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

The Trial (Evidence For The Prosecution - Abraham Glinowieski)
ABRAHAM GLINOWIESKI, sworn, examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - I come from Plonsk in Poland, was arrested in 1942, and sent to Auschwitz, where I stayed until either October or November, 1944, after which I was in one or two other places and eventually arrived in Belsen about two and a half months before the camp was liberated.

Look at these people and see if there is anyone whom you can recognise? - I recognise No. 1 Kramer; No. 9, Grese; No. 11, Hilde (Lobauer) ; No. 3, Weingartner; No. 48, Stanislawa (Starostka). Kramer caught me once in Auschwitz, about November, 1943, when I was in possession of a small piece of bread and a little margarine. Also I collected a pair of jackboots and for this I received 25 strokes.

What do you know about Weingartner? - I worked with my brother in the F.K.L. as a carpenter for about two years. As there was a great requirement for food my brother received 12 roubles and a signet ring, for which he obtained 240 cigarettes. He was taking these cigarettes to a woman when, because he was in the women's block which was not permitted, Weingartner arrived, together with the Blockführer. Weingartner searched my brother, found the cigarettes, roubles and signet ring and, after the Blockführer had left the room, gave my brother 75 strokes. He then kicked my brother out of the room and he could hardly stand. I was waiting some distance away. Together with a friend we helped him along to the block where he lived and tried to stand him against the wall. He could not stand and had to sit down. He told me that he was bent over a chair, a knee was applied to his neck to keep his head down and he was beaten. He could not stand during roll-call so we took him to hospital, to which I later went and spoke to the doctor, offering the latter a reward for looking after my brother when he got better. I was not allowed to see my brother. Later on he died.

(At this point the witness broke down.)

Tenth Day - Thursday, 27th September 1945

Major CRANFIELD - I wish to make an application that Colonel H. A. Smith be made an additional Defending Officer. Our appeal for an expert on International Law to assist the Defence has been answered by Colonel Smith, who is Professor of International Law at London University. He has now had an opportunity of conferring with the Defending Officers and perusing the papers, and if our application succeeds he will address an argument to the Court later, on behalf of all the accused.

Colonel BACKHOUSE - The only thing I want to make plain is that if Colonel Smith is going to be a Defending Officer he should address the Court as a Defending Officer and not as Professor Smith, a professor on International Law. I do not think that he should have a build-up beforehand. Whilst I have no objection to the accused being defended by as many counsel as they like, I will not be a party, so far as the Prosecution is concerned, to the suggestion that he should be put forward as an expert on International Law who will explain what the law is to the Court. That is the function of the Judge Advocate. I have not the slightest objection to anybody acting as Defending Officer putting forward what ever views on the law he likes to which I will be in a position to reply, and it will be then for the Judge Advocate to advise the Court.

Major CRANFIELD - If this application succeeds, Colonel Smith will then be a Defending Officer, and at a time to be arranged he will exercise the right which we have reserved on the first day of this trial and which has been granted, to object to the charges as disclosing no offence. He will address the Court on behalf of all the accused on that point and I will give notice now to the Court and to the Prosecution of the points which we propose to argue later. The first point is how far the nationality of the parties to a war crime is material. The second point is the conflict between domestic law and International Law, and the third point is the limitation of war crimes to members of the armed forces.

(The Court closed to examine the proposal.)

The PRESIDENT - Major CRANFIELD, the Court has considered this question and is prepared to hear Colonel Smith as a Defending Officer representing all the accused, provided that the Defending Officers first obtain the sanction of the Convening Officer to this request.

ABRAHAM GLINOWIESKI, examination continued by Colonel BACKHOUSE - Accused No. 11 (Hilde Lobauer) was a Lager Kapo in Auschwitz and assisted in transporting people to the crematorium. She helped to prevent people from escaping or hiding. Grese was the camp leader in Camp C. I saw her every day, and when the transports from Hungary arrived she sent thousands and thousands of people, ill and in quite good health, to the gas chambers. She used to come on inspections to the respective blocks and, according to her whims, she beat people with a stick if she disliked them. She also carried a pistol. No. 48, Stania (Starostka), was the Lagerälteste in Birkenau and, although I noticed nothing special, she also beat people on the knees.

Will you tell us exactly what you know about a man called Erich? - He was Lagerältester in Belsen and behaved very badly towards the internees. A friend of mine was queuing up for soup and because of the large crowd the soup was poured out. The accused approached him and started beating him with his hands. Then he used a stick, and when the victim fell down he kicked him three times between his legs. Another man and I took him to hospital, where he was for two or three weeks, and he died a day or two after the liberation.

Cross-examined by Major WINWOOD - You mentioned an incident in October or November, 1943, when you received 25 strokes from Kramer at Auschwitz. Do you not agree that we still had to wait a matter of five months after this date before Kramer ever came to Auschwitz? - No, it is not true.

In the statement you made to a British officer at Belsen, why did you not mention this very painful incident? - Because only photographs of the S.S. men were shown to me and I was asked to say whether I could accuse any of them.

Is it true there were two occasions when your brother was discovered with forbidden articles on him?- Yes.

Did you actually see Weingartner beat your brother? - No, but I know it was him because I saw him entering the room to get my brother. The only other person in the room was a woman, the Blockälteste, but Weingartner ordered her to leave the room. It was about 500 metres from the women's compound to the block where my brother lived. He was not able to walk.

Cross-examined by Major CRANFIELD - Have you been on a selection parade yourself? - I was present at each of them.

Were these parades always formed up the same way? - Yes. The prisoners formed up in ranks of five.

Is it correct that S.S. personnel, Kapos, Blockältesten and block leaders all assisted in getting the prisoners formed up on parade? - Only S.S. and Lager Kapos were present.

When you were being told to get on parade were you told what the parade was for - a roll-call, working party, gas chamber selection or what? - We were not told anything. It was quite evident that the people selected on the parade had been sent to the gas chamber, because at night the trucks came in, the women were loaded naked and they shouted and cried.

It was quite evident after the parade, but you did not know before it? -Yes, we all knew what was the purpose of the parade. The camp doctor arrived and that was the best proof to us.

Cross-examined by Captain CORBALLY - How far were you standing from your friend when the incident concerning Erich happened? - Nearby in a sort of queue for soup. Everybody was trying to get the soup as quickly as possible because we were all very hungry. Erich took my friend out of the queue and then the queue continued to press forward, as everybody was trying to get at the soup.

Were you able to see Erich beating your friend? - I was about five metres from him and Erich started beating him with his fist. Later on he went in the direction of his room and ordered someone inside to bring his stick. It was a wooden stick more than a metre long and as thick as an arm.

In your statement to a British officer referring to this incident you said, "I saw Zoddel beat a friend of mine named Tessle during the distribution of food in the camp. Tessle pushed forward through the group of waiting people to try and get his food quicker from the Kapo who was distributing it. Zoddel beat Tessle with his fists on the head and chest and then kicked him with his jackboots." Do you still say that in your statement to this British officer you mentioned that Zoddel, or Erich, used a stick? - When the statement was read over to me I do not know whether the word stick was actually in it.

Do you agree that your friend Tessle died in hospital not less than fourteen days after this? - Yes. I do not remember when the beating took place, but it was less than a month before the liberation of the camp.

In your statement you said this incident took place about 10th April. When this was read to you were the dates which had been written down repeated to you in Yiddish? - I do not remember. I was suffering from typhus.

As a result of typhus do you find difficulty in remembering what you have said in the statement? - I remember everything, but not the details.

I suggest that Erich did not beat your friend at all? - It is impossible. I knew him very well and he did it. I saw it with my own eyes. He not only beat him but hundreds of other prisoners.

What was the procedure when you made these statements? - It was an old statement made through a Yiddish interpreter. The photographs were shown to me first. I knew beforehand that an opportunity would be granted to me of making a statement.

Cross-examined by Lieut. JEDRZEJOWICZ - What kind of food was your brother getting for the women prisoners? - Bread and cigarettes, margarine and sausage. My brother got the bread, margarine and sausage from outside the camp from the civilians who came into the women's camp. He never obtained any of these articles in the camp because the S.S. men were in charge of the cookhouse.

Re-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - Although it has been put to you that at the time when Kramer beat you he was not at the camp, have you any doubt that it was Kramer who beat you? - I am quite aware of that. He was also Kommandant when my brother was beaten.

By the JUDGE ADVOCATE - When your friend was beaten by this man Erich within a month of the liberation of the camp, what were the duties that Erich was performing? - He was Lagerältester in the camp at Belsen and sent prisoners in the morning to work with the work Kommandos.

Was Erich an S.S. man or not? - To my knowledge, he was not an S.S. man. I knew him as a murderer.

The Trial (Evidence For The Prosecution - Abraham Glinowieski)