On 13 July 1945 in Łódź investigative judge S. Krzyżanowska interviewed the person specified below as an unsworn witness. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations and of the gravity of the oath, the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Kazimierz Herbich|
|Date of birth||29 March 1894|
|Names of parents||Stanisław and Michalina née Leżejewska|
|Place of residence||Narutowicza Street 3, flat 46|
|Occupation||tradesman (owner of a wholesale warehouse)|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
The Economic Association of Agricultural and Trading Cooperatives [Związek Gospodarczy Spółdzielni Rolniczo-Handlowych] operated in Poland before 1939; it was a limited liability company, whose scope of operations included nine central and borderland provinces (it had its county agricultural cooperative in each county). Apart from that, the Association had its branch offices in Gdańsk and New York and had several dozen foreign correspondents.
The purpose of this organization was to buy crops through the county agricultural cooperatives for the purposes of the internal market or for exportation, and to deliver agricultural inputs – such as synthetic fertilizers, agricultural equipment, fuel, etc. – through county agricultural cooperatives.
Apart from that, the Association had the clearance from the Ministry of Agriculture to purchase grain as a reserve, and for that purpose it had ninety-two warehouses and granaries throughout the country, in which, when the war broke out, there were ninety-six tons of rye and oats.
The authorities of the associations were the supervisory board and the management board composed of five persons, of which I was one.
During the German-Polish war, starting from 7 October 1939, the Economic Association was appointed a German commissar in the person of Dr Steting. As of 1 June 1940, the association was transformed into Landwirtschaftliche Zentralstelle on the basis of a regulation of the German authorities. I should note at this point that the county agricultural associations still operated, however, under the Polish law on cooperatives. It was simply that each cooperative was appointed a German commissar and Polish managers were gradually removed.
On 1 June 1941 I was laid off as well.
Before I move on to discussing the details of the regulations of German authorities concerning food supply in the so-called General Government [Generalne Gubernatorstwo], I feel obliged to emphasize the critical economic moment, which is almost always revealed during war and after war, that is, that the consequences of a war distort the balance between supply and demand, and thus affect prices, which get so high that they exceed the purchasing capacity of a considerable part of the population. In such instances, the intervention of the State, of public-law factors, into the domain of trade in food products is a necessary but temporary phenomenon. This is demonstrated by our present food supply policy. Yet, the operations of the occupation authorities, apart from the economic phenomena, which were treated as peripheral, was above all aimed at making the General Government a grain and crops storage facility for the purposes of waging the war and for providing food supplies to the German population, without taking into account the needs of the local, Polish population.
The principal measures of regulating trade in agricultural products are: 1. direct administration of internal trade,
2. setting maximum prices.
The occupiers selected a system of quotas, which were very high and grew higher every year, and moreover applied maximum prices; apart from that, although the Germans did not introduce sequestration (this system requires the creation of an extensive administrative apparatus), they did altogether abolish free trade in agricultural products. As I have already mentioned, a system of quotas was introduced. According to this, the recipients of agricultural products were the (county) agricultural and trade cooperatives, subordinated to the LandwirtschaftlicheZentralstelle and partially to private commerce for some products, such as potatoes and vegetables. Setting quotas was the responsibility of the General Government administrative authorities, the so-called Nutrition and Agriculture Department at the office of the head of the district. The system of quotas – in the light of the poor rations of articles necessary for the needs of the Polish population – resulted in a situation whereby two price systems were operative within the General Government: the official prices and the unofficial prices. The differences between those prices were enormous, namely:
– the price of rye set for a farmer was equal to 27 zlotys for one hundred kilograms, – in free trade the price ranged from 150 zlotys for one hundred kilograms during the initial
period of the war, and up to even fifteen to eighteen hundred zlotys in the last years.
The price of wheat set for a farmer was equal to 29 zlotys for one hundred kilograms, whereas on the free market it reached the level of twenty-five hundred to three thousand zlotys for one hundred kilograms.
Collection of quotas continued up to 1 February of each year. The greatest intensity of deliveries occurred up to 1 December of each year. A farmer received bonus points for the delivered grain quotas, which in the 1943/1944 economic year were as follows: By delivery of rye – 10 points for one hundred kilograms By delivery of wheat – 13 points for one hundred kilograms By delivery of oats – 8 points for one hundred kilograms By delivery of barley – 10 points for one hundred kilograms
These 10 points contained:
2 points – textile articles
2 points – vodka (half a liter for 4.50 zlotys)
2 points – cigarettes (30 cigarettes)
1 point – washing powders
1 point – leather for soles (6 points – 1 kilogram of leather) 2 points – iron
As an example I can say that to get clothes one needed 48 points (very poor and low- quality fabric).
It emerges from the above bonus data that a farmer would receive very few or hardly any articles necessary to run a farm, such as synthetic fertilizers, farming tools, farming equipment, or seed grain. Synthetic fertilizers, which during the initial period of the war were supplied by the occupation authorities in relatively large amounts (with the exception of phosphorus fertilizers) were allocated by Kreislandwirte almost entirely to large farms, smaller farms receiving no fertilizers at all; during the last stage of the war, synthetic fertilizers were issued above all for special crops, such as beetroots and tobacco, but by then in smaller amounts. The same applied to farming tools and equipment, which were allocated almost exclusively to large farms. At the end of the war, these rations were at a minimum. This practice resulted in a drop in production, above all on smaller farms.
In very many instances it could be observed that rations of synthetic fertilizers for farmers were sold on the market in illegal trade, at a price several times higher than the price which had to be paid by a farmer with connections. This was a domain of abuse pursued by the so- called Kreislandwirte for their own purposes.
Food supply. According to Polish statistical data, the area of the General Government was not self-sufficient in terms of supply of bread grains. Estimation of this deficit varied from one hundred thousand up to three hundred thousand tons a year (with respect to this issue we submitted, together with the late Jerzy Gościcki, a memorandum to the German authorities in the Warsaw district and we received a reply that we were not responsible for planning and designing food supply, but only for carrying out the orders of the German authorities). The bread grain supply crisis was revealed already during the initial stage of the war, and with time, despite the increase of the cropping area, the crisis aggravated. The following order of bread product supply applied to the delivery of rations to the Polish population:
1. German troops,
2. the Gestapo,
3. the Germans and Volksdeutschen,
4. the employees of post offices, railway and military industry, 5. Poles,
In subsequent years, bread products were first exported to the Reich.
Wishing to indicate what the consumption of bread grains was, I must provide some context by presenting a few numbers concerning consumption before 1939:
a. consumption of rye and wheat by the urban and non-farming population in Poland in the 1938/1939 economic year was calculated on the basis of the milling fees and was equal to 2,350 thousand tons per 17.8 million of the non-farming population: urban dwellers – 8.3 million, peasant non-farming population – 4.5 million, peasant population on farms with less than 2 ha of land – 3 million, which gives 132 kilograms of grain per person or 86 kilograms of sixty-five per cent flour per person.
b. Consumption in Warsaw in 1938:
rye bread products 142 thousand tons, wheat bread products 21 thousand tons, rye flour 20.8 thousand tons, wheat flour 33 thousand tons.
Which meant 125 kilograms of bread products per capita.
Flour – 41.5 kilograms, which, calculated as grain, meant 208 kilograms.
c. consumption of the farming population needs to be calculated by deducting the following items from the total number:
supply 2.5 million tons grain used for sowing 1.275 million tons crop residues 0.45 million tons drying 0.25 million tons in total: 4.475 million tons
Average harvest of bread grain was 8.5 million tons. After deducting of 4.475 million tons, this means that the consumption of the farming population was equal to 4 million tons. With a farming population of 18-million, this gives us 223 kilograms per capita (this, however, is a theoretical number, the loss of grain was greater; greater amount of crops residues, greater amount of grain used for sowing).
Supply of bread grain to the population of large urban centers in the General Government during the war was as follows:
Up to 1 August 1940, 1.5 kilograms of bread per capita a week; apart from that there were small rations of wheat flour. In 1940/1941 the ration was reduced to 1.4 kilograms of bread a week, in subsequent years to 0.7 kilograms. The percentage of grain to be made into flour was increased from 80 per cent up to 96 per cent. During the last stage of the war, this amount of bread was reduced and rations were not consecutive. Counted as grain, we can compare this to the pre-war consumption (see above – points a, b, c)
1.5 kilograms of bread equals 1.18 kilograms of rye flour, which equals 1.23 [?] of rye which equals 64 kilograms of rye per capita
1.4 kilograms of bread equals 1.09 kilograms of rye flour, which equals 1.13 [?] of rye which equals 58.7 kilograms of rye per capita
0.7 kilograms of bread equals 0.54 kilograms of rye flour, which equals 0.56 [?] of rye which equals 29.1 kilograms of rye per capita
which means that the urban population, who before the war consumed 132 kilograms of grain, and the population of Warsaw 208 kilograms, during the occupation in the last stage of the war consumed only 29.1 kilograms of grain [a year].
For the sake of comparison I will indicate the monthly rations which the Polish population received in 1940 as compared to the pre-war period. The numbers are indicated per capita.
population Jewish population
before the war
|bread||5.35 kilograms||4.3 kilograms||9.07 kilograms|
|buns||0.18 kilograms||-||1.38 kilograms|
|rye flour||0.2 kilograms||0.1 kilograms||1.33 kilograms|
|wheat flour||0.08 kilograms||0.02 kilograms||2.12 kilograms|
|grits||0.02 kilograms||0.02 kilograms||1.13 kilograms|
|meat||0.03 kilograms||-||5.46 kilograms|
These numbers were dropping as the war continued. This pertained in particular to the Jewish population, who in the end, before the liquidation of the ghetto, received only certain vegetable products (swedes, beetroots) and products – e.g. potatoes – of poor quality (slightly rotten) and a little bread grain, also of poor quality (musty flour) etc.
From the above table, it follows that the Christian population during the first stage of the war got, as compared to the time before the war, 59 per cent of bread, 15 per cent of rye flour, 4 per cent of wheat flour, 2 per cent of grits, and these values were gradually reduced. The share of the quota articles in the general consumption could also be demonstrated as the relation of the caloric value of the rationed products to the energetic value of the entire consumption, which in blue-collar families in Warsaw before the war was equal to 2,379 calories, and during the first stage of the war varied from 440 to 820 calories.
In view of these minimum rations, the retail prices of essentials in free (illegal) trade were constantly growing, and these products were available only to the affluent part of the population; poor people were selling in barter. The prices in 1940 were as follows:
|Product||30 August 1939||15 May 1940|
|rye bread (kilogram)||0.26 zlotys||3.05 zlotys|
|wheat flour||0.47 zlotys||6.09 zlotys|
|rye flour||0.31 zlotys||4.15 zlotys|
|beef||1.59 zlotys||15.33 zlotys|
|veal||2.01 zlotys||12.50 zlotys|
|pork||1.81 zlotys||17.86 zlotys|
|pork fat||1.81 zlotys||26.14 zlotys|
|milk (1 liter)||0.30 zlotys||2.07 zlotys|
|butter (1 kilogram)||3.4 zlotys||35.15 zlotys|
|potatoes||0.14 zlotys||1.40 zlotys|
|sugar||1.00 zlotys||8.14 zlotys|
In the years to come these prices were constantly growing, for example potatoes reached the price of 3 zlotys for a kilogram after the harvest and 8 zlotys before the harvest. Butter reached the price of 300 zlotys, pork fat – 240 zlotys for a kilogram.
For these reasons a very large part of the urban population starved, making use, apart from the rations, of the so-called dinners (soup) offered by the Main Welfare Council [Rada Główna Opiekuńcza], while large industrial, trade, and banking institutions introduced soup delivery for their employees.
During the first period, up to the 1940/1941 economic year, potatoes could be traded freely. In 1939/1940 a person generally did not experience any lack of potatoes. In certain major cities there were times when there were no potatoes, but this resulted mainly from transportation difficulties and was temporary in character. Already before the 1940 harvest, there were not enough potatoes, and the prices started rising. Starting from autumn of 1940 free trade in potatoes was prohibited. The county agricultural authorities (Kreislandwirt) imposed quotas on farmers, which usually were very large. Distribution of potatoes was planned in such a way that one Pole should get 200 kilograms a year, and one German was to receive 350 kilograms a year, that is 75 per cent more. Product prices were set as follows:
Ware potatoes 1 September 6 zlotys for 100 kilograms Ware potatoes 1 December 6.20 zlotys for 100 kilograms Ware potatoes 1 March 6.50 zlotys for 100 kilograms Ware potatoes 1 May 6.80 zlotys for 100 kilograms Fodder potatoes 4.00 zlotys for 100 kilograms
With respect to starch potatoes, a price of 0.26 was set for one kilogram of starch. Prices for recipients in Warsaw were equal to 13 zlotys for 100 kilograms.
The quantitative result of the organized potato trade in the General Government was that it was never capable of collecting the determined value of the quota. And so in Warsaw, for the anticipated value of delivery for autumn of a given year of 260 thousand tons, only 154 thousand tons were collected. As a result of this, the Polish population was in the sixth position in the distribution of potatoes, namely:
1. the army,
2. the Gestapo,
4. post offices, railway …
5. employees and blue-collar workers in military industry factories,
and instead of the ration of 200 kilograms, which was already low (taking into account that other food products were not available either), it received no more than 70 kilograms per capita, i.e. 35 per cent of the anticipated ration. The reason for the non-delivery of the planned quantity of potatoes was above all the fact that the quotas were too high, and thus could not be met, the price was too low, and transportation was difficult (for example all potatoes were transported to Warsaw by train, whereas before the war only ten per cent of the transport was effected by train, and the rest was delivered on wagons). A considerable quantity of potatoes made their way to consumers unofficially, that is in the course of illegal trade. This trade faced great difficulties, in particular since towns were securely surrounded and free market transportation was not allowed. Illegal free market prices, depending on the time of the year, varied from 300 up to 800 zlotys per 100 kilograms and were available only to the affluent part of the population.
The number of cattle in 1938 within the entire territory of Poland was equal to 10.5 million animals, and the number of pigs equal to 7 million.
The number of animals in December 1940 in the General Government was equal to:
horses cattle pigs sheep
925 thousand 2.5 million 1.2 million 200 thousand
These numbers, as compared to conditions in June 1939, constituted: horses – 20 per cent
cattle – 23 per cent
pigs – 45 per cent
sheep – 55 per cent
Apart from that, the number of goats and the number of poultry were also significantly reduced. In the course of 1941, in particular in its second half, the number of animals was further reduced, as a result of the imposition of additional quotas for livestock, as well as of the fact that cows were taken away if the farmer failed to deliver the required grain quotas. It is possible to estimate that by the end of 1941, the number of cattle and pigs was further reduced by ten to fifteen per cent, as compared to December 1940. On certain farms, the additional quotas took away even the breeding animals. It needs to be added at this point, that in the light of the tactic applied by farmers – to deliver above all young animals to fulfill the quotas – the number of young animals in the entire population of livestock diminished. This had to adversely affect the condition of the herds in the years to come. Also the quality of livestock deteriorated considerably for the following reasons:
1. no fodder,
2. the supply policy of the occupation authorities.
Ad 1. The marching through and stationing of large numbers of soldiers in the winter of 1939/1940 and in spring of 1941, fodder quotas imposed on farms, total lack of concentrated feed, lack of fodder plants – all this resulted in low production of cow’s milk, emaciation and anemia of adult animals, underdevelopment and degeneration of calves.
Ad. 2. In the opinion of the German supply apparatus, it was possible to squeeze out large quantities of livestock, milk, eggs, honey, etc. from farms. The imposed quotas were high, they consumed not only the production surplus, but diminished the basic farming substance. The imposed obligatory control of milk production was aimed at forcing farms to give away the amount of milk indicated as the quota, which was equal to two liters of milk from a cow per day (when there was no concentrated feed). At that time the milk capacity could be estimated only at around one thousand liters of milk a year from one cow, or even less in certain areas and on certain farms.
The livestock quotas were equal to around twenty-five kilograms from one hectare. Since a farmer received nothing or virtually nothing in return for the quotas, as the cash settlements took place in accordance with the official prices and the farmer received in return goods that were the least necessary to run a farm, no farmer was interested either in the quantitative or the qualitative condition of the livestock’s health or the volume of production. I can give the following example: In livestock trade, both the official and the illegal one, there were no heavy, elephantine- sized animals. This resulted from the fact that farmers did everything they could to avoid keeping heavy animals on their farms. In such condition it was impossible to speak either of an increase of the number of animals or an increase in production. Quite to the contrary, we were dealing with a reduction of the number of animals and of the production. As to the number of horses, its reduction resulted (apart from expropriation for military use) from lack of fodder and the demand of excessive carriage duties from the farms.
The meat quotas of pig fat and lard were consumed almost exclusively by Germans, the army, and a lot of it was exported to the Reich. The forms of controlling the animal production consisted in:
1. ear tags for cattle and pigs,
2. stock-taking, even a few times a year,
3. introduction of compulsory control of milk capability in farms with at least twenty-five hectares of land and at least seven cows,
4. keeping an administrative apparatus in communes for the purposes of inspecting milk quotas,
5. keeping the same apparatus for the purposes of controlling meat quotas.
Irrespective of the abovementioned elements of control, it often happened that farms were inspected by gendarmerie. A common feature of most members of the controlling apparatus was a low level of ethics, bribe-taking, etc. Finally, it needs to be emphasized that the rations of milk and butter for the Polish population were almost non-existent. Butter was exported to the Reich in great quantities. The same went for eggs, where the Polish population used minimum fractions of the prescribed rations.
Cultivation of oilseeds, in particular of rape, under pressure from German authorities, was almost doubled, and trading therein was subjected to control and excluded from free trade. There were no rations of oil for Poles. An illegal market formed, where the price of rapeseed oil could be as high as 180 zlotys per kilogram. The oil industry was based on a concession system. Concessions for opening an oil plant contained a prohibition to trade in oil.
The entire manufactured oil was at the disposal of the district’s Nutrition and Agriculture Department, which allocated the oil solely for the purposes of the army, the German population, and for exportation to the Reich.
In accordance with the data from 1941, the areas for growing vegetables in the General Government was equal to fifteen – eighteen thousand hectares, of which around eight thousand hectares belonged to the Warsaw District (the Warsaw county together with the city had around six thousand hectares); these numbers did not include allotment gardens and land belonging to persons producing vegetables for their own use. In comparison to 1939, the increase in vegetable production in the General Government can be estimated approximately as being equal to two hundred per cent. Maximum prices and quotas for vegetables were introduced in 1941. The maximum prices were at the level of two – three hundred per cent of pre-war prices. Despite that, these prices were not profitable for the producers, since the production costs had increased considerably. Vegetable quotas were set by the county authorities (Kreislandwirt), and mostly Germans benefited from them. The same went for fruit. A considerable amount of fruit was processed to make marmalade, from which Poles benefited partially. Gradually, one could observe an increasing deficit of labor (constant deportation of people to Germany) and lack of seeds (the price of one kilogram of onion seeds could be as high as twelve hundred zlotys, and of carrot seeds – five hundred zlotys). For this reason the prices of vegetables on the illegal market were rising, competition was limited, since despite the fact that bread, grits, and potatoes were expensive, still the price of one calorie of these products was lower than one calorie of vegetables. Apart from that, the great deficit of fats and meat to a considerable extent caused diminished interest in vegetables.
Summing up, it needs to be emphasized that had the Poles been forced during the last war to use only the supplies resulting from the rations set by the occupation authorities, and had they not resorted to illegal, barter trade (which was connected with a great risk – arrests, deportations to Germany, even loss of life when caught), then the degree of extermination of the Polish nation would have been much greater, and who knows whether even a half of the Polish population of the General Government would have been able to survive the occupation. It is an indisputable fact that a considerable part of the Polish population starved due to the high prices of food products on the free market and due to low wages (a Pole could earn no more than twelve hundred zlotys a month). The same went for the occupier’s policy towards farmers, whereby farms withered and deteriorated due to a predatory quota system and small rations of agricultural input (synthetic fertilizers, farming tool, seeds).
Finally, I need to indicate that all of my statistical materials concerning the supply in the General Governments and the occupation authorities’ practice in agriculture, were to a considerable extent destroyed in Warsaw during the uprising, and that is why I am unable to indicate all the source data which should be referred to in this testimony, and for this reason my report is not complete and detailed. I have taken the numbers from my materials that survived, as well as from statistical data of the Economic Department of the Magistrate of the City of Warsaw [Wydział Ekonomiczny Magistratu m. Warszawy], as well as from the 1938 Small Statistical Yearbook [Mały Rocznik Statystyczny].
The head of the Nutrition and Agriculture Department within the Warsaw district during the first stage of the war was an SS-man named Naumann, reportedly from Saxony, who then became the director of the Nutrition and Agriculture Department attached to the governor general in Cracow. During his term of office in Warsaw, this man demonstrated great hatred for the Polish nation and all regulations concerning supply for the district were issued with his signature. After Naumann left the Warsaw district, his position was taken over by Dr Krekierch (phonetically), who was as much a hater of the Polish nation as the former man. All regulations of a repressive character, for example undelivered quotas, left the district with the signature of Naumann or Krekier.
The report was read out.