Transcript of the Official Shorthand Notes of 'The Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty Four Others'

Fourteenth Day Tuesday, 2nd October, 1945

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COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I now call Ester Wolgrunch.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any Defending Officer want the numbers of the accused changed?

(No response)

ESTER WOLGRUCH is called in and having been duly sworn is examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows:

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: The witness is Ester Wolgruch. She is being sworn on a Jewish bible. She will give her evidence in Polish and she says that the form of oath she is about to take will be binding on her conscience.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: What is your full name? - Ester Wolgruch.

How do you spell Wolgruch? - W.O.L.G.R.U.C.H.

What was your address before the war? - 25 Gesia, Warsaw.

How old are you? - 23.

What is your nationality? - Jewess from Poland.

When were you arrested? - 16th January, 1943.

Where were you taken to? - To Auschwitz.

How long did you stay there? - Two years and two days.

Where did you go from there? - To Bergen-Belsen.

When you first went to Auschwitz what were you employed on? - I was employed on a Kommando that was working outside of the camp for 20 months.

What type of work were you doing? - I worked in the fields and it was work without any sense.

What were you actually doing? - Digging up trenches and filling the trenches back and again digging them up and filling them back.

How many hours a day did you work on that? - From seven in the morning until five in the afternoon.

How far was your work from the camp? - Seven kilometres.

How did you get from the camp to your work and back again? - We were chased all the time and dogs were set on us.

Do you remember a particular occasion in April of 1943? - I remember one incident; it was a woman who left the hospital together with me and she suffered from swollen legs and she could not keep up with the kommando returning to the camp and therefore she was stopped by Bormann.

Who was Bormann? -  Bormann is the aufseherin who always walked with a dog.

Will you tell us what happened to this woman? - This woman who could not keep up stopped for a second and Bormann approached her with her dog and set the dog on her. The dog went at first at her clothes but Bormann was not satisfied with that and set the dog on her throat. The dog which was always obedient to her orders went for the throat of the woman and we heard only sobs and cries and then they stopped. After that Bormann adopted this position with her hands and called the Arbeitsdienstführer and boasted and said: "Look what I did; this is my work".

What happened to the woman? - The woman was dead at that time already and immediately afterwards four girls were called from the dead-body-kommando to take the body away.

Have you ever seen this dog attack anyone else? - Yes, frequently.

Was that on anyone's orders? - It was on her orders; always on her orders.

Will you now come down into the body of the Court and look at the people in the dock and see if you can recognise Bormann? (The witness does so). - Am I allowed to recognise anybody else?

Let us start with Bormann - No. 6, the beastess from Auschwitz.

I do not think we need worry about anybody else. You said you were eventually taken to Belsen. How were you treated in Belsen? - Very badly. We were treated very badly; we slept on the floor, we received no water and no food and they carried out very frequently parades in very cold weather and people had to parade naked.

Did you see any persons beaten there? - Very many; all of us were beaten there.

Did you see any persons shot there? - A large number of prisoners were shot there and I saw myself two girls shot by an SS man.

MAJOR WINWOOD: No questions.

Cross-examined by MAJOR MUNRO: You have told us about an incident when a woman was attacked by a dog. Did you know the woman who was attacked personally? - She left the hospital on the previous day together with me.

What nationality was she? - She was an Aryan from Poland.

Are you absolutely certain about the identity of the woman you have recognised? - Yes.

I put it to you that you are mistaken? - No, I know Bormann very well; I would recognise the partner of the dog even at night time.

What would you say if I told you that Bormann was not at Auschwitz at all in April, 1943? - Were you in Auschwitz or was I in Auschwitz? I have sworn to it and I am telling the truth.

Where did this incident take place? - In Auschwitz not far from the gate.

Where were you at the time? - I was in front of Block No. 27.

How far away was that from the woman you say was attacked? - A few metres.

Was there a large crowd watching? - Yes, a large number of women.

How was the aufseherin holding the dog before the incident took place? - The dog was standing near her.

Was it on a lead? - No.

Is it not the case that the dog escaped from the aufseherin's control? - No, she ordered the dog to go against the woman.

Do you understand the German language? - Yes, I do.

Is not it the case that when the dog made for the woman's throat she put her hand up to protect the throat? - No, she did not do that; she adopted the position as I showed you before and proudly boasted about it.

Is not it the case that what she said to the SS man was a report as to what had happened? - No, she called him especially to show him her achievement.

Did you go and examine the woman after the incident? - She was taken to No. 25 block which is especially established for the purpose to preserve the bodies of the killed.

Will you please answer my question? Did you go up and examine the woman after the incident? - I did not.

Did you see for yourself where she was taken? - Yes, I saw it myself.

And you say that was what - where? - It was in the front of Block No. 25 which was a special hut for the bodies.

Did you see her being taken there yourself? - I saw it myself.

When you left Auschwitz to go to Belsen what was the state of your health? - My health was in a good state.

Cross-examined by MAJOR CRANFIELD: Is not your nationality Polish? - I am a POlish Jew but in the camp I was considered as an Aryan Pole.

Who told you to tell the Court you were a Jewess from Poland when you were asked what your nationality was? - I am such and therefore I say so.

CAPTAIN ROBERTS: No questions.

CAPTAIN BROWN: No questions.

CAPTAIN FIELDEN: No questions.


CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.


LIEUTENANT BOYD: No questions.

CAPTAIN MUNRO: No questions.


Re-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: You had two separate types of questions put to you. First of all it has been suggested that you have got the wrong woman altogether and Bormann was not there at all; then it has been suggested to you that Bormann was there and was trying to protect this woman. Let us try to clear that up. First of all are you quite sure of the woman you have recognised? - I am sure she is the woman.

Did she make any attempt to save this woman from the dog? - No, on the contrary, she set the dog on her.

(The witness withdraws)

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I now call Marcel Tuchmann who is going to prove the plan of the camp which is before the Court.

MARCEL TUCHMANN is called in and having been duly sworn is examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows:

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: This witness is Marcel Tuchmann. He will give his evidence in German and is being sworn on a Jewish bible. He says that the form of oath he is about to take will be binding on his conscience.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: What is your full name? - Marcel Tuchmann.

Where do you live? - My last address was the Ghetto in Przemysl, No. 42.

What was your occupation before you were arrested? - I was a student of medicine until 1941.

After you were arrested were you in Birkenau for a considerable time? - I was in Birkenau from the 5th November, 1943, until the 30th May, 1944.

Just look at this plan. (handed) Did you yesterday prepare this plan or diagram of Birkenau camp? - Yes, that is the plan.

Is that to the best of your recollection an accurate diagram of the camp? - Yes, all that what is found here is correct.

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Is there an original of this at all?

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: He made it actually on a wax stencil and it has been taken off.

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: I think I am only voicing the opinion of the Court when I say that the document is very difficult to follow even with an explanation, but I suppose we could try.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: It was the best we could do with the materials available. The witness drew it straight on to the wax stencil yesterday. (To the witness): Look at the plan. I see that running really across the plan there is what you have marked as "Strasse von Bahnhof"? - Yes, it is the main road which crosses the camp in the centre.

Coming from the right of the plan, that is from the station end, towards the left you have marked a broken line with the word "Rampe" underneath it. - With your permission I would like to explain it because it is difficult to understand.

Yes, that is what I want you to do. - From the station which is on the right - it is not on the plan - there is a road leading through the camp and the people after having been subjected to the selections went either to the crematorium on the left or through the main road, or on the top right hand corner there is another crematorium where they might have been sent as well.

Are these marked "K.1." and "K.2.", the two crematoriums you are speaking of? - Yes, "K.1." and "K.2.", and very near, on both sides of the main road, are "K.3." and "K.4."; they are in the top left corner.

Then on the top left hand corner of all there is marked "K.5.". What is that? - "K.5." is called crematorium 5 but it was not a proper crematorium compared with 1, 2, 3 and 4. It was a single house where gas chambers were and the prisoners were gassed there and then thrown into those ditches which we mentioned before. "K.5." was only for 600 people. In 1943 when I arrived in Auschwitz there was just that station which I had mentioned before. In 1944, however, a proper station was built for that purpose and when the transports more regularly arrived a proper rail led in directly without touching the previous station.

As you come down the road from the station on either side of the gate you have marked two buildings - on either side of the entrance? - That was the main entrance to the women's compounds. There are not two buildings, it is one big guard block which contained searchlights and machine guns, and the road through it led to the women's compound.

On the left of the road you have marked two Frauenlagers, "A" and "B"? - Correct.

Outside there is a little building which you have marked: "B.L.F."? - I would like to explain this "B.L.F." to the Court.

Yes please. - "B.L.F." means really "Blockführer house", the house where all the records were kept, where working parties were formed together, where people who left the camp were indexed and where all the documents were kept. On top of each compound there is a little hut marked "B.L.F." and that means always "Blockführerstube".

The top half of the plan where it is marked "B.2.a." and "B.2.c." and so on. What is that part of the plan? - On the top is the whole men's compound, the whole men's camp. This men's camp was sub divided into different smaller compounds. Each of them had a number, "B.2.a." and "B.2.c.". Each one was labeled with a different letter and number. Birkenau, which I mentioned, belonged to a very big camp complex in the general camp of Auschwitz. The whole of this complex was a proper extermination camp. Auschwitz 1 was about 2 kilometres from Birkenau and Birkenau itself is Auschwitz 2. Auschwitz 1 which was constructed in 1940 was in many aspects of sanitation and barrack accommodation and so on better than Auschwitz 2 which was built later.

"B.2.a" the first one on the right as you come down the main street. What is that compound? - Those of the prisoners who were lucky enough during the selections to be selected not for the gas chambers had to march through the main road to the left to the last compound here which is called "Sauna" where there is the wash house and disinfection.

On the far left side? - Yes, on the far left side. This sauna which I mentioned is a chapter worth while to be mentioned because during three days, for instance, in November in the bitterest cold we were kept outside in the snow waiting quite naked so that quite a number of people did never in fact reach the camp because they died already during the period of the three days in the Sauna, in the wash house.

What I asked was: What was block B.IIa, which is the first one you come to on the right hand side. - This B.IIa which you mentioned is quarantine. From the sauna they were put into B.IIa. It was surrounded by barbed wire and also wardens or guards were put round this compound, as round every compound.

What was the next lager, B.IIb? - With your permission I would like to mention something concerning ...

I would like you to tell me what B.IIb was? - That was a mixed compound for Czechs.

And B.IIc? - It was an empty compound when I was there. It was prepared for Jews from Italy, but later on Jews from Hungary were put into that compound.

What was B.IId? - B.IId was the largest compound. It contained 10000 prisoners and mostly working parties and prisoners who went out for work outside the camp were accommodated there.

The next one is B.IIe. - That was a mixed compound for gypsies. From that compound nobody went out on outside jobs. The whole compound was liquidated or exterminated in 1944.

The next one is B.IIf. - That is the last compound before the crematorium. It was mainly C.R.S., a C.R.S. station, where sick from every compound, or nearly every compound but not from the Czech because they had a C.R.S. for themselves, but from the others the sick people were sent there and it was straight away to the crematorium, because that is the place where many selections - as a matter of fact every week at least one selection took place.

THE JUDGE ADVCATE: Which denotes compound and which denotes building? Is it the lined one which denotes building?

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: As a matter of fact, those are streets. (To the witness) Looking at the various compounds (take compound BIIa) down the centre of that you have put cross etching. What is that? - That is the road which led between the two rows of blocks or huts.

(Diagram of Birkenau Camp, Auschwitz, is marked Exhibit H, signed by the President and attached to the proceedings.)

Cross-examined by MAJOR WINWOOD: Will you tell us where the Kommandant's office was? - The main administrative offices were in Auschwitz 1. On the right of this plan were all the SS blocks. Where the office of the Camp Kommandant was I could not say.

In which direction was camp Auschwitz No. 1? - In the eastern direction towards the station, where the road leads to the station, and it was the same road which led to the town, Auschwitz, itself.

How many other camps were there besides Auschwitz No. 1 and Auschwitz No. 2? - There was Auschwitz No. 3 and the I.G. Farbe industry. They employed 40000 workers. Amongst them were prisoners of war and amongst those British prisoners of war. This factory was called Buna. I would like to add something about Auschwitz No. 3.

I am not interested in Auschwitz No. 3, except its existence. Where there other camps as well as Nos. 1, 2 and 3? - Around Auschwitz No. 3 there were smaller camps, but all in connection with Auschwitz No. 3. About an area of 40 square kilometres was for this purpose, and all the German inhabitants of that area were sent away.

Were there any more sub divisions of Auschwitz? - There were still a few other camps. One, for instance, called Gleiwitz Camp, and in 1944 quite a number of other camps in Upper Silesia, all these under the control and direction of Auschwitz No. 3.

Cross-examined by MAJOR MUNRO: Can you tell us who was the Kommandant of the whole of Auschwitz? - SS Obersturmführer Haase.

Was he in command all the time you were there? - We had never anything to do with this Kommandant. As a matter of fact, we never saw him. We only had to do with lower grades of this extermination machine.

Did you ever see or hear of a Kommandant called Hoess? - I never saw this Kommandant. Maybe I made a mistake in the spelling, instead of Haase maybe it is Hoess. I am not sure about it because I never had anything to do with him.

Cross-examined by MAJOR CRANFIELD: Can you tell us where the SOnderkommando lived? - They lived in B.IId, in Block No. 13, which was locked, and that was, I think, in 1943 and 1944 when all the Hungarian transports which had arrived had been liquidated and finished off in the meantime.

We have heard a lot about block No. 25. Can you tell us where that is on the plan? - No. 25 is nearly in each compound, but I believe the No. 25 which is mentioned now is No. 25 in the women's compound where all those who had been selected for the gas chambers were collected and kept.

I appreciate that this is a diagram, but could you give us some idea of the scale. That is to say, the distance, for instance, from the gate as you come in from the railway station, to the wash house? - Abut 800 to 1000 metres, almost one kilometre, but it might have been more.

Were each of the men's compounds on the right hand side the same width? and how wide was that? - All of them were made of one scheme, and I am almost sure that they were exactly the same width and length, perhaps with the exception of the C.R.S. compound, which might have been larger. The width of one compound is about 30 metres. I have made a great mistake, because already the road alone has a width of 20 metres, then the huts, so I think at least 80 to 100 metres.

You mentioned working parties. Were working parties sent away from Auschwitz to work in various factories? - This compound B.IIa can be compared with a proper slave market. A few days after the transport arrived SS officers or mining engineers came and just selected them like slaves, be it for mines, for anyway the prisoners died because of their work, and for some other factories.

These people who went away on one of the working parties did not return to Auschwitz; is that right? - Yes, unfortunately they did return, but they did not return into the camp but went straight to the crematorium, because when they returned they wee quite thin and naked skeletons.

But those of the working party who survived the work would continue to work in the factory to which they had been sent and would not return to Auschwitz; is not that right? - Those who really did survive or those who arrived in a new transport and were still a bit in a fresher condition survived till January 1945. They were finally exterminated on the 17th January 1945.

CAPTAIN ROBERTS: No questions.

CAPTAIN BROWN: No questions.

CAPTAIN FIELDEN: No questions.


CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.


LIEUTENANT BOYD: No questions.

CAPTAIN MUNRO: No questions.


COLONEL BACKHOUSE: No re-examination.

THE JUDGE ADVCATE: Where exactly is Auschwitz. Is it in Poland? - In Upper Silesia. It belonged till 1939 to Poland, and it is situated in Eastern Upper Silesia.

What is the largest town? - Katowice - about 50 kilometres from Katowice.

A MEMBER OF THE COURT: I think you said K.IV was a gas chamber? - That was the very first before the proper crematoria were built This first one K.IV was quite a simple house which was transformed for that purpose.

Where were the other gas chambers then? - The other gas chambers were all in the crematoria themselves. The crematorium and gas chamber was in the same building and an enormous chimney was always working.

ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE COURT: You seem to have a very clear idea of the layout of Auschwitz camp. Was that due to the fact that you had some special job or were you just an ordinary prisoner? - From the very first when I arrived I was working at Kommandos which went outside the camp in the Siemen Schuckert works, about nine kilometres from the camp. We were loaded on trucks, we went through the main street and I kept my eyes open because I was interested in the general layout and in the general conditions of the whole camp.

THE PRESIDENT: Have the Defending Offices any question on the points put by the Court?

(No response)

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Major Cranfield, you wanted to know whether the working parties came back every day or at some interval to this camp.

MAJOR CRANFIELD: I was under the impression there were two kinds of working parties, one kind which goes out daily and one kind which goes to work permanently in a factory some way away, and it was with regard to the kind that went away permanently I wanted to know about.

(The witness withdraws)

EWA GRYKA is called in.

The JUDGE ADVOCATE: This is Ewa Gryka. She will give her evidence in Polish. She is being sworn on the Jewish bible and she says the oath she will take will be binding on her conscience.

EWA GRYKA, having been duly sworn, is examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows: What is your full name? - Gryka, Ewa.

What was your address before you were arrested? - Wochyn, Rynek, Street No. 1.

What is your nationality? - I am a Polish Jew.

How old are you? - 22.

When were you arrested? - 4th May 1943.

When did you first go to Auschwitz? - 15th July 1943.

What were you employed on when you were there? - I was employed on a Kommando outside of the camp.

What was your work? - We were digging and breaking stones in the road.

Who was in charge of your party? - It was one SS man and a Kapo who is sitting here in the dock.

Will you just come and recognise if you can the Kapo you are talking about? (The witness goes into the Court). - No. 10. (Ilse Lothe)

How did she treat the kommando? - She beat them.

Have you ever been beaten by her? - Certainly.

How often? - Very frequently.

What were you beaten with? - I myself was beaten with her hands, but she also used a stick.

Did you know a woman called Grunwald? - Yes, I do, Rochla Grunwald.

Can you tell the Court what happened to her? - Yes.

Will you do so? - Rochla Grunwald wanted one day to go to the lavatory. There were special hours for this purpose, but she wanted to do it in a different time, and the accused did not allow her to go. Rochla Grunwald asked the accused once more and was refused. For the third time she went without permission and the accused noticed it. She approached her and hit her on the head with a stick. Rochla Grunwald fainted, and the next day she was not on parade. I saw her being brought by the doctor and somebody else to block No. 25.

How many times did she beat her? - Twice with a stick.

Did you see Grunwald again after she was taken to block No. 25? - Unfortunately I have never seen her again.

Is Grunwald the only person you have seen Lothe beat? - No, she beat the other people too.

Do you know who the SS man was who was in charge of the Kommando? - I do not know.

Did he make any attempt to stop Lothe beating people? - No, he did not. She only looked after us. She was not concerned about us.

MAJOR WINWOOD: No questions.

MAJOR MUNRO: No questions.

Cross-examined by MAJOR CRANFIELD: When you were liberated at Belsen what was the state of your health? - I was healthy.

You did not go to hospital after the liberation? - No.

Had you two friends, Hanka Rozenweig and Sofia Litwinska? - Yes, I had.

Were they together with you after the liberation? - Yes, they were.

Did they go to hospital after the liberation? - No.

Now this woman who was beaten, do you know what nationality she was? - She was a Jewess from Poland.

Was the working party working outside the camp? - Outside of the camp.

Were Rozenweig and Litwinska with you? - Yes, they were. You mean this particular incident?

Yes. - Yes, they were.

Where did Grunwald go to the lavatory? - At what time do you mean?

No, where did she go in order to go to the lavatory? - To the lavatory.

What I want to know is where she went to.

THE PRESIDENT: When she fell out where did she go? - The lavatory was not far away and she proceeded in that direction. It was a wooden lavatory.

MAJOR CRANFIELD: Was it inside the camp? - It was not far from the place where we worked; it was of course outside the camp.

Was there an SS aufseherin present with the working party? - Yes, he was present.

Was it a man or a woman? - A man.

Did you always have an SS man in charge of the working party when you were under this Kapo, Lothe? - Yes, always.

I want to be quite clear about this. Do I understand from you that it was not the practice to have an SS woman in charge of these working parties? - It varied, with some kommandos were women SS, with the others were men SS

I am talking about your kommando in which you were with your two friends Hanka Rozenweig and Sofia Litwinska. - With my kommando it was always SS men.

Had the SS man, on this occasion when Grunwald was beaten, got a dog? - Yes.

Which camp did you live in? - In Camp B.

Do you remember after the liberation making a statement to a British officer? - Yes, I do.

Do you remember the circumstances in which you came to make the statement? - Do you mean in whose company I was when I made the statement?

Do you remember clearly the day on which you made the statement, and what happened on that day? - I do not remember the exact date. We went for a walk from our compound to another camp and by chance we noticed the accused. I was in the company of my two friends and we approached the accused. We said to her: "It is an impudence after everything you have done to us you are still here", and we started shouting at her. An English soldier was nearby and he cam along and asked: "What is the matter?", and then we explained everything to him and we and the accused were brought to a block and we made a statement.

Do you remember shortly after the liberation British officer investigators coming to Belsen to find out about the crimes committed by the Germans on the internees? - Yes.

Did they make it known throughout the camp that is anybody had any accusation to make they could come to them and they would be heard? - Yes.

Why did not you and your two friends Rozenzweig and Ratinik go to the British officers and lay this charge against the Kapo Lothe? - The incident I described before was Grunwald being beaten, and took place in Auschwitz, and I had no idea that the accused is in Belsen, and neither that she was alive at that time.

Was it not perfectly well known in Belsen that accusations could be made in respect of Auschwitz? - Yes, we know about it.

I ask you again why did you not in the two months between the liberation and the day you described, prefer this charge against Ilse Lothe? - Because I did not know whether she was alive.

Is it not true that when you were found by the English soldier you had no idea of making an accusation against Lothe; all you wanted to do was to abuse her? - It is not true. I wanted to see her taken to the prison at once, and I did not want her to live so long.

Is it not true that when the three of you found yourselves in front of the British officer you found you had to make an accusation and you invented this story to support it? - Nobody compelled us to make a statement; we stated only that what we know about.

If you and your friends were telling the truth, would not your stories agree? - Yes, they would.

Are you telling the Court that of your own knowledge you know this woman Grunwald was sent to the gas chamber? - Yes, I am able to. It was this block where from only to the gas chamber prisoners were sent.

I suggest to you that the whole story of Lothe beating Grunwald is untrue, and a spiteful attempt to saddle Lothe with a murder? - I took an oath and I am aware of what I am saying.

Do you know Sofia Litwinska? - I do.

Is she a truthful person? - Yes, she is.

CAPTAIN ROBERTS: No questions.

CAPTAIN FEILDEN: No questions.


CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.


Lt. BOYD: No questions.

CAPTAIN MUNRO: No questions.


COLONEL BACKHOUSE: No re-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: I am not quite clear as to one point about the beating of this woman. You said that she beat her twice. What do you mean by that? - She hit her with her stick twice.

What kind of stick? - It was approximately one yard, one metre, long.

How does it compare with this, for example? (Officer's cane handed to witness). - It was longer than this one, and I think of the same thinness, but I cannot really say very exactly, because at that moment I could not concentrate very well, and our life in the camp was very strenuous. We never knew we shall be able to give evidence on all these facts, and therefore we did not attach a great deal of importance to these details.

A MEMBER OF THE COURT: You say that the SS man in charge of the kommando had a dog. Did he have one dog or many dogs? - He had one dog.

(The witness withdraws)

Company Sergeant Major J. LIDDLE is called in and having been duly sworn is examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows:

Are you No. 14276652 Company Sergeant Major John Liddle? - Yes.

Of 86 Special Investigation Section, Corps of Military Police? - Yes.

On the 16th June of this year, were you attached to No. 1 War Crimes Investigation team? - Yes.

On the 16th June did a number of internees, Koppel, Furstenburg, Synger, Bialek, Rosenberg, Stojowska and Guterman, in your presence identify a woman? - I do not remember the exact date now, but on a date about then.

Who was that woman? - The woman Koper.

Were all the internees persons who had made depositions? - Yes, as far as I can remember, every one.

When they identified this woman did they identify her as the person referred to in their depositions? - Yes.

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: I have not got a list of these internees. Are we required to have them?

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: It is on his deposition which is before you, No. 187. My friends told me I could lead, and it is exactly what he said in his deposition.

MAJOR WINWOOD: No questions.

MAJOR MUNRO: No questions.

Cross-examined by MAJOR CRANFIELD: When you were at Belsen when were the photographs of the accused taken? - I was there when the photographs were received at Belsen.

You were not there when they were taken? - No, I arrived there at the commencement of the investigations.

CAPTAIN ROBERTS: No questions.

CAPTAIN BROWN: No questions.

CAPTAIN FIELDEN: No questions.


CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.


LIEUTENANT BOYD: No questions.

CAPTAIN MUNRO: No questions.

Cross-examined by LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Do you know if the identified woman was then at Belsen? - In the first place?

At the time those persons mentioned in your affidavit, when they did identify the woman on the photograph ...

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: It was not on the photograph; she was actually present there.

LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: That is the answer I wanted to get. (To the witness): She was identified in person or from the photograph? - In person.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: No re-examination.

(The witness withdraws)

Sergeant C. A. SCAMANS is called in and having been duly sworn is examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows:

Are you No. 14604094 Sergeant Cyril Albert Scamans? - Yes.

Are you a Sergeant in No. 86 Special Investigation Section, Corps of Military Police? - Yes.

On the 15th June, were you attached to No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team at Belsen? - Yes.

On that date did a number of internees, Kalenikow, Karobjenikow, Promsky, Nijkrasow, Iwanow and Sulima, all identify the accused Ostrowoski in your presence? - Yes.

Had each of these persons made a deposition previously? - Yes.

And did they identify the accused as the man to whom they referred in their depositions? - Yes.

MAJOR WINWOOD: No questions.

MAJOR MUNRO: NO questions.

Cross-examined by MAJOR CRANFIELD: How was the identification carried out? - It was carried out in the Belsen prison which was used for housing the people as they were arrested. We took the witnesses down to the prison and they were confronted with the accused, and they said that was the man.

Were they asked to pick him out from a number of accused, or were they confronted with him by himself? - Confronted with him by himself.

CAPTAIN ROBERTS: No questions.

CAPTAIN BROWN: No questions.

CAPTAIN FIELDEN: No questions.


CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.


LIEUTENANT BOYD: No questions.

CAPTAIN MUNRO: No questions.

Cross-examined by LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Were they all confronted together, or separately? - They were not altogether. Perhaps sometimes I would take two of the witnesses down in the car, or perhaps just one at a time.

But would they enter the cell one at a time, or two or three at a time? - Two or three at a time. If I took two they were both confronted with them, or if I took three the three were confronted with the prisoner.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: No re-examination.

(The witness withdraws)

Sergeant E. DINSDALE is called in and having been duly sworn is examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows:

Are you No. 14573509 Sergeant Edward Dinsdale? - Yes.

You are a Sergeant in 86 Special Investigation Section, Corps of Military Police? - Yes.

On the 13th June were you attached to No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team? - I was.

And on that date, on the instructions of your superior officer, did you interview Vaclav Jecny? - Yes.

Did he make a statement to you? - Yes.

And did you prepare that in the form of a deposition? - No, in the form of a statement.

Was that statement then put into the form of a deposition? - I understand so. I handed it in to my superior officer, who no doubt would forward it to his superior officer after he had made it out in the form of a deposition.

On the 16th June did you try and find the man? - Yes.

Was that in order that he might appear before someone to swear his deposition? - It was.

Were you subsequently shown the deposition which had been prepared? - Yes.

And did that truly and accurately set out the information which had been given to you by the witness? - Yes.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I propose to put that in. It is page 185.

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: What is this exactly? Is it a statement by Jecny?

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: A statement made by Jecny which he had not signed before he left. It is really a matter of convenience whether that is read now or read in its turn with the other depositions, whichever you prefer. I had to call the witness to prove it as it had not been signed.

THE PRESIDENT: I think, unless there is any objection to it, the easiest way is to produce this when you are reading the other statements and keep it in its turn.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: If you please, sir.

MAJOR WINWOOD: No questions.

MAJOR MUNRO: No questions.

Cross-examined by MAJOR CRANFIELD: Do I understand that you only saw this man Jecny on one occasion? - Yes.

And it was after that that you prepared the statement? - Yes.

The statement was not read through to him, or checked by him afterwards? - At the time rough notes were made and these were read back to him, but the statement itself was not read back to him.

It would be open to him, when the deposition was read to him before signing, to alter it? - Yes.

We have been told by Major Smallwood and Major [Lt. Colonel] Champion that this happened on a number of occasions and the alterations were made by the officer taking the deposition. Can you of your own knowledge confirm this? - No.

Cross-examined by CAPTAIN ROBERTS: When you interviewed this man Jecny you showed him some photographs, did you? - Yes.

What were the keys to these photographs, typewritten slips pasted on the back, something like that? - Yes.

Was that the sort of thing? - (Photograph handed to witness). - That is right, yes.

Would it be possible for the wrong slip to get on the back of the photograph? I ask you that because I will show you these two which happen to have the wrong slips pasted on them, and the names have been altered. - Yes, it is possible.

It is possible? - Yes.

I am not suggesting that those are the ones actually used, but you think it is possible to happen? - Apparently it has happened in this case, so it is possible.

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: What are these photographs? What are we to do with them?

CAPTAIN ROBERTS: I would like them back. Actually I shall be using them in an argument later. I am just showing them to you now for the purpose of the examining the slips on the back.

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: You are not wanting them to be an exhibit?


THE PRESIDENT: You are merely saying that this mistake which you allege could arise?

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: That is on the copy supplied to my friend some time ago.

CAPTAIN ROBERTS: (To the witness) What I am getting at is this. When you took a set of photographs you did not check the key on the back to make quite sure that it was the correct key; you just assumed it was, otherwise obviously you would have spent all day checking and never got any work done? - Yes, we assumed it to be correct.

This exhibit in your deposition which was never signed or sworn by the deponent seems to have been in three stages. First of all you interview Jecny as a result of which you wrote down rough notes, and then later on you made a statement based on that, and then after that you passed the statement on to somebody else who made the deposition; is that right? - Yes, that is right.

Obviously at this time you were very busy, were you not? - Yes.

And you more or less considered your job done when you made out your statement and passed it on to your officer? - Yes.

When you made this deposition was it done in a hurry? - The deposition?

Yes ...

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: I do not think he made a deposition; that is what is worrying him.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: He made the deposition himself. This is not the one of Jecny.

THE WITNESS: The deposition was prepared for me and I signed it.

CAPTAIN ROBERTS: Did you read through it before you signed it? - Yes.

Why did you say in your deposition that you prepared this other one when you have just said that you did not? - Prepared which other one?

The one which you have just produced? - The statement?

The draft deposition of Jecny.

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Make it clear what you are putting to him. Give him a copy or read to him exactly what he is alleged to have said.

CAPTAIN ROBERTS: "Through the interpreter, Charlotte Duschenes, I prepared a deposition by him" - that is Jecny - "as a result thereof and which deposition is now produced and shown to me marked 'E.D.'". - No; I did not prepare the deposition. I assumed that that wording there was used on all of such depositions.

Did you in fact check this draft deposition of Jecny's with either your rough notes or your statement at the time it was made? - I checked it with my statement.

You are quite sure that someone did not call you into their office and say: "Here is the draft deposition of this fellow Jecny which I have prepared from your statement; just sign this deposition to which this is exhibited"? - No, I kept copies of the statement and I always took those in at the same time.

CAPTAIN BROWN: No questions.

CAPTAIN FIELDEN: No questions.


CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.


LIEUTENANT BOYD: No questions.

CAPTAIN MUNRO: No questions.


Re-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: It has been put to you that the wrong names may have been put on the back of the photograph. Did the witness identify a person by his position on the photograph as well as by name? - I am speaking from memory now; I do not think he identified him by name. I cannot be sure about that. He identified the photograph, I think.

Your memory is good as a matter of fact. I see in the affidavit it says: "I identify No. 2 on the photograph No. 7 as an SS man at Belsen. I have now been told that his name is" so and so. Whatever may have happened to the names on the back, did the position of the person on the front of the photograph remain the same? - Yes.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Perhaps the Court will look at photograph No. S.G.C.4. and compare the second man on the left with accused No. 14 (Oscar Schmedidzt) in the dock.

(The Court compare the second person on the left in Photograph S.G.C.4. with accused No. 14)

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: The point I want to make is that it does not matter in the least whether the names on the back are wrong, because in the affidavit they are not described by name, but by position on the photograph. Even if a mistake had been made it would automatically show itself.

(The witness withdraws)

Sergeant L. W. HIGGS is called in and having been duly sworn is examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows:

Are you 14603967 Sergeant Leonard William Higgs? - Yes.

Of 86 Special Investigation Section, Corps of Military Police? - Yes.

Were you in May of this year attached to No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team? - Yes.

On the 29th May of this year did you go to Celle Prison? - Yes.

Did you check the photographs which were used by No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team against the prisoners in Celle Prison? - Yes.

Did you check against both prisoner in person and his prison document? - Yes.

And against both photographs and key names? - Yes.

Did you discover that there was one mistake? - Yes.

What was that mistake? - On photograph 25 in position 4 a person was named as Herta Bothe where in fact her name was Marta Linke.

Who was No. 5? - That was Herta Bothe.

The names of those two had been reversed? - Yes.

Otherwise were the names on each photograph accurate? - Yes.

MAJOR WINWOOD: No questions.

MAJOR MUNRO: No questions.

Cross-examined by MAJOR CRANFIELD: Were you at Belsen when the photographs were taken? - No.

Did you ever hear of any attacks on German SS personnel by the prisoners or other people? - No.

Will you look at this photograph (No. 12 handed). Do you see that the second man from the left is ...

THE PRESIDENT: Photograph No. 12 before the Court consists of women only.


MAJOR CRANFIELD: (To the witness) Do you see that the second man from the left is being supported by the one on his right? - Yes.

The rest of them are in a somewhat bedraggled condition, are they not? - Yes.

While you were at Belsen dealing with these photographs did you hear of any explanation as to that? - No.

CAPTAIN ROBERTS: No questions.

CAPTAIN BROWN: No questions.

CAPTAIN FIELDEN: No questions.


CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.

Cross-examined by CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: Did those photographs which you used at Belsen have a key pasted on the back? - No, we had a separate typewritten key.

Have you seen these here today with names on the back? - Yes.

Did not you have any like that at all? - They were later made with names pasted on the back.

When? - I do not know the exact date, but three weeks after the original issue.

Did you use those for questioning purposes? - Yes.

The ones with the names on the back? - Both sets.

When you went out questioning people how many photographs used you to take with you? - All the photographs that were in existence.

What was your procedure in finding somebody to make a statement or to give you some information? - Enquires were made amongst the Displaced Persons there and they were asked if they had any information to give. They were shown the photographs and any information they had against any person they identified that person from the photograph.

How many people would you deal with at any one time in that way? - Only one at a time.

I do not mean taking the statement, but showing the photographs to them and seeing if they could recognise anyone? - Just the person you were taking the statement from.

Did not you collect several people together before you could find out whether any particular one had a statement which was worth taking? - Yes, possibly, but the photographs were not shown before we actually selected a person.

What did you do when you had reached the stage when you wanted to use the photographs? - They were shown singly. They were shown photographs one at a time.

If a witness did not know the name of somebody she recognised when would she be told that name? - When she identified the person from the photograph.

I do not know whether I have understood you rightly. Do you mean if a witness said: "I have seen No. 4 on the photograph No. 2 beating people" she was then told the name of that person? - Yes.

So that although when she came in she did not know the name, when she went out she did? - Yes.

LIEUTENANT BOYD: No questions.

CAPTAIN MUNRO: No questions.


COLONEL BACKHOUSE: No re-examination.

[(The witness withdraws)]

Sergeant H. AITCHISON is called in and having been duly sworn is examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows:

Are you number 13118612 Sergeant Harry Aitchison? - Yes.

Is your unit 21 Army Group Interpreters Pool? - Yes.

On the 10th July of this year I think you were then a Corporal? - Yes.

Did you take Sophia Rosenzweig to the Belsen detention cells? - I did.

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Is this a different person?

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Yes; Sophia not Hanka. (To the witness) Did she in your presence recognise and identify the accused Johanne Roth? - Yes.

Did she identify her as the person to whom she referred in a deposition which she had made? - Yes.

(None of the twelve Defending Officers wished to cross examine the witness)

(The witness withdraws)

Captain S. M. STEWART is called and having been duly sworn is examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows:

Is you name Saville Malcolm Stewart? - Yes.

Are you a Captain? - Correct.

Legal Staff, War Crimes Section of the Judge Advocate General's Branch, H.Q., British Army of the Rhine? - Yes.

Do you produce to the Court an analysis which you made of the number of death certificates? - I do.

Were those 1875 individual death certificates? - That is correct.

Did you obtain those from G.S.I.B.? - I did.

At Headquarters, 21 Army Group? - Yes.

Did all those certificates relate to persons who had died at Belsen camp? - Yes.

Did you analyse them in three ways; firstly, according to causes of dead, secondly; according to nationalities of the deceased; and, thirdly, according to the periods of time covered by each of the series of certificates? - That is correct.

Taking the first summary without going through the various periods, but taking the totals, how many people were registered as having died of old age? - The final total is 22.

From exhaustion? - 46 from exhaustion.

Pneumonia? - 31.

Tuberculosis? - 199.

Weakness? - 1297.

And other causes? - 280.

Turning to the second summary, that is, by nationalities, would you tell the Court how that worked out? How many of each nationality were there on the death certificates? - 403 French; 349 Dutch; 264 Hungarians; 258 Poles; 139 Stateless; 113 Belgians; 70 Italians; 29 Albanians; 25 Croatians; 20 Yugoslavs; 15 English; and 190 other nationalities. Total 1875.

You did also analyse them by a series of dates? - Yes.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I do not think we need trouble with that. The actual summary will be handed in. (To the witness) Do you also produce certain of those original certificates?

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Could we have a little more information about these documents? Are they supposed to be certificates made by Germans or some authority?

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Shortly the story is this. These death certificates were found in a sack somewhere, having been taken away by somebody. It is doubtful as to where they did come from, but they are ordinary death certificates made by the German authorities at Belsen camp. They only relate to 1875 people which are all we recovered, but insofar as we have recovered them, Captain Stewart made an analysis of what we have recovered. You may remember that Brigadier Glyn-Hughes told us that all the camp documents had been burned. This is just an odd sackful which had been recovered. (To the witness) Do you produce a number of original certificates? - Yes.

In respect of whom are they? - The first is Marcel Freson de Montigny - French; the second is Maurice Van Eijnsbergen - Dutch; the third is Maurice Van Mevlenaar - Belgian; Jan Markowski - Polish; George Johann Ferenz - Polish; Salvatore Verdura - Italian, and Therese Klee - Honduras.

(The analysis is marked exhibit 10 signed by the President and attached to the proceedings)

(The bundle of death certificates is marked exhibit 11 signed by the President and attached to the proceedings)

On the 22nd May 1945 did you go to the Citadel at Diest? - I did.

Had you been there previously with Major Pollard of the Special Investigation Section? - I had.

On the previous occasion when you had been there had you interviewed, with Major Pollard, Josef Kramer? - I had.

Did you act as interpreter and also assist in the interrogation of Kramer by Major Pollard? - I did.

Did Josef Kramer make a statement? - He did.

Was that statement reduced to writing? - It was.

Was it typed out and when you went on the 22nd May was that read over to Kramer in German? - I read it over to Kramer in German myself.

Did he then sign it? - He signed in Major Pollard's and my presence.

Was any pressure put on Josef Kramer to make that statement or to make him sign it? - None whatsoever.

Do you now produce that statement? - I do.

(Original statement made by the accused Josef Kramer is marked exhibit 12 signed by the President and attached to the proceedings.)

MAJOR CRANFIELD: I undertsnad from Major Winwood there is not any objection to this statement being put in but there is a statement by the accused Grese which will appear later on, and I shall object to that.

THE PRESIDENT: We are only engaged on Kramer's statement now.


THE PRESIDENT: There is no objection to this being read?

MAJOR CRANFIELD: No. The point I want to make is that if a similar procedure is adopted with regard to Grese's statement I shall want to cross-examine the witness producing Grese's statement before the statement is read.

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: The time for the objection is when I try to put the statement in, but at the moment we are dealing with Kramer's statement.

THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: I suggest to the Defending Officers that if they want anything done as regards the prosecution they should speak to Colonel Backhouse, who represents the prosecution, and tell him what they want; then Colonel Backhouse will arrange for that to come before the Court in the ordinary way. It seems quite clear you want to take this up on a different statement?


COLONEL BACKHOUSE: What I suggest at the moment, if this has got to be translated into German and also Polish, is for the witness to read it right through and then for it to be translated into German and Polish by the interpreters.

THE PRESIDENT: There is no statement in German?

COLONEL BACKHOUSE: No, it was taken down in English and read over in German. (To the witness): I think that is so? - Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well then. (To the witness): Would you carry on and read it straight through and then hand it to the interpreter.

Josef Kramer"Statement of Josef Kramer. Josef Kramer, having been duly sworn, states:

I was born on 10th November 1906 at Munich. I am married and have three children. I volunteered for the SS in 1932; I had no training whatsoever, and was detailed for duty in a concentration camp. I did not volunteer for this specific kind of duty. When war broke out the SS was taken over by the Army and I volunteered for active service, as I would have preferred a fighting job but I was told that I would have to do the job for which I was detailed. My first rank was Unterscharführer and my promotion to Scharführer and Oberscharführer was in 1934 and 1935. I cannot remember the dates.

DACHAU. In 1936 I was in the office of the concentration camp at Dachau. The Kommandant of that camp was Standartenführer Loritz. There were only German prisoners in the camp. I cannot be absolutely certain but as far as I can remember they were all German. The SS Unit was Wachttruppe, Ober Bayern. There were only political prisoners, criminals and anti-socials in this camp. Anti-socials are people like beggars and gypsies and people who do not want to work.

No death sentences were carried out in the camp. The only cases in which people were killed was when they were trying to escape, in which case the guard had orders to shoot. In the case of any shootings, whilst prisoners were trying to escape, investigations were made by the police. I left this camp at the beginning of June 1937.

SACHSENHAUSEN. From Dachau I went to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. I had been promoted to commissioned rank, outside the establishment, to Untersturmführer. When I went to Sachsenhausen I was on the establishment there.

The prisoners at Sachsenhausen consisted of the same three types as at the previous camp.

The Kommandant of the camp was Standartenführer Barartowsky. There were no death sentences carried out in this camp. I was in charge of the mail department and therefore did not know everything that was going on but have heard occasionally that people have been shot while trying to escape.

MAUTHAUSEN. My next concentration camp was Mauthausen in Austria. This camp was just being built when I arrived. The Kommandant was Standartenführer Ziereis. Here I had the same rank as before. Whilst in this camp I was promoted to Obersturmführer. I think this was in January 1939. I was a sort of adjutant in charge of the office and at the disposal of the Kommandant.

The prisoners were all Germans and of the same three types as I have described before. The last type, i.e. rogues and vagabonds were mainly Austrians as there seemed to have been many when Austria was taken over by Germany. There were between 1500 and 2000 prisoners and they were all men. This includes Jewish prisoners. There was sufficient room in the camp for all prisoners when I was there. None of the prisoners knew at the time they arrived when they were going to leave. There were only a few who had a sentence like 3 months or six months and the biggest part of the prisoners were there for an undefined period. Solitary confinement and solitary confinement with bread and water, or extra work on Sundays were the sentences awarded for breaches of discipline. The prisoners were never beaten, nor do I know of any case of shooting. There were prison-breaks, but I was never present when somebody tried to escape. I was in the office and the telephone would ring and one of the guards would report that of the prisoners had tried to escape. It was my duty then to go out and see where the prisoner worked and how it was possible for him to escape. We then notified the police and gave particulars of the person who had escaped. The instructions were that no prisoners had to go beyond a certain border line. If a prisoner did, the guard had to challenge him three times with the words, "Halt, or I shoot," then first fire a shot in the air and only the second shot to kill. It is difficult to say how many shootings of this kind took place whilst I was at the camp because it is such a long time ago. I think that 10 to 15 people were shot but I cannot say exactly. Every case of shooting had to be reported to the authorities at Mauthausen and at Linz. The nearest big town carried out an investigation. If someone was shot at, or shot whilst escaping, the guard was immediately put under a sort of open arrest but none was ever convicted of wrongful shooting. Most of the people who were shot in this manner were criminals or vagabonds, the reason being that the larger part of the inmates of the camp belonged to that category.

The deaths that occurred were mostly from natural causes. When somebody died his relatives and the authorities who had sent him to the concentration camp had to be notified. There was one very severe winter when the deaths rose, but otherwise there were very few deaths. The prisoners were kept in wooden huts with 3-tier beds, 250 to 300 in a hut. Whilst I was at this camp Obergruppenführer Eike who was in charge of all concentration camps, visited the camp 3 or 4 times, but I cannot remember the dates. There were no war prisoners in this camp. A few more political prisoners came in but there were no great increases. Their nationality was mostly Austrian. There was no members of the former Austrian Government or of Schusnigg’s Party either in Dachau or Mauthausen.

I was in charge of the office and I dealt with the incoming and the outgoing mail on behalf of the Kommandant. I would read the mail to him and he would give me his orders which I would pass on to the various sub-commanders. The powers of the Kommandant with regard to punishment of prisoners was not exactly laid down but I think he could give up to 21 days. He was the only one who had disciplinary powers. I do not know the number of prisoners when I left in 1940 but the camp was full. The strength was recorded every day but I cannot remember now what the number was. Some of the prisoners were sent away to other camps. These transfers were made not according to the type of prisoners but according to the type of work we wanted done, and according to their trades. Whilst I was there, some people were released back to freedom. I cannot remember whether they were political prisoners or others, but I remember that on Hitler’s birthday, 20th April 1940, I saw 50 prisoners in the courtyard who were going to be released.

AUSCHWITZ. I went to Auschwitz in May 1940. I lived outside the camp in a village with my family. I had an office in the camp where I worked during the day. The Kommandant of the camp was Obersturmführer Hoess. I was adjutant. I do not know what the number the staff was when I came. The biggest part of the prisoners at Auschwitz were political prisoners of Polish nationality. There was very little there when I arrived as the camp had just been built. All that was there when I left four months after my arrival were stone buildings which had been built by the Poles. There had been men, women and cattle living in the wooden buildings. The stone buildings were empty. The former inhabitants of the wooden buildings were shifted.

When I first started, the camp staff consisted of only myself and one clerk, and there was only one SS Company for guard there. I cannot remember the name of the company but they were referred to as 'Guard Company Concentration Camp, Auschwitz.' This company had no 'Feldposte' number. The highest ranking officer was the Camp Kommandant, after him came the Kommandant of the Guards Company, Obersturmführer Plorin. There were no officers, apart from the company commander. The platoons were commanded by warrant officers. There were three platoons per company and between 30 and 40 men in a platoon. This varied as required. Besides the Camp Kommandant, myself, the clerk and the SS Company there was nobody there. A second clerk came later. There were 40 to 50 SS men who did not belong to the Guard Company who had administrative duties in the camp, such as in charge of the kitchen and of the barracks, etc.

I do not know the number of prisoners in that camp. It may have been between 3000 and 4000 but I would not like to commit myself. Untersturmführer Mayer was in charge of administration. I cannot remember his Christian name as I always kept well away from the others. The reason for that was that I had my family there. There was a Doctor there and I think his name was Potau. He came from Upper Silesia. He died later on, but I cannot recollect this very well. There was another Untersturmführer by the name of Mier (or Meyer) who was in charge of the prisoners. I think his Christian name was Franz. The Camp Kommandant issued orders to the S. S. officer in charge of the guard. His orders came from the next highest SS formation. This formation was SS Wirtschafts Verwaltungs Hauptamt, Berlin, Amtsgruppe, D, Berlin, Oranienburg.

When prisoners arrived we were notified by the Gestapo in Kattowitz. There were cases when prisoners came in who were brought by ordinary policemen and they also brought files relating to them. They came mostly in batches. They arrived by train at Auschwitz station and were collected by car from there. The prisoners were all men. There were no questionings by the Gestapo in the camp. All the questioning was done before the prisoners arrived. There was one official of the police on the camp staff who dealt with criminals against whom proceedings had been taken before. I cannot remember his name. He only stayed a short while and was then exchanged for another one. When the prisoners arrived, some were healthy and some were not, but none showed any signs of ill-treatment or malnutrition. I think that during the time I was there there were no cells for solitary confinement, but as I say the camp was only in its initial stages. The same rules as to German political and German prisoners were applied to the Poles and later to the Russians. There was no difference.

One of the stone buildings was reserved for a hospital. This stone building did not differ in any way from the other buildings. Besides the one doctor I have mentioned, there was another doctor supplied from the interned people among whom there were many doctors and medical students. It was not within my power to give any orders to the medical staff as the doctors came immediately under the Kommandant. The rate of death was roughly one per cent in the summer or possibly one and a half per cent - this was a weekly average. There were natural deaths and it depended upon what was wrong with them when they came in. Reports were made by the camp doctor and I as adjutant saw them. I received an average of 30 of these reports per week. The prisoners who had died were burnt. There were prisoners working in the crematorium under orders of guards. The ashes were sent to the relatives if they required them.

There were very few releases from this camp whilst I was there. These releases were authorized only by the Gestapo in Berlin, for political prisoners; or by the police authorities for ordinary criminals. The Gestapo organisation who dealt with the camp was the Gestapo Departmental Headquarters at Kattowitz. Whether there was another Headquarters between Kattowitz and the Central H.Q. in Berlin I do not know. The Gestapo men were either civilians in plain clothes, or uniforms, with no distinguishing marks. Some of them wore an S.D. badge. The S.D. and the Gestapo were two different things. I depended upon the SS for my orders. So did the Camp Kommandant. The Gestapo, however, dealt with the political prisoners within the camp.

All corporal punishment had to be authorised from Berlin. The camp authorities could not authorise any corporal punishments. In the beginning corporal punishment was administered by the guards but later on this was forbidden by Berlin, and the prisoners had to administer the punishment themselves. I do not know why this order came from Berlin. It was signed by Gruppenführer Glücks and came from Oranienburg, Berlin.

DACHAU. Between 15 and 20 November 1940 I went back to Dachau. So far I had always been employed in the office, first as clerk then as an Adjutant, and now I should get to know the work connected immediately with the prisoners. I was to be trained to become a Lagerführer. My transfer was authorised by the Central SS organisation in Berlin. When I arrived in Dachau the camp was in perfect running order and consisted of 30 or 32 wooden buildings all told. For housing the prisoners, including the hospital etc. The number of prisoners in one barrack varied between 300 and 450. The total number of prisoners was between 13000 and 14000. There were three companies of SS (120 to 150 men in each company) to guard them, and the administrative personnel consisted of about 100 or 120. The officers of the guards companies were not professional SS They were people who had been called up from trades or professions, put in the Army and then detailed to SS They were then from the SS detailed to their particular duties, e.g. concentration camps; they did not volunteer for these particular duties. They received their orders from the Camp Kommandant who, in turn, received his orders from Berlin, Oranienburg.

The Camp Kommandant’s name was SS Obersturmführer Piorkowski. The next in rank after the Kommandant was the Lagerführer, Hauptsturmführer Eill. I do not remember his Christian name. There was one officer in charge of administration, Hauptsturmführer Wagner. Then there were three Company Commanders whose names I cannot remember.

The prisoners were all men and consisted of criminals and political prisoners as before and a new type namely Poles and Russians who had been prisoners of war and who were detailed for certain work, e.g. farming jobs and who had committed minor crimes such as trying to escape and refusing work and they were therefore sent to the concentration camp. These prisoners of war were interned because they had committed these crimes. At this time there were only prisoners from the Eastern front, namely Poles and Russians.

It has been pointed out to me that the war in Russia only broke out in June 1941, whereas I left again in April 1941. If this is so I must have mixed it up with Auschwitz. I was only there a sort of trainee and had very little to do with the organisation of the place. I cannot remember any prison breaks. The death rate I cannot remember because it had nothing to do with me, but I know it was a very good camp.

NATZWEILLER - April 1941 to 10 or 15 May 1944.

My appointment at Natzweiler was Lagerführer and in October 1942 I was appointed Camp Kommandant. I had been promoted to the rank of Hauptsturmführer before I was appointed Kommandant. When I arrived at the camp the Camp Kommandant was Sturmbannführer Huettig. The officer in charge of administration was Obersturmführer Faschingbauer. The doctor was Obersturmführer Eiserie. The O.C. Guards Company was Obersturmführer Peter. The administrative personnel consisted of 20 to begin with, and 70 to 75 in the end. The camp is a very small one.

There were no prisoners when I arrived as the camp had just been guilt [built]. When I left in May 1944 there were 2500 to 3000 prisoners, comprising the three usual categories; political, anti-socials, criminals and later Polish and Russian prisoners of war who had committed minor crimes or tried to escape or refused to work. There were also a few hundred prisoners from Luxembourg. I cannot quite say for certain whether there were any French prisoners there or not. The prisoners arrived with papers and their nationality was on these papers but I cannot remember any details because I did not go through the papers myself. None of these people came into the camp direct; they all came from other concentration camps. I can, therefore, not say what they were in for, but as far as I know they were of the same three types as I have described before.

I cannot remember that at any rate prisoners have been lent for experiments to a doctor in Strasbourg. I cannot remember Professor Pickard of Strasbourg. It is quite impossible that experiments of any kind on prisoners have been carried out without my knowledge, as in both my appointments as Lagerführer and later as Lager Kommandant, I would have known.

Obergruppenführer Glücks from the Ministry in Berlin came to inspect the camp twice in the beginning, once in the summer of 1941 and once in the spring of 1942. The visit of Gruppenführer Pohl took place at the end of April or the beginning of May 1944. The only things that Glücks inquired into were how many political prisoners, how many anti-socials there were. Foreigners figured as political prisoners. He did not ask for their nationalities. I do not know of any British prisoners having been there. I have never seen a document which shows British as the nationality of any prisoners in the camp.

There were 15 wooden barracks in the camp and up to 250 prisoners to each of these barracks. The camp was on top of the hill and my office was in the camp boundary. I lived in the village at the bottom of the hill with my family. The officers were all married and lived with their families in the village. One change in the personnel which I can remember was that Obersturmführer Peter who commanded the company of guards was transferred and replaced by an Obersturmführer called Meier. I do not know any of the Rottenführers who were there.

There was a crematorium at the camp. The death rate depended upon the season. There were about 7 to 8 per week in the good season and about 15 - 18 in the bad season. They all died natural deaths. The same procedure of informing the relatives and the authority that had sent them to the camp was followed in this camp as in the others described before.

There was only one medical officer on the staff (Obersturmführer Eiserle), and four or five medical orderlies (German). There were doctors and medical students among the prisoners who assisted the M.O. Many persons of over 50 years died of natural causes such as heart diseases. Compared with other camps, the death rate in this camp was very low. I used to go into the doctor's surgery and he explained the various things, like medical supplies, he had there, but as it was in Latin I did not really know what it was all about. He never complained about any lack of medical supplies. There were two barracks set aside for the hospital, one for the people who were only weak and the other one as a real hospital. There were 60 to 75 beds in the real hospital. The surgeon had facilities for carrying out minor operations but not major operations. For these people were sent to Strasbourg. A document was signed when a person went there and it was signed again when he returned, and the death rate was shown in the books of the camp.

There were 20 to 25 prison breaks whilst I was there, and ten of the prisoners who tried to escape were shot. Eight or nine were recaptured and brought back and the others got away. Eight or nine who were recaptured got between 14 and 21 days detention, according to their age and physical condition. In four or five cases out of twenty, they were either whipped or beaten. The culprit got 10 or 15 lashes in each case. This was supervised by the Lagerführer and the camp doctor. When I was Lagerführer I supervised this myself.

Generally speaking when corporal punishment was administered the number if lashes given varied between 5 and 25. The number was laid down in the order coming from Berlin. Twenty-five was the maximum. The doctor had to be present when corporal punishment was administered. I cannot recollect where a prisoner was unable to stand his punishment and fainted. If such a case had arisen it would have been the doctor’s duty to interfere as that was what [why] he was there. The punishment was administered with ordinary wooden sticks, 3 or 4 feet long and about as thick as my thumb. The sticks were made of solid wood as you find them in the woods around the camp. The punishment was administered by another prisoner who was chosen at random and in the following manner: the prisoner was made to bend down over a table and the lashes were given on his backside, without his clothes having been removed previously. I never had any difficu1ties with prisoners who had to administer this punishment. They were given the order and they complied with it. If they had refused to comply with the order I could not have punished them for this refusal. The orders from Berlin were that so many lashes had to be administered by another prisoner but the order did not say what should be done if one of the prisoners refused to beat one of his comrades.

There were no set rules for what crimes corporal punishment could be administered. It was up to the Camp Kommandant to apply to Berlin for authority for corporal punishment to be administered. The application to Berlin had to say what kind of offence the prisoner had committed and what punishment he had been given already for offences committed previously. This letter had to be signed by the Camp Kommandant. The sort of offences for which I would have applied to Berlin for authority for corporal punishment to be given was: "This prisoner has already three or four times stolen food from his fellow prisoners" or for untidiness or for disobedience or for attacking a guard.

The first thing that happened when somebody broke out of the camp and was brought back, was that the Criminal Investigation Department made investigation to find out whether he had committed any crimes whilst at large and then he was brought before the Camp Kommandant without any trial and the Camp Kommandant ordered punishment. Every man who tried to escape had to be reported to Berlin and likewise had to be reported when he was brought back. The Camp Kommandant could give him 21 days detention without referring to higher authority but could give corporal punishment only with authority from Berlin. Every member of the guard was armed with a rifle and there were machine guns on the turrets. Whips and sticks were forbidden. The guards just carried rifles.

When the prisoners came in in a bunch they were all put in the same block. Eventually, they were sorted out into three groups, politicals, anti-socials and criminals, but never according to their nationalities. There were no strict rule as to that point but it developed like this as we went along. The three above-mentioned categories were kept apart only in their living quarters. They worked together, fed together and could take [talk] to each other. In the beginning the prisoners worked only in the camp itself. Later we opened a quarry nearby. Other work that was done was that aeroplane engines were taken to pieces and those parts were salvaged which could be used again.

Fifteen to twenty prisoners were released while I was there. The order for releases came from Berlin. I do not know why the order came. They were all political prisoners and of German nationality.

The camp was surrounded by barbed wire - 3 metres high. There were towers at the corners of the camp with machine guns. There was one row of barbed wire where the guards patrolled and then another row of barbed wire. The wire was not electrified in the beginning because there was no current but later when current was available this was done, in the spring of 1943. I was Camp Kommandant then. Two months before I left the camp 8 or 9 dogs arrived who were used to assist the guard. They were mainly employed in the quarry to prevent prisoners from escaping. They were controlled by the guards. I remember two incidents where prisoners tried to escape from the quarry but I cannot remember that they were shot. During the whole of my three years I had only two shootings in the quarry. The other eight prisoners who tried to escape, whom I have already mentioned, tried to escape from the camp itself and not from the quarry.

The only hanging that took place was in the summer of 1943 and it was done on orders from Berlin. Two Gestapo agents brought a prisoner to the camp and showed me an order signed by somebody in Berlin saying that this man had to be delivered to my camp and had to be hanged. I cannot remember by whom this order was signed. I therefore detailed two prisoners to carry out the execution. A scaffold was built in the camp and the execution was carried out in my presence. The people present were: the camp doctor, (Obersturmführer Eiserle), who certified that the cause of death was hanging, the two Gestapo agents who had brought the prisoner, the two prisoners who carried out the execution, and myself. I cannot remember the name of the prisoner; I think his nationality was Russian. I cannot remember his name because he never appeared in my books. He was only delivered to be hanged. It is quite impossible that any other executions took place whilst I was Camp Kommandant. The other prisoners of the camp were not paraded for this execution.

No authorised shootings or any other executions took place at the camp on orders from Berlin. I have never heard of any special narrow cells where men were hanged by their arms. There were no special buildings for prisoners who were under arrest and no solitary confinement cells. It is quite impossible that any execution by hanging prisoners by their arms was carried out without my knowledge. The only prison we had was a block which was separated by barbed wire from the rest and this one was used for people who had contravened camp discipline.

All the prisoners in this camp were men. I have never heard of a prisoner called Fritz Knoll at this camp. He was not a foreman but he may have been one of the prisoners. I cannot remember his name. If someone had died on a working party it would have been reported to the office and the office would have reported to me but I cannot remember such an incident having occurred. Every instance of a prisoner dying at work or through any other cause would be reported to the office, by the office to the Criminal Investigation official and by him to the Camp Kommandant.

My command and control over all happenings in the camp at Natzweiler was so complete, and my staff had such definite orders that the execution of any prisoners without my knowledge during the time when I was Camp Kommandant is an utter impossibility.

Only SS personnel were allowed to inspect the camps. No body else was allowed anywhere near it. This included army officers who were forbidden to enter any concentration camp. One could only go into a concentration camp with authority from the SS General Commanding in Berlin. S.D. personnel were not allowed in the camp either without authority from Berlin. With the exception of Gruppenführer Glücks, who came from the Ministry in Berlin, and Obergruppenführer Pohl, nobody visited the camp for the two years I commanded it. Apart from these visits, I was answerable to no one, except on paper, to Berlin. I cannot remember any particulars of the visit of Obergruppenführer Pohl at the beginning of May 1944. He came to inspect the camp and just had a good look round.

During the time I was Lagerführer I received the Kriegs Verdienst Kreutz (2nd class) in the spring of 1943. There was no particular reason for this decoration. It was mainly for being Lagerführer for two years in that camp. I was put forward for the decoration by the Camp Kommandant. I have also got the Kriegs Verdienst Kreutz (1st Class) which I received in January 1945. During the whole of the time I was at Natzweiler I was responsible for the camp. When I left I handed over to my successor. He was Sturmbannführer Hartgenstein. The handing over proceedings took place in my office and I handed over the whole camp to him. The books were not handed over formally to my successor, they were not mentioned.

AUSCHWITZ: 10 to 15 May 1944 till 29 November 1944.

Auschwitz was an enormous camp to which many smaller camps in the vicinity belonged. As the responsibility for the whole camp could not be taken by one man it was split and I was put in charge of one part of the camp. I was camp commander of that part but as I came under the supreme commander of the whole camp who was my superior officer, my duties were those of a Lagerführer, though my appointment was called Camp Kommandant. I had under me in my part of the camp the hospital and the agricultural camp which was an enormous camp and contained many thousand acres.

The number of prisoners under my immediate control varied between 15000 and 16000, and 35000 and 40000, comprising male and female.

There were between 350 and 500 deaths a week. The death rate was higher among the men, the reason being that the influx from the working camp consisted mainly of sick people. When I speak of the death rate in Auschwitz, I mean that all these people died of natural causes, that is to say either from illness or old age. The death rate was slightly above normal due to the fact that I had a camp with sick people who came from other parts of the camp. The only reason I can see for the higher death rate, not only at Auschwitz but at all concentration camps in comparison with civil prisons, was that prisoners had to work whereas in civil prisons they had not to work.

In Auschwitz the prisoners went out to work at 5 a.m. in the summer and returned at 8 p.m., sometimes even later. They worked seven days a week, but on Sundays they returned at 1, 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The work was of an agricultural nature and all the work there was done by prisoners. The whole camp contained about 90000 to 100000 prisoners but this is only a rough estimate. My superior officer, and the Kommandant of the whole camp, was Obersturmbannführer Hoess. There were men, women and children in the camp. The majority of prisoners under my immediate control were Easterners, i.e. Poles and Russians. I have no reason to believe that there were any prisoners of war among them although there might have been without my knowing it. As far as I can remember there were no British internees. I think the British prisoners were in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen and in another camp near Hamburg called Neuen Gamme [Neuengamme]. It is possible that there were some French people in my camp, but I cannot say for certain. There were more women than men prisoners.

I had three companies of SS under me to guard the camp. Some of the guards were men of the Waffen SS and there were women employed by the S.S as wardresses. There were roughly 420 male SS guards and about 40 to 50 women guards. The men and women prisoners who were outside the camp in the agricultural part were invariably guarded by men. The women guards only guarded the prisoners within the compound.

There were about 10 to 14 doctors for the whole camp, out of which two were detailed to my particular part of the camp. There was a hospital in each part of the camp but the biggest was my part. I cannot say exactly how many beds there were in the hospital; this depended on how close you could put the beds together.

Prisoners were housed in wooden buildings with 3-tier beds. The men were separated from the women and the children were with their mothers. Married people were separated. There were 150 buildings all told, men and women camps together; about 80 or 90 were for men and about 60 for women; 25 or 20 buildings were set aside for the hospitals. The camp was only being started and it was planned to enlarge it considerably.

All prisoners who died were cremated. There was no sort of service held when they died. They were just burnt. The cremations were carried out by prisoners. All I had to do when a prisoner died was to inform Obersturmbannführer Hoess and he would deal with it. I had no administration in Auschwitz. All the prisoners were known by numbers only. I had nothing to do with meting out punishment in Auschwitz; that was all done through Hoess. When I came to Auschwitz there was no corporal punishment for women, but I have heard it mentioned, and it was talked about in the camp that there had been corporal punishment for women before and that it had been abolished. The only way in which I was informed corporal punishment for women was not allowed was that conversation in the camp to which I have referred. I cannot remember with whom this conversation took place. If a case would have arisen in which a woman would have committed one of the crimes for which a man would have been beaten, I would have pointed out to the woman guards that corporal punishment could not be administered to women. The only authority on which I could have placed this was that conversation shortly after my arrival. Even if corporal punishment for women would have been allowed I would never have put it into practice as such a thing is inconceivable to me. The punishment administered to women, if they had committed any of the crimes for which men were beaten, was that they were transferred to another working party where they had a dirtier type of work or longer hours.

When a request for labour came from Berlin, the prisoner had to parade before a doctor. I was very often present at these parades but not always. The examination took place by the prisoners filing by the doctor without undressing. Then the decision whether a man or a woman was fit enough to be sent to work was made. If, however, somebody had to be examined to ascertain whether he was fit to receive corporal punishment, a proper medical examination was carried out. The reason why no proper medical examination could be carried out in the case of detailing people for labour was that the requests ran into thousands and the doctor would have been busy for days. This method of choosing people for work was the normal method applied in all concentration camps. There was nothing unusual about it.

There were four or five cases of people trying to escape whilst I was there. These attempts were made separately. Some of these prisoners got away. No prisoners were shot trying to escape in my part of the camp. No prisoners were flogged; there were no executions, shootings or hangings in my part. I went through the camp frequently on inspections.

The doctor alone was responsible for certifying the cause of death if a prisoner died. The doctors changed continuously. One of these doctors was Hauptsturmführer Mengele. I carried out inspections of the bodies of people who had died through natural causes in my capacity as Camp Kommandant when I was wandering round the camp. Whoever died during the day was put into a special building called the mortuary, and they were carried to the crematorium every evening by lorry. They were loaded on the lorry and off the lorry by prisoners. They were stripped by the prisoners of their clothes in the crematorium before being cremated. The clothes were cleaned and were re-issued where the people had not died of infectious diseases. During my inspections I never saw prisoners who had died through physical violence. When a prisoner died a doctor had to certify the time of death, the cause, and the details of the disease. A doctor signed a certificate and sent it to the Central Camp Office. These certificates did not go through my hands. The two doctors worked daily, from 8 o’clock in the morning until 8 or 9 at night. All efforts were made by these doctors to keep the prisoners alive. Medical supplies and invigorating drugs were applied. Two different doctors took charge of my part of the camp every day. I remember one very well because he had been the longest period in my particular part of the camp and be had also served under my predecessor, Hartgenstein. I do not know how long he had been there. His name was Hauptsturmführer Mengele, as mentioned before.

The camp wire was electrified and the dogs were only used outside the camp compound to guard prisoners who were working on agricultural jobs. It was never reported to me that prisoners had to be treated for dog bites.

No interrogations were carried out in the camp, and I have never done any interrogating at all whilst I was Camp Kommandant. I sometimes sent people away for interrogation to the criminal investigation officer, in which case they went to the Central Camp Office and were brought back after the interrogation bad been completed. I do not know who did the interrogating.

I have heard of the allegations of former prisoners in Auschwitz referring to a gas chamber there, the mass executions and whippings, the cruelty of the guards employed, and that all this took place either in my presence or with my knowledge. All I can say to all this is that it is untrue from beginning to end.

BELSEN - 1 December 1944 till 15 April 1945

On 29 November 1944 I went to Oranienburg, Berlin, to report to Gruppenführer Glücks. His appointment was Chef der Amtsgruppe D which means that he was the officer in charge of the organisation of all concentration camps within the Reich. He was responsible to Obergruppenführer Pohl, whose appointment was Chef des Wirtshaftsverwaltungshauptamtes der SS (head of the Administration Department of the SS at the Ministry): equivalent to a General in the Army. He said to me: "Kramer, you are going to Belsen as Camp Kommandant. At Belsen there are at the moment a lot of Jewish prisoners who will eventually be exchanged." It was later when I was in Belsen that I learned that these Jewish prisoners were being exchanged against German nationals abroad. The first exchange took place between 5 and 15 December 1944, and was carried out under the personal supervision of an official who came from Berlin for that purpose. I cannot remember his name. His rank was Regierungs Rat. The first transport contained about 1300 to 1400 prisoners. Glücks said to me at the interview in Berlin "It is intended to turn Belsen into a camp for sick prisoners. This camp will take all sick prisoners and internees from all concentration camps in Northern and North-Western Germany and also all sick persons among these prisoners who are working either in firms or with industrial firms." He was referring to "Arbeitseinsatz Stellen" which means prisoners who have been allotted to peasants or industrial firms, coal mines, and the quarries for labour and for whom special camps have been erected on the premises. Responsibility for feeding and for accommodation is entirely the responsibility of the firm. Responsibility for administration remained with the parent concentration camp. He said: "There are considerable numbers of prisoners working with industrial firms who are sick or physically unfit to do the work they are detailed for. All these prisoners will be drafted into Belsen Camp. It puts an unnecessary burden upon the industrial firms concerned and therefore these prisoners must be transferred. Which prisoners and how many Belsen is eventually going to hold I cannot tell you at the moment, because that will have to be worked out as we go along. The general rule is to be that every prisoner who through illness is absent from his work for more than 10 or 14 days will be transferred to Belsen. If and when these prisoners recover in Belsen, they will either be formed into new detachments and sent out to new jobs or returned to their old work, whichever may be more expedient. You see that this is going to be a very big task for you. I suggest that you go to Belsen now to look at the camp and see how you get along. If you want any help you can either come back to Berlin or write."

This is where the duty conversation came to an end. Glücks then asked me how my wife and children were, and I enquired into the well being of his family. I also asked whether it would be possible when I took over Belsen Camp to move my family there. He told me that I would have to go to Belsen and have a look. If I could find a suitable house I should write to him and he would authorise the move of my household. This conversation took place between Gruppenführer Glücks and myself; there was nobody else present. These were the only instructions I received and I did not ask for any more. I did not think I would require any more instructions and was quite satisfied with my orders.

After the interview with Glücks I spoke to three officers whom I knew personally. They were: Standartenführer Maurer (he was in charge of the allocation of prisoners to camps and for labour); Hauptsturmführer Sommer (he worked in Maurer’s department); and Sturmbannführer Burger (he was the man who supervised the administration in the various concentration camps). I did not have any conversation on duty matters with either of the three above named people. They were friends of mine, and as I happened to be in the house I went to their various offices to say "Hallo." The leading doctor was a Standartenführer Dr. Lolling. He was the M.O. in charge of all concentration camps. I cannot remember any names of other people, but I can remember these four names because they either came to visit the camps or I saw their names on various letters coming from the Ministry.

I then travelled to Belsen, where I was received by Obersturmführer Schaaf. He was the officer in charge of administration. The next morning I went to the office and met Sturmbannführer Haas, the Camp Kommandant, who knew that I was arriving from Berlin to take over complete charge of Belsen. I asked him how many prisoners the camp contained, and he said, "Roughly 15000." He said that it was not much use to discuss matters in the office and suggested a tour through the camp. On that tour he pointed out changes and improvements which he still wanted to make. The camp was about 1 ½ kilometres long and between 300 and 350 metres wide. There were roughly 60 barracks, including accommodation for guards and stores; 40 to 45 were for the accommodation of the prisoners. The prisoners were made up of men, women and children; families were allowed to live together; otherwise men were separated from women. Six buildings in the men’s camp, three in the family camp, and two in the women’s camp served as hospitals. There was a crematorium in the camp.

I do not know of what nationality the prisoners were when I arrived, because there were no files or papers of any kind in the camp. It was impossible for me to know what kind of prisoners there were as they had been sent to Belsen because they were ill, from all concentration camps over the country. Many of them had lost their identification marks, and as there were no records it was absolutely impossible to tell who was who. I started to keep my own records of the prisoners, but these records were all destroyed on orders which I received from Berlin about the end of March. I do not remember who signed these orders.

The personnel consisted of: one Guard Company SS The O.C. of the Company was Hauptscharführer Meyer. He came from somewhere near Hannover. He was of average height, about 1 m. 70; he wore spectacles, had hardly any hair and was about 50. Then there was Hauptsturmführer Vogler. He was the officer in charge of administration who took over from Schaaf, whom I mentioned before as officer in charge of administration on my arrival. The officer in charge of the Criminal Department was Untersturmführer Frerichs. The Lagerführer (Obersturmführer Stresse) was transferred a few days after my arrival, and I was without a Lagerführer for over two months and had to do the job myself with only one N.C.O. as assistant, whose appointment was Rapportführer; he was Oberscharführer Reddehase. The M.O. was Sturmbannführer Schnabel. A Hauptscharführer acted as dentist. He was later on promoted Untersturmführer. His name was Linsmeier. There were no other officers and I had no Adjutant. There were 60 to 70 N.C.Os., 20 to 25 of whom were in the Guards SS Company and the others employed on administrative duties. One of the N.C.Os. employed was the N.C.O. who was Office Clerk to the Officer in charge of Administration. He was Unterscharführer Kuckertz. There was another senior N.C.O. in my office. His name was Unterscharführer Rang. He acted as Untersturmführer and Adjutant. Other N.C.Os. whom I remember are Oberscharführer Hilmer (N.C.O. Administration); Unterscharführer Lademacher (also N.C.O. Administration); Unterscharführer Wille (also N.C.O. Administration); and Unterscharführer Müller, who was in charge of the food stores.

When I took over Belsen there were six officers, including myself. I had no senior N.C.Os. When I took over there were three women on the staff. I cannot remember their names at the moment.

The death rate when I arrived was between 40 and 60 a week. When I entered the camp the Lagerführer had to report to me and had to say: "There are so many in the camp; so many died yesterday; which leaves so many." On my arrival a book was kept in which these figures were entered, but was later dispensed with. This book I had taken over from my predecessor. It was kept by the acting Lagerführer in his office. There was also another book in which the strength was recorded. The acting Lagerführer held a parade every morning to count the prisoners. On this parade every Blockführer reported the strength of his unit and the number of deaths that had occurred the previous day, and the Rapportführer added up the strength of the of the various blocks on a sheet of paper, making a grand total. This report included the number of deaths that had occurred the previous day. There were approximately 40 Blockführer on parade every day.

In January I took over a new camp, adjoining the old camp, in which there were 40 to 50 new blocks. I did not get any more staff when I took this camp over. Only later, when camps in Silesia were evacuated, guards arrived with prisoners, thus putting up the strength of personnel. I was not always informed when transports of prisoners arrived; especially transports of prisoners evacuated from Silesia arrived without warning. There were transports with only 100 or 200 people, and others with 1500, 2000, 2500, etc. I had food reserves in the camps, and when a new batch of prisoners arrived I had to fall back on these reserves until I had reported the new strength and thus got additional food for the highest number of prisoners. There was no regular food transport; the railway should have brought the food whenever there was a train available. I am unable to say how many prisoners I had after this month became it was my orders that I had to send out prisoners for work as fast as possible. The incoming prisoners were therefore balanced by those being sent out for work and the figures fluctuated every day. Every prisoner who was fit to work was sent out with working parties ("Arbeitseinsatz") to industrial firms. The other prisoners worked only inside the camp and for the maintenance of the camp.

On 1 December, when I took over there were roughly 15000 people in the camp; roughly 200 died in December; on 1 January there were roughly 17000 people in the camp; 600 died in January; on 1 February there were 22000 prisoners in the camp. From the 15 February onwards I am unable to say how many prisoners I had as no more books were kept, as this proved utterly impossible in view of the transports streaming in from camps in Silesia which were being evacuated and, as I have already said, the records which I had maintained I destroyed in March.

I do not know the number of deaths which occurred in this period at all, but the conditions in Belsen got worse from the middle of February till the middle of April, 1945, when the Allies came. I inspected the camp daily during this period and was fully aware of the conditions and the great number of people who were dying. The death rate during the months of February, March and April gradually mounted until it reached 400 or 500 a day. This figure was due to the fact that if people were healthy I had to send them out on working parties and only retain the sick and dying.

I was notified by the Stationmaster that a transport had arrived and I would have to collect the prisoners. The transports arriving were checked in by the guards only by numbers and not by names. About twice a week food was indented for from local depots and a return sent to the Ministry in Berlin, which was based on the figures given by the guards, who checked the people on entering the camp.

All prisoners received three meals a day. I cannot tell what the daily ration was as this was laid down by the food depot and was standardized. I never checked up on the rations from the depots, but I made sure that each prisoner had one litre of vegetable stew for the main meal, and in the morning the prisoner had coffee and bread, if available, and for the evening meal coffee and bread, again if available, and cheese or sausage. If the prisoners had worked on this diet it would have been insufficient for them to survive, but as they did not work I think it was enough to keep them alive. I thought they could stand this diet for about six weeks and after six weeks I was hoping to get some more food. The rations described above were the normal rations in any concentration camp at that time. The main point on which the food deteriorated was bread, as this was lacking entirely for two or three days running several times. It was absolutely impossible for me to procure enough bread to feed the number of prisoners I had. In the early, days the bread had been supplied by local bakeries at Belsen. Later there were so many prisoners in the camp that the local bakeries could not supply the required quantity any longer, and I sent out lorries to Hannover and other places to fetch bread, but even then I was not able to get half the bread I required to feed prisoners on normal rations. Apart from bread, the rations were never cut down. Flour was supplied in lieu of bread and was employed in making meals. It turned out, however, that had we made bread of this flour the death rate would not have been so high.

I went to the depot in Celle and then to the next higher authority in Hannover and put them in the picture as to what was going on in Belsen. I also pointed out to them that if a catastrophe was going happen, I would not only disclose the facts but also make them responsible. I cannot remember whom I saw at either of these places. I have never applied to Berlin in these matters became they could not have helped me in any way. This was entirely a matter for the ration people in Celle and in Hannover. My visits to these depots resulted in extra rations of potatoes and turnips arriving some time later.

I remember one case of cannibalism quite well. It was reported to me that a prisoner had entered the mortuary and that parts of one body there were missing. I put a guard on the dead bodies at night and that guard arrested a man the same night who had approached a dead body. This man was arrested, but before he could be interrogated next morning he hanged himself. Whether there were more cases of cannibalism I cannot tell, but I put a guard on the mortuary from that night onwards. That guard consisted of prisoners. I thought that the prisoners would guard the bodies against other prisoners. Whether they did or did not do so I cannot tell. The mortuary was not always in the same building, as prisoners fluctuated to such a great extent. I had to shift the accommodation continuously and therefore the building detailed as a mortuary was not always the same. If changes took place, this building was cleaned by the prisoners and used for their accommodation the next day.

The camp doctor reported sick and was replaced by Dr. Klein at the middle of February. Roughly, on 1 March another M.O. arrived. His name was Hauptsturmführer Horstmann. Two days before the Allies arrived Horstmann left with the troops and only Dr. Klein remained. Apart from these two (Klein and Horstmann) there were no SS doctors in the camp.

At the end of January Dr. Lolling, from the Ministry in Berlin, arrived on an inspection tour. I pointed out to him that if, as I was told in Berlin, Belsen was going to be a camp for sick people, I needed more doctors. He said that there were none available at the moment, but that as soon as he had some he would send them. Dr. Lolling inspected the camp and was fully aware of the conditions prevailing there at the time when he inspected it. He spent a whole day walking through the camp with Dr. Schnabel and inspected it thoroughly. The measures taken were that Dr. Lolling took a list of requirements with him and said he would see to it that we got the necessary medical supplies. Even though I was Kommandant I did not know anything about the supply of medical equipment and medical stores. This I left entirely to the M.O. All medical supplies were asked for direct from Berlin (Dr. Lolling’s department). This is all I know about this matter.

During my stay at Belsen there were 15 to 20 prison-breaks. Some of the prisoners trying to escape were shot whilst trying to escape. I do not know how many. Towards the end of December an order arrived from Berlin forbidding corporal punishment altogether. From that moment onwards no corporal punishment was meted out.

Between 20 and 28 February the M.O. notified me that spotted fever had broken out in the camp. This fact was verified by a Bacteriological Institute in Hannover. I therefore closed the camp and sent a report to Berlin. The answer from Berlin was that I had to keep the camp open to receive transports coming from the East, fever or no fever.

The second time I wrote to Berlin was between 1 and 10 March, when I sent a complete report on the conditions prevailing in the camp. These two occasions were the only occasions on which I ever made any representations to higher authority. These two letters were addressed to the Verwaltungsgruppe B in Berlin. I did not go to Berlin myself as I was instructed at my interview in November, because that would taken have three or four days and there was nobody to carry on in my absence.

As far as I can remember, Gruppenführer Pohl inspected Belsen Camp about 20 March. He came with one other officer. I conducted Pohl right through the camp and pointed out conditions as they were. He did not come because of the letter I had written. He came on a routine inspection tour - "Just to have a look at the camp." Whether the letter I had written to the Central Office in Berlin was mentioned during our conversations I cannot tell. I pointed out conditions to him, and he said that something must be done. The first measure he suggested was to close the camp and put no more people into it. I suggested two measures to Pohl to cope with the situation: (a) no further transports to come in; and (b), the exchange of the Jews in the camp to take place immediately. The result of this was that he dictated a letter from my office, addressed to Berlin, saying that the exchange of Jewish prisoners had to take place immediately. This exchange did eventually take place during the last days of March. I do not know against whom these prisoners were to be exchanged, but they left Belsen going to Theresienstadt. Between 6000 and 7000 people were sent away to be exchanged (three train-loads). These 6000 or 7000 constituted the entire number of Jewish prisoners who were to be exchanged. They were transported in three train-loads, each train consisting of 45 to 50 trucks. I had orders to send off three consignments on three different days. Each time I detailed a few guards - I cannot remember how many - and there was an N.C.O. in charge of each train, probably a Scharführer, but I cannot remember. I do not know to whom these N.C.Os. had to report at the other end. All I knew was I had to send off three train-loads. I never saw these N.C.Os. whom I sent away, again.

I pointed out to Pohl that I wanted more beds and more blankets, and he agreed that in this matter, like as in the other matters, immediate help was required. The doctor and the officer in charge of administration also spoke to Pohl. The officer in charge Administration pointed out his difficulties in obtaining food, whereas the doctor was satisfied with the position as he had just received a new consignment of medical stores. Pohl held his appointment in Berlin for roughly two years. Glücks was there much longer as he had been there already under Eike. Eike was later sent to the Western Front and afterwards to the Eastern Front, where he was killed.

I do not know what nationality any of the prisoners were of at Belsen as there were no papers sent with them and the only check was done by numbers. I therefore cannot tell whether there were any British subjects among the prisoners, but it is possible that there were. I have never heard of a prisoner called Keith Meyer [Mayor], who was a British subject.

The female staff increased in number, the same as the male staff, as women guards arrived with women transports from the East. All women in the camp were under my command, the same as the men. 20 to 22 wardresses were still at Belsen when the Allies arrived, and approximately 26000 women prisoners. Unless I received complaints from the prisoners themselves I had no means of ascertaining what treatment was meted out by the female guards, but I had complete confidence in those guards. They were 100 percent correct, and I have never received any complaints from the prisoners.

In February or March - I cannot remember the exact date - Oberaufseherin Volkenrath arrived and was put in charge of the women guards. I had complete confidence in her.

There was a crematorium in the camp and as long as coke was available all dead bodies were cremated. When there was no more coke available they were buried in mass graves.

I have never seen a Red Cross official in any of the camps I have been to. I cannot tell why not. If a Red Cross official had called I would have rung up Berlin immediately to ask whether he was permitted to enter the camp as nobody could enter the camp without permission from Berlin. What the answer would have been I cannot tell.

There were no standing orders from Berlin for any of the concentration camps I have been to as to: (a) the space allotted to individual prisoners; (b) sanitation, or (c) working conditions. This was completely left to the discretion of the Camp Kommandant.

I can remember no standing orders or instructions from Berlin except with regard to visitors to the camp and to punishments. In all other matters the Camp Kommandant had complete discretion.

When Belsen Camp was eventually taken over by the Allies I was quite satisfied that I had done all I possibly could under the circumstances to remedy the conditions in the camp.

(Signed) Josef Kramer.

Signed by Kramer in my presence on 22 May, 1945. (Signed) F. Pollard, Major, A.P.M. (SIB).

I hereby certify that I have read this document to Kramer in German and he agrees that this is his statement. (Signed) S.M. Stewart, Captain, J.A.G. 21 A. Gp. 22.5.45."

(The statement is then translated into German and Polish to the accused.)

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