Source: Law-Reports of Trials of War Criminals, The United Nations War Crimes Commission, Volume XIV, London, HMSO, 1949
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CASE No. 85
TRIAL OF DR.
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.
A. OUTLINE OF THE PROCEEDINGS
1. THE ACCUSED
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.:
2. THE CHARGES
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 :
3. THE EVIDENCE AND FINDINGS OF THE TRIBUNAL
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 Franks 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 :
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 :
After some reference to the neighbourly relations between the Poles and the German nation, he further stated :
(ii) The German New Order
The Government General was established by the Führers 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-Generals 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-Generals 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.
Franks 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-Generals 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 circulars 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 :
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.