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-Fourth Day: Monday, 28rd January, 1946
(Part 8 of 9)

[M. DUBOST continues his examination of the witness Victor Dupont]

[Page 215]

Q. Were University circles aware of the work done in the camps?

A. At the Pathological Institute in Buchenwald, pathological preparations were made, and naturally some of them were out of the ordinary, - since - I am speaking as a doctor - we encountered cases that can no longer be observed, cases such as have been described in the books of the last century. Some excellent pieces of work were prepared and sent to Universities, especially the University of Jena. On the other hand there were also some exhibits which could not properly be described as anatomical: some prepared tattoo marks were sent to Universities.

Q. Did you personally see that?

A. I saw these tattoo marks prepared.

Q. Then how did they obtain the anatomic exhibits, how did they get these tattoo marks? They waited for a natural death, of course.

A. The cases I observed were natural deaths or executions. Before our arrival, and I can name witnesses who can testify to this - they killed a man to get these tattoo marks. It happened, I must emphasise, when I was not at Buchenwald. I am repeating what was told me by witnesses whose names I will give. During the period when the camp was commanded by Koch,

[Page 216]

people who had particularly artistic tattoo marks were killed. The witness I can refer to is Nicolas Simon, who lives in Luxembourg. He spent six years in Buchenwald in exceptional conditions, where he had unprecedented opportunities of observation.

Q. But I am told that Koch was sentenced to death and executed because of those very excesses.

A. As far as I know, Koch was mixed up with some sort of swindling affair. He quarrelled with the SS administration. He was undoubtedly arrested and imprisoned.

THE PRESIDENT We had better have an adjournment now.

(A recess was taken)


Q. We stopped at the end of the Koch story, and the witness was telling the Tribunal that Koch had been executed not for the crimes that he had committed with regard to the internees in his charge, but because of the numerous indiscretions of which he had been guilty during his period of service.

Did I understand the witness's explanation correctly?

A. I said explicitly that he had been accused of indiscretions. I cannot give precise details of all the charges. I cannot say definitely that he was accused only of minor misdemeanours in his administration; I know that such charges were made against him, but I have no further information.

Q. Have you nothing to add?

A. I can say that this information came from Dr. Owen, who had been arrested at the same time and released again, and who returned to Buchenwald towards the end, that is, early in 1945.

Q. What was the nationality of this doctor?

A. German. He was in detention. He was an SS-man, and Koch and he were arrested at the same time. Owen was released and came back to Buchenwald restored to his rank and his functions at the beginning of 1945. He was quite willing to talk to the prisoners and the information that I have given comes from him.

M. DUBOST: I have no further questions to ask the witness, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Are there any further questions?


THE PRESIDENT: Does any member of the defence counsel wish to ask any questions?

BY DR. MERKEL: I am the defence counsel for the Gestapo.

Q. Witness, you previously stated that the methods of treatment in Buchenwald were not peculiar to the Buchenwald camp but must be ascribed to a general order. The reasons you gave for this statement was that you had seen these things in all the other camps too. How am I to understand this expression "in all other camps?"

A. I am speaking of concentration camps; to be precise, a certain number of them, Mauthausen, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, and labour squads such as Dora, Lora, Mansleben, Ebensee, to mention these only.

Q. Were you yourself in these camps?

A. I myself went to Buchenwald. I collected exact testimony about the other camps from friends who were there. In any case, the number of friends of mine who died is a sufficiently eloquent proof that extermination was carried out in the same way in all the camps.

BY DOCTOR BABEL: (Counsel for the SS and SD)

Q. I should like to know to what block you belonged. Perhaps you can tell the Tribunal - you have already mentioned the point - how the prisoners were distributed? Did they not also bear certain external markings - red patches on the clothing of some and green on that of others?

[Page 217]

A. There were in fact a number of badges, all of which were found in the same commandos. To give an example, where I was- in the "Terrassekommando" known as "Entwasserung" (drainage) - I worked alongside German common law criminals wearing the green badge. Regarding the nationalities in this commando, there were Russians, Czechs, Belgians and French among us. Our badges were different; our treatment was identical, and in this particular case we were even under the orders of common law criminals.

Q. I did not quite hear the beginning of your answer. I asked whether the prisoners were divided into specific categories identifiable externally by means of stars or some kind of distinguishing mark: green, blue, etc ...?

A. I said that there were various badges in the camp, triangular badges which applied in principle to different categories, but all the men were mixed up together, and subjected to the same treatment.

Q. I did not ask you about their treatment, but about their distinctive badges.

A. For the French it was a badge in the form of a shield.

Q. (interpolating): For all the prisoners, not only the French.

A. I am answering you: in the case of the French, who were those I knew best, the red, political, badge was given to everyone without discrimination, including the prisoners brought over from Fort Barrault, who were common criminals. I saw the same thing among the Czechs and the Russians. It is true that the use of different badges had been intended, but that was never put into practice in any reasonable way.

To come back to what I have already stated. Even if there were different badges, the people were all mixed up together, nevertheless, subjected to the same treatment and the same conditions.

Q. We have already heard several times that prisoners of various nationalities were mixed up together. That is not what I asked you.

THE PRESIDENT: You are speaking too fast.

DR. BABEL: Yes. Thank you.


Q. You were in the camp for a sufficiently long period to be able to answer my question. How were the prisoners divided? As far as I know, they were divided into criminal, political and other groups, and each group was distinguished by a special sign worn on the clothing - green, blue, red or some other colour.

A. The use of different badges for different categories had been planned. But these categories were mixed up together. Criminals were side by side with prisoners classed as political. There were, however, blocks in which one or other of those elements predominated; certain specific groups were distributed, but they were not divided up into specific groups distinguished by the particular badge they wore.

Q. I have been told, for instance, that political prisoners wore blue badges and the criminals wore red ones. We have already had a witness who confirmed this to a certain extent, by stating that criminals wore a green badge and antisocial offenders a different badge, and that the category to which a particular prisoner belonged could be seen at a glance.

A. It is true that different badges existed. It is true that the use of these badges for different categories was foreseen, but if I am to confine myself to the truth, I must emphasise the fact that the full use was not made of the badges. For the French in particular, there were only political badges, and this increased the confusion still more since notorious criminals from the ordinary civil prisons came to be regarded everywhere as political prisoners. The badges were intended to identify the different categories, but they were not employed systematically. They were not employed at all for the French prisoners.

[Page 218]

Q. If I understand you correctly, you say that all French prisoners were classified as political prisoners

A. That is correct.

Q. Now, among these French prisoners, as you said yourself, is it not true to say that there were not only political prisoners but also a large proportion of criminals?

A. There were some among

Q. At least, I took your previous statement to mean that. You said that quite definitely.

A. I did say so. I said that there were criminals from special prisons who were not given the green badge with an F, which they should have received, but the political badge.

Q. What was your employment in the camp? You are a doctor, are you not?

A. I arrived in January. For three months I was assigned first to the quarry, and then to the "terrasse". After that I was assigned to the Revier, that is to say the camp infirmary.

Q. What were your duties there?

A. I was assigned to the ambulance service for internal diseases.

Q. Were you able to act on your own initiative? What sort of instructions did you receive regarding the treatment of patients in the Revier?

A. We acted under the control of an SS doctor. We had a certain number of beds for certain patients, in the proportion of one bed to twenty patients We had practically no medical supplies. I worked in the infirmary up to the liberation.

Q. Did you receive instructions regarding the treatment of patients? Were you told to look after them properly or were you given instructions to administer treatment which would cause death?

A. As regards that, I was ordered to select the incurables for extermination. I never carried out this order.

Q. Were you told to select them for extermination? I did not quite hear your reply. Will you please repeat it?

A. I was ordered to select those who were dangerously ill so that they might be sent to Block 61 where they were to be exterminated. That was the only order I received concerning the patients.

Q. "where they were to be exterminated." but I asked if you were told that they were to be selected for extermination. Were you told - according to what you said - "They will be sent to Block 61." Were you also told what could happen to them in Block 61?

A. Block 61 was in charge of a non-commissioned officer called Wilhelm, who personally supervised the executions, and it was he who ordered what patients should be selected to be sent to that block. I think the situation is sufficiently clear.

Q. I beg your pardon. You received no express orders?

A. The order to send the incurables

Q. (interrupting): Witness, it strikes me that you are not giving a straightforward answer of "yes" or "no," but that you persist in evading the question.

A. It was said that these patients were to be sent to Block 61. Nothing more was added, but every patient sent to Block 61 was executed.

Q. That is not firsthand observation. You found out or you heard that those who were sent there did not come back.

A. That is not correct. I could see for myself, for I was the only doctor who could enter Block 61, which was under the command of a prisoner called Louis Cunish (Remisch?) I was able to get a few of the patients out; the others died.

[Page 219]

Q. If such a thing was said to you, why did you not say that you would not do it?

A. If I understand the question correctly, I am being asked why - when I was told to send the most serious cases -

Q. (interrupting): When you received instructions to select patients for Block 61 why did you not say: "I know what will happen to those people, and therefore I will not do it."

A. Because it would have meant death.

Q. And what would it have meant if Germans had refused to carry out such an order?

A. What Germans are you talking about? German internees?

Q. A German doctor, if you like, or anyone else employed in the hospital. What would have happened to him if he had received such an order and refused to carry it out?

A. If a prisoner refused point-blank to execute such an order, it meant death. In point of fact, we sometimes could evade such orders. I emphasise the fact that I never sent any one to Block 61.

Q. I have one more general question to ask about conditions in the camp. For those who have never seen a camp it is difficult to imagine what conditions were actually like. Perhaps you could give the Tribunal a short description of how the camp was arranged.

A. I think I have already spoken at sufficient length on the organisation of the camp. I should like to ask the President whether it will serve any useful purpose to return to this subject.

THE PRESIDENT: If you want to put any particular cross- examination to him to show he is not telling the truth, you can, but not to ask him for a general description.


Q. The camp consists of an inner camp surrounded and secured by barbed wire. The barracks in which the prisoners were housed were inside this camp. How was this inner camp guarded?

THE PRESIDENT: Will you kindly put one question at a time? The question you have just put involves three or four matters.

Q. How is the part of the camp in which the living-quarters are situated separated from the rest? What security measures are taken?

A. The camp was a unified whole, cut off from the rest of the world by an electrified barbed wire network.

Q. Where were the guards?

A. The guards of the camp were in towers situated all round the camp; they were stationed at the gate and they patrolled inside the camp itself.

Q. Inside the camp? Inside the barbed wire enclosure?

A. Inside the camp and inside the barracks of course. They had the right to go everywhere.

Q. I have been informed that each separate barrack was under the supervision of only one man - a German SS-man or a member of some other organisation, that there were no other guards, that these guards were not intended to act as guards but only to keep order, and that the so-called Kapos, who were chosen from the ranks of the prisoners, had the same authority as the guards and performed the duties of the guards. It may have been different in Buchenwald. My information comes from Dachau.

A. I have already answered all these questions in my statement by saying that the camps were run by the SS in a manner which is common knowledge, and that in addition the SS employed the internees as intermediaries in many instances. This was the case in Buchenwald and, I suppose, in all the other concentration camps.

[Page 220]

Q. The answer to the question has again been highly evasive. I shall not, however, pursue the matter any further, as in any case I shall not receive a definite answer.

But I should like to put one further question.

You stated in connection with the facts you described that a professor, whose name I could not understand through the earphones and who was, I believe, a teacher of your own, was housed in Block 59. You stated in connection with the question of degradation - that at first 300 people - I think were housed there and later on 1200. Is that correct?

A. There were 1200 men in Block 58 when I found Dr. Kindberg there.

Q. Yes. And if I understood you correctly, you said that in this block there were not only Frenchmen, but also Russians, Poles, Czechs and Jews and that a state of degradation was caused not only through the herding together of 1200 people but also through the intermingling of so many different nationalities.

A. I want to make it clear that the intermingling of elements speaking different languages, men who are unable to understand each other - is not a crime, but it was a pre- disposing factor which furthered all the other measures employed to bring about a state of human degradation among the prisoners.

Q. So you consider that the intermingling of Frenchmen, Russians, Poles, Czechs and Jews is a degradation?

A. I do not see the point of this question - the fact of intermingling -

Q. There is no need for you to see the point; I know why I am asking the question.

A. The fact of putting men who speak different languages together is not degrading. I did not either think or say such a thing, but the herding together of elements which differ from each other in every respect, and especially in that of language, in itself made living conditions more difficult, and paved the way for the application of other measures which I have already described at length and whose final aim was the degradation of the human being.

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