Memoirs of the Jewish Order Police in the Warsaw Ghetto
Memoirs of a Jewish Order Service Policeman
Ber Warm was a member of the Jewish Police Force in the Warsaw Ghetto. He was assigned to the Befehlstelle, the SS command post for the deportation and later to the Werterfassungstelle, the Office for Value Assessment. In April 1943 Warm went into hiding on the Aryan side, where he wrote his memoirs, shortly before his death.
I don’t know what went on in the Befehlstelle during the Aktion from the end of July to the middle of August 1942; people just said that Germans were living in the building. I was assigned there as part of the Jewish Sluzba Porzadkowa (SP) in early October 1942, so I know the Befehlstelle as it was between the first large operation and the second in January 1943.
I presume that was when the building located at Zelazna 103 began living up to its name Befehlstelle – command post – for the SS inside the ghetto, since the earlier deportations had been directed from the KSP building at Ogrodowa 17. After this building was excluded from the ghetto at the end of September, the SS headquarters were moved to Zelazna 103.The KSP was permitted to stay on Ogrodowa a little longer, although the Jews had been cleared out from that street during the latter half of August.
The SS, or rather, the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) located at Szucha 23 , had assumed command of the ghetto at the very beginning of the “deportation operation” – that is, at 8 a.m. on 22 July 1942. Until then the ghetto had been administered by civilian authorities, in the person of Commissar Auerswald, plenipotentiary of the Governor of the Warsaw District, who implemented his policies through the President of the Jewish Council. The SS command post inside the ghetto was set up expressly for the Aktion.
SS- Oberscharfuhrer Mende, the representative of Szucha Avenue, administered the first stage of the Aktion from the offices of SP Chief Colonel Szerynski, on the second floor of the SP headquarters at Ogrodowa 17; a plate affixed to the door read Sonderkommando der Sicherheitspolizei Umseidlung (Special Forces of the Security Police Resettlement). The adjacent office was shared by the brothers Stanislaw and Jerzy Czaplinski, district chiefs of the SP; group leader Mayzler; the daytime telephone operator; and Officer Landau, the night operator. The wife of SP sub-district commander Kornheim worked there as a steno- typist.
The delegates from Szucha Avenue and from Einsatz Reinhard chose the KSP building precisely because it served as the assembly point for the SP, which had been ordered to take an active part in the operation by assisting in the forced removal of people to the Umschlagplatz. The locale was probably chosen to facilitate contact with the SP leadership, as well as the rank and file, and to save time between the issuing of orders and their execution.
During the operation, Oberschafuhrer Mende was evidently acting only as a delegate of Szucha Avenue, while others represented Einsatz Reinhard, headquartered in Lublin. Because that office had only sent four or five officials, the deportation authorities had assigned certain local SD men to the Sonderkommando to share administrative duties.
The Befehlstelle had already assumed its final form by the time it moved, together with those Jews who, during the operation, had worked for individual Germans or else for the Sonderkommando in general. The new offices at Zelazna 103 were located at the end of the street, facing the cul-de-sac near the corner of Nowolipie. The three-story structure was recently built and considered contemporary; from the outside it looked quite attractive. The entrance way was paved, with tiled walls. Immediately to the right was a guardroom manned by Junacy – uniformed Poles in German service with a left armband saying Sonderdienst (Special Service). This room was equipped with a small table, an armchair, three sofa beds, and a radio.
Next door was the barber’s room, containing one small table, two armchairs and a medium –sized mirror; a white smocked barber was permanently on call. Following the main corridor, the next room on the right was the Befehlstelle office, which housed the Czaplinski brothers, Mayzler, the SP section chief Mauer, the quartermaster, and pani Kornheim , the steno-typist. This office was equipped with a large table, a desk, a small table, and wall maps of the former and current ghetto, as well as some nondescript pictures.
On the left side of the corridor, opposite the guardroom, were the rickshaw drivers and a shoeshine stand; the room had a small table and chair, as well as a sofa bed.. Farther along was the SP guardroom, with a small table and chair, two sofa beds, and a small locker. At the end of the corridor was a glass door with the same plate I had seen in the KSP: Sonderkommando der Sicherheitspolizei Umseidlung.
On the first door along the left inside this corridor was a sign saying Mende, SS – Oberscharfuhrer. This room had a desk, two armchairs, a closed set of shelves, a chair that folded out into a bed, a trunk on the floor, a radio set, two telephones with special hook-ups, a chandelier with five lamps, maps of the old and new ghettos, and portraits of Hitler and Himmler, as well as some non-descript pictures.
The next two rooms on the left had no signs; I don’t know what they were used for, just as I don’t know the purpose of the three rooms on the right, of which only the middle had a nameplate saying Klaustermeyer – SS Oberscharfuhrer; Becker - SS Oberscharfuhrer. I presume that the unmarked rooms belonged to Obersturmfuhrer Witossek, Untersturmfuhrer Brandt, Unterscharfuhrer Miretschko and SS men Blosche and Ruhrenschopf.
Mende was the permanent on-duty officer at the Befehlstelle. Tall, heavyset with a friendly face, he gave the impression of someone who had never harmed a soul in his life. He arrived by car – the well known black limousine with the licence plate POL 47525 – at exactly eight every morning and left between four and six in the afternoon. Only on occasion would he stay late to work at night. Brandt came every day for several hours, usually in the afternoon and often in the same limousine, which would leave after bringing Mende. More often, however, Brandt drove his own car, a small green Opel with a licence plate that said OST. Witossek also arrived in the black limousine, and they would all leave together.
Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/survivor/berwarm.html
The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2012