Frank was appointed Chief Civil Administration Officer
for occupied Polish territory and, on 12th October, 1939,
was made Governor General of the occupied Polish territory. On 3rd October,
1939, he described the policy which he intended to put into effect by
stating: " Poland shall be treated like a colony, the Poles will
become the slaves of the Greater German World Empire." The evidence
establishes that this occupation policy was based on the complete destruction
of Poland as a national entity,
and a ruthless exploitation of its human and economic resources for
the German war effort. All opposition was crushed with the utmost harshness.
A reign of terror was instituted, backed by summary police courts which
ordered such actions as the public shootings of groups of twenty to
two hundred Poles, and the widespread shootings of hostages. The concentration
camp system was introduced in the General Government by the establishment
of the notorious Treblinka and Maydanek camps.
As early as 6th February, 1940, Frank gave an indication of the extent
of this reign of terror by his cynical comment to a newspaper reporter
on von Neurath's poster announcing the execution of the Czech students:
" I wished to order that one should hang up posters about every
seven Poles shot, there would not be enough forests in Poland with which
to make the paper for these posters." On 30th May, 1940, Frank
told a police conference that he was taking advantage of the offensive
in the West which diverted the attention of the world from Poland to
liquidate thousands of Poles who would be likely to resist German domination
of Poland, including " the leading representatives of the Polish
intelligentsia." Pursuant to these instructions the brutal A.B.
action was begun under which the Security Police and SD carried out
these exterminations which were only partially subjected to the restraints
of legal procedure. On 2nd October, 1943,
Frank issued a decree under which any non-Germans hindering German construction
in the General Government were to be tried by summary courts of the
Security Police and SD and sentenced to death.
The economic demands made on the General Government
were far in excess of the needs of the army of occupation, and were
out of all proportion to the resources of the country. The food raised
in Poland was shipped to Germany on such a wide scale that the rations
of the population of the occupied territories were reduced to the starvation
level, and epidemics were widespread. Some steps were taken to provide
for the feeding of the agricultural workers who were used to raise the
crops, but the requirements of the rest of the population were disregarded.
It is undoubtedly true, as argued by counsel for the defence, that some
suffering in the General Government was inevitable as a result of the
ravages of war and the economic confusion resulting there from. But
the suffering was increased by a planned policy of economic exploitation.
Frank introduced the deportation of slave
labourers to Germany in the very early stages of his administration.
On 25th January, 1940, he indicated his intention of deporting one million
labourers to Germany, suggesting on 10th May, 1940, the use of police
raids to meet this quota. On 18th August, 1942, Frank reported that
he had already supplied 800,000 workers for the Reich, and expected
to be able to supply 140,000 more before the end of the year.
The persecution of the Jews was immediately begun in
the General Government. The area originally contained from 2,500,000
to 3,500,000 Jews. They were forged into ghettos,
subjected to discriminatory laws, deprived of the food necessary to
avoid starvation, and finally systematically and brutally exterminated.
On 16th December, 1941,
Frank told the Cabinet of the Governor General: " We must annihilate
the Jews wherever we find them and wherever it is possible, in order
to maintain there the structure of Reich as a whole." By 25th January, 1944, Frank estimated
that there were only 103,000 Jews left.
At the beginning of his testimony, Frank stated that
he had a feeling of " terrible guilt " for the atrocities
committed in the occupied territories. But his defence was largely devoted
to an attempt to prove that he was not in fact responsible; that he
ordered only the necessary pacification measures; that the excesses
were due to the activities of the police which were not under his control;
and that he never even knew of the activities of the concentration camps.
It has also been argued that the starvation was due to the aftermath
of the war and policies carried out under the Four Year Plan; that the
forced labour programme was under the direction of Sauckel;
and that the extermination of the Jews was by the police and SS under direct orders from Himmler.
It is undoubtedly true that most of the criminal programme
charged against Frank was put into effect through the police, that Frank
had jurisdictional difficulties with Himmler over the control of the
police, and that Hitler resolved many of these disputes in favour of Himmler. It therefore may
well be true that same of the crimes committed in the General Government
were committed without the knowledge of Frank, and even occasionally
despite his opposition. It may also be true that some of the criminal
policies put into effect in the General Government did not originate
with Frank but were carried out pursuant to orders from Germany. But
it is also true that Frank was a willing and knowing participant in
the use of terrorism in Poland; in the economic exploitation of Poland
in a way which led to the death by starvation of a large number of people;
in the deportation to Germany as slave labourers of over a million Poles;
and in a programme involving the murder of at least three million Jews.