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 9 of 10)

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

[Page 133]

Q. Do you know anything about who gave orders for the liquidations which took place in the concentration camps?

A. No, I know nothing about that.

Q. Can you say anything about the basis for protective custody? On the strength of what legal rulings was protective custody decreed after 1933?

A. Protective custody was based on the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and the State of February, 1933, in which a number of the basic rights of the Weimar Constitution were rescinded.

Q. Was there later a decree of the Minister of the Interior which dealt with protective custody, at the end of 1936 or the beginning of 1937?

A. Yes, at that time the Protective Custody Law was drawn up. The legal basis as such remained in force. At that time power to decree protective custody was confined to the Secret State Police; before that a number of other offices, rightly or wrongly, had the right to decree protective custody. To prevent this, protective custody was then confined to the Secret State Police.

Q. Is it correct that for some time you were in France. In what capacity were you there?

A. In the later summer and autumn of 1943 I was Commander of the Security Police in France, in Toulouse.

Q. Do you know anything about an order from the R.S.H.A. or from the Commander of the Sipo for all France or from various district Commanders to the effect that mistreatment or torture was to be applied when prisoners were interrogated?

A. No, I do not know of such orders.

Q. Then how do you explain the mistreatments and atrocities which actually took place in connection with interrogations, proof of which has been given by the prosecution?

A. It is possible that ill-treatment did occur in a number of cases although it was forbidden; possibly committed by members of German offices in France which did not belong to the Security Police.

Q. Did you, while you were active in France, hear of any such ill-treatment either officially or by hearsay?

A. I never heard of any such ill-treatment at the hands of members of the German police or the German Armed Forces. I heard only of cases of ill-treatment carried out by groups consisting of Frenchmen who were being employed by some German office.

Q. Were there so-called Gestapo prisons in France?

A. No, the Security Police in France did not have prisons of their own. They handed over their prisoners to the detention camps of the German Armed Forces.

Q. One last question: The prosecution has given proof of a large number of Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes which were committed with the participation of the Security Police. Can one say that these crimes were perfectly obvious and were known to all members of the Secret State Police, or were these crimes known only to a small circle of persons who had been ordered directly to carry out the measures concerned? Do you know anything about that?

[Page 134]

A. I didn't quite understand the question from the beginning. Were you referring to France or to the Security Police in general?

Q. I was referring to the Security Police in general.

A. No ill-treatment or torture of any kind was permitted and, as far as I know, nothing of the kind did happen. Still less was it known generally or to a large circle of persons, I knew nothing of it.

DR. MERKEL: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Does the prosecution wish to cross-examine? Is there nothing you wish to ask arising out of Dr. Merkel's examination, Dr. Seidl?

DR. SEIDL: I have only one more question to ask the witness.


Q. Witness, in paragraph 4 of the decree of 3 June, 1942, the following ruling is made:-

"The S.S. and Police Leaders in the districts are directly subordinate to the governors of the districts, just as the State Secretary for Security is subordinate to the Governor General."
Thus it does not say that the entire police organisation is subordinate, but only the police leaders.

Now I ask you whether orders which had been issued by the Commanders of the Security Police and the S.D. were forwarded to the governors or were sent directly to the district commanders of the Security Police and the S.D?

A. These orders were always sent directly from the commander to the district commanders of the Security Police and the S.D. The commander could give no instructions to the governors.

Q. If I understand you correctly you mean that the Security Police and the S.D. had their own official channels which had absolutely nothing to do with the administrative construction of the Government General.

A. Yes.

DR. SEIDL: I have no more questions for the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. SEIDL: With the permission of the Tribunal I call as the next witness the former Governor of Cracow, Dr. Kurt von Burgsdorf.

DR. KURT VON BURGSDORF, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:-


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Kurt von Burgsdorf.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:-

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)



Q. Witness, the Government General was divided into five districts at the head of each of which there was a governor; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. From 1 December, 1943, until the occupation of your district by Soviet troops you were governor of the district Cracow?

A. Yes. To use the correct term, I was -

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, the defence counsel has put the question of the occupation of this region by Soviet troops. I energetically protest against such terminology and consider it a hostile move.

[Page 135]

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, I have just been told that probably a mistake in the translation has crept in. All I intended to say was that in the course of the year 1944 the area in which this witness was governor was occupied by the Soviet troops in the course of military action. I don't know what the Soviet prosecutor is protesting against; it is at any rate far from my intention to make any hostile statements here.

THE PRESIDENT: I think the point was, it wasn't an occupation, it was a liberation by the Russian Army.

DR. SEIDL: Of course; I did not want to say any more than that the German troops were driven out of this area by the Soviet troops.

Witness, will you please continue with your answer?

THE WITNESS: I was entrusted with exercising the duties of a governor - that is the official expression. Until a few months ago I was still an officer of the Armed Forces, and during my entire activity in Cracow I remained an officer of the Armed Forces.


Q. Witness, according to your observations what basically was the attitude of the Governor General toward the Polish and Ukrainian people?

A. I want to emphasise that I can answer only for the year 1944. At that time the attitude of the Governor General was that he wished to live in peace with the people.

Q. Is it correct that already in 1942 the Governor General had given the governors the opportunity of setting up administrative committees of Poles and Ukrainians attached to the district chiefs?

A. There was a governmental decree to this effect. Whether that was in 1942 or not I do not know.

Q. Did you yourself make use of the authorisation contained therein and did you establish such administrative committees?

A. In the district of Cracow I had such a committee established at once for every district chief office.

Q. Witness, according to your observations what was the food situation like in the Government General and particularly in your district?

A. It was not unsatisfactory, but I must add that the reason for that was that in addition to the rations the Polish population had an extensive black market.

Q. According to your observations what was the attitude of the Governor General to the question of the recruiting of labour?

A. He did not wish any workers to be sent outside the Government General, because he was interested in retaining the necessary manpower within the country.

Q. Was the Church persecuted by the Governor General in the Government General, and what basically was the attitude of the Governor General to this question according to your observations?

A. Again I can answer only for my district and for the year 1944. There was no persecution of churches, on the contrary, the relations with churches of all denominations were good in my district. On my travels I always received the clergymen and I never heard any complaint.

Q. Did you have any personal experience with the Governor General with regard to this question?

A. Yes. In the middle of January, 1944, I was appointed District Standartfuehrer by the Governor General, who at the same time was the Party Leader in the Government General. That is, I was appointed to a Party office for the district of Cracow. I pointed out to him, as I had pointed out to the Minister of the Interior, Himmler, before, that I was a true Christian. The Governor General replied that he was in no way perturbed by that and that he knew of no provision in the Party programme which would exclude me on that ground.

Q. What, according to your observations, were the relations like between the

[Page 136]

Governor General and the administration of the Government General on the one side and the Security Police and the S.D. on the other side?

A. Doubtlessly underneath they were bad, because the police always ended by doing only what they wanted and were not concerned with the administration. Thus in the country districts also there was real friction between the administration offices and the police.

Q. Is it correct that when you took office or shortly after, the Governor General issued several instructions referring to the police? I quote from the diary of the defendant Dr. Frank, the entry of 4 January, 1944:-

"The Governor General then issued some instructions to Dr. von Burgsdorf in reference to his new activity. His task will be to inform himself, as a matter of policy, about all conditions in the district. Especially the Governor should strive to counteract any perpetrations by the police."
A. Today I no longer remember that conversation of 4 January, 1944, but it may have taken place. However, I do remember that after I took office at the end of November, 1943, I went to see the Governor General once more and told him that I had heard that the relations with the police were not good and scarcely tolerable for the administration. He replied that he was doing what he could in order to bring the police, as I might put it, to reason. It was on the basis of this statement by the Governor General that I definitely decided to remain in the Government General. I had, as is known, told the Reich Minister of the Interior that I was unwilling to go there.

Q. In your capacity as Governor did you have any authority to issue commands to the Security Police and the S.D. in your district?

A. None whatsoever.

Q. Did you yourself ever see a police directive?

A. Never. With the police, orders were passed down vertically, that is, directly from the Higher S.S. and Police Leader to the S.S. and Police Leader. That is probably the usual way, from the Commander of the Security Po

lice to the local Commander of the Security Police. Q. In your activity as Governor did you have anything to do with the administration of concentration camps?

A. Never.

Q. Do you know who administered the concentration camps?

A. No, not from my own experience, but I have heard that there was some central office in Berlin under the Reichsfuehrer S.S.

Q. When did you hear for the first time of the concentration camp Maidanek?

A. From you, about a fortnight ago.

Q. You want to tell the Tribunal under oath -

A. Yes.

Q. - that you, although you were Governor of Cracow in the occupied Polish Territory, did not learn about that until during your captivity?

A. Yes, I am firmly convinced that I heard about this concentration camp from you for the first time.

Q. When did you for the first time hear of the concentration camp Treblinka?

A. Also from you on the same occasion.

Q. Witness, the Governor General is accused by the prosecution of issuing a decree for Court Martial procedure in the year 1943. What at that time was the security situation in the Government General?

A. Again I can speak only for the year 1944. As German troops came back from the East, it became worse and worse, so that in my district it became more and more difficult to carry out any kind of administration.

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