Document 14 A Polish report describes conditions for Jews after the German conquest

Beginning in 1940, the interior ministry of the Polish government-in-exile in London prepared digests of hundreds of reports sent to it clandestinely from occupied Poland describing, among other things, the policies and practices of the German occupation regime. Most of the digests included a section on the persecution of Jews.

From the first days of September [1939] to the present moment the fate of Jews in the occupied territories has been ... suffering, degradation, persecution, and expropriation. Both the system of exceptional laws introduced by the authorities and the unchecked actions in which the army, Gestapo, administration, and German population engage with impunity contribute to this situation. Officially Jews are the objects of discriminatory laws; in fact they are [treated as] outlaws ...

A ghetto was established in Warsaw in October 1940, long before then in [other towns] ... [Establishing] the Warsaw ghetto created the problem of resettling 110,000 Jews and 70-80,000 Poles. It was similar in Lodz. The population density in the ghettos exceeds that of Chinese cities: 5-8 people occupy each room ... Usually the ghettos are [located in] already overcrowded and filthy areas, without parks, often without sewage disposal systems, but with many buildings that are old or were ruined in the war. Communication with the ghettos is forbidden in principle ... A high death rate is prevalent (up to 50 per day in Lôdz) ... [Closing the ghettos] separates Jews from the possibility of making a living and existing materially.

There is glaring discrimination against Jews with regard to food supply. They are treated even worse than the Poles. Their bread ration is half that of Poles, their sugar ration one third. They have no ration cards for meat at all. They are supposed to receive potatoes, salt, and coal in the same amounts as Poles. Jewish restaurants do not receive any allocations ...

The free professions have been destroyed. Jewish lawyers have been completely eliminated; Jewish doctors have no right to treat Christians ... Jews may not own pharmacies. The overwhelming majority of Jewish engineers is unemployed; the same for musicians, journalists, writers ...

An order by Governor Frank of 26 October 1939 imposes compulsory labour service on all male Jews between ages 14-60, with boys over 12 forced to register ... [The labourers] are treated extremely poorly: they lack food and have wretched living conditions (in barns, cellars, etc.) ...

The Jews are the object of indescribable mental torture. Face slapping; kicking; insulting address; ridicule; stealing furniture, furs, food reserves -these are daily occurrences ...

(‘Dzialalnosc Wladz Okupacyjnych na Ter. RP, 1.IX.39-1.XI.40’ [Activity of the Occupation Authorities on the Territory of the Polish Republic, 1 September 1939-1 November 1940], Hoover Institution Archives: Poland, Ministerstwo Spraw Wewn^trznych, Box 4)

Goring instructs Heydrich to prepare a ‘total solution’ of the

Document 15 Göring instructs Heydrich to prepare a ‘total solution’ of the Jewish question

This document illustrates some of the difficulties in pinpointing when, how, and by whom a decision to begin systematic mass killing of Jews was reached.

Berlin: 31 July 1941

The Reich Marshal of the Greater German Reich

Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan

Chairman of the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich

To: the Chief of the Security Police and the SD,

SS Major General Heydrich, Berlin:

As supplement to the task which was entrusted to you in the decree dated 24 January 1939, namely to solve the Jewish question by emigration and evacuation in a way which is the most favourable in connection with the conditions prevailing at this time, I herewith commission you to carry out all preparations with regard to organizational, factual, and financial viewpoints for a total solution of the Jewish question in those territories in Europe under German influence.

If the competency of other central organizations is touched in this connection, these organizations are to participate.

I further commission you to submit to me as soon as possible a draft showing the organizational, factual, and financial measures already taken for the execution of the intended final solution of the Jewish question.

[Signed] Goring

(Trials of War Criminals, 1952, vol. 13: 169-170)

Document 16 Notes by Goebbels on a meeting with Hitler concerning the implications of Germany’s declaration of war against the United States

Josef Goebbels, Germany’s minister of propaganda, was present at a meeting of top Nazi Party leaders with Hitler, held on 12 December 1941, the day after Germany declared war against the United States. Hitler discussed the significance of the new war situation for a range of policy areas, including treatment of the Jews. The following passage from Goebbels’s account of that meeting, written the following day, has figured in the discussion of when the policy of systematic mass murder of Jews throughout Europe began.

Regarding the Jewish question, the Führer is determined to clear the table. He warned the Jews that if they were to cause another world war, it would lead to their own destruction. Those were not empty words. Now the world war has come. The destruction of the Jews must be its necessary consequence. We cannot be sentimental about it. It is not for us to feel sympathy for the Jews. We should have sympathy rather with our own German people. If the German people have to sacrifice 160,000 victims in yet another campaign in the east, then those responsible for this bloody conflict will have to pay for it with their lives.

(Gerlach, 1998: 785)

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