Warsaw, 19 April 1947. A member of the District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Warsaw, Acting Judge Halina Wereńko, interviewed the person named below as a witness. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations and of the obligation to speak the truth, the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Tadeusz Antoni Franciszek Jaczewski|
|Parents’ names||Leonard and Helena, née Biron|
|Date of birth||1 February 1899, Saint Petersburg|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Citizenship and nationality||Polish|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, Uniwersytecka Street 1, flat 1|
|Education||Associate Professor at the University of Warsaw|
|Occupation||official at the Ministry of Education|
Before the war, I was the head of the State Zoological Museum in Warsaw (Wilcza Street 64). Having returned from the September Campaign, I continued to look after the institution with the help of other employees, especially secretary Otto. Around 6 November 1939, Dr. Tratz, whom I didn’t know personally at that time, arrived at the museum, dressed in the uniform of an SS staff officer (I believe the rank was equal to a lieutenant colonel), accompanied by a younger SS man. He asked about the former director of the museum, Roszkowski. When I approached him, without revealing his name, he demanded that I show him the office. He inspected it in detail, making specialist comments. During the visit, Dr. Tratz had a casual conversation with the then museum assistant, Dr. Andrzej Dunajewski (killed in the uprising). I realized that Tratz was an ornithologist. During his scholarship in Germany in 1937, Dunajewski had become known among German ornithologists.
On 9 November, the same Dr. Tratz appeared at the museum, accompanied by several SS men (two officers and a few non-commissioned officers) and a team of a dozen or so Jews who arrived by truck. They came in and, without even greeting us, they threw people out of the outbuilding where the collections were kept, and started loading certain items into the truck. The operation took two days. The truck went back and forth several times during the day. After the second day of the loading, the Germans tried to seal the outbuilding’s door, but the seals would not stick, so one of the SS officers waved his hand and told me that the seals did not stick, but I was still personally responsible for the collections. I asked him where they were being taken and if I would receive a receipt. The officer replied that I would not receive any receipt and that the collections were safe and would be taken care of in Germany.
While collecting the exhibits, the Germans were behaving violently and threatening the employees.
In December 1939 and January 1940, one of the SS officers who had accompanied Tratz visited the museum a few times. He went to the ground floor, asked if everything was all right, and went away. He didn’t take anything with him then.
During the November robbery, the Germans stole the following items: three stuffed bison, a complete bison skeleton, all fossil skulls and bones, including four or five aurochs’ skulls. Several dozen bird specimens – valuable; about a hundred books – also valuable, stolen from different laboratories. At least two typewriters, at least four microscopes and stereo microscopes, plus smaller items.
At the beginning of December 1939, Dr. Hans Kummerlöwe, whose works I was familiar with at that time, visited the museum, dressed in civilian clothes, with a golden swastika on a lapel (the first party members’ badge), accompanied by a secretary-interpreter. He was interested in the museum’s collections. I told him about the robbery of the collections, he showed interest in that matter and promised to check with his superiors if those uniformed gentlemen had the right to do it.
I met Dr. Kummerlöwe in the summer of 1946, when I worked as a liaison officer of the Polish Military Mission in Germany in the British Zone in Osnabrück. He worked there as a refugee from the East at the local Nature Museum. In October 1946, Kummerlöwe was interrogated in my presence by the Polish Military Mission for the Investigation of War Crimes. He testified that in December 1939 a commission had been sent from Vienna to the General Government in order to examine the state of Polish scientific institutions. He was not able to say what office had delegated the commission. Its members were Kummerlöwe, Professor Michel, currently the director of the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the third member was Professor Haberland. Kummerlöwe said he had stayed in Warsaw because he was a member of the commission. Having returned to Vienna, the commission submitted a report to the Ministerium für Innere und Kulturelle Angelegenheiten. Kummerlöwe claimed he didn’t remember the content of the report, and he was released. During the interrogation, Kummerlöwe testified that he knew Dr. Eduard Paul Tratz already before the war. Kummerlöwe knew that Tratz was a Nazi even before Austria was incorporated into Germany, and that he belonged to the SS. What is more, he stated that in the autumn of 1939 Tratz went to the General Government. Before the war and afterwards, Tratz was the director of the Haus der Natur in Salzburg.
Kummerlöwe claimed he didn’t know anything about the Paulsen Kommando.
In the summer of 1946, when I was staying in Berlin, I talked to Berlin zoologists Professor Erwin Stresemann (a prominent German ornithologist) and Professor Martin Hering, an employee of the Zoological Museum in Berlin, and when I described the SS officer who had stolen the collections from [our] museum in 1939, they both agreed that it could only have been Dr. Eduard Paul Tratz, director of the Haus der Natur in Salzburg. They also informed me that the Haus der Natur was considered a training center of sorts for the popularization of natural science, especially for party members. Later on, [our] collections were found in the Haus der Natur, of course only some of them.
Mr. Urbanowicz will explain the circumstances of that event.
Having linked the above facts, I determined that it was Dr. Tratz who had taken the collections away from the Zoological Museum in November 1939.
I will provide here a description of the SS officer who stole the collections, and who I think was Dr. Tratz: tall (about 180 cm), blonde, about 50 years old (at that time), wearing pince- nez, with a round face.
In November 1939, the Germans stole exhibits, equipment, and books from the Department of Zoology in Warsaw at Krakowskie Przedmieście Street 26/18, from the Department of Botany, located in the same place, from the Department of Experimental Physics at Hoża 69, and from the State Archaeological Museum at Agrykola Street. Associate Professor Dr. Lech Wiśniewski, employed at the Department of Zoology at the University of Warsaw, could testify about the robbery of collections from the Department of Zoology at the University of Warsaw. The rector of the University of Warsaw, Prof. Dr. Stefan Pieńkowski, has information on the robbery at the Department of Experimental Physics.
So far, none of the items stolen from the university have been returned to Poland. The dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Prof. Dr. Bassalik told me that the stolen objects were kept in the University of Würzburg in Bavaria.
At this point, the report was concluded and read out.