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Bylaw of the Audit Office

Gens, Jacob bylaw of audit office, Vilna 1942
Courtesy of the Lithuanian State Archives, Vilnius
View this Legislation

tags: bureaucracy ghettos

type: Legislation

In the ghettos of German-occupied Europe, German authorities appointed Jewish Councils (Judenraete) to help administer the ghettos. Those who were appointed to serve on these councils often faced difficult choices.

Judenrat members received certain privileges for serving in their positions, and many ghetto inhabitants considered the council members to be collaborating with their oppressors. Nevertheless, it was important to the councils to be seen as legitimate and not corrupt. In some ghettos, the administration set up institutions to control the work of individual Judenrat members or ghetto institutions. In Białystok, a committee was created under the leadership of Judenrat member Yaakov Lipshitz to probe the work of the various departments.1

A similar institution was created in the Vilna ghetto in the fall of 1942. The chair of the Judenrat in Vilna was Jacob Gens, a lawyer and economist. In October 1942, he appointed an agency to audit institutions and persons within the ghetto. The so-called Audit Office was responsible directly to Gens.2

The featured bylaw of the Vilna ghetto's Audit Office was drafted in October 1942. The institutions of the ghetto did not survive the final round of deportations from Vilna less than a year later in September 1943. Members of German-appointed Jewish Councils and other ghetto institutions received some privileges, but they were not immune from policies of mass murder. Gens himself was murdered on September 14, 1943.

For more on the history of the Białystok ghetto, see Sara Bender, The Jews of Białystok during World War II and the Holocaust, trans. Yaffa Murciano (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2008).

On everyday life of the Vilna ghetto and the Judenrat, see Herman Kruk, The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-44, ed. Benjamin Harshav, trans. Barbara Harshav (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002). 

This note indicates that this copy of the document was meant for Herman Kruk, who was compiling documentation for a ghetto chronicle. See Kruk, The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania

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1. The Audit Office is an agency that is subordinated to the Ghettovorsteher [literally, the representative of the ghetto population, the title of Jacob Gens].

2. Subject to the scrutiny of the Audit Office are:

a) Ghetto institutions and activities,

b) Social institutions

c) Other legal and natural persons according to special instructions of the representative of the ghetto population.

3. Before the beginning of an audit in any ghetto institution, the financial controller, according to jurisdiction, informs the head of the ghetto administration, the police chief, or the go-between of this fact, asking them for their special instructions.

4. After completion of the audit, the controller presents a copy of the report to one of the persons mentioned in Item 3, according to jurisdiction, and a copy to the institution or organization that was subject to the audit.

The head of the administration, police chief, or go-between presents the representative of the ghetto population with the results of the audit, with his remarks and suggestions.

5. The audit includes:

a) financial and economic activity,

b) implementation of regulations issued by the representative of the ghetto population as well as other responsible agencies with regard to activity mentioned in a) above,

c) efficient structuring of work in the ghetto institutions and activities,

d) the monitoring action mentioned in c) above extends neither to the judicial bodies nor to the police.

6. The Audit Office is run by a controller named by the representative of the ghetto population. The employees of the Audit Office are appointed by the representative of the ghetto population following the suggestion of the controller.

7. In the exercise of his duty, the controller has the right to:

a) examine the ghetto residents,

b) determine the place of examination.

8. In the event of a refusal to follow the requirements of the Audit Office, the controller must request that the person concerned be punished by the representative of the ghetto population.

9. The ghetto institutions and the police are required to give the controller any assistance necessary in the performance of his work within the scope of this bylaw.



October 19, 1942 Signed /-/ J. Gens


To Mr. Kruk [handwritten in German]1

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
Courtesy of the Lithuanian State Archives, Vilnius
RG Number 26.015M
Date Created
October 19, 1942
Author / Creator
Jacob Gens
Vilnius, Lithuania
Wilno, Poland (historical)
Document Type Legislation
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