Georg Michalsen

globocnik body with hofle und michalsen

Georg Michalsen next to the body of Globocnik with Hofle in foreground


Georg Michalsen was born on 13 September 1906 in Wendrien, under the name of Michalczyk, which he changed to Michalsen in 1941. He was a member of the Höfle ‘Einsatz Reinhardt’ murder squad. He played a leading role in the mass deportations from the Warsaw and Bialystok ghettos. Michalsen was with Odilo Globocnik, the former head of Aktion Reinhardt and his deputy, in the mass murder programme,Hermann Höfle when Globocnik was captured by the British Army and committed suicide. He was photographed by the British standing with Höfle next to the body of Globocnik in Paternion, Austria, in May 1945.   

Michalsen was interrogated by the British Mob Unit CSDIC between 2-4 June 1945 and he stated he was posted to the Higher SS and Police Leader in September 1943, but did not mention his service under Globocnik in Lublin, as a member of Aktion Reinhardt. Having seemingly escaped justice for his part in the murder of Polish Jewry it wasn’t until 1961, when West German war crimes investigators closed in on him, when he was living in Hamburg, with his wife and daughter. Georg Michalsen was questioned about his activities in the Warsaw Ghetto, where he was responsible for overseeing the transfer of firms from Warsaw to the Lublin area:

“I can make the following statements regarding the prior history of the Stroop mission and the intention to transfer the enterprises to the camps in the district of Lublin: with the ending of the actions of the summer of 1942, my relations to Warsaw had been discontinued. I was most delighted that this matter came to an end for me, and after my return to Lublin, I contacted SS- Hauptsturmführer von Mohrenschildt to get away from Commando Höfle. And it did occur that I got to the administrative office of the Reichskommissar. Despite all that, I received the order from Globocnik to take care of the transfer of the Warsaw enterprises to the district of Lublin. Globocnik had a great personal interest in taking over these enterprises in his district because he had great economic interests.I cannot tell with certainty whether this was around October of 1942 but I believe that was the right time. In any case as far as I remember, it was still in 1942, namely towards the end of the year. Globocnik ordered me to find suitable quarters. I cannot remember today if I got this order personally. In any case, I was present when the camp at Poniatowa was selected, it is possible that Globocnik himself came along, but I do not remember this. When we were there to inspect the camp at Poniatowa, it was completely empty and only one team of guards was present which protected the camp. This camp belonged to the Wehrmacht.

Michalsen recalled his time in Warsaw during the ghetto revolt:

“On the following day, which was the second day of the Aktion, Stroop commanded that I should refrain from any involvement because it was only a disturbance because of the “stupid firms. On the following day the wire came from Krakow and I was ordered back to Lublin. Stroop initiated this recall. As early as on the second day of the action I telephoned Globocnik and told him that I practically was de-commissioned here, and whether I should come back. Globocnik gave me the order to stay in Warsaw. On the next morning which was the third day of the Aktion, he (Globocnik) came to Warsaw by car and negotiated with Stroop. I was not present during this conference and therefore, do not know what was discussed during that between Stroop and Globocnik. After that I went back to Lublin with Globocnik, but not in the same car, it was the same day, meaning the third day of the Aktion. It is correct that at the beginning of the Stroop Aktion I still took care of a transfer of Toebbens Jews to Poniatowa, which means that one more transfer of the firm of Toebbens to Poniatowa left Warsaw. As far as I remember, this was on the second day of the Aktion, meaning on April 20. If H. states that this transfer to Poniatowa only left on 21 April, this is also possible. It must have been during the morning because in the afternoon of that day I had already driven back to Lublin.I do no longer remember the details about this transport, at the time there was great confusion among the Jews. Many Jews were inspired by the work of the resistance and by the fighting and it was not that simple to get them together.

When H. maintains that I led this action while wearing a steel helmet, with a whip and machine pistol, this is not true. I had left my steel helmet in Lublin and had arrived in Warsaw with my hat. I did not get myself a steel helmet there. At the same time, I only had a pistol, not a machine pistol. More so I did not have any justification for carrying a whip. I do no longer know if the transfer of the Jews went around the Ghetto to a transfer camp. I also cannot state if I accompanied the transport to the transfer place. I don’t think I went along to it. I did not take part in further transports from Warsaw. Of special note is the fact that I was not a participant in the transport of Jews of the Schultz firm to Trawniki. If such a transport took place, then possibly SS Oberscharführer Bartetzko was involved.” Were you ever at the transfer area during the first three days of the Stroop Aktion?

“During those days everything was so chaotic and I was at so many places in the Ghetto that I don’t remember where. As a torture Stroop sent me here and there, especially to the factories with the order to make sure that the Jews of the firm had to line up for roll-calls Real work in that sense was not possible because of the fighting and the large upheaval. When SS-Oberscharfuhrer Slany and I left Warsaw by car on 21 April, we could still see burning buildings and dark clouds over the Ghetto.If Jesuiter says or states his suspicion that the people from Lublin organised the whole transport of the Jews from Warsaw, I cannot make a statement about this. I myself did not have such an order. However, I consider it possible that some people of Globocnik’s staff in Lublin had gone to Warsaw with the order to supervise the transport of able Jews and to process it. I know that, besides the Jews who were destined for Poniatowa and Trawniki, a number of Jews were taken to Lublin and there apportioned to various camps. In this way, labour forces for the German armament factories were taken to Lublin.

When I am being told that Mohwinkel was in Warsaw during the Stroop Action, I now seem to remember that Mohwinkel had something to do with the transport and selection of Jews for Lublin, especially for the Deutsche Ausrustungswerke (DAW). Basically it was Globocnik’s endeavour to only take real labour forces into these camps, which then could become pure and exclusive labour camps. Women, children and sick people were not to be taken into these camps, as long as they were not labourers themselves. In Globocnik’s plans these should not be transferred but remain in Warsaw for the time being so that they would be captured in the last final cleansing of the Warsaw Ghetto and transported off to Treblinka. When I was asked what was to happen to the people who were transported off to Treblinka. I can only say that Globocnik did not tell me explicitly that they were sent to Treblinka for liquidation, he did not say that, but it was just inferred in the general circumstances. This plan as Globocnik envisioned it did not get realised, the firms insisted that all people who were in their factories would be taken to the camps. The firms assumed that no selections would take place, but all Jews of their factories would be transferred without exception. At the end, Globocnik had to agree to this attitude by the firms. As a fact, such selections among the members of the firms’ labour force were no longer made before they were transferred, Globocnik still did not like it, and I remember that at a later time he mockingly remarked that in both camps there were too many women. Globocnik also made fun about the kindergarten in Poniatowa – this happened during an inspection of the Camp Poniatowa – at this inspection by Globocnik, Lerch was also present.”



SOURCES:


French L. Maclean, The Ghetto Men: The Destruction of the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto April – May 1943, Schiffer Publishing Ltd 2001


J. Poprzeczny, Hitler’s Man in the East – Odilo Globocnik, McFarland, Jefferson 2004


National Archives Kew WO 204/ 13006


Georg Michalsen Personnel File – Yad Vashem, Israel


Photograph – Chris Webb Private Archive


 © Holocaust Historical Society 2014