War Crimes Trials - Vol. II The Belsen Trial. 'The Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty Four Others'

The Trial (Defence - Evidence for the Defendant Karl Egersdorf)

KARL EGERSDORF, sworn, examined by Major BROWN - I was born on 20th July, 1902, in Rosenbach, Bavaria, am married and have one child. I was a member of the Bavarian People’s Party, which is a Catholic movement, and was conscripted into the S.S. on 30th March, 1941, and sent to Auschwitz No. 1, where I worked in the cookhouse. On 21st January 1945, I left Auschwitz and arrived in Belsen about 7th April, where I was sent to the food store as an assistant. The vegetable store was separate and about 300 metres away.

Was there a girl called Dora from Salonika employed in your stores? - Yes.

Do you think that she is the Dora Almaleh who in an affidavit states that you shot a Hungarian girl in April? - Yes, I think so, but the statement is not true. The girl did not work, and I dismissed her two days before the British troops arrived. I never shot or ill-treated any of the prisoners.

Where did you sleep at Belsen? - In the bath-house. The accused Mathes was employed there.

Cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - You went to Belsen in January, 1945. Where did you spend the time between 21st January and 7th or 8th April? - 14 days we spent in Lichtelwerdt [Lichterfelde] and five weeks we were in Reichenberg.

Are you sure you did not get to Belsen earlier? - I cannot tell the date exactly.

Who came with you? - We had ten trucks, and in my truck was a driver and another S.S. man. I do not know his name.

Whereabouts were the food stores in Belsen? - The first hut on the left as we entered the camp.

There was a very large pile of vegetables just by the camp gate, was there not? - Yes.

The vegetable store and the bread store are quite close to one another? - They were in one block. The bread store was not in the same block as the food store.

You were in charge of the bread store? - I was responsible for the food store, and the bread store was part of the food store.

In answer to your counsel, you said that the vegetable store was 300 metres away from the food store. Were you not trying to give the Court the impression that the bread store and the vegetable store were a long way from each other? - My bread store and vegetable store were in one block.

Was food very short indeed by the time you got to Belsen? - Yes.

How often did you get any bread into the bread store? - Once. I believe it came from the Wehrmacht Barracks.

Were not the prisoners dying regularly by that time in hundreds? - Yes.

Did prisoners try and steal food? - Yes.

What did you do when you caught prisoners trying to steal food? - I took it away from them.

A lot of other people were beating prisoners in Belsen for trying to take even peelings, were they not? - I have not seen one single case.

I suppose you never saw it in Auschwitz either? - Yes, I saw it in Auschwitz.

You remember that in the last few days at Belsen the prisoners were made to drag the corpses away to the big pit that was dug for them. Did they go quite near to your bread store? - Yes.

And you never saw anybody beaten at all? - No.

You heard Mr. Le Druillenec’s evidence and his account of that dreadful procession, but you never saw a single case of beating? - I was not in the bread store, I was in the food store.

That was actually in the men’s compound, was it not? - Yes.

This procession went on all day for days, did it not? - I do not know whether it lasted all day, but I saw, several times, looking out on the street, people dragging corpses.

Who fetched the food from the food store? - We loaded it on carts and then the prisoners took these away to the kitchen.

Who was in charge of the kitchen immediately opposite the bath-house where you slept? - A Scharführer, but I cannot remember his name.

Who was in charge of the S.S. Kitchen just round the corner? - May.

After a number of the S.S. left on the 11th or 12th you were getting pretty short of S.S. men, and everybody had to lend a hand? - I think so.

You were in charge of the bread store, were you not? - There was an Aufseherin named Charlotte Klein there. She was under my orders. I was in charge of the bread store, but I was not working there.

I suggest to you that on a day, in April you came into the street just as a girl came out of the bread store with some bread, that you asked her what she was doing there, and she said she was hungry and began to run away. Then you shot her? - That is not true.

There was quite a lot of shooting going on those last few days, was there not? - Yes, in the last two days, but not much before that.

There was quite a lot of shooting around the kitchens, was there not? - I do not know. It was mostly near the quarters of the guards.

Was it not a popular practice there if anybody tried to steal any food either from the kitchen, the store or elsewhere, if you caught them, to shoot them? - I have never seen a case of a girl or a prisoner who had been shot.

By the JUDGE ADVOCATE - You were in Belsen for about a week before the British came. That was the time when the prisoners were very hungry indeed? - They were very hungry.

Under whose orders were you when you were performing these duties? - Hauptsturmführer Vogler.

Did you expect that the hungry inmates of Belsen would, particularly at that time, endeavour to steal any food that was possible? - Yes.

Did you get no instructions what you were to do if you caught somebody trying to steal from the food stores? - No.

How many people were brought to you, or you know of, who were stealing from the store during the last week? - I cannot remember a single case exactly from the food store, but I know they were stealing vegetables from next door every day.

The Trial (Defence - Evidence for the Defendant Karl Egersdorf)