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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
August 26, 1946

Two Hundred and Eleventh Day: Monday, 26th August, 1946
(Part 2 of 12)

[GENERAL ALEXANDROV continues his direct examination of Walter Schreiber]

[Page 90]

Q. Witness, will you kindly tell us now what you know about the illegal experiments carried out on human beings by German doctors? I would ask you to testify very briefly as to these questions because they have already been sufficiently gone into in the trial.

A. In the course of my duty I learned of a few things. In 1943, I believe it was in October, we had at the Military Medical Academy a scientific meeting of qualified doctors, so-called advisory doctors; and Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. Ding lectured to the bacteriology section, which comprised about 30 gentlemen, on tests with typhus vaccine. The lecture showed that this Dr. Ding had inoculated prisoners with vaccines against typhus in the Buchenwald concentration camp, and that some while after, I do not know how long it was, he had artificially infected them with typhus by typhus- infected lice, and that, whether these people contracted typhus or not, he based his conclusions on the protection which the vaccine had given or not given to the people in question. Since vaccines of various qualities had been given deaths occurred in several cases.

Q. Now, what was the scientific value of the experiments carried out by this Dr. Ding?

A. In my opinion they had no scientific value at all. In the course of the war we had gained much knowledge in this field by empirical means and collected a great deal of experience. We knew our vaccines very well, and there was no need for these further tests. A number of the vaccines with which Ding experimented were not used at all in the Wehrmacht and were rejected.

Q. Please continue your statements regarding this question.

A. There was a second matter which came to my notice in the course of my duties: The head of the hospital in Hohenlychen, SS Gruppenfuehrer Professor Gebhardt, a talented surgeon, had carried out head operations on Russian prisoners of war and had killed the prisoners at certain intervals in order to observe the pathological changes, the progress of the bone changes on the basis of trepanation, the results of the operations, and so forth. And thirdly I attended

[Page 91]

here in Nuremberg a scientific meeting held by the High Command of the Luftwaffe.

Q. When did this take place?

A. The meeting was some time in 1943, I cannot say exactly when. I believe it was the autumn, but it may have been in the summer. At this meeting, which was held in the hotel near the station, two doctors, Dr. Kramer and Professor Holzlehner, director of the Psychological Institute at the University of Kiel, reported on experiments which they had carried out on behalf of the High Command of the Luftwaffe in Dachau on the inmates of the concentration camp. The purpose of the experiments had been to obtain data for the production of a new protective suit for airmen in the English Channel. Many German airmen had been shot down in the Channel and had, in a short time, met their death in the cold water before the rescue plane could reach them. Now, it was proposed to make a suit which would have some kind of insulating effect and protect the body against cold. For this purpose the persons on whom the experiments were carried out had to be put in water of varying low temperatures - ice-cold water, water at zero, water of more than five degrees - I do not know exactly what all the temperatures were; and measurements were taken showing the fall of body temperature. It showed the falling off of body temperature by a graph, the temperature at the point between life and death. The subjects of the experiments had on various suits, the ordinary ones, which were worn at that time, and others. I recall one special suit which developed a foam between the suit and the skin, that is, a layer of air which had an immediate insulating effect, and death from freezing could be postponed for a considerable time by this suit. Of course, these experiments, which were undertaken under narcosis, cost a number of subjects their lives.

Q. Please tell us what the defendant Goering had to do with the experiments carried out at Dachau.

A. Stabsarzt Kramer said at the beginning of his lecture that defendant Goering had ordered these experiments, and that the Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler had kindly made available the subjects for the experiments.

Q. Do you yourself admit the possibility that similar experiments could have been carried out without the knowledge of the defendant Goering?

A. I cannot imagine that.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Mr. President, I have no further questions to put to this witness.



Q. Witness, you were in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp?

A. Yes.

Q. Where?

A. Near Moscow.

Q. Did you hold any office in this camp?

A. No. I held no office in the prisoner-of-war camp.

Q. How did it come about that you made your statement on 10th April? Did you yourself take the initiative or were you asked to do so?

A. I myself took the initiative. When I heard the report of Dr. Kramer and Professor Holzlehner here in Nuremberg I was deeply shocked at the obvious perversion of some of the German doctors. Even at that time I had already spoken about it to the Chief of the Army Medical Service - Generaloberstabsarzt Handloser, who shared my opinion; and when more and more such things were reported in the papers I considered it my duty - as I said before - in the interest of the future of the German medical profession, to clear these things up once and for all.

[Page 92]

Q. What did you learn about such things?

A. What I said before.

Q. No, I mean what you learned in the prisoner-of-war camp.

A. From the papers which we received.

Q. What did you learn from the papers?

A. I learned -

Q. One moment, witness. Have you a piece of paper before you?

A. Yes.

Q. What does it say?

A. "You can speak faster."

Q. One question: Your testimony in answer to the questions of the Russian Prosecutor today, was it prepared?

A. I was examined, and what I said is in this statement.

Q. I ask you, witness, whether before the examination today you were informed by the Russian examiner of what you were to testify to? Was your testimony previously determined?

A. No, my statement was not previously determined, but I knew that I would speak about "bacteriological warfare and experiments on human beings."

Q. Now, to the statement; you have the statement before you?

A. Yes, here it is.

Q. At the end of that statement there is a note. Would you please look at it?

A. Yes.

Q. Was this note put on this document in your presence?

A. No, I received this document here in this room a little while ago.

Q. I mean something else; was your signature certified on the original? Or did you send off the original before this note, which now appears at the end, was added?

A. I gave my statement. No note was written on it in my presence.

Q. Was any advantage promised to you for making this report?

A. No, you know that. I will not allow anybody to hold out advantages to me.

Q. I do not know. That is why I asked you. Was the German Army Medic Service at any time afraid that the Soviet Union might use bacteria as a means of combat?

A. Not the Army Medical Inspectorate, but the General Staff. In 1942, the General Staff inquired of the Army Medical Inspectorate whether the enemy in the East might be expected to use bacteria as a weapon. I myself wrote the answer. On the basis of Intelligence reports, reports of the army doctors on the Eastern front and the situation regarding epidemics among our troops, we were able to say that this fear was not justified. That opinion was given by me in 1942. It was a comprehensive opinion and was prepared by me and signed by Generaloberstabsarzt Handloser. As early as 1939 an opinion about the same matter had been asked for, and was drawn up on similar lines and signed by the Generaloberstabsarzt Dr. Waltman.

Q. You stated that in 1943, after Stalingrad, an order to make preparation for this bacteriological warfare against Russia was issued. Do you know who issued the order to prepare for this warfare?

A. Well, I -

Q. I ask you, do you know who issued this order? It is a clear question. I ask you to answer it equally clearly.

A. It was not said at the conference who issued it.

Q. You do not know who issued the order?

A. No.

Q. Then, you do not know - or do you know the exact contents of the order?

A. No. I did not receive any written order. The Chief of Staff of the General Wehrmacht Office said that the Fuehrer had given the Reichsmarschall full powers for carrying out all the preparations.

[Page 93]

Q. So, what you said about it is hearsay? You do not know it yourself?

A. I was told so officially at the conference, and therefore it is not hearsay. At an official conference, we who were assembled there were told that officially.

Q. When you were told that at this conference, what was your position?

A. As I said before, I was a representative of the Army Medical Inspectorate.

Q. When this proposal was made known, what did you do - you yourself?

A. I pointed out that bacteria were an unreliable and dangerous weapon. I did nothing else.

Q. You were an expert. Since 1942 you had been a professor?

A. Yes.

Q. And you said nothing else?

A. No, nothing else.

Q. Why did you not say anything else?

A. Because we were confronted with a fait accompli.

Q. Fait accompli? But you say the matter was to be discussed.

A. We were told it. It was not discussed. We were told, "This decision has been arrived at."

Q. But it was a fait accompli only if these bacteria were actually to be used. It was only proposed to start the preparations. A strong objection by a professor in such a high position might have had some effect. You should have at least tried it. Might it not have changed this opinion?

A. According to our experience, nothing could be done against such a decision. As an expert I pointed out that it was a dangerous and unreliable weapon.

Q. You could have got up and left the room or made some strong protest.

A. It would have been better if I had done so.

Q. That is enough on that point. The working group was to meet once a month in the rooms of the General Wehrmacht Office in Berlin. Do you know how many meetings took place?

A. No. I cannot tell you.

Q. Do you know when the last meeting was?

A. I cannot say that either.

Q. Were any meetings held?

A. I beg your pardon?

Q. Were any meetings held?

A. Yes. Meetings were held.

Q. Do you know whether there are records of these meetings?

A. I assume so, certainly. Professor Klieve informed me from time to time.

Q. Did you yourself belong to this working group?

A. No.

Q. When and in what way did Professor Blome receive powers from Goering to make immediate arrangements for the medical and technical sides of these preparations?

A. Immediately after this conference, perhaps on the very same day or previously, because Blome's name was mentioned at the conference. At least, it was said he had been proposed, and two days later I was told, "Blome is the man."

Q. And who told you that?

A. My immediate superior. Generalarzt Schmidtbrucken.

Q. At what time did the spraying experiments from aeroplanes take place?

A. I cannot tell you.

Q. What do you know about these spraying experiments?

A. The following: Bacterial emulsions with non-pathogenic bacteria which could be easily found again - easily determined culturally - were sprayed from Planes on an experimental field near the institute at Posen.

Q. Did you yourself see such experiments?

A. No.

Q. How do you know that these experiments took place?

[Page 94]

A. Klieve spoke to me about these spraying experiments and said that first, a dyestuff had been taken which had more or less the same specific density bacterial emulsion. This had been poured over the land, and then experiments were made with samples.

Q. Did Klieve see these experiments himself?

A. I believe so.

Q. You cannot say for sure?

A. I would not like to swear to it, but it is extremely probable.

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