This document was retrieved from the archives of Nizkor. These are the excerpts of the Stroop Report on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that was presented at the Nuremberg Trial. The remarks in italics were made by the prosecutor. Source: Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, Volume I, Chapter VII, Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1946, pp. 995-998.
"The resistance put up by the Jews and bandits could be broken only by relentlessly using all our forces and energy by day and night. On 23 April 1943 the Reichsfuehrer SS issued through the Higher SS and Police Fuehrer East at Cracow his order to complete the combing out of the Warsaw Ghetto with the greatest severity and relentless tenacity. I therefore decided to destroy the entire Jewish residential area by setting every block on fire, including the blocks of residential buildings near the armament works. One concern after the other was systematically evacuated and subsequently destroyed by fire. The Jews then emerged from their hiding places and dugouts in almost every case. Not infrequently, the Jews stayed in the burning buildings until, because of the heat and the fear of being burned alive, they preferred to jump down from the upper stories after having thrown mattresses and other upholstered articles into the street from the burning buildings. With their bones broken, they still tried to crawl across the street into blocks of
buildings which had not yet been set on fire or were only partially in flames. Often the Jews changed their hiding places during the night, by moving into the ruins of burnt out buildings, taking refuge there until they were found by our patrols. Their stay in the sewers also ceased to be pleasant after the first week. Frequently from the street, we could hear loud voices coming through the sewer shafts. When the men of the Waffen SS, the Police or the Wehrmacht Engineers courageously climbed down from the shafts to bring out the Jews and not infrequently they then stumbled over Jews already dead, or were shot at. It was always necessary to use smoke candles to drive out the Jews. Thus one day we opened 183 sewer entrance holes, and at a fixed time lowered smoke candles into them, with the result that the bandits fled from what they believed to be gas in the center of the former Ghetto, where they could then be pulled out of the sewer holes there. A great number of Jews who could not be counted were exterminated by blowing up sewers and dugouts.
"The longer the resistance lasted the tougher the men of the Waffen SS, Police, and Wehrmacht became. They fulfilled their duty indefatigably in faithful comradeship, and stood together as models and examples of soldiers. Their duty hours often lasted from early morning until late at night. At night search patrols with rags wound round their feet remained at the heels of the Jews and gave them no respite. Not infrequently they caught and killed Jews who used the night hours for supplementing their stores from abandoned dugouts and for contacting neighboring groups or exchanging news with them.
"Considering that the greater part of the men of the Waffen SS had only been trained for three to four weeks before being assigned to this action, high credit should be given to the pluck, courage and devotion to duty which they showed. It must be stated that the Wehrmacht Engineers, too, executed the blowing up of dugouts, sewers and concrete buildings with indefatigability and great devotion to duty. Officers and men of the police, a large part of whom had already been at the front, again excelled by their dashing spirit.
"Only through the continuous and untiring work of all involved did we succeed in catching a total of 56,065 Jews whose extermination can be proved.
To this should be added the number of Jews who lost their lives in explosions or fires, but whose number could not be ascertained."
At the beginning of his report Stroop lists the losses of German troops:
"For the Fuehrer and their country the following fell in the battle for the destruction of Jews and bandits in the former ghetto of Warsaw ***" [Fifteen names are thereafter listed].
"Furthermore, the Polish police sergeant Julian Zielinski, born 13 November 1891, 8th Commissariat, fell on 19 April 1943 while fulfilling his duty. They gave their utmost, their life. We shall never forget them.
"The following were wounded ***" [There follow the names of 60 Waffen SS personnel] "11 watchmen from training camps, probably Lithuanians; 12 Security Police officers in SS units; 5 men of the Polish Police; and 2 regular army personnel, engineers."
The story continues in the daily teletype reports, from which following are excerpts:
"Our setting the block on fire achieved the result in the course of the night that those Jews whom we had not been able to find despite all our search operations left their hideouts under the roofs, in the cellars, and elsewhere, and appeared on the outside of the buildings, trying to escape the flames. Masses of them -- entire families -- were already aflame and jumped from the windows or endeavored to let themselves down by means of sheets tied together or the like. Steps had been taken so that these Jews as well as the remaining ones were liquidated at once."
"When the blocks of buildings mentioned above were destroyed, 120 Jews were caught and numerous Jews were destroyed when they jumped from the attics to the inner courtyards, trying to escape the flames. Many more Jews perished in the flames or were destroyed when the dugouts a sewer entrances were blown up.'
"Not until the blocks of buildings were well aflame and were out to collapse did a further considerable number of Jews merge forced to do so by the flames and the smoke. Time and again the Jews try to escape even through burning buildings. Innumerable Jews whom we saw on the roofs
during the conflagration perished in the flames. Others emerged from the upper stories in the last possible moment and were only able to escape death from the flames by jumping down. Today we caught a total of 2,283 Jews, of whom 204 were shot, and innumerable Jews were destroyed in dugouts and in the flames."
"The Jews testify that they emerge at night to get fresh air, since it is unbearable to stay permanently within the dugout owing to the long duration of the operation. On the average the raiding parties shoot 30 to 50 Jews each night. From the statements it was to be inferred that a considerable number of Jews are still underground in the Ghetto. Today we blew up a concrete building which we had not been able to destroy by fire. In this operation we learned that the blowing up of a building is a very lengthy process and takes an enormous amount of explosives. The best and only method for destroying the Jews therefore remains the setting of fires."
"Some depositions speak of three to four thousand Jews who still remain in underground holes, sewers, and dugouts. The undersigned is resolved not to terminate the large-scale operation until the last Jew has been destroyed."
The teletype message of 15 May 1945 indicates that the operation is in its last stage:
"A special unit once more searched the last block of buildings which was still intact in the Ghetto, and subsequently destroyed it. In the evening the chapel, mortuary, and all other buildings in the Jewish cemetery were blown up or destroyed by fire.."
On 24 May 1943 the final figures were compiled by Major General Stroop:
"Of the total of 56,065 caught about 7,000 were destroyed in the former Ghetto during large scale operation. 6,929 Jews were destroyed by transporting them to T.II [believed to be Treblinka Camp No. 2]. The sum total of Jews destroyed is therefore 13,929. Beyond the number of 56.065 an estimated number of 5 to 6,000 Jews were destroyed by being blown up or by perishing in the flames."
A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2005.