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

Appendices (Affidavits & Statements - Koper, Helena)

(110) STATEMENT OF HELENA Koper (Hungarian, aged 35)

1. I am 35 years of age. Neither my husband nor I are Jewish. I was arrested in Cracow [Kraków] in June, 1940, because the Gestapo suspected me of anti-German sympathies and found me in possession of an anti-German pamphlet. I was in prison for four months at the Gestapo prison, Cracow [Kraków]. I was sent to Ravensbrück Camp in October, 1940, and subsequently to Auschwitz-Birkenau in October, 1941, thence to Bergen-Belsen in December, 1944.

2. I recognise No, 2 on photograph Z/4/2 as S.S. Aufseherin Irma Grese. I knew her first in Ravensbrück in 1941, but I knew nothing against her during that time. She was Blockführerin in Auschwitz and subsequently in charge of the punishment company in Auschwitz from 1942 to 1944. She was in charge of the punishment company when working outside the camp, for six months in 1943. The remainder of the time she did not go outside. I was also in the punishment company and, during the time that Grese was in charge when working outside, we were employed outside the camp in a sand-pit. There were 700-800 women working in this company, some of whom were detailed to dig sand and fill iron trucks with the sand, and others had to push these trucks along a narrow gauge railway. The place in which we worked was surrounded by a strand of wire about three to four feet high and we were not allowed to go outside this wire boundary. There were twelve guards placed at intervals around the wire. It was the practice of Grese to pick out certain of the Jewish women prisoners and order them to get something from the other side of the wire. She always worked with interpreters. When the prisoners approached the wire they were challenged by the guard, but as Grese usually picked out non-Germans, they did not understand the order and walked on and were shot. Some even of the prisoners who did understand German and knew it was death to cross the wire, did so because they were too weary and ill to bother. Occasionally a guard would not shoot but would force the prisoner to return to the working party. I myself was called as a witness at an enquiry which was held by the Political Department on a guard who refused to shoot prisoners which Grese had ordered to cross the wire. At the enquiry I identified the guard, who was handcuffed. In my presence the guard stated that the women were being worked too hard and that Grese was purposely sending them to the wire so that they would be shot. The next day the guard was on duty again and Grese had gone. I next saw her in Belsen in February or March, 1945, as a Rapportführerin.

3. Whilst Grese was in charge of the working party she always carried a rubber truncheon. She was responsible for at least 30 deaths a day, resulting from her orders to cross the wire, but many more on occasions. It was always my job, ordered by Grese, to count the dead, and I, together with some other women, used to load the bodies into one of the railway wagons after working hours. The bodies were subsequently removed by ambulance. I know two of the women who helped me on these occasions; their names are Canina Stasicka and Karola Mikot. I saw them last on 8th June, 1945, in Belsen Camp. Both are Polish Aryans. Their Auschwitz numbers tattooed on their arms are 18565 and 18566. I do not know which of them had which number. Both had lived at Cracow [Kraków]. I know the name of one internee who was shot by a guard when ordered to cross the wire. It was Anna Guterweiss of Czecrowies, near Cracow [Kraków]. In fact, I wrote to her son to tell him that his mother had died. It is possible that orders to cross the wire were not in every case given by Grese, because the Kapos used to try it, but it is almost certain that Grese was responsible in almost every case.

4. I identify No. 3 on photograph 19 as an S.S. woman who was at Auschwitz during 1943-4. I knew her by the name of Bormann and have now been told that her full name is Juana Bormann. She was the worst hated person in the camp. At first she was in charge of the clothing store and then in charge of labour. She always had with her a large dog which she set on to the prisoners. On one occasion when I was undergoing a minor punishment - it was in the summer of 1944 as near as I can remember - I was kneeling down with my hands in the air and I saw Bormann approach a prisoner, a female, who was going towards the offices. Bormann stopped the woman and took something out of the woman’s pocket. She then hit the prisoner with her right hand and then, clasping her by the hair, threw the woman to the ground. Bormann was holding the dog by a strap in her left hand, and when the woman was lying on the ground, she let the dog go and it bit the woman severely. When the dog had finished, the woman was a mass of blood and one of her breasts had been torn severely. A doctor, S.S. Obersturmführer Rodek, came and examined the woman. He was a good doctor and behaved always well. There was no movement from the body and four prisoners were instructed to take the body away on a stretcher to Block 25, which was notorious as the death block; that is the block to which people were taken when they were dying or where they were lodged prior to being taken to the gas chamber.

5. In 1942, not long after I had been at Auschwitz, Bormann found some cigarettes and photographs in my bed. For this she beat me on the face with her hand and then set her dog on to me. I was bitten in the left arm near the elbow. Bormann walked me to the hospital and I was there for six weeks. I believe Bormann called the dog off only because she was a sadist and enjoyed doing that sort of thing. I received an official beating for having cigarettes when I came out of hospital. Bormann left Auschwitz in the summer of 1944.

6. I recognise No. 5 on photograph 22 as an S.S. Oberaufseherin at Belsen. I knew her by the name of Ehlert and I have now been told that her full name is Herta Ehlert. Two weeks before the British came, it was in early April, the roll-call at my block was incorrect and Ehlert beat me with her hand, but not very much; but she stopped the food the next day for the whole of the block as a punishment.

7. I recognise No. 6 on photograph 22 as an S.S. woman who was at Auschwitz. I knew her by the name of Volkenrath and have now been told that her full name is Elisabeth Volkenrath. She was responsible for selections for the gas chamber at Auschwitz Camp from Block 18, where I lived. I attended seven selection parades and she and S.S. Rapportführer Tauber between them made all the selections. Volkenrath was not merely acting as a guard - she personally picked out victims for the gas chamber. On one occasion, out of a block containing 1400 prisoners there were only about 300 left after the selections had been made. I left Auschwitz in November, 1944, and next saw Volkenrath at Belsen in February, 1945, when she said to me that Germany had lost the war and we should all be hanged.

Info: The following paragraph (8) was not read out at the trial.

8. I knew an S.S. Oberaufseherin Drechsel at Auschwitz. I would describe her as about 30 years of age, 5 ft. 4 ins. in height, very thin, with bright brown thin hair. She had two protruding front teeth, a long thin nose and pale complexion. She walked with her bead bent forward. She was responsible for selections for the gas chamber and I myself have seen her doing this many times.

9. I knew an S.S. Arbeitsdienstführerin Hasse at Auschwitz. I would describe her as about 28 years of age, 5 ft. 8 ins. in height, very blond hair (natural), straight, and worn in an upward style, blue eyes, blond eyebrows, small mouth, round face, healthy complexion, slim build, good even teeth, beautiful, good figure, and very smart in her dress. This woman was in charge of the transport columns which arrived at Auschwitz from time to time. These transport columns consisted of people who were to be exterminated at once and they did not spend any time in the camp. She used to lead the columns to the gas chamber, and when there were babies in arms, she ordered them to be thrown into a hole which was connected to a stove, and they were burnt alive. I was employed in cleaning up the ground near the crematorium and I saw this happen many times. Hasse always wore a pistol, but I never saw her use it - only to threaten people.

10. I recognise No. 5 on photograph 1 as an S S. man who was chief cook at Belsen. I have now been told that his name is Karl Flrazich [Francioh]. A week before the English arrived I went to fetch food from the kitchen for my block, and the internees who were queueing for their food started to push, and Flrazich (Francioh], who always stood on the steps at the entrance to the kitchen, shot a girl with his pistol. The girl, who was pregnant, was shot in the arm, and as she belonged to my block, I took her to the hospital. She became unconscious and died whilst I was there. I cannot say why she died as she was only shot in the arm - she was very weak. I know this because a doctor examined her and told me she was dead. My block was next to the kitchen and I saw Francioh shooting repeatedly at the internees, many of whom fell down and were flung on to a heap.

12. I recognise No. 1 on photograph Q/4/1 as an S.S. man whom I knew at Auschwitz and Belsen. I have also seen him in custody and I know beyond all doubt that he is the same man. I knew him by the name of Hansi and I have now been told that his full name is Heinrich Schreirer. I first met Schreirer in the winter of 1942-3 at Auschwitz. He was in charge of a Strafkommando in which I was working. He spoke to everyone in the Strafkommando and asked them their jobs in civil life, and when I told him that I was a Professor of Music, he at once became interested. He talked all day about music and politics. He spoke badly of the Germans and said that the war was already lost. One day I was sentenced to 12 days in the bunker for smoking. Schreirer was in charge of this bunker. He told me that he was in charge of the Political Department and that he would tell me all that was going on if I would play the violin for him. I agreed to do so and he brought me a violin. He told me that 10 people in the bunker were to be hanged and many to be gassed the next day. I played "Mother Love" to him and he told me that he had no mother and if I played it again he would shoot me. He also asked me to play something Rumanian or French, and when I asked for music he said he would write it for me, which he did. When I had finished playing for him he wrote on the doorpost "England will come to help."

12. I afterwards spoke to an American boxer named Jacob, who was in the bunker and he told me that Schreirer was an intelligent man and spoke Rumanian, French, Polish, Russian, German and English. Schreirer spent almost every day in my cell, and I formed the opinion that he was not normal. He told me that he was a homosexual. After I was released from the bunker Schreirer said that he wanted me to join the camp band, but I could not do so whilst I was in the punishment party. In an attempt to get me off the punishment party, Schreirer arranged a meeting for me with Hoessler, whom I identify as No. 1 on photograph 9. Hoessler told me that I had to stay in the punishment party.

13. I saw Schreirer whilst I was at Belsen in December, 1944, or January 1945. I spoke to him about three times. The last time I saw him was at 2100 hours one evening about three weeks before the British came. He came to my room and her was very dirty. He said that he had been working in the woods and had buried some secret papers. I said that I would like to see where they were and he agreed to take me. We went out of the camp to a spot between the crematorium and the sand-pit and he showed me where five or six boxes were buried. They were only covered with a little earth which he scraped away and I actually saw the boxes which he said contained the last papers the German possessed, and ammunition. On 31st June, 1945, I showed Captain A. J. Fox, General List, D.A.P.M., 86 Special Investigation Section, Corps of Military Police, where the boxes had been buried. They were no longer there.

14. One day in Belsen Schreirer showed me three passports or identity cards. Each of them had a photograph of him and each card was written in a different language, and the names were different names. The name "Schreirer" was not one. I do not think "Schreirer" is his real name. There was an elderly man at Auschwitz whose name was Schreirer.

Appendices (Affidavits & Statements - Koper, Helena)