Eighth day of the trial

Expert witness Bohdan Lachert, aged 46, residing in Warsaw; architectural engineer; no relationship to the parties; advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations.

Presiding Judge: – Please present to [The] High Tribunal, within the scope agreed on by the experts, what intentions the Germans had with respect to Warsaw.

Expert Witness: – My task is to present the intentions of the Germans with respect to Warsaw, as expressed in urban planning documents. These plans are titled Die neue Deutsche Stadt Warschau [The New German City of Warsaw] and dated 6 January 1940. Their copies are included in the case file.

The fact that these documents appeared four months after the Germans took control of Poland attests that the plans – which in the most favorable conditions, would have taken at least a year to draft – had been prepared in advance. The program of developing the eastern territories for the needs of the great German Reich, entailed the transformation of the structure of our country and the redevelopment of Warsaw.

The whole intent of Die neue Deutsche Stadt Warschau is laid out on fifteen boards, which can be divided into three groups: the first group is the historical stages of Warsaw’s development; the second is a plan of a general redevelopment of the city; the third is an operational plan, specifying the implementation stages. Let me briefly discuss each of these groups.

The first group provides plans of historic Warsaw, from the mid-17th century until 1938. These boards were prepared on the basis of Polish design documentation from the City Planning Department of the [Warsaw] Municipal Board, dating back to 1935, and – probably – on the basis of Professor Oskar Sosnowski’s study as an academic source. This group bears traces of allegedly scientific investigation, which is meant to justify the urban planning schemes shown in the further boards.

The second group is a general plan. The purpose of every general urban plan is to set the main guidelines for construction work. For this reason, I’m not going to speak about the lack of architectural value of this group of boards. I will pass over the total disregard for the principles of modern urban planning, which is focused on the study of local conditions and the existing manifestations of human activity in a given area. I am only going to outline the main features of the German solution, which erases everything that centuries had deposited as the cultural contribution of past generations, and retains only those municipal investments that were linked with the Germans’ partial use of the communications system within the boundaries of Warsaw.

So, the plans assumed a tenfold reduction of Warsaw’s economic impact range: instead of a circle with a radius of one hundred and fifty kilometers – a circle with a radius of fifty kilometers [was planned], which would have made Warsaw a town comparable in significance to Rzeszów or Tomaszów. According to these plans, Poland’s largest city was to have 130,000 residents.

Secondly, the plan assumed a change of the rail and road network in the whole country. The radial system of railway lines converging towards the capital city was rejected in the plan and replaced with four railway routes linking the great German Reich and its main transportation area – the living space in the east.

Thirdly, the plans assumed a tenfold reduction of Warsaw’s area, cutting down the built- up zone to six square kilometers on the left bank of the Vistula, and one square kilometer on the right bank. According to these plans, the closed built-up area of the city was to be limited by the following streets: in the east – by the Vistula embankment, with the Dynasy neighborhood in the Powiśle district being partly built-up; in the south – by Jerozolimskie Avenue; in the west – by Żelazna Street; and in the north – by the slopes of Traugutta Park. In Praga [the right-bank district of Warsaw], a built-up zone of about one square kilometer was to be eight hundred meters removed from the Vistula.

Finally, the design included a new street grid, introduced new objectives, and went against everything that ever existed in the city. The layout of Warsaw, along the Vistula river, was to be transformed into an east–west layout with significant architectural accent on the bridgehead of the Kierbedź Bridge, designed to resemble a kind of east-facing triumphal gate into a city of Teutonic Knights.

The third group of boards, justified by the war damage inflicted in September 1939, specifies the order of demolition for the capital’s centers of life and their replacement with a German city. Der Abbau der Polenstadt und der Aufbau der Deutschen Stadt [The Pulling Down of the Polish City and the Construction of the German City] – reads the title of the respective board. An example of the annihilation of our residential districts in the German redevelopment plan is the area of the ghetto, whose inhabitants were marked for deportation (Judenaussiedlung) to an area ten times smaller next to the Jewish cemetery in the Bródno district, referred to as the Judenviertel [Jewish quarter].

The Germans passed the sentence onto Warsaw almost as soon as they had seized the city. Only against the backdrop of the plans discussed, is it possible to clearly see the intention of thoroughly demolishing, first, the northern quarters of the city center, and then the entire city. Warsaw became the testing ground for the implementation of German plans for the structural redevelopment of the country.

Presiding Judge: – Thank you for now, Professor, and please remain in the room. Mr. Małachowski, please.

Judge Rybczyński: – I have a question to the expert witness. On whose orders was this city plan drawn up?

Expert Witness: – I have no knowledge about this, I only saw copies of the plans.

Judge Rybczyński: – Professor, could you say where these plans were deposited?

Expert Witness: – I can[not] answer this question either. Perhaps [this] could be established by interviewing witnesses who saw these plans during the occupation.

Judge Rybczyński: – But in Warsaw?

Expert Witness: – Yes, in Warsaw.

Judge Rybczyński: – There is one other thing. Do you know what role any of the accused – Fischer as district governor, and Leist as mayor [Stadthauptmann] – played in drawing up this plan or in providing the necessary information by granting access to the city archives?

Expert Witness: – As far as I know, the preparation of these plans took place in Warsaw in secret, which means it would be difficult today to establish which German administration officials showed interest in them. But it is reasonable to believe that, because they are strictly linked with economic activity in the city, top German administration officials must have been familiar with them.

Judge Rybczyński: – And who was supposed to implement this plan in Warsaw, as far as administration authorities are concerned?

Expert Witness: – This question could be answered only by comparison. In all other cities a municipal board was appointed as the city administrator, so I believe that in the occupation conditions this would have been the civil authorities of the German administration.

Judge Rybczyński: – But perhaps you have more specific information? Who ordered these operational plans and who set about their execution?

Expert Witness: – The operational plans were part of the issue presented on the fifteen boards, but I couldn’t say how they came into being, and how they were used to carry out the destruction of Warsaw.

Judge Rybczyński: – As far as the ghetto is concerned, the destruction of the district was probably carried out as presented in these plans.

Expert Witness: – Yes.

Judge Rybczyński: – Do you know which German administration official was in charge of the destruction?

Expert Witness: – I have no knowledge about this.

Judge Grudziński: – And what about Żoliborz and the whole district to the north, was all that supposed to be pulled down, according to these plans?

Expert Witness: – Yes, it was, except for six [square] kilometers of built-up area in left- bank Warsaw.

Judge Grudziński: – Are you familiar with the regulations and practices of the administrative authorities in Warsaw regarding reconstruction, from October 1939? What work was done? Was rebuilding or repair allowed?

Expert Witness: – I don’t remember exactly, but I know there were very severe restrictions on building permits; so, in the first period, in the first months of 1941, rebuilding still did take place, whereas later, being in touch with colleagues from the construction inspectorate, I knew that it was an extremely difficult thing to start any rebuilding. I don’t remember the regulations because I did not practice my profession at that time.

Presiding Judge: – Do attorneys have any questions?

Attorney Śliwowski: – Professor, it seems to me, as far as I have understood from what you have said, that the first time you came across the plans to destroy Warsaw, according to German intent, was on 6 February 1940.

Expert Witness: – These plans are dated 6 February.

Attorney Śliwowski: – And when did you come across them?

Expert Witness: – I was not acquainted with the plans until now.

Attorney Śliwowski: – Not until now?

Expert Witness: – That’s right.

Attorney Śliwowski: – And it seems you said this required at least a year of preparation, didn’t you?

Expert Witness: – I did.

Attorney Śliwowski: – Now, the next question: is it possible to establish where these plans were stored and which German authority stored them during the occupation? How did you come across them now?

Expert Witness: – This could be established by interviewing a witness who was the liaison between the German and Polish Municipal Boards, and who might have known about these plans; for my part, I did not receive this information until the prosecutor’s office requested me to prepare a presentation on the damage to Warsaw.

Attorney Chmurski: – Following the guidelines that the President of the Supreme National Tribunal was so kind as to provide, let me ask a question which does not exactly refer to sentiment, and which refers neither to the order nor to the execution of the order. As far as I could understand, you stressed, Professor, that the plan called Die neue Deutsche Stadt Warschau of 6 February 1940 would have taken about one year to prepare, is that correct?

Expert Witness: – That’s right.

Attorney Chmurski: – Next, you observed that, given the time span between the dates 6 February 1940 and 1 September 1939, this plan must have been created before the war.

Expert Witness: – What I said was that, in favorable conditions, this kind of plan would have taken a year to develop. It is conceivable that it may have been prepared in a shorter time. The point I wish to stress is that the work started before the capture of Warsaw.

Attorney Chmurski: – Professor, I am not making an accusation here. I wish to highlight a certain conclusion. After all, the plan contained very far-reaching projects, such as the reduction of Warsaw, a living city, to one-tenth of what it was. It required study and preparation – after all, it was about reducing a capital city to the status of a provincial town of 130,000 inhabitants. This could not have been done hastily. At any rate, the plan must have been prepared in the Reich.

Expert Witness: – I know that these plans were prepared in Warsaw.

Attorney Chmurski: – By whom?

Expert Witness: – I only know it from the press – director Lorenz reported that architect [Hubert] Gross was preparing this kind of plan.

Attorney Chmurski: – Was that the plan dated 6 February 1940?

Expert Witness: – The plans are not signed.

Presiding Judge: – Thank you for now, Professor, and please remain in the room. Mr. Małachowski, please.