Report on a Duty Journey Through Poland - Franke Gricksch



von herff - kruger 271


Letter from Von Herff to F.W. Kruger regarding his official journey to the Generalgouvernement


The Journey

On Tuesday 4th May 1943, at 9:15, the plane left the Tempelhof Aerodrome. We landed at the aerodrome at Krakow at 11:40 hours after having had a pleasant trip from Cottbus and Breslau. The Commandant of the aerodrome reported to SS-Gruppenfuhrer Herff. SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Hoess Commandant of the Concentration Camp at Auschwitz reported immediately after.

Auschwitz

We carried on immediately and went to Auschwitz Camp. At 13:00 we arrived at Auschwitz, the leaders of the camp were assembled and introduced to the Gruppenfuhrer. Amongst those were Oberfuhrer Caesar who is in charge of all agricultural work as Stbf. After the Gruppenfuhrer had addressed the leaders and informed them of the purpose of his visit, he joined them at dinner.

In order to get a clear picture of the camp, its structure and purpose, SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Hoess drove us round the whole camp area. The camp itself was an old Austrian hutted camp which had been extended to a small town by the work of SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Hoess. Auschwitz is the biggest concentration camp in Germany. It covers about 18,000 morgens and has at the moment 54,000 inmates. Out of these 18,000 morgens, 8,000 are arable, 4,000 are fish breeding and 3,000 are used for market gardening and green-houses. They are breeding their own horses and keep their own poultry farms. In 1942, the breeding measures have produced 32,000 chicks

Besides the camp has its own kennels with 500 picked animals specially trained to guard prisoners. The camp is to be gradually extended to hold 200,000 prisoners. It has got its own leather tannery, a factory for brushes, a butchers shop, bakery, cobblers shop, blacksmiths, a place for breeding pheasants, their own research institute- research for the diseases of plants, nurseries, plants of rubber, testing field for different kinds of corn, suitable for Eastern purposes. The best methods to get the most out of the soil are tried out in the camp in order to gain experience for the settlement. Special cold resisting fruit trees are being planted, and corn usually used in the Caukasus is being developed for the East.

The actual concentration camp is sub-divided into blocks for 10,000 each, and the Untersturmfuhrer is to be in charge of each block. The inmates are Jews, Gypsies, Poles and women. The camp has its own orchestra, which is conducted by the former Warsaw Radio Orchestra conductor. The whole Polish Intelligentsia remain in this camp for life, and will be employed in laboratories and science research institutes, according to their knowledge. The Jewish women who work in the chemical laboratories are students from the Sorbonne University. 

Because of the Krupp -works in Essen having been practically destroyed, the transfer of these to Poland and the Auschwitz district has taken place. Three new factory sheds have been created in a comparatively short time in the camp which will after a month take over two-thirds of the Krupp production of matches and will be run entirely by prisoner labour. The sheds are constructed in accordance with modern principles and give a clean and friendly impression.

In the agricultural sphere, they have succeeded in producing nice large fields by creating a large network of draining systems. This does not only enable them to work these fields very extensively but also to work it on a profitable basis. The small Polish farms and villages have been expropriated and the Polish farmers settled in different areas. Near the completely neglected fishponds, dykes are being built by women, and in that way thousands of morgens of swampy meadow have been drained and the foundations for a new fish breeding ground have been laid. The guarding of the prisoners is done by a 'Wachkommando' consisting of 13 companies each having 200 men. Each company has got a leader (an officer) and the 13 companies form a so-called Lager-Sturmbann which is commanded by a Stbf and one assistant.

The personnel reports of the Camp Commandant are very interesting. It is a very difficult task to cope with the individual groups of prisoners. The Gypsies have to be treated differently from the Poles, and the Poles differently from the Ukrainians. The hygiene question is a very heavy responsibility for the Administration, nearly all the inmates, especially the Jews from the East and South-East have to be trained in this respect for they show a particular fear of keeping themselves clean. In parts there has to be very strict measures in order to train the prisoners out of superstition. When having a shower bath they wrap up their lice in a piece of paper and hide it in their mouth in order to have them in their new clothes, as they are of the opinion that whoever has lice will not become ill.

After the inspection of the camp we drove through Auschwitz. It is a completely neglected small town, which had at one time 11,000 of which 8,000 were Jews who have left now. The town has changed completely under German leadership. It is typical of Polish mismanagement, the sanitary conditions at Auschwitz. An Artillery Regiment was stationed there for six years. There was neither light nor water laid on, but only open wells which are dug near the latrines. These latrines were closed up when they were full and new ones opened a few yards further on, so a rather interesting circulation, sewer, drink-water, sewers, was a consequence. Neither the Polish Military authorities nor the medical officers have ever drawn the attention to the danger for the health of the troops.

Not far from Auschwitz we saw a wonderful sign of the German strength in the 4th year. The HG built in a very short time, industrial works which extended over 12 kms square. These works were run mainly on foreign labour with the aid of prisoners. This establishment is one of the largest chemical works in Germany and will commence production within a few months. They produce Buna (artificial rubber) petrol and a considerable amount of gases.

After a short talk with the Camp Commandant in his flat, we left Auschwitz and arrived in Krakow after a two hours trip.

Wednesday 5th May 43 Krakow

After a discussion in which SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Kruger and SS-Gruppenfuhrer Herff, and the officials concerned with personnel matters at the HSSPF and the Stabsfuhrer participated, we went to see the office of the HSSPF. SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Kruger gave us a report on the political situation in Poland and a report on the activities of his emissaries.

After this report we went to see the SS and Police Leader of Krakow SS-Oberfuhrer Scherner and then paid a visit to the Reichs Commissar for consultation and Germanisation, then the SS Main Hospital at Krakow.SS -Gruppenfuhrer Herff.went through the different wards and talked to the wounded and received a report from the SMO on the work of the hospital. The first day of our visit was rounded off then by a party at the Castle where the people who work with the Obergruppenfuhrer and the Commander of the Orpo, General Becker, Minister Rumelin and SS -Obersturmbannfuhrer Schellin and the Governor of Krakow took part.

Thursday 6th May 1943

In the morning we visited first the Pioneer Bn stationed in Krakow. All five companies are led by a young Untersturmfuhrer who passed the Junker's School quite recently. The Bn is led by a Hauptsturmfuhrer and the present strength is 1,200. After the inspection of the Pioneer Bn, a man on the reserve who was a Professor of History in civil life showed us round the Castle, church, the grave of Pilsudsky and the locality of the Castle itself and the cathedral.

After we had seen the rooms of the Governor of Poland we went to the Department of Obergruppenfuhrer Kruger which is situated in another part of the Castle. We had dinner in a small circle and in the afternoon we inspected farms and hospitals at Kobeircyn, near Krakow. This place was at one time a Mental Home which is very beautifully situated and is excellently suited for the purpose of looking after wounded. A small farm is attached to the hospital. The whole of the hospital is requisitioned by the HSSPF. The 400 mental cases were evacuated and the building was placed at the disposal of the different organisations. The former SS Medical Officer has unfortunately not accepted the offer of the  Obergruppenfuhrer to use the hospital exclusively as a SS Home and Hospital. That is why the HJ and other organisations occupy part of it. It would have been most suited for a SS Convalescent Depot and Hospital with its own farms. The farm, which was formerly run by the Clergy and had been terribly neglected, has been changed into a model estate through the efficiency of the SS men. The Polish peasants who owned an adjoining estate were thrown out and now the whole estate, with its big grounds, is situated round the farm. The SS Fuhrer himself is very proud of his estate and this is an SS stronghold which has an agricultural task as well as a Germanic mission. 

After that we spent the afternoon at the house of the leader in Krakow and discussed the political situation of the Generalgouvernement, which is very critical at the moment. Single raids on Germans become more and more frequent. In the area of Lublin there are stronger activities of partisans. On 20th April there was an attempt on the life of Obergruppenfuhrer Kruger and only because he was driving very fast did he escape. His car was hit in the back. In spite of traces of blood one could not detect the evil-doers.

The general public object to Frank and his Government because they see the only way to supply the civilian population with food, at least to a certain extent, is on the black market system. Everything is bought on the black market; even the Germans take part in that black market, with the exception of the SS. They are well trained and strictly disciplined by SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Kruger. He has made it possible with the aid of his requisitioning drive to secure at least the essential food supplies for his men.

The situation of the Poles is governed by the food situation. Even those Poles who are eager to be on good terms with the Germans have to come to the black market in order to obtain food. If a Pole earns only 150 zloty and has to pay 40 zloty for bread and 1,000 zloty for a pair of shoes, it goes without saying that the readiness to work for the Germans does not increase and that this Pole will hope for an improvement if the situation changes. The key to the Polish problem is therefore a definitive organisation of the economic conditions and the food policy. Frank is completely incompetent. He has nursed the entire Polish aristocracy and moves in Polish circles, who used him as a tool to hold their positions in the entire situation in the Generalgouvernement; is exactly the same as was the situation in the Protectorate when Neurath was replaced by Heydrich.

As SS-Gruppenfuhrer Herff had to go to Berlin for the funeral of Stabschief Lutze we leave Krakow on Thursday at 18:00 hours for Berlin.

Saturday 8th May 43, Krakow

On Saturday we arrived 18:30 in Krakow and are being met by SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Kruger and Hauptsturmfuhrer Timme. We continue our journey through Poland. In view of the very tense situation in the Generalgouvernement it is necessary that a car from the Special Escort kommando follow us.

Debica Camp

We arrived at this camp at 17:00 hours. Gruppenfuhrer Herff is met by Brigadefuhrer Voss. After a long report given by the Brigadefuhrer on the situation and the occupation of the training area, we went to the Fuhrer's Home where the leaders of the Kommandantur and the leaders of the local troops are being introduced. Gruppenfuhrer Herff addresses them and mentions a few words about the purpose of his journey and the desire and duties of an SS Fuhrer at the present moment.

After dinner we discussed questions concerning the training area in a small circle and continued our journey to Lwow at about 15:30 hours. The camp looks clean and gives the impression of being well looked after. The SS training square adjoins the one which belongs to the Wehrmacht and which is of equal size. This enables the troops to carry out exercises on a grand scale. There is a good understanding between SS and Wehrmacht. There is also a biggish estate and forest which comes under the command of the camp.

Sunday 9th May 43

Here follows a long description of the German parts of Lwow, pointing out that owing to the energy of the SS Gruppenfuhrer in charge, the pet idea of Himmler to have self-contained German colony in each of the big Eastern states had materialised.

Just beyond Lwow we left the Galician plain and reached the Podolic Highlands. This is completely different in climate as Galicia seems to belong to Europe in its landscape and structure, whereas the Podolic Highlands show the first signs of an Asiatic character. A depression and unlimited width lies over the land. When in the afternoon, it started raining this depressive atmosphere comes out stronger still and we then realised very clearly that here Europe ends and the vast steppes of Asia begin.

In Brezany we visited a resettlement camp for German farmers waiting to be settled in Poland. Talking to these people and feeling the confidence in German greatness in their words and even in their looks, one is shamed to hear of the great sacrifices which they bear so modestly and in such a natural and simple way. Twice or three times their farms were burnt down by the Bolshevik terror gangs and time and again they have succeeded by their own efforts in building them up again. An old woman told us how she lost her sons and daughters and how they deported her old husband to Siberia, but in spite of all that she is pleased to help the Fuhrer in Germany with the utmost energy at her command. The people in this camp have not only made material sacrifices, but without exception one or two of their members had remained behind in Siberia or were deported by the Bolsheviks.

Pomorzany

In Pomorzany there is an estate of the Count of Potocki, a stronghold of the SS and a model estate. On these estates decisions of policy politic have been made and their repercussions on the fate of Europe and the present war were decisive. The American Ambassador had rented this castle estate for his personal use and often gave hunting parties. It is very interesting to hear old inhabitants of the castle talk of these old times. After the breakdown of the Polish Army a considerable number of Polish officers gathered there and had heated discussions as to whether they could go to Romania, to the Bolsheviks or to Germany as prisoners of war. The bigger part decided to go to Romania and the smaller part to go to the Bolsheviks, but none of them went to Germany

Now the SS has taken over this estate and has turned it into a model estate, everything is clean and looks very habitable. The estate itself, which includes many works, is today already as productive as at the time when it was worked by Poles, but this is only the beginning. It is a pure joy to see how, with comparatively small forces at their disposal - there is only one SS Fuhrer and three SS men for an estate of 10,000 hectare, they have turned this completely neglected estate into a model estate

Monday 10th May 43

Forced Labour Camp Lwow

This camp stands on the grounds of an old factory and through the imitative of  Gruppenfuhrer Katzman it has grown to its present size. Over 30,000 Jews work in this camp. There is a Jewish Police force who are picked, well-built men with rubber truncheons and a long leather whip. Time and again one can see how, with the most brutal methods, they drive their own people to work and that they feel themselves completely their superiors. It is completely beyond the understanding of German people that among the Jews some of their own men are the worst slave drivers.

Jewish women who are in charge of various departments and blocks run around with enormous whips to drive their own companions to work and it could be clearly seen that they do their job mercilessly. The more one sees of Jewish people in these camps, the more one comes to loathe them. They have no composure, no self-esteem and no will to resist, not even passively, no pride, neither in their general bearing or in their looks. On the contrary, they give way and try to make the best of the position they are in. It would be impossible to keep hundreds of Germanic people under control if only two or three policemen were in charge of them. They would never allow themselves to be put in camps where a few SS men keep about ten or twenty thousand Jews in order and enforce their will upon them.

In the afternoon we moved on to another interesting place - the department which deals with all Jewish possessions and mobile property. An SS Oberscarfuhrer is in charge of the whole affair. He handles thousands and hundreds of thousands of Marks daily. He showed us precious stones of various sizes and gives us an explanation of their value and proves by documents what huge riches these Jews posses, even when they might appear to be money-less.

Wednesday 12th May 43

Lublin

Visit to the Concentration Camp and Salvage Dump in Lublin and the office for the disposition of salvage. There are the usual institutions, such as cobblers, tailors, blacksmiths, etc. A great part of this place has been switched over to war production. In the salvage depot, all things gained from the deportation of Jews are rendered useful by the Jews. The blankets and linen coming from Jewish households are being collected, cleaned and repaired or reformed into raw material for new production of cloth. This camp alone has delivered 1800 trucks of textiles for the last big drive for old material.

In the workshops they are producing blankets, bed linen and towels for the colonies and partly for the German Army. After inspecting this camp we go on to Trawniki. Here there is a small concentration camp to which a very big training camp is attached. This training camp at Trawniki has been established to train Russian Prisoners of War who, after having been specially trained, will be used as guards for the concentration camps and forced labour camps throughout Poland. The enormous shortage of SS men for guarding concentration camps gave Gruppenfuhrer Globocnik the idea of sorting out Russian Prisoners of War and training them to make guards for the various camps under German supervision.

SS-Gruppenfuhrer Globocnik received permission from the German Army High Command to take 10,000 prisoners out of the Prisoner of War Camps for this purpose. Out of this number 4,000 Russian prisoners have so far been called up. These Russian prisoners who are ear-marked as guards are being trained by German NCO's. They learn how to give commands and whilst they are being trained they choose their own NCO's from their own ranks, so that a Company, which is usually 200 men strong, is led by a Company Leader, who is German, with a German Scharfuhrer and, in some cases a Wachfuhrer, whereas all the other NCO's are prisoners of war.

These people from Trawniki Camp (or Askaris as they are usually called) have made a very good show of guarding concentration camps. They keep their distance from the prisoners, they are hard and lend themselves willingly to German discipline to which they get accustomed very quickly. It is a very queer experience to hear and see what is going on on the square. German commands are being given and the men have got used in a few weeks to these commands. The weapons are being explained to them in Russian by their own NCO's.  The commands for the training are given in German. These men are full of good-will and they are eager to be trained.

It is very comical to a certain extent when you see these companies march past singing German songs in their enthusiasm, when you can hear by the way they pronounce the words that it does not come easily to them, to pronounce German, but that does not interfere with their  enthusiasm and singing. These people are chosen from the Russian point of view and they are mostly tall, blue eyed, fair haired and so far experience has fully justified this new experiment. It is very typical for the development of Europe if you see on this barrack square how the SS Scharfuhrer parade their companies and take great pains to instruct the NCO's to pick up the German drill. People who a short while ago were Prisoners of War and, not so long ago, faced us the other side of the trench, are now representatives of the German will to order in the last and are willing to serve the new European idea.

From Trawniki we traveled back to Lublin to inspect the special enterprise 'Reinhard'. This branch has had the task of realising all mobile Jewish property in the Generalgouvernement. It is astonishing what immense fortunes the Jews have collected in their ghetto and even ragged and vermin infested dirty little Jews who look like beggars carry with them, when you strip their clothes off them, foreign currency, pieces of gold, diamonds, and other valuables.

We wandered through the cellars of this 'special enterprise' and we were reminded of the fairy tales of the 'Arabian Nights.' Whole boxes full of genuine pearls, cases full of diamonds, a basket full of pieces of gold and many cwts of silver coins, beside jewellery of every kind. In order to carry out a better realisation of all these valuables the gold and silver are melted into bars. We inspected the melting process in the yard of the house. There is a small foundry where gold and silver are melted and then formed into bars and then delivered to the German National Bank on certain days. Special enterprise 'Reinhard' has so far delivered 2,500 kilos of gold, 20,000 kilos of silver and six and a half kilos of platinum, 60,000 Reichmarks in currency, 800,000 dollars in money and 144,000 dollars in gold.

The huge quantity of diamonds and pearls can hardly be evaluated. The best proof of the repercussion this enterprise has on the international market in diamonds and brilliants. The prices have all gone down and Switzerland could not absorb any more diamonds, because our enterprise has swamped the markets. In this respect alone, the special enterprise 'Reinhard' gives us the means for our political struggle and would have a decisive effect on the world market.

Apart from other valuables there are 60,000 watches, most of them double-cased watches of high value, very often decorated with diamonds. , 800,000 wrist watches and a huge quantity of other small valuables from tobacco and cigarette cases and gold fountain pens and silver bracelets, etc. In special workshops all these treasures are sorted out and examined by specially trained Jews - jewelers, bank clerks and goldsmiths. If necessary the diamonds are broken out in order to separate them and use the metal in a different way. The wrist watches will be repaired, if necessary, and will be handed out to front-line troops.

When one goes through the cellar of this special branch it appears like a secret treasure and you get a very different idea of all the things for which people have sacrificed their lives and forgotten, through them the real issues. You get the right distance from these false values and, even if our eye is delighted by the shine of thousands of brilliants - some of them are in the size of a pea - for which the old world has paid hundreds of thousands, one recognises a people which saw its whole existence in the heaping up of such treasures. It is a pleasure to see with what indifference the Oberscharfuhrer registers these valuables, as if they were bits of coal or other things of everyday life. The real value of our life which carry us as human beings and as a nation became very clear and more precious still. The treasures of these people of parasites prove that the age of the power of gold is over and a new time, which has new values, has begun.

Here follows a description of inspection of the OSTI - Eastern Industry Company Limited, including a list of the works, factories and establishments which this Company has established or taken over in Poland.

SS Barracks, Lublin

In the late hours of the afternoon we go and inspect SS Barracks in Lublin, and we are being shown round by SS-Gruppenfuhrer Globocnik. In these barracks the ideological planning for the reconstruction and colonisation of the Generalgouvernement takes place. It is gratifying to see the whole work in this sphere is planned in every detail and people will be resettled only after this planning has been completed. This detailed planning makes it possible to occupy thousands of settlements in a few weeks and to effect the whole resettlement which means deportation of the Polish population and the settling of German farmers without great difficulty. The work of the SS in the sphere of preparing this resettlement is considerable.

We see that the planning of the German settlements is thought out to the smallest detail, all the sanitary arrangements, canalisation, electric light, water, economic problems are being worked out by young experts. The entire decoration of the cottages are considered, halls for festivals are planned etc. The preparation extends even to the personal life of the settlers. A form of life is being tried out in these settlements in small proportion which is the final object of the SS organisation  for the whole of the German nation in the future. We realise with joy that this huge work which is being planned and carried out under such difficult circumstances is not only theoretical but it has become a reality in the Eastern sphere. For the first time we can understand the whole colonisation plan of the Reichsfuhrer. One can see how he is building up a big belt of German settlements against the masses of the Slav nations.

It is proved by statistics how much German blood can be saved out of the Polish people and these problems of the Eastern sphere are being scutinised with German scientific thoroughness. It is delightful to sit together with these young men of the SS, who have University education, who, despite their sharp criticism, fully recognise the big mission of the German nation in the Eastern sphere. It is a pity that a great part of these men are disappointed by an entirely wrong policy with regard to personnel questions. Skilled engineers and tradesmen, experts on building and canalisation run around with the rank of private and this alone gives them the feeling that the very work is welcome but ultimately not appreciated. SS-Gruppenfuhrer Herff gets detailed information on all these matters and promises to have these things altered.

After this very interesting inspection of the SS Barracks, which gave us for the first time a clear picture of the situation of the German in the Eastern sphere, we attended a social function arranged by the SS-Gruppenfuhrer Globocnik, General Moser and his staff.

Thursday 13 May 43

Early in the morning we proceeded to the Ostlager 'Erlenhof' which is situated in the vicinity of Lublin. On this beautiful Polish Estate, a school for SS men and various SS and Police strongholds and SS farms are housed. In a fortnight or three weeks' course the SS men are being trained and are given lectures on the special questions of the Eastern countries and particularly problems of agriculture.

Working Camp Poniatowa

We reached this big working camp in the afternoon. It lies completely off the big arterial roads and has been installed for 50,000 -80,000 Jews. These Jews work in big sheds and the larger part of the Warsaw Ghetto has been transplanted to this place and work for the German armament industry. Uniforms and furs for the German Army are being produced here on the Ford system: the results are very satisfactory.

Just as we entered the camp a large consignment of Jews from the ghetto in Warsaw are being brought in. It is an amazing thing what a turnout these people present, the women in the very best clothes, in furs and silk stockings and the men in nicely fitting suits. They walk up and down in the camp and await their fate. As the evacuation of the Warsaw Ghetto took place so suddenly there are tens of thousands of newly-arrived Jews for whom there are neither barracks nor anywhere to sleep. In consequence of this an open air life developed which presents itself in a most peculiar way to the spectator. The larger part of the Jews seem to be content to get out of the ghetto; as they know that they have to work here, they are pleased about it because they know that as long as they work and as long as they are able to work, nothing will happen to them.

If you watch these masses of Jews, in small groups sitting round a fire, you can see how they become very fat with composure and civility. The only explanation for this, is they look upon themselves as the chosen people and with this servility and toughness they represent a danger for the world as long as they are not wither done away with completely or put in vast areas where they are completely isolated from human culture and perish slowly.

In these camps in Poland now the Jews live in a Babylonian exile as in the olden days. They were suppressed by the Egyptians and they were exploited by the Romans and under the systems of  modern times which exploited them, but again and again they have succeeded in surviving and have created new positions for themselves and within a few generations made these positions into key positions. Walking through this camp and watching these people in their servile attitude, one is bound to notice that again and again. They try to make the best of every situation without any dignity and self-respect and one realises the alternative with which we are faced; either this generation of ours succeeds in clearing up the Jewish problem completely and to its last consequences or, if their liquidation is not completely achieved, the Jewish people will rise again after this wave of oppression. Some individual cases may appear hard or even brutal but seeing these people in large masses and knowing how dangerous their passive attitude is to the life of the nations, one comes to the conclusion that this problem has to be cleared up completely to free the world once and for all of this pestilence.

After having inspected the camp with all its institutions and the excellently organised munitions factories, SS-Gruppenfuhrer Globocnik and his staff took leave of us and we proceeded to Radom.Once more we pass through the old sleepy, formerly German, town of Kazimierz, cross the Vistula and reach Radom after two hours. Here we are being greeted by SS-Oberfuhrer Dr.Bottcher and his staff and pass the evening with him and his staff. SS -Obersturmbannfuhrer Dr. Weibgen Commissar for the Germanic 'Mittelstelle' in Poland came from Krakow to Radom and reported on his work to SS-Gruppenfuhrer Herff.

Friday 14 May 43

Description of 'Mittelstelle' Sucha. The tenor of it is that all these estates, which were completely mis-managed by their Polish owners, were greatly improved and some of them turned into model estates by the SS.

Warsaw


von herff


Warsaw Ghetto - Von Herff talks to two Jewish Fighters.  (The Stroop Report)

Jurgen Stroop in the centre of photograph

We reached the outskirts of Warsaw in the early hours of the afternoon. Even from far off we could see the large dark clouds of smoke in the sky. They rise from the fires in the ghetto. SS Brigadefuhrer Stroop awaits the Gruppenfuhrer in the SS Leaders' House and reports on the situation in Warsaw and the Warsaw Ghetto. After a quick meal we drive with him to the Command Post when the Commandant of the SIPO and the SD gives a detailed report on the battles in the ghetto.

It is proved that the Jews of the ghetto not only directed the Black Market of Warsaw from their secret dumps, but have used the munition factories in the ghetto to obtain economic advantages for themselves. Furthermore, the more active parties of the Jewish Youth used the workshops to manufacture explosives, so-called Molotov Cocktails and hand grenades. They procured infantry weapons on the Black Market and thought that they could thus face armed interference of the Police and SS in the ghetto.

When the ghetto was to be evacuated on the orders of the RFSS, the spearhead of the Waffen-SS were received with small arms fire and hand grenades. The ghetto comprises several districts of the town and has cellars everywhere and extensive underground passages and gangways and these had to be combed out in a drawn-out action which lasted several weeks to apprehend the various groups of the Jewish Resistance Movement.

The whole of the ghetto affair was anything but pleasant for the SS Leaders and men engaged. If one sees these revolting types come out of the deep cellars and bunkers where our men over and over again come up against their treacherous resistance, one can understand that these SS men carry out their task with the utmost brutality. Systematically, one part of the town after the other is being combed out, evacuated and then burned down. Driving through the burning and already partly demolished districts, one meets shock troops everywhere with captured Jews who were dragged out of this notorious quarter after long searches. It is amazing that this dirty lot, when stripped, is always found in possession of considerable amounts of money and cheques. It certainly is no heroic task to clear out and destroy once and for all this ghetto of Warsaw which was for the whole Jewish world a symbol of their independent life. All the more respect is due to the SS men who dealt with this scum of the earth.

Evidence from witnesses proves beyond doubt that from this ghetto attempts were made again and again (and partly successfully) to get certain privileges for the Jewish community through connections with the Wehrmacht  authorities. For all these reasons it was high time that this centre was liquidated. We had another look at the Wehrmacht engineers blowing up considerable blocks of houses and then left the burning, smouldering ghetto. In the evening a meeting of all SS Leaders of Warsaw takes place, and SS-Gruppenfuhrer Herff.takes this opportunity of talking to the various departmental leaders about their respective departments.

Saturday 15 May 43

We drive through the town to obtain a better picture of it. It is crowded with people and one does not gain the impression of being in the fourth year of the war. It appears strange to a German that huge numbers of young people are loafing, idle in the streets.

Inspection of Panzer Grenadiers Battalion 'Death's Head

Meeting with SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Bellwidt and his staff. Inspection of Army Stores and other establishments of the SS Economic Department. After a private talk with Brigadefuhrer Stroop we drive to the Central Station and leave Warsaw at 19:00 hours for Berlin.


Sources

National Archives Kew - WO 309/374

Document - Holocaust Historical Society

Photograph - The Stroop Report

Copyright Holocaust Historical Society -September 3, 2019