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 7 of 9)

[M. DUBOST continues his examination of Dr. Balachowsky]

[Page 254]

Q. What was the colour of the triangle worn by the ordinary German criminals?

A. They had a green triangle.

Q. Did they not wear eventually a red triangle?

A. No, because they were guarded more severely than the others and they distinctly wore the green triangle.

Q. And in the working groups?

THE PRESIDENT: We have heard that they were all mixed up.

M. DUBOST: The fact will not have escaped the Tribunal that these questions

[Page 255]

are put to counter other questions, which were asked this morning by the counsel for the defence, with the intent to confuse not the Tribunal but the witnesses.

THE WITNESS: I can repeat to you that we had a complete conglomeration of nationalities and categories of prisoners.

THE PRESIDENT: That is exactly what he said, that these triangles were completely mixed up.

M. DUBOST: I think, that the statement by this second witness, will definitely enlighten the Tribunal on this point, whatever the efforts of the defence might be to mislead us.


Q. Do you know anything of tattooed people?

A. Yes indeed.

Q. Will you please tell us what you know about them?

A. Tattooed human skins were stored in Block 2, which was called at Buchenwald the Pathological Block.

Q. Were there many tattooed human skins in Block 2?

A. There were always tattooed human skins in Block 2. I cannot say whether there were many, as they were continually being received and passed on, but there were not only tattooed human skins. There were also tanned human skins - simply tanned, not tattooed.

Q. Did they skin people?

A. They removed the skin and then tanned it.

Q. Will you continue your testimony on that point?

A. I saw SS come out of Block 2, the Pathological Block, carrying tanned skins under their arms. I know, from my comrades who worked in Block 2, that there were orders for skins, and these tanned skins were given as gifts to certain guards, and to certain visiting officials, who used them to bind books.

Q. We were told that Koch, who was the Commander at that time, was sentenced for this practice.

A. I was not a witness of the Koch affair, which happened before I came to the camp.

Q. So that even after he left there were still tanned and tattooed skins?

A. Yes, there were constantly tanned and tattooed skins, and when the camp was liberated by the Americans, they found in the camp, in Block 2, tattooed and tanned skins, on the 11 of April, 1945.

Q. Where were these skins tanned?

THE PRESIDENT: I am afraid you are still going to fast.

A. These skins were tanned in Block 2, and perhaps also in the crematorium buildings, which were not far from Block 2.

Q. Then, according to your testimony, it was a customary practice which continued even after Koch's execution?

A. Yes, this practice continued, but I do not know to what extent.

Q. Did you witness any inspections made of the camp by German officials, and if so, who were these officials?

A. I can tell you something about Dora, concerning such visits.

Q. Excuse me, I have one more thing to ask you, about the skins. Do you know anything about Koch's conviction?

A. I heard rumours and remarks about Koch's conviction from old comrades, who were in the camp at that time. But personally, I did not witness the case.

Q. Never mind. It is enough for me to know that after his conviction, skins were still tanned and tattooed.

A. That is correct.

Q. You expressly state it?

A. Absolutely. Even after his conviction there were tanned and tattooed skins.

[Page 256]

Q. Will you tell us now what visits were made to the camp by German officials, and who these officials were?

A. Contact between the outside, that is German civilians and even German soldiers, and the interior of the camp were made possible by departure or the leaves that some political prisoners were able to obtain from the SS in order to spend some time with their families, and, vice versa, there were visits to the camp by members of the Wehrmacht. In Block 50 we had the visit of Luftwaffe cadets. These Luftwaffe cadets, i.e. members of the regular German Armed Forces, passed through the camp and were able to see practically everything that went on there.

Q. What did they do in Block 50?

A. They just came to see the equipment, on the invitation of Sturmbannfuehrer Schuler. We received several visits.

Q. What was the equipment?

A. Equipment for the manufacture of vaccines, laboratory equipment.

Q. Thank you.

A. There were other visits also, and some Red Cross nurses visited this Block in October 1944.

Q. Do you, know the names of any German personalities who visited the camp?

A. Yes. Such a personality was the Crown Prince of Waldeck and Pyremont, who was an Obergruppenfuehrer of the Waffen SS, and Chief of Police of Hessen and Thuringia, who visited the camp on several occasions, including Block 46 as well as Block 50. He was greatly interested in the experiments.

Q. Do you know what the attitude of mind of the prisoners was shortly before their liberation by the American forces?

A. The internees of the camp expected the liberation to come at any moment. On the 11 April, in the morning, there was perfect order in the camp and exemplary discipline. We hid, with extreme difficulty and in the greatest secrecy, weapons, cases of hand grenades, and about 250 guns which were divided in two lots, one lot of a hundred guns for the hospital, and another lot of about 150 guns in my Block 50, and cases of hand grenades. As soon as the Americans began to appear below the camp of Buchenwald, at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the 11th of April, the political prisoners, assembled in line, seized the weapons and made prisoner most of the SS guards of the camp or shot all those who resisted. These guards had great difficulty in escaping as they had knapsacks filled with booty, i.e. objects they had stolen from the prisoners during the time they had guarded the camp.

M. DUBOST: Thank you. I have no further questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken)

M. DUBOST: I had no more questions to ask the witness, your Honours.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendant's counsel want to ask any questions of this witness?

BY DR. KAUFFMANN (counsel for Kaltenbrunner):

Q. Are you a specialist in research concerning the manufacture of vaccines?

A. Yes, I am a specialist in research.

Q. According to your opinion, was there any sense in the treatment to which these people were subjected?

A. It had no scientific significance; it only had a practical purpose. It permitted the verification of the efficacy of certain products.

Q. You must have your own opinion since you were in contact with those men? Did you really see these people?

A . I saw these people at very close hand, since in Block 50 I was in charge

[Page 257]

of part of this manufacture of vaccine. Consequently, I was quite able to realise what kind of experiments were being made in Block 46 and the reasons for these experiments. Further, I also realised the almost complete inefficiency of the SS doctors and how easy it was for us to sabotage the vaccine for the Germany Army.

Q. Now, these people must have gone through much misery and suffering before they died.

A. These people certainly suffered terribly, especially in the case of certain experiments.

Q. Can you certify that through your own experience, or is that just hearsay?

A. I saw in Block 50, photographs, taken in Block 46, of phosphorus burns, and it was not necessary to be a specialist to realise that these patients, whose flesh was burned to the bones, must have suffered.

Q. Then your conscience certainly revolted at these things.

A. Absolutely.

Q. Now, I would like to ask you, how were you able to follow the dictates of your conscience, in order to help these people in some way?

A. That is quite simple. When I arrived at Buchenwald as a deportee, I simply specified that I was a "laborant." That is a man who is trained in laboratory work but has no special and definite qualifications. I was sent to Dora, where the SS regime made me lose 30 kilos in two months. I became anaemic ....

Q. Witness, I am just concerned with Buchenwald. I do not wish to know anything about Dora. I ask you ...

A. It was the prisoners at Buchenwald who, by their connections within the camp, were the causes of my return to the Buchenwald camp. It was M. Julien Cain, a Frenchman, the Director of the French National Library, who called my presence to the attention of a German political prisoner, Walter Kummilscheim, who was a secretary in Block 50, and it is he who drew attention to my presence without my knowing it and without my having spoken of being a specialist in Dora. That is the reason why the SS called me back from Dora to work in Block 50.

Q. Please pardon the interruption. We do not wish to elaborate too much on these matters. I believe everything that you have just said, your reason why you were sent to Dora and why you were sent back. My point is a completely different one. I would like to ask you once more: You knew that these people were being treated in an inhuman way. Is that correct? Please answer yes or no.

A. I knew it of course, but long after -

Q. (Interposing): Please answer yes or no.

A. I answer the question. When I arrived at Block 50 I knew nothing, either of the Block or of the experiments. It was only later when I was in Block 50, that little by little and through the acquaintances I was able to make in the block. I found out the details of the experiments.

Q. Very well. And after you learned about the details of the experiments, did you not have the deepest sympathy for these poor creatures?

A. My pity was very great, but it was not a question of having pity or not, one had to carry out to the letter the orders that were given or be killed.

Q. Very well. Then you are stating that if in any way you had not followed the orders that you had received you might have been killed? Is that right?

A. There is no doubt about that. On the other hand, my work consisted in manufacturing vaccine, and neither I nor any other prisoners in Block 50 could ever enter Block 46 and actually witness experiments.

We knew what went on concerning the experiments only through the index cards which were sent from Block 46, to be officially registered in Block 50.

Q. Very well, but I believe there is no difference in your conscience, whether

[Page 258]

you see the suffering with your own eyes, or whether you have direct knowledge that in the same camp people are being murdered in such a way. Now, I come to another question.

THE PRESIDENT: Was that a question you were putting there? Will you confine yourself to questions.

THE WITNESS: I beg your pardon. I should like to answer the last question.

DR. KAUFFMAN: That was not a question. I will put another question now.

THE WITNESS: I should like to reply to this remark then.

DR. KAUFFMANN: I am not interested in your answer.

THE WITNESS: I am anxious to give it.

THE PRESIDENT: Answer the question, please.

THE WITNESS: Suffering was everywhere in the camps, and not only in the experimental blocks. It was in the quarantine blocks, it was among all the men who died every day by the hundreds. Suffering reigned everywhere in the concentration camps.


Q. Was there a decree or an announcement that there was to be no conversation about these experiments?

A. As a rule the experiments were meant to be kept absolutely secret. An indiscreet remark in regard to the experiments could entail immediate death. I must add that there were very few of us who knew the details of these experiments.

Q. You mentioned the visits to this camp, and you also mentioned that German Red Cross members, or nurses, and members of the Wehrmacht visited the camp, and that furloughs were granted to political prisoners. Were you ever present at one of these visits inside the camp?

A. Yes, I was present at the visits inside the camp of which I spoke.

Q. Did the visitors to this camp see that cardiac injections were being given? Or did the visitors see that human skin was tanned? Were those visitors present while internees were being ill-treated?

A. I cannot answer this question in the affirmative, and I can only say that visitors passed through my block. One had to pass almost through the entire camp. I do not know where the visitors went either before or after visiting my block.

Q. Did one of your own comrades perhaps tell you whether the visitors personally saw these excuses? Yes or no.

A. I do not understand the question. Would you mind repeating it?

Q. Did perhaps one of your comrades tell you that the visitors at the camp were present at these excesses?

A. I never heard that visitors were present at experiments or at excesses of this kind. The only thing I can say, is that concerning the tanned skins I saw with my own eyes SS, non-commissioned officers or officers - I cannot remember exactly whether they were officers or non-commissioned officers - come out of block 2, carrying tanned skins under their arms. But these were SS men; they were not visitors to the camp.

Q. Did these visitors, and in particular the Red Cross nurses, know that these experiments were medically completely worthless, or did they just wish to inspect the laboratories and the equipment?

A. I repeat again that these visitors came to my laboratory section, where they saw what was being done, that is, the sterilised filling of the vials or tubes. I cannot say what they saw before or after. I only know that these visitors of whom I am speaking, these Luftwaffe cadets or the Red Cross people, visited the whole installation of the block. They certainly knew, however, what was the basis of this culture, and that men might be used for experiments, as there were charts and graphs showing the stages of cultures starting with

[Page 259]

men; but it could have been blood initially taken from typhus patients and not necessarily from patients artificially inoculated with typhus.

I really think that these visitors did not generally know about the atrocities in the form of experiments that were being performed in Block 46, but it is impossible for visitors who went into the camp not to see the horrible conditions in which the internees were held.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.