McLellan   Letter 17   17-Apr-1998   Jewish Ghetto Police
The policemen knew no mercy, even in regard to the most respected man.  If he could not pay, or if there were no relatives ready to pay, he was shipped off.  There were known cases when policemen demanded payment in kind the flesh of women in addition to cash....  One was simply unable to comprehend the behavior of the policemen in the course of "resettlements." Emanuel Ringelblum
April 17, 1998

The Honourable Anne McLellan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Room 360, Justice Building
239 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0H8

E-mail: mclela@parl.gc.ca

Dear Ms. McLellan:

In my previous letters to you, I have repeatedly accused your war crimes unit of conducting its activities in response to political considerations, of targeting East Europeans for prosecution while granting Jews immunity from prosecution, and thus of violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It seems not unreasonable for some Canadians to expect your war crimes unit to refute the above accusations by including Jews among those targeted for prosecution.  I have already pointed out to you several categories of Jewish war crimes and crimes against humanity that appear to provide suitable material for war crimes proceedings, specifically in my letters to you of Feb 2[0], Mar 28, Mar 30, and Mar 31, 1998.  In the present letter, I will continue this line of argument by bringing to your attention some of the crimes of the Jewish Ghetto Police during the Second World War.  The Jewish Ghetto Police offer the advantage that their activities most closely resemble the activities of some of the non-Jewish auxiliary police forces that appear to be one of the current foci of your war crimes proceedings.

All my quotations below are taken from Isaiah Trunk's book Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe Under Nazi Occupation, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1972.  Isaiah Trunk's work appears to be thoroughly documented, even providing some photographic evidence (one example of which I have attached to the present letter), and thus able to provide your war crimes researchers with ample material from which to begin their investigations.  I make no attempt in the present letter to touch on the full variety of Jewish crimes described in Isaiah Trunk's book, nor to provide any overview of the many topics treated in that book, but only to offer a few examples of actions of the Jewish Ghetto Police that might provide grounds for war crimes proceedings.  In all my quotations below, I omit footnotes, and I change all Polish letters to the nearest English equivalent.  I organize my quotations according to the conclusion that they support.

As you read the quotations with commentary below, I ask you to keep one thought constantly in mind.  That thought is that none of the conclusions and recommendations below are my own.  Rather, they are conclusions and recommendations that follow from a non-discriminatory application of the policies of your war crimes unit.  If some of these conclusions and recommendations seem implausible or inadvisable, then please ask yourself why you feel such implausibility or inadvisability only when the target is Jewish, but not when he is Christian.

(1) Jewish prisoners were sometimes commandeered into police service.  Therefore, the Canadian war crimes unit should ascertain the frequency with which this occurred, and then possibly investigate Canadian Jews who had been Nazi prisoners to determine whether they had performed police services.

It also happened that people not in the ghetto police were commandeered to assist the German authorities in "actions" against the Jews.  Thus in the Lublin Ghetto, for instance, Jewish prisoners in the SS camp at Lipowa Street were forced to take part in the raid ordered by Globocnik during the night of December 11-12, 1941, with the aim of seizing Jews for the Majdanek camp; 320 Jews were rounded up, and 150 were sent to Majdanek.  (p. 477)

(2) Service in the Jewish Ghetto Police was voluntary, sometimes performed for payment, but sometimes "honorary."  The number of Jewish Ghetto policemen was large.  Therefore, the defense that Jewish Ghetto Police service was coerced will sometimes not apply.  Also, the argument that there were too few Jewish Ghetto Police to justify searching for any in Canada will not apply either.

However, there were ghettos where service in the police was considered an honorary duty for which no salary was paid.  In the Warsaw ghetto, for instance, where salaries were paid only to the commandant and 100 high-ranking functionaries ..., the Council budget could not absorb an additional burden of more than 20,000 zlotys a month, a sum needed to pay the salaries of the 1,700 ghetto policemen.  According to a person well versed in events in that ghetto, this was the primary cause of the negative selection of candidates for the ghetto police.  The prospect of work without remuneration simply didn't attract well-qualified, honest people.  Only dishonest ones, seeing an opportunity to make money the easy way, applied in large numbers.  (Trunk, 1972, p. 498)

(3) The services performed by the Jewish Ghetto Police were diverse, and many of these services are of the sort that would qualify as war crimes or crimes against humanity.  Therefore, there appears to be no difference between the services performed by non-Jewish police functionaries who today are the targets of war crimes proceedings in Canada and the United States, and the services performed by the Jewish police functionaries who today seem to enjoy immunity from such war crimes proceedings.

The police collected cash contributions and taxes; they assisted in raiding, guarding, and escorting hungry, mentally exhausted people on their way to places of forced labor; and it was the ghetto police who often were ordered to enforce discipline in the presence of German officials.  The ghetto police sentries formed the inside guard at the ghetto fences, and in the minds of the ghetto inhabitants they were identified with the German and Polish sentries outside the fences.  Both the Germans and the Councils used the ghetto police to carry out confiscation of Jewish property and to combat smuggling, the only means of overcoming constant hunger in the ghettos.  The Jewish police carried out raids against and arrests of inmates for offenses against draconic ghetto rules.  Last but not least, in the final stages of the ghettos the Jewish police were called upon to assist in "resettlement actions."  In short, the ghetto police came to be identified with the inhuman cruelty of the Nazi ghetto regime.  (Trunk, 1972, p. 499)

(4) Some units of the Jewish Ghetto Police attained a level of professional competence that led to their being employed frequently and widely in anti-Jewish actions.  Therefore, Jewish collaboration cannot be excluded from prosecution on the assumption that it was rendered reluctantly or was of brief duration:

The police in some large ghettos became such experienced "resettlement" experts that the Germans would send them to adjacent ghettos to help in the "action."  Thus squads of the Lwow Ghetto police took part in the deportation of the inmates from ghettos in Jaworow and Zloczow in April 1943, and in a number of small ghettos in the vicinity of Lwow.  The Jewish police of the Sosnowiec and Bedzin Ghettos were dispatched to take part in "resettlements" in small ghettos in Eastern Upper Silesia, such as in Olkusz in July 1942.  (Trunk, 1972, p. 514)

(5) Activities of the Jewish Ghetto Police sometimes included killing.  Therefore, it cannot be argued that the Jewish Ghetto Police should be immune from prosecution on the grounds that they participated only in the least culpable of the Nazi actions.

The ghetto police also executed punishments imposed by the Jewish Councils and ghetto courts, including death sentences on rare occasions.  For instance, in the Vilna Ghetto the police hanged six persons on July 6, 1942, for the murder and robbery of two Jews.  A seventh person was sentenced to death for stabbing a Jewish policeman and for informing on the Lida Jewish Council.  All were sentenced by the ghetto court.  Sometimes the ghetto police were forced to assist in the execution of death sentences imposed on Jews by German courts.  On German orders, participation of the ghetto police in public execution of Jews took place in Zdunska Wola, Brzeziny, Leczyca, Belchatow, Poddebice, Wielun, Piontki, Ozorkow (all between February and April 1942), Bialystok (on December 31, 1943), and Lodz (where one execution was performed by a Jewish executioner and his assistants).  (Trunk, 1972, pp. 482-483)

A squad of Vilna Jewish policemen, some 30 strong, was issued new uniforms and dispatched to Oszmiana in October 1942, where Jews from Smorgonie, Soly, and other small ghettos in the Vilna area were assembled.  They were told that their task was "to deliver certificates" to the inmates of those ghettos.  They took over from the Lithuanians the task of guarding the ghetto gate.  On October 23, 1942, the Jews were driven to the assembly place by the police from the Vilna Ghetto accompanied by local policemen.  They "selected" 200 sick and 392 elderly people; 410 were sent off to Zielkonka, some 7 or 8 kilometers from Oszmiana, in previously prepared carts.  They were put to death in the presence of several Vilna Jewish policemen.  According to Dvorzhetsky, the Jewish policemen took part in the actual execution.

An eyewitness from the Debica Ghetto relates that during the final "action" (on November 15, 1942) the ... Jewish camp Elder ordered the ghetto police to deliver some 50 "illegal" Jews, those who had escaped and somehow made it back to the camp later on.  These were detained in a room of the local Talmud Torah and killed the same night, with the help of the ghetto police ("the men of the Ordnungsdienst grabbed the hands of the victims and Gabler [apparently the Lagerkommandant] shot them").  (Trunk, 1972, p. 514)

(6) The fulfillment of Jewish Ghetto Police duties sometimes far exceeded minimal requirements.  Therefore, in some prosecutions of Jewish Ghetto Police, following orders would not be available as a defense.

In the Warsaw Ghetto ... the ghetto police locked the gates of houses where tenants had been tardy in paying taxes.  Thus they imposed a kind of collective responsibility on all tenants.  At times they went so far as to take hostages from among the members of house committees when a tenant assigned to forced-labor duty failed to report.  A taxpayer who stubbornly refused to pay taxes was dragged from his home at night by the ghetto police.  He was maltreated, forced to clean the streets or to move into an asylum for the homeless and made to do all kinds of degrading chores.  (Trunk, 1972, p. 483)

Nihilism and lawlessness became widespread among the ghetto police, leading to far-reaching collaboration with the Germans.  Little by little, more and more policemen adopted the mores and morals of the Nazi oppressor.  (Trunk, 1972, p. 500)

As much as it hurts, it has to be mentioned that Jews at the assembly place were often beaten by their own people ... the Jewish police and employees of the labor department.  (Lejb Garfunkel in Trunk, 1972, p. 501)

Severe, brutal treatment of Jewish forced laborers (arrests and beatings) often accompanied by acts of corruption (bribes for assignment to places of lighter work) are reported by eyewitnesses in Gostynin (Wartheland), Bedzin, Zawiercie, Wlodzimierz, Wolynksi, and Bransk, among many other places.  (Trunk, 1972, p. 502)

The supreme test of the ghetto police came at the time of the mass "resettlements" when, in accordance with their tasks and prescribed functions, they had to take an active part in deportations to the annihilation camps.  Their participation ranged in degree from assisting SS squads and local auxiliary police to actually taking the job of collecting the victims and taking them to loading places.  ...  People destined for deportation did not report at assembly places for "selections," tried to escape from the ghetto, or hid themselves within the ghetto.  Brutal force had to be used.  ...  In the Lodz Ghetto, too, the Jewish police were in charge at the start of the "action" against children, the elderly, and the sick that lasted from September 5 to September 12, 1942.  (Trunk, 1972, pp. 506-507)

Teeth were pulled out and limbs were chopped off bodies by Jewish hands.  (Josef Zelkowicz in Trunk, 1972, p. 510)

The Jewish police enjoyed a bad opinion even before the start of the "resettlements."  ...  But their meanness reached a pinnacle in the course of the deportations.  No word of protest was issued [by the police] ... against carrying off their own brethren to the slaughter.  The police became mentally conditioned to doing this dirty work and, therefore, performed it with perfection.  People are torturing themselves now, puzzling over how it was possible for Jews, the majority of whom came from the intelligentsia, to drag [in carts] children, women, elderly people, and sick ones, knowing well that they were being taken for slaughter.  (Emanuel Ringelblum in Trunk, 1972, p. 510)

The ghetto police actively participated in uncovering hidden Jews in many ghettos.  Familiar with the topography of the ghetto, the layout of the apartments, and the nooks where people might try to hide, the ghetto police were given the task of sniffing out Jews in hiding.  No doubt a number of well-camouflaged places in Warsaw, Cracow, Vilna, Kolomyja, Buczacz, Skalat, and many other ghettos would not have been discovered otherwise.  (Trunk, 1972, p. 513)

(7) The Jewish Ghetto Police sometimes used their positions to extort money, valuables, or sexual favors, and sometimes lived lives of luxury and dissipation in the midst of the Jewish Holocaust.  Therefore it is demonstrated that the Jewish Ghetto Police acted voluntarily and overlaid the crimes of executing Nazi designs with their own crimes arising from their own greed and lust.

Cash Contributions, Taxes, and Confiscations

It has been reported from various ghettos that, in the course of collecting taxes and imposed contributions in cash or valuables, the ghetto police treated inmates without mercy, committed frauds, and appropriated large quantities of cash and valuables.  A survivor from the Drohiczyn Ghetto complains in his memoirs that "people who had lost their possessions and ruined their health at hard labor in a short time could not forgive the Council members and the ghetto police for enriching themselves after each enforced contribution or other affliction.  Every misfortune made them fatter.  Jewish policemen got drunk, had a good time, and traded with the non-Jewish police."

A witness reports that in the Bransk Ghetto, "the more the Council raised the taxes, the more the Jewish police carried out confiscations of the last pieces of bedding, clothing, and whatever else they were able to lay their hands on."  A group of ghetto policemen in Lukow, headed by their commandant, "denounced the Jews and whipped them, thus assisting the Gestapo in forcing the Jews to surrender gold.  Each new oppression became a source of income for them.  They became very rich in partnership with the Germans."  (Trunk, 1972, p. 502)

A survivor from the Grodno Ghetto writes: "Because of these relations [with the German ghetto guard], the Jewish police were in a position to make smuggling easier.  But they did this only in order to exact a large income for themselves.  The Jewish policemen are getting rich, enjoying a life of ease and plenty.  With few exceptions, they are the only patrons of the expensive restaurants, and they lavishly buy food and drink at a time when hundreds of Jews are starving."  (Trunk, 1972, p. 503)

Right after the blockades stop for the day [after 6 o'clock] the Jewish policemen, coming home, find in front of their homes tense people waiting to plead for their relatives....  Each one brings something, cash or valuables, to get cooperation.  With eyes swollen from overflowing tears, they wait to be admitted.  Although their hearts are burning with hatred toward the "blue uniform man" who may have assisted in dragging their relatives to the carts only a short time ago, people beg in subdued voices for some sort of mediation, trying not to vex the [man in] uniform.  Lucky is the one from whom a deposit is accepted on a later payment.  At least he cherishes some hope; but the majority go away empty-handed, for the policeman has no time for them.  One of these money-takers lives in our building, and the heartbroken wailing of the relatives of deported people gathered in front of his apartment can be heard all night long.  (Pseudonym "Vladke," eyewitness in the Warsaw Ghetto in Trunk, 1972, p. 512)

Horrible stories are told about the [Jewish] policemen at the Umschlagplatz.  For them [the victims] were not human beings but heads for which money could be extorted.  Ransom could be paid in cash, diamonds, gold, etc.  The price of a head ranged from 1,000 to 2,000 zlotys at the beginning, until it grew to 10,000 zlotys per head.  The amount depended on a number of objective circumstances....  The policemen knew no mercy, even in regard to the most respected man.  If he could not pay, or if there were no relatives ready to pay, he was shipped off.  There were known cases when policemen demanded payment in kind the flesh of women in addition to cash....  One was simply unable to comprehend the behavior of the policemen in the course of "resettlements."  (Emanuel Ringelblum in Trunk, 1972, p. 512)

The appearance that your war crimes unit should be presenting is one of the prosecution of war criminals by an impartial government.  However, in reviewing the evidence provided by Isaiah Trunk above, as well as the evidence in my previous sixteen letters to you, one might be drawn to the conclusion that the appearance that your war crimes unit is in fact presenting is one of the prosecution of East Europeans by Jews.  There are more than a few Canadians of East European descent and more than a few Canadians committed to the equitable distribution of justice who await your reversal of this appearance.

Yours truly,

Lubomyr Prytulak

Jewish Ghetto Police
A group of Jewish policemen of the Lodz Ghetto.  (Trunk, 1972, p. 481)

The Sonderabteilung ("Special Squad") of the Lodz Ghetto police ... enjoyed an unusually independent position.  It was given the task of confiscating merchandise, foreign currency, and valuables (gold, silver, diamonds) from the ghetto inmates either on their own authority, or on orders from Rumkowski, or in collaboration with the German criminal police (Kripo).  The Sonderabteilung also carried out political intelligence work against opposition elements and had secret agents for this purpose.  (Trunk, 1972, p. 480)