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 1 of 10)

[Page 141]


DR. SEIDL (Counsel for the defendant Frank): Mr. President, I shall dispense with the hearing of the witness Strube, Chief of the Central Department for Agriculture and Food in the Government General. With the permission of the Tribunal I am now calling witness Dr. Joseph Buehler.

JOSEPH BUEHLER, took the stand and testified as follows


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Joseph Buehler.

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 repeats the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Witness, how long have you known defendant Dr. Hans Frank, and what were the positions in which you worked with him?

A. I have known Herr Frank since 1 October, 1930. In official State service I worked with him from the end of March, 1933. I served under him officially when he was Minister of Justice in Bavaria, later when he was Reich Commissioner for Justice, and still later when he was a Reich Minister. From the end of September, 1939, on Herr Frank employed me officially in the Government General.

Q. In what capacity were you working in the Government General at the end?

A. Since about the second half of 1940 I had been State Secretary in the Government of the Government General.

Q. Were you yourself a member of the Party?

A. I have been a Party member since 1 April, 1933.

Q. Did you exercise any functions in the Party or any of the affiliated organisations of the Party, particularly in the S.A. or the S.S.?

A. I never held an office in the Party. I was never a member of the S.A. or the S.S.

Q. I now come to the time during which you were the State Secretary of the Chief of the Government in the Government General. Will you please tell me what the relations were between the Governor General on the one side and the Higher S.S. and Police Leader on the other side?

A. I might say in advance that my sphere of activity did not touch upon police matters, matters relating to the Party or military matters in the Government General.

The relations of the Governor General to the Higher S.S. and Police Leader, Obergruppenfuehrer Kruger, who was attached to him by the Reich Fuehrer S.S. and Chief of the German Police were, right from the beginning, made difficult by essential differences of opinion. These differences of opinion concerned the conception of the task and position of the police in general in an orderly State system, as well as the conception in particular of the position and tasks of the police in the Government General. The Governor General represented the view that the police must be the servant and the organ of the executive of the State, and that, accordingly he and the State offices should give orders to the

[Page 142]

police and that as a result, the latter's sphere of activity would be limited to some extent.

The Higher S.S. and Police Leader Kruger, on the other hand, represented the view that while the police in general had, of course, to fulfil certain tasks originating with the executive of the State, it was not, in so doing, bound by the instructions of the administrative authorities; that this was a matter of technical police procedure and involved decisions which administrative authorities could not make and were not in a position to make.

Regarding the power to give orders to the police it was Kruger's view that, because of the effectiveness and unity of police activity in all occupied territories, such power to issue orders had to rest with the central office in Berlin and that he and only he could issue orders.

As far as the scope of tasks of the police was concerned, it was Kruger's opinion that the Governor General's view regarding the limitations thereof was unfounded for the very reason that he, as Higher S.S. and Police Leader, was, at the same time, the deputy of the Reichsfuehrer S.S. in the latter's capacity as Reich Commissioner for the strengthening of Germanism.

As far as the relation of the police to the question of Polish policy was concerned, it was Kruger's view that in connection with work in non-German territory, police considerations would have to play a predominant role, that with police methods everything could be achieved and everything could be prevented. This overestimation of the police led, for instance, to the fact that during later arguments between the police and the administration regarding respective spheres of influence, matters concerning non-German groups were listed among the tasks of the police.

Q. Do you know that as early as 1939 the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler issued a restricted decree, according to which the handling of all police matters was his own concern or the concern of his Higher S.S. and Police Leader?

A. That this was the case became clear to me from the actions taken by the police. I did not see a decree to this effect, but I can state this much: The police in the Government General acted exactly according to the directives which I have described before.

Q. Witness, in 1942, by decree of the Fuehrer a State Secretariat for Security was instituted. At whose instigation was this instituted and what was the position taken by the Governor General in that connection?

A. This decree was preceded by a frightful campaign of hatred against the person of the Governor General. The institution of the State Secretariat for Security was considered by the police a step, an important step, in the fight for the removal of the Governor General. Most of the matters covered by that decree, were not being handed over to the police for the first time; what had actually been happening up to the time of the issue of this decree had, in fact, conformed to it.

Q. In the decree issued in respect of the carrying out of this Fuehrer decree and dated 3 June, 1942, all spheres of activities of the police which were to be transferred to the State Secretary were listed in two appendices, in Appendix A, the tasks of the Regular Police, and, in Appendix B, the tasks of the Security Police. Were these police matters at that time transferred completely to the State Secretariat for Security and thus to the police?

A. The Administration didn't like giving up these matters, and so, where the police hadn't already obtained control of them, they were not given up without opposition.

Q. You are thinking first of all of the spheres of the so- called administrative police, health police, etc., aren't you?

A. Yes, that is to say, communications, health, food, and such matters.

Q. If I have understood your statements correctly, you want to say that the entire police system, Security Police as well as S.D. and Regular Police, was

[Page 143]

directed by the central office, either by Himmler himself or by the R.S,H.A. through the Higher S.S. and Police Leader?

A. Yes: thus, in general, the channel of commands, according to my observations, was such that it was possible for the Security Police to receive direct orders from Berlin, without their going through Kruger.

Q. And now another question: Is it correct that resettlements were carried out in the Government General, by Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler in his capacity as Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germanism?

A. Resettlements, in the opinion of the Governor General, even if carried out decently, always caused unrest among the population. We had no use for that in the Government General. Also, these resettlements always caused a falling off of agricultural production. For these reasons, the Governor General and his Government did not, as a matter of principle, carry out resettlements during the war. In so far as any resettlement was carried out, it was done exclusively by the Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germanism.

Q. Is it correct that the Governor General, because of this arbitrary resettlement policy, had repeated serious arguments with Himmler, Kruger and S.S. Gruppenfuehrer Globotschnik?

A. That is correct. The intention of preventing such resettlements always led to arguments and friction between the Higher S.S. and Police Leader and the Governor General.

Q. The defendant Dr. Frank is accused by the prosecution of the seizure and confiscation of private and industrial property. What basically was the attitude of the Governor General to such questions?

A. The legal provisions prevailing in this sphere of the law originated with the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan. Confiscation of private property and possessions in the annexed Eastern Territories and in the Government General was subject to the same provisions.

The decree of the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan provided for the creation of the "Haupttreuhandstelle Ost" (Main Trust Office East), with Berlin as the seat of central administration. The Governor General did not want to see the affairs of the Government General administered in Berlin, and therefore he opposed the administration of property matters in the Government General by the Trust Office East. Without opposition from the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan, he established his own rules for confiscations in the Government General and his own Trust Office. That Trust Office was headed by an experienced higher civil servant from the Saxon Ministry of Economy.

Q. What happened to the industrial plants which were in the Government General and which had formerly been the property of the Polish State?

A. Industrial plants, in so far as they were included in the armament programme, were taken over by the military sector, that is to say, the Inspector for Armament, who was subordinate to the O.K.W. and later to Minister Speer. As to industrial plants outside the armament sector which had belonged to the former Polish State, the Government General tried to consolidate these into a stock company and to administer them separately as property of the Government General. The chief shareholder in this company was the treasury of the Government General.

Q. That is to say, these plants were administered entirely separately by the Reich treasury?

A. Yes.

Q. The prosecution submitted an extract from Frank's diary in evidence, as Exhibit USA-281. This is a discussion of Jewish problems. In this connection Frank said, among other things:-

"My attitude towards the Jews is based on the expectation that they will disappear; they must go away. I have started negotiations in order to deport them to the East. This question will be discussed at a large meeting

[Page 144]

in Berlin in January, to which I shall send State Secretary Dr. Buehler. This conference is to take place in the R.S.H.A. in the office of S.S. Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich. In any case, a large-scale Jewish emigration will begin.

I ask you now, did the Governor General send you to Berlin for that conference, and if so, what was its subject?

A. Yes, I was sent to the conference and the subject of the conference was the Jewish problem. I might say in advance that, from the beginning, Jewish questions in the Government General were considered as coming under the jurisdiction of the Higher S.S. and Police Leader and handled accordingly. As far as the handling of these questions by the State administration was concerned, this was done under the sufferance and supervision of the police.

In the course of the years 1940 and 1941 incredible numbers of people, mostly Jews, were brought into the Government General in spite of the objections and protests of the Governor General and his administration. This completely unexpected, unprepared for, and undesired bringing in of the Jewish population from other territories put the administration of the Government General in an extremely difficult situation.

Accommodating these masses, feeding them and caring for their health - fighting epidemics for instance - almost or rather definitely overtaxed the capacity of the territory. A particular threat was the spread of typhoid, not only in the ghettos but also amongst the Polish population and the Germans in the Government General. It appeared as if that epidemic would spread even to the Reich and to the Eastern Front.

At that moment Heydrich's invitation to the Governor General was received. The conference was originally supposed to take place in November, 1941, but it was frequently postponed and I think it did take place in February, 1942.

Because of the special problems of the Government General I had asked Heydrich for a personal interview and he received me. On that occasion, among many other things, I described in particular the catastrophic conditions which had resulted from the arbitrary bringing in of Jews into the Government General. He replied that for this very reason he had invited the Governor General to the conference. The Reichsfuehrer S.S., so he said, had received the order from the Fuehrer to concentrate all the Jews of Europe and to settle them in the North-east of Europe, in Russia. I asked him whether this meant that the further arrival of Jews in the Government General would cease, and whether the hundreds of thousands of Jews who had been brought into the Government General without the permission of the Governor General would be moved out again. Heydrich promised me both. Heydrich said furthermore that the Fuehrer had given an order that Theresienstadt, a town in the Protectorate, would become a reservation in which old and sick Jews and weak Jews who could not stand up under the strains of resettlement were to be accommodated in the future. This information left me definitely convinced that the resettlement of the Jews, if not for the sake of the Jews, then for the sake of the reputation and prestige of the German people, would be carried out in a humane fashion. The removal of the Jews from the Government General was subsequently carried out exclusively by the police.

I might add that Heydrich demanded particularly that he, his office and its branches, should have exclusive jurisdiction and the right to issue orders in this matter.

Q. What concentration camps did you know about during your activity as State Secretary in the Government General?

A. The publications in the Press during the summer of 1944 called my attention to the camp Maidanek for the first time. I did not know that this camp, not far from Lublin, was a concentration camp. It had been installed as an economic unit of the Reichsfuehrer S.S., in 1941, I think. Governor

[Page 145]

Zoerner came to visit me at that time and he told me that he had objected to the establishment of this camp when he talked to Globotschnik, since it would mean a danger to the power supply of the city of Lublin and since there were certain objections, too, on the part of the police. I informed the Governor General of this and he in turn sent for Globotschnik. Globotschnik told the Governor General that he had had certain workshops erected on that site for the needs of the Waffen S.S. at the front. He mentioned workshops for dressing furs and also mentioned a timber yard which was located there.

In these fur-dressing workshops the furs were altered for use at the front. At any rate Globotschnik stated that he had installed these workshops in compliance with Himmler's command.

The Governor General prohibited the erection of any further installations until all questions had been settled with the police in charge of building, and until blueprints had been submitted to the State offices, in other words until all rules had been complied with, which were applicable to the construction of buildings. Globotschnik never submitted these plans. With regard to the events inside the camp no concrete information ever reached the outside. It surprised the Governor General just as much as it surprised me when the world Press released the news about Maidanek.

Q. Witness, the prosecution has submitted Document 437-PS, as Exhibit USA-610, which is a memorandum from the Governor General to the Fuehrer, dated 19 June, 1943. I think you yourself drafted that memorandum. On Page 35 a report of the commander of the Security Police is mentioned and quoted in part verbatim. This report of the Security Police mentions also the name Maidanek.

Did you at that time realise that this Maidanek was identical or probably identical with that camp near Lublin?

A. No. I assumed that, like Auschwitz, it was a camp outside the territory of the Government General, because the Governor General had repeatedly told the police and the Higher S.S. and Police Leader that he did not wish to have concentration camps in the Government General.

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