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 4 of 10)

[DR. SEIDL continues his direct examination of Joseph Buehler]

[Page 154]

DR. SEIDL: Yes, Sir. He has given the answer already.


Q. Witness, during the war did the government of the Reich ...

[Page 155]

THE PRESIDENT: But I am speaking for the future, Dr. Seidl.

DR. SEIDL: Yes, Sir.


Q. During the war, Himmler submitted to the Reich Government the draft of a law about the treatment of foreign elements.

A. Yes.

Q. What was the attitude of the Governor General to this?

A. The Governor General protested against this. At the conference which I had with Heydrich in February, 1942, the latter asked me as a special request to ask the Governor General to retract his protest against the law. The Governor General refused to do this.

Q. The prosecution has presented a chart which shows Dr. Frank as having authority over the Reich Minister of Justice Dr. Thierack. Did such a relation ever exist?

A. That must be an error; such a relation never existed.

Q. What were, according to your observations, the relations between the Governor General and the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler?

A. The Governor General and the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler as individuals were so different ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, I thought we had been hearing all morning what the relations were between the Governor General and the Reich Fuehrer.

DR. SEIDL: Then I will not put that question.


Q. Witness, the Soviet prosecution under Exhibit USSR-93, submitted an appendix to the report of the Polish Government. The appendix is entitled "Cultural Life in Poland." I have shown it to you once before and would like you to tell me whether the Governor General or his Government actually ever issued such directives?

A. I do not remember ever having signed such directives or having seen any such directives signed by the Governor General. The document which was shown me seems to me to be a fake or a forgery. This can be recognised from the contents.

Q. In the diary we find a large number of entries, referring to the policies of the Governor General, which seem to contradict what you yourself said before as a witness. How can you explain these contradictions?

A. These statements by the Governor General, which have also been called to my attention during previous interrogations, do not merely seem to contradict what I said, they very clearly do contradict what I have to say as a witness. Since I myself heard such statements frequently I have tried to figure out how he came to make them, and I can only say that Frank perhaps took part more than was necessary in the conferences and affairs of the Government offices. There was scarcely a conference in which he did not take part. Thus it happened that he had to speak many times during one day, and I might say that ninety-nine times out of a hundred he spoke on the spur of the moment, without due reflection. Frequently I witnessed that, after making such grotesque statements, he would try in the next sentences or at the next opportunity to retract them and straighten them out. I also witnessed how he rescinded authority which he had delegated on the spur of the moment. I am sure that if I could work through the diary I should be able to give you, for each of these statements, a dozen statements to the contrary. I should like to add the following: when the Governor General was working together with the members of his administration, he never made such statements; at least I cannot remember any. These statements were always made when the Higher S.S. and Police Fuehrer was sitting next to him, so that I had the impression that he was not free on such occasions.

[Page 156]

Q. The diary of the defendant Dr. Frank covers about ten to twelve thousand typewritten pages. Who kept this diary - he himself or somebody else?

A. According to my observations, that diary was kept by stenographers, first by Stenographer Dr. Meitinger, later by Nauk and Mohr. It was kept in such a manner, that these stenographers were in the room during conferences and took notes.

Q. Is it correct that to a certain extent the reports of these stenographers about what was said at a conference were corrected by other people?

A. I have often noticed - that these stenographers did not take pains to put down everything literally but merely took down summaries according to the sense. It has also been my experience to often be asked who was this or that man, or what the Governor General had said or thought in any particular instance.

Q. Did the Governor General read these diary notes later?

A. From what I know of the Governor General, I do not believe that he read them over.

THE PRESIDENT: How can this witness tell whether he read the notes later?

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, the witness, Dr. Buehler, was the Governor General's closest co-worker.

THE PRESIDENT: If you wanted to put that sort of question, you should have asked the defendant Frank.


Q. A further question, witness. According to your observations what caused the Governor General not to destroy that diary and to turn it over when he was arrested?

A. On 15 March for the last time I was ...

THE PRESIDENT: That again is a matter which rests in the mind of Dr. Frank, not of this witness, why he did not destroy it.

DR. SEIDL: He has answered the question already.


Now, one last question. In 1942, after the speeches made by Dr. Frank, he was deprived of all his Party offices. What effect did that have on his position as Governor General?

A. I have already referred to that; It weakened his authority considerably and the administration in the Government General became increasingly difficult.

Q. Is it correct that the Governor General repeatedly made an application to resign, both in writing and verbally?

A. Yes, written applications for resignation I often worded myself, and I know that he also applied verbally many times to be permitted to resign, but that this was never approved.

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

THE PRESIDENT: Do any other defendants' counsel wish to ask any questions?

DR. SERVATIUS (Counsel for defendant Sauckel):


Q. Witness, is it correct that by far the largest number of the Polish workers who came to Germany, came into the Reich before April, 1942, that is, before Sauckel came into office?

A. I cannot make any definite statement about that, but I know that the recruitment of labour produced ever fewer results, and that the main quotas were probably delivered during the first years.

Q. Were the labour quotas which had been demanded by the Governor General reduced by Sauckel, in view of the fact that so many Poles were already working in the Reich?

[Page 157]

A. I know of one such case. Sauckel's deputy, President Struve, talked to me about it.

Q. Is it true that Himmler for his own purposes recruited workers from the Polish area, without Sauckel's knowledge and without adhering to the rulings which Sauckel had issued?

A. I assume that that happened. Whenever I was told about raids against workers, I tried to clear matters up. The police always said "That is the labour administration," and the labour administration said "That is the police. " But I know that once on a visit to Warsaw Himmler was very annoyed about the loafers standing on the street corners, and I consider it quite possible that these manpower raids in Warsaw, were carried out arbitrarily by the police, without the participation of the labour administration.

Q. Do you know about Sauckel's directives in regard to the carrying out of labour recruitment?

A. I have not seen them in detail and I don't remember them. I know only that Sauckel stated, on the occasion of a visit to Cracow, that he had not ordered the use of violence.

Q. Was that a speech of Sauckel's?

A. No, that was a conference.

Q. Do you recall an address which Sauckel made in Cracow to the various offices?

A. He spoke as a Party speaker.

Q. Did he make any statements there about the treatment of workers?

A. These statements were made in a conference which preceded the visit to the Governor General.

Q. And what was the nature of his remarks?

A. My officials had told him that there had been encroachments, and he answered that he had not ordered the use of violence and denied that these events, the arrest of people in cinemas or other places of assembly, had ever been ordered or decreed by him.

Q. Do you know the structure of the labour administration in the Government General?

A. The man-power department was part of my field of activity.

Q. Did Sauckel have any immediate influence on the carrying out of labour recruitment?

A. Not only did he have influence, he also sent a deputy who was not under my authority.

Q. Was it possible for that deputy to carry out labour recruitment directly?

A. If he wanted to, yes.

Q. In what manner? Could he give any instructions or direct orders? A. The recruitment columns established by Sauckel were not under any authority. I tried on several occasions to get these people within my organisation; this attempt was always countered with the argument that these recruitment columns had to be used in all occupied territories and that they could not be attached to one particular area.

In other words, Sauckel's deputy in the Government General, President Struve, who was also in charge of the man-power department, was on the one hand dependent on Sauckel's directives and did not need to pay attention to me, but was also on the other hand responsible to me in as far as he acted as president of that department.

Q. What branches handled forced recruitment whenever that became necessary? Could the recruitment columns do that?

A. I do not know that. The deputy always denied the fact of forced recruitment.

DR. SERVATIUS: I have no more questions.

[Page 158]

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel wish to ask questions? Does the prosecution desire to cross-examine?


Q. Witness, I should like you to define your official position more accurately. As from 1940 and until the moment of the liberation of Poland you were Frank's chief deputy?

A. From the end of September until November, 1939, I served the Governor General, in a leading position, on his labour staff. In November, 1939, I became Chief of the Office of the Governor General; that was the central administrative office of the Governor General, in Cracow. During the second half of the year 1940 the designation was changed to "State Secretary of the Government," and I was State Secretary of the Government until I left Cracow on 18 January, 1945.

Q. Consequently you were the chief deputy of the defendant Hans Frank.

A. My field of activity was definitely limited. I had administrative matters to take care of. Neither the police nor the Party, nor the armed forces, nor the various Reich offices who were directly active in the area of the Government General were under my authority.

Q. When Frank was away, who was then his deputy?

A. The deputy of the Governor General was Seyss-Inquart, Reich Minister Seyss-Inquart.

Q. And after Seyss-Inquart left?

A. After the departure of Seyss-Inquart there was a gap; I cannot recall the month but I think it was in 1941 that I was designated the deputy of the Governor General. But that appointment was approved only with certain modifications. I was supposed to represent the Governor General only when he was neither present in the area nor ...

Q. (Interposing) Answer me briefly. When Frank was away, who carried out his duties?

A. I answer as my conscience tells me to. Whenever Frank was not in the area and could not be reached outside of the area, then I was supposed to represent him.

Q. I understand. That means that you took over when he was away.

A. Yes, whenever he could not be reached outside the area either.

Q. Yes, yes. That is precisely what I am asking about.

I should like the defendant to be shown the typed transcript of the report on a conference of 25 January. Will you show him, first of all, the list of those who were present. The Tribunal will find the passage that I desire to quote ...

THE PRESIDENT: What year? You said 25 January.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: 1943, Mr. President. Your Honours will find it on Page 7, Exhibit USSR-232, paragraph 6.


Q. That is your signature among the list of those present?

A. My signature, yes.

Q. That means you were present at that conference.

A. 1943, yes.

Q. I shall quote three sentences from the typed transcript of the report. Please hand the original to the witness.

It is Dr. Frank's speech:-

"I should like to emphasise one thing. We must not be too soft-hearted when we hear that 17,000 have been shot. These persons who have been shot are also victims of the war. Let us now remember that all of us who are meeting together here, figure in Mr. Roosevelt's list of criminals. I have the honour of being No. 1. We have thus, so to speak, become accomplices in terms of world history."

[Page 159]

Your name is second on the list of those present at the conference. Do you not consider that Frank must have had sufficient grounds to number you amongst the most active of his accomplices in crime?

A. About such statements of the Governor General I have already said all that is necessary.

Q. Then you ascribe this to the Governor General's temperament?

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, that is not an answer to the question. The question was, do you consider yourself to be one of those criminals?

THE WITNESS: I do not consider myself a criminal.


Q. If you do not consider yourself a war criminal, can you perhaps recollect who personally - I emphasise the word "personally" - actively participated in one of Frank's most cruel orders with regard to the Polish population? I am talking about the decree of 12 October, 1942. Were you not one of the participants?

A. Which measures? Which decree? I should like to be shown it.

Q. I am talking about the decree signed 2 October and published 9 October, 1943, Exhibit USSR-335, the decree about the creation of the so-called courts-martial conducted by the secret police.

A. The draft of this decree did not come from my office.

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