The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1997/11/25

Q. What about this decree of October 26th?

A. This decree on October 26th mentions the fact that the
Jewish forced labor had to work under police supervision.

Q. That is all the dealings that you had with the Polish
Jews, just that one decree?

A. Yes. It must be the only thing. I don't remember anything
else. It might be possible that I had another decree. I made
another decree concerning the ghetto in Cracow, but I am not
sure about it. It might be that even the order for the
construction of the ghetto was a part of the police
administration, not of mine.

Q. Do you remember now any other decrees that you signed
dealing with Polish Jews?

A. I don't know if you mean by that one of the decrees where
the Polish Jews were obliged to have the Star of David on an

Q. Do you remember that one?

A. I don't remember if I made the decree.

Q. You know very well that you signed that decree, don't

A. Did I sign that? If I did, then it is all right. I don't
want you to believe that I want to deny anything I signed. I
have been in prison for four months, and you must realize it
is very hard for me to concentrate myself. I don't want you
to have the impression that I want to deny anything I did.

Q. Didn't you on the 23d day of November 1939 issue, above
your own signature, a decree calling for the segregation of
Jews in the General Government of Poland, and compelling all
Polish nationals of the Jewish race, above the age of ten,
to wear a white armband with the Star of David? [See
document 2672-PS, Vol. V, p. 368.] This decree threatened
imprisonment and a heavy fine on all who failed to comply.

A. Yes. In my subconscious mind I remember that.

Q. What about your conscious mind?

                                                 [Page 1371]
A. During this time, it was a rule in the whole German Reich
that the Jews had to wear the yellow star on their breast. I
didn't want to have the same thing and thought it would be a
good idea to have something else, because I judged it much
better than to have this yellow star; so I suggested the
white armband with a star, because all the German workers
anyhow had some kind of an armband. I thought it was not so
discriminating for the Jews to wear an armband, something
similar to those of the German workers. It was a rule in the
Reich, and I considered it much better than those the Reich
had now in order. It was much less discriminating. Besides
that, those were all general orders coming from the Reich.

Q. where was it intended to concentrate the Jews?

A. In the East.

Q. Whose intention was that?

A. From Hitler and those men, Himmler, and those men around

Q. Did you ever get any written directives or instructions
with reference to that?

A. No. Never.

Q. then how did you know it was Himmler's plan to do that?

A. Somebody told me in Cracow, that all the Jews were to be
sent to Theresienstadt and the East. At this time we
considered the East as containing all of Russia.

Q. Do you remember stating, during that speech, that it had
been decided that instead of concentrating all the Jews in
Poland, that Poland was to serve merely as a transmission
camp and that the Jews actually were to go further East?

A. That is a question of the policy concerning the Jews that
was only in the hands of Himmler. He was so much in charge
of this question that he even was not obliged to make it
known to the countries concerned about what kind of action
he was about to take.

Q. You don't remember then making the statement about which
I have just told you?

A. I don't want to deny that on some occasions I did mention
something about the solution of the Jewish question, because
this question at this time had to be brought to its end.

Q. Do you mean the solution of sending them East?

A. No. We were waiting for a solution from Berlin, to know
exactly what we could do about these poor men.

Q. What was your suggestion for the solution?

A. I never was supposed to make any solution. We worked

                                                 [Page 1372]
quite well together with the Jews. They were distributed
through the country, and without the Jews there would never
have been any commerce. The Jews in Poland are specialists,
like tailors or shoemakers. Without those little Jewish
commercial men, it would have been very hard to get along.
My government had always the intention to keep those Jews in
their places because we needed them in their work. We proved
that. We had to shut down the factories after the moment
Jews were deported from Poland.

Q. Who established the ghettos in Poland?

A. The police started with it. They concentrated them
together in certain living quarters.

Q. What was your connection with that?

A. I tried to get a certain law into all of these decrees,
and I remember now, that I made a decree about the
construction of Jewish living quarters.

Q. You established the ghettos, didn't you?

A. I only made those decrees lawful. It was not the task of
the police to consider the question of sewage, water, and
labor and taxes for these ghettos. That was my task.

Q. My question is this: Did you or did you not, by decree,
legalize the setting up of ghettos?

A. I only tried, when these ghettos were erected by the
police, to get a legal background and foundation for those

Q. You did that by issuing a decree, didn't you?

A. In the interests of everybody, and especially, in the
interests of the Jews.

Q. All I am saying is that it was your ultimate
responsibility, as Governor General of Poland, to administer
these ghettos. Now, you did it by one means or another, but
the fact of the matter is that it was your responsibility;
isn't that so?

A. Originally, these ghettos were erected by the police. I
later had two decrees to legalize those facts. Furthermore,
I was charged with administration, but we had terrific
difficulties with the police who did interfere daily in our
administration measures. The idea of my decree was only to
protect these Jews, who, without any special decree and law,
would have been diminished or eliminated. There was always
the talk about the elimination of the Jews, and I tried, by
these decrees, to save them. It was entirely wrong. I know
that you will always want to put me in a position where I
will be accused as the originator of these ghettos, but that
is not the truth. They were already erected, and it was only
my task to legalize these things.

Q. Did you ever visit the ghettos?

                                                 [Page 1373]
A. No. Once I went to the ghetto in Warsaw.

Q. What did you find there? What were the conditions?

A. The conditions, in the long range, were absolutely
impossible. Under any conditions, a change was necessary,
and then necessary foodstuffs for these 100,000 poor men. We
did what we could, but the land was very poor. The country
was poor, and all around was the police. We really had to
smuggle in food. I ask you to hear Governor Fischer who was
at Warsaw, who is able to give you a detailed report
confirming what I just told you. For a certain time,
conditions in the ghettos were better. The Jewish inmates in
the ghetto made treaties with German industries for
deliveries of uniforms and other things.

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