The Trial (Defence - Evidence for the Defendant Herta Ehlert)
|EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENDANT HERTA EHLERT
HERTA EHLERT, sworn, examined by, Major MUNRO - I am a German, married, and was born on 26th March, 1905, in Berlin. My civilian occupation was saleswoman, and I was called up for S.S. on 15th November, 1939, through the Labour Exchange. I did not know very much about the S.S. I was sent to Ravensbrück, where, to begin with, I had to see that civilian workers did not mix with the prisoners and, later on, I was detailed to working parties outside the camp. I remained at Ravensbrück for three years and was then transferred to Lublin. This was a punishment transfer because of too great familiarity with the prisoners, not being severe enough with them, getting them some food and giving them food which was not allowed and several other details. In spring, 1944, I went to Cracow [Kraków], and in November, 1944, to Auschwitz, where I worked in the gardening Kommando called Risko. It was not connected with Birkenau and I left on 18th January, 1945, and arrived in Belsen at the beginning of February.
What duties were you given to do when you arrived at Belsen? - Clothing store for the prisoners. After being away from the camp from the middle of February, at the beginning of March I was put in charge of the Aufseherinnen until the return of Volkenrath. I had to try to detail the many Aufseherinnen who had arrived, numbering about 59. They walked about and had no particular jobs. They did what they liked and nobody knew really what sort of job they should be doing. Therefore, as far as I could, I tried to bring order in that time.
Have you received a German translation of the statement you made on 11th June, 1945, at Celle? - Yes, but it is not the correct version of what I originally said.
In what respects do you say the translation is not correct? - In part 5, it says, "The victims were in such a weak state that they would be very lucky to survive such beatings as I saw her give." Weakness did not originate from the beatings, as they were weak already. I shall tell the Court the truth about paragraph 10, because that is not what I said. I came to the kitchen where Ilse Forster was working and she was rather excited and very flushed. I came to the kitchen on my control round to see if everything was all right. The meaning of my statement in paragraph 10 is that the Rottenführer came to me and said he was going to complain to his superior officer, Unterscharführer Muller, and tell him that he was not going to set foot in the kitchen any more with this continuous beating and stealing going on. With regard to paragraph 9, it is true this woman escaped and came back and it is true that Kramer beat her, but as I was not very near and as it was getting dark I could not see really whether he hit her with an instrument or with his fist or what he did. I know that he did hit her. Then about the kicking: I never said that he was kicking her.
When you originally made your statement, did you say that you had heard Kramer giving Kasainitzky an order to beat the other women? - I was asked this question when I made that statement and my answer was, 'I do not know. I have seen Kramer speaking to Kasainitzky, but whether he gave this order I cannot say."
Is there anything else wrong with your statement? - Yes. Paragraph 13, about the S.S. woman Sporn. I have heard that she was very severe with the prisoners and that at parades she made them stand sometimes for three hours, but I have not seen it myself. In paragraph 11, the word "often" is too much. I have said about Bormann that she was very severe, that she adhered very strongly and strictly to standing orders and that therefore she was hated by the prisoners.
How did you find the conditions when you arrived at Belsen? - The conditions were the worst I ever saw in a camp. They became worse as time went on.
Did you try to do anything yourself to help? - Yes. I went to the Kommandant several times. Once I had all the Blockältesten paraded because I was told there was no fat in the food. I went to the kitchen and talked with the man in charge and the Aufseherin, and they told me they had not received fat from the store. I went to Unterscharführer Muller, who was in charge of that store, and he told me that all the train wagons were smashed by bombing and he could not do anything about it. At that moment I happened to meet Kramer, told him about it and said that the death rate was increasing and that the prisoners could not keep alive on this thin soup. He made the Kommandos from the prisoners collect potatoes and mash them, and these mashed potatoes were mixed with the soup, and in that way the prisoners had the feeling that they had received something in their stomachs. In March I saw Dr. Horstmann. The weather had become a bit warmer and I was rather anxious about the open latrines, because I thought it might cause an epidemic, and he said he could not do anything about it because he had no means of disinfection and could only give me one sack with chalk for this purpose. The third time I returned to the camp I did not feel very well, because of the horrible smell, and on meeting Kramer I talked to him about it and he said: "Let them die; we cannot do anything about it; my hands are tied." I asked him to have fewer roll-calls and he said: "All right; see that there are two roll-calls a week." For the many thousands of prisoners I could do nothing. I could do something for several of them - for quite a few.
Did you do something for them? - I gave food to several of them. I took a Ukrainian woman, who had a small child of about a few months, to the front of the camp and gave her some food and asked the Kommandant that she should have for her child the food that the child needed, and he said that it was all right and she got that food. The prisoners who were working for me and who were always in my vicinity I helped very often.
Do you consider that you did everything that you could? - I do not know whether I did everything I could, but I can say that I did as much as possible, for it was forbidden.
Do you remember the witness Hammermasch telling the Court about the same incident you speak of in your statement when Kramer was said to have beaten a Russian girl who had escaped? - Yes, she had escaped from a working party and was brought back. The Kommandant stood at the gate, started interrogating her, and she lied. Gradually it became clear that she had been helped by some people, because in the last eight days several people had managed to escape. As this was a case concerning female prisoners we had to stay there. Kramer took the girl apart, some distance away from us, and the only thing I know is that he started beating her. From the interrogation it became clear that the girl was helped by two other women and they were fetched. I saw Kramer talk with Kasainitzky, but I do not know what they were talking about. Later on I entered the office just at the moment when Kasainitzky was beating one of these girls. As far as I can remember, he knew the Russian language and I suppose acted as an interpreter and tried to get some information out of these three girls. I do not know what happened later on, as I went home. It is not true that I hit this girl.
The same witness talked about another incident in which she said you, Volkenrath and Gollasch undressed a girl and beat her? - That is not correct. I think that this witness got mixed up with the other case in which Kasainitzky, Volkenrath, Gollasch and I were in the room. Perhaps there were some other prisoners in the room, but I do not remember. It is quite true that none of the Aufseherinnen did the beating: it was done by Kasainitzky, who did the interrogating.
In the deposition of Helene Herkovitz she says that you noticed a ring and locket she was wearing and that you took them from her and took her into a room where she was made to undress. She says that you did not believe her when she told you the jewellery was hers and that you beat her with a stick and then made her dress and run behind her bicycle to the S.S. headquarters, where she was interrogated by two S.S. men in the presence of Gollasch, Volkenrath and yourself. She says she was beaten about the shoulders and then put in a cellar in a house by herself and only given bread and water for three days: that her sister managed to smuggle food to her and that after three weeks' daily questioning she was taken out and made to work in latrines, after which she got typhus. What do you have to say about that? - I can remember this case quite clearly, but it happened quite differently. This prisoner was brought to me by another prisoner and they came from the kitchen. She was in possession of several jewels and I was told that she used to buy them and then barter them in the kitchen for meat. She said those rings were from the property of her parents, but it was my duty to look into the case, and as I did not know what the orders about jewellery were in Belsen, I went to the Kommandant. I saw the adjutant, who made a note of all the jewellery and said he would tell the Kommandant, and that I was to take the prisoner to the Political Department as the criminal police would have to investigate the case. I did so, and then left the Department because there was another Aufseherin working there. Next day the Criminal Secretary of the Political Department told me that there was a lot of bartering going on in the kitchen with this jewellery and the prisoner had been put under arrest. She had to stay under arrest for a fortnight. I had no reason whatever to beat her, nor did I see anyone else doing so.
Colonel BACKHOUSE - The film of Auschwitz is now ready for showing. A transcript was made of the German talking part of the film, and after cutting out certain parts of the commentary, all that is left is in the nature of explanatory matter. I shall read an affidavit of one of the producers, who states, "I certify that the film entitled 'Auschwitz,' rolls 1 and 2 shown to me on 12th October, 1945, in the presence of Colonel T. M. Backhouse for the Prosecution, and Major Cranfield and the Defending Officers in the Military Court, Lüneburg, is an official documentary film prepared by and for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, and published by them, and I was present when the filming was taking place at Auschwitz in Poland, and it is a true representation of the conditions there found. The filming began on the first day after liberation and was completed by the end of the investigation carried out by the Soviet War Crimes Committee. - Ilya Bachelis."
(The film of Auschwitz, Exhibit No. 125, was run through, the interpreter making a commentary in English.)
HERTA EHLERT, examination continued by Major MUNRO - Margit Weiss in her deposition says that she was present about the end of February, 1945, when a Polish prisoner named Korperova [Koper], who had been put into the camp as a spy, was found wearing round her neck the photograph of an S.S. man. This prisoner was brought into a room where there were four S.S. women, an S.S. man and four Blockältesten who were prisoners and that she was made to undress, that she was savagely beaten with a stick until the whole floor was covered with blood and she had to be carried away. What have you to say about that? - I was told by prisoners that Koper was acting as a spy, that she used to beat prisoners very severely in the kitchen and stole food. I went into the kitchen and saw Koper sitting there eating, although she had no business to be there at all. As she did not get up or show any discipline I slapped her face and she said I was wrong in doing that as she had permission to be in the kitchen. On asking the man in charge, he told me he had given her no such permission, so, as she had lied to me, I slapped her face for the second time. A day or two later she came into my office and said she had been in the Gestapo before, was a very good agent and spy, and knew a number of people who had jewellery. At that time Criminal Secretary Speelmann of the Gestapo came into the room and said, "All right, if she really knows some people, take their addresses and let them come into your office and see whether it is true." Koper brought me the names of three people and implored me not to tell anybody, because otherwise she would have to suffer. These three people came to my office, undressed, and I examined them thoroughly but found nothing. The prisoners did not know why they were there and I, of course, did not want to tell them the reason, because I did not find anything. In the meantime Koper came again and again with new names and numbers, so I told the prisoners to sit down and wait and I went into the other office, where the clerk and administrative personnel were, and said, "Well, now a new time has arrived. Gold, jewels and diamonds are being found in the camp." In this office were several prisoners who had some function in the camp and who said, "We know; there is only one woman who could have told you about such a thing and that is Koper. We have known before from Auschwitz she has made life very miserable for many people there by her spying on the others."I went back to my own office and one of the prisoners said they knew it was Koper who had reported them. At that moment Koper entered and when she saw the three prisoners sitting there she became very pale. I said to the three prisoners, "Well, here is the woman who reported you. Just take your reckoning with her." The prisoners were sitting with Koper opposite them and I stood in the door. One of the prisoners immediately got up and knocked her with her fist under her chin. I saw blood pouring and was frightened to death and left the room for a moment. When I returned I saw a terrific fight, because a few more prisoners had turned up in my office and also Aufseherin Gollasch, who I saw hit Koper who was lying on the floor. I shouted, "Stop, stop," and the fight stopped immediately. I thought it was best to examine Koper herself to see if she had any jewels or gold on her, but the only thing we found was a little photo of an S.S. man who she said was her son and which we kept. Koper left the room and passed my window and I saw that she smiled to all the prisoners who were standing about. I thought the beating could not have hurt her very much if she could go around and smile. I told Speelmann that we had found nothing on the three prisoners, but that we had found this photo of the S.S. man on Koper. He asked to see her at once. Koper's room was searched and so many, things, such as food, etc., were found that my big writing desk was entirely covered. On asking Koper if these things all belonged to her she said, "All that is mine, and all that was organised by me," so when I told Speelmann about it he said, "Put in a report about all that with all details, and in the meantime I shall see about this photo of the S.S. man, because that interests me. I had better take Koper immediately with me and see about the truth of that." I went into my own office and suddenly somebody opened the door, shouting that Koper was being beaten to death. I went out and saw prisoners with sticks and pieces of wood. Troops were already lined between her and the prisoners because she was unconscious and lying on the floor. The prisoners started shouting, "We want to kill her outright because it is too much we have to suffer from her." Her arm was broken as a consequence of this fight and she was in hospital and then was sent to prison for three weeks.
It has been said that you were very cruel? - It depends on what one understands under the word "cruelty." I admit I slapped the faces of prisoners, but only if there was a very serious reason for it. I never slapped their faces with both of my hands, only with one.
Lidia Sunschein and Helen Klein said you used to stand at the gate and beat prisoners as they passed while you were checking them? - That is so, but the reason is because they put their blankets round their shoulders, which was not allowed, and they cut them and made all sorts of pieces of clothing and even shoes out of them. They used to take parcels out, which was not allowed.
Cross-examined by Major CRANFIELD - Koper is not mentally normal, is she? - I could not say, but it is well known that if she opens her mouth she lies.
Cross-examined by Captain NEAVE - You said that part of your state statement was incorrect. Did you say, "I also found Ilse Forster myself, when visiting the cookhouse, with a very red face and in an excited state which she told me was due to her exertions in beating prisoners"? - No.
When you visited the cookhouse and you found Ilse Forster in a excited state, what did she tell you? - She told me that a young Rottenführer who had been working only for a short period in the kitchen just went to his superior officer, Muller, to complain, and told him that he was not going to continue to work in the kitchen if the beating of the prisoners and the stealing did not cease.
Did Ilse Forster say to you that she had been beating prisoners? - Not on that day.
Cross-examined by Captain PHILLIPS - Did you know No. 38 (Fried Walter) at Belsen? - Yes, she worked in the second kitchen when you come in in the women's compound. That kitchen is divided into two parts.
Did you know No. 33 (Ilse Forster) at Belsen? - Yes, she worked in the men's cookhouse.
Were No's. 33 and 38 ever working in the same cookhouse? - No.
Where did No. 39 (lrene Haschke) work in Belsen? - Together with Walter in different parts of the kitchen.
Was No. 37 (Herta Bothe) ever in charge of the vegetables at Belsen? - No. She was in charge of the distribution of wood.
Cross-examined by Captain MUNRO - There is a suggestion made that Ida Friedman was beaten until she died. Do you know anything about that? - No. I last saw her when we returned from Neuengamme to Belsen. I remember that she predicted the future out of cards for me on the Saturday before the arrival of the British troops. On the Sunday afternoon she came to me and complained about being very hungry, so I gave her bread, butter, sausage and an egg, and although she looked very weak I could not say anything about her being taken to hospital.
Cross-examined by Lieutenant JEDRZEJOWICZ - Where did you first meet Koper ? - In the kitchen in Belsen, where I slapped her face in the beginning of March. She wore a green armlet which I believe meant Camp Police.
Would you know what the duties of a camp policewoman were at Belsen? - I know their duty was to see that everything should be kept clean and tidy and that not so much stealing should be going on.
Were the foodstuffs which you found in Koper's room those which the prisoners would receive as normal rations? - No.
Therefore it was not stuff stolen by Koper from the prisoners' cookhouse? - I do not know where she got these things from.
Do you think the reason why Koper was put in prison was because she gave false information? - I remember faintly that Speelmann told me that the story which Koper was telling about the photo of the S.S. man was not true, but what really did happen or what the real reason was I could not say.
Cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - When you were called up in November, 1939, were you given any option as to what duties you should take up? - No.
When you got to Ravensbrück and took charge of the prisoners, did you like it? - I had neither the responsibility for, nor did I take charge of, prisoners at Ravensbrück
When you were in charge of outside working parties, did you like it then ? - I cannot say that I liked it.
Did you dislike very much the way prisoners were treated? - When I was put in charge of working parties outside the camp, then I passed very dark and heavy hours thinking about it.
Was it not because you would not ill-treat the prisoners as other people did that you were transferred to Lublin? - Yes.
The prisoners were very badly treated, were they not? - They had everything they were entitled to in the way of food, beds, sanitation and washing facilities, but, on the other hand, they were treated very, very severely. I have been often blamed by the Kommandant because of my behaviour and he told me one day I should not forget that it was a concentration camp and not a convalescent home.
Was the food they were entitled to enough to keep a prisoner healthy with the amount of work he had to do? - No.
Were not prisoners quite regularly beaten both by Kapos and by some of the guard? - In Ravensbrück you could never beat a prisoner publicly. For the slightest offence you had to make a report and they were brought in front of the Kommandant, who asked whether they admitted the offence they were accused of, and if they were proved guilty they were put in detention, and if the offence was grave then they were put on bread and water.
Were you sent to Lublin as a punishment because you were considerate and reasonable to the prisoners? - I was too good towards them. and I was caught doing several things which were not allowed; for example, I passed letters out of the camp, smuggled parcels in, sent messages to relatives.
Was Lublin a lot worse than Ravensbrück? - Yes, the prisoners were treated terribly there, although in my opinion the death rate was not very high.
As you were at Auschwitz for a very short time I will not worry about that. Let us come to the time when you came to Belsen.
Major MUNRO - In that case I shall ask for her to be struck out of that charge.
The JUDGE ADVOCATE - You can make a tremendous point hereafter that the Prosecutor cut out Auschwitz.
Cross-examination continued by Colonel BACKHOUSE - When you went to Belsen you went away for a time and then returned. What was the duty you went away on? - I was sent by Kommandant Kramer in February to Ravensbrück to fetch some prisoners for functionary duties, and, apart from that, some of my own belongings were still there.
When you came back again Volkenrath was in hospital. Was Gollasch in charge of the S.S. women? - Yes.
Did she appoint you as her deputy until the return of Volkenrath? - No, because Gollasch was the deputy of Volkenrath and did not need a deputy for herself.
You acted, did you not, as Oberaufseherin in charge of the other Aufseherinnen and were yourself working under Gollasch? - Yes.
Did you try to get some sort of order amongst the other Aufseherinnen? - I tried very hard, but did not have very much experience.
Until you did try and do this they were all doing more or less what they thought fit? - Yes, particularly those who had been in Belsen before. They thought they were just the masters and could do whatever they liked.
Is it true that you have seen Gollasch beating prisoners heavily? - Yes.
Using a walking - stick, a piece of wood, or anything she could find ? - Yes, whatever she could lay hands on. She did not care at all where she hit them.
Were some of these prisoners in a very weak state before they had a beating? - I cannot remember that.
In making your statement did you not swear on the Bible before Colonel Genn as to the truth of your statement? - No. At the end of the statement, when everything was ready, I was told, "Now take the oath." I did not know how to do it, because I have never sworn before, so I simply repeated what the Colonel said before me.
That will, of course, be true. It is the normal way of preparing a deposition. Were not these people who were beaten by Gollasch in a very weak state before? - I really cannot remember.
In your statement to Colonel Genn which was read over to you in German and which you swore to as true, you said in paragraph 10, "I have heard that Ilse Forster and Frieda Walter used to beat internees to a quite unreasonable extent." Had you heard it or had you not? - No, I did not hear it about Ilse Forster. It must be that the interpreter did not understand.
Did you hear it about Frieda Walter? - Yes.
Did you mention Ilse Forster in connection with the beatings? - Yes. I was asked again and again who was beating in the camp and I was repeating again and again the names of those persons whom I knew or whom I had seen beating people, but the Colonel asked me again and again about Forster and he told me, "I have witnesses. I know the truth. You had better tell me the truth"
Did you ever see or speak to the young Rottenführer you have spoken of? - No.
How do you know he was only at Belsen for three or four days? - Because Forster told me so when I saw her in the kitchen.
Did she tell you that he had gone to complain to Muller because he could not put up with the beating and stealing that was going on in the kitchen? - Yes. She told me she was angry because such a lot had been stolen.
Did she tell you she was angry because this Rottenführer was complaining about her beating? - No.
If this Rottenführer had just left Ilse Forster when you got to the cookhouse, how could she know then that he was only staying at Belsen altogether for two or three days? - She did not say that. She said that he was only two or three days in the kitchen.
In your statement to Colonel Genn, and again when asked by your own defending officer about this particular statement, you said that the Rottenführer had come to you and said he was going to complain to his superior officer, Muller, that he was not going to set foot in the kitchen any more with this continuous beating and stealing going on. In the face of these statements, both made on oath, do you say now that you never saw that Rottenführer and that you never heard of this woman Ilse Forster beating? - I swear that I did not say anything else to my defending officer than that I was in the kitchen and that Ilse Forster told me that this Rottenführer had gone to his superior officer to talk about the beatings and the stealing in the kitchen.
Is it true that you heard that Irene Haschke and Herta Bothe had beaten prisoners? - Yes.
Had Gertrud Sauer and Gertrud Fiest the reputation of being very severe? - Yes.
You often saw Bormann's dog. Is it true that you heard she use to let it loose on prisoners ? - I have not heard that.
With regard to your statement, is not the truth of the matter this: that when you made this statement you thought that if you told the truth you might not be charged at all? - No. It was not my intention, and it is not my intention to-day either, to put myself in a better light than the others.
You told us that you regularly stood at the camp gate checking parties in and out, and you have agreed that you boxed people's ears or slapped their faces. I suggest to you that you gave people severe beatings? - Well, it was really a beating, because I certainly did not arrest them.
You did quite a lot of searching the blocks for jewellery, did you not? - I have never done it during my whole stay at Belsen. I only once, on orders of Volkenrath, made a search of the kitchen blocks in the women's compound because there they had such a great amount of meat, bread, sugar and butter, and all sorts of things, that we could hardly carry it away in wash - basins. Not only that, but they had such a great amount of clothing, which somehow they had smuggled into the camp, that we had several trucks full which we had to carry away.
Did you beat the people responsible? - No.
Katherine Neiger in her affidavit stated that you used to search the blocks, and if you found any food you took out the girl responsible and beat her? - Katherine Neiger is quite unable to say anything about me because she was Lagerälteste in Camp No. 2, and I had never met her.
Did you never go into Camp No. 2? - Yes, I did, and the two Aufseherinnen were Sauer and Fiest.
When Volkenrath went away, Gollasch asked you to help her. The girl Etyl Eisenberg said that Volkenrath used to come into the block, take away clothes and food from the women, and was very cruel; and that you, Herta Ehlert used to deputise for Volkenrath if she was away, and were also cruel and acted in the same way? - I must say that when this Miss Eisenberg was shown the photos and could not find the real culprit, she saw my photo and thought, "Well, I might just as well take this woman."
Who was waiting at the gate when the Russian girl who had escaped was brought in? - Nobody was really waiting. We just stood at the gate; Kramer, Volkenrath, Gollasch and myself. We had finished our work, and were just going home.
Did Volkenrath tell you that the girl was being brought back? - I do not remember who told me. When we were standing at the gate suddenly we were told this girl had escaped and was being brought back, and all the Aufseherinnen who were still available had to stay behind until the case had been cleared. It was always so if the Kommandant or S.S. men had something to do with women prisoners. One Aufseherin had to stay behind.
Did Kramer question the girl in front of you? - Yes. I saw Kramer question her; and I see, even now, how he got hold of her and started shaking her.
Did you not say to Colonel Genn that you saw him kicking and shaking her, and later hit her with a stick on her head and face and all over her body quite unmercifully? - No.
Did not Kramer, in fact, beat her with a stick? - Even to-day I cannot say for sure whether he had something in his hand or not because he took the girl away some distance and it was getting dark.
As a result of this, did the girl give the names of two girls whom she said had helped her to escape? - Yes. Kramer returned later with the girl and gave orders that those two whose names he pronounced should be fetched from the camp because they were helping the girl to escape.
When the girls arrived was Kasainitzky there? - Yes.
Did Kasainitzky then take the girls into a room? - I can only say I came into the office and saw Kasainitzky with a walking-stick, and I saw that the girl was bent down and how he gave her five strokes. The other girl was standing in a corner. I asked for permission to go way and I went home.
I shall go to quite a different incident. Is it true that you noticed a ring and a locket which the woman Herkovitz was wearing? - Yes.
Is it true that you took her to your room where you made her undress, and searched her for some more jewellery? - No. She was brought to me, and in her handkerchief she had quite a lot of gold, a number of large gold rings and ear-rings, and precious stones.
Why did you not take this girl, strip her and search her as you did in the case of the woman Koper brought, and as you told us it was your duty to do? - I did not need to search her because the jewellery was already there.
I suggest to you that is precisely what you did, and that you beat her with a stick whilst she was undressed? - No. That is a lie. She told me that those jewels and the rings belonged to her parents, but I did not believe that.
Was it not the normal practice when you thought a prisoner was lying to beat them till you thought you had got the truth out of them? - I am not such an animal to beat a prisoner for such a reason.
But that was the method of Kramer, Kasainitzky and Gollasch, was it not? - It was not my method, and it is against my nature to strike anybody with a weapon or anything.
Was either Gollasch or Volkenrath present whilst you were interrogating this girl, or when you got to the Political Department ? - No, I was alone.
Is the Political Department run by the Gestapo? - No, that is criminal police. I have not seen the Gestapo there.
I suggest that you stayed there whilst this girl was interrogated by two S.S. men in the Political Department, and that Gollasch and Volkenrath were also present? - No. Volkenrath was in hospital at that time. Where Gollasch was, I do not remember. I reported to the Criminal Secretary of the Political Department and then went.
You, Volkenrath and Gollasch were generally together, were you not? - Volkenrath was Oberaufseherin, Gollasch was Rapportführerin and I myself did all sorts of jobs in the whole camp.
Were you not the three senior women? - There are no ranks in our service.
The witness Hammermasch said that you, Volkenrath and a third woman took a girl into the Lagerältester's room, stripped, searched and beat her. Is that true? - No.
You have told us about Koper reporting people as having jewellery, and then you found that they had not any. You then let the prisoners beat Koper, did you not? - No. I did not give permission to anybody. Twice I myself slapped her face. I confronted her with the prisoners and immediately one started beating her. At the first moment I was frightened, but I went back immediately and stopped it.
I thought by that time that you found Gollasch had joined in and was beating Koper on the floor? - Yes. She must have entered from outside.
Was it not a favourite trick of the S.S. to make one lot of prisoners beat another? - No. They were very often fighting amongst each other.
Did the Kapos carry sticks as a rule? - Some, but not all of them.
Is not that how they kept order, by beating people with them? - Very often, yes.
Now, you say after all this, after Koper had been lying on the floor and beaten, she got up and went out smiling, is that right? - Yes.
However, she did not smile very long because your friend Speelmann, from the Political Department, turned up? - I saw Speelmann passing in the camp, and I called him to tell him about it. I showed him the photograph and he said: " Get me Koper here and I will take her to the Political Department." Koper came back, and he left the hut where we were with her, and it was just outside that the accident occurred.
Somebody came and fetched you from your office. Where did you go? - Outside in front of the hut where I found Koper lying unconscious with her arm broken.
You have told us that you were very kind with prisoners in Ravensbrück and that is why you were sent to Lublin. You learned your lesson then, did you not? - You cannot learn your lesson if it is not in your nature.
And when you came to Belsen, Gollasch - the one whom you said did the beating there - chose you to assist her, did she not? - No. She said that as I was one of those who had been in camps for some time I might have the experience to help her.
I suggest to you that you made a very able assistant, slapping and beating and ill-treating the prisoners yourself? - I leave it to you.
I suggest to you, further, that when you were at Belsen making your statement to Colonel Genn you spoke a lot of the truth, but that today you have been quite deliberately lying on point after point, and quite deliberately trying to cut down everything which you said about other people in your statement? - I have only told the truth.
You have told us about how Ida Friedman was telling your fortune with cards the day before the British came into the camp, and that as she was not looking awfully well you gave her some bread, butter, sausage and an egg. Where did you get all that from? - It was out of my own room. It was the food we took with us to Neuengamme, and I had something left of it.
How many prisoners do you think died of hunger and thirst that day whilst you were having your fortune told? Hundreds? - I have no idea.
And you who did so much for all these prisoners and wanted to do so much could think of nothing better to do than have your fortune told while they were dying. Is that right? - It only took ten minutes to do that.
Do you remember saying to Colonel Genn: "I say that Kramer was responsible for the conditions. Among other reasons, because on one occasion when I complained of the increasing death rate to Kramer, he replied: 'Let them die, why should you care?"' - Yes.
And I put it to you that you took his advice ? - What could one individual person like me do with so many thousands of prisoners?
Re-examined by Major MUNRO - When you returned again to Belsen from Ravensbrück, did you bring back with you any of the accused in the dock? - Yes, Hilde Lohbauer.
Have you ever seen with your own eyes the accused, Frieda Walter, beating anyone? - No.
When you made your statement to Colonel Genn, who questioned you? - An interpreter who gave the Colonel my replies in English.
Was the whole statement read over to you in German or not? - He had the English copy and translated it while reading it.
When it was read, did you notice if there was anything wrong and which did not agree with what you had said? - No. I received the impression that it was what I had said.
By the JUDGE ADVOCATE - Ehlert, when you were called up in 1939 to join the S.S., what rank did you hold then? - Aufseherin.
If you ever had been promoted in the S.S., what would have been the next rank? - The title was always the same, Aufseherin, but you received a bar or circle or something like that on your sleeve.
Did you always get the same pay while you were serving in the S.S.? - No, I got more.
How much pay were you receiving when you were sent as punishment to Lublin? - I think it was about 170 or 180 marks a month, with some extra pay for or being in a foreign country.
Where did the punishment come in? How were you punished by being sent to Lublin if you got more money? - Because the camps in Poland were not quite as civilised as the camps in the German Reich.
Do you mean that the living conditions for the S.S. were better in Ravensbrück than in Lublin? - No. They were better in the East, in Lublin.
You performed the same sort of duties as an Aufseherin, you got the same pay and bonus, and the conditions were no worse for you. Why did you say it was a punishment? - It is a punishment because you do not feel at ease in such a camp.JUTTA MADLUNG, sworn, examined by Major MUNRO - I am a German, born in Hamburg on 8th December, 1921, and was in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp from 8th September, 1942, until 13th August, 1943, because of political jokes which I made, because I had a Jewish female friend, and because I had English gramophone records. Ehlert was in charge of our working squad at Siemens, and was very good to us. She did not beat us, she did not do us any harm, and she was very nice to the Russians as well. She gave me bread for my sister who was ill, and she gave me apples and other things to eat. I never saw her ill - treat anyone.
Cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - Was it something rather extraordinary to find an Aufseherin who did not beat you? - Yes, it certainly was.
Cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - Was there a lot of ill treatment of persons by other people, and were they beaten a lot both by the Kapos and the Aufseherin? - Yes.
Is it fair to say they were terribly ill-treated whilst they were there, and that this woman was an exception? - The only exception.
The Trial (Defence - Evidence for the Defendant Herta Ehlert)