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

Appendices (Affidavits & Statements - Volkenrath, Elisabeth)


I am 26 years of age and come from Schönau near Badlandeck, Silesia. I am a married woman, my husband being in the S.S., and I have not heard of him for a long time. Before being called up into the S.S. I was a hairdresser. In 1939 I was called up to work in a munitions factory and on 1st October, 1942, was transferred to the S.S. I never actually became a member of the S.S.; we merely wore the uniform and became supervisors at concentration camps.

On joining the S.S. I was sent to Ravensbrück, where I became an Aufseherin and was taught how to treat prisoners. We were told that we were not to talk to prisoners and our job was to take them to work and see that they didn’t escape. I later went into the concentration camp at Ravensbrück, where I worked under S.S. woman Langefeld and Kommandant Koegel. In March, 1942, I was transferred to Auschwitz, where I remained until 18th January, 1945. I then proceeded to Bergen-Belsen, where I arrived after a long train journey on 5th February, 1945.

On arrival at Auschwitz I was placed in charge of a working party sewing clothes. I later was placed in charge of the parcels department where Red Cross parcels from families were received for the prisoners. I always made it my duty to see that the parcels were delivered, and those prisoners that worked under me can say that this is true. On 20th September, 1944, I took over a working camp in Auschwitz, consisting of a cobbler’s shop and tailor’s shop which were run for the benefit of the prisoners. I remained at this post until the camp was cleared. Whilst I was at Auschwitz the Kommandanten of the camp were Kommandant Hoess, Liebehenschel and Baer. On the women’s side there were S.S. women Langefeld, Mandel and Drechsel. Kramer, was the Kommandant at Birkenau from, from June or July, 1944, to December, 1944.

I often heard about the gas chamber from prisoners, but I never actually saw it, although from the distance I have seen the crematorium. I have been present when selections were made from prisoners, by the S.S. doctors, of those unfit to work. These people ,were all sent to Block 25 and to my knowledge they were never seen again. Obersturmführer Müller always told us that these people were being sent away to recuperate. Whilst I was at Auschwitz the camp was visited by Himmler and he saw the conditions that existed there.

I have always been very strict, but have never murdered anyone. I have boxed the ears of girls if they did anything wrong, but anything I did was always on orders from Lagerführerin Mandel and Drechsel. It was on the orders of Kommandant Kramer that girls were brought to the office and made to "make sport." It was conducted by Camp Aeltesten. This was a punishment for being in possession of things they should not have, and consisted of running round the room, bending their knees and, generally, doing physical exercises. I have always tried, as far as possible, not to forget that I was a woman and a human being. I was never present when this took place, and it only happened once in Block 2.

The many deaths at Belsen were caused by lack of food and overcrowding. Prisoners were marched from other camps to Belsen with little or no food and arrived in an exhausted condition. I mentioned this to Kramer and Vogler. Kramer told me, about, the 20th March, 1944, that he made a report about the camp and, as a result, at the end of March, 1945, it was inspected by Pohl, Hoess and Verwirttungschef Burge and also Dr. Lolling, who was head of all doctors in Germany. Due to this inspection temporary barracks should have been built, and a start was made in the women’s camp at the end of March.

I know things have been bad in these camps, but they were also bad for us and we could do nothing about it. We were punished the same as the prisoners by money being stopped, up to 5 marks, by Kramer, and confinement to camp on orders from Berlin, and kept almost the same as the prisoners ourselves. It is true that I have had to make prisoners on Appell hold their hands above their heads, but it was always on orders from others; this happened in Auschwitz on instructions from Mandel and Drechsel.

It is my opinion that the man most responsible for the conditions at Auschwitz was Hoess, as he was in charge of all camps in this area. Reichsführer Himmler is, of course, responsible for all concentration camps. At no time did I see any orders in writing relating to concentration camps.

On arrival at Belsen I did not work for the first six weeks at all, owing to the fact that I was ill. I then took charge of all S.S. women and received my orders direct from Kommandant Kramer.

Appendices (Affidavits & Statements - Volkenrath, Elisabeth)