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-Fifth Day: Tuesday, 29rd January, 1946
(Part 1 of 9)

[Page 226]



COURT OFFICER: May it please the Court, I desire now to say that the defendant Kaltenbrunner will be absent from this morning's session on account of illness.

M. DUBOST: In my capacity as representative of the French Prosecution, I wish to ask the Tribunal to consider this request: The witnesses that were interrogated yesterday are to be cross-examined by the defence. The conditions under which they are here are rather precarious, for it takes 30 hours to return to Paris. We would like to know whether we are to keep them here, and, if the defence really intends to cross-question them, we should like to proceed with that as quickly as possible, in order to ensure their return to France.

THE PRESIDENT: In view of what you said yesterday, M. Dubost, I said on behalf of the Tribunal that Dr. Babel might have the opportunity of cross-examining one of your witnesses within the next two days. Is Dr. Babel ready to cross-examine that witness now?

DR. BABEL (Counsel for SS and SD): No, Mr. President, I have not yet received a copy of his interrogation and consequently have not been able to, prepare my cross- examination. The time from yesterday to today is, naturally, also too short. Therefore, I cannot yet make a definite statement as to whether or not I shall want to cross-examine the witness. If I were given an opportunity during the course of the day to get the record ...

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Well, that witness must stay until tomorrow afternoon, M. Dubost, but the other witnesses can go.

M. Dubost, will you see, if you can, that a copy of the shorthand notes is furnished to Dr. Babel as soon as possible; the shorthand notes of that witness' evidence?

M. DUBOST: Yes, Mr. President.

FRANCOIS BOIX returned to the stand.

M. DUBOST: I shall see that it is done, My Lord. To continue; the Tribunal will remember that yesterday afternoon we projected six photographs of Mauthausen, which were brought to us by the witness who is now before you, and on which he offered his comments. This witness specifically stated under what conditions the photograph representing Kaltenbrunner in the quarry of Mauthausen had been taken. We offer these photographs as Exhibit RF 332.

Will you allow me to formulate one more question to the witness? Then I shall have finished with him, at least concerning the important part of this testimony. Does the witness recognise among the defendants anyone who visited the camp of Mauthausen?

A. Herr Speer.

Q. When did you see him?

A. He came to the Gusen camp in 1943 to arrange for some constructions, and also to the quarry at Mauthausen. I did not see him myself as I was in the identification service of the camp and could not leave, but during these visits Paul Ricker, head of the identification department, took a roll of film with his Leica which I developed. On this film I recognised Speer and with him other leaders of the SS. Speer wore a light-coloured suit.

Q. You saw that on the pictures that you developed?

[Page 227]

A. Yes. I recognised him on the photos and afterward he had to sign his name and the date because there were always many SS who wanted to have collections of all the photos of visits to the camp.

THE PRESIDENT: I think the witness was going a little too fast. I think he had better repeat that.


Q. Will you please repeat that you recognised Speer on pictures that you developed.

A. I recognised Speer on 36 photographs which were taken by SS Oberscharfuehrer Paul Ricker in 1943, during Speer's visit to the Gusen camp and the quarry of Mauthausen. He always looked extremely pleased on these pictures. There are even pictures which show him congratulating Obersturmbannfuehrer Franz Ziereis, then commander of the Mauthausen camp, with a cordial handshake.

Q. One last question. Were there any officiating chaplains in your camp? How did the internees die who wanted religious consolation?

A. I do not understand.

Q. Were there any chaplains in your camp?

A. Yes, so far as I could see, there were several. There was an order of German Catholics, known as "Bibelforscher." But officially ...

Q. But officially did the administration of the camp grant the internees the right to practice their religion?

A. No, they could do nothing, it was absolutely forbidden, even to live.

Q. Even to live?

A. Even to live.

Q. Were there any Catholic chaplains or any Protestant pastors?

A. The members of "Bibelforscher " were almost all Protestants. I do not know much about this matter.

Q. How were monks, priests and pastors treated?

A. There was not the slightest difference between them and ourselves. They died in the same way as we did. Sometimes they were sent to the gas chamber, at times they were shot, or plunged in freezing water, any way was good enough. The SS had a particular harsh method of handling these people, because they knew that they were not able to work as normal labourers. They treated all intellectuals of all countries in this manner.

Q. They were not allowed to practice their ministration?

A. No, not at all.

Q. Did the men who died have a chaplain before being executed?

A. No, not at all. On the contrary, at times, instead of being consoled, as you say, by anyone of their faith, they received, just before being shot, 25 or 75 lashes with a leather thong, sometimes from even an SS Obersturmbahnfuehrer personally. I noticed that especially in the case of a few officers, Political Commissars, Russian prisoners of war.

M. DUBOST: I have no further questions to ask of the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko.


Q. Witness, will you be so kind as to tell us what you know about the extermination of Soviet prisoners.

A. I cannot possibly tell you all I know about it; I know so much that one month would not suffice to tell you all about it.

Q. I would like you to tell us concisely what you know about the extermination of Soviet prisoners of war in the camp of Mauthausen.

A. The arrival of the first prisoners of war took place in 1941. The arrival of 2000 Russian prisoners of war was announced. In regard to Russian prisoners of war they took the same precautions as in the case of the Republican Spanish prisoners of war. They put machine guns everywhere around the

[Page 228]

barracks and expected the worst. As soon as the Russian prisoners of war entered the camp one could see that they were in a very bad state, they could not even understand anything. They were human scarecrows. They were then put in barracks, 1600 to a barrack. You must bear in mind these barracks were 7 metres wide by 50 long. They were divested of their clothes, of the very little they had on. They could keep only one pair of drawers and one shirt. One has to remember, that this was in November, and in Mauthausen it was more than 10 degrees below zero.

Upon their arrival 24 died just from walking the short distance of 4 kilometres from the station to the camp of Mauthausen. At first the same system was applied to them as to us Republican Spanish prisoners. At first they left us, with nothing to do, with no work.

THE PRESIDENT: You go too fast. Speak more slowly.

A. They applied the same system to the Russians. They were left to themselves, but with scarcely anything to eat. At the end of a few days they were already at the end of their endurance. Then began the process of elimination. They were made to work under the most horrible conditions, they were beaten up, hit, kicked, insulted; and out of the 7,000 Russian prisoners of war who came from almost everywhere, only 30 survivors were left at the end of three months. Of these 30 survivors photographs were taken by Paul Ricker's department, as a photo-document. I have these pictures and I can show them if the Tribunal so wishes.

Q. You do have these pictures?

A. M. Dubost knows about that, yes. M. Dubost has them.

Q. Thank you. Can you show these pictures?

A. M. Dubost has them.

Q. Thank you. What do you know about the Yugoslavs and the Poles?

A. The first Poles came to the camp in 1939, at the time of the defeat of Poland. They received the same treatment as everybody else. At that time there were only ordinary German criminals there. Then the work of the extermination was begun. There were tens of thousands of Poles who died under frightful conditions.

The position of the Yugoslavs should be brought to notice. They began to arrive in convoys, wearing civilian clothes, and they were shot in a formal way, so to speak. The SS wore even their steel helmets for these executions. Yugoslavs were shot two at a time, 165 came with the first transport, 180 with the second, after that they came in small groups of 15, 50, 60, 30 ; even women came then.

It is necessary to note that among these, four women were shot - and that was the only time in the camp of deportees. Some of them spat in the face of the camp Fuehrer before dying. The Yugoslavs suffered as few people have suffered. Their position is comparable only to that of the Russians. Until the very end they were massacred by every means imaginable. I would like to say more about the Russians, because they have gone through so much ...

Q. Do I understand correctly from your testimony that the concentration camp was really an extermination camp?

A. The camp was placed in the last category, grade 3. That is, it was a camp from which no one came out.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Does counsel for Great Britain desire to cross-examine?


THE PRESIDENT: Counsel for the United States?

MR. DODD: No questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any counsel for the defendants wish to cross-examine?

BY DR. BABEL (Counsel for SS and SD):

Q. Witness, how were you, marked in the camp?

[Page 229]

A. The number? What, if you please? What kind of brand?

Q. No. The prisoners were marked by variously coloured stars, red, green, yellow, and so forth. Was this so in Mauthausen also? What did you wear?

A. Everybody wore insignia. They were not stars; they were triangles, and letters to show the nationality. Yellow and red stars were for the Jews, stars with six red and yellow points, two triangles, one over the other.

Q. What colour did you wear?

A. A blue triangle with an "S" in it, that is to say "Spanish."

Q. Were you a "Kapo? "

A. I was an interpreter at first.

Q. What were your tasks and duties there?

A. I had to translate into Spanish all the barbaric things the Germans wished to tell the Spanish prisoners. Afterwards my work was on photography, developing the films which were taken all over the camp, showing the full story of what happened in the camp.

Q. What was the policy with regard to visitors? Did visitors go only into the inner camp and to places where work was being done?

A. They visited every camp. It was impossible for them not to know what was going on. Exception was made only when high officials or other important persons from Poland, Austria, or Slovakia, from all countries, came. Then they would show them only the best parts. Franz Ziereis would say: "See for yourselves." He looked out cooks, interned bandits, and common criminals, fat and well-fed. He would select these so as to be able to say and show that all internees looked like these.

Q. Were the prisoners forbidden to communicate with each other or with the outside?

A. It was so completely forbidden that, if anyone was caught doing so, it meant not only his death, but terrible reprisals for all those of his nationality.

Q. What observations did you make regarding the Kapos? How did they behave toward their fellow prisoners?

A. At times they were really worthy of being SS themselves. To be a Kapo, you had to be a pure Aryan. That meant that they had a martial bearing and, like the SS, full rights over us; they had the right to treat us like animals. The SS gave them carte blanche to do with us what they wished. That is why, at the Liberation, the prisoners and deportees executed all the Kapos on whom they could lay their hands. Shortly before the Liberation the Kapos asked to enlist voluntarily in the SS, and they left with the SS because they knew what was awaiting them. In spite of that we looked for them everywhere, and executed them on the spot.Q. You said they behaved like wild beats. From what facts do you draw the conclusion that they were obliged to?

A.One would have to be blind not to see. One could see the way they behaved. It was better to die like a man than to live like a beast, but they preferred to live like beasts, like savages, like criminals. They were known as such.

Q. I understand nothing. Please repeat. I have not understood you.

A. One would have had to be blind in order not to see what was happening to them. I lived there four and a half years and I know very well what they did. There were many among us who could have become Kapos for their work, because they were specialists in some field or another in the camp. But they preferred to be beaten up, and massacred if necessary, rather than become a Kapo.

DR. BABEL: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other member of the defendants' counsel wish

[Page 230]

to ask questions of the witness? M. Dubost, do you wish to ask any questions?

M. DUBOST: I have no further questions, Mr. President.

GENERAL RUDENKO: My Lord, the witness informed us that he had at his disposal the documentary photograph of 30 Soviet prisoners of war, the sole survivors of several thousand internees in this camp. I would like to ask your permission, Mr. President, to present this documentary photograph to the witness so that he can confirm before the Tribunal that this is really a document about this group of Soviet prisoners of war.

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly you may show the photograph to the witness if you have it. You may put the photograph to the witness if it is available.



Q. Witness, can you see this picture?A. What was it please? To whom?


Q. Is this the photograph? (Indicating)

A. Yes, that is the same 30. I can assure you that these 30 survivors were still living in 1942. Since then, in view of the conditions of the camp, it is very difficult to know whether any one of them is still alive.Q. Would you please give the date when this photograph was taken?A. It was at the end of the winter of 1941-42. At that time, it was still 10 degrees below zero. You can see from the picture the appearance of the prisoners because of the cold.

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