Transcript of the Official Shorthand Notes of 'The Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty Four Others'
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: The next accused I represent is number 31, Vladislav Ostrowoski. He is on the Belsen charge only and the affidavits against him are contained in volumes 15 and 16 of the transcript. I will not call Vladislav Ostrowoski.
The accused, VLADISLAV OSTROWOSKI takes his stand at the place from which the other witnesses have given their evidence and having been duly sworn is examined by LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ as follows: What is your full name? - Vladislav Ostrowoski.
What was your last address in Poland? - Łódź.
When and where were you born? - 27th June 1914 in Łódź.
What was your occupation? - A painter.
Are you married or single? - Married.
Have you any children? - One child.
How old is the child? - Nine years.
What happened to you during the Polish war in 1939? - I was called up in the Polish Army in 1939.
Did you take part in fighting? - Yes, I did.
On what front did you fight? - On the Russian front.
What happened to you after Poland was overrun? - I was wounded on 18th September 1939.
Have you been a prisoner of war and were you arrested by the Germans? - In April 1940 I was detained by the Germans.
Why were you arrested by the Germans? - I do not know why I was taken away from the factory.
Where were you taken to? - was for four months in Gestapo in Łódź.
What happened then? - I was taken to a transit camp in Radogoszcz in Poland.
How long did you stay in this camp? - I was there for seven months.
Where were you taken then? - I was taken to a prison in Sieradz in Poland.
When did you leave this prison in Sieradz? - At the end of 1932  I ran away from the prison.
What happened to you when you escaped from the prison? - I went to Berlin.
Was your wife German? - She was deported with a transport from the factory to Berlin.
What happened to you in Berlin? - I was arrested on the 20th October 1944 in Berlin by the Gestapo.
Where were you sent to? - I was sent to a Berlin prison - Moabit.
Did you eventually leave the prison? - After a few days the sentence was read out to me that I had to go to a concentration camp in Gross Rosen.
How long did you stay in Gross Rosen? - On the 6th or 8th February I was sent to Dora camp.
What year was it? - In 1945.
What did you do in Gross Rosen? - For two weeks I was in Block No. 35 as a newcomer to the camp.
What happened then? - I was sent to an Aussenkommando B12, four kilometres from Dora.
How long did you stay in this Kommando B12? - Until 2nd April.
While you were in this kommando what was your employment? - At first I was employed on building a tunnel, and after four weeks I had an accident and was transferred to Stubendienst.
How long have you been Stubendienst? - I do not know.
In what block were you Stubendienst? - At first in block number 19 and then in block number 18 until the end.
Where did you go from Dora? - I was sent with a transport to Belsen.
When did you arrive in Belsen? - I left Dora on 2nd April and I arrived in Belsen on the 10th April.
Did you go by train or by foot? - By train; eight days in the train.
What block were you put in when you arrived at Belsen? - 26.
How long did you stay in this block? - On the following day the Blockältester took all the sick men including me to the hospital. It was a block attached to the hospital.
What number was it? - It was Block No. 19.
How long did you stay in Block 19? - Until the British troops arrived.
What employment did you have in Block 19? - I had no duties. I was sick.
What was your illness? - The doctor said it was tonsillitis.
Was it a camp doctor or an internee doctor who said that? - An internee doctor.
On your way from Dora to Belsen did you stay for a short time in a small camp called Ellrich? - When we arrived in the railway station at Ellrich some trucks were attached to our train with other prisoners.
Did the men leave the train at Ellrich station? - No.
Did you have any duties during your journey from Dora to Belsen? - No.
You have a translation of the deposition by Iwanow. He says in paragraph 3 that you were a Kapo on the journey from Dora to Belsen, and that you beat prisoners indiscriminately with a stick in the camp where you stayed for a short time during this journey. He says you beat between fifteen and twenty prisoners injuring them and knocking them down to the ground. What do you say about that? - It is a lie. I was too short a time in the camp to be a Kapo.
Then in paragraph 4 he says you were a Kapo in charge of Block 19, and that you beat prisoners during the food distribution with a broken soup ladle. - If a prisoner came as a Kapo from another camp he was not entitled to become a Kapo in the new camp. Therefore it is not true.
While you were in Block 19 in Belsen did you help the block staff with the food distribution? - No.
In paragraph 5 you are alleged to have walked across the block over the sleeping bodies of prisoners, hitting them as you went with the iron handle of the broken soup ladle. - That is not true. The witness mentioned about parades in Belsen and there were no parades in Belsen.
Did you at any time in Block 19 help the block staff tin getting prisoners out on Appell? - No, never. There were some fit and strong prisoners coming from Camp No. 1 and No. 2 to help to take the prisoners from our block to parades.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Will you elaborate that. First of all the witness said there were no parades in Belsen, and then he said the fit and strong prisoners came to take them to parades.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: (To the witness) You said there was no morning Appell in Block 19, and then you said strong people from another camp came and helped the block staff in getting prisoners out on Appell. Can you explain that to the Court? - These strong people from other camps would come to our block to chase the prisoners, not for parades but for other purposes.
What were the other purposes for which the prisoners were forced to leave the blocks? - The purpose was to remove dead bodies from the block.
The next deposition is that of Kalenikow (page 78) who says in paragraph 4 you were a camp policeman. - I was sick in Belsen.
In the same paragraph he says during the food distribution you would walk down the line of waiting men and beat them. - That is not true. I had no function in Belsen.
You are also alleged to have killed a Frenchman who was sick and who could not leave the block on Appell by hitting him with the iron handle of a soup ladle? - Firstly I was sick myself and, secondly, I had no function, therefore, I had no need to kill the man.
In paragraph 5 of the deposition of Andrej Nijkrasow it says: "Ostrowoski also withheld the food at Belsen, giving it only to the strong and healthy prisoners and so the sick prisoners were starved to death". What do you say about that? - Firstly I was sick and, secondly, I had no responsibilities in the block. Therefore I could not influence the distribution of food.
In paragraph 4 Nijkrasow says that in Ellrich camp because a prisoner excreted outside the block you ordered 900 men to sit down in a stooping position for three hours, that you beat prisoners with a wooden stick, and that you withheld food for that day. - That is untrue. The deponent says he was at Ellrich. If he was there he could not be at the same time in Kommando B12.
THE PRESIDENT: I am not quite clear about that answer. There is no allegation in paragraph 4 that he was in command of B12.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: He says Ellrich camp was a different camp and B12 was a different kommando. As he said before he never stayed during his journey from Dora to Belsen in a transit camp. This incident must have happened in a different camp.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I understand that none of the people from B12 of which he was in command went to Ellrich, therefore he cannot have.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: I should have read paragraph 4 as meaning that it all happened at Belsen and not Ellrich where it says: "I was in Block 19 and Ostrowoski was a Kapo in charge of this block".
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ:But his first sentence is: "After leaving Dora we spent two or three days in Ellrich Camp before proceeding by train to Belsen".
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Yes, but he has already told us in this particular camp he did not stop.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Yes, it may be Belsen again. (To the witness) Can you tell the Court if anything of that sort happened in Belsen while you were in Block 19? - Also not.
Do you know a man called Vladimir Sulima? - No.
In paragraph 6 of his affidavit Sulima says that he was ill with typhus and asked you for food and instead of giving him food you beat him across the shoulders with a stick. What do you say to that? - That is not true. This man states that he was sick and he attended parades. There were no parades in the camp and no sick people would attend parades.
Are you sure that is the right deposition? - Yes, that is true.
The last deposition is that of Michal Promsky. In paragraph 3 Promsky says after you arrived in Belsen you were beating prisoners who did not hurry on to parades, that you beat them sometimes with a wooden stick and sometimes a rubber truncheon and sometimes with a spade - That is not true. I was sick in the same way as the other prisoners; and no prisoners attended parades.
While you were in Belsen did you ever have a wooden stick or a rubber truncheon or a spade? - Never.
Then Promsky goes on and says when the prisoners fell on the ground you kicked them in the neck. - I was ill myself lying in the block.
And as a result of this many prisoners died and were taken away afterwards? - That is not true.
What happened to you after the British liberated the camp at Belsen? - After a few days I was told by the internee doctor that I am sick and I should go to hospital. As the hospital in Belsen was overcrowded I went to the town of Celle and applied to the town council. I was given written permission to go to the hospital, and I did so.
And then? - My illness was recognised after a few days as typhus and I was taken back to Belsen.
What happened to you after you recovered? - I had not recovered completely but in June new men, seriously ill, were expected to arrive in the hospital and therefore I had to leave the hospital, and I went into the open camp in Belsen.
How were you finally arrested? - When I recovered I intended to go to the cinema to see the picture about Belsen camp, but the house was full. I was standing in front of the cinema when several Russians approached and started shouting at me that I was an SS man, and when I said that I was not an SS man they said I am a Kapo. The Russians gave me a severe beating, but British troops arrived and defended me. They told me to go to my block, but I answered that I am going to complain about being beaten by the Russians without any ground, and I went to the police to complain about it, and I stayed there from that time until this case came on trial.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Where did he stay until this case, in prison?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: In prison.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to make it quite clear. He says that the Russians beat him up and that he then went to complain to the police, and he stayed there until this case came on. You cannot go complaining to the police and stay with them till the case comes on. Was he arrested, or was he not? Can you bring that out; that is what I want to get at.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: When you went to the police you complained. Were you released after having complained? - When I complained to the police they told me they are going to investigate the case. They investigated the case and they kept me in Bergen in prison.
Did you know any of the Russians who attacked you in Bergen? - I know one of them.
Where did you know him before? - He was Stubendienst in B12 kommando.
Was he Stubendienst in the same block as you were? - I was in Block 18 and he was in Block 19.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you tell us where that was?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Where was this Block 18 and this Block 19? - In Dora camp.
If I remember, you said that you were first in Block 19 and then in Bloc 18 while you were in Dora? - Yes.
Was this Russian in the same kommando as you? - Yes, he was.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: I am going to ask him some questions about accused No. 20. Will No. 20 stand up? (Accused No. 20 Medislaw Burgraf, stands up). Do you know this man? - Yes, I do.
Where did you first meet him? - In Belsen, Block No. 19. [MB19, Bergen-Belsen barracks]
What was his position in Block 19? - He held no position; he was assisting only in food distribution.
How did he behave during the food distribution in which he was helping? - He stood at the door or at the window and prevented people from coming in.
Did you see how he prevented people entering the block? - He stood there and he prevented people from coming in.
Did you see, while he was standing there by the window or the door, whether he was armed with anything which might help him in preventing people to enter the block? - No, he had nothing.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: That concludes my examination in chief.
(None of the remaining Defending Officers ask any questions)
Cross-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Were you a Kapo at Gross Rosen? - No.
What was your function there? - I worked in a quarry.
How were you treated there? - Very badly.
Were you beaten? - Yes.
Often? - From time to time an SS man would come and see how many stones I made, and if the number seemed to him insufficient he would give me a beating.
Were there foremen and Kapos there? - Yes.
How did they behave? - Also badly.
Were most of the forewomen and Kapos who you came into contact with there Poles? When you were a workman at Gross Rosen I mean. - Germans; they had green triangles.
Then when you got to Dora you became a Kapo yourself, did you not? - No.
Did you become a Blockältester? - Only Stubendienst.
What was the nationality of most of the prisoners who were in your block when you were Stubendienst? - They had various nationalities; Poles, French, Russians, Hungarians and Italians.
And you were Stubendienst in Block 19 first of all, were you not? - At first I worked in a tunnel and later on I was in Block No. 19.
You started by working in the tunnel and then you became Stubendienst to Block 19? - No.
Of which block did you become Stubendienst (The witness and the Interpreter converse in Polish). It is a straightforward question: What is the number of the block of which you became Stubendienst? - 19.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: (To the Interpreter) Will you ask him to attend carefully to the questions he is asked and answer them shortly, instead of going into these long discussions with you? (The Interpreter explains to the witness)
Was Sulima in that block at Dora? - I do not know him.
You know he says that you treated him extremely badly in that block? - I do not know about it. We knew ourselves only by numbers.
The rest of the block, apart from the Blockältester and the Stubendienst would still be working in the tunnel, I suppose? - Yes.
Were they working 12 hours shifts? - They worked 12 hour shifts and 8 hour shifts.
And were they working day shifts and night shifts? - Yes.
Then they came back when they finished their work to the block for their food, did they not? - Yes.
And it was your job to distribute it, was it not? - It was the duty of the Blockältester.
And yourself assisting. That is what you were there for, is it not? - Yes.
You know, I suggest to you that when these men came back you did not distribute the food fairly at all? - The Blockältester was responsible for the fair distribution of the food.
You were helping, were you not? - That has nothing to do with the question, because ...
Do not worry whether it is anything to do with it, answer it. - My duty was only to fetch the food containers.
You fetched the food, did you? - (The Interpreter and witness converse in Polish). It is a straightforward question: Did you fetch the food? Now just answer it. (The Interpreter and witness again converse in Polish). Will the Interpreter translate some of this? I do not want this conversation to go on any longer. - Food was brought in containers from Ellrich to the Aussenkommando we were working in, and then we would take the containers and we brought them to the tables.
It was brought from Ellrich, was it? - Yes, with a truck.
How far from Ellrich was your Aussenkommando? - 14 kilometres.
Was Ellrich the nearest cookhouse? - Yes - I do not know, but we belonged to Ellrich.
And all your food came 14 kilometres from the cookhouse? - Yes.
Did you ladle the food out with a big metal soup spoon? - I had not the ladle; it was the Blockältester who did it.
Well, was it ladled out with a big soup spoon? - Certainly, otherwise we could not distribute the food.
I suggest to you that you regularly beat people with your soup spoon? - That is not true.
And that you used to amuse yourself by wakening people up during the night shift if they were on the day shift and during the day if they were on the night shift? - It was forbidden.
I am not very worried as to whether it was forbidden; I am suggesting that is what you did. - I did not.
When you left Dora you marched to begin with, did you not? When you left your kommando you marched into Ellrich to the collecting centre, did you not? When you left Dora, or your Aussenkommando B12, to come to Belsen you had to march into Ellrich first to make up the transport, did you not? - No.
How many of you were there at B12? - 1800.
1800 at B12 itself? - Yes.
What station did you get the train from? - It was a railway station near the Kommando B12.
I suggest to you that what really happened was that you went into your father camp, Ellrich, and that you were there for two days whilst that train was being made up? - That is not true.
Tell me this, which may possibly be the explanation. Just before you left B12 did another lot of prisoners come in to catch the train there from outside kommandos? (The witness and Interpreter converse in Polish). Put that paper down and attend to what you are doing. - About one or two weeks before we left Kommando B12, another 300 prisoners came in. Till that time there were only 1500, but at the time of departure there were 1800, and we left by train to Ellrich.
Were there still some other kommandos not very far away from yours? - I do not know.
Dora was a very big camp, was it not, which included a lot of small kommandos working in factories? - I was told so.
You say that in B12 you actually had a train, a railway station, and your train left there; is that right? - Yes, because the site of our work was not far away from the factory working on the weapon V1.
What I am suggesting to you is this, that a day or two, in fact for the last day or two before that train set off for Belsen, small parties from some of the small camps outside were collected at your camp to get on the train? - I know that they came to Ellrich to join the train, but I do not know about B12.
What I am suggesting to you is this, that your camp was really part of Ellrich; it was an Aussenkommando from Ellrich. Ellrich itself was part of Dora and you were part of Ellrich. - I do not know.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: I am getting rather muddled, and I dare say you are too. I understood him to be saying that he had been working at Ellrich with the kommando, that he then had an accident and then I thought from there he was transferred back to Dora.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I do not think so. I think he merely ceased to go out with the kommandos. Ellrich is part of Dora.
THE PRESIDENT: He became a Stubendienst and then he did not go out.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I do not think he changed his block.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: He said he had the job of Stubendienst in Block 19. You think that was at Ellrich, do you?
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I am suggesting that the real position is this. Dora is the name for the whole group of camps, Ellrich is a name for part of it, just as Mittelbau and Nordhausen is another. Round Ellrich there is B12 and probably B1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, I do not know. [Info: Project B12, alias Kaolin, was a Kohnstein tunnelling project west of the Mittelwerk tunnels] He worked in the tunnel in B12 first of all, and he then became a Stubendienst at this same camp, B12, which is part of Ellrich. What I am suggesting to him now is that the explanation of the extraordinary coincidence that it was Block 19 at Ellrich and Block 19 at B12 is that he was there all the time.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Would you ask him specifically whether he was Stubendienst at Dora or at Ellrich.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: The answer to that is, I think, that Ellrich is part of Dora. I will try and get it this way. (To the witness) You were working in the tunnel at B12, were you not? - Yes.
What block did you live in then? - 19.
When you had your accident and you became Stubendienst, was that Stubendienst of the same Block 19? - Yes.
You stayed in the same block, and instead of going out to work you became the block orderly? - Yes.
That block was the living accommodation for your Kommando B12? - There were three blocks for the whole kommando, and the kommando was surrounded by barbed wire and watched by guards all the time.
And this Block 19 was one of the three? - Yes.
And it drew its food from Ellrich? - Yes, on a truck from Ellrich.
What were the numbers of the other two blocks? - 17 and 18.
So you had 17 and 18 and 19, and presumably the other blocks were the remaining blocks of Ellrich, were they, from 1 to 16, and possibly onwards? - No, it was not like that. There were some other kommandos who had belonged to Ellrich too and they had the other numbers from 1 to 16.
Well that is exactly what I said. In other words, you were all part of Ellrich and Ellrich itself was part of Dora? - Yes. I would like to add that in Ellrich and in Dora we had also blocks No. 19.
What I am suggesting to you is that shortly before you left there you gathered some extra persons into that camp and some of them were posted to live in Block 19? - I do not know.
Do you remember any occasion when the whole of Block 19 were made to squat outside their block? - I do not.
I suggest to you that when these outside people began to arrive into your camp you beat them as soon as they arrived, just to teach them how things were going to be run? - If it was really how you say, people coming and going like running water, what was the use of me teaching them discipline?
It was quite a popular habit of the functionaries, was it not, to beat new arrivals just to put a little discipline into them when they arrived? - The Stubendienst was not a Kapo and was not entitled ...
I said nothing about Kapos. I said functionaries quite deliberately. - I do not know about this happening.
Were you never beaten in the block by the Blockältester? - Yes, I was.
Did you not pass it on to the Russian prisoners under you? - No.
You had been wounded fighting on the Russian front, had you not? - Yes.
Are you sure you did not take it out of the Russian prisoners? - War is war.
When you arrived at Belsen, were you all put into Block 19 again, the people who had been in Block 19 before? - I do not know, because went to Block No. 26.
Are you quite sure you went to Block No. 26? - Yes.
What part of the camp was it in? - In compound No. 3.
What other people were put in that compound, or were already in when you got there? - Various transports arrived to that part, to that compound, and there were miscellaneous people.
Then were you put in charge of Block 19 again, as you had been before? - 100 men were transferred from Block 26 to Block 19.
And were you not put in charge of them? - No.
I suggest to you that you went on behaving precisely as you had behaved before, and that you went on beating people in that block ? - That is not true.
And that this story of yours about being ill is all nonsense? - (No answer)
These people who recognised you did not pick you out from a photograph or anything like that, did they? They were people who actually saw you. - Yes, and all of them came on 15th June to see me.
They all came to see you again, did they not, to make sure they had the right man? - I do not know why they came.
You see, there are no less than six of them who say that you were beating them and ill-treating them in Belsen? - Yes, but one of them says that I was a Blockältester, the other that I was a Kapo and a third one that I was camp police.
They all call you by different names, but they all say you were in charge of the distribution of food and of getting people out on parade from block 19. That is right, is it not? We know now, of course that you do not have Kapos in charge of blocks, but whoever wrote these down obviously did not. They say you were a Kapo in charge of the block. - They were aware of it in the same way as I, because if they worked at any outside kommandos without knowing a Kapo was ...
Never worry about arguing about it. Did you not in fact have the job of getting people out - we are going to get into difficulty again; do not use the word "Appell", but some other word - in the morning to work? - No.
Do you remember people dragging corpses away from the square just outside Block 19? - Yes, I do.
Do you remember all the prisoners being forced out of the blocks to drag them away? - In my block I did not see it; about the other things I do not know.
Your kommando, of course, was one of the latest to arrive, was it not, in the whole camp? - I think there were some other kommandos that came after our kommando.
And were not people forced out of their blocks before it was light to start this dragging? - No.
Do you say none of the prisoners from your block were made to do that? - None of them, because this block was a hospital block and all the inhabitants were ill.
Who fetched the food for your block? - Prisoners detailed by the Blockältester.
Who was the Blockältester? - A Pole whose Christian name was Konrad.
Were nearly all your prisoners Russian? - I do not know.
Do you remember this Frenchman Albert? - I do not.
You say there were never any parades at all in Belsen? - I know that in our block there were none.
How was your block counted and reported? - Sick prisoners would sit in five's and the others would stand in five's inside the block.
Did you not have a broken soup ladle when you were in Belsen? - No.
I suggest to you that you carried one regularly and hit people with it regularly? - That is not true. Firstly I was sick, and secondly I had no position entitling me to beat prisoners.
I just want to ask you about one other thing. When do you say you left Belsen - the first time? - Two or three days after the liberation.
Why did you go? You knew it was forbidden to, did you not? - I was not the only one who did it.
The camp was in quarantine, was it not; you were not allowed to leave it? - Despite that prisoners left the camp.
Were the ones who left in those first two or three days the ones frightened to stay? - No.
How did you get past the guard? - There were the Hungarians troops on guard and their rifles were not loaded.
That is not true at that period, is it? - That is true.
How did you get past the Hungarian guard? - A truck was coming into the camp, and I passed on the other side of the truck, the guard stood on the other side of the truck so the guard did not see me.
You took a very big risk getting out, did you not? - I have not taken any risk.
And you had nowhere to go and no means of getting food or anything, had you? - I went straight to the hospital.
You went to Celle first, did you not? - Yes.
How did you get to Celle? - I started on foot and then I got a lift.
The first time you were let out of hospital in Belsen when you went about the place you were promptly recognised by the people who had been in your block, were you not? - No, not in the least.
Was that the first time you had been in the cinema? - I went several times before.
When these Russians said who you were you were, as a matter of fact, taken to the police station, were you not? - I was not taken. I went of my own accord.
Did a British soldier go with you? - They treated my wounds and they came with me as an escort, to defend me.
But you all arrived at the police station together, the British soldiers and yourself? - Yes.
It is what you call going voluntarily with the policemen to the police station? - Yes, because I wanted to lodge a complaint about being beaten.
The Russians followed too, did they not? - No, they did not.
What did you want this escort for then? - It was not an escort really; they supported me because I was very weak from typhus.
I thought you said before it was to protect you? - They protected me before, but after that they accompanied me only because I was very weak and they supported me.
Re-examined by LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: You said first that you had been the first time in Belsen in Block No. 19, and then you were transferred to Block No. 18? - Yes.
You then said you were Stubendienst in Block No. 19? - Yes.
Were you again Stubendienst in Block No. 18? - Yes.
When you left B12 did you leave this kommando from Block 18 or from Block 19? - From Block No. 19.
When you were in the prison the Russians were taken to your cell to recognise you? - It was not in Celle, it was in Bergen in the prison.
You said that when you were attacked by the Russians there was one you knew from B12? - Yes.
Did he come and identify you too? - Yes.
Did those Russians come all in the same time or were they brought by groups? - They were brought in two groups, four and two.
In which group was the Russian whom you knew? - In the first group of four Russians.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: You know the six Russians who have made accusations against you, can you remember any of them at all? - I know one of them.
Which one do you know? - I do not know his name, I know him by sight; he was Stubendienst.
Is the Russian who picked you out when you were taken by the British one of the six Russians who have made accusations against you in these documents? - Yes.
Do you know which one it is? - I do not know by name.
A MEMBER OF THE COURT: Can you tell me the name of the place where this Kommando B12 worked? - The kommando worked in a tunnel. I have a diagram here if you wish.
I am not interested in the tunnel, I am interested in the name of the nearest village. - I do not know; there were only hills and mountains.
In relation [to] Ellrich was it on the far side of Nordhausen or on the near side of Nordhausen? - On the further side, but in the vicinity of Dora there were factories for V weapons and the whole place was kept under strict secrecy, nobody was allowed to pass by.
ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE COURT: When you were wounded on the Russian front, were you taken prisoner? - I was wounded on the 18th and the Russians came on the 20th or 21st; at that time I was in the hospital.
Were you taken prisoner? - I was in the hospital in my uniform and the Russians let me stay there. I have not been taken prisoner.
How long were you in Russian hands? - Three months.
How were you treated? - I was sick and I was treated quite well.
THE PRESIDENT: Have you any questions on the questions raised by the Court?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: No, Sir.
(The accused Vladislav Ostrowoski leaves the place from which he has given his evidence)
What was your last address in Poland? - In Kraków.
When and where were you born? - 8th March 1912 in Wola Mędrzechowska, Poland.
What was your occupation? - Tailor.
Were you arrested by the Germans? - I was called up at the disposal of the German troops as a tailor by the Gestapo.
Where were you taken to work? - I was in Kraków till 1st January 1945 and when the Russian front drew near we were sent to Gross Rosen.
How long did you stay in Gross Rosen? - Approximately four weeks; I do not remember exactly.
What was your employment? - I was employed on odd jobs inside the camp. At that time the outside kommando ceased to work in Gross Rosen and therefore I was employed inside the camp.
Where were you taken from Gross Rosen? - To Dora.
Where were you working in Dora? - For one week I was employed inside of the camp; afterwards I was sent to Kommando B12.
When you were employed in B12 what was your employment? - In a tunnel in a quarry.
How long did you stay in B12? - Approximately two months.
Where were you taken then? - To Belsen.
When did you arrive in Belsen? - Between 7th and 9th April.
What block were you put in? - Block No. 15. [MB15, Bergen Belsen Barracks]
Did the whole of B12 arrive together with you? - Yes.
Were all the prisoners from B12 put in Block No. 15? - No, they were sent to various blocks.
Do you know this man? (Indicating the accused Vladislav Ostrowoski) - Yes.
What is his name? - Vladislav Ostrowoski.
When did you first meet him? - In Kommando B12.
What was his employment in B12? - As far as I remember to begin with he worked in the tunnel and later on he became a Stubendienst.
What was the number of the block in which he was a Stubendienst? - There were only two blocks there and the third one was a hospital block. I think he was in one of these, so called Block A.
How did the accused behave to the prisoners while he was a Stubendienst? - Very well.
Can you explain to the Court in more detail? - I mean by saying very well that whether the other prisoners who had any functions beat the prisoners he, the accused, has never beaten prisoners. On the contrary, he was beaten by the Lagerführer because he did not beat the prisoners for very minor offences.
Can you remember any specific occasion when the accused was beaten and why he was beaten? - I remember that on one occasion the Lagerführer inspected our room and noticed some scraps of wool that we used to sleep on lying on the floor and for that the accused got beaten.
Was he responsible also for food distribution? - It was only very seldom because usually the Blockältester himself did it.
On the occasions when he was responsible how did he distribute food? - Very fair. For instance, if it happened that after distributing the food to all the prisoners some was left he would give this part to 1, 2, and 3 tables. If the same thing happened on the following day he would give the addition of food to tables 4, 5, and 6, and so on.
Did you see Ostrowoski during your journey from Dora to Belsen? - No.
Did you see Ostrowoski in Belsen? - Yes.
Did you see him often? - I saw him several times.
Will you carry on with what you were saying? - I saw him frequently, because I had to come to his block to fetch water; there was no water supply in our block.
What was the number of this block where he was? - I think it was Block 19 [MB19, Bergen Belsen Barracks]
Did he to your knowledge have any position in Block 19? - I have not noticed the accused performing any function there, because after eight days journey he was very ill and spent most of his time in bed.
Did you see the accused after the British liberated the camp? - I remember seeing him on the next day after the British liberated the camp, and then I fell ill with typhoid and went to hospital.
Have you seen him since? - After I left the hospital we lived together in my block, Block 9, on the third field - compound.
Do you know how he was arrested and why? - I do not know.
(The remaining Defending Officers do not wish to cross examine the witness)
Cross-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: You say that at B12 there were two blocks and a hospital block? - Yes.
Were you and Ostrowoski together in the same block all the time you were there? - Yes.
And he was Stubendienst all the time you were there, or was he working in the tunnel first? - I do not remember him from the first day, but as long as I remember him he was Stubendienst.
Had the block got a number? - I do not remember.
You remember when the camp was evacuated and you all went to Belsen? - I think it was on the 1st April 1945.
I am not worried about the date, I just want to see if you remember whether it was evacuated. Shortly before it was evacuated did some more people come to that camp? - No.
About how many people went there on the train? - I do not know the number on the whole train, but I know from our camp 700 marched off.
Only 700? - Approximately 700.
Where did you march to? - We marched to Ellrich, about three or four kilometres from outside the work and were waiting there till some other prisoners came in.
About how long did you have to wait there? - Several hours.
You left from the station at Ellrich, did you? - Yes.
Was that the whole of your kommando, B12 Kommando? - I do not understand the question.
When you told us that you marched to Ellrich, did the whole of your kommando march to Ellrich, the whole of B12? - Yes, the whole kommando.
Including Ostrowoski? - Yes.
How far was B12 from Ellrich, as a matter of fact? - I do not know exactly, because the only time when I measured this distance was when I marched to the station, but I think it was about six kilometres.
Did your food used to come from Ellrich to B12? - Yes.
When you got to Belsen had the train become quite a large one by then because it had been joined by other kommandos? - I do not remember how long was the train, but I do remember that a great number of people marched off from Belsen station to Belsen.
A lot more than came out of B12? - Much more.
You had been collected together at Ellrich, had you not - a lot of you, at any rate? - Yes.
But there were a lot more than 700 people in B12 Kommando, was there not? - Yes.
How was it only 700 of you marched out if the whole camp was marched out? - Because there were no more in our camp in B12.
I do not understand. Let us try and get this clear. In B12 were there more that 700 people, or were there not? - When I arrived there I think there were about 950. When I left the place there were only 700 and the rest in the usual manner were killed doing their work.
What do you mean by killed in the usual manner? - I mean by that beating during any interval the prisoner would try to get in order to rest during the work, and starvation and cold.
Did you not get a new draft of prisoners shortly before you left? - I remember that a small party of about 40 men arrived shortly before we left the camp, but they did not stay there, they left after two days for somewhere, I do not know where.
They were just at your camp for two days, were they not? - Yes, they were only there two days; they were Jews that came from Dora.
That was shortly before you left, was it? - Yes. I do not remember exactly how many days before we left, but anyway it was a short time before.
Were the punishments in your camp very severe? - Yes, for instance negligence and falling asleep during the work was a terrible punishment. I remember a case when a man fell asleep in the tunnel during the night shift and was caught by the guards, and he got 70 strokes. After that he was brought to his block and the Blockältester tied his legs and his hands at the back with a wire and left him lying on the bed. The next morning he was unable to come to work because he was tied up, and one of the Kapos came and killed him.
And if people misbehaved themselves in the block was the whole block very often punished? - Yes, there were special exercises administered to the whole block.
Was it the Stubendienst's job to keep the block tidy, assuming it was kept tidy? - Yes.
Do you remember an occasion when the whole of your block was punished by being made to squat down outside for an hour or more? - Yes, there were many ways of punishing us like that one you mentioned, and apart from that crawling in mud and things like that.
We will not worry about the other punishments, but do you remember an occasion when the whole of your block was made to squat like that outside? - We did not stay in that position for a long time, that was only one of the exercises we had to do. Then we had to crawl, run, fall down, and get up and so on.
Do you remember an occasion when the whole block was punished because somebody had defecated inside the block? - I remember this incident, but not in our block, the next one.
Which block was that? - In Block B.
Was the whole block made to squat outside? - Yes.
Ostrowoski was not always your Stubendienst, was he? - I remember him only from my own block.
But he did not stay in your block, did he, he moved to another block shortly before it went away? - I cannot remember.
Do you mean you cannot remember whether he did or not? - I remember that another Stubendienst was transferred to another block, but as far as the accused is concerned I am not 100% certain, but I am almost certain he stayed in this block.
When did you first go to this camp? Have you any idea what date it was? - I do not remember the exact date; I know that I was about two months there.
Then you must have gone about the beginning of February some time, is that right? - I think so.
Was Ostrowoski the Stubendienst when you got there? - I do not know that, because when I came first there I was a new man and I did not know the people, and I cannot say whether he was Stubendienst all the time or whether he arrived a few days later.
Do you remember him as Stubendienst fairly soon after you got there? - Yes.
Within a few days after you getting there? - Yes.
And he was Stubendienst of your block then, was he? - Yes.
He says that he worked in the tunnel for the first four weeks of February - well, that is the whole of February? - As I said before, I do not remember the exact dates, but I do remember that he was for a long time my Stubendienst.
There is quite a big difference between a few days and a month, isn't there? - Yes, but I would like to say that after typhoid my memory is not very good and it is very difficult sometimes for me to remember dates.
Did all the other Blockältesten and Stubendienst do quite a lot of beating? - In all the other blocks they beat the prisoners very frequently, but our block was an exceptional one because neither the Blockältester nor the Stubendienst beat prisoners.
That was quite an extraordinary thing in a concentration camp, was it not? - Yes, it was an exceptional thing.
When you got to Belsen you were in Block 15, did you say? - Yes.
Did you help in that procession dragging corpses away? - No.
Why not? - Because when the Blockältester and Stubendienst found out that I am a tailor by profession they used me on some work, alterations and other things, for their personal use.
You were inside the block doing tailoring all the time, were you? - Yes.
There is only one thing I want to suggest to you where we are not in agreement, and that is I suggest to you that as a matter of fact Ostrowoski was only your Stubendienst for a very short time, if at all? - Anyway he was my Stubendienst at least for three weeks.
Were you in hospital together in Bergen-Belsen? - No.
Did you live in the same block together after the British came? - At first I lived in Block 15 and he No. 19 ...
I am talking about after the British came. - Yes - and then we left the hospital and we were brought to the same compound, the compound for healthy prisoners, and we lived together in Block No. 9 Compound No. 3.
Did you live together till he was arrested? - I do not know when he was arrested, but I know that we were transferred from Compound No. 3 to Compound No. 2 and then from one day on I ceased to see him.#
What were the nationalities of most of the people in the block you were in at B12? - Poles, Russians, Jews, a small number of Frenchmen and Italians, and only a few Yugoslavs.
How may Poles? - I cannot say exactly but it was about 50% or a little more.
How many of those were Christian Poles? - All of them.
Were not there any Jewish Poles there? - Yes, there were.
Do you not count those as Poles? - Yes, I consider them as Poles, but not Christians - of another breed, faith.
I asked you if all the Poles were Christians and you said: "Yes"; that is why I asked you if there were any Jewish Poles? - Because at that moment I understood by the term "Poles" only Christians.
Re-examined by LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: You said you marched from the camp where Kommando B12 was living to Ellrich and then you waited for the departure; did you wait on the train or did you wait in the camp at Ellrich? - On the train.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: You told me you were a Jew; is that right? - Yes.
Will you make this clear to me: the Kommando B12 that you were in worked where exactly? - I do not remember the name of the town in the vicinity, but I do know it was four kilometres from Dora and six kilometres from Ellrich.
When you had finished your day's work where did you go back to sleep? - We worked really in the night shift, and we slept in the day time and we used to go to the block in the camp.
How far away from where you worked? - About 20 minutes walk.
And that is where the accused was the Stubendienst, was it? - Yes.
At Belsen you said you could get water from Block 19; is that right? - Yes.
Where did you get water from in Block 19 in the last two or three days before the British arrived in Belsen? - It was a kind of washroom with many taps fixed and there was running water there.
Are you quite sure that between the 11th and 14th April at Belsen you could get water out of running taps in Block 19? - Yes, but it was not every day; sometimes the supply of water stopped for a time.
You said also that when you went to Block 19 the accused was spending most of his time in bed. Did he have a bed to himself there? - In that particular block were some beds and the accused slept on one of them.
Did everybody have a bed in Block 19? - No.
Do you know whey the accused was lucky enough to have a bed in Block 19? - I do not know why.
THE PRESIDENT: Have you any questions on that?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: Yes. (To the witness) What part of the block was the bed on which you saw the accused lying? - When passing the entrance to the block it was on the right hand side on the opposite wall.
THE PRESIDENT: I have not quite got that.
THE INTERPRETER: The whole block was a kind of a one big space and when one passed the entrance to the space it was opposite from the entrance on the right hand side.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: That place where the bed was, was it separated from the rest of the room by a partition? - It was not separated.
(The witness withdraws)
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: I have here a written deposition. A copy of it was given to me on the first day when we started the trial by Staff Captain "A" 43 Division and I understand that the Prosecution has not got the original for the moment. They expect Colonel Genn will be coming after lunch and he may be able to provide the original. With your permission I would like to put in this copy while the original is found.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I have no objection at all. If this is what I think it is it is one of the affidavits which was taken in favour of the prisoners by the investigation teams and they were taken in duplicate originally. Colonel Genn has one of the originals and the other original was handed over to "A" Staff. What happened to it then I do not know. I have not the slightest objection to this going in. If Colonel Genn has the original it can be added afterwards.
THE PRESIDENT: We will put it in as an exhibit at the moment but if Colonel Genn can produce the original we will have the original.
(Deposition of Romuald Weber is marked exhibit 144, signed by the President and attached to the proceedings)
"Exhibit 191. In the matter of War Crimes and the Defence of Vladislav Ostrowoski. Deposition of Romuald Weber (male) late of Młynarska 23, Warszawa, sworn before Captain Alexander Mackinley Forbes, Royal Artillery, Legal Staff, No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team.
1. I am 43 years of age and am a Polish Jew. I. was arrested by the SS in July, 1944, for political reasons, and taken to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. I remained there for about two weeks and was then transferred to Mauthausen Concentration Camp. At the end of 1944, I went to Gross Rosen Concentration Camp and in February, 1945, to Dora-Ellrich Concentration Camp. I camp to Belsen on 9th April, 1945.
2. I knew a Polish Jew named Ostrowoski whilst I was at Gross Rosen. We were in Block 6 together and he was an ordinary internee like myself. He never held a responsible position there. We were sent together to Dora Camp and were both in Block 34. Ostrowoski and I worked in the air tunnel there and again did not hold any position of trust. Ostrowoski and I were then sent together to Ellrich Concentration Camp and it was in this camp that Ostrowoski was made Stubendienst of Block No. 2. We were both transferred to Belsen together. Ostrowoski occupied Block 14 and I was in Block 36 and later Block 37. All the time I was at Belsen I was very ill and could not get about. I cannot say anything about Ostrowoski whilst at Belsen because I was too ill to know his movements or activities.
3. All the time I have known Ostrowoski I have never seen him beat anyone, nor has he, at any time, called Appell parades. I have always known Ostrowoski as a good man. I can remember an incident where all the men of a certain block had to squat down in a sitting position as a punishment, but Ostrowoski had nothing to do with this at all. It was ordered and carried out by the SS I was one of the men in that block and heard the Camp Kommandant order it and he and another SS man made us carry it out. The Kommandant was tall with a long thin face and straight nose, fair hair, clean shaven, piercing blue eyes, aged about 35. The other was aged about 35 and 5’ 6", square build, fair hair and wore a Luftwaffe jacket.
Sworn by the said deponent Romuald Weber at Belsen this 29th day of June, 1945.
(Signed) Romuald Weber.
Before me A. M. Forbes, Captain, R.A.
I hereby certify that, the said deponent not understanding English, this affidavit was translated in my presence to the said deponent before swearing and I am satisfied that its contents were fully understood by the said deponent.
Dated this 29th day of June, 1945.
(Signed) A. M. Forbes, Captain, R.A.
I hereby certify that I have accurately translated this affidavit to the said deponent.
Dated this 29th day of June, 1945.
(Signed) Robert Cole, 13116368, Cpl., P.C."
THE PRESIDENT: Does the accused Ostrowoski know about this affidavit?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: He knows the deposition; I have translated it to him.
THE PRESIDENT: Does any other Defending Officer want it translated into German?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: That concludes the case of the accused Ostrowoski.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: Before my friend the Polish Defending Officer continues, the Court will remember that it was intimated by the learned Prosecutor on Saturday morning that a wallet of some kind had come into his hands, and that in the wallet were certain documents which refer to the accused Schreirer by name. I should now like to apply to have those documents put in as authentic documents under section 8 as extra evidence in his case.
THE PRESIDENT: I think the best thing to do would be to put these documents in after we have concluded the evidence against the Polish accused, because we do not want them put in as exhibits now as they may become confused with the documents relating to the Polish accused.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: I only mention them now because when you gave your ruling about extra evidence you did not mention these documents one way or the other.
THE PRESIDENT: If you remember, when that happened the learned Prosecutor said he had only just received them and that you probably did not know anything about them. The Court will be prepared to have these put in when it is hearing the other witnesses. Probably the best time would be when it is your turn to cross examine.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: I understand the Prosecutor has certain qualifications he wishes to make concerning this matter.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I do not know whether the Court wish to deal with it now, but I understand my friend wants to put in certain documents without calling the witness, and I rather feel that at some time, at any rate, Schreirer might properly be cross examined if they are to go in. I think there are a number of documents in the wallet and I would submit that if certain documents go in the others should go in also, and if there is any question about the matter Schreirer should be cross examined on them.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: The only documents I was seeking to put before the Court are those which mention Schreirer by name, and official documents which would be admissible under section 8. I am not seeking to put in his wallet, but certain documents which have come into the Prosecutor's hands and from his hands into mine. They are admissible under that section.
THE PRESIDENT: The best course is when it comes to your turn to have the accused Schreirer back and let him produce such documents as he has.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: There would be no need for the accused to produce these documents. They are - and my friend will correct me if I am wrong - the only documents in which Schreirer is mentioned by name and which can be put before the Court without proof of origin. If there is anything in addition it will be necessary to put Schreirer back in the box so that he can identify them, but I feel if that were to be done it would also be necessary to call the officer in whose charge the wallet has been for the last few months. It has already been proved in evidence by Schreirer that his wallet was taken off him.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I think it would be necessary to call the officer because the wallet was not given to him as having been taken from Schreirer. I do not think there is any reason why the Court should not know what this document is: it is a medical orderly's card, but I think Schreirer should be called to say that it has some connection with him. It might relate to all sorts of Schreirers, and if it is merely put in as a document I am not prepared to agree that it came from the custody of anyone.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes; I think Schreirer ought to go into the box because we have got to prove that this document does belong to him.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: It does mention him by name and appears on the face of it to be a document relating to him.
THE PRESIDENT: There are probably a good number of Schreirers in Germany.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: It goes further that that, because it mentions the place where he was born and the date of birth. I do not think there is the slightest doubt about it that the document relates to the accused Schreirer and no one else.
THE PRESIDENT: It is the decision of the Court that he must be recalled if you are going to produce the documents.
CAPTAIN CORBALLY: If you please.
The accused, MEDISLAW BURGRAF, takes his stand at the place from which the other witnesses have given their evidence and having been duly sworn is examined by LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ as follows: What is your full name? - Medislaw Burgraf.
Where and when were you born? - January 18th in Częstochowa.
Are you married or single? - Single.
What was your last address in Belsen? - Częstochowa.
What was your occupation? - I was employed on the state railway system.
Were you arrested by the Germans? - Yes.
When and why were you arrested? - On the 5th August 1940. I was not told the reason for which i was arrested.
What happened to you after you were arrested? - I spent two weeks in Częstochowa in prison and then I was transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp.
How long did you stay in Buchenwald? - From 22nd August 1940 to 10th December 1940.
What was your employment at Buchenwald? - I was employed with the kommando on digging ditches.
Where were you taken from Buchenwald? - To the concentration camp in Neuengamme. I arrived there on the 11th or 12th December 1940.
How long did you stay at Neuengamme? - I stayed there until 10th or 12th March 1943 and I left for concentration camp Salzgitter-Drütte.
How long did you stay in Salzgitter-Drütte? - To the 7th April 1945.
What was your employment at Salzgitter-Drütte camp? - At first I worked as an ordinary worker then I became a foreman.
When did you become foreman? - At the end of May 1944.
What were your duties as foreman? - My duty was to see that prisoners who work at the site of the work would not go away. If one was caught the whole party would be punished by the man in charge of the kommando.
What was your kommando working at? - They were employed on manufacturing grenades.
What was the number of men you had to look after? - At first 73 and then 65. Out of the 65 five were killed, so there were only 60 left. From that time on every strength of the kommando was 60.
How did these five disappear? - These five were killed during an air raid by bombers.
Who was your immediate superior? - A Kapo whose Christian name was Walter.
Did you wear any armlets or any other sign of authority? - Yes, I had a black armlet on my left arm with the word " Vorarbeiter" on it which means foreman.
Did a Kapo have an armlet too? - Yes, he had a yellow armlet with the word "Kapo" on it.
When you left Salzgitter-Drütte camp where did you go? - We left the camp on 7th April without being told our destination. On 8th April we arrived at Celle and about 1700 hours an air raid began and we took shelter in the woods without any guards. Three men friends of mine, five women and myself spent the night in the woods. On the following day, it was Monday, we went to the closest village and on our way there were stopped by a German policeman who asked what we were doing there. We said that the men from our transport were dispersed during an air raid and we did not know where to go. He gave us a written pass with an order to report to Bergen-Belsen. We then started our way to Bergen-Belsen and in the next village we were stopped again by a Wehrmacht patrol, and we were told, after we had explained everything, that we had to report to the next control point of the Wehrmacht. We had to continue our journey under the escort of the German troops.
When did you reach Belsen? - We reached Belsen on Monday 9th April, 1945 at approximately 1600 hours.
To what block were you taken? - I was sent temporarily to Block No. 16.[MB16, Bergen-Belsen Barracks]
Did you stay in Block 16 until the British arrived? - I was transferred to Block 19 [MB19, Bergen-Belsen Barracks] on the next day.
What duty did you do in Block 19? - I was employed as an ordinary prisoner.
Did you ever become a member of the block staff? - I was appointed privately by the Blockältester to assist in food distribution, but it was not an official appointment.
What were your duties during the food distribution? How did you have to help? - To stop prisoners from my block getting a second helping and to stop men from other blocks coming into our block to get food.
Was the food distribution carried out inside or outside the block? - Inside the block.
What happened to those who got their food? - Sick people would get their food inside the block and the fit prisoners would queue up outside the block and got their food in the doorway when coming into the block. After getting the food the men in question had to fall in in fives in order to prevent people from coming through the window and queueing again outside.
How were you employed at the distribution itself? Were you employed guarding the doors or windows? - I was employed on guarding the doors and windows.
Have you a translation of the deposition of Adam Marcinkowski? - Yes.
In paragraph 2 the deponent says he recognised you as a Kapo from Salzgitter-Drütte Camp and Stubendienst of Block 19 at Belsen camp - I was neither a Kapo in Salzgitter-Drütte nor Stubendienst in Belsen.
In paragraph 3 he relates an incident in which you hit a man called Grabenski with a table leg when he wanted to enter the Block 19 to visit a friend and this blow killed him? - That is not true. I did not know that man at all and I do not remember this incident. I do remember another incident. A man called Adam Marcinkowski came from Block 21 to Block 19 and demanded food for the second time> I told him he was not entitled to get food in this block and he said I was a very bad Pole because I cared only for other nationalities and not for the Poles. He became very aggressive and started swearing and shouting at me. I smacked him twice or three times in the face and he hit me once. We started to fight and during that fight he got beaten.
Did you have a table leg while you were watching these prisoners? - With regard to this leg of the table I would like to say that there were many witnesses before the Court already and they mentioned about the great shortage of furniture in the camp. There were no beds and tables or cupboards and so on. How could I get hold of a table leg?
To enter Block 19 or Block 21 there were stairs leading to the entrance of Block 19 and 21 were there not? - No, there were no steps.
In paragraph 4 you are accused of beating indiscriminately the prisoners with a table leg during food distribution. - That is not true.
He goes on and says that you have killed about 50 persons by beating them to death in this way using a table leg over a period of four or five days. - That is not true.
Do you know a man called Sevek Kobriner? - Yes, I do.
Do you remember him saying in his affidavit that in February 1945 you beat a friend of his called Wachtel, and when he was brought back from the factory he lost his mind and was taken to hospital and died two days later. What can you tell us about that? - I admit that he died, but it was not caused through the beating. We were employed on the night shift and at about 2100 hours an air raid began. We went into the shelter and after that when the all clear was announced at about 0400 hours we were told to parade. I told my men to parade too. After I made this parade I was informed that the man Wachtel was ill. I went to see him but he told me he could not speak either German or Polish, only French. Then I remember an internee doctor whose name was Nissenfeld. We took that man to the First Aid Post as we saw that he had a high temperature. Then man in charge of the work party came into the First Aid part and asked the medical orderly whether it was true that he had a temperature. The medical orderly said no it was not true , and the man in charge of the kommando took some cold water and put it on the man’s head hoping be would regain consciousness that way, but it did not help. Then came another man and said that this man Wachtel had been beaten up in a tunnel during the air raid by Russians and he had a hit on the head, and the whole sickness could be caused by this hit on the head he received during the air raid.
Was he then taken to hospital? - We brought the man to the hospital after we had finished our work - I and the medical orderly.
He never returned from the hospital? - I was told a few days later that Wachtel had died.
Do you know a man called Wolf Polakiewicz? - I do not remember.
Kobriner says that you and a Kapo named Ziega beat this man until he lost consciousness? - I do not remember this incident. It never happened during my stay there. That is not true.
(The remaining Defending Officers have no questions to ask)
Cross-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: When you were acting as foreman was it part of your duty to see that people got to their work? - Yes.
Were you responsible for the amount of output of the number of people under you? - No.
Who was? - The Kapo.
Did he not delegate part of his duties to you in that you had to see to your own particular part of the camp? - No.
Who was the Kapo? - Walter.
Was there a Kapo called Ziega? - Yes, but he was a plumber and in a different kommando.
How many Kapos and foremen were there? - Seven or eight.
Was there a Kapo in charge of each? - Kapo or foreman.
How many Kapos were there altogether? - 7 or 8.
How many foremen? - About 30.
Are you quite sure you were not a Kapo? - Yes, I am.
Did the Kapos carry sticks? - I have not seen it, and therefore I cannot say whether they had or not.
Did the Kapos do a lot of beating? - Not without a ground.
I did not ask you about grounds. I asked if they did it (The witness and the Interpreter converse in Polish). Do not quarrel between yourselves.
THE INTERPRETER: It is not a quarrel. I just cannot make him understand. He always says, "Not without a ground".
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: (To the witness) I do not want to know whether they had grounds, I want to know whether they beat people. - Yes.
Did they beat them quite often? (After a pause) Cannot you answer a straightforward question without hedging every time?
THE INTERPRETER: I cannot understand the answer.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Ask him if he cannot answer a straightforward question without trying the hedge all the time.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: I think he has given the answer: "I have not seen it frequently".
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: We have not had the answer.
THE PRESIDENT: What was the exact question?
(The Shorthand writer reads the following question: "Did they beat them quite often?".
THE WITNESS: No, they have not beaten frequently.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: You say the Kapos never beat without ground? - Yes.
Are you sure you were not a Kapo? - Yes.
Did the foremen do quite a little beating too? - Only if they had ground to do so.
Did you beat people when you thought you had grounds? - Yes.
Who gave you authority to beat anybody? - Nobody.
Why did you beat people? - To avoid collective punishment.
What sort of collective punishment? - If a man from a kommando would leave the place of work without reporting to anybody and a man found it out, the whole kommando would be punished with food withdrawal for the whole day.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: I think there is a mistake, because he said, as far as I understand: "The additional food was withdrawn".
THE PRESIDENT: Was it "additional food" or "food"?
THE INTERPRETER: He uses German words.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Would you find it easier to give evidence in German? - No, I do not speak German well.
Do you understand German? - Yes, I do.
Can you speak German? - I understand more than I speak.
THE PRESIDENT: The Interpreter says he is putting in German words.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: When they have heard for seven years a German word used, for instance, "additional food" was always called "Zulage".
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: I am not complaining about it. (To the witness) Did you provide yourself with a table leg whilst you were at Salzgitter-Drütte to do your beating with? - For instance, where?
Do not ask me questions. Did you provide yourself with a table leg at Salzgitter-Drütte to do your beating with? - I have never held a table leg in my life.
Did you have a thick square stick? - No. During my stay in concentration camps I have not had either a stick or a riding whip or anything else like that.
But the time when Wachtel died - shall we put it that way to use a neutral word - it was the result of being beaten up by somebody, was it not? - I do not know whether it was a deliberate beating or accidentally hit.
Deliberately or accidentally, he got hit to such an extent that he died as a result of it, did he not? - I suppose so.
Was he absent when you paraded again after this air raid? - He was present at the parade.
Was he unfit for work? - I would not say that.
Do you think he was fit for work? - Judging by outward appearances he was fit for work, but what he said did not make any sense, and, of course, during the parade, counting the strength of the men present, I could not form any opinion about his state of health.
Did you not beat him up because he could not get on with his work? - First of all I did not hit him, and more, I did not beat him.
Then when you had finished beating him did not somebody throw cold water in his face to try and bring him round? - That is not true what the Prosecutor says.
Do you remember this man Platkowitch? - I do not remember.
Now I suggest to you that you beat him up too? - I do not remember either the name or the incident in question.
Do you remember an occasion when a lot of shells which were stacked collapsed? - If anything like that occurred the SS would start an investigation, all the more if, as Kobriner said Ziega has been four weeks in hospital.
I am not worried about that. What I asked you was: Do you remember an occasion when some shells collapsed? - No, I do not.
What exactly was your kommando doing, what exact work? - On grenades.
Did you have to stack them when you finished making them? - They were laid on the table in order to enable the painters to paint them, and Kobriner was employed on painting these grenades.
Was there a small wire partition place in the factory you were working in? - Three.
Were they used by the Kapos as their offices? - In one was where the painters were working, in the other plumbers, in the third a German civilian control personnel, and we were not allowed to come near that compartment.
Kapos, I suppose, could go either into the one where the painters were working or plumbers were working, could they not? - Yes.
And if Zieger was in charge of the plumbers, I suppose he worked at one of them? - Kapo Ziega was in charge of the plumbers and therefore he had access to Nos. 1, 2 and 3.
And if one of these wire cages was the one where the plumbers worked, then that Kapo Ziega might very well be found there, might he not? - Yes, it is quite possible.
And if it was the plumbing department there would be quite a few iron pipings there, would there not? - There were only spare parts for the machines.
Well, plumbers do not fit up machines, do they? - This plumbers department existed only in order to replace broken parts if anything like that happened.
I suggest that you that you and Zieger took this man into that plumbing cage, put him across a box face downwards, and beat him with iron bars until he lost consciousness? - That is not true. I cannot remember any incident like that during my stay in Salzgitter-Drütte.
Now come to Belsen. When you came to Belsen after one night you went into Block 19, you have told us? - Yes.
Do you remember the procession during on these last few days dragging the corpses away? - Yes, I do.
Did you have to drag these corpses too? - Block 19 was excused this.
Why were you excused? - Only Blocks from No. 1 to 16 participated in dragging the corpses, and blocks 19, 21, 23 and 24 did not, because they were separated from the above mentioned blocks by barbed wire.
Why were you excused? - Because all these blocks exempted were so-called hospital blocks and people were suffering from typhus there.
You were not suffering from typhus, were you? - No.
Then what were you doing in Block 19? - I was attached to the whole transport. The transport that was dispersed during the air raid was detailed to one of the blocks. There were many wounded amongst them.
How many were there on this transport? - About 3500 to 4000.
How many reached Belsen? - I cannot say.
About how many? - I do not know, because I arrived before they arrived.
Which block were they put into? - Into all these blocks from 19 to 24, 19, 21, 23 and 24.
Who was the Blockältester of Block 19? - I do not know his name; he was a Pole and his first name was Konrad.
Who was the Stubendienst? - Another Pole whose first name was Henick [Henryk].
Had they both come from Salzgitter-Drütte? - They were already in Belsen and most probably they came from Auschwitz.
Why do you think they picked on you as being the best man to stand in the doorway and guard the hut from the other people at food distribution? - It was not only myself, there were about 20 or 15.
15 or 20 of you detailed for that job? - Yes, because at each window one man had to stand.
Did a lot of people try to get into the block? - It was to prevent prisoners from the block who got their food from going through the window and coming again.
I realise that. I said: Did a lot of people try and do it? - Certainly; many.
Most of the Blockältesten and Stubendienste had provided themselves with sticks at Belsen, had they not? - I would not say.
Had some of them? - As far as I could see, nobody.
Did most of the Kapos at Belsen carry sticks? - I have not seen any Kapos in Belsen.
You never saw a Kapo in Belsen? - There were no working parties at Belsen and there was no need to have Kapos in Belsen.
Were there a lot of camp police? - I noticed them for the first time during the dragging of the corpses.
During that corpse dragging, were they doing a lot of beating? - I do not know, because I did not take part in the dragging of corpses.
But it was going right past your block, was it not? - Do you expect me to stand and watch them?
It was going right past your block, was it not? - They were passing by the block, but my windows did not look to that side, did not face that road.
And did you never looked at [it]? - Never, because it was difficult to look at things like that.
Did you never look at the procession? - Never, because it was difficult to look at things like that.
You were standing in the doorway, were you not, trying to prevent people from stealing into your block to get food? - Yes, but I stood with my back turned to the road.
Back turned to the way the people might come. You would be a magnificent guard, would you not, with your back to the way people might come? - I stood at the doorway with my back turned to the road, but not to see the prisoners coming in.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: No re-examination.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: How did you come to be arrested? - I fell ill with typhus and I was in hospital. I left the hospital on 15th June, towards evening, a small little boy came to my room and said that somebody is ill and I should come and see. I went there - I did not expect anything wrong with that. I entered a room and as soon as I was in the door shut and Marcinkowski, a man I know from Belsen, said to me: "Do you recognise me. We met before in Bergen-Belsen". I said "Yes". He said: "Do you remember that we had a fight in Bergen-Belsen?", and I said: "Yes, I do remember". I remembered this man Marcinkowski used to come nearby looking at me very intensively a few days before that. In that room Marcinkowski and his friends gave me a severe beating and I was bleeding when I left the room. Downstairs a British soldier noticed the blood pouring from my face and asked me what had happened. I said I had had a fight with a friend of mine. At that time Marcinkowski noticed that this British soldier was talking to me and he said to me: "Do not tell those stories to the British; we have a Polish committee now, and we can go to the Polish committee and have the whole thing judged and tried by the Polish committee". On our way to the Polish committee I was just at the doorway when this man Marcinkowski hit me with a knife and from the wound inflicted I had to stay in hospital for two months and two days. Then I was in the hospital and then I was then sent by the British Police to the same room where an SS. man was sent, and on the door was a sign "War Criminal", although I thought that I was in the hospital not under the British police escort, I was sent there by the British police.
THE PRESIDENT: You say you were struck with a knife? - Yes.
And it inflicted a wound that kept you for two months in hospital? - Yes.
Have you still got the scars on you then? - Yes.
A MEMBER OF THE COURT: While you were in Block 19, were you very short of water? - During my whole stay in Block No. 19 as far as I can remember we only had water supply during half an hour; it was on Wednesday, I think, on the 11th April.
THE PRESIDENT: Have you any questions to ask on what the Court has put?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: No.
(The accused leaves the place from which he has given his evidence)
J. TRZOS is called in and, having been duly sworn, is examined by LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ as follows: What is your full name? - Józef Trzos.
When and where were you born? - 8th April 1922 in Jarza [Iłża], Poland. [Info: The Auschwitz archive: Trzos, Józef - born 08 April 1922 in Maziarze, inmate No 12947, profession: agricultural worker. He came in the camp with a transport from Radom]
Were you arrested by the Germans? - Yes, on the 18th January 1940.
Why were you arrested? - I was arrested on a charge of having weapons but I really had not.
Where were to taken to? - I was sent to various prisons in Jarza, in Starachowice, Radom, and eventually I was sent to Auschwitz.
Where were you taken from Auschwitz? - To Neuengamme, from Neuengamme to Salzgitter-Drütte.
Do you know this man? (Indicating accused Medislaw Burgraf) - Yes, I do.
What is his name? - Burgraf, Medislaw.
Where have you known this man? - I first met him in Neuengamme and I left Salzgitter-Drütte with him.
What was he in Salzgitter-Drütte? - Foreman.
When did you leave Salzgitter-Drütte? - I left Salzgitter-Drütte ten days before the British troops arrived at Belsen.
Did you come to Belsen together with this man? - I left for Belsen together with him, but during an air raid attack in Celle he went somewhere and arrived in Belsen before us. We were marched off to Belsen after the air raid.
What block were you and what block was the accused? ...
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Can we have some dates for this. When does he say he got to Belsen?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: When did you arrive at Belsen? - I do not know exactly, but it was six or seven days before the arrival of the British troops.
What block were you put in? - Block No. 19.
Where was the accused? - He arrived there in the same block one day later.
What was he doing in Block No. 19? - At first he was in the camp police and later on he was assisting Stubendienst.
What is the German word for his police function? - Ordnungsdienst.
When did he start to help or deputise for the Stubendienst? - Either the same day when he arrived or a day later, when he arrived in the block.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Is this Stubendienst or police?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: I asked Stubendienst and I have not a very clear answer. (To the witness) When was he Ordnungsdienst? - He was Stubendienst and Ordnungsdienst at the same time.
What were his duties in the block? - To maintain order during food distribution, to prevent prisoners from getting food twice, and to see that all the prisoners would get their proper portion of food. Apart from that to see to it that all the bodies from the block should be removed outside.
How did he behave to the prisoners in the block? - He was very keen on securing order in the block, and if for instance during the food distribution there were 1000 prisoners present and rations arrived only for 800 it could happen that he should beat some of them if they would try to push themselves forward to obtain food.
Have you known a man called Grabinsky in the block? - No, I have not.
Now remembering that you are on oath tell the Court what conversation did you have with the man called Marcinkowski? - I asked him why he accused Burgraf, and he said: "Because once when we worked together during unloading of grenades Burgraf hit me in the face," and he said that he was hit by Burgraf because he smoked a cigarette at that time, and I said to him: "For one hit like that you accuse a man?" and he answered: "Yes, because apart from that I saw that the accused Burgraf hit a man on the arm in such a way that the man died."
Is this everything he told you? - That was all.
(The remaining Defending Officers do not wish to cross examine this witness)
Cross-examined by COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Where and when did you see this man Adam Marcinkowski? - Last Saturday week.
Where? - In Belsen.
Living in Belsen? - Yes.
Which block? - 19.
And he told you the reasons why he had accused Burgraf were because he hit him and he had killed a man by beating him; is that right? - He said that he hit a man on his arm and the man died from it.
He killed a man by hitting him? - Yes.
Did he say that it was Plobanski whom he had killed? - He did not mention the name.
Just tell me about this. When Burgraf was made one of the Ordnungspolizei, what were his duties as such? - To guard the windows and the stores to prevent prisoners from coming in and getting food from other blocks, and to see to it that prisoners from the block itself would not get food twice.
And you told us that one of his duties was to remove the bodies out of the block; is that right? - Yes.
Who removed the bodies actually? - He would detail some fit prisoners to do the job and would give them for this additional work some additional food.
Where did they take the bodies to? - Somewhere outside of the camp; I do not know exactly where.
To the graves do you mean? - I know that they dragged the bodies along the road and I think they were buried in a grave.
Did you see quite a lot of bodies being dragged along past your block? - Yes, that is actually what I saw, the whole day long they were dragging those corpses.
Living in a block like yours, Block No. 19, you simply could not miss seeing it all day, could you? - Yes, because the block was not far from the road and I could see the corpses being dragged.
Did the windows look on to the road? - The windows were facing the side of the building and when I left the block I could see them also.
If you looked out of the windows you could see they as they went past on the far side, and when you went out of the block you could see them going very close to you; is that right? - Yes.
And further, people beating the prisoners as they went? - If somebody could not keep up he would be beaten.
If you stood outside your block door you could hardly miss seeing it, could you? - Yes.
What was his position in your block? - I do not know what he was doing, but I do know whenever I saw him he was lying in bed on the left-hand side of the hall, inn the room.
On the left hand side? - Yes. I do not know whether he was ill or not, but he was lying on the bed.
Had you all got beds in your block? - There were only a few beds in the block.
Did the Blockälteste have a bed? - Yes.
And did the assistant Blockälteste have a bed? - Only the Stubendienst and the clerk had beds.
And Ostrowoski? - Yes, but with one difference, that the Blockältester had his bed in a room of his own, whereas the accused was sleeping in the same hall as all the other prisoners.
These people who were guarding the windows and the door and so on, did they have great difficulty in keeping people out? - Certainly they had, because the prisoners were starved, hungry, and even beating with a stick would not prevent them from pushing themselves in the hall.
And did they have sticks to try to keep them from coming? - They were not special sticks, but it would happen that during the food distribution if it was very difficult to maintain the order he would use the soup handle.
But you have seen somebody beat people with a soup handle, have you not? - Yes, I did.
Now these policemen who were trying to keep people from coming in, who were trying to keep order, what did they arm themselves with? - They would stand at the door; they would just push the man back and the man would have to go away.
But if beating with a stick would not keep them off, just doing that would not do much good, would it? - I have not seen anybody beating people with a stick, but I did see a man in Block No. 21 who tried to keep order by beating with a stick but it was of no avail.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: I am not clear who he says used a soup handle.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Beyond the fact that he says it was not Ostrowoski I did not really ask him.
THE PRESIDENT: I gather it was the people issuing the food.
COLONEL BACKHOUSE: Yes, it was the people issuing the food. You appreciate that the witness says Ostrowoski was the man issuing the food. This witness says it was not Ostrowoski. (To the witness) How long have you known Ostrowoski? - One week. I did not know him personally; I saw him.
How many men were there in that block? - It is supposed to be 800, but what it was in reality I do not know.
How do you know Ostrowoski's name, and how do you come to remember him particularly? - Because a friend of mine knew him very well as a boxer from Łódź.
Who is your friend? - Edmund Rozga.
Did you have a talk with him about it? - Yes, I did.
Was he a boxer in Łódź before the war? - According to my friend, Rozga, he told me he was a boxer before the war.
Do you mean professional boxer? - I do not know that.
When did Rozga tell you about it? - He told me about it during our stay in Belsen.
How long have you known Burgraf? - I met him in 1942.
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: No re-examination.
THE JUDGE ADVOCATE: Was there enough food to go round in these last few days? - No, it was not enough food, for instance for 800 men in our block we received only 300 litres of soup.
How was it possible then for anybody to give extra food to anyone? - Those who were employed on dragging corpses received it. In which way it was done I do not know.
What about water? - The water situation was very bad indeed; only those who managed to enter the cookhouse and were not caught by anybody could drink some water from the drainage system in the cookhouse. From time to time we had for a short time a supply of water in our block, but it was very seldom.
Do you know whether the water you got in Block 19 was running generally through the camp, or was it only Block 19? - That was part of the general water supply in the camp, but the point was that they would turn it out very seldom and they would out it off almost the whole time.
A MEMBER OF THE COURT: You said that the Blockältester in Block 19 had a bed in a separate room? - Yes.
Did the Stubendienst also have a separate room or were they in the main block? - They lived together with the Blockältester
In the same room? - Yes.
Ostrowoski's bed was separate from those, was it? - Yes, it was in the general quarters.
THE PRESIDENT: Have you any questions of that?
LIEUTENANT JEDRZEJOWICZ: No.
(The witness withdraws)