impossible to find any unoccupied space for
them within the Ghetto, and they were packed into
refugee houses. In these it was impossible to pass –
there was not an inch of space unoccupied. Their food
consisted only of a plate of soup and a piece of bread
per day. Every day, hundreds of Jews were buried…

“Every morning, those Jews assigned to the factories
set up by the Germans ran out to work, hoping thus to
save their lives. Many never managed to reach the
workshops because the Germans would enter the Ghetto,
take up positions in the middle of the street and begin
to shoot. The Jews did not know where the danger points
were and generally gathered together in one place. Then
the SS men would close off the streets, collect the
Jews together in one place and take them off to an
“Umschlag” (transfer point), always on the pretext of
examining labour cards. They would release a few people
“because of their work.” There were heart-rending
scenes. They would catch a Jew who had a labour card
but take his children away from him, while he pleaded
for permission to go with his children – but to no
avail. They would provide carts for the old and the
sick, and these people could be seen with their pitiful
bundles travelling through the streets on their last
journey. At the same time, the terror within the Ghetto
did not cease during the whole period of the
deportations. Using “resistance” as an excuse, they
would kill scores of Jews as an example to others.
There were SS men who caught little children and
smashed their heads on the paving stones. In many cases
it seemed that, apart from the deportations, Germans
were treating the Jews with brutality simply for the
pleasure of doing so.

“As the famine grew worse, the SS men developed a ‘new
method.’ They announced that volunteers for deportation
would receive three kilograms of bread and a kilogram
of jam for the journey, and indeed, many were compelled
by the insupportable pangs of hunger to present
themselves at the deportation point . Again, convoys of
Jews were seen moving towards the Umschlag, carrying
their goods and their children.”

One of the first ghettoes was set up in Lodz
(Litzmannstadt), where one hundred and sixty thousand
persons were crowded together in an area of four square
kilometers. People lived six to a room. In the first year
and a quarter, about fifteen thousand of them died. In
spite of the terrible conditions, Eichmann pushed into the
city another twenty thousand Jews and five thousand gypsies
from the Reich. The District Commissioner complained to
Himmler himself that Eichmann had apparently given incorrect
facts with regard to the capacity of the Ghetto, which was
being swept by epidemics. He compared Eichmann’s methods
with those of gypsies at a horse market. When he wrote this
on 9 October 1941, he did not know that a decision had
already been taken to exterminate all the Jews and that it
did not matter by what methods this would be achieved.

In the fateful summer of 1941, ideas and plans for the
extermination of the Jews were being mooted in Germany.
Eichmann’s representative in Poznan, Sturmbannfuehrer
Heppner, wrote a personal letter to the Accused in which,
inter alia, he suggested that all the Jews from the
Warthegau area (about 300,000 in number) should be
concentrated in a place where they could work in the coal
mines. He thought that in this way he would overcome the
danger of epidemics that existed in Lodz and other ghettoes,
and also get control of the problem. In this camp all the
Jewish women would be sterilized, so as to finish off the
Jewish Question in this generation.

He added:

“There is a danger that this winter we shall be unable
to feed all the Jews. It is worth considering seriously
whether it would not be the most humane solution to
finish off the Jews, insofar as they are not fit to
work, by some quicker method. At all events this would
be more pleasant than to let them die of hunger.”

In an accompanying letter, Heppner writes that possibly his
proposals seemed fantastic, but they were practicable.
Apparently he did not know the degree to which plans of this
kind had been prepared for implementation as part of the
“general solution.”

In the summer of 1943, Eichmann came to the Lodz Ghetto and
there, after consultation with those concerned, the
conclusion was reached that the Ghetto was no longer worth
maintaining. It was therefore decided that it should be
turned into a concentration camp, in which only persons fit
for work would be left. The others would be “sent off.”

Another method used by the Gestapo to liquidate Polish Jewry
was that of the labour camps. As early as the second month
after the conquest, all Polish Jews between the ages of 14
and 60 were told to register for work. They were ordered to
carry out the most difficult assignments under a regime of
blows and severe physical punishment. In these camps men
began to collapse, because the effort demanded of them
exceeded human strength.

According to the report of the Polish Government Committee
for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland, there were
more than 300 such labour camps. The prisoners built roads,
set up fortifications, diverted streams and worked in
factories, quarries and so forth. In the ghettoes also,
labour duty was the general rule.

Evidence will be brought as to the living conditions in such
a camp. In Plaszow, near Cracow, the day’s work started at
4:00 a.m. and finished late at night. The living quarters
consisted of huts, in which several hundred people slept in
three-tiered bunks. Work was carried out continually on the
run. Those who fell behind, received twenty-five strokes on
their bare bodies. For food, there was a little bread, twice
a day a drink that was called coffee, a weak soup at midday
and, at times, a little fat. The inmates were always hungry,
but it was forbidden to bring food in from outside, and
violators of this rule were shot or hanged. At times, a
whole group would be punished for this offence. Very often,
mass beatings would be carried out on the parade_ground.
Punishment parades were frequently held, and on these
occasions people were ordered to stand for hours without
moving. Anyone who weakened was shot on the spot. Hangings
were carried out in the presence of all the camp inmates.

Here is a sample picture of these horrors: Twenty thousand
people standing in the square, surrounded by electrified
barbed wire, with machine guns mounted in the turrets of the
observation towers. Before their very eyes, a youth of
fifteen is hanged. The rope snaps and the youth pleads for
his life, but they hang him a second time. The next person
sentenced to death cuts his veins while awaiting his fate,
and is brought bleeding to the gallows.

You will hear evidence of dogs being set onto human beings
who were bitten and torn to pieces; of SS men who would go
up to people and shoot them just because they felt like
doing so at the moment; of selection parades in which the
weak, the old and the children were dispatched to the
extermination camps while cradle songs were played over the
loudspeakers. And to move was forbidden. The slightest
movement set the machine guns working.

Of course the mortality rate in camps such as these was
frightful; they too served as instruments of extermination.

Here is an eye-witness account of what happened in Lvov:

“On July 2nd, 1941, I was arrested with about five
thousand other Jews. After three days of suffering, a
few of us escaped. All the others were killed. Two days
later, I was taken off for work with one hundred Jews.
In the evening, twelve returned; the others had been
killed. In February 1942, I was taken to the Janowska
concentration camp, where I got typhus and pneumonia.
On June 8th, I was taken away to be shot. They gave us
spades to dig our own graves. When we had finished,
everyone was called by name, two went down into the pit
and lay down side by side, faces to the ground – and
were shot. The next two poured a little sand over those
who had gone before them, went down into the pit, laid
themselves down and were shot…At the last moment I

“On June 15th, 1943, I was taken to the Death Brigade
Commando Unit 1005. This Brigade was created in order
to wipe out all traces of the German crimes. Our job
was to open graves, burn the bodies, after extracting
gold teeth and gold rings, and then scatter the ashes.
Every day we collected about eight kilograms of gold.
When a new batch of victims arrived, they would shoot
them and burn them on the spot. Sometimes two thousand
would arrive in one day. I was there until November 19,
when I escaped.”

We also have a picture of the Holocaust in Eastern Poland,
as seen from the German side. There has survived for the
information of future generations a report by SS
Gruppenfuehrer Katzmann exterminator of the Jews in Eastern
Galicia. He describes the introduction of the Jewish badge,
the setting-up of labour camps, the transfer of the Jews to
the ghetto and, on this occasion, the “special treatment”
admininstered to “all the work-shy and asocial elements in
the Jewish mob.”

It soon became clear, Katzmann adds, that the Jews saw in
their assignment to labour duties and the procurement of a
labour card only an opportunity to escape severer measures.
Accordingly, new operations were carried out, as a result of
which thousands more Jews were sent for “special treatment.”
It was necessary to “dispatch” (Aussiedeln) more Jews – in
tens of thousands – because it was apparent that they could
obtain labour certificates by bribing Germans.

While these transports were being dispatched, Katzmann
became aware of “unusual difficulties,” since, according to
his account, the Jews tried to hide in cellars, bunkers,
ditches and “the most unthinkable places.” But, of course
the brave SS men succeeded in overcoming difficulties of
this kind by using fire or gas to force the Jews to come out
of their hiding-places. Some Jews managed to obtain
weapons. There were even some attempts to escape abroad.
“Finally,” writes Katzmann, “I was compelled to use brutal
measures”: the remaining Jews of Lvov were exterminated by
burning or demolishing their houses and hiding places. “At
least three thousand Jews committed suicide.”

The report contains the information that 434,329 Jews were
exterminated by Katzmann, that in a number of camps in his
area, there were only 21,156 Jews left, and that this number
would gradually diminish.
Attached to this report is a long list of plundered
property. Pictures, too, were enclosed. Katzmann gives the
following list of his losses during the liquidation of
Galicia Jewry: 18 men died from typhus which they had caught
from the Jews; 8 were “murdered” by the Jews; and 2 died as
a result of accidents during the operations. And Katzmann
concludes his report on the extermination of Galician Jews
as follows:
“In spite of the extraordinary load of work imposed on every
member of the SS and the police during these operations,
their spirit remained firm and praiseworthy from the first
day to the last. Only because of the sense of personal duty
felt by every officer and man was it possible for us to get
control of this plague in the shortest possible time.”

03Whenever Katzmann or other Nazi leaders speak of
“Aussiedlung” – “expulsion” or “dispatch” – the true
reference is to the deportation of Jews to extermination
camps, of which I shall speak later. During the years 1941-
1944, Polish Jewry in its millions was destroyed in these

The Accused, as head of the Gestapo Department for Jewish
Affairs, as Special Commissioner for the extermination of
the Jews, bears direct responsibility as the initiator and
implementer of this blood-bath. We shall show proof of his
initiative and his control over the ghettoes, his
responsibility and his role in the setting-up and the
operation of the extermination camps, and the responsibility
for the destruction of Polish Jewry.

Here too, we shall come across Eichmann’s work both in
overall terms and in detail. He implemented the Heydrich
plan of 21 September 1939. He approached the Ministry for
Foreign Affairs and requested its agreement for the
application to foreign passport holders in the Warsaw Ghetto
of all the police measures used vis-a-vis the general
population of the ghetto. He made a journey to Warsaw to
“deal” with matters. He carried out the enormous deportation
of Polish Jewry to the extermination camps. At the same time
we shall find him dealing with “minor matters,” such as
sentencing four Jews to death in Zichenau and later,
ordering the hanging of another seven Jews in the same
ghetto in the presence of all the inhabitants. Eichmann also
informed the Ministry for Foreign Affairs that Hersh Reifer,
a Rumanian Jewish citizen, of Lvov, had disappeared and
apparently fled to Rumania.

Property too, was not forgotten. We shall present to the
Court the specific instructions which were given in regard
to plunder. An order issued by the SS Head Office for
Administrative and Economic Affairs (WVHA) in regard to
Polish Jews deported to the Lublin area and Auschwitz stated
that Jewish property should be described as “confiscated
property” because it was stolen or smuggled. A whole series
of instructions follows: cash was to be sent to the Central
Bank; watches, fountain-pens, torches, wallets and other
personal belongings were to be repaired, cleaned and sold at
minimum prices to the soldiers at the front. Men’s and
women’s clothing was to be sold to the “Volksdeutsche”
settled in the eastern areas. So were blankets, umbrellas,
children’s carriages and a long list of other articles.
Linen and tablecloths were to be supplied to the army.
Spectacles were to be sent to the Ministry of Health and
furs to the SS Head Office. Finally, there were two standing

“Particular care must be taken to see that the Jewish
badge be removed from all clothing and overcoats.”

“All items of clothing are to be examined to see
whether any valuables are hidden therein.”

A further devilish invention of the SS was the employment of
the Jews themselves in handling, cleaning and repairing
these clothes. A special SS unit was engaged in what was
known as “Operation Reinhardt,” so named in memory of
Heydrich, who was killed with a hand-grenade in June 1942 by
a Czech partisan in an act of great bravery. Globocnik,
Chief Police and SS Commander in the Lublin area, was
appointed to take charge of this operation, the purpose of
which was the general plunder of all Jewish property in
Poland and the killing of its owners. Globocnik presented a
report containing a list of foreign currency, valuables and
personal belongings that had been pillaged. According to his
own account, he placed a nominal value only on the property
and reached a total of two hundred million marks. It may be
assumed that the greater part of the property was stolen for
private purposes by those who carried out the task and was
not included in the report, for at a meeting of the
administration of Frank’s Generalgouvernement the plundered
property was assessed at many milliards.

In order to exploit the Jewish labour force in the Ghettoes
and camps, the SS set up and administered a company called
Ostindustrie G.m.b.H., or OSTI for short. The purpose of
this company was to establish undertakings in which Jews
would be employed to take posSession of all Jewish-owned
equipment and raw materials, and to operate concerns which
were previously in Jewish hands. Many private German firms
were also set up and supplied with Jewish slave_labour.

Globocnik reported on the success of this undertaking and
the mobilization of tens of thousands of Jews for unpaid
labour in the OSTI factories. “At any rate, on the whole it
was successful,” he writes, “Only in one place there was a
failure: in Warsaw, where the operation was not properly
carried through on account of misunderstanding of the

The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest in Europe, not only
because the Jewish population of the city was considerable
but because many Jews fled to Warsaw from the surrounding
districts and other towns. It appears that during a certain
period, it contained about half a million people. Himmler
noted that the German economic enterprises of Toebbens made
millions by exploiting Jewish slave labour, but he gave
orders that the Jews should be gradually removed from
industrial undertakings. “We must make an effort to bring in
Poles in place of the Jewish workers. Of course, there as
well the Jews will have to disappear one day in accordance
with the Fuehrer’s wish.

Himmler was not prepared to accept the argument that it was
desirable to keep the Jews alive because these undertakings
were working for the army. “The army will give us its orders
and the items of clothing which it requires will be
supplied. I have ordered steps to be taken, come what may,
against all those who believe that they can oppose our steps
with the so-called munition pretext but who actually want to
help the Jews and promote their interests.”
In the middle of 1942, there were no longer any illusions in
Warsaw with regard to the purpose of the Germans’
deportations. Until then, the Jews still hoped, still
deluded themselves, and did not listen to the underground
movement’s plea for violent resistance to the Germans. The
Chairman of the Ghetto Council, Adam Czerniakow, committed
suicide by poison together with his wife in July 1942, when
the Germans demanded that more Jews be supplied for

But the transports nonetheless added up to thousands and
tens of thousands. In September, over a hundred thousand
Jews were collected together in an area called “The Pot”:
Thirty thousand were released for work and the rest were
sent to death camps. This time the Jewish Ghetto Police were
also dispatched. Listen to this account:

“The Germans are transporting the surviving Jews into
‘The Pot,’ between Zamenhoff, Starki, Smotscha and
Genscha streets. At the junction of Mila and Genscha
streets a wooden gate blocks off the whole width of the
pavement. Through this gate of life and death, the
crowd passes slowly in single file. Each person has to
submit to a thorough search. There is a line of young,
alert SS men on guard…the revolvers hanging from
their uniforms. ‘Quicker, quicker!’they yell
accompanying their threats with lashes of the whip.

“The crowd marches on in endless line, through the gate
of life and death. Pale and confused figures pass by,
their eyes red with fear. Men help their wives, mothers
clasp their little ones. Daughters carefully guide
their old mothers. Families try to keep together and
cling solidly to each other. Each person holds firmly
in his hands the “work-card,” which gives him the right
to live. They hold on to this document desperately, for
it is the only guarantee of their right to live, and –
even more important – the right of their dear ones to

“Today is the great day. The weather is pleasant. The
sun is shining brightly. Untersturmfuehrer Handke wipes
the sweat from his fat, red face. Then he wipes his
neck and gets ready again for action. He lashes out
again with the whip and strikes the terrified victims
on their heads and faces and any other parts of the
body he can reach. An energetic and aggressive officer
is showing the confused people which way to go.

“Left – towards Stavki – is the gate of death, leading
to the train that will carry them off to Malkinia and
Treblinka. This is the place marked out for the women,
the old and the crippled.

“A gesture of the hand to the right – this is the way
to Lesno, Kremlizka, and Novolipia, the way to life. To
the right go those from whose toil and sweat some
profit can still be wrung.”

That is how the selections were carried out in the ghetto.

The youth movements were longing for action, but they had no
weapons. The Polish underground supplied nine revolvers and
five hand-grenades. With this equipment, they had to go into

Finally a coordinating committee for underground activity
was elected, headed by Mordechai Anilewicz, with Yitzhak
Zuckerman as second-in-command. There had been isolated
instances of desperate resistance before, but from now on
activities were coordinated.

In January 1943, the underground acted for the first time,
and the first German victims fell. When his ammunition was
spent, Anilewicz fell on the nearest German soldier with his
bare hands, snatched his rifle and disappeared. Later he was
to fight and command in many a battle.

The spirit of the oppressed Jews rose once more, for they
saw that the Germans were vulnerable, and that it was
possible to inflict casualties on them.

Yitzhak Katzenelson, a poet of the Holocaust, who himself
was killed later, wrote:

“They did not know, they did not believe,

‘The Jews are shooting’ – I heard an ugly voice in a
corrupt mouth

Before he breathed his last, unclean breath;

No normal shout I heard –

Only a horrified cry: ‘Is it possible?!'”

The fight was on. It was a desperate struggle without a
shadow of hope, without prospects, without a chance of
success, but they would no longer go as sheep to the
slaughter – they would strike at the despicable killers. The
underground was reorganized, the Ghetto was divided into
areas, and feverish efforts were made to acquire weapons
from the Christian side of the city. A revolver cost
thousands of zlotys. Weapons were smuggled in by all
possible means, through the sewage canals, by bribing the
watchmen, in the food trucks.

“If only we could get the weapons and ammunition we need,”
wrote Anilewicz on the eve of the revolt, “the battle for
the Ghetto would cost the enemy an ocean of blood. But even
so we shall prove the power of our faith and confidence in
our strength.”

They began setting up bunkers as hiding-places and
underground passages for storing weapons, for use as lines
of communications and to facilitate the fighting.

The Nazis were struck with amazement. After wiping out the
first nests of resistance, they tried their usual wiles:”All
we want is to send a number of Jews to work camps. What is
all the fuss about?”

Once more the SS tried to use threats against the Ghetto
council, but the latter replied that they no longer had
control over the Jews.

Himmler gave orders for the destruction of the Ghetto. “This
quarter, so far inhabited by five hundred thousand sub_human
creatures, who in any case are of no use to the Germans,
must disappear!”
On 19 April 1943, on Passover eve, Waffen-SS forces,
commanded by Juergen Stroop, who had recently been appointed
Police Commander in Warsaw, began to move in the direction
of the Ghetto. The attacking force consisted of two thousand
and one hundred soldiers, supported by tanks. The Jewish
underground opened fire, and many of the Germans were
wounded. The tanks were driven off with Molotov cocktails.

Anilewicz wrote to Zuckerman, who had been sent to the
other side of the city to secure supplies and assistance
from the Polish underground:

“Something has happened which is beyond our wildest
dreams. The Germans have fled twice from the
Ghetto…From this evening we move over to partisan
methods of operation. Three of our squads go out
tonight, with two objectives: to get food and to secure
weapons…I cannot describe the conditions under which
the Jews are living. Very few will hold out. Sooner or
later the rest will perish. The dice is cast. In all
the bunkers where our comrades are hiding, it is
impossible to light a candle at night for lack of
air…Keep well, dear friend. Perhaps we shall meet
again. The main thing is – the dream of my life has
come true. I have lived to see a Jewish defence force
in the Ghetto in all its greatness and glory.”

The heroic and desperate battle began. The Germans laid
siege to the Ghetto, opening up a merciless bombardment,
which was followed by the entry of SS units. They took
prisoners and destroyed buildings and bunkers. The tens of
thousands of prisoners were wiped out, some on the spot and
others in the camp at Treblinka. In his last report, dated
16 May 1943, Stroop who quelled the revolt reported that
56,065 Jews were killed in the process. One cannot refrain
from pointing out that this butcher and murderer calls his
victims “bandits.” We shall submit to the Court Juergen
Stroop’s report, which begins with these words:”There are no
Jewish habitations left in Warsaw.” We shall also submit to
you the photographs which he attached to his report – the
famous photograph of the little child standing with his
hands up (he too an enemy of the Reich!) and the picture of
the girl fighters with the shadow of death in their eyes.

In this case against Adolf Eichmann, I shall not describe
the whole scope of the Warsaw Ghetto revolt. It will for
ever be enshrined in Jewish history as an act of supreme
valour, as the last desperate stand of national heroes, who
succeeded in holding their positions for nearly a month
against the might of the German army. When organized
resistance came to an end, they kept up the struggle for
months amongst the debris, and from the sewers and hideouts,
in spite of all the weapons of destruction the Germans
deployed against the fighters. Even in September, 1943,
isolated clashes continued, until the sound of the heroic
struggle was stilled, and the last of the fighters had

Wasrsaw was not the only place where the Jews organized
resistance against their destroyers. Before and after
Warsaw, there were military operations in Cze@69stochowa,
Vilna, Cracow, Bedzin, Bialystok and many other places.
Later there were uprisings in the hearts of extermination
centres at the gas chambers of Treblinka, Sobibor and
Auschwitz. In fact, there were hundreds of individual
examples of heroism, resistance and revolt. The Jews tried
everywhere and at all times to stand firm against the
destroyers without losing the image of God and the dignity
of man. The SS forbade religious services, but the Jews
secretly organized prayer groups in all manner of places,
even in the very death camps and on the threshold of the gas
chambers. The Germans forbade all communal activities and
mutual aid – but the Jews set up hundreds of welfare
institutions. The teaching of children was forbidden, but
the Jews found a way of teaching their children secretly.
Death was the punishment meted out by the Germans for
listening to foreign radio stations, but the Jews secretly
published newspapers containing news from the Allied side.
Tens of thousands of Jews joined the partisans and fought
against the Germans in combatant units. The great wonder was
that after years of oppression, degradation and hunger, the
Jews found spiritual strength for all these examples of
revolt and resistance, in face of the mighty Gestapo machine
and its deadly power, destruction on the one hand and – on
the other – the Nazi’s trickery, deception and concealment
of their intention to exterminate the Jews.

After the suppression of the revolt, the survivors in the
rest of Warsaw formed a Jewish national organization,
calling the Jews, in July 1944, to combine and fight the
enemy. “The Jewish people lives,” they wrote, and they
foretold the emergence of a free, democratic state, in which
the long_suffering Jewish people could develop and be
creative, as the only historic compensation for their
afflicted people – which, they said, had lost five million
souls. Their proclamation concluded:

“If we have been condemned to die, let it be in battle.
Each of us has already been face to face with death so
many times that it no longer holds any terrors…Every
Jew who has been saved must regard himself as a soldier
in the Jewish army of mutual aid and battle, a fighter
for democracy and freedom.”

But it was the Warsaw Ghetto revolt which became a symbol of
heroic struggle, the like of which had not been known in
Jewish history since the days of Bar Kochba. They fought
without the slightest hope of victory, but in the clear
conviction that their death would give meaning to the lives
of others. They and their companions in revolt and in
resistance to the oppressor were no longer able to save
Jewish lives, but they redeemed the honour of their people.

Israel mourns their death and will pass on to its children
the heritage of their valour.

The bitter end of Polish Jewry came, as I have said, in the
extermination camps to which millions were transported by
order of Eichmann and his accomplices in crime. The end came
in Auschwitz, Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek and
Chelmno, and of what happened there I shall speak later.

Last-Modified: 1999/05/28