Transcript of the Official Shorthand Notes of 'The Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty Four Others'
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Before we proceed, I think there is a mistake in the transcript. It is page 10, the 9th question from the top. "Do you know if he stayed in this block until the liberation? - After a short time - I do not know when - he was transferred to Block No. 16. I myself was transferred to Block No.1, but I used to meet him in the camp and from his words I know that he was in Block No. 6", it should be 16.
THE PRESIDENT: I agree.
MAJOR WINWOOD: I wish to make an application to the Court to call new evidence on behalf of Kramer and Klein. The evidence on behalf of Kramer is Unterscharführer Müller, whose name you have heard several times, who was in charge of the food stores and the food supplies at Belsen whilst Kramer was Kommandant. I asked for this witness on the first day I got to Celle, and he has now arrived. He was the sixth person of this name to be brought here, as the name Müller is as common in Germany as Smith is in England. We have now got the right man. All his records were destroyed before the British came to Belsen, and during the last few days Müller has gone round the various firms from which Kramer got his supplies, and we have obtained certified statements from the firms of the supplies asked for and those obtained. I can produce those people, or I can just produce the extracts by means of handing them in. Müller is not a witness as to the general conditions in Belsen, he is a specific witness to specific allegations against Kramer. The Prosecutor in his opening speech said that the conditions at Belsen were brought about not only by criminal neglect but that they were caused by deliberate starvation, and later he said: "The administration of the camp was left to him" - Kramer - "and the Prosecution will ask you to say that he is primarily responsible for everything that happened." Müller is a witness of value to the Court in regard to this serious charge of deliberate starvation.
My second witness is Dr. Lord, who will give evidence for Klein during the period when Klein was at Neuengamme shortly before he came to Belsen. The only evidence he will give is of his attitude towards the internees at Neuengamme, and should last only five minutes.
MAJOR MUNRO: I would like to make a similar application on behalf of Hössler. The evidence is that of a journalist who, since I finished my case, has come forward with evidence which I consider very important on behalf of the accused Hössler. He is not in Court at the moment, but he is being brought here with the assistance of B.A.O.R. Should he not be here at the appropriate time I ask the Court to accept documents in lieu.
MAJOR CRANFIELD: Firstly, I would like to support Major Winwood's application in regard to Unterscharführer Müller. My four accused are all charged with causing the deaths of internees of the Belsen concentration camp, and I understand it is alleged by the Prosecution that those deaths were to a large extent caused by starvation, and the Court will remember that the Prosecution evidence in that respect - Major Berney's evidence - was only related to the period after the liberation. The only evidence we have been able to produce of the period before the liberation is the evidence of the accused persons in this case, which, of course, is bound to be suspect. Müller is an independent witness under no charge from the British authorities, and I feel in regard to my four accused that it is most important for the Court to have the true picture before them. I would remind the Court of the Auschwitz film which was put forward by the Prosecution, interposed as an exposition of the camp at Auschwitz, and I think the Court may safely assume they will get no less benefit from the evidence of Müller in regard to the Belsen situation.
Secondly, I wish to apply for leave to call Frau Elizabeth Lohmüller to give evidence on behalf of the accused Grese. Lohmüller was a prisoner at Ravensbrück, and was there when Grese arrived at Ravensbrück. She will tell the Court how Grese behaved at Ravensbrück. I appreciate that Grese is not charged here with an offence at Ravensbrück, but the Court will have heard how the learned Prosecutor produced evidence of extreme conduct in this case. He also alleged that the training which the Aufseherinnen underwent at Ravensbrück, including the accused Grese, was training to ill treat the prisoners. Lohmüller will deal with that matter and give the Court a view of it, and will also tell the Court how the accused Grese behaved there. She tells me she is confident she can satisfy the learned Prosecutor that she is not a war criminal in hiding.
Lohmüller has given me particulars of a possible witness on behalf of the accused Grese who can testify to her conduct at Auschwitz. This witness has been sent for by me through the local Military Government Detachment and has to come from Flensburg on the Danish frontier. She has not arrived yet. I ask leave, if I am satisfied she will be of assistance to the Court, to call her.
The Court has already indicated that it appreciates the difficulties which the Defence have in finding witnesses in this case, and the Court will appreciate that it is difficult to persuade people to give evidence for the Defence even if one is able to find them.
CAPTAIN ROBERTS: I wish, first of all, to support the application of Major Winwood to call Müller. On behalf of the accused Flrazich, as Müller was intimately connected with the food situation at Belsen, I wish to question him about the details of the cookhouse and surroundings where Flrazich was the cook.
I have also one other application in regard to Flrazich. The Court will remember that some time ago I asked permission to further cross-examine Brigadier Glyn-Hughes and, if necessary, to take an affidavit from him. I have taken a short affidavit, and the Prosecutor has agreed it and has no objection to it going in. I have not produced it up to now as I have been waiting for a convenient opportunity. It has been translated into German and the accused have had copies, so if the Court will intimate a convenient time I will produce it.
In regard to the accused Schmedidzt, there are two possible witnesses, and I ask the Court's permission to be allowed to call them in his defence. The first is his mother, for whom I made application a week before the trial started. She has just arrived and I have not yet had an opportunity of interviewing her, but I do not intend to call her unless I think she can be of material assistance. The other one is Abraham Levy, a prisoner in No. 2 Camp at Belsen. The name Abraham Levy is apparently a common one among the prisoners there and I have not yet been able to get hold of the right one. Both witnesses I shall call to prove that the accused Schmedidzt was never a member of the SS As I say, unless they can produce evidence of material value I shall not call them.
MAJOR BROWN: The Court will remember that after I closed the case of my last accused I made an application that I might be allowed later to call a witness, and the President said: "I think the Court fully realise the difficulty in getting witnesses, so you can produce the witness in due course", and I think that was agreed from the beginning. The witness I then had in mind I have not been able to get, but during the early part of this week I received from the Dutch liaison officer in Amsterdam a letter which he had received from a witness living in Amsterdam who was an inmate of Belsen, and she has made certain statements in this letter with regard to Mathes which I consider to be very important on his behalf. The British Army of the Rhine are trying to produce that witness, and I hope she will arrive in the next two or three days. If she does not I ask the Court to accept the letter which she has sent me.
On behalf of Captain Corbally and myself I apply for permission to call two further witnesses on behalf of Stärfl and Dörr. The witnesses are Alfred Tusch, who is a farmer at Gross Hehlen, and the other one is the Bürgermeister of Gross Hehlen. The Court may remember that when my friend, Captain Corbally, had finished calling the life witnesses on behalf of his accused Dörr he omitted to tender an affidavit which had been made by this farmer, but the Court decided that as Tusch was reasonably available they would prefer to hear his oral evidence rather than accept his affidavit. Efforts have been made to obtain the presence of this farmer and he will be easily available.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: On behalf of the accused Heinrich Schreirer I would like to call a very short witness to corroborate something which he said, of which was also said in the witnesses by by Frau Schreirer. This is the medical officer who has carried out certain examination of Frau Schreirer, and I would like permission to call this doctor.
On behalf of the accused Barsch, the Court will remember that when I closed the case I asked permission to call an SS man called Besemer, who was not at that time available. He has since been brought to Lüneburg and I would like permission to call him.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: I would like to support Major Winwood's application to call Müller. He will clear up some points on the provisions in Cookhouse No. 1 so far as No. 33 (Ilse Förster) is concerned. I should also like the Court's permission to call a witness on behalf of No. 30 (Ignatz Schlomoivicz). This witness is at the moment being traced by Major Stewart, and he is the brother of the accused. What his evidence will be I cannot say at the moment as I have not yet seen him, but it will only be as to character up to the year 1938. It appears that his brother is an interpreter with the British Military Government in Germany and is at the moment being traced.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: I have nothing to add, except that I would like to see Müller.
CAPTAIN BOYD: I have nothing to say.
CAPTAIN MUNRO: I have nothing to say.
THE PRESIDENT: May I just see whether I have this right. I understand that Major Winwood wants to call Müller, which is supported by the remainder of the Defending Officers. You are also asking permission to call a doctor to make a report regarding the accused Klein's handling of internees at Neuengamme. The next witness whom it is asked should be called was asked by you, Major Munro, with regard to the behaviour of the accused Hössler at Auschwitz.
MAJOR MUNRO: That is correct.
THE PRESIDENT: Major Cranfield, you wanted to call two witnesses so far as Grese is concerned. One as to how she behaved at Ravensbrück, and the other witness - I have not got that down.
MAJOR CRANFIELD: The other witness has not arrived yet. I am told she was at Auschwitz and can speak to the accused's behaviour at Auschwitz, but until I have seen her I cannot say.
THE PRESIDENT: Captain Roberts, you want to call a man called Abraham Levy, who I understand was a prisoner in Belsen, and also the mother?
CAPTAIN ROBERTS: That is correct.
THE PRESIDENT: Major Brown, you have asked permission to call someone from Holland as far as the accused Mathes is concerned?
MAJOR BROWN: Yes, the name is Kurd.
THE PRESIDENT: As far as the accused Stärfl and Dörr are concerned, I remember that particular case. I am not quite sure which of you that was, but it was a case of whether you could put in a document.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: It was me.
THE PRESIDENT: You have asked permission to call the Bürgermeister of Gross Hehlen and this farmer who was the man, as far as I can recollect, delivering milk. You have also asked to call some medical evidence as regards Frau Schreirer, and the SS man Besemer on behalf of Barsch.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Captain Neave, you have asked to call Schlomoivicz's brother?
CAPTAIN NEAVE: That is correct.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I really think this is a matter between the Court and the Defending Officers. I equally had a great many letters during the case. Equally I could have asked to call a great many people, but I do not propose to do so.
I have handed to me today some documents, which I have already indicated to Captain Corbally. He may want to call an additional witness he does not know about yet. If they are what I think they are undoubtedly he will want to put them before the Court; but I have not had an opportunity of discussing them with him, so I think I should preserve the right on his behalf if necessary. Frankly I say at once that the late Governor of the prison at Celle has handed me a wallet which would appear to be Schreirer's and undoubtedly this contains a Red Cross card made out for somebody at Belsen in his name, and I am sure my friend will want to put that before the Court. I am indicating this now so that he might reserve his right to have it.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: I am much obliged to the learned Prosecutor. It is true I do want to put this.
THE PRESIDENT: Before the Judge Advocate makes any remarks on this, I wish to make it clear that this is entirely at the discretion of the Court. Your cases have closed, except there was one particular case where the Court did not agree to see a document because it thought it would prefer to hear the witness. That is a point which I wish to make clear. The Court will have to consider this.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: It is a matter for your discretion, except with regard to the case of the Polish officer, who has not closed his case.
THE PRESIDENT: I therefore propose to adjourn the Court to look through that list of names. The Court will come back immediately it has conferred.
(At 1000 hours the Court is closed)
(At 1010 hours the Court is reopened)
THE PRESIDENT: This is to the Defending Officers generally, because some of the additional evidence you have asked for permission to call is interlocked, as it were. The Court has considered each of these cases and what you said about what you consider the witnesses will give evidence about, and the decisions of the Court are these. They are prepared to hear Unterscharführer Müller. They do not consider there will be any advantage in hearing Dr. Lord and are not prepared to hear him. They are prepared to hear - I think the name was Kleiger - the witness as far as Hössler is concerned. They are not prepared to hear Elizabeth Lohmüller, but are prepared to hear the witness to whom you referred, Major Cranfield, provided it is perfectly clear she is dealing with Auschwitz. Of course the Court is aware you have not seen her yet. As far as the case of Schmedidzt is concerned, the Court is prepared to hear Abraham Levy, but are not prepared to hear his mother. With regards to Mathes, the Court is prepared to accept a letter. As far as the accused Stärfl and Dörr are concerned, the Court is prepared to hear both the Bürgermeister of Gross Hehlen and Alfred Tusch. The Court is not prepared to hear the SS man Besemer, or hear the brother of Schlomoivicz. As far as the medical evidence is concerned regarding Frau Schreirer, it is the intention of the Court to call as a witness, called by the Court, the Court Medical Officer.
With regard to when these witnesses are called, the Court would like them called - in fact expect them to be produced immediately after the end of the Polish Defending Officer's witnesses.
The accused HELENA Koper is recalled on her former oath and the cross-examination by CAPTAIN CORBALLY is continued as follows: For how long had this American been at Auschwitz? - Very long. I cannot say, exactly, but more than two or three years.
How do you know he was an American? - Because he was supposed to be sentenced to death several times, but he was left to be exchanged because of his nationality.
Was he a white man or a negro? - White.
Did he tell you that he was an American? - Yes, he did; the whole camp knew about it; he was an American Jew.
For how much longer did you know this Oberscharführer Hanzig in Auschwitz? - The first time I saw him in Strafkommando, then for twelve days in the bunker, and after that in Belsen about three days before the arrival of the British troops.
In what circumstances did you see him at Belsen? - What do you mean "in what circumstances"? I saw him as an SS man.
But what was he doing? - I do not know what he was employed as, but I met him twice. Once I spoke to him for a few minutes and the next time for a long time at about 2200 hours. I was afraid of him terribly.
And you were quite sure then that it was the same man you had seen before at Auschwitz? - It seemed to me so.
How old do you think he was at Auschwitz? - Between 20 and 22.
Now you say him, you say, three days before the British arrived, and then about six weeks after the British arrived I think you were shown this photograph of him? (Same handed) - Yes, and I was asked whether that was the Blockältester.
THE PRESIDENT: That is a photograph that has been put in?
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: Yes.
THE WITNESS: I said that he is not an internee but he is an Oberscharführer from Auschwitz.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: Why were you not prepared to swear from the photograph that that was the same man? - Because he looks very miserable on this photograph and he was in quite a different uniform, and therefore I did not take the responsibility of swearing on it unless given the opportunity of seeing him personally, in reality.
You had spent ten days at Auschwitz, and if your story which you told yesterday is true, you have seen this man every day, and you had seen him only three days before the British arrived; is that not so? - Yes, that is true.
You also said that you recognised Hössler from a photograph? - Yes, I did, and I did not say anything bad about him because he was very good in punishment kommando and he helped the prisoners very much.
In which camp, Camp No. 1 or Camp No. 2? - I saw him in the Women's compound when he came to select women.
I put it to you that you had not seen Hössler since you were at Auschwitz in 1944? - Who knows better, the Defending Officer or I?
Had you in fact seen Hössler in Belsen - Yes, I saw him even when he was dragging corpses, and I felt pity for him.
I put it to you that if you could recognise all these other people whom you have from their photographs there is no reason whatever why you should not have been able to recognise Oberscharführer Hanzig from that photograph which I have shown you? - It was like this. These people were accused, I lived with them for years and years, whereas with Oberscharführer Hanzig I spent only 12 days in the bunker and a few occasions in other camps. I recognised him from this photograph but I was not sure, and I asked the British officer to be given the opportunity of seeing him in reality.
Is not this the truth, that there was possibly an Oberscharführer in the bunker at Auschwitz who had some resemblance to the accused number 26, and then when you saw that photograph you thought that that might be the same man, but in fact he is not the same man and you are now not sure? - I am sure one hundred percent that that is the same man, and I did not swear to lie.
Is this story which you tell about Oberscharführer Hanzig and yourself going to bury papers and ammunition in Belsen true? - Yes, it is true. I showed the British officers the place where these boxes were placed and from where they had been taken away.
What part of the camp were they buried in? - It was not far from the Crematorium. There were many lorries there and a kind of high dam, and the traces of these big boxes were still visible.
What time of day did this incident occur? - Which incident?
The incident of the burying of the boxes. - It was towards night.
Were you the only person who went with him to do this? - Yes, I was.
Did he tell you to come along with him? - He did not ask me. I asked him to be allowed to go with him because I was interested to see, and he told me it was the end of the war.
What did he say when you asked to go along with him? - He did not say anything but we went along together.
This spot is not in the Women's compound, is it? - It is in the Women's compound. It is on the side where the Women's compound is.
You seem to have gained his confidence in some way or other, do you not think? - I do not know. It was never my concern to gain the confidence of an SS man.
Otherwise would you not be afraid to ask an SS Oberscharführer to take you along and show you a place where he had buried secret papers? - It is like reading his character. He was not a reliable man, and I did not ask him about it at all. He told me spontaneously about it.
You said a few moments ago that when you were at Belsen you were frightened of him. Do you really think that is consistent with the story you are now telling the Court, that he volunteered to show you the place where secret documents were hidden? - I was afraid of him because I knew he was a sadist and a degenerate man.
How on earth did you form that opinion? - I told it at once to the British officers when I first spoke with them. I told them that the accused told me if I were a man he would release me from the camp.
You know the question I asked you was how did you form the opinion that the accused, number 26, was a sadist and a degenerate man? - Because he said in the prison when we were there that he hated women and he loved men.
Are you saying that accused No. 26 said that to you? - Certainly.
I put it to you that none of the things which you have said in this Court are true of the accused number 26 at all? - It is an insult from the Defending Officer because I said only the truth.
Just forget the insults. Try and explain to the Court exactly why it was that a person you appear to have known so well and who you last saw three days before the British arrived could not be identified by you from his photograph which is the very living image of him?
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Captain Corbally, the Court feel that you have put that aspect of the case more than once, and they feel they have formed their own view as to what the witness is trying to say. It is quite obvious she will not change it however how much you cross-examine her, and it is for the Court, having heard what you have to say, to decide whether they will accept it or not. The Court are quite satisfied as to what she is trying to tell them. She says the same thing over and over again and you cannot shake her. It would seem, therefore, useless to go on dealing with that point.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: I agree that she does say in substance the same thing every time, but she also seems to produce something new and slightly different as well.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: I think the Court have given you latitude to put the same question two or three times, and they cannot allow you to keep on asking the same question. The Court feel you should pass on from that aspect of the case and deal with it in your final address.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: (To the witness) You have also said that this Oberscharführer took you into his confidence so far as to show you three passports or identity cards, all of them different; is that true? - He told me that he intended to escape because he knew what was waiting for him and what was in store for him.
Had not those identity cards got photographs on them? - Yes, they had photographs on them and I remember that one was a Russian document, and I even remember the name that was written on it.
Of whom were the photographs taken? - His photographs in civilian clothes.
CAPTAIN NEAVE: No questions.
Cross-examined by CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: You told us yesterday something about a maternity block being in the Sturmlager. Can you tell us the number of that block? - I do not remember the number, but I know where the block is situated.
Was it opposite Cookhouse No. 2? - I do not remember. It is possible, but I do not remember.
You have just said you know where it was. Will you tell us where it was? - Coming from the Women's compound it would be on the left or right hand side.
On both? - On the right hand side.
Do you know where the main camp street was? - Yes.
If you were walking along that from the SS quarters you would come to two kitchens one after the other. Near which kitchen was it? - I do not remember exactly.
Were there a lot of children there? - Yes, but they were children with families not children alone.
Were they of any particular nationality? - I do not know.
Did you at Belsen ever know a woman called Luba Triszinska, a Russian Jewess? - Yes.
Where did she live? - In Block 205 in my block.
What was her work in Belsen? - In the potato peeling department of the cookhouse sometimes, and sometimes on other odd jobs.
What sort of odd jobs? - I cannot say that, because she had various jobs and in Belsen nobody was employed on a static continuous job.
Do you know if she was ever acting as a nurse? - No, she never worked as a nurse. I know that because if she were a nurse she would not have lived in Block 205.
Is Luba Triszinska a common name? - An uncommon name.
If she says that she did act as a nurse is she wrong or are you wrong? - I am not mistaken. I am certain she was not a nurse, because I knew her very well.
CAPTAIN BOYD: I have no questions and neither has Captain Munro.
Cross-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: You were asked whether this girl Luba Triszinska was a nurse. Do you know whether or not she helped to carry the food to the Dutch babies from the kitchen? - I do not think so, because she was working in Cookhouse No. 3.
She was in Belsen for quite a long time before you got there, was she not? - I doubt it very much because the Russian internees arrived from Auschwitz in the last transport.
There were some Russians there quite a long time, were there not? - When I came to Belsen there were no Russians, only Poles and Hungarians.
Just when did you arrive in Belsen? - In December - perhaps on the 20th or 25th December. I do not remember exactly.
When did Guterman arrive? - Together with me in the same transport.
Are you sure it was as late as December? - Certainly; I was the only Christian woman who came together with a Jewish transport to Belsen.
Do not think I am trying to dispute what you say. I only want to clear it up. Guterman said she came in July, yet you both seem to agree you came on the same transport. - Guterman, Bialek and Synger and all the others came together with me.
Synger came in the same transport too? - Yes, we were in the same compartment.
She said she got there in November and Triszinska said she got there in November too. As a matter of fact, it was not very easy to keep track of time in a concentration camp, was it? - I think so. It was easy.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Have you got your dates right, Colonel Backhouse?
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I think so. I have been taking them from the transcript.
THE PRESIDENT: Did you say that Synger said November?
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: No, that was Triszinska. (To the witness) When you first arrived at Auschwitz - your very first day - do you remember it? - Yes.
You knew the ropes fairly well when you got to Auschwitz, I suppose? - Yes.
Just what happened when you arrived there that first day? - It was a transport of 1000 women. We went to the camp. We had our bath and our hair cut - because in Ravensbrück we were allowed to have our hair - we had our numbers tattooed, and were detailed to our respective blocks.
How did the SS and the functionaries behave to you when you arrived? - On this particular day I could not complain.
Were there mainly Jewesses in this transport of 1000 women or what? - It was a transport of political prisoners consisting of 400 Polish Aryans; 300 Russians; and 200 Jewesses.
What were you put into the Strafkommando for? - Because when I came first to the camp I met an old gentleman friend of mine, and I wrote three letters to him and these letters and some cigarettes were found by the Lagerführerin on me and I was sent to that kommando.
Why were you left in the Strafkommando so long? As a rule you were just sent to it for a time as a punishment and then you came out of it, did you not? - Because I was a political prisoner; and, apart from that, I was caught on a few occasions during my work in that Kommando smoking cigarettes.
How soon after you were sent to that Kommando was it that Grese came and took charge of it? - About six or seven weeks.
They were both there for a time, were they? - They were at the same time for about three months.
Did Lothe ever act as a forewoman or Kapo in the Strafkommando? - If one was sent to the Strafkommando for some crime committed you would not get any job because he or she had to work very hard for the punishment.
In which you told us she used to amuse herself by sending prisoners to walk to places where they were not allowed so that they would be shot by the guard? - Yes, I do remember.
Is that true? - Unfortunately the sincere truth.
It has been rather suggested to you by some of the Defending Officers that for 30 people out of 700 to die in a day would cause a great scandal, but did a lot of people die in that Strafkommando? - Very many.
Even in the ordinary Kommandos was it quite usual to see people at the back carrying one or two bodies back with them into camp? - Every night when kommandos were coming from work one could see more than ten dead bodies.
The usual thing was to make the sections at the back to carry them, was it not? - To the Strafkommando it was customary to send a special ambulance because of the great number of dead bodies, but so far as the ordinary Kommandos were concerned, usually some of the girls working in it would be ordered to carry the bodies back to the camp.
Did you have on a number of occasions to load the bodies of the people who had been killed or who had died in your Kommando on to one of the little railway wagons you were pushing at the end of the Kommando? - Grese took special pleasure in selecting me for this ghastly job, consisting in taking the bodies from the spot where they were shot by the guards and bringing them to a kind of gauge railway and writing down the numbers of the women who were dead.
What was your camp number? - 18564.
And then soon afterwards she became Lagerälteste, did she not? - Yes, she fell ill and when she came back she became Lagerälteste.
Did you ever go on any selection parades? - I went through seven selections.
At Auschwitz they insisted on treating you as a Jewess, did they not? - I do not know.
In fact they sent you to Belsen on the Jewish transport, did they not? - They did not send me. I pleaded to be sent because I had no strength left in this way and I asked the Lagerälteste to send me to Belsen.
You are not a Jewess are you? - No. I am Polish.
Well, there are Polish Jewesses, are there not? - I am a Polish Aryan.
I was not suggesting that you were a Jewess. I was suggesting to you that you were treated as one in the camp? - I was treated as a Jewess because my husband was of Jewish decent. He adopted the Christian faith.
What was your husband's profession or trade? - He was a civil engineer.
Do you remember Bormann? - I remember her even from Ravensbrück.
Had Bormann really got a dog at Auschwitz, or not? - She had a dog in Ravensbrück and in Auschwitz, and I am able to describe it very exactly because have still traces of this dog on my arm.
What type of dog was it? - Dark brown dog with light spots. It had a very small head and extremely big ears.
Bormann says that that was a very playful dog which used to play with the prisoners; is that true? - It is ridiculous.
She says she did not have it with her in Auschwitz because she lent it to somebody whilst she was there, and she got it back again when she went away. Is that true? - That is a lie. She was always walking about with this dog.
In the statement which you made at Bergen you told about two separate instances of Bormann setting a dog on people; once on another woman and once on yourself. Are those true? - Yes, that is true, and I have still the traces that everybody can count, the number of teeth of this dog in my arm.
Bormann seems to think that you may be mistaking her and her dog for an Aufseherin Kuck. Do you think there any possibility of that? - It is like night and day. I knew both of them very well and I would not mistake one for the other and the dogs too.
Kuck was quite a young woman, was she not? - Kuck was of about 22 or 23 years of age and was a dark haired woman.
And were the dogs anything like each other? - The dog of Aufseherin Kuck was a black wolf dog.
Were not Bormann and her dog well known throughout the camp as being quite inseparable? - Yes, they were considered as inseparable companions, and Bormann had a German nickname Hanni Räuber, which means Hanni Murderer. [Räuber means Robber]
Most people in a concentration camp had a nickname of one sort or another, did they not? - No, it was especially Bormann who had this nickname.
When Bormann set the dog on you was it quite deliberate? - Yes, it was quite deliberate, but I was lucky enough not to be torn to pieces because I did not shot. If I had, I would.
Do you remember in your statement you spoke about the other woman whom you saw whilst you were kneeling down. Was she badly hurt? - I was kneeling down and I could see very well her state. She was dead; and the Leichenkommando took charge of her.
When you say "Leichenkommando" they were the people who took the bodies off to the mortuary, were they not? - The Leichenkommando took the body to block number 25.
How many people were there in this Leichenkommando? - About 30 girls.
Was their sole job to take bodies to the mortuary each day? - Yes, that was a permanent and sole job.
On the occasion when Bormann set her dog on you and you went into hospital, did you get another beating for the same offence of having cigarettes when you came out? - Yes, she made a written report and she wrote in it that I had 20 cigarettes whereas in reality I had only two cigarettes. I got twelve days in prison for it.
Were you beaten as well? - Bormann slapped me twice in the face but that was really nothing.
And I think you said in your statement that you had seen her attending selection parades? - It was only once, and I suppose it was a selection for the gas chamber.
I thought you said you attended seven selection parades? - Yes, I attended seven selections at Auschwitz.
And in your statement you said that she and an SS Rapportführer called Tauber between them made all the selections? - Yes.
Is that not true? - Certainly it is true, it was in Block No. 18.
There is one thing we have all got a bit confused about, and perhaps you can help us, and that is about these camp duties. Was the position this, that most of the Aufseherinnen had some special job, such as Post Office or the parcels department, or whatever it was, but in addition to that they had to take their turn on camp duty? - (The Interpreter puts the question in Polish)
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: I think the question of the Prosecutor was this. Were the Aufseherinnen who had a permanent job sometimes called to perform duties in the camp?
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: No. My question was this: Apart from the fact that most of these Aufseherinnen had some permanent job, in addition to that permanent job they were expected to take their turn on camp duties; virtually orderly officer.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: I do not think she understands the question.
THE PRESIDENT: Is the question clear to you?
THE INTERPRETER: Yes. I will repeat the question. (The Interpreter repeats the question to the witness)
THE WITNESS: No, it was not like that. It was only Volkenrath, because she was a little ill, who had a permanent job in the parcels department, whereas all the other Aufseherinnen had some duties every day at a different place in a different job, and they were taking changes, they changed between each other.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I see what you mean. She was the only one with a permanent job. The others had to take their turns on various jobs. As a rule only Jews had to go on the selection parades, did they not? - As a rule, yes, but there were exceptions, and sometimes parades for the gas chambers too.
There was another type of selection, was there not, in this way: that as the working parties came in from outside, as they came up to the gate, sometimes they used to pick out the ones who could not keep up, did they not? - Yes, that is true. Sometimes these woman were taken from there to Block No. 25.
And if a prisoner was feeling ill or weak, had fever or anything of that kind, and felt they would not be able to march, did used sometimes to hide in the camp rather than go out with the working parties so that they would not risk that selection, did they not? - Certainly.
And then sometimes, while these working parties were out, the SS would make a search right through the camp rounding up anybody they found of these sick people who should be out with the working parties, put them on parade and send the whole lot to Block 25? - Yes. They would make a parade and then they would try to find out whether all the people on parade were entitled to be in the camp.
And the ones who were not entitled to be in the camp would be sent off to block 25, would they not? - Certainly.
You must have had a very hard time indeed, being in the Strafkommando the whole time, or practically the whole time you were there, must you not? - Very hard indeed.
Were you not often beaten in that kommando? - The Kapos were afraid to beat me, because they knew that I am aware of my rights and if I am doing my work properly I can complain.
Perhaps I put my question badly. I am not suggesting that you were beaten very often, but the other people in the kommando were beaten very often, were they not? - They were beaten very frequently because they could not push the lorries, they had not enough strength to push the lorries.
And the Kapos beat them on with their sticks, did they not? - They had sticks or riding whips, and some of them bare hands.
And the SS looked on and encouraged it, did they not? - Yes, the SS did, but the guards did not beat anybody.
No, not the guards, the SS men who were in charge? - Yes, and they were laughing at it.
When women went out on an outside kommando, did the SS women usually take a dog with her? - There were five women who had dogs and they were Kuck, Erich, Hoffman, Bormann and Runge.
I just want to ask you a little bit about Schreirer; not very much because you have been asked everything that could be asked of you, I think. You remember when you asked to see Schreirer to make sure it was the right man? - Yes, I do.
Were you able to have any conversation with him? Did you talk to him, or did you just have a look at him? - I spoke to him for about an hour.
With Captain Fox? - It was a Major who was present, Captain Fox, another officer who spoke German, an internee woman interpreter who could speak Polish.
Did you talk with Schreirer? - Yes, I recalled all our common experiences.
And did Schreirer talk to you? - Yes, he gave me answers.
What language did you talk to each other in? - When I came, to begin with I was told to speak to him in German, but gradually we switched over into Polish.
Did you find that Schreirer could speak Polish quite all right? - Not only he himself speaks Polish, but even his mother speaks Polish.
We heard his mother in Court, but did you find that he speaks Polish? - Yes, he speaks Polish. He speaks also French and Russian.
Do you remember taking Captain Fox to the place where Schreirer had told you he had buried these boxes? - It was not only Captain Fox that I came with to the place, but there were some other British officers present and some British soldiers.
Had the boxes gone? - Yes.
Was the hole still there, where the boxes had been? - Yes.
You said in your statement that when Schreirer buried these things that was about three weeks before the British came. Is that right? - Yes. Of course, I cannot state the time very exactly, but it was about three weeks before.
I am not asking you to a day or so, but it was about three weeks before. Was that when he told you that he was going to make his escape and get away? - Yes.
Was that when he showed you his false papers? - Yes, and therefore I was really taken by surprise when I found out he was arrested.
Just one other thing about Schreirer. These cells that you were in at Auschwitz, I suppose they were managed by the Political Department, were they? - Yes.
And that is where you found Schreirer working, is it? - Yes.
How many languages do you say he speaks? - I spoke to him in Polish, and in Russian, but the boxer, Jakob [Jakob Kozelczuk], spoke to him in English and French.
Of course, he has told us himself that he is Rumanian? - Yes, he did.
That covers almost every nationality that you would find in a concentration camp, does it not? - Yes.
Did the Political Department do all the interrogations in the camp? - Yes, in more important cases. For instance, if somebody was caught writing letters.
They would translate the letter, I suppose, into German and then interrogate whoever was supposed to have written it; is that right? - Yes.
Were the Political Department very gentle in their methods of interrogation? - Usually they would start with persuasion. If they could not achieve anything in this way, they switched over into beating.
And you say that before Schreirer left Belsen he showed you cards with his photograph on in three different languages with different names; is that right? - Yes, they were different names and one was Russian.
Now [I will] leave Schreirer and I want you to tell me a little more about Belsen. When you got to Belsen you were made an assistant Blockälteste more or less at once, were you not? - It was not an official appointment.
No, I realise that; you told us it was unofficial, helping the Blockälteste. Then after a few days Gollasch made you the Blockälteste, did she not? - Yes.
That was a very big improvement on a permanent position in the Strafkommando, was it not? - Certainly.
You remained a Blockälteste in one place or another until you were made the camp policewoman, did you not? - Yes.
Because to remain a Blockälteste you had got to give satisfaction to the SS? - I would not say that.
Was Stania a Lagerälteste in your compound? - Yes.
Could people go from your compound to Compound No. 2 at all? - Yes.
Could you go fairly easily from one to the other if you wanted to? - When Compound No. 2 became the compound for people suffering from typhus, it became more difficult, but even then people managed to do so.
When did Lager 2 become a Lager for the people suffering from typhus? - Somewhere in January.
And did it remain such until the camp was liberated? - Yes.
Let us get it clear that we are talking about the same Lager. By Lager 2 which one do you mean? Supposing you come into the camp and go down the main road, there is a small lager on your left hand side and a very big one on your right hand side. Which one are you calling Lager 2? - That one on the right hand side, the main women's compound.
The big women's compound. The one you were living in with all your blocks in, 205 and all that. That is the one you call Lager 2, is it? - Yes.
Well, that is another one again. The Sternlager is another and I only want to know which one we are talking about. I am only interested in the one that you are talking about, the big one. The big one is the one you were in pretty well all the time, is it not? - Yes.
Was it comparatively easy to go from the big one to the small one in the early days before the typhus started? - Yes, it was quite easy.
Were ordinary prisoners allowed to walk from one to the other as and when they pleased? - In Belsen prevailed a great disorder with nobody really taking notice of it.
What, as long ago as January? - This chaotic state began when the Kommandant Kramer arrived.
I want to ask you now a little about when you were Blockälteste Did you pick your block staff yourself? - Rottenführer [Aufseherin] Gollasch appointed me as Blockälteste
But your own staff, that is, you Clerk, Synger, Furstenburg and Guterman, you chose yourself, did you not? - Yes, I chose them myself because I came with them together with a transport, and I know them.
They seem to think that you behaved very badly as Blockälteste? (After a pause). Do you think they were making all these stories up about you? - I think they invented these stories.
All you own block staff, all three of them? - It is quite obvious that they were themselves in positions of authority in the camp, and therefore they preferred to adopt this attitude in order to save their own skins to accuse me than to be arrested themselves.
Why, did they behave rather badly as prisoners? - I did not see.
Well, if they did not behave badly they had nothing to fear, had they? Because Rosenberg and Koppel and Bialek, they were not functionaries, were they? - Yes, but they were all of them good friends from a town in Poland, Starachowice.
Was camp policewoman a very difficult job? - No, on the contrary it was that job that I derived great satisfaction from, and it was a very pleasant job.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: I think she added that it gave her time to rest.
THE PRESIDENT: Did she say that?
THE INTERPRETER: She said, "satisfaction and quietness".
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: There were rather a lot of people clamouring to run the kitchen all the time, trying to steal bits of turnip and potato peelings, were there not? - Yes.
In fact some of the women who worked in that kitchen say that Flrazich and Jenner had to keep running out with sticks to beat people off, but when you were there instead did you find there was no difficulty at all? - I had only one duty as camp police and it was to inform the respective blocks that the soup in the cookhouse is ready, and nothing else.
Had you nothing to do as a camp policewoman with preventing the thefts of things from the Cookhouse that you were standing outside? - No, it was not my job. There were four other women to do this, but even they were very lenient.
Who were these four others? - Four Polish Jewesses.
What was their job? - They were Ordnungspolizei, to keep order in the camp, and especially during air raid attacks.
Do you say you were quite a different type of policewoman? - I managed to get that job because I asked Aufseherin Gollasch and also the accused Stania. I told them that I am a weak woman and I did not want anything to do with beating prisoners and with doing harm to them, and that is why I got this job with only one duty, informing the blocks about the food being prepared in the cookhouse.
Had you found as a Blockälteste that you had to beat women? - Yes, I found it sometimes necessary, it was my painful duty to beat them from time to time in order to prevent them doing the things which would bring harm to the whole block.
What do you mean by "harm to the whole block"? - It was a well known method of the German authorities, If someone did something wrong they would administer the collective responsibility, either for the whole block or even for the whole camp.
What sort of punishment did the block get? - The punishment would be no food for a whole day for the block, and the next day all the Blockältesten and the Lagerältesten had to make sport with the inmates in question.
Did that ever happen in Belsen? - I had to do three times in Belsen sports as Blockälteste
Who ordered you to do that? - At one time it was Rapportführerin Gollasch, The other occasion Aufseherin Ehlert, and at that time even Lagerälteste Stania had to do the sport with the other prisoners.
Do you remember an occasion when Ehlert stopped the food of the whole of your block for one day? - Yes, my block.
Why was that? - Because it was a very cold day and the prisoners paraded wrapped in blankets.
About when was that - about how long before the British arrived? - I think it was in January.
Which block would that be? - 205.
I do not want to go through all these separate beatings with you, but you heard each of these allegations which have been made against you by different witnesses. Your own Defending Officer took you through each one of them, did he not? - Yes.
There are only one or two in particular I will ask you about. Koppel for instance. You did beat Koppel and she did faint immediately afterwards, did she not? - Yes, I hit her once with a belt and the question of fainting was quite different. She fainted as she told - she told me the next morning, and it was not because of the beating but because of the guard firing at the block.
You told us that yesterday. All I want to get clear is some of the facts. You did in fact beat her, did you not? - I hit her in such a way that it was harmless.
And at least you were told that she fainted, were you not? - I do not know whether she fainted or not because it was 2000 hours.
Did you sometimes make people kneel on Appell? - It was only once with my Stubendienst Guterman.
Do you remember the woman Fischer? - I remember her very well.
Did you not make her kneel in the snow? - That is not true. I have never forced anybody to kneel, because I myself had to kneel many times when I was a prisoner and I knew what it meant.
I suggest to you that after two years in the Strafkommando you found it was rather fun to find yourself in charge of a lot of other women? - That is not true. I would never get over it to treat people like that; I suffered enough and I knew what it meant to be a prisoner, I was too human.
I suggest to you that you had all along been a regular informer and that was the main reason why you stayed in the Strafkommando so long but were not beaten? - Yes, I have to admit you are right, I was a denouncer, but you have to ask what kind of information I supplied to the German authorities.
I am not interested in what sort of information it was. What I am interested in is the fact that you were a regular informer to the German authorities, were you not? - I would not say regularly, only on these occasions when I was affected myself, when I considered that I was treated unfairly.
And you managed to survive two years in the Strafkommando without being beaten? - To begin with I was beaten very frequently, but I went to the authorities and I complained about it, and therefore they stopped it. I said that I was working very well and there was no reason for beating.
Were the German authorities always so reasonable when people went to them to say they did not like to be beaten because they were working very well? - If a prisoner lodged a complaint against another prisoner to the Lagerführerin she would punish the accused prisoner.
And if they complained about a Kapo beating them would the Lagerführerin punish the Kapo? - Certainly; that applied to senior Kapos, Kapos, Lagerältesten and Blockältesten.
So you had this position, did you, that although the SS stood and looked on and laughed while the beating took place, if you complained about it the person who was beating was punished? - Yes, the Lagerführerin would punish him, because it was forbidden to beat.
Have you a photograph of him? - I had it; he is a Pole from Kraków from a German family.
Where was he stationed? - I met him in Belsen; he was a guard in the watch tower.
Was it soon after you met him that you became a Blockälteste? - When I met him first I was already camp police. I met him on the 15th February and on the 22nd February he left for the battle front, and he left me his photograph.
You were on quite good terms with quite a few of the SS men, were you not? - No.
And Starostka was on good terms with quite a few of them, was she not? - I could not say that.
What clothes did Starostka use to wear in these two camps? - In the same way as every other prisoner.
Did she wear camp clothes? - Certainly, in Auschwitz.
Did she in Belsen? - In Belsen sometimes civilian clothes, sometimes camp clothes.
Have you any idea where she got these civilian clothes from? - All of us that came from Auschwitz came in civilian clothes with a red belt behind on the shoulder.
Were you put into ordinary concentration camp clothes when you got to Belsen? - No.
No. You told us yesterday that Hössler came into the women's compound to choose some German women. What I want to know is when was this? - Five weeks before the arrival of the British troops.
Did you say five weeks? - Five or six.
He came to collect German women, did he? - Yes, he chose them for a brothel.
To take them to the camp that he was running then, do you mean? - I do not know where the women were sent to.
Do you know he was running a camp called Dora at that time? - Yes, I know it very well, and I know when it was.
He came to select some women for his own camp; is that it? - He came to our camp; he ordered us to parade and he chose all the German women available.
That was in Belsen? - Yes.
You knew him quite well, did you? - Certainly. He was my Lagerführer in Birkenau.
Was he the man you used to take most of your reports to? - No. I used to take my reports to the Lagerführerin or to the Lagerälteste, and these reports were concerned with food, unfair distribution in the block.
I just want to put it to you finally. This is what I am suggesting, that when you first went in a concentration camp you had a very bad time. - Yes.
Then at Auschwitz you bought yourself out of the beatings by spying on other prisoners for the SS - I could save myself from beating because I was quite aware of what a prisoner's function or right was, what he is entitled to do and what he is forbidden to do.
And that when you got to Belsen you were given the job of Blockälteste and there you beat prisoners? - I said already that beating was the last resort; it was necessary if I had to do it, and I am quite sure I can say it with a clear conscience that the beating was harmless.
I suggest that your beating was very severe and that some women, in their weakened state, died from it. - That is untrue; I have never beaten anybody in the camp in the same way as I was beaten before myself; I shouted more that I beat.
And that you then became camp policewoman to keep people away from the kitchen because of the fact you had been so severe as a Blockälteste? - That is not true and it is a perfect exaggeration. As I said before, I asked to be transferred from the job as Blockälteste to the job of camp police because I wanted to avoid the circumstances to beat the people.
And that you remained camp policewoman until all the other Blockältesten could not stand you any longer and Ehlert let them beat you up? - That is not true. As I said before, I have never been beaten by the Blockältesten; none of the Blockältesten in the camp ever touched me, and I was beaten by Ehlert only because I was found in possession of leaflets that were dropped by British planes in the camp, and because I had the photograph of Roman Svistl.
Had you reported someone to Ehlert for having jewellery? - Nothing and to nobody I did report in Belsen, and Ehlert invented this story because she was aware of the punishment she would get after having beaten me.
Was Ehlert very interested in prisoners' jewellery? - I do not know, because these enquiries about jewellery and gold were kept in great secrecy. The SS men if they found gold somewhere they tried to do their best in order not to make propaganda out of it, because the other prisoners would find out about it and would hide their own gold.
Did quite a few prisoners have some odd bits of jewellery or gold hidden away? - I do not know, I have not got any.
I did not suggest you had. I was asking whether quite a few prisoners kept a bit hidden away? - I have never seen it in my block. The prisoners from my block were very poor people.
And the whole of Ehlert's story then, you say, is a complete invention? - I would like to be allowed to tell the whole story to the Prosecutor about this investigation in the Political Department that was told by Ehlert before.
I do not think the Court want to hear that. The only other person I want to ask you about is Flrazich when he ran this kitchen. After you came out of prison on the 25th March, the same day as Flrazich so you say, did you see him opposite you in this kitchen? - Yes.
Did he work in the other half of it? - No, he did not work in my part of the cookhouse.
Did Jenner come back again? - I do not know. It is possible. I have not seen him.
Jenner was in No. 3 Kitchen, was he not, and was arrested by the British authorities and is still in prison? - I do not know. I saw only Flrazich there, but it is quite possible that Jenner was also there.
Did you see Flrazich shooting people there? - He seemed to be in a fit of insanity with a pistol in his hand.
How long before the British came was that? - It was immediately after they had this general parade for the whole SS personnel and when they put the armlets on their arms.
What happened to the bodies of these people who were shot? - They were taken together to a heap.
What happened to the heap? - I do not know exactly, but I think that the relatives of the people shot in that way came later on came and tried to find their own people and to bury them.
Re-examined by LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: You said you had a photograph of Roman Svistl. Can you explain why you had this photograph? - He left the camp and went to fight and he said he was afraid he was going to be killed, so if I was going to come back to Poland as the war was drawing to its end I should have the photo for his mother.
In what language were you making your statement to the British Officers? - In German.
Can you remember when Kramer arrived in Belsen? - Four or five weeks after I arrived in Belsen.
Do you remember the charge sheet which was read to you on the first day of the trial? - Yes
Do you remember that this charge sheet charges you with having been together concerned with the other accused in ill treating internees and among those internees who have been mentioned by name your own name is included?
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: That is rather a point for you to make in your speech. The Court have noticed that, and they accept it that the woman in the charge must be the witness.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Very well.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Were you born in Poland or in Hungary? - In Poland
Where were you born? - Płoki near Nugari.
Can you play a violin? - Yes, a violin and piano.
Where were you a professor of music? - I am a graduate from a music high school in Kraków and I have a certificate.
Does that certificate make you a Professor of Music? - Yes, from the conservatory.
A MEMBER OF THE COURT: Was the Political Department run by the SS or the Gestapo? - In Auschwitz and Belsen by the SS
THE PRESIDENT: You say you have seen people beaten a lot. Have you ever seen them beaten with a rubber club? - The only Aufseherinnen I saw beat people with a rubber truncheon was Aufseherin Ault who was very similar to the accused number 41.
THE PRESIDENT: Have you any questions arising out of that?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: No, I have no questions and that concludes my case in respect of this accused.
(The accused Helena Koper, leaves the place from which she has given her evidence)