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

The Trial (Defence - Additional Evidence for the Defence)


HERMANN MÜLLER, sworn, examined by Major WINWOOD - I am at present held as an S.S. prisoner of war by the British. I went to Belsen on 12th March, 1944, and until 28th March, 1945, I worked as a full corporal under Hauptsturmführer Vogler in charge of the food stores, kitchens and cookhouses. I put in indents for rations to the food office at Walzenrode [Walsrode], who issued ration cards and sent them to Belsen. These food tickets were distributed amongst the various firms and the food was sent to Belsen. Food was sent from Belsen itself Hamburg, Hanover [Hannover], Celle, Saltau [Soltau] and a town in Mecklenburg, the name of which I forget. Most of the food had to be fetched, and when it arrived it was unloaded and stored in the different stores.

How was it given out to the cookhouses? - It depended on the strength of each cookhouse, and the rations were always distributed the day before they were needed. The man in charge of the cookhouse had to check the amount and sign for it. I do not know what happened to my official records, because on 29th March I went to hospital at Bergen with typhus.

During the last few days did you visit the various firms and food offices who used to deal with Belsen? - Yes, I compiled a table showing the supply position from 8th January until 8th April. It is divided into three periods, 71, 72 and 73. In the first column is given the ration for one man for 28 days taken from the official German ration scales. I have then taken the normal strength of the camp, 18343, and multiplied this figure with the ration scale. In the next column is the amount of food indented for compiled from documents from the food office in Walzenrode [Walsrode]. Then I have put in the amounts of foodstuffs in weight that we purchased. This was compiled from documents of the firms from which we purchased the food, and where we could not find these we used indents which were still found in the food office. Several other items are not included because I could not find the documents from which to compile these figures. I only visited a few of the firms which supplied food to Belsen during these three months.

Amongst this bundle of documents, including indents, receipts and extracts from books of these firms sending food to the concentration camp, is there a receipt for a bill from the bread firm in Saltau [Soltau]? - Yes. The last consignment of bread was made on the 11th of April and consisted of 5500 loaves.

When was the last date on which meat was sent to Belsen? - 3034 kilos of meat were sent on 11th April, 1945.

Is there also a certified extract from a flour mill in Celle? - Yes, 30000 kilos of flour on 7th April.

Did you take any bread from the bakery at the Wehrmacht Barracks? - Yes, but I do not know the amount.

Did bread come regularly? - From 23rd, March onwards the bread supply became very irregular, due to the air raids.

Did you ever obtain any food from the Wehrmacht food stores at Belsen? - Yes, sugar and grocery articles.

Did you apply direct to the Army authorities? - No, I got these articles from the stores of the Wehrmacht Barracks, but it went through the office of the firm. We had to obtain all our food through civilian sources.

During the last period when you were at Belsen, did any more people come into the camp? - Yes.

What condition were they in? - They were ill and exhausted.

Did you get any special diet for sick people? - No.

Did you also have in Belsen other types of internees who got the ordinary civilian ration? - Yes, civilian internees. Their rations were got quite apart from the ordinary internees and they were indented for separately and on a different scale.

What happened when transports went away from Belsen? - They had their haversack rations.

What happened when people arrived at Belsen? - They were put on to the ration strength of the camp.

If you had rations for, say, 10000, and then another 2000 came in suddenly one night, what did you do? - We had sufficient food supplies so that there was no question of these arrivals causing any inconvenience. When they arrived, one kitchen was made responsible for them, and the strength of that kitchen was altered.

If you had to draw these 2000 rations from your reserve, how did you make up that reserve? - We could purchase these rations quite freely and send indents later on from the food office from Walzenrode [Walsrode]. 

Towards the end of March, did the ration situation get better or worse? - Worse, because the strength of the camp got bigger and bigger.

What was the water situation like when you left Belsen on 29th March? - There was no scarcity of water.

Cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - Do you say that Francioh was only in Cookhouse No. 3 for three days before you left? - Yes.

Where was he before then? - I do not know what he was doing.

Was he not serving ten days for being absent without leave, and then did he not come into the cookhouse just before you went away? - On 22nd or 23rd March he did duty for about three days; then I was notified that be had a sentence of six days’ detention. I did not see him again.

This girl, Ilse Forster, you used to see taking things away from prisoners, did you ever see her hitting them at all? - No.

Did you ever see anybody at Belsen hitting anybody at all? - That happened, but not frequently.

When did you really leave Belsen? - On 29th March.

Where did you go to? - Into hospital at Bergen until about 10th May, when the hospital was transferred to a place called Schwarzstadt.

How many Unterscharführer Müllers were there on the administration at Belsen? - One more, a Blockführer.

Did he work in the camp? - Yes, everywhere.

Blockführer did not work everywhere. Which compound did he work? - As far as I know the duties of the Blockführer changed; for instance, from orderly officer duties inside the camp or Aussenkommandos; but I have never been a Blockführer, so therefore I do not know.

Did you not leave Belsen just before the British arrived and go into hospital? - No, I had typhus and was sent to the hospital.

You were there as long ago as March, 1944. You must have been one of the first arrivals? - No, Belsen had existed at that time for a considerable period.

But it had been purely for Jew transports and there had not been any prisoners there? - Yes, there were prisoners.

Where did you come from? - Flossenberg Concentration Camp.

That was largely a transit camp until December, 1944? - Yes.

The Jews you were talking about were entitled to a higher ration scale - the ordinary civilian ration? - Not all; the Sternlager, that is the Dutch Jews, and Polish Jews got the same as the prisoners. 

Who got the larger rations?- The Hungarian, Turkish and Spanish Jews.

Where were the transports sent from Belsen, the Jews who went from the civil internment camp? - One transport went to Switzerland; another transport of Turkish Jews went to Czechoslovakia.

Did the ration scales vary from period to period? - Yes.

You told us that you prepared the purchase column in the figures you produce from two things: one from the receipts and books of various firms, and also from the indents. How do you know that the things on the indents were ever delivered? - I cannot say that.

Really the last column of your figures is just sheer nonsense? - I put the indents where firms did not exist any more.

The answer is you simply made up this column out of receipts from some firms, and where you have not got receipts nor books of the firm you have put in the figure of what ought to be there? - No, I did not do it that way. The food office where we indented have the records and they can prove, for instance, the amount of food or bread which had been delivered for the previous month from the strength return for each day for each cookhouse.

That still does not tell us in any shape or form how much food got to these prisoners, does it? - It is the kitchen diary where the daily strength is made. After a week or a month those diaries and the results are sent to the food office, and then the food office multiplies the rations with the strength of the camp at that certain period.

The PRESIDENT - I think that what he is trying to say is the records were destroyed and therefore the receipt book or duplicate receipt book cannot be produced. I think it is quite clear to the Court that there is no specific proof that the stuff actually arrived.

Cross-examination continued - How is it that, according to your figures, you seem to have got about double what you were entitled to in various items in some months? - We had to buy things whenever we could.

Was not bread rather short in Germany in January, February and March? - We had enough bread in camp until the middle of March, but then the supply problem got more difficult and from 22nd or 23rd March practically no bread arrived at all.

If your figures are right, in January you had half as much bread again as you were entitled to. Did you not get into trouble with the food office? - These figures in this table are not quite right and do not give a real picture unless taken as a whole period of, say, twelve months.

Is Kramer right when he says that right up to the end, apart from bread, the prisoners got their full entitlement? - Up to 28th March, the  day I left camp, the prisoners got the full rations to which they were entitled.

Where was the actual food office that you had to deal with? - Walzenrode [Walsrode], near Fallingborst [Fallingbostel].

Was there not a food office in Celle? - There is a food office in every town; it had nothing to do with our camp.

Was there any food depot in Celle that you dealt with? - No.

Was there any food depot in Hanover [Hannover]? - No.

And you never went to Celle or Hanover [Hannover] to complain about the food office with which you were dealing? - I had nothing to do with it. Hauptsturmführer Vogler was responsible for that.

By the JUDGE ADVOCATE - Do you say that the prisoners at Belsen were getting anything like the rations which are set out in the first column of your figures on 28th March? - Yes.

Do you say they were getting meat, margarine, sugar, coffee, potatoes, etc.? - Yes.

Then I suppose you saw no emaciated-looking prisoners wandering about the camp up to the time you left on 28th March? - Yes, those were the prisoners who came from other camps to our camp.

On 28th March did you see any emaciated prisoners wandering about in Belsen? - Yes, I did.

Do you say that these emaciated prisoners had had these rations you speak of? - Yes.

Do you mean that a man was bound to become an emaciated sort of skeleton if he lived on the rations which are set out in the first column of this document? - If a prisoner becomes so exhausted in his general condition that he could hardly retain even these quantities or these rations, then it should have been necessary that he should have a proper diet which was controlled through a doctor.

Do you know how Belsen Camp got its drinking water in the ordinary way? - No, I do not know, but there was a pump in the Wehrmacht Barracks area.

By a Member of the Court - You say there are two different types of rations for the prisoners. How was it arranged in the camp that they should get their right rations? - The storeman got a receipt which was signed by the Lagerältester and the storeman of that particular compound which was entitled to more, and that was checked by the storeman and Lagerältester when they received their rations.

Were the rations not handed in to the cookhouse? - All the things which had to be cooked went to the cookhouse, but all the other things like bread, margarine or jam, went directly to the compound. 

Forty-fifth Day - Wednesday, 7th November, 1945

Captain ROBERTS - I have an affidavit of Brigadier Glyn Hughes, C.B.E., D.S.O:, Vice-Director of Medical Services, British Army of the Rhine, exhibit No. 148, which relates to the defence of No. 16, Francioh. It reads as follows:

"Further to my evidence which I gave before the Military Court for the Trial of War Criminals at Lüneburg on the 18th and 19th September, 1945, I now say:

1. On the 15th April, 1945, I arrived at Belsen Concentration Camp about 1800 hours. I cannot remember the exact time.

2. The disturbance to which I referred in my evidence took place about half an hour after my arrival. The cookhouse concerned was No. 2 in the men’s camp.

3. To the best of my knowledge the disturbance to which I referred in my evidence was the only such disturbance that took place while I was in the camp on 15th April. If any other large-scale shooting had taken place I should have known about it.

4. I inspected the camp in the morning of April the 16th and I did not notice any large number of corpses lying around in the vicinity of Cookhouse No. 3 in the women’s camp. Sworn by the said Deponent Hugh Llewelyn Glyn Hughes at Hamburg this twenty-second day of October, 1945. H. L. Glyn Hughes. Before me, D. F. Roberts, Captain, Royal Artillery, Solicitor."

Major BROWN - I have a letter from Johanna Therese Kurd, exhibit No. 149, which I wish to put in. It reads as follows and is dated 17th October, 1945 :

"To whom it may concern. I, the undersigned, Johanna Therese Kurd of Jewish parentage, of Dutch nationality, declare herewith to have been imprisoned by the Germans, first in Westerberk, Holland, from May 20th, 1943, until February 13th, 1944, thereafter at Bergen-Belsen until liberated by the British Forces. During the period of imprisonment in Belsen I have been put to work in the S.S. kitchen for the first 8 months where Fritz Mattes (spelling phonetic) was one of the S.S. men overseers. His photograph in the papers as one of the S.S. henchmen now before the Court gave me the impulse to declare the following in his defence:

1st. At first he was common Wehrmacht man who often cursed the Hitler regime. Later he apparently had been promoted to S.S. man of which 'promotion' he often spoke with disgust.

2nd. He always told me of the radio news from the allied side in regard to War events.

3rd. He never even touched me or any of the other prisoners; to the contrary he treated us very kindly and even brought prisoners, working in the cellar peeling potatoes and cleaning vegetables, whenever he saw a change to do so, some sausage meat or other extra.

4th. He certainly never maltreated anybody in my presence, neither did I hear of any such cases.

I wish to bring these matters to the attention of the judges in order that justice may be done and my statement can be supported by other girls whose names I will gladly give if necessary. Inasmuch as my father died in Bergen-Belsen and my mother shortly after liberation as a result of undernourishment, etc., I certainly have no friendly feelings towards those who are actually guilty, but to the best of my knowledge the above named Fritz Mattes does not belong to them. Expecting that you will give my testimony due considerations, Respectfully yours, J. T. Kurd."

HEINRICH BRAMMER, sworn, examined by Captain FIELDEN - I am the Bürgermeister of Gross Hehlen, near Celle, and remember a party of concentration camp prisoners being in Gross Hehlen on 10th April, 1945. They left the village at 2100 hours. British troops arrived in the village on the 12th. Eight weeks later a commission arrived to enquire about the bodies which were found by the villagers about a kilometre away. The bodies, which had striped prisoners’ clothing and were wrapped in blankets, were disinterred and then buried in a churchyard in Gross Hehlen. I do not know how they came to die.

Cross-examined by Captain CORBALLY - On this night of 10th April, did you hear any sounds which you took to be gunfire or anything of that sort? - Yes.

Were there many German troops in and about the village? - I did not see any.

Cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - Did these concentration camp prisoners march out of Gross Hehlen? - Yes.

Did they march off in orderly fashion? - I did not see that.

Did you see them go? - No, I saw how they were fallen in.

Did they fall into some sort of orderly formation? - They stood in a heap, crowded - not in formation.

After they had been standing there waiting for a little while, did they all start to march away? - I did not see that; I went away.

Were there guards standing around them? - I did not see them.

Did you hear any shooting? - No.

Is Gross Hehlen on the main road north? - Yes, towards Hamburg.

If all these prisoners we have heard about had marched up from Hanover [Hannover] they would all have to pass through there? - I saw only the one transport.

Is it on the main road from Hanover [Hannover] up to Bergen? - Yes.

Did you or anybody else know anything about any prisoners having been killed in your village? - No.

Have you any ideas who buried these bodies in the first place? - No.

You never saw or heard how these people were killed? - No.

Did you not hear that they had all been shot in the back of the head? - No.

On that night the only people in the village, other than the villagers, were those prisoners and their guards? - Yes, as far as I know.

Re-examined by Captain FIELDEN - Can you tell the Court how light or dark it was when you saw the prisoner standing there before they marched off? - It was just approaching evening.

By the JUDGE ADVOCATE - Did you not want to discover how these people had died? - One could not find out the reason for their death by then.

Did you take them out of their blankets or not?- The brain was already in liquid form and one could not recognise anything any more.

Could you not tell whether they were women or men? - Only by their identity disc; not otherwise.

By a Member of the Court - Was there any sign of blood on the clothing? - I did not see any.

ALBERT TUSCH, sworn, examined by Captain FIELDEN - I am a farmer at Gross Hehlen, near Celle. On 10th April of this year there were some S.S. troops in Gross Hehlen - they arrived about four days beforehand and left the village on the 11th. Some concentration camp prisoners arrived in the village on 10th April, and left the same day about 2100 hours for the airfield at Hustedt, six kilometres away. I had to bring their food along there and so saw them going into the huts.

Cross-examined by Captain CORBALLY - In what part of the airfield were the prisoners when you arrived at the airfield that night? - Walking across, to the huts.

When you handed over the food to the column of prisoners did you hear of any incidents having happened between Gross Hehlen and the place where they were? - No.

What sort of food did you bring from Gross Hehlen? - Several sacks, some containing bread, others sugar and rice, and something else.

HEINRICH SCHREIRER, recalled, further examined by Captain CORBALLY - When you were arrested, were any documents and papers taken from you? - Yes, they were in two wallets.

Look at these three documents, exhibit No 150? - That is a certificate which I received in Celle, No 3, Certificate of my German nationality, No. 2, and Red Cross Certificate of the German Wehrmacht.

How did you come to be in possession of the Red Cross Certificate? - I got that from Dr. Vogt in Neu-Strelitz. These Red Cross Certificates are issued only to field troops. I got that in the beginning of April, 1945.

Captain CORBALLY - I propose to read this to the Court:

"German Army, G.H.Q., Chief of the Army Medical Service. Service card No. 263297. The medical orderly Cpl. Heinrich Schreirer. Date of birth: 11th June, 1923. Place of birth Mirzawoda. Is exclusively in the medical service of the army as medical orderly. The holder is authorised to wear the Geneva sign, and stands under the protection of Articles 9, 12, 13, and 21 of the Geneva Convention of 7th July, 1929. Written out on the 6th April, 1945, by instruction" of an officer whose signature I cannot decipher.

The other document is the naturalization certification, which says:

"German Reich. Document of naturalization. The widow Maria Schreirer, born Ilowski, in Bruchsal, born on the 21st March, 1880, in Pascani, District Baia, Rumania, and the following by the strength of her parental authority legally represented child, Heinrich. Born on the 11th June, 1923, in Mircea Veda. Have acquired German citizenship by naturalization with the moment of delivery of this document. The naturalization extends only to the above mentioned family relations. 16th September, 1941" - then there is some sort of initial - "The Reichsminister of the Interior, the Special Commissioner."

The third document which I wish to put in is the certificate which he states he received in Celle. It is, in fact, a sort of movement order:

"The medical orderly is herewith sent to the Seeckt barracks, Celle. This direction is given by the British S.M.O., Celle. At the barracks he must announce to the German Medical Doctor. Celle, 6th May, 1945." Signed by a Dr. Albrecht, Oberfeldarzt.

Further examination continued - Do all the things in that wallet belong to you? - No, there are a few photos there that do not belong to me.

Does the wallet contain all the things which you had taken from you when you were arrested? - No.

Further cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - When did you first have one of these Red Cross cards? - The beginning of April.

You left Norway in February and served as an infantryman from then on. Why did you not get one then? - I do not know.

Let me suggest that there is one mistake made, and that is the rank of the doctor who is supposed to have signed it is an S.S. rank? - That is the signature of the doctor.

When the Political Department of the S.S. and the Gestapo broke up, every one of the members was supplied with false papers, was he not? - I am convinced that even the Prosecutor does not believe that I am a member of the Political Department or the Gestapo.

Is your mother really Rumanian? - Yes, of Polish origin.

She speaks very good Polish indeed? - Yes.

You speak Polish too? - No.

Were you not employed by the Political Department both in Auschwitz and Belsen? - No.

Does this photograph from your wallet belong to you? - Yes, it is of a friend of mine called Christl.

Were you in Linz with her in February of this year? - No.

That is where your mother lives? - Yes.

When did you first meet this girl Christl? - In Linz in 1941 or 1942. I saw her last in 1943 or, 1944 when I went on leave. We were in correspondence.

On the back of this photograph, she has put: "Thanks for the many happy hours in Linz from Christl," and has dated that the 20th February, 1945, and there is also a theatre ticket in your wallet dated 18th February, 1945, in Linz ? - Yes.

Were you not at the theatre in Linz with her? - No.

I thought the other photograph of you in your uniform was a photograph with your fiancée. This is a totally different girl? - Yes.

Where is Schupmannshoehe? - Either in the vicinity of Hamburg or Stettin.

How did you get this letter addressed to you from that address dated 22nd April, 1945? - Through a German comrade of mine. It was in April, I think, in the front line.

But you were arrested on 20th April and this letter is dated 22nd April, so you got it some days before it was written, did you? - There is a letter from my comrade and there is a letter from the girl, so the dates can be verified from these letters.

I have not got any letter from the girl, but the letter from your comrade is dated 22nd April? - I got that letter in April and I am not sure about the date.

Was not this letter addressed to you at Bergen-Belsen? - No.

When did you really last see this girl Christl? - In May, 1944, when I was on leave.

Did you and the man who wrote you this letter not spend a lot of time with Christl and another girl? - No, that was again another girl.

Was her name Christl too? - There must be a letter from this girl Christl in my wallet.

Did not you and this man spend a lot of time with this Christl and a girl named Elli? - Elli is sister of another Christl, not this one.

The Christl who wrote you this letter asking you to marry her, which was enclosed with that of your friend, is a different girl from the Christl who sent you the theatre ticket? - Yes.

When were you in Saltau [Soltau]? - I do not know Saltau [Soltau].

Do you know a girl called Ilse Fischer? - Yes.

Your shortened name was Heinz? - Yes.

On the back of this photograph of Ilse Fischer is written: "My dear Heinz, for permanent memory of a night in Saltau [Soltau]." Saltau [Soltau] is the next town to Bergen-Belsen, and you met the girl in February? - I do not know how the name Saltau [Soltau] comes on the back of this photo.

You have made the great mistake of having too many photographs of too many girls. There is the one which shows you in the S.S. uniform; there is another that makes it quite clear you were in Linz in February of this year, and there is another which shows you were in Saltau [Soltau] in February of this year; and that is quite inconsistent with the story you have told? - I can only say that that girl on the photo where I am wearing S.S. uniform was my real fiancée. I am a soldier, and I had my amusement, and I kept the photos.

Let me suggest that with your knowledge of languages you were employed in the S.S. in the Political Department? - That is untrue. I only know Rumanian and German.

I suggest that before the rest of the S.S. went away you left Bergen-Belsen armed with your false papers? - No, that is not true.

Further re-examined by Captain CORBALLY - How long after you surrendered did you arrive in Celle? - Four to six days. How long were you in Celle when you received the movement order from Dr. Albrecht at the Seeckt hospital? - I handed over the wounded and got this order at once.

You have seen the date on the certificate. Working it out from that date, can you tell the Court the date of your capture? - In the beginning of May.

Have you ever before the beginning of this year been engaged in front line operations? - No.

You have been asked about how you came to be in Saltau [Soltau]. At the time that photograph was taken where was your unit stationed? - Neu-Strelitz, about 80 kilometres from Schwerin in the province of Mecklenburg.

How far is Saltau [Soltau] from Neu-Strelitz? - I do not know; I have never been there.

Would you describe the place where you met this girl as a town or village? - A small town.

When you were arrested, did you have any papers referring to you by name? - These three documents which were handed to the Court.

Regarding this photograph which is signed by Ilse Fischer; do you say you know this girl? - Yes, I have only seen her once.

Did she give it to you with this writing on the back? - Yes.

DAVID HUBERT JAMES WILLIAMS, sworn, examined by the PRESIDENT of the Court. - I am a Captain in the R.A.M.C. and am medical officer to the Court. As instructed, I have examined Hoessler, Schmitz, Stofel, Schreirer, Koper, and the witness, Schreirer’s mother.

Will you tell the Court if you found any marks on them? - I examined Hoessler, and under his left armpit about one inch down on the medial side of his arm I found a tattoo mark, linear strokes of about 1/8" long shaped to form the letter "O." This was about ¼" across and was blue-black in colour. There were no other marks. I found no tattoo marks on Schmitz. On Stofel I found the letter, "B" formed by short straight strokes on the medial side of the left arm about three inches down from the axilla armpit. It was about 1/3" from, top to bottom and was blue-black. On Schreirer I found the letter, "A" formed by a series of tiny pin-prick punctures. On Frau Schreirer I discovered the letter "A" tattooed by pin-prick punctures. The marks on Schreirer and his mother were rather faint. On the bridge of Koper’s nose there is a faint transverse scar about ¼" long. On the medial side of her left elbow there was a scar about one inch long and ¾" across. This was in the form of a triangle roughly, and at each angle there appeared to be a point of more intense scarification. There was also, about three inches up the forearm from the wrist, a very faint scar which one could not really define, but there seemed to have been at one time a break in the skin surface. All the marks were on the left arm.

From your, own professional knowledge as a doctor, have you any opinion as to how the scars could have been caused? - The scar on the left elbow could conceivably have been caused by the teeth of a dog, the scar on the bridge of her nose by a blow - whether it was with an instrument or by hand I cannot determine the scar on her forearm was consistent with a scratch, perhaps by the foot of a dog.

The Trial (Defence - Additional Evidence for the Defence)