Selected Extracts from :
A Report on the Duty Journey through POLAND from the 4th –16th May 1943 by
On Tuesday 4th May 1943
at 09:15 hrs, the plane left the
We landed at the aerodrome at Krakow
at 11:40 hrs after having
a pleasant trip from Cottbus
The Commandant of the Aerodrome reported to SS-Gruppenführer
. SS-Obersturmbannführer Hoess
Commandant of the Concentration Camp at Auschwitz
reported immediately after.
We carried on immediately and went to Auschwitz
At 13:00 hrs we arrived at Auschwitz
the leaders of the camp were assembled and introduced to the Gruppenführer
Amongst those were SS-Oberführer Caesar
who is in charge of all agricultural work as Stbf. After the Gpf 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-Ostbf
drove us round the whole camp area. The
camp itself was a old Austrian hutted camp which has been extended to a small town by
the work of SS-Ostbf Hoess
is the biggest concentration camp in Germany. It covers
about 18,000 morgens, 8,000 are arable, 4,000 are fish breeding, 3,000 are used for market
gardening and greenhouses. They are breeding their own horses and keep their own poultry farms.
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 (for 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 coal resisting fruit trees are being planted, and corn usually used in the
Caucasus is being developed for the East.
The actual concentration camp is sub-divided into blocks for 10,000 each, and the Ustbf
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
The whole Polish Intelligentsia remain in the 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
Because of the Krupp
-works in Essen
having been practically
destroyed, the transfer of these to Poland and the
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 very difficult
task to cope with the individual groups of prisoners. The gypsies have to be treated differently
from 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 have to be very strict measures in order to train the
prisoners out of their 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
An artillery regiment was stationed there for six years. There were neither light nor water laid
on, but only open wells which are dug near the latrines. Those latrines were closed up when
they were full and new ones opened a few yards further on, so a rather interesting circulation,
sewer, drinkwater, 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 km2
. 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
and arrived in
after a two hours trip.
KRAKOW – WEDNESDAY 5 MAY 1943
After a discussion in which SS-Obergruppenführer
, and the officials concerned with personnel matters
of the HSSPF and the Stabsführer
participated, we went to see the office of the HSSPF.
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 SSPF of Krakow SS-Oberführer
and then paid a visit to the
for consultation and Germinisation, then the SS Main Hospital
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 SS-Obergruppenführer
and the Commander of the ORPO,
, and the Governor of Krakow
KRAKOW – THURSDAY 6 MAY 1943
In the morning we visited first the Pioneer Batn stationed in Krakow
and after that 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. In the area of Lublin
there are stronger activities of partisans.
As SS-Gruppenführer Herff
had to go to Berlin
for the funeral of Stabschef
we leave Krakow
on Thursday at 18:00 hrs for Berlin
KRAKOW – SATURDAY 8 MAY 1943
On Saturday we arrived 1830 in Krakow
and are being
met by SS-Obergruppenführer Krüger
and SS-Hauptsturmführer Timme
We continue our journey through Poland. In view of the very tense situation in the
Gouvernement it is necessary that a car from the Special Escort Commando follows us.
We arrived at this camp at 17:00 hrs. SS-Gruppenführer Herff
is met by SS-Brigadeführer Voss
After a long report given by the Brigadeführer
on the situation and the occupation of
the training area, we went to the Führerheim
, where the leaders of the Kommandantur
and the leader of the local troops are being introduced. SS-Gruppenführer
addresses them and mentions a few words about
the purpose of his journey and the desire and duties of an SS-Führer
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 hrs.
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
. There is also a biggish estate and forest which comes under the command of the camp.
LWOW AREA – SUNDAY 9 MAY 1943
we visited a resettlement camp for German
farmers waiting to be settled in Poland.
there is an estate of the Count of
, a stronghold of the SS and a model estate.
LWOW – MONDAY 10 MAY 1943
FORCED LABOUR CAMPS LWOW
This camp stands on the grounds of an old factory and through the initiative of SS-Gruppenführer
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 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 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 policeman 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 move on to another interesting place – the department which deals with
all Jewish possessions and mobile property. An SS-Oberscharführer
charge of the whole affair. He handles thousands and hundreds of thousands Mark
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 possess, even when they might
appear to be moneyless.
LUBLIN – WEDNESDAY 12 MAY 1943
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 1,800 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 onto 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 Gruppenführer
the idea of sorting out Russian prisoners
of war and training them to make guards for the various camps under German supervision.
received permission from the German Army High Command to take 10,000 prisoners out
of the POW camps for this purpose.
Out of this number 4,000 Russian prisoners have been so far called up.
These Russian prisoners who are earmarked 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.
A company which is usually 200 men strong, is led by a company leader, who is German.
These people from Trawniki
Camp, or as "Uskaris", 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 being given in German.
These men are full of good-will and they are eager to be trained. It is very comical to a
certain extant when you see these companies march past singing German songs in their
enthusiasm, when you can hear by the way they 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-Scharführer
’s 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 East and
are willing to serve the new European idea.
we travelled back to
to inspect the "special enterprise REINHARD".
This branch has had the task of realising
all mobile Jewish property in the Gouvernement Poland. 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 garden 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 Reichsmark
s 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
of the repercussion this enterprise has on the international market is the quotations on the
Swiss Stock Exchange and the effects 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 market.
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,
jewellers, 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 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 Oberscharführe
r registers these valuables as if they were
bits of coal or other things of everyday life. The real values of our life which
carry us as human beings and as a nation become very clear and more precious still.
The treasure 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.
SS BARRACKS – LUBLIN
In the late hours of the afternoon we go and inspect SS Barracks in
, and we are being shown round by SS-Gruppenführer
. 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 to 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 is 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 Reichsführer
. 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
scrutinised with German scientific thoroughness.
After this very interesting inspection of the SS barracks, which gives 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-Gruppenführer Globocnik
and his staff.
LUBLIN AREA - THURSDAY 13 MAY 1943
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
In a fortnights 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.
WORK 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, and the results are very satisfactory.
Just as we entered the camp a large consignment of Jews from the ghetto in
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 that 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 various
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-Gruppenführer 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
, cross the Vistula and reach
after two hours.
Here we are greeted by SS-Oberführer
and his staff and pass the evening with him and his staff.
WARSAW – 14 MAY 1943
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.
awaits the Gruppenführer
in the SS-leaders house and reports on the situation in
and the Warsaw Ghetto
After a quick meal we drive with him to the command post where 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
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 of 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
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-Gruppenführer Herff
takes this opportunity of talking to the various departmental leaders about their respective departments.
WARSAW – 15 MAY 1943
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 to strange to a German that huge numbers of young people are loafing, idly in the streets.
Inspection of Panzer Grenadiers Btn "Deaths Head".
Meeting with SS-Obst Bellwidt
and his staff. Inspection of army stores and other establishments of the SS Economic Department.
After a private talk with Brigadeführer Stroop
we drive to the central station and leave Warsaw
at 19:00 hrs for Berlin
Source: National Archives - Kew
© ARC 2005