On 22 June 1946, in Warsaw, Deputy Prosecutor Z. Rudziewicz interviewed the person specified below as a witness. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations, and of the provisions of Art. 106 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the witness testified as follows:

Forename and surname Mieczysław Maślanko
Date of birth or age 7 September 1905
Names of parents Julian and Maria
Place of residence Warsaw, Pierackiego Street 15
Place of birth Warsaw
Religious affiliation Judaism
Occupation lawyer
Relationship to the parties none
Criminal record none
Education University of Warsaw

I am currently, and I was before the war, a lawyer in Warsaw. During the occupation, when the Ghetto was opened, I worked in the Judenrat’s Legal Department. Consequently, I was able to familiarize myself with the attitude of the German authorities towards the "Jewish problem." The Germans strove to accomplish the complete annihilation of the Jews; this was the aim they sought to achieve consistently from the very beginning of the occupation.

The proof of this is that in September 1939, that is still during the Polish-German war, Heydrich, Himmler’s deputy, issued an order to the heads of groups of Security Police, in which he indicated that the final aim was the total extermination of Jews.

This order was found by the British authorities; I submit a copy of it.

Although Heydrich’s order was for Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei, that is for the groups of Security Police that followed the armies and started their activity immediately after the Polish territories had been occupied, the meaning of Heydrich’s words was clear – the aims were to be achieved with the participation of the civil administration authorities.

In the Warsaw District, the person in charge of the civil authorities was Ludwig Fischer, whose zeal for the extermination of Jews singled him out of the other heads of the district; among other things, he ordered the Ghetto in Warsaw to be set up a few months before similar orders were issued for Cracow.

Before the biological extermination of Jews started, Fischer issued a number of orders that were aimed at oppressing them morally and materially. A good case in point were the orders that obliged Jews to wear arm bands, or the ban on walking in some streets (Aleje Ujazdowskie, […]ki square). Since both Arbeitsamt and soldiers had the right to stop any Jew and take him or her to do labor for a few hours or even a few days, no Jewish man was able to move freely around the city, so he was deprived of any possibility of doing errands or business, and therefore also of making money. Simultaneously, the district authorities issued an order in accordance with which Jews were removed from the Bar, they had to hand over their properties and their commercial establishments to appointed administrators, and they were banned from running commercial enterprises, with the definition of the notion of “Jew” based on the Nuremberg Laws.

As a result of these orders, Jewish people were deprived of any possibility of making money.

In order to earn their living, more enterprising individuals were compelled to ply illegal trade.

The Germans took advantage of this and unleashed a witch-hunt against Jews, accusing them of practising usury and engaging in profiteering. Articles like that were published with the full knowledge of Fischer, since the press was under the authority of the propaganda department in the district.

Due to fear of infectious diseases, Jewish doctors still had the right to practise medicine; however, they could only treat Jews.

The Gestapo conducted their own operation aimed at Jews, which was coordinated with the actions of the administrative authorities. The German police visited Jewish flats, taking furniture, carpets, valuables. A Jew became in fact like an outlaw.

Following the order I mentioned above, Fischer set up the Judenrat, which was headed by senior Obe[...].

In October 1940, Fischer issued an order in accordance with which a closed Jewish quarter was set up.

During a specified short time, Jews were to move into the Ghetto, with only small luggage, while the “Aryan” population was to move out into the “Aryan” quarter with all their possessions. Commercial and industrial enterprises were also transferred.

The establishment of the Ghetto in Warsaw, at an important junction point, and in line with Heydrich’s order, was a partial completion of the plan that the order contained.

According to this order, Fischer banned Jews from some counties of the Warsaw District, concentrating the population in a few towns from which it was regularly moved into the Warsaw Ghetto.

All these orders contradicted the Hague Convention and the basic principles of international law.

According to Fischer’s orders, the Ghetto was a quarter that was excluded from the city, and had its own self-government. First of all, it was under the authority of the Deportation Department (Abteilung Umsiedlung) in the district, and then – from May 1941 – a special commissary for the Jewish quarter, Auerswald, was appointed by Fischer, to whom he was subordinate.

The Transferstelle was an institution which acted as a commercial agent between the Ghetto and the “Aryan” quarter.

From the moment the Ghetto was established, the biological extermination of Jews started, but this operation was conducted relatively slowly. The orders that aimed to totally, although slowly, exterminate the Jewish population were as follows: Minimum food rations: a person received 2 kilograms of bread and a few decagrams of fruit preserve monthly, in exchange for food ration coupons. In order to maintain provision of food for poor people and for the so-called transit camps, a scant quantity of rotten vegetables was provided. As a consequence of absolute undernourishment, people died of starvation. One came across corpses of people who died of hunger in the street every day. The constant changes to the Ghetto boundaries, and the resulting necessity to resettle, afflicted the population and ruined it materially, especially because of problems with transport inside the Ghetto. Unprecedented overpopulation, resettlement from the provinces to the Warsaw Ghetto of the Jewish population, who were robbed of everything before their relocation, lack of proper accommodation for these people, poverty, deprivation and filth – caused the outbreak of a typhus epidemic, which decimated the residents of the Ghetto. Lack of coal meant insufficient heating of buildings and consequently parts of the sewage system were damaged in effect of frost; consequently, there was more filth in the quarter, especially since Germans did not grant permission to remove rubbish from the Ghetto. All this influenced the spread of the epidemic. It is necessary to quote Auerswald’s order in accordance with which Jews were obliged to hand over all their fur coats to Germans. If somebody did not follow this order, he or she was to be shot to death even without a sentence. Since the order was issued in winter 1941/1942, so at a time of severe frost, it was extremely oppressive for the Jewish population, who had been deprived of warm clothes. Arbeitsamt used Jews for forced labor outside the Ghetto. It was hard work, for example, the construction of roads, clearing sewers, river engineering. Laborers stayed in labor camps for several weeks, and even months, and they were beaten, starved and forced to work like a horse. They usually returned ill, and so haggard and exhausted that they died. Those who worked paid social insurance contributions, but they were deprived of any benefits of it, e.g. the right to use health care fund or to draw pensions, etc. The police authorities cooperated in the biological extermination of Jews. It often happened that Jews were arrested and mistreated. Gendarmes caught Jews who were walking in the street and, for some imaginary offence (e.g. failure to give way to a German), ordered even older people to do frog jumps in the street, to use their arms to sweep snow, waste or faeces, etc. From March 1941 onwards small groups of Gestapo men entered the Ghetto and stopped a number of Jews, killing them on the spot with guns. Such executions were repeated almost every day and every night, and they had not yet then been employed in the “Aryan” quarter. From time to time, the Judenrat received an order from the German district authorities to dig a grave in the cemetery for several hundred people. The first time around, the order was obeyed, but since

It is Fischer who is responsible for all these orders, as the head of the administrative authorities. To prove that what he meant was the biological extermination of Jews, I want to quote the fact that Fischer issued an order in accordance with which every two weeks he was to be provided with a report on the death rate in the Ghetto.

According to statistics, from the establishment of the closed Jewish quarter until July 1942, 250,000 Jews died. At this rate, the Jewish population would have been exterminated even without conducting violent liquidation operations, but only as a result of Fischer’s orders.

On 25 July 1942 the Ghetto came under the authority of the SS-Einsatzkommando Reinhard units commanded by the Sturmbannführer Hoffle.

At that time the Germans began a rushed operation of exterminating Jews. From 22 June until 18 August 1942 entire blocks of buildings were surrounded by SS units, the residents were thrown outside, transported into the shipment square and gassed in wagons or transported away to camps. After 18 August 1942 its intensity decreased a little, since the Germans started the extermination of the Jews in the camp in Wołomin and in other towns. From 25 August until 5 September the operation intensified again and 10,000 people were deported every day.

In January 1943 Jews were literally slaughtered; during two days, 4,000 people were murdered by the Germans and 5,500 were deported.

On 19 April 1943, directly before the outbreak of the uprising in the Ghetto, I was arrested and deported to Majdanek.

Almost everybody who was deported from the Warsaw Ghetto was murdered in concentration camps. One of the most horrible extermination camps was the camp in Treblinka, which was located in the Warsaw District and established by Fischer’s order.