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

Appendices (Affidavits & Statements - Ehlert, Herta)

(111) DEPOSITION OF HERTA EHLERT (German, aged 40)

1. I am 40 years of age. I was occupied as a bakery saleswoman until 15th November, 1940, when I was conscripted into the S.S. I do not regard myself as a member of the S.S. because I was not in sympathy with them, but I have worked as an Aufseherin with the S.S. since that date. I would be ashamed of belonging to the S.S. because so many things happened which were terrible.

2. I reported to Ravensbrück, where I remained for two and a half years as Aufseherin. In autumn, 1943, I was sent from Ravensbrück to Lublin. I stayed there until spring, 1944, as Aufseherin in the laundry, and I was then sent to Cracow [Kraków] Work camp and Concentration Camp. In November, 1944, I went to Raisko, which was a dependency of Auschwitz. On the 15th January, 1945, I was sent to Oranienburg and thence to Belsen early in February, 1945. At Belsen I continued to be an Aufseherin, and Elisabeth Volkenrath, who was the chief of the S.S. women, made me her assistant.

3. The conditions in Belsen were a shame and a disgrace. I consider that the people chiefly responsible, were Kramer the Kommandant, Dr. Horstmann, Untersturmführer Klipp, who was for a time Kramer’s second in command, and Hauptsturmführer Vogler, who worked in Kramer’s office and was responsible for food supply. I say that Kramer was responsible for the conditions, among other reasons, because on one occasion when I complained of the increasing death rate to Kramer he replied, "Let them die, why should you care?"

4. I have no knowledge of any shooting of inmates at Belsen when I was there, except for one girl who was shot trying to escape from an outside working party, and a nurse who was shot and killed from one of the guard towers when a window was not blacked out quickly enough during an air raid alarm. I do not know the names of either of the victims or of those who did the shooting.

5. I have often seen prisoners beaten at Belsen. One of these I have seen beating prisoners is Rapportführerin Gollasch. When Gollasch beat people she did it very heavily and always with a weapon such as a walking-stick, piece of wood or anything she could find. She hit them on the head, on the back, or on any part of the body. I do not know whether prisoners died as a consequence of their being beaten, but I have often seen her continue until blood came from the victim's mouth and nose. The victims were in such a weak state that they would be very lucky to survive such beatings as I saw her give. Gollasch left Belsen six days before the English arrived and I believe that she went home to visit her people at Kotbus.

6. I remember some time in February a Polish prisoner called Korperova was being beaten by four of her fellow internees for having betrayed them, when Gollasch came into the room and continued to beat her with a stick to such an extent that I tried to make her stop. The victim was at least partly clothed, but I think she lost some of her clothing in the course of the beating.

7. I have never seen anybody else beat prisoners at Belsen. I myself have struck them only with my hand, never with a weapon.

8. I have been told by many of the prisoners that after the Hungarians took over guarding the camp, which was about a week before the arrival of the British, four nights in succession they shot at prisoners from the watch towers, giving as an excuse that the prisoners were trying to escape.

9. I remember an occasion at Belsen some time in February or March when an escaped prisoner, either a Polish or a German woman, was caught after trying to escape. Kramer, the Kommandant, questioned the girl in front of several of us S.S. women, and I saw him kicking shaking her and later hit her with a stick on her head and face and all over her body quite unmercifully. As a result of this she gave the names of two girls whom she said had helped her to escape. Kramer sent for these two girls and instructed Kasainitzky to give each of them five strokes on the bare behind to make them confess. I saw Kasainitzky carry this out with a walking-stick, and each of the girls was them made to stand in a corner while Kasainitzky took one of them into another room to interrogate her. I was present throughout these proceedings with Gollasch and Volkenrath, but left when the first girl was being interrogated and do not know what subsequently happened.

10. Although I have not witnessed any beatings of prisoners by other S.S., I have heard that Ilse Forster and Frieda Walter used to beat internees to a quite unreasonable extent. One young Rottenführer, whose name I do not remember but who was at Belsen for three or four days, told me on one occasion that he was on his way to complain to Unterscharführer Müller that he could not continue to work in the cookhouse while the brutality of the beatings given by Ilse Forster and Frieda Walter were allowed to continue. I also found Ilse Forster myself, when visiting the cookhouse, with a very red face and in an excited state, which she told me was due to her exertions in beating prisoners.

11. I have also heard that Irene Haschke and Herta Bothe have often beaten prisoners and that Gertrud Sauer and Gertrud Fiest had the reputation of being very severe. From my own knowledge of Juana Bormann and from working with her, I believe that the stories about her brutality to prisoners are true, although I have not myself witnessed it. I have often seen the dog which she had, and heard she used to let it loose on prisoners. Although I have not seen it I can well believe it to be true.

12. I should like to add that Hilde Lisiewitz and Elizabeth Fritzner, to the best of my knowledge and belief were always well behaved and treated prisoners really decently.

13. I believe that some of the prisoners are blaming us for things that were done by the Aufseherinnen who preceded us at Belsen. For instance, I remember that S.S. woman Sporn, who left Belsen about 20th February, 1945, because she was pregnant (according to what Volkenrath told me, as a result of a love affair with Kramer), has, on occasions, punished numbers of prisoners by making them kneel with bricks or stones on their heads, and their hands above their heads for as long as three hours at a time. I can speak of this of my own knowledge, since I saw it happen. I have often heard Kramer order similar punishment of individuals.

Appendices (Affidavits & Statements - Ehlert, Herta)