The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: "Euthanasia" murders: Brack testifies
From: Ken McVay 
Organization: The Nizkor Project

Archive/File: places/germany/euthanasia/brack.002
Last-Modified: 1994/08/25

What follows are excerpts from the testimony of Victor Brack and Karl
Brandt at the Nuremburg Trials (both were later hung for "crimes against

    **********  Extracts from the testimony of Victor Brack **********

  JUDGE SEBRING:  Witness, when adult persons were selected for euthanasia
and sent by the transport to euthanasia stations for that purpose, by what
methods were the mercy deaths given?
  DEFENDANT BRACK:  The patients went to a euthanasia institution after the
written formalities were concluded - I need not repeat these formalities
here, they were physical examination, comparison of the files, etc.  The
patients were led to a gas chamber and were there killed by the doctors
with carbon monoxide gas (CO).
  Q:  Where was that carbon monoxide obtained, by what process?
  A:  It was in a compressed gas container, like a steel oxygen container,
such as is used for welding - a hollow steel container.
  Q:  And these people were placed in this chamber in groups, I suppose,
and then the monoxide was turned into the chambers?
  A:  Perhaps I had better describe this in some detail.  Bouhler's basic
requirement was that the killing should not only be painless, but also
imperceptible.  For this reason, the photographing of the patients, which
was only done for scientific reasons, took place before they entered the
chamber, and the patients were completely diverted thereby.  Then they were
led into the gas chamber which they were told was a shower room.  They were
then in groups of perhaps 20 or 30.  They were gassed by the doctor in
  Q:  Have you ever been present when a mercy death was accorded to these
people by that process?
  A:  Yes.  I had to be present because Bouhler wanted a report of whether
things were being done according to his orders, and in a dignified and not
a brutal fashion.
  Q:  And you found from your inspection and witnessing these ceremonies
that they were being done in accordance with Bouhler's orders, in a
dignified and painless sort of way?
  A: Yes.  But let me say I was already convinced that the method was
painless.  And I also saw that by this method the patient did not realize
that he was about to be killed.  There were benches and chairs in the
chamber.  A few minutes after the gas was let in, the patient became
sleepy and tired and died after a few minutes.  They simply went to sleep
without even knowing that they were going to sleep, and that was one of the
most essential requirements.
  Q:  When was the first time that you witnessed one of these procedures?
  A:  The first time was on the occasion of an experiment with four such
patients.  I think it must have been December 1939 or January 1940.  I know
there was snow on the ground at the time.  That is why I remember these
months.  Bouhler, Conti, and I don't know who else was there, there were a
few other doctors witnessing it for the first time.  On the basis of this
experiment Hitler decided that only carbon monoxide was to be used for
killing the patients.
  Q:  Well now, before or after that time had you tried any other gases or
any other means of administering euthanasia to these people? 
  A:  No, we - and by this I mean Bouhler's organization - never used any
other gas or any other means.
  Q:  You found the carbon monoxide quite satisfactory, so you never had to
resort to any other means?
  A:  Yes.  You can put it that way.
  Q:  Now, where was it that these four people were accorded the privilege
of a mercy deat in December, 1939, or 1940?
  A:  That was in the first euthanasia station in Brandenburg. 
  Q:  And who were the subjects that were used for that experiment?
  A:  They were four mentally incurable persons.
  Q:  Do you know what institution they came from?
  A:  No.  That I don't know.
  Q:  Where they men or women?
  A:  Men.
  Q:  All men.  What were their ages, were they young men, middle-aged men,
or elderly men; how would you classify them?
  A:  I really don't remember that.
  Q:  What can you say in regard to their nationality; do you know anything
about that?
  A:  They must have been Germans, they could not have been anything but
Germans, because according to regulations only German mentally defective
persons were used for euthanasia. 
  Q:  And you say Hitler was there?
  A:  No.  Hitler was not there, Bouhler was there.
  Q:  Bouhler?
  A:  Bouhler was there, Conti was there, and I believe Brandt.
  Q:  Karl Brandt?
  A:  Yes, Karl Brandt.
  Q:  Do you remember any of the other defendants who were there?
  A:  None of the defendants here was present except myself.
  Q:  Well, then you remember that you, Bouhler, Conti, and Karl Brandt
were there; now do you remember any of the other gentlemen there at the
  A:  Yes.  I said there were some more doctors there, but none of the
defendants here.
  Q:  Dr. Pfannmueller, perhaps?
  A:  No.  Dr. Pfannmueller was certainly not there.  They must have been
Berlin doctors.
  Q:  When after December of 1939 or January of 1940 was it that you again
witnessed a euthanasia procedure?
  A:  I should say that during 1940 in all the euthanasia institutions
existing at that time I personally assured myself once or twice that the
euthanasia was being correctly carried out.  But I think I recollect that
the Hadamar Institute was only set up in 1941 and in that year I did not
witness euthanasia being carried out, so that this would elminate the
Hadamar Institute.
  Q:  The Institute at Hadamar, I think you said there were five other
  A:  Yes.  There were six altogether.
  Q:  So that during the year 1940, you assured yourself that each of the
five stations on perhaps one, two or perhaps more visits that the procedure
insisted upon by Bouhler was being carried out in a humane manner, in a
painless manner by carbon monoxide? 
  A:  Completely imperceptible.
  Q:  And now who were the people - let me put it this way - the first time
at Brandenburg there were four people, all men?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  Now, can you remember on your subsequent visits in 1940 to the other
euthanasia stations who the people were, men or women?
  A:  Both, sometimes men and sometimes women.
  Q:  And what can you say in regard to their nationality?
  A:  I can only say that they were only Germans, because I am perfectly
convinced that Bouhler's regulations, which rested on an order from Hitler,
namely that no foreigners were to be given euthanasia, were observed
strictly by all the euthanasia institutions.
  Q:  Where were these stations located, Witness?
  A:  I don't understand what you mean, where they were?
  A:  In what part of Germany or in what part of Poland, or in what part of
Czechoslovakia, in what part of the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia, in
what part of Denmark, in what part of Holland, in what part of France, and
in what part of Europe were these stations located?
  A:  Now I understand you correctly.  The first one was in Brandenburg on
the Havel in the neighborhood of Berlin about 70 or 80 kilometers away.
The next was the Grafeneck Institute, that was in Pirna near Dresden.
There was the Hartheim Institute which was near Linz on the Danube in
Austria.  Then there was the Bernburg Institute on the Saale River near
Dessau.  The Hadamar Institute is in Hesse.
  Q:  Were any of these stations located in that part of Poland which was
occupied by the Germans in military occupation?
  A:  No.
  Q:  And the six stations you have just named were all the stations known
to you that existed; there were just six?
  A:  Those were the only ones, yes.
  Q:  Witness, can you approximate the population of Germany as it existed
in the year of 1939 or the year of 1940?  Were there some fifty or sixty
million people?
  A:  No, roughly eighty to eighty-five million.
  Q:  Now by that, when you say eighty to eighty-five million, you include
the entire German Reich, including Austria, the Sudetenland, and the
occupied territory?
  A:  Austria nad the Sudetenland, but not the occupied territory.
  Q:  And you estimate roughly there were eighty-five million people?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  Of that eighty-five million, how many Jews would you say were living
in Germany at the time who were German nationals?
  A:  Maybe two or three million.
  Q:  You are talking now about the Greater German Reich, including Austria
and the Sudetenland?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  You estimate there were between two or three million who were German
  A:  Roughly, yes.
  Q:  Now with two or three million German Jews amalgamated into the German
population of eighty-five million people who were German nationals,
explain, if you will, to the Tribunal why it was that the German Jews were
excluded from the Euthanasia Program, if as you say it was a salutary
program according to people the privilege of a mercy death for taking them
out of their misery; why was it that the German Jews were not included in
that program? 
  A:  I have already stated that.  As Bouhler explained it, the blessing of
euthanasia should be granted only to Germans.
  Q:  I understand that, but I thought you said at that time there were
between two and three million Germans in Germany, German citizens who were
  A:  Yes.  That is so.
  Q:  Why were they not included in the program, if the privilege of the
program was going to be accorded to all Germans?
  A:  The reason possibly lies in the fact that the government did not want
to grant this philanthropic act to the Jews.
  Q:  They wanted to grant this philanthropic act to all Aryan Germans, but
did not want to grant it to German Jews, and they did not want to grant
this philanthropic act to German soldiers of the first war, who had
received mental injuries growing out of their war wounds.  Is that correct?
  A:  As I have already said, that was a great inconsistency in this
procedure and we often protested.  However, it was determined by
considerations of a military and psychological nature.
  Q:  Thank you.
  Q:  Witness, I think you said yesterday afternoon that these six
euthanasia stations were located at Bernburg, Brandenburg, Hadamar,
Hartheim, Grafeneck, and Sonnenstein, is that correct?
  A:  Yes.  That is correct.
  Q:  When were the gas chambers at these euthanasia stations built?
  A:  When the institutions were set up as euthanasia institutions.
  Q:  Can you remember the approximate dates?
  A:  No.  I cannot remember the dates.  I just know the years when the
institutions became euthanasia institutions - approximately.  I know that
Grafeneck and Brandenburg were the first institutions to become euthanasia
institutions.  It began at the end of 1939 at the earliest, the beginning
of 1940 at the latest.  Sonnenstein and Hartheim were set up in the early
summer 1940.  In the early summer or spring.  The institution at Bernburg
was established in the fall or winter of 1940, Hadamar, in the winter or
spring of 1941.  This is as accurate as I can give it.
  Q:  You said the winter or spring of 1941.  Do you mean the winter of
1940 or the spring of 1941?  You said the winter or spring of 1941. 
  A:  If I say winter '41, I mean January '41, but it might have been March
too, I don't know.
  Q:  And you think that Hadamar was the last one that was set up? 
  A:  I am quite certain that Hadamar was the last one.
  Q:  Now, of what materials were these gas chambers built?  Were they
movable gas chambers, very much like the low-pressure chambers that
Professor Dr. Ruff talked about, or were they something that was built
permanently into the camp or installation?
  A:  No special gas chamber was built.  A room suitable in the hospital
was used, a room of necessity attached to the reception ward and to the
room where the insane persons were kept.  This room was made into a gas
chamber.  It was sealed, given special doors and windows, and then a few
meters of gas piping were laid, or some kind of piping with holes in it.
Outside this room there was a container, a compressed gas container with
the necessary apparatus, that is a pressure gauge, etc.
  Q:  Now what department had the responsibility for constructing or
building these gas chambers, what department of the Party or of the
  A:  No office of the Party.  I don't understand the question.
  Q:  Somebody had to build these chambers.  Who gave the orders and who
had the responsibility of building them, was that your department?
  A:  I assume the orders were given by the head of the institution, but I
don't know who actually did give the orders.
  Q:  In other words, were these chambers not built according to some
specifications, plans and specifications?
  A:  I can't imagine that, every chamber was different.  I saw several of
  Q:  Do you know what department gave the order for having the chambers
built?  Was that your department under Bouhler?
  A:  No.  It was Bouhler himself.
  Q:  And he gave the order to the various heads of institutions to
install this chamber, is that correct?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  Now, how would the heads of each of these institutions know how to
install a gas chamber unless there were certain plans and specifications
given to them?
  A:  I never saw any such plan.  I don't know of any.
  Q:  Would you know how to go out and build a gas chamber unless some
engineer or planner had told you?  Certainly I wouldn't. 
  A:  I don't know whether I would either.  Presumably he called in an
  Q:  That's what I'm trying to say.  What engineer or group of engineers
was responsible for seeing that these gas chambers were built so that they
would do the job they were supposed to do?
  A:  There was certainly no group of engineers.  I presume there was
somebody at the institutions who had enough technical ability to do it.  I
don't know. 
  Q:  then, so far as you know, someone at one of these institutions would
be told by Bouhler to construct a gas chamber and he would call - the head
of the institution then would call on someone, you don't know whom, to go
out and build the chamber?  Is that correct?
  A:  That is how I imagine it.
  Q:  Well, wouldn't it make a considerable difference whether the chamber
was to be constructed for euthanasia by carbon monoxide or by some other
means?  Wouldn't there have to be some technical information available to
the head of the institution so that he could give directions to his
mechanic to build the thing to do the thing it was supposed to do?
  A:  I must say honestly I really don't know anything about that.  I can't
  Q:  Do you know whether or not any department of the government under
Bouhler, or under Brandt, or under anybody else, was responsible for seeing
that the gas apparatus was installed properly?
  A:  I don't know, but I don't believe so because I would probably have
heard of it.
  Q:  How large were these gas chambers?
  A:  They were of different sizes.  It was simply an adjoining room.  I
can't remember whether they were 4 x 5 meters, or 5 x 6 meters.  Simply
normal sized rooms, but I can't tell you the exact size.  It was too long
ago.  I can't remember.
  Q:  Were they as large as this courtroom?
  A:  No.  They were just normal rooms.
  Q:  Well, a man of your intelligence must have some idea about the size
of these rooms.  The assertion "normal size" doesn't mean anything in
  A:  By that I mean the size of the normal room in a normal house.  I
didn't mean an assembly room or a cell either.  I meant a room, but I can't
tell you the exact size because I really don't know it.  It might have been
4 x 5 meters, or 5 x 6 meters, or 3 1/2 x 4 1/2, but I really don't know.
I didn't pay much attention to it.
  Q:  Have you ever visited a concentration camp or a military camp of any
  A:  I visited a concentration camp, and I was once in a military camp as
a soldier.
  Q:  Have you ever seen a shower room or shower bath built into a camp of
that kind where the inmates of concentration camps, or where soldiers in a
military barracks, can take showers?
  A:  Yes, I have.  In my own barracks.
  Q:  And would you say that this euthanasia room at the various
institutions was about that dimension?
  A:  I think it was much smaller.
  Q:  Well, perhaps we can get at it this way.  I thought perhaps you knew
something about the mechanical construction that I supposed everybody knew
something about.  This room of yours that you talk about, how many people
would it accommodate?
  A:  Yesterday I said that according to my estimate it might have been
twenty-five or thirty people.
  Q:  And that is still your estimate today?  I remember yesterday that you
said that, and that is still your estimate today, it could comportably take
care of twenty-five or thirty people.
  A:  Yes.  That's my estimate.
  Q:  Now, the carbon monoxide gas that was used for the purpose of
euthanasia, where did it come from?  I know you said yesterday that it came
out of tubes very much like oxygen came in, but where did the tubes come
from?  Do you know?
  A:  I don't know.  They were the normal steel containers which can be
seen everywhere.
  Q:  Do you know how they reached the camp?
  A:  That I don't know.
  Q:  Do you know whether any department of the government was responsible
for furnishing the gs to the camp?
  A:  No.  They were probably bought.
  Q:  You think then that perhaps the superintendent of the institution, if
he wanted some carbon monoxide gas, would just walk downtwon and walk into
a store and buy a steel tube of it and put it under his arm and carry it on
back to the camp; pay for it out of his pocket?
  A:  No, not out of his own pocket but through the institution.  the
institutions bought them, I mean. 
  Q:  Do you know from what sources the institution bought it?
  A:  Yes.  All the funds came from the Reich Ministry of the Interior.
they were advanced by the Party treasurer.
  Q:  Well, now, at that time, wasn't virtually everything in Germany of a
critical nature on some sort of priority?  Do you understand what I mean?
  A:  No.
  Q:  Would not the diversion of this carbon monoxide in tubes to the
various institutions have to be given a priority rating and approved by
someone or by some department in the government and thus be made available
to the hospitals?  Don't you understand what I mean?
  A:  Yes, I understand.  I have no idea, but I don't believe so.  Why?
  Q:  What was done with the bodies of these people after mercy deaths were
  A:  When the room has been cleared of gas again, stretchers were brought
in and the bodies were carried into an adjoining room.  There the doctor
examined them to determine whether they were dead.
  Q:  Then what happened to the bodies?
  A:  When the doctor had determined death, he freed the bodies for
cremation and then they were cremated.
  Q:  After he had freed the bodies, had determined that they were dead,
they were then cremated?  Is that correct?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  There was a crematory built for every one of these institutions?
  A:  Yes.  Crematoriums were built in the institutions. 
  Q:  Do you know whether or not - what department or agency, either under
the government, that is, the Reich governnment, or under the superindentent
of the various institutions, was responsible for this detail of cremation?
  A:  I don't understand.  Bouhler ordered the creatmion.  Bouhler ordered,
on principle, that the bodies were to be cremated after death.  There was
no office for that. 
  Q:  Was there any report made to anyone of the fact that certain people,
who had been selected for euthanasia had finally arrived at these
institutions, had actually been accorded the privilege of mercy deaths and
then had been cremated?
  A:  No.  I know nothing about that.
  Q:  No records wer kept at all?
  A:  Oh, I thought you said reports.  Now you mean records?
  Q:  I don't care what you call it.  Ther must have been a report or
record of some kind kept on these people.  Was there?
  A:  Yes, of course.  Not only the case histories, but the personal data
of the individual patients were collected at the euthanasia institution and
there the death records were added and whatever else was available.  In my
direct examination I pointed out that there were announcements to the
agencies concerned, for example, the guardianship court.  All these files
were sent to Tiergartenstrasse 4.
  Q:  They were finally sent to Tiergartenstrasse 4?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  Isn't it true that only in that way could an accurate record or
report of this program be made?
  A:  I didn't understand.  Whether this fact created accurate records
about the people, or whether records were kept?
  Q:  Records were kept, were they not, of this entire transaction of each
individual from the time he was expertized?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  Until finally he was cremated?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  And those records were filed with T-4?
  A:  Yes.  They were kept there.
  Q:  Now, I believe you said that these euthanasia chambers were built to
resemble shower rooms?
  A:  Yes.  That's how I remember it.
  Q:  And the only people that were accorded euthanasia were people who
were incurably insane, I think you said?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  These were people who, as you put it, on ethical grounds did not have
the mental capacity either to concent or to resist the decision to grant
them enthanasia, and that consequently as you viewed it, it was a humane
procedure to accord them a mercy death; is that correct, did I understand
you correctly?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  Now, where these people, the ones whom you saw, so insane as not to
understand where they were or what was going on around them?
  A:  I can only say that of course I am not a doctor and therefore not in
a position to judge the condition of such patients, but when I was at such
institutions I myself saw that the patients, in as far as they were able to
walk, went into these chambers or rooms where they were told to go without
any objection and sat down on the benches or lay down and were quite quiet.
  I don't know to what extent they realized where they were.  I do know,
however, that they were not in any way worried, but perfectly calm.
Bouhler had ordered that the doctors were to arrange things so that the
patients would not realize what was being done to them.
  Q:  And that was the reason that the gas chambers were constructed to
resemble shower rooms, I suppose?
  A:  Yes.
  Q:  And these people thought that they were going in to take a shower
  A:  If any of them had any power of reasoning, they no doubt thought that.
  Q:  Well now, were they taken into the shower rooms with their clothes
on, or were they nude?
  A:  No.  They were nude.
  Q:  In every case?
  A:  Whenever I saw them, yes.
  Q:  And you said, I believe, yesterday that you witnessed perhaps some 10
to 12, or 15, or 20 occasions when groups were accorded mercy deaths?
  A:  No. I said that I visited each of the institutions, with the
exception of Hadamar, at least once, perhaps twice.
  Q:  And on each occasion did you witness the according of a mercy death
to a group?
  Q:  And I believe you said yesterday that some of these groups were
adults, that some groups were men, other groups were women, and that on
some occasions the groups were made up of both men and women, is that
  A:  No.  Apparently I did not express myself clearly.  They were either
men or women, but I saw both. 
  Q:  And you think perhaps you saw as many as 20 to 30 comfortably
accommodated in the chamber?
  A:  Yes, quite comfortably.  There was plenty of room.

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