Source: Law-Reports of Trials of War Criminals, The United Nations War Crimes Commission, Volume XIV, London, HMSO, 1949

[Some sections have been highlighted provisionally until hyperlinks can be added to appropriate files. Page numbers precede text]

CASE No. 85

Staatssekretär and Deputy Governor-General

Part I

Part II


Liability, for War Crimes arid Crimes against Humanity Committed by Enacting, and in Pursuance of Laws Issued by BelIigerent Power for the Occupied Territory. Occupation Government as a Criminal Organisation.

Outline of the Proceedings

The Accused
The Charges

The Evidence and Findings of the Tribunal

Nazi Policy Towards the "Government General"
The German New Order

Systematic Terrorism
Slave Labour

Extermination of Jews

Measures Against Polish Culture and Education

Confiscation of Public and Private Property

Economic Exploitation

The Personal Responsibility of the Accused

The Case for the Defence
The Verdict and Sentence

Notes on the Case

The Court and the Legal Basis of the Trial
The Nature of the Offences

Occupation Government as a Criminal Organisation



Before the outbreak of war the accused Dr. Joseph Buhler was a Ministerialrat and Ministerialdirektor of the Third Reich. After the occupation of Poland and her illegal and arbitrary division by Germany into two separate parts, i.e., the Western Territory which was incorporated into Germany, and the central and southern territories of which the so-called General Government was formed under the governorship of Hans Frank, the accused had been transferred to the latter part of Poland and entrusted by Hitler with the highest functions in the German civil administration of the General Government. Throughout the German occupation the accused held there either successively or simultaneously one or more of the following positions : (a) Chief of the Office of the Governor-General (Chef des Amtes des Generalgouverneurs) ; (b) Secretary of State and Chief of the Government (Staatssekretär und Leiter der Regierung des Generalgouvernements) ; and (c) Deputy (Stellvertreter) to the Governor-General Hans Frank. The accused was also a member of the Nazi Party, although he did not hold in this organisation any of the leading positions.[Footnote 1, p.23.:

 In accordance with the German-Soviet Pact of 28th September, 1939, the Republic of Poland was partitioned as follows :

Out of the entire territory of 150,486 square miles, with a population of 35,340,000, some 72,866 square miles, with a population of some 22,250,000 came under German occupation, and some 77,620 square miles, with a population of some 13,090,000 were taken over by Soviet Russia.

From the beginning, the German-occupied territories were divided into two parts almost equal in extent :

(a) The territories of Western Poland with some additions of Central and Southern Poland, which, in accordance with the Decree of 8th October, 1939, published in the Reichsgesetzblatt, but contrary to international law, were incorporated in the German Reich on 26th October, 1939;

(b) Of the remainder of the Central and Southern Poland, including the cities of Warsaw, Cracow and Lublin, the so-called Government General was created. This area was intended by the Germans to be a kind of protectorate. It was originally called the "Government General of the Occupied Polish Areas" (General Gouvenement der bezetzten polnischen Gebiete). On 18th August, 1940, however, this terminology was changed, and thenceforth the territory was called " General Gouvernement .’ or General Gouvernement des Deutschen Reichs.] (End footnote)



It was charged that throughout the period from 28th October, 1939, to 17th January, 1945, on the territory of Poland occupied by the German Reich, the accused :

(i) was a member of the occupation government (the German civil administrations) of the General Government, which was a criminal organisation ;

(ii) acting on behalf of the German Government and of the Nazi Party, either on his own initiative or in pursuance of orders received from the German civil, military and party authorities, he committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and in particular, that by planning, preparing, organising, abetting and helping in their execution he participated in the commission of the following crimes :

(a) individual and mass murders of the civilian population.

(b) torturing, ill-treating and persecuting of Polish civilians,

(c) systematic destruction of Polish cultural life and looting of Polish art treasures, germanisation, seizure of public property, and in economic exploitation of the country’s resources, and of its inhabitants,

(d) in systematically depriving Polish citizens of private property.


The Tribunal heard the oral testimony of 25 witnesses and of six experts in various branches of law and public administration, and read a large number of affidavits of other witnesses ; it further received a considerable number of exhibits put in by the Prosecution and containing some 140 volumes of documentary evidence, 11,000 typed pages of Hans Frank’s memoirs, and 3,750 page collection of the German Official Gazette for the General Government.

The facts established by the Tribunal may be summarised under the following headings :

(i) Nazi Policy Towards the " Government General "

The general policy of Nazi Germany in regard to this part of Poland and its population was more or less similar to that set out for the territories incorporated into the Reich.(See TriaI of Artur Greiser, Case No. 74, pp. 96-99 of Vol. XIII.) This policy was part and parcel of a plan directed at the establishment in the East of a German Lebensraum, a plan which in its final stage aimed at depriving these territories of its Polish element. The elimination of so many million people was, of course, not an easy task and, therefore, the plan had to be carried out in stages.

Already at the very outset of the German occupation of Poland, Hitler issued on 17th October, 1939, the following directives to his subordinates who had been entrusted by him with the implementation of that policy in the Government General :

(a) The economy and finance of these territories should not be reconstructed in any ordinary sense of the term ;


(b) The Polish territories shall be organised as a military jumping-board of Germany ;

(c) All Poles and Jews deported from Germany and from the incorporated territories shall be concentrated in the Government General ;

(d) The Polish intelligentsia shall not be allowed to lead the Polish nation ;

(e) All foundations and nuclei of Polish national consolidation shall be destroyed ;

(f) The Poles should be forced down to the lowest standard of living and be allowed only the minimum necessary for the sustenance, so that they become a source of cheap labour for Germany ;

(g) No legal restrictions should impede this national struggle.

The implementation of these directives, very general as they were, was entrusted by Hitler to Dr. Hans Frank as Governor-General and to his deputy, the accused Dr. Joseph Buhler.

On 26th October, 1939, on the day of his installation to the office, Hans Frank issued a proclamation to " Polish men and women," of which the following passages may be quoted as illustrating the German policy set out above. He said :

" . . . . In conformity with German interests and within the limits of those interests, the creation of the ‘ Government General ’ marks the end of a historical episode, the responsibility for which entirely falls on the deluded clique of the Government of the former State of ‘ Poland,’ and the hypocritical warmongers of Britain. The advance of the German troops has restored order in the Polish territories ; a new menace to European peace, provoked by the unjustified exactions of a State built upon the imposed peace of Versailles, which will never revive, has thus been eliminated for ever." (Italics introduced.)

After some reference to the neighbourly relations between the Poles and the German nation, he further stated :

" Liberated from the constraint exercised by the adventurous policy of your intellectual governing class, you must do your best to fulfil the duty of general labour and you will fulfil it under the powerful protection of Greater Germany. All will earn their bread by working under an equitable rule, but there will no longer be any room for political instigators, shady profiteers and Jewish exploiters in the territory that is under German Sovereignty.

" Any attempt to oppose the promulgated laws and order in the Polish territories will be crushed with merciless severity by the powerful arms of Greater Germany." (Italics introduced.)

(ii) The German New Order

The Government General was established by the Führer’s decree of 12th October, 1939, which came into force on 26th October, 1939. The Governor General had the title of and actually was a Reich Minister and was responsible directly to the Führer. The headquarters of the government was in Cracow. According to the decree, Polish laws were to remain in force


but only " in so far as they were not contrary to the taking over of the administration by the German Reich " (Art. 4). The Ministerial Council for Reich Defence, the Commissioner for the Four Year Plan and the Governor-General were empowered to legislate by decree (Art. 5). These and other Reich authorities were also empowered to issue laws required for the planning of the German living and economic space in respect of the territories subordinated to the Governor-General (Art. 6). The central power for these territories was the Reich Minister for the Interior, who had the authority to issue legal and administrative regulations necessary for the execution and supplementation of the decree (Art. 8).

Following the implementation of a decree issued by Frank on 26th October, 1939, and concerning the organisation of the administration of the Government-General, the office of the headquarters in Cracow was divided into six departments : chancellery, legislation, local administration, personnel, organisational matters, business, and fifteen divisions (finance, economy, interior, labour, agriculture and food, justice, enlightenment and propaganda, foreign exchange, education, health, building, forestry, post, railroads, and trustee property administration). In addition there were liaison offices for relations with the army and with the administration of the Four-Years Plan. The Chief of the Governor-General’s office, and the High S.S. Commandant and Chief of Police were directly subordinate to the Governor-General and his deputy : the Commandant of the ordinary police and the Commandant of the security police having been in turn subordinated to the first mentioned. More or less similar administrative structure was built up in the offices of the district-governors.

By a decree promulgated on 1st December, 1940, the Office of the Governor-General assumed the name and functions of the Government of the General-Government, and consequently the Chief of the Governor-General’s Ofice became Secretary of State of the Government-General. Both these functions were held in turn by the accused.

The Government-General was originally divided into four districts : Cracow, Warsaw, Radom, and Lublin ; and after the occupation of Lwow in 1941 (up to which time it had been held by the Russians), an additional district was formed consisting of Lwow and Eastern Galicia. Each district was under a district-governor. The districts were divided into counties and municipalities, the administration of which was in the hands of mayors appointed by the Governor-General or the district-governors. Directly subordinate to the district-governors were the S.S. and Police Commandants.

On the basis of the regulations set out above and of the evidence put in before the Tribunal, the latter established that the administration of the Government-General was organised in accordance with the Führerprinzip and based on full co-operation and interdependence of the administrative and police authorities on all levels. It may be added that the Governor-General was at the same time head of the N.S.D.A.P. of the territory and that the great majority of higher German officials there were members of the Nazi Party. The Tribunal found also that this complex organisation of the German authority was being exercised only in the interests of the Reich and in complete disregard of the interests and rights of the local inhabitants, and was particularly directed at the extermination of the Polish and Jewish population.


The German policy and its implementation found also an expression in the legislative sphere and in the organisation of the administration of justice. As already indicated, apart from the central authorities of the Reich, the Governor-General had full authority to enact legislation and on his authorisation such powers had also been vested in the High S.S. Commandant and Chief of Police.

Frank’s decrees( Reference is made to : (a) Decree of 26th October, 1939, concerning the Organisation of the Administration of Justice in the Government General ; (b) Decree of 9th February. 1940, concerning German Jurisdiction in the Government General ; and (c) Decree of 19th February, 1940, concerning Polish Jurisdiction in the Government General.) laid down that there were to be in the Government-General German and Polish Courts. The decree stated that the task of the German Courts was to deal with cases where attacks on the security and dignity of the German Reich and people, as well as on the life, health and property of German nationals were involved. This jurisdiction of the German Courts applied however not only to German nationals but to all other "persons" in so far as the latter were not already subject to German criminal jurisdiction of Special Courts. All cases were judged and proceeded with according to German law. There were of course some exceptions : a defending counsel was to be appointed only if it appeared expedient, and private prosecution was not admissible.

German Special Courts and Summary Police Courts were established by the decrees of 31st October and 15th December, 1939, in all districts, their jurisdiction insofar as the Poles were concerned having been defined in every type of cases by orders and regulations promulgated by the Governor-General. For example, they tried cases involving offences against the confiscation of private property or against the discriminating measures enforced against Jews, etc. In most cases these courts applied the penalty of death or of deporting to concentration camps ; they were part of the German machinery for extermination of people.

Polish criminal jurisdiction was allowed only insofar as the competence of German courts did not apply. Cases for trial before Polish courts were being allocated by a German prosecuting authority ; and final decisions of these courts could have been revised by German judges, who were empowered to cancel the decision and refer the case to a German court. The provisions of Polish law whereby the Polish courts were entitled to defer the execution of penalties involving loss of liberty, or fines, or to exercise mercy were made invalid.

The Polish courts were under direct supervision of the district-governors. The re-employed former Polish judges and clerks were obliged to make a written declaration to the effect that they will carry out their duties in administering the law in obedience to the German administration (Footnote: For other provisions of the criminal law enacted for the Government General, see No. 35, The Justice Trial, in Vol. VI of these Law Reports, pp. 10-14.).

Following the findings of the Tribunal, the considerable mass of orders and regulations enacted by the German authorities of the Government-General can be divided into several groups, according to the various groups of crimes for the commission of which these measures were intended to serve as a seemingly legal basis.


(a) Systematic Terrorism

Apart from the general powers vested in the High S.S. Commandant and Chief of Police and which were necessary to enforce order and security in the territory, most relevant in this connection was the order of 31st October, 1939, " concerning the combating of acts of violence," and the order of 2nd October, 1943, " concerning the combating of attempts against the German work of reconstruction."

These two measures coupled with the manner in which the Police Summary Courts were functioning, resulted in a great number of murders, tortures, ill-treatment, plunder, deportation, etc. The acts which came within the scope of these orders were punished only by death or deportation to concentration camps (Footnote: For the presentation of crimes committed in concentration camps and ghettos see Case No. 37, Trial of A. M. Goeth, and Case No. 38, Trial of R. F. F. Hoess, in Vol. VII of this series.).

Of the other regulations which did not provide for the death penalty, but nevertheless were very severe and resulted in most cases in deportation to forced labour or concentration camps, were, for instance : the order of 3rd April, 1941, " concerning the eviction of Poles from flats and houses " ; the order of 19th February, 1943, " concerning the curfew " ; and the order of 18th October, 1943, " concerning the prohibition to use public transport by non-Germans."

(b) Slave Labour

In this respect the regulations of 26th and 31st October, 1939, and of 14th December, 1939, contained some characteristic provisions.

All Polish inhabitants between the ages of 18 and 60 were subject to compulsory public labour. The latter comprised, in particular, work in agriculture concerns, the building and maintenance of public buildings, the construction of roads, waterways and railways, the regulation of rivers and land work.

The regulations laid down that wages of persons subject to compulsory labour " shall be fixed at rates that may appear to be fair " ; and that the welfare of such persons and their families, " shall be secured as far as possible."

The district-governors were entitled to regulate the conditions of labour by ordering tariffs, and were authorised to extend compulsory labour to juveniles between 14 and 18 years.

Compulsory labour was also introduced for all Jews domiciled in the Government-General, i.e., including those who were deported into the territory from other European countries. The Jews were for this purpose formed into forced labour battalions.

At the same time special disciplinary measures were introduced for punishing without trial of all infractions ; they provided even for the death penalty and deportation to penal camps.

(c) Extermination of Jews

Measures relating to this subject have already been presented in connection with another Polish trial reported upon in Volume VII.‘( Footnote: See Case No. 38, Trial of Amon M. Goeth, Vol. VII. pp. 2-4)


(d) Measures Against Polish Culture and Education

Education had been completely reorganised. It was controlled by a special department of the Governor-General’s office in Cracow and by corresponding sections created under the district-governors.

The officials of the school administration must have been Germans, although the educational councils could appoint Poles as school supervisors.

Only trade and professional schools had been re-established for Poles. This was in line with the general policy of preparing Polish youth for physical work and to develop technical skill in compliance with the general plan to use the Polish population mainly as a source of manpower. Polish curriculum had been substantially restricted.

All universities and schools of art were closed. Libraries, laboratories, and art galleries, as well as paintings belonging to private individuals, were seized and carried to Germany. Relevant in this latter connection was the decree of 16th December, 1939, concerning the sequestration of works of art.

Instead, in 1940, the Governor-General opened, at the premises of the closed university of Cracow, an Institute for German Work in the East (Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit). Its main task was to do German research work in actual problems of the Government-General. The Governor-General stated in his opening speech that " the establishment of the Institute means the resumption of the historical mission that Germanism is to fulfil in this place " and the " restitution of all that which the Poles took away from the German spirit and German influence in this territory."

The regulations of 26th and 31st October, 1939, laid down that no newspapers and periodicals of any kind and no printing works could be set up without special licence. In consequence, the whole Polish press was eliminated, and only those papers were allowed which carried German propaganda.

By order of 23rd August, 1940, all Polish organisations and associations were disbanded and new ones prohibited.

(e) Confiscation of Public and Private Property

By the decree of 15th November, 1939, issued by Frank, the entire movable and immovable property of the " former Polish State " within the Government-General, together with all accessories, and including all claims, shares, rights and other interests was sequestrated. The seizure, administration and realisation of the sequestrated property was incumbent on the Department of Trustees (Treuhandstelle) in the office of the Governor-General. This department was entitled to demand information from anyone for the execution of the decree. Those who refused information or imparted it in a false, incorrect or incomplete manner were subject to imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both. Trial was within the competence of Special Courts (Sondergericht).

On 24th January, 1940, Frank issued yet another decree which concerned sequestration of private property. While the analogous decree issued in the incorporated territories had as the chief reason for confiscations and sequestrations the " strengthening of Germanism," (Footnote: See Case No. 74, Trial of Artur Greiser, Vol. XIII pp. 78-9.) the decree issued by Frank


stated that confiscation or sequestration could be ordered in connection with the carrying out of tasks " serving the public interest." For instance, private property could have been seized because it was " financially unremunerative " or " anti-social." Since the occupant had the right to define these and similar terms, he had likewise the opportunity to use the decree for purposes of war and political pressure. As sequestration of private property in the Government-General was a mass phenomenon, the administration of the property seized was also entrusted to the Treuhandstelle, which employed thousands of so-called trustees to manage the property. The decree provided that when the trustees took over the rights of third parties in the sequestrated property became suspended. On the other hand, the trustees could claim debts owed to the property by third parties.

By this decree, so-called abandoned property, i.e., of people who left the country owing to the circumstances of war or had been deported, and of Jews, was also seized. As a weapon for political purposes, the director of the Trustee Administration was given the power to decide in each individual case whether compensation should be granted for losses arising from the implementation of the decree, although legal processes were precluded. This provision meant in effect that the interested person could always hope to get some compensation in consideration for services to the occupant.

Similar decrees were enacted in regard to the mining rights and mining shares (14th December, 1939), surrender and confiscation of wireless sets (15th December, 1939), and the sequestration of installations and equipment of the mineral oil industry (23rd January, 1940).

(f) Economic Exploitation

A clear illustration of the German economic policy in the Government-General is provided by a strictly confidential circular issued on 25th January, 1940, by Frank under the authority of Goering as Commissioner for the Four Year Plan. The object of this policy was to exploit to the utmost the resources and productive forces of the occupied country. But its aims extended far beyond the limits of the immediate benefit and material gain, and was designed to create a powerful war machine.

The general part of the circular’s directives " for the execution of the task of systematically placing the economic power of the Government-General in the service of German war economy within the framework of the Four Year Plan " reads as follows :

" 1. In view of the present requirements of the Reich’s war economy, no long term economic policy must, in principle, be carried on in the Government-General for the time being. On the contrary, the economy of the Government-General must be so directed that it should within the shortest possible time produce the maximum of that which it is possible to raise out of the economic resources of the Government-General for the immediate reinforcement of the Reich’s military power.

" 2. The following contributions, in particular, are expected from the economy of the Government-General as a whole :

" (a) Intensification of agricultural production, particularly in the case of large estates (more than 100 hectares) and planned distribution of the foodstuffs, which are to be registered, in order to ensure the


needs of the troops, military organisations and service organs, as well as the indigenous population, which are not yet entirely covered by the present production.

" (b) The utmost exploitation of the forests, regular forest economy being temporarily interrupted, with a view to supplying to the Reich approximately 1 million cubic metres of sawn timber, 1.2 million cubic metres pit props, and up to 0.4 million cubic metres pulp wood.

" (c) Increase of raw material production in the industrial sphere, particularly : 

in connection with the production of iron ores and pyrites to cover the requirements of the blast furnaces worked in the Government-General itself ;

 in connection with the extraction of crude oil, to cover the most important requirements of the Government-General from the view-point of war economy, and to export the largest possible quantities to the Reich ;

in the chemical industry (nitrogen, phosphates), in order to ensure such supplies of manure for agriculture as may be covered in the Government-General itself.

" (d) Exploitation and if necessary partial extension of the Government-General’s existing industrial capacity for the purpose of the most rapid execution of armament orders to be placed by the Reich in the Government-General, production of products which are vital for the operation of the Government-General’s industrial apparatus even under the most rigid standards, being maintained.

" (e) Maintenance of the productive capacity of concerns which, though not yet allotted any armament orders, shall be selected as refuge concerns for works important to the war effort which have been or are to be evacuated from the Reich.

" (f) Elimination and breaking up of industrial premises which are neither converted into armaments works, nor declared as refuge works, together with the destroyed buildings.

" (g) Preparations and transportation into the Reich of not fewer than one million male and female agricultural and industrial workers - including approximately 750,000 agricultural workers, at least 50 per cent of whom must be women-in order to safeguard agricultural production in the Reich and supply the deficiency of industrial labour in the Reich.

" 3. In order to achieve the expected contribution, provision should be made :

" (a) to complement the measures of organisation designed to increase agricultural production and restore the stocks of cattle which have considerably diminished owing to the war, by ensuring the supply of seeds and fertilisers, if necessary through importation from the Reich ; by adequate provision of agricultural machinery produced in the Government-General ; by systematic development of water economy, simultaneously extending to the requirements of the water-ways and power supply ;


" (b) to prohibit in the sphere of forestry all uneconomic use of timber and ensure the despatch of the quantities to be supplied to the Reich ;

" (c) to ensure, in connection with the intensification of raw material production : 

the financing, 

through the thorough exploitation of the credit apparatus existing in the Government-General ;

 the acquisition of the necessary extracting and drilling apparatus, and the provision of the workers with the food and clothing indispensable to maintain their full working capacity ; 

and transportation, particularly of mineral oil, to the Reich ;

" (d) to see that when the industrial capacity of the Government-General is covered with armament orders from the Reich, the following shall be consistent : 

kind and extent of orders ; 
location and capacity of works ; 
raw material requirements and supply-if possible from stocks of raw material available in the Government-General ; 
labour requirements and supply ; 
transport facilities for raw material and finished goods ; 
preliminary financing of wages in the Government-General and transfer of proceeds from the Reich ;

" (e) to compile a precise register of the concerns required for the execution of armament orders, those continuing to provide the Government-General with absolutely vital products, those maintained as refuge works, and those to be eliminated and razed, the starting or continuance of works to be uniformly regulated and to be made dependent on a permit ;

" (f) to ensure the supply of Polish labour required for the Reich by : 

causing the Labour Offices to bring the levying into harmony with the labour requirements of the Government-General ; effecting despatch so early that the transports may be completed in the course of April ; 

by arranging for the transfer of the wage-savings of workers who come to the Reich solely as itinerant casuals.

" 4. In order to accomplish the uniform adaptation of the entire economy of the Government-General for the present incumbent tasks, the following further measures shall be taken :

" (a) In connection with the food supply for the population it must be attained at all costs that people engaged in concerns of vital or military importance shall maintain their efficiency, while the rest of the population shall during the food shortage be reduced to a minimum of food ;

" (b) All production based on raw materials of military importance, ’ but relating to objects which are not absolutely vital within the frame


work of the present Plan, must be ruthlessly prohibited, unless it is possible to deflect it to raw materials and other products available in adequate quantities (e.g., production of wooden clogs, production of leather shoes and boots for the indigenous population being prohibited). For the rest, the raw material saving regulations and the prohibitions and rules relating to production and application which are in force in the Reich must also be enforced in the Government-General, at least to the same extent ;

" (c) The despatch of raw materials to the Reich is to be limited to the quantities which are not absolutely necessary in the Government-General to secure the production important to war economy. The right of disposal over the raw materials, semi-manufactured and finished products existing in the Government-General, is reserved for your Office. For the better regulation of supplies small quantities of valuable raw materials from the concerns that are to be eliminated and from small warehouses are to be collected at a central warehouse ;

" (d) The supply of concerns important to war economy with coal and the supply of the population’s most urgent requirements of household coal is to be secured by agreement with the competent Reich authorities ;

" (e) Collection of leather, waste material and scrap must be systematically pursued. In view of the special conditions existing in the Government-General, Jewish dealers may also be employed in this connection, and may for this purpose be relieved of forced labour, etc. ;

" (f) In order to adapt transport requirements and transport facilities to each other and work out a preferential scale, a transport plan must be arranged in consultation with the transport authorities, and all further planning must be based thereon ;

" (g) The regulation of prices and wages, the safeguarding of currency and also credit policy must be harmonised with each other, in order to create stable conditions as the indispensable basis of all economic planning ;

"(h) In order to obtain a survey of the probable development of mutual payments between the Reich and the Government-General, a payments account must be drawn up as soon as it is possible to estimate to what extent armament orders from the Reich can be carried out in the Government-General."

In order to achieve the expected contributions, the circular further directed to make specific provisions which were to be extended to all spheres of economic activities. This was duly followed by a great number of regulations which implemented the measures set out above.

Part II
Last Updated 10/09/01 09:26:11
©S D Stein
Faculty of Economics and Social Science