Transcript of the Official Shorthand Notes of 'The Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty Four Others'
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: with the Court's permission I should like to interpose Colonel Champion who has flown over from England to give evidence at the request of the defence. He is actually a prosecution witness and I had proposed to use an affidavit, but the defence requested that he should be here in order that they might cross examine him.
THE PRESIDENT: Have you anything to say on behalf of the defence, Major Cranfield?
MAJOR CRANFIELD: That is agreeable to us.
THE PRESIDENT: Very well; will you want the evidence translated or not?
MAJOR CRANFIELD: No; I have already explained it to all the accused.
Is you full name Savile Geoffrey Champion? - Yes.
Are you a solicitor of the Supreme Court? - Yes.
For how long have you been a solicitor of the Supreme Court? - For twenty one years.
What is your address? - My home address is Little Holcombe, Tenterton, Kent.
When you were at Belsen I think you were a Major, second in command of No. 1 War Crimes Investigation team? - For part of the time I was Lieutenant Colonel commanding No. 2 War Crimes Investigation team.
You told us that you have been a solicitor for twenty one years. Have you also been a Clerk of the Peace for many years? - Yes, for fourteen years.
And as Clerk of the Peace I suppose you prepared all the indictments for your Quarter Session? - Yes.
You were for a considerable time with one or other of the War Crimes Investigation Teams? - Yes.
Prior to that I think you were Permanent President of Courts Martial at Woolwich Garrison? - Yes.
Would you tell the Court quite briefly the methods which you adopted in taking these statements and affidavits at Belsen? - When I arrived at Belsen, No. 1 Team took over from Major Smallwood, and we were handed his affidavits and some photographs. We had the services of one commissioned police officer and five non-commissioned officers, and very soon after we arrived we had further photographs of suspected people. The police were instructed to take the photographs round the various parts of the camp, and to ask if anybody could identify any of the people in the photographs and, if so, what they know about him or her. In addition we had a large number of people who called at the office, and they were seen, some by myself and some by the commissioned police officer. Again they were shown photographs and were asked if they could identify anybody and, if so, what they knew about that person.
Did you confine yourself to taking evidence which was against an accused person or did you take evidence generally? - We took evidence generally, and my instructions to the police officers were definitely that they were required take a note of anything that was said in favour or against.
Of the photographs which were shown to people include photographs of the accused? - Immediately after we took over the only photographs were of SS personnel who had been at Belsen, but within a few days we had further photographs, some of which were of internees who had been at Belsen and some were of other persons in various gaols who we thought might have been at Belsen. In fact, many of them were never identified. In addition we had one or two photographs which had been found in the billets of the barracks at Belsen, chiefly of Wehrmacht officers which we also showed to the witnesses. Also in the police officers' room where all witnesses were first received, we had the whole of the photographs pinned on the wall which included one of Field Marshal Montgomery, and the witnesses were invited to see if they could recognise anyone. The photograph of Field Marshal Montgomery was a bad one taken from a newspaper which, I think, had been put there for a joke but I let it stay; and it was in fact identified by one person.
Before you took any affidavits did you satisfy yourself as to whether or not the persons were reasonably reliable witnesses and could identify the people about whom they were speaking? - Yes, I did what I could. The actual procedure in respect of those about whom the non - commissioned police officers took notes was that they were given an appointment to see the commissioned police officer who took their evidence and turned it into affidavit form. In regard to those who called, they saw the commissioned police officer direct without seeing one of the non-commissioned police officers first. The affidavit prepared by the commissioned police officer was then brought to me un sworn and I saw the witness and, so far as was possible, I cross-examined the witness to test credibility. One of our difficulties we had was to make a witness understand the difference between direct evidence and hearsay, but we did succeed in doing that, when they understood the difference, in stating what they had been told and what they themselves had seen. In each case I, myself, showed the photographs to the witnesses which they had already been shown by the police officer, and I made them again identify the persons against whom they spoke in their affidavits. So far as I was able from the material in my possession I also cross-examined them from other statements which had been made on certain matters by previous witnesses to see whether they appeared to have a fair recollection. We had some difficulty in regard to names. The witnesses themselves spelt their names in different ways when asked on different occasions - not large alterations - but differences in spelling. The interpreters also tended to spell names differently. We also had some difficulty with regard to dates. Most of the witnesses were very vague as to when an incident occurred. They usually only knew the day was in the summer or in the winter, and sometimes they were not quite sure of the year. To try and help them we did put questions such as: "Was it before or after Christmas?" or "Before or after the Germans invaded some particular country", and most of the dates we got through that inquiry. If there is a definite date given then that was the date which was tendered by the witness without any suggestion. Otherwise we nearly always had to ask questions to get some idea of dates.
I think you made an affidavit yourself before Major James Dill-Smith? - Yes.
Will you look at that affidavit? (Same handed) - Yes, this is the affidavit I made.
In that affidavit you refer to a number of photographs? - Yes.
Are those the photographs which were used in the investigation? - Yes.
And as an Exhibit 13 and 14 to that affidavit you set out the key to the photographs? - Yes, that is right.
Is it an accurate key? - Yes.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I am in a certain amount of difficulty concerning the original photographs, because some of them have unfortunately been marked. It was not realised that they were the originals and they were marked in the course of the prosecution. I therefore propose at the moment to give Colonel Champion a copy set of photographs. During the course of the day I shall have all the originals here, and if the defence wish to see any they can do so. I do not want to put them before the Court because I was supplied by mistake with originals and I have scrawled all sorts of things over them.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: These are going in as exhibits, are they?
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Yes.
(Photographs are marked Exhibit 6 signed by the President and attached to the proceedings.)
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: (To the witness) Will you examine those with the key in your affidavit and assure yourself that they are accurate? - (The witness does so) These are the photographs referred to in the key. There are only two things to be said about them. On a copy of photograph No. 7 at the back one of the names is shown as Schmidt Oscar, whereas in the key it reads: "Oscar Schmidt" which was the name by which we knew him. On photograph 35 in relation to the woman, there is an alteration in pencil on the back. The pencil alteration is correct and the type on the back is not correct.
In paragraph 5 of your affidavit you say: "Referring to the said photograph marked 'S.G.C.10' and to the said key marked 'S.G.C. 14', the said key as originally drawn had the names Marta Linke and Herta Bothe reversed. The key as now produced and shown to me as above is correct. The said Marta Linke is No. 4 in the said photograph being the small woman and the said Herta Bothe being the tall woman standing behind the said Marta Linke." - That is correct.
And the original key, which is the one on the back of that photograph, has been changed in pencil to the correct key? - Yes; on the original set of photographs exhibited in the affidavit I think I am right in saying there was no key at all on the back.
When a person recognised somebody in a photograph but did not know the name of the person whom they recognised, what was your practice with regard to the affidavit? - They would then say: 'I recognise No. 1 on photograph 7 who I am now told is Marta Linke" or whatever the name might be.
Was the witness then told the name? - Yes; if a witness did not know the name I told him.
In a number of affidavits a witness states: "I recognise No. 5 on the photograph who I am told is Marta Linke". - That is correct.
And the fact that she describes her as Herta Bothe in the affidavit is due to the fact that the key at the time was wrong? - Yes.
I think in each of those cases there has been a second deposition pointing that out? - Yes.
Did you take an affidavit from Abraham Glinowieski? - I think I remember the name, but I would like to see the affidavit to check it.
Will you look at your signature on this affidavit? (Same handed) - Yes, that is the affidavit made before me.
You can refer to that affidavit if you wish, of course. Did that witness recognise anyone on any of the photographs? - Yes, the witness recognised Peter Weingartner.
In particular I want you to refer to paragraph 4. - In paragraph 4 he recognised a Kapo about whom he said: 'I know him by the name of Erich and I have now been told that his full name is Erich Zoddel."
Did he recognise anybody on any of the photographs? - Yes, he recognised No. 8 on a photograph Z/4/3.
Will you hand that photograph to the Court? (Same handed) That is the fifth man from the left holding the number 8 in his hand, in the photograph? - Yes, that is correct.
I want Erich Zoddel to stand up. (Accused Erich Zoddel does so and the Court compare the photograph with the accused.) (To the witness) Again you may refer to the affidavit when answering this question. What did Glinowieski tell you about Erich Zoddel? - Reading from the affidavit he said: 'I recognise No. 8 on photograph Z/4/3 as Senior Camp Kapo and Lagerältester of Camp No. 1 at Belsen. I know him by the name of Erich and I have now been told that his full name is Erich Zoddel. About 10th April 1945 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 in the testicles. Tessle fell down and remained there for about half an hour and appeared to be suffering from terrible pain. I then took him to the hospital where he was detained. I visited him every day and on about 14th or 15th April 1945 when I went to see him, the warden told me that he was dead. I could not believe it so I went to Tessle's bed where I saw him lying dead." Might I add a word to the evidence I gave as to how the affidavits were taken. I have omitted to say that later, towards the end of my time at Belsen, the commissioned police officer was withdrawn and we had two captains, one of whom was a barrister, and they did the same work as the commissioned officer of the police had been doing. In regard to some of the affidavits I did not see the witnesses but they were seen by Captain Forbes who was a barrister, and he did my work in regard to cross examining and swearing. In those cases his name appears, of course, and not mine.
MAJOR CRANFIELD: In order to save time could we have an opportunity, when the Court is closed, of checking the photographs handed in with the photographs we have?
THE PRESIDENT: Certainly.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: (To the witness) There were a number of other persons photographed who are not included in that bundle? - Yes.
You took evidence both for and against people, but in the event of receiving a preponderance of evidence for the defence, what did you do? - If the accused was a Kapo I discharged him there and then and he was usually released. In the case of the SS I had no power to discharge, but I should have made a report to the Judge Advocate General's Department. It did not in fact arise with regard to the SS
With regard to the accused now before the Court, do they represent all the SS you had in custody or not? - No, there are a large number of the SS who are not here.
What was the position if any of the SS asked for a statement to be taken from anyone? - If they asked we made a search for the witness; but I cannot remember the SS asking for anybody. I remember a Kapo asked for a large number and we always searched, but I cannot remember the SS asking.
If you found the persons they asked for, what did you do? - We took an affidavit headed: "In the defence of accused so and so" and the affidavit set out whatever the witness had to say.
I think you have already said if there was a preponderance of evidence for the defence you would dismiss the charge and let the Kapo go? - That is so.
Cross-examined by MAJOR WINWOOD: Is it true to say that the dates finally included in the affidavits were as correct as you could possibly get them at the time? - Yes, I only took affidavits where I considered that the witness was reliable and that his recollection, apart from dates which were always, I think, to some extent doubtful, was substantially fair and true.
Did you take any statements from any of the accused who were in custody at the time? - I took statements from all the Kapos who were in custody at Belsen. I took some statements from SS who were then in prison. Other statements were taken by my commanding officer and other officers.
Did you take a statement from Dr. Klein? - To the best of my recollection, no; but the papers would show that. Any statement I took is in with my signature on it.
MAJOR MUNRO: No questions.
Cross-examined by MAJOR CRANFIELD: Did you ever check the key against the bodies? - In regard to the SS, no. It was checked by one of the police officers. As soon as I had reason to think it was in error a report was made by me in writing. In regard to the Kapos, those who were in custody at Belsen were checked by myself personally. Those at Celle Gaol - Zoddel was one - were checked by a police officer on my orders.
So that you yourself cannot say whether the key is accurate or not? - I am only able to say it is accurate to the extent that I had a written report from one of my juniors, and than where ever I took a statement from the SS the man was required to state whether it was his or her photograph and that appears in their statement.
In your affidavit, paragraph 5, you say that the key S.G.C. 14 is correct? - Yes, that is so.
Is that the one you checked yourself? - No, that is one which was checked by a police officer on my orders.
How can you swear that it was correct? - I accepted the statement of my police officer who made the report in writing, and informed me in regard to those two particular women that he had seen both women together and they had both agreed as to which was which.
Will you look at the affidavit on page 38 [Ewa Gryka]? - Yes, I have an affidavit.
In paragraph 3 you see it says: "In July 1943 at Auschwitz I was employed digging ditches and graves for burying dead. The Kapo in charge of my working party was Lothe. At this time I was working with a woman named Rochla Grunwald . . ." and it goes on to describe an incident about Rochla Grunwald. - Yes.
You see that in the fifth line it says: "Carefully put down her shovel."? - Yes.
Now look at page 126 which is the affidavit of Hanka Rozenwayg, paragraph 3: "In July 1943 whilst at Auschwitz I was employed digging ditches outside the camp. Whilst so employed I laid down my shovel". Then it goes on to describe an incident when a dog is alleged to have been set on the Hanka Rozenwayg at the request of the Kapo Lothe. - Yes.
When you took these two affidavits did it occur to you as being odd that the phrase: "I was employed digging ditches" and "I laid down my shovel" occur in two affidavits by different persons referring to the same Kapo but giving the particulars of two entirely different incidents? - Not in the slightest.
Would you look at page 169. Do you see that is an affidavit of Sonia Watnik? - Yes.
Paragraph 2 reads as follows: "During the summer of 1943, whilst at Auschwitz I was employed digging trenches"? - Yes, I did see it.
Do you see it goes on to describe a third incident, a different one, about a man called Trevel Schadrowski? - Yes.
When you took those three affidavits on the same day, did it not occur to you as odd the similarity of the language employed? - I am trying to help you, but can you suggest why I should consider it odd?
Is it not odd that these three young women should come to you on the same day, all of them making charges against the Kapo Lothe, all three of them describing an incident by saying, "While I was digging"; all three incidents being different and two of them saying: "I laid down my shovel", just before the incident happened? Does that not strike you as odd? - I do not see it myself, because the actual English wording of these affidavits would have been done by an Englishman. I cannot remember the exact dates, but I think on this day it would have been the commissioned police officer who was still there. He would have been told by his interpreter that the witness was engaged in digging a trench. Whether the witness literally used the word "dig" and "trench" I cannot say, and also the word "shovel". One may call it a spade; that I cannot say either, but the police officer would have put down what was said by the interpreter, and I certainly saw nothing odd in three witnesses on the same day giving evidence against one particular person. That was natural, because when the police officers went round and held up the photograph and said: "Does anybody know anything about any of these?" obviously there would be a tendency to get two or three witnesses at the same time in respect of one particular person. That one particular person was rather notorious, so I saw nothing queer in the fact that it was on the same day, or in the fact that these incidents occurred while they were digging trenches and three of them put their shovel down. It is in fact consistent with the whole of the evidence that a good deal of brutality occurred on working parties where the individual SS man or woman could indulge in their sadistic tendencies unfettered by anybody. I am afraid I did not see anything queer in that and never have, and unless you can convince me of the other side I never shall see anything queer.
Do you know how these accusations came to be made by these three women? - I cannot say in regard to these three particular women whether they were callers at the office or whether they were people who had been identified from photographs held up by a policeman in that camp, but by the fact that they came on the same day indicates, I imagine, they came from a policeman who had held up a photograph in some part of the camp, but that I cannot be certain of.
We had one of them, Hanka Rozenwayg, here yesterday, and this is her account of how she and her two friends came to make a statement. It is on page 21 of yesterday's transcript: "They were outside when they saw a couple from Auschwitz and they started shouting at her." Later on she amplified that by saying: "We were telling her what we though about her for her cheek in being still present after she had treated us so badly in Auschwitz". Then she went on: "An Englishman who heard us had asked us what it was all about". "The Englishman brought her to us, and three of us were asked to say what we knew about Auschwitz". She went on to say that she was asked whether she knew of any atrocity, any crime, committed by this Kapo Lothe. In view of that, do you think this similarity of language suspicious? - No, I still do not. I should say we had two or three instances - I did not realise this was one - in which there were spontaneous outbursts against some particular person and we had the office invaded by shrieking people on the same subject.
Did you think it odd that these internees and this Kapo had been at Belsen from 15th April until 28th June, over two months after the liberation, that the charge was put in. Do you think that odd? - I am not quite clear. I do not really remember this particular woman or this particular accusation, but I should not consider it odd. It occurred in several cases, including one SS man, that the accusations were not made for a considerable time afterwards. The explanation, I think, is quite clear, that a large number of the unfortunate internees who had been in hospital were coming out by slow degrees, those who did not die. When they came out they were in a very big barracks, the Belsen Wehrmacht barracks, and it would be quite possible to live in those barracks at any rate for some weeks without necessarily coming across some particular individual, particularly, perhaps, if the other individual was wise enough to lie fairly low in his or her own quarters.
Just look again at page 126, the last sentence in the affidavit. - Yes.
"I know that this same girl was sent to the gas chamber about six months later because she was sick and could not work." - Yes.
Why does that sentence appear in the affidavit? - Can you help me by suggesting why not?
Is not the object of putting that sentence in to suggest that the death of this girl Wideletz is the responsibility of the Kapo Lothe? - I think if the Court believes the evidence that must be the inference to be drawn from it.
Do you think that if a girl is beaten and six months later she is sent to the gas chamber as unfit, it is fair to suggest that her death is due to the beating? - It obviously depends on the kind of beating, on the state of health of the girl at the time of the beating, and so on.
Just read that paragraph again, paragraph 4. - (After a pause) Yes, I have read the whole paragraph now.
Do you think, in view of what is set out in paragraph 4, it is a proper thing to suggest that after an interval of six months her being sent to the gas chamber is due to the beating? - I hardly think it is a proper thing for a witness to be asked to express his opinion on. It is a matter for the Court, but if you want my opinion, yes.
I suggest to you that it is not a fair suggestion, and that that last sentence is a most improper thing to put in the affidavit in these circumstances. - I regret that I am unable to agree with you.
I want to ask you now about the interpreters. Did you employ the interpreter Traule Neumann? - Yes.
Was she satisfactory? - Yes, quite satisfactory.
Accurate? - So far as I could tell, yes.
Did you employ the interpreter Charlotte Duschenes? - Yes.
Was she also accurate? - Yes; again so far as I could tell.
With your experience as a legal staff officer, do you consider they were both above average interpreters? - I should say above the average available in the particular circumstances at Belsen Camp. As regards Traule Neumann, I should say she was well up to the average of the interpreter in the High Court in London. With regard to Duschenes I would say that she was not quite up to that average, but was good.
If any deponents allege that discrepancies in their affidavits are due to bad translation, material discrepancies, what do you say to that? - It rather depends what language is being used. I should say in regard to Neumann she spoke about eight languages and in some, of course, she was very much better than in others. Duschenes spoke, I think, three or four languages, and again was very much better in some than in others.
Were you satisfied that you took all reasonable precautions to see that the statements were sworn to after being translated? - Yes, I did what I could in the circumstances. The circumstances were not, of course, the same as one would have in England in the investigation of crime.
Would you agree that the one thing you could not guard against was a lying witness? - Yes. I think that a witness who deliberately committed perjury quite likely would not be found out unless by chance he or she was speaking of some particular incident which other witnesses had also come forward to speak about. In that case it might have been found out.
Cross-examined by CAPTAIN ROBERTS: We just had the interpreter Traule Neumann mentioned. Did she speak Hungarian? - I am afraid I cannot remember now, but if she appeared as a witness - even that will not show you, because a lot of Hungarians spoke other languages. I am afraid I cannot tell you. I can only say this that I know I did employ other interpreters for Hungarians, and it is possible and rather suggests to me that probably Traule Neumann was not a Hungarian interpreter. I certainly remember employing other people for the Hungarians.
You did have interpreters who could interpret into Hungarian? - I can hardly say we had them, but the Military Government seemed to have in spasma people who could, and I had to rely on borrowing from them.
So if a witness came before you to swear an affidavit and that witness said that he or she was Hungarian and only spoke German very moderately, would you then have got hold of an Hungarian interpreter? -Yes, if I was satisfied that the witness did not understand any of the other languages with which our interpreters were familiar. Actually many of the Hungarians spoke German, many of them spoke Polish, and quite a number of them could not speak a word of Hungarian.
What I am getting at really is this: If you were satisfied that the witness could understand German well enough then you employed Neumann and would not bother to get an Hungarian interpreter for the job? - Yes, if I am satisfied that the witness understood the language being used I would certainly use Neumann.
CAPTAIN BROWN: No questions.
CAPTAIN FIELDEN: No questions.
Cross-examined by CAPTAIN CORBALLY: You have told the Court that many of the witnesses were rather vague about dates, particularly if the dates were rather a long time ago. They even went so far as to confuse one year with the other: is that right? - Yes, that is a fair statement, I think.
Could you say that, when a witness came to you about a story of some atrocity which occurred within a week before the liberation of the camp, it was possible to tie them down to pretty definite dates? - No, I do not think so, because as far as I can remember they were very vague even in regard to the time towards the end. One witness spoke about something happening two days before the witness arrived, and on talking to the witness about it I think it turned out it was really two weeks. They were frightfully vague about the dates. I would not like to say it was a week ago; it might have been two weeks or even two days perhaps. I do not think with most witnesses that one could definitely accept a thing happened a week ago.
But, of course, before you allowed them to state that an incident took place on a definite date, you took every possible step to make sure that they were satisfied it was that date and not another? - Yes, we tried to do what we could. I think the only time that we can take it the witness was really quite definite for some reason or other, is when they give not only the month and year, but also the date, such as 10th May, 1944. If that appears in the affidavit it means the witness was quite sure, for some reason, that it was that particular day. Otherwise, if we merely say a week ago it might well have been ten days or three days; you cannot be sure of the accuracy of that. That was my impression. We got dates as close as we could. It was very very difficult; they had lost all count of time.
But when a witness mentioned an actual date, like the 10th April, and also the date which they did mention was within a week of the liberation of the camp, would you say then that is a fairly good guarantee that they meant that date and no other date? - Yes. If they said it was the 10th April, I accepted from what the witness told me that the witness did remember that particular day for some reason.
Can you remember the interpreter Robert Coles? - Yes.
Was he a German interpreter? - He was a British soldier.
Of course, but which language did you use him for? - For German.
Is it right to say that the affidavits which are purported to be translated to you by him were translated in German? - Yes, it is the only language he knew.
Cross-examined by CAPTAIN NEAVE: Will you turn to page 73. On that page there appears a deposition by you with reference to one of the accused, Ignatz Schlomoivicz, No. 30? (Accused No. 30 stands up) - Yes, I recognise the man.
Do you remember taking a statement from him yourself? - Yes, that is right.
You must, actually, because you state in your deposition that he is the same person as the person who signed the statement on 18th June in your presence. - Yes, that is right.
Then in paragraph 3, the last phrase is: "And the exhibit number of the statement of the said Ignatz Schlomoivicz is No. 15 C", which I take it must have referred to some sort of filing system you had? - Yes. All the statements by the accused had the letter "C" added to the numbers. The numbers went in rotation as the statements came along.
The point I am getting at is I cannot have produced to me the statement made by Schlomoivicz, Can you tell me where it might be? - We sent the usual numbers of copies - I have forgotten now, I think it is three - to the Judge Advocate General's Department, 21 Army Group, and one copy was retained on No. 1 War Crimes file at Belsen. Unless that file has been sent away that copy would still be there.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I have got a copy here if my friend wants it.
Cross-examined by CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: Can you tell us, Colonel Champion, what dates were you working at Belsen, from when until when? - I am afraid I have forgotten the dates now. I went on Whit Sunday, whatever date that was. I cannot really tell you the date I ceased, because I kept rather going and coming, but on the 22nd June I think I became C.O. of No. 2, who were some distance away. At the request of the Judge Advocate General's Department I remained at Belsen for about a week after that date. After that, which would have been about 28th or 29th June, I rather divided my time between the two, part of the time I was in the north, Denmark and Norway, and part of the time I was in Belsen. I am afraid after that date I cannot tell you, only by looking at the affidavits, which days I was or was not at Belsen. I finally left Belsen to be demobilised - again I am not really quite sure - on, I think, 28th July, but I am not certain.
One question about these affidavits which were sworn before you. Did you in every case, as you said, cross-examine the witness to test his credibility? - Yes, as far as I could. It must, of course, be appreciated that it is very difficult to do so. It is not like defending a man where you have got all the facts before you. Mine were coming in deluges against a large number of people, not only persons here, but a very large number of people, many of whom had never been to Belsen at all. There were accusations against people at other camps, and secondly I was trying to deal with, one might say quite fairly, about 500 to 600 criminals people who had been accused, and it was not always easy to connect up in one's own mind the previous statements made against any one particular accused. But I did what I could, and I only accepted affidavits which I thought did give a reasonably true and fair picture. I did definitely refuse to take some evidence, because I was not satisfied. I understood at that time that the evidence needed by a Court of this nature might be an affidavit only. Had I known witnesses would have been received in person I could have taken a good deal of evidence I rejected, because the Court could have tested it. But at that time I rejected quite a good deal of evidence against various people.
Did you draw up these affidavits from statements which you took yourself, or from statements taken by other people? - No, in most cases they were statements taken by the police officers or, towards the end, they may have been taken by Captain Bentham Green or Captain Forbes, the two legal officers. In very few statements did I take the original notes. I made alterations in them and in the original affidavits you will see my handwriting. Occasionally, where the alterations were very great the thing was retyped.
So you really just kept a general eye on the whole proceedings rather than draw up these affidavits? - Yes, but I would put it a little higher than that. I gave instructions to the junior officers. In every affidavit that I took I did do this check on the identification of the photographs, and I did all the cross examination I could, and I did satisfied myself that it was a fair statement to take against the accused, that there was reason to believe it was substantially correct.
But the fact that an affidavit is sworn before you does not mean that the affidavit was prepared by you? - No. I have explained that it would have been written habitually written by commissioned police officers in most cases, or by one of the legal officers. I only did three or four myself.
Now with regard to these photographs which have been handed to the Court this morning. Are they the complete set which were used for identification purposes or not? - No. The photographs this morning are only those which include some of the accused. There are other photographs which were of people at Celle Gaol; nobody seems to know where they come from, so I had them photographed in order to see whether they might have been Belsen personnel, but many of them were never identified at all. In addition to photographs of the Wehrmacht officers - I think they were found in billets - they were also shown a general collection, and they are not here either.
You mentioned just now the way the identification took place by a police officer, for example, going down to the camp with a photograph. Do you mean with a selection of these photographs, or just one of these photographs showing four people, or the whole lot, or what? - Well, it varied rather at the beginning. They would have had probably half a dozen photographs containing, say, on an average 20 people together. We did not give them all, because it would have only caused confusion, but towards the end, when we had stopped taking evidence against many people in the photographs, either because they had died or we had already what we considered overwhelming evidence, they probably would only have had one or two photographs, but it would contain at least four people, possibly more. If they were individual photographs, as some of them are, then they were sent out with four men or four women, whatever it was we were trying to get evidence against, and we would just show those four. If they were identified one we did not want we said we were not interested.
Apart from this photograph of Field Marshall Montgomery, was any effort made to include figures of people who were obviously not connected; any sort of dummy photographs as it were? - Some of the photographs were, because they were people who we had no reason to believe came from Belsen, and the fact that nobody identified them led me to presume they did not come from Belsen. Some of those photographs, I do remember, were SS men in uniform which might have tempted somebody to identify them.
There was no general rule of practice requiring where possible such an innocent photograph to be used? - No, I do not think so. The only innocent side of the thing would be that in the photograph they did identify there would be other people, or, if single photographs, they would be given four or more out of which they had to make their selection.
Did you know where these two interpreters Duschene and Neumann had come from? - You mean what concentration camps?
Do you know what their previous history was? - Yes. When I arrived I took a statement from both of them as to their previous history. I am afraid I cannot remember the details, but I think I am right in saying they were both Czechs. Neumann, I think, was a Jewess. They had both been interned for some considerable time and they had both, of course, ended up at Belsen. I am afraid that is all I can remember off hand.
Were any efforts made to keep track of the people from whom you got statements? -Yes. We had great difficulty though. It is difficult to remember, I am afraid there was so much going on and we were very pressed, but I think a Central Registry was opened in the camp run by some organization or other, and through them we tried to keep a check, but it was not very successful. Names were all differently spelt every time you came across different witnesses. The numbering system did not seem to work very well and, of course, people were disappearing in hundreds every day, going out to return to their countries. In my opinion the check system was a failure, but we did do what we could and it was very difficult to cope with.
What you were able to do was not successful? - I cannot say that because I do not know what the result was. You have had some witnesses here so it must have been rather successful.
LIEUTENANT BOYD: No questions.
CAPTAIN MUNRO: No questions.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: No questions.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: No re examination.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE - I have noticed, especially in the case of Jewish witnesses, the dates - and sometimes the years - differ between what they have apparently said in the affidavit and what they say here. - Yes.
Do you know whether Jews have a different calendar or anything of that kind? - Not as far as I know. This frightful suggestion had not occurred to me.
Whatever was put in the affidavit would be our date, an English date, so far as you could ascertain it? - I am afraid if they were using a different calendar I had not thought about it. If they produced a month like May I would believe that that meant the same May as we talk about. If they produced a year I would believe that meant the same year as we talk about, and I should put it down without querying it.
Into the affidavit would go what the interpreter told the police officer? - Yes. Again I used to ask about dates when the witness came before me, and if the witness said it was MAy, 1942, well I would accept it as being our own dates. I do not think the Jews do use a different calendar.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: I do not know; I am only asking for information.
THE PRESIDENT - We noticed one of the witnesses the other day explained that she had given her information when she was at the camp in Yiddish. It is possible, of course, that she might have used different dates and in the course of translation they might have been changed round? - As I tried to make clear, I do feel the dates are very unreliable. We did our best, but we were rather defeated on that.
THE PRESIDENT: Have the Defending Officers any questions on what the Court have asked?
(The Defending Officers put no further questions)
(The witness withdraws)
(Affidavit produced by Colonel Champion is put in marked Exhibit "7", signed by the President and attached to the proceedings).
LIDIA SUNSCHEIN is recalled and her examination by COLONEL BACKHOUSE is continued as follows:
Yesterday you had just recognised a number of people in the dock when you stopped giving evidence. The first person you recognised was No. 1, Kramer. What can you tell the Court about him? - I know him as camp commandant from Auschwitz and Belsen. I saw him at these selections in the company of Klein, Hössler, Drechsler, Hössler and others.
What part did he take at selections? - He selected people for the gas chamber.
Yes, certainly. - He was the one responsible for having my family sent to the gas chamber. My family arrived on the 22nd July 1944; it was a monday night. In Bergen Kramer caught several Russian girls who attempted to steal some bread; he made them kneel in front of the block for 24 hours and as a result several of them died; they had no food for 24 hours, but they kneeled the whole day.
(At the request of the Prosecutor the Interpreters were changed)
Will you repeat your answer? - It was reported that to Kramer that some girls were caught attempting to steal bread, and Kramer punished them by making them kneel for the whole day and deprived them of food for 24 hours. It was a very rainy day.
Do you know the nationality of any of the girls? - I said already they were Russian girls - only Russian girls.
What can you tell the Court about No. 3, Weingartner? - He was the kommando leader, and the name of the kommando was the kommando for the river Vistula.
What work was that kommando employed on? - It was in December 1944. There were 1000 girls employed on the work, and the work consisted of regulating the river and carrying sand and in loading lorries with the sand from the river.
What was your position in this kommando? - I was sent there as a forewoman to supervise the work, but as I treated the people too leniently and I did not beat them I was punished by being sent at first to work at the lorries, and later on to work near the river with the water reaching my knees.
What instructions did you get from Weingartner? - He told me to treat the people badly and to chose them to work as quick as possible.
How did he treat the internees? - He treated the internees very badly. He either beat them or if he was not satisfied with their work he withdrew a special additional ration that the prisoners used to receive. It was twice a week half a loaf of bread. If a prisoner would not work to his satisfaction the accused would deprive him of this additional food.
How far from the camp was the work? - It was about seven or eight kilometres from our camp, and the road leading there was a very arduous one, because it was covered with mud and small rivers.
How did you get from one to the other? - Just before we reached the place of work there was an arduous hill, and special dogs were set on us to chase us so that we had to run all the time upwards.
Who had charge of the dogs? - It was a special guard that was responsible for the dogs.
Do you know any of the names of the guard? - No, I do not know the names because they were changed every day.
Who was in command of that guard? - The accused Weingartner was in charge of the guard.
Did you see Weingartner at all at Belsen? - Yes, but I would like to add something about the kommando.
Very well. - Sometimes it so happened that when we had to cross this hill Weingartner himself when an old woman was ill or weak, and all of them were bare footed, he pushed to woman from the hill downwards with a stick, and on many occasions they fainted. I worked at the same kommando before Weingartner arrived and it was considered quite a good kommando, but once Weingartner took change of the kommando it became the worst kommando in the camp, and every day tens and tens op people were taken ill to the hospital. It was not a bad kommando, it was the worst kommando in the camp.
Now will you turn your mind to Belsen. You told us you saw Weingartner at Belsen? - He was a block leader in Belsen.
How were you employed in Belsen? - I was employed as a cookhouse Kapo. Every day I was going with the kommando and the accused was counting the strength of the kommando.
Do you remember any incident that happened there? - Yes, I do. It was about two months before the arrival of the British troops. The personnel in the kitchen was changed and instead of 300 volunteers for the work who would usually come on that particular day there were about 1000 volunteers who wanted to obtain work in the cookhouse. The accused, Weingartner and another man called Kasainitzky tried to make the crowd of people line up, and they used force and physical orders, and they tried to do it with a stick. They beat many of the women present, and when they did not succeed in having order there the accused Weingartner shot into the air. At that moment I said: "I do not want to stay in the Kommando, because I do not want to die here after having persevered in so many sufferings." I said these in the German language and the accused heard what I said. He caught me and gave me about 15 blows with a rubber truncheon on my head so that I fainted. After that, when I recovered, he told me that unless I go with the Kommando to work he would put me into the prison, and he would consider this as a refusal to work.
What happened to you after that? - I went to work and I worked the whole day, but at night had a high fever, about 40 degrees, and I could not work any more. I was brought by my friends to my room and lay in bed, where I spent ten days. I was visited by Dr. Bimko, and Dr. Bimko stated a nervous breakdown.
Did you see anything further on that same day? - No, I had not noticed anything else. For ten days I was unable to work and I was replaced by another Kapo.
What was Weingartner's general attitude towards the internees in Belsen? - I saw this accused when I was at kommando, and at that time he treated the prisoners very badly indeed. He was extremely cruel and he helped to line them up by using his stick.
The next person you mentioned was No. 5, Hössler? - I remember him also from Auschwitz from various selections.
What part did he take in the selections? - His part in the selections was exactly the same as one of the others, that means he chose people for the gas chambers; but on one occasion he organised a selection from his own initiative, and at the time the people dressed were chosen for gas chambers, including a great number of young women.
How did he behave towards the internees? - At the very sight of him the whole camp was frightened. I would like to add something about the selection. This selection that was carried out by the accused from his own initiative was caused by the fact that the accused came to our block. block Union, and found a pyjama outside. Then he entered our block and ordered us to line up and selected people as punishment for this pyjama, selected people for the gas chamber. The accused was in charge of the kommando Union and six girls were employed at destroying one of the crematoriums, and therefore we had some powder and instruments to cut wires.
Where did you get the powder and the wire cutters from, or where did these girls get them from? - They worked in the kommando Union and they were employed in the powder factory.
Were these six girls caught in possession of the powder and the cutters? -They were not caught with these things on them and I do not know in which way the whole attempt was disclosed, but eventually four of these six girls were punished with death by hanging them.
Did you see this hanging yourself? - No, I had not see it myself. At that time I was already in Belsen. If I were at the time in Auschwitz I would be hanged myself.
You simply heard about all this? - I was told about it because my friend told me that the Germans tried to find the other two girls; they could not find the fifth one and I was the sixth one.
You were the sixth girl concerned, were you? - Yes, I was, and I would like to say in what way I was involved in this attempt.
I do not think we want to know that. The next person you recognised was No. 6, Bormann. What can you tell the Court about her? - I know her from Auschwitz. She was always with her dog, and people were terrorised when she came. She beat the people very frequently.
No. 7 was the next one that you recognised. (Elisabeth Volkenrath) What do you know about her? - I know her from Auschwitz and from Bergen.
What was her position at Auschwitz? - She was in the parcel department.
What was her position in Belsen? - In Belsen she was report leader.
The next one you recognised was No. 8. (Herta Ehlert) - I would like to say something about No. 7. I used to come to her store to get bread for our kommando, and on that occasion I noticed many a time that the accused beat people when she suspected them of having stolen something.
THE PRESIDENT: Is that Auschwitz or Belsen?
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: She said she was in charge of the bread store in Auschwitz, Sir. (To the witness) Now will you tell us about No. 8.? (Herta Ehlert) - I know here from Belsen. She was always at the gate when kommandos were going to work.
How did she behave to the internees? - She behaved very badly indeed. She was beating the prisoners for things like improperly not a scarf, or bootlaces improperly made up.
What did she beat them with? - Mainly with her hands.
The next woman you recognised was No. 9 (Grese). What can you tell the Court about her? - From Auschwitz I can say very little about her, but in Belsen she was work leader, Arbeitsdienstführerin.
How did she behave? - In the same way, very badly. On one occasion our Kommando was coming back from work and one of the girls lost a piece of rag from the pocket. As a punishment for this the accused made the whole Kommando run up and down, kneeling and rising, and it lasted about half an hour.
The next person whom you recognised was No. 10 (Isle Lothe) What do you say about her? - I cannot say anything about her. I know only that she had some special function in the camp, but I do not know anything about her.
In which camp? - In Belsen.
Now No . 11 (Hilde Löbauer)? - I know her from Auschwitz and from Belsen, but I do not know anything particular about her, because I was outside the camp and she was in the camp.
No. 16 was the next one (Karl Flrazich)? - He came to the same cookhouse that I worked in in order to learn the job because he intended to obtain a job in another cookhouse. He was a short time there and during that time he was beating the personnel in the cookhouse terribly, so we were trembling when he came.
Now No. 34 (Ida Förster)? - I do not know anything special about her; she was an aufseherin.
Do you know her name? - I know her only by sight.
No. 39 is the next (Irene Haschke)? - I can say the same about this one; she was also an aufseherin in Belsen.
No. 41 (Gertrud Sauer)? - She was the Aufseherin of my cookhouse, she was terrible; she used to beat the girls in the cookhouse very frequently and to pull their hair, and one or two days before the arrival of the British troops one of the girls was caught having a piece of mangel in her hand and this particular occasion she gave her a terrible beating.
Which cookhouse was she in? - Cookhouse No. 2, the same cookhouse in which I worked.
What did she beat people with? - With a rubber truncheon.
Give the Court one particular instance - just one, do not worry about more than one. - I remember one occasion when some girls were caught in front of the cookhouse with remnants of turnips in their hands. The accused took the girls into her own room and beat them till blood was visible. For the cookhouse personnel she was very cruel and she beat them on any occasion, sometimes without any reason. I remember another incident with a man. It was a Frenchman called John. The accused wanted to flirt with him, but he was reluctant and therefore she beat him on various occasions and smacked him on the face.
No. 46 was the next one (Helena Koper). - I know about her only that she had the opinion of being an informer in the camp.
No. 48 (Stanisława Starostka)? - No. 48 was the lagerältester, and because of that the people were frightened, but I myself have not noticed any incidents in which No. 48 was involved, because I worked outside the camp and therefore I did not notice any incidents in which No. 48 was involved.
THE PRESIDENT: She was lagerältester at Auschwitz? - In Auschwitz and Belsen.
Cross-examined by MAJOR WINWOOD: How many selections were you present when Kramer was also present? - At several selections. I cannot remember exactly the number, but there were several selections. I think that Kramer is responsible for hundreds of thousands of people, he and his gangmen.
Is it true that when Weingartner took over command of Kommando Vistula had you to work much harder and much quicker? - Yes, it is true, and I can call Weingartner a murderer because he killed many people.
How long was he in charge of that kommando? - I do not know how long, because I left the kommando and he stayed in it.
How long were you in the kommando when Weingartner was there? - Several weeks.
Is it not true that this extra ration of bread was given to those people who worked satisfactorily? - Everybody was entitled to this special allowance, but the accused wrote down the numbers of those whom he considered as working unsatisfactorily.
How many dogs used to go out with this party? - About seven or eight dogs; every second man in the guard had a dog.
I put it to you that Weingartner had nothing to do with the guarding of the work party was only responsible for organization? - I saw myself Weingartner beat people and punished them for what he considered as unsatisfactory work, and it had nothing to do with organization.
Had Weingartner anything to do with the actual guarding of the work party? - Yes, that was his job; all the day he was present there and looked after the workers.
You said that about ten people went to hospital every day. For what reason did they go to hospital? - It was not only ten but several tens going to hospital every day, and it was caused by the fact that the work was too exhausting. It was not work, it was something that exceeded our possibilities.
Now go to Belsen. You stated that Kramer made some Russian girls kneel outside in the open for a day? - Yes, it is true; everybody remembers that from the camp.
Did you see it yourself? - Yes, I saw them myself kneeling.
I put it to you that is a gross exaggeration to say they kneeled for the whole day, it was only a matter of hours. - They kneeled the whole day in a special block surrounded by a wire.
You mentioned an occasion when the people in the cookhouse was changed over? - Yes.
Do I understand that there were 1000 people all crowding round the cookhouse trying to get a job? - Yes, it was so.
It must have been very difficult to control them? - Yes, it is difficult.
You told us that Weingartner gave you 15 blows on the head with a rubber truncheon. Were they hard or soft blows? - The blows were so strong that I fainted, and eventually got a shock of my brain.
Have you any scars left now? - No, there are no traces because the blows were given with a rubber truncheon.
Cross-examined by MAJOR MUNRO: You have told us in you evidence about a certain selection which you say was done on the initiative of Hössler? - Yes.
Were you on it yourself? - Yes, I was present there, but I was not chosen for the gas chamber.
Was it very unusual for people on a gas chamber selection to be dressed? - It was very frequently that these selections took place with the people dressed, and I remember on several occasions from 1943 that these selections were made on the roll call parade; then people would just come out and point with their fingers to the victims and the victims would be taken to the gas chambers.
Were there different kinds of parades at Auschwitz while you were there? - There were various kinds of parades during my stay in Auschwitz.
I now come back to the particular selection which you told us about and which you say was on Hössler's own initiative. Did you see for yourself what happened to the people who were selected on that parade? - I could not see that; they were taken away and they never came back, but afterwards I saw only the crematorium afire, the smoke coming out from the crematorium.
Will No. 9 stand up (Elisabeth Volkenrath). What did you say this woman's name was? - I said Weinniger, but I know there were two sisters very similar to each other, one was Weinniger and the other was Volkenrath, and I am not sure whether she is Volkenrath or Weinniger.
Will No. 8 stand up (Herta Ehlert). You say you saw this woman standing at the camp gate; is that right? - Yes, it is true.
Did she ever hit you? - Yes.
Did she hit you with her hands or what? - I reported too softly how many people were present at parade and she came to me and she beat me with her hand.
How many times on that occasion did she hit you? - Several times.
Cross-examined by MAJOR CRANFIELD: I want to ask you about the dogs at Auschwitz. Were they trained police dogs? - I do not know very much about dogs, but I suppose they were trained, because they used to bite the women and to tear off pieces of flesh.
You have told us that you saw Bormann with a dog. Did you see any other SS women with one of these police dogs? - In 1945 I saw many women with dogs, but later on when the accused Bormann was there there were only a few, I think perhaps one or two except Bormann.
I want you to be very careful to answer this question correctly. Have you ever seen Grese at Auschwitz with one of these police dogs? - No, never.
You were a Kapo at Auschwitz, were you not? - No, I have not been a Kapo at Auschwitz.
Were you a Kapo at Belsen? - Yes, I was a Kapo in Belsen.
How did you become a Kapo, how were you chosen? - I arrived at Belsen in January 1945 and one of the chefs of the cookhouse saw me and he went to the Aufseherin and he insisted that I should be chosen for this job. I did not want to accept it the job but I was compelled to accept it.
Can you tell me about when that was? - About two months before the arrival of the British troops.
That would be some time in February then? - I do not know exactly, but it could be at the end of February or the beginning of March; but I am not sure of that.
Cross-examined by CAPTAIN BROWN: You have stated that you were in No. 2 cookhouse in Belsen? - Yes.
Do you know who was the chief cook in that cookhouse? - Do you mean the cook or the man in charge of the cookhouse?
(The witness goes into the Court)
THE WITNESS: I do not know this man.
CAPTAIN BROWN: Can you say from your own knowledge that that man never was in No. 2 cookhouse while you were there? - Yes, I can say so; I do not know him at all.
CAPTAIN FIELDEN: No questions.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: No questions.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: No questions.
Cross-examined by LIEUTENANT BOYD: Was it part of your job as Kapo in No. 2 cookhouse to give out the food? - No, it was another person employed on that job.
Were special diets given out from that cookhouse? - Yes.
Were they special diets for children and sick people? - Yes, for children and ill people.
Were they such things as milk soup and specially cooked vegetables? - There were milk soups but no vegetables especially prepared.
You told the Court that she used to beat girls and pull their hair? - Yes, it is true.
When you say "beat the girls", do you mean she beat them with her hand? - Yes, I understood it that she beat the people with her hands.
Can you tell me why she beat these people, or do you not know? - Because they tried to get remnants of turnips or some other remnants of food.
Cross-examined by CAPTAIN MUNRO - Were people beaten every day in No. 2 cookhouse? - Yes, every day.
And yet you say that there were normally 300 volunteers to work in the cookhouse and on one day there were 1000 volunteers; is that right? - Yes, it is true; in spite of running the risk of being beaten the people preferred to work in the cookhouse because in the cookhouse they had not suffered such a great starvation as in the camp.
You were a Kapo in the kitchen, No. 2 cookhouse, were you not? - Yes, I was.
Did you beat anybody? - No, never.
You were the only person in No. 2 cookhouse that did not beat anybody? - Out of the prisoners nobody beat anybody.
Is not it a fact that the job in the cookhouse was a very safe one in Belsen? - It was the best one from the point of view of food, but apart from that we had to work 18 hours a day.
Was it a safe job? - What do you mean by safe?
As opposed to the work kommando? - Certainly; that is why we worked in the cookhouse.
Would No. 44 stand up? (The accused No. 44, Anna Hempel, stands up) Did you see this woman beat anybody yourself? - I saw her many a time beating people.
What was her job in that cookhouse? - She was the most important Aufseherin in the cookhouse; she was deputising for the chief.
Did she cook? - No.
Where did she beat these people, in the cookhouse or outside or where? - It varied; sometimes in the cookhouse, sometimes outside of the cookhouse but most frequently in her own room.
Did you go into the room as Kapo as a privileged guest and see the beatings? - I had not entered the room, but the room was a very small one and it had two windows and we could see everything through the windows; apart from that we used to hear the girls, the victims, yelling terribly.
Did she beat the women in the same way as she beat John for refusing to flirt with her? - No, it was not the same way. John she beat with her hands and the other people she beat with a rubber truncheon.
Cross-examined by LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Did you know the accused Koper in Auschwitz or in Belsen or in both concentration camps? - In both camps.
In what kommando was she working in Auschwitz? - She was in Dienst stube, room service, in strafkommando - punitive kommando.
Did you know her as such in the strafkommando during your whole stay in Auschwitz? - Yes, I saw her because I had a friend of mine working in this strafkommando and I used to come to her to see her and on those occasions I saw the accused.
Re-examined by MAJOR MURTON-NEALE: Do you know whether there was more than one cookhouse than No. 2 at Belsen? - It was only one cookhouse No. 2 in Belsen; there were other cookhouse with another number.
Does that include the cookhouses in the men's compound as well as the women's compound?
MAJOR CRANFIELD: I must object to that question. That is cross examining the witness. The Prosecuting Officer must remain content with the answer that he gets from the witness and I must object to him going on to cross examine her with a view to getting another answer.
MAJOR MURTON-NEALE: I think we are entitled to get the answer quite clear. I am not cross examining the witness in any shape or form, I am only trying to get the correct answer to that question arising out of cross examination.
(The Court confer).
THE PRESIDENT: You may ask the question.
MAJOR MURTON-NEALE: Do you know if there was a No. 2 cookhouse in the men's compound at Belsen? - That is the cookhouse I am talking about.
Was there one in the women's compound? - Yes, there were several.
No. 2? - I do not know what numbers they were.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: You said you knew two sisters who were rather alike, one of whom was called Weinniger and the other called by a different name. Is Weinniger a Christian name or a surname? - Surname.
What is the surname of the other sister? - Volkenrath.
You are not sure whether the woman in the dock is Weinniger or Volkenrath; is that right? - Yes, I am not sure.
You remember telling the Court that a woman was in charge of the bread store at Auschwitz and a Rapportführerin at Belsen? - Yes, that is that woman.
When you were speaking about that woman did you intend to refer to Weinniger or Volkenrath? - I am sure it was the same woman that is sitting now in the dock but I do not remember exactly her name; I suppose her name is Volkenrath, but I am not sure of that.
MAJOR MUNRO: May I ask a question arising out of that?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
MAJOR MUNRO: (To the witness) Did these two women, the one called Volkenrath and the one called Weinniger, resemble each other? - Yes, very much so; they are sisters.
(The witness withdraws)
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: May I make an application?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: I would like to make an application for the separation of the prosecution witnesses from the witnesses for the defence. They both sleep and feed in the same barracks, The Artillery Barracks, in Luneberg and as I am a frequent visitor to those barracks to interview my own witnesses it has appeared to me that talking is going on between the two groups and I feel justified to say that it is going to lead to a certain amount of embarrassment to some members of the two groups if they are kept together for the rest of the trial.
THE PRESIDENT: That is to say that the prosecution and defence witnesses are apparently living and sleeping together in the same block?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Exactly.
THE PRESIDENT: All right. I will take steps to go into that later on and I will inform you of the result. Before the next witness is called has any Defending Officer any application about numbers or changing seats?
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: The witness will give evidence in German. He is taking the oath not on a Jewish bible but on an English Bible and he declares that this oath will be binding on his conscience.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: What is your full name? - Fritz Leo.
What is your address? - My last address was 13, Regenstrasse in Dresden.
What is your nationality? - German.
When were you first arrested? - On the 3rd May, 1935.
From that date until Belsen camp was liberated have you been continuously in one form of confinement or another? - Without interruption.
On what date did you come to Belsen? - On the 7th February, 1945.
You are, I think, a doctor of medicine? - Yes.
Shortly after you arrived at Belsen did you begin to work as a doctor there? - Yes.
Did you work as a doctor there, with the exception of three weeks when you had typhus, until the camp was liberated? - Yes.
When you arrived there who was the SS doctor there? - Dr. Schnabel.
When did Dr. Klein arrive there? - Approximately at the end of February.
Which compound were you in? - I was as doctor in men's compound No. 2.
How long had that compound been open when you arrived? - For the last eight days.
How many people were there in that compound when your transport arrived? - 3000 were already there before we arrived, then our transport arrived with 3000 so that altogether there were about 6000 men there.
What hospital facilities were there in that compound? - For the first eight days there was nothing at all then after a week we got three huts assigned to us where previously a C.R.S. station was functioning, but at the time when we took it over there was nothing there at all.
What were the conditions of the blocks you were assigned? - It was indescribable, these three blocks which were given to us; the roof was leaking, the rain just poured in and later some straw was distributed.
Were the blocks clean? - These three blocks which were given to us for our hospital were filled and covered to the height of a metre with dirt, dust and all sorts of rubbish.
When did an SS doctor first inspect the premises? - About the 20th February.
Who was that? - Dr. Schnabel.
What did he say about the conditions? - He was terrified about it and said "I shall not go on with this".
Was he an SS doctor? - He wore SS uniform but, as I heard, he was previously a doctor in the German Wehrmacht.
What was the attitude of Dr. Horstmann when he came? - Through our own efforts those three blocks became quite clean, or, at any rate, much cleaner than they were, and Dr. Horstmann was very anxious about the small details of cleanliness, how the beds were lined up in the proper line or whether everything had been dusted before, and was very particular about all these things.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Am I to assume we are now in the other camp?
What medical supplies and facilities had you? - In the first week we had nothing at all; after a fortnight we got always a small amount of medicine or bandages.
Had you an operating table? - We had to do all our operating on top of a small bench, a wooden bench.
Had you any disinfectant? - We could only do any sort of small operations because we had no facilities at all for the big operations; for the smaller ones we had a small stove for the distillation of water and so on.
What happened if someone had, shall we say, appendicitis, or something of that kind? - As we had no facilities to operate on him he had to die, although we had enough surgeons who could have done the job very well.
Did you see anyone in hospital suffering from bullet wounds? - We had quite a number of patients with bullet wounds, every week three or four at least.
Were you able to operate on them? - Only the smaller wounds could be treated, but in the case of a graver, more serious, bullet wound we could not do anything about it because of the lack of facilities.
Do you know how any of these men got their bullet wounds? - There were people who tried out of despair to go through the barbed wire and were shot at on those occasions and partly because driven through hunger they approached the kitchens and tried to get a potato or a turnip and then they were shot at on those occasions.
Have you seen any such incidents yourself? - I have seen a great number of people who were shot dead or who were shot at and wounded.
Who did the shooting? - The warders.
Were you able to treat tuberculosis? - We had nothing for the treatment of tuberculosis, neither laboratories nor the possibility of isolating them, nor X-ray apparatus or any sort of diet which the people needed and which we could not provide them with.
Was there much tuberculosis in the camp? - In the beginning the number was small but with every new transport which arrived this number increased and later on I am sure there were at least 100 were in our camp who suffered from acute tuberculosis.
Were you in a position to treat dysentery? - The facilities were very small, only a small quantity of diet was received and we received those very often at such late hours of the night that it could not be distributed early enough and so we had to keep it till next day and then it was already too bad to use at all. There was such a lack of room and accommodation for all this big number of many thousands who suffered with dysentery or these stomach diseases that they had to lay where they were and to continue to suffer there.
What was the position with regard to typhus? - Typhus was rampant in Men's Compound No. 1 early in January and in No. 2 we got it early in February. That type of typhus was spreading very strongly through lice and against lice we had absolutely nothing at all, absolutely nothing. We had neither water nor clean clothes or any bathing facilities or any delousing powder; in one word nothing at all against the lice. Therefore from the end of February this typhus was spreading like fire through the whole camp and consequently nearly everybody in our camp got it.
What was the position with regard to water supplies in the camp? - We could get water from some tanks sometimes for two or three hours a day but then, however, for whole days no water at all was available.
Were there facilities in Compound No. 2 for bathing? - For the compound there were no facilities at all for bathing. Three or four times, however, the doctors and nurses had the possibility to have a bath.
Was any fresh clothing or underclothing issued while you were there? - Our compound did not get anything at all, although supplies were available in the stores.
What was the position with regard to latrines in the camp? - The situation was a real catastrophe. We had a few latrines which were soon blocked and in spite of all our efforts we could not get them clear. To build new latrines the people were too weak for that. These weak and dying people simply defecated wherever they stood or wherever they lay about; they were too weak to move, therefore whole camp became very soon almost a latrine itself.
What happened to people who died in the camp? - The the first weeks they lay about for days in the camp and slowly were dragged away and put in the crematorium where they were burned. But soon the crematorium was not big enough to cope with all this big number of corpses, and then they started to put up bonfires; they put them into high piles to burn them wherever they were. Sooner or later even wood became so scarce that those high piles could not be dealt with in that way as we heard that the Administration of Forestry prohibited the use of wood for that purpose, consequently the bodies simply laid where they were. As every day the number of people who died was over 1000 the result was that every day several thousand bodies were lying about in the camp. They lay in a terrific state, green and swollen through the heat, some of them stinking and only later were they put in a block, a stone block, and only before the liberation by the British troops the SS started digging big graves for these people.
What was the food in the camp like? - The food was about half a litre of soup per man per day; it was a sort of vegetable soup, turnip soup. In the beginning about 300 gramme's of bread were issued; later, however, less, and in the last few weeks nothing at all -no bread at all.
Were those rations sufficient to preserve life? - Under no circumstances.
What was the result on the internees in the camp? - Even those who came in in a fit and healthy state into the camp after a few weeks they lost their strength; those, however, who came already in a weakened state of health they died after a few days or after a few weeks.
Do you remember Block 10? - Very well. It was the worst block which I experienced during all the ten years I was in camps.
Will you describe the conditions in that block to the Court? - One day a bigger transport of 2000 people came from the southern part of Germany. Already during the transport, during the voyage, 400 of them died and the others were so weak that they had to be helped at every step. All the others, those 1600 people were put into the smaller part of this Block No. 10. This block should have remained isolated because of danger of typhus here. In these small stone rooms they lay about on the stone floors. People were so weak that they could not go to latrines but simply stayed there and defecated in these stone rooms which very soon were covered with slime and excrements and humidity and it was such a terrific stink that I myself could only stay there for two minutes. Amongst these people there were quite a number who were seriously ill, who had high temperatures, and had open wounds, whose legs or hands were frozen, and who were waiting for operations, to be amputated. The food for these people was even worse than for the others in the camp and hunger became so terrible that no account can be given of that amount of hunger which reigned in that block. It was in this block where cannibalism started. I was called to this block and I was shown a body which had a cut near its liver and the whole liver was taken out. Another five such cases of livers having been taken away from the bodies were told to me. Then in consequence of the general feeling of hunger cannibalism was rampant in the whole Compound No. 2 of the men's compound. They were so desperate that they were crowding round the containers which contained food and were fighting with each other, they were pushing each other quite desperate that they might not get that little food and that they might die of hunger.
How many bodies on which cannibalism had been practiced did you see personally? - I myself have witnessed two or three hundred cases of cannibalism. I have seen ears cut off, cheeks cut off, parts of the shoulder cut off, parts of the back cut off and even parts of the sexual organs cut off. All the pieces which were cut off were only cut off out of hunger because the prisoners wanted to eat them raw immediately, or, if they could, cook it after and eat it then. I myself have seen several who had pieces of human flesh either in their pockets or in their small cooking utensils where they hoped to cook them later on.
What was the general attitude of the SS guards towards the internees in this camp? - Concerning those cases of cannibalism, I had to add if the SS got to know about it they gave orders either to hang these people or to kill them by beating.
Turning from cannibalism, what was the general attitude of the SS towards the internees? - The SS leaders, well knowing about the conditions of our camp, did not hesitate to throw in more and more thousands of prisoners into our camp.
You say the SS leaders knew well the conditions that prevailed at the camp. Did the camp have visits whilst you were there? - Obergruppenführer Pohl came with several high ranking staff officers in the month of March to our camp for an inspection. Lager Kommandant Kramer was present at that inspection. They went round the whole camp. They came also in the men's compound No. 2. Looked at some blocks, and through the windows they could well see in what sort of conditions these blocks were.
On this inspection did they enter any of the huts? - In my compound they did not enter any hut, but through the windows they could see quite clearly everything which went on inside the huts.
Did they enter your hospital? - No.
Did Kramer ever come into your hospital? - No.
He was Kommandant at the camp throughout the time you were there? - During the whole time.
You have told us something of the general conditions of the internees in the camp. What parades were the internees required to attend? - Every morning at six o'clock there was a roll call which generally took about four to five hours. Sometimes a similar roll call was held in the afternoon which took again an hour or two.
What the internees required to do on these parades? - They had to stand to attention and they were counted during that time.
What happened if they moved? - It happened sometimes that if somebody moved he was pushed or beaten, but generally discipline was not so severe. A great part of those were too weak to stand for such a long time. They sat down or lay down, and after every roll call fifty or a hundred were either dead or in a sort of dying condition.
What was the effect of such parades on the health of persons in the conditions in which those internees were? - Through the very long roll call parades these people grew weaker and weaker.
Were any persons admitted to your hospital as the result of beating? - Many people came to our hospital covered with blood with big wounds on their heads or with brain concussion.
Did any of those injuries prove fatal? - Some of them died in consequence of these wounds.
I want to ask you about a specific person. Do you remember an Englishman called Keith Myers [Mayor]? - I know him very well.
Did you know him before he came to Belsen? - I had known him for a long time already in Sachsenhausen.
About what time did he come to Belsen? - He came in the beginning of February to Belsen.
Did he come to your hospital at any time? - Yes, he felt ill in the month of March; he had typhus, and he was brought into the hospital in Block No. 18.
What happened to him there? - One day, Dr. Horstmann came into our hospital and asked where was the bed of Keith Myers [Mayor]. He was shown and he went and examined the patient superficially, something which Dr. Horstmann had never done before in our hospital. On the same evening this Keith Myers [Mayor] was brought to the room of Blockführer Stuber and was shot - killed.
Was there any gas chamber at Belsen? - In Belsen a gas chamber was in preparation. If I could give you any details I know quite a lot through the services of a very trustworthy and good Kapo, a Czech called Bellenech whom I have known very well. Bellenech told me that in the middle of the month of March that he had orders from his SS building contractor to build a hut underground. This hut should have been covered entirely with earth and kept airtight. When Bellenech told this SS contractor: "I know perfectly well for what purpose this underground hut is being built" he looked at Bellenech and said: "Well, I think you are right." It was quite clear to all of us that plans for a gas chamber had been prepared.
What position did he take up in the camp? - I don't know exactly whether he was senior or second camp doctor. I suppose he was second camp doctor. Until after Dr. Horstmann had left - shortly before the English troops arrived - he was the only camp doctor.
Is it not true that that was the first time when Dr. Klein had anything to do with looking after the internees, that is to say, two or three days before the British came? - No, Dr. Klein very often accompanied Dr. Horstmann and it was very clear that during that time he had something to do with the prisoners.
Is it not true that Dr. Klein was the doctor for the SS troops and the SS administration staff? - In that case Dr. Klein would not have come into the camp, but he was very often in the prisoner's camp.
When Dr. Klein took over from Dr. Horstmann two or three days before the British came, what was the first thing he did? - For the patients Dr. Klein could do nothing at all. He did give some Red Cross parcels which were in the stores to the doctors and medical orderlies, but for the patients themselves he could do nothing at all. Dr. Klein told the nurses and people in the hospital that as there were no medical supplies they ought to sit near the beds of the patients and try to tell them nice stories about their families. The women on that occasion had it in their minds: "Yes, we have to talk about the relations who have been sent to the gas chamber in Auschwitz".
Is it not true when Dr. Klein took over as medical officer that he held a meeting of the doctors among the internees? - That is right. That was quite clear that he would be asked as to his responsibility in a few days.
Was that not the first day on which he held sole responsibility on the medical side? - Yes.
Were you present at the meeting? - Yes.
What did Dr. Klein say? - He let us know the rations that the doctors and medical orderlies would get, and he told us there would be no fighting in the camp.
Did he say anything about the medical supplies in the camp? - Nothing what we did not know already.
Did not he say you have only got to ask and you will get what is available? - We already knew that. We have asked very often but much was not available and the other things the stores did not give us.
Did he in fact say that at that meeting? - Yes.
Did any internee doctors make any requests for medical stores after that? - Yes.
What did they ask for? - We wanted to have opium and other medicine to help us against diarrhoea.
Were those things available? - No.
You were at Belsen from the first week in February to the second week in April? - Yes.
Would you say that the general deterioration was a gradual deterioration of conditions, food and accommodation, or did it happen suddenly? - It was gradual.
What was the situation regarding food about the end of February and the beginning of March, that is to say, about half way through the time you were there? - The food was absolutely insufficient,and not enough to keep the people alive.
What was the position at that time regarding bread? - The received about 300 grammes of bread a day.
Would you agree at that time the situation regarding food was critical? - I am not in a position to decide about that. I only know that at the same time in other camps near Hanover [Hannover] they had quite a lot of bread.
Is it not true that bread did in fact come to this camp from Hanover [Hannover]? - The bread arrived in trucks, but I do not know where it came from. I believe some came from Soltau.
What was the situation regarding beds in the camp? - Nine tenths of all the people in the men's camp No. 2 had no beds at all.
You mentioned that there were no arrangements for delousing; was there not a delousing machine in the camp? - There certainly was a small delousing installation in the camp, but the people in our camp never got a chance to go there.
You mentioned a visit from Obergruppenführer Pohl; do you know what his position was? - He was Obergruppenführer in the SS He had the Knight's Cross and as far as I know he was on the Inspectorate for Concentration Camps.
Do you know to whom he was directly responsible? - I do not know exactly.
Do you know why he paid this visit to Belsen? - No.
Is it a fact that his visit must have given him a good idea of the conditions in the camp at the time from what he saw? - Yes, he must have received a sufficient impression from the camp.
Did you hear about a visit from a Dr. Lolling of Berlin before you came? - I do not know the name. I know one time there was an advise for an inspection by the Hygiene Committee. The result of those inspections was everything remained as it was.
MAJOR MUNRO: No questions.
Cross-examined by MAJOR CRANFIELD: You were asked who you saw shooting, and you replied with the word "posten". By then do you mean the persons guarding the camp, or the staff inside responsible for the organisation? - The guards round the barbed wire and the patrol on the Lager street.
I want to ask you now about Belsen during the last month from the middle of March until the liberation. During this period was the camp grossly? - Yes, it was like that.
Were large transports arriving frequently with the majority of the persons in a dying condition? - Many transports arrived every week; as a rule one third of the people were dying or dead.
Was Belsen during this period a Krankenlager? - Belsen was already since January officially announced in all other camps as Krankenlager. Nevertheless not the most elementary preparations to deal with sick people could be found there.
You have told us that in addition typhus was raging. Were the conditions in general chaotic and quite out of control? - All of it was general chaos.
You have told us about the cannibalism. Did the Häftlinge behave like animals? - Hunger made the prisoners to animals.
Now I want to ask you of your experience during ten years in concentration camps. Were the conditions at Belsen during the last month far worse than anything you have experienced before? - I have witnessed many chaotic situations in the camp at Buchenwald, but Belsen was by far the worst of all.
Have you ever been in a camp where they had a daily roll call at 0300 hours? - In Buchenwald the waking up of the prisoners started at 0300 hours and roll call usually began at 0600 hours.
One last question. Were you ever yourself beaten at Belsen? - No, I have not been beaten. Not in Belsen, but in Buchenwald I have been beaten.
CAPTAIN ROBERTS: No questions.
CAPTAIN BROWN: No questions.
CAPTAIN FIELDEN: No questions.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: No questions.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.
Cross-examined by CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: How long would you say it had taken the camp to reach the condition it was in at the time of the liberation? - The very bad conditions as far as I know only started in February. At least as far as the mens camp is concerned. Conditions in the women's camp were a bit different. I had been told that before that the camp had known some very bad periods.
Would you agree that an SS Aufseherin who arrived at the camp at the end of February would find conditions there much the same as they were at the time of the liberation? - No. During the last time it became worse every day.
Would the conditions be substantially the same? - The food became worse.
Speaking generally, on the whole was it very much worse at the time of the liberation? - As far as I know in the women's camp the things were, except the food position, not very much different, but I have not been in the women's camp very often.
LIEUTENANT BOYD: No questions.
CAPTAIN MUNRO: No questions.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: No questions.
Re-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Did you see any attempt on the part of any of the SS to improve the conditions? - Yes, certainly attempts have been made but they were very insufficient and could be compared with a drop of water on a hot plate.
Who were they made by? - The attempts have been made by the camp doctors and now and then by the Lagerführer when he was pressed very much by us. The most attempts that were proposed were not accepted by the SS
When you say he made some attempt in the last period, what period are you speaking of? - In the time that were wearing white armlets.
When did they start to wear white armlets? - About eight days before the British troops arrived in the camp.
Was any attempt made to clean up the camp in these last few days? - Dr. Horstmann made very strenuous attempts. It seems he was very keen on having all the corpses removed before the British troops arrived. He kept his watch in his hand and he looked at it hourly and chased the people to hurry to get the corpses away as soon as possible.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Would the Shorthand Writer read the first few questions of the re-examination?
(The shorthand writer reads as follows: "Did you see any attempt on the part of any of the SS to improve the conditions? - Yes, certainly attempts have been made but they were very insufficient and could be compared with a drop of water on a hot plate. Who were they made by? - The attempts have been made by the camp doctors and now and then by the Lagerführer when he was pressed very much by us. The most attempts that were proposed were not accepted by the SS"
MAJOR CRANFIELD: On that I think the witness said: "Were not accepted by the SS führer".
THE PRESIDENT: I think he said: "S.S."
MAJOR CRANFIELD: The translation was: "Not accepted by the SS", but the witness said: "not accepted by the SS führer". That is one person as opposed to many.
THE PRESIDENT: I would point out that if you are going to complain it is no good waiting. You must complain at the time the translation is taking place, not about five minutes afterwards. If you have an interpreter sitting there and they are not satisfied with the translation then attention must be drawn to that immediately. Now I do not know whether the interpreter is prepared to admit that he made a mistake.
MAJOR CRANFIELD: The difficulty is that I do not myself speak German and it is only after the next question that I am told.
THE PRESIDENT: The danger is this, that if the Judge Advocate had not asked for the notes to be read out no question would have arisen on what was said on that.
MAJOR CRANFIELD: I was going to mention it.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: I am no wiser than I was.
THE PRESIDENT: Read the answer again.
(The shorthand writer reads the following answer: "The attempts have been made by the camp doctors and now and then by the Lagerführer when he was pressed very much by us. The most attempts that were proposed were not accepted by the SS")
THE PRESIDENT: Major Winwood, you speak German. What do you say the witness said?
MAJOR WINWOOD: I thought he said: "S.S. führer", "S.S. administration".
MAJOR CRANFIELD: The point is whether he said that the suggestions for improvements were not accepted by the SS, that is to say, all the SS personnel, or whether it is the SS leader or the SS Headquarters.
THE WITNESS: (Speaking in English) I mean the leaders.
THE PRESIDENT: You mean the leaders? - (In English) The leaders, yes.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Would you understand me if I talked to you in English, or would you rather have an interpreter? - I understand a little.
We had better have it through the Interpreter. Who do you mean by the "Lagerführers"? - The were several Lagerführers; they changed; I cannot remember their names exactly.
You said you knew Keith Mayor very well. Do you know how he came to be in the hands of the Germans? - Yes, I know. The English told me that after a raid on the Norwegian coast they had been taken prisoner. They had not been taken to a P.W. camp but to the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen.
Had he been a soldier or sailor or civilian, or what? - I do not know exactly.
You told us that a very large number of persons were dying each day in your camp? - That is true.
Supposing there had been no typhus, what percentage of the people who died do you think would have remained alive? - Nine-tenths of the people did not die of typhus but of starvation, diarrhoea and other stomach troubles.
So substantially the typhus did not increase the difficulties very much: is that what you say? - It did increase the difficulties, but the other things were more important than the typhus.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: There is one question I would like to ask the Court to put if they would, arising out of what the learned Judge Advocate asked. Supposing reasonable and proper steps had been taken to prevent the spread of typhus, how many people who died of typhus would have died?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Will you answer that question? - Several hundreds.
THE PRESIDENT: Are there any questions by the Defending Officers on the questions put by the Court?
(No further questions were asked by the Defending Officers).
(The witness withdraws)
ESTERA GUTERMAN is called in.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: The witness will give her evidence in Polish. She is going to be sworn on the Jewish Bible, and she says that the form of oath she is going to take will be binding on her conscience.
ESTERA GUTERMAN, having been duly sworn is examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows:
What is your full name? - Estera Guterman.
Where did you live before the war? - In Starachowice.
What is your nationality? - A Jewess from Poland.
How old are you? - 42.
Were you for a time at Auschwitz? - Yes.
And then you were later moved to Belsen? - Yes.
When did you arrive in Belsen? - In July 1944. [She states in her affidavit November 1944]
How long before the British arrived? - After a few months the English troops arrived.
Which block were you put into when you first went to Belsen? - No. 27.
Who was the assistant Blockälteste? - The accused Koper.
Will you look at the persons in the dock and see if you can recognise the accused Koper. Take your time. Is Koper a man or woman? - A woman. (After looking at the women accused) No. 46 (Helena Koper).
Did you later move to another block? - Yes, to block No. 205.
Who was the Blockälteste there? - Eva Kilemann.
Who was the assistant Blockälteste there? - Koper.
She had moved as well as you? - Yes.
Did you later move to another block again? - Yes, to block No. 224.
Who was the Blockälteste in that one? - Koper was the Blockälteste.
Did she fill any other position in the camp? - Later on she ceased to be Lagerälteste and had some function in the camp; I do not know what kind of functions.
How did Koper treat the internees under her? - Very badly.
In what way did she treat them badly? - She beat them, and even if they were ill they had to go for the parades.
Did you have to attend the appels? - Yes.
Did she ever beat you? - I remember that one occasion I moved during the parade and the accused came and beat me with a belt, and then she made me kneel for the whole time of the parade.
What part of the body did she beat? - My head.
What was the weather like? - It was very wet and it snowed.
Was the beating a severe one or a light one? - It was a very severe beating, and apart from that I had to kneel all the time afterwards.
How long did you have to kneel? - About one hour.
Did anybody interfere whilst you were kneeling there? - It happened that the aufseherin was passing nearby and she said to the accused it is not very nice that such an old woman had to kneel, and she suggested that I should stand up, but the accused said: "I am sorry, but now I am in power here and I am responsible. She will kneel as I told her."
Did the aufseherin interfere or did she allow you to go on kneeling? - I had to continue kneeling.
Did you know a Polish woman called Fischer? - Yes.
What happened to her? - I remember another parade during which the woman Fischer was standing without boots and without shoes in her stockings, and the accused approached her and asked her: "Why did not you work?" and she said: "I could not work because I have no shoes", and then the accused ordered her to kneel.
How old was this woman Fischer? - About 40.
What was the weather like at this time? - It was very wet.
How long did she have to kneel? - Throughout the whole parade. It was about one hour; I do not know exactly because I had not a watch.
Did anything else happen to her? - Immediately after the parade was over she complained that she did not feel well, she had a very high fever and after three weeks she died.
Do you remember a Polish woman who was in your block? - Yes, I do.
What was she suffering from? - She suffered from swollen legs caused by malnutrition and she asked to be allowed to stay in bed and not parade.
You say she asked to stay in bed. Had she in fact got a bed? - She did not have a bed; she asked to be left on the floor instead of going to the parade.
What did Koper do? - The accused Koper started beating her and compelled her to parade. The woman could hardly walk. She went to the parade and fainted after a short time. She lay on the ground till the end of the parade and afterwards she was taken to the hospital. After three days she died.
Have you ever seen Koper beating anybody else? - Yes, I saw her doing it, even people who had come to visit some from the other blocks would be beaten by her.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: That concludes my examination in chief, Sir.