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

The Trial (Defence - Evidence for the Defendant Ida Forster)

Thirty-sixth Day - Saturday, 27th October, 1945


IDA FORSTER, sworn, examined by Captain NEAVE - I am married and was born on 15th May, 1902, in Blumendorf in Silesia. During the war I was employed in a textile factory in Rohrsdorf, and was conscripted into the S.S. on 16th August, 1944, when I was sent to Gross Rosen, where I was medically examined and drew my uniform. On the next day went to the labour camp in Langenbielau, where I stayed for three weeks training in the treatment of prisoners, after which I returned to the textile factory in Rohrsdorf and did the duties of an Aufseherin. After about six months, on 16th February, 1945, we were evacuated with the prisoners to Kratzau, remained there for four days and then went to Belsen, which we reached on 28th February.

How were you employed at Belsen? - For a fortnight I had a small working squad taking away offal from the kitchens, and then I went into the second part of Kitchen No. 3 as Aufseherin, doing general Supervision.

Did you have anything to do directly with the feeding of the internees?- No. We had a kitchen chief called Jenner for that.

There were 35 internees working in the kitchen. The witness, Ilona Stein, said she saw you one day beating with a rubber truncheon prisoners who were trying to steal food? - I have never beaten anybody, and nobody tried to steal in my kitchen. Stein did not work in my kitchen.

Did many of the internees hang around the kitchen trying to get food? - In front of the kitchen there were always people standing around, but I had nothing to do with that because I had my job inside.

Were you quite healthy at Belsen, and have you been healthy since you left? - Yes.

Cross-examined by Captain BOYD - Did you know an Aufseherin called Orlt in Belsen? - Yes, she worked in Kitchen No. 3 before I arrived.

Did she look anything like the accused Sauer? - Yes, she looked like her in figure, face, height and hair.

Cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - Who was the S.S. man in charge of Kitchen No. 4 when you used to collect offal? - I did not go inside so I do not know.

You have told us that Jenner was in charge of the kitchen you worked in; was Francioh in charge of the other half? - Yes.

What other women worked in your kitchen? - In the half in which I worked there was Frieda Walter, and in the other half Irene Haschke and another woman whose name I cannot remember.

How did Jenner treat the prisoners in that cookhouse? - He did not beat anybody.

How did Haschke and the other women treat the prisoners? - They were in the other kitchen so I do not know.

The whole time you were at Belsen did you ever see anybody beaten? - No.

Did you ever see anybody shot? - No.

The prisoners really had rather a good time, had they? - Those in the kitchen were quite all right and had quite a good time.

I suggest to you that prisoners in Belsen in the cookhouses and around the cookhouses were regularly beaten? - I worked in the kitchen and I do not know.

Was there a big pile of vegetables outside Francioh’s part of the kitchen? - Yes.

Did a lot of people try and steal vegetables from there? - I could not see such a thing from my part of the kitchen.

Did you never go out of it? - No.

Were there no windows? - The windows looked the other way.

What did you do in the kitchen all day? - I stayed the whole time near the boilers and saw that everything was cooked nicely, that the containers were filled, and after having been used that they were cleaned, and that the boilers were cleaned. I supervised to see that the prisoners did it.

Did your prisoners in the kitchen always do just what you wanted? - Yes. We had nice and friendly relations. I never had any trouble with them at all.

Then why on earth did you never go out for a breath of air if everything was going so smoothly? - I had my job and I stayed there.

Do you remember Ehlert telling the Aufseherinnen from the kitchens that they had got to be more strict and stop stealing? - I was not present at that parade.

Was Francioh in charge of both kitchens and the peeling department? - Yes, he was senior to Jenner, who was always there.

Was Jenner there on both the morning and afternoon shifts? - Yes.

Were there guards put over the piles of vegetables? - Yes.

Did you never even see the guards shoot anyone? - No, and I would have heard any shooting in the kitchen.

By the JUDGE ADVOCATE - Do you say that Francioh was running the kitchen from the beginning of April onwards? - I do not remember the exact date because he was away eight days in March. He told us that he had been arrested and had been in prison for that period. He came back again in April. In his absence, Jenner looked after the kitchen.

The Trial (Defence - Evidence for the Defendant Ida Forster)