Transcript of the Official Shorthand Notes of 'The Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty Four Others'
The accused ERICH ZODDEL, is recalled on his former oath and is cross examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE as follows: You were first of all in Oranienburg; that was your longest stay in a concentration camp, was it not? - No, Bergen-Belsen and Dora was longer.
Were you an ordinary prisoner both at Oranienburg and Dora? - Yes.
How were you treated? - In Oranienburg it was quite fair in general, but in Dora it was very bad.
What was so bad at Dora? - Very long working hours - 12 hours.
Did you get sufficient food? - The food was quite good, but people were unable to eat because of too long working hours and that is the reason why they could not sleep either.
How did the SS treat the prisoners at Dora? - We did not see very much of the SS We had more to do with civilians who were working at the site there.
The SS merely administered the camp? - They had the administration in another part of the camp.
Were you at one of the outside working camps? - No, I was working in the town.
Were you digging a tunnel there? - Yes, I worked for 12 hours a day at the drilling machine.
Then when you came to Belsen you became first of all the Blockälteste in the hospital block; is that right? - Yes.
Did that hospital function for both the 1000 prisoners who came with you and for the Jews who were already there, or merely for you? - Only for us.
Where were the Jewish internees housed? - We had nothing to do with those Jewish internees; they were housed separately.
Where? - On the left hand side behind us.
Do you remember quite a lot of the Jews being moved out in May 1944? - We have heard about it, but we did not see it because we were always staying in the camp. We could not move out from our part at all.
Did you hear where they were moved to? - No.
When you first went there Belsen was not a bad place, was it? - No, it was not bad at all. We had to organise everything ourselves because nothing was ready at the time when we arrived.
Who was the Kommandant then? - I did not know at the time. I heard it only hear that his name was Hass or Hasse [Haas].
Do you remember when Kramer came as Kommandant? - Yes.
Soon after that you were made Lagerälteste, were you not? - No.
Well he came in December and you were made Lagerälteste in January, were you not? - Yes.
The job of Blockälteste or Lagerälteste was a good job for a prisoner, was it not? - No.
You did not have to go out and work 12 hours a day any more, did you? - In Bergen-Belsen there was no proper forced labour. There were working parties going out, but it was more on a voluntary basis.
You were in charge of the distribution of food, were you not? - Yes.
You had a room of your own, had you not? - No, we were nine prisoners together in one room. The Oberdienst, the man responsible for the room, and seven others.
That is a big improvement on sharing a room with 600 to a 1000, is it not? - Yes.
How many people were there in each block? - 300, 350, up to 400.
Were the people in those blocks the fittest people, the people who went out to work? - From Blocks Nos. 1 to No. 3 yes, but the others were blocks belonging to the C.R.S. If they did not want to go they did not need to.
You have told us that there was no difficulty about food; if you wanted some more you wrote a chit and you got it. Is that right? - Yes.
Did that apply to all the prisoners or merely to the ones that were going out working? - That was general in my camp.
Did that persist right up to the end, everybody in your camp who wanted more food just wrote a chit and got it? - In my camp, yes; it was just right up to the end that anybody who wanted to have food had it. How it was in the other camps I could not say.
If you found a block that was short of food you just wrote a chit and you got some more food? - The Blockälteste had only to report it to me and he got the necessary food.
Were all the working prisoners in one of the blocks in your compound? - From the beginning of March all the working people were in my compound.
There was only a wire fence between your compound and the next, was there not? - Yes, Blocks 9 and 10 were still between and then came the barbed wire, and then some other blocks, Nos. 11, 12, and so on.
Then I take it that nobody in your camp ever died of starvation at all? - No, not from starvation.
What did they die of? - Normal diseases - lung troubles or stomach ulcers, T.B., or any other disease and later, of course, when typhus broke out.
So when the British arrived I suppose in your compound they found everybody well fed and quite different to the others? - They could not find them quite all right because there was a great scarcity of bread. For the last four weeks we had very little bread.
But they were all getting their full ration? - Yes, they got their ration of soup, but it was really impossible to eat it because it was so bad and thin and not clean. Even a very hungry man could not bring himself really to eat that soup.
Yet your prisoners were reduced to rushing and pushing to try and get it, were they not? - Well, they were very hungry. What could they do?
Where did you get this stick from with the rubber knob which you used to carry? - I had that stick always from the first day when I arrived in Bergen-Belsen.
Where did you get it from? - From another prisoner. I needed it because my legs were not quite all right.
Are you sure it had not a piece of iron piping on the end instead and not a rubber knob? - No, I never had such a thing.
There was a lot of beating of prisoners at Belsen, was there not? - Not in the beginning of my stay in Belsen. May be later on, yes.
I was not suggesting there was a lot when you first went there. I was thinking more about the end. The beating started really with the New Year, did it not, about the beginning of 1945? - When all those transports from all parts of Germany arrived in Belsen - everything and everybody came to Belsen.
Including, of course, the transports from Auschwitz and the new Kommandant? - Kramer came I believe in December or November - I am not quite sure - and the prisoners came from everywhere. They came from Auschwitz and Gross Rosen and everywhere.
Most of the Kapos provide themselves with sticks or pieces of wood or something of that sort, did they not? - We had only very few Kapos and those we had were not Germans. The were Russians, Poles or Czechs; no Germans at all.
I do not know that that answers my question. Were only Germans allowed to carry sticks or what is the significance of that answer? - No, I said that only because it is always said that nobody but the Germans did the beating. Well, the other nationalities did more beating as a matter of fact, or, at least, the same amount of beating as the Germans.
Do not worry about what other people say. Just answer the question you are asked. The question I put to you was: did not most of the Kapos provide themselves with sticks or pieces of wood - whether they be German or any other nationality? - No, they had no sticks.
Why when I asked you if the Kapos provided themselves with sticks did you say other nationalities as well as Germans did more beating? - I said it only just as it was.
As a matter of fact, was not Mr. Le Druillenec right when he told us that the ordinary language in the camp was a blow on the head with sticks in the hands of the Kapos? - Well, I agree in many things with Mr. Le Druillenec, but if he says that beating was continuous then I think it is exaggerated.
Do you remember that procession dragging away the corpses in the last three or four days? - I remember it well.
As Lagerälteste were you helping to supervise that? - No.
Was Mr. Le Druillenec’s account of that right? - Yes.
You were in charge of the distribution of the food in your Lager, were you not? - Yes.
And you used to go round the blocks to see that it was being fairly distributed, did you not? - Yes.
In fact, the way you put it yesterday was : " I controlled myself several people, or I went to see in the blocks that the distribution should be fair. I went sometimes to No. 5, 6, 7 and 8; these were blocks with sick people, to see that the orderlies really did distribute the food to the sick patients; then I went sometimes to 1, 2 and 3 which were blocks for working people and I saw there as well that things should be distributed in a right way." You did that, did you not? - Yes.
I suggest to you that throughout your time as Lagerälteste you maintained your position by frequent use of your stick? - No.
It was also one of your duties to see that the working parties went out was it not? - Yes.
I want you to consider what Lozawski says about you. He says that you were the Lagerälteste in No. 1 camp at Belsen; that is right, is it not? - Yes.
He says you always carried a wooden stick. Well, for a considerable period you did carry it, did you not? - Not in the later times.
You carried it until about the end of March anyway, did you not? - Yes.
Then you sometimes carried it after that, did you not? - Yes.
When you did not carry it you kept it in your room, did you not? - Yes.
As Lagerälteste you worked as an assistant to the SS giving orders for working parties; that is right, is it not? - There was no question about assistance to the SS I did it because it was my job and also to help the prisoners.
I will put it to you the rest of the paragraph. "I frequently saw this man Zoddel beat other prisoners". Is that not true? - No.
Then he goes on to give a specific instance, that at 7 o'clock in the morning he was with a working party waiting to move off to work. That is the time they moved off to work, was it not? - Yes.
He says that in the next working part to them there was a very sick man, a Polish Jew, and that he told the Kapo he was too sick to go to work and the Kapo told him to go to the Appell place. That is what he would have been told to do, is it not? - Yes, I could not help that, if the Kapo says the man has to go ...
I am merely asking you if that is what would happen to a man who was too sick to go to work? - Yes.
Were there quite a lot of men who pretended to be sick to try to avoid going out to work with working parties? - On the contrary, they wanted to work.
Why did they want to go to work? - Because they had additional rations through that, apart from their normal rations.
Was that true towards the end of March? - Yes, at that time that was true.
What was the extra ration they got? - They got always double rations. For instance, if one litre of soup was the normal ration, they got for lunch and dinner two litres.
I suggest that you met this man coming away from the working party and without waiting to enquire why you started to beat him about the head and split his skull open? - No, that is not possible.
Do you remember a man in your compound called Kurowicki? - I do not.
Do you remember what he said about you, that he remembered you as a camp leader and that he had seen you as ill-treating prisoners and beating them so severely with a stick that injury must have been caused by them? - No, that is impossible. I was myself a prisoner and I know what I had to suffer in Dora, and I would never beat anybody so severely that he would suffer injuries.
Why were people badly beaten in Dora? - Not all were beaten, but I myself received in one single week 280 blows, so I know what blows mean.
That was in Dora, was it? - Yes.
Do you remember Zuckermann? - No, only now from the indictment. I did not know him before.
He says that you wore a green triangle on your blouse. Are you sure you did not? - No; during the whole period of Bergen-Belsen we had neither triangles or anything like that, nor numbers. We had numbers which were on small discs round and these discs we wore round our necks, but on our tunics we had nothing.
Did you wear a green triangle at Dora? - Yes.
Did you not bring any clothes from Dora? - No, everything what we had in Dora when we arrived in Bergen-Belsen was taken away.
Did you wear a green triangle at Oranienburg? - Yes.
Did you wear a green triangle at Buchenwald? - From Buchenwald to Dora, yes.
He says that you were brutal and always walked around carrying a wooden stick with which you used to beat other prisoners, and then he gives an instance, that one day in March, after having had food served in the open, he tried to get a second helping. Did prisoners never try to get a second helping? - They tried it very frequently. They tried it three or four times.
Do you really mean to say that you never hit anybody who did that? - I myself was not concerned very much with food distribution. I was hardly ever present. It was more of a job of the Kapo, and when the working parties returned and the Kapo distributed the food, if he gave somebody twice or even three times his portion, it did not bother me very much.
But you told us that you were interested in the distribution of food, and that you went round each block to see that it was fairly distributed. Do you mean to say that you did not do anything about it when you saw somebody trying to get a second helping? - Well, it might have happened that I saw it and I boxed his ears or slapped his face, but no beating such that he could not move any more; such things did not happen.
Did you never beat anybody with your stick at these food distributions? - Never during the distribution of food.
Do you remember what you said last night: "I must say that sometimes if people were behaving like animals and tried to get to the containers or dixies well I might have beaten them perhaps with my hand or stick"? That was in answer to your own counsel. - Yes, I have said that, and if I had my stick with me, well, why should I not have done so; but there is no question about beating them until they were covered with blood or something like that.
Zuckermann says that he has many times seen you beat sick internees and has seen them fall to the ground some of them unconscious and some having died; is that quite untrue? - Not a word is true of this.
Do you remember Glinowieski? - Yes, I remember.
You knew him quite well, did you not? - No, I have seen him for the first time here in the Court.
You know, although he did not recognise you in the dock, the description of you is right, is it not: "Senior camp Kapo and Lagerältester of Camp No. 1 at Belsen". That is a fair description of you, is it not? - No. About senior Kapo I do not know anything about it.
A senior Kapo; I am not saying you are the senior one. A senior camp Kapo and Lagerälteste of Camp No. 1, known by the name of Erich. You are the only person who would fit that description, are you not? (The witness starts to answer in German) I am not asking you to argue about it. I am asking you if that is a correct description. - Well, I have been Lagerälteste in No. 3 [No. 1], but if Glinowieski had known me as well as he states that he had, then it would not have been neccessary that he asked the Polish Interpreter, "Where is that Lagerälteste". If he knows me, he knows me.
Do you remember a man called Tessle in your compound? - No.
You heard Glinowieski's account of how Tessle was pulled out of the food queue because he was pushing. You beat him first with your fists, then you sent to your room for your stick, then you kicked him in the private parts and eventually he died? - No.
Let me put this to you finally. Is not the truth of the matter that you got tired at Dora of being an ordinary prisoner and that when you got to Belsen you sold yourself body and soul to the SS? - No. On the contrary I felt always great hatred against the SS I hate every SS man and I would not sell myself for any sort of advantages.
Re-examined by Captain CORBALLY: You mentioned in answer to the Prosecutor that large numbers of transports began arriving at the beginning of 1945. Now what was the condition of the internees of those transports? - I do not remember whether it was mid March or a bit later, but I remember particularly one transport arriving with 2000 prisoners. Amongst these 2000, 600 were dead and half the remainder were so sick that they had to be transported on trucks because they could not march any more.
How do you know that all that large number were dead? - Because I was present when those were unloaded. I remember about 8 o'clock one evening the Rapportführer came and asked for volunteers to unload the transport which is just arriving, and because I wanted to see with my own eyes what is happening I volunteered for that job. That is why I have been present and that is why I know.
It has been put to you by the Prosecutor that when Glinowieski describes the Lagerälteste of No. 1 Lager whose name was Erich, the description fits you very well, but have you ever used a stick which was more than a metre long and as thick as your arm? - No. I could hardly lift such a stick and with such a stick of course I would kill everybody if I were to hit them.
Apart from yourself, how many other prisoners were there in men’s Lager No. 1 who held a position of some kind, either as Kapos, Blockältesten and so on? - About 60 or 70.
And of those 60 how many attended the distribution of food in various places in Lager 1? - One man and then the hut orderlies came and fetched the food for the different blocks.
Were you generally known through the camp by your Christian name, Erich? - No.
A MEMBER OF THE COURT: Who was in charge of Kitchen No. 1 in Belsen? - I do not remember his name, because all those who were working there worked only for three or four days. The others escaped before.
I mean the SS man. - All the SS disappeared and the others worked there only for very short periods.
THE PRESIDENT: Is there any question on those questions by the Court?
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: No.
(The accused leaves the place from which he has given his evidence)
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: I have no further witnesses to call.
I would like to say a few words about the man first, because he is in a very different position from the other three accused. He is, as far as I know, the only Jew in the dock, and he will tell the Court that he has been a concentration camp prisoners himself since 1939.
He will tell the Court that he is an Austrian, having been born in Vienna and that on account of his religion and certain political activities he had to leave home when the Nazis came into Austria in 1938. After certain wanderings about Europe for some months, he will tell you briefly how he arrived in the Hague i Holland and stayed there for some time until the outbreak of war in September, 1939.
He was a refugee and his passport was not in order, and on that account, on his own story, he was handed over to the Nazi authorities and he was imprisoned by them at Emmerich. After some weeks in prison, during which time he was questioned by the Gestapo, he was then sent to a concentration camp and he has been, as I have said, a prisoner ever since.
He will tell the Court that after being in nine or ten concentration camps, he finally arrived in Belsen with a transport of internees on or about the 8th April, 1945. He had at that time no particular function, and he will tell you that he was appointed a Blockälteste in Belsen on or about the 13th April.
The evidence against him is entirely documentary, being contained in two affidavits, the first one being the deposition of Ladislaus Judkovitz on page 72, and the second deposition being that of Basch on page 239.
He has been recognised twice in the dock by Prosecution witnesses. Those witnesses were Sompolinski and Zylberdukaten. Neither of these witnesses, however, made any allegations against him. On the contrary they spoke in his favour.
I should now like to say that I will call one witness on behalf of Schlomowicz, who will only be able to speak to a part of his concentration camp life and who did not get as far as Belsen. I have been unable to obtain any witnesses who came to Belsen with Schlomowicz.
I will also hand in to the Court one deposition which is in favour of Schlomowicz and which was made out by the War Crimes Team during June of this year.
With your permission, Sir, I will now call Schlomowicz.
The accused, IGNATZ SCHLOMOWICZ, takes his stand at the place from which the other witnesses have given their evidence, and having been duly sworn is examined by CAPTAIN NEAVE as follows: What is your full name? - Ignatz Schlomoivicz.
Where and when were you born? - 17th December, 1918, in Vienna.
What was your occupation in civil life? - An employee.
What kind of employee? - A salesman in a shop.
Are your parents still alive? - Whether they are still alive I do not know, but in 1943 I had still messages in the concentration camp.
Why did you leave Vienna? - When Germany invaded Austria in 1938, then I had to emigrate, because a few weeks before that happened the National Socialists organised a demonstration and they broke shop windows in Jewish shops, and I had them arrested, and so when the Nazis came it was better for me to emigrate.
Where did you go then? - To Hungary because that was next to Austria.
And after that? - I could not stay there. I did not get any permit and I was sent to Yugoslavia.
And after Yugoslavia? - The Yugoslavian police sent me again to the Austrian frontier and then I got finally through Austria and Germany to Belgium, and from Belgium to Holland.
What did you do in Holland? - I was not working there; I was assisted by the Jewish community.
Did something happen to you in September, 1939? - Yes. In September, 1939, I was arrested by the Dutch police because I had no permit, and they brought me to the Dutch frontier at Zevenaar and there the Dutch frontier police handed me over to the Gestapo in Emmerich.
How long were you in Emmerich? - I had been for five or six weeks in a Gestapo prison in Emmerich, and after that period a document was handed in that the Jew Schlomoivicz. had behaved in an anti-German way abroad and therefore was to be taken into protective custody and will be handed over to the concentration camp at Oranienburg.
Were you kept very long at Oranienburg? - From November, 1939, until July, 1941, I stayed in Oranienburg, and then with 500 other Jews we were sent to Gross Rosen
And how long did you stay at Gross Rosen? - We stayed there until September, 1942. In September, 1942, an order came that all Jews will be sent to Auschwitz. Out of the previous number mentioned seven were still alive, so we seven came to Auschwitz.
And how long did you stay at Auschwitz? - We stayed in Auschwitz only for ten or fourteen days. There our numbers were tattooed on our arms, we underwent a selection and those fit for work were sent to Monowitz Buna I.G. factory.
What sort of work did you do at Monowitz Buna? - All sorts of different jobs in different working parties. For instance, digging - quite a lot of digging - and cement working parties.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: So as to avoid confusion, if my friend would get it that Monowitz Buna is what we were calling Auschwitz No. 3 up to now, it might save confusion in the note.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: (To the witness) Did you know the camp at Monowitz Buna by any other name? - Until the middle of 1943 it was part of the camp in Auschwitz. From that period on it was entirely separated from Auschwitz, and we were under the administration of the I.G. chemical factories.
When did you leave Monowitz Buna? - In September, 1944. I came into another camp, another detachment of Monowitz Buna, called Lauenhütte. It was a small detachment of about 500 prisoners, and we were working in an ammunition factory, a gun factory.
And how long were you in Lauenhütte? - In January, 1945, the front came too near so we were all evacuated and sent to Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria.
And did you stay long in Mauthausen? - In Mauthausen a new selection took place and about 350 prisoners were sent then to Hannover to work in another engine factory.
And from Hannover where did you go? - On 6th April, at 1400 hours, we started to march off from Hannover because the front was again too near to our camp, and on the 8th April, at 2300 hours, we arrived in Belsen.
Did you know anyone who came to Belsen at the same time as you did? - Yes, I knew quite a lot, because the whole camp was evacuated. Amongst those are also the men who accused me, Glinowieski and Basch, and then I had a friend called Blitzmann, and so on.
What happened when you arrived in Belsen? - We were housed in a block during the night, and the next day we saw that this block was No. 12.
What did you do after that? - Nothing particular. There was no work and nobody worked. Apart from that we were registered.
Were you given any function then at Belsen; any duties to do? - On 13th April I met the Lagerältester whose Christian name is Ede - I do not know his other name - and we know each other from the camp at Monowitz. He told me that I should be now Blockälteste for that block, No. 12, because the Blockälteste, the former one, had typhus, and on the day before, I mean the 12th April, all the prisoners of German nationality together with the SS were marched off from Belsen.
Have you ever been a Blockälteste before? - No.
What were the duties of a Blockälteste? - The main duty was the distribution of food, and secondly he had to see that order and discipline was inside the blocks. Of course, conditions in Belsen were so bad that there was no question about order or discipline, or something like this.
How many internees were there in Block 12? - When we arrived there were about 1000 internees already there, so our transport arrived with 300, so we were 1300. But during the days from the 8th to the 13th, about 200 died, so we might have been about 1100 or 1200 or something like this.
Did you supervise the distribution of food for all these people then? - During those two days, or hardly two days that I had been Blockälteste, I myself distributed that little food which was available.
What food did you get to distribute? - Food was only once a day, and the only food which we had to distribute came in five big wooden containers containing each 75 litres. That was all that we got.
Now while you were distributing the food, did you beat the internees; did you beat the internees at all? - Not one single one.
He says in his deposition says that he has seen you hit people, always men, with a long piece of wood - "Particularly I have seen him do this at Belsen". Could he have seen you do that at Belsen? - During those two days or hardly two days when I had been Blockälteste I gave strictest orders to the hut orderlies, or anybody in position in my blocks to cease immediately with any beating. Even when there was some reason for beatings, for instance, if people tried to get twice there food, even then did I give strictest orders that no beatings should take place. So if I give such orders then certainly I would not hit anybody.
Judkovitz then goes on to say that the camp was very overcrowded and some amount of shoving and pushing and even perhaps hitting with the hand was necessary, but he says you went far beyond that; is that true? - That it was sometimes necessary to beat is true, but I myself did not do it. Judkovitz says also that I have been a Kapo in Belsen; that is not true either.
Then he says that he saw you hit a man so badly that the man started to bleed. Was that true? - No.
I now turn to the deposition of Arnost Basch, 239, exhibit 105. Basch says that he knew you in Lauenhütte, Hannover and Belsen. He says that you carried out beatings with a rubber cable, except at Belsen you used a stick. Have you ever had a rubber cable or stick? - Neither a rubber cable in Lauenhütte nor a stick in Belsen.
He says that you treated the prisoners in a brutal manner and that you frequently hit and beat people without cause; is that true? - In Belsen I never hit anybody either with my hand or a stick. It is true that during the period at Hannover I was a Kapo and sometimes I had to slap one's face or that I had to box their ears sometimes, but that is all; and in Lauenhütte and Hannover I did this although it was strictly prohibited for prisoners to strike other prisoners, but if there was need - for instance if a prisoner disappeared for two or three hours from his working site - so I preferred to slap his face instead of reporting him to the SS
He says that these beatings at Belsen were about March or April. Were you in Belsen during March of this year? - We all arrived on the 8th April in Belsen; my two accusers, Judkovitz and Basch were amongst them because on the 6th April we were still working in a factory at Hannover.
Then he goes on to say that when things were very bad at Belsen one day you said on a parade of prisoners: "50 people died today; unless order is kept I will see that 100 die tomorrow." Did you say that? - No, all that is not true; and, further on, this man says that I should have uttered these words during Appell. Now during the whole period of my stay in Belsen there were no Appelle, no parades, at all, and it is also strange that amongst 1200 who were in Block No. 12 only Judkovitz and his good friend Basch should have heard those words
What happened to you when the British came? - On 16th April, the day after the British arrived, the British Commander asked all Blockältesten to parade and they selected a few amongst them and gave them white armlets with the letters "M.G." and "M.P." and I was amongst those selected by the Commander and he told us to see that food should be fairly distributed and that order should be kept in the camp.
For how long did you carry out these duties? - I did these duties until 20th April; on that day I got typhus and I stayed in my block in bed until the 29th April and then I was transferred to the hospital in Bergen.
Did anyone come to see you while you were in hospital? - Yes, I had quite a few visitors and amongst the visitors were the two men who are accusing me now, Judkovitz and Basch; they came to see him, they sat on my bed and they brought me cigarettes.
MAJOR WINWOOD: No questions.
MAJOR MUNRO: No questions.
MAJOR CRANFIELD: No questions.
CAPTAIN ROBERTS: No questions.
MAJOR BROWN: No questions.
CAPTAIN FIELDEN: No questions.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: No questions.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: No questions.
LIEUTENANT BOYD: No questions.
CAPTAIN MUNRO: No questions.
So you never saw this man in Block No. 12 before or after you became the Blockälteste of Block No. 12? - I remember that I have seen him after I became a Blockälteste but not before; he might have been there, but I have not seen him.
So it would not be true to say that he might have been a deputy Blockälteste between the day you arrived until the day you became a Blockälteste? - No, he was certainly not.
Did you know in Block 12 a Czech Jew called Jozsef Deutsch? - No.
He says in his deposition that this man was deputy Blockälteste of Block No. 12 and that one morning two or three days before the British arrived on Appell for no apparent reason this man started to beat him and his father. Could this be true or not? - Not during the time while I was Blockälteste.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Could not have seen it.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: That is not how I understood it, I am afraid. He could not have been the Blockälteste while he was there.
THE PRESIDENT: I understood he said he could not have been assistant Blockälteste while he was Blockälteste.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: It was a rather difficult double question to which the answer might have been anything.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Would the shorthand writer read the last two questions and answers?
(The shorthand writer reads the relevant questions and answers.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Were men from your block dragging corpses before the British came? - Yes.
What is his name? - I know only his first name, Antoni.
Where did you meet him first? - On the 9th April, in the first days when we arrived in Belsen.
Where did you meet him? - Block 12.
Did you always see him in Block 12 between the 9th April and the time when the British liberated the camp? - I believe so.
Did he hold any position in the camp? - Yes, he was Block Orderly,
Did he have any responsibilities in connection with food distribution? - As far as I remember he fetched the food and distributed also until the day I became Blockälteste, from that day on I myself distributed the food.
Have you heard, while you were a Blockälteste, of a Russian prisoner being killed by this accused and some other prisoners in Block 12? - I neither heard about it nor have I seen it.
Did you ever see for yourself or did you hear this accused asking for gold or jewels from prisoners in exchange for some soup? - I do not know anything about this. I must add that until the day I became Blockälteste I did not know him very well, but from the day I took over the distribution of food that was impossible.
You have been in concentration camps for quite a long time. Can you say from your own observations whether in Belsen, shall we say in April and March, could still have had a certain amount of gold and jewels? - Some of them may have had still gold and jewels, but the majority of the prisoners who had been transferred from one camp to the other had been searched so often that is hardly possible that they could have had any jewels.
Are you quite certain that during the period you have been in Belsen this accused has never been Blockälteste of Block No. 12? - Yes, I am sure, during those seven days I had been in Belsen - I can only say about those seven days I was in Belsen.
Have you known a man called Bialkiewicz in Block 12? - No.
I am going to read to you the first paragraph of his deposition, which is exhibit 98, No. 227: "I know Antoni Aurdzieg from the camp Bergen-Belsen. I was 10 days in Block 12, where he was orderly (Stubendienst). He killed hundreds of people, demanded gold and valuables from all prisoners, and if he did not get them, because the prisoners had none, he beat them to death". Do you think there is one single word of truth in what this man says about the accused No. 32? - I believe it is not true.
Cross-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: When you went to Block No. 12 who was Blockälteste then? - A Frenchman, an Aryan Frenchman; I do not know his name.
Was the man you know as Antoni the Stubendienst in Block No. 12? - Yes.
Was there another one called Adam Bartschinski? - I do not know about Bartschinski, but I know, that his first name was Adam and Adam was at that time also hut or block orderly who had the functions of Blockälteste as well because the proper Blockälteste, this Frenchman, was ill.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: I think the accused has said: "This man was first orderly". It was not translated into English.
THE INTERPRETER: He was senior hut orderly.
THE PRESIDENT: That is Adam?
THE INTERPRETER: Yes, "that is Adam; I do not know his name Bartschinski, but I know Adam".
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Up to the time you became Blockälteste had there been a lot of beating of prisoners? - Yes, there was beating.
Was that by the acting Blockälteste and his orderlies? - There was general beating going on but particularly this Adam, whom I mentioned before, who had the functions of and was acting as Blockälteste, he did a lot of beating and I remember very often I told him: "Don't do that because one day you will be responsible for all this".
And this man whom you knew as Antoni was the chief assistant and helped Adam with his beatings, did he not? - I do not know whether he was the assistant because there were several hut orderlies and I must say I have seen him during the distribution of food sometimes beating, but he had never any sort of weapon in his hand.
Let me read you a little of what Antoni himself says: "I acknowledge having been Stubendienst from 23rd March, 1945, until 15th April, 1945, in the camp at Bergen-Belsen". Of course you would not know about the time before you got there, would you, but from the time you got there he was the Stubendienst, was he not? - Yes, that is right.
Then he says: "I acknowledge having beaten the prisoners on their arrival in my Block No. 12". Is that true? - I said before that I saw him several times beating people during the distribution of food.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: No. 32, definitely.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: No. 32?
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Yes, I am reading from his statement on page 226. I have been dealing with him throughout.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: That is what I have been trying to do, but some of the Members of the Court are under the impression you are dealing with Polanski and they have been recording this against Polanski.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: When he says: "I have seen this man beat people on food distribution" he means No. 32?
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I asked him if he meant the man whom he referred to as Antoni and he says that was No. 32. No. 32 was asked to stand up and he said: "I only know his first name, Antoni. I first met him on the 9th April when we arrived in Block 12". That was after the other man. Polanski was dealt with first and he said: "I saw this man for the first time on the 16th, the day after the liberation". Then No. 32 was asked to stand up and he said: "I know his first name, Antoni", and we have been dealing with him ever since, so far as I know. The page I am reading from is 226.
THE PRESIDENT: I am clear about that but not about the other point.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: We had better get this quite clear. Would No. 32 stand up? (The accused Antoni Aurdzeig stands up). (To the witness) That is the man I am talking about. Is that the man you are talking about? - Yes.
Then he says: "I acknowledge - with several of my comrades (3) amongst whom one was named Adam Bartchinski, 'Kapo', 1st Orderly (or first on duty) on the morning of 15th April, 1945 - beaten a Russian prisoner until he fell dead on the ground. We then immediately transferred his corpse to another block." That is what he says himself. Did that happen? - I myself did not know anything about it, but he must know what he had been doing.
Then he says: "I acknowledge having assisted Kapo Adam in his thefts of money or jewels from the prisoners, Jews in particular, to whom we had promised an extra helping of soup by way of exchange. In the end, they received nothing but blows when they claimed it". When you got to that camp and when you first went into Block 12 was there not a regular racket going on of selling the food to prisoners who could afford to give something for it? I want to make it quite clear; I am not saying whilst you were Blockälteste, I am saying when you first arrived there. - I must explain to the Court that you must imagine there were 1200 prisoners in a block of the length of 40 metres and we got only soup once per day and for those 1200 prisoners there were 400 litres of soup, so it was a proper catastrophe and everything was in such a state that I could not see any sort of exchange or racket going on because there were too many people.
Do you remember the description that Mr. Le Druillenec gave of one of these blocks at night? - Yes, I think so.
He told us he was in Block No. 13. That would be the next one to yours, would it? - Yes, there were exactly the same circumstances as in our block.
Do you remember him telling us that when you arrived at Belsen you were offered some soup in exchange for something, cigarettes, bread, or whatever you had, and if you had nothing to exchange you got none? - Yes, I remember him telling it.
You had been a Kapo for some time before you came to Belsen, had you not? - Yes.
And had acted as a Kapo on the march from Hannover, had you not? - It cannot exactly be said that I acted as a Kapo when we were on the road. We had to take off our armlets and then four or five Kapos each were put in charge of about 100 men.
You were put in charge of 100 men and you were in charge of them on the march, were you not? - It was like this. There were about 15 or 16 Kapos, and four or five of them were put in charge of 100 men, three of them going in front, three or two going behind.
When you got to Belsen it was your duty to take them to No. 12 block when you were told to, was it not? - It was not my job.
Was it not part of your duty to help to get them into the block? - No. We arrived at about 2300 hours when it was absolutely dark, and we were all crowded in this block at the same time.
Who put you in? - The Blockführers who had been with us accompanied us to the block.
How many of them? - I cannot tell exactly; there were about four or five and there was the Lagerführer.
Of course he would know that you were a Kapo, would he not? - Yes.
Did you get any food that night at all? - Since the 6th April when we started the march ...
I said the night you arrived at Belsen did you get any food? - No.
When was the first you did get in Belsen? - I believe it was on the next day at night, about a quarter or one third of a litre of soup.
Which Lager were you in, No. 1 and No. 2? - Block 12 was in Compound No. 2.
By that time had you been registered in? - The registration began during the day and lasted all the day.
Was there an Appell in the morning to see if you were all there? - No, it was not an Appell, but all of us had to leave the hut in the morning.
Did all of your Hannover party have to fall in so that you could be registered? - The registration was done by the prison clerk of our own group; he came with us from Hannover.
That is not exactly what I asked you. Did you fall in in order that you might be registered or counted, or to make sure you were all there? - No, it was no Appell.
How did the clerk know who was there and who was not? - On the 9th April they put a rather long table in the block and every prisoner who came from Hannover had to report there and then his name and number were taken there.
You found all this beating going on and so on. Have you never seen any beating going on in other camps before you got there? - It was quite a natural thing in concentration camps.
You have told us that of the 500 of you who went to Gross Rosen there were only seven left when you got there; is that right? - Yes, from our transport.
That was in just over a year, was it, July 1941 to September 1942? - Yes. At that time Gross Rosen was a rather small camp and we were just starting to build a larger camp there.
What had happened to the other 493 of your transport? - They all died. Part of them died because of malnutrition; a few of them died because they had to work very hard in a quarry; part of them died because of the beatings, and part of them died because they had gold teeth, and they got an injection. These injections were made by Hauptscharführer Kurzesdg.
Then when you got to Auschwitz you told us you attended a selection; is that right? - Yes.
And you were picked out as being fit to go to work and you were sent to Monowitz; is that right? - Only the strongest were selected for that work.
What happened to the rest? - I do not know, but I never saw them again.
And at Monowitz did you hear any stories about the gas chamber? - Yes, and in Monowitz about every four weeks a selection was made by Hauptsturmführer Fischer. That was the camp doctor.
Have you ever heard the expression "musulman"? - Very often.
What does that mean in a concentration camp? - Those people who were very ill and so emaciated that the had practically no flesh on their bones.
Was it a common expression because it was a common sight? - Yes.
What happened to these prisoners when they had been worked to death, or worked until they were unfit for any further work? - As I said before, in Monowitz every four weeks we had a selection and the people who were not fit for work were taken to Auschwitz, and just the same number of these people who were sent away came back, but they were strong men.
Kapos did not have to go on selections, did they? - These selections in Monowitz were only made in the hospital and nobody else but the people in the hospital attended these selections.
After you left Auschwitz you went next to Lauenhütte? - Yes.
Quite a lot of beating went on there, did it not? - No, you cannot say that, because it was a small labour camp with about 500 men; they were working in a gun factory run by civilians, and these civilians saw to it that the prisoners were fit to work.
My suggestion to you is that after your experiences at Gross Rosen and at Monowitz you took the other side and you become a Kapo and started beating with the rest - In the first place you cannot say it was the other side, because a Kapo was just as much a prisoner as anybody else, and then during the time I was a Kapo it was not necessary to beat people.
You knew Arnost Basch, did you not, quite well? - Very well.
And you know the other man Judkovitz? - Very well.
There can be no question of mistaken identity about it, can there; they knew you and you knew them? - Certainly not.
If they were trying t make up a story about you would you expect them to say: "It may have been necessary for the Kapo to use his hands to keep order, but the beatings with a piece of cable and with the stick were out of all reason, entirely unnecessary and quite unjustified."? - They only said this because Judkovitz was a foreman himself, and Basch had also a good function.
I suggest to you that far from stopping the beating when you got to Belsen, you had been beating yourself at Lauenhütte, at Hannover and again at Belsen when you got there? - When I came to Belsen I could not stop the beating because I was an ordinary prisoner, but as soon as I became Blockälteste two days before the British arrived I stopped it.
You have told us you remember the procession of people dragging corpses away. Did the prisoners from your block take part in that? - All the people of Compound No. 2 were working in this procession.
Were you? - Yes.
Were you acting as Kapo? - No, I was not a Kapo.
Were the Kapos beating prisoners as they went round on this trail? - I did not see the Kapos, because they were Germans and they left on the 12th with the SS, but the people who were supervising this procession were the camp police; they were responsible for keeping order.
Were they beating people as they went? - Yes.
There were quite a lot of Kapos in the camp at Belsen who were not German, were there not? - I have not seen any Kapos in Compound No. 2, because there were no working parties and therefore there were no Kapos.
There were quite a lot of people like yourself who had been Kapos and who had come there with the transports, were there not? - Yes, but if you arrive with a new transport and you come in a new camp you are not a Kapo any more, and the German Kapos went separately to Compound No. 1.
And when the German Kapos went to Camp [Compound] No. 1 you and the other people like yourself, who had been Kapos, were given positions of responsibility in Camp [Compound] No. 2, were you not? - I should not know who could have appointed us, because I had not seen any SS men in Compound No. 2; then it was not necessary to have Kapos because there were no working parties except this one working party dragging corpses, and they were under the camp police.
Do you remember when you were called out in the morning to start dragging these corpses? - Yes.
Who got you out of the huts? - As I said, in the morning again six, seven or ten members of this camp police with an armlet they started chasing the people out of the blocks.
Was not the normal function of a Blockälteste to get his men out on parade? - No, it is not the duty of the Blockälteste to look after the people for working parties; he has to see that everything inside the block is all right.
It was not a question of working parties, was it; it was the whole block to be outside? - Yes. The people were chased out of the block by the camp police and in about 20 minutes time the block was full of people again, so what could a Blockälteste do?
But it was the function of the Blockälteste, was it not, to see that they did not come back into this block? - During the time I was a Blockälteste I received no order from anybody to chase the people out of the block.
I did not ask you whether you received any orders. Take an ordinary working day. The people who are going out on working kommandos go out with their Kapos, did they not? - Yes.
Never mind for the moment these last few days, but is it normally the function of the Blockälteste to call the roll of the rest of his block and let the Lagerältester know how many are there and out, is it not? - Yes, in a normal camp this would be the case, but under the circumstances in Belsen you could not speak of a normal camp.
Then you know perfectly well, did you not, that whether you did it or not it was the function of the Lagerälteste to see that his people were out on parade? - Yes, in a normal camp.
Just think hard. When was the first time you saw that man? - One day after the arrival of the British troops, on the 16th April. This man came to me. He could not speak German, but he had a Polish Jew with him who could speak German, and they said they came from the Polish committee and he was appointed by the Polish committee to look after the Poles in Block No. 12.
You say that was the first time he came into Block 12? - I saw him for the first time, but it may have been that he has been there before, but I cannot tell with 1200 persons.
You used to go and fetch the food yourself, did you not? - During the time I was Blockälteste one day I had gone myself and one day a room orderly went to fetch the food.
I thought you told us that after you took over you went to fetch the food? - I said distribute it.
Did you never notice this man fetching the food? - Yes, I saw it after the English [British] troops had arrived.
I suggest to you that he was your assistant Blockälteste? - That is not correct.
You have been asked if you remember Josef Deutsch, have you not? - I do not know him.
Do you remember Paweł Burger? - No, I do not know him.
He says the same thing, you know. Do you remember Engel Sandor? - I do not know the name.
Do you remember Mendel Fuchs? - I do not know the name.
Do you remember Jacobovitsch? - I do not know the name.
All those people, excepting Jacobovitsch, say he was your assistant Blockälteste in Block 12. - During the time I was Blockälteste he was not my assistant. I was that only two days. I had a room orderly and a clerk, that was a French Jew called Aury.
Just one last thing. Are you seriously telling the Court that the two men who had made affidavits against you both came and sat on your bed and gave you cigarettes, and then went back and made these affidavits again? - I can only say that I have been telling the Court the truth. They visited me twice in hospital and gave me cigarettes. They received these cigarettes from the Czech committee. After I had recovered I met them in Bergen on the street opposite the cinema and we walked together for about 15 to 20 minutes. That was on the 28th May. We departed with a handshake. They made their affidavits on the 18th June.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: No re examination.
THE PRESIDENT: Do I understand that these two men who have made an accusation against you were friends of yours? - If I think how friendly we were during the time in Lauenhütte and in Hannover and how they came and saw me when I lay in hospital, and how they brought me cigarettes I should have thought that they were friends.
Can you think of any reason why they should have made these statements against you? - I cannot think really what reason they could have had. The only thing which I can imagine is we had typhus, these two as well, and physically and mentally they were on a low level and because of this sickness this accusation came out of a sort of imagination or fantasy. I cannot explain it.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: When was the last time you saw these two men, Basch and Judkovitz? - As I said before, about seven or eight days before I was released from hospital, about 28th May, opposite the cinema in Bergen.
There were, or at least one of them, apparently making accusations against you about the middle of June? - I believe it was the 18th of June when I was confronted with them in Block GB2 where these offices were.
Do you mean that you were brought into a room where these men were present and they made these accusations before you or not? - Basch sat with Major Champion in Major Champion's office, Judkovitz sat in another office, and I was led through this other office so that I saw Judkovitz first, and then I went into the room of Major Champion.
Did you hear these men making accusations against you in June? - I did not hear it. These accusations were not uttered in front of me. It was only for identification purposes that we were confronted.
Did you know they had made these accusations against you? - No, on that day when we were confronted I had no idea; as a matter of fact I could not imagine that they could have accused me of anything, but later on - three or four days later when I was called again before Major Champion - I was told by him what the accusations were.
Did you ever see these men after that? - Never more.
A MEMBER OF THE COURT: You said, I think that the procession carrying corpses to the graves was supervised by the camp police. Are we right in assuming that they were prisoners? - Yes.
Were there many SS supervising that? - I personally did not see many SS, but I am sure that those others were directed and supervised by the SS
THE PRESIDENT: Have you any questions arising out of that, Captain Neave?
CAPTAIN NEAVE: No.
(The accused, Ignatz Schlomoivicz, leaves the place from which he has given his evidence.)
SIEGMUND FREUND is called in and having been duly sworn is examined by CAPTAIN NEAVE as follows: What is your full name? - Siegmund Freund.
Where and when were your born? - On the 29th June 1920 in Remscheid, in Rhineland.
What is your present address and how are you employed? - I am a watchmaker at Bienenbüttel.
What is your religion? - I am a Jew.
Did something happen to you in December 1939? - I was arrested and brought to a concentration camp.
Why was that? - Because I am a Jew.
Which concentration camp were you sent to? - Sachsenhausen.
Do you know this man? (Indicating accused No. 30, Ignatz Schlomoivicz) - Yes.
What is his name? - Schlomoivicz
When did you first meet him? - In Sachsenhausen in the beginning of 1940.
Was he a prisoner as well? - Yes.
Did you come to know him well? - Yes, I know him and we were in the same block in the Jew block.
Did he have any function in Sachsenhausen? - In Sachsenhausen there were no Jews who had any functions.
How long were you together in Sachsenhausen? - In 1941 Schlomoivicz left Sachsenhausen and was transferred to another camp. I myself stayed on in Sachsenhausen.
When and where did you next see him? - In Auschwitz Buna in October 1942.
How long did you know him at Auschwitz Buna? - During 1943 and in 1944 I believe he was transferred again into another camp and I did not see him any more after that.
While you knew him there did he carry out any functions? - For a time he had been the foreman or a Kapo in an outside working party.
Until he left you have you at any time seen him beating anybody? - No.
Did you see him at any time after he left Auschwitz Buna? - No.
(The remaining Defending Officers had no questions)
Cross-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: How were you employed at Buna yourself? - In the kitchen - in the peeling part of the kitchen, peeling vegetables.
You were not in Schlomoivicz's kommando at all? - Never.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: No re examination.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: I should now like to hand in as an exhibit the deposition of Daniel Blicblau which is in the Defence of Ignatz Schlomoivicz and which reads as follows:
"In the matter of War Crimes and in the defence of Ignatz Schlomoivicz Deposition of Daniel Blicblau, male, late of 6 Gdanska Pavianice near Łódź, Poland, sworn before Captain Alexander Mackinley Forbes, Royal Artillery, Legal Staff, No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team.
1. I am a Polish Jew aged 35 years and was arrested in September 1941. I was first taken to a camp at Buchenwerder Forst and soon after to Grunow. On 18th August 1943 I was transferred to Auschwitz but on the same day was moved again to Buna. In August 1944 I was transferred to Lauenhütte Camp and in January 1945 to Mauthausen. In February 1945 I went to Hannover, arriving at Belsen on 6th April 1945.
2. I first met Schlomoivicz at Buna but I did not know him very well. I met him again at Lauenhütte where we lived in the same room. I was in the same block with him at Mauthausen but at Hannover we did not live in the same block but I saw him frequently because the camp was a small one. In all these camps Schlomoivicz was a Kapo. At Belsen he was a Blockälteste of Block No. 12 in which I lived.
3. In Lauenhütte and Hannover I was employed as a barber for the SS but in all the other camps I was on general duties.
4. I have never seen Schlomoivicz beat anyone although I have been told that he has beaten people on about five occasions but not very hard and with his hands. One of those who was beaten told me that he had been hit in the face by Schlomoivicz using his fist and he had received two blows. I later asked Schlomoivicz the reason and he told me that the man, who was a doctor, had worked as a doctor in one of the hospitals in the Hannover Camp and had stolen food from the patients while they were very sick, so that when this man joined the working party Schlomoivicz took the opportunity of punishing him.
5. I have no doubt that on some occasions it was necessary to use force on some of the internees but it is my opinion that he only punished those who stole something and especially those who stole other prisoners’ rations. I have never heard of him beating anyone with a stick or a rubber cable and I have often seen him give away some of his own food. In fact he has given food almost every day to children and old people. As a Kapo he got a double ration.
6. I have seen on many occasions, especially in winter, men from Schlomoivicz’s working party, in the wash-rooms during working hours and they have told me that they were too weak to work and Schlomoivicz had allowed them to hide themselves.
Sworn by the said deponent Daniel Blicblau at Belsen this 29th day of June 1945,
before me, A.M. Forbes, Captain R.A.",
and then there is the usual certificate of translation, the interpreter in this case being Robert Coles, Corporal, Pioneer Corps.
(Deposition of Daniel Blicblau is marked exhibit 140 signed by the President and attached to the proceedings)
THE PRESIDENT: Schlomoivicz has seen this, has he?
CAPTAIN NEAVE: Yes.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: You do not want it translated, do you?
CAPTAIN NEAVE: Not as far as I am concerned. That completes the evidence which I have to call as far as the accused Schlomoivicz is concerned.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Before my friend goes on to the next accused, it might be a convenient time, as we are putting in affidavits, for me to put in the affidavit of Raymond Dujeu. The Court will remember it was the affidavit paragraphs 1 and 9 of which my friend referred to, and it was agreed that when I had seen the whole affidavit I could, if I thought fit, put the whole affidavit in. I thought this might be a convenient time to do so as you are now marking up the other affidavit. I have had copies made.
(Affidavit (complete) of Raymond Dujeu is marked exhibit 141, signed by the President and attached to the proceedings.)
"Deposition of Raymond Dujeu, late of Paris, sworn before me, Major Geoffrey Smallwood, Major (Legal Staff) an Officer of the Staff of the Judge Advocate General to the Forces.
1. I am 22 years of age. I was sent for forced labour in 1942. I was arrested in April 1942 for returning to France without permission. On 1st May 1942 I came to Belsen. At that time they were all prisoners of war except 200 Russians in the camp. I have worked in the kitchen all the time I have been at Belsen.
2. I know Theodore Heuskel (Photo 9-2) He was a very cruel member of the SS At the beginning of April 1945 there was a crowd of people trying to force their way into the kitchen to get potatoes. He shot six of them dead in my presence.
3. On one occasion he forced me to take a woman and hold her down between my legs while he gave her 15 strokes with a rubber tube; she was between 25 and 30 years of age.
4. Every day he used to give men beatings, up to 25 strokes if he caught them taking potatoes and he used to take women by their hair and knock their heads against the wall.
5. I also knew Frederich Herzog (Photo 2-4) I think that he was the worst of the lot. On one occasion I had wet feet and no socks so I took a handkerchief and tore it in half and bound the halves round my feet. A German saw this and reported it so Herzog made me bend down with my head between the German's legs and he gave me 25 strokes with a thick stick. It was terrible.
6. Some years ago some Russians escaped from the camp. Herzog tried to get information from some of their friends who stayed behind but failed to get what he wanted. I saw him take four of these Russians behind the Crematorium and I saw him come back alone. I never saw these Russians again and I am certain he must have shot them.
7. On the day the English [British] came, 15th April 1945, there were some women in the kitchen who had come to take their soup and one of them took a turnip. Herzog saw it and made her lie over a butt and gave her 25 strokes with a piece of wood that was lying nearby.
8. I knew Oscar Schmedidzt (Photo 7-2) and although I never myself saw him beat anyone my friends have told me that he often beat them.
10. I also wish to mention an SS woman who was working in the kitchen for three weeks before the English [British]. I have been given a description of a woman who is in hospital at Schwarstedt; her name is Gisella Koblischek and her desription corresponds to an SS woman I knew and she was always kind to everyone".
That is signed and bears the usual certificate of translation.
THE PRESIDENT: Has this been translated to the accused?
CAPTAIN ROBERTS: No, it has not been translated to them.
(Affidavit is translated to the accused)
CAPTAIN NEAVE: My other three accused are the three females numbers 33, 34 and 35. They will all tell you how they were conscipted into service and called SS women, the two Försters in August 1944 and Opitz in October 1944. They will tell you how they were working in factories which were using forced labour, and as the number of workers increased so the number of German guards had to be increased to look after the internees.
All three were sent on a short course after which they went back to the same factories from which they had come. As time went on, due to the advance of the Russians from the East and the general Allied bombing, the factories either had to be abandoned or were destroyed. Eventually all three women found themselves in Belsen concentration camp. The two Försters will tell you that they arrived in the camp during dates in February 1945, and the accused Opitz will tell you that she arrived in Belsen for the first time on the 13th April.
I am calling no witnesses for either of the Försters, but I shall be calling one witness for the accused Opitz, to speak as to the time of her arrival in Belsen. Before I call No. 33 the allegations against her are contained in the deposition of Regina Bialek, page 6; the next one is the deposition of Hila Lippman, page 94; the third piece of documentary evidence is the very contentious paragraph 10 of Herta Ehlert's deposition, 193, and the oral evidence against Ilse Förster is the evidence of the witness Litwinska, transcipt 7 page 12. There is also oral evidence of Herta Ehlert which appears in transcript No. 25. With your permission I will now call the accused Ilse Förster.
The accused, ILSE FÖRSTER takes her stand at the place from which the other witnesses have given their evidence and having been duly sworn is examined by CAPTAIN NEAVE as follows: What is your full name? - Ilse Förster.
Where and when were you born? - On the 2nd September 1922 in Neusaltz in Silesia.
What is your nationality? - German.
How were you employed during the war? - I started to work in Neusaltz in a factory; then I was transferred to another factory in Neuslatz, a textile factory, and later on to Grünberg to another factory.
Where were you working when you went into the SS? - In Grünberg.
When was that? - On the 17th August 1944.
What happened to you then? - For training I was sent to Langenbielau .
What sort of training did you get? - I went with the Kommandos for work and had to supervise that they were doing their jobs, and I had to sit at the door and see that nobody went out, and general supervision.
Was Langenbielau a concentration camp? - No it was a labour camp.
How long did your training last? - Six weeks.
After it was finished where did you go? - I returned again to the old firm in Grünberg where I came from. The name of the firm was Kreisler and Co.
How were you employed when you got back to Grünberg? - Camp duties in the camp.
How far away from the camp was the factory? - Three quarters of an hour walking distance.
Was it your duty to march the workers from the camp to the factory? - No, only inside camp duties.
How long did you stay at Grünberg? - Until the end of January, 1945.
Did you then leave Grünberg? - Yes, we marched to Guben.
Did you mean you marched with the workers to Guben? - With the prisoners.
How long did you stay at Guben? - Five days lasted the march, and we stayed another five days in Guben.
Where did you go from there? - We got a chit saying that we should proceed to Bergen-Belsen, but another Aufseherin and myself we wanted to see our families in Turthuringia so we went and stayed there for a few days and carried on later and arrived in Bergen-Belsen.
About what date did you arrive in Belsen? - On the 17th or 18th February, 1945.
In which lager was Kitchen No. 1? - In the men’s compound.
What were your duties in Kitchen No. 1? - General supervision. See to it that they work; see to it that they do not steal and see that the food is well cooked.
Were there any internees working in that kitchen? - Female internees.
About how many? - About 60.
What work did they do? - They were cooking for the prisoners.
What were your hours of work? - In the beginning I started at 0300 hours and worked until 2300 hours at night, or even 2330. One hour lunch time.
Why did you have to work such long hours? - That was in the beginning when there were hardly any Aufseherinnen, supervisors, there. Later on, when more arrived I asked Ehlert whether we could not work in shifts and that was done. We started at 0300 hours and worked until 1300 hours and the other shift started at 1100 hours and worked until 2300 hours. Sometimes, for instance when there was coffee at night, we stopped early, about 2100 or 2130.
Did you get a good supply of food into your kitchen every day? - We got our supply every day and in sufficient quantity.
Could you have used more if you got it? - Yes, of course, if we had received more we could have cooked more. But the stores could not send more than they had.
Did you ever try to get more food for the internees? - Yes, I went to the bread stores and asked the man in charge called Lothar and asked also Charlotte Klein whether we could have more bread.
Were you ever lucky enough to get extra stuff? - Yes, we got an additional supply of bread and the prisoners could eat in the kitchen could as much as they wanted, and anyway there was always food cooked for them separately for those working in the kitchen.
Now you have heard the evidence which has been given to the Court and evidence which has been read out about the number of internees who used to come round the kitchens. Did many of the internees come round your kitchen and try to steal food? - Many.
If you caught any of those internees trying to steal anything, what action did you take? - In the beginning I prohibited them to come, and if they did not obey I beat them.
When you say that you beat them, do you mean you struck them with your hands or with some form of weapon? - I beat them with my hands and sometimes with a stick.
Did you keep a special stick for these beatings? - It was a special stick of this size. (The witness indicated a length of about 20 inches and 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
In addition to that stick, did you have a rubber truncheon? - No.
Were you ever issued with a rubber truncheon? - I have never seen a rubber truncheon before. The first time I saw it was in prison in Celle.
Was it right for you to hit these internees with a stick? - Yes. They were mostly male prisoners and they came to the kitchen, well, what could I do? There were heaps of potatoes and also turnips in front of the kitchen and I must add that during the parade Ehlert told us that if we do not take more care, more energetic steps, that this stealing in the kitchen should stop, then she would talk in a different language to us.
Were these heaps of vegetables outside the kitchen your responsibility? - Yes, I had to supervise it that it is not being stolen, because there was a scarcity of vegetables and if they would have stolen parts of it, then later on they would not have had anything at all.
Were these internees who came to try and get some vegetable hungry? - Yes, I think if they had come to steal they must have been hungry.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: Now I will deal with the specific allegations as contained in two depositions, the first one being on page 6, the deposition of Regina Bialek. (To the witness) You have the statement of Regina Bialek, and paragraph 6 mentions your name. Have you read that paragraph? - Yes.
Now this woman Bialek, did she work in your kitchen? - Yes.
What duties did she do? - She was cooking in the kitchen; stood at the containers.
Now she says in that paragraph that she recognises you from a photograph and that she often saw you beating other prisoners with a thick stick in the kitchen. Now when she says that, is it true that she could have seen you doing it often? - Yes, if she had left her work at the boilers, where she should have been working, and if she came out and stood at the door, then she could have seen it. My ideas about a thick stick are different.
Then she goes on to say that she has seen you beating many prisoners until they were unconscious and you left them lying bleeding on the floor. Is that true? - No, they rather ran away.
She says later on in her statement that you inflicted these beatings in a room which was in the same building as the cookhouse. Did you ever drag prisoners away from the kitchen into another room and beat them? - No, that is not true. When I beat somebody I did it in front of the cookhouse and everybody saw it.
Then just towards the end of the paragraph she says that she has seen I have never unconscious prisoners who have been beaten by you taken away in a wheelbarrow to hospital; is that true? - There was one wheelbarrow that was used for bringing coal supplies and anyway I cannot image that I have beaten somebody to such an extent that they should have been carried away in a wheelbarrow.
Did you ever beat anybody hard enough so as to bring blood? - No.
Do you know her? Did she work in your kitchen? - Yes, she was a Kapo in the cookhouse.
Have you ever seen her hit anybody? - I did not see it.
Now look at paragraph 3. The witness says that you were the SS woman in charge of the kitchen and that you delighted in catching both man and women internees attempting to steal vegetables from outside the kitchen, and two or three times in the course of the day you took them into a small office adjoining the kitchen and beat them with a rubber stick and kicked them. Is that true? - No, it is not true. She says something about a rubber truncheon. I never had one. Secondly, I never beat somebody in the office.
She then goes on to say that you often drew blood and that on one occasion she saw you beat a sick man so badly that he had to be carried away afterwards. Is that true? - Not true.
Then in paragraph 5 she says that you, in her presence, many times inflicted brutal and savage punishment on starving internees who were trying to get some scraps of food from the kitchen; is that true? - The first thing the witness speaks of about in this deposition if Frau Heuskel. That was not a woman but was Oberscharführer SS man Heuskel. The second thing, whenever somebody came to the kitchen and asked me for food, I could not remember that I have ever chased anybody away and Heuskel was working in Kitchen No. 2.
(The Interpreter examines the witness's copy).
THE INTERPRETER: Yes, in the translation there is apparently "S.S. Frau". It must be a mistake in the translation.
In that paragraph she says that she heard that you and Frieda Walter used to beat internees to a quite unreasonable extent. Is it true that you used to beat internees like that? - All that is not true.
Now she also talks about a Rottenführer. Did a Rottenführer ever report you to Ehlert for beating prisoners? - The first thing, the Rottenführer. was not a Rottenführer; he was a Schütze, a private, called Wenzel. The second thing, Frieda Walter did not work with me at all, and the third thing Ehlert did not speak with Private Wenzel at all; she spoke with me.
When Ehlert spoke to you what did she say? - Ehlert came and asked me how I was getting on, so I said "Well, people were stealing again", and in that part where they peel potatoes we found a lot of sugar and all sorts of meat and different things, bread. So I told Ehlert that I beat the prisoners and then I told her also that this Wenzel, whom I mentioned before, wanted to go to Unterscharführer Müller and complain that so much stealing is going on here and also beating.
Did you ever tell Herta Ehlert that you were in an excited state because you had been beating prisoners? - No, she thought that out.
I will now deal with the specific allegation by Litwinska, transcript 7, page 7. You heard the witness Litwinska in Court first of all identify you and then she accused you of beating a young girl to death. Is what she says true? - It is not true. I remember Litwinska. I remember also that there were some discrepancies in her evidence, because first she said that I beat this young girl until she was dead, and then she said that I forced her to eat her own excrement. How is that possible? Either I beat her to death or I forced her to eat her own excrement.
Did you beat that young girl to death? - No, I did not. She came the next morning and worked in the cookhouse again. That was also a Russian girl.
Litwinska says you used a rubber truncheon. Did you have a rubber truncheon? - No, I never had one.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Do I understand she is agreeing she hit a Russian girl but that she was able to come to work the next day; is that right?
CAPTAIN NEAVE: That is correct. (To the witness) When was your hair cut off? - A fortnight after the trial had started, because of a sickness.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: I do not propose to deal with the oral evidence of Herta Ehlert. I think it is sufficiently covered by paragraph 10 of her deposition.
MAJOR WINWOOD: No questions.
MAJOR MUNRO: No questions.
MAJOR CRANFIELD: No questions.
CAPTAIN ROBERTS: No questions.
MAJOR BROWN: I have some questions about No. 18 Mathes.
Cross-examined by MAJOR BROWN: Did you visit the Bathhouse in April, 1945? - Yes, on the 13th or 14th.
Did you see the accused Mathes there? - Yes.
What was he doing there? - He was there in his billets where he slept.
CAPTAIN FIELDEN: I have some questions about No. 22 Ansgar Pichen.
Cross-examined by CAPTAIN FIELDEN: How many SS men were there working in Kitchen No. 1? - Two.
Do you know the accused No. 22? - Yes.
Was he one of them? - Yes, he was in charge of the kitchen
Did he ever carry a pistol whilst at work in the kitchen? - No.
He had a pistol, though, had he not? - Yes, his pistol was in a cupboard.
Was the cupboard locked? - Yes.
Did you see him at any time whilst he worked in the kitchen wearing his pistol? - No, never.
Was the pistol loaded? - I have no idea of that.
Do you remember an occasion when all the SS men at Belsen had to attend a parade? - Yes, I believe it was on the 11th April.
Did Pichen go on that parade? - Yes,in his white tunic.
Did he lock Kitchen No. 1 before he left? - I do not know.
Did Pichen return to the kitchen after the parade? - I do not know.
Have you ever heard that Pichen had shot any of the internees ? - No.
Did he treat them well? - Yes, the kitchen personnel never got any beatings.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: I have some questions about No. 39 Irene Haschke.
Cross-examined by CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: Do you know if there was a concrete pond near No. 1 Kitchen? - The was one.
How far away from it was it? - In the direct vicinity of the kitchen; just half a metre from the kitchen.
Do you know if any bodies were ever found in it? - I did not see any.
Did you ever hear of it? - Yes, I heard about it.
When? - About the middle of March.
Do you know how they got there or did you hear how they got there? - No, I do not know, I only heard that they fished a body out, a male body.
Cross-examined by LIEUTENANT BOYD: Do you know the accused No. 42, Lisiewitz? - Yes.
Did she work in the same factory at Grünberg? - Yes.
Did she leave Grünberg at the same time as you did? - Yes.
Do you know what date she got to Belsen? - I believe at the end of February.
Did she ever work in Kitchen No. 1? - Yes, in the peeling part; the part where vegetables were peeled.
About when was that? - The middle of March.
How long was she in there? - Only a few days, then she fell ill, and then later on she came again but I do not know which date.
How long was she there the second time? - Again only a short while, then she fell sick again and never came again.
When did she first arrive in Belsen? - The first week in April.
Did she work there until the British troops arrived? - Yes.
Was she ever in charge of the Bathhouse or did she ever take a bath parade at Belsen to your knowledge? - As far as I know from the beginning when she arrived until the end she worked in my kitchen.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: No questions.
Cross-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Let me ask you about one or two of these people you have been talking about first. Mathes. You say you went up to see him and you saw him in his billet where he slept at the Bathhouse? - Yes.
On either the 13th or 14th April? - Yes.
What time of the day or night was this? - In the afternoon about 1500 hours or 1600 hours.
Do you know that he did not live or sleep in the Bathhouse? - I do not know; I saw only a bed in that billet and that is where he was.
Are you sure it was the Bathhouse? - Yes.
What did you go there for? - Before we went to Neuengamme we got our cigarette rations and he asked me already before about the cigarettes and so I took the opportunity and went and brought him some.
What was he doing when you got there? - He sat on the table and there was another man, Melcher I believe is his name.
Tell me about Hahnel. Do you know where she came from when she came to Belsen? - In Guben; she was Aufseherin there.
Had you known her in Guben? - I myself did not know her, but other comrades of mine, other Aufseherinnen, they knew her from Guben.
Did she come on a transport from Guben? - No; alone.
Were there any other Aufseherinnen who worked in that kitchen? - Only one Aufseherin, myself, in the kitchen, and another Aufseherin called Friedrich.
I want you to tell me a little bit more about this work you were doing before you came to Belsen. You were in these three factories at Neusalz, what were you doing in the factory? - I was working there in a bristle factory.
Were you not acting as a supervisor there? - In Neusalz Aufseherin did not exist.
Aufseherin was not the word actually; I did mean as an SS supervisor. I suggest you were using displaced forced labour in the factory and there you were as a forewoman? - No, I was not a forewoman and there were no D.P's working there but only people from Neusalz itself.
Do you remember when you went to the textile factory there? - Yes.
What were you doing at the textile factory? - I remained there only for one single day and then I was sent immediately to the firm Kreisler and Company at Grünberg.
What were you doing in that firm? - Drilling machine.
Was there a lot of forced labour employed there? - Yes, Russians, Frenchmen, Ukrainians - foreigners.
Were you not first employed as a guard inside the factory by the factory looking after these work people? - No, I was working myself at the drilling machine.
How did you come to be chosen for the course of S. S. training? - All the young girls from the works were taken out and sent to the SS because the owners of that factory wanted some more forced labour but they had to have SS to supervise them, they did not receive them, and that is the reason why myself and the others were sent to the SS
Who was the other Aufseherin who went off with you to Turn Thuringia before you came back to Belsen? - Aufseherin Hempel.
Is that the Hempel who is here in the dock? - Yes.
Then you say you worked in the Bathhouse for a day or two when you arrived, did you? - Two or three days.
What were you doing in the Bathhouse? - We stood in the doorway so that the prisoners should not run away from the sauna.
Was there always an Aufseherin on that duty? - Yes, during the time of baths and delousing.
Why were you only on that for two or three days? - Because I was sent to work in the kitchen and in the sauna there were also two shifts, day shifts and night shifts.
When you went to the kitchen it was you who first thought of this idea of two shifts, was it? - Yes.
Up to then had it been usual for everybody to work right through for twelve hours? - Yes.
You remember the day this conversation, whenever it was, took place between you and her about the stealing and the beating? - Yes.
Was that before or after she had told you that unless you were very much stricter on stealing there would be a lot of trouble? - She told us before that she was going to take other measures if the stealing did not stop, and afterwards we had this conversation.
Did you take that conversation with her to be an encouragement to beat prisoners if they tried to steal? - No, I did not get that impression.
What did you think she was encouraging you to do? - She was not interested in the whole affair at all because it was the first time she ever came for a control.
When Ehlert came and asked you how you were getting on were you in rather an excited condition? - Yes, I was very excited, because she had told us before that other things were going to happen if the stealing did not stop. That is why we had to be more strict, otherwise we should have been punished ourselves.
When Ehlert arrived had you not long before found these things you were telling us about, meat and sugar and so on, in the potato room? - Yes.
And had you just beaten the prisoner who had taken it? - Yes.
And you were still rather excited and flushed about it? - I do not know whether I was still flushed, because it happened about three quarters of an hour before.
But you were still pretty excited, were you not? - I could not say that.
Then it is not really far wrong if Ehlert says: "I also found Ilse Förster myself when visiting the cookhouse with a very red face and in an excited state, which she told me was due to her exertions in beating prisoners." Did Förster say to you: "What are you so excited about"? - No.
And you not say: "Well, I just caught some people stealing sugar and meat, and I have just given them a good beating"? - She did not ask anything. She came into the kitchen and asked how the serving was going on, and then I told her about the stealing, that I had found this meat and other things.
Tell me a little bit more about this Rottenführer. Was there a young Rottenführer who came to work in the kitchen for two or three days? - No, never.
There usually was a Rottenführer. employed in your kitchen, was there not? - I do not know what rank Pichen held, but the other one, he was a Private.
I am not worried as to whether she did or not. You know perfectly well Ehlert first of all said she met the Rottenführer., and then she said you told her about the Rottenführer. She told about three different stories, but in each one Rottenführer came in. Pichen said he worked with a Rottenführer called Josef in the kitchen. Are you the only person who did not know there was a Rottenführer. there? - There was a Rottenführer. named Wessely, and he was in the kitchen until the middle of March, after him Pichen and Wenzel arrived in the kitchen.
Was it Wenzel who went out and complained? - He did not go and complain. He wanted to go but he did not go.
How long did Wenzel stay in the kitchen altogether? - He stayed until 13th or 14th April.
From the middle of March? - Yes.
Well, first of all Ehlert says he was the man who stayed at Belsen three or four days; then she wanted to correct that, and corrected it to a man who was in the kitchen two or three days; he was only in the kitchen two or three days. Is that wrong? - Yes, that is quite wrong what she says.
Or is it that we are talking of the wrong person. If you think Wenzel was a Private and not a Rottenführer. In spite of what Pichen thinks about it, are you sure there was not a Rottenführer. there for two or three days before Wenzel came? - No, never.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: I do not know whether we are on the right person or not, but Pichen in his evidence - day 31, page 31 - refers to a man called Josef and he says he was not a Rottenführer., he was simply a Private.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: It is wrong. It was Ehlert who called him a Rottenführer., and I think some of the other witnesses who referred to the shooting incident referred to him as a Rottenführer. It is the witness Wajsbum who says he was a Rottenführer. and worked in the kitchen. (To the witness) Do you remember when the SS went away that day on this parade? - Yes.
What happened to the SS women? - I do not know.
What did you do that day? - I worked in the afternoon shift from 1300 hours till midnight.
When did you first start keeping this little stick? - It may have been about the middle of March.
Where did you get it from? - It was lying outside in front of the kitchen.
Just lying handy there, like a piece of rubber cable that Weingartner picked up? - No, this stick was with the material for the stoves, wood and old leather.
Before you found your stick did you not have a short piece of rubber hose, also a convenient size? - Never.
What I suggest is that you used to amuse yourself by standing at the kitchen door waiting for internees to come near the potatoes or the potato peelings? - Never; I never enjoyed this.
Was there a small room or office next door to the kitchen? - Yes, it was part of the kitchen itself; it was built in the kitchen with walls of glass.
Is that not where you used to take these people and beat them? - No, never.
Was not Litwinska one of your kitchen staff? - Yes.
You know you beat her several times, did you not? - No, Never; the cookhouse personnel was never beaten. She has lied there.
You remember her saying that you beat her several times, sometimes with your hands, sometimes with a stick or whatever you found handy? - It is a lie. Why did she not accused me before then, she could have done ...
Do not ask me questions, just answer them. You remember her saying that the worst beating she ever had from you was with a rubber truncheon, and her head was swollen and her arms and back were blue and green? - It is not true.
Was Lippman on the kitchen staff? - She was a Kapo in the kitchen.
Was Bialek on your kitchen staff? - Yes.
Is it strange that they should both mention you taking girls into this small room, is it not? - I never did take anybody in that room.
It is a curious sort of thing for them both to make up quite independently, is it not? - Yes, it is a fantasy.
I just want to ask you a little about this question about the girl who Litwinska told us about. Do you remember beating a girl in the kitchen until she defecated? - No.
Well, how do you know that the girl Litwinska was talking about was a Russian girl who came to work in the kitchen again the next day? - Because that was in the peeling part of the kitchen, next door. I found her there and beat her.
But you have beaten a lot of people, have you not? - Yes, I beat when they were stealing and never beat without any reason.
How do you know this is the particular occasion Litwinska is talking about if you do not remember it happening? - I know what happened.
I suggest to you that you got hold of this wretched girl and that you beat her and continued to beat her till she defecated on the kitchen floor? - I do not know anything about it.
And then you tried to force her to eat her own excrement. - No.
And when she refused you dragged her out and started beating her again. - Never.
And that you continued to beat that girl until she died. - No.
If you do not remember any part of that and if that is all untrue, I ask you again why you say the girl was a Russian girl and came to work again the next morning? - I have told that I can remember beating her because I found meat that she had stolen. That I had beaten her to death or that I had beaten her till she defecated is not true.
Was the Russian girl you spoke of part of your kitchen staff? - Yes, in the peeling department of the kitchen.
I thought you said none of the kitchen staff ever got beaten? - The personnel in the kitchen have not been beaten, but the peeling part was another part.
I see. You beat the people in the peeling department, but you did not beat the people in the kitchen department; is that right? - People in the kitchen part had never been beaten because I never found anything on them.
Were you very kind to your kitchen personnel? - They have not been treated badly.
And gave them as much food as they liked? - Yes, even those who were rolling the barrels with turnips got an extra ration of meat.
Why do you think these people you have been so kind to all say you beat them so badly? - They did not all say that.
Re-examined by CAPTAIN NEAVE: How many internees did you have working in your part of the kitchen? - About 60.
How many have accused you? - Three.
Did you at any time get extra bread for your kitchen personnel? - Yes. If I had not been kind to my personnel I would not have asked for two shifts, and I would not have given them bread.
Were you conscripted into the S. S.? - Yes.
(The accused Ilse Förster leaves the place from which she has given her evidence)