The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
9th August to 21st August 1946

One Hundred and Ninety-Ninth Day: Friday, 9th August, 1946
(Part 1 of 11)

[Page 1]

THE PRESIDENT: I think I said - at any rate, I will say it again - that the Tribunal will sit in open session tomorrow until one o'clock.




Q. Witness, yesterday I was taking you through extracts of your diary for 1944. Have you a copy of those extracts in your possession at the moment? I am referring to Document 3546-PS, which will be Exhibit GB 51.

I want to make it clear, my Lord, that the extracts which are in this document are only sporadic extracts taken from the diary relating to the medical experiments. There are numerous other entries the diary referring to other aspects of the activity of the "Ahnenerbe."


Q. I had taken you yesterday to 2nd February. Now, will you look at the entries for 22nd February? You will see that you had a conference with a Dr. May, and there is an entry relating to co-operation with Dr. Ploetner and Professor Schilling. What work was Dr. Ploetner on at that time?

A. I cannot hear the German translation. I can hear now.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you heard the question?


Dr. Ploetner was working together with Professor Schilling. This refers to a communication from Himmler dated 23rd January, according to which Schilling's reports were to be passed on to Dr. May. These reports actually were not passed on, because Schilling refused to collaborate.


Q. Now turn to the entry for 25th February.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it a separate document, or is it in this book?

MR. ELWYN JONES: It is in the document book, my Lord, on Page 29.


Q. On 25th February you make an entry regarding "the order of the RFSS about his work in Dachau in co-operation with Rascher communicated."

"22nd March, 1830 to 2100 hours, SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Rascher ... preparation of the freezing experiments for the winter half-year 1944 to 1945"
You were at Dachau with Rascher on that date, were you not?

A. These are experiments which, as I already testified before the Commission, Himmler wanted to have carried out on account of the deaths from cold in the East. These experiments, however, could not be carried out at Dachau. This

[Page 2]

was reported to Himmler, and he ordered that they were to be carried out during j the following winter. But they were never carried through because Rascher was arrested in April.

Q. For whom were you to carry out these experiments? Was it for the Army?

A. These experiments were to be carried out together with the Reichsarzt SS Grawitz.

Q. He was the SS Chief Surgeon, was he not - Grawitz?

A. Yes.

Q. So that these experiments were for the benefit of the Waffen SS, were they?

A. Grawitz personally refused to carry out these experiments and, on account of the continuous negotiations, they were not carried out in the winter of 1943-1944, as Himmler had wished. Grawitz maintained that, if these experiments were to be carried out, Herr Rascher should go to the front and work in the hospitals there.

Q. You have not answered my question, witness. For whom were these experiments being carried out? Was it for the Waffen SS?

A. The order for the execution of these experiments was never transmitted. The arrangements were made between the Reich Surgeon SS and the Wehrmacht, but I do not know the particulars.

Q. If you please ... If you look at the next entry, 14th April, Station Rascher; stage of work; future work; orders for provisional carrying on; Hauptsturmfuehrer Ploetner introduced.

Now, that was the time when Rascher was arrested, was it not?

A. Yes, after Rascher had been arrested.

Q. And Hauptsturmfuehrer Ploetner succeeded Rascher, did he not?

A. Yes.

Q. And the experiments continued in Dachau and elsewhere? The removal of Rascher made no difference?

A. These experiments were completely different from those carried out by Rascher.

Q. You had attended some of the Rascher experiments, had you not?

A. I was at Dachau several times, yes.

Q. And you were there with Himmler on several occasions when Rascher was carrying out his experiments, were you not?

A. No, I never went to see Rascher at Dachau with Himmler.

Q. I want you to look at the Document 2428-PS, which will be Exhibit GB 582; it is an affidavit of Dr. Pacholegg of whom you spoke yesterday.

MR. ELWYN JONES: Your Lordship will find it at Page 20 of the document book, Page 25 of the English Document Book, Page 32 of the German Document Book.


You will see this question and answer put to Pacholegg after he had described the experiments of the throwing of victims into cold water and of the experiments on prostitutes to recover ... to restore the warmth of these people:

"Question: Who would be present at such an experiment?

"Answer: Heinrich Himmler and his staff generally witnessed these important experiments here at Dachau, or any new experiment. Standartenfuehrer Sievers was always present with Himmler."

A. That is not true.

Q. These experiments were hideous experiments, were they not, witness?

A. I have just said that I was not present at those experiments when Himmler was there.

Q. Were you ever present when Himmler was not there?

[Page 3]

A. I saw two experiments, one I already mentioned yesterday, an experiment which I saw in part when Professor Hirth was present; the other was an experiment in the low-pressure chamber.

Q. I want you to turn to Page 30 of the German Document Book, Page 22 of the English Document Book, so that your memory may be refreshed as to. What sort of suffering these victims had to undergo under these so-called low-pressure experiments.

MR. ELWYN JONES: It is in the last answer on Page 22 of the English Document Book, my Lord.


Q. Pacholegg states there:

"I have personally seen, through the observation window of a chamber, when a prisoner inside would stand in a vacuum until his lungs ruptured. Some experiments gave men such pressure- in their heads that they would go mad and pull out their hair in an effort to relieve the pressure. They would tear their heads and faces with their fingers and nails in an attempt to maim themselves in their madness. They would beat the walls with their hands and heads and scream in an effort to relieve pressure on their eardrums. These cases of extremes of vacuums generally ended in the death of the subject. An, extreme experiment was so certain to result in death that in many instances the chamber was used for routine execution purposes rather than experiments. I have known Rascher experiments to subject a prisoner to vacuum conditions or extreme pressure conditions or combinations of both for as long as thirty minutes. The experiments were generally classified into two groups, one known as the living experiment and the other simply as the 'X' experiment, which was a way of saying execution experiment."
Those were the sort of experiments that were being carried on by Rascher for the Luftwaffe, were they not?

A. These are low-pressure experiments, and I am hearing of the method of carrying them through here for the first time. The experiments which I witnessed -

Q. Just answer my question. Those experiments of that type were being carried out by the Luftwaffe ... for the Luftwaffe, were they not?

A. Yes.

Q. What part did Goering take in these experiments?

A. That is unknown to me, because the experiments at Dachau started in the year 1941 and I only learned of them after they had already begun. Connection with the Luftwaffe was established through the medical inspection offices of the Luftwaffe. To what extent Goering was informed of these matters, I do not know.

Q. Through whom was the connection with the Navy maintained as regards these scientific experiments?

A. That I do not know.

Q. And the Army?

A. That I do not know either.

Q. You see, you were the Director of this Institute of Scientific Research for Military Purposes. You must have had liaison with each of the arms of the services, did you not?

A. The channels with regard to these Luftwaffe matters went via Obergruppenfuehrer Wolff to General Milch.

Q. The Luftwaffe surgeon working on these Rascher experiments was Weltz, was he not? W-e-l-t-z, Oberfeldarzt of the Luftwaffe? That is so, is it not?

A. That may be. Several gentlemen were mentioned whom I do not know. Official letters were also written by others on behalf of Rascher. But without data I can no longer recall names. I gave evidence on these matters only last year.

Q. Does the name Dr. Holzloehner convey anything to you? He signed the report on the Schilling experiments.

[Page 4]

A. Yes.

Q. He was Professor of Physiology of the Medical School at the University of Kiel, was he not?

A. Yes. I mentioned before the Commission that Professor Holzloehner worked together with Dr. Rascher on experiments in Dachau.

Q. Was he the representative of the Navy in these experiments?

A. No, he was an Air Force doctor.

Q. Do you remember the experiments that were carried out for making seawater drinkable?

A. Yes. I have heard of them.

Q. They took place in -they started in May of 1944 , did they not?

A. Yes, that maybe so; in May.

Q. And you remember that you attended a conference on 20th May, 1944, in the Air Ministry, to which members of the Navy and the Luftwaffe were invited; you remember that occasion?

A. I do not remember any conference in the Air Ministry.

Q. Do you remember a conference anywhere else where you had a discussion on these experiments to make sea-water drinkable?

A. Yes. It was a conference with Dr. Grawitz, Reichsarzt SS. In this connection, I must explain that after the arrest of Rascher, his successor, Dr. Ploetner, refused to carry through experiments on human beings. Only with the arrest of Rascher did the cruel way in which he experimented, and the manner in which he exceeded his orders by far, come to light. Himmler said -

Q. Well - just a moment. I will test you on that in a moment, but I just want you to try to apply your mind to these experiments for making sea-water drinkable. Do you remember that there was a conference which representatives of the Air Force and of the Navy attended? That is all I want you to deal with at the moment. You can give your explanation later.

A. I have already said that I do recall a conference with Dr. Grawitz; and later a conference at Dachau with personnel of the Luftwaffe did take place. Whether personnel of the Navy were present I do not recall.

Q. But I want you to try to remember, because it is important, you see. These were experiments on sea-water. One would assume that they, that the Navy, would be interested. They were interested, and they sent a representative, did they not?

A. I do not think that a representative of the Navy was present.

Q. Do you know a Dr. Laurens, in connection with U-boats at Kiel, L-a-u-r-e-n-s?

A. No, I do not know him.

Q. Was it decided, in connection with the sea-water experiments, to use gipsies for the purpose of experiments?

A. In this connection, I must continue the explanation which I started to give a little while ago, because this is a very definite point. Dr. Ploetner refused to continue the experiments on human beings and Himmler did not demand them of him. Consequently, Grawitz received the order to devote himself to these matters. It is clear, therefore, that each experiment on human beings depended upon the willingness of the doctor. Grawitz said that the Luftwaffe, or, rather, a professor from Vienna, had requested that inmates should be made available, and it is possible that gipsies were mentioned in connection with the experiments to make sea- water drinkable. I know nothing about the details of the experiments. It was ordered at that time that chemical and physiological experiments be carried through, and for this purpose the institute of Dr. May had to make two rooms available, for a period of three weeks, and in these rooms the Luftwaffe physicians worked. Otherwise, these experiments -

Q. You had a staff working in Dachau on these experiments consisting of a supervisor, three medical chemists, one female assistant, and three non-

[Page 5]

commissioned officers, did you not, in connection with these sea-water experiments for Grawitz?

A. Yes, that may be. That was under the supervision of Grawitz and his directives; how these directives were carried out, I do not know. We just commandeered the rooms, everything else was arranged by Grawitz. I do not know who worked there or whether personnel of the SS worked there with the Luftwaffe personnel from Vienna.

Q. Why was this staff working in Dachau? Why was Dachau chosen as the place for the scientific experiments for making sea-water drinkable? It was because you had the human guinea-pigs there, was it not?

A. I have already said that the Luftwaffe contacted Himmler for the purpose of obtaining inmates for these experiments; consequently, these experiments were arranged by Grawitz to take place in Dachau.

Q. I want you now to go back to your diary, Page 30 of the British Document Book, my Lord. You will see an entry for 14th April, "Political Department about escape of Pacholegg." This prisoner Pacholegg escaped, did he not?

A. Yes, at any rate he disappeared.

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