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

Appendices (Affidavits & Statements - Poppner, Ernst)

(107) DEPOSITION OF ERNST POPPNER (German, aged 31)

2. On 5th April, I was one of a party of 613 prisoners of mixed nationalities who set out to march from a prison camp at Kleinbodungen to Belsen.

3. We commenced to march at about 0700 hours, and we marched until dusk, covering about 51 kilometres. We had no food, and most of the men wore clogs.

4. During this day two men collapsed and some of us put them on a hand-cart which we were pulling. These men recovered a little during the halt that night, which was at a point about three kilometres beyond Osterode. We bivouacked near two isolated barns on the right-hand side of the road.

5. On the following morning, i.e. 6th April, Uschf. Dorr, who was the N.C.O. in charge of the column, took the two men to whom I have referred, and also another man who had also been in a distressed condition, into the barn. This was before the party moved off. I saw him make these three men kneel down and I saw him shoot two of them in the back of the head, firing two shots at each of them. The third endeavoured to escape and other shots were fired, but I did not see what happened.

6. Some prisoners were then made to dig a shallow grave near the barn and the three men referred to were buried in this grave. I think I could locate this grave. I do not know the names of the men, but I think they were Germans.

7. We marched away and after going about 5 kilometres I saw the said Dorr, together with Berling, who was a prisoner in charge of us acting under the Germans, and Zimmerman and Horst Liebholdt, two other prisoners, take two more prisoners from the column, who were in a distressed condition, into a sand-pit by the side of the road. I heard shots and then the four first-named men rejoined the column. I never saw the two men again whom they had taken into the sand-pit. I do not know the names of these men, but one was a Frenchman and one was a Pole.

8. The march continued and later in the day the same four men took another two prisoners, who were in a distressed condition, into a wood which was near Salzgitter. I heard shots; the four men rejoined the column. I never saw the two men whom they took with them after this. One of these men was, I believe, a foreigner and the name of the other was, I have been told, Markgraf; he was a German.

9. Dorr wore grey uniform and was a member of the Death Head S.S. He was aged about 22, dark and tall. Berling was an ordinary criminal. He was thirty-six, of stocky build, and rather short. He wore a yellow brassard with the letters K.P.O. printed in black. Zimmerman was also a criminal. He was about 30 and of slight build. He wore a green triangle on the left breast of his tunic. Liebholdt was about 30 years of age and in civilian life was a professional cycle racer.

10. The column was under the command of Hauptschf. Stofel; he rode up and down the column on a motor cycle during the march. He was not present, to my knowledge, when any of the men referred to above were taken away. I do not know whether any report was made to him, but I do know that on the late roll-call I myself heard, before we got to Belsen, 36 prisoners were not accounted for. During the march I was told by the said Berling that anyone who could not keep up would be liquidated.

Appendices (Affidavits & Statements - Poppner, Ernst)