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

The Trial (Defence - Evidence for the Defendant Klara Opitz)


KLARA OPITZ, sworn, examined by Captain NEAVE - I am single, and was born on 16th April, 1909, in Schmiedeberg, in Silesia. I worked in the factory A.E.G. in Zillerthan [Zillerthal] during the war and left there on 10th October, 1944, when I was conscripted into the S.S. and went to Langenbielau for training for three and a half weeks. I was instructed in the duties as an Aufseherin, and then returned to my former place of employment as a supervisor of the prisoners. In February, 1945, I went with the prisoners for three and a half weeks to Morgenstern and then to Grosswehrter [Großwerther]. On 13th April we arrived in Belsen via Herzberg and Neuengamme.

Dr. Makar in his affidavit said that he knew you and that you made a habit of beating women prisoners? - I have never beaten prisoners.

During the two days you were at Belsen before the British came, what duties did you perform? - I had a working party under me in the kitchen of Block No. 9 in the part where potatoes and vegetables were cleaned and peeled. It was near the bread stores.

How many days were you in Belsen before the British came? - Five.

Cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - Had you seen the two witnesses Steinbusch and Neumann at Grosswehrter [Großwerther]? - Yes.

Did you know that the Oberaufseherin had told both Neumann and Steinbusch that you were going to Bergen-Belsen and that is where they must make their way? - I did not know that because they were ill.

When you got to Bergen-Belsen to whom did you report? - Volkenrath, who put me into the peeling department of the kitchen.

No. 1 Kitchen was just across the other side of the road from the bread store in Block No. 9. Were you working there for the remainder of the time you were at Belsen? - I worked only two days with the prisoners. The other three days I was doing my own laundry in the billets. I had no working squad for the first three days.

Before you left the factory to go on this course, and to join the S.S., were there any women prisoners employed there looking after, the looms with German women supervising them? - Yes. I supervised so that they did not leave the room and should do their work.

Then when the firm wanted some more prisoners you were sent off' on a course to become a member of the S.S.? - All German women there up to the age of 45 were sent to become S.S. women and to learn how to treat the prisoners.

Is that where you learned to beat them? - No. I did not beat prisoners. I was taught to report if anything was wrong to higher authority.

Did you never see any prisoners beaten either in the factory where you worked, at the school you went to, at Belsen, Neuengamme, or Grosswehrter [Großwerther]? - No.

I put it to you that in common with other women who were taught at this school you went to, you beat prisoners quite regularly about the body and kicked them, and that you were deliberately taught to do it at this school you went to? - That is not true.

By the PRESIDENT - You stated that after you arrived in Belsen you were in your own quarters for three days doing your laundry. Where did you get the water from? - There were water-taps where water was running in the billets in which we slept.

By Captain NEAVE (by permission of the Court) - Did you get water for washing after the British came ? - Yes, we could wash.

The Trial (Defence - Evidence for the Defendant Klara Opitz)