The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
21st January to 1st February, 1946

Forty-Third Day: Friday, 25rd January, 1946
(Part 2 of 7)

[Page 155]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has considered the arguments which have been addressed to it, and is of the opinion that the document offered by counsel for France is a document of a committee set up for the investigation of war crimes within the meaning of Article 21 of the Charter. The fact that it is not upon oath does not prevent it being such a document within Article 21, of which the Tribunal is directed to take judicial notice. The question of its probative value would of course be considered under Article 19 of the Charter, and therefore in accordance with Article 19 and Article 21 of the Charter the document will be admitted in evidence, and the objection of counsel for the Gestapo is denied.

The Tribunal would wish that all original documents should be filed with the General Secretary of the Tribunal, and that when they are being discussed in Court the original documents should be present in Court at the time.

DR. BABEL (Counsel for the SS): I have been informed that General Giraud and his family were, in fact, deported to Germany upon the orders of Himmler, but that they were treated very well, were billeted in a villa, and were brought back to France in good health; also that things went well with them and that they are still well today. I do not see -

THE PRESIDENT: Counsel, forgive me for interrupting you. But the Tribunal is not now considering the case of General Giraud and his family. Are you unable to hear?

What I was saying was that you were making some application in connection

[Page 156]

with the deportation of General Giraud, and were stating to us what you allege to be facts, as to that deportation. The Tribunal is not considering that matter. The Tribunal has already ruled that it cannot take judicial notice of the facts as to General Giraud's deportation.

DR. BABEL: I was of the opinion that what I had to say might bring about an explanation by the prosecution, and might expedite the trial in that respect. That was the purpose of my inquiry.

THE PRESIDENT: Was that what you stated? ...I am merely pointing out to you that we are not now considering General Giraud's case.


M. DUBOST: If the Tribunal will permit me to continue ? It seems to me necessary to come back to the proof which I propose to submit. I must show that through uniformity of methods, of torture used in each bureau of the German Police...

THE PRESIDENT: Have you finished the document we have just admitted?

M. DUBOST: Yes, Mr. President; I have completed this and I will now read from other documents. But first I would like to sum up the proofs which I have to submit this morning by reading these documents.

I said that I was going to demonstrate how, through the uniformity of ill-treatment inflicted by all branches of the German Police upon prisoners under interrogation, we are faced with a realisation of a common will, of which we cannot give you direct proof, as we did yesterday, regarding hostages, by bringing you papers signed by Keitel, but at which we shall arrive by a way just as certain; for this uniformity of methods implies a uniformity of will, which we can only attribute to the very head of the police, that is to say, the German Government itself, to which the defendants belonged.

This Document 555-F, from which I have just read, refers to the ill-treatment of prisoners at Fort Montluc in Lyons.

I pass to Document 556-F, which we shall submit as Exhibit RF 303, which relates to the prison regime at Marseilles, and which follows the Document 555-F, in the document book.

The Tribunal will note that this is an official record taken by the Military Security Service of Vaucluse, concerning the atrocities committed by Germans against political prisoners, and that this record includes the written deposition of M. Mousson, chief of an intelligence service who was arrested on 16 August 1943 and then transferred on 30 August 1943 to St. Pierre prison at Marseilles. In the last paragraph of the first page of this document we read:

"Transferred to Marseilles, St. Pierre prison on 30 August 1943, placed in room P, 25 metres long, 5 metres wide. We are crammed in, as many as 75 and often 80. Two straw mattresses for three. Repulsive hygienic conditions: lice, fleas, bed-bugs, tainted food. For no reason at all comrades are beaten and put in cells two or three days without food."
Following page, fourth paragraph
"Taken into custody again 15 May in a rather brutal way I was imprisoned in the prison of Ste. Anne and ..." 5th paragraph: "Living conditions in Ste. Anne: deplorable hygiene; food supplied by National Relief Society."
Next page, second paragraph:
"Living conditions in Petites Beaumettes: Food, just enough to keep one alive; no parcels Red Cross gives many, but we receive few.
The prison of Poitiers ." It concerns (I repeat) - prisons entirely under control of the Germans. The prison of Poitiers, Document 558-F, which we submit as Exhibit RF 304. Attached to the last page of this document is a report from the Press Section of the American Information Service in Paris, dated 18th October 1944. The Tribunal should know that all these reports

[Page 157]

were incorporated with the documents which were presented by the French Office for the Investigation of War Crimes. We read under number two:
"M. Claeys was arrested 14 December 1943, by the Gestapo and kept in custody in the "Pierre Levee" Prison until 26 August 1944. While in jail he asked for a mattress, as he had been wounded in the war. He was told that he would get it if he confessed. He had to sleep on straw of only one inch thickness. Seven men in one room 4m x 2m x 2.80m. use of WC twice a day only. Twenty days without leaving of cell. WC was a great discomfort to him because of wounds. The Germans refused to do anything about it."
Paragraph 4 (b).
"Another prisoner weighed 120 kilograms and lost 30 kilograms in a month. Was kept in isolation cell for a month. Was tortured there and died of gangrene of legs due to wounds caused by torture. Died after ten days of agony, alone and without help."
Under paragraph 5 (a), the methods of torture:
"Victim was kept bent up with his hands round his right leg. Was then thrown on the ground and beaten for twenty minutes. If he fainted, they would throw a pail of water in his face. This was to make him speak.

M. Francheteau was thus treated for four days out of six. In some cases, patient was not tied. If he fell they would pick him up by his hair, and go on."

Page two.
"At other times the victim was put naked in a special punishment cell, and his hands were tied to an iron grating above his head. He was then beaten until he talked.

(b) Beating as above was not usual, but M. Claeys has friends who have seen electric tortures. One electric wire was attached to the foot and another wire was placed in different parts of the body.

6. Torture was all the more horrible as the Germans, in many cases, had no clear ideas as to what information they wanted, and just tortured aimlessly."

And at the very end, the five last lines.
"One torture consisted in hanging up the victim by the hands, which were tied behind the back until the shoulders were completely dislocated. Afterwards the soles of the feet were cut with razor blades, and then the victim was made to walk on salt."
The Prisons of the North: This is Document 560-F, which follows in your document book and is submitted as Exhibit RF 305. It also comes from the American War Crimes Commission. On Page 1, under the letter "A" you will read:
"A general report of Professor Paucot on the atrocities committed by the Germans in Northern France and in Belgium. The report covers, the activities of the German police in France: in Arras, Bethune, Lille Valenciennes, Malo les Bains, La Madeleine, Quincy, Loos; in Belgium: Saint Gilles, Fort de Huy, and Camp de Belveroo. This report is accompanied by seventy-three depositions of victims. From examination of these testimonies the fact emerges that the brutal barbarity of methods used during the interrogations was the same as in the various places cited."
This synthesis which I have read to you is from the American report. It seems to me unnecessary to stress this as it is confirmed on the first page. The Tribunal can read further on Pages 4, 5, 6 and 7 a detailed description of the

[Page 158]

atrocities, systematic and all identical, which the German police inflicted to force confessions.

On Page 7, the fifth paragraph, you will find:

"A prisoner captured while trying to escape was left in his cell to the fury of police dogs who tore him to bits."
On Page 17, second paragraph of the German text there is reproduced the report of M. Prouille, which, as an exception, I shall read, because of the nature of the facts.
"Condemned by the German Tribunal to eighteen months of imprisonment for possessing arms and after having been in the prisons of Arras, Bethune and Loos, I was sent to Germany.

As a result of ill-treatment in Eastern Prussia I was obliged to have my eyes looked after. Having been taken to an infirmary, a German doctor put drops in my eyes. A few hours later, after painful suffering, I became blind. After spending several days in the prison of Fresnes I was sent to the clinic of Quize-Vingt in Paris. Professor Guillamat examined me, and certified that my eyes had been burned by a corrosive agent."

Under number 561-F, I shall read a document from the American War Crimes Commission, which we submit as Exhibit RF 306. The Tribunal will find on Page 2, proof in that M. Herrera was present at tortures inflicted on numerous persons, and saw a Pole, by the name of Riptz, have the soles of his feet burned. Then his head was split open with an axe. After the wound healed he was shot. Quoting again:
"Commander Grandier, who had had a leg fractured in the war, was threatened by those who conducted the interrogations that they would fracture his other leg. This was carried out. When he was half mad as a result of a hypodermic injection, the Germans did away with him."
We do not care to take more of your time than necessary, but it is quite proper that the Tribunal should know these American official documents in their entirety, as all of them show in a very exact way the tortures carried out by the various German police services in numerous regions of France, and give evidence as to the similarity of methods used.

Document 571-F, which we submit as Exhibit RF 307, of which we shall only read one four-line paragraph - page thirty- six, third paragraph from the bottom in the German text, fourth paragraph of page twenty - runs as follows:

"M. Robert Vanessche, of Tourcoing, states:

I was arrested 22 February 1944 at Mouscron in Belgium by the Gestapo, who were dressed in civilian clothing. During the interrogation they wore military uniform."

I omit a paragraph.
"I was interrogated for the second time at Cand in the main German prison, where I remained thirty-one days. There I was shut up for two or three hours in a sort of wooden coffin where one could breathe only through three holes in the top."
Page 38 of the same document:
"M. Remy, residing at Armentieres, states:

Arrested May 2, 1944, at Armentieres I arrived at the Gestapo headquarters, 18 Rue Francois Debats, in La Madeleine, about three o'clock the same day. I was subjected to interrogation on two different occasions. The first time, for about an hour, I had to lie on my stomach, and received about 120 lashes with an oxhide whip. The second interrogation lasted a little longer. The same thing followed: I was laid on my stomach and lashed. As I would not talk, they stripped me and put me in the 'bathtub.'

[Page 159]

On 5 May I was subjected to a new interrogation at Loos. That day they hung me by my feet and rained blows on my body. As I refused to speak, they untied me and laid me again on my stomach. As the suffering drew cries from me they kicked me in the face with their boots. As a result I lost seventeen lower teeth."
The names of two of the torturers follow, but are of no concern to us here. We are merely trying to show that the torturers everywhere used the same methods. This could only have been done in execution of orders given by their chiefs.

Page 48, the testimony of M. Guerin, first paragraph, eighth line.

"As I refused to admit anything, one of the interrogators put my scarf around my mouth to stifle my cries. Another German policeman took my head between his legs, and two others, one on each side of me, began to beat me with a club on my loins. Each beat me twenty- five times; each time I got up. This session lasted two hours. The next morning they began again, and it lasted as long as the day before. These tortures were inflicted upon me because on 11 November, I, with my comrades of the Resistance, had taken part in a manifestation, by placing a wreath on the memorial to those who fell in the war of 1914-18."
Page 48, page 29 of the German text. Report of M. Alfred Deudon. Paragraph three. Here is the ill-treatment which was inflicted upon him.
"18 August sensitive parts were struck with a hammer. 19 August was passed under water. 20 August my head was placed in a squeezing apparatus. 21 and 24 August I was chained day and night. 26 August I was chained day and night and hung by the arms."
Page 49; Page 30 of the German text. Report of M. Delltombe, arrested by the Gestapo 14 June 1944. Paragraph two:
"Thursday, 15 June, at eight o'clock in the morning, I was taken to the torture cellar. There they demanded that I confess the sabotage which I had carried out with my group, and denounce my comrades and disclose our hiding place. Because I did not, the torture commenced. They made me put my hands behind my back. They put on special handcuffs and hung me by my wrists. Then they beat me with an oxhide whip, principally on the loins and in the face. That day the torture lasted three hours.

Friday, 16 June, the same thing took place only for an hour and a half, for I could stand it no longer, and they took me back to my cell on a stretcher.

Saturday, the tortures began with even more severity. At last I was obliged to confess my sabotage, for the brutes stuck needles in my arms. After that they left me alone until 10 August; then they had me called to the office and told me I was condemned to death. I was put on a train of deportees going to Brussels, from which I was freed on 3 September by Brussels patriots.

Page 56:
Women were subjected to the same treatment as men, To the physical pain the sadism of the torturers added the moral anguish, especially mortifying for a woman or a young girl, of being stripped nude by her torturers. Pregnancy did not save them from lashes. When brutality brought about a miscarriage they were left without any care, exposed to all the hazards and complications of these criminal abortions."
This is the text of the summary drawn up by the American officer who carried out this investigation.

The Tribunal will find, on Page 58 - Page 36 in the German text - at the

[Page 160]

bottom of the French text, the report of Madame Sindemans, who was arrested in Paris on 24 February, 1944,"by four soldiers each armed with a submachine gun, and two other Germans in civilian clothes holding revolvers :
"Having looked into my handbag, they found three identification cards. Searching my room, they discovered the pads and stamp of the Kommandantur and German workman passes which I had succeeded in stealing from them the day before."

Immediately, they handcuffed me and took me to be interrogated. Getting no reply, they slapped me in the face with such force that I fell from my chair. Then they whipped me with a rubber hose, full in the face. This interrogation began at 10 o'clock in the morning and ended at 11 o'clock that night. I must tell you that I had been pregnant for three months."

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