Twentieth day of the trial, 31 January 1947
Presiding Judge: Please summon the witness, Przybyliński.
(The prosecution and defense attorneys do not wish to submit any motions regarding the procedure according to which the witness is going to be interviewed.)
Witness Adam Przybyliński (instructed by the presiding judge and interviewed without taking an oath), age 51, resident of Warsaw, department director at Społem [PPS “Społem” – Powszechna Spółdzielnia Spożywców “Społem”– Popular Grocers Cooperative “Społem”], he was the head of the cooperative during the occupation, relationship to the parties: none.
Presiding Judge: May the witness please present what is known to him owing to his position as the director of Społem during the occupation.
Witness: Due to my position, part of my duties included providing supplies to the population of Warsaw through a network of cooperatives. In 1939, in October or maybe in December, the occupation authorities ordered requisitioning in all the Społem warehouses in Warsaw and of other food products, fats, soap, etc. Then, both in Warsaw and in all of Poland, free trade of basic grocery products was abolished. These were administrative orders signed by the food manager for the General Government, Neumann. Tributary quotas were imposed on farmers, strict rationing and food cards were introduced for the population, and food rations were set.
Regarding cereal products: bread, flour, and legumes – the ration was two kilograms of processed legumes and four decagrams [40 grams] of sugar and marmalade per month.
These were starvation rations. Theoretically, their calorific value was 800 [kcal]; in practice in Warsaw and in larger industrialized centers, it ranged from 400 to 600 calories (with a maximum of 700 [kcal]), while the average need was between 2400 and 2800; and for hard-working people – 3200 [kcal].
Outside Warsaw and in small district towns, there was basically no official food provisioning. It existed only in industrialized centers such as Żyrardów, Piotrków, and Pruszków, where people partly worked for the military industry. A food crisis in the country, especially in the capital, was averted by what was called szmugiel [smuggling]. Certain groups of people, partially risking their lives because the regulations of the occupation authorities were so severe that they imposed the death penalty for what they considered illegal trade, brought food products to Warsaw, which were a salvation for the starving people.
Presiding Judge: If they had money.
Witness: Of course. The working population was likely to be starving, because the food rations were poor. The occupation authorities often placed sentries at all the entry roads into Warsaw or into the larger cities, organizing round-ups, grabbing people to what was popularly called the buda [“kennel”; closed trucks that carried those arrested], and transporting them to Skaryszewska Street or elsewhere. Food products were confiscated. At the Warsaw railway station, I was an eyewitness of how people carrying small food packages were chased with dogs. Dogs were used particularly in tracking down fat products. This was done by the police and administrative authorities. We called them gendarmes. They wore helmets and a police outfit.
One more aspect is important. From such starved areas, from the Warsaw region and especially from the Lublin region, cereal products and sugar were transported to the Reich. I recall the following event: when the eastern Soviet campaign began in 1942, the population did not receive their sugar quota for two months and, as I was informed, gratitude was expressed to the Polish people for renouncing their sugar quota to the army. There was also information in the press to the effect that the population of Warsaw was so generous for handing over their food rations to the army, due to the start of the eastern campaign. Of course, this was done in such a way that sugar was simply not given to people, and nobody had renounced it.
Presiding Judge: Who signed this acknowledgement?
Witness: I don’t remember.
Presiding Judge: Was it in the form of a journalistic note?
Witness: As far as I was informed, leaflets were also distributed.
Presiding Judge: What were the consequences of these small food rations?
Witness: People were starving. They saved themselves only through contacts with their families in the countryside or through people who brought goods from the countryside into the city.
Prosecutor Siewierski: Perhaps the witness can explain, as far as this is known to him, whether the Germans – aside from the first year of the occupation, 1939 to 1940, when grain was undoubtedly brought into the General Government from Germany or from the lands incorporated into the Reich – brought any food to the General Government, or on the contrary, only transported it out?
Witness: As far as I know, the Germans did not bring anything in, even at the beginning.
Prosecutor: Even during the first year?
Witness: Even during the first year. Cereals and grain products from the Lublin region were delivered to industrial and urban centers, and after the harvest in 1940, large quantities of cereals were exported from the Lublin region. The same applies to sugar. These are two basic products which were in sufficient quantity in the Lublin region, and they were sent to the Reich.
Prosecutor: Perhaps the witness would like to explain whether – as far as the goods trade and providing goods for the Reich are concerned – the Germans kept to the policy of authorizing this trade, or did they limit it where food products were concerned? I am obviously talking about legal trade.
Witness: I am not exactly familiar with this matter.
Attorney Chmurski: When were ration cards introduced in Poland? Wasn’t it in November 1939?
Witness: I do not remember exactly, anyway, it was already the beginning of 1940. In 1939, the Warsaw authorities began to set up an apparatus, which in fact was already being gradually put together before the war, to plan some form of proper provisioning for the population of Warsaw. To a large extent, the human makeup of this apparatus had diminished. At that time, President Starzyński called on the late Marian Rapacki, who was the director of Społem; on one of our employees, Jagniewski (?); and myself to jointly organize a system for the distribution of food products that the occupiers had allotted for Warsaw.
Attorney Śliwowski: Was the policy regarding rationing more or less consistent during the occupation, or did it change in any way?
Witness: The policy on the allocation of food cards was as follows: theoretically, the standards were set at around 1,000 to 1,200 kcal, but practically [only] a small fraction of this was obtained. As an example, I can mention that in 1939, a theoretical standard of 15 kg of bread was determined monthly per capita. Throughout 1940 to 1941, this standard was officially reduced to 10.7 [kg] per month. Of course, very often even the lowest standards were not received.
Perhaps it should be pointed out now how this basic product was influenced by food regulation. In 1939, the average working family consumed 203 kg of grain in flour. In 1942, it was around 15% in this theoretical allocation, as it was approximately 29 [kg].
Attorney: This does not answer my question. Within theoretical allocations, were these standards increasing or decreasing?
Witness: They did not increase, but rather decreased, as I explained on the example of bread. Apart from that, they gave groats and legumes in the approximate amount of two [kg], then marmalade, sugar, grain coffee. There had been rumors that there would be 30 decagrams [300 grams] of fat per month, but that fat, in the form of stale blood sausage, had only been given from time to time, so that cannot be treated as an allocation.
Attorney: Were the food card allocations more or less at the same level for other locations in the Warsaw district? The same question also applies to more crowded areas in other districts.
Witness: I would say this: the first place in terms of receiving allocations was taken by Kraków – this was done with full awareness – and in the second place, one could put Warsaw. All other crowded areas, larger district cities, not considering Radom and Lublin (which had quite a rich supply in terms of food products), were treated worse. In individual cases, Warsaw had a better position in terms of food card allocations than towns such as Siedlce, Puławy, Grodzisk, or Sochaczew.
Attorney: Who, in practice, was responsible for the food allocation to the Polish population?
Witness: The decision was made in Kraków by Neumann, the [General Government] food manager.
Attorney Chmurski: Were these difficulties in food allocation not related to certain external circumstances, namely the war in the East?
Witness: They were not, and it was not only my opinion, but also the opinion of the entire population. They were not, because in General Government we were able to feed ourselves on what had been produced. But it was taken away from this area, and even from the outskirts of Warsaw. Then the huge amount of the Wehrmacht had to be fed, which caused the lack of products.
Attorney: Does this mean that the Wehrmacht were passing through the territory of the General Government and that these units were fed from our supplies?
Attorney: And that was the reason for the food shortage?
Witness: This was one of the major reasons.
Attorney: In other words, can one distinguish between certain periods in the context of food regulation: the period until the Eastern expedition and the period after the Eastern expedition?
Witness: That’s one way of putting it.
Attorney: Now, for the issue of the illegal trade. You were kind enough to point out here that there were very severe penalties for violating the trade rules, even the death penalty. How did it look in practice? Had there always been the same practice?
Witness: I know that they were shooting at those running away, and that there were several dead bodies in the Eastern Railway Station of those who were carrying food for themselves.
Attorney: When did that happen?
Witness: I don’t remember the date. It was in 1942, or perhaps 1943.
Attorney: Was it an individual case or a permanent phenomenon?
Witness: The Warsaw citizens often talked about it.
Attorney: But was this confirmed?
Witness: I can’t say that.
Attorney: Do you recall the case when a Warsaw butcher was sentenced to death?
Witness: I recall something, but I can’t state that precisely.
Attorney: Can the witness say anything about the mitigation of the strict rigors concerning the illegal trade?
Witness: On the contrary, I can say that it has become more acute. As supplies decreased, as the food products were transported away, these strict bans were applied.
Attorney: What about the death penalty?
Witness: This was the case mentioned in an ordinance in the press.
Attorney: But was this decision enforced?
Witness: I can’t answer that.
Prosecutor: Perhaps the witness could present the organizational network of the German food regulation authorities at various levels.
Witness: The main one was the food regulation office in Kraków, under the General Government. In each district there were equivalents. In the cities there was a mayor; in Warsaw: Leist. As far as Warsaw is concerned, the main allocations were received from the district. The Municipal Administration had an organized separation and control department, and there were 42 or 43 distribution warehouses which collected the goods from the producers, and distribution was carried out through a network of distribution stores.
Prosecutor: The question is whether, as far as the implementation is concerned, the food regulation and allocation economy was carried out by Stadthaupmann [town chief], his organ [being] Ernährung?
Witness: Yes, it was.
Prosecutor: At the request of the defense attorney of the defendant Fischer, you have already given an explanation regarding the war with Russia as the cause of the difficulties in food allocation. I would also like to clarify whether at that time, due to the war, the allocations for Germans were reduced?
Witness: I do not know exactly. When it comes to food regulation, the army, the Gestapo, and the police came first, the German people and Volksdeutschers came second, the small industry working for the army came third, the fourth was rail and post, and the Polish people were the fifth.
Attorney Śliwowski: Were Stadthauptmann, or another German authority at that level, in urban districts constrained by the Kraków regulations?
Witness: I can’t answer this question. I can only say that when we discussed with the Municipal Administration the improvement of allocations, for at least grain coffee or marmalade, I believe it depended on the mood of the municipal food regulation authorities, as they had some reserves. Let me provide you with an example. When a high proportion of white sugar was exported outside the General Government, it was decided to allocate yellow sugar, which was intended for industrial processing. At that time, we interceded directly with Kulski, and this had a partial effect. However, we were convinced that it could have a total impact. At that time, Hirszfeld was the Warsaw food regulation authority.
Attorney: As far as the allocations for Germans are concerned, was Neumann also the one who decided on the size of these allocations?
Witness: Yes, he was.
Defendant Fischer: The witness said that the smuggled food trade was being strongly suppressed. How does the witness explain the fact that in the entire city of Warsaw, in all stores, on almost all streets, there was a lot of food in free trade?
Witness: To a large extent, this should be credited with the courage of the Warsaw citizens and their disregard for regulations of this kind.
Presiding Judge: Has the witness seen in the streets of Warsaw, such as Koszykowa Street, Germans in uniforms, chasing people who sold bread, vegetables, meat, etc.?
Witness: Very often. In general, not only in that spot, but on different streets, people hid in the gates in order to be able to sell something. This had been the order of the day.
Defendant: Is the witness aware that I published a poster late in the autumn of 1941, which stated that the enforced action against the smuggled trade of flour, meal, and potatoes had been abolished?
Witness: Yes, I am aware of that, but the result was as follows: larger consignments of food products were coming to Warsaw, and soon afterwards, they began shop searches and seizures of the goods that had been found there.
Defendant: The witness said that he did not know whether the food allocations for the German people had been lowered since the beginning of the war. In fact, these food allocations have been lowered to a very large extent. So much so that the Germans, who were moved here from Germany, constantly complained about the fact that there are better food allocations in Germany.
Witness: I do not know whether the food allocations were lowered for the Germans. All I know is that “Społem” had its own German inspectors, who came from Berlin, Hamburg, and other major German cities, and they were very reluctant to stay in Warsaw because of the weaker allocations, as they called it. They preferred to be at home, in Germany.
Defendant: I would like to admit that the witness’ testimony concerning maladministration of the food regulation in Poland resulting from too large food supplies to the Reich and the Wehrmacht undoubtedly corresponds to reality. It was indeed the case that this area was overexploited by the German authorities, but I must say that the administration offices of the General Government have always opposed this and that, and for this reason, throughout the entire occupation period, there had been strong and violent fights between the middle and lower administrative authorities against the central government. However, it should be considered a success that in 1942 the food allocations for workers in the arms industry and their families were raised, as well as for people who worked in German offices and for their families. In 1944, workers in the war industry had almost the same wages as workers in the war industry in Germany. This applies especially to those who have worked hard or very hard. It should be clear that the allocations for the people working in the war industry were successively increased.
Witness: It is clear to me that, with 400 kcal, workers would not be able to do the lightest job, not even mentioning the hard work for the war and arms industries. The increase of allocations for those hard-working people was also rather accidental. One month one kilogram of flour was given, some other month half a kilogram of sugar; sometimes tens of kilograms of potatoes during the winter and autumn. I do not have the records, because these were burnt during the uprising, but there we had comparisons of the food allocations received by the German and Volksdeutschers population and the allocations received by the Polish people, even those working in the German industry.
Presiding Judge: We are familiar with this data through other sources.
Defendant: Is the witness aware of the number of people in Warsaw who received increased food allocations compared to those who were not?
Witness: No, I do not have such data.
Defendant: I know that out of 900,000 [residents], 600,000 received such additional allocations. I do not deny that all these allocations were still too small, but I would just like to say that everything possible had been done on my part.
Presiding Judge: These explanations are made in connection with the expert witness’ explanations on the issue of food regulations. That is in the files.