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 3 of 7)

[M. DUBOST continues]

[Page 161]

We shall submit now Documents 563-F and 564-F as Exhibit RF 308. It is a report concerning the atrocities committed by the Gestapo in Bourges. We shall read from a part of this report, Page 6 of the French text, Page 5 of the German text.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, how do you establish what this document is? It appears to be the report of M. Marc Toledano.

M. DUBOST: That is correct, Mr. President. This report was incorporated with the rest of the documents in the same bundle, into the document presented by the French Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes, as is evident from the official signature of M. Zambeaux on the original, which is in the hands of the Secretary of the Court. I shall read from it, Page 5. This is the first page of the original:

"I, the undersigned, Madame Bondeux, supervisor of the Prison in Bourges, certify that nine men, mostly youths, were subjected to heinous treatment. With their hands bound behind their backs and chains on their feet for 15- 20 days, it was absolutely impossible for them to carry on the normal functions of life. They screamed with hunger. In the face of this situation several ordinary criminal prisoners showed their willingness to help these martyrs by making small packets from their own provisions, which I passed to them in the evening. A certain German supervisor, whom I knew under the first name of Michel, threw their bread in a corner of the cell and at night came to beat them. All these young men were shot on 20 November 1943.

Moreover, a woman named Hartwig of Chavannes, I believe - told me that she had remained for four days bound to a chair. At all events, I can testify that her body was completely bruised."

On Page 6, Page 5 of the German text, we shall read the statement of M. Labussiere, who is a captain on the reserve and teacher at Marseille-les-Aubigny. Eighth line from the bottom of the page:
"On the 11th I was twice beaten with an oxhide whip, being forced to bend over a bench. The muscles of my thighs and my calves were stretched out. At first I received some 30 blows from a heavy whip, then the session was continued with another instrument which had a buckle at the end, I then was struck on the anus, on the thighs, and on the calves. To do this my torturer got up on a bench and made me spread my legs. Then with a very thin oxhide thong he finished by giving me some 20 more biting lashes. When I picked myself up I was dizzy and I fell to the ground. I was always kicked up again. Needless to say, the handcuffs were never taken off my wrists."
I recoil from reading the remainder of this testimony. I pass on to the bottom of Page 7, third line from the end. The details which preceded are horrifying.

[Page 161]

"At ten o'clock, on the 12th, after having beaten a woman, Paoli came to find me and said: 'Dog, you have no heart. It was your wife I have just beaten. I'll do it as long as you won't talk.' He wanted me to disclose the place of our hide-out and the names of my comrades.

From 2 o'clock to 6 o'clock I was again, in the torture chamber. I could hardly crawl. Before he let me come in Paoli said 'I give you five minutes to tell me all that you know. If after these five minutes you've said nothing you'll be shot at 3 o'clock. Your wife will be shot at six, and your boy will be sent to Germany.'"

Page 9:
"After signing the record of my interrogation the German said to me: 'Look at your face. See what we can make of a man in five days. You haven't seen the finish yet!' And he added: 'Now get out of here. You make me sick!'" And the witness concluded with: "I was, in fact, covered with ordure from head to foot. They put me in a cart and took me back to my cell. During these five days I certainly had received more than 700 blows with an oxhide whip."
A large hematosis (blood clot) appeared on both his buttocks. A doctor had to operate. His comrades in custody would not go near him because of the foul odour from the abscesses covering his body as a result of the ill- treatment. On 20 November, the date on which he was interrogated, he had not yet recovered from his wounds.

Page 10. His testimony concludes with a general statement of the methods of punishment:

"(1) An oxhide thong

(2) The bath: The victim was plunged headfirst into a tub of cold water until he was asphyxiated. Then they gave him artificial respiration. If he did not talk, they repeated the process several times. With soaking clothes he spent the night in a cold cell.

(3) Electric current: The terminals were placed on the hands, then on the feet, and in the ears, then one in the anus and another on the end of the penis.

(4) The crushing of the testicles in a press specially prepared for the purpose: Twisting of the testicles was frequent.

(5) Hanging: The victim's hands were handcuffed together behind his back. A hook was slipped through his handcuffs, and the victim was lifted by a pulley. At first they jerked him up and down. Later, they left him suspended for varying, fairly long, periods. Often, arms were dislocated. I saw in the camp Lt. Lefevre, who, having remained suspended for more than four hours, had lost the use of both arms.

(6) Burning with a soldering lamp or with matches.

On 2 July my comrade Laloue, a teacher from Cher, who had been subjected to most of these tortures at Bourges came to the camp. One arm had been put out of joint and he was unable to move the fingers of his right hand as a result of the hanging. He had been subjected to whipping and electricity. He had been burned by sharp-pointed matches which had been driven under all the nails of his hands and feet. His wrists and ankles had been wrapped with rolls of wadding, and this had been set on fire. While it was burning, a German plunged a pointed knife into the soles of his feet several times and another lashed him with an oxhide whip. The phosphorus burns had eaten away several fingers as far as the second joint. Abscesses which had developed had burst, and this saved him from blood poisoning."

Page 13 of the same document, Page 14 in the German text; we read, under

[Page 162]

the signature of one of the Chiefs of the General Staff of the French Forces of the Interior who freed the Department of Cher, M. Magnon - signature authenticated by the French official authorities whom you know - the following:
"Since the liberation of Bourges, 6 September, 1944, an inspection of the Gestapo cellars disclosed an instrument of torture, a ring composed of several balls of hardwood with steel spikes. There was a device for tightening the bracelet round the victim's wrist. This bracelet was seen by numerous soldiers and leaders of the Maquis of Menetou-Salon.

It was in the hands of Adjutant Neuilly, now in the first battalion of the 34th Brigade.

A drawing is attached to this declaration.
Commander Magnon, the undersigned, certifies having seen the instrument described above."
We now submit Document 565-F, from the Military Security Service of the Department of Vaucluse, which becomes Exhibit RF 309. It is a repetition of the same methods. We do not consider it necessary to dwell upon them.

We will now turn to Document 567-F, which we submit as Exhibit RF 310. It refers to the tortures practised by the German police in Besancon. Page 1 of our French text and of the German text is a deposition of M. Dommergues, Professor at Besancon. This deposition was collected by the American War Crimes Commission - under Captain Miller. We shall read from the statement of M. Dommergues, Professor at Besancon:

"Arrested on 11 February 1944. Violently struck with an oxhide thong during the interrogation. While a woman who was being tortured cried out, they made him believe that it was his own wife. He saw a comrade hung with a weight of 50 kilograms on each foot. Another had his eyes pierced with pins. A child lost its voice completely."
This is from the American War Crimes. Commission, summing up M. Dommergues' deposition. This document includes a second part, 567 F (b). We shall read some excerpts from Pages 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of this document, Page 9 of the German text.

THE PRESIDENT: Whose statement is it?

M. DUBOST: Page 3, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but you see, one of the members has not got his document marked, and I want to know whose statement it is you are referring to Is it Dr. Gomet?

M. DUBOST: It is not a deposition, it is a letter sent by Dr. Gomet, Secretary of the Council of the Departmental College of Doubs and of the National Association of Physicians. This letter is addressed by him to the Chief Medical Officer of the Feldkommandantur in Besancon on 11 September, 1943. Here is it's text:

"Doctor-in-Chief and Honourable Colleague:

I have the honour to deliver to you the note which I have drafted at your request and addressed to our colleagues of the Department in our memorandum of 1 September.

In addition, my conscience compels me to take up another subject with you.

Quite recently I had to treat a Frenchman who had wounds and widespread ecchymosis on his face and body, as a result of the torture apparatus employed by the German security service. He is a man of good standing, holding an important appointment under the French Government, and he was arrested because they thought he could furnish certain information. They could make no accusation against him, as is proved by the fact that he was released in a few days, when the interrogation to which they wanted to subject him was finished.

[Page 163]

He was subjected to torture, not as a penalty or as the result of a trial, but for the sole purpose of forcing him to speak under stress of violence and pain.

As for myself, as representative here of French Medical Corps, my conscience and a strict conception of my duty force me to inform you of what I have just observed in the exercise of my profession. I appeal to your conscience as a doctor, and, as we have accepted the task of protecting the physical health of our fellow human beings, which is the duty of every doctor, ask you if we should not intervene here."

Returning to Page 4. He must have had a reply from the German doctor, for Dr. Gomet writes him a second letter, and here is the text:
"Doctor-in-Chief and Honourable Colleague:

You were good enough to note the facts which I put before you in my letter of 11 September, 1943, regarding the torture apparatus used by the German Security Service during the interrogation of a French official for whom I had subsequently to prescribe treatment. You asked me, as was quite natural, if you could visit the person in question yourself. I replied, at our recent meeting, that the person concerned did not know of the step which I had taken ; and I did not know whether he would authorise me to give his name. I wish to emphasise, in fact, that I myself am solely responsible for this step. The person through whom I learned, by virtue of my profession, the facts which I have just related to you, had nothing to do with this report. The question is strictly professional. My conscience as a doctor has forced me to bring this matter to your attention. I reported only what I knew from absolutely reliable observation, and I guarantee the truth of my statement on my honour as a man, as a physician, and a Frenchman.

My patient was interrogated twice by the German Security Service about the end of August, 1943. I had to examine him on 8 September 1943, that is to say, about ten days after he left prison, where he had in vain asked for medical attention, He had a palpebral ecchymosis on the left side and abrasions in the region of his right temple, which he said were made with a sort of disc which they had placed upon his head and which they struck with small clubs. He had ecchymosis on the backs of his hands, these having been placed, according to what he told me, in a squeezing apparatus. On the front of his legs there were still scars with scabs and small surface wounds - the result, he told me, of blows administered with flexible rods studded with short spikes.

Obviously, I cannot swear to the means by which the ecchymosis and wounds were produced, but I note that their appearance is in complete agreement with the explanations given me.

It will be easy for you, Sir, to learn if an apparatus of the kind to which I allude is really being used by the German Security Service."

I pass over the rest.

THE PRESIDENT: It may be convenient for counsel and others to know that the Tribunal will not sit in open session tomorrow, as it has many administrative matters to consider. We will adjourn now until 2 o'clock.

(A recess was taken)

COURT CLERK (Captain Priceman): If your Honours please, the defendants Kaltenbrunner and Streicher will continue to be absent this afternoon.

M. DUBOST: We left off this morning at the enumeration of the tortures that had been inflicted habitually by the Gestapo in the various cities in France where inquiries had been conducted, and I was proving to you by reading numerous documents amongst them the last letter, that everywhere the

[Page 164]

accused, and frequently the witnesses themselves were questioned with brutality and subjected to tortures that were usually identical. This systematic repetition of the same methods of torture leads us to believe that there was a common plan, formulated by the heads of the police service themselves and by the German government.

We still have a great many testimonies, all extracted from the report of the American Services, which concern the prison at Dreux, the prison at Morlaix, and the prison in Metz. These testimonies are given in Documents 689-F, 690-F, and 691-F, which we are now presenting to you as Exhibits RF 311, 312, and 313. With your permission, your Honour, I will now abstain from further citing these documents. The same acts were systematically repeated; this is also true of the tortures inflicted in Metz, in Cahors, in Marseille and Quimperle. The subject is dealt with in Documents 692, 693, and 694-F, which we are presenting to you as Exhibits RF 314 and 315.

We now come to one of the most odious crimes committed by the Gestapo, and it is not possible for us to keep silent about it, in spite of our desire to shorten these proceedings. This is the murder of a French officer by the Gestapo at Clermont-Ferrand, in the Southern zone, and so in a zone which was considered to be free according to the terms of the Armistice - a murder which was committed under extremely shameful conditions in contempt of all common rights, since it was perpetrated in a region where, according to the terms of the Armistice, the Gestapo had nothing to do and had no right to be.

The name of this French officer was Major Henri Madeline. His case is given in Document S-575, which we submit as Exhibit RF 316. He was arrested on the 1st of October, 1943, at Vichy. The interrogation began in January 1944, and he was beaten in such a savage manner in the course of the first interrogatory that when he was brought back to his cell his hands were already slit. On 27 January he was subjected to two other interrogations. You will find, sir, this document in a bundle of papers contained in a pink file in your document book, No. S-575.

On 27 January this officer was questioned again on two occasions during which he was beaten so violently that when he returned to his cell it was impossible to see the manacles he had on, so swollen were his hands. The following day German police came back and seized him in his cell, where he had passed the whole night in agony. They took him while he was still alive and threw him down on a road a kilometre away from a small village in the Massif Central Peringant-Les-Sarlieves, so that it should be thought that he had been the victim of a road accident. His body was found later, and a post mortem, showed that the throat was completely crushed. He had multiple fractures of the ribs and perforation of the lungs. There was also dislocation of the spine, fracture of the lower jaw, and most of the tissues of the head were loose.

We all know that a few French traitors did assist in the arrests and in the misdeeds of the Gestapo in France under the orders of German officers. One of these traitors, who was arrested when our country was liberated, has described the ill-treatment inflicted on Major Madeline. The name of this traitor is Verniere, and we are going to read a passage from his statement.

"He was beaten with an oxhide whip and a bludgeon. He was beaten on his fingernails, and his fingers were crushed. He was obliged to walk barefooted on tacks. He was burned with cigarette ends. Finally, he was beaten unmercifully and taken back to his cell in a dying condition."

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