Otto Moll's testimony

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Sergey Romanov
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Otto Moll's testimony

Post by Sergey Romanov » 16 Nov 2004 03:31

I'm interested in the reference (e.g. the document numbers) to Otto Moll's depositions and interrogations in the National archives. I have a book by Overy where a part of a joint interrogation of Hoess and Moll is printed, but it gives British Imperial War Museum as a reference.
Last edited by Sergey Romanov on 16 Nov 2004 05:55, edited 1 time in total.

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Sergey Romanov
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Post by Sergey Romanov » 16 Nov 2004 03:34

Here's that excerpt:
Extract from the interrogation of Otto Moll and Rudolf Hoess taken at Nuremberg on 16 April 1946, 14:15 to 16:15, by Lieut.-Colonel Smith W. Brookhart (the interrogation was conducted in English and German)

Q. You are the same Otto Moll who appeared here this morning and you understand that your statements here are made under oath?
A. Yes. May I make a request please?
Q. Yes.
A. In Landsberg I made a request that I be confronted with Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of the Auschwitz Camp, so that I may testify in front of Hoess and Hoess may testify in front of me. I request you now that this may be granted. I would like to have Hoess testify in my presence, as I would like to see him make the statements in my presence and I can testify as to the truth.
Q. Assuming that you are confronted by Hoess, are you going to tell the truth, or are you going to continue to give us the same kind of a story that you gave us this morning?
A. No. I want Hoess to come here and state just what orders he gave me and I can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to what is true and what is not true. Hoess should come here and say what orders he gave me, what duties I fulfilled and in what manner I accomplished them and then I can deny or confirm what he says.
Q. We will conduct the interrogation in the manner we wish and on the basis of the subjects in which we are interested. You are to listen carefully, you are not to interrupt or make any sound whatsoever until you are requested. Do you understand that?
A. I will remain silent and I will listen to him.
Q. You will be given the opportunity to speak at the proper time.
A. Please approve this request that Hoess may come in here and repeat his incriminating testimony against me. It hurts me to see that he, the commandant, is running around free, when I have to go around shackled to a guard.
Q. We are not interested whatsoever in your feelings in this matter.

(Rudolf Hoess, commandant of the Auschwitz Camp, enters room)

Q. Are you the same Rudolf Hoess that has appeared here on numerous occasions and given testimony?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you understand that the statements you make here this afternoon are made under oath?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you know this person sitting to your right that is shackled to the guard?
A. Yes.
Q. What is his name?
A. Otto Moll.
Q. Where did you know him?
A. First at Sachsenhausen and later at Auschwitz.
Q. What did this Otto Moll do at Sachsenhausen and later at Auschwitz?
A. In Sachsenhausen he was a gardener and later at Auschwitz he was used as a leader of a work detail and later on he was used as a supervisor during the various actions.
Q. You mean the actions whereby people were executed and later cremated.?
A. Yes.
Q. You told us this morning about his first assignment in 1941 when farm buildings were converted into an extermination plant. Will you restate what you said about that?
A. At first he worked on the farm and then later I moved him into the farm house, which was used as a professional extermination plant.

Questions directed to Otto Moll

Q. Otto Moll, is what the witness has just said true?
A. First, I was used in work in connection with the excavation of the mass graves. Hoess must know that. He is in error if he said that I worked in the buildings where the gassing was carried out. At first I was used for the excavation of the mass graves and he must remember that. Hoess, do you remember Swosten, Blank, Omen, Hatford and Garduck [sic]? Those are the people who worked in the building at the time when you alleged I worked there and I was working on excavations. Surely Hoess remembers that.

Question directed to Rudolf Hoess

Q. Is that right?
A. Moll is correct insofar as he says he was first used in the excavations – that was before he was being used for the executions.

Question directed to Otto Moll

Q. What is being said here, as I told you this morning, is that you are responsible for this operation, namely for killing and destruction of the bodies in the first improvised slaughter house.
A. I was responsible to see that the corpses were burned after the people were killed. I was never responsible for the actual supervision of the killing. It was always the officers or the physicians who were present at the time. As my commandant, at the time, Hoess should be able to confirm this.

Questions directed to Rudolf Hoess

Q. What do you say about this?
A. As I said this morning, Moll is only partly correct. As I explained, the gas was actually thrown into the chamber by the medical personnel and Moll was not responsible for supervising the entire process, beginning with the arrival of the transport and the burning of the corpses, he was only responsible for a part of this process, at least initially.
Q. You did say that he was responsible for seeing that these people were exterminated.
A. I could have been misunderstood. What I said, or meant to say, was that Moll was responsible in the buildings where he worked. At first, to see that people were undressed in orderly fashion, and after they were killed, to see that the bodies were disposed of in an orderly fashion, later on when the extensive extermination plant was completed, he was responsible for the entire plant.
Q. Just what operations in the plant was he responsible for?
A. He was responsible for everything up to and including the actual leading into the gas chambers of the people and after that, to remove the bodies to burn them.
Q. Will you please repeat about Moll shooting people through the neck.
A. As I explained this morning, those that were too weak to be moved to the gas chamber, or who could not be moved for some other reason, were shot through the neck by him or…[ellipses in original PM] some of the other fellows around, with small caliber arms.

Questions directed to Otto Moll

Q. Well, what do you say about that?
A. It may be possible that some of them were shot by me, but it was a comparatively small number and I would like to know if Hoess ever saw me do it.
Q. I told you this morning that Hoess said he saw you do it many times and so did many others.

Questions directed to Rudolf Hoess

Q. Hoess, isn’t that right?
A. Yes, it is true. I mentioned this morning that there were comparatively few killed in that manner.
Q. You could not tell if it was a few dozen or a few hundred. That was your problem.
A. I cannot quote you an exact number—that is impossible for so many years; there were many. Sometimes there were a few out of each incoming transport and sometimes there were none. That is why I cannot tell you the exact number.

Questions addressed to Otto Moll

Q. Well, this is the first thing you have admitted, now you are telling the truth about which you lied this morning. Are you ready to tell us the truth regarding your responsibility about other operations?
A. Yes, I will tell you the truth as long as my Commandant is present. Let my Commandant tell you what I did and what my duties were.
Q. We know what Hoess said. What we want to know is your story. You are asking us for the opportunity to tell your story and that caused us to bring Hoess in here.
A. No, I asked that I be interrogated in the presence of Hoess.

Question addressed to Rudolf Hoess

Q. You told us this morning that Moll was considered the best man for exterminations because he handled the teams of prisoners and guards better than your other subordinates. Is that right?
A. Yes.

Question addressed to Otto Moll

Q. Moll, suppose you tell us what was your method of selection of foremen from the Capos and just what you found to be the best method of handling the guards that had charge of the transports after they came in.
A. When I was ordered to do this work, the work details had already been selected. My Oberfuehrers had already selected the Capos or foremen, whatever you call them. I carried out correctly the work in all kinds of weather. I was never drunk on duty, or when I was with the prisoners, and I never mistreated any of the prisoners. I achieved good success in the work of the prisoners because I, myself, helped them with their work with my own hands. The prisoners had respect for me because I always behaved as an exemplary soldier toward them, there, I was designated for any kind of difficult work that came up. May I ask Hoess to confirm that?

Question addressed to Rudolf Hoess

Q. Is that correct?
A. Yes, that is what I stated this morning.

Questions addressed to Otto Moll

Q. You were decorated for your work, were you not?
A. I received a decoration for my services. Almost all of them who served for a number of years in the whole of Germany received these decorations. I did not receive any decoration for special work that I had done like this work. I would not have wanted to receive a decoration for this kind of work.
Q. Why?
A. Because I did not look upon this work as honorable work.
Q. Did you ever protest?
A. I asked many times why those things had to be done, why they could not be stopped. I even asked Hoess and he answered that he himself did not like this, but he himself had strict orders and nothing could be done about it. He, like the rest of us, suffered by this work and none of us were really sane anymore.

Questions addressed to Rudolf Hoess

Q. Is that right Hoess?
A. Yes, others also said that and already testified to that in the Reich.
Q. When do you think you lost your sanity, Hoess?
A. I think you mean that: just when our nerves started to crack. I can testify that I was not healthy in 1942. I told you about my leave in 1943, however, I had to do those things as there was no one there who would do it for us. There were strict orders and they had to be followed. Many of the others felt as I did and subordinate leaders came to me in the same manner as Moll did and discussed it and they had the same feeling.
Q. Do you think that Moll is crazy?
A. No.

Questions addressed to Otto Moll

Q. How long do you think you have been without your sanity?
A. I did not mean to say that I was insane or I have been insane, what I mean is that my nerves have cracked and have cracked repeatedly. They were very bad after I had an attack of typhus and I was in the hospital and was granted a leave of absence by the doctors for the conditions of my nerves. I was never declared unfit for duty on account of bad nerve, or because of the so-called paragraph 51.
Q. How many people do you estimate went through the operation, which you were responsible for –how many victims?
A. When you use the words—‘you were responsible’—I want to emphasize again that I do not wish to have that word applied in any way to the actual killing of the people, as I was not responsible for the actual physical ending of their lives and I will not admit that as it is not the fact.
Q. You did not pull the trigger, but you caused someone else to do it. Is that your position?
A. I do not understand the question.
Q. How many victims were exterminated in the camp from 1941 on?
A. I don’t know the number and I don’t think I would be able to give you any number at all as far as the total number of victim goes. I believe Hoess might know that.
Q. The only thing we are interested in is what you have knowledge of.
A. When I was in charge of these excavations, as I told you about before, together with another comrade, which was confirmed by Hoess today, we put between 30,000 and 40,000 people in these mass graves. It was the most terrible work that could be carried out by any human being.
Q. Stick to the figures.
A. I don’t know who those people were or how they got there. I only excavated the mass graves. I was responsible for burning the bodies right there.

Question addressed to Rudolf Hoess.

Q. How does that figure strike you, Hoess?
A. It is impossible for him to know the exact figures, but they appear to me to be much too small as far as I can remember today. The people buried in the two big mass graves of the so-called dugouts one and two, amounted to 106,000 or 107,000 people.

Questions addressed to Otto Moll

A. I could not complete the excavation detail, which I mentioned before, I then got the attack of typhus.
Q. What do you estimate was the number of bodies you handled?
A. It was later they went through my crematory plant and I would say between 40,000 and 50,000, that is at the crematory where I was responsible. I was not responsible for the two large crematories, as they were two SS corps [members] Nussfeld and also Foss, who were responsible for the two large cremations and Hoess will remember that.
Q. You tell us about the figures you know.
A. I told you the number, maybe 50,000 and possibly there were more.
Q. Is that for all times from 1941 clear to the end?
A. Yes, that is from 1941 for the entire length of my service when I had anything to do with the matter.
Q. Don’t you think you are much too modest? You had the reputation of being the biggest killer in Auschwitz. The figures there run into the millions. Won’t you change your answer?
A. It is not true that I was the greatest killer in Auschwitz.
Q. You were the greatest cremator.
A. That is not true either. The number is not right and is probably brought up by the men who want me to be punished by death.

Questions addressed to Rudolf Hoess

Q. Hoess, what do you think would be the correct figures?
A. Moll, in my opinion, cannot possibly have any idea of the number of killings in the dugouts where he was working and responsible. At any rate, they were far, far too low—that is, Moll’s figure.
Q. What figure would you attribute to Moll’s responsibility?
A. It is impossible for me to quote the exact, or even a very rough figure, of the number of corpses that were handled by Moll. As the use of the extermination plant varied at all times, I do not know how many corpses. I would have to attribute to Moll and how many to Nussfeld and the others.

Questions addressed to Otto Moll

Q. Moll, how many women and children do you estimate were among the bodies you handled?
A. Men and women were there in about equal numbers and the ratio of children to the other people was about one child in one hundred people brought in. Sometimes transports arrived without children. I would also like to say that I was not constantly working with these transports and of course, I cannot tell you what happened during my absence when I was not there, as I was away on leave of absence, etc.
Q. We have heard that there were more children than that. Do you want to change your statement?
A. As I told you, it may be one child in a hundred, or it may be more. I cannot remember that exactly.

Questions addressed to Rudolf Hoess

Q. What do you say to that Hoess?
A. My estimate is that one-third of all the victims would be men and two-thirds women and children. I am not able to quote the exact ratio between women and children, as that depended or/and [sic] varied greatly with the transports that came in, however, I do remember that in the transports that came in from the Ukraine and Hungary the proportion of children was particularly high.
Q. In what year was that?
A. That was particularly in 1943, or it may have been early in the year 1944.

Questions addressed to Otto Moll

Q. Moll, yesterday, you told us you had two installations and spoke of the furnace in which there were twelve large ovens and two additional with two ovens each, making a total of twenty-eight separate burning units. How many human beings could you cremate at one time?
A. Two to three corpses could be burned in one furnace at one time. The furnaces were built large enough for that.
Q. Did you operate at full capacity often?
A. I would like to emphasize that I had no responsibility at all with the cremation in the stoves. What I was responsible for was the burning of the corpses out in the open. Corporals Nussfeld and Foss were responsible for the cremation in the furnaces.

Questions addressed to Rudolf Hoess

Q. Is that right, Hoess?
A. First of all, Moll is slightly wrong in regard to the figures he quoted on the furnaces. The two large units were made up of five double furnaces each and the others of four double furnaces each. It is true that Nussfeld and Foss were responsible for the furnace details, each had a large and a small one and Moll was responsible for the bodies out in the open. Moll was responsible for the disposition of the ashes, but later on I put Moll in charge of the entire cremation. This was in the year 1944.
Q. Was that in the two months you were back at Auschwitz after you were away?
A. Yes, that is when I was transferred back to Auschwitz.
Q. How often were the crematoria detail of prisoners exterminated?
A. As far as I can remember, it was twice before I left for the first time and they were exterminated again after the action against the Hungarians was completed.
Q. On whose orders were the prisoners exterminated?
A. I received that order from Eichmann and he ordered in particular that the furnace commandoes should be shot every three months, however, I failed to comply with these orders as I did not think it was right.

Questions addressed to Otto Moll

Q. You have said that your detail was never exterminated. What do you say now?
A. No, that is not true. The work detail with which I worked was never exterminated as long as I was there and as long as I worked. As regard to the first work detail I had for the excavation of mass graves, which I had to leave because of my attack of typhus, they may have been exterminated when I returned to duty. The only thing that I know of is when I left, the last work detail I worked with, was still alive and that is, every member of the detail was alive when I left. Sometime later when I left mutiny broke out in the camp. I know that the entire guard company at the camp was used to suppress this mutiny. I was not there, I was at Gleiwitz at the time. I do not know anything about this, but Hoess can tell you that.
Q. Did you ever cremate any of your crematorium detail?
A. No.
Q. You mentioned that in the killing of the people in the gas chambers that it took only one half minute. On what do you base that?
A. The gas was poured in through an opening. About one half minute after the gas was poured in, of course I am merely estimating this time as we never had a stop-watch to clock it and we were not interested, at any rate, after one-half minute there were no more heavy sounds and no sounds at all that could be heard from the gas chamber.
Q. What kind of sounds were heard before that?
A. The people wept and screeched.
Q. You observed all this and heard the sounds?
A. Yes, I had to hear this because I was near there with my work detail. There is nothing that I could do against this as I had no possibility of changing this in any way.
Q. We are not interested in your opinions on that. You helped make the arrangements to put them in the gas chamber and burned them afterwards when they were killed. The only thing you failed to do personally was pour in the gas. Is that it?
A. I was not responsible for the preparations as there were no special preparations. The victims were led to the gas chamber by the duty officer and then there was a work detail from the administrator, they told them to undress, there was a further detail from the proper administration [sic], which were responsible to collect all the valuables from the people. The whole thing happened very correctly and in no instance was there any reason to interfere. I had no right to interfere, always a doctor supervised the entire thing.
Q. You recall yesterday, you said you were told that if any prisoners coming off of new transports detailed for the gas chamber would escape, you would be court-martialled.
A. I was talking about the work detail, not about the transports.
Q. This came at the time you were testifying about your responsibilities at the crematorium.
A. No, I only say as far as the work detail is concerned for which I was responsible.
Q. We will not argue about it, as the notes show otherwise.

Questions addressed to Rudolf Hoess.

Q. What do you say of the detail of Moll.
A. Moll is not looking at this the right way. It actually is true and I have explained this before, that the officer was responsible for the entire transport, that is he was responsible to see that all were unloaded from each transport, the doctors were responsible for the phase of work to see that people were killed and all the bodies disposed of. It was the responsibility of the subordinate, like Moll, to see that the people actually got into the gas chambers under the doctors and then to see that their bodies were burned. As far as the subordinate leader was concerned, it was his responsibility to see that none of his work detail escaped and he would be responsible to see that none got away. In the last analysis I was responsible for the entire matter, that is for the entire situation dealing with these transports.
Q. You have told us about some of the problems of making sure that everyone was exterminated. For instance, that mothers hid their children under their clothing after they undressed. Who was the person that gathered up the children, searched them out and put them into the gas chamber?
A. I think this thing has been slightly misunderstood. The way this thing happened is that mothers had babies with them, who would be wrapped in blankets or cloth. The people had been told that they were going to take a bath, they had no idea that they were going to be killed. It was not the idea, the mothers did not want to take the children in with them to the bath and they left them outside. Later on, the work detail from the administration, which was responsible for them, would pick up the babies and put them in the gas chamber then.
Q. Was it Moll’s responsibility to see that the children were disposed of?
A. Yes, but it would not mean on the other hand that Moll would have the particular task of picking out the babies from under the blankets. I did not tell any one of the officers or non-coms [NCOs] that they would be responsible for any particular thing, but the entire team was responsible for the extermination. It was to be done and all of them carried out the orders smoothly and properly.

Questions addressed to Otto Moll

Q. You, Moll, said that your team respected you because you gave them a hand. Was this job of picking up small children and gassing them a part of the hand you loaned them?
A. Possibly this was not expressed correctly by Hoess. I had nothing to do with the searching of the clothes because that was not my duty. As I said, the officers that had charge of the duty when the transport came in was responsible for them until the moment they entered the gas chamber. I had nothing to do with that, I never touched the babies or had anything to do with it.
Q. Did any of your men have anything to do with that? Anyone under you?
A. Yes, the prisoners were responsible for that. They had to clean up the room after it had been cleared of people, they would then take the babies and throw them into the gas chamber. There was a strict order against any SS men touching any of this property.
Q. We are not talking about property. We are talking of people. Did you have a special operation to kill these babies or were they thrown into the room where people were still alive and all were gassed together?
A. Such a thing happened rarely and I cannot remember a case where a baby was found, but if they were found they were thrown into the gas chamber.
Q. How do you know?
A. Well, that was an order for the officer responsible for the transport and if any children were found they were to be disposed of like all the rest in the gas chamber.
Q. You carried out your orders?
A. I emphasize again that I myself did not find any children, but if I did find any, I would have to do it too.
Q. Did you shoot any babies in the neck, like you did the other victims?
A. Such a thing never happened.
Q. That is what you said about shooting other people this morning then we proved you a liar. Are you sure you are telling the truth this time?...

Richard Overy, Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945, Penguin books, 2002, pp. 387-400.

David Thompson
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Post by David Thompson » 16 Nov 2004 06:35

Thanks, Sergey, for that interrogation, which I hadn't seen before.

pjoseph
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Re: Otto Moll's testimony

Post by pjoseph » 25 Jul 2013 20:08

Hi Sergey,

You may be able to find more here: http://www.archives.gov/research/captur ... /m1174.pdf

Paul Lantos
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Re: Otto Moll's testimony

Post by Paul Lantos » 25 Jul 2013 21:15

If interested in survivor anecdotes about Otto Moll, I'd highly recommend the book "We Wept Without Tears" by Gideon Grief, which contains 6 or 7 lengthy interviews with surviving members of the Auschwitz sonderkommando. Moll was a monster.

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